I received an invitation today to take part in a poll. The main emphasis was on whether Donald Trump had a chance to be the next Republican candidate for President. I have included the poll results to date for you to view. I was surprised at the results. I like "The Donald", but honestly never thought of him as a serious Presidential candidate. When you think about it, though, he would probably have a lot to say to the corrupt politicians that have created our current problems.....
We awoke this morning to heavy rain, wind and thunder. Checking the weather report informed us that we were in for more of the same, including tornados dancing around our area. I received a number of calls from concerned friends checking to make sure that we were not in danger. Evidently our weather was making national news. We were fortunate not having a tornado set down on top of our house, but we did get some extreme weather, as the picture of this fallen tree shows. The tree has been dead for awhile and I have feared that it would come crashing down, but just have not taken the time to do it. I have dreaded cutting it up into five foot sections as required for refuge removal, considering it is like sawing through petrified wood. Most of the branches have fallen in previous storms, and have worn my chainsaw chain down to nothing. I just haven't taken the time to purchase a new chain. Now I have no choice.... it is off to Sears for a new chain.
I am sure we will experience rain for most of the day, but it looks like the worse has passed. There is still a tornado watch for most of central Florida until 8:00 PM tonight. Here is a radar shot showing the current activity. Fortunately, I needed to catch up on paperwork neglected from our recent trip, so the weather outside did not inconvenience me in the least. We did need the rain, as we have been experiencing a dry spell here.
I left the house here in Lakeland this morning and headed back to Okeechobee to retreive the jet boat, which I left at Silver Palms yesterday. On the way, I stopped at a diner (Sebring Diner) that I noticed on our trip yesterday. The thing I noticed about the diner was the large number of cars in the parking lot. When I see that many cars parked at a resturant, I assume it is good. The only exception is when there are no other establishments available in the area. That was not the case, as resturants were plentiful in Sebring. My theory proved true. I had corned beef hash, eggs and home fried pototoes, all of which were delicious. I'm a succer for good breakfast food, not only in the morning, and this was about as good as it gets. If you are ever in the Sebring, Florida area, check this place out. They have a full menu and it all looked good.
Hummer & Boat ready for trip home
Jet Boat on Trailer
After arriving at the Silver Palms RV Village in Okeechobee, I hooked the boat to the Hummer; then stopped at the office to let them know I was taking it. When I ask if I owed them for storing it they said no. Its the little things that make you feel good about a place. I will definately return for another visit in the near future.
Before leaving Okeechobee, I stopped at the "Tobacco Market" and purchased a couple more cartons. I wanted to stock up since they are so cheap, and I may not find a store like this in my area. The store was over-run with customers and it was a two hour wait before I left with my cigarettes. I normally would not have waited that long, but I utilized the time talking to the owner as to how the business worked. It just might be something to consider. The start-up costs are approximately $70,000.00 and Clint,the owner, stated that he recovered his initial investment in the first eight weeks. That's impressive! The above start-up figure includes two automatic rolling machines, but Clint only has one. He stated that you really need two machines, thus the back-up I experienced today in his store with only one. Anyone want to consider partnering on a store like this?
I try not to get carried away when it comes to politics, but after receiving this "Situation Report" from my local Congressman, Richard Nugent, I felt I needed to share it with you. I have copied his report below.
Last week, I held a number of emergency meetings around the 5th District. The subject was our impending budget crisis. Like most people, I knew that our nation’s spending habits would inevitably result in a crisis, but the experts all said that crisis was twenty or thirty years off.
On one of my first days in Washington, I attended a “members only” briefing held by my colleague Paul Ryan, the Chairman of the House Budget Committee. I walked out of that first meeting with my jaw on the floor. The danger stemming from our fiscal situation is far more immediate and far more severe than the experts had predicted. There are many reasons why that happened, but for now, let’s just say the recession and a few trillion dollars worth of “stimulus” and “bailouts” didn’t help.
I try to keep these things short, so let me give you just one key point to think about in terms of the immediacy of this crisis: Annual Social Security spending – our single biggest budget line item by far – is roughly $700 billion per year. Annual interest payments are currently $200 billion per year, but in the next three years that $200 billion will grow to $550 and by 2018 it will be over $800 billion per year in annual interest payments. We’re already borrowing forty cents on every dollar the federal government spends. How can we possibly afford another trillion-dollar line item? The simple answer is, we can’t. If we do nothing to stop this train, America will default and the world will see a far worse financial crisis than the one we are going through right now. It will take years to undo this problem and we don’t have many years left. That’s the “emergency” part of the meetings. This week, House and Senate negotiators are continuing to work toward reaching an agreement on spending cuts for the remainder of this year. Some say, “shut the government down. Don’t negotiate with the Democrats.” To put it mildly, I share their enthusiasm for reducing the deficit, but based on what I’ve seen, we need to be fighting for much more than spending cuts for the remainder of the year. We need to be figuring out how we are going to get this President and the Democrat-controlled Senate to cooperate on reducing our structural deficits over the short, medium, and long term. That’s what we should be fighting for.
