Our time in Naples Florida is drawing to a close, as we are gradually deciding to re-engage with the world. Our “plan” at the moment is to leave our spot here on Monday 18 May, and we have a variety of stops semi-scheduled. More on that below, but first some discussion of how the past 2 months have gone!
For most of that time, the world has been locked down, and we have been as well. Does not mean it has not been a productive time. Liz has completed TWO Afghans and a pair of socks. I am a LUCKY MAN in many ways. One of them is that, given a $5.00 ball of Walmart Yarn, Liz can amuse herself for a MONTH!!! Cheap Date, for sure!
At one point, Liz got tired of her hair (I cannot even relate to this…just happy to HAVE hair). She said she was FINALLY ready for me to try my hand at hair-cuttery. We got out the clippers and scissors and liz said, “ready.”
I grabbed a handfull and cut it off. SHE SCREAMED!!!
I said, “What’s wrong, did I pull your hair?”
She said, “TOO SHORT.”
I said, “How do you know, you can’t see (not like we have a big barber-shop mirror).”
I cut another handful and she SCREAMED again. Pretty sure one of the few people left in the RV Park was ready to call the police.
When all was said and done, Liz grudgingly paid me what I think was a compliment
“Not awful. Thank you.”
In addition to taking my life in my hands by cutting Liz’s hair, have been chipping away at a to-do list of small bus projects – none high priority but all intended to make our lives better, make the bus more reliable, replace something proactively (before it fails). Etc. A few examples:
…just as if you carry an umbrella, you can virtually guarantee it will not rain!
I replaced the “failing” water pump for domestic water. This has been on its “Last Legs” since at least 2 years! I was worried about it because of a crack in the pump head since before we went to Alaska a year ago! I even carried a spare pump TO Alaska, in case it failed while there. Of course, because I had a spare, the original kept working. But lately, it has been making MUCH noise when on; of a loud, knocking variety.
So, time to swap out the pump! But of course, it’s more complicated than that.
The old pump was under the kitchen sink, and its plumbing required shortened drawers for pots, pans and other kitchen-caca. We are planning some kitchen reno later this summer, and the sink is getting replaced. So, it made sense to relocate the pump back to where the “rest” of the plumbing system is located – under my bed. THIS, of course, required significant plumbing work, and THAT required gaining substantial expertise in the use of PEX pipe technology.
All I can say is, WONDERFUL STUFF. And THANK YOU, Les Sonke, a fellow Bluebirder, who counselled me on the miracle that is PEX. Easy to work with in tight spaces. I was able to simplify the whole plumbing environment, including removing about ½ dozen corroded check valves, an electrically-operated water valve to switch between city water and tank fill, etc.
And working in tight spaces is what it is all about on RV WHERE YET. I spent 3 days contorted into weird positions, often upside down, to get a wrench on old copper pipes and fittings to remove them. Then replace and reorganize with the aforementioned PEX.
And I can see why PEX is illegal in Chicago – it is SOOOO easy to work with. As we all know, MANY building codes are designed not just to keep us all safe, but to keep old fashioned technologies in place so Union Trade-folk are required. Such as sweating copper pipe and melting lead to join cast iron pipe.
But I digress…
Other projects included adding a second cable run to allow Satellite TV AND a terrestrial Cable connection — the bus had only one external cable port since it was built BEFORE Satellite was even a “thing.” Why would we need BOTH Satellite AND Cable? Well, after our first month in Naples, TRYING to use the “enhanced” (awful) Wifi offered by the park, on a whim I called Comcast to see if we could get a Cable Modem for a month (i.e. no annual contract). The answer was “ABSOLUTELY.” For $40/mo, and $10 less if I set it up for Autopay. The same price as the Park’s pitiful Wifi.
It took awhile to get the order placed. The Comcast Order Taker said they would NOT come into my house to install a jack. I said, “We don’t have a house, we have an RV and I need a jack on the pole outside; nothing inside.”
A moment of silence, then again, “…the installer will NOT come into your house to install a jack…”
Anyway, when Mr. Comcast came to install (he was GREAT, BTW), there was no cable jack for him to plug into the bus so he put one on the pole as I wanted. I asked him to set the modem on the ground and configure it. He said, “You know you cannot leave this outside, right?” I said yes, of course, and asked him to make me a long cable that I could run into the bus through the kitchen window. Where the modem sat for 2 weeks and I resolved to add a second cable connection in case we had this opportunity in the future.
