"I was born lost, and take no
pleasure in being found"
"Your life is what has happened to you
while you were busy making other plans."
"The Sure Sign of Life is Death. Why Else Would humanity Thrive So Hard To Leave Its Mark on This World"
The journey of life as as much in ones self as the roads one travels
"To have faith is
to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don't grab hold of the
water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and
"I Have Learned Something About Creating Art. People Do Not Want to Hear What You Are Going To Do, People Want To Hear About What You Done Did."
"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?
"You step into the road, and if you don't
keep your feet, there's no telling where you might be swept off to."
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."
"No matter where you go, there you are"
Pat's March 2010 Blog
If this is your first time here, you might want to start from the beginning of our fulltime RV Journey with our Past Blogs
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.
Wednesday March 31st 2010
Cindy and I were busy cleaning rooms yesterday when we got a phone call from Doug over at Captn' Doug's Tidewater Tours. They offer a mid-day birding boat tour and I've tried to go out on it on multiple occasions now.
As luck would have it, each time I have a free afternoon and go see if Doug has any openings, they're booked solid. Well yesterday he called saying "If you've got the afternoon free, we have a few openings left today."
Cindy wanted to finish up with some rooms, so I went by myself.
A funny thing happened while unloading my camera gear and everyone was waiting on the dock for Doug to pull the boat around.
I consider myself a very good photographer for one reason. I love to help other photographers out and always will give away free tips or advice for them to better their photography. I dont consider myself to be one of those camera snobs who hordes their secrets or turns their nose up at others who are trying to go home with good photos.
I'm very generous with my camera gear and if anyone ever wanted to borrow or try out one of my lenses or camera bodies, by all means, all they have to do is ask and it's theirs for the taking.
Pulling out one of the big lenses always gets a few comments from people who are in the vicinity, and by this point I'm totally used to it. I laugh them off when the most heard line is "WOW, I'm thinking he needs a bigger lens!"
Or my favorite one I hear is "I guess he's making up for something with that huge lens." I'd love to snap back with some rude remarks on that one, but I usually just laugh it off.
So the day was no different because as soon as I brought out the Canon 400mm lens, I have this woman start asking me all sorts of questions about it.
Her first one being "How big is that lens? Is it 1000mm or something bigger than that?"
I showed her the lens, offering it to her if she wanted to give it a try and told her it was only a 400mm. She then looked at the front of her camera and laughed outloud saying "Well my little camera has a 420mm lens on it."
I just laughed back and said "Well then I guess you'll get better photos than I will."
She smiled at her husband and kept asking more questions about how many megapixels my camera bodies were and how much they cost. Things that dont really matter when it comes to photography, its who comes home with the better photos that matters.
So once the boat tour got underway, I chuckled to myself when we were a few hundred yards away from a big flock of white pelicans and as they all started to take to flight, my camera fired off about 15 shots.
Of those 15, 10 were keepers and ones I'd be proud to show to any other photographers. Non-photographers would have probably been happy with all 15 of them.
What made me laugh was as I was still watching the pelicans, the woman in front of me with her Nikon Coolpix camera with the 420mm lens was looking at THE ONE shot she took of the pelicans taking off.
I heard her say to her husband "Darn, I missed it because the camera wouldn't focus because the birds were moving."
Sorry lady, any other time I would have showed you how to set your camera to get the shot, but since your camera has a bigger lens then mine and more megapixels, I'll just let you figure this out for yourself.
Lets move away from that, because you can probably tell it chaps my butt and I could go on and on about idiots like this.
What I would like to talk about is Captain Doug and his honesty. His afternoon tour is a bird watching tour, and he promises to get you close to thousands of shorebirds, nesting eagles, which we had already seen, and hundreds of other birds that use this area as their breeding/migrating grounds.
Well today we were dealing with a full moon tide and one that was supposed to be huge. Doug was honest enough even though he had a full boatload of passengers who had already paid their money to call it quits 20 minutes into the tour and refund everyone's money.
He apologized profusely and said in all his years of guiding tours, he hadn't seen a tide this off in as long as he could remember.
A few of the areas we needed to get into, there just wasn't enough water back there for the boat to float. I kept hearing his prop hitting the bottom and he had the motor up as far as he could get it.
So rather than just kill time and show us some birds we could see right from the shore, Doug was honest enough to say "I'd rather give you your money back than rip you off and just drive you around for a few hours on the boat."
It's good to know there are honest people out there.
My day ended quickly and I was soon back at the motel helping Cindy finish up the rooms.
Once we had all the rooms done, Cindy started working on her little garden in the back yard she's been planting when ever she has some free time, and I tried to finish up the tiki bar.
I've been collecting scrap wood and salvaged pieces out of some dumpsters in town to cover the inside of the wall I recently built. I didn't like that the wall was all brand new wood. It just looked too new.
By the time the sun was setting, I had the last few pieces nailed up and its 90% finished. I'll nail in those last few pieces today and snap a photo of it to show you how it turned out when its complete.
Monday March 29th 2010 - Making Free Power from the Wind
As usual, the life of Pat & Cindy Bonish has changed 180° again. The turbine woes are over and everything is solved.
When I posted my dilemma last week about the problems with the 24volt turbine issue, our lovely readers stepped up to the plate and we were flooded with emails offering suggestions and comments on how to fix the problem.
Here was an email I got sent to me from our good friend John Lamb who sent an email to a Windmill Shop
This is the method that we use in our system and that our son, who lives completely off grid, uses. He uses 12 volt solar panels and 24 volt turbine all connected to his 12 volt battery bank. This is also the method used by most of our customers. The batteries will only take in the voltage that they are at so the higher voltage does not harm them. As an example, if the turbine is producing 40 volts and the batteries at at 13.5 volts, the batteries will only take in 13.5 volts.
is how you can use wind power in to the battery bank as solar power. It
is one of those things that is much more simple than it seems it should
be. Let me know if you need any other information to give to the tech.
I spent the day on Friday on the phone with numerous turbine manufacturers and installers and every one of them told me the same thing, hooking a 24volt turbine up to a 12 volt bank of batteries is actually better than hooking up a 12 volt turbine.
Since it's all Greek to me, after I spoke with 3 separate people who do this for a living, I felt confident that my worries could be put aside and I could just hook up the turbine the way it was supposed to be hooked up.
After that email exchange with Joy and John, I spoke with Joy on the phone for about an hour. How refreshing to talk with someone who knows what they're talking about, offers free advice and seemed happy to talk with me even though she knew I wasn't going to buy anything from her.
We actually talked about a few other items they make and I'm already thinking about my next project. Hopefully with Joy's knowledge some of this rambling going on in my head will pay off.
So I went out on Saturday morning and finished the final wiring and aired up the mast.
With my fingers crossed, we watched as the mast raised up, caught the wind gusts and started producing power.