We will push hard for every dollar of savings we can get before the end of this fiscal year, but in this fight, we cannot miss the forest for the trees.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. As always, please forward this along to others and ask them to drop me a line as well.
After coffee on the patio this morning, we left Silver Palms for our two hour trip back home in Lakeland. Unlike yesterday, it was a beautiful day with clear skies and plenty of sunshine. We had a relaxing trip home through central Florida.... Sebring, Avon Park, Lake Wales and Bartow. I love to travel the non-interstate routes when time is not a factor. We see the country and towns along the way rather than counting the mile markers on the interstates and turnpikes.
After carrying a few essentials from the motor home into the house, we went to our local Golden Corral for dinner. We just did not feel like cooking, plus I'm not sure we could have found anything to prepare if we had wanted to. For $23.00 we both enjoyed a hearty and healthy meal with no dishes to wash. You can't beat their fresh vegetables.
We woke to a cloudy, rainy day this morning. Not the type of day I wanted to put Dodie behind the wheel of the Hummer with her eye problem. It was not a hard decision to stay another day at Silver Palms. It rained most of the day with only brief periods of relief. After being on the go for the last couple weeks, we enjoyed relaxing in the motor home with the sound of rain on the roof.
After having beef stroganoff and salad for dinner, I went to the jacuzzi. This could become a habit. We really should have one at home. I plan to look into the cost of a jacuzzi that would work for us as soon as we arrive back home. I have had jacuzzi's in the past, and almost forgot how much relief they can give to an aching back and muscles throughout your body. Maybe I can get Dodie's doctor to prescribe one for her back, then it would be deductible.
We decided to stay another day at Silver Palms RV Village. Dodie's eye is still giving her trouble, but seems to be somewhat better. Hopefully, we can head back to Lakeland tomorrow.
I started the day by attending a Sunday brunch at the clubhouse. They had a buffet of extremely good breakfast food. Delicious biscuits with gravy, scrambled eggs made with lots of sausage mixed in, grits, pancakes and more.
After breakfast, I made a supply run down to the local Walmart Superstore. We were almost out of cigarettes and I found a place with a sign advertising cheap cigarettes. I stopped to check it out, and was surprised to discover that they only sold roll-your-own varieties. It was a unique twist, in that they sold you the tobacco, wrappers, etc., then sent you over to a machine that automatically rolled the cigarettes. This allowed them to wave the normal taxes that have been piled on top of the cost of cigarettes. They ended up costing around $25.00 per carton..... a big savings. I was able to sample a number of blends of tobacco and choose the one I liked best. Not only are they much cheaper, but there are no chemicals in the tobacco or filters. I purchased a carton for myself as well as one for Dodie. The lady in the shop told me that these stores are getting popular, and I should be able to find one in the Lakeland area. I hope so, since the savings are significant. I know....... I should stop smoking. Someday.
After my shopping expedition, I went over to the pool area to cool off. It was a beautiful afternoon for taking a swim and soaking up some sun. Also, I spent some quality time in the jaccuzi in order to get some back and neck muscles loosened up. I should sleep like a baby tonight.
I am beginning to like this place. All of the residents are friendly and the facilities are new and "top notch". We will definately come back and spend more time here soon.
I left for Ft. Lauderdale this morning and made the five hour round trip to retreive the jet boat. It is now parked in the storage area here in Silver Palms RV Village in Okeechobee. Dodie's eye is not that much better today, so I'm not sure she will be up to driving the Hummer back to Lakeland tomorrow. I'll just have to wait and make a decision on how to proceed tomorrow. We may stay over another day and hope that her eye will be well enough for her to drive back Monday, or simply leave the boat here until I can come back and pick it up later. The resort has graciously offered to let me store it here, so that may be my best option. It is a shame that Florida law does not permitt towing two rigs behind the motor home. I could very easily do that if it was legal.
I started the morning off by taking a complimentary boat tour of Lake Okeechobee. It ended up being a fantastic tour. Captain John Campbell was extremely informed of the facts and history of Lake Okeechobee. Okeechobee is the second largest fresh water lake in the United States. It covers 730 square miles (467,200 acres) and averages about ten feet in depth. In addition to the many recreational benifits it offers, it is the primary water source for South Florida. The lake is thirty-seven miles long and thirty miles wide.
