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Thursday, June 25, 2020

Link to Next Chapter

Happy R'Versary! (final post in this Chapter) Day 2195 (Year 6, Day 356)

Land O'Lakes, FL

Of course, once again, the math doesn't add up.  This should be Day 366 (leap year), so I'm not sure where the 10 days went.

Today marks the beginning of the 7th year that we will be RV full-timers (  

Although it began as an interesting adventure, the past several years have taken us a bit off our planned track (my favorite saying is "plans are made in bubbles."  To recap our lives since then:

2014 started off with a bang, as about 2 weeks after moving in, I dislocated my hip for the 3rd time.  We landed up living with Mitch's brother for a few months until I had the surgery and recovered.  So we were really ready to start our journeys in late 2014.

2014-2015, we had hoped that Mitch would be able to continue to find freelance IT gigs wherever we went, so we had the flexibility to travel and and when we wanted.  Mostly our travel plans were made around attending various RV rallies in various states.

Unfortunately, around the middle to end of 2015, we realized that the employment plans for Mitch were not working.  The gigs he needed were mostly found in the big cities, where we had no intention of being (visiting, perhaps, but not living there).  We needed an alternative, and he was fortunate enough to hook up with a company that did utility inspections (gas lines).  They had jobs all over the country, so although we could no longer travel where and when we wanted, we still did get to see a bit of the country, and would stay in places anywhere from 3 to 9 months.  

This was our lifestyle until the end of 2018, when the utility inspection company closed down shop due to a lot of mismanagement at the top thus causing them to lose almost all of their contracts (and the need to layoff all their contractors).  We were in VA Beach at the time and had no idea what the next steps would be.  We decided that since it was the middle of the winter, we would go someplace warm while we figured things out.  We landed up in Zephyrhills, Florida, about 25 miles from Tampa.  We thought we would be there only for about 3 to 6 months, but turns out we were there for 18 months (a year and a half!!!) with Mitch unemployed the entire time.

Thankfully, this year (2020) in March, right before the coronavirus pandemic started to hit hard, Mitch found gainful employment with NCR, repairing ATM and cash machines.  We moved to Land O'Lakes in June, where he could be at least 1/2 hour closer to where his jobs are.  Although the company has work all over the country, it is not like short term gigs where we can travel.  Mitch needs to establish himself with the company before he can ask for a transfer and then, who even knows where that would be to?  In any event, it does look like we'll be staying put here for at least a year, if not much longer.

So, at this point, I think I will start Part III since I really don't have much, if anything to tell about any more. With the pandemic and both of us working, we don't have the opportunity to go out anywhere anyway and since we're not traveling, there's really nothing exciting to share.  I will continue to post about our lives that family & friends may need to know.  And I pray that some day in the next few years I can start Part IV when the journey continues.  That may just need to be when/if we're able to retire and travel freely once again.  At that point, I may even be able to convince Mitch to downsize to a smaller RV that allows us to stop and pull in almost anywhere.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Saw orthopedic surgeon - Day 2195 (Year 6, Day 356)

Land O'Lakes, FL

It has been 3 weeks of waiting but I finally saw a new orthopedist regarding my hip.  He comes extremely highly recommended by numerous sources and he does live up to his reputation (not to mention how hot he is!! 😊

Bottom line is that he WILL do the surgery, and most of the visit was describing the risks, which I am willing to take (especially since the % are very low) to have a better quality of life, especially to be able to take longer walks again.  It will probably be at least another 3 months though, so watch this page for updates.

Nothing else to report.

Monday, June 15, 2020

A few photos - Day 2187 (Year 6, Day 348)

Land O'Lakes, FL

It was a bit too hot and I was a bit too sore to make the trek down to the lake today, but I took a few "local" photos.

The main entrance, from inside the entrance (this is just steps from my front door, to the right)

Our site. I don't know why, before coming here, I didn't remember any trees.  There are plenty!  In fact, the tree in front gives plenty of shade.  I sat outside for a while today.  Although it was very hot in the sun, it was about 10* less in the shade, and there was a pleasant breeze.

