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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Won’t Be Long Until the Wheels Are Rolling

Location: Avon Park, FL (High 83, Low 68)

It’s been a fast couple of weeks since my last blog post. Since then we’ve been just livin’ the life and enjoying ourselves. We have also had the opportunity to have a couple fun visits with family.

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My mother and stepfather came down to Florida for a few days to visit friends. So Harry and I took a drive over for a quick visit. It was a nice easy drive down to the Punta Gorda area. We really liked the area. Harry and I are talking about planning a longer visit there in a year or two so we can look around at prospective “home base” spots for the future.

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We also had the opportunity to set up a get together with my aunt, uncle and cousin. They moved down to Florida from the small upstate NY town where I grew up several years ago, but it has been even more years than that since I last saw them.

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My cousin Howard and I are only six months apart in age and practically grew up together, being in the same class in a small town school. So it was great to have a chance to catch up and we are looking forward to getting together again next winter.

 

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We’ve also spent some time hanging out with our neighbors Dee and Jim. We’ve had perfect weather for relaxing outside and watching our newly installed basement tv.

 

And our running is going great also! We have run 91 miles so far this month and still have a few more runs to go in the next few days so we will easily make it to a hundred mile month.

11033110_10206748991070153_430874185_oSo it’s been a really fun two months here in Avon Park. We are almost finished with our time here, but we are happy with our decision to return here next winter after Amazon for a longer stay. Our plan is to do Florida again next winter before we head west for the winter after that. (We originally planned to do Florida every other year but a planned family cruise for next April caused us to modify our schedule a bit.)

We’ll be starting to get things packed up around here over the next few days. Next Wednesday is moving day. We will be going up to Jacksonville for a week’s stay before we start heading north again.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Great Race and Heading Back to Amazon

Location: Avon Park, FL (High 88, Low 65)

(Thanks to Dee (Tumbleweed) for taking all of the photos in today’s blog.)

IMG_3184A few weeks ago, our next door neighbor Dee sent us a flyer about a 3.74 mile race around the Sebring International Raceway. It sounded like a great race to add to our list for the year, so we signed up, along with Dee’s husband Jim. Dee came along to be our official cheerleader and photographer.

IMG_3181It was nice to be relatively close to the race location, so we were able to leave a little after 6. Much better than the 4:45 am start to travel to the Key West half a couple months ago. When we arrived at the track it was still dark, and we were able to watch the sunrise.

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Here are the three of us waiting for the start of the race!

 

Being a “shorter” race, I felt like I could push myself beyond the pace I usually go for in a running event. I felt good as I kept my eye on my watch to see that I was maintaining a high ten and low eleven minute mile.

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Dee got some great shots of us coming in. Here comes Harry! (31:40)

 

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And here I come! (39:44) I pushed really hard at the end to come in under 40 minutes and was so excited that I made it.

 

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Like I said, I felt really good about my pace throughout the race. Even so, it was a complete shock to me to look at the list of finalists to see that I had finished 3rd in my age group! Also, Harry just missed placing in his age group with a 4th place finish! Jim also had a great day as he beat his personal goal. Now we all have numbers to beat next year.

 

Amazon update: This morning we received our emails with our offer of employment for the 2015 peak season. They have changed the process a bit this year as they are not interviewing returners. So that made the hiring process a bit easier. We are now signed up for our third peak season. We expect to start the first week of September this year. But I hope it doesn’t come too fast!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Where to Start?

Location: Avon Park, FL (High 81, Low 57)

We’ve been here now at Adelaide Shores for almost five weeks and are enjoying ourselves immensely. I keep thinking that I need to do a blog entry and then the day goes along and bam! it’s gone.

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Most of our days are jam packed but with normal kinds of activities.

 

IMG_20150303_135229076Yesterday we had our last tennis lesson, as the resident who has been doing the instruction will be leaving to start heading north. (Not too far north yet, just to northern FL and then southern GA for the next few weeks)

After we got done at Amazon in December, we really tried to cut back on going out to eat all the time. We figured it was better for both our budget and our waistlines! 11045745_10206591637376409_107083440_oOn a good month, we will eat out about a half a dozen times. Both in January and February, we were able to stick to this goal. I think this month might be a little more challenging – it’s only the end of the first week and we’ve already almost reached that number. 996116_10206327465333382_3594789839494423472_nLast Monday we went for a ride with Jim and Dee to one of their favorite places…Parksdale Farm Market.  Yum. Strawberry shortcake.

