Enjoying Cortez, FL

Cortez, FL

After the completion of our window repairs north of Tampa, we headed south around Tampa Bay to the village of Cortez, located between Bradenton and Bradenton Beach.  Once there we quickly settled into our site at Holiday Cove RV Resort, a park where we have stayed many times before, and where we will remain until the first of January.

We are in a site that is right across from our little friend, Cody (oh, and his owners, David and Karen).  We’ve enjoyed time in Cortez with them many times before and have also  met up with them in Arizona and Utah for some hiking.

David and Karen own a site backing up to a canal that gives the park water access to the Gulf of Mexico.  They have a beautiful 22′ boat that they keep moored to a dock just behind their site.  Shortly after our arrival David came over asked if we wanted to join him to check out some dolphins that had been spotted in nearby Anna Maria Sound, just beyond  the mouth of the canal.  Who could pass that up?  Cody doesn’t like riding in the boat but couldn’t pass up spending time with his friend.

For about a half hour we slowly circled a small area of water watching a number of dolphins swim around us.

After watching the dolphins, we circled around an island south of the Cortez bridge and spotted a guy and his dogs who appeared to be walking on water!

When staying in Florida, we become avid bicyclists (We don’t like hills.  Don’t judge us!).  During one of our rides on nearby Anna Maria Island we stopped at Holmes Beach to check out the sand sculpture.

Another day we rode east toward Bradenton to visit a small bird sanctuary!

OK, there was only one bird!

The weather has been very nice so we have spent a great deal of time sitting outside visiting with our neighbor.

Hello Neighbor!

We first came to know Lindsay and Neil a few years ago from comments Lindsay made on our blog.  They often travel to the U.S. and we were able to meet up with them two years ago in Boulder City, outside Las Vegas.  When we found that they were going to be staying in Orlando, we invited them to drive down to Cortez for a visit.   On the day of their visit David and Karen invited all of us to join them for a boat ride up the nearby Manatee River for lunch at Woody’s River Roo Pub and Grill.

Neil and Lindsay

Approaching Woody’s Grill

View of David’s boat from our table

David, Karen, and John after we crossed under I-75

Returning back to the Cortez area after lunch we cruised around the far northern end of Sarasota Bay to check out the White Pelicans.

One Pelican caught a rather large fish for lunch.  It was so large the bird had difficulty keeping it in his throat pouch as the fish fought for survival (he lost the battle).

Down the hatch

As we returned into Anna Maria Sound we observed two dolphin enjoying themselves in the same area where we spotted them earlier in the week.

Once back on dry land we took Neil and Lindsay for a ride in the Jeep back out on Anna Maria Island to watch the sunset on the Gulf of Mexico.

An eagle soars over the beach

A beautiful day with good friends ended with a very nice sunset.

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Window Repairs in Hudson, FL

Hudson, FL

After a three week stay in Georgia we headed south on I-75 into Florida.

“Welcome to God’s Waiting Room” is on the sign in small print

Soon after crossing the state line we just had to make a stop at the visitor center/rest stop for a free cup of fresh orange and grapefruit juice.

Our main reason for traveling to Florida (besides the warm weather) is for a visit to Suncoast Designers in Hudson, north of Tampa.  All of the dual pane windows in our motorhome have developed a fog to some extent between the panels of glass.  This seems to be a common problems with RVs constructed in the past ten years.  There are a number of repair facilities around the country that will fix foggy windows.  But Suncoast is one of the best, and they offer a lifetime full warranty to back up their work.  They also have 22 RV sites with electric (50 amp) and water.

A number of the RVs scheduled for this week had only one or two windows that needed repair.  We were their largest job for the week as all of our windows (13) needed to be repaired.  The repair process involves removing the window frame completely from the motorhome.  Each window is then taken into their shop where the glass panes are removed from the frame and separated.  Each glass pane is then hand scrubbed before it is run through a machine similar to a car wash.  Once each piece of glass is thoroughly cleaned the two panes are then placed back together with a new and much more robust seal keeping them apart.  The joined panes are then run through a heating machine followed by a roller machine that insures a strong seal.  The glass is then put back into the frame and the unit is ready to be re-installed.

