Not a snow day - it's a sleet day.

Yep, it's cold. Our flag froze. 
It didn't snow this morning for more than 3 minutes; in fact, there hasn't been much precipitation since 10 am. But it's still below freezing and there is moisture in the air, so we could get more sleet.

This morning was the first morning that Shorty didn't jump out of the RV and try to run madly around, looking for the best spot to pee. He stood in the doorway looking out, gingerly walked outside, got it over with as fast as possible, and rushed back to the RV. He doesn't usually mind the cold, so I think it's the sleet that is too much for his Southern California brain to accept. Mine too.

Snow Day!

It turns out there really is a winter storm in the South.  We didn't get that dreaded inch of snow (although the day isn't over yet) but we did get sleet, and sleet is worse than snow any day. And here they don't have any road salt to combat it. It really is a good day to stay home.

This isn't the first time I've smiled a Southern state's state of panic at impending cold weather; I shouldn't because it is really a hardship for the local folks. It's just that the weathermen sound so funny to my Midwestern mindset when they start preaching doom and disaster about what, in the Midwest, would just be a "be very careful" sort of day. But people from Minnesota and Canada feel the same way about Midwesterners; "You haven't seen snow till you've been to my home town!" Everything is relative. 

In the meantime we have closed the office at the Resort, because it really isn't a good idea for people to drive, and Randy just made some homemade oatmeal with cranberries and cinnamon. And snowflakes have started to drift down outside my window. Let's see what today brings.

One year ago: On a Texas beach
Two years ago: Touristic Tombstone
Three years ago: Quartzsite is not for us
Four years ago: Mexican-themed party!

What does Hilton Head Island call bad weather?

It's coming! Savannah's roads are in gridlock, their schools have let out early and are already cancelled for tomorrow; some students will spend the night at the school rather than risk the treacherous trip home. Here on the Island, schools and restaurants closed by 1 pm. Everyone is warned to stay home and only travel in case of emergency. And the culprit, the catalyst for this impending disaster? 

We are expecting One Inch of Snow.

A long day on the road

We finished up in Lakeland on Saturday so it was time to go back to South Carolina. Randy drove almost 400 miles today, all the way back to Hilton Head Island. We ate sandwiches in the RV and stayed on the road. It makes for a long day but it gives us an extra day to get things done once we're settled back in. 

BBQ Judge at the Pig Fest! January 25, 2014

We are in Lakeland, Florida, home of the annual Lakeland Pig Fest. The big day is Saturday but Friday evening we walked through the event to find out what was there. I love pulled pork, so I bought a dish of mac and cheese topped with pulled pork, which is a great way to combine two of my favorite foods. Randy showed me the area where he would be judging BBQ on Saturday, and suddenly he was asked to judge an event that night. He said OK, so I got to hang around and see what goes on at a professional BBQ tasting. They start by making sure everyone is on the same page by going over the rules. This is important stuff; careers and lots of money can be on the line so everyone wants the judges to be as impartial and fair as possible. Before tasting starts, they all stand up and pledge to do exactly that.
Each table has a "Captain" who doesn't judge; his/her job is to present the samples to the others at the table. Then the judging starts. They did 3 separate types of judging that night, which took almost 2 hours.

The next day Randy went back early to judge the children's entries, followed by the Backyard BBQ entires, which is the amateur level. I showed up later to wander through the fair again. There were lots of free samples, including pulled pork, beef jerky, salad dressing, aspirin and my favorite, S'mores! (I got in that line twice.) I did not get any homemade ice cream but I did admire the little engine they used to turn the crank. 
With it's exposed radiator, it looks similar to a larger engine I admired at the Vista Gas and Steam Engine parade.

The BBQ teams had names like "Fired and Wired", "Hot Ashes", "Good and Any BBQ "and "Swine Dynasty".  The larger teams set up huge displays that would be right at home in a State Fair.
And there was a wide variety of smokers. Some were store-bought but most were hand-made to the individual's specific idea of the perfect smoker. 
We enjoyed this event a lot and are looking forward to more BBQ cook-offs. The people who show up for these are a relaxed, happy crowd, ready to eat BBQ and have some fun!

