Friday, July 26, 2013

Back on the River


Today I was finally able to take my new kayak up the Withlacoochee River, putting in at the boat ramp at the end of Turner’s Camp Road. Other than one man in a small Jon boat, I had the river to myself.

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This is the new craft, a 12 ft fishing kayak. Four feet longer and worlds apart from my old one.

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Three rod holders and plenty of room for tackle. However, the greatest difference between this and my small kayak is the way it handles. In the small kayak it was a lot like paddling an inner tube. A strong stroke would cause the kayak to veer greatly, so the only way to keep the craft going fairly straight was to paddle with short, choppy strokes. It was slow going. This one allows full strokes using the arms and torso, allowing a much faster speed.

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I was able to photograph some of the flora and fauna. In the kayak I can get pretty close to a lot of animals and as long as I keep moving they don’t move. If I pause and grab the camera, they’re gone. I was surprised that the bird stayed as long as it did.

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A view of the Withlacoochee River. Sometimes one can see wild hogs, deer, alligators, and more. I couldn’t see many birds, but they were just out of sight in the trees. The bird calls were numerous and very loud. I swear that one sounded like a monkey being strangled.

On the way back, I saw a young eagle soaring above the river.

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Here you’ll notice that my life jacket. Coast Guard regs require a life jacket (PFD) has to be aboard and readily available. With the sun to my back, I just couldn’t keep the PFD and Tee shirt on. It was just too hot.

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This is the approach to the boat ramp. A welcome sight at the end of the trip. It’s like coming home from a vacation. It’s nice to go away, but it’s always nice to be back home. In a few minutes, the kayak was on the roof and I was enjoying the A/C in the Jeep.  All in all it was a great day.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Keeping Busy


Personally, I feel very fortunate to be spending this part of the summer in Florida. This is the same area of Florida that we escape in the winter because it is too cold, and usually escape in the summer because it is much too hot. So far, the summer has been pleasant dur to the odd weather patterns in the US. Most days we have seen highs of 82 to 86, while much of the country is seeing three digit temperatures. How luck can we get? Of course, this has been an exceptional summer as far as rain goes at it seems to never end, but that helps keep it cool. Now, the humidity is another thing. Inside the house is very comfortable. Outside is fine if you are not doing anything. I can sit and read, but doing physical work is out of the question.

I have recently made two dog runs for LRROF, Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida. The first was a few weeks ago.


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I picked up this guy from Cheryl in Gainesville and drove him to Wildwood where Mike took him on the next leg of his trip. He was a perfect pooch, giving me no trouble at all and never making so much as a whimper. Somebody is going to end up with a fine Lab specimen.

Yesterday I mad another dog run. This time I met Barb up in Chiefland and drove the three dogs to Wildwood to turn them over to Mike.

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The three dogs were all males. A pup named Jake, a young adult named Cole, and a n oldie but goodie called Handsome. This is handsome in the picture above and he is special. He has been abandoned. He is VERY old. He has heartworm, skin problems, has not been neutered, carries fleas and ticks and has essentially been ignored and abused by his previous family. However, he was a very mellow dog, He quickly jumped in the back of the jeep and placed his head on the console between the seats where he stayed for the whole hour that we were together.

I had to stop a couple of times to get the others straightened out. The young adult wanted to ride in my lap, so I had to re-introduce him the back and keep him there. The pup wanted to chew my ear, literally, so I had to restrain him closer to the door. Then he decided to lay down, but the tether was to short and he was unable to breathe properly. I finally got the right length so he could sleep and my ears were safe.  

The dog pipeline has been very busy and I hope that they all find good homes. I’m pretty sure that Handsome might be a ward of LRROF permanently. He has a long way to go with treatment for heartworm, large patches of skin problems and more. Older dogs are not often adopted and LRROF already fosters more that a dozen dogs that are not adoptable for some reason. No dog, that I know of, is too old, too sick, or too nasty for LRROF to foster.

Next topic! While working on the motorhome a few days ago I was crossing across the yard and notice very fresh deer tracks between the house and RV. I know that were very fresh because with all the rain we’ve been having, they would not have been so sharply defined. When I got home from my dog run, Helen told me a bout a deer she saw beside the pool enclosure.

