Parked in Punta Gorda, Florida

Sunny Continues his travel stories:

may2It’s around Dec 4th and I hear Christmas Carols on the radio  but the sun is shining and there isn’t any snow. I can’t believe this! Tumbleweed drove the long way around. Near Tampa, she decided to take the bridge across to St Petersburg. It was a long one (I think I read 7 miles long). We found a Cracker Barrel Restaurant where we stopped (thank goodness) and stayed overnight. Next day I heard her say we’re going to Punta Gorda. “Mary Rose lives in Port Charlotte but we would go on to Punta Gorda on the other side of the Peace River.” So we headed in that direction. And then stopped again for a night in Venice at Snook’s Haven. I heard her say that our reservations were for the next day.

When we were finally parked in Encore Park in Punta Gorda, I saw the strangest tree outside our window. Tumbleweed said it was a Palm Tree. We didn’t have anything that looked that strange in New York and still call it a tree.

We settled in the park in Punta Gorda and prepared to stay for a month so they could have Christmas with Mary Rose. We (meaning us cats) would stay in the RV enlarged by having the sliders out and have a great time running, climbing, playing and sleeping inside. Tumbleweed and Josephine would visit friends in Florida and dray the dogs ut along.may3

Peanut and Jelly got to sit outside in their pen and go for walks in the RV Park.

They soon learned to watch out for fire ants. You remember if you get bit by fire ants!! We didn’t want them to bring any into the RV with them.

Peanut may look small but she is ferocious and caused trouble sometimes barking at large dogs and expecting Jelly to follow her on her “attack mission”. She was lucky when she got away from Tumbleweed one day to run after a big black dog. She turned back when Jelly wasn’t there behind her. She gave him such a hard time when they came back to the RV!

When they were walking, they saw a creek with big birds that they had not seen before. Some were big and blue (I overheard Tumbleweed talking about Great Blue Herons). That’s what they probably saw. But she said there were large white ones too.

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This is what they saw at the back of the Park. Tumbleweed walked with another woman in the park to a nearby reserve which she said was called Alligator Creek Reserve.

I hope the Alligators stay far away. The dogs did not get to go there for their walk!

Strange! We used the air-conditioner in the RV in December! I was glad. My long haired coat is not designed for hot, muggy weather!

Jekyll Island, Georgia

Jekyll Island, Georgia

Sunny continues his adventure: After Thanksgiving, we moved out of North Carolina. We stopped for a couple days in Santee South Carolina. Tumbleweed said it was time to do laundry and clean up a bit. Then back on the road to Georgia. Tumbleweed had found out about Jekyll Island where friends had stayed and enjoyed the island. From I-95 we found our way to the causeway that led to the offshore Island. The ocean was all around us. AND the place was less commercialized than the other “Golden Isles” of Georgia.

Scan0002This place protected Sea Turtles. We learned a lot from turtles because they knew how to travel with their homes wherever they went. Now we do too.

We had a great time. This is our back room…the cats’ room. Termite and Truffles are lounging on the bed. That handsome cat on top of the window cover is me. I really enjoy climbing around in the RV. We loved the wonderful sea air now that it was warm enough to have a few windows open. Of course, Peanut and Jelly got to go outside and they told us about the beach where they ran on the sand and chased the little sanderlings (the little birds that ran around near the ocean)

Everything was going fine until Tumbleweed was cleaning our room and found a crack in the back wall. She was going to blame us.  We just all looked dumb as though we didn’t know anything about it. “We did have a fantasy that if the crack opened up, we could all sneak out as she drove down the road. It could have been a high adventure.”

But then she went to check the outside of the back wall. I’ll let her tell you about it:

Tumbleweed speaking: I had bought the RV second hand. It was a great deal. The prior owners had added some good things to the original RV…most of them good adds. However, they had a special piece added on the back to carry their spare tire. The vertical bar attached to the back wall was not braced on the bumper and as we drove from New York to Georgia, the weight of the tire had started to pull the bar loose at the top and then push in at the bottom…thus the crack in the wall. Luckily we had good neighbors, Wayne and Eileen. Wayne had been a truck driver and had the strength and the right tools to remove the tire. (We carried it the rest of our journey in the cats’ room.) We spent an extra day to give the gel that I used to fill and cover the crack. It did work to keep it dry and lasted until the spring when we returned to New York. Below is the RV without the tire on the back.

Scan0001Sunny speaking: We enjoyed using the tire as a new scratching post. Luckily, it never had to be used as a replacement tire on the road.

