Meanwhile Back in Florida…

We’ve been busy trying to cut up some tree limbs that are the size of trees to be able to get into the house we are trying to finish renovating.  We had some chainsaw problems.  Dad got one started but then after an hour it threw the rods in the engine, basically it’s a parts saw now.  Mine, we it just wouldn’t start.  So, we took it to the chainsaw place in town to see if they could fix it.  It took about 3 or 4 days to get to it and fix it.  Seems there is some sort of issue that really can’t be fixed but they were able to finagle it to start.  So my little Poulan will start, but if I were to turn it off while it was hot it may not start back until it cools off.  Fabulous!  Dad decided to bite the bullet and buy a Stiel chainsaw.  The dealer fixed it up that it was ready to go with no problems.  Well, that’s what we though.  The darn thing was cutting great and then it just stopped running.  I don;t know anyone that has the kind of trouble with chainsaws as much as us.

My chainsaw is working and was able to really get some cutting done.  I can’t wait to fell some dead trees on the property back home in Homer.  I’m getting lots of practice using my chainsaw here in Florida.  It’s all up to me and my chainsaw to finish what we started.

Today we are going to tear out the master bathroom, finish installing a new window, and few other things before we can get to the flooring.  The faster we get this done, the faster we can get home!

 

Not Much To Do and Yet So Much

Since I have been here in Florida there really hasn’t been much to do until Dad rolled up on Friday.  I’ve got to see all my friends and catch up with them.  I have run errands and started selling off stuff that we don’t need.  I said good bye to my dune buggy, trailer and small camper.  I feel like a weight has been lifted.  It feels great!

Tomorrow, Dad is getting a replacement window for the house we are trying to finish renovating and I am going to do more errands as well in town,  then we will install the new a/c unit and window.  This will take the humidity out of the new flooring so it can be installed after Christmas.  I love staying with my friend Tammy, but there is something to be said about missing your own bed.  I miss my own bed and my home.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Florida.  I love my friends.  I don’t miss the hot sticky weather.  I am eager to finish my own home and start preparing for spring.  I love growing veg, raising chickens and now I can’t wait to start fishing for halibut and learning to hunt in Alaska!  Home is calling.

It’s funny.  I am so used to waking up, stoking the fire, having coffee and then working on the house.  We’ve lived a tough homesteader life there for about 3 or 4 months.  I’m now living in a friends house using air conditioning, having unlimited amount of water.  It’s crazy.  I had to force myself to flush toilet paper.  We don’t flush toilet paper down our toilets.  We brown paper sack it and then throw it into the wood stove.  I’ve had to relearn to be more civilized.  LOL!  Of course neither Dad or I packed the right clothes for Florida.  We’ve been buying  whatever we need from the Walmart in town.

We took the dogs to the vet for needed shots, check ups, and nail trimming.  Everyone is healthy and vaccinated.  Taco has made a new friend at Tammy’s.  Her name is Irma and Tammy calls her “The Terrorist” the kitten.

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I have to give my neighbor Tiana for saying our butts this week.  She has been checking in on our home and jumped to our rescue when we forgot all of our keys back in Alaska.  Thank you for mailing us our keys!!!!  You’re my hero!

And a special thanks to Tammy for giving us a place to stay and being my bestie while we finish this renovation we left unfinished to move to Alaska.

Many thanks to all of you.

For dinner I made nachos and we are downing it with a vodka 7.

I am still hoping to go kayaking on the Suwannee River soon.

Bob’s Version: Florida Bound Day 12

Day 12 Friday 12/15/2017

I got up a late and didn’t get away from the Jemison, AL truck parking area until almost 9:00. There was a Burger King about 40 feet from my truck. Their window sign advertised $1.99 biscuits and gravy. That was the reason for the later than usual start. I’m usually on the road in an hour or less.

This is the downhill slide to O’Brien. FL. The map app said it was 5 hours 41 minutes but but the actual driving time was closer to seven hours. I-10 was packed solid with people going slower than the posted speed limit of 70 mph. I was run off the road and onto the paved shoulder by an idiot in a van. Also, had another idiot pass me and the suddenly slam on his brakes. I braked so hard that just about everything in the trailer slide forward and poor little Suzy slid out of my lap into the floor. Bless her baby heart she was sound asleep and then thrown violently onto the floor and under the dash. Fortunately, the only injury to her was her pride.