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The technology of cameras has reached a point where we depend on the anti-shake and auto focus and very often it results in some great pictures. Unfortunately in this case the focus was on the screen enclosure. I suspect, but cannot be sure, that the deer is a male, since it has been seen alone several times now. The females are usually found in small groups. There were no antlers, but I have no idea when the males start to grow their antlers for a new year. This morning, while at my computer I saw him roaming our back yard about 100 feet behind the house. I VERY quietly got my camera and set the focus on manual and infinity, thinking that any shot I’d get would be at a distance and I didn’t want the camera to focus on a branch in the way. Of course he was gone, back over the fence into the land behind me.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Finally Back to the Blog


I’ve actually been trying to blog since last Saturday, but I’ve had one heck of a time with my computers. When I try to blog on my desktop, I cannot get into my accounts, but get put into a spot where I have no blogs at all. So, the only blogable (?) computer is my old HP, and generally it works fine. Generally.

However, it has not been able to connect to my home wifi although it has for a long time. In addition, Helen’s computer, my new HP, and even my old, old Dell would not connect even though they did just a  few days ago. If that’s not strange enough, my iPad connects flawlessly.

I made three calls to my internet provider and got nowhere on the first two calls to India or Pakistan. Today I was connected to an actual USA tech in St. Petersburg, Florida and he had the problem solved in only 5 minutes. What I had to do on all the PC computers was do delete the Brighthouse Network Connection, then reinstall the same connection and use the same password. I have NO idea why it would affect all the wireless devices except the iPad.

Saturday was a great day for Helen and me and the family. It’s the first time we’ve had the whole family here in quite a while. PT (Paul, Jr) came with his sons Keaton and Kyle as well as his bride-to-be Sara Anne. Scott came with his kids Kourtnie and Kolbie and his friend Melissa. Grandson, Branden, had to come by himself so he could put a few miles on his sexy BMW. Barbara, of our Citrus County family attended also.

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Here are Scott, Melissa, and Branden, left to right.

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Barbara is being smart enough to keep well away from the pool. I doubt that she was able to avoid all the splashes, though.

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Sara Anne and PT keeping Scott’s pup Baby company. This was just a few days before PT’s 44th birthday. 44!!! Can you believe that?

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Helen was getting the grill ready, but the building clouds and imminent rain forced us to move the grill back inside the screen and under the roof. It did rain quite a bit, but it didn’t dampen the spirit very much.

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Coco would NOT be denied the use of the pool. Someone left the bathroom door slightly ajar and she raced through. She is starting to slow down, but she still keeps everyone entertained. Here are Kyle, Branden, Keaton, and Kolbie, left to right.

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Cousins Kourtnie and Keaton enjoying a mutual hug. Sara Anne on the couch taking a breather.

Back to the computer. One day when I went to use the older HP laptop, it would not start up, no way, no how. I tried rescue discs, but it just would not respond. I couldn’t do a Malware scan since I couldn’t get the computer to respond. I do have a device for using a laptop hard drive as an external drive. After taking the drive out of this laptop and mounting as an external, I connected it to my desktop computer and was able to run Malware Bytes with the laptop drive as my “O” drive. It did find a lot of garbage and removed the offending programs. As you can see, It’s working OK now.

In addition to the computer work, I’ve also been puttering around the motorhome. Today I finished installing my internally mounted surge guard. When I plugged everything in and it all worked, I was in heaven

That’s all for now.



Monday, July 8, 2013

Up the Creek with a paddle


Today I FINALLY got the opportunity to take my kayak out on the local river, the Withlacoochee. It was a fine day and the river was in good shape. This is not a river with rapids and such, but a southern, slow moving river.

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As you can see, the water is calm and it was easy to paddle upstream against the mild current. My plan was to paddle upstream until I got tired, then turn around and paddle and drift back down.

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This is a view downstream. In this area, the river is the boundary between Citrus and Marion counties. Citrus County has allowed building to the river, which is on the left looking downstream. The Marion county side is really wild and there are all kinds of animals that can sometime be seen there.

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Here you can see a few of the thousands of cypress trees. You can also see indication of river levels. There is a level just about two feet above the water which, I think, marks the normal, long term, normal level. Then you can see the white area of the trunk and another high water line about 4 feet higher. In the 31 years we have been in Citrus County, we have seen the river at flood level and in drought.


So, I was having a nice time and I noticed that I could get quite close to turtles and birds, but only if I kept moving. Once I stopped and grabbed the camera, they were gone! Off in the distance, upstream, I could hear the roar of an airboat. They use airplane engines or sometime modified auto engines, but run with open exhausts and the noise is awesome.

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When this one came around the curve, the decibels went up dramatically. My little kayak was shaking as it passed nearby.

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High quality ear muffs are a real necessity for those riding on such a craft. I have been on several and I am amazed at the power, but also amazed at the noise level.

I knew that I would not see much going further upstream as the passing of the airboat would scare anything away.


I mentioned earlier, my plan was to paddle upstream until I got tired, assuming that my arms would be the problem. It was not so. In Xpu-Ha, Mexico, I never spent so much time in the kayak. miscalculations in the surf would often dump me out. So on this quiet river, it was my back side that gave out. It was quite a surprise as I am well padded.

