After leaving the Space Coast, Our intention was to criss-cross Florida to visit a variety of friends and former-clients…
This STARTED well…We moved to Kississississime [sic] as a central spot where we could see former work colleagues Blair and Fidel Davidson AND…
fellow travel-ers and Dance Club Friends Jack and Carole Harriff. Both were staying in Vacation Club/TImeShare places near Disney, and both invited us to enjoy their respective Pools for an afternoon of catching up.
Which we did, and enjoyed immensely. The former also included dinner on the BBQ, which was fantastic.
Next, we moved to Lake Wales, where friends Nancy and Bob Weaver live. We spent several weeks there about 18 months ago – doing some work on RV WHERE YET. We decided to stop JUST for the camaraderie – no bus repairs anticipated or required. Again, this included a BBQ meal on their spectacular veranda, and more fantastic conversation.
Also, while in Lake Wales, we visited SPECTACULAR nearby Bok Tower and Gardens and William Buck House.
This included climbing the highest mountain in Florida … Iron Mountain. I bet you didn’t know there was a mountain in Florida!!!
Fortunately, Liz had no further altitude-induced Cardiac events. Though it would have been surprising if she did – Iron Mountain’s elevation is a massive 268 feet!
Next stop was Bradenton, with the intention of seeing former work colleague Bruce Lane AND a Spring-training Baseball game. Our RV spot was a fairly modest trailer part in Palmetto, directly across the river from Bradenton and all the Spring training stadia, Breweries, restaurants, etc. We had been warned that Palmetto was “not too nice,” but we thought it was totally fine. Maybe WE are not too nice, and hence fit right in? As an added bonus, it was an EASY bike ride across the bridge to Bradenton, and we did that almost every day.
But, the Pandemic began to close in on us…the Baseball Game we were planning to attend was cancelled. We had ridden across to the stadium the day before…there WAS a game happening then and we thought maybe we’d go in, but decided on a brewery instead.
That turned out to be the LAST Baseball game of the spring, and potentially the year. Reinforcing the concept of NEVER put off ‘til tomorrow what you can do today…”
We did still manage to see Bruce at a Brewery – sat out in the beer garden, with virtually no one else in the place. Eerie, actually.
From there, we “hopped” (a beer Freudian Slip?!?) across to the Fort Lauderdale area with the plan to see friends Heshy and Steve Altbaum and several sets of former clients and work colleagues (Larry and Perrie Kominsky and Karl and Lucy Otzen and The Philbricks), but not really knowing what might be possible.
The Broward County Park we had booked was still open for Camping and REALLY very nice. But rumours that it would close, leaving us without a spot to park, were concerning. We DID manage to see the Altbaums – at a deserted restaurant’s outdoor seating – the day before they were leaving by car (no flights available) to return to Toronto.
As the world continued to come off the rails, we contacted both Larry and Karl, as well as Martha Philbrick, and mutually determined that getting together was simply not appropriate. We determined to wait until “next time.”
Also a casualty: We were planning to volunteer at the Tampa Bay Blues Festival. We were promised “Any job BUT cleaning the porto-pots,” with a good chance of serving beer. The idea of staying hydrated and helping others do so sounded very rewarding and we were quite looking forward to the event.
Even better, Sydney and Vic Willis live in Tampa, so some BBQ and Adult beverages had been planned.
But all of that now cancelled. 🙁
I called the RV Park we were planning next (in Naples, Fl) to be sure THEY would be open – we needed to go SOMEWHERE, because Broward was intending to close the County Park at some point. The Naples park was indeed going to be open, and this was near a cousin, though we’d probably NOT see him under the circumstances.
So we moved to Naples, and watched the world continue to shrivel in on itself.
And this presented us with a significant dilemma…
On one hand…
Our park in Naples was an EXCELLENT spot for us to be. Social Distance in comfort there…the park was EMPTY after all the Canadian and other snowbirds had headed home AND we had a GREAT spot on the end of a row, next to the laundry and away from everyone remaining in the park.
There were several grocery options nearby (all offering delivery services). Amazon delivers, cell phones work, internet service not bad, and satellite TV perfect (if it CAN be perfect without BASEBALL or HOCKEY ;-( ).
So, As long as we could stay (and the park ASSURED us they were not planning to kick out anyone already there, though they might not accept NEW tenants), we could be quite safe.
Not only that, the monthly rate in Florida Summer is VERY CHEAP! I guess no one wants to be in Florida in the summer – and it has been HOT and MASSIVELY HUMID already, so I can see why.
On the other hand…
Our health insurance does not “work” in Florida. We are OUT OF NETWORK, and any costs we incur except EMERGENCY ones (VERY narrowly defined) would be paid for out of pocket. Notwithstanding vague assurances from politicians about hoping to legislate coverage (we would be STUPID to rely on any politician for anything these days), our dilemma was and is:
(which is medically prudent)…
or head back to (or at least near) Chicago
which would be financially prudent and medically STUPID…
That we, paying MUCH for insurance, would be forced to weigh medical vs. financial prudence in the USA is the HEIGHT of absurdity. But that is where we were and are.
I tried to seek clarification from Blue Cross on their COVID policies. The MOST I could get, after escalation to the management team and hours on hold was this:
“The CDC’s guidelines would be helpful to you if you appealed a denial of coverage.”