The next 2 photos are looking towards the end of my "street."  The 2nd one is a zoom-in.  If you look closely at the center, the blue you see is a glimpse of the lake.  Hopefully later this week I can take more photos of some of the landscaping along the route and of the lake itself.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

This week - Day 2186 (Year 6, Day 347)

Land O'Lakes, FL

Not too much exciting going on.  Mitch's schedule keeps changing every few weeks so it's hard to get adjusted to anything.  He's been working Sundays 8-5 and Mon-Thurs 1-10.  Today he's working 10-7 and will be back on days (Mon-Thurs 8-5) for the next 2 weeks.  Then he reverts back to nights.  At least he has a job!  Not complaining.  Variety is the spice of life!  Meanwhile, he's loving his commute.  Well, not exactly loving it, as who can love commuting?  But he's certainly very pleased with getting home in 10-15 minutes instead of an hour.

Yesterday was Shabbat and for the first time since the beginning of March, our shul decided to hold limited services (once again, thrilled about the commute there--8 miles instead of 20). Chairs were 6 feet apart, everyone was required to wear masks, door handles were constantly cleaned (and there was hand sanitizer stations in several places).  Socializing was strongly discouraged and there was no kiddush lunch.  We didn't have a minyan (10 men) so we couldn't read from the Torah, so I'm not sure how that would have been handled (hopefully we'll find out in the coming weeks). This definitely is a different world we live in. Judaism places great value on life and it is forbidden to do anything that threatens it.  Since this coronavirus is extremely contagious and can potentially be fatal, doing anything to help spread the disease is strictly forbidden.  Thus the reason for all the precautions (unlike many churches, protests and Trump rallies where there are thousands of people gathered in a tight space without any precautions).

Yesterday, also, we took another walk down to the lake.  We discovered the swimming area, which I would never go into, as it looks like it's full of reeds, minnows, algae.  I suppose that's what a lake looks like.  Thanks but give me a well maintained blue swimming pool and I'm happy!!!  We did discover that there are 2 public docks: 1 that has a gazebo at the end and the other is open and designated for fishing (there were quite a few people on that one yesterday).  We sat in the gazebo on the lake for about 20 minutes, but then the sky grew dark and we heard the distant roar of thunder.  Being that I was having problems walking, I wanted to get a head start back to the rig so we wouldn't have to try to outrun the rain.  Have to remember that this is Florida during the summer, where afternoon rains and t'storms are an almost daily occurrence. (BTW, sorry that I still haven't take any photos of my walk to the lake and the lake itself.  Haven't had the energy or motivation to take that walk by myself and the only time I did was on Shabbat, with Mitch, when I can't use my camera).  Still on the waiting list for when those other folks move out so we can have a lakeside site.  But I suspect that may not be happening any time soon.  This is fine, though.  I am not as miserable as I thought I'd be.  I can live here for a while.

Nothing else new.  Business is still somewhat slow, but we are still very grateful for our health, a roof over our heads and food on the table.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Next impressions of new place - Day 2179 (Year 6, Day 340)

Land O'Lakes, FL

It really is a matter of perspective, and sometimes just turning your head in a different direction or walking out your door.

Yesterday, despite being on the edge of a tropical storm and thereby experiencing all day rains, at times torrential, we actually had about an hour or 2 where the rain stopped.  Despite everything being wet and there being numerous puddles along the way, Mitch and I were determined to follow through on our desire to take a Shabbat walk to explore the lake.

Turns out the walk itself was very manageable for me, although I did need to stop a few times along the way.  Our street is actually very lovely.  Almost every home has a screened in porch and there were actually only 1 or 2 homes that had visible clutter and/or were in severe need of a good wash.  For the most part, almost every home had beautiful landscaping: lots of plants and flowers and chockies.  Grass is kept trimmed and it is very clean and neat looking (I hope to take some photos later this week).  So, to reiterate, although the view out my window and the noise at this site, needs a bit of imagination to tolerate, all I need to do is walk to the end of my site and look to the right to see a better view, and all I need to do is take a 5 minute walk to enter an almost different world.

When we got to the lake area (at the end of the road, which is no more than 1/10th mile), it was absolutely the difference between night and day compared to our site.  It was SOOO serene, and instead of roadway traffic, all you could hear was the sounds of the water birds (even saw a few cranes and herons) and the splash of the water against the dock.  There is a small pavilion and a public dock with a gazebo at the end, complete with chairs.  There was actually a gentleman sitting on the bench, fishing.  There is one RV site there and we're on the waiting list for when those folks move out (they were supposed to leave in March as they, like us, travel for work.  But due to the pandemic, they can no longer work and therefore have nowhere else to go at this point).

