Saturday, April 7, 2007

February Frenzy

Cousin Patty’s visit the first weekend in February, however crappy the weather, was an island of calm in the storm of our busy calendar. Almost the moment she was on the plane, we were back on the road again.

First stop was the FMCA’s (Family Motorcoach Association) southeast regional convention in Brooksville, Florida. Brooksville is just a hop, skip and a jump away from Crystal River, and, since we’d never attended one of these things, we’d signed up. The convention took over a good part of the Hernando County Airport, and motorhomes were parked one after the other in three rows down the length of not one but two runways! What a sight it is to see a couple thousand motorhomes in one place!

I cannot tell you how impressive the organization of this event was to us. There were four full days of seminars going on in a half-dozen tents, with coffee and donuts for all in the morning and entertainment at night. Volunteers drove trams – either school buses or trolleys towed by trucks – from first light to the end of day. And of course there was the field of new models on display.

The main activity Don and I participated in was an RV Safe Driving Course. Graduation earned us certificates that save us $ on our insurance. Although the two session course was mainly a review of principles we should already know, I think we both found it a worthwhile refresher. The other meaty seminar we sat in on was the one on tire safety. We went right over to the vendors tent and purchased a tire monitor with senders for the six tires of the coach and the four on the car. With this in place we can keep a close eye on the pressures as we go down the road, and an alarm will sound if any tire’s pressure drops by 12%. After our flat on the tow car last year, this seemed a no-brainer.

From Brooksville, we drove south to Ft. Meyers for a few days visit with Don’s folks. Let me emphasize the “WE.” Flush with my RV safety course, I was determined to drive. Up to now I have avoided it, with just a short stint on a light-trafficked road and around the parks. This time I got behind the wheel just south of Tampa and drove most of the way to Ft. Meyers on I75. It was terrifying for all concerned. Don makes it looks so easy, but the damn thing does not track straight. I’d be going along just fine when before I knew it the starboard tires were going whumpa, whumpa, whumpa on the safety grooves along the shoulder, conceived to awaken a dozing driver. I wasn’t dozing! To get it back in the lane required a correction that threatened to put me into the next lane! As snake a wake as I was making, I must point out I never did cross into the other lane, but when I suggested to Don that a sign identifying me as a novice driver might be wise in the back window, he said, “I think they know.”

Still and all I did it, which is comforting to know in case of an emergency. With all the writing I do to motivate women cruisers to be proactive, the least I can do on the RV is manage to drive it.

However I don’t think it will become a habit.

We had a nice if short visit with Don’s folks who’d got themselves a primo parking spot right at the head of Upriver Park in North Fort Meyers. From here they could sit on their patio and watch all the comings and goings, it was an easy stroll to the post office or the ice cream socials, and their daily loops for exercise offered several routes, including, our favorite, a stroll out to the waters of the Caloosahatchee River.

From Ft. Meyers we drove east to Miami for a week working the Miami Boatshow. Like last year we had a pass to bring the coach downtown to park in the exhibitors’ lot right at Bayside. So like last year, we drove our rig into downtown Miami at 5:30 am to avoid entangling ourselves in urban traffic.

I was again working for Sea Tech Systems in the Strictly Sail Tents at Bayside. Don was working for Spectra Watermakers down in the main convention center (where the power boaters hang out!) This pretty well meant our day split after morning coffee, and rejoined about dinner time. Dinner was usually with the Sea Tech group at our restaurant find of the year – an Argentinean place called The Knife, but a couple of evenings we got off on our own with friends. With both of us working, especially since we are both getting better at it, the week-long investment of time is really starting to pay off. Plus, we have been enough that we are starting to feel like regulars. People know us; friends come by. It’s turning into a good way to keep the sailor side of us alive while back living on dirt!

From Miami we drove North to Melbourne for couple of days visit with friends Dave McCampbell and Sherry Becketts. I have little experience playing matchmaker, but we introduced Dave and Sherry last year when both were looking for a cruising partner. Now, Dave’s boat Soggy Paws (a sistership to Tackless II) is docked behind Sherry’s condo, and the two are on a determined campaign to consolidate their lives and take off cruising by the end of April! If anyone can do it they can! I have had a few second thoughts about making this introduction, however, since Sherry has been my webmaster these past couple of years and now she’ll be gone!

In fact, the official reason for our visit was to refresh my memory on how to makes posts to my own website. I am embarrassed to admit that I have no gift for this and have relied heavily on others to make happen all that you (dear reader) have seen on www.thetwocaptains.com! But it looks like I am going to be saved by Blogger.com. Blogger.com and Sailblogs.com are the Internet’s gift to the mobile sailor. Although I have squirmed at the concepts of the “blog” phenomenon, I am a complete convert. Not only is it practically idiot-proof (as you can see by these past postings), but once you have it set up you can simply post your updates right to your Blog by email. In Melbourne Sherry gave lessons to me and another cruiser, Jean Service of the CSY Jean Marie, and Jean and I spent a great day together practicing. By the way, Jean and her husband Tom are soon to take off on their second circumnavigation, this time via the Horn. Check their new blog out at: http://svjeanmarie.blogspot.com/

With our departure from Melbourne, our calendar promised to return to a more homely bent. We had a visit with the kids in Clearwater ahead, Don’s folks were scheduled to bring their RV to NCL, and the new Harley called.

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