Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Bonita Springs Florida–It’s a Wrap!!!

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Our three month stay in Bonita Springs, Florida is ending so we have begun the task of packing and preparing for our departure. The “nesting” we do during our longer stays translates into much more time spent packing as compared to our shorter stays. As a result I like to have our last day a day of doing nothing but getting ready to go.

The past couple of days we had a few more things we wanted to do in the area before heading north. One last visit to Johnny Malloys for their Monday night wing special was of course on the list. During happy hour they also offer free pizza to patrons who order beverages every Monday through Friday. Therefore, on Monday night we enjoyed both the pizza and the wings!. An added plus is that we didn't have to fight a lot of traffic to get there as it is very close to our park. 

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On Tuesday I made one last run to Costco to buy new house batteries as ours were beginning to fail by not holding their charge as long. I read a great deal about house batteries for RV’s but the less than $90 dollar Interstate GC-2 6 volt batteries at Costco won me over. I was leaning toward the Trojans and even looked closely at the Lifeline batteries but at the prices of each of those I can buy quite a few of the Costco GC-2 batteries. So they are now installed and ready for the next 4-6 years.

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Our next to last evening after spending the afternoon at Bonita Beach,  we made our way over to Bokampers which has the best $5.00 hamburger and fries special we have yet to encounter, a real Road Treat! Happily they also have good beer specials at happy hour so it made for a nice inexpensive date night for us.. Our next door neighbors, Ed and Judith of South Carolina, met us there and we enjoyed a great evening at Bokampers. They told us they like the park and the area so much that they already have made reservations for next winter.  In fact, they reserved the site we are currently in!

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Well, today is our last day of our first ever 3 month stay so I so as I mentioned before I have a lot of stuff to put back in the appropriate bins. Upon reflection we both felt like the time went by fairly quickly but agreed we are both ready to hit the road for our next adventure. We definitely had fun during our stay and will be back in Florida for the winter most likely in two years. Next year we head west for the winter and I for one am really ready to see the mountains again…

NOTE: We will leave our winter home on March 1st  and trek north and westwards. Our next stop is Little Manatee River State Pec Area for three nights.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Katie Surprises Us With a Last Minute Visit…

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As I mentioned in our last blog our daughter Katie made an unexpected visit to see us on our final weekend in Bonita Springs, Florida. She flew into Punta Gorda Airport Friday, so before picking her up at 7pm we made a stop at Costco in Estero to gas up and then had to go to Bokampers to enjoy their great happy hour specials.

After picking Katie up we made the one hour trip back to the RV where we shared a late dinner. Sharon was excited to show Katie the Mother of  the Bride dress we found and bought recently. I breathed a sigh of relief that Katie loved the dress so I won’t have to take Sharon on any more dress shopping trips. Thankfully Katie also approved my choice of suits to wear so we are pretty much good to go for the October wedding!

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The next day we of course took Katie to the beach. There is nothing like a great beach day and the weather was perfect (in the mid 80’s). We set up our Sunbrella so I could hide out in the shade while Katie and her mom basked in the sun.

I can’t sit still too long so before long we were off for a long beach walk. Checking out the shells, the surf and the people along the way was our form of entertainment. We chose to visit Lover’s Key State Park’s beach hoping to spot some dolphins but we saw none on this particular trip. We did see quite a few birds with the Osprey’s doing a great job of culling fish from the nearby waters.

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Saturday evening we enjoyed a little shuffleboard and a happy hour with friends in the park. Katie has visited this RV park before so these folks are her friends too, and she was very happy to see everybody. Of course she missed seeing Dell and Ruth as they were staying at another park this year. However, there are always new characters to meet and befriend…

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Sunday morning we walked all around the park so Katie could see some of the (still remaining) Hurricane Irma aftermath. Afterward a walk over to the Flea Market was in order to check out the “deals” they had to offer. Next we played pickleball and later Katie and I played in the park’s corn hole tournament followed by one last happy hour for Katie.

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Monday morning we had a leisurely breakfast and another long walk in the park. After lunch we visited Coconut Point Mall for a little shopping before making our way to Punta Gorda for Katie’s return flight to North Carolina. It was a short trip but we were really happy to see and share some time with Katie. Our last few days here will be filled with packing as we prepare to leave beautiful SW Florida on Thursday…

NOTE: We will leave our winter home on March 1st  and trek north and westwards. Our next stop is Little Manatee River State Pec Area for three nights.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Enjoying the Warm Weather in SW Florida…

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With our winter stay waning we have reflected on all the fun we have had here in Bonita Springs, Florida.  Going to the beach, we have been fighting a lot of traffic (and fought to find parking especially in February) yet we find all that frustration melts away once we set up our Sportbrella and break out our beach mat. Settling into our beach chairs listening to the mild surf and watching the birds fly over the bluish waters makes it all worth it…

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We probably haven’t been to the beach as much as we have in our past visits to southern Florida largely because Collier County in Florida no longer sells a Visitor's Beach Parking Pass. We always purchased the $50 pass and with parking at some of the more popular beaches here costing $8.00 per day it doesn’t take long for such a pass to pay for itself.

