Sunday, March 15, 2020

Coronatour 2020 Draws to a Close

So our Ill-fated adventure draws to a close. We’ve decided to return home what with the world seeming to melt down sound us it didn’t feel right to continue luxuriating in the sun. So we made the decision on Thursday to leave on Saturday. Now we are in north Florida with three more days of driving ahead of us before we get home.
Russell and I visited with Marge Guiberson (a family friend) and Alfie
I bought this cute project at Lycette in Palm Beach. It reminded me of grocery shopping with my mom. She would always say I could have one thing and I would usually choose animal crackers (for the box mostly!)

One of the reasons we chose to leave Florida is because the Spring Needlepoint Show which was to be the final stop on our tour was cancelled which was just as well since the Magic Kingdom where we were going to stay subsequently announced it was closing as well. Another reason for our premature departure (as if we needed another) was that our friends that we were going to visit in LaBelle, FL had announced to us a week earlier that they were leaving early and weren’t going to be able to see us. So that was a bummer but we were still going to go because we had agreed to teach a needlepoint class. But then when gatherings of more than a few people started to get cancelled we figured it was only a matter of time before that event would be cancelled too. So it was kind of a no-brainer to start the journey home.
Dinner is served
My stitching station

On our last day with Russell’s mom we had a wonderful lunch together with a beautiful view of turquoise water and swaying palms (no lie). The dogs got coiffed again and we did what we’ve managed to do a fair bit of on this trip — namely needlepoint, relax, enjoy the outdoors and the pleasant weather and being away from the store. Despite some of the difficulties we’ve encountered and there were more than either of us expected we’ve still enjoyed ourselves and our new RV and being together once again ... on the road.
Ready to go

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Update: We Arrive

So, first off please excuse me for not having written for the past couple of days. It took me a little while to regain my sunny disposition (only kidding) But we did have a couple more “adventures” and I thought you might be growing tired of them so I decided to wait until I could share them in a spirit of good cheer. So here goes.

Now where were we? In South Carolina I do believe. So once we left South Carolina (where our parting gift was being told by the campground management — a campground that we have stayed at repeatedly over the years— that it was South Carolina state law that all dogs must be on leashes at all times — this after we had played ball with the dogs on a gigantic lawn area well removed from all the other campers for like literally seven minutes of that — after having been ratted out by a nasty-looking woman with four ill-behaved boxers who were also off-leash but inside the tiny campground pet area yet jumping like gazelles to get at our dogs) we proceeded to north Florida. Jacksonville specifically. The drive there was thankfully uneventful. The wind that had been a problem abated and the traffic wasn’t so bad so we had a good day. As for the campground Russell had warned me not to expect much. This place apparently was his third or perhaps fourth choice (this being March in Florida campgrounds are tending to the full side of the spectrum).  The “campground” was basically a trailer park/mobile home park on the less desirable side of town. However, having said that it was not as bad as that might sound even though that is indeed an accurate description of what it was. Oh, and did I mention the four lane state highway out front and the fact that the vast majority of the folks staying there were residents and not travelers? No, I thought I might have forgotten to mention that. But hey buck up you latte-drinking city slickers y’all know me, I’m down with the people — I can handle this, no problem. Heavy sigh.
From my seat
Only $150 because of credit card authorization NOT because we were full!

