Friday, February 27, 2015

Busy in Northern Florida

We moved north to a Nomads project in Williston Florida about 2 weeks ago, and are just now updating our blog.  Sorry for the delay. 

Citrus trees are a big part of southern Florida’s economy, but they are not found around here.  Instead this area is known for horses, cattle, and peanut production.  Williston is a small town with a population of less than 3,000 at the last census.  Although it is small, it has a very active congregation and has hosted Nomads every year for quite some time.  They also feed us well: at a local restaurant, at the church’s fellowship hall, and at a number of private homes.  

Our work started out a little slowly during the first week, but we soon got busy with roof and gutter cleaning, pressure washing, woodwork cleaning and painting.  Last weekend, some of us took a field trip to the town of Cedar Key and a boat ride on the Gulf of Mexico.  It was mainly a bird-watching trip to see the many varieties that are nesting on the small islands just offshore.

Before leaving town, we had dinner at Tony’s Seafood, winner of the title “Worlds Champion – Clam Chowder” for 3 consecutive years (2009-2011).  It was yummy and we got some frozen chowder to take home with us.
Our second week had us building a storage rack for the community Thrift Store, and a wheelchair ramp at a private home, plus more pressure washing.  Prior to dinner last Tuesday, we stopped to see one member’s home that was part zoo, part grotto, and also offered scuba diving in a spring.  See    


Today we went to The Villages, to meet with other Nomad friends for lunch at a great deli and to see the Watkins’ new motorhome.
Tomorrow will see some of us taking another field trip to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park.  She authored “The Yearling” and other books about the lives of the people of Florida.  For more details, see

Friday, February 13, 2015

It’s a Small, Small World

This past week we’ve continued to stay at the Escapees campground near Bushnell, FL.  It’s a campground for members of the Escapees club – mostly full-timers.  So most of us here have an understanding of this lifestyle, which is nice. 

We found this saying printed on the back of a nearby motorhome that caught our attention:
                                         It says, "If there is anything left, we miscalculated".
Upon taking walks this week, we’ve come across the following connections just within this campground:

-        We saw a couple walking their dog.  The man had an Amazon shirt on like the ones we got this year for working there.  Stopped to talk and they worked in Campellsville, KY and knew a Nomads couple that are friends of ours.

-        After the above conversation, we saw another couple.  The wife had a Minnesota shirt on.  While talking with them, we found that the man lived in Duluth in the 80’s.  Ended up he lived on Catskill St. (same street that Paige’s family house was) and bought that house from people Paige knew.

-        Walked by an RV with a plaque stating name and that they lived in Crystal, MN.  Upon talking to them, discovered that they lived fairly close to our former church and are good friends with a couple we know from the church.

-        Met another man walking his dog.  Turns out he’s a “Ranger” who was originally from Virginia MN – and familiar with the Whiteface.  They raised their children in Alabama but go back to MN every summer now that they retired.

So, it’s always amazing to us that there are so many connections between people, if you just take the time to have a conversation.

This past week was a quiet one.  We took the time to give the motorhome a bath, do laundry, go for walks, do taxes (yuk!!), and take a ride to the big RV dealership, LazyDays, in Tampa. 

Today was the Nomads Florida get together in Fruitland Park.  There were 144 people who came together for lunch and fellowship.  We saw so many familiar faces but also realized there are so many that we haven’t met yet.  There are about 1000 Nomads on the membership roles right now so it’s a fairly big group!

Tomorrow morning we move to our next project in Williston, FL, only about 60 miles away from here.  We’ll be there for 3 weeks, working with couples in 4 other RV’s and we’ve never met any of these folks yet. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

How Time Does Fly

We have had 6 mostly-quiet days since we last posted, but they have been so boring it is hard to remember what we did.  We left the Keys on Wednesday, avoiding Florida’s tollroad and Miami’s notorious traffic by taking FL#997 north from Homestead to US27 and then northwest to the shores of Lake Okeechobee, or at least close to the shores.  This lake is the 7th largest in the country, but exceptionally shallow, with an average depth of only 9 feet.  When we were close to it, all we saw was a dike which surrounds it.  The dike was originally installed, and later raised, to protect residents from the flooding that has happened when storms push the water surface over its original banks.  There is controlled release of its water now, which flows south into the Everglades.

