"For Me, Another Definition of GOD
"Your life is what has happened to you
while you were busy making other plans."
to me that we all look at nature too much, and live with her too little"
"That's the thing about Mother Nature - She
"You can gauge a country's real wealth by its tree
"I like to think that one
of the best brews is the one handed to you by a new friend"
What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?
The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
"....I travel not to go anywhere, but to
go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move."
A Birth Certificate shows that
Pat's January 2012 Blog
If this is your first time here, you might want to start from the beginning of our fulltime Journey with our Past Blogs
Sunday January 1st 2012 - First Post of 2012
Nothing to say about today other than we laid on the couch from the time we woke up, till the time we went back to bed. I think we watched about 10 movies and ate about 12 different types of foods that were left over in the refrigerator. The ultimate Lazy Day.
Isn't that what New Years Day is all about? I know it's not our normal ritual, but every now and then, it's needed. Plus the wind was blowing like mad and the temperature was dropping at an alarming rate. I guess we're in for some freeze warnings for the next few days, so there was no real reason to go outside and try and accomplish anything today.
Monday January 2nd - Finding a New Friend for Luca
I think it's funny that everyone's New Years Resolution about starting the new year is to get going, tackle what they've been putting off and always announcing that this is the year to get things done. Yet, it's the first Monday of the new year, and everyone has the day off...LOL Sort of cancels out all those resolutions right from the start.
We all knew that once the mourning stage of losing Lucy was behind us, Cindy would start looking for another dog. No matter how much she tells you, "If I ever lose this dog (no matter which dog it is), I'll never be able to get another one for fear of losing it too."
All it takes is a few weeks of her only having one dog, and she'll start looking for another one. We've always said "Dogs are like potato chips, you can never have only one!"
The last few days Cindy has been browsing the local shelters looking for a mate for Luca. She showed me a couple that fit my requirements for our next four-legged friend. I wanted a small dog that would be easier to travel with if we go back on the road. I wanted a dog that doesn't shed and had a coat that was more like hair, rather than fur and another rule we both try and stick with is finding a mutt, rather than anything that is full blood.
We've found that mutt's almost always have a better attitude and less health problems than those breeds that claim to be full bloods.
A few nights ago, Cindy was on her computer browsing the shelters and said "Ok, come look at this one! It fits all our requirements." I asked what type of dog it was and she said it was an Affenpinscher, which are so ugly they're cute. But not a full blood Affenpinscher, this rescue would be part Affenpinscher, part Chihuahua. I didn't even have to look at it, I said "You pick it out, if you like it, lets go get it."
I did go check out her profile picture and read about her. She was full grown at 1.5 years old, yet only weighed a whopping 5lbs. Cindy filled out the online application and set up an appointment with the Shelter so we could go look at it tomorrow.
You do know that my wife doesn't go look at dogs....we were basically going to pick it up whether she told me that or not. This is why if we ever see dogs for sale on the side of the road, I never stop or even let her get a good look at them, I just speed up and yell "Don't even look over there!" as I blow right past.
This time was different, we had both agreed that Luca needed another friend. Even though he lays around on the couch most of the day, when we're working, he needs a little buddy to hang out with and snuggle with.
Once we went to bed tonight, we were woke up by one crazy storm blowing through. We're talking wind gusts up to 50mph and a constant wind that made it sound like we were sleeping beside a busy train track.
All the more reason we need a Wind Turbine to help cut our electrical costs.
Tuesday January 3rd - Going to Pick Up the New Addition
I woke up this morning with the thought "OH SHIT! I had put 3 full recycle bins out at the curb last night and I hope they didn't get tipped over in those strong winds!!" Cindy laughed and said "There is no way they didn't get tipped over!"
I walked out front to see broken bottles and glass all over the road with all 3 bins lying on their side! So I started my day out by standing out front in 35° weather sweeping up glass and broken beer bottles. Great Fun!
We were going to look at/pick up the new addition to the family today. We loaded up the truck with Luca and some supplies since it would be a 2 hour drive over to Brooksville, which is just East of Homosassa.
We found the CARES Shelter, which was situated on a beautiful piece of property that was entirely fenced in. The dogs had acres upon acres to run around and enjoy the great outdoors. We met Lisa, who runs the CARES shelter and introduced ourselves.
She was holding little CeCe, which all together fits in the palm of your hand, overflowing just a bit onto your forearm. This dog is so God-awful ugly, she's just adorable! She has a major overbite with her entire bottom row of teeth sticking out and almost up her nose. At first, she was very timid and wouldn't even come over to either of us.
Lisa let us know that she's somewhat skittish of men, but warms up to women after a little while of getting to know them.
With Lisa in the meeting room with us, CeCe would only pay attention to her and was pretty shy of both Cindy and I. Although she did come over and sniff out Cindy, but I was off-limits on any affection or attention being given.
Lisa suggested that she should leave the room and just left the scared little puppy with us to see if she'd warm up quicker without someone she was accustomed to being in the room.
Once Lisa left and went out back with the rest of the dogs, CeCe took to Cindy right away, but would shy away from me when ever I tried to pet her. Lisa had given me some treats to feed her, and she'd come take them right out of my hand, but if I wasn't baiting her with treats, she didn't want to have anything to do with me...Typical Woman...LOL
After awhile of letting her get used to us, we put a leash on her and brought her outside so she could meet Luca. It's not really fair to try and figure out if they're going to get along when she's in her normal surroundings and Luca is in an entirely new place with so many new smells to sniff.
Luca couldn't stop sniffing all the bushes and trying to mark his territory as much as possible. I wasn't worried one bit about how Luca would take to this new puppy, because we can bring him around ANY type or size of dog and he knows how to get along with them. We just wanted to make sure that this little dog wouldn't go ballistic trying to eat Luca up....which she didn't.
Once we knew they were fine with one another, we put Luca back in the truck, filled out all the paperwork and paid our $250 adoption fee. The dog comes with all her shots and vaccinations up to date and a clean bill of health from the vet. The dog is also spayed so we don't have to worry about that hassle.
