Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Here Comes the Rain

Apparently, Florida has been experiencing a very bad drought.  You see, 4 days before we got to our current campground, the county put a ban on all outdoor fires (except in grills).  The disappointment over not being able to roast marshmallows was almost palpable with the kids.

I remember visiting my grandparents in Tampa and seeing a thunderstorm just about every afternoon, so all of the dry weather we've experienced over the last 2 months has been a bit surprising.  I just figured it was the time of year or where in the state we were.  I guess not.  We even saw some fires along 95 on our way from Fort Lauderdale.  I thought they were controlled burns.  Apparently not.

All of that said, I think we have seen more rain in the last 3 days than all the other days combined.  Technically I think any one of the last three days was more than any of the previous days combined.   When we checked in, we asked the ranger if he thought the ban would be lifted anytime soon (we were getting rain when I checked in).  I was told that he didn't see it happening unless there "was so much rain someone started to build another Noah's Ark."  Today, I thought we were going to float away.  There were "rivers" all over the campground.  Our "yard" was a pond.  There were some people across the way in a tent and the water was just rushing in.  That was about 2 hours ago.

Guess what?  The rain is starting again.  I wonder how much rain we will get from this one.  Our family is just hoping and praying all this rain will help lift the burning ban before we leave.  At the same time, we're hoping it doesn't delay the shuttle launch.  We can only stay for a few more days after it's currently scheduled date, but right now all the storms seem to be coming through at exactly the same time of day as the launch is scheduled.  We shall see.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Return to "Normal"

The last few weeks, things have seemed a bit out of kilter to me.  We've been going to so many different campgrounds and so many different tourist places, that it seems like I could never get settled.  In fact, the last few weeks have seemed more like a vacation and less like living in a camper.  I guess that's a good thing.  It makes living in a camper seem like less to be endured and more to be enjoyed.

We have been at the current campground for 3 days and considering we spent 28 days here the last time, it feels almost like we are home.  We've already gotten Chinese take out from a restaurant we found last time, we've gone grocery shopping, and the kids have even caught a lizard (which we've been feeding). 

We've also encountered some of the bad things of this campground (bad cell service, sporadic Internet, no cable, and early morning grounds maintenance), but for some reason I'm ok with it.  Perhaps it's because we know how things are going to be.  Perhaps it's because we know where everything is around here.  Perhaps it's because we've done just about all the touristy things we can, so now we can breathe and just get on with life. 

Whatever the case, the last 3 days have been very relaxing and I'm enjoying our return to the Manatee Hammock.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Wornderful, Yucky Day

Well, today we "moved" from Hollywood, FL back to the campground across the river from Kennedy Space Center in preparation for the final shuttle launch scheduled for July 9.  We weren't planning on being back here for another week, but the last campground was less than ideal.  Don't get me wrong, the campground was nice, but the train that drove by multiple times a day and night was more than we could handle.  Especially since it was so close to the back of our camper.  Can you say, sleep deprived family and cranky children.  Not pleasant.

(You can see the blue commuter train just to the left of the bush.  The most annoying were the freight trains that came through at 2 and 5 AM)

The drive today was relatively uneventful.  A little wind, but no real rain to speak of.  This was our view for most of the day.

(Clear skies ahead with rain behind.)

The rain did finally catch up to us, but not till after the camper was all set up.   We've spent a majority of our time camping in this area and we found out from the ranger at the campground that today was the first rain they've gotten since we left and we only got rain once while we were here the previous month so this is definitely needed.  In fact, we couldn't even rent a fire pit to roast marshmallows because of a fire ban that was enacted a few days ago.  :-(

We did have one issue today though.  We made a stop for gas and food and on the way back to the truck, our daughter slipped and fell in (and into) a puddle of oil.  You see, being 60 feet long restricts the kinds of places you can stop (and park), so we end up going to truck stops.  We had parked in a spot where the previous occupant must have leaked about 1 qt of oil, and of course my daughter found it.  Many paper towels, shed tears, and about 30 minutes later we were able to get back on the road (without shoes and with knees that are still a bit black).  

 (Note the hands that match the color of our pickup truck.  One knee got pretty nasty too).