The process began on Tuesday morning when the crew began to remove all the windows.  It was quite a shock when we returned from breakfast to a motorhome with no windows.

Inside things were quite bright and airy!

But the crew soon returned to put temporary covers over the openings.  The fancy window coverings looked so impressive we considered just leaving the old windows out and staying with the new look!

The look from the inside was just as impressive as the outside.  So for the next two days we lived with cardboard and plastic between us and the elements.  With warm temperatures and no rain in the forecast we knew we would be fine, but the noise was very annoying.  It sounded like every vehicle driving by on the nearby road was going to go right through our living area!

John’s sister, Patty, and brother-in-law, Bob, have a condo about 45 miles to the south near St. Pete’s Beach.   So one of the day’s during the repair process we drove down to have lunch with them.  They suggested we eat at Spinners Rooftop Revolving Bistro and Lounge which sits on the 12th floor of the Grand Plaza Hotel right on the beach.  The dining area in Spinners slowly revolves 360 degrees, guaranteeing every seat has a great variety of views while you are dining.

The Grand Plaza Hotel

The spinning seating area

View of the city of St. Petersburg Beach

St. Pete’s Beach

The Gulf of Mexico

The food was great, the service excellent, the price reasonable, the conversation stimulating, and the view spectacular!

Bob, Patty, Pam, and John

The next day the crew returned to re-install the newly refurbished windows.  Once the windows were back in, we were amazed at how clear they now are.  While we knew they were cloudy, we just didn’t realize how bad they were.

With our nice clear windows we are now off to Cortez, just outside Bradenton, for a six week stay at one of our favorite parks, Holiday Cove.  Oh, and there appears to be a wedding on the horizon.

More on that later . . .

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Heading South Through Georgia

Ashburn, GA

After getting the motorhome serviced in Gaffney, SC we headed south on I-85 to Atlanta for a visit with son, Kevin.  Kevin is a pilot for a Delta regional airline so we had to fit our visit in between his trips.  Kevin works diligently to keep his lawn neatly trimmed so we dug in to help him do some end-of-season tasks.

A bit of leaf raking

A bit of leaf blowing

And a little planting

Looks Good!

Since we will soon be headed further south, we decided to celebrate an early Thanksgiving with Kevin.  Pam worked her little apron off to create a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  Everything was delicious!

After a great visit with Kevin we continued our journey south.  We are now in Ashburn, GA, about 175 miles south of Atlanta where we are staying at Wanee Lake RV and Golf Resort.  While the term “resort” is definitely a stretch for this park, it does have a decent nine hole golf course (the reason for our visit).

“Resort” living!

Looking at the first hole

A young PGA professional poses on the 4th green

Some Atlanta Falcon cheerleaders supplement their income by caddying

This part of southern Georgia is known for two things: peanuts and cotton.  A cotton field near the park was a sea of white when we arrived.

A week later a photo from the same location shows the field after the cotton had been harvested into huge rolls ready for transport.

There is very little to do or see around the town of Ashburn, but we did enjoy many days of golf and the occasional trip south to the town of Tifton for some liquid refreshment at one of those chain coffee shops.

Tomorrow we move into Florida and will stay there until January 1st.  We’ll stay a couple of nights in Bushnell, a small town along I-75 north of Tampa before moving over to Hudson for a week to have the windows in the coach repaired (they all have fogged up).  More on that process in our next post . . .

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On the Road Again . . .

Gaffney, SC

After a six week stay in our former hometown of York, PA, we are now back on the road again (cue the music!).  Before we left we did spend a nice Saturday afternoon with most of John’s relatives.  His nephew, Jamie, lives with his wife, Joanne, and two boys in Phoenixville, a suburb of Philadelphia.  Jamie’s parents (John’s older sister Patty and her husband, Bob) who live in Erie, PA were staying with them while on their way down to Florida.  John’ younger sister, Rachel, lives with her husband Bobby nearby and was able to join us along with their two grown daughters, Courtney and Kelsey (and her boyfriend Chris).  Our daughter Jessica and fiancee Dan rode there with us making the family group almost complete.