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Also on Monday Mike and Terri arrived for a short visit on their way to their next gig. And of course that was a good excuse to do a lot of chatting and a lot of eating!

 

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Tuesday at a local eatery…Hotel Jacaranda in Avon Park.

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and Wednesday night at another spot for some Mexican..Don Jose in Sebring.

 

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Also, on Wednesday Mike, Terri, Harry and I went over to the state park again to check out the trails. And of course hopefully see some more gators. 

 

We had some great luck!

 

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Saw a baby on our first trail…

 

 

 

and a much larger alligator on our second…

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In between all of those fun outings, we’ve also been keeping up our running! We finished February with a nice total of 92 miles, and so far this month we’re off to a good start with five days of running for a total of 21 miles.

IMAG0161Harry has also been continuing his work on a few projects around here that have been on his to do list for a while. This week’s was a reworking of the plumbing connections in the docking center.

He now has it set up so one hose can be utilized to make all water connections in the docking center. He installed the valves so he can easily turn the water off to the trailer and also turn the water on and off to the black flush system.

And, last but not least, we are officially Florida residents. Just a couple days after my last blog post, we got a phone call from DMV letting us know that our truck title had come in. So we went right over and quickly took care of our last registration. All done!

It’s been a great winter so far and we still have about a month left in Florida before we start our trek north for the summer.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Walkabout At the Park

Location: Avon Park, FL (High 82, Low 62)

1505596_10153136892344766_2595715328348643849_nOne of the places in the area that I’ve been looking forward to seeing is Highlands Hammock State Park. We’ve been waiting for a nice warm day so we might have a chance of seeing some wildlife, especially alligators!

 

1469824_10153136893024766_8714977277026449022_nYesterday finally seemed like a good day to go check it out. I packed a lunch and after a leisurely start to the morning, we drove the short distance over to the park. (We are about 15 minutes away.)

 

10917816_10153136896194766_4531772480667546549_nOnce you drive into the park, there is a main road loop with a number of trails coming off the road. Most of the trails are short loops. There are a couple that are more straight paths and connect up with each other. We only did three of the trails yesterday.

11001146_10206540383575096_1589896639_oThere were many people biking along the mail road. Next to each trailhead there is a bike rack where you can park your bike and walk the trail. I think that is the best way to get to all the trails and we are going to go back another day and do that.

We saw a number of birds and enjoyed each trail. But our main agenda and hope was to finally see an alligator. We wanted to see an alligator last year also when we went 10462960_10153136897544766_3834843293268846224_non that swamp boat ride in Louisiana, but it was too cold. We were on our third trail and starting to think we would have to try again another day when we looked across the water to see….

Finally!! It was very cool.

11015664_10206540853106834_387795926_oBy that time it was almost 1 and we were getting hungry so we went over to the picnic area, which we almost had to ourselves. At least at the beginning.

 

We were just finishing up our lunch and thinking about trying one more trail when two vanloads of teens arrived. They were doing the typical teen thing, having a good time and very loudly, and headed down the very trail we were planning to take. So we gave up on the idea of seeing any more wildlife and decided to leave the rest for another day. Next time we’ll bring our bikes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Enjoying Life in Avon Park

Location: Avon Park, FL (High 74, Low 48)

I just looked at the blog and was surprised to see that it was a week yesterday since my last post. We are really having a good time here and the days are flying by!

This place has a lot going on, and it is really the first time that we have gotten even a little involved in the social aspects of a park that we are staying in. Playing cards with family at Christmas was good practice, as we have joined a card group that plays a couple nights a week. Now that the learning curve is over and we kind of know what we are doing, we are having a good time.

We have also been going to tennis instruction twice a week. It has been many years since either of us played tennis, but now, armed with our newly purchased tennis racquets, we are going over to the courts a few times a week to do a little volleying. The tennis instructor also lives here at the resort, and the hour and a half instruction is at no cost. Can’t beat that!