The temperature was 61 degrees in the afternoon in the Florida panhandle. A substantial difference from two days ago in Winnipeg’s -3 degrees. I started shedding clothing as the temp rose. By the time, I got to O’Brien I was sweating and running with the windows down.

Finished the 3619 mile trip at 4:00 in the afternoon. Several people asked me why I would do such a thing. The only answer is that I can come up with is the same as the answer to “Why climb Mt. Everest?” This was a bucket list kind of trip, if I still had a bucket list.

Bob’s Version: Florida Bound Day 11

Day 11 Thursday 12/14/2017  The usual.

Feed the dogs walk the dogs and feed Spike 20 gallons of diesel. Got up at 6:40 but didn’t get on the road until 8:00.

Got through Memphis no problem except I missed my turn. That wasn’t the worst of it as there was a slightly longer route. The problem was fuel. I tried to get into three different places but the truck/trailer combo was too long. Finished up my self imposed detour and got on I-22 to Birmingham. After having wasted almost an hour on the detour and fueling fiasco, I found a real truck stop. A good thing too. I had only about 80 miles of fuel left and B’ham was over 90 miles away.

Had Summer try to contact my cousin to no avail.  When I got to Birmingham, I called my high school buddy, Melvin. He lived between B’ham and Montgomery. I told him that I’d be along at about 6:00 for our first meeting since 1963. When I got to his house he and his wife were very gracious. They offered me dinner and shelter for the evening but I declined. I declined because she would have been cooking only for me and because I traveling with two dogs. They have a very nice pet free home that in which I didn’t want any accidents occurring. Also, I was anxious to get on the road tomorrow as early as possible. I’m about 6-7 hours from my destination and I want to sleep in a bed that isn’t on the floor tomorrow night.

Returned to I-65 and drove down to the Jemison exit and got off the highway. There were several trucks parked in a vacant lot next to the Burger King. They have gravy and biscuits for $1.99. I know what I’m having for breakfast.

Dinner consisted of a sandwich topped with several slices of chicken breast topped with Vidalia onion and pepper jack cheese. Dessert was several ginger snaps.

Bob’s Version: Florida Bound Day 10

Day 10 Thursday 12/14/2017.

The usual.  Feed the dogs walk the dogs and feed Spike 20 gallons of diesel.  Got up at 6:40 but didn’t get on the road until 8:00.
Got through Memphis no problem except I missed my turn.  That want the worst of it as there was a slightly longer route.  The problem was fuel.  I tried to get into three different places but the truck/trailer combo was too long.  Finished up my self imposed detour and got on I-22 to Birmingham.  After having wasted almost an hour on the detour and fueling fiasco, I found a real truck stop. A good thing too.  I had only about 80 miles of fuel left and B’ham was over 90 miles away.
Had Summer try to contact my cousin to no avail.   When I got to Birmingham, I called my high school buddy, Melvin.  He lived between B’ham and Montgomery.  I told him that I’d be along at about 6:00 for our first meeting since 1963.  When I got to his house he and his wife were very gracious.  They offered me dinner and shelter for the evening but I declined.  I declined because she would have been cooking only unfortunately me and because I traveling with two dogs.  They have a very nice pet free home that In which I didn’t want any accidents to occurring. Also, I was anxious to get on the road tomorrow as early as possible.  I’m about 6-7 hours from my destination and I want to sleep in a bed that isn’t on the floor tomorrow night.
Returned to I-65 and drove down to the Jemison exit and got off the highway.  There were several trucks parked in a vacant lot next to the Burger King.  They have gravy and biscuits for $1.99. I know what I’m having for breakfast.
Dinner consisted of slices of his chicken breast topped with Vidalia onion and pepper jack cheese.  Dessert was several ginger snaps.

Bob’s Version: Florida Bound Day 9

Day 9 Wednesday 12/13/2017.

