Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!

It's hard to believe how the time has passed so quickly since my last post. I hate going so long without providing even small updates, but it's been a very busy month here at Kelly's RV Park in White Springs, FL. Between working, taking a short trip back to Greenville, SC for the family Christmas gathering and doing the usual holiday things, we have had little time to do anything else.

The park is looking very festive these days. Along with our old, trusty RV Howie (House on Wheels is Excellent), most of the other RV's here are adorned with lights, wreaths and other decorations. It's been nice to see the lights around the park while spending time around the campfire ring. The other decorations we are seeing is holiday sweaters on dogs, including Quincy. We now have 51 dogs in the park and most of them are usually wearing sweaters. I'll admit, it's been cold here for several weeks with temps. below freezing many nights. But I still have to wonder about the need for a dog to wear a sweater; especially in Florida. I've mentioned this to Deb several times and the usual response is that it's "because he looks so adorable". Ok, I'll accept that, but I still say there's something wrong about a male dog wearing a sweater in Florida. So much for owning a masculine, protective animal. I guess he can just scare away all threats with his cuteness.

Last Thursday through Sunday, we returned to Greenville for a very nice gathering with the family. Quincy went with us, was very good the whole time, and ended up being very spoiled by my father who snuck him pieces of cheese. Because gas is currently $3 per gallon in this area, we decided to give Howie a rest and rented a car for the journey. While we were there we indulged in another great meal from Bucky's Bar-B-Que and, once again, bask in the pleasure of cooking the meal for the gathering in a full-size kitchen. We love Howie, but cooking in an RV kitchen can prove to be limiting at best.

One of the strange things about the trip is that we both felt as if we had never left the area last May. It was like returning home in many ways. One year ago we were parked at the Flower Mill RV Park in Taylors, SC for a 5 month stay. It's hard to believe that our lives have changed so much since we were there. Where did the time go? We both feel very blessed that since leaving Taylors we have found a place that has brought us so much joy and so many true friends. It's the best Christmas present we could have hoped for this year!

For the rest of the week we plan to continue enjoying the holiday spirit around the park and enjoying the nightly campfires while sharing time with friends. There is a cookie exchange today that Deb is attending and, on Christmas Day, we will be taking part in a huge meal in the clubhouse. We hope that everyone has an equally enjoyable week and is blessed with the joys of the season.

The best Christmas of all is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up with one another.

Copyright 2009-2010 Lane A Geyer
Photos by Deb
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, December 3, 2010

Cold Nights, Warm Days

It's been a few weeks of cold nights and warm days here at Kelly's RV Park in White Springs, FL. Temperatures have dipped down into the mid-20s several nights, which has caused everyone to begin preparing their units for winter and commenting on how cold it is for Florida. After living in this state for over ten years, I have to admit that the cold temps. are harder to deal with each passing year. Thankfully, most days the temps. warm into the 70s, so I guess I'll stop complaining and give thanks that I no longer have to deal with extended sub-zero wind chills and knee deep snows.

There was a nice potluck dinner in the clubhouse on Thanksgiving with about 60 people in attendance. The park owners, Richard & Mary, supplied three, 20 pound turkeys and everyone else brought a vast array of side dishes and deserts. It proved to be a great meal and a nice way to celebrate the day. There's something very special about a large group of basically very different people coming together and giving thanks for the blessings we have as a family of RV travelers.

It's hard to believe that we have been here in White Springs for over six months. Last year at this time we were leaving Heiskell, TN for a stay in Greenville, SC. As I've written several times before, we never expected to be here this long, but Kelly's is the kind of place that is hard to leave. Every day, more people who have stayed here for many years are arriving for the season. Everyone knows each other and comments on how happy they are to be back among friends. It's rare to find that kind of feeling of community in an RV park and we are glad to have become part of the experience.

Tonight there is a Christmas parade in White Springs and the opening of the Festival of Lights at Stephen Foster State Park. We are looking forward to attending these events for several reasons. One is the chance to see the more than 3 million lights that will adorn the park. The other is to experience a parade in a town that has a population of less than 850 people. It ought to be interesting.

Until next time, Happy Trails everyone.

Copyright 2009-2010 Lane A Geyer
Photos by Deb
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

RV News

It's been another busy and beautiful week here at Kelly's RV Park in White Springs, FL. There have been a few nights where the temperatures dropped down to 32, but the days have been in the high 70s with clear blue skies. Glorious weather that has contributed to almost constant gatherings around the campfire ring. Some days the fire is burning from 7 in the morning until midnight. It's a great place to relax and share good times and good food. The picture above shows Richard, the owner of the park, preparing a breakfast of bacon and eggs over the fire. It's a nice perk here to be able to enjoy a cup of coffee around the fire on cold, crisp mornings.

Other than work and enjoying the fire, there's not much new going on around here except the arrivals of a few more long-term residents. But in between completing other tasks, I came across these recent news items that may be of interest to anyone in the RV lifestyle.
  • Overnight Parking Bans at Walmarts: In a posting back in August, I wrote about a couple who is suing Walmart after the husband shot and killed a man who was attempting to break into their RV while they were parked in a Walmart lot in Utah. The family was not harmed, but they decided to sue Walmart claiming that the company did not protect them properly during their free stay and that they are now suffering from mental and emotional stress due to the ordeal. As I and other RV full-timers predicted, one of the outcomes of this lawsuit is that many Walmarts are now prohibiting overnight parking in their lots. Included is the Walmart we shop at in nearby Lake City.
    • Runaway Bull Shot in Campground: A one-ton bull took refuge in an RV park in Cedaredge, CO and was ultimately and killed after other attempts to control the animal failed. It was feared that the animal would access the grounds of a nearby elementary school. I hope the park residents enjoyed a really big barbecue after the unfortunate incident.