We are still waiting for the phone call from Florida DMV that our truck title has arrived. We will be glad to get that last piece taken care of and those FL plates installed on the truck. We figured three weeks so I am guessing by the end of this week or beginning of next we should be hearing from them.

And…believe it or not…it is already time to apply for the 2015 peak season at Amazon! The application link went live yesterday so we both went online and applied for our third season. The locations have changed from last year and there are now four possible places to work…Campbellsville, KY – Jeffersonville, IN – Murfreesboro, TN – and for the first time Haslet, TX. From the posts on the Camperforce page on Facebook,  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Texas location fills up quickly. But we will be going back to Campbellsville. Our experience in Jeffersonville showed us that the facilities are definitely not all the same, and we like it in Campbellsville, so we’re going to stick with what we know. If anyone out there is looking to apply or get more information about the locations, the website is www.amazon.com/camperforce.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Another Mod and A Recipe

Location: Avon Park, FL (High 77, Low 56)

Here is the recipe for the meal that I made yesterday…

Southwestern Chicken with Spinach and Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes
  • 8 cup spinach leaves
  • 1 pounds potatoes pealed, quartered
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoon scallions thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

(I included the recipe and instructions here as given, but I did not use any salt when cooking it.)

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Combine brown sugar, salt, and spices for chicken. Coat on both sides with rub. (I pounded the chicken first to flatten it out a bit.)

 

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Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 15 min. Drain and return pan to dry over medium heat.

 

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Off heat, mash to desired consistency, then add the buttermilk, scallions, butter, and salt. Keep warm over very low heat.

 

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Heat 1 T. oil in a skillet, add chicken and cook until done, about 5 min per side. Remove and keep warm.

 

 

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Heat 1 T. oil in a skillet, add tomatoes and saute 1 min. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Combine sour cream, lime juice and salt. (I used just plain sour cream.)

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To assemble, place potatoes on plate, top with sour cream, put spinach and tomatoes on potatoes and top with chicken.

 

This recipe was really good, and we will definitely be having it again.

Now, for the modification. We have been pretty unhappy with the faucet in our bathroom. A few weeks ago, one of the handles even broke off. So today was faucet replacement day.

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Harry trying to fit himself into the teeny space under the sink…

 

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The old piece of #$@% faucet…

 

 

 

IMG_3380Because nothing can ever be simple, especially “easy” jobs…the angle of the red pipe did not allow Harry to connect the fitting to the new faucet.

 

 

So Harry had to pull out his trusty box of plumbing supplies…

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Took a little extra doing, but finally it was all put together!

 

 

 

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The finished product looks awesome!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Lots Going On!!

Location: Avon Park, FL (High 81, Low 49)

It’s only been a couple days since my last blog, but we’ve been BUSY. On Friday, we finished what is probably our most exciting modification to date on our fifth wheel.

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It took a little prep work on Harry’s part on Thursday afternoon as he had to climb into the basement and reroute the wiring that originally went from the satellite to the bedroom, down to the basement.

 

10951985_10206408660682106_1428991481_oOn Friday we took a ride over to Davenport, which is where the nearest Best Buy is located, to pick up our new tv – a Sharp 42” LED television.

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We love it!!

 

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Yesterday Harry took advantage of the gorgeous weather to wash the fiver from top to bottom.

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Harry was very happy to be able to wash off whatever remnants of salty air might have been left on the rig from our month in the keys.

Today we celebrated an exciting milestone – Harry’s birthday! We started it out with a great ten mile run. Ten miles is just about the distance that I was able to run a few weeks ago in Key West and I think my legs held up a little better today.

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After that start, relaxing was in order for the rest of the day.

 

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I tried out another one of my new recipes for Harry’s birthday meal…Southwestern Chicken with Spinach and Mashed Potatoes.

(I was going to include the recipe in this blog post, but I think it’s getting to be long enough, so I will feature the recipe in another blog post tomorrow.)

 

After dinner, we decided to head over to the tennis courts so we could get in another half hour of practice. Phew! I think we will sleep well tonight.