Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Man… We needed a vacation!!! So we took a cruise…


After nearly seven full years on the road, what did we decide we needed? A Carribean Vacation!!! We booked a cruise after finding a screaming deal offered by a discount cruise travel agency. With the ultra cheap package which included all tips, we also received a  $150 dollar onboard credit to spend on anything we wanted!. Even more amazing was a last minute swell offer to upgrade from our guaranteed inside cabin to a balcony ocean view cabin. Sweet!!!


Sunday, January 7th rolled around and we drove the approximately 2 hours from our park over to Fort Lauderdale. We secured parking at Park and Fly and were astonished when we pulled into the parking lot to see a large band of monkeys feeding on the side of the road. These “wild” monkeys reside in the wooded area adjacent to the parking lot.It sure was a cool way to start our trip.


We unloaded our bags and took the shuttle over the Holland American pier to our ship, the Holland America Eurodam. Boarding was delayed slightly but was relatively painless and before we knew it we were aboard the ship eating a nice lunch in the main dining room. The first day at sea was  pretty rough with many cruisers feeling a bit ill due to the rocking ship. I have never had an issue with sea sickness and Sharon used the prescription patches so she also suffered no ill effects.


The ship stopped at four ports; Grand Turk, Sint Martin, San Juan Puerto Rico and Half Moon Cay. We had been to San Juan and Sint Martin before but were amazed at the devastation from Hurricane Irma. We felt sad for those whose lives were disrupted by this viscous storm. However, the spirit of the people in each of the parts was strong and positive. We could definitely see progress being made one nail at a time.


We did a little snorkeling in Grand Turk seeing a few fish but at Half Moon Cay we saw some coral and many brightly colored fish. We also really enjoyed our walkabouts in the other three ports. San Juan’s Old Town appears to be well on its way to recovery even though most of the rest of the island is still suffering from the havoc created by Irma. We did our best to spread a little of our wealth around at each port to assist a little in their recovery. These ports heavily depend on tourism and it was plain to see they took extra effort to ensure the ports were ready to receive ships. At nearly every port we saw two to three other ships docked so hopefully this season will be a big boost to their economies.


It has been 7 years since we have cruised and some things have changed! There was no big sail away band or party and no more elaborate fruit or ice carvings.  However the TVs in the rooms had many more offerings of movies, news channels and ESPN.  Because of the improved TV and of course our awesome balcony, we spent a little more time in the room than we had on past cruises.  One beautiful sunny day we were fully entertained watching a Ganet bird diving into the waves for fish.  The flying fish shimmered in the sunlight while soaring out of harms way. We also enjoyed the views from the balcony at each port so it in itself was really one of the highlights of the trip!


After seven nights we returned to Fort Lauderdale Florida and disembarked without any issue. We loved our seven night hiatus from our normal RV lifestyle coming back energized to continue our repairs and modifications as planned for this long winter stay.  The trip was fun but it was nice to see our beautiful ten year old home on wheels...


NOTE: We are now in our winter home until March 1st in Bonita Springs Florida at Imperial Bonita Estates RV park and Coop.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Bringing in the New Year and Replacing a Slide Out Seal…

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We have been relaxing and simply enjoying our extended stay for the winter in Bonita Springs Florida. Morning coffee and breakfast is usually followed by a three mile walk around the park. Imperial Bonita Estates is still in a slow recovery stage as there are still about 20 older hurricane damaged park models yet to be removed. Of course watching the “crunching” of these units is part of the park entertainment. The process is pretty amazing.

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With the end of the year we enjoyed a fun New Year’s Eve bash at the park. Since we happen to be here every other year (our third time here now) we have come to know a number of people we hang out with. One particular group hosts a big end of the year bash and we always attend it. This year was no different than past years as it was a fun time with some great eats as everyone brings a dish to share.

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Although we didn’t quite make it to midnight we still had a blast. The New Year brought some much cooler weather down to southern Florida so many of us had to break out our blue jeans and jackets. This unseasonably cooler weather is making Sharon and I really look forward to our cruise to the Caribbean this coming Sunday.

With the cooler weather I tackled another big repair job on the RV. We had a slide out seal that started to fail on us this year. The metal teeth which hold the slide out seal to the flange on the RV began to rust causing the seal to slide off of the flange when we put the slide in and out. I  called Tiffin parts to verify I ordered the right part before tackling the job.


The worst part of this job was removing the slide topper over the slide out so I could access all of the slide seal. Removing the old seal was easy as I simply pulled on it and it came off very easily with little effort.  However placement of the new seal was a bit tougher as there was very little room to get  my fingers in between the new seal and the frame of the RV. Slowly but surely I was able to push the new seal on the flange using mostly my fingers.


I did find that using a small piece of wood cut into a wedge and twisting it would help me get the seal on in tougher spots. Also before making the turn I used a razor blade to cut the flap part of the seal so turning the corners became much simpler. This was a fairly easy do-it-yourself job that saved us several hundred dollars of installation charges even if it was a bit tedious.


We leave Sunday for a week long cruise to the south… Next time I blog won’t be until we return the following week. Until then…we hope this new year will bring many blessings to you all!

NOTE: We are now in our winter home for the next several months in Bonita Springs Florida at Imperial Bonita Estates RV park and Coop. However, we will be on a mini-vacay for a weeklong cruise starting Jan 7th…