#13: Adventures in RV Travel: January 26

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WiFi and Ft. Myers Beach

Hello everyone! First, let me apologize. I forgot to tell you another problem you may have as you are RV’ing. The use of WiFi. Maybe I should say the lack of use of WiFi which is what I have been suffering from the last few days. I’ve been going through withdrawal! I have also worried about not updating my RV travels for you. Fortunately, WiFi is back…..for now. I hope I can get this blog post written before it takes a mini-vacation again.

There are some RV parks that have better WiFi than others. Usually, Pine Island has good WiFi with decent bandwidth. I have no idea what has been wrong the last few days. I have reported the problem with WiFi here several times. It’s working right now. That’s all I can say!

Yesterday, we took a great side trip. We spent the afternoon at Ft. Myers Beach. Ft. Myers Beach is not exactly Ft. Myers. It is a little town of its own, located on Estero Island, a small barrier island, across a small slip of water and connected to Ft. Myers by a bridge. One of the famous things about Ft. Myers Beach is its sugar-sand. The white sand, the consistency of sugar, that makes up this wide and beautiful beach. Ft. Myers Beach is famous for parasailing, kayaking, dolphin eco-tours, and simply relaxing. Oh, I forgot! Lots of partying!

We ate at a great seafood restaurant called The Beached Whale. I had absolutely fabulous shrimp tacos and perhaps the best non-mayo cole slaw I’ve ever eaten. I really recommend Ft. Myers Beach for a day or three if you are in the area. There are reasonably priced places to both eat and stay.

I will post more pictures of Ft. Myers Beach when my WiFi will cooperate!

 

 

Old Time Rock and Roll

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It was 1979. The good ole days of rock and roll. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll, to be exact. If she had known how good they had really been, she would have paid more attention. Enjoyed them even more than she had and she had enjoyed them a lot. If she had known what was coming. Oh, if she had only known what was coming. She was lucky. She was just at the right age to take advantage of those days of rock and roll. Graduated from college a few years earlier. Out on her own with a good job. Living in a city, big enough but not too big.

In a way that she can only appreciate now, those days were innocent. The first innocent days of rock and roll. People enjoying each other. Awesome music. Drugs, yes, but it seemed not many of her friends had addiction problems. Social drug use. A little weed. Some cocaine, but no one had heard of crack yet. LSD but not among her friends. That’s about it.

Anne was reminiscing. Now it was 2017, early in the year. Winter. She was sitting in a nightclub in a city far away from that city she’d loved so much. That city from 1979 where she’d made good friends, heard that awesome music, gotten her education. She was still that same girl in her head. Her body was telling her that maybe it wasn’t quite the same any more. Her heart. Oh, her heart. It had been light and fun-loving in 1979. Now, it had been stepped on once too often. It wasn’t light anymore. It was still fun-loving but ever so much more cautious. She hated that. All the years in between, and the experiences, had done that to her. Her poor judgment during those years had done that.

But, here she was. Back in a nightclub. She’d always loved bars and nightclubs. She’d felt at home in them. Free. Free to be herself and she didn’t feel like that in very many places. Some of her friends would never believe that as they thought bars were terrible places. Other friends, they agreed with her, secretly or not so secretly. Even if they didn’t agree with her, they knew this about her and understood.

The band playing at the end of the long bar was a heavy metal band. She liked a few metal bands. Not this one. They were making noise and not music. Maybe the noise would drown out some of the thoughts in her head. A good band would have better accomplished that as she would have enjoyed it, but this bar was close to her hotel.

Anne thought of some of her old friends who she knew in 1979. So many of them were gone now. Some had fought in Vietnam and had died due to war-related ailments. She thought of Bobby. Some had kept right on partying through the years, never stopping to take care of themselves, and had died due to heart ailments. She thought of Jim. Some had settled down and married and had families and had stopped this foolishness. She smiled to herself as she thought about that. Some had mental illnesses and she thought, her heart breaking, about Paul. Some were like her. They had gone on and had been successful, either at home or with a career, but their hearts still belonged to 1979 and rock and roll.

