Sunday, January 31, 2016

Our Most Excellent 3 Month Adventure in Bonita Springs Florida…


Our three month stay here in Bonita Springs Florida is coming to a close. I have to admit to being a bit surprised that I didn’t feel the dreaded hitch itch affliction sooner. I think it is mainly because our stay has been broken into three distinct stays.


When we arrived in November the park was less than half full. Most of the people we know hadn’t arrived yet. As a result Sharon and I used this time to reacquaint ourselves with all of our favorite spots near the park. We made frequent trips to Bonita Beach and to Barefoot Beach for shelling, sunning, fishing and simply relaxing in the solitude the beaches offered in November. We also made sure to visit some places like Marco Island and Vanderbilt Beach which we hadn’t visited before. It was much easier in November with less people in town.


We found some neat spots for fun and happy hour during this time. Some such as Johnny Malloys, Pelican Larry's, The Brass Tap, Jack's, Fitzgeralds and Coconut Jacks along with Dollar Days at the dog track. All of them became places and events we looked forward to revisiting month to month.


Then when December rolled around we had our daughter Katie visiting with us while on her school break. The month was full of showing Katie around and taking her to all the places we had built into what was evolving as our “normal routine.” Throw in the fact that some of our friends were now in the park we also added some social happy hours and events such as Wednesday night “cornhole” games to our repertoire. Katie fit right in with our friends and routine. We made a lot of great memories during her visit.  As a result December was more of a family month with Katie's visit.


By January Katie had left and the park was pretty dang full. Lots of new people to meet as well as some friends that we had met in other places now were in the park. Thus, the month of January became more of a social month.   January is also the time we knew we would see great friends Jeff and Martine who stayed in a park nearby.  They visited us here for Happy Hour/dinner and we went to their place for the same.  It is always a good time when we are with these wonderful Canadian friends. 

Also in January we went on a kayaking trip with Terry, Jeri, Janice and Terry. We met Terry and Jeri at Quartzite and then met their friends Janice and Terry here in Bonita Springs. Our friends Penny and Steve, whom we met at Betty’s RV Park in Louisiana, were also here and we have had a lot of fun socializing with them.


Loads of fun has been had with what I call our Imperial Bonita Estates or IBE family. These are the folks, mostly snowbirds, who trek down to IBE every year. We met most of them the first time we came down here but since we come every other winter to IBE we have really gotten to know this fun group better. We now have a sense of what snowbirds enjoy most about their winter homes – their extended snowbird family.


We have shuffled with our family, played corn hole with our family, gone to pubs and places to eat with them and sat around in large happy hour circles with them. Yes when we pull out of IBE on Monday morning we will miss our extended family of Vic and Maggie, Art and Betty, Del and Ruth, Craig and Kathy, Herb and Linda, Dwight and Donna, Patti, Jerry and Julie, and Mike and Dineen. There were many others we got to know as well at IBE and who knows, the next time we come back we may become closer to many of them as well. We sure plan to stay in touch through the blog and Facebook with these really great people!


There is no doubt that if we were ready to settle down IBE is one place that would most definitely make our short list. However, as much fun as it has been here it has neared the time to start the Cummins and get those wheels a rolling… look out North America here we come…

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tips on Making Your RV Look New Again…

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Detailer's Choice 4B369 Flow-Thru Vehicle Wash Brush with 60-Inch Telescoping Handle - 1-EachCall me old fashioned but I still like to wash and wax our RV by myself. It is through this act of washing and waxing the rig that I can truly access how well the rig is holding up. Since I have to run my hands and fingers over every nook and cranny it gives me the opportunity to discover any new dinks, nicks and/or cracks. Also it becomes very apparent which silicon spots need attention once I finish.

I like to wash our RV using one the telescoping brushes that I see so many use. Since I am on the short side of height I prefer the one that extends to 12 feet. This makes it quite easy for me to reach the roof edges without standing on my tip toes. The telescoping rod called Mr long Arms is perfect for this. I also have a large pot that is actually my gumbo pot but it doubles as my wash bucket. When not in use it also stores a lot of loose items in a bin.