Seven foot gator
Living in Florida for over forty years, I have seen my share of alligators, but I could not believe how densily the lake and surounding asteries are populated with gators. I definately would not advise swimming in these waters.
Approaching Lake Okechobee
I have never been on the Northern areas of Lake Okeechobee, although I have crossed the lake many times between Port Mayaka (on the Eastern shore) and Moore Haven (on the Western shore) while transversing the state through the Okeechobee Waterway between Port St. Lucie and Ft. Myers. The depth of the Northern area of the lake would not accommodate my boat's 4' 6" draft.
Okee-Tantie Campground lies right on the shore of the Kissimmii river. This would be a great place to camp if you have a boat, as the marina with slips to rent is next door. I was told, however, that the utilities are somewhat unreliable since the last huricane came through. I'll have to check this out more thoroughly before coming back with the boat.
Birds guarding the bridge
I called an eye clinic here in Okeechobee and scheduled an appointment for Dodie to have her eye checked. The doctor examined her eye and found an extremely bad scratch on her cornia. He perscribed some medication for her and felt that it should be better within a few days. We immediately had the perscription filled at a CVS pharmacy down the street and I dropped the first dose into her eye in their parking lot. We felt that the sooner she started the medication, the sooner it would heal. Within a few hours, she told me it was feeling better, so hopefully, it will work.
Dinner & Play
Tonight I was invited to a dinner and murder/mystery performance. The players performed amongst the audience and interacted with us throughout the night. Several of us were pulled into the performance. I was shot at one point, but fortunately, I was allowed to live to see another day. I was not the murdered victom, thank goodness. As always in a performance like this, the most unlikely character was the murderer. The dinner was exceptionally good, and so was the wine. It was a great evening.
Some of the actors in tonight's performance
Tomorrow morning I will be taking the Hummer and driving back to Ft. Lauderdale to pick up the jet boat. Hopefully, Dodie's eye will be well enough by Sunday for her to follow me back to Lakeland while I drive the motor home with the boat in tow.
We are now settled on our assigned lot here at Silver Palms RV Village. It is a new resort and is designed for lot ownership. They take most classes of RV's, not just motor homes. Hilary, our assigned host, informed me that Woodall's just awarded the resort a five star rating, the highest they give out. From what I have seen so far, it definately deserves this rating. Hilary will be taking me on a tour of the facilities this afternoon. I am looking forward to the tour. Although we are not in the market for a lot in this type of facility at present, this could be an option for us in the future. Once we sell our property in Lakeland, we may consider something on this order for a home base in Florida.
Our assigned lot
Front view of clubhouse
Rear view of club house
View of lake
I have decided to drive to Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday to pick up the jet boat and bring it here. Hopefully, Dodie's eye infection will be healed well enough for her to drive the Hummer back to Lakeland while I tow the jet boat behind the motor home. In the meantime, we plan to chill out here in Okeechobee for a few days.
Well, all good things have to come to an end. We packed up this morning and left our campsite in Marathon. Sandra and Jason packed their bags from the motel room, and we all headed up the overseas highway. They needed to pick up their rental car in Ft. Lauderdale, so thats where we headed.
Dodie developed a really bad eye infection, so we had to change our plans for our return trip. Our original plan was to drop the kids off in Ft. Lauderdale, then I would drive the motor home with the jet boat behind, while Dodie drove the Hummer, following me. With her eye infection, I was afraid for her to drive. This presented a problem...... I can't pull both the boat and the Hummer at the same time.
I made a call to Frank Becker, who I caught offshore from Key West fishing, and ask if I could leave the jet boat at his house in Ft. Lauderdale. He most graciously told me that I could. I kept our 52' Californian motor yacht at his dock for a couple years, so he didn't seem to mind a little jet boat there for a couple days.
Sandra and Jason met us at Frank's house after picking up their rental car, and left us the Hummer. I unhooked the jet boat from the motor home, and then hooked up the Hummer. We drove to Okeechobee City and checked into Silver Palms RV Village, a five star RV resort. I can ceretainly understand why Woodalls gave them a five star rating..... it is absolutely "First Rate". I promise to include pictures tomorrow.
It was sad parting company with Sandra, Jason, Evan and AJ. We had a wonderful visit with them during the past five days. They will be visiting with Sandra's Mom in Venice, Florida for the next week.
We awoke this morning to a beautiful day and very little wind. It was time to put the jet boat into the water and have some fun.
We went out to a sandbar and anchored. The water was a very comfortable temperture, crystal clear and just the right amount of salt content to make you feel great. We snorkeled and swam. It was great.