      • State Parks Closures:In an effort to address growing budget deficits, many states have already closed, or are planning to close, their parks. A large number of these parks include RV campsites. Colorado is currently looking at closing four state parks, opening others up to oil and gas drilling, plus allowing of corporate sponsorships of parks as ways of saving money and generating money for a park system that is expected to receive no funding next year. A similar situation is facing California after voters defeated a proposition that sought to raise vehicle license fess by $18 per car for state park finances. As a result, the closure of many California parks is certain in the near future.

      • Free Alaska Travel Guide: There are very few people we meet who haven't already been to, or are planning a trip through Alaska. There is now a free North to Alaska travel guide that can be viewed online or mailed to you. You can find it at

      • Permanent RV Discounts for Veterans: On Nov. 10th of this year,  Carefree RV Resorts announced that it will offer permanent, 50 percent nightly discounts to active and veteran military servicemen and women and their families in its 35 parks in Florida, Texas, New Jersey, North Carolina and California.

      Until next time, Happy Trails everyone.

      Copyright 2009-2010 Lane A Geyer
      Photos by Deb

      Tuesday, November 2, 2010

      Fall & Witches Stew

       Fall has finally arrived here at Kelly's RV Park in White Springs, FL. Most days the temps. are in the high 70s with nights dipping into the high 40s. Good campfire and sleeping weather. The strange thing about Fall here is that most of the leaves drop without changing color. There are a some oaks and maples that have a few colorful leaves at the top, but the majority of leaves coming down are green. That's a big contrast when compared to our stay about a year ago in Heiskell, TN when the leaves were exploding with vibrant colors. I miss that atmosphere. It's nice to be in warmer climes going into the Winter months, but there's something magical about a colorful Fall atmosphere.

      The pictures above were taken on Halloween when everyone gathered at the clubhouse for a meal of witches stew. The preparation and enjoyment of the stew has become an annual tradition that dates back about five years. Marilyn, shown in the bottom picture, places a large pot over an open fire and adds a base broth. From there, anyone is allowed to add whatever ingredients they wish except for fish and macaroni. The thing people like is that the concoction is never the same from year to year. We've been told that some years it's been really beanie, while other years it's been loaded with meats. Everyone is in agreement though that no matter what's gone into it, the stews have always been excellent.

      This year the mixture included smoked turkey legs, ham, sausages, hot dogs, stew beef, celery, cabbage, peas, carrots, okra, acorn squash, rice plus other ingredients that I did not hear about. After simmering over the fire for about five hours, it turned out to be surprisingly good. It was hot, tasty and very filling. Spending time with people while the stew was cooking and during the meal was a nice way to spend the day.

      We hope everyone had as good of a Halloween as we did. Until next time, Happy Trails.

      Copyright 2009-2010 Lane A Geyer
      Photos by Deb
      Enhanced by Zemanta

      Sunday, October 24, 2010

      RV Park Living

      Activities here at Kelly's RV Park in White Springs, FL are increasing quickly. Over the past week more people have arrived to spend the winter months. By the first of next month all but two spaces will be occupied by long-term residents. After the relatively quiet summer months, it is good to see so many new people and enjoy the lively evening conversations around the campfire ring. It is a credit to the owners of Kelly's that the majority of people who spent the winter months in the park have been returning for years.

      The increase in people has also brought an increase of activities. This past week we enjoyed both a pot-luck meal on Wednesday and a breakfast in the clubhouse on Saturday morning. By next month there will be pot-luck meals every Wednesday evening and Saturday morning breakfasts three weeks of every month. In addition, there will be weekly crafts and beading classes, bingo games, card games, shopping trips and almost nightly gatherings around the campfire ring. The is absolutely no reason for anyone to be bored around this place.

      One of the reasons Deb & I decided to make 2010 our Year Of Doing Nothing was to gain a better understanding of full-time RV Park living. We enjoyed our extensive travels in 2009 and gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about full-time RV living when you are constantly on the move. For some people, being on the move constantly is what they prefer. Otherwise they get what is known as the "hitch-itch" if they are in one place for more than two weeks. That's understandable because the full-time RV life is no different than any other lifestyle. Some prefer to be constantly on the move while others are content to spend years in one place. Either way, it's a good life filled with some of the friendliest, laid-back and helpful people you will meet anywhere.

      The biggest difference we have found between being on the move constantly and staying in one place for an extended period of months is the chance to really get to know people more deeply and to obtain a better feeling for the areas in which we stay. Over the past five months we have become a of very real part of this small community in ways we never expected. As I've noted in past postings, Kelly's is that kind of place and one of the reasons we feel in love with this RV park and the White Springs area. It's good to be a part of a genuine community and learn so much about an extended stay in an RV park. We don't plan to be here forever, but for now it's providing us with many blessings.
      Enhanced by Zemanta

      Wednesday, October 13, 2010

      Work Camping

      White Springs FL Suwannee03Image via Wikipedia

      It's been another busy week here at Kelly's RV Park in White Springs, FL. The weather has been beautiful and cool enough during the nights for people to sit around the campfire ring. Many people have begun to arrive for stays over the winter months and the campfire ring has become a regular gathering spot during the early evenings. It is very close to where we are parked, so we are spending a lot time around the fires meeting new people and enjoying the aromas of wood smoke in the crisp evening air.