The employees at the shelter all took a minute to say goodbye to CeCe before we left. Some were tearing up, but all were happy to know she was leaving the shelter and going to a good home.
On the ride home, Luca laid in the back seat where he always does, and CeCe sat up front on Cindy's lap shivering the whole time. We were planning on heading straight to PetCo to get her a jacket or a sweater and some sort of pillow to lay on that could be her special spot.
While Cindy went into the store, I stayed in the truck. I was a little nervous to leave the dog in the truck before we knew what her personality was like. I held her in my lap while Cindy went in to get her something warm to wear. You have to remember, we're experiencing some extreme cold weather right now, so we couldn't really just allow her to walk around shivering.
Once Cindy came out, we bundled her up in a pink little coat Cindy had bought. I decided that since she is somewhat skittish of men, why not let me do most of the handling of her so she gets used to me.
I held her most of the way home till she finally relaxed and just fell asleep in my arms. At that point, we put her new dog pillow Cindy had bought in the back seat beside Luca and set her in it. She slept back there the rest of the ride home completely content. Luca didn't even really notice. I'm not sure what he thinks of this so far.
He's so used to friends bringing their dogs over to visit, and motel guests always having dogs around, that I'm sure he just thinks this is another guest that will be visiting for a day or so.
When we got home, we put her pillow in a clothes basket and covered it with a towel she had been wrapped in from the shelter. Hoping that she'd be comfortable with the smells she's used to.
We set the clothes basket beside the bed and all went to sleep. She slept the entire night without even getting out or whining any. GOOD SIGN!!
Wednesday January 4th - First Full Day With the New Dog
I woke up early this morning and took her right outside. She did her thing and came back in like she's been living here for months.
She inspected the house and got used to the surroundings. Luca has tried to play with her a few times already, but she gets a little freaked out when she see's this giant dog running circles around her. I'm more worried that his tail, which is usually going a million miles an hour, might hit her and do damage. I mean he's such a big goof, he might smack into her not even knowing what he's doing and hurt her unintentionally.
When she see's him getting excited, she runs and hides under a chair where he cant get to her. That's a good thing at this point. Give it a few days, and I'm sure she'll be running the roost. I told Cindy, "I'll bet I can have her trained in 4-5 days!", so we'll have to see how good I am with training dogs. I like to think our dogs are some of the most well behaved dogs I've ever known, so I've got my work cut out for me.
At one point, Cindy was making breakfast, and I was playing with both dogs. Luca was tired of little CeCe not wanting to play with him, so in his frustration, he grabbed a little stuffed animal lying on the floor, that just happens to be the same size of CeCe, and started shaking it violently trying to shred it to pieces.
Cindy looked over noticing something in his mouth and him shaking his head back and forth so crazy. She freaked out and started yelling "Drop It! Drop It!" thinking that he had picked up CeCe and it was her in his mouth.
Luca dropped the stuffed animal and sat down confused as could be. CeCe and Luca both sat there looking at Cindy wondering why she was freaking out while I fell on the floor laughing. She walked over and smacked me with the spatula saying "That's not funny Pat!" But a few seconds later, we were all laughing pretty hard.
I haven't said much about the bed of our truck lately because we've still never gotten the bed bolts removed. I think I mentioned that I broke both of the Star Key Sockets I have that fit the bolts when I tried to do it myself.
I took it to the local auto repair shop here in Cedar Key and he tried to remove them with his impact wrench which was more powerful than mine. He called out to a scrap yard asking how they remove the bed bolts when they get them in and told me they usually torch the bolts out, but it'll ruin the bed if I was planning on re-using it.
I don't have any immediate plans, but I was hoping that I could find an old axle and have the box welded onto a frame so I could make it into a trailer. So I don't really want to have them torched out and ruin the bed itself.
I had called the Ford Dealer in Chiefland who told me they use a big 1" impact wrench on the bolts. He said they usually have to heat up the bolts with a torch first to get them good and hot before they'll break loose from the frame.
I made an appointment for 1pm today. We dropped the truck off and I explained to the service guy what the Ford mechanic had told me. He sort of shrugged it off saying "I wont have to go through all that trouble. We'll be able to get them off no problem."
He said to come back in one hour and he'd have them removed.
We took the dogs for a long walk trying to wear them out and get CeCe used to walking on a leash with Luca. That wasn't all that hard because she's already used to the leash and walked just fine. They look funny walking beside one another.
Our biggest hassle is going to be curing her of the skittishness she has. And I've never owned a 5lb dog, so I'm not really sure how to cure her of being so jumpy at loud noises or getting startled when a fast move is made beside her. That lesson might just have to come with time.
An hour later, my phone rang and the service manager told me they had broken two of their tools they were trying to use. He said "I called the guy back in the body shop who you had originally talked with and he let me know that they were going to have to use a 1" impact and heat the bolts up to remove them"....basically the same thing I had just told him he'd have to do.
He said they weren't going to be able to do it, but the guy in the body shop could do it if I brought it back to them next Monday. Why cant people just listen when I tell them something in the first place?
So that beautiful aluminum bed I still having sitting on a set of Saw-Horses in storage will have to wait a few more weeks before it gets installed. I'm getting anxious.
While we were walking the dogs around, we got a phone call from Scott & Karen Dombrowski, the great couple we had visited on Goat Island in Maine, who were asking if we wanted to meet them for lunch. They had just gotten back to Cedar Key from Maine yesterday. We had told them we'd be in Chiefland all day today and they had empty cupboards, so they needed to go shopping too.
We met them over at a local BBQ place and all caught up on the last few months apart from one another. The food was great and the servings were huge! If you're ever passing through Chiefland and you're hungry, stop at Bill's BBQ for some good food.
We had to cut our lunch date short because we had a 3pm Doctor appointment for Luca at the Vet. We had made it a few weeks ago before we had to have Lucy put down. Luca has this annoying little cough that we had brought him to a different vet for, but it still hasn't gone away completely. We wanted to have another vet look at it and we like this new Vet's office we have found, Suwannee Valley Vet Clinic.
