Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"Boat" Projects

Many of you know that Pam and I bought an old trawler, fixed it up so it worked, and cruised down the eastern seaboard for a bit.  Now, we've bought an old motorhome and named it "the Boat" since it makes sense to the dogs.  They understand boat commands, such as "get on the boat".

I've already been doing some "boat projects".   There was a water leak from our pressure water system.  It was collecting in an outside compartment on the starboard (passenger) side.  I checked the obvious place, the pipes running at the top of the compartment.  They were dry.  I then crawled under the motorhome and followed the trail.  It was coming from the aft port side compartment where the unused water tank is, and where much of the plumbing is.  It was a hard plastic valve used to drain the cold water lines.

Now, I know from my boating days that its OK to use copper or PVC pipe in some circumstances, like long straight runs, but not for going through walls or for bends.  Vibration will crack the pipe, or in this case, the plastic valve.  I hied myself to the local hardware store and bought some new hose, a ball valve, and some pipe thread to barbed fittings.  A good marine solution.

The next project was to remove the Reese hitch extension stuck in the Reese hitch.  I was worried that it would act like a battering ram in a backing up situation.  Earl and I tried penetrating oil, a propane torch, and a come-along to my Kia's hitch to pull it out.   It wouldn't budge.  It  was rusted solid.

Earl got Denny from next door.  Denny has a huge shop full of serious tools for working on his many car projects.  Denny brought his truck over, put a chain come along on it, and heated it up with that rig you can see in the background.

When he declared it was ready, I whaled on it with a sledge hammer.  After a half dozen whacks, it popped out.  I'll sand it smooth and grease it up before putting it back in, saying that I ever tow a trailer with "the Boat".

My next sunny day project will be to find and fix the water heater.  It's kind of a drag having to heat up water on the stove to wash dishes.  We'd also be able to shower in the RV, a plus.  Maybe Friday.  The forecast for  tomorrow is a high of 54 and rainy.   While that's warmer than today's 43, its still too cold.   What's that?  Hey, we're in Florida!  Might as well take advantage of it.   Friday, it will be sunny and in the 70s.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Can I Have A Glass Of Water? I'm A Little Hoarse.

This is one of my favorite internet jokes of all time.  No, I don't know why.  It's cute.  I like it.

Little did I know that the little  horse would show up on our doorstep.   He was just out wandering around the neigh.... borhood.

He was a little hoarse, so I gave him some water.

Fort McCoy is in the Ocala area of Florida.  It is perhaps the premier horse country of the USA.  If you love horses, this is where you need to be.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Horsey Photos

Pam, Megan, and I spent the better part of yesterday at the Griffin Ranch yesterday.  The sky was overcast, making it a good day for taking photos.  Not only did I bring my camera, but I brought my tripod too.  Talk about looking professional.   Of course, that doesn't make me a professional, but at least I'm playing the part.

In the afternoon, we went to the neighborhood "Souperee", a fun gathering of all the neighbors for food and fun and games.  I don't think I've seen so many grey haired people laugh so much.  It's fun to be a Geezer-American.

Today, I should probably move the RV.  I need to buy propane.  It not only heats our motorhome, but runs our refrigerator.  We're down to a quarter of a tank according to the gauges.  It gets cool here at night, down into the 40s and 50s.  I think I can fill the tank at the hardware store down the road, if I can get "the Boat" close enough.  I think I'll reconnoiter things in advance. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Which Way Is North?

We're in Florida, a long ways from Bleecker in upstate New York.  Things are different here.  First of all, it gets dark much later.  It's dark around 5 PM in Bleecker, but well after 6 PM way down here.

One problem I have is taking star trail pics of the North Star.  Basically, I can't find it.  I finally figured out which way was north, but this was my photo last night.'

As you can see, I messed up.  I totally missed Polaris.  I aimed too high.

