Friday, May 31, 2013

Hazards of Living in Florida

You wouldn't think there'd be very many, right? Well, there are....We heard on the news this morning, that over 100 people were rescued in ONE DAY by lifeguards at the beaches in Florida yesterday, due to dangerous rip tides...Lifeguards were telling people not to go in the water past your knees, it has been so dangerous lately.....

Sparky started this blog as a lighthearted idea, thinking there really weren't too many hazards of living in the sunshine state. But then, she started investigating....She found a website that the lead line was, "903 Tips and Warnings of Florida Dangers..."  YIKES! What did that one say? It turns out to be a collection of disgruntled tourists who ventured into the wrong neighborhoods in certain cities, senior citizens who got too loud in a public place due to malfunctioning hearing aids (for REAL!) and because they were so being so loud, they were kicked out of a joint in Key West,  (are you sure they weren't drunk? wonders Eldo) and other silly stuff. So, are there any legitimate hazards of living in Florida? Sure, there are...A couple are beach related, but others are not....

HURRICANES! The prediction for 2013 is an "extremely active" hurricane season this year. A 70% chance of 13-20 named storms happening, 7-11 will likely become hurricanes, and 3-6 will likely be major hurricanes. Major hurricanes will be category 3, 4 or 5 storms with winds of 111 m.p.h. or more....Hurricane season "officially" begins June 1.

SHARKS! In 2011, Florida had more shark attacks than any other state and the world...The sharks seem to be coming closer to shore than ever before, some researchers are finding...Sharks started hanging out closer to Florida's shores about ten years ago, and scientists really don't know why. Sparky doesn't care to know why, she is just going to avoid going into the waters any more than waist deep, and probably not even that far...She's not a big salt water fan anyway.... Did you know sharks are snowbirds? Yep! They travel north and south up and down the Eastern seaboard just like people do! Sharks travel to Florida in January for warmer temperatures, and by summer, they are more scarce...Guess they head back to northern waters...

BIGGER, BADDER MOSQUITOES! A new, invasive, non-native mosquito, the Asian Tiger mosquito has established its presence in Florida after accidentally being brought over from Japan in old truck tires headed for recycling in Houston, TX. in 1985. They have rapidly spread throughout the south as most invasive species do. They don't need a lot of water to breed like regular mosquitoes.  They can breed in little water holes in trees or tiny little puddles. That's bad news for Florida!

What's bad about these mosquitoes is they can carry new diseases not common to the dengue fever, which is a incurable virus that causes fever, bad joint pain, and other malaise. They are tiny, can get through cracks and screens more easily than your garden variety of mosquito, and they feed 24 hours a day as opposed to regular mosquitoes that feed mainly at dawn and dusk. So far the only cases of dengue fever have been reported in the tropics and in Key West...

SKIN CANCER! NOT! Surprisingly to Sparky, Florida is NOT one of the states with the highest skin cancer rates. Guess people use sunscreen and get checked regularly here in Florida. The states that DO have the highest skin cancer rates is very surprising---Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Indiana, Montana, Oregon, Utah, and West Virginia. 

SINKHOLES!  After hearing about the big sinkhole in Seffner, FL this year, where a man died after the sinkhole swallowed up his bedroom while he was sleeping, we thought we'd better check out where  they are in Florida. Unfortunately, the map doesn't show ALL the sinkholes...Egads! There are a lot of places to worry about sinkholes in Florida! Well, just be sure you get sinkhole insurance if you are in a sinkhole prone area. Sinkholes are prevalent where there is limestone under the bedrock, so if you are in an area with sandy soil and a different composition of bedrock, you don't have to worry about sinkholes.

ALLIGATORS!  Not as big a worry as northerners seem to think. Alligators mind their own business usually, and are quite timid when they see humans around UNLESS--people have tried to feed them. Once they associate humans with food, they might tend to become aggressive and come towards you looking for food. They do go after four legged critters that are on the same height plane if they are hungry. We remember seeing a warning sign at Midway Campground in the Everglades that cautioned against letting small dogs roam freely around the campground pond. Sparky and Eldo did the 17 mile Shark Valley bike trail in the Everglades with nary a problem with gators. They were sunning themselves just a few feet from our bikes. Gator after gator we passed. They were laying right on the bike path! We counted about 17 last year when we were down there as we rode past them.

LIGHTNING! Florida is the lightning capital of the U.S., a dubious honor to be sure. An average of 10-12 people a year are struck and killed by lightning in Florida. Central Florida is known as "Lightning Alley." And you thought there was only Tornado Alley and Alligator Alley! With over 100 days a year having thunderstorms here in Florida, lightning is something to pay attention to! Just yesterday, a lady was struck and killed by lightning at a beach in St. Pete's Beach. Lightning even beats out tornado deaths which account for 13% of all weather deaths here in Florida. Lightning deaths account for 53% of weather related deaths in Florida. Time for a review of lightning safety.

