Sunday, December 15, 2013

My Life as a (lousy) Motorhome Mechanic


Well, we’ve been here a week and most of my motorhome problems still exist. The slide hydraulic line still leaks, but I know not where. The air line to the engine exhaust brake has been removed, but I don’t have a replacement….yet. And, the exhaust from the turbo charger to the muffler is disconnected. Tomorrow I will make the 54 mile trip to Freightliner and Caterpillar in Cancun and attempt to get a new air line and new exhaust pipe couplings. Whew!

My days have not been a total loss. When it was determined that there was no progress to be made yesterday, it gave me a chance to take out my kayak for the first time. There was a storm offshore and the waves were rough. I surprised myself by walking past the first few waves in shallow water and getting on the kayak without taking a spill. Then it was off into the breakers and the surf. I HAD A BALL!!! It was way too rough to consider fishing so I had no tackle with me. Besides, I had to concentrate on keeping the kayak heading straight into the waves. It was amazing to see the bow dive under a breaking wave and have the warm water wash over me. The kayak is a sit-on-top, yet my legs were under water. The front and rear areas were awash and I had taken some water inside through the rod holders. There is some tuning to do before I do high surf again. Still, I came home cool and exhilarated

Today is another free day. So I got out my new 8 weight fly rod, tied on a bonefish fly and walked down the beach. Although it was not nearly as rough as yesterday, I was getting beat up by the waves breaking where I wanted to fish. Tired of fighting the waves, a moved toward shore and cast my shrimp imitation parallel to the shore. Two strips and I had one heck of a bite. The rod bent and something took off like a freight train. The bonefish are plentiful here and that’s what I think it was. At any rate, it zoomed out past the inner reef and cut to my left. The line stopped and I reeled in the broken line. It was nicked in several places on the last five inches of leader, so I know what happened.


Bonefish [1]……Paul [0]

I also hooked and lost two large needlefish, but losing them is a blessing.

I hope to include some pictures, but I have a state of the art camera and an old f**t photographer. All the pictures of the beach come out completely washed out. A little research on line (cannot find my camera manual) has given me a few things to try.



Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Xpu-HA at last!!!!


Yesterday afternoon we finally arrived at Xpu-Ha and I was most gratified to find that Dierck was able to save “our” spot. At nearly 37 feet (12 meters), we require a lot of room.

Before we could even greet our friends, all hell broke loose. As I cracked open the door, Coco LUNGED out the door with Sandy trailing behind. She remembered the layout here and zigged and zagged around campers and cars on her way to the beach. I grabbed the leashes and chased after, but found them gloriously enjoying the surf. Ann was down there entertaining them with a stick and in just a few moments had attracted a small crowd.

Then we got warm greetings from all our friends at Xpu-Ha campground. It was really good to see them all doing so well. I saw one fellow who looked familiar and he seemed to recognize me. “Dennis ? “ I asked and he replied “Paul”. We met two years ago in Punta Perula. He and his wife, Rosemary, were very easy to get to know and Rosemary joined me and Helen for a snorkel trip one day.

Shortly thereafter, Helen took the three dogs back to the beach with the intent to thoroughly tire them out while I set about getting the camper set up. When Helen came back I connected a water hose so she could wash the three canines.

Setting up camp rarely goes completely smoothly and this time was no different, but everything worked out. There is much more to do today…….or mañana…..No! I WILL get to it today.

This is just to let you know that we are here and we are safe. More blogs will come and I WILL include pictures.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Lazy Blogger Stirs


Yup, I’ve been lazy and I have put this off for much too long and I have no real excuse, but I’ll try to think of something. Those who know me would expect that I’m already in Mexico for the winter……..I wish!!! My last blog, I’m ashamed to say, was more than two months ago, but I have been very busy…….some of the time.

Since the last blog, I have made several repairs and modifications to the motorhome. Although I was making headway in getting prepared for the trip back to Xpu-Ha, other problems kept cropping up and demanded instant attention.

