Our Viva!

Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area • Flagler Beach, FL • FEB 22 -23, 2015

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We have a vinyl map of the United States on the back of the Viva, and before heading out on this trip we finally added all of the states the Viva has traveled. Previously, we just had added only Florida—not good when your personalized license plate is “TRAVELS.” We needed to show that we have ventured beyond our home state! But now we’re current, and we have visited a total of 12 states.

Site 13 this time at Gamble Rogers Memorial SRA. Both good and bad. Good: level, very wide site, and, although a lot of vegetation, some good ocean view. Bad: the best view was on the left side of the site, but we had to park to the far right due to the location of the hookups. The bottom step out of the Viva led us almost into the vegetation along the right edge of the lot. Solution if we ever have this site again: extension cord for the electric hookup, and a longer water hose.

When we checked in, the ranger asked if we brought binoculars. Normally we have binoculars onboard, but we used them on the boat recently and didn’t take them along this time. The ranger said that Right Whales, among the most critically endangered of all whale species, are migrating just offshore, and that we might be able to see them. We kept looking, but didn’t see any. There were a number of people watching for them along the beach. Not sure if anyone else had better luck.

We took turns walking the beach (one walked while the other stayed with the dogs), and we both found several interesting shells.

In late afternoon we took the dogs for a walk heading north on A1A, toward downtown Flagler Beach. Walked about two miles total.

The first night was warm with calm winds—perfect for a campfire. We forgot to bring along vegan hot dogs, so we just sat and looked at the stars in the clear sky.

Enjoyed a long walk on Monday morning. This time we went south on A1A, and turned around at the Flagler/Volusia county line sign.

It was a gorgeous day—warm, with bright sunshine and low winds. We again took separate walks on the beach. At some point we will be comfortable leaving the dogs in the Viva—it seems like everyone else leaves their dogs alone with no problem—but we’re not at that point yet. Not sure why—they have AC, food, water, a comfortable place to sleep, TV or radio, etc., they’re securely locked inside but there are people all around them if there’s a problem. But still, we’re not ready yet! So separate walks it was. We each saw a crab, and we each found interesting shells.

We took the dogs for a long walk in the late afternoon, north this time. We then had a quiet evening in the Viva. Rick continued to work on his novel, and Linda read. The dogs were tired and conked out early. We left the screen door open and listened to the surf until it was time for bed.

With gray, overcast skies and a chance of rain, we broke camp early the next morning and headed home. But as always, a great time at Gamble Rogers!

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Fisherman's Cove at Lake Harris • Tavares, FL • FEB 19, 2015

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Not a typical trip for us. And by “us,” it’s not the usual “us”--Rick, Linda, Tybee and Zoe. This time the “us” was just Rick and Zoe (in the photos, Tybee was just visiting).

Frigid (for Florida) temperatures were forecast for overnight, and we were worried that the Viva’s water lines and holding tanks could freeze. We’re not able to park the Viva in front of our house and plug in, so our only recourse was to go camping where we could connect to electric and turn on the heat. Rick and Zoe headed to Fisherman’s Cove, while Linda and Tybee stayed behind to keep watch over all of the plants we had to move inside for several days.

After backing in and leveling, Rick found that he couldn’t plug into the electric service box because it had a plastic zip tie around it. The camper on the next lot came out and said that the panel box had broken off the post, so someone added the zip tie to keep it anchored in place--but it also closed off the access door. He offered to cut the zip tie while Rick went in the Viva to get bungee cords. He cut, and Rick wrapped the cords around the box to keep it attached to the pole. Not a great solution, but it worked as Rick was able to plug in. We always use a surge protector, and it was especially reassuring to use it this time.

The next issue was the water supply. The faucet had a splitter that made two faucets. After hooking up to one side, Rick turned on the water and the other side started leaking due to a faulty shut-off valve. Simple solution--turn off the water, disconnect the hose, remove the splitter, attach hose to the main (single) faucet. Water on, no leaks, we’re in business!

Linda came out later with Tybee and brought dinner for all. After they left for home, Rick spent the evening working on his novel while Zoe watched two movies on her iPad. Seriously. She watched two movies on her iPad.

The gas furnace kept the Viva comfortable as the outside temperature steadily dropped overnight. Rick turned on the holding tank heaters early, and several times he ran both hot and cold water for added insurance against freezing. The overnight low was supposed to be 26 degrees. Around 4 or 5 in the morning, when Rick checked weather.com, the temperature for Tavares was 30 with a “feels like” temperature of 24. Cold enough!

Rick took Zoe for a walk at daylight. Linda and Tybee then arrived with breakfast--what service! The temperature started climbing, and it was safe to disconnect and head home.

