Defeated Again

Some of you have heard our praise for Defeated Creek Campground near Nashville, TN.

Our first exposure was on opening day last year, March 14. It was love at first sight.

The campground is situated on a large, grassy peninsula surrounded by a lovely lake. The grounds are entirely mowed, and very large, grassy areas occur behind most campsites.

The grounds gently rise and fall, adding to the visual effect without interfering with site access.

We came back last year for a month to help them close down in October. We like this place!

It should be a great spot to recuperate from my surgery….for all of us!
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A bit of drama

Poof, all our lights went out and the heaters stopped.

It was 11 o’clock last night, 38 degrees outside headed to 31, and I was at the end of a very challenging day.

Our lights had been flickering for the past week, and I had done some troubleshooting. I was limited physically, but limited more by the problem being so intermittent.

Not to worry, the lights we use are 12 volt, and we have 110 fluorescents available. I managed to verify that status when the regular lights went out completely one evening but I could still turn on the fluorescents.

The problem is that the 12 volt lights don’t give a clue that they’re back on, because their switches are electronic so remain off. The problem was actually a flicker of the whole 12 volt system.

Ahhhh, which leads to last night’s dilemma. The whole 12 volt system turned off: the fans that blow hot air, the pumps that circulate the boiler fluid so we have hot air, the thermostat that triggers everything. Oh, and the fluorescents (unclear about that one).

No light, no heat, and I’m beat. But why worry, it has always flickered back on in just a minute.

Checked the three breaker/fuse panels in the back bedroom. Checked the whole panel of controls for the lights above the potty (they’re a multiplexed system, with multiple switches for each set of lights).

Goin on 15 minutes and no 12 volt. Call me Alfred E Neuman: “What, me worry?” The system had always flickered back on right away.

I might as well go out and check our battery connections in case we had a bad ground. Nope, tight. Cold out there, too.

Back inside, the computer still worked, because it’s plugged into 110. Monitor provided some great illumination. Robyn turned on our electric fireplace, including its heater element, and got out the comforter.

I decided to research the problem online. Hmm, 12 volt solenoid will cause flicker. Ughhh, my solenoid is in the basement, and requires acting like a snake to get to it. After abdominal surgery. Who needs the grief! Why worry?

The. Power. Always. Comes. Right. Back.

Going on 40 minutes without heat, I decided to be a python. Took pliers and screwdriver, and crawled into the basement with my flashlight. Ohhhh, this is work….

Identified the solenoid, checked for loose connections, then did what all master mechanics do when there’s no explanation for failure….gave it some good raps with the screwdriver handle.

Click. Three other things nearby clicked. Fans started to whir. Pumps started to pump. The diesel burner fired because it had cold water to heat. Robyn tapped on the floor to indicate changes upstairs.

Bingo.

All zeze flowerz!

We drove through the southwestern Georgia countryside today, past the peanut and pecan farms, until we nearly bumped into Alabama.

Stopped at Pine Mountain, the home of Callaway Gardens. “What’s there?” you say.

From their website: “Each Spring, Callaway Gardens’ landscape explodes with one of the world’s largest displays of native and cultivated azaleas – more than 20,000 of them”

We took a tour of the grounds at a speed that didn’t begin to do justice to its 13,000 acres, and found Spring has not sufficiently arrived to produce the explosion of growth and colors for which Callaway is famous.

Ohhhhhhhhh it’s lovely alright, but it should be breathtaking!

Gotta come back in April….

Still, we had a lovely time, and provide the following proof:

YESSS!

I’m home, free of a gallbladder that was in rough shape.

Robyn and the boys survived swimmingly, with wonderful assistance from Marion, who gave up her business for nearly a week and drove 285 miles to be here!

Will rest tomorrow, and decide when to continue this particular trip.

Thank you for your kind words of support.

To catch you up

We moved from our Florida park a few days ago, heading into Georgia to Callaway Gardens.

Half way there, as we stopped for the night in a parking lot, I experienced abdominal pain that grew to the point I had to visit a nearby hospital.

Two days later I’m still in the hospital, about an hour from surgery to remove my seriously pesky gallbladder!

Robyn and the twins have had an adventure with the coach and car, but received some wonderful assistance from some dear friends….both new and old….and are now ensconced with full hookups right nearby!

Several miraculous aspects to all this drama, and clear demonstrations of God’s protection and guidance!