There was the day I went out in the garage and found water flowing from the laundry room. That sure woke me up in a hurry!  The water heater sprung a leak after only 31 years of service. Of course I quickly shut off the water to the tank. A quick trip to Lowe’s was necessary and I had a brand new unit. There was no moving of the tank full of water, so I bled off any pressure and cut the pipes. Then I used the blower end of my shop vac to blow the water out of the tank and it came out pretty easily. Getting the replacement installed was almost problem free except for one copper fitting that I had to solder four times before it held. I will be isolating the water to the tank when we leave.

Next was the day I went out and found the  area around the pool pump puddled and pouring out from the pump seal. The pump was removed and brought to a pump repair shop in Crystal River. A couple of days and $130.00 or so and we were back in business. I also had to do some modifications to the plumbing, installing check valves downstream of the pump. It worked well for awhile and then gave me more trouble. In the end, I had to prime the pump every time I turned it on, so I had to disconnect the automatic timer. There is more to be done before I open the pool again.

On October 19th, my older son, Paul, married Sara Anne Smith. They were married on a sunset cruise ship out of the St. Petersburg area. It was, perhaps, the nicest and most fun wedding that I’ve been to. This was an excellent event to blog, and I started to, but when I had Helen check the picture for the blog she balked at the picture of her I had chosen. That was reason enough to not blog.

Originally, we planned to leave for Mexico a day or three after the wedding, but my son wanted us to dog sit Patches, the Tempesta wonder dog. Though Patch hasn’t spent a lot of time our house he blended right in with the pack. He was such a good dog, gave us no trouble, ate well, and behaved himself. I’m a dog person and I like good dogs, which really means all of them.

It’s important to note that if we hadn’t had to dog sit, we would have been in Mexico by the 23 of October, but that’s the day I detected that I was losing blood. On October 28, my suspicions were validated by my gastroenterologist and he scheduled me for an endoscopy and more for Wednesday, November 6th. Unfortunately, I didn’t make to that date, but Had Helen drive me to the ER Sunday afternoon due to very low blood pressure and feeling faint. This is another time when I went directly from the front desk to a bed, bypassing all the other people in the ER waiting room. In just a few minutes they took my blood pressure and started my saline solution IV.

Monday my GE doctor came in and arranged for an endoscopy in the afternoon. He saw nothing. In the meantime, I was getting saline solution around the clock. With my hemoglobin level plummeting, I was given a blood transfusion on Wednesday. They did some kind of red blood scan using radioactive blood to see where the leak was, but without a positive finding. On Thursday I was transferred to Shands Hospital in Gainesville for as different kind of high tech endoscopy Friday afternoon and the results there were the same, they found nothing. On Saturday morning the team of doctors and students came to tell me that they found nothing and my hemoglobin was steady and they wanted to send me home. I really wanted to go home, too!

On Wednesday the 13th, I was back in the hospital for same-day surgery where they checked out the rest of my digestive system, culminating with the capsule camera that I swallowed, but by now the symptoms of blood loss had stopped. The camera takes two pictures a second as it passes through and sends a signal to a receiver worn around my waist. Thursday morning I brought the receiver back to the office and a women there wanted to turn me loose with a follow-up appointment in three weeks. I was flabbergasted!! I told here that I would be back in the hospital or dead before the appointment, so no appointment was made. Thursday afternoon I saw my oncologist/hematologist and he was startled to see my blood work up. He had to check with the lab to make sure it was correct. It was, my hemoglobin was down to the “needs a transfusion” level. He sent me directly to the hospital lab to have my blood crosschecked and Friday I got another two pints of blood. With a full tank I felt great.

Earlier this week I had another blood test and the levels were up dramatically. I asked Dr. Acevedo when I could leave for Mexico, since the blood loss was over and my levels were rising. He told me that I could leave as soon as I wanted, but he would rather that I come back in another week just for the blood test. If everything is still trending up, we’re good to go.


This is my chart and you can see the sudden drop. You can also see the rebound that is my ticket to going to Mexico.


That would bring us up to the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. It would be a shame to pass up the holiday with the family for only a couple of days, so we’re having some family and friends over for dinner. Our journey south of the border will start Sunday.