Rubber soled shoes are not going to help, car tires, not as much protection as you think. As long as you aren't touching any metal parts and you are inside the car, you should be ok. Stay away from electrical appliances in your home during a thunder/lightning storm, don't take a bath, stay off your corded phone and computer if connected to the wiring system in your house. Beach shelters, metal sheds (duh), picnic shelters, carports are no protection from lightning. Lightning can strike MORE than ten miles away from the center of the thunderstorm, a distance beyond the audible range of thunder. Know the 30-30 Rule: If the "flash to bang" time from seeing lightning to hearing thunder is 30 seconds or less, seek shelter IMMEDIATELY and stay there for 30 minutes or longer. That rule is harder to follow in the Tampa Bay area as storms roll in and out faster than it seems you can blink your eyes. Just like the lady who was killed on the beach yesterday. That storm came in so fast she didn't have time to make it to safety. It would be wise to have a NOAA portable weather radio when spending a lot of time camping outdoors or at the coastal beaches. We've got one, do we use it? Nope! We should!

PYTHONS! A marine biologist who had Burmese pythons for a pet as a kid, caught a record 17-18 foot python at the side of the road in rural Miami-Dade county just the other day. He was traveling in an ATV when he saw the head of the snake poking out of some bushes. So he pulls over and grabs the snake from behind the head.

The snake proceeded to start wrapping himself around the guy, around his legs and arms.  He knew he had to keep the snake from wrapping itself around his neck. There were two other guys with him, thankfully. After ten minutes of them struggling with the snake, they finally cut off the snake's head. The biologist said he wasn't afraid. Who thinks he was lying? :-)

And we thought pythons were only in the Everglades! Not a big worry for the rest of Florida, however...

And related to pythons, VENOMOUS SNAKES! Three kinds of rattlesnakes live here in Florida--the Eastern diamondback, the canebrake, and the dusky pigmy. And then you have the venomous Southern copperhead, the Florida cottonmouth (Sparky saw one of those on a bike trail once not too long ago) and the Eastern coral snake. We saw a rest stop on I-4 heading to Orlando while taking a day trip last month, that had a caution sign: "WARNING! Venomous snakes area."

After Sparky's great tourist promoting for the state of Florida, and in particular, the beautiful city of Sarasota, she'd better quick posting about the hazards....But it was fun learning about all this stuff, though. Hope you learned something, too!

By the way, one last thing...(Sparky's on a roll again, folks!) It's National Trail Day. Go out and show one of your favorite trails where you are some LOVE....Clean it up, pick up trash, walk it! Take some friends with you. Take some photos and share on   Donate some money to Rails-to-Trails---Sparky's favorite trail website.

Bye for now.......

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Places We WOULDN'T Like to Visit...or Would We?

Sparky was just messing around on the internet today and came across several different lists of unsual city names in the U.S. after reading a similar column in an old Reader's Digest ...That got her to thinking....(Which is usually a dangerous thing, explains E.) Everybody has places that they WANT to about places you wouldn't visit or go back to because of a bad experience? We haven't had any bad experiences in our three years out on the road, but we don't think we would want to head out to....

Yellow Water, FL---we might get sick....Roachtown, IL--we've had our share of regional bugs wherever we've gone....So guess that rules out Mosquitoville, VT....

Somebody might want to visit Hooker Corner, IN--but it's not going to be us. (Are you sure? wonders E.) Positively sure....Sparky thinks she'd like to visit Disco, IL as she LOVES to dance....But we'd better be careful and not get anybody ticked off in Athol, ID (don't say THAT with a lisp!)....Lots of bloggers have gone through Truth or Consequences, NM  but not won any prizes, we're sure....Hopeulikit, GA is really wanting your tourist dollars, be sure to stop on your way through....Sparky for sure would get lost trying to find Covert, NY, she probably would never find it with her spatially challenged sense of direction....For sure, we are NOT going to Tick Bite, NC...but we might think about a rest stop in Peepee, OH.  Be sure your auto/RV insurance policies are up to date if you pass through Burnt Store, FL, Burnt Chimney, Burnt Pass, or Burnt Tree, the last three all in Vermont. A lot of people might want to visit Weed, CA....maybe some retired hippees?

Any interest in Hellhole Palms, CA? No? Well, you could always attend some local boxing events that are probably popular in Knockemstiff, in Ohio....Sparky thinks Eek, AL might have some scary stuff to see....

OK, enough of that silliness for now...On to the next topic of the day! What's on your travel bucket list?  Everybody has places they'd love to see and explore...We'd love to hear! We will share ours, if you will share yours. We'll go first. It's very general in term of state or locale. However, Sparky has seen some cool stuff lately on a specific place to visit, the Thorncrown Chapel  in the woods near Eureka Springs, Arkansas, in the Ozarks. THAT spot is HIGH on Sparky's list of future destinations.