They were not even willing to put THAT in writing.
After all, WE LIVE IN A BUS – let ‘em try to find us to pay any outrageous, out-of-network charges!
I did check some places on the way back to Chicago, and within a couple hours of there, for us to hunker down closer to our health insurance network. We found some spots that were open along the way, in Quincy, Illinois, Cairo, Illinois, near St. Louis and as a backup plan, Cindy and Steve Florer said we could stay on their property near Des Moines with hookups.
In the end, we could NOT make a case for leaving medical safety for other places with NO certainty. So, Liz and I decided to be SAFE and stay.
After we made that decision, we booked in Naples for the month of April. We are pretty sure we will also book for the month of May, though we MIGHT NOT stay for the whole month – the breakeven for us (Monthly Rate vs, Daily rate) is about TEN DAYS ONLY (the monthly rate is SOOOO cheap). In any case, the Spot costs us a LOT less than the diesel to leave it, even at today’s prices!
TO stay safe and socially distant, we have been using grocery delivery services – both from Walmart and from Publix. Both are effectively TERRIBLE, with all sorts of problems starting with AWFUL, clunky apps to unreliable schedules, cancelled orders, etc. I am SURE, though, that as these services start to figure things out, and service levels improve, these may be viable and convenient for MANY PEOPLE even after THE PANDEMIC!
Will grocery stores become warehouses with professional shoppers filling online orders and walking them out to the parking lot for professional drivers to deliver? MAYBE!!
We have also been VERY fortunate that the RV Park has a regular “Farmer’s Market” every Tuesday. This is a fancy name for a Mexican Couple and their truck, but I will say they have an EXCELLENT selection of really nice produce at quite reasonable prices, so we don’t need to try to get fresh veggies and fruit from the awful online grocery apps.
For “entertainment,” I donated Blood at the nearby hospital one day — and had to laugh at the-shirt I scored for doing so:
“Saving Lives Makes me a HAPPY CAMPER.”
Full disclosure, I was already a happy camper, but now I have a shirt to prove it!!
So, here we sit! I have a whole list of minor bus projects I have been hoping to get to, and Amazon delivers! Everything from flooring, to electrical work — even BBQ improvements.
I get a box or several almost every day – spray it with bleach and leave in the sun for awhile, then tackle the projects.
Liz has been knitting up a storm, though she has discovered that knitting an afghan, which sits on her lap as she adds rows, is kinda overly-warm in Florida in summer!
Liz even manufactured Masks for us, though we rarely leave the site.
I am also expanding my knowledge of the way the universe works!
For example, in the “old” world, if you need a replacement screw or bolt, you would go to Home Depot and stand in front of the fasteners, handling dozens until you find (and buy) the right ONE. That would DRIVE LIZ CRAZY, and of course is a public health No-No these days…
So, I order bags of fasteners from Amazon. That is a learning experience, but not THE learning experience… I learned to challenge my Core, even religious assumptions in the process.
I ASSUMED that Screws, like wire, get LARGER the SMALLER the Size number. For example, 12 gauge wire is thicker than 16 gauge wire. So naturally, a #4 screw would be larger than a #8. This assumption is WRONG – why would I assume that wire and screw sizes work the same way? Silly me!!! And I now have several bags of small (and wrong) size stainless steel screws!
Even in a Pandemic, you can learn stuff!!!
Did I mention that it was HOT here? I have also learned why no one in their right mind would EVER voluntarily go to Florida in the Summer. It was 95F and 105% humidity…THIS MORNING at 10:00 AM!!
And, saving us from Boredom has been an almost daily “Virtual Cocktail Hour” with one group of friends or another. To be clear, the COCKTAILS are not virtual, but the camaraderie is!
We’ve used several online tools for this, Microsoft TEAMs, Zoom, Facetime and Whatsapp. Of them, ZOOM is the clear winner. It runs on almost every platform (Windows, Mac, iOs, Android). It is also pretty easy to use – I have told more than one friend that they “should” be able to figure it out in time for cocktails – after all, Zoom is used BY KINDERGARTNERS!
It is totally amazing how this company has scaled up their offering from niche to EVERYONE in a matter of weeks! They just went public, and I would say they earned and timed their payday! Also, in our experience, the others (especially MSoft Teams) have been creaking under the load, though that could have something to do with overall internet bandwidth (Zoom seems less affected, though).
Speaking of Bandwidth…This may be another change (along with better grocery apps) that will come out of the pandemic experience; something I have been saying for years, but of course, who listens to me?
HIGH PERFORMANCE Bandwidth is NOT a luxury, but a basic right and requirement for all citizens.
No different than Roads, Water and Electricity. I hope people and politicians do not forget about this as soon as the pandemic eases and we can all go back to work/school, etc. It is going to cost money and require persistence to make this happen – but the good news (?) is our politicians have voted to spend TRILLIONS (that we cannot afford but need to anyway) on infrastructure…
And, on that note, Amazon just arrived simultaneous with a Walmart delivery (the latter was a redelivery, now 4 hours late of a previously-cancelled-with-no-explanation order).
Gotta run!!! (but, of course, nowhere to go!)
We, hope to see you online…
Let us know what day works for you in your massively busy Socially-distant schedule for virtual camaraderie and actual cocktails!! The new question for the age, to replace “Your PLACE or Ours…:”
Our Zoom or Yours?