Monday, April 29, 2013

Family Time; A Delightful Concert; Geo-Quiz Winner; French Islands; Fenced In!

We have been fortunate to have Suzanne’s sister Janice visiting this week from West Chester, PA. She is staying with mom Ruthie just 3 miles away, but Suzanne has been able to spend lots of sister time with Janice, including several shopping trips to Belk... we may have to get a larger bus to load the additional clothes Janice has convinced Suzanne to add to her wardrobe. Here are Janice and Suzanne smiling happily while taking a tour at Brownwood. (This was one of the few trips that produced no shopping bags, so I was smiling as well.) 

Janice is also a very accomplished singer, and offered to give a concert at the Mission Hills assisted living home near The Villages. It was very well attended, and there were many damp eyes when the residents heard her sing classic favorites like “Strangers in the Night”, “The Shadow of Your Smile”, “All of Me”, and other tunes familiar to the appreciative crowd. 

Most of our meals were at home, but we had a traditional "visiting dignitaries" meal at Oakwood for barbecued ribs... that’s something that you just can’t do as well at home... at least I haven’t developed that skill set. Here are the Smeltzer Girls eagerly awaiting their ribs and chicken. When we returned home, our wiener dog Rudy was particularly interested in licking my fingers. “The Nose Knows”... 

Now it’s time to announce the latest Geo-Quiz Winner... “Maestro, drum rolls, please”... Our good friend (and faithful reader) Daphne Montouri, of Scottsdale, Arizona, seen here at last summer’s Messages of Hope Tour event in Scottsdale, is our latest award winner. I thought about flying Daphne and her husband Bob to Paris for a celebratory get-away weekend, but decided that instead, Corvette Chick and I would try to meet them in Scottsdale or an as yet undisclosed location for drinkies and munchies at some later date. (Hey, hold the comments about my being a stingy prizemaster, please...). 

Congratulations to Daphne for sending in the first correct answer of several hundred... (well, actually, there were only two correct answers; Peter Lee was the runner-up). But Daphne correctly identified the French islands of Miquelon and St. Pierre off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.  (To read the original quiz, see the April 22nd post).

Suzanne and I visited these lovely (but cold and foggy) islands aboard our sailboat Liberty in 2003. The average high temperature in August is only 65F. They do have one tremendous advantage: shopping for wine, cheese and pate is just like being in mainland France; the selection was amazing, especially after a month of cruising the south coast of Newfoundland with limited grocery availability. Here is Suzanne trying to decide on what to buy... 

St Pierre and Miquelon, as a department of France, fly the French tricolor, but their unofficial flag includes the flags of the three regions from which most inhabitants originated (Basques, Bretons, and Lower Normans) as well as the Grande Hermine, the ship said to have carried explorer Jacques Cartier there in 1536. 

We have been doing lots of maintenance on The Bus the past couple of weeks, and have it about 80% loaded for our upcoming 5-month adventure. To get it off the street, yesterday I drove it over to our storage facility about 7 miles from our house, and carried my mountain bike on the back to get some extra exercise. When getting ready to depart for home, I had neglected to plan correctly for exiting the storage facility, which has one of those automatic gate openers that is activated by your car. My bike and I didn’t quite meet the weight threshold for the actuator, so I had to climb the fence, open the gate from the outside, and retrieve my bike... when I told My Good Buddy Bob about this fiasco, he suggested that he follow me while I ride my bike back there (a 14 mile roundtrip) to recreate my misadventure so he could immortalize me on film for the blog... I thanked Bob for his gracious offer, but I decided to have a beer instead.  

I have also been trying to catch up with my house work list, including sanding and resealing the driveway pavers. A quote of $600 from a local contractor made me decide to do it myself... after all, how hard can it be, I thought? Well, after a trip to Lowe's for supplies and several days of cleaning, sanding, sweeping and rolling on sealant in hot, humid weather, we have a nice looking driveway, but in 3 years when it needs resealing again, I may look up that contractor... 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Four Longhair Doxies! The Green Hornet; RV Work; MLB Dressed Up; Red Vette in the Parking Hall of Shame

While w-a-l-king our Rudy and Gretchen around Sumter Landing, we ran into Anne Dobkin and her two long haired miniature dachshunds, Mollee and Muffie. Mollee is 11; Muffie is just 1, looked like a smaller Rudy, and even had a liver-colored nose like our little boy dog. Anne’s dachshund story is interesting; she has been owned by Mollee for many years, but after seeing our two puppies at one of Suzanne’s talks, decided to get a red long-haired mini like Rudy as a playmate for Mollee. She “put her intention out to the universe”, and then she found Muffie a few days later. Isn’t that a great example of “manifesting”? 