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Citrus County Wildlife


Helen has been walking around the block with a neighbor up the street. It’s not everyday, but several times a week. Helen has seen a few animals and has been taking a camera along to get a picture or two.

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Here’s Helen, all ready to get going before it gets too hot.

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And here is Darlene ready to set off into the wilds of our neighborhood.

We’ll start with a picture taken right here in our yard.

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This spider is one of many that live on our property. I suppose that they do a good job of catching bugs with their massive webs. I have seen lizards caught in the web because the webs are so strong. The spiders a a bit smaller than a woman’s hand, so we’re not talking about a little spider. They are all over our yard and are a real pain in the neck when you encounter the web as you pass through the woods. I have seen one web that extends to the power lines running above the street. If a web gets destroyed, you will find it rebuilt the next day. It is awesome how they can string a web across large areas of the yard.


Heading down the street and taking a right turn on Avon, there is a Gopher Tortoise residing off the north side of the road. They are BIG animals and their dens provide havens for all kinds of animals. In the winter, snakes will bunk with the tortoise to keep warm. This guy has been living here for quite a number of years.

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This tortoise is a drab plain looking animal, but fascinating none the less. They can reach a length of 16 inches, weigh 30 pounds, and live 75 to 78 years. Their “den” can extend 3 feet down and go horizontal for almost 50 feet. The can often be seen crossing the street and someone will frequently stop and help them across. This is a good thing because they are an endangered species and many do not make it across the street.


Next, Helen and Darlene found a dog and his friend.

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As you can see, the dog seems to be doing OK. His friend, not so much.

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This is a dead armadillo, a very common sight along the roads of Florida and a main food source for buzzards and vultures. When you see a big party of vultures at the side of the road, you can assume that an armadillo is the entrée. When I first started at Florida Power in 1985, two of my co-workers argued over who was going to take the road kill armadillo home for supper. Of course they claimed it tasted just like chicken, but it had been killed sometime in the night and they wouldn’t actually get it until after 4:00 in the afternoon. UGH!!


Next are some animals that I am not aware of and I don’t know where they live in our area.

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I know that the girls don’t walk very far, so they have to be close. It pleases me greatly to see that they all appear to be well cared for and well fed. That’s often a problem in these parts where the old timers in the area feel that animals are completely capable of caring for themselves.


Now, this morning I went to my physical therapy session to work on a problem with my hip. When I got home, Helen had the pictures of our most recent visitor.

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We remember the saying “red and yellow-kill a fellow…red and black is good for Jack”. Therefore this intruder on our patio was, indeed, an Eastern Coral Snake, related to the Cobra and the Mamba. Their venom is among the most toxic in the world, but the Coral Snake is actually very docile.

When Donna and Sam were here in May, we found the first Coral Snake we had seen in 32 years here. It was flatter than a pancake lying out on the street.

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This was a full grown Coral Snake and was on the large side at that. Helen went out with a broom to shoo him (or her) out  of our screened enclosure. It found another, faster route out and Helen could see where it had made it’s entrance. Has Helen gotten brave, or what? Again, I missed all the fun! Years ago I was working the night shift when Helen had to deal with a large Opossum in the pool. I’m just lucky I guess.



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The End is in Sight


Many of you know that I’ve been working on re-tiling a portion of our home. I started about July 26th and I’m almost done. Actually, I have finished all the rooms and halls and only have to finish three closets. To say it has been a grueling experience is putting it mildly. Fingernails are all gone and finger tips are sore. Darn tiles have very sharp edges.

At one point I became so disgusted with  the work that I called a professional to get an estimate on finishing the job. After the call, the job started to go more smoothly and I called him back to cancel. I would put down a batch of tiles one day, and then after looking at them the next morning I would end up taking a few back up to reposition them. I feel regal because it was a royal pain! 

Anyway, with only the closets left (after I get two more boxes of tile) here are the pictures.



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Kitchen, looking from the front hall toward the dining room.

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Family room, looking from the front hall to the back hall.



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Family room.

As I finish some stages of the project, I am throwing the old trowels and such in the trash. I will think LONG and HARD before I will take on another tile job.

