Friday, August 1, 2008

An Unexpected Sort of Day

August is here already. One more month and it will be time to hook up the truck and fifth wheel and say farewell to the Catskills. This summer has been so full of wonderful sights and terrific management staff, coworkers and seasonal campground guests.
The images in the top layout are from Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park at Birchwood Acres in Woodridge, New York, where I've been working since April. The bottom layout features some of the area sights - there's something for everyone here. Last Tuesday we took a drive along Rt 97 - much of which follows - or was part of - the former D & H Canal. We stopped at the Roebling bridge - built as an aqueduct across the Delaware River, bringling the former canal from Honesdale, PA , to Rondout, NY. Now it is a single-lane car bridge and automobile traffic crosses it instead of mule-driven river barges. I chose to walk across the unique suspension bridge (which was designed by the builder of the Brooklyn Bridge) along the towpathfrom New York to Pennsylvania. While crossing I was treated to the sight of a magnificent bald Eagle who calmly sat at the top of a tall pine tree, watching the river rafters floating by lazily below.
The Zane Grey Museum is close by on the Pennsylvania side, where the Lackawaxen and Delaware Rivers meet. Michael located the camp he once attended, over 6 decades ago - and later spent summers working as a waiter. It's closed now - a few of the old buildings are faintly visible through the overgrowth, but much of the property has since been sold and is home to delightful homes and beautiful gardens. Unfortunately the museum was closed, but the drive from Pt Jervis was beautiful.
Fortunately, I gave up my day off yesterday to fill in for a coworker. Unfortunately, it did not end up being an extra day as I woke up with a strange virus this morning and was unable to work. Friday is the worst day to be adsent in Reservations as our phones start ringing well before 9 am and don't slow down til about two - when the mass weekend check-in begins. It's the first day I've missed since we arrived so I feel terrible about that, but definitely was unable to pull my weight over there.
After sleeping most of the unexpected day off I decided to see if I could stay awake long enough for a long-overdue blog entry. But now, it's time to go and lay back down again for awhile.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Recycled Lighthouse Patio Light Cover

OK, I admit it . . . I'm a compulsive recycleholic. There. It's an admitted fact. Fortunately, recycling is a good thing . . . until I start sqirrelling things away . . . and then it's not. Especially when I live in a house on wheels that's 8' wide (closed up) and 31' long. 'Storage' is severely restricted . . . until a fun brain fart like this one pops out and is well-received.

This project got its 'seed' from some square racketball sleeves. I've been making different awning light covers for some time that are more fragile, and the square sleeves are ideal to stack the light covers in and protect them in transit.

Jokingly, one of the girls in our campground store asked if I might want a tennis ball sleeve one day (we sell the balls individually and discard the empty sleeves). I took a couple home and then the idea came to turn them into awning light (or patio light) covers.

My original intent was to use a graphics program to create a pattern on my computer which I could print out and place inside the cylinder, then paint the design on the outside . . . obviously, during the process, a typical-for-me entirely different direction emerged.

About two years ago I found online. I don't recall what type of product I was Googling at the time - yes I do - transfer papers for the jigsaw puzzles featured in the right hand column here (which are great). While exploring The Crafty PC website I discovered Backlight Film - and a Wedding Light pattern that I've since redesigned into my awning light covers.

As my design emerged, it took on a life of its own. With the bottom of the cylinder painted black to become the top of the lighthouse, I only needed a flat pattern to roll up and insert into the cylinder. I used basic shapes which I filled with color then tweaked with filters (the red and white bands, door and windows). I then cut out the window panes and diamonds from the light room at the top.

Originally, I intended for these areas to remain clear, then decided to add a 'reflection'. Off to my digital images, and I opened one of my colorful Florida Sunsets and placed it as the bottom layer. Having previously cut away all the glass areas, I was able to work with the sunset image until it looked right through every window - but keeping in mind that the top light would be meeting along the seam.

Aftter that, I added greenery from an image of a flower bed here at the campground - again, being aware that it had to match up on the sides.

For a little added zest, it was back to my image collection and this time, the siding of a houseboat on nearby White Lake was the perfect accent for the shutters. To give them a bit more zing, I went to my digital scrapping collection and found hinges and potential door knob from Scrap Girls, Eternal Love kit.

Add a few pertinent shadows and a few other tweaks and I had my pattern.

I printed it out on The Crafty PC's Backlight Film and let it dry for a few hours. Two coats of The Crafty PC's Decal Finishing and Inkjet Overcoat Spray (again, letting it dry between coats), one last 2-hour drying spell, and I was able to trim the paper to size.

All I need now is to get the light hole for Christmas Tree lights drilled to size and I'll be ready to hang it. In the meantime, the second pattern is underway - I'm aiming for a set of six lights.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My first Quick Pages, with credit to Gloria Val Verde at Moo Two Designs

Moo Two Designs designer, Gloria Val Verde, is the moderator of their monthly 'Impromptu Challenge'. For new/seasoned digital scrappers, Moo Two Designs offers a wide range of everything related to digital scrapping. All the members are helpful and encouraging - and really take the time to answer any questions or make suggestions.

This month, Gloria's 'Impromptu Challenge' is two create Brag Book Quick Pages using actually three of her kits - I've Got the Blues and Mini Monday 5 (freebie) in blue tones, and the green-themed I'm Feeling Green. Through the end of the month Gloria is offering the blue and green kits at a ridiculously low price that are worth far, far more. (No, she has no clue that I'm writing this on my blog).

I have never created Quick Pages before, so this was an intriguing project for me. When I work with my own images, I can do what I want with the papers and embellishments. In designing QPs, I discovered that I had to be aware of how someone might 'drop in' the images they wish to add in the future and create the pages so that doing so is not an insurmountable challenge.