Product DetailsStainless Steel Stock Pot, 20 quart with Lid

I prefer to wash our rig using a nice squirt of dawn dish soap in my water bucket. This soap is a mild soap and works really well on grime and dirt removal. I always begin my cleaning on the roof. I also don’t attach my telescoping brush to a water hose when cleaning the roof since I find it easier to use the brush by dipping it in the wash bucket. I then attach a high pressure hose nozzle power sprayer on my hose to use for rinsing the brush and rinsing the soap off of the roof after scrubbing it.

EverGreen Premium Heavy-Duty Adjustable Metal Hose Nozzle Car Wash High Pressure Washer Water Spray Gun Cleaner


Once the roof is clean I start cleaning the sides, front and back using the same technique as on the roof which is dipping the brush in the soapy water, rinsing the brush and then spraying the soapy residue off the sides. Once the motorhome has been washed I follow it up with a complete wipe down. I use microfiber cleaning cloths to wipe down the whole rig which keep water spots (especially when using hard water) from forming.

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Now after everything is clean the next thing I do is start applying my favorite paste wax (Meguiar's M6311 Flagship Premium Marine Wax Paste). This wax is best suited for Fiberglass boats or RV’s. Since our motorhome is Fiberglass it makes sense to me to use a wax specifically designed for use on Fiberglass!

This particular paste wax is an easy to apply Carnauba paste wax. I love the Carnauba paste waxes since I have found they last longer than most ordinary paste waxes. Since it takes me about five days (as I am never in a big hurry to do it all in one day) I want to use the best wax possible for my RV.

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Lots of RV owners use liquid waxes and for the most part Consumer Reports found that pastes performed no better than liquids overall. However the only waxes rated excellent for durability were paste waxes. Of note, though is that both wax types had similar scores for ease of use brass tap 002dispelling the myth that using a paste wax is harder than using a liquid!. After five days of apply and taking off the past wax I finally see the fruits of my labor. Even better is I know that I won’t have to do this again for a good while…

Now there is a lot of literature out suggesting that Carnauba paste wax is dead and being replaced by Paint Sealants which provide the same shine and protection but last a whole lot longer. One of these days I may have to give up my paste wax and try one of the top rated Paint Sealants, Wolfgang Deep Gloss Paint Sealant 3.0. It was specifically developed to meet demand for paint protectants yet captures the wet look of a carnauba wax but it will last a lot longer. I think when I use up the last of paste wax I will order this and give it a try.

All this talking about washing and waxing has made me tired! So I guess it is time to go get a frosty adult beverage at one of our favorite spots near Bonita Springs – The Brass Tap

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Settling into the Routine and Battling a Cold…


We have been here in Bonita Springs nearly three months which is a record for us in length of stay. We have pretty much fallen into a routine unlike when we are in shorter stays. The routine more resembles our former life prior to our fulltime RV life yet we still manage to mingle in a few vacation type events amongst the more mundane and routine.

imageThe weather in November and December was spectacular however January has been quite the contrast. We have the occasional warm sunny day where we hit the beach or for a little surf fishing but much of January’s weather has been stormy, windy and a bit cooler than normal.  It is funny how we became so accustomed to the 80 degree temperatures that when the temperatures dipped into the high to mid 60’s for a daily high we found ourselves chilled. In addition to the chill we had a brief encounter with severe thunderstorms and tornado watches/warnings causing us to take down the UV screens and bring in the awning. This January weather has been more typical of spring than winter in Florida.

With all the changes in the weather Sharon and I are both battling colds. We have rarely been sick in our nearly five years on the road but staying longer means exposure to more germs as we mingle with so many more people (especially the big crowds at the Tampa RV show). The last several days we have been mostly holed up inside due to either the weather (rain) or our colds (or both). With cooler than normal weather and the fact that we both have colds we have been making lots of feel good foods. We made a homemade chicken noodle soup, a homemade navy bean soup, pizza from scratch and some spicy Cajun gumbo. These hot soups have certainly made our cold symptoms feel somewhat more tolerable.