Finally, the server approached her and seemed surprised when she ordered a shot of Dom Julio tequila with a glass of water. That pissed her off. She didn’t look that much like an old lady. She did look female, however, and the server went ahead to ask her if she wanted it chilled. That was a question they would only ask a girl. Anne snapped a quick, “Of course not,” at her and looked away.

Anne needed this bar and this shot of tequila tonight. She was at a writer’s conference to promote her new book. The conference was in New Orleans and Anne had almost told her publisher that she could not come to this city. She knew that he would put a great deal of pressure on her to come and there was no use fighting him about it. She had to come. It was an important conference if she wanted her book to be successful. It was her second novel. A writer’s second novel is important. It tells a publisher if the success of the first one was a fluke or the real deal. So, here she was in the city where she had spent so much time during her life. The city where the love of her life still lived.

She was staying at the conference hotel. The Royal Sonesta on Bourbon Street. A hotel she and her love had stayed in more than once. She shook her head and about that time her tequila finally showed up. She shot it before the server could walk away and ordered another one. She had to get those thoughts out of her head as she had important business to attend to.

All the other conference participants were excited about touring New Orleans. There wasn’t nearly as much to see since Hurricane Katrina had almost wiped it out. Anne could tell a huge difference. Almost half the population was gone. She surely didn’t need or want to tour New Orleans. She could be the tour guide since she had been there so much. Touring it would just make her remember things she would rather not.

For the most part, the conference participants were younger. They barely remembered that epic hurricane, let alone realized what it had done to that city. She also knew that restaurants were still closing at a rapid rate as it continued to lose population. Even universities in the city were facing closure. A lot of what was left in the French Quarter  seemed to be the strange people, mimes, the voodoo shops, and such. She didn’t want to see this city that she loved dying a lingering death. She had decided to stick close to the conference hotel, participate in everything the conference had to offer, and pretend she was somewhere else. But, she had to sneak out, late at night, and take advantage of the bars and the music.

She was just thinking of going over to one of the good jazz bars she knew. She had heard that a big name in jazz was playing at Preservation Hall. Suddenly, a voice said, “Madame, may I join you?”

She looked up and to her right and a man was standing there smiling. He had jet black hair and sparkling blue eyes that also seemed to be smiling. At first glance, he was probably 15 years younger than her. She thought about it a second and knew she could always get up and leave. She shrugged her shoulders and motioned to the other chair at the table. Before he sat down, he stuck out his hand and said, “I’m Jon Beaufort.”

She shook his hand and introduced herself, “I’m Anne Darrow.”

He sat and said, “That is a good Scots name.”

“I believe yours is French.”

Jon replied, “Yes, I’m French.”

“I would ask you what a classy lady like you is doing in a nightclub by herself, but it would sound like a line.”

“Yes, it would,” Anne said, “but I will answer you. I’m attending a conference at the hotel next door and I came over here in hopes they had a good band.”

“I, too, am attending the conference at the Royal Sonesta,” exclaimed Jon. “So you are also a writer.”

Anne and Jon sat and talked about the books they had written and promoted for  a short while. While Anne had written two psychological thrillers, Jon wrote political thrillers. There was a lot they could talk about and learn from each other. Suddenly, Jon looked at Anne and mentioned that the band was loud and not at all good. He said, “Anne, I may be out of line, but would you like to go somewhere quieter and have dinner with me? We could finish our conversation.”

Anne had to think for a moment. It was just dinner and he was a conference participant, so why not, she thought. Then, so many reasons why not flashed through her mind. She smiled and reached into her purse, taking out a business card. She scribbled her phone number on the back. She handed it to Jon.

Anne said, “Jon, you seem very nice. Maybe I would like to get to know you better. Let’s see each other tomorrow at our book signings. Then, after the conference, if you want to call me some time, please do.”

Jon smiled and asked if he could walk her back to the hotel. He said goodbye at the elevator. Anne had no idea if she would see him the next day or not. She realized she didn’t really care and went on up to her room. She didn’t know him well enough to care. If he wanted to get to know her, he would have to make some effort. Anne felt proud of herself. It was about time.