So, that night, Russell asks me where the keys to the car are to which I confidently reply that they are in the dashboard drawer which is where he had explained to me that he wanted them kept. For sure I had put them there right after I turned off the car from re-charging the battery when we arrived at the campground (this is one of my assigned duties if you will). So we sleep and the next morning I go to get the keys so I can put the car into the proper mode for towing. Only problem is that they are not in the drawer where I had confidently declared that they would be. Strange. So I go to the car. And the door is unlocked. Also strange. Are the keys in the car? Why, yes they are! Huh. That’s really odd. Did I ...leave the car running? Did I forget to turn the car off after I turned it on to re-charge the batteries? I try to start the car. Nothing. Has the car run out of gas? Oh no! This is not good. “Uhmmm, Russell. Can you come over here for a second? You see ... the thing is ... you remember when I said the keys were ...and now it won’t ... it might be out of gas” Russell, to his credit, doesn’t freak out on me (in large part because he is pre-occupied with some other pressing matter the nature of which I cannot recall right now) but he also quickly concludes that the car is not, in fact, out of gas, but rather that the battery is dead for apparently I did not even start the car to re-charge the battery in the first place. So, my malfeasance actually preceded what I had supposed! Amazing. Usually I overestimate my degree of culpability but in this instance I actually underestimated it. Impressive.  Anyhow, we got a “jump” from a nice guy who I think worked for the trailer park but I’m not totally sure. He didn’t want to take any money but I think Russell was able to get him to accept some. I sure hope so because he helped us out but even so we were not able to get on the road until eleven because we had to wait twenty minutes to let the battery re-charge (but it was actually probably more like fifteen minutes a detail which will become important later on). tape — it’s the new band-aid!
Don’t buy a new RV if stuff like this going to drive you crazy

The drive from Jacksonville to our final destination the Palm Beach Motor Coach Resort in Jupiter was stressful. For one thing the wind was back up again and this mini bus doesn’t handle too well in the wind. Russell is used to driving luxury coaches with three axles and this one only has two and it’s very top heavy plus there is a lot of play in the steering which makes keeping the vehicle in its lane in the wind a challenge. Add that to traffic and drivers who cannot maintain a consistent speed and you’ve got yourself a whole bunch of stress. But we arrived. Alive. And with our remaining nineteen fingers intact. Hah. So that’s a good thing.
Our current campsite 

The campground is nice. Most people would say it’s very very nice. And it is. But to be honest I’ve seen better. Not many mind you but still the design is kind of basic (one big loop) with lots going off on both sides and a big artificial lake in the middle complete with the requisite illuminated fountain. It’s a own/rent situation so some of the owners are beginning to invest in improving their lots with landscaping and lighting. In other places like this they have cabanas that are outfitted with all kinds of amenities or landscaping and pavers that are way over the top. Even custom golf carts. People are crazy. Anyway they can compete they will. It’s all about showing off. There is some of that here, of course, but it hasn’t gotten too out of control which now that I think about it is a good thing though if you are just dropping in I got to tell you that the out-of-control, “can you top this?” competition is pretty fun to gawk at (and criticize) for a week or so but I digress. Land is at left — the wine store at right says it’s “Open for Business”
Note temp on dashboard display — 90 degrees today

So we arrived. And it’s a nice place. Palm trees. Crabgrass. Expensive RVs. Rules. Gates. You get the picture. We are in site 37. It’s a back-in. So we have to disconnect the car. No problem. Except ... the car is dead — again. So we need a jump — again.  And we’ve only just arrived and we look like two rubes who don’t know how to properly tow a car (because if you knew how to tow a car properly it wouldn’t be dead on arrival) but never mind that sir can we just get a jump for our 2015 Subaru from your hundred thousand dollar Escalade? Idiots. But he does it and that’s great. (Later we find out from our friend that the car requires at least forty-five minutes to properly recharge the battery) 
Russell backs into the site but not before he receives a few dirty looks from the neighbors after he turns the wheel too sharply and goes way up onto the grass. Ooops. There goes that perfect landscaping. Oh well it’s Florida wait five minutes it’ll grow back. 
So, I decide to take the dogs for a walk and at some point yet another crisis develops — the mystery of the non-functioning toilet. This, although never fully expressed to me, seems to have gained a fair bit of urgency I’m guessing now from having recently been used, let’s just say. And I think we all know that I was taking a walk with the dogs, right? So ... the toilet isn’t working and it’s a crisis and Russell is on the phone with the RV manufacturer — their emergency line but all of their operators are assisting other callers please wait on the line your call is important to us and I have been ordered (and I do mean ordered) to call the RV park office to get their electrician to come. The park electrician arrives and he is clearly perplexed about how he is supposed to help with a plumbing-related situation inside someone’s coach let alone a someone who maybe is just a little bit intense and the plumber guy isn’t the sort of person who is inclined to be that helpful anyway and he may also be just a little bit homophobic too so he decides to skeedaddle PDQ. Which forces Mr. Russell to put back on his thinking cap and this time for real because it doesn’t look like the cavalry is going to be riding in to save the day anytime soon. To whit he discovers a loose wire which he unplugs then plugs back in and voila problem solved. Hallelujah.