Keeping that in mind was a whole new concept. These three kits had so many items I like - paisleys, plaids, tags, ribbons, journal papers, flowers, a calendar, and swirlies - just so many things to explore and experiment with. At first I was slightly daunted, but bit by bit everything fell into place and I'm sharing my first two pages here on my blog.

I also try to keep my slide shows updated, with my Moo Two layouts in a slide show of their own, as I do with TLC Creations, where I first started learning how to create Digital Scrap layouts a few months ago.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, 1969 - Revisited

This layout is a composite of my sensory feelings after visiting the MUSEUM at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts last Wednesday. The central image is three-in-one - the outside of the beautiful museum, a hippy-style bus - typical of many that crossed the country to get to the amazing music extravaganza which was held on these grounds in Bethel, New York on August 15, 16 and 17, 1969, and the present-day ampitheater, where music can still be heard across the Catskills on summer nights - but not at $6 per day.

My preceding blog which summarizes my experience at this amazing facility was too long to include the image, so I'm posting it separately. Please leave some feedback, either in the comments or the IM window in the side column. Thank you. I hope you are able to visit the museum. Tickets are available on line at

the MUSEUM at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

Yes, sometimes we CAN go back in time . . .

. . . and the newly-opened MUSEUM at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, in Bethel, New York, is proof of that. With its emphasis on the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, which was held on its grounds, August 15, 16 and 17, 1969, the whole 60's era is fully explored through visual and sensory sights, sounds and memories. The politics musical evolution, the Vietnam-era draft, the assassinations of the Kennedy Brothers and Dr martin Luther King, Jr, and Man's first steps on the moon. All of this, and so much more, is fully explored in an amazing museum which took three years to create.

Every 'Flower Power/Hippie' cliche came to mind as we passed through the entry doors of the beautiful building last Wednesday. It's a 'Happening' in its own right. If you were in attendance during those three memorable days in 1969, you recall that it was NOT held in Woodstock, New York.

After the promotor's family was threatened by local residents who rallied against the possibility of 10,000 'rabble-rousing hippies and druggies' invading their peaceful town for 3 days, another location was sought out. The second choice was beautiful White Lake - but as the attendee numbers appeared to be swell beyond the original figure, that site was considered too small.

Eventually a farmer named Gelish, with a great location in nearby Bethel,agreed at the last minute to host the Woodstock music extravaganza on his property, just outside the peaceful hamlet.

With peaceful, rolling hills, and magnificent views of the Catskills, the mood was set. Getting all the equipment, stage, fencing, and other requirements into position was another matter. It was a hopeless task, yet the stage hands and workers got it together - almost. The fencing never was completed.

Advance tickets were sold for $6.00 per day. Yup. $18 bought you three days of live music - from rock, to country, to soul, folk and everything in between. Getting the bands was a feat in itself - many did not want to perform in an outdoor field in rural New York. Eventually, new names, like Crosby, Stills and Nash as well as the young Greatful Dead and Janis Joplin were among the notable and new who decided to give it a chance, being paid from $3,000 - $15,000 each for their onforgettable performances.

As the list of performers' names grew, so too did the crowds. Friends of ours said they drove as far as Monticello, but the traffic tieups were so bad that they turned around and went home.

From Sea to Shining Sea they came - waves of excited music lovers, swelling beyond any conceivable numbers. For those few who bought tickets there was no special seating. Days before the first bar of music sailed out over the Catskills, the masses started to arrive.

The anticipated fencing was worthless. Thousands trampled over the downed wire and onto the grounds. There wasn't enough food and getting to a Porta-Potty became a half-day adventure. To make it worse, the weather took a nosedive. Along with the sea of people - almost 400,000 - came waves of rain and thunderstorms and lightning.

In spite of the horrendous conditions, the music ruled. The music rocked. The music rolled. And the constantly moving tides of people rocked and rolled along with it. One attendee said that the whole experience was amazing. Everyone looked out for their neighbor and gave what they could to make someone with less more comfortable.

Food was brought in by helicopter when roads were too blocked by travelers to get supplies through. Most of the musicians arrived by air too, stunned by the unexpected sea of faces waiting to greet their musical idols and listen as their songs and sounds were emotionally fused deeply into each man, woman and child present. Unanimously, in later interviews, they all admitted to being wholly absorbed by the outpouring of love and appreciation for the musical gifts they brought.

Not even the terrible weather could stop the performances. The Greatful Dead gave a phenomenal performance - without any power. Yet, even though they played at night, in the dark, their music was heard - and appreciated.

In the creation of this beautiful museum, many images and video were located - much of which has never been seen or heard until now. It was all documented and recorded.

Meandering through and around all the displays, sounds and video presentations, visitors are transported through the tumultuous decade that was the 60's. The styles, the music, the men and women who shaped the decade with such energy that the relevance is palpable even today.

Janis Joplin, in an interview on the Dick Cavett Show after Woodstock, explained her heart-wrenching style in the need to hear women speak out from their core and fing their true selves and voices - not a popular idea of the times, when we were still being encouraged to be seen and not heard.

And, Muhammad Ali - then known as Cassius Clay. Nowadays he's beloved by so many. A gentle man with a huge heart. In the 60s we thought him pompous and loud-mouthed. When he refused to accept the draft everyone was in shock and dumbfounded by his audacity. On Wednesday I read the words he spoke as to WHY he refused to fight. Take the time to do so. Please read his words. Everyone. His words were prophetic, and totally understandable. Let our government leaders read them today - aloud - and let the words sink in. Sadly, they still apply.

As for the Hippies and drugs. Take the time to listen to all who spoke out to make this wonderful experience - the MUSEUM at bethel Woods Center for the Arts - come alive. The Hippies taught us how to work as a team united. At Woodstock, people helped each other to get through bad trips - not by giving them medicine with long-lasting negative effects, but instead, they walked the affected through their demons and out the other side. In turn, those people, stronger emotionally, also helped others after. It was a poerful, healing time for many.

