Friday, April 16, 2010

A new RV

Our little Coachman Freelander has served us well for 8 months and 23,000 miles, but it’s becoming a maintenance headache. Between the slide that would occasionally stop working and was so off kilter that the frame surrounding the slide had developed two significant cracks to the broken sink faucets, we decided that we needed a new house. As timing would have it, we were in Tampa where my West Point classmate and former roommate, Marc ‘Big-un’ Taylor (he's the one on the left), sells RV’s at Lazy Days – the largest RV dealer in the US. We thought that a fifth wheel would be a neat alternative to the Class C that we had used for the trip. We were concerned that once the Teamgile Odyssey was over, the RV would sit for months with no use – not good for the engine. We figured that a fifth wheel would give us a good size “home” and we could use the truck after the trip. So, we began looking at Lazy Days. The nice thing about Lazy Days is that they leave all their units open so we spent a couple of days looking at a lot of units. Once we realized that we couldn’t fit the six of us into any kind of pick-up necessary to pull a fifth wheel, we started looking at travel trailers. The kids spent the better part of two solid days looking at all the options and presented us with 4-5 that would work. We narrowed the search down to three that could be pulled by our Suburban and would fit most of our “stuff.” We really agonized over the decision between some cool layouts, but decided on a 2010 Crossroads Zinger. The best thing about it is the four bunks in the back which gives the kids each a bed – something they haven’t had since August. Marc gave us a good deal on our broken-down Freelander so we picked up a new trailer. After we decided on the Zinger, we left for Disney and Key West (which hopefully you’ve read about in previous posts) so they had some time to get everything ready. I ended up flying out of Miami up to Green Bay where my brother, Lanny, picked me up and drove me up to Three Lakes where we had left our Suburban. As an editorial comment, I think Lanny and I spent the most quality time together since I left for West Point in 1982 – it was good. Let’s not wait another 28 years (the same as the drought between Packer SB victories…)Anyway, I drove the Sub back to Appleton where I spent the night before driving the 1400 miles back to Tampa. My dear wife and I arrived together at Lazy Days and prepared to take delivery of our new trailer the following day. We had some cabinets put into the kids’ room and needed to have a hitch on the back of the Zinger for the bikes. Unfortunately, these two things threw off the delivery so they didn’t complete the things that they were supposed to which kept us at Lazy Days for a couple extra days until they finished up. At the end of the day, we ended up with a newer trailer with more room inside. We are struggling to make everything fit that we used to keep in the extensive external storage of the RV, but it will be fine. It was a bittersweet good-bye to the RV that had been our home for the last 8 months, but we expect this will be more practical for the future. We plan to use it for the remaining four months of our trip and then we will have a “visitors quarters” once we find a new home. Sorry if you didn’t get a chance to see the Harvey RV, but now you will get a chance to see the Zinger if we crash your place.

~ Peace, Dad

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Key West

HI Key West

Disney was great fun, and I can’t wait to go again…..whenever that is, but there were more adventures ahead. So, after that we went to…um…I think a hotel, a couple campsites. Just for a night each. Then we drove down down down to KEY WEST!

We met Gagee (Dad's mom) and Mr. Lee on the way down. Kik and I drove in their car, with the sun roof open and all the windows rolled down. We were cruisin’! We got down to Key West and parked the RV in front of our cool condo and loaded in almost everything we own. They were SO nice and now I can’t wait to get a house again! 3 bedrooms (including master) 1 1/2 bathrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen, an awesome princess phone and a screened in patio! It was SO cool!

So we hung out, called each other on the phone and then went to dinner. The Military was donating free fish as long as you bring a side dish with you. It was really quite good (especially the dessert! Sugar cookies, cake, brownies). It was nice. So we went to bed Toley and I shared one room (and bed) and Z-man and Kik shared the other room (and bed). I must say, I have a very hard time sleeping with other people. Even if it is my sister. For instance some people, who shall be nameless, kick and turn and pull the covers right off you. Ahem, I’m not mentioning any names.