Who wants to come for a ride?
Captain Evan driving the boat
End of the day, looking at the Western sky
Since we are leaving in the morning, we took the boat out of the water before a quick shower, then dinner. We went back to the Wreck Bar & Grill. The food was just as delicious as it was our first night. As usual, we all ate more than we should, but what the heck, we can diet later..... Maybe.
Dodie developed an infected eye during the night, so we told Sandra & Jason to go ahead and take the boys to Key West without us today. It was going to be extremely crowded, if not impossible, to load four adults, two kids with car seats and a stroller into the Hummer for the trip. That left me on my own, with Dodie in bed nursing her sore eye and the kids in Key West. I was sorry to miss the trip, but I will have to admit that I needed the day to catch up with my affairs on the computer along with some maintainence on the motor home.
I went to open the door on the refrigerator planning to fix a sandwich for lunch, and the door fell to the floor. The lower hinge busted completely apart from the door frame. Not a pretty picture when you're in the Keys and have several days left before coming home. I rummaged through my tool boxes and found a hose clamp. Cutting a section off, I was able to rivet it to the door frame and hinge, forming a splint. If I'm lucky, it will hold until we arrive back in Lakeland.
It was quite windy here all day, so it was a good thing we hadn't planned to take the boat out. Hopefully, the wind will have calmed down by the morning so we can get some time on the water. Tomorrow is our last day in the Keys, and I hope I didn't tow the boat all the way here and not even get to use it. Oh well, if that's the case, we have had fun anyway.
First thing this morning Jason, my son-in-law, and I hooked the jet boat to the Hummer and took it over to the Jolly Roger's boat ramp. I backed it down the ramp into the water, leaving it on the trailer until I could climb aboard and start the engine. There was a considerable current and I didn't want to float off the trailer until I had the engine running. That turned out to be a good decision. When I turned the key to start the engine..... guess what...... you guessed it, the battery was dead. Seems that the VHF marine radio was left on and ran the battery down. We pulled the boat back up the ramp and returned it to our site. After putting a charger on the battery, we decided this was not the day for boating in the Florida Keys. By this time, the wind was picking up and we decided to hit the water another day. Since we are planning to make a day trip to Key West tomorrow, that day will need to be Tuesday.
We had lunch at a bar and grill on the water called Sparky's. I
had a blackened Mahi Mahi sandwich, which was excellent, and Dodie had yellow rice & black beans. She enjoyed her meal until she found a hair in it. Mentioning it to the waiter, we were told in no uncertain terms that "Our entire kitchen staff have shaved heads". No apology what so ever. Needless to say, he received a smaller tip than I usually leave our waiters. We were not asking for a refund, and thought he could have handled the situation a little more tactfully.
In the afternoon, Sandra & Jason took our two grandkids Evan and AJ to the "Swim with the Dolphins adventure". The general admission was $20.00 a head, and to actually swim with the dolphins, was $200.00. They elected for general admission. We have been exposed to dolphins for years being out on the water in our boats, so Dodie & I decided we would hang out at the motor home instead.
Evan lounging after the "Dolphin Adventure"
After observing one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen, we all settled in at the motor home while I grilled porterhouse steaks, baked potatoes. Sandra was in charge of the salad. We all ate until we could eat no more, but after a walk down by the shore, we did manage to consume a whole Key Lime pie. It was a great evening.
Sunset in the Florida Keys
Sandra with AJ in his "pouch"
The whole gang
A great new family
The end of a beutiful day........ Where was Jimmy Buffet????
Yesterday, I Picked up my youngest daughter Sandra along with her husband, Jason and my grandsons, Evan & AJ. They spent the night with us in Lakeland
This morning, we all headed south to the Keys. I drove the motor home and Jason towed our jet boat behind the Hummer. We arrived at the Jolly Roger RV park just before sunset. After getting set-up in our spot, Dodie and I walked over to a sports bar and had dinner. Dodie ordered a salad, I had conch fritters and a Rueben sandwich. Everything was delicious.
We are all sleeping in the motor home tonight, but tomorrow they will be able to check into their motel room next door.
Tomorrow, we will launch the jet boat. We have dock space reserved here at the RV Park.
We are all looking forward to the next four days in paradise.
It was a nice sunny day here in Lakeland. Croft & Norma were busy getting ready for their return trip home to Canada; Dodie & I were just as busy loading our motor home in preparation for our trip to the Keys.