I don't know how many times we tell the kids to walk in parking lots and watch where they are going.  Perhaps this will be remembered and there will be no repeats. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Family Time

I (Karrie) did not come from a particularly large family.  Growing up, my "family" consisted of my grandparents, parents, 1 brother, 3 Aunts, 2 Uncles, and 3 first cousins (all boys).  Unfortunately, my immediate family did not stay very local to the rest of the family which meant that we didn't see them very often.  I remember a few summer trips to visit the family when I was young, but after I turned about 13 they seemed to pretty much stop.

After 12 years of marriage, I have seen something very different from part of Jon's family.  In addition to his grandparents and parents, he has 1 brother, 3 Uncles, 1 Aunt, and 6 cousins.  They are all spread out across the globe, yet one side of his family gets together quite regularly (at least every couple of years, but as of late, every year and that is quite a feat since one person comes all the way from Micronesia!).

Today, I got to visit with one of my cousins for most of the day.  When we were younger, he and I would spend most of the time together at family functions because we were the closest in age.  I would guess today was the first time in close to 20 years that we'd spent much time together.

It was obviously different than before, but in a good way.  We each had our spouse and our kids there (he has 2 boys who are the same ages as my kids).  The adults talked while the kids played. It was nice being able to "catch up."  I also enjoyed the fact that the kids had a great time together.  Didn't hurt that all the adults got along too.  Made me think of how nice it would be if we could live closer so that we could see them more often.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Growing Up

Both of my children have a lovie.  It just so happens to be a blanket (called "blankie") which they have each slept and cuddled with just about every day since they were 6 mo. old.  Jon and I are both in the habit of letting our children know that their blankets must be washed on a regular basis just because of all the germs we are sure they contain (after all, they are taken just about everywhere - including being drug on the floor).

Today as I was getting ready to do laundry, I told my children it was time to wash their "blankies."  My son then told me that he no longer wanted his "blankie."  He said I could sell it or give it away to the Salvation Army.  Any family members know that this is a BIG deal (especially if he sticks with it).  You see, my FIL has been trying for a couple years to convince my son that he is too old for his blankie.  I'm just hoping that something flipped the switch and he's now thinking of himself as a "big boy" and will therefore be blankie free from now on.  That said, I have scrolled it away just in case (you know, just in case I need to embarrass him when he's older).   ;-)

Oops! I did it again

What you ask?  I had iced tea late in the evening with dinner.  And surprise, surprise... it kept me up late.  In fact I was up til 6AM finishing yet another excellent book.

This morning after 3 hours of sleep I reflected on my problem with iced tea and remembered another night when I had iced tea late in the day and had no problems going to sleep.  I then remembered that the book I was reading at the time was not nearly as interesting as the book I was reading this time.

Perhaps the iced tea is not what keeps me awake, but rather it allows me to stay awake longer when I'm already engrossed in something?  Whatever the case, I will be consuming copious amounts of caffeine today in an attempt to stay awake all day, but I will not be drinking it very late in the day (just in case).

For those of you interested... the book was "Pride and Prejudice."  It was the first time I actually read the book (sacrilege that I should have waited this long I know;  but I can say, it will most likely not be the last).

Monday, June 13, 2011


I think I've finally hit that part in our journey where the loneliness has finally sunk it.  Don't get me wrong, I have been thoroughly enjoying the adventures we've been able to have.  I mean, who can object to sitting on a beach for hours collecting shells, to seeing dolphins swimming just off shore, to watching your kids learn to swim, to seeing a space shuttle launch, to just being able to spend more time as a family?  Certainly not me.

I think what finally hit me is the reality is that until we settle down somewhere for an extended period of time, I'm not going to have any of those friend-connections that I crave.  Yes, I have Facebook, but lately I've realized just how superficial it really is.  I want to be able to get together with someone and chat for hours.  That isn't really possible when you live on the road like I do, so I'm trying to make-do with what Facebook has to offer (quick glimpses into people's lives).

I think what makes this even harder is that for all practical purposes, I've been in this state for about a year.  When we were getting ready to move last year, I think I started to distance myself from my local friends in preparation for making the separation easier.  When I went back to the area for a while to regroup (aka. get our camper ready), I didn't make an effort to reconnect with many of my friends because I knew we'd be leaving again.

I am a rather emotional person.  I am the person who cries at movies, weddings, funerals, and I'll admit it on occasion TV shows and commercials.  That has also made me a rather guarded person because I don't want to get hurt when things change (either because someone is moving or we have changed and have different interests).