We even snuck out one evening to try a new place (at least to us) called the Brass Tap. We had gotten some cards for a BOGO (buy-one-get-one free) craft beer so we took advantage of those. The Brass Tap makes some of their own brews and their Imperial and Rye IPA’s were quite good. We haven’t encountered a lot of Florida craft beers that we really like but the Brass Tap we felt was a keeper.


We have been having a lot of fun (when we aren’t fighting colds) with our park routine attending the weekly bean bag and shuffleboard tournaments. We have also played a lot of pickleball, attended their donut and coffee days, danced the night away at a park dance, played ping pong and billiards as well as mingling with great friends made here in the park at various drop in happy hours.  Monday nights we are usually found at a local watering hole, Johnny Malloys, eating 25 cent wings with a lot of other regular IBE’ers (people from our park, Imperial Bonita Estates).  

Well its super windy outside the RV today (winds gusting to 30 mph) and it is supposed to be nicer tomorrow. We sure are glad our colds are waning and we can get back out to enjoy the nice days before we have to leave southwest Florida…

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How to Replace the Hot Water Heater’s Anode Rod…


One of the nice things about sitting for a long time is that I can take the time to perform some of the annual maintenance that most RVs require. First on our list was for us to do our annual hot water heater maintenance. This task isn’t really all that difficult and just about anyone with minimal handyman/woman skills can tackle this chore. I hope to provide an easy guide to help others, who like me enjoy doing their own maintenance.

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There are only a few tools required a few replacement parts. Our motorhome has a Suburban 10 gallon Hot Water Heater and thus has an anode rod. Those with Atwood Hot Water Heaters do not have an anode rod but still would be advised to flush out the sediments and deposits that build up over time in the tank. An anode rod is designed to serve as a sacrificial part and is water heater maint 003typically composed of magnesium. It protects the hot water tank by attracting corrosive elements to itself thereby sparing the rest of the hot water heater. So instead of the tank corroding away the anode will.

Our motorhome has a Suburban SW10DE Hot Water heater installed in it so I ordered the 232767 anode rod which is made of Magnesium. The 232768 anode rod is made of Aluminum. I prefer the Magnesium as it is a better attracts the bad elements. However, if I ever find myself replacing them too often the Aluminum one typically will last longer.

After determining which model hot water heater you have then make sure to order the correct anode rod for your RV. Your particular model may require a different anode rod which can likely be found here. It is also a good idea to purchase some Teflon tape if you don’t have any on hand. Next is to make sure you have the necessary tools to do the job.

Tools Required and Replacement Parts

The night before replacing the anode rod,  turn off the hot water heater. The next day simply turn of your water and then you are ready to begin the chore. Before pulling out the old anode rod you will need to drain the hot water heater. My RV has a valve in the wet bay to drain the hot water however you can also run the hot water only in the shower until it trickles.

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Next you need to release the pressure by pulling of the lever on the T&P valve (Temperature and Pressure Valve). Pulling the silver handle will release the pressure (do not do this if your hot water is still hot as you may burn yourself).  Pulling the silver handle will equalize the pressure in the tank. It might hiss and spray a bit of water but don’t be alarmed as that is normal. Now it is safe to pull out the old anode rod.

The anode rod in our Suburban SW10DE required a 1” socket to remove it. If you don’t have the right size socket they can be purchased individually at most hardware stores. Buy one and then you will always have it on hand for this annual maintenance. I use a small extension to make it easier to remove the old rod.

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You can place a plastic bucket below the anode rod to catch the cloudy water in. Depending on how much water remains in your heater be careful when taking out the old one as the water will come out pretty fast if there is still a lot in it. Also the water will be very cloudy and filled with lime scales and other particulates. Once you have removed the old anode rod inspect it and if it is mostly eaten away it should be replaced. If not save your new replacement for another day.

