Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Day 58, 59 - Eustis to Wauchula, FL - TT

Monday (58) - After the rain and the wind, I went up on the roof to sweep off the debris and the water on the slide toppers. There were quite a few pine cones. While up there, I usually check all the Dicor and seams. All looks good. The wind continued on and off throughout the day and the temperature didn’t even hit 60°F. A sunny but cool day. I went ahead and packed everything up while it was dry.

Two test sessions today while we have decent AT&T throughput. Tomorrow, we are moving around 100 miles south to Peace River RV park near Tampa.

Tuesday (59) - It was only a hundred miles today but it took 2½ hours. Signal lights and slow traffic for the first 70 miles. This park has a lottery system for their full hookup sites. So we are in a 30amp/water site right now. It’s a large site and reasonably flat. Our tanks are empty so we should be good for a while. 

Tomorrow is my windshield appointment up in Lakeland. About an 45min north of here. 

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Day 55, 56, 57 - Eustis, FL - TT

Friday (55) - Originally, I had an appointment today to get the Jeep windshield replaced. There was a lot of gravel on the interstate in Montana and Wyoming and, since I was going under the speed limit, I would occasionally get a shower of small gravel every time a large truck went by. The small crack grew until it was the full height of the windshield. When I made the claim, the insurance company asked if the non-OEM glass was acceptable. I said fine, that it really didn't matter to me. It turns out that the shop was unable to get any of the non-OEM windshields. They made me a new appointment for next Wednesday at a different shop near the next RV park where we will be. And, they are installing OEM glass. Bridget was a little annoyed that I had agreed to a non-OEM replacement as it wouldn't have the little Jeep easter egg on the corner of the glass. (See picture)

Saturday (56) - A nice, quiet day. Now that the refrigerator works on propane, we seem to be able to run both A/C units when plugged into a 30amp connection. All other appliances are shut off. Refrigerator and water heater on propane and converter turned off. During the day the solar panels do a decent job keeping up with the 12VDC usage. I guess the SoftStart units helped. With both of them running, we are drawing about 25 amps from our 30 amp shore power. The refrigerator adds about 3-4 amps when running on AC so that was enough to shut down the rear A/C unit. This is the first time we've actually been able to test running both A/C units when on 30 amps since I installed the SoftStart units in both air conditioners in mid-October.

After numerous phone calls and emails, I finally got an Alaska temporary tag yesterday, and they emailed me a copy until I can get the physical copy sent down.

Sunday (57) - Windy day today with gusts of 35mph. I put most of our outdoor stuff away last night including the awning. Plus, we had rain and lightning this morning. Nothing like the snow, wind, and rain they are getting further north. 

Yesterday evening, I went outside to watch the ISS. It passed from the SW directly overhead. It was easily the brightest object in the sky as it was illuminated by the sun which was just below the horizon. It faded out just past the zenith. Nice to have a clear sky and good position relative to the sun.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Day 52, 53, 54 - Eustis, FL - TT

Tuesday (52) - It dropped down to 48°F last night. There is a large cold front moving into the eastern states over the next several days according to the weather guessers. Since Bridget is out of town, I went ahead and signed up for a couple of ham tests today. I didn't participate while we were in Old Town as there wasn't enough bandwidth. I did one session while we were in the Disney RV park as they had pretty phenomenal WiFi. AT&T seems to be working fine as long as I use the 5GHz WiFi. There must be a lot of interference on 2.4GHz.

I've been working on the refrigerator again. It hasn't been working on propane. I thought it might be the igniter element as they develop cracks. So I picked one up on Amazon. Of course, it wasn't a trivial swap. the new one is slightly different from the old one. It isn't the igniter element. I would really like to replace this absorption refrigerator with a compressor version. But that introduces other issues making it a non-trivial conversion. It made for a frustrating afternoon. 

Wednesday (53) - I looked up the manual for a Dometic absorption refrigerator and it said to adjust the igniter element 3/16” from the top of the burner. If it’s too close it won’t spark as the igniter will “think” the burner is lit and if it’s too far, the voltage isn’t high enough to bridge the gap. So I installed the new element and adjusted it. BTW, adjustment is by bending sheet metal. It now works! That’s a load off my mind. 