Although this camping trip was for the Viva more than for us, Rick and Zoe still had a good time.

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Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area • Flagler Beach, FL • FEB 9 -10, 2015

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The annual Mount Dora Arts Festival (the best arts festival in this part of the country) ended at 5 o’clock Sunday. Two quick asides—first, our friend, the incredibly talented Lauren Graham Cunningham, created the art that was featured on all of this year’s posters, t-shirts, advertising, site markers, etc. Check out Lauren’s art at
www.laurencunningham.com; and second, we met Florida (and New York Times Bestselling) author Tim Dorsey downtown at Barrel of Books & Games. He signed his latest book for us, “Shark Skin Suite.” Linda volunteered both days at the Arts Festival, plus after her shift on the second day we spent several hours walking around and enjoying the amazing art. We were tired and could have used one day off before heading out in the RV. However, we had reservations for Monday and Tuesday at our favorite park, Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area, so we loaded the Viva and headed out just after 11:00 Monday morning.

We were lucky to have been able to reserve site 19, which has the best ocean view in all of the campground. After hooking up and letting Tybee and Zoe stretch their legs, we relaxed and watched campers arrive next to us and across the lane. One was a long travel trailer and the other a big Class A. Watching them struggle to back into their sites made us appreciate our little Viva even more—it is so easy to drive, park, level, hook up, etc.

Linda had time to take a walk on the beach before the sprinkles started. The sprinkles turned into a steady rain, which lasted most of the night.

Tuesday was cool and windy, and we spent the day inside the Viva except for a noon walk with the doggies. Rick worked on his novel and Linda enjoyed reading a novel.

We awoke Wednesday morning just before first light. There were thick clouds on the horizon, so we didn’t see the sun until it rose above the clouds. The colors were beautiful, and once the sun broke through, it was bright and intense. Rick took pictures of scores of seagulls on the beach, and the clouds gave way to blue skies. The winds were 20+ mph, and the surf was pounding.

Nothing overly exciting this trip—just another relaxing time at Gamble Rogers, overlooking the beach. And of course, we will be back!

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Anastasia State Park • St. Augustine, FL • FEB 2 - 3, 2015

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Went through some rain on the leisurely (about two and a half hours) drive to Anastasia State Park. This was our third visit to this park. Our site was 112, in the Coquina Loop, which we think is the best loop in this park. The site was level and framed by trees, with a picnic table and fire pit.

After hooking up, Rick went for a 5 mile run. He made a quick stop at the campground store to see what time they closed, and if they had any firewood for sale. They did have firewood, and they normally closed at 4:30. But the woman at the register said they were closing early, at 3:30, and it was already 3:15. Rick raced (literally) back to the Viva to get some money, then kept the same pace on the return trip to the campground store. He arrived just before they closed. He wasn’t able to run with the firewood (he’s in shape, but there are limits), so after walking back to the Viva with the firewood, he went on to finish the remainder of his 5 mile run. We then took the dogs for a long walk, back to the campground store and then on two different (and very long) walkways that led to the beach. Dogs aren’t allowed on the beach, so the end of the walkways was as close as we could get.

Our friend Judy from Ohio spent several days with us and left yesterday, so we were still a bit tired on day one of camping. So tired that Rick’s efforts to buy the firewood and carry it back to the campsite were in vain—we didn’t build a campfire the first night.

We awoke to a chill in the air—37 degrees! Our gas furnace worked fine, and the inside of the Viva was toasty.

We took the dogs on another long walk in the morning, to the campground store and on the beach overlook.

Rick spent most of the day working on the revision of his novel. Linda worked on her watercolor drawings and also did some reading.

In the afternoon, Rick took Zoe for a 3 mile run, then dropped her off and headed back out to add 2 more miles. When he finished he took Tybee for a walk around the Coquina Loop.

It was a cool evening and a perfect night for a campfire. The dogs stayed in the Viva while we sat at the picnic table and ate dinner beside the fire.

On Wednesday morning, Rick ran another 5 miles, then we took both dogs for two laps around the loop. We checked the forecast, and heavy rains would be moving in later in the day. Overnight, up to an inch of rain was expected. We had a decision to make.

While we were deliberating whether to stay one more day and be stuck in the Viva (there are worse things than that), or head home early, we followed the recruiting success of the Ohio State Buckeyes, the 2014 National Champions. Today was National Signing Day, and Urban Meyer signed a great class of recruits. We streamed Mike Weber’s announcement from Detroit, where he was choosing between OSU and that school up north. Welcome to Buckeye Nation, Mike! In the photo above, Linda is showing her Buckeye pride!

We decided to go home because we wouldn’t be able to walk the dogs in the rain, and they had been cooped up long enough. Anastasia State Park, we will see you again sometime!

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