It's now been 3 full days of strong winds and my batteries have yet to come down off of full capacity.
Make sure you check out the Wind Turbine Page I put together which explains everything we've gone through and talks about it in much more detail.
Cindy's brother Ron and his family was in town all weekend, so we kept busy having a blast with their kids. They have two little kids they've adopted from China that are just hilarious to be with. Their older daughter Katie had a friend with her and its fun to be around children that are so well behaved, super polite and not the normal kids you tend to see in this day in age.
The two young kids call Cindy Sponge Bob, because Sponge Bob's best friend is Patrick, and since I'm Patrick, my best friend has to be Sponge Bob. I dont think they even know Cindy's name because Sponge Bob is so much easier to remember.
By the end of the weekend, she was even answering to it...LOL
They all left yesterday morning and Cindy and I spent the rest of the day cleaning rooms since this weekend we were completely full. It poured rain all day yesterday, but with rain comes wind, so by yesterday afternoon, I went outside to check the battery level and it was still at 100%.
Gotta love that fact that you can be producing power even without the sun out.
Thursday March 25th 2010 - Why Does This Always Happen To Me?
How does my life change so dramatically from day to day?
Wednesday afternoon, after a long day of cleaning rooms, cleaning up things around the motel and just a good productive day, I noticed the humongous flocks of white pelicans were across the bay from the motel.
One of the reasons they stay in that area is because of it's shallow depth of the water and the fact that it's loaded with schools of fish around the oyster beds.
Knowing these huge birds aren't going to be in this area for too much longer, I got down one of the kayaks and put it in the water. I couldn't stand just looking at them hung there any longer and I cant believe that Cindy and I have gone this long without any sort of paddling time.
Of course Cindy said she couldn't go because she had to wait for a room to check in, so I went for a solo paddle to go see the birds.
As I was paddling up to them, my attention was diverted to a huge stump along another oyster bed. I knew it wasn't a stump, because it was moving, but the brown, log looking figure was huge.
As I got closer, I realized it was a bald eagle standing on a oyster mound eating a fish. I stopped paddling and just sat watching the beautiful bird devour it's late afternoon snack.
The winds were pushing me right towards the bird without me even having to paddle, and when I was only 30' from it, it looked up at me and took to flight leaving behind nothing but a stinky skeleton of a fish.
What a sight and I couldn't think of a better way to introduce myself to Kayaking in Cedar Key.
From the bald eagle, my attention was moved to the white pelicans that actually dwarf any other bird in this area. You dont realize how big these things are till you're near them.
They're twice the size of a brown pelican and have a wing span of almost 10 feet!! Think about that. I'm in a 14' kayak and these birds fly over me with a wing spread almost as long as the boat I'm in.
I sat watching them for at least an hour just listening to the grunts and squeaks them make amongst each other. They flock up in big groups and just walk around nibbling at things in the water and having stare-off's with one another.
At one point, I noticed what I thought was a plastic bag floating in the water right near them and thought that I should get it out of the water. I wouldnt want one of these threatened birds to get a bag tangled up in its bill and die.
So I paddled over to this clear plastic looking thing and just as my hand was about to grab ahold of it, I almost tipped myself over in the kayak I drew back so fast.
What I thought was a plastic bag was actually a huge jellyfish stuck in the shallow water. My hand was only a few inches from grabbing ahold of it which left me yelping like a scared little girl.
I had to sit there for a minute just to calm my heart rate down and relive the nightmare of me tipping over in only a few inches of water with two big cameras in my lap and a jellyfish stuck to my hand.
Some people try and hide the stupid things they do, but me, I do such stupid things, that I cant keep them to myself.
With that last move, I had to head back home because of the setting sun, the tide heading out leaving me in dangerously shallow water and the need for a cold beer to calm my now over active nerves.
I was bringing the camper into Gainesville to get the Turbine wired up first thing in the morning, so I needed to get it hooked up and ready to roll. It's been sitting for a few months now, so I wanted to make sure I had everything ready and good to go so it wouldn't become a chore first thing in the morning.
We ended the night watching a new Joe Rogan DVD we had just got in the mail. Most people know Joe Rogan as the guy who hosted Fear Factor. What most dont know is he's one of the best comedians there is.
His comedy isn't for everyone. He's very raunchy, very crude and says things that are so against the grain, they really make you sit back and think. It was the perfect way to end the night and Cindy and I both went to bed with tight stomachs from our non-stop laughter.
Waking up This morning, I thought I was in heaven.
My beautiful wife woke me up with a big cup of hot coffee, a big bowl of fresh fruit atop my cereal and a big morning kiss. This woman is as perfect as a man could hope for.
From there, my day went straight down hill. Last night I had hooked everything up and checked over everything multiple times. I even had Cindy come out and go over the entire camper to make sure I hadn't forgot anything. Not having moved it in a few months, I was way out of practice when it comes to hooking it up.
No Jack stands left down, everything locked up and put in its place and it was basically ready to tow down the road.
So when I said goodbye to Cindy and pulled out of the motel this morning, I was wondering why it sounded like I had a flat tire. I pulled over within the first mile to see if one of the tires had gone flat over night and walked around the rig a few times going over everything yet again.
It was then I realized I had hooked the camper up to my 2" ball that I had on the truck to tow our little cargo trailer. Our camper uses it's own specific hitch which is a 2-5/16" ball. Since we dont have the tow bars/sway bars to hook up to that hitch anymore, I hadn't even paid attention to which hitch was in the receiver.
So I turned around, headed back to the motel and swapped out the hitches.
Luckily I had told Cindy I wanted to leave early incase anything would happen. I was now leaving with just the right amount of time to get me there for my scheduled appointment. Remember that Check List thing we have on another page of our site? Well I'm going to print it out, laminate it and use it from now on when we tow the camper.
Again, the day just continued to go down hill as it grew longer and longer.
I got to JD Sanders RV Dealership in Alachua at 9:15am. Only 15 minutes behind schedule. I was introduced to Clifton, the electrician who would be tackling this job and we got to work.
I explained what I wanted done and how I wanted the wiring run and Clifton went about making it happen.
At first, I was super excited because I was thinking by this afternoon, I would be sitting back at the Low-Key Campground with a turbine atop the beautiful air actuated mount producing free power.
The mount Dave from Aluminess Products made is something to drool over. The welds are so clean they look like they've come out of molds. He had it powder coated to a high gloss white finish and made custom mounts to hold it secure on the back bumper.
The lift operation of the mast is lifted effortlessly with air that can be supplied by a simple 12volt tire pump.
The only thing stopping me was the wiring being hooked up to my bank of batteries and run to the top of the camper.
Here is where the problem arose. When I had purchased the turbine, the owner of Sun Power Energy out of Casper Wyoming who had sold me the Air-X told me that this model was a 24 volt system, but it could be changed easily to a 12 volt model with a simple wiring swap.