Meeting Rocky

(Sunny continues his travel story)cats-sunny-2

Well. We hung around Maryland for a couple of weeks. While Tumbleweed and Jo were visiting and seeing the sights, we enjoyed playing in the RV. It was nice having the slider out. Some of us would run from the back of the RV up to the front end of the couch, jump up on the couch and then climb right up the wall where there was some material covering part of it. We could grab hold for a bit and then fall back to the couch. We had a great time while the humans were out.

Sometimes they took the dogs with them and it was really CAT TIME in the RV!

Then, we pulled everything in and brought the slider back into position. Time to move on! They mentioned Durham, North Carolina…I checked out the map. It was quite a drive. We went far enough West to avoid the traffic around Washington, DC.

We had a hard time finding Birchwood RV Park because it was actually inside Durham. It was near several hospitals, medical centers and Duke University. Many of the people in the park were patients waiting for or recovering from surgery especially for implants. The dogs told us about some of the people they met when out walking.

One day they came back excited because they met a chocolate lab that belonged to a man who lived and worked in the park. He was actually a sculptor originally from Columbus, Ohio. His little house was in the woods and I heard Tumbleweed and Jo talking about the wood and stone carvings that he had in his yard. The Lab was called Rocky and Harley (that’s the man’s name) thought it was a good joke that he had carved a statue of Rocky out of stone (instead of wood).

We were there for Thanksgiving and Tumbleweeds relatives went on to Florida to be with their family for Thanksgiving. Harley accepted an invitation to go to Cracker Barrel with Tumbleweed and Jo for turkey dinner. They came back smiling so I assume they had a good time.

Well, when we were ready to leave the park, Harley brought Rocky over to say goodbye. I think he had had a couple beers before coming to see us. He brought Rocky right into the RV and sat down to talk. We – both cats and dogs- went to the back room for safety. He was really big…even our dogs were too small to take him on … even though Peanut (our Chihuahua) challenged him a little. But she stopped when Jelly didn’t join in with the barking.peanut

Butter who is the craziest cat that I have ever known kept running out and challenging Rocky to play with him, and then when Rocky reached out his big paw, Butter would run to the back room. But before long he would come right back out again.butter

Harley finally was beginning to nod from his earlier drinks and he left taking Rocky home with him. A little later, there was a scratching at the door. Rocky wasn’t finished visiting. Tumbleweed opened the window and told him to “Go back home”.  He left. But a little while later he was scratching at the door again. Same routine! “Rocky, go home!”  After this happened several times, Harley came and got him and must have taken him inside because we never saw him again that night.

Campground in Maryland

(Sunny continues his travel stories)

Well we rode a long ways with stops at road side rests and the Flying J Truck stops. Finally we stopped for a couple weeks in Maryland. The Ramblin’ Pines Campground was very woodsy. The man from the park led us to the site and helped us back in between a lot of trees.

Rv park Md.jpgWhen the dogs went out for their walk, Tumbleweed kept telling Jelly to be careful where he put his nose. He kept nosing into the piles of fall leaves that were all over the park. Sure enough he came back with a big tick right on the top of his nose.

Tumbleweed had friends in the area so she and Jo went out to visit a lot. We were all trying to get turns sitting on the dash so that we could watch the squirrels in the park. At first we were scared when the pine cones dropped on top of the RV but we soon got used to it.

Ramblin Pines Md.jpgThat’s Truffles on the far left and Butter and Jelly next to each other.Above them, you can see our “mascot”: a turtle hanging with his parachute. We are like him…we travel with our home. It felt good to sit still for a while.

Ready, Set, Go

(Sunny is up and ready to continue his story of his travels)

The house was emptied: everything sold or in the RV or put in storage…Tumbleweed’s older friend, Jo had just sold her family farm and moved into Senior housing. She was ready for a change and an opportunity to visit a childhood friend in Florida. We picked her up at her Senior housing: packed, smiling and ready to take a long ride in our home. So the door closes and she takes her Seat on the passenger side.jo-1st-trip She soon got used to all of us 4-leggeds. She talked to us, petted us, rested with us all around her and even let Butter and Bandit share her bed (as long as they slept at the bottom.

We pointed south down Route 81, into Pennsylvania and experienced sleeping next to Truckers (many of them had dogs with them, Jelly and Peanut met them when out walking. I loved watching for that Flying J sign where RV’s had special parking and weren’t in the lot with the truckers.

We kept on going through southern NY, into and through PA and into Maryland. We had so much fun seeing the countryside through our windows and seeing early Fall when we had just left late Fall.

Our Home on wheels was cozy but full….now we were 7 cats, 2 dogs and TWO Humans

jims-bus-003    jims-bus-001

Moving Out

Sunny is back to continue his tales:

We headed back to my first real home in Fulton, NY. I had forgotten how big the house was and it felt good running up and down stairs and out onto the closed in porches. Tumble weed said: “Enjoy the space while you can. The motor home will soon be our full time home. I need to get the RV in for service to replace the front AC fan motor and have the board replaced in the generator.”