In other news, Pam and Trisha (the Griffin Ranch's owner's significant other) went trail riding, and today they're going to ride some of the other "barn sour" horses in the Griffin herd.  There's a slight possibility that I may even ride.  We'll have to wait and see.

In critter news, we were outside enjoying a fire last night, and we heard a cat howling in distress, as if being attacked.  Leo was out.  We're worried that it might have been him.  He's a big cat, but no match for a coyote.

6 AM update - I opened the RV door and called Leo, and he came hopping right in.  He's fine.  I don't know what cat we heard in distress, but it wasn't Leo.  Actually, he's a very big cat.  Perhaps the coyotes should be worried.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Interesting Night Photo...

I went to our boat, Drift Away, yesterday to meet a perspective buyer.  He cancelled, having bought the first boat he looked at, but that was fine by me.  I'm not ready to sell Drift Away.  Yeah yeah, I know I have too.  I'm forgetful since my accident and concussion (more forgetful than usual), and one thing you can't be on a boat is forgetful, even cruising the ICW.  So even though I know its time to sell Drift Away, I can't say I was disappointed when the broker called to tell me that the customer cancelled.

On the return trip to Fort McCoy, I drove through the Ocala National Forest.  The topography here is flat, and the roads are straight and featureless.  The speed limit is 60 MPH as the state knows that everyone wants to get this drive over with.

I noticed an interesting cloud formation ahead.  It was no cloud.  It was smoke.  The Ocala National Forest folks were doing a prescribed burn, which burns out the underbrush from the forest.  According to their website, "Burning our flammable habitats on a regular schedule reduces the threat of wildfires, removes dense understory build-up, and improves wildlife habitat. Frequent fires are necessary for regeneration of certain plant species."

Yes, I often drive with my camera in the car.

I thought  I'd try night photography here in Florida.  Last night was cold and clear, and while I didn't expect anywhere near Bleecker quality stuff, I did get something interesting.

If you click on the above photo to enlarge it, and look at it closely, you'll see many streaks of light that aren't following the standard clockwise rotation.  Those would be meteors, captured somewhere in 85 thirty second exposures.

Today I plan on working on the lights on the horse trailer.  They don't work at all now.  What's that?   Oh right, I should tell you.  There was a broken wire on the car's plug and I replaced it.   The trailer lights didn't work all the way from New York to Florida.  I followed Pam in the motorhome.  We both had walkie talkies, and Pam and I would communicate all the way down.

"I'm turning left," Pam would say, and I'd turn on my indicator.

"I'm stopping," she'd say, and I'd slow down.

There were only two real issues with this system.  One would be when someone would pull in between us.  The other was a panic stop, when someone in front of Pam slammed on his brakes for a sudden turn.   Pam slammed on hers and picked up her walkie talkie, screaming "BRAKE BRAKE BRAKE BRAKE BRAKE BRAKE BRAKE BRAKE!!!!!!" into it.  She must have had the walkie talkie in  her mouth because neither Megan nor I could understand what she was saying.  When it finally occurred to me that she was stopping, I had to slam on the RV's brakes, sending everything not bolted down flying towards the front.  Yes, I stopped in time.  Barely.  And yes, it was an unmitigated disaster inside the RV.

That never happened on Drift Away.  Well, except that time we lost both engines off Sandy Hook.  That was another disaster.  That was recorded on Drift Away's blog in an entry called "Getting the Snot Kicked Out of Us".    If you read that, and look at the photos, you'll get an idea of what RV "The Boat" looked like inside.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

From Horses to Boats

Pam and I visited Drift Away yesterday.   Drift Away is the trawler that Pam and I, and our many critters, lived aboard for three years.  We cruised from Stamford, Connecticut, up to Albany New York, and then down to just south of Jacksonville Florida.  We had some issues at first, but from New Jersey on, he performed flawlessly.

He's about an hour and a half drive from Fort McCoy away.  He looked a little forlorn, quite honestly.