Not knowing the inner workings of a turbine, I bought it thinking I would have the dealer make this change for me.
The seller had even said there was a diagram with instructions on Page 24 of the owners manual on how to tackle this easy project.
Well just incase anyone else makes this same mistake, it CAN NOT be done. You cannot change the voltage of a alternator without spending lots of money.
I spent hours on the phone today with the technicians at Southwest Windpower who makes the turbine and a few local Golf Cart Companies who I thought might have a simple converter to convert the 24 volts of power coming out of the turbine into 12 volts which is what my batteries are set at.
It can be done, but again, not without a bunch of money, which is something I dont have, and a ton of headache which IS something I have at this point.
This was supposed to be an easy task and it's now turned into a monumental undertaking. I'm now stuck with a beautiful mast mounted to the back of my camper, a 24 volt turbine that I cant use and a wallet that got a whole lot lighter after a full day spent at the dealership with a bunch of nicely run wires.
To add insult to injury, this entire ordeal has been a big argument between Cindy and I. So to answer the question of "So how does it all work?" while I was on my way home became a painful conversation for me on the ride back to Cedar Key.
I guess my next few days will be spent looking for a 12 volt turbine and trying to sell this 24 volt model. Why does this always happen to me?
Like I said, my life changes 180° from day to day. Yesterday I was loving life while surrounded by beautiful birds out on the water in my kayak. This evening I'm driving home in the pouring rain and lightening with my head hung low and an empty wallet.
Its like playing the stock market. Some days you ride it up, other days you ride it way down and find yourself on that ledge wondering if you should jump.
Tonight, I'm on that ledge and the fall looks better than dealing with Cindy when I get home.
Wednesday March 24th 2010 - Fun & Sun in Cedar Key
Our past week here in Cedar Key has been nothing but non-stop action. With all our family having been gone for a week now, we thought we'd get a bunch of stuff accomplished this week before another onslaught of family arrives for visits starting next week.
With Barry and Pat saying goodbye to start the long trek back home to Pennsylvania for the summer, we said a sad goodbye to them on a windy Monday morning as Barry packed up in the rain.
Wouldn't you know it that Tuesday morning, the wind was non-existent and the weather was picture perfect. Thanks for taking the bad weather with you Pat and Barry and we're already looking forward to your next visit.
No sooner did they leave when Kevin and Ruth pulled in. We had gotten an email from Kevin and Ruth a few days earlier asking about availability at the Low-Key Campground.
They are a very nice couple who travels half the year in their Class A motorhome when they're not Work Camping the other half of the year. They host a travel blog at Travel With Kevin and Ruth and were on their way North from Spring Training in South Florida.
The funny part is Kevin and Ruth told us that Marc and Cathy were the ones who had recommended us to them. Remember our good friends who had offered a free place to camp if we were ever passing through Virginia? The ones we ended up partying with for a few days and having a total riot while we stayed with them.
The same ones who stopped by for a visit earlier in the year on their way down to Key West. Well I guess Marc reads Kevin and Ruth's blog and had offered the same camping spot to them earlier in the year. Like us, they too took them up on the offer and couldn't say enough about the hospitality of these two very generous people.
Funny how the generosity of one couple can spread around to introduce so many others along their journeys. Its a good type of infection to have and spread.
Monday night the four of us hung out in our apartment swapping travel stories and sharing some Must See places. Kevin and Ruth have visited many of the places Cindy and I have and it was great to re-live our experiences with people who have seen many of North Americas beautiful sights and met many of the people who make it so fun to roam around and explore.
Tuesday was a great day out around Cedar Key. I had mentioned meeting a Cedar Key native a few days back while we watched the flock of White Pelicans pass behind our dock.
Luz and her husband Walter had taken me out on their boat around the surrounding keys a few days ago to show me some of the neighboring islands and what each one offers.
Luz had asked Cindy and I out again and wanted us all to experience a Cedar Key sunrise from the water.
We were hoping to get out on Monday, but we woke to 30mph winds and a small craft advisory, so we passed on that boat trip. Funny how quickly the weather changes here in Florida because Tuesday morning, we were all awake at 5am getting cameras ready and bundling up for a pre-dawn boat ride.
We met down at the marina and shoved off by 6:30am with just the lightest hints of twilight coming over the horizon. Luz is one of those characters who oozes energy. Think Hammy in Over the Fence when he drank the energy drink. That's Luz at all times. Walter is the total opposite and very laid back and a Go-With-The-Flow type of person. I guess the 'opposites attract' was the key in this relationship.
Walter piloted the boat out in the calm water, which was such a strange thing to see. I honestly believe this is one of the first days that we've been in Cedar Key where there was no wind blowing across the Gulf.
Luz wanted to bring us to Seahorse Key to photograph the sunrise with a giant piece of driftwood as the subject, but we had to keep reminding her that the small island is closed this time of year due to it being a bird sanctuary.
Despite the numerous threats of Walter being a wimp, or a yellow-bellied captain, Walter told her we'd have to make due with watching the sunrise from the comforts of the boat just off the shoreline of Seahorse Key.
Cindy and I were just happy to be out on the water and enjoying some much needed time away from the motel.
It was strange to see Cindy with a camera back in her hand. Except for the odd time she's snapped off a few shots of some beautiful sunsets or a cool bird in the back yard, she's yet to go out shooting here in Cedar Key. I think that's the longest she's been without a camera in her hand in over 4 years.
Once the sun was up, we headed over to Atsena Otie Key with dolphins playing all around the boat. As we leisurely floated towards the island, we watched the dolphins fish around us in the calm water. Its crazy we've been here for this long and have yet to make it to Atsena Otie Key. I couldn't wait to finally get the chance to take a hike to the old Cemetery and scour the shoreline for some arrow heads.
From what I've been told by a bunch of locals, this entire area is a Mecca for Arrow Head hunters. Because of rich waters and Native Americans who lived in these parts for so long, the beaches are loaded with arrow heads or ancient artifacts.
Luz had told me the best time to go our searching for them is right after a big storm. Remember I had mentioned the small craft advisory for Sunday and Monday that had the waves and tides pounding the shore? This meant the calm waters this morning would be prime searching weather.
We all walked to the cemetery while Luz and Walter told us stories of the areas history. With both of them being total history buffs, it was like having private tour guides along for the hike. Luz has an endless amount of colorful stories about her childhood here in the Cedar Key area and will stop to point out a tree she fell out of with girlfriends as a child, or talk about a pile of bricks that her Daddy recycled from an old abandoned building after a bad hurricane decades before.
Listening to her stories makes you see the history that many people would just walk past and not even notice. You might think to yourself "Why is this pile of bricks sitting in this persons front yard?", but ask Luz and she'll come out with some story like "Oh that pile, my Daddy took apart an old cistern on this island so we could build a foundation for our front porch, those are left over from the project and we're saving them to build something else."