      Both Deb & I have been busy with work. Over the past month we have moved into work camping positions here at Kelly's. I've assisted the staff with instillation of the new WiFi system and Deb has begun helping out with general cleaning of the public buildings around the park on the weekends. Now that the WiFi system is working the way it should, I'll be moving on to assist the owners with updating their web page. Aside from her regular duties, Deb will also be picking up some extra work once the park is full next month helping people who want their RV's cleaned on a regular basis. As if that isn't enough to keep us busy, I have also been able to gain some work helping people with computer problems. It's good to be so busy and involved here.

      As with most work camping positions, the owners have been very generous by compensating us for our time through discounts on our site fees and other small payments. We did not come here looking for a work camping position, but the opportunities have arisen. We feel blessed to be able to enjoy this opportunity in a place we love.

      If you do a general web search about full-time RV living, one of the biggest topic areas that will emerge will be information about work camping. It is highly touted as a way to make the full-time RV lifestyle affordable. Most of the sites that arise are just links to other sites that offer work camping positions; especially Federal and State parks. The majority of the information makes it appear that there are thousands of work camping positions available across the nation and that all one needs to do is be willing to offer twenty hours or more per week in general work to receive a free site and utilities. Since beginning our journey, we have research and applied for several work camping positions because it is a good way to make RV living more affordable and enjoyable. In doing so we have also learned that the realities of obtaining a work camping position are much different than the general information presented in most web sites on the topic.

      The first reality learned was that while there are many open work camping positions available, most are in very remote areas like BLM Federal lands in the western States where no one else is willing to stay. Positions in popular parks during peak seasons are filled years in advance, usually by the same people. For example, here in Florida there is a three year waiting list for work camping positions during the winter months. There were a few positions we came across that offered no utility hook-ups because the park was so far off the grid and the closest shopping area was over 200 miles away.

      The second reality learned was that the application process is very slow and laborious. In most cases, you are dealing with governmental agencies who treat applications for work camping positions the same they would any other job position. A lot of the information on web sites make it  appear that all on needs to do is pull an RV into a park and be willing to work a few hours a wee  to qualify. That's just not the case. All work camping applicants go through the same vetting process as other employees including background and reference checks, interviews and verification of past employment. As is usually the case with most governmental agencies, this process can take months with very little contact about the status of the application as it is cleared through all the necessary channels. As with most jobs, it is also true that the people with the most background experience related to the job are ones most qualified for the position. Deb and I were contacted by several different parks after submitting our applications based solely upon the fact that we managed a resort for three years and because I worked for a country park for ten years.

      Last November we were offered a work camping position in the middle of nowhere Southwest Georgia. It was in a remote natural area that was in transition from being a State park to a State nature preserve. No camping was allowed on the site and we would have been the only people staying there to provide security and general cleaning. The position did include a free site with utilities, but was in a very remote area with the nearest shopping area almost an hour away. The total time between the submission of our application to the time we were offered the position was over three months. During that time we were interviewed over the phone by two different people, our background and references were checked, numerous e-mails were exchanged and it was not uncommon to have weeks pass with no feedback on the status of when a final decision would be made. On the very day we left Tennessee to head to Greenville, SC to help out my parents, we received a phone message saying that we obtained the position and they would like us there is two days. Given the cold conditions even in Georgia last winter, it worked out for the best that we could not accept the offer. But if for no other reason, the process taught us a great deal about what it really takes to obtain a work camping position.

      As happened to us here at Kelly's, one of the best ways to find work in a full-time RV lifestyle is to stay at a place for an extended period and get to know people. It pays off in the long-run.

      Until next time, Happy Trails everyone!

      Copyright 2009-2010 Lane A Geyer
      Photo by Deb
      Enhanced by Zemanta

      Wednesday, October 6, 2010

      More Work and a Coffee House

      It has been too long since my last post because we have had another busy week here at Kelly's RV Park in White Springs, FL. In addition to completing a large amount of article assignments, I've also been helping the owners with getting the final bugs out of the new WiFi system. As I stated in the last post, getting a WiFi system to operate properly in a large RV park is no easy task. In the meantime, Deb has stayed busy with keeping up with Quincy and making trips with other residents here into Lake City to stock-up on supplies.
      Thankfully, the weather has cooled down nicely over the past week. Days have been clear and warm with temps. in the low eighties and nights are dipping into the low fifties. After the brutally hot and humid summer we just experienced, it's nice to be able to enjoy sitting outside and sleeping with the windows open.
      The pictures above were taken during our trip last Saturday night to the open-mic coffee house at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park. The park hosts these coffee houses the first Saturday of every month except the months of April and December. In April the park is filled to capacity with an antique tractor show and in December it hosts a Festival of Lights. It's was a nice feeling to return to the park. It was our first stay on this journey and the return brought back many good memories.
      We usually spend our Saturday nights listening to A Prairie Home Companion while enjoying a good meal, but it was nice to substitute that for a trip to the coffee house. During the evening we were entertained by eight performers who provided acoustic sets of music that included folk, bluegrass, gospel and one fiddle player who played a strange style of songs that nobody seemed to understand or appreciate. Overall, the amateur performers were very talented and seemed completely at ease with the audience. It was a nice way to spend the evening. If you ever have the chance to attend one of the coffee houses at Stephen Foster State Park, we highly recommend them. They are free, including the park entry fee, and you can purchase coffee, tea and baked goods all provided for just a dollar each.
      It's looks like another busy week ahead, so until next time Happy Trails everyone.
      Copyright 2009-2010 Lane A Geyer
      Photos by Deb & Lane
      Enhanced by Zemanta

      Saturday, September 25, 2010

      Translator Please

      It' been another busy week for us here at Kelly's RV Park in White Springs, FL. The weather has finally cooled down enough to drastically reduce our need for air conditioning, which is a nice change after the past four months of unending heat. The only we really need is rain. The Suwanee River is now running so low that small islands, which are normally submerged under six feet of water, can now be seen in the middle of the stream.