Prompt 1966: thewritingreader.com

amwriting with The Writing Reader

Wising Up

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“I thought your parents were coming tonight?” James said.

“They are. They said they would meet us here at the restaurant at 6,” replied Barbara.

“I’m only waiting five more minutes,” James stated angrily.

Barbara sighed. James could be so angry sometimes. She didn’t understand it. She had hoped tonight would be special. James was standing beside her tapping his foot, arms crossed. She thought he might ask her to marry him after dinner.

“Barb, you’re so spoiled when you’re with your family. I’d rather have dinner just with you,” James said.

Barbara just looked at him. She knew he didn’t like her family but he’d never said anything like that.

“You wouldn’t be that spoiled if you were living with me.”

Barbara started walking away and ran into her parents.

“Dad, take me home. With you,” Barbara said to her dad.

Elusive

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Sleep was always elusive for her. Her battles were fought when she was awake. She lived the consequences during her sleep at night. She had fought too many battles. This last battle had marked her deeply. It wasn’t over yet. In fact, it had barely begun. She was divorcing her husband of many years. They had not gotten along in years. So many years, she was surprised he wasn’t relieved that she wanted a divorce. Then again, she’d always known he’d stayed for money. She had been right.

She finally had to have a break from the animosity between them so she had come to her favorite place for awhile. She had found tonight that the night terrors were especially bad so she was out walking. She could hear the palm trees shake in the wind and smell the ocean. She felt the crunch of the sand beneath her feet instead of the squish of the clay dirt back home. She had no fear walking at midnight on this island in the Gulf of Mexico. She would never have done this at home. She hoped the sound and smell of the surf would chase away the latest bout of night terrors where her husband played a starring role.

Wasn’t it time for her? No one knew how much time we had left. She didn’t want to spend her time with a man who made her miserable. Sure, she loved him but like her family, not like a mate. He didn’t even realize he was abusive. There was no one who had been in his life who had been a role model. She needed years of peace while she still had years to spend.

She knew she’d have no one when the divorce was over. Her family was mostly gone with only a few remaining by her side. Friends tended to vanish when you became that one single woman in their lives. They didn’t quite know what to do with you then. She’d witnessed that at Christmas this past year. She thought she would probably sell her house and move down here, where the sea oats bloom. Make a new start. So what if she were alone during her golden years? Did it really matter? She didn’t think so. Contentment perhaps mattered more than anything. It was time to depend on just herself.

As she was walking back to her short-term rental, she thought of another alternative. Making it work would be elusive. Perhaps it was the answer. When she wrote, she could write under a pen name. No one would know who she was. She would simply just….vanish.

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#12: Adventures in RV – January 22, 2017

 

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Trip to the Everglades

Above is an alligator in the Everglades. Big guy. We were high above him – thank goodness!

Maybe I should wait until later tonight to write this blog post. We are waiting on really serious storms here tonight. Another issue when you have a RV which I addressed in my earlier blog post #11. Unfortunately, I’m getting to use my own advice tonight! We have secured everything around the RV and I think the RV park is going to encourage us to go to the Clubhouse if things get bad here. I wonder if they are encouraging everyone to bring their dogs and cats! 🙂

Now, onward! We have now been at the RV Park four full days and it has flown by! Yesterday, we went to visit the Everglades which is one of my favorite side trips when I am in South Florida. It’s a pretty long side trip from where we are, but you can do it in a day. The Everglades seemed a little different to me than it did a few years ago. One of the biggest problems the Everglades has is the pythons. Pythons are not native to the U.S. People have taken their “pet” pythons and dumped them in the Everglades where they have eaten a lot of the native species. Imagine what that means. The Everglades is one of the most important wetlands in the world. The fact that people have a “pet” they never should have had in the first place – a PYTHON SNAKE – and then they get scared of it and think they have to get rid of it and dump it in the Everglades has almost ruined this wetland environment.