Two years ago: Driving through Texas

The things that can go wrong on a little RV trip...

We have been sitting in one spot for awhile and although we are going to work here a little longer, it's time to get away for a few days. So we planned a short trip to Florida. We left off on Tuesday, but not quite as early as planned. When we started the RV the airbags only worked on one side, giving the coach a definite list. Not what you want to discover when you are starting a road trip! Fortunately there a guy in the Resort who is handy with RVs. He came over and he and Randy started investigating. Here's a disheartening sight that is familiar to every RVer - guys under the coach, troubleshooting.
They were able to identify the problem, which was a cracked line. There was no place to get a replacement so they used the old standby, duct tape. And it worked! 
So we got on the road, and then there was another problem.  The alarm that indicates the jacks are not retracted kept going off. Randy verified the jacks were up, but the alarm kept going off. He put up with it for almost an hour before stopping to fiddle with it again, and it finally stopped beeping. The rest of the trip was peaceful, and we drove to Jacksonville and checked in at the Pecan RV Park. We have stayed there before; it's a clean park and the Passport America rate makes it very affordable. This time I noticed a couple of things I'd missed before; for one thing, there is an airport very nearby and planes kept flying low (and noisily) over the park. The other thing is that the laundry machines only work with a pre-paid card from the office. I think that is pretty inconvenient for guests, but on a short-term basis I can put up with it. 
The next day we drove to Lakeland, and the stupid jack alarm stayed on again. A couple hours of that was enough to drive us crazy. Eventually we stopped and got some fluid for the hydraulic system, and that fixed the problem. Having an alarm system is all very fine and well, but it should not give the wrong message. Don't tell me the jacks are down when that's not the problem!
Oh, well, we got to Lakeland OK and parked at the Lakeland RV Park for a few days. It's a pretty typical RV park; not a Resort, but OK. There are a lot of long-term residents here but the sites and RVs are in nice enough shape. We are here because there is a big Pig-Fest going on this weekend. And Randy has gotten certified as a BBQ judge so he is going to judge some of the entries. Anything to get some good BBQ! 

Four years ago: Old Tuscon, city of Western Movies sets

It's Soup Weather - and homemade is best!

A new Workamper couple has started work, so we have done a little training. Not as much training as I'd like; I think Randy and I are pretty good at what we do and we are good trainers, but the schedule doesn't line up enough to spend much time with the new couple. Plus it's really slow here, so there is not much to practice on. I thought that the busy season would start in January, like it does in Arizona. But it's not nearly as warm here as Arizona, so the season starts later. And the weather here in more changeable than I expected. It's very common to have 30 degree temperature swings in a day, and sometimes more. But other than those few days last week, it has't dipped below freezing; at least not more than a few hours in the night. So compared to the rest of the country, we are doing pretty good!

Our group of Workampers has started getting together every so often for dinner. As wacky as the weather has been, so far the menu has always been soup! Brenda made soup one night, the next week Randy did, and last night was Norma's turn.  Every body else brings bread or dessert, and we have a friendly dinner together. It gets dark too early to sit outside and nobody's coach will comfortably sit 6 or 8 for dinner, so we meet in the Clubhouse. One of the perks of Workamping is meeting and socializing with other Workampers!

One year ago: More cactus than you can shake a stick at
Two years ago: Remembering the horror of Hurricane Ivan
Three years ago: Horsing around in Riverside
Four years ago: Visiting with family

Aftermath of the Big Freeze

The temperature stayed below freezing Tuesday and Wednesday. Our RV has a heater in the water bay that automatically turns on when the temperature is below 25 degrees; it stayed on non-stop for at least 48 hours.  

The cold spell broke on Thursday but it left it's mark on the Resort. They are not used to freezing temperatures here, and the irrigation water pipes on the individual sites are buried just 3-4 inches in the ground. The Escorts drove around and shut water off at sites where no RV was parked but even so, around 10 water pipes broke on Tuesday and 20 more broke on Wednesday. Most of these are easy to fix temporarily; open the container, reach down into the water or muck and turn off the irrigation valve. Then, as soon as possible, get a hose cap/plug from Home Depot and cap off the irrigation line.  Then turn the water back on.  That way the RV user still has water in their coach. Of course, the irrigation has to be repaired, but irrigation is not allowed on Hilton Head Island during the winter months, so this buys a bit of time to get the pipes fixed. 