      Over the past few days, Deb has helped with getting the clubhouse kitchen reorganized after its painting and floor resurfacing and, this morning, also helped out at the monthly pancake breakfast. In addition to my  daily writing assignments, I have also been helping the owners install a new WiFi system.  For two people who are supposedly semi-retired, we've been putting in a lot of time actually working. We're not complaining though, because it feels good to be involved with the projects and the people here at the park.That's one of the advantages of extended stays in a full-time RV lifestyle.

      After spending three hours on the phone yesterday with several technicians of the Cisco corporation, I'm glad I decided to not make installing wireless systems a career. I know a lot about computers and have installed several wireless systems, but the tedium of fine turning the programming bugs in the system being installed here tested my patience. Part of the frustration was trying to talk to technicians that had heavy foreign accents and seemed confused about even the basic steps needed to correct a problem with a product their company manufactured. I beg you major corporations, please provide easy to understand and knowledgeable technicians. No one should require a translator when trying to solve a technical problem.

      The system still has a few bugs to correct, but once everything is operating properly Kelly's will have the best WiFi system available in the area. In order to stay competitive, any RV park today must have a reliable wireless system that people can access from inside their units.That's no small task in a large area that is packed with metal-sided structures, but without wireless access people will quickly stay at another park that does provide it.There is just too much of modern life that now revolves around the Internet.

      We're looking forward to a relaxing weekend and slowing down for a few days. Let's just hope there is no need for a translator in the near future.

      Until next time, Happy Trails everyone.

      Copyright 2009-2010 Lane A Geyer
      Photos by Debbie
      Enhanced by Zemanta

      Saturday, September 18, 2010


      Over the past few weeks there has been an increase of spiders here at Kelly's RV Park in White Springs, FL. Luckily, none have invaded our trusty, old RV Howie (House On Wheels Is Excellent). The one thing about Florida is that it is not a place to be for anyone who has a fear of spiders. Over 700 different types of spiders can be found throughout the state ranging in size from very small to very, very large.

      The above photo is of a North American banana spider (nephila clavipes) that  recently created a large web between two trees here at Kelly's. Its overall length, including the legs, is over two inches and the web is about three feet wide by three feet high. A big spider indeed, but this is only a young one. Other  long-term residents here have seen some three times as large.

      There are actually two different types of banana spiders; one resides in North America and the other can be found through Central and South America. Both types are venomous, but their bites differ dramatically. In North America, the bites can cause allergic reactions or painful welts and blister which usually clear up within a few days. However, a bite from a South American variety is extremely toxic and can be fatal if medical attention is not sought immediately.

      The North American banana spider is also commonly known as the golden silk orb-weaver. As you can see in the picture, the spider weaves very thick and elaborate designs into the web. The web silk also reflects a golden color in sunlight. The webs of these spiders are renowned for the strength of the silk, which rivals that of Kevlar and steel. Efforts have been made in the past to harvest the silk on a scale usable for making body armor.

      In the United States, the banana spider can be found in areas from North Carolina down to the Florida Keys and in the lower states as far west as Texas. Their diet consists of a variety of insects as large as crickets and wasps, which makes the banana spider a very beneficial natural insect controller. While their populations can be very large during late summer and fall, they don't seem to prefer invading buildings. The one strange thing is that, for as large as these spiders can grow, they seem to have a great fear of cockroaches.

      Until next time, Happy Trails everyone.

      Copyright 2009-2010 Lane A Geyer
      Photo by Deb
      Enhanced by Zemanta

      Tuesday, September 14, 2010

      Dealing With Pests

      White Springs FL Suwannee01Image via Wikipedia
      Suwannee River
      It's been another busy week here at Kelly's RV Park in White Springs, FL. A few of the long-term winter residents are starting to arrive and the park staff has been working hard to prepare the grounds for a full house by the end of October. Deb & I have been staying busy with the usual tasks while still slogging through very hot days. Temperatures at night are dipping into the 60s, but the now four month  long trend of hot and humid days just won't end.

      One of the major tasks this past week has been battling an increase of pests invading our motor home. Both the heavy rains and cooler nights over the past week seem to have put them on the move for finding different shelter. Most are insects, but we also had a small mouse boldly walk out from under the sofa a few nights ago while we were watching a television show. Unfortunately, it appears the our new dog Quincy is not going to be much help in keeping rodents out of the RV. He never roused from his sleeping position under the table when the mouse appeared or even paid any attention when I stomped the floor loudly to chase it away. Oh well, at least he's an adorable dog to look at.