Much more, but it will have to wait. Morphine and phone keyboard don’t work well together….

I solicit your prayers….for Robyn and for my surgeon.

Land of the free, home of the brave

Have you been hearing and feeling thunder this week? We sure have.

Did I mention we’re parked about 60 miles from Daytona Beach….and it’s Bike Week there?

We made a run to see it, hear it, and feel it.

On the way, we stopped past a sanctuary near the coast, and caught sight of a few feathered friends. In many ways, they were behaving like the bikers: big crowds, some swooping, others flying free.

During the course of 10 days, Daytona Beach hosts an estimated 600,000 bikes. We couldn’t even find a place to park! Robyn dropped me a few blocks from Main Street so I could shoot the central gathering area.

Ross and Ryan enjoyed the ride with the windows down!

It’s like nowhere else…..

Of all the bikes we saw, we actually like one here in our campground the best. Can you imagine Ross and Ryan riding on the back of a pair of trikes like the last photo?

We sure can…..

And the stuff we do…

I needed to talk with…and see the facilities of…a frame & chassis specialty company in downtown Orlando. They have widespread fame among diesel motor coach owners for their ability to bring perfect harmony and driveability to our behemoths. We don’t really have any problems, but we are parked only 75 miles away and I wondered what they might do for us.

So we made a day of it.

Did I mention the chassis shop was 10 miles from Disney? And the weather was sunny and 73?

We quickly did our business (we don’t need the shop now, maybe next year when we’re back here), and headed to Downtown Disney Marketplace.

20130307_172537_aAs we dropped in, Robyn caught the solar eclipse caused by the tethered hot air balloon ride at the park.

We ate on the patio at the Earl of Sandwich, serenaded by Lion King music and entertained by dancing jets of water in the sidewalk. Ross & Ryan were enchanted.

DSC_8389_aThe capper was Ghirardelli chocolate ice cream and hot cocoa! Oh woe, we forgot to shop for Maddie Callender’s “Hazelnut Heaven” dark chocolate candy while we were there….

Just gotta go back.

The pictures below are from Robyn’s morning walk today. The myriad of vines caught her eye, as did The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. There was also the morning fly-by of the noisy Sandhill Cranes. And finally, the sweet hawk getting warmed in the sun’s early rays…

The stuff we see….

Almost every morning, Robyn has walked our park near sunrise.

She has help waking up for it….but then one or the other helper usually goes back to sleep.

Not only does she catch views of the boil as its warmer water opens out into the cooler run and fog rises, not only does she see the landscape bathed in the glorious orange/gold of sunrise, not only does she hear the wildlife begin its day of chirps and calls and rustling through the underbrush, she also gets to meet so many members of our wildlife community up close and personal!

All within a single view yesterday she had a pair of otters in the water, a pair of bald eagles and a pair of osprey fishing, and several manatees in the water!

She took all the following photos this morning, with a little help from the marina operator who had to move a pontoon boat from storage to the dock.

Which leads to one caveat: the eagle was a surprise, and Robyn shot while standing on the moving boat under throttle….

The amazing thing is that the photo of the eagle with its wings outstretched is shown here full-frame….it was that close! The same is true for the manatee.

The final two photos are of the same Osprey. I’m still surprised by the dramatic difference of its coloration from underside to topside!

Blowin in the wind

We’ve always been respectful of the wind that Florida can provide….I think they’re called hurricanes….and we intend not to be here during that season.

DSC_7744_aBut we had an interesting day yesterday because of the wind. Sunny day but quite cool…we never saw higher than 52…and windyyyyy. Decided to see the Atlantic coastline.

DSC_7776_aThe weird part was that big waves were meeting huge winds blowing almost straight off-shore. You can see how the tops are blown up and back!

Perfectly lovely day, so long as you were looking through car windows as you drove along the beach!

DSC_7884_aWe walked briefly with jackets and down vests.

For being such a day of windy bombast, the sky was so softly colored at sundown….

On the way home, we were detoured by two different grass fires! One shut down I-95 south of Daytona Beach, and one closed our park’s road from the south where we were driving. That was good, because the wind was blowing northwesterly, so our park wouldn’t be getting the smoke.

Eventually got home….to find that a tree between our site and the next one had blown over during the day! Fortunately it blew back between us, and came the closest to threatening the neighbor’s rig. It was all cleaned up when we got back…..
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