Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Day 36 - Kennedy Space Center

We went to Kennedy Space Center today with Galen and Cindy. I think it was about an hour and a half drive from the RV park to the Space Center. The rocket garden is just beyond the entrance gate.

We went on the bus tour right off the bat since each bus can only carry one powered scooter, which Bridget had rented. The Saturn V is on display in one of the buildings along the tour. 

They also had the space shuttle Atlantis on display with a good multimedia introduction. The best show was an immersive video where the screen covers your whole field of vision. And when combined with great audio and effects such as strong wind, you really feel like you’re there. 

There were a couple of RVs on display including this Airstream motor home used to transport the astronauts to the shuttle. 

We returned around 4pm and had an enjoyable time. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Day 33, 34, 35 - Clermont, FL - TT

Sunday (33) - A nice, relaxing day. It’s 73°F at 1pm with occasional light breezes. The pool is at a good temperature and the hot tub has strong jets and not just bubbles. 

I finally dug out the e-bike as this park is huge. Several areas surround a large golf course. I also brought out the induction cooktop as I wanted to make some buttermilk fried chicken. I had picked up the buttermilk to make some bran muffins and there was a lot of milk left. Plus, I found a good deal on chicken quarters at Publix. 

Monday (34)
 - Not much happened today. Galen was working on his RV adding an accumulator tank to the water system. This would allow the water pump to run less often. I had extra plywood and the circular saw which helped with the installation. We made a quick trip to Kohl's then got ready for the afternoon test session after a quick trip to the pool. This afternoon it was 82°F but it didn't feel really hot unless you were sitting in the sun. From the Sppedtest, you'd think that there is enough bandwidth for a Zoom session. I ended up using the phone for audio and the Internet for video. Zoom kept my two sessions in synch. I did experiment with session recording and though it worked, it didn’t work well. 

Tuesday (35) - Today didn’t start out great. Bridget’s back was so sore that we went to the ER. We then had lunch and I joined the afternoon test session via Zoom with phone audio again. Even with 30Mbps down and 10Mbps up, the audio was still choppy. 

Tomorrow, we’re doing some touristing. 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

30, 31, 32 - Clermont, FL - TT

Thursday (30) - An overcast morning but still warm enough to sit outside enjoying my coffee. I noticed that it’s dark enough for the street lights to turn on. The rain isn’t supposed to be here for several hours. I may just sit out here for a while. 

During a walk around the park, we came to a bunch of small garden plots. One of the residents decided to clean this area up and make the plots available to others in the park. Besides the flowers there are tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.

Shortly after the last picture was taken, the clouds opened up with a huge downpour. Twenty minutes later, it was over. Huge puddles all over the place.  

Friday (31) - Today’s drive is all of 19miles to Clerbrook RV and Golf Resort. It is an Encore park which we have access to through TT. So the price is right. 

When we arrived, the kitchen slide wasn’t working properly. Something else to fix, I guess. It’s an older RV park but we were able to get level easily and it is full hookups. There is a pool and possibly even a hot tub. 

Saturday (32) - I participated in a couple of test sessions today. Bandwidth is still kind of limited. Streaming works well but the Zoom audio has some packet loss and retransmissions. Here is my current setup for the sessions. The iPad is connected to the laptop via USB-C and is functioning as a second-screen laptop. It seems to work well. 

I opened up the panels on the slide locks and there was no mechanical or electrical problem. The slide locks were out of synch. Cycling them through their full range got them back in synch and both engaged their micro switches and the slide went out. No problem. 

We are spending time with Galen and Cindy here at the park. We last saw them when we mooch-docked on their RV pad in Colorado. We had initially met them in Oregon at a TT park, then met them again in southern Texas. We arranged to meet them here in Clermont at the TT/Encore park. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Day 27, 28, 29 - Clermont, FL - TT

Monday (27) - No real plans today. I defrosted the freezer as the ice maker had stopped working. I thought that it may be the problem. Plus, there was a lot of ice and frost built up partially due to the high humidity. It wasn’t going to be ridiculously hot today so that was the other reason for defrosting the refrigerator. 

I have the Ubiquity Nanostation that Dom gifted me, set up to connect into the pay WiFi service here at the park. We are only here for the week but I was down to 0.6% on the hotspot and 10% on my phone. And AT&T charges much more to add more data to these pay-as-you-go plans. I am also still using the Netgear router I purchased a couple of weeks ago but only as a network switch. I turned off both WiFi radios as the little Ubiquity AirGateway proved to be a much better performing WiFi network than the Netgear.

Later - But still, not very fast. Right now, Discord has been trying to apply an update all afternoon. So I moved to the rec center and am now connected to their complimentary WiFi. We'll see if the update actually finishes. 

I actually just deleted the Discord app and redownloaded the current version. But, I foolishly just clicked the download button which defaulted to the Windows version. So now, I'm waiting for the Mac version to download. 