The 1st vet had told us it might be an upper-respiratory infection and gave us some antibiotics for him. That was a few months ago. He still has the cough but it's non-productive and isn't as regular as it was, but it's still there and we just wanted to make sure it wasn't anything serious.
This vet did a very good check-up, but couldn't find anything wrong with him. She said that if it was something in his lungs, she should be able to hear it with her stethoscope. She said his lungs sounded very healthy. She asked about his athletics and we said he walks regularly and rarely tires out. He is around 9 years old, so we don't expect him to be running marathons, but considering he goes for a mile walk at least 4 times each week, she told us that he's in phenomenal shape for his age.
We learned that he has gained 15lbs since we've stopped traveling!! WOW!! Looks like sitting still has really hit all our belt lines!
She looked at little CeCe and said "Well I know this might sound weird, but there are dogs that can be allergic to pet dander, but that little dog isn't one of the dogs that gives off that type of dander so I would rule that out too."
Cindy hung her head and said "I really hate to even say this, but this dog is only one day old to our household. We used to have a beagle that shed like crazy! Pat always said 'I bet Luca's allergic to Lucy' but I never took him serious" The veterinarian said "Oh beagles shed really bad. He could have had an allergy to her which was/is causing the coughing."
Lucy has only been gone a few weeks, and in the past few weeks, Luca has only coughed a few times. It was normally a daily occurrence with Lucy around, especially if he was in the crate with her. Our house has been cleaned a few times, but not 100% de-Lucyified.
You cant imagine the overwhelming enjoyment I got from the vet saying that. So many times I tell Cindy things, and she always calls me crazy or laughs in my face saying "That has to be the silliest thing I've ever heard!" Only to later find out I was spot on. Rarely will she ever say "You were right about that." But this time I had the doctor on my side!
Cindy hasn't really noticed that since Lucy has been gone, she hasn't had that annoying cough that she has had for years now. Cindy has always had this throat-clearing habit even though she has gone to the doctor numerous times, but they could never find anything wrong with her. The doctors just tell her it's probably allergies and to take a decongestant.
I always told her she was probably allergic to Lucy's pet dander but she'd just roll her eyes and say "Don't be so silly, it's just because you don't like her." In reality, since Lucy has been gone, she hasn't taken her daily dose of Allegra-D and the cough/throat clearing is gone. So if you have allergies, I would NOT recommend owning a beagle.
When we travel with the dogs, we always locked them down in the back seat with a cable I made up that is attached to the back wall of the truck and clips to their collars to keep them safe.
The new little puppy thinks she needs to ride right on mine or Cindy's shoulder or lap. We don't want this to be a habit, so the cable used to keep them safe also acts as a trainer to keep her in the back seat. The problem is the cable is just long enough that she can jump up on the back of the seat right behind Cindy's head. She kept jumping up there and would just ride down the road sitting behind Cindy's head.
Luca just looks on totally disgusted I'm sure thinking "Oh gosh, this little thing is sucking up every ounce of love from my master (Cindy)."
We came back to Cedar Key and unloaded all our groceries. We were heading out to dinner with some friends tonight, so it would be the first time both dogs were put in the same crate. We put both of their pillows in the crate and both just walked in and laid down without even any coaxing.
We put them in there a few minutes before we left to make sure they'd be fine. By the time we left, both were already lying down sleeping. I think training the puppy using Luca will be super easy. Each time we do something different or new, she looks at Luca and does as he does without us even having to instruct her.
When we came home from dinner, they were both sound asleep in the crate with no issues.
That night, they both slept in bed with us and we found out that 'Little' as we've taken to calling her, is a burrower. She likes to snuggle down under the blankets or under the pillows even. Not that it matters, you could have a dozen of these dogs in bed with you and you wouldn't even notice. Unlike Luca who has to lay in-between Cindy and I and take up the majority of the bed and blankets.
Thursday January 5th 2012
Since 99.9% of the updates we've wanted to do to the motel are done, I've started looking at the bigger ticket items I've wanted to do from day 1, but have held off on to get the cosmetic things completed first.
As always, I've wanted solar panels, a wind turbine and solar hot water installed on the motel. These are our biggest money suckers and the main things we have in abundance.
In my research, I've found that the solar hot water system will be the least expensive and probably make the biggest impact on cutting our electric bill. We don't have availability of gas here on the island, unless we want to pay to have Propane trucked in, which is pricy and cost prohibitive.
Here is something I found that was really interesting while doing my research. This is what one expert said
An investment in Solar Panels
(PV) can be an expensive proposition. To completely power a 42KWH / day
electrical habit (my house) you require a 6KW system and a generous 7
hours of sunshine (bank on 6 at best).
So I started looking for installers and found www.dasolar.com, a website that you inquire about letting them know what you're looking for, and they put you in touch with installers in your area.
I've spoke with Rachel from Solar Source a few times on the phone and through emails and I'm just waiting on a final few things before she sends over the estimate. This is something I think Cindy and I can afford to have installed right away and will see the benefits cut our electric bill instantly.
It will pay off quicker for us than it would for an average household because with the motel, we do a minimum of 3-5 loads of laundry each day. All loads have to be done with Hot water for sanitary reasons, so we'll get our Return On Investment quicker than a normal household would.
I'm also looking at solar panels and a medium sized wind turbine estimate, and will be sure to keep everyone up to date on how this comes back from the companies who are bidding on it. Our wind here is very consistent, so I think that would be another tool that would pay itself off very quickly.
As for Little, the tiny Monkey Dog, she's taken to both of us just fine. She sits on my lap anytime I'm sitting at the computer and is content with just hanging out around the house all day. Although she loves to go out on the daily walks. I think we're going to have to explain to Luca that her little legs have trouble keeping up with his big strides.
I'm thinking I'll find a basket or some sort of rig for him to wear so he can carry her around when she gets tired. So far, she's yet to get tired.
Sunday January 8th 2012 - What a Great Weekend
Friday and Saturday was such a fun time here at the Low-Key Hideaway and our little Tiki Bar! It's weekends like this that make me appreciate Cedar Key so much.