So a simple pile of bricks that you would normally overlook without even a second thought actually has generations of history behind them and become important parts of the town when you know the full story behind them.
After our walk to the cemetery, we headed for the white sand beaches lining Atsena Otie Key where Luz gave us a quick lesson on what to look for when searching for Arrow Heads.
There was another couple of guys combing the beach that Luz knows (The more you're around her the more you realize that she knows EVERYONE in and around Cedar Key).
While we were on one end of the beach, we heard one of the guys yell down to Luz, "I found one!"
He came down to show us the small arrow head he had just found which of course pissed everyone of us off....LOL I guess Walter has been combing the beaches for years and has yet to find even one of them.
With stomachs growling from a long morning without breakfast, we all loaded back into the boat and headed back to the marina. Once tied up in the docks, we headed over to their house for some Egg Sandwiches and warm coffee to start our day off the way most people do, breakfast first.
I couldn't think of a better way to start the day than watching the sunrise from the water with new found friends.
After breakfast, we headed over to Beauty by the Yard, which is a little open air shop a few blocks over from where Luz lives. Tonya makes handcrafted concrete ornaments, fountains, bird baths and beautiful wall sconces. She decorates the art with shells and driftwood she's collected from the neighboring islands and is quite the artist.
Luz had brought me here to introduce me to Tanya last week when we had went out on the boat, and I haven't been able to stop telling Cindy about it. So Luz had promised to introduce Cindy and her today.
Of course they hit it off right away and it seemed like we spent half the day just hanging out in her yard chatting about art, Cedar Key and why we all love this place so much.
When the need to add more food to our stomachs took over the need to talk, we finally excused ourselves and headed home to eat some lunch. Days like today make up for all those days we work from sun-up to sun-down.
After lunch, while I got to work nailing up some recycled wood I had found in a dumpster in town, Cindy came out to let me know that Luz had talked the owners of the Wine & Cigar Bar in town to opening up tonight just for us.
We had talked about the group of us getting together so we could all hang out and get to know one another in a laid back atmosphere and the wine bar seemed like the perfect place.
The new Wine Bar that recently opened was on our agenda to get too, we've just never been able to visit the place with our schedule. We keep promising to stop in and introduce ourselves to the new couple, but each night it seems like something comes up. Luz is that type of person when you say "Oh, we've been meaning to stop in for a drink and introduce ourselves but we just haven't had the time" She'll pick up her phone, make a call and come back with something like "Well we have dinner plans tonight at 7:30 and we're all going to finally meet up."
So with a quick shower to wash off the salt spray from our morning on the water, we changed into something we could be seen in public in and headed down to Dock Street for our first visit to the Black Dog Bar & Tables.
Jay and Connie have renovated an old building on Dock Street and brought in a bunch of nice wines and quality beers. With a well stocked humidor and a living room like atmosphere, you feel almost like you're hanging out at someone's house rather than sitting in a bar.
The name for the Black Dog comes from Otis, the big black Labradoodle that hangs out in the bar wandering around in search of a friendly rub down of his soft fur in exchange for a wag of his tail.
The night was filled with great stories, lots of laughs and more new friends to add to the ever growing list here in Cedar Key.
When all was said and done, we were starting to fall asleep around Midnight and joking that in a few hours, we could all meet again across the street in the Marina and head back out to watch the sunrise, making it a full 24 hours we'd been together.
Instead we all decided our beds sounded better than a few more bottles of wine and with that, we said goodnight and headed home.
Thursday March 18th 2010 - What an Awesome Day Today Was
After a pretty hard and stressful day yesterday, today turned out to be one amazing day.
While helping Cindy clean a few rooms early this morning. I was out back putting something in the garbage when I noticed a white cloud moving across the Bayou behind the motel.
I sat watching it for a minute totally stunned. I'm not sure what my mind was thinking, but I know I rubbed my eyes a few times thinking maybe I was seeing things. It was like something you'd see in a movie or in a drug induced dream.
Since we've been here in Cedar Key, we've seen the white pelicans daily. Only thing is this breed of birds doesn't come close to the docks and hasn't become tame like the brown pelicans have.
It's hard to walk around the docks because the big brown pelicans are usually harassing you and begging for scraps like dogs and cats do when mamma is cooking in the kitchen.
The white pelicans stay way off the shore and huddle up in big flocks keeping to themselves. I keep telling Cindy that I want to get in the kayak to paddle out to where they are to try and get some photos of them up-close. But the winds have been so crazy and non-stop, that she always argues with me that I'm going to tip over with the cameras again like I did in Baja and she's too worried about losing more of our equipment.
So up to this point, I've only really watched them through binoculars or a spotting scope. That was till this morning when I realized the white cloud was hundreds upon hundreds of huge white pelicans wading and moving towards the back of the motel.
Once I realized what it was, I went running into the motel to get my camera all the while yelling to Cindy and the few guests who were busy checking out that the white pelicans were outback.
I dont think too many people realize how rare it is to see them up-close, because everyone except for Cindy just waved me off like I was some sort of crazed lunatic. Which I am, but there was a very unique spectacle going on out back.
The flock slowly moved closer and closer and by this point, we even had people out on the dock with us who were just driving by and noticed how large of a flock of birds it was.
All in all, we had about a half hour to sit and watch as the feeding frenzy moved past us with the currents. So much for our mullet population because the size of this flock of White Pelicans probably wiped it out this morning alone.
It was quite the site and something I wont forget any time soon. Especially with the beautiful morning light we had to photograph them in, it was literally a photographers dream come true.
One of the women that had come out on the dock was a Cedar Key local and we got to talking. Turns out Luz had been born and raised in Cedar Key and has recently moved back into town.
She introduced Cindy and I to her husband and we sat around talking about the town and how it's changed over the years. Looking around at how simple and laid back it is right now, it's amazing to hear stories about how developed it has become over the decades.
The rest of the day was spent making phone calls to local solar installers since my Turbine and Custom Made Mount arrived in the mail late yesterday afternoon. I'm trying to get it hooked up so I can start running some tests to see how much power it's going to produce on a consistent basis. I honestly think installing a large turbine would pay for itself in a few years flat. I mean we have a non-stop wind blowing here because of the water on both sides.
Just before Sunset, I was talking with a few of our guests when I noticed a huge flock of Black Skimmers come swooping in across the road. I grabbed my camera and we all headed over to the East Shoreline to watch the acrobatic birds swoop and dive for their dinner.
We got to watch a young osprey dive numerous times for some mullet, but each time it would come up with empty talons. It finally flew off hungry and wet, but it was a great show for us to watch.
The night ended with a great sunset and except for the cold wind blowing in off the water, it was about as perfect a day as one could ask for here in Cedar Key.
If you want to see more photos of the Birds of Cedar Key, just click that link and you'll see tons of stuff we've captured right off our back dock.