By the time you reach the final, 20-minute documentary, in a beautifully appointed theater, there is still one more doorway - a room in which you can record your own experiences of the time - for future visitors to continue to enhance their visit.

Still wrapped in the aura of all we had just taken part in, I left the building firmly entrenched in the 60s once again. Down the hill, in the ampitheater, musicians were rehearsing for this weekend's performance. In the early summer afternoon, the colors were fresh and vibrant and lush carpets of dense, soft grass covered the area where once, 39 years ago, 400,000 enthusiastic music fans came to see and hear the bands and solo artists who are today's music legends in their own right.

The MUSEUM at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is a must see, must feel experience.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

It's Early Allergy Time

So much for having a day off - my nose is singing songs I've never heard of as I pop allergy pills, sniff nose drops and blow my nose non-stop with Puff's Vics' tissues. Today is a 'mizrable' day. Working on the computer isn't terribly constructive as even a 17' laptop screen is still sraining my eyes. I started out this morning by proofreading a friend's resumee online - when I really wanted to work on my latest images. Having to concede to trying to get some rest today goes against my instinct. My mind will continue to formulate thoughts and ideas while my body screams at me to rest awhile.

Fortunately I was able to see "Sex in the City" in Monticello, New York yesterday. For those of us 'SitY' fanatics, it was cleverly melded as a true extension of the series with all our favorite characters as well as two newbies adding fresh input. Everyone will fall in love with Carrie's new personal assistant, Louise from St Louis who has a penchant for designer handbags. The introduction cleverly leads to understand how the four best friends reached this point of their lives. I enjoyed it enormously - even with my allergies starting up.

And, on that nore - I'm off to the shower and - hopefully - a brief nap.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Most diehard scrappers are moan in disbelief when I say I don't know the Scrapbook jargon that comes so easily to all of them. It's true - even though I've been creating frames, mats and different looks to my images for quite some time, I was unaware that there was an active digital scrapbook community.

In the May/June Calf Scramble at MooTwo Designs, we are asked to scraplift a layout. I opted to work with Gloria ValVerde's 'Sedona Scenery' (link shown here).

My images were mostly from a visit to New York's Finger Lakes region last year, focusing on Taughannock Falls - the tallest waterfall east of the Rockies and 60 feet taller than Canada's Horseshoe Falls. All credits are as follows:

Background: Avery papers; filmstrip by escrappers; Folded and Lined overlay and Spring Frame 2 by Gunhild Storeide; Fonts - Nimbus San TT Con Bold and Pepita MT - all images my own.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

My First Blog Header Artwork and credits

Google is wondrous thing! Recently, several online friends have joined the Blogger family - one of whom also selected this layout. As we both enjoy digital scrapping, I decided to look for a way to personalize my header, as my blog is a combination of my gypsy-lifestyle and digital crafts (which are better suited to living in confined quarters with weight and storage limitations).

Finding a link to premade blog header art, I opted to find what was necessary to create my own - prior links state the obvious . . . I'm a camera-addict and rather hooked on digital scrapbooking!

Two links gave me most of the information I was seeking - template size and how to upload my designs.

The first-

clued me into template sizes. It's a great site, but there was ONE omission - the pixel size for this header is actually 1140 X 180 (I can extend it to 1320 x 180 to fill the box).

I spent a delightful evening creating my first heading. Knowing I wanted to include the title as part of my artwork I logged onto and found a round font that I could fill with my own art. Because it was an outline font I first set it to my header template (saved as png), then saved a jpeg copy to give me a solid background fill. Closing the saved type and reopening it, I inserted it on the top of the paper I wanted to fill the letters with. Using my magic wand, I first eliminated the white background.

Now I had the font 'Caligraph', with the colors I wanted INSIDE my letters. I used my magic wand, one letter at a time and cut and pasted the background inside my letters. Once that was done, I pulled out the background to be sure the letters were what I envisioned.

Afterwards I added the wondrful plaid background paper from the Digital Scrapbooks Seasons and Holidays collection, and the stitching, created by talented Gunhild Storeid
Finally, I outlined the letter edges to give them a bit more definition and added a feint shadow. The image of my 'House on wheels' was trimmed to fit and blend in with the other elements, with a very minor, soft shadow there too.

So, now I had my first blog header - and size - but the uploading instructions were beyond this Granny's brain (seriously!).

Back to Google search under 'creating free blog headers' . . .

and there, deceptively simple, was a great video tutorial that was almost embarrassing in its simplicity. Again, the author failed to give the header sizes- but the directions tell you that if you request, it will resize your art to the appropriate size for your blog (1140 pixels here - 1140 x 180 overall).

The second link:

My thanks to both these great wonderful bloggers.

One more item of note - when uploading your image for your header, note that one option is to automatically reduce the image to the suggested width. If you have a set image that you do NOT want rduced, DO NOT CHECK THIS BOX.