We had such a fun and interesting mixture of guests visiting us and we all had a ton of fun out at the Tiki Bar. I know I say this a lot, but mixing a bunch of fellow travelers together and adding a few drinks usually results in some really good stories from around the globe.
We brought the new pup out each night and introduced her to all the guests at the tiki bar. Hopefully this will break 'Little' of her skittishness and she'll soon be as comfortable around new people as Luca is. She's already 100% better than she was only a few days ago and isn't as afraid of new people. She still shy's away from them a bit, but warms up much faster now that it's an every day occurrence.
Her and Luca are already warming up to one another and I think Luca is starting to realize she's not just a visitor, but a new mate that he needs to get used to.
Heath was out of town this entire weekend for a hunting trip, and his birthday happened to be on Friday. Because he wasn't here to celebrate it, Jolie had called me up this afternoon to ask if the Tiki Bar was going to be open.
We planned a little get-together and this of course turned into another great night of partying out at the tiki bar with some of our closest friends. Cindy brought out her Karaoke Machine for the 1st time and almost everyone joined in. We had guests from Sunset Isle Campground that had heard the laughter carrying over the water and walked down to see what was going on.
It didn't take long before they were singing away and joining in on the fun. Come one, come all for the entertainment Cindy and her singing machine provides.
Luckily the night didn't turn into a fight between Cindy and I, which it usually does when the karaoke machine is brought out. Cindy seems to have a problem with turning it off, but tonight it hit 9pm, and she said "Ok Folks, Last Song!"
I was really proud of her for keeping her word and not making me be the bad guy by pulling the plug on her fun. You might remember the last few times the singing went into the wee hours of the night and we had some upset guests. I think my lecturing might have sunk in. Hopefully we can keep this routine up which would make for lots of future fun out back.
Monday January 9th 2012 - More Problems with the Truck Bed
I had an appointment at the White Ford Body Shop in Chiefland this morning at 8am. After last week with the Service Department not being able to get the bed bolts removed, they pushed me over to the body shop where they promised me they'd be able to get them removed.
I showed up right at 8am this morning looking forward to moving forward with this project.
That was until I spoke to the major dickhead behind the counter. Sorry for the bad language, but how can you be the face of a busy body shop and be such an ass and still get business?
I walked in and said "Good Morning, I'm here for my appointment to get my bed bolts removed."
The jerk never even looks up from his paperwork and just mumbles "Leave your keys on the counter and be back to pick the truck up by 5pm when we close."
I sort of stand there till he finally looks up at me and I ask "Do you have a loner car for me to use? I'm not going to wait here for 9 hours while you removed 7 bed bolts?" I sort of said that last part questioning why it was going to take 9 hours to do this job?
He gets really upset with my questioning and says in a very stern voice "No we don't have any loaner cars and we don't do work for people who wait unless you want me to put on your license plate while you wait" he goes on to say "And lets get this straight, I'm going to have to torch out all these bolts, so I'm more than likely going to ruin your bed and it's going to cost you $200!"
This was the entire reason I had brought it to Ford because they had originally told me they could remove the bolts without damaging the bed. They also quoted me a one hour rate at $100...Not a 9 hour time frame at $200?? WTF?? If that's the case, I could have had this done a month ago!
After the guy snapped that remark at me, I simply turned around without saying a single word, walked out of his office slamming the door behind me, got in my truck and drove off. There was no need for me to give my money to some asshole and there was no way I was going to sit in a waiting room for 9 hours.
I'd only do that for a family member in the hospital or to pick up my winning Lottery winnings!
I drove off and cooled down on the long ride to Gainesville where I loaded up the truck with wood to build a deck behind one of the RV Sites. This is one of those projects I've been putting off since our first days here in Cedar Key. When we first arrived there was a nasty old Fish Cleaning Station against the Sea Wall.
We plan on extending the decking from the fish cleaning station and adding new wood decking to the top so it'll look brand new when it's done.
There are always projects that are more important that these decks that we plan to put behind each RV Site, but this one in particular is important to me. I have told Barry and Pat, our friends that come stay here each year for a few months at a time, that this deck will be built each time they visit.
They're scheduled to arrive in February and there is no way I'm going to go back on my word. So even though we don't have the money right now (We never have the money if you ask Cindy) I figure I'll pay for it out of my pocket just to be sure it's built by the time they get here.
At least the day ended with a Beautiful Sunset
Today is also my Mother's Birthday. I spoke to her on the phone for a little more than an hour, which is lame compared to spending time with her, but it's what you have to do when you live a few thousand miles away from one another. Happy Birthday Mom! Love You and Miss You!
Tuesday January 10th - Working With Cindy!
Cindy watches HGTV like a crack addict. It's usually on the television most of the day while she's inside doing laundry, cooking or working on the computer. She tells me and everyone that works here that she wants to learn carpentry. She's even went so far as to call up Freddy and tell him that if he ever needs an extra worker, she'd be happy to work with him.
So today I told her she was going to help me build this deck. I figure she watches enough building shows, she could probably teach me a few things about building.
Funny that everything I ask her to do she argues with me about?? "Cindy, go get the Miter Saw out of the shed."
Her reply, "Which one is the Miter Saw? The Circular one of the one with the blade sticking straight out?"
I try and make it easy and not laugh at her reply and just say "The yellow one."
She says "I cant carry that, it's too heavy!"
So I go get it myself. I ask her to go get the extension cords and the tool bucket. She comes back a half hour later with a glass of water. I ask her where she's been and she says "Oh, I got sidetracked, sorry. What did you want me to get again?"
Once we got to building, she fell into a rhythm and we were trucking right along. But numerous times would she say "I'm going to go get something out of the house." 45 minutes later I'd have to go find her and remind her that I'm sitting here waiting on her to hold a board so I can screw it in.
Obviously the dream of being a carpenter isn't all that alluring to her anymore. When I question her on this and let her know that she doesn't just start at a new job and instantly become the main person, she says "Well maybe I just want to be the foreman on a construction site." HAHAHA!! Good luck on that one honey!