Python hunters are paid a bounty to kill pythons but pythons are notoriously hard to find and kill. Bounty hunters have made very little progress, but the pythons have made an incredible amount of progress. I did not see as much wildlife this year as a few years ago. What damage man has done to this planet. End of rant.

We did see a few native species. We always see the alligators. Here is a photo I really like, though alligators are not my favorite species!

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We drove all the way from Pine Island to Everglades City, which is actually the last stop before reaching the tip of Florida. There is not much beyond Everglades City except….well….the Everglades!

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I don’t know what kind of bird this is. If anyone knows, please put it in the comments. Thanks.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. I’ll share more another time. More from “Adventures” tomorrow! I’ll finish our Everglades trip!

 

#11: Adventures in RV Travel – January 22, 2017

How to Prepare Your RV for a Storm

Here in South Florida, we have a poor weather forecast for today, Jan 22, and tomorrow, Jan 23. We have a severe thunderstorm advisory with a high wind (50 mph) advisory. We also have a tornado watch…..and it’s early yet. We’re sitting here in our beautiful park in a RV! So how do you prepare your RV and yourself for a storm so you sustain as little damage as possible? Here is my checklist:

  1.  First and foremost, roll up your awning and secure it. You don’t want it torn off your RV!
  2. Stow away anything loose around your RV such as chairs, tables, rugs, and mats. Obviously, this also means candles, glasses, and everything outside.
  3. If you have a satellite dish, either secure it somehow or do what we do and take it down. Most importantly, protect the eyes of the satellite.
  4. Close the RV roof vents if they do not have covers.
  5. If you’re like me and you eat out a lot, get in some groceries. You might need to eat in for a day or two.
  6. Charge up all your electronics. Get them charged early so if the power goes off, you’re prepared.
  7. Make sure the wheels of the RV are secured and the RV can’t roll.
  8. If you use propane for heat or to run some of your appliances, make sure it is filled.
  9. Be sure you know where the bathhouses are if you are in a RV park. If there is a tornado, you will need to get into one.
  10. Be sure your car is gassed up in case you need to evacuate.

I hope this helps you. I will be back later today with another “Adventures” post, assuming I still have Internet! If you don’t hear from me, hang on. That only means the Internet is down here due to the storms.

 

#SoCS – Jan 20/17

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Wow! What a week for a stream of consciousness post. What has overtaken my mind at this point is the fact that I’m in southwest Florida, on an island off the coast of Ft. Myers and it’s warm, dry, and beautiful! It’s January! I love the ocean and since we arrived, the weather has been tranquil and the ocean like glass. Actually, we’ve been here five times before at this time of year, but not for a couple of years. I’m so thrilled to be here again I can hardly think of anything else. I’m really enjoying it. We’re taking a side trip to the Everglades tomorrow, one of my favorite places. Primarily so I can see the wildlife…..then rant about how we’re killing our environment.

There are other things on my mind. When we got to our favorite place in the world here in Florida, we found that two of our friends had passed away since we were here last. One quite suddenly and at a young age. He and his wife came here from North Dakota every year for six months and were good friends. The other an older gentleman  that also spent the season here. He was an interesting story. He had two German Shepherds, trained only using German commands. They were the most intricately trained, and well trained, dogs I’ve ever known. It haunts me wondering what happened to the dogs as Hans was single, to my knowledge. I don’t know if he had any family or not.

The other thing on my mind is my desire to move to Florida. There are so many reasons to move, but there are a few reasons not to move. I’m having a mental battle between pros and cons. One concern is the fact I will have to spend a lot of the hot times indoors. That is due to a health condition. My particular health condition does not allow me to tolerate very high heat for very long at a time. However, there are positives about moving regarding that same health condition. This specific downside is the only downside to moving here, but it is a significant downside. Before I make a final decision, I have to talk to my doctor although I’ve been told not to worry about this side effect. We will see a realtor here in Florida several times while we are here. We aren’t yet picking out a house as our house where we currently live has to be sold first. We are picking out the community in which we want to live.