On the way to the Orlando airport, I stopped at HRO aka Ham Radio Outlet. This gave me an opportunity to twiddle the knobs on a couple of HF radios. Something I hadn’t been able to do in Alaska. 

Thursday (54)
 - Saw this little guy at a small pond within the campground right adjacent to a designated dog walk area. Must be there to take care of strays. It's about 70°F now and I'm waiting for the morning (AKST) test session to start.

Later this afternoon, I need to return to the dentist in Gainesville to finish the tooth repair. It's almost two hours away according to Google Maps. This brings up the biggest negative I have about Florida. To get anywhere, you are either on small roads or paying tolls. So it takes a long time to get anywhere. The small roads aren't the problem. There is no direct path anywhere. From the Orlando airport to here, you probably turn from one road to the next maybe 30 times. I'm glad that the Jeep has Carplay so I can use Google Maps or Waze on the dashboard screen.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Day 48, 49, 50, 51 - Eustis, FL - TT

Friday (48) - The others went to Legoland and I moved the RV to an Encore park northwest of Orlando. We are here for around 1½ weeks or so. It’s nowhere near as nice as some other Encore properties we’ve stayed at but the price is right. 

The pool is smaller but it’s nice and there is a hot tub. The hours are kind of odd. Dawn to dusk. Maybe there are no lights. Publix is only ½ mile down the road so no driving is required. 

Saturday (49) - By noon it was already 75°F with a forecasted high of 77°F. I set up the table under the awning for the morning test session. "Morning" as in 9:30am AKST. The AT&T signal seemed good enough this morning when I connected during the monthly eastern time morning session. One of the candidates dropped out so I didn’t stay on but there was enough packet loss for my audio to be barely understood. 

We walked down to Publix to pick up a couple of items and we also stopped at Burger King as someone wanted a kid’s meal. (With toy…)

I’m typing this at the pool again. It’s now 78°F with a light breeze. Perfect weather. I’ll try the afternoon session (5:30EST) to see if it’s any better. 

Sunday (50) - My son headed back home this morning. We had a wonderful time with him and his son both at the Disney parks and just sitting around the campground. Bridget is flying with his son up to the Chicago area tomorrow. The task of the day was washing the Jeep. There was a lot of white mud from the dirt road near the Old Town RV park. The last mile or so was dirt. Since it has a soft top, we can’t just run it through a car wash. Compared to other vehicles we’ve had, the Jeep has a lot of nooks and crannies to clean. Not perfect but at least we can see out the rear window again. 

Monday (51)
 - This morning, I drove Bridget and our grandson to the Orlando airport for his flight home. Bridget is flying back on Wednesday. I pulled over to set the gps destination and decided to have breakfast. Bridget had picked up some sous vide egg bites at Dunkin’ Donuts but they were cold. I’ll have them tomorrow. 

I don’t think I really did much else today. I was on the phone for a while to find out what the status of our license plates. The dealer sent the paperwork to our home address instead of the DMV. I went online and requested an Alaska temporary tag. 

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Day 47 - Orlando, FL

Thursday (47) - Today is an "off day" or "resort day". Not going to any park. We ended up staying at Hollywood Studios until around 8:30 or so after riding Rise of the Resistance again. This is a photo from within the Star Wars area of the park. The last two days racked up 36k steps and, these days, that's a lot for me. I used to be able to do that routinely but not anymore. 

Since the AT&T signal here is pretty good, I'm going to try doing a test session. Between intermittent campground WiFi and almost non-existant cell signal at Old Town, I haven't participated in the sessions for quite a while. 

Later - The AT&T signal worked great as long as I was on the 5GHz SSID. Maybe there is too much interference on the 2.2GHz frequency. After the test, I went to the snack bar and had a Mickey pretzel for lunch. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Day 46 - Hollywood Studios

Wednesday (46) - We used the early admission again at Hollywood Studios and were in line at Rise of the Resistance at 8:29. It was still a 40 min wait but the line was moving almost continuously, which was nice. It is a very well done ride. You are surrounded with Star Wars “stuff”.