Around 2:00 PM I received a call from Donald at Old Salt Marine, informing me that the jet boat was ready to pick up, having completed the installation of the VHF marine radio antenna. As much as we both had left to do, we couldn't resist the temptation. We hopped in the Hummer, picked up the jet boat and went to the lake for a boat ride. Donald came along with us for the "lake trial". I was happy he did, since I wanted to get his opinion on how the engine was performing out on the water under a load. It has a new engine, and this was my first opportunity to test it. If there was a problem, I wanted to discover it now, not after I got all the way to the Keys. I was happy to discover that everything checked out great.
Croft & Donald in jet boat
The boat performed perfectly, even after Donald put it through its paces far beyond what I would have myself. His many years of experience with small, fast boats allowed him to put the boat through manuevers that I would not have dared to have attempted. It was a nice hour of so on the water.
Croft making sure I was driving the boat safely.
Later, Croft, Norma, Dodie & I went to the Golden Coral and had our farewell meal before they leave us tomorrow morning. I won't comment on the other three, but I ate at least one platefull more than I should have. It was a great evening, though. We really hate to see our good friends leave. It has been a pleasure having them here visiting with us. Have a great trip home, Croft & Norma. Hopefully we will be able to meet again in the not-too-far future.
Croft & I hooked up the jet boat and trailered it to my friends boat dealership (Old Salt Marine) to have them install a VHF antenna. We planned to take the boat to Lake Morton and put it through its paces afterward, but after getting slambed with some emergency engine work, Donald ask if I could leave the boat for the antenna installation. There went our boat ride for today. Oh well, maybe tomorrow.
After breakfast at Waffle House, we returned to the house. I mowed the grass, which admittedly was more productive than a boat ride, while Croft busied himself with the task of preparing his motor home for their trip home. Actually, most of his effort was devoted to making sure Norma got everything ready. Yes, our good friends are leaving us on Wednesday morning. We'll hate to see them go.
Croft, Norma, Dodie and I decided to return to our favorite Chinese buffet for Crab legs, shrimp, oysters and sushi. At least that's what we consentrated on when we hit the buffet table. For $10.95 each the place has to lose money on us.
When we pulled up to the buffet, to our amazement, the trailer pictured above was consuming five prime parking spots in front of the Restaurant, including a disabled spot. After parking in a spot much farther away than the trailer, we walked into the restaurant and ask the hostess why the trailer was blocking their parking spaces. With a bewildered look on her face, she pointed over at a grubby couple sitting at a booth. She stated in a not-so-soft voice "I ask them politely to move their rig and they refused." The couple totally ignored our conversation with the hostess, even after we made some choice comments about how rude they were. Turns out they are some sort of religous vagabonds traveling around the country. In my opinion, they were not setting a good example for how "servants of God" should conduct themselves. Oh well, I've said my peace.
We did enjoy our dinner and conversation with our Canadian friends, and when we left, the couple was on their seventh plate of food and still going.
While Derrick, my yard guy, spent most of the day raking & hauling the mountains of leaves from our numerous oak trees, I worked on the jet boat. I needed to get it ship-shape for our trip to the Keys next week.
We were surprised by both Joey & Renee with our grandson Wyatt; and Donna & Joey with two more grandkids, Riley & Lanie. Also, our friends from Canada, Croft & Norma returned from their trip to the Keys.
What started as a quite day at home, turned into an enjoyable time with family and friends. I even completed most of the work needed to be accomplished on the boat.
Tomorrow, Croft & I are planning to take the jet boat to one of our lakes and put it through it's paces to be sure everything is tuned to perfection. If there is a problem, I would rather find it now rather than get to the Keys and have trouble. Plus, it's a good excuse to get out on the water.
I received a picture from my daughter Kathy tonight showing my four-year-old grandaughter with her newly broken arm. She fell off a stool reaching for a toy. She broke it in two places. I feel so bad for her. I hope your arm gets better soon, Allee.
I spent most of the day working on the motor home. Got a new windshield wiper arm installed, installed a VHF radio (so we can communicate with the jet boat), fixed the electric sun shades over the windshield and got the digital TV antenna working (blown fuse) for the times we are parked under the trees and can't get satellite reception. Overall, a productive day for an old retired guy like me. In addition, I even washed the Hummer.
Last week our visiting friends, Croft & Norma, decided to take a trip to the Bahamas. The four of us boarded a cruise ship in West Palm Beach for a cruise to Lucaya Beach, Bahamas (next to Freeport) on Grand Bahama Island. It was an overnight cruise offering all of the amentities of a regular cruise ship including staterooms, all meals, pool, suana, casino and entertainment.
We then spent two nights at a four star resort, a Radisson Resort called "Our Lucaya". After two days in the sun and shopping in the market, we boarded the ship for an overnight cruise back to Florida.