So, Sparky posed this question to Eldo, "Where would you like to go that you haven't been yet?" and he was stumped....Sparky's going to help him out with a few....Boulder, Colorado and the whole state itself...We haven't made it there yet, but hope to....Minnesota, Sparky wants to kayak in the land of a thousand lakes.....The Arches National Park and Bryce Utah.....There are FIVE national parks in Utah, making this a great destination and one we need to repeat.. We've been to Zion National Park but we need to check out the other parks there, too! Sparky thinks she would like to go on a tall ship sailing cruise, or a big sailing vessel cruise. Sparky wants to go to Alaska to see, what else? MOOSE! LOTS of them! Eldy has been there, so no big deal for him, but it's on Sparky's bucket list. Sparky also thinks after visiting the National Park Service website for suggested getaway trips, that some of the lesser known areas/destinations would be WONDERFUL places to visit....

Not only are the common national parks that we haven't seen yet on our bucket list, we would be adding others to our list if we researched a little more...We like to find the out- of -the- ordinary places, like the chapel listed above...We usually stumble on those as we travel...Some of the coolest destinations in the U.S. are not in national parks or big cities, they are hidden gems waiting to be discovered, off the beaten path. That's what makes full time RVing or even part time RVing so interesting and rewarding....

What's on YOUR travel bucket list?  We'd love to hear from you.....

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Farmer's Market X 5

Sarasota, FL        High:  too high        Low: Not low enough

We've been here long enough Sparky is not going to post the weather temps any more...It's hot, so hot you can fry an egg on the hood of your car if you wanted to!  If we get a cooling spell, Sparky will publish the temps. But's gonna be hot back in Elkhart, IN this week, Eldy's home town. It's gonna be just as hot in Elkhart as it is here for a couple of days, in the high eighties!....But then they get lucky, and temps will go back down into the sixties...

But we're doing ok with the higher temps...We're trying to drink plenty of water, because we get dehydrated much faster with the temperatures climbing...Sparky is wearing her sunscreen every day and yes, mostly every day her sunglasses....

Today we went back to the Sarasota Farmer's Market. It's about our fifth time...What a great market atmosphere! The Sarasota 17 piece jazz band, called the Jazz Project, was playing this morning for a couple of hours. What a great place to sit and listen to some big band music for awhile....Of course, Eldy checked out the brass instruments as he made them for 43 years...These guys are playing some flugelhorns.

People come and walk their dogs through the market, sort of "check out my dog, will ya?" as they stroll....The flower booths are just gorgeous...and so are the flower shirted people who work there!

You can buy gorgeous, BIG houseplants there. Beautiful peace lilies which act as a natural air filter for your home, and fiddleleaf fig plants. Sparky thought 15.00 was very reasonable for a HUGE specimen, about three to four feet high!

All kinds of breakfast and lunch foods are served there..Sparky almost got some strawberry crepes for breakfast today from this guy....They looked yummy!

The big coffee wagon was there, Java Dawg.....It gets VERY busy as the morning progresses....

There is LOTS of organic produce to choose from....

And teas of all kinds are big at the market, too....Sparky is not a tea drinker, Eldo is, but only sweet tea, which is loaded with sugar, he knows.....

Later, we headed over to T.J. Carney's in Venice, a little Irish pub. It had GREAT burgers, Eldo reports! Sparky had some potato skins that were just so-so....And that was our outing for the day! See you later!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Sarasota, FL      High:    91    Low:    69

First of all, it's HOT....Going to be 90 degrees for the next few days....And, yep, it's humid...Welcome to Florida's early summer....which appears here to stay....

On the weather this morning and every morning, they give the UV report...UV rays are a form of energy and are radiation ultraviolet rays that can cause skin cancer, and eye diseases such as cataracts (so wear those sunglasses, folks!) and macular degeneration. UV rays are an invisible form of radiation.They are both harmful and helpful. UV rays are  beneficial in that they help your body produce vitamin D naturally, which protects against colon cancer and helps build bone strength. It's sort of a quandary--when you live in a southern latitude climate, you are told to wear sunscreen all the time, yet other reports say it's good to let your body absorb some rays withOUT sunscreen now and then, so your body can naturally manufacture vitamin D. So do you wear sunscreen all the time or just some of the time? Sparky votes for all of the time while in Florida, but she doesn't practice what she preaches! (No, siree! I'm on her all the time about it! says a concerned E.)

The most common UV rays is sunlight which produces 3 types of UV rays--UVA, UVB, and UVC.  Most of what our skin comes in contact with is UVA with some UVB. UVA rays reach the outer layer of your skin, the epidermis, and UVB rays reach the middle layer of your skin, the dermis. When you buy sunglasses, you will see reference to these two types of rays on the better sunglasses.