So, that was our arrival here at the Palm Beach Motor Coach Resort. What, you may ask, have we been doing since we arrived?A legitimate question, for sure. One for which I’m afraid I haven’t a great answer. Decompressing mostly which I think we can all agree was very much needed. We’ve both been needlepointing. And we’ve gone to do some errands. I took the dogs to the dog park today. It was quite a lovely dog park too. So lucky that these places exist now. I’m telling you when I lived in Fairmount thirty years ago there was nothing. Now they have these dog parks with agility set-ups and benches and dog fountains and doggie bathing facilities. It’s amazing. So nice. Anyhow, we’ve been taking the dogs for a lot of walks. And they went to get their hair done. OMG — they looked so good afterwards. Especially Winnie! She was like a different dog. So elegant and beautiful. And Tigger was so white. They did a really nice job and they were super nice. But let me tell you two dogs (especially one that’s only a little over a year old) in a modest-sized RV is a whole lot of dog! And I’m not really used to having them around me twenty-four, seven. It’s a lot.

In fact, it’s a lot of togetherness. I got to be honest. I like my space and it can be hard sometimes. But Russell is good. He puts on his headphones and he watches TV on his tablet so I can read or do needlepoint in peace and quiet and that works well for me (and I hope for him as well, at least he says it does!) But that time he says, and I agree, is sort of our “separate time” even though we may actually be physically in the same space. Also I tend to stay up later in the evening so I can read while he sleeps and he very kindly has learned how to go to sleep with me having the light on.

Anyhow back to what we’ve been doing. Today, and you will never believe this, but today we went to a needlepoint store. I know. Too ridiculous but I did not bring enough thread with me to complete my ANG project. I do not know what I was thinking. Well, clearly I wasn’t thinking or I would have brought an adequate amount. But not to worry we found a lovely store in Stuart, FL call Needlepoint Land and the owner Erin was really nice to us and I found loads of thread to finish my piece. It was so nice because we don’t always get such a warm reception at needlepoint stores. I know it’s hard to believe but there are people out there who don’t like us (even me!) and well we won’t go there but Erin was really nice and she showed us her grandmother’s needlework and her mom’s needlework and it was just amazing. So if you are ever in the Stuart, FL area, stop in to see her. It’s a nice shop and she’s a nice person. And she’s got a good selection of thread.

Well I’ve talked too much. First nothing and now all this! It’s too much. Give us a break. I know, I know. Sorry. I’ll try to keep it briefer tomorrow. Briefer. That’s a funny word. I wonder if it is a word. Maybe I should say more brief. Probably safer. I’ll try to keep it more brief tomorrow. No briefer. I think briefer. What do you think? You know what? I am going to be succinct tomorrow. There. Good night.

Sunday March 8, 2020

Not too much to report but it’s been a couple of days so I thought I better check in. The day after we visited Needlepoint Land, we visited Needlepoint Alley in North Palm Beach. Actually, they have a “new” address (I say new in quotations because they have actually been there going on two years but it was Russell and my — I?— mine? — first visit to this location) which I guess is technically not North Palm Beach But sure is close. I know, two needlepoint stores in two days? Really guys? And this is supposed to be a vacation? Hey, what can I say? I like needlepoint! And also I was in need of a solitary skein of DMC #5 Perle cotton (color 975 if you must know or was it 949) to insure that I would have enough to complete the background on this bloody belt I’ve been working on for what feels like forever. But I digress.
The needlepoint belt project I’ve been working on for God knows how long

Of course, I couldn’t just buy one little skein of Perle cotton and Kathy, the owner, had several other items that I “needed” plus we had a real nice time visiting with her. She’s got a great shop and she’s a hard-working, business woman who has been running a successful operation in a competitive marketplace for 22 years now. If you are ever in the Palm Beach/Jupiter area be sure to visit Needlepoint Alley.