Just after seeing Anne, we noticed a unique golf cart... with stub wings and a vertical stabilizer tail. Hank Childs, the builder and owner, was climbing in with his dog, and “started her up”. The cart’s name is the “Green Hornet”, and she sounded like a jet fighter about to take off on a combat mission. 

Not only did she have a great fifteen-gauge cockpit with red night lighting and wingtip lights, but Hank has also rigged her with speakers blasting jet noise! (And that piece of paper in a plastic sleeve looks suspiciously like a pre-flight checklist.) Aviation enthusiasts need to talk to Hank, who apparently builds these custom-made machines in his garage. (Yeah, but can you take off and land on Morse Blvd. without getting a ticket from the Sumter Country Sheriff?) You can ask Hank to build your next whimsical cart at  

There is one big upgrade we have made on The Bus and our little Honda Toad (towed automobile) this year - we added a dedicated battery charging system to keep the car battery charged while we’re driving The Bus and towing the car. Last year, there were several times when we stopped after a long drive and we had to jump start the car. In the Navy, we called that NG... Not Good. (Doesn't our Honda CR-V look like a teeny tiny thing behind our 40 foot motor coach?)

It took me about two hours to install the circuit breaker on The Bus, run the wiring from Bus batteries to trailer hitch under The Bus, install a charge controller in the Honda’s engine compartment, run the wires from the car battery to the grille, and rig up a detachable connector line from the car to The Bus. This photo shows the battery compartment on The Bus with the new circuit breaker and white and red wiring runs above the four 6 volt house batteries (four 6 volts, connected in two pairs in series, making two 12 volts pairs which are then connected in parallel; there are also two 12 volt starting batteries above the red 6 volt batteries). Fortunately, both sets of batteries swing or slide out on their racks to allow for maintenance). 

I made the mistake of doing this job in the morning... had I waited until 1700 (5:00 PM for you civilians), it would have been Happy Hour, and I could have worked with a frosty (root) beer, making the job go much more quickly. Fortunately, My Good Friend Bob came out in the ninth inning to kibbutz and help me with the final connections. (Bob, where were you when I needed someone to crawl under The Bus, run the electrical line under the chassis, and have road dirt fall in his face and eyes? Oh, well, beggars can’t be choosers, right?) Good news, the upgrade works like a champ. Here is Your Faithful Correspondent snacking on heavy duty wire ties while trying to nip the ends of Bob's fingers with a wire stripper. (My Lovely Bride often notices when "guy words" sneak into my blog... the word "stripper" obviously has several interesting connotations. In this instance, a stripper is a tool designed to remove the plastic insulation on a piece of electrical wire. In its other common usage, a stripper is a young woman who has the ability to electrify men. "Isn't that interesting?")  Photo of Secondary Word Usage Was Censored by Higher Authority

Speaking of Higher Authority, while I was doing RV work, Corvette Chick was heading off for an event, and I just had time to capture her on film (well, okay, on a memory chip would be more accurate) before she left the house. Am I a Lucky Guy, or what? 

Now, for our weekly Parking Hall of Shame Award.... a Red Corvette! First, let me assure you readers that this is NOT Corvette Chick's car. At 0930, I saw this one belonging to (a) a Parking Miscreant; or (b) someone who partied very late last night ("late" in The Villages meaning past 9:00 PM) and stumbled home to avoid a DUI; or (c) a very dedicated bank employee who was running late for work and didn't take the time to park properly. The parking space stripe is clearly visible under its front tire. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Waking Up to a Redhead on My Pillow; A Trip to Del Webb; Uh-Oh.... Reject! An Unexpected Gift; Geo-Quiz

Have you ever had a strange dream in the middle of the night, gotten up, and returned to bed to find someone unexpected on your pillow? Maybe not, but it happened to me this morning. I found a redhead on my pillow... Rudy normally sleeps under the covers next to me, chest level, while Gretchen is at my knee. (I’m in between the puppies and Suzanne, sort of like the filling in an Oreo.) Here is Rudy taking over my pillow. I hope he found it to his liking, other than not finding any doggie treats on it...   