If you think that a cloudy day doesn't mean you need to wear sunglasses or sunscreen, THINK AGAIN! Cloud cover has little significant effect on UV rays. And if you are at the beach, UV rays are MAGNIFIED many times by the reflection off the water and the sand. But you probably already knew that. Sparky is just reminding herself. :-)

The UV radiation report index was developed by the National Weather Service and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). It indicates the strength of solar UV radiation on a scale from 1, which is very low, to 11+ which is extremely high. Here's a handy dandy little chart to help you know how to protect yourself in southern climates. When levels are high, they recommend you stay out of the sun during the worst part of the day for UV exposure which is from 10:00-4:00 PM.

UV Protection Recommendations
UV IndexRisk LevelRecommendations
2 or lessLow1. Wear sunglasses.
2. If you burn easily, use sunscreen with an SPF* of 15+.
3 - 5Moderate1. Wear sunglasses.
2. Cover up and use sunscreen.
3. Stay in the shade near midday, when the sun is strongest.
6 - 7High1. Wear a hat and sunglasses.
2. Cover up and use sunscreen.
3. Reduce time in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
8 - 10Very high1. Wear a hat and sunglasses.
2. Cover up and use sunscreen.
3. Minimize sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
11+Extreme1. Wear a hat and sunglasses.
2. Apply sunscreen (SPF 15+) liberally every two hours.
3. Try to avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
*SPF = sun protection factor
Information based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Today, the UV level is 11 here in Sarasota.  Get your sunscreen on, Sparky! And forget the beach today!

Sparky is TERRIBLE about using it, which is bad, because her dad died from skin cancer and lung cancer. Sparky baked herself all the way through high school and college as a life guard in the summers, and as a young mother well into her thirties....She slathered sun screen on her kids but never on herself. Not good! But she IS wearing her sunglasses more....Thanks to Eldy's constant reminders!

By the way, if you are in the market for sunglasses, or needing to replace a pair you've lost, (AHEM! Sparky is on about her 5th pair since we've been on the road, clarifies Eldo,) wraparounds are the best protection for your eyes. We buy "fitovers", glasses that go over our regular glasses so we don't have to mess with expensive prescription sunglasses.  You can buy them ultra cheaply at big flea markets for about 10.00 a pair, or at Walmart for 20.00 a pair. Here's a great link to all about sunglasses, tints, etc. sunglasses...
When purchasing sunglasses, be sure to look for sunglasses that protect 100% against UV rays.

OK, now you know all you need to know about UV rays and sunglasses! Or not.... :-)  Sparky will wear her sunglasses if you guys promise to wear yours more! (She's gonna wear them anyway...says E. With macular degeneration in her family, she had better wear them!)  Yes, dear......Bye for now...We're going garage sale-ing tomorrow! One of Sparky's favorite things to do.... Yay!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Checking Out the "Hood"

Sarasota, Fl         High:  93       Low:   68

Is it hot enough for you, Sparky? Egads...YEAH! It's hotter than blazes out there! But thank goodness, there's AC everywhere--and it's working great! Sparky would hate to have the AC go KAPUT! in the car or something....She thinks she is starting to get a LITTLE used to the heat....Eldy sure hopes so, we're planning on hanging around in Sarasota for awhile longer...

We decided to go garage sale-ing today....To check out some estate sales in some nice neighborhoods...Estate  sales seem to be a step up from garage sales, a BIG step up! We attended one today where the prices were kind of 49.00 for an old HP printer that was at least five years old. Heck, you can buy a brand new one for slightly less than 100 bucks! An estate sale company was running the show and they let it be known there was NO negotiating of prices until the end of the sale the next day...That's no fun when you can't negotiate! So we moved on.....We went to another estate sale....It was fantastic and had some amazing things of beauty for sale, but everything was way out of our budget. It was fun to see how others decorate their interiors, like this pink room (shown below) in one home that we visited.....Sparky likes to see the different landscaping as well...The many different palms are so interesting in their stages of development as time passes by....

Sometimes estate sales bum Sparky out. Like when you go to one, and there are five walkers and a special potty seat in the garage, and somebody's clothing is for sale that you know has passed away....Sparky was surprised that this person had a full length mink coat-- here in Florida!

It's different when somebody is just getting rid of clothes they never wear, but when you walk into a house where you know the adult children in the family are closing out the house, and their parents have either passed away or have been sent to live in a nursing home, the atmosphere feels a little depressing....

Sparky read a story recently of someone having to clean out their parents' house more than once, getting rid of clutter and junk, and how frustrating it was because their parents refused to move to something more manageable for everybody. Sparky hopes to never to be that difficult to be moved to a more realistic setting in her elder years, and hopes she never becomes a hoarder of "STUFF". (Too late! She's already a hoarder of craft materials, supplies, beads, yarn, and fabric, says a chagrined Eldo.) Oh, but there's a bit of a difference between hoarding everything and having your stash, right crafty ladies? Sparky thanks you in advance for supporting her habit. :-)

After perusing different neighborhoods and estate sales, we decided to have a nice lunch at Der Dutchman, the restaurant that has the Amish/Mennonite style of cooking with THE BEST fried chicken in the county. The Amish and Mennonites know how to do fried chicken right, that's for sure! 12.99 for the freshest buffet, roasted and braised turkey, homemade rolls, meats, vegetables, salads and homemade gravies....delish! And afterwards, when you have stuffed yourself so much you can hardly move, sit on the front porch and rock for awhile...So we do! You can buy one of these VERY comfortable rockers for around 219.00.
Time to go home and take a nap! See you later!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sparky Loves a Parade!