Once I told her she wasn't allowed to take any more breaks, we busted out everything we planned to do today in record time. Amazing how well we can work together if we both see our intended goal. It helps that we know one another so well that we don't really have to use words. I can simply point at something and Cindy knows that I want her to measure it and mark it for me with the speed square.
By the end of the day, we had the main supports put up, the posts concreted in and all the stringers screwed down. Tomorrow we screw on the decking, add the steps and we're ready to go.
Other than the 30 - 12' long deck boards and the 8 - 2'x6'x12's we bought, all the other wood was scrapped form other docks being torn down here in Cedar Key. So we were able to build a 12' x 12' dock for under $500. Not all that bad for a couple of photographers!
Monday January 16th - Long Weekend of Cold Weather
We had our first real nasty cold front blow through this past weekend. It meant that the tiki bar stayed closed all weekend because who in their right mind is going to sit out in 40 degree weather drinking beers? Oh wait, I forgot about all those crazy fools from the North and Canada who were out ice fishing and sitting at outdoor football games this past weekend.
On Thursday night, we had some guests staying here that played Blue Grass. One of the couples was staying in one of the motel rooms while the other guests were staying in an RV.
They asked if they could all play out at the tiki bar one night? Are you kidding? of course you can!
So Thursday night, the 3 of them got together and sat around pickin' and a grinin'. Hazie & Amanda, Kevin & Nicole along with a few others all came by and we all sat out there despite the cold temps just enjoying the music.
It was a great night had by all!
Tuesday January 17th 2012 - Finishing the Deck
We had taken a couple of day hiatus on the finishing of the deck. I'm not one to be out there building stuff when we have guests parked in the RV Site right beside us.
Today we had a lull in the RV Reservations, so I told Cindy "No matter what, we're finishing this deck!" All we really had to do was attach the steps at this point, but I didn't want to be running the saw and making lots of noise with guests trying to have a relaxing vacation.
We had taken a day last week before the cold front moved in and screwed down all the decking boards and have actually sat out on it a few different times seeing if the beers tasted better up there during sunset. It's official, they do!
The stairs were something I didn't really want to tackle at all. The decking part is pretty straight forward for me, but attaching the stairs turned into a debacle. With the ground not being level, the stair risers not being the right height (my fault for getting only a 3 riser step rather than a 4 riser step) and Cindy questioning everything I was doing, which made me even more stressed out and questioning my abilities even more, it wasn't a fun day.....but we got it done. Just don't judge me on how it looks.
I guess since it's a Cedar Key deck, it needs to be off-level. Even while down at the local hardware store to pick up some Lag Bolts, I was paying for them when I noticed one had a bow to it. I told Bill, the store manager "Hold up, this ones bent, I'm going to go get a straight one."
Bill just laughed and said "If you're building something in Cedar Key, you'll probably want to use this bent one so it matches everything else."
So when we screwed in the last screw, Cindy stood back and said "Well it looked really good till we put on the steps." But I just said "Nah, it just looks Cedar Key."
I then started picking up debris that had fallen from the neighbors yard. This turned into an all afternoon project.
If you've stayed with us, you know that we have a big empty lot beside our piece of property. The owner, and older gentleman who lives in Tampa, or somewhere South of us refuses to maintain the lot.
We call him every couple of months, but each phone call ends the same way. "Sorry, if you want the lot maintained, buy it from me!"
He wants wayyyyyyyy too much money for this little lot that is really unbuildable for anything other than extending our RV Lots. It would be great to get and add more RV spaces, but the owner of our piece of property wants to sell it, so he's not really interested in adding more property taxes to something he's trying to sell.
I usually end up paying out of my pocket to have all the branches removed. The city has a guy who comes around every other week to collect yard debris, but the last time I trimmed all his trees, that guy told me he wouldn't pick them up off that lot because no one lives there and he's only supposed to pick up yard debris off of lived on lots??
I don't really care one way or the other. It just bugs me that no one takes care of their yards around here. Keeping the place funky and eclectic is one thing we like about Cedar Key, but unkept is a completely different story. Have some basic respect for the way your yard and your house looks. Mow your grass, plant some shrubs, trim your trees and it'll make you happy just because you feel good about the work you've done.
Wednesday January 18th 2011 - Cindy Throws me for a Loop Once Again
I know I talk a lot about different ideas we have. I know I've mentioned that the Motel/RV/Campground is up for sale because the owner wants to sell it and Cindy and I aren't really sure we want to ever own property again.
Don't get me wrong, we love Cedar Key, we're just not to keen on owning property at this point in our lives. It's sort of that guarantee that you're done traveling when you buy something this involved.
On top of that, our last few weeks has sort of been weird. We've had guest after guest sit out at the tiki bar, or pull us aside and ask in a very serious manner "Why did you stop traveling?" Most go on to say "I never imagined you sitting still after reading your blogs. I mean you looked like you were having so much fun!"
Believe me, we were having the time of our lives and neither of us wanted to stop traveling....ever! We just ran out of money. Plain and simple. We couldn't afford to keep traveling and our last few months (Think the entire year of 2009) we had maybe $1000 to our name. That's a scary thought worrying about anything major happening.
We've been working our butts off here in Cedar Key and trying to live as frugal as possible. We still put a lot of money into the motel, but we both agree that we have to constantly be updating and upgrading to keep people coming back, and so far it's always worked.
But no major purchases have been made that aren't going to come with us or are justifiable for profitable uses. i.e...camera purchases & traveling items aren't included because they're easily packed up and brought with us if we decide to leave.
There are lots of days I get very frustrated when I make comments like "Wouldn't it be cool to landscape the back yard with a fountain, a pond and some major plantings and trees", Cindy will nip the conversation in the bud and say "Why do that, we'll be gone next year?"
This drives me insane because I really enjoy doing things like that. I could work outside landscaping from sun up to sun down and never get bored. Plus, having a yard like that would be the icing on the cake for our guests. It would truly make this a couples retreat.
