January 1 – 10, 2022 – Sun N Fun

With COVID still raging in Florida we are continuing to limit our interactions to those whom we know have been vaccinated and take precautions similar to ours.  When leaving Sun N Fun (still can’t get used to the parks new name, Sun Outdoors Sarasota), thus far it has been to shop (we’re always masked) or to visit with Debbie’s brother Dick and wife Kate or my cousin Sandy and husband Jeff, all of whom are also fully vaccinated and Boosted!

Our first full day back was New Year’s Day … and we spent much of it beginning to get oriented and figuring out how we wanted to organize our shed and what we could off-load from our coach and store in it.  That night, many of the holiday lights were still in place …

Mornings we are again walking with the “Suntrekkers” group.  I’ve gotten back with the photography club and am again sailing my radio-controlled model sailboat.

Also we’ve made several trips to Home Depot, Lowe’s, Home Goods and a few other stores to get items for the shed, to purchase some plants for our site and do necessary grocery shopping.

Although still waiting for the power to be installed in our shed, everything else for our new site has come together nicely.

Debbie now thinks that as nearly everything inside the shed is mine it should now be renamed my “man cave” (a term we both hate).

Last Saturday we participated in the January Craft Fair at an outside pavilion

where Debbie sold some of her knitted blankets

and I sold some of my photography.

These craft fairs are also a wonderful “social” event where we get to see a lot of our Sun N Fun friends.

The recent weather, as I have taken great pride in telling friends and family back home, has been beautiful, 12″ to 15″ of sunshine daily and daytime temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s … although the nights have seen “frigid” temperatures in the mid-60s!

It’s a tough life … but I suppose someone has to be here and suffering.

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December 30 – 31 – Heading for Sarasota without our Motorhome

Having committed to an “elite” site at Sun N Fun (now renamed Sun Outdoors Sarasota) and leaving our motorhome on it in November, this was our first trip to Sarasota with just our car.  While that may sound easier … and from a driving perspective it was … trying to decide what we needed to pack and what would fit in our Jeep were unforeseen challenges … whereas when packing our motorhome we had tons of space.

To begin with, we could not recall what clothes we’d left on our coach last month.

After having had Christmas with Scott and family on the 19th, as they were off to Puerto Rico for the holiday, Nancy and family in New Hampshire over the 24th thru the 26th, and finally Doug and family on the 28th, we had one day to pack before leaving.

While we couldn’t wait to get south to warmer weather, we had to admit that for a day or so in New Hampshire it was a winter wonderland.

We got underway early on a chilly Friday morning for a 575 mile (9+/- hour) drive to Florence, SC, roughly the midway point between Langhorne and Sarasota.  We spent the night at a Hampton Inn which is within walking distance of half dozen restaurants.

 

With the winter landscape pretty bleak, other than the architecture of several cable-stayed bridges,

and a fully-decorated tree atop a car,

Debbie looked for and found a new interest to photograph … the endless differences in vehicle taillights.

Friday morning, New Year’s Eve day, we got another early start and found we were driving through a fog-shrouded I-95 landscape.

While sitting in the front passenger seat, shooting out the back window behind my driver’s seat, Debbie captured a foggy sunrise

and later, after the sun was again obscured by the fog, two more amazing images … particularly as we were zooming along between 65-70 MPH.

From then on, a pretty boring trip which we’ve driven so many times before.  Mid-1960s Volkswagen Beetles always grab our attention as the first new car we purchased after getting married was a 1967 VW “Bug”.

Then, we began to see the predictable Confederate flags, although seemingly fewer than in past years.

We arrived a Sun Outdoors Sarasota (formerly Sun N Fun)

and our new “elite” site.

Ours was a quite New Year’s Eve, although Debbie woke and did watch the ball drop in Times Square on TV.

 

 

 

 

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November 12 – Home … Earlier than Expected

Once again, we got an early start and our drive through South and North Carolina and even the southern half of Virginia (below Richmond) was much like the day before with only light to moderate traffic and virtually no slowdowns.

However, there were some of Debbie’s subjects, decaying buildings

and some pretty incredible fall color.

Not surprisingly, there was evidence this was Second Amendment territory

as well as early signs that the “Jolly Red Elf” visit was not far in the future.

While refueling in Ashland, VA it occurred to us that unless we ran into any major traffic delays we could make the remaining 280 miles by around 5:00 – 5:30.

But, predictably nearly Lorton and on until crossing the Potomac, construction,

an occasional accident

and a seemingly endless number of vehicles

kept our speeds to a crawl for close to an hour.

Leaving the DC area, we again made good progress until reaching Philadelphia with its, now after-dark, rush hour traffic.

Still, after ten hours on the road, we rolled into our driveway around 6:30 PM.

Hoping to be headed back to Sarasota sometime between Christmas and New Years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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November 11 – Heading Home – Sarasota FL to Florence SC

Yesterday we walked with the group, finished the paperwork surrounding our Elite Site and undertook a number of housekeeping chores.  This evening we had dinner at Sandy (my cousin) and Jeff Fitts’.