Even if it is short! Like about 20 minutes.....Lakewood Ranch had their Memorial Day parade today and everybody was ready....We were, too!
We didn't know what to expect...It started on time, and finished in record time!  They say it keeps getting bigger every year, we hope it gets bigger each year, too! There was one band, with one set of pom pom girls....

A WWII vet which was nice to see....They are becoming fewer and fewer.....

The kids and their bikes reminded Sparky of when she and her brothers used to decorate their bikes back in the fifties....One kid had a scooter and we think it was powered! What's this younger generation coming to, anyway?

What's happening to the older generation for that matter!? It takes a real man to wear this headgear!

As always, there were cute kids. This little girl was dancing for her dad's video as they played Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." over the loudspeaker system......

There was a big pirate ship float with guys dressed like Spanish conquistadors.....
A beauty queen......

And Captain Colton was there, in his Blue Angels jet....

There were some bagpipers,  a Sparky favorite....Something about the sound of bagpipes is so inspirational and moving....

This little guy looked the part of a bored cowboy....He'll probably grow up with a toothpick hanging out of his mouth, slim jeans and cool cowboy boots on....Or not.....

Even though it was a short parade....we enjoyed it...

There was a little bit of excitement as well. Some woman wielding a beer can was threatening enough to the parade participants that she came running by us following by three security guys chasing in pursuit. Don't know what the problem was, but they ended up catching up with her and restraining her...She ended up crying at the side of the curb while police were called. One guy finally got her calmed down. Maybe she had some kind of political agenda on her mind, but this just wasn't the place to reveal that!

Happy Memorial Day everyone! Thank a veteran...Sparky is thanking her daughter who is an Iraqi vet, who chose to join the military and serve her country...So proud of our children who serve...There are many of us bloggers out there who have sons and daughters in the military. Thank you, soldiers, for your service!
The end

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Spring Cleaning a Little Late

Sarasota, FL       High:  90     Low:  70

Sparky went for a bike ride around the park today. You can ride and ride all over, around and through the park, and get about six miles in if you are thorough. The park is SO empty! Many rigs have been placed in storage inside the park.

Well, Sparky decided that she better get a MOVIN' on cleaning the rig...She's been rather lazy lately, and had let things slide. Not that cleaning an RV is a big deal, you can get the job done in about half an hour. Sparky wonders how her housekeeping skills would be in a regular sized house? Of course, Eldy would help her! At any rate, time to do the basic chores today-- mop floors, wipe counters, vacuum, and clean the little bathroom. Done! Our Phaeton has a central vac of all things, so vacuuming goes pretty quickly!

What we decided to do next was to move out some of our winter stuff into a storage shed since we're planning on spending the next winter season here in Sarasota. We have quite a few winter items that take up a lot of space---coats, hats, and a variety of hiking boots, lots of shoes we never wear, and clothes we haven't worn since we hit the road. We actually did need some of that stuff all over the country as we traveled in all kinds of climates, but lately we have been concentrating our stay in Florida and the south so now we don't need it. We haven't left Sarasota yet, but we need to make more room in the motorhome, so Sparky can have more room for her crafts--NOT! (says a very determined E.)
So-o-o-o...we rented a storage shed right across the street from Sun 'n' Fun, because that's where we are going to be next winter. No, not in the storage shed!  tee hee hee :-)  We have plans to stay at Sun 'n' Fun from December thru March this coming season.

This is a COOL storage setup. Ordering a unit is all automatically done by computer /video camera inside a kiosk that is video monitored for safety. There is a live support person (on camera) if you need it. It's called XPress Storage. The first month was free, great deal!  It's 49.00 a month after that for a 5 X 10 unit, it's climate controlled and on the interior of a central building, so we don't have to worry about bugs. So they say.....You have to purchase a lock for 5.00 that works with the units, and it's automatically dispensed in the kiosk tray after you purchase the unit you wish. It's clean, it's so easy!

Sparky started carting over a BUNCH of winter wear stuff in space bags that we probably won't be needing for quite some time.