On Monday, Suzanne and Bev Garlipp drove north to Ocala to present her talk “The Meaning in the Messages” to the Spruce Creek Del Webb Metaphysical Group, which had offered the presentation to their entire Del Webb community. Cindy Stern, Vice President, introduced Suzanne. Thanks also to President Karen Harmelin for the kind invitation.

There were 350 attendees, many of whom had never heard Suzanne speak before. Fortunately, there were just enough seats for everyone in this beautiful ballroom. 

There was a long line at the book signing table afterwards, with several people getting all of Suzanne’s books. 

Suzanne has spoken at Spruce Creek on two previous occasions, and loves the great energy and warmth of the Metaphysical Club and the community there. Thanks to everyone for a very rewarding last presentation before we head off on our Summer Tour. We’re looking forward to returning in the Fall.  

Tonight we had dinner with Suzanne’s mom Ruthie; her brother-in-law’s mom Janis Clay, who is visiting from West Chester, PA; and her brother and sister-in-law Brent and Cheryl Smeltzer. Janis made a great barbeque dinner with salad and bread pudding. As salad was being served, Brent asked to see the bottles of salad dressing to check the expiration dates... “Uh-oh, Mom, this one expired in 2009... and this one expired in 2010. Don’t you have anything newer?”  Ruthie was quite put out, and wondered aloud, "What difference does it make?" She then noted that she had an unidentifiable spice jar on the rack dated "1948". We settled on a very nice, young olive oil with a 2014 date... as for Brent, he might get gruel on his next dinner visit.  

Our neighbors and partners in RV crime, Bob and Jan Blythe, called after dinner and asked if we were busy. They came over a few minutes later, and My Good Buddy Bob presented me with a remote control key fob for all of the belly storage compartments in The Bus. Our American Eagle did not come with a remote, although it did have electronic locks, and Bob noted that I was more than a bit envious of his. (His remote!) Anyway, it was very thoughtful of him. I guess he’ll go back on my Christmas card list, after having been removed for giving me such a hard time about my lack of fishing success in previous blogs...

Geo-Quiz: Okay, here’s the deal. You departed New York on a cruise, but have spent far too much time at the bar. You have completely forgotten which ports you were scheduled to visit. On arriving ashore on a French island, you overhear several local residents speaking strangely-accented French; one of your new friends says, “Oh, that guy, he’s a Euskaldunak.” You are baffled, and go for a walk to sober up. It’s July, but the temperature is only 62F, and you could cut the fog with a knife. You pass a fisherman hauling a fishing dory onto the beach with what looks like an old-time anchor capstan from a Clipper ship, and the “beach” is not sand, but large pebbles. A tide chart shows the mean tidal range to be 1.97 meters (6.5 feet). You also note a torn chart of local shipwrecks, with several hundred referenced. You watch some really big guys throwing boulders around; they call the sport harrijasotzaile, and they say they are practicing for the upcoming festival. You pass a small restaurant, and go in to check out the menu, but the prices are in Euros! You thought that you have only been at sea for a few days... Have you crossed the Atlantic without remembering it? Where are you? You can send your answer to me at and I will consolidate answers by Wednesday or Thursday and announce a winner. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Exporting “Making the Connection”; KP Duty; Dog v. Kitten; A Naughty Tea Towel

On Sunday, Suzanne and Bev Garlipp drove to Ocala, FL, 45 minutes north of our homes in The Villages, to give her “Making the Connection” presentation at the Ocala Inner Center. Suzanne was introduced by the event’s sponsor, Jean McDoniel; they are pictured together at left.  

It was a full house at the OIC talk, with 14 percent of the attendees being men. I will pass a special thanks to Bev for helping Suzanne today with setup, book sales, and photography, as I had another engagement. 