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Instead we now have to pay for parking or seek out those little “free parking” lots scattered about the coastline. We have been pretty lucky to score one of those free spots on most of our visits but when we don’t we usually end up at Lover’s Key where there is dirt parking lot which only charges $2.00 per person to enter on state parklands. Since we have no problem walking we secure a good spot then walk from there around the bend over to Lover’s Key State Park, a beautiful beach about 1/2 mile away. Thus we not only save $4.00 (which we can use later in the day for a frosty beverage) but we get in a good amount of exercise along one of the most scenic places to walk –the BEACH!!! We have had lots of dolphin sightings this year but every time we go we find beautiful shells and interesting things such as crabs or jellyfish washed ashore. It's always a great time.

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Other than just going to the beach, I have been playing a lot of cornhole and shuffleboard as those games are very popular in our park. Of course there are the occasional gatherings for happy hour and sometimes simple potlucks as well as visits to the Greyhound Track with friends. This park is also quite large so everyday we enjoy a long morning walk or bike ride around the park. We have also mapped out some good Happy Hour specials in nearby Naples and Estero for some outings a few nights per week.

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We have been focused this past week with the big chore of detailing the motorhome. Our technique was as follows… First I thoroughly detailed the roof by cleaning all the sap and debris off of it as well as under the solar panels and A/C vents. Surprisingly I noticed some lichens growing on the roof this year so I will have to read about how to treat them to kill them off. Next we washed the rig using dish soap and water to clean it, then rinsed it with fresh water and hand wiped it with microfiber cloths to get rid if any water drops. Lastly we used a Maguires Wax to get a high gloss finish. Indeed it was a lot of work but in the end our efforts were well worth it even though it took nearly a week to accomplish it all. It sure is great to see it all shiny and ready to go.

Our daughter Katie is surprising us with a visit our final weekend here so it will be fun to share our favorite activities with her before we start packing and preparing to leave beautiful SW Florida...

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

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Getting Hitch Itch and Making Spring Plans…

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, tree, sky, cloud, plant, outdoor, nature and waterIt's hard to believe that our three months stay is about to be over here at Imperial Bonita Estates, but it's true! The time has passed fairly quickly and with only a few weeks left I am definitely starting to get the itch to hit the road. It’s not that we haven’t been having fun with all of our activities. We have done a little hiking, played a little disc golf and reconnected with RV friends from the past. It is just that it is about time to go!

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We sure have gotten a lot done while we've been here though. We were able to install new slide toppers on our slide outs and they were definitely needed as they had begun to tear. We also bought new shades to replace out old and stained day/night shades and I installed all of them in our motorhome. They really do make the inside of our RV look real nice. All we need to complete our interior re-do is to replace what little bit of carpet we have left. We have also done a lot of other odds and ends and small chores to get the motorhome ready for the next season. So where we going to go next?

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To start with I'm having the plan a lot more now than I used to in the past because it seems that there are so many more people are on the road now as compared to several years ago. So I have made our reservations from here all the way to Texas! Our first one is a stop outside of Tampa Florida for about three nights. at Little Manatee State Park. From there we'll hug the coastline and we'll stay at a little park at Keaton Beach FL for 3 nights. Then it's on to Mexico Beach, our last Florida stop, where we will stay at a park called Rustic Sands RV Park. We really love the Mexico Beach area so we're going to spend four nights there.

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After Rustic Sands we scored our next two nights in Gulf Islands National Seashore at Davis Bayou Campground and we are looking forward to staying at this new location. Then we will leave Mississippi and enter Louisiana where we will be at Bayou Segnette State Park just south of New Orleans. We will stay here for three nights so we can get our New Orleans fix and get us ready for the Cajun hospitality. From Bayou Segnette we move east to our next stop which will be a longer stay of 15 days at Betty's RV Park one of our favorite little places in the world. At Betty’s we should get our fill of Cajun cuisine and Cajun music before we head into Texas.

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In Texas will spend one month at are former hometown in College Station where we can check out our rent house and reconnect with old friends. Here we can visit some of our favorite bars and restaurants (at least the ones that are still open) before moving west over to Lockhart State Park to get our fill of fabulous Texas BBQ. Our last planned stop for this leg of our travels will be for a two-week stay at Potters Creek Park, a Corps of Engineer park near Canyon Lake. Here we will spend some quality time with our grandchildren. Then we will have to make our late spring and summer plans and who knows where we will end up as we haven't got any plans yet! Stay tuned to find out where we head this summer On the Road of Retirement…

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

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Replacing Our Day/Night Shades–a DIY Project…

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With our RV now 10 years and going on 11 we decided that this year would be the year we would upgrade our RV. We don’t see going off the road anytime soon and we see no reason to purchase a new motorhome so the only logical choice was to (as Sharon would say) Pimp our Ride!


Last spring we replaced the flooring and got rid of much of the carpet. We still have some carpet left and we will replace the areas remaining with new carpet. Earlier this month I replaced all of our slide toppers because after 10 years of wear and tear it was time for them to be trashed and replaced. Next up for us was replacing our horrid day/night shades.