Now, it’s time to get the motorhome, Jeep, and all other equipment set up for the trip to Mexico. Yea!!!


Friday, August 23, 2013

Another Mission for LRROF


I got a call last night about helping to move five Lab puppies from Georgia to New Port Richey, Florida. I met our Georgia contact, Cindy, at the usual spot near Alachua, close to Gainesville and we transferred the little rascals from the crate in her car to the crate in mine. I tried to get some pictures, but they were so active it was almost impossible.

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This guy was the only yellow one in the litter. All his brothers are black. Although they have been through a lot, they were all very active and appreciated any attention. Little tails were wagging wildly from the time I picked them up.

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This, of course is one of the blacks. They were all males because the breeder in Georgia only keeps the females from a litter. The males are sent to a shelter or worse.

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I had little trouble with them on the trip south except for one who became a yelper from time to time. Also, about half way during the two hour trip someone did a mess in the corner of the cage and it became quite smelly in the car. There was no getting away from it so I breathed through my mouth the rest of the way.


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When the dogs were picked up from some shelter a few days ago they were literally covered with fleas. You can see the white spots in the coat on this pup, but all the pups were full of scabby patches caused by all the fleas. The vet they were taken to had to give them each two flea treatments to stop the problem. I understand that the problem was so bad that the skin around their eyes was all swollen. I would hope that there is a place in Hell for someone who would allow this to happen.

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When I got to New Port Richey, Lewis had our hands full giving all five pups a bath and placing them in a clean cage. Then we washed down my crate. The towels I had inside the crate ended up in Lewis’s trash. This guy seemed to have the most personality and he was the first chosen by foster parents. His life is about to improve immensely.

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That’s Lewis on the right. The other couple are fostering two of the pups. They already have three Labs of their own, but still step in to help with the influx of more dogs. I meet some of the greatest people working with LRROF, Labrador Retriever Rescue Of Florida

With my crate all clean and placed in my Jeep, I headed home before the other people came to pick up the other three pups. It was 95 degrees out, but I drove with the windows open for about an hour. All in all, from my house in the morning to my return in the afternoon, I drove 250 miles. This has been a very busy season for Lab rescue. Most of the time there are happy endings. I brought in two dogs last week and one was adopted within two days and someone was there to look at the other one today. This is volunteering that really makes me feel good. Gotta give my three and extra cookie and an extra hug tonight.



Wednesday, August 14, 2013



According to Greek legend, Sisyphus was a man on the bad side of the Gods. His punishment was to roll a large boulder up a hill, but it would always roll back down so he had to do it over and over and………..

I’m not quite like Sisyphus, but some days there are similarities. A few days ago I finally reached the stage of my re-tile job where I actually started to lay tile. In preparation, I laid down a line that would keep the tiles straight as I went along. At least it was supposed to.

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This is how far I got on the first day. Well, that’s not completely true. This is how far I got before I realized that my alignment on the last section, (the one in the lower left of the picture), was 1/2 inch off the line with no easy way to keep going and make it all come out right in the end. Hence, I removed the tiles and took them outside to wash off the thinset (cement). Then I scraped up as much from the floor as I could and washed it clean.


Starting on my second day, I was very careful about following the line and once I got going it was going well.  I was working in the hall and there was no room to deviate. I continued up the hall and into the family room, being certain to keep the first tile aligned properly. As I entered the family room I started laying tile along the wall away from the hall. I thought I was  doing well. It looked OK to me at the time.


It didn’t look right this morning and I was dismayed to find that the further I got from the main line, the further I deviated from the proper direction and in the morning light it looked terrible. I couldn’t believe that I thought it looked so good the night before. So, like Sisyphus, I had  to attack the boulder again. The tile had not completely set, so I was able to get them up with out breaking any and they were all reusable. I got out my Bosch concrete grinder and removed the adhesive.


Next, before any foolishness, I struck four more chalk lines, parallel to the first and at the proper distance to lay more tile exactly. After that, it went well and I THINK that I have the situation under control.

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I don’t recall ever having a job this demanding.

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I had an audience, but they were not a lot of help. Just a trio of construction site gawkers.