We had someone seriously looking at the motel a few weeks back. While they were waiting to give us their decision, Cindy and I sat and talked each night about what our next move would be if the property did sell.
We threw out crazy ideas, very secure ideas and everything in-between. We talked about our dreams of going back to Baja and developing our property in Bahía Asunción as a RV Campground. We talked about selling the camper and getting a Sailboat to sail the Caribbean for a few years. We talked about settling down closer to Donielle and Allan so we could be close to them. It was fun to just sit there and throw around everything we had in the back of our minds and hear one another out.
We both sort of agreed that if this buyer backed out of purchasing the property, we'd put all those ideas on the back burner and stay here for a few years to really save up some money for one of those ideas.
Well the buyer backed out. I sort of put it in my mind that we'd be here for the long haul. It was like a weight had been lifted off my back. The free spiritness is great, I love being able to walk away from anything at a moments notice if the need arises, but knowing that you have a 5 year plan gives you something to shoot for or at least plan for.
That was till Cindy gets this email yesterday that changed everything yet again.
It went something like this....
Pat & Cindy,
John had sent that after reading about or Baja Adventure I had posted on the Expedition Portal Forum (Link Here to the Post). That post alone has been viewed over 25,000 times and we've received a ton of emails and comments from that one amazing section of our adventure.
After reading that, Cindy, who had been talking a lot about Baja the past few weeks, says in a matter of fact voice "That's it, we're finishing this contract here in Cedar Key and moving to Baja!"
I sort of sit there stunned like someone had just slapped me.
At first I thought she was joking. I asked "Are you serious or are you just messing with me again?"
She replied "No, that was our goal when we bought that property. We have ocean front property on the Pacific Ocean and we keep talking about finding an RV Park that we could develop just how we want it? Why are we even second guessing this?"
As quick as that, she made up her mind that's what we're doing. She spent the rest of the day looking at what we need to do to get our Mexican Citizenship, what we would need to get the ball rolling and what it takes to move us in the next direction.
Not like any of this will be an overnight move. We're talking a year minimum before we could even think about crossing the border. But as of right now, that's what Cindy has in store for our future. Remember she's a woman, so she can change her mind 180° again and again.
We still have to finish out this season here in Cedar Key. Our contract with the owners goes through this year and we're not going to back out on them and leave them hanging. If the property sold quicker than that, then we could always speed up the process, but in this market, I don't see it happening.
As with anything in Mexico, nothing happens fast. So it's a good thing that we aren't ready to move tomorrow.
On a completely different note, I receive and send a lot of emails. I have a few different email lists that I send various types of emails out to. Sometimes I get no response from anyone on any of the lists. But some emails, almost every single person replies. Since I got so many replies from this last email, almost every one of them saying they were going to print it out and try and uphold it's message, I thought I'd list it on here for those that might not be on my email list. Just so everyone knows, I didn't make this list up myself, although I did add a few lines.
LIFE'S HANDBOOK FOR 2012
I recommend you copy and paste this into a format that will allow you to print it out. Print out a few copies and hang one on the mirror you brush your teeth at in the morning. Hang another one on the refrigerator. Maybe one more in your car or truck so your read it each time you get in or you're sitting in traffic.
If you could live by half of these items, your life would be a much better, more happier place.
Sunday January 22nd 2012 - Winning Yet Another Award
We had a busy weekend here in Cedar Key. The motel and RV Campground was sold out. The tiki bar was full every night and the weather was perfect.
Tonight, I was sitting out at the tiki bar with a few guests watching the football playoff's and just chatting when one of the guests says "Hey, I wanted to congratulate you on being in the Top 10 on Trip Advisors, Top 25 Bargain Hotels in the United States.
I questioned what he was talking about and he says "What, you didn't even know?"
Everyone starts laughing and says "Don't tell him, or they'll raise the rates!"
He pulled it up on his phone and showed me and sure enough, listed as #9 in the Top 25 Bargain Hotels in the United States is us, the Low-Key Hideaway.
At first I wasn't sure what it meant. Then I sat thinking about it and this is a pretty big deal. I mean we're talking the entire United States, not just Cedar Key, not just Levy County, not just Florida, but the ENTIRE United States!
The more and more Cindy and I talked about this, the more it sank in and we realized this is a great achievement for us. It really makes all the hard work, the countless arguments about how much we're putting into this place and the long hours so much more worth it.
We both went to bed talking about how much this means and about how proud of one another we were. Thanks to whom ever voted or decided on this! You've made our life much more rewarding!
Tuesday January 24th 2012 - Fooling with Long Exposures
The past few nights I've been trying to get some cool shots of the stars moving through the sky. This is accomplished by setting the camera on a tripod and leaving the shutter open for various lengths of time.
What most don't realize, is anything longer than 30 seconds and the stars will actually be moving in the frame. That's how fast the earth is spinning!
I tried one exposure for 26 minutes and it turned out pretty cool. Only problem is I included the planet Venus in the frame and it somewhat ruined the image. The planet is so bright, that it looks like a giant asteroid is rocketing towards the earth.
There were also a very slight layer of clouds that I didn't think would do anything to the image, but what they did was reflect any light and turned the ink black sky a muted gray.
After looking these over on the computer and realizing what I did wrong. I thought about it and came up with the idea that I'd wake up real early the next morning. The sky is almost completely clear in the mornings.
So 5am came around and I was out in the back yard with the camera on the tripod. I set everything up, and walked back in the house. My grand idea was to leave the shutter open for an hour with the lens pointed at the North Star. This would make the stars look like they were spinning in a circle. The tiki bar was going to be my subject in the foreground with the stars spinning around behind it.
I came in the house, ate breakfast, caught up on the morning news and cleaned up the house. Went out an hour later to find that the shutter had never clicked properly because I didn't have the cable release pushed in all the way. DAMN!!!
So that attempt was ruined. By this point, it was 6:30am and the sky was really starting to lighten so I only had time for one image and it couldn't be a really long exposure like I had planned. I'll have to try this again tomorrow.