Wednesday March 17th 2010 - Happy St. Patrick's Day
I once read somewhere that when you own a house on the ocean, you find out how many friends you have. I'm thinking that when you own a motel/campground on the ocean, you really find out how many friends you have.
After a week with my parents visiting, followed by a visit from my uncle, Cindy's sister, her husband and daughter and Cindy's mother, everyone packed up and left yesterday morning.
We were just sitting down taking a breather. Actually, Cindy had asked Barry if he could help us move some furniture, bless his heart because we've put him to work so much while they've been staying here, as we watched a motorhome pull into the campground.
I asked Cindy who that was because she had told me we didn't have anyone checking in today. Barry laughed saying "They have Michigan plates, it's probably more family!"
Just then, we see Mr. Donovan, my brother-in-laws father walking up saying "Chello" in his English accent.
So with one family member leaving, we have another group checking in and the party starts all over again.
I was up early this morning because I had been invited to go along on a special paddle trip with Tom from Kayak Cedar Keys who was guiding some Biologists into some remote sections of the Suwannee River Refuge.
Tom and I have been talking for some time now about this trip and we were both excited to be out on the water. That was till I heard that clap of thunder and the rain pelting the tin roof of the motel this morning.
I called Tom who said the forecast didn't look too promising and there was high wind warnings, so he was calling it off on the side of safety. That Sucks!! I was so looking forward to this as a day to get back out on the water and just get back to nature.
A few days ago I had a free minute just after my parents had pulled out of town and my uncle had gone into Gainesville to find a Driving Range to work out his winter kinks.
I loaded up a few lenses and headed out to see what new birds I could find.
I pulled over at one section of marsh where thousands of shore birds were picking through the rich tidal waters.
As I sat there watching, I noticed a group of birds swoop down only inches off the water with what looked like a section of their beak or bill in the water.
I sat watching for a few minutes so I could study what they were doing. I had never seen something like this before, so I was trying to figure out their patterns to see if I could snap off a few shots of them before they would fly away. They were moving so fast, it was almost impossible to follow them through the eye piece of the camera.
After awhile, I was able to figure out that when they skimmed the surface, they slowed down enough I could follow them. I snapped off a few dozen shots before they flew out of range and hoped a few of them would be salvageable.
I couldn't wait to get back and figure out what these new-to-me birds were.
As I was thumbing through the bird reference book, I found the bird and laughed when I read it aloud to Cindy. The book basically said my exact words I had used to explain what I had witnessed, and we found out that the Black Skimmers are actually native to these sections of Gulf Coastline we're now living in.
The book told me that Skimmers have a light graceful flight, with steady beats of their long wings. They feed usually in large flocks, flying low over the water surface with the lower mandible skimming the water for fish.
Later we went into town to have lunch with Pat and Barry, and as we sat over the water on Dock Street, we watched huge flocks of them skim across the water.
This place is so cool and each day I learn or see something completely new to me.
- Pushed Right to the Edge
By no means do I agree with the dude that flew his plane into the IRS building because he took an innocent persons life in that act of anger. Now if he would have done it at night when the building was closed and he only took his own life, I'd agree 100% with his actions.
But yesterday I could have been in the passenger seat of that plane with his anger towards our government.
I've talked a bit about the Tiki Bar and all the hoops we've had to jump through to get it licensed. Well yesterday all those hoops came to a boiling point when I spent the day trying to get everything finalized.
I drove out to Gainesville to get finger printed, a task that involves paying a company $56 so they can take my finger prints. This used to be done for free at the local police department. They dont give you an option anymore and tell you where you have to go which means you have to make an appointment days in advance just to be fingerprinted.
There are no options to get this done, only one company can do it if you want a license.
So I paid the nice woman my money and went over to the Bureau of Revenue where I had to sign up so I could pay my taxes and have them sign off on the application. I had already signed up online, I just needed to sign some paperwork and have them stamp my application.
Now I will say that this woman was beyond nice and made up for the hours I had spent on the phone and the hours I've spent in the truck driving around Central Florida to get everything signed and stamped by the various agencies who need to take your money.
So I left the IRS building with a smile on my face which was a strange feeling. It was when I got to the Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco Department that my blood started to boil.
I walked in and found the woman I had spent so much quality time with on the phone. As I introduced myself, she kicked my feet out from under me saying "If you're hear trying to license that Tiki Bar, I'll tell you right now I'm going to deny it!"
WTF is wrong with you lady? I haven't even showed you my paperwork yet and you already tell me that you're going to deny it.
Cindy had spent a few hours on the phone running in circles with the Health Department earlier in the week getting that situation approved and Myrna Williams, the woman at the Alcohol department hadn't received any of the phone calls the guy from the health department had told Cindy he was going to make.
Even though I had called and told Myrna what I had with me, and what I was bringing to her office, which is over an hours drive from Cedar Key, she waits till I get there to tell me that I have to have a copy of my lease agreement and "Oh by the way, Cindy's name has to be on all this paperwork because her name is also on the lease agreement of the motel" she tells me.
So this means that all the running around I've already done to have documents signed and notarized where just my name was on the paperwork, well I now have to retrace my steps and have it all re-signed and notarized with Cindy's name on the paperwork.
I think this Myrna lady could see my frustration and went and got her boss who for some reason had a firearm strapped on his belt. I'm guessing they like to toy with people trying to get licenses so much, they make sure they keep guns on hand to keep us taxpayers from getting restless.
I explain everything again through gritted teeth and ask "Why have you licensed this same tiki bar to two other people but I seem to be having such a hassle getting the same license?"
The guy says "Well me made a mistake with those people, we're not going to make the same mistake with you and you're going to dot every 'I' and cross every 'T' before this license is approved, if it ever gets approved."
So I'm guessing because the past two people were licensed so easily and never had to pay all these fees to our government, they're going to make up for it with me.
At this point, I snatched the paper work out of his hands, something that I had to reach under a big bulletproof glass wall to get ahold of, turned around while they were still talking to me and walked out of the building.
It was all I could do to keep myself from putting my fist through a wall or accidentally backing the truck through the front door of the building and claiming my F-250 must be affected by the same accelerator problems the Toyota's are.
I feel so sorry for Cindy who through all this torture has calmed me down, helped me out even though I said "I'll take care of all of this by myself" and kept my sanity at a normal level.
She's the one who has to sit on the opposite end of the telephone each time I leave a building frustrated to no end and call her screaming about how pissed off I am. She calms me down with her soothing voice each time and does what she does best which is take care of me like the best wife in the world.
When we first started this whole ordeal, I contacted a local lawyer to see how much they'd charge to get all the paperwork in order. He told me it usually costs around $5000 to get a license approved and the paperwork filed and that was just too much for us to pay.
Right now, I think I've passed that mark with the cost of fuel, copies I've made and the running around I've done myself. Hindsight is 20/20.