Where was Ty today? Well, last year, on the recommendation of a friend in The Villages RV Club, I became an Elk. No, I did not have DNA from Cervus Canadensis transplanted into my bloodstream, nor did I have Super Size antlers affixed to my head, and I definitely don’t browse and graze, although I can bugle pretty well... But I did join the Elks fraternal organization, which after the US government, is the largest charity donor in the world. The Elks also have 2,000 lodges around the USA, and many have RV facilities; we used at least a dozen of these facilities last summer on our Messages of Hope Tour. Anyway, our local lodge put out a call for volunteers to help do maintenance this weekend, and Sunday was my day to help out. My unique skills and specialized training stood me in good stead, for I was given two critical tasks: changing several potable water filters (a 10 minute job) and scrubbing refrigerator shelves, pots and pans (a 2 hour job). Patty, the gal running the kitchen, obviously recognized my skills and potential for growth, saying that I was one of the best dishwashers she’s seen in weeks and when would I be back? (It’s a good thing we’re leaving town in 10 days, or I’d be drafted for regular KP duty.)   

By the way, here are some Elk trivia... there are about 1,000,000 members of the Elks; famous members include Generals Eisenhower, MacArthur, and Patton; Presidents Harding, FD Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy and Ford; Clint Eastwood, Ben Affleck, Lawrence Welk, Buffalo Bill Cody, Gene Autry, Jack Benny, Will Rogers, Vince Lombardi, Casey Stengel, Mickey Mantle, and many politicians and business men and women. The Elks began in 1868 in NYC as a social club called “The Jolly Corks”... perhaps this is what led me subconsciously to join... Don’t these guys look like “The Original Party Animals”? 

On Saturday we had to take Rudy to the vet, as he had hurt his back when he tried to fly off the bed when the doorbell rang. He’s doing much better now after some pain meds and muscle relaxers, but we’re even more careful than ever to keep him from hurting himself. We already had six sets of doggie steps so he and Gretchen could climb up on their favorite chairs, love seat, sofa, and garden wall, but when the doorbell goes off, both puppies have to go airborne to see who can get to the door first. 

While we were at the vet, we observed this large white dog investigating a container of four brand new kittens. The dog’s owner said he was used to kids (she has eight, God Bless Her), but had never met kittens. He would put his nose up to the cage, and the kitten would swipe it with his tiny paw (and claws). The dog would jump back, then approach slowly until his nose was within range, and zap, clawed again. He must be a young dog; an older dog would surely know better than to try to sniff a young kitten too closely.  

While visiting an establishment that caters mostly to women, I perused the decorative item below hanging in the privy. Initially, my tender sensibilities as a Southern Gentleman were somewhat offended, but then I realized that I might be looking at this trashy tea towel in the wrong way. Rather than alluding to promiscuous sexual activities of a refined group of women born south of the Mason-Dixon Line, perhaps it was the logo of a club of recently transplanted or temporarily visiting (“snowbirding”?) ladies from the Rust Belt or New England (whether of dubious virtue or just playfully funny). Since I have not observed any club tee shirts, ball caps, or pins on women here in The Villages identifying themselves with this club, I must assume that it is a secretive, or underground, movement. Its meetings are not publicized in our Weekly Recreation News, although I am sure that a publicly announced meeting would bring out many new potential members and even more single men interested in becoming Associate Members...  

Friday, April 19, 2013

Rub My Belly! Carp Nest; Hibiscus; Mower; Snow? Commuting in The Villages; Our Summer Tour Schedule

Suzanne is training Rudy and Gretchen to respond to the command “Give Me a Belly” to get them to lie down and roll on their backs. Looks like Gretchen is a fast learner... she loves having her belly rubbed any time of day; Rudy prefers early morning belly rubs, before he gets out of bed. 

While we were walking the puppies in town we saw these carp... not exactly the most glamorous fish. Carp are popular food fish in China, but are generally looked down upon here in the US. That’s because (1) carp are "bottom feeders" (2) most carp in the US were introduced for weed control in lakes and ponds, and (3) carp aren’t particularly tasty. On a recent stroll on the Lake Sumter boardwalk, we observed what I think are grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) building breeding nests in the shallows. Each nest looks to be about 4 feet in diameter, with only one fish per nest. Often males build the nests, then the female comes to the nest to lay her eggs, the male fertilizes them, and then the female goes off to party while the male guards the nest until the eggs hatch. Sort of the reverse of what humans do...  

On the floral front, I featured roses yesterday.  Today’s flower is the hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis). These were spotted in a garden area near Panera, our favorite coffee and breakfast shop. Did you know that you can make tea from the hibiscus, and if you’re not near a 7-11 for a fast food fix, you can dry and eat them. I’m not sure which parts are edible, or the process involved, so Your Faithful Correspondent bears no responsibility for any unfavorable outcomes (gee, that could have multiple meanings and some potentially unpleasant images) should you consume these flowers without the advice of a very experienced horticulturalist. 