I changed my layout since I first wrote this and discovered that the suggested pixel width will not fill the full box, so you may have to experiment - The 180 depth is fine - but the widths change according to your layout choice. I did update the measurements to the size shown, adding more original art that I created - but I can still add another 180 pixels in width - and will most likely do so - eventually!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Workamping 2008

Click to play Start of Summer 2008
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox scrapbook

I just realized a horrendous oversight in creating this Smilebox Album - the May calendar on the second page was created by me using Gloria Val Verde's May 2008 Paint the Barn Challenge at (Moo Two Designs). The photos and papers are my own creations. The jeweled embellishments were part of Gloria's terrific template. Vicki

Sam's Point, Cragsmoor, New York

On a clear day you can see out fifty miles and view FIVE states - New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut are 4, but there's no sign from the Point to indicate the fifth, and I'm ashamed to admit that I'm posting this without confirming the last one. A fellow from Oxford, UK asked about hiking opportunities when he made his reservation. The owner of the park I'm working at told me that he has a list of area sights and attractions in a book, giving directions. Sam's Point, in the foothills of New York's Catskill Mountains, is the closest to the campground, so off I went to explore with my camera on one of my days off last week.
The Preserve has many areas of hiking trails - one of which leads off to ice chasms - but that trail was temporarily closed while it was being strengthened in areas where erosion is threatening it. The skies looked a bit iffy to the south, so I opted for the short - but straight up hike to the Point itself. In this image I was nearing the top, but still not quite there. At one time genteel ladies and gentlemen rode up in horse-drawn carriages. Even though the road was better then, it was still a steep uphill pull for the horses, and the downhill trek could be slippery in bad weather - as it is now - and there are extreme drop offs around every bend.
The climb was well worth it and the impending weather made for some great coloration in my images. Once at the Point itself, a wind came up that was rather daunting - looking about me it was obvious that such winds are the norm as the trees, which stood tall and proud at the base of the mountain, were short and stunted at the top - unable to grow due to Nature's decree.
Now I can't wait to check out some of the other areas as the Catskills. I'm told that the views are breathtaking everywhere - even the campground I'm at is a teaser of what lies ahead, overlooking beautiful peaks in the distance.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Heading On Out...

Reflections of Boston Cape Cod KOA

Reflection of KOA Kamp Kottage

I'm a bit behind again . . . nothing new. Since leaving Georgia we've been on the go non-stop. We arrived in Middleboro, Massachusetts on March 21 and immediately started Workamping at the Boston/Cape Cod KOA, in unseasonably bitter weather. The cold is trying to snap, but it isn't unusual to see a 30 degree difference  in temperature between Boston and Plymouth. Someone will have to tell me if that's typical for this region. The Boston Marathon was held today in terrific weather. I'm sure the runners were happy about that.


I was hired to work in the store and reservations with occasional help in housekeeping and supposed to assist with adult arts and crafts later this summer. I also understood that I would   be working  full time


Map image

Boston/Cape Cod KOA, Middleboro, Massachusetts


Well, it didn't quite work out that way.  My hours keep being reduced while food and fuel keep increasing.  The typical price for diesel fuel is about $4.39 a gallon in this area. We were paying $3.73 when we left Tampa, Florida in mid-March.

The campground itself is company-owned and nicely set up. The location is ideal and there is a great deal to see and do with great local transportation - I certainly was not in any hurry to leave at this point.

But, I'm not 30, or 40, or even in my 50's anymore and have been spending more time cleaning bath houses, Cruise America Class C motorhomes  and Kabins - my least favorite things  to do on a daily basis. Solution: - It's time to move on. Monday morning we're off to New York's Catskills.


AndyLynn XI by the Plymouth Harbor Master Large e-mail view In the meantime, once the bitter cold eased up, there was time to go to Plymouth for some fun images. The harbormaster greets arrivals from this quaint building in the harbor. It's close to Plymouth Rock and a replica of  The Mayflower. Unfortunately, Plymouth Rock is under wraps for a few more weeks while being overhauled.


Plymouth Rock Overhaul Large e-mail view

this is the Monument which houses Plymouth Rock. My daughters told me that it was only visible at low tide - the high tide line is clearly visible on the rocks. The rock itself is in the boxy-looking thing in the opening at the bottom of the structure. But this is where the Pilgrims landed . The Mayflower replica is just out of sight behind the trees.


It's definitely a delightful town worth visiting - when the season isn't at its peak! It was quite cold when I took these pictures, but many Europeans are here on Spring Holidays and they're quite used to colder weather . . . but even they were wearing warm coats as I was!.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Rally at Perry, Georgia

We arrived in Perry about 1:45 yesterday afternoon. The WillCall booth was easy to reach and we got our parking paperwork quickly! A volunteer led us to our area . . . where the first flag should have come up . . . the maps all indicated that Lot 1 was to our right, but those of us with a shamrock sticker were told to go left. In no time, we had rows of trying-to-be-patient new arrivals waiting to be led to our sites. Ours is definitely level, but so narrow that backing in the pickup truck is a bit of a tricky situation. We took it in stride, then headed off to the registration building.

The Rally program says there are shuttles to every lot . . . NOT! Ours not only offers NO shuttle service, but we had to walk 30 minutes to reach the registration building.

Registration was not only s-l-o-w, but there was no place for anyone to sit - and most of us from our lot already had sore backs from the uphill hike. Finally accomplished, we happily spotted a shuttle to 'Lot 1' . . . and ended up back where we boarded - no one told us that our lot was excluded altogether from the shuttle service.

We spoke to a manager who tried to tell us we were parked where we weren't. Then he offered us a refund, or a chance to relocate today . . . when the traffic let up. That still sounded so-so - although it meant missing two seminars. Once we hiked back to our fiver - accompanied by other unhappy campers who had also complained, we realized that we probably could NOT move our unit, as the roadways are too tight.

So, now we were miserable, but decised to go to Wal-Mart - to add to the misery, we also have the only lot with NO security lights, and the only way out of the lot is across a narrow bridge that's hard to find in the dark.

This morning we found out that about 20 others also complained yesterday. Hopefully there will be better shuttle service by tonight - but at least ONE is running closer to our area, and we can live with that for now.

As for the show, it starts in earnest tomorrow - and it looks like it will be a great one overall. Indoor entertainment will be a plus, plus a dance competition that's aiming to break the Guiness Book of Records on Saturday evening.

There will be so many vendors we may never get to them all. And RVs? Wow! Even a great variety of tow haulers. Better leave the checkbook in our rig!