We spent a nice afternoon catching up with everyone.  The photo schedule apparently did not include all attendees so we apologize to those who didn’t get in a picture.  But below is a sampling of the attendees.

John with sisters Patty and Rachel (he’s the tall one in the middle)

Pam, John, Jessica, and Dan (he’s the tall one on the end)

John, Jessica, Pam, and our son Kevin (he’s the missing one on the end)

Bobby, Rachel, Courtney, Kelsey, and Chris

Sunday morning we pulled out of York and headed south toward Gaffney, SC.  We had an appointment on Wednesday at the Freightliner service center there to have the yearly service on our motorhome completed.  The chassis of most motorhomes is built there and they have the best service in the country.

The trip from York to Gaffney can be completed in two day, but we decided to split it into three just to avoid any long drive days.  The first day we drove about 165 miles to New Market, VA where we set up for the night at the Endless Caverns Campground.

This is a nice campground set on tiers at the base of the mountains.  But while enjoying a football game soon after our arrival, we discovered a definite negative to the facilities, stink bugs!

One of our many “visitors”

Now if you have ever spent any time on the east coast during the past few year you probably have experienced these annoying pests.  We were overrun with them while visiting York two years ago. During our stay this year they were present, but in much smaller numbers.  Before leaving York we checked all their favorite hiding places (they love to crawl inside the slide gaskets) and used the vacuum to suck up as many as possible.  So when we first spotted a few during set up in Endless Caverns we just figured they rode into town with us.  But when we looked out the window later in the afternoon, the side of the motorhome was covered with a large number of them.  In talking with others in the park, we found that the campground was teeming with them.  So for the next few weeks we’ll have that vacuum cleaner running each time we pull in the slides!

The next night we stopped at Ft. Chiswell RV Park where I-81 crosses I-77.  No stink bug infestation here but we did kill a few more during our stay.  The next day we completed the journey to Gaffney and found the last available spot in their lot (with electric).  Wednesday morning our tech arrived a few minutes after 8:00 AM to take the motorhome into the garage, so off we went for breakfast and some shopping.

With our service complete we are now headed to Atlanta to visit with our son, Kevin, for a week or so.  More on that later . . .

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Visiting Clayton, NY

York, PA

Each year while on the east coast we head north for a visit with Pam’s mother, Fran, who  lives in Clayton, NY along the beautiful St. Lawrence River.  During our current extended stay in our former home town we left the motorhome in a park near York and drove the Jeep up to Clayton for a visit.  We always have a few chores to complete for Fran (painting, car waxing, etc.) but do manage to spend some time “down by the river.”

Looking back at the town dock

The St. Lawrence Seaway runs right in front of the village, so large freighters pass by frequently.

John and Fran enjoy lunch along the river

While in Clayton we learned that friends from the left coast were travelling through the area.  They were able to alter plans and make a stop here, giving us the chance to enjoy some time with our friend, Tessa.

Oh, and Bill and Jodee of On the Road Abode came along too!

Another photo of Tessa (that’s Bill and Jodee behind her)

While Bill and Jodee were in town, Clayton held their annual car show along Riverside Drive (the main street of the village).  For a small town, it was a pretty nice show.

Bill and John chat behind this white beauty

Muscle Car Row

Perfect colors!

The funny looking car pictured below turned out to have an interesting story.  It is a Centurion X 1/9.   The owner built the car based on plans purchased from an ad he saw in Mechanics Illustrated in 1982.  Back then, for a mere $17.95, you could buy information that outlined how to build the car.  It was not a kit.  The buyer of the plans would search out the parts needed (new or used) and then build the body from scratch using fiberglass over a foam core.