Got up and took the dogs out. Brushed my teeth, sort of and  left the Walmart parking lot for the Dodge dealership. I spent the night in Nebraska and drove to Iowa to have Spike serviced.  Yep.  It was all of about 4 miles.  Got to the dealership at about 8:00.  Drank several cups of coffee and talked with some of the locals who were having vehicles serviced.  I dropped the trailer in a defunct Ford dealers lot and put the dogs in the trailer.  Every 30 minutes ur so I checked to make sure that they were okay.
Finally, at 11:00 they cut me loose.  I jumped back on I-29 and went south to Kansas City.  Aside from being nearly run off the road by idiots on their cell phones getting to KC was very boring.   From there I caught I-70 to St. Louis.  I had intended to stay the night there but they have so much violent crime that I thought it might not be safe even in a Walmart parking lot.  It was only about 90 miles on to Cape Girardeau.  I opted to drive the extra 1 1/2 hours just to be safe. Arrived at the Walmart at 10:00.
I’m hurrying every chance I get so I’m not doing much in the way of sight seeing. I understand that Rush Limbaugh’s boyhood home is here somewhere but I’ll be moving on in the morning without seeing it.  I am going to attempt to make it to Bessemer, AL to see a cousin I haven’t seen since I graduated high school in 1963.  Graduated may be a serious over statement of the facts. I was released with a piece of paper that said. ” Yep. He attended all 12 years.”  My academic career stalled when I discovered the School Library at the beginning of the 10th grade.  From then on I read 4-5 books a week.  I only read text books at the beginning of each school year.  The only books I ever took home were library books.  I discovered something odd about my education a couple of years ago.  I somehow skipped the sixth grade. Moved to Alabama to live with my father and I was just starting the 6th.  Started Brighton School in the Seventh.  I didn’t start school until I was 7 but I ‘graduated’ at 18.  Didn’t seem to make any difference.
The dogs have been fed and are asleep.  Seems a damned shame to wake them up for their evening walk. If I don’t take them out Gandy will get me up at 3-4 in the morning.
Covered 628 miles today in 11 hours.  Average speed 57.1 mph. Not a bad day of driving.   The temp is a balmy 49 degrees.
Dinner was sliced chicken on honey wheat with a slab of Vidalia onion.  Dessert was a handful of ginger snaps.  All of it washed down by vodka-seven.

Bob’s Version: Florida Bound Day 9

Day 9. Tuesday 12/12/2017.

I was thinking about all of the people my age. So many of the retire to a rocking chair and either die or become ill. You can’t account for genetics but I figured out that it isn’t ‘use it or lose it’ it is ‘use it or die’.  If you’ve just been hanging out waiting for the grim reaper you might as well go for a walk.  You could get run over by a bus or you might live a few more years.   I almost died from a heart blockage 15 years ago.  The doctor actually said to me, “Mr. Steele, I don’t know why you are still alive”.  A wake up call, if there ever was one.  Get off your ass and onto your feet.  A few steps are better than none.
After gorging myself on a blueberry muffin and coffee, the dogs and I set off for Sioux City, Iowa.
Topped off the fuel and put in a container of DEF we were ready to move along.  Noticed that the fuel mileage dropped radically it went from 10+ to just over 7 MPG.  Pulled over several times to check the trailer brakes.. Each time they weren’t overheated.  It was a mystery. Refueled twice before it dawned on me that it might be the DEF fluid was probably bad.  Someone told me that without the DEF the mileage would drop radically.  On the third fill up I put in a DEF from a different source and by the time I got to Sioux City the MPG was up to 8.9. Now I bought the original DEF at a place at an independent dealer owned by little brown people.  I don’t know if they tampered with the contents or if the contents were not as advertised.   Either way, I’m going to the Dodge dealer in the morning. A diesel engine is a terrible thing to waste.  Oil change and fuel filter warnings came on plus I need to change from snow tires to street tires.
Did you know that there are three Sioux Cities. They are North (S Dakota), South ( Nebraska) and the actual Sioux City in Iowa.  I’m spending the night at the Walmart in Nebraska and then going to the Dodge dealership in Iowa.
Turned on the heater, walked and fed the dogs before going into Walmart to find dinner.  Without a stove, I’m pretty much limited to sandwiches.  However, I found some small cans of pork and beans and a small container of coleslaw.  Heated the beans on the space heater.  Dinner was hot beans, coleslaw and a toasted chicken sandwich.  I toasted the bread on the space heater.  Dessert was ginger snaps.
The temp outside is about 30 degrees.  I’m going south as fast as I can.  It has snowed here but not recently and I don’t want to be here when it snows again.
I’m only about 1200 miles from Liveoak, FL.  I could do it in two days, if the truck didn’t need to be serviced.  Might still do it in two days, if they get me in and out quickly.

Bob’s Version: Florida Bound Day 8

Day 8 Monday 12/11/2017.