No images to upload yet, we may have to wait til after the show as it's too awkward to bring our laptops up.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

On the Road Again

RV Makeover (Winnebago) at Good Sam Rally in Daytona, Florida, 2006

As far as my nomadic lifestyle is concerned, winter is unofficially over. We closed up our house on wheels in the Tampa area yesterday and started northward - only as far as Lake City, Florida for two nights, as we're scheduled to reach Perry, Georgia, tomorrow afternoon for the always-terrific Good Sam Rally. We already have a list of all the seminars which start on Thursday and just have to get the 'feel' of the grounds to determine where everything is located.

For two nights we're enjoying one of our favorite Passport America campgrounds - Oaks n Pines RV Park on I-10 near Lake City. I did forget how close it was to the Interstate, but the sounds of the big rigs and the bikers leaving the huge Daytona Rally simply gets the blood revving up - rather like Canada Geese and Sand Hill Cranes with their semi-annual migrations!

After we set up yesterday, Mike decided to call his son . . . but was unable to find his cell phone. Calling it proved unsuccessful - both our phones easily convert to vibrate at inconvenients times. As we have no need to drive anywhere right now, we're still hooked up to the fifth wheel. We checked with the office - no phone. Mike tried dialling his number one more time - and a gentleman answered - he heard it ringing at the rest area where we had lunch on I-75.

Fortunately, he was heading toward Jacksonville, and had to pass right by the RV Park. He refused to take anything for returning the phone. Whoever you are, Good Samaritan, we both thank you .

Now we can relax today before our hectic weekend - but fun hectic - and two of the ladies I worked with at Camping World near Tampa will also be there to say hello to.

Monday, March 3, 2008

When the Internet is Down, my Camera is Up

There's nothing more infuriating than having restricted internet time. We've been down at WigWam RV Park in Seffner, Florida, for several weeksa now, but there is an upside . . . I'm busy with my camera and creating greeting cards without interruption!

We were only able to get the lunar eclipse images through the full eclipse. Even my camera was able to capture some strong images until the clouds came after it reached its peak. The image on the furthest right was the soft glow of the total eclipse. What a thrill that was to see.

I've also been creating a new line of greeting cards that are getting some favorable comments, incorporating my own images and creative digital scrap booking techniques. Definitely not for the photography purist, but something I'm enjoying as the designs are my own and the possibilities are endless in scope.

One more week in Seffner, and we'll be heading for the huge Good Sam Rally in Perry, Georgia. We went to one in Daytona two years ago and are ready to enjoy another. In the meantime, it's time to start getting our 'house on wheels' ready to roll. Florida is so sandy and messy, but Mike's been having an easy time washing her down so she's bright and shiny for the road.

The inside also needs a good going-through . . . including the closets and collected junk from being in one place awhile. I found a great knife holder on sale at Camping World last week. I have a good one behind the stove, but when the cover's open it isn't easy to reach behind. This one fits tidily on my dish cupboard door and still closes securely. With new steak knives, it was imperative to have a holder easily reachable yet out of harm's way of small grandchildren. For about $5, it's exactly what was needed - hooray!

Last night we went over to Winn-Dixie and discovered their Prestige ice cream brand was featuring Plant City Strawberry Ice Cream. It is SO good, with huge pieces of berries. The Strawberry Festival is in full swing. For $2.79 one can enjoy a HUGE bowl of Strawberry Shortcake. We've been over twice - the second time my daughter was visiting from Michigan and my aunt and uncle drove up from Ft Myers to meet her. (I was adopted at birth and met my birth mother three years ago. Her brother winters in Ft Myers, so I get to visit them when I'm nearby - my half-brother is also in nearby Clearwater, so Becki got to meet three new family members on this visit).

Just as we finished up our wonderful treat, the skies opened up and it poured! It took Becki two days to get here due to snow and ice . . . then she was greeted by heavy storms in a not-so-sunny Florida! Fortunately it didn't last.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New Revelations in a Vista World

How many of you are going through the new Vista problems that I am? Sony has been wonderful in trying to help me as they arise, but it's so aggravating trying to find my way through the new 'doorways'. XP wasn't broke - why did someone have to 'fix' it?

1) System Restore . . . doesn't

2) Be vewy, vewy careful of what you install. A friend insisted I download her iWin JewelQuest program . . . sorry, iWin - no more games from you.

First, it sneakily adds a pop up announcing new games every time you go online;

second, it is bound and determined that you will sign up for online play; . . .

and third . . . it will make you become really friendly with your computer manufacturer's
online service techs! Out of nowhere, my desktop expanded wayyyy out of proportion.
Even opening images to edit them became impossible as they were effectively distorted.

Fortunately, Sony was able to come through and help me there, but I'm still waiting for feedback regarding the System Restore issue.

As if that isn't aggravating enough, the park I'm presently at keeps losing its WiFi signal . . . so I have to drive to a nearby hot spot to see where I'm at with the different fixes.

When my daughter got her new laptop a year ago, it still had Windows XP, so she's being spared some of these aggravations.

Now, one last surprisae, that the Sony reps keep 'forgetting' to comment on - and I hope I hear some feedback from some of you on this gem.

Supposedly, I have Windows Vista Premium Home edition . . . but the Sony rep indicated that my computer was actually shipped preloaded with Windows 98 - even though I can find no reference to 98 when I do a search or look within my computer - and everything opens under Vista.

Has anyone else heard anything about this situation????????????????