We took a day off on Thursday for laundry and some looking around the area.  There is not much to see or do except for fishing which is what most winter visitors do here.  On Friday we continued back to central Florida, to an area west of Orlando and north of Tampa, where we booked into an Escapees park for the next 8 days.  The central part of the state has more citrus groves than we have ever seen, but up here there is more rolling land with forests and cattle.  We have even seen some logging trucks.

Sunday was our social day, where Paige made her lasagna and Bob made fresh bread.  Our Nomad friends Nancy and Dave came here for lunch and chatting.  At the risk of upsetting our northern friends, I will say we sat around outdoors on our patio area, but I won’t get into specifics of temperature (except to say it was very pleasant).

Next Friday we will go to a Nomads Florida Get-Together where we’ll see many other Nomads.  We’re looking forward to this event.  We will stay here until next Saturday, when we move to our next work project, only 65 miles away in Williston. 

Stay Tuned for more exciting adventures.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

End of the Road, and Then Some

At the end of December we finished over 9 weeks of working for Amazon with the thoughts: “We are glad to have the stamina to do this kind of work” and “We are thankful that we don’t have to do this kind of work to continue living like this.”  While working at Amazon, we needed an incentive to keep going and considered a short cruise or something similar.  Some magazine articles convinced us that the Florida Keys would be just the thing we were looking for so here we are.

First thing we learned is that most RV parking areas during this time of year are reserved about a year in advance.  Many places I called could have us come in during April or May, but not January or February.  We were able to find a 3-day spot on Marathon Key, about 45 miles from Key West.  We left Naples on Sunday, taking the older, slower, US highway #41, the Tamiami Trail, through the Big Cypress National Preserve and the edge of the Everglades. 

An alligator just resting
We were set up at our campground in Marathon by mid-afternoon with our lawn chairs overlooking a small channel into the Atlantic Ocean behind us, and the Gulf of Mexico across the road in front of us.  This park is full of friendly people who are here for the warm weather and fishing.  We were invited to a chili cookoff at the on-site Tiki bar and to a Super Bowl party at a nearby sunset lounge.  Instead, we stayed in and caught the football game on AM radio (there is no broadcast TV or cable here, and we no longer subscribe to Dish satellite service).
That's us in the middle, with neighbor's boat to the left

Our Backyard

Monday was our big sightseeing day.  We were up early to drive to the Key West airport.  Key West is at the end of US highway #1, but it is not the end of the Florida Keys.  A 10-passenger DeHaviland Otter seaplane took us to the least-visited National Park, the Dry Tortugas, see  for more details.
Ready for TakeOff
We took a self-guided tour of Fort Jefferson and went snorkeling until the plane came back to return us to Key West.  Fort Jefferson was built and used but never completed.  The number of bricks used in this fort is incredible!  There are a few people who work here and live in this fort.  What a lonely/peaceful life - depending on your perspective.  No TV or Internet connectivity!
Looking Out, across Moat, toward Ferry boat

Time to head Home
Back in Key West, we walked a short ways before catching a ride on a tour trolley bus.  Key West seems to be very densely populated.  Lots of houses very close to each other with many beautiful plants and flowers - not a lot of lawn to mow. 

After a late lunch downtown, we finished the narrated tour and retuned to Marathon just after sunset.
Hemmingway's House
End (or Start) of US1
Most Popular Key West photo
Tuesday we stayed in Marathon, but kept on playing tourist by going through a T-shirt shop and touring the Sea Turtle Hospital, see  We saw many turtles and learned about how they work to get them healthy.  One of the most common ailments is called "bubble butt" caused by an air pocket under their shell which prevents the turtle from diving down to get food.  They ultimately starve if not treated.  Many turtles are treated with Metamucil and Beano to clean their intestines and eliminate bloating and weights are put on their shells to help them dive for food.  They are released once they get rid of the infection and can dive for their own food.   
It is for Real, one of three
OR with simulated patient

Recovery Room

We spent the afternoon enjoying the lawn chairs and the view from our back yard.  Tonight it's out for supper - no cooking on vacation!!  Guess the vacation will be over tomorrow - back to normal?!