A friend of mine who has moved across the globe many times told me that the loneliness will always hit (even if you make a few new friends right away), but that it will go away after a bit.  I'm just hoping that it happens soon.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A New Day

A couple days ago, I complained about all the things that had been going wrong with the camper recently.  Well, thinks have brightened up significantly since then.  The camper is no longer giving us grief and the weather has cooperated in such a way that we've been able to enjoy the island.

When we sold our stuff in preparation for moving (to Australia or to the Southern US), Jon and I decided to sell our bikes.  We had used them maybe 2 or 3 times since we'd bought them and we didn't want to store them.  The last couple days we've regretted that decision a bit.  You see, Sanibel Island is a bike friendly location.  There are 27 miles of bike trails on the island and they take you all over.  So we decided to rent a couple bikes for us.  Although our daughter can ride a bike, her endurance and control are not as good as we'd like for the trips we want to make, so we also rented a pull-behind trailer for our her.  It has made the last couple days SO much more enjoyable.  Yesterday, we were able to go down to the beach and collect a few shells.  As we were about to leave we saw 2 dolphins swimming not too far off the beach.

Last night, I was able to ride alone for 30 minutes or so and it was just what I needed.  It had been so long since I'd gotten in any really good exercise and it felt GREAT!  Not only that, but it was nice to have some alone time (no fixed address means no babysitters, which means no dates or much alone time for Mommy).  My only complaint is that the seats on rental bikes are AWFUL!   My bum is a bit sore from yesterday, but that did not stop me from taking the kids down to the beach again this morning.  Gotta take advantage of being here while I can.

I can certainly see why people love living here.  I could get used to this.  I just wish I could afford it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Trials and Tribulations

Last week, we were camping at a campground that was associated with a Camping World.  For those who've never camped, a Camping World is a store that is dedicated to JUST camping supplies.  Part of the reason we chose that campground was because of it's association with the Camping World.  While there, we were able to fix a few minor issues as well as get some handy tools to make living in a camper a bit easier.

Unfortunately, as we were packing up the camper to leave, we discovered that we had a water pipe that was leaking under the sink of the camper.  It has in turn, warped a bit of the Pergo floor we installed.  Got that problem fixed (for now at least).  The next morning, we found we had a small leak in the sewage hose.  That's ok, because we have 3 others, so we're good to go right? 

Not quite...  Last night after the kids were in bed, we discovered that the air conditioner was not working correctly (it wouldn't cycle off at all) so we turned it off till Jon could look at it during daylight.  He could not confirm his suspicion of the problem, but the A/C is working for now and doesn't seem to have the same problem. 

Then after lunch today, I went to wash the dishes and there was no water.  I rushed around the camper making sure there was not a leak into the camper.  Once I determined that was not the case, I went outside and discovered that a BRAND NEW water hose had a 3" slit in it.  We hooked it up for the first time when we got here yesterday, so I have no idea what happened.  The good news is that I believe I found the last potable water hose on the island (it was the last one at the store I got it from anyway).

When we purchased a used camper, we knew there would be issues.  I just wish they would have all hit right when we got to the last campground since we were right next to the Camping World rather than when we have to pay $6 each time we go off the island.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Appologies from one Busy Momma

I just realized it's been almost one week since I posted anything.  I'm sorry!  We were initially going to stay in Tampa for 2 weeks.  Shortly after arriving, we decided to cut it to just over one week.  So all the things we wanted to spread out over two weeks, have been crammed into one week.  Psheew!

This week, we have gone to a zoo (this penguin was born on my son's birthday),

St. Petersburg Pier,

Tarpon Springs,

Clearwater Beach,

and the Museum of Science and Innovation.

Right before leaving the East coast of Florida we were told that one of our propane tanks would not fill.  So while in Tampa, we also decided we would deal with that problem.  Many phone calls, many detours, a flaky tank inspector, and $20 later, we are happy to say that not only is the tank fixed but we can now legally have both of our tanks filled for another 5 years (apparently they were both "expired").

Today was a bit more relaxing... I got to do some shopping for next week.  Monday, we are going to Sanibel Island for a week.  There is a toll bridge to get to the island so we would like to stay on the island as much as possible.  I've done some research and food costs about 1.5 times what it does inland so I'm doing my best to stock us up for the week so we don't have to buy much there.  Kind of hard to do with limited space, but where there's a will, there's a way.