Last, I guess I’m a little worried about my dog, Betsy. She is doing well on this trip, but she is sleeping a lot. She had a seizure about three weeks ago, so I am watchful. Signing off for this week!

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#10: Adventures in RV Travel – January 20, 2017

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Hello, everyone! The picture above is of beautiful Matlacha Bay. Matlacha is the little island between Pine Island and the mainland of Florida. I took this picture off the Matlacha Drawbridge. Yes, Matlacha still has a drawbridge and ships really do come through the Matlacha Pass. You’re looking at one side of the pass and the Matlacha Bay. People are always fishing off this bridge and another bridge in Matlacha, known as the “fishingest bridge in the world.” Isn’t the bay beautiful? I spent some time “sitting on the dock of the bay” today. Hmmm…..sounds like a song. 🙂

I love to look at the ocean, gaze at the water, and look at the horizon. I took time to do that today. It soothes my soul.

The weather here today was wonderful. The temperature was pushing 80 degrees, calm wind, low humidity. The first thing I did this morning was to take my dog, Betsy, on a long walk. Almost everyone who owns a RV in these RV parks seems to have a dog! Dogs of all breeds, mixed breeds, and just dogs of all shapes, ages, and sizes. Betsy enjoys her walks immensely and I love walking her. It’s the best exercise I’ve gotten in a while. Not only is it cold where I live, it’s mountainous. It’s hard for me to walk and hard on Betsy. Love being in Florida! This island is flat and sandy. Great for walking and biking.

Another reason for my determination to walk Betsy is that she is just a bit chubby right now. Her vet prescribed three short walks per day. We’re doing that. I ride my bikes and take long walks on my own and, if it is early in the morning, I will take Betsy on a long walk before it gets hot.

One of my friends in Pine Island RV Park is an artist. She comes to Pine Island for six months every year. While she’s here, she makes crafts out of local materials like coconuts. I have several of her creations and I love them. I put them on my patio in the summer at home and, of course, on the patio of the RV. You will see a picture of the wonderful pink flamingo that Susie makes at the end of this blog post. 🙂 She makes other South Florida-related creatures as well. I met Susie, and her husband, Kelly, the first year we came to Pine Island. Kelly, unfortunately, is no longer with us. Susie keeps right on coming to Pine Island because of all her friends here. This year, I got one of the alligators she made. I will share him with you sometime! I also have a wood stork and a bee.

This may sound crazy, but I love to go to the grocery in Florida in the winter! Why? The grocery stores where I live just don’t compare, especially in the winter. I suppose it isn’t a fair comparison. After all, Florida is one of our bread baskets. I went to the big Publix Supermarket today that is about 10 miles from our park. Oh my goodness! I had forgotten about their produce. I wanted to buy every fresh vegetable in the store. We stayed in for dinner tonight. My husband grilled something for himself. I had crab and a huge salad made from those wonderful fresh vegetables. I was in heaven! The tomatoes here are to die for at this time of year!

Today was the day for my husband to work on the TV. We had cable TV in our RV but my husband, a TV buff, wanted satellite TV. Years ago, he bought a dish for the bus. So he spent most of the day trying to set up the satellite for the RV only to find out that he needs something from the satellite company to do it. It’s on its way to him at the park.

The days are starting to fly by here. By the time all this was finished today, the day was over and dark had fallen!

Tomorrow will be exciting. We’re going to go to the Everglades! This is a trip we take every time we come to South Florida. I’ll blog about the Everglades tomorrow night! More from “Adventures” then!

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Transcendent

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She was only 19 years old. He was her best friend’s neighbor who lived just down the road. He was also working with her dad on a civic project. They were good friends. Maybe not good enough. He was a professor at the local university and she was a student. His student in just one class. Just another student. He was a young professor, a new Assistant Professor. Only ten years older than she was. He was married with a beautiful little girl.