Following the blueprints, including using a small Kubota diesel engine in the aerodynamic body, the finished project was advertised to deliver as much as 128-mpg!

After enjoying the car show we took a drive southwest along the river.  The main road eventually turns south as it heads around Lake Ontario, but if you continue straight at that turn, a narrow road goes out to a point where Lake Ontario turns into the St. Lawrence River, the location of Tibbetts Point Lighthouse.

You can’t go up in the tower as it is still a working lighthouse operated by the Coast Guard. A Fresnel lens, one of only 70 still operational in the US, is still used.

A few days after Bill and Jodee headed for Vermont we walked down to the town dock to enjoy a beautiful fall afternoon along the river.  As we passed Frink’s Park, a small park next to the river, we came upon a fire truck parked along the dock with a large American Flag hanging from the extended ladder.

It turned out that a local organization was honoring troops of the 10th Mountain Division from nearby Fort Drum who had recently returned from Afghanistan.  Troops participating were outfitted with fishing gear and taken out on the river by local volunteers who own fishing boats.

The boats returned the troops to the dock in a parade lead by the local fire company’s fire boat.  On the dock they were met by an honor guard from the NY State Police and one of the police officers sang the National Anthem.

The following weekend the village hosted an annual jazz festival, with groups performing all day at various locations along the river.  We sat at Frink’s Park and enjoyed some great music.

Kimberly Hawkey, a jazz vocalist, performed with members of two groups, Brighton Beat and Fritzel’s, backing her up with instrumentals.

During the performance a freighter heading up river provided a nice, mobile background.

After a ten day stay in Clayton we returned to the motorhome in York where we’ll be staying until the middle of October.  Then, we point the motorhome to the south and head for South Carolina.

More on that later . . .

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Quiet Days in York, PA

York, PA

It has been a while since we last posted as we’ve spent much of our time with mundane tasks like medical appointments and getting the Jeep serviced.  Oh, and we have also spent time with daughter Jessica and her now fiancee, Dan.  Yes, during our visit Dan finally popped the question!  Looks like we’ll be having a wedding soon.

John, Dan, and Jessica enjoying dinner

We have taken time for a few “fun” activities during our stay here.  One sunny Sunday afternoon we attended a great food truck festival at a park in downtown York.  The food trucks parked along the curb on the streets surrounding the one block park.

After making a purchase (a difficult choice) we spread out a blanket and enjoyed our food sitting on the grass in the shade of a large tree.

John, Jessica, and Dan’s parents, Janice and Paul

We needed to work off some of the calories gained at the food truck event so the next day we did a six mile hike around nearby Lake Redman.

It’s a school day, why is this young hiker on the trail?

To get to the trail we parked in a lot just below the dam, then walked across the top of the dam on a maintenance road.

The main obstacle we encountered on this trail is a tunnel that goes under I-83.

The light at the end of a tunnel, literally

As the trail goes around the lake, we had many great views of the water below us.

Lunch with a view

While here in York we had to do some maintenance on our new Winegard satellite dish.  Since it was installed we have had trouble receiving some stations, especially late in the day.  Channels like ESPN, CNN, and TNT would come in at times, then would not come in other times in the same day.  John contacted Winegard and, as per their request, sent them photos of the dish in various positions.  They diagnosed a bent feed arm and sent a replacement under warranty.

The replacement feed arm

After the new feed arm arrived, John headed up on the roof to install it.

He first had to remove the reflector (the part that resembles a “dish”).

Then he carefully removed the LNB (the plastic oval at the end of the feed arm) before removing the damaged feed arm.

Once the replacement feed arm was installed and the reflector was back in place, the dish worked as advertised.  We stored the dish (it automatically folds down for travel) and re-deployed it to be sure it could find the three satellites it needs to see.  Now all signal measurements are strong and we are receiving all channels.

Leaving the motorhome in York, we recently drove the Jeep north almost 400 mile to Clayton, NY right along the beautiful St. Lawrence River for a visit to Pam’s mother.