      Battling pests comes with the territory of living a full-time RV lifestyle; especially when you are traveling or staying in the insect-heavy Southern states. RV's are not as solidly built as traditional sticks-and-bricks structures and just have too many access points for pests to enter like the electrical cable, loose fitting window screens and sewage discharge pipes. Even in newer units, pests can always find a way inside. It takes only very small cracks in seams for insects to enter and mice can fit through holes as small as 1/4 of an inch.
      The problem is also compounded by the fact that most RV parks and campgrounds are located in natural settings. Here at Kelly's the park is not only filled with a large number of trees, but also surrounded by completely undeveloped woodlands.
      Aside from the using the usual pest control methods, we have also found that running the engine and generator on a regular basis during extended stays helps to limit pest invasions. The noise and vibrations created by these engines is irritating to pests. It may not solve the entire problem, but it helps in keeping the number of pests at a manageable levels. Besides, we always make it a practice to regularly run the engine and generator to help keep them in good operating condition.

      Hopefully, we'll soon have some colder temperatures that will decrease the numbers of insects around here. In the meantime, I need to look into some training for that adorable dog of ours. After all, if he won't even defend us against a mouse, what good will he be if something really threatening comes along?

      Copyright 2009-2010 Lane A Geyer
      RV photo by Deb
      Enhanced by Zemanta

      Tuesday, September 7, 2010

      Another Busy Week

      Labor Day Pot-Luck

      It's been another busy week here at Kelly's RV Park in White Springs, FL. We still need more rain, but the nights are now cooling down to consistently comfortable levels. After the very hot summer, the cooler temperatures are making it easier to stay motivated for getting things done.

      Most of last week we helped other volunteers clean and paint the clubhouse kitchen. It was a big job for a relatively small room, but worth the effort. Now the entire clubhouse is in great shape for the snowbirds who start arriving this month. By mid-November the entire park will be filled to capacity and, from what other residents have told us, the clubhouse will be buzzing with activities almost every day.

      Yesterday there was a Labor Day pot-luck in the clubhouse attended by most of the year-round residents. Everyone enjoyed plenty of good food and fun conversations. The pictures above show part of the attendees along with Mary & Richard, our gracious hosts here at Kelly's. It was a nice way to spend the holiday.

      We also spent a few days last week nursing our newest family member, Quincy, through the after -effects of heart worm medication. During a follow-up visit to the vet after his respiratory infection, we discovered that he has a mild heart worm condition and, surprisingly, a small b-b lodged in the skin under his throat. The vet said it's best to leave the b-b in place as it will cause no long-term problems, but know we have a better idea of why he is so afraid of certain noises and children. He's doing great and looks forward to long walks everyday.

      It's amazing to think we have been here for over four months already. What was booked as a one month stay has proven to be a place we are in no hurry to leave. But, as I've written before, that's what happened with most of the long-term residents here at Kelly's. When you find yourselves in a beautiful area surround by great people it's something to be treasured. After our hectic travels of last year, it feels good to slow down and really get to know an area and the people in deeper ways than we could have before. Besides, it gives our trusty, old RV Howie (House On Wheels Is Excellent) a chance to take a rest for awhile.

      Until next time, Happy Trails, everyone!

      Copyright 2009-2010 Lane A Geyer
      Photos by Deb
      Enhanced by Zemanta

      Friday, September 3, 2010

      Attracting Bluebirds To Your Yard

      With their brilliant plumage and enchanting “chur-lee” song, bluebirds have become one of North Americas most adored bird species. They can be found throughout the United States, Mexico and in higher elevation areas of Canada and Central America. The following information provides ways on how you can attract bluebirds to your yard for enjoyment and help in protecting them.

      Provide Suitable Habitat: Bluebirds prefer open, grassy areas such fields, woodland clearings, orchards, gardens and large lawns. Open areas with surrounding trees and other perching spots are best. They rarely nest in wooded areas and tend to be more comfortable where vegetation is kept short by mowing or grazing.

      Provide Food Sources: Bluebirds eat large amounts of insects. Sixty to eighty percent of their diet consists of insects like beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers and spiders. They like to perch along open areas and swoop down on their prey. They also supplement their diets with fruits and berries such as wild grapes, currants, sumac, blackberry, raspberry, mistletoe, elderberry and juniper. Planting scattered fruit and berry sources in your yard can greatly enhance attracting them. You can also try offering hanging fruit suet or chopped fruits, berries and meal worms (which they love) on an open platform feeder.

      Keep the Habitat Chemical Free: Insecticides and pesticides destroy the food sources bluebirds need to survive. A yard that offers a wide variety of insects is welcoming to bluebirds. A major cause for declines in bluebird populations has been the wide-spread use of these chemicals. Once established in your area, the bluebirds will act as natural insect controllers.

      Provide a Water Source: Bluebirds need water for drinking and bathing. Providing a birdbath or ground level water source, with nearby spaces to perch, will keep them from venturing away from your yard to locate another source.

      Offer Nesting Areas: Providing nesting sites for bluebirds is important in attracting them. In the wild, they nest in tree cavities like old woodpecker holes. When there is a lack of natural sites they will quickly utilize man made bluebird houses.

      Offer the Proper Type of House: Bluebirds are picky about the design of their homes. The floor should be 5 inches x 5 inches with a height of 10 to 12 inches. The diameter of the entrance hole should be 1½ inches and located 6 to 8 inches above the floor. It is essential that the box be ventilated with holes at the top and drainage holes on the bottom.

      Mount Bluebird Boxes Properly: It is preferable to mount the boxes on fence posts or poles to provide protection from predators. The bottom of the box should be placed four to five feet from the ground. There is no particular direction bluebirds prefer for the opening, but it is best to face the opening away from prevailing winds. It is also important to face the opening towards a nearby tree or scrub so that when the young leave the nest they have a safe perch available. If more than one box is mounted in an area, the boxes should be placed at least 100 yards apart because bluebirds are territorial during nesting season.