He was tall, blonde, incredibly handsome. She was mesmerized by him. In class, when he came to her house to see her dad, when she was at her best friend’s house and they watched him and giggled at the window. She had a little crush on him as student’s sometimes do on their professors. Everything he did had transcendent importance to her. She never dreamed anything would really happen between them. She was speechless and tongue-tied around him.

Then he started flirting with her a little. She thought she was imagining it. She flirted back, but she thought it was just a game. Back when she was 19, a lifetime ago, that wasn’t very old especially not in the environment in which she had grown up. She had only one real boyfriend and that had ended badly. She had grown up very sheltered. She hadn’t been allowed to stay out late or date many people. She was living at home while she attended college.

The flirting grew and he asked her to join him one night when he had to drive to another nearby town. Just to talk, he said. She was so incredibly flattered that she didn’t even think about the fact that it was probably wrong. The wrong thing to do. He was, after all, a married man. She rode with him that night.

Thirty-five years later, he had moved on to another university in another state. She had married, divorced, and married again. When he was in the vicinity, he still called her and asked her to take a ride with him. She still saw everything he said and did as transcendentally important. He had affected her in a way that lasted the rest of her life.

#9: Adventures in RV Travel – January 19, 2017

 

First Day in Paradise!

The first nice thing today was that I didn’t have to be in a moving vehicle! I think I will feel like I am moving for several days. If I’m in a moving vehicle, it will be a car and it won’t be on a noisy interstate! This, I say, after almost 1100 miles in the RV! I’ll get over it!

It was nice to wake up this a.m. with the sun shining, blue sky, and it was already above 70 degrees! I woke up pretty early which is a habit. I hope I can learn to sleep a little later over the next few weeks. I would like to feel a little lazy. When I walked outside this a.m., I saw the Pine Island RV Park for the first time in a couple of years. It looks beautiful. Some real improvements have been made recently. Concrete pads for almost every site and every RV’er knows how important that is. At least my husband thinks it is. Large sites, at least in our section. Someone to come help set up the cable TV. I was able to set up the fairly easy WiFi myself and bandwidth seems good. A patio with picnic table. Firepit. Room for the car we towed. I’ve been to enough RV parks to know that this is, indeed, a very nice park.

There are parts of the park where the RVs are a little closer together but we knew where to park! The reason the RV’s are close together is because most are so large now. The sites used to be plenty big enough. Other parts of the park, such as our part, have sites that are still large enough. The park has three lakes that have been maintained really well. The only odd thing is that wood storks used to populate the park. I have not yet seen any which is very strange. I can’t imagine where they have gone. They were here each of the five years we were. They roosted in the trees all around the park.

Before you ask, even though there are three lakes, I have never seen an alligator in this RV park. Not so with the Naples RV park. You practically trip over them there. Both last night and tonight when we were out, I didn’t notice any bugs. No mosquitoes. Nothing. Again, this beats Naples where, one year, I got eaten alive by bugs. Of course, Naples is more tropical.

One thing we really noticed. This is our sixth year at this park. We have never ever seen it so full. It is almost completely full. People appear to be RV’ing this winter.

All seems to be well with Pine Island RV Park. I still love it as much as ever. I had some errands to do today and had to be away from the park but I hope to be around most of the day tomorrow. I’d like to ride my bike on the well-paved roads, walk my dog even more than today, visit friends, and just enjoy myself. I think we will stay in for dinner tomorrow night. I did not make it to the fruit farms at the northern end of the island today, but I may try to do that tomorrow. I want to learn more about the fruit operations. For our own personal use, I did pick up some awesome tomatoes at a local fruit stand along with locally grown lettuce and strawberries which will help make a salad tomorrow night.

I realized today that I have never introduced one member of my little family to you. At the end of this post, you will meet Tigger, our yellow tabby cat, who is more like a dog, and loves to travel in the RV! You’ll laugh at the pose and where he is.

It was a long and rather arduous RV trip to Pine Island this year. I’m so glad we came! I’m surely not a person who could be a full-time RV’er. But, I can be an RV-adventurer and really enjoy it!

More tomorrow from “Adventures!”

Here is Tigger! On the dashboard of the RV!

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