After making a couple of trips to the storage shed, we were beat in the heat! Time for a beer for Eldy and a soda for Sparky over at Mi Pueblo, our favorite Mexican restaurant.
Sparky had her favorite tacos--shrimp with mango salsa, Eldy had a shredded beef burrito...Sparky LOVES ethnic foods...She thinks we need to find a great Chinese/Thai restaurant to try! (Oh, boy....not my favorite, but if Mama's happy, then everybody's happy. Guess we will be looking for a good Chinese restaurant soon, says E.) That was too easy! (says Sparky.  :-)

Some fun stuff coming up soon with the holiday weekend! We'll see you later!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Some Cool Stuff for RVing

Sarasota, FL             High:  88    Low:  71

One of the things Sparky has missed while traveling full time in an RV is gardening---growing her own vegetables and flowers. Other than carting around a bunch of pots with messy dirt, how do you garden in an RV? Wouldn't you know, somebody has thought of this specialty niche! This is from Mike Wendland's blog/website,

New store helps RVers grow gardens on the road
Here's a cool new business startup of interest to RVers: One thing many RVers miss on the road is growing their own vegetables and herbs. A new business called RV Sprouts has opened that features home gardening supplies, seed starting supplies, and vegetable seeds and plants that are perfect for RV users. The store's annual flowers, herb seeds, cottage flowers and fruit plants are perfect for starting a robust garden on the road or at home. Check it out!

Sparky might just decide to start growing vegetables! (Vegetables? What are those? laughs E., who is severely deficient in those lately.) Sparky is not very good about getting the daily fruit and veggie requirements in for the both of us. Shame, shame! She knows.....

Are you looking for gifts for an RVer? Pinterest has just the board for you. What is Pinterest? It's a pinboard style photo sharing website. It's a visual smorgasboard of digitally pinned photos, videos, etc., sort of like a collection of digital bulletin boards that ordinary people have compiled. It's addicting!

Some of these ideas are a little sketchy and maybe not as useful as we full timers think. A remote controlled rolling beverage cooler? C'mon...seriously????  A magnetic knife board that looks like wood? That doesn't seem like a good idea to have your knives out on display hanging magnetically while traveling down the highway. The Pinterest board is still a fun to look at and Sparky loves looking at Pinterest anyway. It's like eye candy. Sparky is SO easily captivated by bright colorful photos...Sparky likes the LED flashlight on this cool gifts for RVers board.

Here's a link to Sparky's Pinterest page in case you are interested in another example of what Pinterest is like.

How about a grill that fits in your pocket? A stainless steel portable camp grill that weighs just over a pound, is dishwasher safe and folds up. It's only 49.99 and can be found here: Shipping is FREE!

Are you bored today? You shouldn't be if you are full timing! There's WA-A-A-Y too much to see and do out there on the road! We've been in the same spot for 5 1/2 months, so we thought we'd throw out a little RV trivia quiz for you, courtesy of Island RV Guide....

RV Trivia Challenge

Are you an RV Guru, a fairly well informed RV enthusiast, or are you an “RV For Dummies” candidate?  Check it out and let’s hear how you score.
1) When changing lanes you use your directional signal.  The signal should be canceled when…
A) When you are completely in the new lane.
B) When you are at least half way into the new lane.
C) As soon as you start crossing into the new lane.

2) When descending a steep long grade and slowing is needed, the service brakes should be…
A) Not needed
B) Applied lightly during the descent
C) Applied hard and released as needed

3) The coolant in a large diesel engine is….
A) Polypropylene antifreeze.
B) Special antifreeze made for sleeved diesel engines.
C) Is the same glycol that is used in all engines.
4) What is an ICC switch for?
A) To switch daytime running lights on and off.
B) To signal other traffic.
C) To verify your headlights are not on high.

5) What is meant if a front axle is referred to as having “Wet hubs”?
A) A seal failure has occurred in the front hubs.
B) Water has seeped into the front axle housing.
C) The hubs are oil bath type.
D) The bearing grease has turned to a liquid state.

6) At what pressure do you maintain your RV tires at?
A) Using the weight of the vehicle and based on the tire makers specifications.
B) At the pressure shown on the sidewall of every tire sold.
C) At whatever the tire manufacturer specified maximum pressure is.
7) If your transmission temperature gets too high, what’s the best way to cool it.
A) Stop, and speed up the engine while in neutral.
B) Shift into the highest gear you can to slow the pinion speed.
C) Stop then Shut off the engine.

8) What is the correct hitch weight for a trailer that is 3500 lbs. gross weight?
A) 350 lbs.
B) 100 lbs.
C) Between 500 and 750 lbs.
D) Hitch weight has no bearing on trailer weight.

9) When turning left at an intersection that has two left turn lanes, which lane should you use for your over-average vehicle length?
A) The inner, far left lane.
B) The outer far right lane.
C) Either will work.
10) What was the unique feature of the older 6-71, 6-92, 8V-71, 8V-92, and like Detroit Diesel engines?
A) They would run on gas or diesel fuel.
B) They were a two stroke engines.
C) They were made by Cummins.
D) All of the above.
11) What is a turbo waste gate?
A) A fast dumping black tank valve that uses a garden sized dump hose.
B) It acts as a boost regulator on a turbo charger.
C) It catches unburned fuel and recycles it through the engine.
D) A new high speed trash compactor available in highline coaches.