The effects are good. And everything feels huge. The ride vehicles are trackless and travel in pairs (not connected together) as you escape from a Star destroyer. 

We had breakfast at Ronto Roasters but one was fixated on a huge chocolate donut from Joffrey’s coffee stands. I’m told that their donuts are pretty tasty. 

We then went to the Indiana Jones stunt show. Of course, the highlight was the older Ural rig. The rest of the show was pretty good and it was nice to have a seat for 45 minutes. It may be another 16k step day with running from one side of the park to the other. Tim purchased the Genie+ add-on so we could make reservations on rides. Thank you!

We went on Smuggler’s Run where you “pilot” the Millennium Falcon. I had the up-down control and the controls were backwards. Push forward to go up, pull back to go down. Very confusing. At least to me. 

We then had lunch at the 50’s Prime Time Cafe. Traditional American fare where they harass you. No elbows on the table, finish your vegetables, etc. I had two appetizers instead of a meal. Fried cheese and a wedge salad. It was a good choice for me. 

After lunch, we slowed down as there wasn’t anything “scheduled” for a while. We spent most of the day in the Star Wars section of the park. They’ve done a fabulous job in this area.

At 7:50pm, we went on Rise of the Resistance again. It was even better the second time!

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Day 45 - Animal Kingdom

Tuesday (45) - We were out the door before 7am as we were able to enter the park 30 minutes early since we were staying at a Disney property. We went to the Safari ride and the animals were much more active at this earlier time. Plus, it was a much shorter wait. 

We went to the Avatar area and went on the river ride with scenes from the movie. This relaxing ride is one of my favorite. The dinosaur ride was dark, loud and jostled you around quite a bit. Not a favorite. 

Near the end of the afternoon, we watched Kite Tales and a couple of characters came riding by afterwards. This is how Disney is doing character meet-ups. Social distance meet-up.

We finished the day with dinner at the Rainforest Cafe. A touristy restaurant with animatronic animals. 

Monday, January 3, 2022

Day 42 - Fort Wilderness

Monday (42) - We had a 3½ hour drive back to Disney except we are staying at Fort Wilderness, a Disney owned RV park. I think there is something like 1000+ RV sites. They are roomy enough and have a nice, flat concrete pad. There is enough room for two vehicles in addition to the RV.

We are here until the end of the week. My oldest is here with his son so Bridget has a couple of full days scheduled. We are at one of the pools and it water slides, some sort of water jet pad with fountains. The entire pool only is 45” deep so it is designed to be “kid safe”. There are also quite a few life guards. 

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Day 41 - Old Town, FL

Sunday (41) - I finished a couple of tasks related to flat towing the Jeep. The break-away cable is attached to the motorhome frame and not to any part of the hitch. The reason for this is in case there is a failure in the hitch, tow bar, or baseplate, the Jeep brakes would be applied. I attached it to the rearmost frame crossmember. The cable was more than long enough to reach the Jeep. 

I also zip-tied the wiring in place where it ran through the Jeep engine compartment. I still need to run the extra wire from the Jeep brake light switch to an LED on the motorhome dash so I know when the brakes are being applied. Not essential or required but it seems to be a good idea. 

We leave this park tomorrow. I’d definitely return here as it has been generally quiet. This past weekend was the exception. It was packed with locals who just came for the weekend. And many were in “party mode” for New Years. But some left yesterday and most of the rest left today. I’m at the pool right now and it is a very toasty 80°F right now. (And quiet!)

Everything outside is put away as there is wind and rain in the forecast for this evening. And, the Pi-Hole server is finally updated and appears to be working. Faster web page load times. 

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Day 40 - Suwannee River

Saturday (40)
Happy New Year! Today we went with Mike and Kathy on a pontoon boat ride on the Suwannee River. It was a wonderful trip. We anchored near Fanning Springs for lunch and slowly came back to the campground where we rented the boat. 

We saw several alligators, one river otter, and too many turtles and birds to count. It was sunny and around 80°F with a nice breeze blowing up river. A great way to start the new year. 

Kathy served as captain for our trip. After a quick stop, we explored down river for a short ways and got the boat returned with a few minutes to spare.