Many potential buyers have been aboard since we left him in Green Cove Springs last May.  Sadly, I was disappointed in what I saw.   There was a port window left open, for one.  But some idiot took a knife and slashed the headliner in the main saloon to see what was up above it.  Yep.  That's right.  Just cut the headliner.   Sure, he could have taken a screwdriver and removed a light fixture, but that would have required some effort on his part.  Much easier to just cut a hole.

What an asshole.  What a f**king asshole.  What a flaming f**king asshole.

Other than that, Drift Away looks like he's doing well.

Both Pam and I got a little teary eyed being on the boat.  Such wonderful memories we have.  Do we really want to sell Drift Away?  Why not just fix the exhaust leak, launch him, and continue on?  At this point, Drift Away is a go-anywhere boat.   Oh, the places we could go...

But then again, we now have Jeremiah the  Horse.  And "The Boat" motorhome.  It is time for Drift Away to find someone else to love him.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Barn Sour

I don't know much about horses.   I get dogs and cats, but not horses.  Pam grew up with horses and understands their behavior.   She can read them like a book.

Part of the deal she has with Griffin Ranch is to work with their horses.  They don't get ridden enough.  I learned a new term yesterday.   Pam says they can get "barn sour", meaning that they won't want to be ridden and would rather stay in the barn, or in the case of Griffin Ranch, stay with their herd.

Jeremiah, trying to work himself into the herd.

Daisy hasn't been ridden much and is "barn sour".   Pam had a hard time getting the bridle on her, and then she didn't want to be led. 

The fences run down into the swamp to keep the horses from getting around it.

Feed time.

The horse on this side of the fence is Trooper.   He's 34 years old, very old for a horse.  Carl Griffin, the ranch's owner, didn't want to stress him with Jeremiah.

Pam getting snarls out of Daisy's mane.  She seemed to like being preened. 

The tack room.

Daisy tried to buck Pam off, but she stayed on.  Daisy wanted to go back to her herd and not where Pam wanted to go.  Pam persuaded her otherwise.


Riding through the ranch.  That's the dining hall in the background.

Cabins that can be rented.   They're very nice inside and rustic.

Finally, Daisy settled down and obeyed Pam.

The horses were fed hay.  It was dropped in one pile, and the dominant horses were keeping the others away.

Like this.   This is a mare named Honey chasing Jeremiah away.

Pam spread the hay around so all the horses could get some.

Today we're driving to Green Cove Springs to pick up our mail from St. Brendan's Isle mail forwarding service and to check on our trawler, Drift Away.  We need to start getting our things off of it like a TV, patio furniture.  We've got several interested buyers, so hopefully it sells soon.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Angel of Death and Other Photos

I went for a walk  around Griffin Ranch here in Fort McCoy, Florida yesterday morning.   I brought my camera,  so here you go.  :)

The photo of the mushroom below is a Destroying Angel, or Angel of Death.  It is one of  the five most deadly mushrooms in the world.   Don't even touch this one.  You can absorb the poison through your skin, which would make you very ill.  If you ate one, it would destroy your liver.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Taking the Road Less Traveled

We  stayed at Lakeview Plantation near Fairfax, South Carolina for three days.   It is out in the middle of nowhere.  We were ten plus miles from the tiny town of Allendale, population 3,500.  We could take route 321 to Interstate 95, or take US 301 all the way to Florida, bypassing all the big cities.  We took the road less traveled.  And it's a good thing, because I-95 southbound, just north of the Florida border, was closed due to an accident.

On Thursday, before we left on Friday, Pam went for a long trail ride.  Here are a few of her photos.

We're now in Fort McCoy, Florida.   We're staying at Griffin Ranch in the motorhome.   Here are a few pics of the place.

Yes, I backed the RV from a narrow dirt road, through a narrow gate, through the trees, to there.

We don't have internet access at Griffin Ranch, but to at Judi and Earl's house.  My blog updates will be spotty for a couple of days until we move the RV from the ranch to hear.

Yes, we had a few "adventures".   I'll post them as soon as I'm able.