While on a bike ride on Friday, I saw an anachronism. This one was neither aggressive nor loud, so I felt pretty safe taking a photo at close range. Actually, it was a pretty benign experience. One of our Villages homeowners was using a push mower to cut his lawn. Not a gas or electric-powered push mower, but the kind I used as a kid on weekends to earn money to supplement the paltry pay I got on my paper route. (Does any other guy or gal out there remember what real neighborhood paper routes were? Okay, I digress...) 

Anyway, Greg Bartin was pushing happily away at high speed (actually, almost at a gallop) across his yard, and as I pulled up, a golf cart with an equally-amazed couple also pulled up and we chatted. Greg uses his completely human-powered push mower for exercise, not because he’s a skinflint or a Luddite. It’s obviously good exercise, because Greg was trim and quite sweaty. (He admits to using a gas powered lawn mower during high heat and humidity days in mid-summer... "Wuss.")  

Our Minnesnowtan Contributor, Terri of the Frozen North, has sent us the following two images... the first shows her two hour commute YESTERDAY (!!!!), resulting from a “late season” blizzard. (I thought “late season” in your lovely state was between July 29 and August 3...) 

The second photo shows Terri standing on her deck admiring the blossoms on the trees... oh, sorry, those aren’t blossoms... 

Terri, you should consider moving somewhere warm, like The Villages. Here is a shot of two local commuters I took about the same time as your blizzard photo... (Suzanne just told me I am cruel.  Sheesh!)

We have been asked about our upcoming summer tour schedule. You may not have heard that we decided not to go to Alaska because of My Lovely Bride's trip to Crete.  It still looks to be an exciting, fun-filled adventure.  As of today, here are the highlights:
May 1                          Depart The Villages
May 3-5                      Marietta/Atlanta, GA
May 6-7                      Nashville, TN
May 15-22                  Boulder/Denver, CO
May 23-26                  Ft Collins, CO
May 29-June 3            Moab, UT
June 6-10                    Page/North Rim Grand Canyon, AZ
June 12-13                  Provo, UT
June 14-15                  Ogden, UT
June 16-19                  Boise/McCall, ID
June 22-23                  Portland, OR
June 25-29                  Tacoma/Forks, WA/Olympic Natl. Park
June 30-July 5             Vancouver Is., BC (Victoria, Nanaimo, Courtenay)
July 6-9                       Vancouver, BC
July 10-11                   Everett, WA/Cascades
July 12-15                   Seattle, WA
July 16-17                   Mt Rainier Natl. Park, WA
July 21-27                   Glacier Natl. Park, MT
July 31-Aug 7              Banff/Jasper Natl. Parks, Alberta
Aug 8-10                     Calgary, Alberta
Aug 17-24                   Cody, WY/Tetons and Yellowstone Natl. Parks
Aug 25-26                   Billings, MT
Aug 28-29                   Teddy Roosevelt Natl. Park, ND
Sep 1-2                        Devil’s Lake, ND
Sep 6-8                        Minneapolis, MN
Sep 10-12                    Ely, MN/Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness
Sep 14-15                    Minneapolis, MN
Sep 17                         Cedar Rapids, IA
Sep 19                         St Louis, MO
Sep 21                         Memphis, TN
Sep 23                         Jackson, MS
Sep 25-27                    New Orleans, LA
Oct 1                           Return to The Villages

If we are coming to your town/city/national park, please let us know so we can get together. Because our actual event schedule is still fluid, I will post Suzanne’s speaking engagements two weeks before each event. Alternatively, they will also be on her web site,

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cruisin’ in Style; A Sweet Kiss and...; “It doesn’t make you look fat”; Two Book Clubs; A Last Walk; An English Rose

Corvette Chick is definitely looking more stylish these days... now, ladies, don’t get me wrong, she’s always looked good, even in Navy cammies and Summer Khakis, which aren’t designed by Schiaparelli, Vera Wang, Coco Chanel or even Martha Stewart. But yesterday she was taking off (somewhat literally) in her red Vette and I noticed a sporty black visor and a cairn necklace, both of which were new to my eyes. (And yes, I do notice these things; after all, I’m not a typical Neanderthal, I’m a “New Age Kinda Guy”. Hey, no snickering out there!).  

