Mar 18 - Apr 21 - Orlando Area
Well, we'd originally hoped to be moving north by the first of April, but turns out we had things that needed to be done, so we wound up spending five weeks in the Orlando area this stop instead of two, mostly at the 1000 Trails Orlando Preserve, which is actually located about 10 miles south of Clermont, on Orlando's southwest side. Good thing we're retired with no fixed agenda, or we'd be annoyed by now, having to hang around like this. Actually, most of the stuff that needed to be done could have been done in just a couple of days, but the folks who do it are very busy this time of year. So - some reports on "stuff".
The dead battery in the PT Cruiser turned out to be an air pressure leak in the Brake Buddy, the auxiliary braking system we use when towing the car. The compressor was running for about 20 seconds every 3 minutes, resulting in excessive battery drain. We shipped the Brake Buddy back to Kansas, where they fixed it (free, still under warranty after 2 1/2 years), and shipped it back. We'll see if that corrects the battery problem. In any event, it will probably help with the braking.
We had some work done on the RV - replaced the chassis battery, replaced the toilet, got an oil change, had it washed and waxed. There are still a few things we ought to have done, but there'll be time down the road.
We both had colds - Al's lasted most of a week, Judy's under two days - Judy highly recommends Zicam. Fortunately, the colds were not concurrent.
We celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary on March 28, and again on April 1. On the 28th, we went out to dinner. On Apr 1, we went to the Orlando Cirque du Soleil show - La Nouba - at Disney World. And also went out to dinner. Dinners were great, and the Cirque show was fantastic - at least as good as any we've seen, and better than some.
We spent a most enjoyable afternoon at Gatorland, one of Florida's original tourist attractions. They claim to have hundreds of gators and crocodiles in the park, and based on what we saw, they do. There's also a fascinating bird rookery with hundreds of breeding birds - storks and cranes and herons and vultures and more. And there were a lot of nesting birds when we were there, and chicks just starting to hatch. Absolutely delightful. And the reptiles are pretty impressive, too.
We upgraded both our cell phones. We now have many more "phone" features of dubious value coupled with even smaller buttons to invoke them. But as all analog cell phones have been shut down now, we no longer benefit from having dual-mode phones, and we do get much better battery life. And when Judy forgets to bring her camera on an outing, the cell phone camera is a handy back-up for those Kodak moments.
Of course, we did our income taxes, and mostly e-filed them. Although we no longer have Oregon residency, and filed a part-year return, having our house in Reedsport rented means we'll still have some Oregon income to report and pay taxes on for 2008, at least, so looks like we'll be filing an Oregon return again next year.
Healthwise, Al had some minor challenges which are being resolved. It's cool to be in an area really geared to temporary residents. Anyway, a visit to a dentist for a gum infection also revealed elevated blood pressure. A subsequent visit to a walk-in clinic for a post-cold sinus infection also revealed alarmingly high blood pressure. That led to three more visits to a regular doctor's office and a bunch of ostensibly related lab tests, resulting in actual prescription medicines that reduce blood pressure. So all is well, except for the annoying need to now patronize the medical industry more often than every several years.
Judy tries to stay healthy by exercising at Curves every day - the local Curves is an easy 1 1/2 miles by bicycle, so there is some additional healthy activity there - she needs to work off the extra calories incurred by visiting sinful places like TGI Fridays (see below). Our last week, she was able to team up with Mary Johnson from Austin, TX for the daily ride to Curves. Mary and her husband Garey spend half the year roaming about and the other half operating a successful Hawaiian Shave Ice stand in Austin.
OK - we admit it - we went to a Disney attraction. Hate to be trite and all that, but after spending most of the winter parked virtually next door to Disney World, we finally found ourselves with a whole day with nothing much else to do, so we went to Epcot. Judy's been wanting to go to Epcot ever since it was built. We had a wonderful time, saw many wonderful things, rode a few rides (and almost got trapped in one), ate some wonderful "international" food, saw a performance by a rock band featuring a bagpipe (never thought that would happen to us), saw a performance by the "legendary" Peter and Gordon (didn't remember them, actually), stayed until the park closed with a wonderful fireworks and laser show, actually found our car, and 20 minutes later were home again. And it wasn't quite as expensive as we'd thought.
Every night at 10pm, there's a fireworks display at Disney's Magic Kingdom, and you can see much of it over the trees from the 1000 Trails Orlando Preserve. We finally managed to stay awake and fully dressed long enough to actually go out and watch it one night. Binoculars helped - the display is probably 4-5 miles away. Neat show, and free, too.
Not that it matters, but we're starting to have some things in common with WIlly Nelson. Bill & Janet Adams of Internet Anywhere, who installed our satellite internet dish in California a year ago, did the same for Willy Nelson's tour bus. And the folks from Professional Coach Services who did the wash and wax job here in Florida have done the same service for Willy's bus. Everyone: "On the road again . . . "
All together, we've spent 10 weeks this winter in the Orlando area, and while we like here it a lot, we're really ready to move on. One of the things we'll miss will be South Lake Presbyterian Church in Clermont, FL. It's a warm, friendly church largely populated by folks from everywhere else. They're just starting the process of filling a Head Pastor vacancy, but they are being very well served in the interim by their Associate Pastor, an energetic, young (40-ish) Leon Bloder. Although this is his first call as a pastor, he's very talented and gifted, and preaches some very interesting sermons. Even managed to get almost the entire Monty Python "Dead Parrot" riff into his Easter sermon (you had to be there). It'll be interesting to see (even from afar) what happens - as an Associate Pastor, Leon can't move up to head pastor (there are rules), and having been Acting Head Pastor for 2 years or so by the time the new Head Pastor arrives, probably couldn't be expected to return to his Associate job. But we're now getting their monthly newsletter, so we'll be able to keep up.
When we started roaming a year ago, one of the things we brought with us was our Yamaha keyboard - Judy didn't want to be completely severed from a piano. But it hasn't been out of the storage bin for a full year, so we asked if South Lake Presbyterian could use it. Turns out the keyboard they've been using in their contemporary services was about shot. So our keyboard is now a part of their musical instrument complement, sitting on the platform next to the drums, and we have a little more storage space for other stuff, like the cool outdoor carpet we got from an outlet just up the road.
We've become fans of a Florida-based BBQ chain named Sonny's. We know BBQ purists will protest, but we like it, and have been eating there quite a bit. We suspect we won't find many more Sonny's as we head back north, but we'll probably be trying more BBQ places as we do. We've also become recently addicted to TGI Fridays, and as they are mostly found around larger cities (and we usually aren't), we'll probably not be able to indulge as often as we'd like. But we did manage to buy a bulk supply of their sinfully delicious Jack Daniels Steak Sauce (came in an unmarked plastic pouch, and was smuggled out of the kitchen wrapped up in a "Go" bag), so we'll at least have some of the taste with us for a while as we roam. If you have access to a Fridays and enjoy a good steak, be sure to give them a try - especially their Jack Daniels Flat Iron steak. It's to die for, something which the blood pressure doctor would probably take as a literal statement.
We've now been on the road full-timing for just over a year. In some ways, it feels like we've been at it much longer. But most of the time, it's still a new adventure, and the more we learn, the more we realize we have a lot more yet to learn. But then, that's life, isn't it?
There are almost 150 pictures in our slideshow for these five weeks. You'll find them here.