      Provide Nesting Materials: Nests are generally made of soft grasses and smaller materials like pine needles. Building a nest is very time consuming, so providing nesting materials is a good way to keep bluebirds in your yard. The nest is built entirely by the female who can make hundreds of trips to gather enough material for completion. Placing nesting materials in hanging suet feeders or in the crooks of tree bark will help limit her number of trips.

      Check Nesting Boxes for Problems: When unoccupied, it is important to check and clean nesting boxes. Old nests should be cleaned out and the the interior scrubbed with a light bleach solution. Check in early spring to make sure other animals like mice or sparrows have not occupied boxes during the winter months.

      Monitor Predators: The major predators of bluebirds are cats, raccoons, opossums, foxes and snakes. If you have a cat, try to limit its activity in areas with bluebirds or place a bell on its collar. Properly mounting bluebird boxes can effectively deter threats from other types of predators.

      Limit Human Noises: Bluebirds like peaceful, quiet surroundings. Any loud human noises will frighten them away. This is especially true during mating and nesting seasons. By limiting human noises and activities, you provide an area that bluebirds will be willing to share with you.

      Copyright 2009-2010 Lane A Geyer
      Enhanced by Zemanta

      Monday, August 30, 2010

      A Blast From The Past

      Gopher Tortoise
      We finally received cooler weather the past few days here at Kelly's RV Park in White Springs, FL. Temperatures during the nights have been falling into the 70s, which has allowed us to open windows. After months of hearing nothing but air conditioners running, it's nice to fall asleep to the chorus of singing tree frogs.

      One of the non-traditional residents here is a gopher tortoise who has a burrow on the back end of the property. It is not often seen and, because of its threatened status as a species, is not widely pointed out to short-term visitors for fear of human harassment or interference with its territory.

      The gopher tortoise (gopherus polyphemus) is one of the oldest living species on earth today. It belongs to a group of land tortoises that originated in North America 60 million years ago.

      Gopher tortoises can be found throughout the state of Florida, in the southern regions of Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama and in the tip of Eastern Louisiana. Except in Florida, where it is listed as a Species of Special Concern, the gopher tortoise is federally protected as a threatened species. They grow, on average, to be slightly less than a foot long and can weigh as much as 30 pounds. They are extremely long-lived animals with life spans of 40 – 60 years in the wild.

      As with most tortoise species, the gopher tortoise is a land-dweller, but is unique in that it is one of the few to make large burrows for shelter. They have chiseled front flappers and elephant like hind legs allowing them the strength to create very large burrows. The average burrow here in central Florida is 15 ft. long and 6 ft. deep. Each tortoise will dig several burrows within its home range, which can be surprisingly large in size. Male tortoises have an average home range of 4.7 acres, while female home ranges average a smaller area of 1.6 acres.

      Their diets are primarily plants and berries, although they have been known to eat the bones of dead animals presumably to obtain calcium. Some of their favorite foods are gopher apples and saw palmetto berries. One of their important roles in the ecosystem is spreading the seeds of the plants and berries they eat in their droppings.

      Because tortoises do not require a large intake of food, it is rare to see one out of its burrow on a regular basis. But even if we don't see our local resident often, it's still cool to know that a species that has walked the earth for so long is in the area.

      Until next time, Happy Trails.

      Copyright 2009-2010 Lane A Geyer
      Enhanced by Zemanta

      Thursday, August 26, 2010

      Five Internet Resources for RVers

      It's been another week of hot and humid weather here at Kelly's RV Park in White Springs, FL. We finally received several heavy downpours of rain the past few days, which was badly needed. Several of the residents here have commented that this is the hottest and driest summer they can remember in thirty-five years. Lucky us. We spent the coldest winter on record in northern South Carolina a few months back and now the hottest summer here in North central Florida. We need a weather break.

      Here are a few good Internet resources for RVers the I have come across:

      Free (or nearly free) Campgrounds -
      This is a good resource to locate places you can stay for free and for $10 or less per night. It provides a full list of places for any state simply by clicking the state on a map. Most are suitable only for boondocking. Some I might be wary of like the Avon Park Bombing Range listed for here in Florida.

      RV Maps and Travel Guides -
      As we have found out the hard way on several occasions, standard GPS systems and sources like Mapquest may provide the shortest routes, but not necessarily the best routes for those of us driving or towing a large RV. This site offers a very well designed offering of RV friendly routes for the U.S, Canada and Mexico.

      Senior Friendly RV Parks -
      A good resource for senior friendly RV parks around the world, plus just about anything else of interest to seniors.

      Fuel Planning -
      Fuel is one of the major expenses in owning an RV. It's also not always easy to find gas stations that are big enough to handle a vehicles as large as motor homes. This site offers not only an excellent fuel calculator, but also other RV related topics and links.

      Places To Eat -
      Aside from sticking to the national chain restaurants, locating a unique place to eat in a strange area can be a crap shoot. This site is an excellent resource for locating local eateries in most areas that can be narrowed by types of cuisines. The added bonus is that average people can leave reviews on their dining experiences.

      Until next time, Happy Trails everyone.