Now that the old anode rod is removed and the tank is empty you need to flush out the tank. There is a nifty little plastic flushing tool that hooks up to your water hose. Insert this flushing wand in the anode rod hole and it can reach way back into the tank. Hold the curved in down at first and turn the water on to flush out all the remaining debris inside the tank. Keep flushing until you no longer see any calcified deposits or sediment come out.

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  Before installing the new anode rod, or putting in the old one if it is still good,  wrap some white Teflon plumbing tape around the threads and then you can screw it in and tighten it snugly. Now turn on your RV water and the Hot Water tank will refill. As it fills you can pull the T&P valve to let some air escape. Next go inside and turn on your hot water taps and let them run until they stop making gurgling noises. When the water runs noise free you have removed all the air from the plumbing lines and you can now turn back on your hot water heater.

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After 20 minutes or so the water should begin to heat and when you turn on a hot water tap you should notice that all is working well again. After the first time I am sure you will be able to do this is no time at all…

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Tampa RV Show and Visiting Friends…

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One of the things we look forward to during our stay in Bonita Springs is a trip over to the Tampa RV show. We visited the show for the first time two years ago and this will now be our second trip. Even though the show is about 130 miles to our north we enjoy going because we also have good friends who winter at a very nice park in Cortez just south of Tampa.

As we did the last time we planned to spend the night at our friends, Mike and BJ's, RV. Friday morning the weather was quite unsettled but we opted to go ahead with our plans since the forecast was for a nasty storm line to pass through quickly and clear out by the time we got to Tampa. The evening before our trip Sharon baked Mike's favorite oatmeal pecan raisin "mookies" and we made sure to pack the tickets our friends (Jerry, Janice, Jeri and Terry) gave us after their trip to the show on Thursday. This was really nice of them since it saved us $9.00 per person to enter the show. Thanks again you guys for the tickets!

Tamap RV Show 008Tamap RV Show 03

The drive up was a bit nerve wracking as we passed through one squall line after another. We did finally arrive at our rendezvous point where we met up with Mike and BJ. From there we all went to the show together and by the time we arrived at the RV Show the weather was great again as it warmed up nicely.


Why do we go to this RV show? Well definitely not to buy another RV. In fact, during the whole day we spent there we only looked briefly at the new Tiffins curious to see any new innovations. We really didn’t see anything new and novel deciding once again we are quite happy with ours.

The main reasons to attend the show to us were to enjoy the company of our friends and to score some discounted camping for our travel route out of Florida.  We always leave Florida in February and that month is one of the most expensive with even the cheaper parks charging $50 per night or more! Finding some discounted camping sure helps the old budget especially since the stock market is beating up our nest egg!


We were able to find some good camping deals we will hopefully be able to take advantage of. We also found some nice 'freebies' such as caps, visors and Koozies.  Sharon even got a nice little string backpack and I got a cool beer bottle opener shaped as a palm tree. It was very entertaining to walk through the show with our friends sharing our finds while enjoying the costumed volunteers mingling through the crowd to entertain.

We were all pretty tired after walking through the entire show and Mike suggested we stop for some wine tasting nearby. Unbeknowst to us he took us over to meet some of their friends, Tammy and Roger, who had their RV at the the fairgrounds just outside the show. With some wonderful snacks, seemingly endless wine and some great conversation filled with laughter we finally said our goodbyes to make the drive back to Cortez. It’s always nice to meet new friends!

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After spending the night in Cortez and before heading back to Bonita Springs Mike and BJ took us to one of their favorite little spots on Anna Marie Island called the Rod and Reel Pier. What a scenic and fun place it was for lunch and a beer! The bar/restaurant surrounded by fishermen outside sits on the end of the pier. We had some fantastic tile fish and chowder for lunch while chatting with other patrons at the bar.  On the way back to Cortez we stopped to walk through an arts and crafts fair. Finally back at BJ and Mike's we said our farewells, left Cortez and arrived home a few hours later. What a great two days we had visiting our friends, making new ones and attending the Tampa RV show…