That didn't happen at our site, and Randy had prepared for the cold by wrapping our water hose. Between that and the bay heater, we were not affected by the cold, at least not in the RV. Outside of the RV everyone, including us, kept saying "Wow, it's COLD!"

Below freezing is cold, no matter where you are!

Wow, it's COLD!  I didn't think it would get below freezing here but it sure did last night, and it's only 21 degrees right now at 9:30 in the morning. Yesterday the high was around 60; that's a mighty big temperature swing for one day! 

It will be interesting to see if this cold affects the flora here. I find it hard to believe that it won't, but this has must have happened before.  Perhaps the foliage is strong enough to deal with this cold. I recall a January freeze in Arizona, where some cactus did not survive.

Two years ago: Ghost Shrimp and pelicans (aka penguins!)

Four years ago:  A new year in Arizona

Deer and Jeeps do not mix

We are going through a series of odd occurrences. For starters, Randy broke a tooth and is off to see dentist today. Plus my Sony Cyber-shot suddenly quit working today and although I've only had it 6 months, everything I can find on the internet suggests it's a dead duck. Plus the drivers seat of the RV seems to be wearing out enough that it needs to be replaced or recovered. Plus the tire-pressure gauge system, which lets us know when a tire on the RV or Jeep is low, needs to be replaced before we start a long trip. And yesterday, while Randy was driving back from picking up a pizza, a deer ran right into the side of our jeep!  Fortunately Randy is OK, and although the deer knocked itself down, it got back up and left, so hopefully it's OK too. The jeep, however, is not OK.

It's close to freezing in Hilton Head Island!

Mercy, it's COLD! Right now it's just 32 and the high today will be 42.  I had hoped we were far enough south to avoid freezing temps, but apparently we are not quite there. Oh, well, it beats the weather in other parts of the country! We can put on a jacket when we go out, and inside the RV little Julienne sits by her best-friend-in-the-winter, the electric heater.

Thoughts on getting older

Getting older is weird. On the inside I am the same person I have always been, but on the outside some strange things are happening. For example, I used to sit for an hour watching TV, then just get up from the chair. Didn’t have to think about it. Now there is a little moment where, right in the middle of standing up, I slow down a bit because my joints are stiff. When did that happen?  

Inside I am still somewhere in my late teens - insecure around other people and not sure what I want to do with my life, but pretty sure I'll be alright. After all, it’s just Life, how hard can it be?  People do it every day! But outside something else is going on . . . several things, in fact. I sleep on a satin pillowcase and use moisturizer but still have lines on my face. I don’t sleep through the whole night anymore, and if I eat doughnuts for breakfast, my blood sugar goes wacky.  My memory wandered off somewhere and forgot to come back. And when I fall off a bike it takes weeks to recover. Wait, maybe that one doesn’t count because when I was 12 and broke my arm by falling down stairs, that took weeks to recover from, too. But no, it’s not the same, because that didn't make me afraid of stairs. Now when I’m on the bike I think about how to fall so I don’t get hurt. I know that by taking care of myself I will feel better, but that is part of the oddness - having to work at just being me.  

And the really weird thing is knowing that other people see me as an old person. "Old Person" - it sounds like a job description that includes playing bridge and driving slow. But I have learned a lot on this journey and have met fascinating people who can not be judged by their outside. Sometimes I seen old people in a restaurant and as the young waitress tops off their coffee, I wonder if she, in her innocence, thinks of them as “typically old”.  But, young as she is, she wouldn't know that there is no such thing as “typically old”. They could have spent the morning parachuting. They may be in the process of writing a book, taking a class, or teaching one. They may have just cooked meals for hundreds of people on skid row.  They might have hiked across the desert or down a canyon. They could have been zip lining through the trees or soaking naked in hot springs. Or, like my friends in Riverside, they may have just come from a photo session for a racy calendar. It turns out that old people are just young people with an older body and more experience. And now that I know it, nobody listens to me, because I’m old!

One year ago: Starting a new year in Arizona
Four years ago: 1st New Year's Day as RVers