12) What does the term “common rail” refer to?
A) Fuel injection manifold.
B) Chassis main frame rails.
C) A cheap way to ship parts.
D) An assistant handle located at the door of a coach.

13) What is the most popular sized inverter used in “A” coaches today?
A) 7 to 10 kw
B) 100 to 300 watts
C) 2 to 3 kw
D) 4000 to 6000 watts

14) Generally RV class size from larger to smaller is…..
A) C, B, A.
B) A.B.C.
C) A.C.B.
D) B.A.C.
15) A 30 amp campground power outlet delivers 30 amps @ 120 VAC.  What does a full 50 amp output?
A) 60 amps @ 120 VAC
B) 50 amps @ 240 VAC
C) 50 amps @ 120 VAC

16) What is the best voltage to set an AGS (Auto Gen Start) at?
A) 12.3 volts
B) 11.5 volts
C) 12.5 volts
D) 13.0 volts
E) 10.5 volts

So, how did you do? Check the answers below.
1) A - When you are completely in the new lane.
2) C - Applied hard and released as needed
3) B - Special antifreeze made for sleeved diesel engines.
4) B - To signal other traffic.
5) C - The hubs are oil bath type.
6) A - Using the weight of the vehicle and based on the tire makers specifications.
7) A - Speed up the engine while in neutral.
8) A - 350 lbs.
9) B - The outer far right lane.
10) B - They were a two stroke engines.
11) B - It acts as a boost regulator on a turbo charger.
12) A - Fuel injection manifold.
13) C - 2 to 3 kw
14) C - A.C.B 
15) B - 50 amps @ 240 VAC
16) B - 11.5 volts
Here’s your rating based on your score.
16 - Super RV Guru
14 - Well informed RV enthusiast
12 - Pretty smart
10 - Probably about average
8 - Below average RV knowledge
6 - Possible candidate for “RV For Dummies”
Under 6 - Good Night Nurse!  Better give the keys to someone else.

Today was really hot....89 degrees...whewee! So we went looking at STUFF indoors...window shopping for nothing in particular...dreaming big about finding a house someday in Sarasota. After we looked around for awhile, we were hungry. (Correction: SPARKY was hungry, clarifies E.) Sparky decided she wanted to try a restaurant/dive bar in Siesta Key called Captain Curt's Crab and Oyster Bar. It's not modern, but it's cozy, family oriented, the food is reasonably priced, AND they have an award winning chowder.

This restaurant won first place in the 2012 Best Chowder Award at the International Chowder Championships in Newport, Rhode Island. The chowder festival has been featured on the Food Network and the CBS Morning Show. So Sparky and Eldo had some of Captain Curt's award winning chowder and it was DELICIOUS!

The day passed by quickly, and tomorrow it's going to be hot, hot, hot again...We'll see what Eldo has in mind...Stay tuned......

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sparky's Last Day in Houston

Houston, TX     High:  88    Low:  72

Sparky spent her last day hanging out with her daughter, Kerry and little Barron...we just took it easy as it was very hot out...Sparky watched the first Star Trek movie from 2009 while Barron took his nap, and Kerry ran errands. Sparky played a LOT with her little grandson and read him some stories....
He really really loves to look at books and he's less than a year old!
One of Barron's favorite things to do with his mommy is to listen to a little train video called "Choo-Choo Train" by Pigs Fly Studio on YouTube. So they did that, too....

Pizza for supper, Tutti Frutti frozen yogurt for dessert...and the day was gone before we knew it. Sparky decided to make a little photo collage of her favorites that she took during her visit to remember in the blog.....Some day the blog is going to be made into a book, and Sparky wanted all these photos to be here, even if they are repeated, because they are so precious!....So here they are......
Sparky will not forget this special visit. She got to see what a wonderful job Kerry is doing as his mom, to see little Barron learning to enjoy books, to see him develop some pretty sophisticated fine motor skills as he carefully turned the pages in his board books. She got to be very very silly with Barron...exchanging all kinds of silly noises, like giving each other the "raspberries"...making all kinds of sounds together...getting to see him giggle over every little small thing Grandma did to make him smile, like tickling him...She got to watch him play one of his favorite games with the multiple pillows on a bed or sofa...Watching him take a big jump on one side of the pillows and fall down on them, then turn to the other side and jump and fall, PLOP! on the pillows and then laugh his head off at his own antics. This little guy was just full of joy and wonderment, and Sparky enjoyed every single moment of it......

It's not easy being far away from grandchildren, but we will plan another visit before too much time gets away from us......

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Barron Goes to the Beach!

Houston, TX     High:  89    Low:  73

Sparky got on her daughter's computer this evening, and WHOA! How did SOME of those iPhone photos get so BIG???? Sorry about that! Here, Sparky was patting herself on the back for doing the entire blog on the iPhone, thinking it was moving over just fine to the Blogger format and darned if it didn't format itself over in a different way. Oh, dear! Oh, well!   :-)  So the blog looks a little better tonight and should from here on out, as Sparky heads back home (sniff, sniff) to Sarasota tomorrow and will be back on her trusty computer.