Sorry to have such a frustrating blog entry today. But I would sure like to know what's what in the scheme of things.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Damani Fifth Wheel

Damani Fifth Wheel by Carriage
There are times when RVers 'dry camp' at rallies and other gatherings. It's typical in such instances to 'mark' your rig by means of a flag, kite, banner or other item that can be hung high off the rear ladder or a pole, as the majority of towables tend to be primarily . . . WHITE! And when everyone is parked in a large field it's easy to forget where your 'house on wheels' is at!
Lately, champagne, taupe and a soft dove grey have been appearing . . . and now, Carriage has introduced its unique, wholly-new Damani line . . . in a high-gloss RUST color as well as an attractive gray tone. This puppy needs no additions to locate it in a crowd. Everything about it is as different as it can get - though I have serious doubts that the loaded weight is under 12,000# as listed on the serial number label. (Sorry, Carriage, but I would be mighty uncomfortable pulling this with my 3/4 ton Dodge diesel pickup truck.)
Now, I can't say that this is high on my list of favorite external RV colors - but it was that very color that drew me like a mosquito to fresh meat to check out the inside. Honestly, I was expecting a rather basic interior . . sofa and table and chairs or dinette - maybe an easy chair or two - and possibly a desk and/or fireplace.
Did I ever have a wrong number! Visually, this floorplan is one of the most original I've seen. There are three equally different layouts - and I admit I prefer the bathroom and bedroom of the others which each have 2 slides. But the living room in this triple slide thoroughly intrigued me, featuring two large sofa-style seating areas.
It can easily seat about 10 people with room to spare. Personally, being as I'm constantly working on my computer and working with my photos and crafts, that dining table set-up would be ideal to spread all my paraphernalia about with room to spare. The two-burner stovetop and single, round kitchen sink weren't terribly user-friendly, but I was fascinated with the overall 'flow' of this unit.
The sofas, the kitchen, even the refrigerator placement, all follow along curves rather than flat surfaces. It definitely has an unusual feel about it. Even the bedroom builtins are more curved than straight and the bed itself has a 7 degree tip away from the wall which does make it easier to make up on the far side than most.
Definitely a unit worth checking out - but make up your own mind as to its' practicality for your own needs. Overall, I'll stick with my modest CrossRoads Cruiser 29CK. It's nowhere as opulent, but it still has features I rarely see on the highest-end units. It was definitely well-worth spending a leisurely hour checking it out.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Hot Water Tank Sediment

This is really embarrassing. We always filter our water from the outside. Being full-timers, we change it quite often as we do travel quite a bit. Many of you have the filters inside your coach or rig, often under the sink, and almost always a second one in the fridge if you have the luxury of a built-in ice maker. (I don't, but I did buy a portable one for Mike for Christmas two years ago which he loves.)

Even with the filter, hard water sediment will still build up. You can't camp in as many places as we do and not collect it. Every two months or so, when the shower water pressure slows down, I remove the shower head and hose and soak them in vinegar for about 15 minutes. I then blow air through one end, emptying the trapped water in a clear jar to see how much sediment is still present. I repeat the steps til I'm satisfied, rinse them out well with clear water and replace them.

(Note: In air conditioning weather I also wash out my filters at the same time - both ac and my vent filters. In sandy states, like Florida, they get filled quickly).

Fortunately, I'm working part time for Thousand Trails in Camping World. I am supposed to know where things are, and periodically wander through looking for ideas (a dangerous move, trust me!). Two weeks ago I spotted a gizmo for flushing out the hot water tank easily. The water at this campground is so hard, that my vinegar treatment and filter-changing were not effectively helping with the shower pressure. It was time to do something. Several times I saw other RVers purchasing the Tank Saver RV Water Heater Tank Flushing Tool, so I knew we weren't the only ones having issues.

The packaging says it takes about 10 minutes, twice a year to keep your tank running smoothly . . . but that doesn't apply if you haven't drained it in three years, since it left the factory!!!! It took several (embarrassing) flushes, but what a difference. And easy? I can do it alone easily. Atwood hot water tanks have no anodes, but even those that do will follow the same procedure. The directions are easy to follow.

You can be sure we won't let that happen again! Happy Camping, everyone.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Teaching This Old Gal New Tricks

Blogging is still new to me. When I first decided to try 'Smilebox' I was extremely hesitant, even to the point of cancelling it before exploring its potential. Fortunately the program persisted in teasing me enough to give it another look. Below is my first experimental slideshow. Hopefully you enjoy it. These images were randomly chosen from many I've taken along my travels. A couple will reappear in different posts later which I hope you will find beneficial.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Nugget's New Hat

As a Workamper, I wear many hats (just look at my resume card samples below and on the side). Ever eager to promote the company I'm working with, and constantly creating things from forms to promotional items and personal gifts, this adventure provided another opportunity.

Twice a week I generate leads for Thousand Trails at the Tampa-area Camping World (which already has most of my monies - it's a dangerous place for a full-time RVer!!!). On my third day, aware of all the dogs that were coming in the store, I called Mike and asked him to bring 'Nugget' over (lead images for this blog). Thar fellow is a magnet when it comes to getting attention. Mike got quite a chuckle when he saw guests and dogs alike coming over to check him out.

Before getting too carried away, I asked my boss to come over and approve my new 'helper'. She was a bit skeptical, thinking that Mike might be helping me, and the position only pays one person per shift.

Quietly I brought him up from behind the counter and started putting him through his paces. She responded to him immediately . . . then stared looking around, stunned, as people stopped in their tracks for a better look, then started gravitating our way. Nugget was hired!

Nugget isn't 'just' a dog - he's a hand puppet with the ability to be quite amazing.

There was one problem though - three out of five people want to BUY my buddy. It was time to get him 'dressed' for his part. With my boss's permission, I took digital images of our current promotion and edited them for iron-on transfers. I have a wonderfu, free, program -, that offers a good variety of customizable patterns. Using a beret pattern, I adjusted it to fit Nugget, then printed it out. Now he has a beret featuring the current promo on the top and the Thousand Trails logo on the wider-than-normal band.

As my great boss, Sue Rose says, "Life is Good".