This morning our final packing of our car for the nearly 1,200 mile trip home … without our motorhome!

Our plan was for a three-day two-night trip back to Pennsylvania.  Despite an early start, putting us in the midst of rush hour traffic while driving just east of Tampa, we did not encounter any slowdowns and by noon were already in Georgia.  As Debbie always packs our lunches during road trips, whether in our motorhome or in the car, we made a brief stop in the Georgia Welcome Center and were then back on the road.

Having made this trip in both directions so many times, there were not many new or overly interesting things of interest for my shutterbug wife to point her camera at … other than …

Around 5:00 PM, nine hours and nearly six hundred miles later, we pulled in to a Hampton Inn in Florence, South Carolina

We grabbed a dinner at a local Cracker Barrel just down the street and then turned in early, although not feeling nearly as exhausted as we often do after the 360 mile trip to visit our daughter and family in New Hampshire.

 

 

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November 9 – Jacksonville FL to Sarasota

Today’s 300 mile drive was the least interesting on this trip … although there was a beautiful sunrise.

While most people think of horse farms with white fencing, it is far more typically to be black of dark brown … particularly major horse country such as Louisville KY and Ocala FL

 

We had a one tense moment having to swerve around parts of a blown-out and shredded truck tire

Someone was having a bad day!

Coming back from retrieving my gas receipt at a Flying J in Dade City, FL

Within half-mile of exiting I-75, the US and Canadian Flags at the entrance to Sun N Fun (recently renamed Sun Opportunities Sarasota) less than a mile away signaled the end of our journey.

We’d heard that three fountains had been installed in Sun N Fun’s Lake Ibis, where we sail and race our Radio-controlled boats

Arriving at what had been a mostly grass and sand site with a small concrete “patio” pad we now saw our new “ELITE” site.  However, pictures of its evolution had been sent to use my friends.

Missing is a shed (similar to the one on our neighbor’s site), complete with power,

where we can store our bikes, patio furniture, grill and other items even when not in Sarasota.

We’re really looking forward to this coming winter on our improved site and with the COVID restrictions and cancellations on activities lifted.

Dinner this evening with Debbie’s brother, Dick, and wife, Kate, at Glory Days.

Later I went down to Lake Ibis to photograph the new fountain at night.

 

 

 

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November 8 – Dillon SC to Jacksonville FL

Although now a weekday, we were a little surprised and pleased at the light to moderate traffic, while still seeing a many semi’s making their way south.

However, soon after getting underway, we noticed that northbound I-95 was completely blocked off and all vehicles … several miles of them … were being routed off an exit ramp to rejoin the highway somewhere north.

Breaking the monotony were

I guess this is for girls only

 

First paddle board we’ve ever seen strapped to the back of a motorhome

Misplaced lighthouse (we’ve photographed in the past) in the middle of a shopping plaza

 

More than twenty miles of construction with “Jersey Barriers” lining both sides of the road, some not giving a drive, particularly of a larger vehicle, much leeway.

Then we finally reached

Where in just a short 30 miles

Reaching Pecan RV Resort where we normally stay the night before getting to Sarasota, we discovered they had again jacked their rates significantly … and certainly not justified when compared with other campgrounds which offer comparable amenities.

 

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November 7 – Ashland VA to Dillon SC

Our drive, while the longest on the trip, from Ashland to our next stop in Dillon just over the South Carolina border, we really enjoyable and as it was a Sunday, absent any heavy traffic.  That said, however, we did notice more semis, both on the road and in rest areas than we recall from other weekend trips through the same area.

We had only 61 miles in Virginia

Can’t count the times we passed Paul and Babe

before reaching

Flags at the North Carolina Welcome Centers were at half-staff in honor of former General, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Secretary of State Colin Powell

Our first view of unpicked cotton,mMore

and more fall foliage.

Then a Sheetz tanker truck which no one could miss.

It has always fascinated us that when reaching the so-called “Bible-belt of the South there appear to be more “adult” establishments advertised along major arteries.

And, as one would suspect, the political divide is on full display the further south you drive.

1966 Dodge Dart on a trailer

We made good time and our South Carolina stop by early afternoon

After getting settled I wandered down to the campground’s lake where the sun’s rays were painting the tops of the trees a golden yellow.

Noticing a narrow bridge at the end of the lake I continued my walk across and then over a 10-foot berm and discovered

the Dillon County Municipal Airport … although it looks like it only handles smaller, private aircraft.  And, at its far end it abuts yet another Cotton field.

 

 

 

 

 

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November 6 – Decision on Relocating Our Motorhome – Langhorne PA to Ashland VA

After having lost our local RV storage area for the third time in six years (this area of eastern PA is literally a large RV storage desert), we decided to upgrade our winter home site in Sarasota and move the coach there on a permanent basis.

With Debbie a bit burned out where cross-country trips are concerned we’re going to try to limit our travels for the next year or so to regional jaunts in the Northeast.  If future long-distance trips are planned we’ll simply drive to Florida, pick-up the coach and take off from there.

Although the newly-improved site, where we’ve spent the past six winters, will costs us somewhat more than we otherwise pay for storage, we can now avoid the annual winterizations and dewinterizations, PA vehicle inspections and some other minor expenses.