On a different subject...I had spoken about putting our first book together in last months blogs. I've been working on this for the past month, and what I realized after reading a few different books on "How to be Successful" is if you don't have the talent or expertise in a specific subject, then it's better to hire that out to someone who does. Otherwise you're wasting your time and your talent.
I called a friend of ours who used to work with us when we ran our magazine up in Michigan. Adam went off to college and has graduated and is currently working in Ad Design. He works with InDesign on a regular basis, which is the program I need to do the book layout in.
We've spoken back and forth over the phone and through emails over the past month and Adam had put together a layout for me to work with. I spent a few days working on it, but trying to pick up a brand new program and learn it from scratch is harder than I thought. Especially with everything I have going on here around the Motel and Tiki Bar.
He kept telling me that it's pretty easy once you figure out the basics, but agreed it's hard to just learn by playing around with it. Cindy and I weighed out the options and figured out that I need to learn it, and Adam knows it really well.
Wouldn't it make sense to have Adam fly down here and stay with us for a few days to walk me through the program and help me layout the page design. I checked into some classes, and it would make more sense to have Adam fly down here than it would to take any classes and in a matter of a few days, we'd have the book ready to be sent to the printers, and hopefully I'd know the program.
In a few weeks, Adam will fly down spending 3 days here with me where we plan to lock ourselves in a room and work on the layout till it's done. He's sure he can put everything together in a matter of 2 days. I already have all the images and text ready to go, so everything is just needed to be set on the proper pages, which is where I keep running into trouble.
Once it's done, it'll take one month to get the book printed and shipped back to us here in Cedar Key. As soon as we get it, I'll be sure and let everyone know.
Wednesday January 25th - Rusty Rim Restaurant Burns Down!
Last night I had fallen asleep on the couch while Cindy and I were watching a movie. She had left me out there after trying to get me to move.
About 3ish, I awoke to the sounds of vehicles driving by the front of the motel at an alarming rate of speed. No sirens, and I cant see the road from our living room, so I didnt know what they were, but figured it was probably an ambulance or police vehicle. They wont run their sirens that late so they're not waking everyone on the Island.
I got off the couch, brushed my teeth and crawled into bed. A few hours later I woke back up and got on the computer. If I cant sleep, I'll check my emails or edit some photos till I get tired again.
I was checking Facebook and was shocked when I saw a post from a Cedar Key Local who had said "The Rusty Rim Restaurant Burned down this morning!"
OMG!! That's scary! That explains all the vehicles flying past the motel at an alarming rate of speed.
I also learned that a friend from back in Michigan had passed away! Ed was Cindy's age and we had bought a house off of him and his wife Donna years ago. Just last week Cindy and I had tried to call a friend we had met here in Florida who had done some work for us around the motel.
I kept getting his voice mail so I called Heath to ask if I he had another number to reach him at. Heath said "Oh you didn't hear, he died last week!" That was a total shock because he had just spent an entire day at the motel working with me to re-wire the entire RV Campground's cable TV hookups. I was trying to call him because he had said "I'll be back out next week to clean up this connection issue on the side of the building."
Life is short my friends! Don't take it for granted! Live each day to the fullest. Ed and Jim, I hope you know you'll be missed!
Friday January 27th - Adding a Little Excitement to our Boring Lives
A few days ago, Heath and I were sitting around talking and I was complaining on how long it's been since we've been out on a boat. I said that I really wanted the ease of having a boat tied to our dock so when we get that opportunity, we don't have to make phone calls, see who wants to head out for a boat ride and we can just get on our own boat and go.
He said "You know, I have my aluminum boat that I don't use all that often. I can always sell that to you for a really fair price." We talked about it some more and he said "I'm not sure you could leave it tied to the dock though. I think it has a slow leak in the hull, which is why I never leave it tied to my dock."
This conversation went on and on for some time while we were talking about options and comparing ideas till we finally agreed, lets tie it to the dock and see how long it takes to fill up. He said there are times he'll go out all day and when he loads it back on the trailer and pulls the plugs, no water comes out. Then there are other times he'll head out for a small boat ride and it'll have quite a bit of water in the hull.
So we had went out to his property and got the boat. We tied it to the dock, even though Cindy was pretty upset with this whole idea. Looking back at her thought process, she made good sense. Here is her sentence to me after she saw us pull up and tie the boat to the dock out back...."Let me get this shit straight. You're going to buy a boat that you have to tie to the dock to see how long it takes to fill up with water and sink? You're friggin' nuts!"
Two days later we could tell it was listing to the side pretty bad and was filling up faster than we thought it was going to. So this afternoon, I finally told Cindy, "We have to take that boat out of the water today. There is no way it can stay afloat with the high tide we have coming in tonight!" The last thing I needed was the cost of rebuilding another motor that had water in it.
There are many times I wish I could record Cindy's expressions when I tell her to get ready to do something that is going to be questionable or exciting.
When I said "Get your boots on, we have to go drive that boat around to the boat ramp."
She looks at me all wild eyed and says "Do you honestly think you're going to put me on a sinking boat so I can act as a counter weight and keep weight in the front of the boat while you drive it around in these high winds?!?"
Oh, I forgot to mention, it was REALLY windy this afternoon with white caps on the water and there was a small craft advisory.
The best part about my wife, is she knows when I'm serious and when I'm just messing around. She knew this time I was serious. Very reluctantly she went and changed into some warm clothes and put her rubber boots on. More than likely, we were both going to get very wet if not going for a swim when the boat sank.
She climbs on the boat at the end of our dock and right away starts screaming as the water starts coming over the back of the transom. I yell for her to get as far forward as she can while I'm busy untying the dock lines.
She's too scared to climb back towards the ladder, and before she can, I slam the throttle up and we take off. I'm sure anyone in our RV Campground must think we're insane. The ass end of the boat is almost underwater due to the amount of water that is inside the hull and with a full headwind coming at us at about 30mph, the air is catching under the bow and lifting the boat out of the water at an alarming rate.
Cindy is doing her best Spiderman impersonation and is stuck to the bow of the boat holding on for dear life screaming at the top of her lungs as we slowly climb out of the wake and plane out.