While the servicing was being done, she started packing up everything in the house. A man friend helped set up the items to be sold at a “moving sale” and some things would be put into storage. It was great fun checking out all the bags and boxes that appeared and then disappeared. One day we were all shut up stairs while people walked through to buy our stuff.moving-out-2

 

When the RV was ready, Tumbleweed parked it in the driveway so we could finish packing in what we needed for a long trip that would not end. Friends like Dr. Mary Bochino, DVM stopped in to say good-by. They thought they were funny when they wrapped “CAUTION” tape around the RV as a warning to others on the road with us.

Jelly got really excited and anxious to get going. As soon as he saw a suitcase, he sat down beside  it letting everyone know that HE was ready to go. He barked, “Hurry Up”. He always like riding in any vehicle and didn’t even mind riding to the Vet. That ride (to the Vet) always made me sick.moving out 3.jpg

 

Towards the end of October, we had a good run through the house to say good-by to the house that had sheltered us through quite a few winters. Then we 4-leggeds moved into the Motorhome in the driveway while Tumbleweed and friends gave the house one last “clean-up” to make sure that everything had been cleaned out. We would now become full-timers on the road with no house to come back to.

moving out 1.jpg

Test Drive

This is Tumbleweed Speaking.

Sunny found this part of the test drive boring. He looked after the others and slept a lot as I learned more about caring for our new motor home. So, I’m giving him a rest. After all, he is 18 yrs old, and he complains very loudly if pushed too hard. I don’t know if you have any idea how loud a cat can yowl when he is upset or angry!

Learning about the motor home on this test excursion into Ohio and Indiana from Fulton, New York:

My first challenge was to climb on top of the RV to patch a leak. Sitting in the hot sun the sealing must have totally dried up and cracked around the “fantastic fan” in the kitchen ceiling. When it rained hard after a long dry spell I watched a water stain starting to crawl across the ceiling from the corner of the fan. While still raining. I climbed up and put a large piece of oil cloth across the area which temporarily protected against further leaks. After the rain stopped. I removed the cloth to let it dry out. I found some supplies at a local hardware store (no camping world available in the area), and went back up to reseal the area around the fan. Next rain: no more leaks! Note: Since I was doing this in shorts, I attracted the attention of several males in the park. They seemed to prefer watching rather than helping.

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I had trouble getting used to the generator.I only used it when we were stopped and I wanted to put the air-conditioner on for the pets. It didn’t work consistently for me. I had a list of RV service shops that belonged to a group called “:Route 66” (membership provided by the dealership when purchasing the RV). Found one in Streetsboro and they gave me priority to bring the RV in without waiting. I thought they would have a simple answer that would help me find what I was doing wrong. They discovered that it was not me but the generator (they couldn’t start it either!) which had deeper problems which couldn’t be fixed easily. They suggested that it would be better to get it fixed where I had the warranty.

So, I pointed North and then East toward home.  Going along northern Ohio, we stopped near Toledo. I parked the motor home with the pets and ferried across to Put in Bay in Lake Erie to visit my niece. She and I walked to the local Butterfly House. (Nice break for me.) Then back in the motor home I stopped in Vermillion, Ohio to visit my uncle, the bee keeper.

arnold-the-bee-keeper

We stayed overnight at a park that had huge stones at all of the corners of the roads through the park. I was still getting used to the size of the vehicle and the need for wider turns. As I turned right I heard a scrape. My misjudgment caused a break in the bracket supporting the tail pipe. When I got out and checked the damage, I saw that the tail pipe still held in place, at least temporarily. I pulled out my travel guide to locate a recommended RV repair shop. The nearest was in Erie, PA. Once there, I discovered that they did not repair engine related problems in Motor Homes. The young man (son of owner) took time to look up several shops that could do the work….Two of them were in Northeast, PA. That was in the direction we were going. They were great, sympathetic and helpful. A good find. I used them several times in later travels.

From Northeast, PA we soon found ourselves on the NY State turnpike with a straight drive through to our destination. We used rest stops along the way to walk the dogs, eat and catnap.

Results of our test drive: I realized that I could manage the motor home alone on the road. I found that Enterprise was everywhere with a car to rent so I had no need to tow one behind. I had problems but was able to find help and a resolution. I had parked in pull-ins. back-ins and drive throughs. I maneuvered lining up by the gas tanks to fill up. My pets all traveled well, even the ones that would throw up when transported in a carrier to the veterinarian had no problems in the RV. ALL of our guardian angels worked overtime and really earned their wings and polished their halos. I gained confidence: We can do this!