Today was Gramma Sparky's last day with her daughter and grandson. Kerry decided we needed a beach photo shoot. So she got all dolled up in a great nautically inspired, beachy color scheme, and Barron was in the cutest matching navy Nantucket tee shirt, bathing suit and anchors away! hat. They both looked absolutely wonderful and so cute together! It was quite the ordeal to get this little guy ready for the beach...Sunscreen on? Check! Hat on? Check! Bathing suit on? Check! Swim diaper? Forget it! He was only going to be in the water briefly for a few minutes.

It was really, really fun to see him for his first time at the beach! Unfortunately, the Galveston Island beach is yucky, full of seaweed and fish parts and cigarette butts. There's very little sand. Yucky was an understatement! We had to search to find a decent spot to set him down so he could explore. But he didn't care one iota that the beach was nasty...
Kerry set him down on the only clean patch of beach we could find, and that little guy charged the water, full speed ahead. But boy, did it take the both of us to catch him and keep him from venturing any further into the water! It was WAVY! and the waves were crashing into shore. She grabbed him with one hand holding her camera, I grabbed him, one hand holding my camera, the one free hand grabbing his tee shirt, the both of us trying not to get our camera gear wet and he just squealed with delight. If we set him down on the one clean patch of wet sand, he started doing a little crab walk...on all fours, hands down on the sand, butt up in the air, feet scooting along right behind. He scuttled like a little crab right back down to the water. He was fearless!

After totally enjoying himself in the water, it was time to come out, dry off and get ready to head back to Houston. While his mom went to get some water, we watched the waves and the sea gulls for a bit....

OK, I'm done, can we go home now?
And back home we came to Houston....... Bye for now.....

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Barron Report

Houston, TX            High: 86              
Low 70

Grandma is here visiting me.  She's a lot of fun! She plays with me on the big bed with all the pillows. I jump at grammy and she squishes me with a pillow. I could do that all day!

We are at Galveston Island. Mommy is in a vintage bathing beauty contest. My mommy is so pretty in her green bathing suit. I think she should win!

Grammy can't take photos of my mommy because she has to watch me at the hotel. We didn't sleep too good last night. Some grownups were having a big party last night. They kept waking us up! Then something was wrong with grammy's bed. Uh-oh! Did grammy break the bed? Nope. It started to break in the night. Grammy told the hotel and showed them pictures.

They said, "Oh! Sorry about that! So they gave us another room. While Mommy was in the contest, Grammy took me to the ice cream shop. I had a little vanilla ice cream. It was really good! They had lots of candy at the ice cream store but I'm not allowed to have that. I'm too little. 

Maybe if I give her the look......

Uh-oh! GRAMMY is giving me THE LOOK. Time for my nap. Mommy says I get to go to the beach tomorrow! Oh, boy! That's going to be fun!  Bye bye.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Grandma Goes to the Mall

Houston, TX

Sparky is going to try and keep things a little on the generic side, for the privacy of her daughter and grandchild as per Kerry's request. Today we went to a mall to have some fun! As in chasing Barron around the playground....He had a ball...

It's a cool playground...lots of shiny, colorful surfaces to pat, touch, and explore the ins and outs of a little kid environment.....He got to ride on his very first horse ride on a carousel and loved it.

There were so many kids there, we didn't stay long at the playground..Sparky took Barron in the stroller to walk the mall while Kerry went and got her nails done....Barron had a great time looking at an ipad with children's apps on them. Sparky had taken him to the Apple store to get a charger for her phone. While she was there, sitting at the little kids' table with him, she got the brainy idea to charge up her phone using the charging station right there in front of her. So-o-o-o-o, she started to unplug the ipad charger to use for her iphone. She was just going to set the iphone down on the table and use the charger right there when, "WHOOP-WHOOP-WHOOP-WHOOP!!!!!"  Sparky set off the store alarm! An Apple store employee had to crawl under the table to reset the alarm system. Sparky slunk lower in her seat and buried her head in the game with Barron. Oops! Here he is earlier with Kerry at the store enjoying his iPad demo. Future programmer?

Back home with Kerry....time for a nap for Barron and Grandma....he fell asleep on the way home in the car.
The rest of the day, Kerry ran errands on her own, which she seldom ever gets to do and Sparky played with her little grandson once he got up....Playing with him involves following him around to make sure he doesn't get into mischief, reading his favorite books, and just letting him do his thing with plenty of smooch time from Grandma as well.

What's Eldo doing? This morning he played pickleball! Woo-hoo! And wore himself out!

That's about  it for today....Tomorrow is the start of the Galveston Island Vintage Bathing Beauty contest that Kerry is in. Sparky, Kerry and Barron will be heading to Galveston Island tomorrow for more fun! See you there!