After the Mac version was downloaded, it then proceeded to download and install 5 updates. The first 4 took around 30 seconds. the 5th is still downloading but at least the progress bar is moving. And, it's done. What a hassle.

Tuesday (28) - The first project was replacing the bungee material on Bridget’s zero gravity chair. The first side was simple. The other side is challenging as you are trying stretch the cords on both sides. It mostly done. I’ll continue tomorrow. 

The second project was getting the network reinstalled in the front cabinet. It’s mostly done though I need to install a couple more micro-usb pigtails to the buck converter. I’ll wait for cooler temperatures as the front cabinet gets really warm in the middle of the day.

Wednesday (29) - The forecast is for wind today and rain tomorrow so I put away the awning and some of the outdoor chairs. 

Then spent some time in the pool. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon. Around 2, the kids started to show up. Home school must be over. The large pool is closed for maintenance so there were quite a few in the smaller pool including a group playing volleyball. 

That’s about it for now. On Friday, weare moving to another RV park about 30 miles north of here for a couple of weeks. 

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Day 25, 26 - Friends

Saturday (25) - We drove west towards the coast north of Tampa. Friends of Bridget’s from UPark days including two of her former students live there. We had lunch with them. I think I had met them once when they lived in Fairbanks as we had purchased an upright freezer from them as they were getting ready to move. It was a nice drive out and back without too much congestion. 

Sunday (26) - Sunday morning brunch buffet was at the Beach Club Resort. Good breakfast but the standout dish was the tofu w/vegetables. Bridget asked for the recipe which. They used to have them printed out but no longer. The chef said the key ingredients were chimichurri and balsamic glaze. 

The eggs Benedict were overcooked but the hollandaise was perfect on the asparagus. Overall, the brunch was good and cheap when compared to brunch in Alaska. 

We then went to Disney Springs to pick up our annual pass holder magnets and to meet up with BobB and his wife. BobB is another ham radio VE (volunteer examiner) and is letting us use his address for shipping packages. 

One of the packages was a Ubiquity Nanostation M2 from DomC of Thank you! I now can connect the RV to the campground WiFi again.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Day 24 - More Disney…

Friday (24) - After a nice, cool morning, it’s warming up on its way to a projected high of almost 90°F. The “schedule” says that we are going to the Animal Kingdom park today. Probably not ‘til later this afternoon due to the temperatures. Plus, that park is one that most visit earlier in the day then “park hop” to one of the others that have more evening hours and entertainment. The Animal Kingdom park opens early and closes early. 

The first stop was the bird show followed by a light snack. It’s 4pm now and partially overcast. Which really helps not having the direct sun. 

The sitar player was pretty good. Different performers are scattered all over the park.  The crowds are definitely lower than they were at Epcot yesterday. I think the arriving later was a decent strategy. 

Right now, we are in the nice, air-conditioned theater for the Lion King live show. We still have 20 minutes but it’s air-conditioned so it really doesn’t matter. 

After the show, we wandered around the park and ended up sitting in the Pandora section for a while. It is starting to cool off, which feels nice. 

We had dinner at Tiffens within the Animal Kingdom. And then wandered through the Pandora section after dark. The iPhone 13mini takes much better nighttime photos than the iPhone X.  

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Day 23 - Epcot

Thursday (23) - Back to Epcot for the Flower and Garden Festival. There are a lot of character topiaries such as these dwarfs. These are six of the seven dwarfs. The seventh was behind me with the Snow White topiary. 

We took the Skyliner to the Caribbean Beach Resort just for the peace and quiet. It was deserted compared to the Epcot crowds. No wait for the Skyliner and it is completely outside of any Disney park so free.

After returning to Epcot, we continued around theWorld Showcase stopping to look at the displays such as the bonsai at the Japan section. Some of the bonsai on display were really old. One was over 200 years old. 

We had a good time wandering around Epcot today. The only attraction we did was the 360° movie at the China pavilion. The best part was that it was air conditioned. 

Instead of having dinner in the park, we went to Culver’s on Hwy 192. Good Atlantic cod fish and chips!

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Day 21, 22 - Fort Pierce, FL to TTO - HH TT

Tuesday (21) - It was a tight fit backing out of this parking spot. The roads are narrow and, for some odd reason, they put the sewer connection in the middle of the pad. Had to be really careful of where the front tires were. 

We are at Summer Crush Vineyard and Winery and staying as Harvest Host members. They have 18 RV sites on a wonderful, grassy field behind their tasting room. We are in one of the pull-through sites so we didn’t even need to disconnect the Jeep. At 3pm, it was 78°F and overcast with occasional showers. And a really pleasant breeze. Not bad at all. 

I filled up on diesel and it took 53gal. The regular price was $5.599/gal but using the TSD Logistics fuel program, we paid $4.704/gal. Expensive but we have paid more per gallon in CA several years ago. 