I wish I had done this before – it never occurred to me to have a Cable Modem and Comcast Account for internet since we have never been anywhere for long enuf. The Comcast Modem made a HUGE difference in the quality of our Virtual Cocktail hours for the last two weeks of our stay, so WELL WORTH IT!!!
There were MANY other Bus repairs, but I’ll not bore you with all of those. I will tell you a little about our activities here in Naples, which has started to open up just a little bit over the last couple weeks. First and foremost, as Collier County began to open beaches, we were able to avail ourselves of the ocean every day, which was AWESOME. It was about a 3 mile each way bike ride, and we would go first thing in the morning, so the beaches were basically deserted. Bathwater-temp. Light Surf. Beautiful sandy bottom.
We would probably have gone TWICE a day, if there hadn’t been REAL PROBLEMS with crowds of idiots later in the day. Groups of people TOTALLY IGNORING the social distance guidelines; setting up cheek-to-unmasked-jowl with others. As if to emphasize their idiocy, there were even large groups having BONFIRES on the beach! This is in the middle of a drought, with fire bans. There were MAJOR brushfires within 5 miles of RV WHERE YET – one in fact just down the road less than ¼ mile. Fortunately, the wind carried all of the fires away from us, but, seriously, BONFIRES ON A CROWDED BEACH.
How many common-sense recommendations can be violated all at once? No thank you, we decided once in the morning was plenty!
We also, FINALLY, chose to spend a little time with my cousin Harvey, who lives less than 5 miles from our spot. Before our departure, we decided that a day of kayaking would be safe enuf. And, indeed,
I think all of our lives going forward will be about deciding what is “Safe Enuf”
…because we cannot stay locked at home or in the bus forever!
So, we rented kayaks and spent over 6 hours on the water with Harvey; some on the Estero River, and some in the Mangrove/Bay area near Lover’s Key State Park. VERY peaceful and VERY soothing. MUCH FUN!!
(Pics are a little fuzzy because I had my phone inside a baggie)
We followed that with a Socially-Distant (more or less) BBQ at RV WHERE YET with Harvey and his wife, Chris and Dog, Zoey (a tiny poodle/Pekinese that Harvey calls “Fang”). We managed the distance part by setting chairs across a center-table with each couple together but 6’ distance from the other. And we sat on opposite ends of the picnic table for a BBQ Pork Tenderloin dinner. Again, this is how we will be “Safe Enuf” going forward.
The next day, we began to prepare to leave Naples. We are very tired of the place, nothing against Naples. WE NEED TO MOVE OUR FRONT YARD, and we need to figure out how to open up our lives a bit; safely of course! So here’s what we are doing in the next couple months:
Our first stop will be in front of Sydney Willis’s house in Tampa. We have had virtual cocktails a few times with Sydney and Vic, and we jointly decided to do this IN PERSON. Sit 6’ apart and BYOC (bring your own Cocktails). We even told Sydney we’d park down the block if they’d like to be able to deny they know us if the drinking goes badly wrong.
After Tampa, we are heading to Daphne, Alabama (near Mobile) to visit Lazzarri Truck Services, our favorite mechanics and I think friends by now. Nothing inherently wrong (that we know of) with the bus – an oil change, PM and general “lift it up in the air and make sure everything is still connected.”
After that we head to Memphis, where we will spend Memorial Day weekend on the Missippi. The RV park there is open, but with Contact-less checking. The owner said she’d email us our site info and wave to us from the window of the office as we checked ourselves in. And, while there, we will see Brian Walsh, formerly from Magnolia in Chicago and now residing in Memphis. We will carry out BBQ from one of the GREAT spots in Memphis and sit (socially distant) by the Mississippi, catching up!
After Memphis, its onwards to Shipshewanna, Indiana, where our favorite (the only?) Amish Refrigeration Guy will replace our 40-year-old Propane fridge that is barely working with a rebuilt one featuring his own-design refrigeration apparatus. The Amish know Propane Fridges – it’s what they use! Better than commercial fridges, cheaper and with a better warrranty.
After that, we are going to spend a week in Bridgman, MI, right around the corner of Lake Michigan from Chicago. A GREAT County park there, that NEVER has campsite availability, but does this year! We have lots of friends in that area, not to mention there are 18 or so breweries offering take-out growlers within 20 miles. Perfect for some socially-distant, safe-enuf camaraderie around a picnic table and/or a campfire.
After that, well, we have no idea! Back to Chicago in July for Doc Appts (postponed from early May).
Stay tuned to our blog and we’ll tell you “Whassup” as we refine “Safe Enuf!”