Monday, January 21, 2008

Tampa RV Supershow

Views from New Mexico and Utah

The amazing show is over for 2008, but it was another great one. Unfortunately I was down with laryngitis earlier in the week, so was only able to attend on Saturday. (This show is so huge that you get a pass for a second day when you buy your ticket - and trust me, you do want to plan for two days.)

So much for hearing about the RV sales slowdown - don't tell that to the vendors there - they were hopping. I not only FINALLY made our reservations for the upcoming Good Sam's RV rally in Perry, Georgia in March - but received a $25 certificate towards fuel. OK - it may not pay for much, but on a limited income, some is better than nothing!

We've been drooling over Freightliner-type conversions for some time. I like the warranties on them and the way they handle. The Optima has been at the head of our list, but this year, Renegade came on as a close second. They don't have the frills and gussie doodads of Prevosts or other luxury brands, but for us, they're more livable and we'd never have to worry about overloading. But that's strictly pesonal preference - and they're still out of our league. My CrossRoads Cruiser fits us well and has held up beautifully for full-timing. What surprised us was how popular they are becoming. Normally there would be three or four at the Super Show - this year we looked at 10 - and didn't see them all. There were about 1,300 RVs total on the grounds for viewing.

My daughter and her husband have been looking at lightweight towables - fairly basic, but comfortable for a family of 4 and a dog in inclement weather (otherwise they are outside). T@B now has a unit slightly larger than their revised, popular teardrop (like the Betty Boop unit on the left). For their needs, there are units they would be happy with - ECO has one that is even better geared to their needs without going overboard on their wallets.

At the other end of the spectrum, we're seeing a huge surge in high-end class A's. The transition lot at Seffner's LazyDays is so busy that they're asking the people there to try to stay only one night as they transfer their belongings from the former units to their new ones. One such couple is staying at WigWam RV Park where we're at - waiting for their new unit to arrive. Lazy Days was putting them up at their beautiful Rally Park, but it has been full with reservations - and will be, through the end of the month. We aren't in a resort-type park - far from it - but new arrivals are sporting some gorgeous units for the few days they are staying.

Even the dry camping lots - at TA and Flying J truckstops as well as Camping World, are filled. The Super Show has not only drawn them in, but also LazyDays with their own show which will be ongoing this coming weekend at Rally Park. It's a fun time for looking and dreaming.

I sure wish RV salespeople would stop trying to sell heavy RVs to people that are beyond their true towing capacity. I went in a beautiful Alfa fifth wheel, to drool a bit (sometimes it's a bit embarrassing - and that unit definitely qualified!). The salesman was telling a customer that he definitely had the right pickup truck for it. I inadvertently blurted out, 'Sure, as long as it's bigger than a one-ton' - the salesman glared at me as the prospective customer confirmed that he indeed had a diesel one-ton. When I mentioned that as a former RV transporter the EMPTY weight on that one made me nervous - especially in the mountains, the salesman modified his comment to add that the one-ton would pull the behemoth just fine with certain modifications - omitting the detail that virtual ANY power-boost changes void a new pickup truck warranty.

I keep repeating myself like a broken record, but knowing your weights and combined loaded weights (GVWR) are critical. Overextending can create unpleasant nightmares down the road.

Happy Camping everyone

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A new visual on I-4

There's a rather noisy brouhaha bubbling away just east of Tampa, Florida, along I-4, beside Bates RV. Intrigued by the Cadillacs resembling Stonehenge in Texas, Mr Bates, a long-standing Airstream dealer, created a similar 'sculpture', using several Airstream trailers placed vertically in a straight row. Florida has many unusual man-made sightings that are fun to seek out, and this one should be added to the list - as it may have a limited duration. Local newspapers and TV stations are having a field day with local residents complaining that it's an eyesore. For us RVers, it's rather a fun visual.

Happy traveling!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


This morning I opened my shades to see a fellow frantically working on his hitch. He had a 26' Laredo tag and was pulling it with a half ton pickup truck. The RV was light enough to be pulled by the truck, but my guess was that he didn't double-check his connections when he hooked up and his truck and trailer parted company when he made his first turn!

The owners of this motorhome also had a bad hair day with this mishap at a Flying J Travel Plaza near Tampa, Florida two years ago. The parking lot was packed and they had already hit two vehicles, when they tried to drive around them. Instead of pulling forward, they shifted into reverse, driving backwards over a berm and through an alligator fence by a canal. (Their undercarriage was a mess.)
We also had an unwitting surprise on our way to New Orleans to help out after Hurricane Katrina. A passing truck driver signalled that something was wrong with the back of our new fiver - when we stopped we found the fresh water tank laying on I-55, with precious water all over the interstate.
Of the three incidents, we were probably the most fortunate. We have a CrossRoads Cruiser, and the good folks at CrossRoads (in Topeka, Indiana), worked with us until our unit was properly fixed. They really went the extra mile on our behalf. I delivered hundreds of RVs in the 4 years I was a solo transporterand saw some factory horrors, but never lost a large water tank.
When I saw the RVer with the Laredo (another well-made brand that won't break your bank account), I realized he had omitted one cardinal rule of a safety check. When hooking up to leave, he didn't take the extra few minutes to check that the hitch and receiver were connected properly. We were always taught to crank the leg up higher than it started to be sure the ball didn't pop out. Apparently, this chap didn't do so. From the outside his unit appeared to be fairly new - but looking further it appeared it had just been well taken care of. Unfortunately he bent the post. Luckily there was a Camping World fairly close by where he could get it fixed. Hopefully he had good insurance.
The couple with the motorhome was another matter. Their unit was new - they were taking it home from the fantastic Tampa RV SuperShow. Again, I hope they had good insurance. It certainly wasn't an event they could laugh about any time soon.
Fortunately, such mishaps are rare in the RV life. But we do need to remember to go through all our checks when we hitch up and leave. Antennas are frequently left up (uh oh - I can put my hand up for one of those!); cords and hoses aren't always disconnected (embarrassing, but a good laugh later); we've all forgotten to put SOMETHING away inside and opened our doors later to some interesting results.
Many of us keep journals of our travels and share some of our interesting stories around leisurely campfires at night when our work is done for the day. We sometimes sound like fishermen with their stories about 'the one that got away'. We're a good breed of people.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Resume Cards for Workamping Resumes

Workampers enjoy a flexible lifestyle. Many of us are retired (or getting close but want to travel in a cost-effective manner). A few have positions with their summers off and this is an ideal way to travel the country and earn a bit of money to pay for expenses.