Wednesday (22)
 - Today, we continued north back to TTO aka Thousand Trails Orlando. It was an uneventful trip mostly on state highways which included going through a number of towns. 

TTO is a nice RV park and even though it’s “first come 
first served”, they have a good system to handle all of the people arriving. They stage you in a large lot with a number showing the order you arrived in. You explain to a golf cart person your preference and they lead you to something that matches. 

It is hot and humid today but kind of windy. The ground is sandy so the stakes I use for the awning just pull right out. So, no awning. The refrigerator works better if it’s shaded. At 3pm, they closed the pool due to lightning strikes within a certain distance. The time between the two pictures was about an hour and a half. The weather changes quickly. 

Monday, March 14, 2022

Day 20 - Everglades National Park

Monday (20) - Todays adventure was the north entrance of the Everglades National Park. We arrived around noon and the parking lot was full. We waited at the entrance gate. For every vehicle that left, they let on enter to park. 

We took the tram tour (advance reservations required) as vehicles were not permitted past the visitors center. We saw a lot of alligators and quite a variety of birds. 

The one stop for the tram was this tower viewpoint. It was nice to walk a bit after sitting for about 45min covering around 7 miles. There were a lot of bicycles on the road and that would definitely be the best way to visit. Park along the highway and ride in all the way to the tower. 

This North American Crocodile was hanging around the tower. I believe that the difference is the crocodile is more tolerant of salt water. At least that’s what I heard. 

One last snapshot taken from the tram. After getting back to the RV, I made dinner then headed for the pool one last time. We head north tomorrow morning for a one-night Harvest Host stay. 

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Day 19 - Key Largo

Sunday (19) - This morning we headed further south for a day trip to Key Largo. Hwy 1 was crowded as it is still the weekend. Our first stop was a bird sanctuary south of town. This was the view from the end of their boardwalk with a “Beware of crocodiles” sign. 

There were a number of birds such as this owl and it felt like a good facility mostly dealing with rescuing injured birds. Some get released back into the wild but most were too injured to fend for themselves. 

We then stopped at a tourist trap gift shop which featured Betty the lobster. Supposedly the second most photographed place in the Keys. I’m guessing that the Key West buoy is the most popular. 

Lunch was at Snook’s Bayside Grill and I had the shrimp roll. Like a lobster roll but with locally caught shrimp. It was delicious. Especially the toasted roll. 

We turned around at Islamorada as the traffic was getting heavier and slower. This is one of the few water views from tge road. We were told that the views were better the further south we went but didn’t want to deal with the traffic. 

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Day 17, 18 - Pompano Beach, FL - TT

Friday (17) - After two active days, we are taking a couple days of doing very little. At 10am, it was hot enough (84°F) to go float around the pool for a while. After drying off for a while, I headed back to start setting up for the first test session. Not a bad way to spend the day…

This afternoon, I swung into a gas station and every single pump was in use. Very odd. I went to a different gas station down the street and it was deserted. Is it because it was 5¢/gal more?

Saturday (18) - Another quiet day. There are three test sessions scheduled so I volunteered for all three since I have the time. The forecast is for some heavy wind and rain later this afternoon. And, it looks like cooler temperatures are behind this front. That'll be nice as the lows have been in the upper 70s (°F) for the past couple of days. The A/C units don't get much of a break and we haven't been able to put the awning out to shield the south-facing side of the RV due to the wind. 

Around 3:30pm, the temperature dropped from 95°F to about 70°F over a span of ten minutes. Tonight, it's supposed to be in the 50s (°F). Everyone around here is going to freeze! Steve, from Cocoa, FL, mentioned that they are getting wind chill advisories and their temperature has dropped to 63°F already.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Day 16 - Everglades

Thursday (16) - Bridget’s friend, Kathy, took us to Holiday Park where they had airboat tours. The airboats were large aluminum boats with two 500cid V8 engines. 

We saw several alligators and a lot of birds. The driver was an excellent narrator and provided clear descriptions. She also would spin the boat slowly so everyone would get good views. 

Here is one of the alligators. After the airboat ride, we went to the attached alligator show run by a rescue organization. The performers are not employees due to liability and insurance. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Day 15 - Lion Country Safari

We went north a bit to West Palm Beach as Bridget wanted to visit a high school friend. Lion Country Safari was a little further down the road so Bridget picked up tickets. The park is drive-through so we left the soft-top Jeep at their home and rode in their minivan. 

Large gates with cattle guards broke the park up into different areas. In many cases, the animals roamed and came up to the car. There were exceptions, such as the lions. I think they figured that some people didn’t have enough common sense to leave their windows closed.

It was a hot afternoon and many animals were resting in the shade…

Or in ponds…

I think that it only went a few degrees warmer than this but I think we are done with the driving portion of the park.

The giraffe was near the end and after parking, there is a walking section of the park including a giraffe feeding area. 

Afterwards, we had lunch at Don Ramon, a local Cuban restaurant. Something new for us…