In an attempt to beat this year’s cold weather, we packed up the coach with the few clothes and food supplies we’d need for the short trip and got on the road early Friday morning.  The traffic was surprisingly light through Philly and around Wilmington, Baltimore and even Washington DC … and the foliage colors were pretty amazing in a number of locations.

Debbie was also able to get an occasional shot of some of her favorite subjects.

However, about ten miles south of the Potomac the traffic congestion became a predictable nightmare.  And, while there were a couple of construction areas, two minor accidents, rubbernecking and people simply not knowing how to drive and maintain constant speeds appeared to be the main problems.

Thanks to our early start, we were able to reach our regular Ashland campground by a little after 3:00 PM.

 

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September 3 – Zanesville OH to Home

While we didn’t leave Zanesville earlier than we normally leave for a day’s travel, in the back of my mind I was thinking about breaking all of our normal rules about mileage and driving the nearly 450 miles to get home today.

Mist rising above the campground’s lake.

The first mile or so after leaving the campground was narrow

but quickly we were on Interstates.

However, the same weather which crated the morning mist over the campground lake also produced wide areas of low clouds which settled in between the rolling hills of eastern Ohio.

We were passed by a line of electrical workers, possibly headed for the Mid-Atlantic States to help in restoring power in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida

followed by the first load of hay we’ve seen on this trip.

Then more fog …

As today is the beginning of the Labor Day weekend, we were not surprised to see a number of state and local police and sheriff cars out in force.

Then a quick, just 20-odd miles of I-70 through

and on into

where we saw not only more farms

but also more

and one semi driver who was probably wishing he was home.

There was another

which seemed out of place and a Model-T with a bike rack … a first for us.

Over the next 40 miles we passed through the four tunnels on the turnpike

the last of which brought us back into the sunlight overlooking a wide valley.

Then …

As we got within the last fifty miles the effects of Ida became clear along the edge of the highway.

Amazingly, we pulled into Shady Brook almost exactly eight hours after leaving Zanesville.  An hour or so to unload the motorhome and put things away and we were ready for wine with Brian and Gilles on their patio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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September 2 – Anderson IN to Zanesville OH

No sooner than we got on the road, we ran into our first “Road Work”.

Fortunately, we had mapped out a short route over secondary roads to get to I-70.

Surprise … the entrance ramp was closed … more “Road Work”!

So, more overland roads … with the reward of more interesting things to look at.

We’ve passed a number of cemeteries in the Mid-west in which the overwhelming number of tombstones had been decorated with flowers.

We finally picked up I-70 at the same exit we’d exited it five days ago.  Just before leaving Indiana, there were some extensive solar farms … land owners having discovered profitable revenues can be earned without the difficult and unrelenting work necessary for many family farms.

We’d be hard pressed to be working under any vehicle while just feet away cars and semis were sailing by at speeds in excess of 70 MPH.

Then, evidence we were making eastward process …

Almost immediately, we found ourselves following a “wide load”

although we had no idea what we were looking at.

Meanwhile, Debbie spotted another community water tower.

We discovered that Clark County in west central Ohio was the birthplace of 4H Clubs.

Sometime, at a distance it is challenging to interpret what you are seeing.

However, as you get closer, everything becomes crystal clear.

Yet, when someone is being “visited” by multiple police cruisers, you can be pretty sure the driver is not have a good day …

as are those passengers being given a free ride in a correctional bus.

As what I am increasing convinced as a sciatica nerve problem, sitting for an extended period of time can get very uncomfortable, we took advantage of a number of the rest stops.  In one we pulled in next to a 1928 Ford Model-T in absolutely “mint’ condition.

Then, glancing across the westbound lanes we spotted an answer to our question of what was the wide load we’d followed for more than 40 miles

a prefab swimming pool.

More water towers,

high tension towers,

and two very difference churches.

As we drive further east, the more rolling hills became evident.

Yet, there was no question we were still in RED country.

Having planned the 600-plus mile trip home in nearly equal 3-day segments, we arrived in our campground in  Zanesville, OH before 3:00.  Our site looks out on acres and acres of soy fields.

A walk around the park again let us know that fall was not far away.

I’d meant to mention that while still in Anderson, IN, we received a call letting us know that the owner of the place we store our motorhome in Pennsylvania needs to have all of the RV out by the end of September.  While I did  remind them I had paid through the end of October, it created a huge problem and for the third time in six years we had to scramble to find a storage location.  Where we live is, unfortunately, a desert when it comes to RV service and storage (particularly for those 30-feeet and longer) facilities.

The solution, while not the best involves taking the motorhome to the Sarasota area and storing it there .. driving home in the car … where it will be waiting for us when we head south at the end of the year.

There are, however, a few benefits … no need to winterize and de winterize our coach, the very real possibility of registering it in Florida as opposed to Pennsylvania and insuring it in Florida … all of which can save hundreds of dollars.  The downside … not being able to check on it regularly and if there is a tropical storm or hurricane which hits the Sarasota area, who knows?

 

 

 

 

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