On top of the Tiki Bar stress, the past few days have been another trying time for my nerves. We not only have my parents staying with us, but Cindy's sister Teresa, her husband Don and one of her daughters came into town since they had to go to Gainesville for a doctors appointment. Since Teresa was so close, Cindy's mom decided to come up from North Palm Beach for a visit so we were totally full with not only family, but we were turning away rooms from vacationing guests.
Dinner in Downtown Cedar Key with family was an evening I could write an entire sitcom about, but I wont get into the details. Everyone who has a big, mixed family knows what I'm going through, and dont get me wrong, Cindy and I love to visit family. You should know that by how much we visited them while out traveling, its just putting them all together in our little kitchen and trying to follow all the different conversations is a whole-nother story.
The last time we had this much family together at the same time was at our wedding which was over 12 years ago.
And if you think the stress levels could get any higher than they are, the past three days Central Florida has had some crazy storms pass through it and with a living room filled with family, we discovered a new leak in the roof while we all were sitting around chatting.
Hello Family, this is our new place, dont pay attention to the leaky roof, the flooding sidewalks or the tornado's passing through, just kick back and relax with your feet on the bucket catching the water dripping down.
Do any of you realize how hard it is not to just pack up the camper and head back out for the open road? How can life go from the way it is supposed to be lived, wild and carefree, to Cindy telling me I need to be sedated numerous times throughout the day?
Does anyone have any spare Valium they can send me?
Tuesday March 9th 2010 - What a Crazy Weekend
I'm still playing catch-up from our crazy, crazy weekend. Not only were we completely full with guests, but we were full with guests that knew how to have fun!
Friday and Saturday were spent painting the front of the building during daylight hours, but the evening hours were spent laughing, partying and having the time of our lives.
I'm not sure if it's just the people who come to Cedar Key, but the guests we had this weekend all seemed to click together and it seemed like everyone was hanging out together, watching sunrises in the morning and kicking back around the backyard in the afternoon.
On Saturday, with gathered in the front of the building while we finished up painting, we all planned on heading down to Dock Street to go out on Captn' Doug's Tidewater Tours for the sunset cruise.
Luckily I had a pile of warm clothes left in the back seat of the truck from my recent trip to Michigan because the boat ride was anything but warm and tropical.
With winds whipping pretty fierce and the cold air blowing in off the water, it was almost too cold to drink beers...Notice I said ALMOST.
We did get to see a Bald Eagles nest with two eaglets in the monstrous dwelling that I could probably lay down comfortably in and a dolphin that played hide and go seek around the boat as the sun set below the horizon.
Once the boat ride ended, everyone met back at our place and since the wind was blowing through the tiki bar a bit too strong, we invited everyone into our apartment.
Even with our new six seat kitchen table, I had to bring in a few more lawn chairs and the kitchen was still standing room only.
Mike and Patt, a great couple who had just come in from Michigan in their RV came down for the party and Patt brought her guitar.
Mike had told me that his wife was a skilled musician, but little did any of us know what sort of show we were in for.
Patt is the type of musician I'd hire to entertain a sold out crowd if the Tiki Bar was open. Anyone could yell out a song, and Patt would take a second to run down the Rolodex of music in her head and she'd soon start strumming the tune.
Who ever requested the song had to sing it, but if they forgot the words, which most of us did, Patt could chime in real quick and get them through the section of song they forgot.
Ric and Nancy, another couple who was visiting from Minnesota for Nancy's birthday were calling out songs and harmonizing together like Sonny and Cher. Barry and Pat were right in the mix of things keeping everyone laughing and John and I, we'll we just sat back watching and holding our stomachs from all the silliness surrounding us.
Ron and Cheryl and another couple from the campground joined in as background singers and only added to the nights entertainment.
Have I forgotten anyone? Oh Wait, you know my wife Cindy, the one who lives for Karaoke, do you think she was singing with the gang of rowdy guests?
Cindy wasn't singing, she was leading the group with her goofy antics like she was the hostess with the mostess and couldn't be stopped.
Forget the fact that we were lacking a microphone or a P.A. system, Cindy made sure her voice boomed over everyone else's and when others would be taking a break to rest their vocal chords, Cindy would keep the tempo going as fast as Patt could strum her guitar.
Poor Patt, I was worried her fingers were going to start bleeding. I dont think Cindy allowed her to even reach for her drink she kept her playing so steadily.
When Cindy couldn't think of songs to call out, she'd tell Patt, "Just play music, and I'll make up words as we go along!" Something that Cindy is known for and will usually result in such a crazy song of improv, I think Patt had to stop playing a few times she was laughing so hard.
By the end of the evening, I was worried we were going to run out of room in the recycle bin (A Fifth-Wheel Horse Trailer) for the empty Beer and Wine bottles that had collected from the party.
It was morning by the time everyone left to make the long walk back to their adjoining rooms or RV's and what a night it was.
Sunday morning had everyone sitting out back laughing about the previous nights antics and saying their goodbyes as some left for home, others left to finish their vacation somewhere else down the road and some lucky guests got to kick back and just enjoy a day of near perfect weather.
It's weekends like that where new friendships are made, bonds are tied to strengthen relationships and memories are etched with good times that would be hard pressed to forget.
Cindy and I spent Sunday sitting out back with our new friends while we all watched the flocks of birds and just kicked back.
I finally got some time behind the camera playing with the birds and working out the kinks on my shutter finger.
Sunday night, my parents arrived in Cedar Key and we spent a quiet evening catching up on our time apart. I've had a chance to see them while I was up in Michigan since their last vacation where they came to visit Cindy and I in Yellowstone.
Monday was back to work and Cindy and I were determined to finalize the Tiki Bar stuff. After sending in our plans for review and paying the $150 in fees needed to have them looked at, we received a notice back that we were missing a bunch of stuff.
Things that dont make any sense because they're asking for a menu, even though we dont plan on serving food. They're asking about our food storage procedures and methods of food preparation....but again, we're not going to be serving food?
This was the main reason neither of us want to have anything to do with food because from our past experience at the Red Dog Saloon, the food side of a restaurant is usually where all the hoops are pulled out for you to jump through.
Cindy spent the day on the phone going in circles. After a few hours of being sent from one person to the next, she was finally moved up to the top of the food chain where she explained our entire ordeal to the big boss who apologized for all the confusion, told her he would approve the paperwork on the spot and told her it would be mailed to her later this week.
Thank Goodness she has the patience I'm so lacking. I get way too frustrated when it comes to dealing with the politics of finishing things like this.
I think it's funny that I've already received my tax ID number requesting I start paying my taxes on the tiki bar, yet I'm not even licensed. Strange how one government organization will have paperwork finished overnight when it comes to them collecting taxes, but other areas of our government seem like we're dealing with confused children.