Anyway, I asked My Lovely Bride about her new accessories, and learned that the visor was a gift from Noreen Treat and the Cairn necklace from Carell Haimbaugh (who heard Suzanne talking about cairns in her recent presentation). Both gifts were handmade by these talented local artisans right here in The Villages. (Guys, here are two great ideas for unique birthday/Christmas presents for your ladies!) Noreen’s web site is Carell’s telephone number is (847) 894-3322.

Speaking of My Lovely Bride, the other morning before breakfast she came over to my end of the dining room table where I was checking email and having my first cuppa. She had a sweet smile on her face, and leaned over to kiss me, and I said, “Oh, that was very nice...” She replied, “Yes, I’m after your.... coffee.” (Talk about deflating.... one’s ego.)

It must have been “My Day”, so to speak. We were dressing out for a bike ride, and were going to wear matching fluorescent yellow jerseys. I had put mine on, and Suzanne asks, “Hey, is that my jersey?” “I don’t think so, does it look like it?” “Well, it’s looking a bit... um short ..." Then she quickly changed her tune and used my classic line on me, saying, "Well, it doesn’t make you look fat ...” Hmmm, I’m going to have to PT more...

Suzanne has had a great week. Along with her “Making the Connection” talk on Monday, she’s done five readings and spoken to two book clubs. The book clubs had both selected The Priest and the Medium for their monthly discussion groups. She thoroughly enjoyed both groups, and is looking for more such interactions when we return in October from our 10,000 mile book, movie and presentation tour. I will be posting our revised tour schedule in tomorrow’s post. 

I had my last walk today with my Blonde Girlfriend. Jingles, a beautiful Golden Retriever, is being transferred to a full-time trainer for the next phase of her preparation to become a service dog for a disabled veteran. I will miss her, but her Dog Mom Laurene is really going to miss her company and unconditional love. Only other “Dog People” can understand how attached you can get to our little furry friends.  

Some readers may recall that Your Faithful Correspondent has a terminal condition... a brown thumb... when it comes to plants and flowers. Well, I have some good news. Colette Newman, who is from England, had given us a rosebush in a bag--you know ...the kind you have to transplant and nurture or it will die? Well, she must have prayed for a Miracle in my case, because the darned thing has actually survived and is now blooming! Thank you, Colette, for the lovely rose bush and for saving me from Horticultural Damnation!  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon; Ed the Fisherman; Wiper Woes; AHA!

I didn’t post yesterday because I was too upset about the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon. I ran Boston in 1981 with a time of 3:37 with thousands of other “back of the pack” runners who just wanted to complete this iconic race and experience the joys of running one of the world’s greatest marathons. My memories of that day are all good, especially “the Chute” at Wellesley College, but even the pain of Heartbreak Hill. In those days, the biggest danger was tripping over another runner at the crowded start. That a perverted mind or an evil terrorist could ruin that experience for thousands of young and old, and take lives, limbs and loved ones away from hundreds, is an abomination. But like many tragedies that are inflicted upon our country and citizens, we shall survive and grow stronger from this experience. We shall likely become a bit more cynical, and much more careful, but we shall prevail. Go Boston! 

While visiting Tampa over the weekend, we took a stroll on the walkway between Bayside Drive and Tampa Bay.  We met this guy, Ed, standing on the seawall fishing. We asked if he was catching any, and he replied that he caught 40 or 50 but he believed in catch and release, so he threw them all back. (A man after my own heart... a conservationist... a tender-hearted guy... an inveterate liar... a real fisherman.) Dressed in faded, torn jeans, Ed looked the part of a knowledgeable local fisherman who could give me some sage advice on catching a lunker redfish for dinner. He told me exactly where to fish and what lure to use. The next morning, My Good Buddy Bob and I went to the recommended spot and fished for an hour and a half. I must have caught 20 lbs of.... sea lettuce and sea grass and sea weed... it would have made a meal fit for Neptune. As long as he was a vegan. Sigh...