Quartzite, Arizona and Lakeland, Florida host job fairs and seminars in January through the great people at

Another good source for being noticed is at RV shows. Many campgrounds and resorts have booths and most are eager to discuss possible positions to potential seasonal employees.

I create 'mini-resumes' highlighting our strengths which we leave with prospective employers. Even if we are asked to fill out a work application, we still give them a card to staple with the paperwork. When we get call-backs, the business cards always mentioned in a positive way. They like the 'mind-joggers' after talking to so many people throughout the shows.

Inevitably, employers request images of our rigs and ourselves. Here and on the left side are four of the cards I've created for us - two joint cards, and individual as there are times when we may work in different neighboring locations.

We belong to Passport America - a wonderful half-price campground service which promotes beautiful campgrounds throughout the country and who give us credit when our name is mentioned.

Likewise, also credits us when new members sign up and mention us. On this card I was able to add those elements along the side of the card without totally drowning it out.

These are also a fun, inexpensive way to trade addresses with the new friends we meet in our travels.
Most photo editing programs offer an assortment of business card templates. They are a great way to start creating your own. Clip art can also be utilized, but the personal cards, such as these seem to gain a more positive input. I create ours without templates as I enjoy creating my own.
There are many papers on the market for printing perforated cards, but occasionally they don't line up properly. If you have problems getting them within the perameters, consider setting them as a 10-up setting, then print them on high quality photograph stock and cut them out with a paper cutter. It's considerably cheaper, and they look professional. (All the warehouse clubs have great photo paper that's ideal for these.)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Remembering September 11, 2001

This past summer we worked at Timothy Lake Resort in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains. On Sept 8 we took the ferry from New Jersey to Ellis Island & the Statue of Liberty.

As I stood in the Registry Room at Ellis Island, I was emotionally hit by A disturbing mental image.

To my right, Lady Liberty stood tall & proud through the beautiful windows. Ourforefathers looked at her with renewed hope when they migrated to the U.S. all those years ago. That statue stood for hope, freedom and fresh starts. For many of them the trip leader been arduous and horrific, crammed into the tight steerage holds of trans-Atlantic ships. (New arrivals with enough money, not only sailed in comfortable cabins, but were also spared the dehumanizing experiences of Ellis Island.)

To my left, stood the New York City skyline, minus the World Trade Center. On that morning, September 11, 2001, we not only lost American citizens. some of whose parents, grandparents, & great-grandparents originally reached this beautiful New World via Ellis Island-but also visitors. Visitors from other countries. some of whom were brutally murdered by thoughtless mercenaries from their own country. Those deaths affected Mankind worldwide.

Returning home that nightI felt an intense need to create an image that the sights and absent buildings had evoked deep within me. This was one of three results. I 'ghosted' the Twin Towers to where they once stood, proud and tall . Our flag was borrowed from an image I took in Clewiston, Florida. the New York skyline was taken through one of the upper windows on Ellis Island, and Lady Liberty was captured on the ferry.

Blogging Along America's Roads

For a few years I delivered virtually anything that could be pulled with a one-ton pickup truck throughout the Continental U.S.A. Newly single, and a grandma (in her mid-fifties), the lifestyle was liberating. A laptop computer, cell phone, and digital cameras kept me linked to friends and family. But - fuel costs began to rise and truck repairs ate up my income. It was time to reconsider what to do - as long as travel was still in the picture. I was already a full-time RVer and thoroughly enjoyed my compact 'home on wheels' (my granddaughter's name for it).
When one door closes, another opens. I met 'Cigar Mike' online. He was ALMOST a fulltimer - with a vintage Airstream, and surprised to connect with a woman who traveled alone. He was also interested in my lifestyle and planned to hit the road himself after selling his home in Florida. He invited me down, offering me a place to hook up my unit, so off I went . . . before winter set in up north.
We're about as different as two people can be - but it keeps life interesting. We decided to try out Workamping. We both love to travel, and workamping gives us the opportunity to travel the country and work at campgrounds or other places for awhile. Pay is relatively low, but it generally includes our site. Our lifestyle precludes 'collecting', and our needs are minimal. Now we get to spend time exploring the areas we work at for up to 4 months at a time. It isn't a lifestyle for everyone - but it fits us.
Shortly after we merged our lifestyles Mike sold his Airstream and we headed north with my fifth wheel. With no slides and minimal storage it soon became a bit tight for both of us. Between our second and third Workamping venture we turned it in for a triple slide fifth wheel that has been a life saver. (See image at top left). Now life is much smoother, but as we go along we find that many of our former activities are being rekindled in ways that work with our lifestyle.
Mike used to be a woodworker and even lived on a sailboat for several years - that he built. He's already used those skills in four separate workamping ventures. I used to teach arts and crafts, and was a freelance photojournalist. This summer I'll be teaching arts and crafts again and my photography and journaling skills are being applied daily in many computer crafts I create.
Using this blog, we hope to share our travels, ideas and help others where we can. Hopefully you'll visit again and give us your feedback.