So hopefully this means the Tiki Bar will be opened soon...but I think I've said that a dozen times already. So dont go holding your breath.
Not that it really matters, because if you stay at the Low-Key Hideaway, chances are you'll find yourself a party whether its at the tiki bar or in our kitchen.
Friday March 5th
Good Days and Better Days
Its Surprising that we completed anything considering we were up till after 2am last night partying with Barry and Pat and another couple staying in the RV Campground, Ron and Cheryl.
Ron and Cheryl aren't fulltimers, but they spend multiple months at a time roaming about in the little Class C that rides on a Dodge Sprinter Chassis. I really love their RV and they told us they average 16mpg with the little Mercedes diesel motor!!
Sitting around our apartment comparing stories of backroads we've all traveled and fun places we still want to visit, we had a fun night with lots of laughs and plenty of empty beers come morning.
Waking up this morning, I felt fine and after a quick breakfast and a few cups of coffee, Cindy and I got to painting the front of the building. This has been one of those tasks we've been wanting to complete since the day we landed in Cedar Key, but we had to wait till we had the fiberglass doors installed first and warm enough weather to let the paint dry.
Today was nice and warm with temperatures in the high 60's, and the wind was blowing at the back of the building, so painting the front kept us in the nice, warm sunshine all day long.
Between painting, we checked in a bunch of new guests since we're completely full in both the motel and the RV Campground and spent time talking and enjoying stories from everyone visiting Cedar Key this weekend who stopped by to talk with everyone hanging around out front.
Yesterday I had patched up the many holes and cracks in the stucco in the front of the building, fixed some cracks along the sidewalk where the wall meets the ground and planted a big 10' Sabal Palm tree in the back yard.
While patching the concrete, a flatbed truck pulled across the street and parked along the vacant property there. I walked over to ask them how much they charged for the big palms they had strapped down on the flat bed.
They told me they were working down the street and had just dug them up. They told me to go talk with the owner because he didn't really have any place to put them.
I ran down to talk with Paul, the guy clearing a lot to put in his new vacation home here on Cedar Key. Talking with him, he told me I could have the two palms if I wanted them, but he couldn't drive his excavator down the street, so all he could do was simply dump them on the property.
I was fine with that since these were beautiful mature palms. As soon as they were on the ground, Barry and Ron were out of their campers asking what they could do to help.
One of the trees was small enough that between the 3 of us and the help of a dolly, we were able to move it to the back of the motel and put it in the ground.
It amazing how awesome full mature trees change the landscape and the look of the place. Putting little shrubs or tiny trees in the ground looks ok, but it'll take years before they're ever even noticed.
I'm having a guy come by later in the week with a bucket machine to move the other tree that is way to big to move by hand. He tried to stop by today, but with all 5 RV slots full, there was no room to get the machine or the big tree around the big RV's and into the back yard where we're going to plant it.
Since we left California, it seems like it's been raining non stop. We drove for 6 days straight through non-stop rain to get to Florida. I've driven up to Michigan through rain, snow and sleet and this past winter here in Florida has been one of the wettest on record.
Cindy and I were talking a few days ago wondering if our Roof Top Tent (RTT) would be molded or mildewed with all that rain. I told her that the first nice, warm day that the winds werent too crazy, I'd open it up and let it air out.
Today was that day, but amazingly enough, there wasn't even so much as a damp feel to the tent that's been packed tightly since we last used it in Canyonlands National Park in Utah.
I set it up with the truck parked right in front of the motel and you would have thought it was a naked woman standing out by the road.
Numerous times the passing cars would come to a complete stop so they could either stare or snap a photo of the Camping Lab RTT. Cedar Key always has alot of people who walk to town from the numerous rentals because of how small the town is.
It was hard to get any painting done because of how many times I had to put the paint roller down to go show people the tent. Not that I minded, I love showing off because of how cool it is.
I was pleasantly surprised with the sturdy waterproofness of the cover, and I'm glad to know it can withstand that harsh of conditions and not mold or mildew in the least. I cant wait to go out and use it more once we get caught up with the motel.
I've been telling Cindy that if I can find a used Pontoon Boat cheap enough on Craigslist, I thought it would be cool to put it on the roof of the Pontoon Boat so we could use it as a overnight boat and stay out on the water.
I'll keep you posted if that comes about.
Tonight none of us really felt like partying it up all that much, so it was a very laid back evening. Although Ron and Cheryl were raring to go and stopped by with some fresh Key Lime Pie from one of the local restaurants and asked if we wanted to go next door to the neighboring RV Park where they were having a Folk Fest Concert.
We told them we were laying low to save our strength for tomorrow night and wished them well.
I'll be sure to snap some photos of what the building looks like with the fresh coat of paint on it tomorrow when we finish it all.
Wednesday March 3rd - Happy Birthday Donielle
First and foremost, I wanted to say a big Happy 24th birthday to our daughter. How friggin' old am I that we have a 24 year old daughter?!? It seems like only yesterday that I was sitting with Cindy and Donielle at Donielle's 5th birthday party. That was the first time I got to hang out with Donielle when I was invited to a Chucky Cheese for her birthday party.
I think it was somewhat of a test for me to see if I could put up with so many screaming kids hopped up on caffeine and still want to stick around after the dust settled. Little did Cindy know that I absolutely love kids, especially at that age when they're so dang fun to play with, so it only made me want to hang out with the two of them even more. 19 years later, I'm still around and it seems like only yesterday it all started.
So if you're reading this blog, then you'll notice that we listened to your requests on the comments section and we're going to try out posting the new blogs at the top of the page. Personally I dislike this feature, but I'm going with the readers who take the time to read these goofy posts of mine.
Yesterday was one crazy day here on the Florida Coast with winds strong enough to make one think we were experiencing a hurricane. The water behind the motel in the Back Bayou was the highest I've ever seen it and within a foot of the top of the sea wall. At times it was lapping against the bottom of the dock, which normally has a few feet between the water at high tide and decking.
The winds werent blowing in gusts, but a non-stop wind that was strong enough to make one think the eye of the storm was fast approaching.
While I was working on a few different rooms throughout the day, Cindy came running up with a baby sea turtle the electrician had just found while running cable out to the tiki bar.
This will be the second sea turtle we've found around the motel in the past week. The first one was walking along our sidewalk right towards an open door to a room that Cindy was cleaning.
I think they are crossing the road not sure of where they're going or maybe they're just hatching from somewhere on our property and dont know which direction to go to find the ocean.
I know we're not supposed to handle or touch the sea turtles because they're endangered, but when one is walking towards a busy road, I'm thinking human interference is the right thing to do.
Of course Cindy wanted to keep it and raise it as our own little pet turtle, but we just snapped a few photos and put it back on the edge of the water where it could decide which way to lead the rest of its life.