And the "exciting" stuff going on this week:

1)  Need to have the roof replaced.  As mentioned a few days ago, when we arrived and were pulling into the spot, the limbs of the tree did some damage to the roof.  We had our RV tech come and take a look (and also sent a lot of photos to the insurance company) and it was determined by both that the entire roof needs to be replaced, as just patching that one little area wouldn't guarantee any long term prevention of future leaks (thankfully, insurance will cover all this).  They plan to start the work this coming Tuesday (6/9/20).  They will also replace the fabric on the back awning and all 3 slide toppers, which all have tears (hey, it's a 12 year old unit; these things get worn out.  Also covered by the insurance check).

2)  Sewer (drain) fly infestation.  It was explained that this was most likely caused by all the shaking up when we moved (it truly is like going thru an earthquake zone when you tow as no roads are 100% smooth).  These flies (look like gnats) live and plant their larvae in the gray and black tanks but as long as the tanks are flushed constantly and you sit still, mostly you won't see more than a few at a time.  But this time around, moving caused a very severe infestation.  It was so bad that when I needed to make the challah on Friday, it took 2 of us: one to work the dough and the other to stand and swat the flies away so they wouldn't land in the dough.  Cooking has been extremely difficult in that regard (not getting gnats in the food).  Sitting at my table, my face was red due to constantly hitting myself (actually trying to swat them away from my face and hitting myself in the process.  A few times they got in my eyes and nose).

Thankfully, by today, we have the situation under completely under control.  We flushed and back-flushed the tanks, put solutions of apple cider vinegar & dish soap in cups near the sinks (you'd be surprised how many gnats were found dead in the solution), and poured dish soap into the drains.  Also filled a spray bottle with a dish soap solution and shot at them (they died instantly when I was able to make contact). Seemed to work!

Anyway, hope to get more photos this week.

PS:  In case you're wondering, this is NOT the place where they make the butter.  That is Land O'Lakes, Wisconsin.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

First impressions of new place - Day 2175 (Year 6, Day 336)

Land O'Lakes, FL

I haven't had the chance yet to walk around and explore, so more will come, but here are my first impressions from what I've seen in the last 2 days.

For one, Mitch was super ecstatic about his commute: he said it only took him about 10-15 minutes to get home last night (as compared to almost an hour).

The view out my windows:  the view from the back window is right up against the trailer behind us, with a rusted awning and air conditioner unit. I closed the day shade so at least I don't see it and there's still some light coming in.  This is acceptable. I was concerned about looking out my "office" window and seeing a rusted shed, but all I can really see is a small portion of the corner of the roof.  Mostly I see our tree and the highway, the trailer across from us and if I move my head a bit, 2 bushes with pink and lavender flowers.  Not as pretty as Zephyrhills, but not as terrible as I anticipated either.  I can live with this view.  And if I sit outside, I will see more open space (and the highway) instead of the shed, which was what I originally feared.  On a side note, being right off the highway, the noise is horrific.  But I'm sure at some point we'll get used to it and be able to tune it out.  Bottom line: not as bad as I feared.  Not great either, but I can learn to live with it.

There is a great deal of activity here.  We are a few feet away from the dumpsters, so of course there is a lot of foot and car traffic of people bringing their trash. On a positive note, it makes it incredibly easy for us to dump our trash.  At Z'hills, Mitch would put the bags on the hood of the car and drive it to the dumpster on his way out.  In other places, we had to do the same thing, or walk a bit of a ways to get there.  So this is very convenient.  Unfortunately, they don't have a recycle program here so we'll need to find where the public recycling place is.  After 1.5 years of recycling our  plastics, it sickens me to think how much we were throwing out and sending to the dumps (which would eventually find its way to the oceans and kill the fish and birds).  I really want to be able to continue recycling, even if it's a bit inconvenient to bring it to a dump site.

Back to activity... the park is basically a large circle and I've seen quite a number of people either walking or bike riding around it.  Most of them pass our site between 10 and 20 times.  I'm hoping at some point I will sit outside and start a conversation with all the passersby.  I'm also hoping that the weather will permit on Saturday for me and Mitch to take a walk to the end of our road where the public access to the lake is.  We're told there's a dock where we can fish.  I'm hoping there are chairs there as well.  Really looking forward to learning how far it is (can I do the walk?).  Overall, I'm feeling extremely positive that there are a lot of good, friendly folks here and we will make a few new friends.