Our friends Jan and Bob Blythe drove their American Eagle to and from Tampa in company with ours; you know, safety in numbers? After all, Tampa is a pretty wild place. Our Bus had one mechanical malfunction while driving on I-75: a broken passenger side windshield wiper. It would start rotating, and then it would flop too far to one side or another. I thought that maybe the spline connecting the wiper blade and the drive shaft might have worn excessively. Here Bob and I are analyzing the problem. It was a tough one to solve, made all the harder by the fact that since we had stopped at a rest stop on the Interstate, having a beer or three to help our analytic abilities was out of the question, for two reasons: (a) safety on the highway; and (b) My Lovely Bride had forgotten to move the beers from our home fridge to that of The Bus. (Boy, is she gonna be in a world of hurt.... Smack! Hey, Sweetheart, Love of My Life, My Darling Suzanne, I was just kidding... really!) 

So, when we got back home, I called up the schematic on the Internet for the exploded view of the wiper mechanism. I got out my handy socket set, disassembled the cover, and found that the hex nut holding the wiper arm tight to the spline had simply backed off a half turn or so, letting the arm slip. I tightened it, and Voila! Wiper now works just like new. “A 5 minute RV job!”  

I proudly told My Loving Wife of my successful repair, and she smugly said, “Well, Dear, that’s another reason why I know I married the right man; it certainly wasn’t for your fishing prowess...” Sigh...

Suzanne gave a presentation of her new Making the Connection talk for the Awakening Human Awareness (AHA!) Club here in The Villages. Her good friend Lynn Walker, co-president of the AHA Club, introduced her to the 100 members of the Club and others at the Bacall Recreation Center. They enjoyed hearing about the miracles that can happen when attuning to higher consciousness and appreciated the suggestions for anyone wanting to make those connections on their own. (She will give this talk one more time --this Sunday from 2:00-4:00 at the Ocala Inner Center--before we head on our summer tour.  See details on the events page of her website). The photo shows Suzanne talking to her assistant, Bev Garlipp, about our upcoming trip. Like last year, Bev is coordinating events across the country. They also will be listed on Suzanne's website.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Tampa Bay Tripping; Boards and Birds; Rabe Pizza????

My Lovely Daughter Elisabeth has wanted to go paddleboarding when she visits us down here in Florida, but the weather has not cooperated when she was able to get off work for a few days and visit from DC. So while we were in Tampa on our American Eagle Shakedown Cruise, we decided to rent a couple of paddleboards for two hours and try them out. Here is Corvette Chick showing me how it’s done.  

Now here are Bob and Jan taking their turns. Looks pretty easy, doesn’t it? (Don't let the apparently calm seas fool you... a catastrophe is about to happen!)

And here is Jan after the 12 foot freak wave hit her... or was it a 15 foot hammerhead shark? Anyway, Jan is explaining what happened to the young girls who came out to see if she was okay. (The kids belong to the guy throwing the cast net and his wife.) 

We saw many sea and shore birds yesterday. Here are just a few Black Skimmers (Rhynchops niger) goofing off and gossiping on the beach; Wikipedia even describes their behavior as “They spend much time loafing gregariously on sandbars...”  They are called skimmers because they fly just above the surface of the water with their lower mandibles skimming the surface, picking up small fish and crustaceans, mostly at night. They are also very noisy!   

These Marbled Godwits (Limosa fedoa) are very shy; I tried getting closer to them, but they kept moving away. (It might have been because I hadn’t showered yet...) 

There was a little girl running up and down the beach who scared the birds on several occasions, sparking more than one aerial display of formation flying. 

This was much appreciated, especially since the current administration has cancelled the Navy’s Blue Angels performances due to the sequestration nonsense. But I did miss the jet noise and smoke trails, just a bit... 

This example of tightly packed precision flying impressed Suzanne when we looked at it closely. It was a stunningly beautiful display, and there was not a single mid-air collision!

Here are our two American Eagles, side by side at the MacDill AFB Family Campground. Maybe we will try some tight formation flying on I-75 when we make our Mach 1.5 trip back to The Villages on Sunday... and maybe NOT!

Dinner out was at a pizza place, a chain that we had been very impressed by when we ate at their Fort Lauderdale restaurant. Unfortunately, the Tampa extension is still working out some kinks in their menu... such as, My Lovely Healthy Bride opted to share a pizza, with broccoli rabe and tofu toppings. (Okay, I’m kidding about the tofu, but really, “rabe”? NOBODY eats rabe on pizza!) The only thing that saved dinner were the chicken wings with carmelized onions and foccacia, which were spectacular. Oh, and we stopped later for a cookies and cream milkshake at Chick-fil-A; that sure salvaged my evening!