Between finishing a ton of stuff that no one would even know I did, things that should have been done from the get-go, and painting a bunch of signs I'm planning on nailing to a post out in the yard, I'm happy with what I accomplished today.
I'll be sure to post a few photos of the direction sign once its up, but for now here is what my kitchen looks like with all the signs and paint scattered around our place.
I got a phone call from Diane at Aluminess Products in California who wanted to make sure our mailing address was still the same.
She joked that her and Dave, the people behind the beautiful creations at Aluminess, know that Cindy and I usually move so much, they thought the mailing address we gave them a few weeks back would be old news by now.
But the purpose of the phone call was to let me know the mast for the Wind Turbine is finished and they're shipping it off tomorrow. I'm so damn excited because this is something that I've been wanting for years now.
Since we've landed in Cedar Key, if we would have bought a full scale turbine the day we got here I think we'd have yet to make an electrical payment. The wind blows non-stop at our location and it might not always be as crazy as it was yesterday, but there is always a breeze blowing.
Once we get the turbine hooked up, I'm planning on running an extension cord from the camper over to the tiki bar and using natural resources to power the electricity needed to run the televisions, the radio and the lights so The Hideaway will be 100% Green.
If you cant tell, I'm pretty excited about the turbine....More to come on that once it gets here. Who knew that wind could be so sexy?
I stayed up late last night working on images from the last two months. We had a ton of shots from here and there that we've taken around Cedar Key yet we haven't had time to sit down and work on them. Now they're all where they're supposed to be. Check out the Cedar Key Galleries to see some of our handy work if you like photographs.
Tuesday March 2nd 2010 - Settling Down for a Few Days
After the past few weeks of non-stop stress while trying to juggling the rooms getting tiled when ever we had an opening, I told Cindy that we're going to wait till we get caught up before we start with the next set of rooms.
It's just too dang stressful trying to move everything out of a room, slam it out and get everything back in a few days time. There are things that always come up that we didn't plan on...Plumbing, Wiring or the weather getting in our way, so I'd rather just wait till season is over and we can actually have time to finish them without being under the gun.
Starting tomorrow, we'll be full through the rest of the month, so yesterday and today I told Cindy "Let's just kick back and take a break. Let's pretend we live here and go out and enjoy the place we live in."
I woke up yesterday morning before sunrise and loaded up some camera gear to go fool around the island and see what I could find. My shutter finger is going through major withdrawal and I'm jonesing for a photography fix.
Once the sun came up high enough to wash out the good light, I came back home and found a big osprey sitting right on the end of the dock. I sat out there for a few hours just watching it stare back at me.
The osprey won when it came to the waiting game and I came inside without getting any good shots. Numerous times I've sat in the back yard and watched as one of the local Fish Hawks dive into the water coming up with a fresh catch. Yet I've never seen it while I had the camera in hand.
I thought today would be my day to get that shot I've been after for so long. The one of a bird catching a fish, but an hour on the end of the dock in a chilly blowing wind and I packed up the gear to go into the house and warm up without catching the shot.
Even though we were supposed to be kicking back and taking the day off, I spent a few hours filling out my paperwork for the tiki bar. Wouldn't you know that the last two people who have had Beer & Wine Licenses on this property were issued them incorrectly.
After hours, and I'm not lying when I say Cindy and I have spent hours on the phone with the various government organizations we're trying to deal with to get this taken care of. The inspector that is supposed to sign off on the paperwork has finally told me that the last two licenses were issued incorrectly, so they're going to slap me in the face and make me jump through all sorts of hoops in order to get it done right.
This means paying a $150 site plan review fee, having to apply for a food license even though we're not going to be making or serving food, and having all sorts of local inspectors sign off on my site plans even though what they're signing off on are things we're never going to use.
If I wasn't already bald, this Tiki Bar would have made any hair I had left fall out from the constant rubbing of my head in confusion.
During my time off I worked on the Wedding Photos we took for the couple here last weekend and got them mailed off to her which was another check off my 'To Do List'. While working on them, I found myself laughing about the wedding day.
I dont know if I mentioned it in Last Month's Blog, but the girl that got married on the dock was very well endowed in the chest area. She was having trouble keeping her dress up where it was supposed to be and Cindy and Alice were working with her to make sure us men didn't get a free peep show.
When I asked what they used to keep the dress up, Alice told me she had a few extra 3M Command Strips and they used the sticky backing on the sides of her breasts to hold up the dress.....LMAO
I'll bet 3M never knew their sticky tape would be used for things of that nature.
Cindy and I have been enjoying the company of Barry and Pat and have spent numerous nights sharing stories and talking about our traveling adventures we've both encountered in the RV's.
Last night we hung out at our new kitchen table with Karen and Scott while Cindy made us homemade margaritas and Scott grilled burgers on the grill.
Cindy found a woman on the island who had sold her house and is moving back to Finland. This woman is selling all her furniture for next to nothing prices and we snagged up a bunch of stuff. We got a King Size bedroom set for less than we would have been able to buy a Double Size mattress.
A few others things I've been working on is researching ways to conserve water here at the motel. Being as Florida is on major water restrictions and this motel is outfitted with outdated fixtures, there are many ways we can upgrade them and conserve major amounts of water.
I spoke with a Kohler representative on products they offer that can save us tens of thousands of gallons of water each year. For a little investment upfront, that will be major money kept in our pockets and in the process, we'll be saving precious water.
Waterless Urinals, Dual Flush Toilets, Low-Flow Shower Heads and Faucets and we're even looking into a Solar Water Heating System that will save us thousands on electricity.
Another energy saving item we recently had installed was a skylight in our bathroom. The bathroom was in a part of the house that kept it dark at all times. Anytime you used the bathroom, you had to turn the lights on.
The roof was leaking from a faulty flashing and I had to pull down some of the drywall to find the leak. Since we were having the roof leak fixed, I thought why not install one of the solar tubes where the hole was and solve two problems with one fix.
Home Depot had two solar tubes to pick from, a 10" model and a 14" model. It said the 14" model was the equivalent of a 500 watt light and once it was installed, it's amazing how bright it is.
At least a few times each day Cindy and I will say "Who left the lights on in the bathroom?" because looking down what used to be a dark hallway is now bright with natural light flooding out of the bathroom.
The past few nights with the full moon, you can walk into the bathroom in the middle of the night and it feels like there is a light on simply from the moonlight. I think these solar tubes should be mandatory in new construction. They give so much light to rooms during the daytime that using electrical lights would be cut down drastically and we're already thinking of installing them in a few more sections of the house.
Starting tomorrow, we fill up and stay full for the next few months. Season is in full swing here in Florida and although the weather could get a little warmer, I'm really enjoying our time spent on Cedar Key.
My parents are coming to visit, my sister has planned a big family vacation and Cindy's entire family will make the rounds within the next few months. I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone and having the chance to re-pay some of the hospitality they've all shown us in the past few years.