More on that later . . .

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Through West Virginia to Pennsylvania

York, PA

After visiting friends in Oxford, OH, we took four days to drive to our former hometown of York, PA.  It doesn’t take that long to do the drive but we had time to kill before our reservation date in York.  The first stop was in Cambridge, OH where we stayed at a nice park (Spring Valley Campground) just off the interstate for two nights.  There was not much to do in Cambridge but we always enjoy visiting small towns in our travels.

After that we drove just a bit over a hundred miles to Morgantown, WV where we stayed two nights in Mylan Park.  Mylan Park is a community park just a few miles west of Morgantown.  It has a number of recreation fields and indoor facilities used by the local community.  One of the large parking areas has some full hook-up RV spots that are used mainly by people attending football games at nearby West Virginia University.  So it’s not a good place for an extended stay but works well for a night or two.

Looking down at the RV area from a nearby hillside

West Virginia is the brunt of many jokes about the local population being a bit “backward” at times, a stereotypes that may or may not be deserved.  But it wasn’t long before we had an experience that just reinforced that picture.  After setting up the motorhome we drove to a nearby coffee shop (one of those chain stores based in Seattle) for a little refreshment.  As we got out of the Jeep we heard a strange sound emanating from an Audi parked next to us.  We peered in the open window and found that we were looking at a goat sitting in the driver seat!

They let anyone drive a car in WV!

We were looking to stretch our legs a bit after the drive from Ohio so when a stop at a visitor center revealed that a park with a scenic overlook was nearby, we headed there for a visit.  Dorsey’s Knob is a 70 acre park just south of the downtown area.  Its main feature is Sky Rock, which stands about 600 feet above the town.

Grassy area leading up to Sky Rock

The sign at the base of the trail was pretty intimidating, but we didn’t see anything resembling the mountains of southern Utah so we figured we would be able to make the climb.

Heading up the strenuous section of the short trail

A WVU cheerleader was posing on Sky Rock

The view from Sky Rock was nice, but tree blocked the best angles to the city.

The next day we parked along the Monongahela River to explore a nicely paved bike trail that runs through Morgantown along the water.  The trail was very nice but not much of the river bank has been developed so there wasn’t much to see.  We did pass a couple of small restaurants and a very nice outdoor pavilion right on the water.

After enjoying the bike trail we put the bikes back in the Jeep and drove about 25 miles east of town to visit Coopers Rock State Forest.

The tree-lined road leading in to the forest

Coopers Rock State Forest gets its name from a legend about a fugitive who hid from the law near what is now the overlook. A cooper by trade, he resumed making barrels at his new mountain hideout, selling them to people in nearby communities. He lived and worked in the forest for many years.  During the Depression the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built numerous structures in the forest, including a scenic overlook with a nice view of the surrounding area with the Cheat River winding its way below.

Walkway to the overlook

The large rock outcropping fenced in by the CCC had many old graffiti carvings dating back many years.  One dated 1897 caught our eye.

After enjoying the viewpoint we hiked a short trail that winds down under the viewpoint.

Returning to the Jeep we drove about five miles to another section of the park where a trail leads down to the remains of an old iron furnace.

The furnace was built between 1834 and 1836, and is a 30 foot square, 30 feet high stone structure in the shape of a truncated pyramid.  The furnace may have continued to operate until 1868 when all the Cheat River iron works ceased production.  During peak operation years the area around the furnace was stripped of all trees (used to make charcoal for the furnace) and was surrounded by a community of over 200 people.  Today all the structures except the furnace are gone and the forest has reclaimed the area.

After two nights in Morgantown we continued our journey eastward across I-68 through West Virginia and Maryland before turning to the north into Pennsylvania.

We are now settled into a small RV park just a few miles from our daughter’s home in York.  We’ll be staying for about a month and half visiting family and friends and completing yearly medical appointments.  Then it will be time to head south as the weather begins to change.

More on that later . . .

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