After reading tons of reviews about replacement products I kept reading rave reviews for the MCD shades. After pricing them out however I decided I had better dig deeper to see what other options were out there. Spending over $2000 for window treatments was simply way over our budget! We did discover there is a small shop out of Red Bay Alabama who also does a roller day/night shade and at first we considered it because it was 1/3 less in cost. However, they explained the cornices would all have to be modified to add about 1” in depth. As a result it would be just as costly as MCD shades and we really did not want to add more width to our cornices so we rejected this option.. Was there no other alternative?


I came across a website called Selectblinds. After reading all the product information and reviews I found a couple of honeycomb shades that seemed perfect for us at over half the cost. I chatted with an agent online and finally decided to order them. Eight replacement shades at about $100 per shade on average made it affordable.

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I ordered two types of shades. The first a classic day/night shade. Yes these still have strings in them but at no angles thus leaving less chance of breaking. They fit perfectly in our valances  so there would be no additional modifications. The second shade I ordered was a top/down bottom/up blackout shade which had a special feature in that you could open the shades from either the bottom or from the top down. We have some extra tall windows so being able to open them from the top we could have some sky views from windows we otherwise rarely used – Sweet!!!

Installation was simple and straightforward (after I figured out how the attachment clips worked). The steps I performed are below:

  1. Remove cornices by removing screws from the side braces and then those in the top or sides of the cornices. This is where an extension Phillips will be a godsend.
  2. Remove old blinds by removing the screws from the string attachments and then pressing the attachment clip releases to free the old shades from the cornice. This is an excellent time to thoroughly clean the windows and the window screens, which we did.
  3. Next I needed to remove the old attachment clips and install the new ones. These ere type “C” attachment clips and the installation guide had very poor picture of how to install them. It took me the better part of an hour to solve the riddle of how to install them so I have included pictures of how they are installed.
  4. Now all I needed to do was align the new blinds equidistance from the sides of the cornice and snap them in place. Also I  added the two plastic window lift tabs onto the new blinds and they were ready to reinstall.
  5. Before installing the blinds I had to replace the screws along the right and left side of the window to reduce the height of the screw head. Why? Because the blinds were hitting the larger screw head but not the smaller one when I replaced them.
  6. Lastly I had to  re-install the cornices the opposite way I took them off. An extra hand here helps immensely with this step. One trick here I used was to tape the screw on the extension so it wouldn’t fall off before I could get it started back in!


I was easily able to install all eight blinds in an afternoon but I was a bit sore from having to contort myself in ways to be able to remove some of the screws from the valances. The only special tool needed here was a drill extension and long bit with a Philips head on it. The tool is pictured below for your convenience.


So now we are enjoying our new blinds and only time will tell if these blinds are the perfect blinds for us and our RV…

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

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

RV Life in Bonita Springs, FL…

The winter here in Bonita has been pretty much “chill” with mostly average temperatures overall. We did have a few chilly nights and cooler days but most noticeable this year was the wind. It sure has been windier than normal but the 10 day forecast shows that we now will be warmer than normal with highs between 80-84 F and overnight lows from 59-64 so we certainly can’t complain about that.

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We have never claimed that Imperial Bonita Estates (IBE) is a great RV park with fabulous amenities so why do we continue to come here every other year? There are two main reasons: 1) the location being near to so much to see and do and 2) we have been enjoying social activities with a lot of wonderful people. The location and the people here are why we continue to come back.

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This year certainly has been different due to the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma and IBE really suffered. When we first arrived in December we were told there were 26 park models that were going to have to be demolished. That made for some sad families and some long time snow birds would no longer be able to return. Add to that nearly every other park model in the park as well as most of the RVs left in storage were damaged (some much more than others).

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The tennis/pickleball courts were completely wiped out and the shade shelter over the shuffleboard courts was lost. There was damage to the Rec Hall so a temporary office had to be brought in. It was just a mess in December. Currently lots and lots of remodeling has been going on through January and even now into February. The Rec Hall is up and running and there are only a couple more park models waiting to be destroyed. The park has begun transforming these former park model lots into RV spaces. A temporary  shade shelter is over the shuffleboard courts and the base has been poured for the tennis/pickleball courts. It has been amazing witnessing the transformation.

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The presence of FEMA was obvious during the month of December but it has been volunteers from groups such as “We Care” whose presence has been life changing for some. Another group of volunteers will be here in a couple of weeks so reconstruction is well on it’s way. Even yesterday I photographed a small barge making its way up the Imperial River clearing hurricane debris from its waters.

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Through all this our small group of friends and the friendly people of IBE have prevailed, We have had fun playing in the weekly corn hole gatherings, the fun-shuffle activities and of course all of the great happy hours. We have hit the beach on several occasions, hiked a few trails, checked out the farmer’s markets, visited a nearby casino and visited a few of the local establishments. We also had the pleasure of an impromptu gathering with some of our RV’er friends and it sure was great seeing John and Janie once again.

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In addition we have accomplished a lot of work on our rig (and more to come). We have made a few new friends along the way and we are looking forward to enjoying another three plus weeks here before hitting the road once again…

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