      Copyright 2009-2010 Lane A Geyer
      Photo by Deb
      Enhanced by Zemanta

      Saturday, August 21, 2010


      A few weeks ago I came across a news story that may be of interest to anyone who owns an RV. This worrisome tale was first reported in the Salt Lake Tribune and passed along by Nick Russel on his site Nick a fellow full-time RVer who, along with his wife, has been on the road for over ten years. (His primary site,, is well worth checking out for anyone interested in the RV lifestyle.)

      Back in 2006, Florida RVers Carl and Tracy Coltellino and their two young daughters were boondocking overnight at a WalMart in Cedar City, UT. They got into an altercation with a stranger, a man named Steven Stubbs, who was creating a ruckus in the parking lot and knocked on their door. They opened it, a fight ensued and Mr. Coltellino ultimately killed Mr. Stubbs with a shotgun that was in the RV. No serious harm was done to the couple or their children.

      No charges were filed in the shooting, but it is now being reported that the Coltellinos are suing WalMart. They are claiming that the store was negligent in protecting them and that they have suffered medical problems and emotional distress arising from the incident.

      First, let me say that I hope no one ever has to face a violent encounter like this one. I have been threatened with bodily harm numerous times, once at knife point, while working as a park ranger and providing security for the resort we managed. The events left me shaken and second guessing myself for weeks. Any time you have a violent encounter it takes a toll on your psyche.

      However, there are some important questions that need to be ask about the actions on the part of the Coltellinos in this matter. The primary one is, "Why did you open your door to a crazed stranger?" They could have called the police or driven away. Another question would be, "Why did it take you four years before deciding to file these claims?" Have they suffered no medical problems or emotional distresses long before now? But the most disturbing one is, "Why did you have a loaded shotgun accessible in your motor home with two young children present?" Even if it was safely stored away and they still had time to load it, they also had the time to make a phone call or, again, just drive away. While I would defend myself, Deb and our home with any means necessary, the one thing I do know is that we would never open the door to a stranger and use all available options to avoid a violent situation.

      Instead of taking other options, the couple now wants compensation for a dangerous situation they partially put themselves in. Real nice. Thank you WalMart for saving me the cost of staying in a campground, but, screw you, here's a lawsuit.

      We have spent a lot of time at WalMarts over the past year because they are very RV friendly. The parking lots are big enough to maneuver through with a large vehicle, most stores stock a good variety of RV related products and almost all allow overnight boondocking. In almost every one we have visited there has always been a security guard present regularly patrolling the parking lots.

      The WalMart in Cedar City did not make this shooting happen by their negligence. If anyone is to blame for what happened, besides the intruder himself, it is the couple in the RV who did everything wrong. Happily, they escaped with their lives and those of their children. But now they expect to profit off of this unfortunate calamity.

      I can see WalMarts battalion of lawyers doing two things. One is to offer the couple a financial settlement to make the matter go quietly away. The other is presenting the company CEO with a recommendation to bar all RVers from boondocking on any company property in the future. If that happens we can all thank the Coltellinos and their shyster lawyer that helped with this frivolous lawsuit.

      Copyright 2009-2010 Lane A Geyer
      Photos by Deb

      Enhanced by Zemanta

      Wednesday, August 18, 2010


      It's been too long since my last post due to a problem with the WiFi signal here at Kelly's RV Park in White Springs, FL. What began as a minor upgrade to the system ended up being a major fiasco due to two totally incompetent contractors. A job that should have taken no more than two days became a comedy of errors that left everyone around the park very frustrated. There was no excuse for the problem other than companies that over-promised and under-delivered. Given the current state of the economy, it's hard to believe that good service is still hard to find.

      The one thing this problem brought to light was how much in our lives is now dependent on an Internet connection. It's amazing that in a relatively short amount of time the Internet has become such a vital source for people on so many levels. Let's just hope there is never a long-term problem with the Web because much of life as we currently know it would abruptly change. For those of us who grew-up without a computer or cell phones, adapting to no Internet connections would be a hassle that could be tolerated. But for younger generations who have never known life without cruising the Web and sending Tweets it would be, like, totally devastating.

      Even with the WiFi problem it has been a busy two weeks. We joined several other volunteers from around the park to help paint the clubhouse interior in preparation for the coming months when the snowbirds arrive. Deb has taken trips with other women to a flea-market in Lake City and a day of shopping in Jacksonville. I have been helping the owner, Richard, with the WiFi system and we've made our regular runs to WalMart for supplies.

      Our biggest activity over the past week has been welcoming a new addition to our traveling family. Quincy (pictured above) is a male, Corgi/Pomeranian mix that we adopted from a shelter in Lake City. He is three years old, a bundle of loving energy and, weighing only nine pounds, fits well into our limited RV space. Other than a nasty respiratory infection he aquired while in the shelter, he is in excellent health, well-trained and rarely barks unless provoked. Because Deb lived in Quincy, MA for thirty years, we have accepted it was a simple matter of fate that he is here with us now.

      The other thing we have been dealing with is a continuation of brutal heat, high humidity and lack of rain. There has been no break from these conditions all Summer and everyone here is over it. If anyone can spare some rain and cooler temperatures, please send them our way. It would be greatly appreciated.

      Until next time, Happy Trails everyone.

      Copyright 2009-2010 Lane A Geyer
      Photos by Deb

      Enhanced by Zemanta

      Thursday, July 29, 2010

      The Worst & Best List (So Far)

      One of the major questions people ask is our opinions on places we have stayed over the past year. This is especially true of other full-time Rvers who are always on the lookout for the best places at the lowest prices. There's nothing worse than overpaying for uncomfortable surroundings and inadequate facilities.