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This was such a welcome sight, the boat ramp where I put in. Now that I’ve done it once, it will be easier to get out more often, perhaps the Rainbow River the next time.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

LED Lights in the Motorhome


Tonight I finished round one of changing the camper lights to LEDs. I saw the job my friend, Brian, did on his motorhome and I was impressed. Doing my homework, I found that I could replace the lights with LEDs and save about 80% on the electricity they use. In addition, the lights are much brighter and much cooler as well. Being cooler may not seem like much, but when you’re in a very warm climate with limited electricity, less heat means less work for the A/C and it’s more comfortable, too.

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This is how the overhead lights look now. I should have taken a picture earlier when I had one fluorescent and one LED so you could see the difference, but…….

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The LEDs give the lens a distinctive look, so there is no mistaking what is inside.

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Sold on the idea of LEDs, I also tried a replacement bulb for the reading spotlights that we use quite a bit in Mexico as we watch no TV and read voraciously. The old bulb is on the left and the LED on the right. You can see that the LED is brighter using about 1/5 of the electricity of the incandescent bulb on the left.

I, apparently, do not have the manual dexterity that Brian is gifted with. The connectors for the strip lights used in the ceiling lamps were very difficult for me to work with. It’s not that I’m all thumbs, I’m all stumps. I even checked out a YouTube video that shows just how to do it and I still could not make the connectors work with any consistency. I fell back to Plan B and soldered all the connections. To be honest, the first one went OK. The second one gave me fits as I insisted on using six rows of light strip and the extra wires were a real pain. This is the single light that is at the kitchen area. After installing it and comparing the light of six rows to the light of four, I found that there wasn’t enough difference to justify the other two strips. The third light went together in a flash. Now I know what I’m doing (I think) and I found small diameter flexible wire at last.

In the top picture, the light with the six strips is the one furthest from the camera. Helen can see a slight difference, but agrees that four rows is just fine.

Phew……..It’s good to have one job mostly behing me.



Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sometimes we’re just lucky!


This is the time of year when we would normally be many mile north of Florida. This year we found the need to spend more time in Florida to enhance our chances of spending another winter in Mexico.

Helen awoke one morning to find water on the floor in the hall and seeping in the carpeting in one bedroom. I quickly got out me wet vac and sucked up the water. The problem is that the condensate drain from one of our air conditioning units had clogged and the condensate backed up into the house.

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In this picture you can see the condensate pipe as it runs down an around the A/C unit. As it goes by the side, there is a fitting that goes into the “pan” in which the A/C unit sits. Water was running over the top of the pan.


The real cause of the problem was the torrential rains we had a few days ago. A river of water was diverted around the side of the house where we have the below ground A/C connections, valves, and condensate drain. The great flow of water flooded the housing with mud that completely clogged the drain. Again, I put my wet vac in service and sucked all the water and dirt from the drain from outside the house. Then I added some pipe and fittins to bring the drain above the mud line, but still low enough to drain from the house.

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I made a major change to the system which can be easily seen in this picture. The condensate pipe runs down to the tee fitting. To the left of the fitting is a brand new “condensate high water shut-off switch”. In the unlikely event that water should again back up, the switch will open and the A/C unit will not operate. Of course, this is only a summer problem as there is no condensation when the unit is set for heat in winter.


On another note, there has been a thread on RV.NET about refrigerators, comparing residential with RV types. I realize that my large home refrigerator/freezer may run at a higher amperage than my RV refer, but it does so intermittently, while the electric heating unit in the camper runs something like 300 watts constantly. I have a device called the Kill-A-Watt which is used to determine the electric use of an appliance. You plug it into an outlet then plug your appliance into the device and set it. First you set the electric rate, which I got off my most recent electric bill. Then you select cost over a period you select, I chose a month. After a couple of days, the device seemed to level off at $8.25 per month.

Next, I turned on the RV refer and allowed it to get fully cold, then I attached the device. Since our house refer has the door opened from time to time, I did the same in the motorhome. The last time I checked, it was showing a monthly rate of almost $40.00!

Putting this into some perspective, in Mexico where we pay about 3 pesos per KWH, it would cost us about $96.00 per month in US dollars. On our first winter in Mexico we quickly ran up a sizable electric bill until more knowledgeable people advised us to run on LP gas, which is relatively cheap in Mexico.

I’m now in the process of changing out incandescent and fluorescent lights to LEDs. The LEDs are very white, use a SMALL fraction of the electricity, and give off very little heat. I haven’t completed a lot yet, but what I’ve seen is impressive. I may post pictures later.