ANYWAYS I always get off track. The next day we packed lunch and drove the RV down to the beach. Fortunately we were the only people there (on that side of the beach) so we could act like maniac’s the whole time, and no one knew who we were. Z-man and I were the brave ones and went in 1st. It was really pretty when you looked AT it, but when you looked IN it...... well…you couldn’t see ZIP. But it was really fun.

Eventually even mommy came in for a while! Later, Mommy and daddy went to rent some snorkels but the lady at the counter said that there were huge jelly's in the water and they wouldn't suggest snorkeling. So they got a paper with all sorts of fun boating things to do. We decided to go sailing the next day. The trip included meals, snorkeling, kayaking and sailing. We were excited after a long afternoon at the beach.

But when we got home we found out that all of us (except Kik) had sunburn. Mommy and I had it all over. Z-man and Daddy had it bad on their backs and Toley had it bad on her arms. I had it bad on my lower back and mommy had it bad…well everywhere! What’s worse we were watching American Idol and my throat started to hurt. Turns out the next day I had a cold. Oy veh. But I didn’t really notice it on the boat.

The sailing was so much fun. We went on a boat with like…20 people. The captain and the two ladies’s that served and talked to you were all very funny and nice. Well we…snorkeled, kayaked and sailed! They served us lunch and tons of snacks before and after. You probably want to hear more. ...........
Well we sailed around for a while. Then we stopped at a really shallow area. It was like a sea garden or something. Lots of fish, sponges, Sting rays, a barracuda!and conch shells. They gave us snorkels, wet suits, flippers. It was really neat. It was so cool swimming next to those sting rays, and all the fish! It was really awesome. Even Kik got the hang of it after a while.

After that we sailed, ate some lunch and talked. Then we split up into two groups and went kayaking around. Our leader (Ms. Michelle) showed us around a little island and talked about all the cool plants and animals. It’s really fascinating how much they know! Then we headed back, Daddy and the kids all jumped in the water to cool off while mom took pictures. It was a beautiful day We were sad to go, but on the way back we saw a fish jump straight into the air chasing something! It must’ve gone like…psh...4 ft into the air! It was so cool, and to finish off a good day Kik got to steer the ship AND we saw some dolphins. Which, according to Ms. Wendy, can make even a grown man jump up and down and scream “DOLPHIN!!!!” We left the dock at about 10:00am and got back at about 4. It was a long time but it didn’t seem like it.

The next few days were spent just hangin’ out. One day Toley, Z and I went to the mini-mart to buy some “ounce cream” as I call it. Well turns out they were closed so we headed back to Gagee's (AKA Grog) condo (right next door) where we heard a rumor that SHE had some. So (before they had any dinner) we had a bowl of Moose track ice cream with some extra M&M’s, Junior mints and Peppermint paddy’s! We talked about how we could make a secret passage way to the fridge where the bon bon’s were with a little lock that only we knew the code. So we came, talked, ate, laughed and left. Sigh, I love going to Grog’s! Well they left the next day and we left the day after that. We spent our last day doing school, cleaning and loading the RV. Sounds boring, but it was fun and we all needed to stay out of the sun for a day.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Disney 2010

Hello, I was nominated to write about WDW -- probably because of my Disney knowledge. I won’t give away who this is, though, in case you want to guess; although it might be obvious. I have been thrilled for Disney… I don’t know how long. ReRe gave me a great Disney book to read and we would talk on the phone for a long time discussing what we read. I was set.

On Thursday we got to the Fort Wilderness Campground while our Weber Family checked into the Wilderness Lodge, only a ferry away. We also got sightings of an armadillo. Who knew they were in Florida? Some of the Webers went to the park, but we just got settled in and met everyone after dinner. We went to ReRe and PopPop’s hotel room and ReRe loaded us up with new Disney color coordinated t-shirts, St. Patrick’s Day stuff and our annual Easter bag filled with goodies. Friday we met the Webers at Wilderness Lodge bright and early and took the bus to Epcot. We met Gagee and her friend Mr. Lee inside the park expanding our group to 18! We headed to “The Seas with Nemo and Friends” while the guys got fastpasses (that’s usually how our mornings started off) to Soarin’. After having a turtle talk with Crush and watching the manatees we headed over to Test Track. It ended up being one of my favorite rides, but I was really scared. We had to wait about an hour and a half, but it was worth it. I got to go on with Pooh, my three girl cousins and Aunt Julie (just imagine how much the six of us screamed!) Mommy was the only one who didn’t go on; she had to walk the dog. We grabbed lunch and then headed to Soarin’ for our ride over California!