After picking up my needlepoint supplies we went to another favorite place of mine — Palm Beach Gardens Mall!! Wahooo. Oh yah! With Nordstrom’s, Saks, and Bloomingdales as anchor stores all it is missing is Nieman’s and it could be heaven. But seriously I was soooo disappointed. For one thing the place was d-e-a-d, like nobody around. And, for another thing, I couldn’t really find much that I was crazy about. Normally I have to really RESTRAIN myself but this time it was like I had to TRY. Imagine. Now, don’t cry a river for me because you know I succeeded finding some absolute pearls amidst the dross but I did let the big fish get away from me in the form of a pair of Feragamo sandals that were darn near perfect and uber classy but also obscenely expensive so shockingly reason got the best of me and I moved on. So unlike me. I hardly recognized myself.
If this picture is loading sideways do not ask me why for I know not. It is of the Palm Beach Gardens Mall (formerly?) known to me as Mecca

Russell has been cooking up some mighty tasty meals in the RV. He’s a master, what can I say? It’s amazing what you (he) can do in a limited space and he even says that to some degree it’s easier than in his big kitchen at home but of course I think this has also to do with the sorts of meals he chooses to prepare in one space as opposed to the other.
Just one of the tasty meals R has been preparing

In the evenings he usually watches his programs on the tablet using his headphones while I am stitching dutifully away on my ANG (American Needlepoint Guild) project that is when we are not otherwise engaged — eeuuuww gross did I just say that? 

The dogs have been enjoying daily trips to the dog park and they have been doing so well I must say. They don’t have a lot of experience with dog parks or other dogs in general but of course they have each other and they do have some experience with other dogs but I was somewhat concerned. I needn’t have been because today they were in the park with like thirty or forty other dogs and they did fine. It is so nice to have dogs that can be trusted around other dogs. It makes life so much easier. In the past we had one Standard who didn’t like other dogs and man was it annoying.

We took the dogs over to Russell’s mom’s new place and I am happy to report that they behaved themselves and even did a good deal of charming and impressing so that was very good. They had such a fun time frolicking on the Bermuda grass with Phyllis and Hilma (Russell’s Mom’s assistant). Russell’s brother Steve was there also and he was very impressed at how intently the dogs waited for Russell when he left the room to use the bathroom. Too funny.

Mom-mom as we sometimes call her is looking wonderful and doing well so that is truly a gift. She treated the two of us and Steve to a lovely lunch pool- and surf-side. Unfortunately, our weather here has turned a bit unsettled, windy with mostly cloudy skies and temps in the sixties. It is due to settle down and gradually warm back up though as this new week progresses.
Tigger watching basketball at Mom-Mom’s
Russell meets our friends Tom and Dina’s hairless cat

Today we had a terrific time with two friends we met several years ago while cruising the Mediterranean. They visit Philadelphia regularly and we, obviously, come down this way occasionally and so when we are in each other’s neck of the woods we make it a point to get together. They are lots of fun to be with and we always have a good time with them, today being no different. Actually, that’s not right. Today was different because we got to see their house and that’s always nice isn’t it? When you get to see someone’s house? You always feel like you have a better understanding of the person, who they are, and where they are coming from. So that was super nice that they felt comfortable enough with us to share their home. I was honored. in case you missed it the first time!
At lunch today with Tom and Dina

Ok, well once again I have rambled on way too long. I mean if you’ve made it this far God help you. I’ll check back in again real soon. Regards. S