Got up at about 6:30.  Walked the dogs, fed the dogs did a tire check and Left Lloydminster at about 7:30. Made my way to Saskatoon and to the Fountain Tire Store to get the shredded tire from Sunday replaced under warranty.  They replaced the tire so now I have two spares.  This ate up over an hour of travel time but assured me that any further tire problems would be a simple matter of changing the tire.
Tire problems solved I set out for Winnipeg. The temp when I left Saskatoon was 34 degrees.  The temp when I arrived in Winnipeg was -3.  The dogs and I could not stay in the trailer at such an extreme temperature.  I found a Motel 6 and checked in. Suzy, Gandy and I were living in the lap of luxury for about 10 hours.
Covered 618 miles today to arrive at the motel at about 10:30.  It was a very tiring day.
After making four trips in with dogs and gear, I went back out to the truck and used a convenient outlet to plug in a 250 watt heat lamp which I placed next to the oil pan on the engine. Spike would start in below zero but he wouldn’t like it. No point in stressing out the engine at low temps.  Warm oil is good oil.
Got up at 7:00 expecting a breakfast down in the lobby.   There was only a few muffins, some corn flakes and some yogurt. Very disappointing. I was hoping for some boiled eggs and bagels.  I partook of what was available along with coffee.  I had already loaded the dogs and was letting the truck warm up.
Didn’t really have any dinner last night. I had no Canadian currency and that was all the vending machine would accept. Ended up eating Suzy’s turkey slices and Suzy’s apple.  There were only 3-4 slices of turkey in the pack and a half of an apple.
It is odd but you can become accustomed to not eating three times a day plus snacks in between. You get to a point where you only think of food when you suddenly realize that you a very, very hungry.

Bob’s Version: Florida Bound Day 7

Day 7 Sunday 12/10/2017.

Thought I’d be only one or two days from Live Oak, FL. By now. However, weather, road conditions and equipment failures has slowed progress.  I’m less than happy but it is what it is. I’m alive and well in spite of two ex-wives, likely, wishing otherwise.  I am the poster boy for ” You can’t fix stupid”.
Traveling these atrocious roads is a lot like drag racing.  There is no substitute for ‘cubic money’.  Left The racist town of Whitesport in the pitch dark at about 7:00 AM.  About 8:30 the new tire from yesterday came to pieces.  It was light enough that I could see the tread flapping before it cam off the rim.
A long relatively slow ride to Edmnuton ensued.  There I found a chain store called Canadian Tire that had two tires with rims. Only problem was that they were at a store 12 miles away.   Still with no tire on the rim I drove across town with about every other car waving at me and pointing back at the trailer. I kept waving and nodding.  This happened all along the 4 lane, rutted, bumpy, broken road that the Canadians cheerfully refer to as a “freeway”   It is free but it is barely a “way”.  I made my way across town by listening to the Google Maps lady.  After about 3 hours and $400 later I had a good tire on the ground and a second spare.
Finally, on the road, I set the Google lady to work getting me to Saskatoon.  As near as I can figure she didn’t want to go.  She led me down side street after side street and, ultimately, down a residential culdesac.  I was stuck in a place where turning Spike and the 28′ trailer around was a near impossibility.  If there hadn’t been two cars in the circle it might not have been such a hassle.  It took me twenty minutes of maneuvering to extricate myself.  After that fiasco I decided to ignore the Google lady and just look at the map and navigate myself.  I’m old enough that I still know how to read a map.
At 5:30 PM in the pitch dark I ended my trek in Lloydminster. No one I asked could explain the name. Pulled into the Home Depot parking lot for the night.  There was a Denny’s about 100 yards back down the parking lot and a liquor store behind me about 100 feet.  What a wonderfully awesome coincidence.
I fed the poor put upon canines, Suzy and Gandy. They’d had a very difficult day barking at passers by and the crew at the tire store. Lighted the heater while they finished eating and called it a day.  The wind is blowing like crazy and shaking the trailer so much that the tip over switch keeps tripping and turning the stove off.  I will likely move the trailer so that it is facing into the wind instead of broadside to it.
I’m sitting here trying to decide Grand Slam or Country Fried Steak.   The last restaurant food I’ve eaten was McDonalds back in Anchorage. Mostly been eating C Store sandwiches or making myself a sandwich after I have fed the dogs.
Moved the truck/trailer to face upwind I decided to skip Denny’s. I’ve done a bit of sailing and I can tell you that the wind is 30+ with gusts well over 40.  It’s another roast Beef/Frito sandwich for me tonight.