Luckily Heath has a 90hp motor on this light weight aluminum boat. He has a custom made prop on it built for low end hole shots and a Hydrofoil around the prop to even give it some more Oomph! The boat can normally get up on plane with a slight smack to the throttle. To hear this motor actually working is something I've never heard it do before.
Once we got up on plane, Cindy calmed down a bit but was still holding on white knuckled and scared to death. Trying to turn the boat was a true workout for my arms. When you'd turn the steering wheel even the littlest bit, the water in the hull would list to one side and you'd have to counter steer to compensate. It was a non-stop struggle to keep it going in a straight line.
Cindy kept suggesting we try and hit a sandbar where we could pull the plugs and let the water drain out. Only problem was the plugs on this boat were at the very bottom of the stearn. So we'd have to hit the sandbar hard enough to go up and over it leaving the transom up in the air. This would defeat the whole gravity thing since all the water would just rush to the front of the boat.
Heath had told me that all I needed to do was reach down and pull one of the plugs while we were in motion and the water would come out while we motored around. We tried this but when Cindy brought weight to the back of the boat, no matter how fast we were going, the weight of the water in the hull and the two of us right at the back of the boat would make the stern drop below the water line and we'd start taking water on at an alarming rate.
My only option was to get going really fast and point us in a safe direction. I then threw the motor into neutral and reached back and dipped my hand right behind the motor where the big 4-Blade Prop was spinning and yanked one of the plugs. I then stood up and threw the throttle back up and we took back off before the stern dipped too low.
With one plug pulled, we motored around for awhile just trying to let the water rush out of the hull. Remember this entire time the wind is howling and Cindy is screaming at me about what she's going to do to my skull when I get her back on dry land. I should mention that we were trying to get to the #4 Boat Ramp which I've never been to by myself. So I kept getting lost in the maze of marsh grass and oyster beds which wasn't making Cindy any happier.
After awhile, I did that same procedure, stopping the boat, putting the plug back in and taking back off as quick as possible. Luckily this motor is powerful enough that you can slam the throttle up and it'll almost jump out of the water. But with this amount of weight on the boat, jumping out of the water with your wife hanging off the front of the bow isn't all that smart to do. I was expecting her to get bucked off the front of the boat at any time as it would slam back down to the surface after lurching so high out of the wake. It was like watching your wife ride a Rodeo Bull, only you were in charge of the controls.
I'm sure she'll be black and blue and her legs will be covered in bruises tomorrow.
I only wish I had brought a camera with me to get some photos of all of this, but knowing there was a 50% chance that we'd be swimming, I didn't want to take that risk.
Pulling up to the #4 boat ramp, I put the bow up against the dock as I jumped off the boat running to the truck and boat trailer we had left there earlier.
As I was backing down the ramp, two guys were pulling their boat out and said "Your wife told us you're sinking, we just pulled ours out after finding a hole in it too, so we'll help you get yours on the trailer."
Boaters are a lot like RV'ers. Its just the code of the water to offer help to a fellow boater. Heath has taught me that whenever you see something that doesn't look right while passing another boater, you always go over and make sure everything is good and they're not in any need of help.
So with the help of these two guys, we loaded the boat on the trailer all sideways because of the strong winds blowing me around and pulled it up the ramp. Heath and I had talked about pulling the boat out and letting it sit on the trailer with all the water in the hull so we could see where it leaked out and know where the hole was.
But as soon as we pulled the boat up and out of the water, one of the guys pulled the plugs and said "Damn, that's a lot of water!"
We thanked them profusely and they went back to their boat that was still gushing water out of it's hull on their trailer.
My phone had been ringing off the hook the entire time throughout this ordeal, but there was no way I could take the time to answer it. I finally reached down and took the call and heard Heath saying "Where the hell are you at? I'm at your place to help with the boat and it's gone!"
I said "We're at the #4 boat ramp with it on the trailer." He said "I'll be there in 2 seconds."
He pulled up and said "Why did you pull the plugs? I thought we were going to see where the hole is?"
I explained that I didn't pull them but one of the guys who had helped us had before I could tell him to leave them in. We had to straighten the boat on the trailer, so he said "Put me back in the water, and I'll pull both plugs, let it fill back up and then we'll put it back on the trailer and pull it out with the hull filled."
Cindy just laughed and said "I'm out of here, I've had all the sinking boat nonsense I can handle." She jumped in Heath's truck and drove back to the motel where I'm sure she took a Valium and uncorked a bottle of Good wine.
Heath let the boat sit in the water for a few minutes to fill back up before we got it back on the trailer. It made me feel better to know that it took Heath a good 5 tries to get it on the trailer straight due to the winds. I'm not sure why it makes a man feel better to see another man struggle with something he just struggled with, but I know it helps stroke me ego.
Once we pulled it up on level ground, we both crawled around on the ground till we found one small hole about the size of a pencil eraser. It was at the front of the boat, which explains why there are times you can go out all afternoon and not take on water.
If you were to put the boat in the water, take off and stay up on plane, the hole would be out of the water. Most of the time when we stop the boats around the Cedar Keys, we're pulling up onto an island or a sandbar, so the nose of the boat is beached which would keep this hole up and out of the water.
We had been thinking there was going to be multiple holes and we were going to go have the hull welded back together. This small hole could be easily fixed with some Aluminum Patch.
We pulled the plugs now that we had found the hole and took the boat back to the motel where we'd let it dry out for a day or so before we patched it up.
Going to bed that night, I was amazed when Cindy said "I want to let you know a few things. I haven't had an adrenaline rush like that in quite some time. Although I'm still pissed that you put me on a sinking boat and beat the shit out of me in those waves and wind, I was very impressed with the fact that the boat could still maneuvered despite being filled with water." She went on to say "I'm not excited about a new boat in any way, especially one that has a hole in it, but get it fixed up and working properly, and I think I'll like it."
That's my wife's way of giving me approval. Gosh I love that woman!
Camper Check List - A list of things we do before leaving camp. Again, this isn't gospel, but its a good start for those who might not already have a list made up.