After a bit we headed over to World Showcase. Eleven countries are represented and they have people from each country come work there. It is really neat. We looked around at our own pace and later met for a Biergarten dinner in “Germany.” It was fantastic along with the German entertainment. IT brought back a lot of good memories! Thank you Unkey Jeff and Unkey Russ! Afterwards the group separated, some going home to get some much needed rest and some of us hard-core Disney tourists staying to see “Illuminations,” Epcot’s night show and some ice cream. We were all really tired but this was just the beginning!
Saturday we headed to Hollywood Studios . Okay, Epcot was too detailed; I’ll tone it down a bit. We started with the guys getting Toy Story Mania fastpasses. The Crazy People went on Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Roller Coaster, while us so-called wimps went to Muppet Vision 3D. Our day also consisted of Prince Caspian, The Little Mermaid and Star Tours, finally getting to Toy Story-- a new, interactive ride that ended up being at the top of everyone’s list.
Mommy went home a little early to cook dinner as we were hosting everybody in the RV, while the rest of us headed over to Lights, Motor, Action! and Extreme stunt show. When that was finished we headed back to the Lodge and took the ferry to the campsite. We enjoyed a great meal of tacos with cupcakes for dessert. Mom was happy it didn't rain because our RV can't hold 16 taco eating people. The cousins loved playing up on our bed! Sunday we all took the ferry over to the Contemporary Resort early in the morning (very early!) for a delicious Mickey’s Breakfast, adding lots of signatures to our autograph books! Thanks PopPop! After our belly's were full we took one of Huddy's favorite rides, the monorail, to Magic Kingdom. It started raining soon after we got there, but not too hard. We went on Peter Pan, Splash, Space and Big Thunder Mountains (well not all of us went on Splash Mountain or Space Mountain). Big Thunder is another one of my very favorites -- not too scary. I felt brave enough for Splash Mountain too, but after the huge drop I vowed never again! The rain started getting too much and everyone except Z-man, Pooh, ReRe, PopPop and I headed home for a few hours. I wasn’t about to miss Disney for a little rain! So the five of us enjoyed mostly indoor attractions and got a bunch of stuff done with such few people. We met the rest of the gang for dinner at the Crystal Palace thanks to ReRe, another good buffet! After dinner some of us went to Big Thunder Mountain another two times and then we all headed to Main Street to watch the SpectroMagic parade. At last the night came to an end with a ferry ride home. We were pooped!

Monday was Animal Kingdom day, our last day at Disney. We had a lazy morning and didn’t get to the park till nine or ten. We started off with Kilimanjaro Safaris which has real animals to see and all 16 of us can actually fit in one truck! . After that we headed to It’s Tough to be a Bug show,
which is a little scary especially if creepy crawlies aren’t your favorite thing in the world. Next the crazy people got in line for Expedition Everest, which makes Splash Mountain look like a kiddy ride. I still can't believe my little cousins love all those crazy rides! We went and watched a bird show and then headed to DinoLand for Triceratops Spin, our last ride with our cousins. We said a sad goodbye, they had to leave to make they’re plane; we’ll see them this summer though.

When they were all gone, Mommy, Z, Pooh and I then went on Primeval Whirl, a better “last ride” although it was a little scary. As we were headed out to the park Z reminded daddy that they should go on a white water rapids ride. Daddy agreed as the rest of us went to have lunch. As we were eating, a VERY wet duo walked up to our table. They were soaked. They even had to ring out the shorts when we got back to the RV. Good thing it was their last ride. We bid a fond farewell to Disney; see you next time, right Daddy?