      Overall, we've been lucky so far. Being new to the game when we hit the road, we booked stays in places we had never been and hoped for the best. Some exceeded our expectations, most were adequate and a few were outright hell holes. We realize that not everyones expectations are the same. Some people will only stay at four-star rated properties, while others are happy with only an electrical hookup and fire ring. That's fine. To each their own. The particular rankings on our list is solely based on our expectations and experiences, but the reasons why could probably be agreed upon by just about anyone.

      The Worst Places We Have Stayed (So Far):

      #5 - Beaver Springs Lake Campground
      Location: Davenport, NY
      Reasons: First, we have to give credit to the owners of Beaver Springs Lake Campground for being some of the nicest people we have met along our journey. They truly cared about our comfort and the grounds were very well maintained. Yet, the location is hard to access, is without cell phone reception or television signals, offers mainly grassy sites except for permanent residents and the wifi access advertised could only be accessed in the immediate vicinity of the office.

      The major problem with our stay was the attitude of the permanent residents. They were unfriendly to the max and treated us as if we had just landed in their space with the intention of overthrowing their empire. It was weird. They never waved hello, they never spoke to us, they glared our way while speaking among themselves in whispered tones and, I'm sure, kept asking management when we were going to leave. A prime example of the overall atmosphere was when the owner rode his bike up to our spot and invited us to the weekly bingo game at the pavilion. Part of his comment was (and I'm not making this up), "At least you can get away from the Hound Of The Baskervilles for awhile." Huh??

      #4 - Skidaway Island State Park
      Location: Savanna, GA
      Reasons: I love the low-country region of the Carolinas and Georgia. There is something very peaceful about the rivers, grassy islands and abundance of wildlife. However, Skidaway Island State Park is not the place to stay if you wish to be comfortable while enjoying the surroundings.

      The park is easily accessible and hosts an extensive nature trail system replete with observation towers. But the mud-filled sites, high nightly fees, biting ants, numerous spiders, mosquitoes, bees, wasps, a wifi signal only accessible at the office area and a complete lack of customer service skills among the staff all combined for a miserable stay. We were able to take some great wildlife pictures, but left covered in huge and numerous insect bites that did not go away for weeks. This park is great for a day visit to enjoy the trails, but not recommended for an extended stay.

      #3 - Fallen Rock Parke Campground
      Location: Brazil, IN
      Reasons: We would probably never have stayed at this park except it was the closest place we could find to Terre Haute, IN that wasn't outrageously expensive. (My youngest daughter, Jennifer, and her husband, Trent, live in Terre Haute.)

      Our stay was not without drawbacks and resulted in damage to several roof vents on the RV. The park owners are nice and the grounds includes a small restaurant, but to get to the location your drive is over five miles through cornfields along very narrow roads. The grounds was filled with mature walnut trees and several strong winds caused the nuts and shells to drop on the roof like small bombs. As a result, a few cracks developed in the front roof seams and a major hits were taken by overhead vents. The shower facilities were poorly maintained and included those infernal water-flow regulators that you have to push every thirty seconds to maintain pressure. There was no cell phone reception, no television signals and weak wifi. Not a place we would recommend unless you absolutely need to be in the area.

      #2 - Atlanta Marietta RV Resort Park
      Location: Marietta, GA
      Reasons: We stayed at this park for only one night, but would not return for two reasons; costly rates and location.

      The major problem was location. The park is in the middle of a residential area that is not easily accessible from I-75. There were several times we became lost trying to locate the entrance due to poorly marked streets and busy intersections. Once we did find the place, the view from our site included a used car lot and a very busy highway. We're just glad we didn't book for an extended stay.

      #1 - Frosty Acres
      Location: Schenectady, NY
      Reasons: As those who have read previous posts know, I now refer to this place as Frost-My-A$$ and will continue to denigrate them as often as possible. They earned it.

      We came across Frosty Acres through our membership in Passport America. The place looked great on paper - free wifi, ample electric hookups, weekend activities and a great nightly rate. However, what we experienced was a lack of wifi, inadequate electrical currents, spaces too small to comfortably park any unit over thirty feet in length, a dump station at the top of a very steep hill, a smelly drainage lagoon within thirty feet of our site and questionable long-term residents. To top it all off, their total apathy towards short-term guests made the overall experience uncomfortable.

      The other drawback was location. This park is in the middle of nowhere. To shop for supplies required a thirty minute drive into Amsterdam along narrow, winding and hilly roads.

      The bottom line is we were deceived. After managing a resort for three years it was not hard for us to quickly understand the place is badly run. They could care less about delivering what they advertise and, I'm sure, repeat their "no refunds for early departure" policy if anyone complains or wishes to leave early. Our advise is to avoid this campground at all costs.

      The Best Places We Have Stayed (So Far):

      #5 - Indian Rock Campground
      Location: York, PA
      Reasons: First a disclaimer. If you are looking for a four-star campground, this one is not that kind of place. It is a small, private grounds with 30 RV sites and open areas for primitive camping. The sites are unpaved and access is along narrow country roads.

      Aside from a great camp host, the major reason Indian Rock is on our list is all about location. The park sits about 3 miles South of York amid beautiful farms. Within short walking distance there were two places for local produce and meats. One is Miller Farms where we found fresh field corn, tomatoes and other produce. The other is Miller's Meat Market which offers not only the best meats anywhere (both fresh and smoked), but also a wide variety of homemade soups, salads, slaws, original sauces and gourmet spices. To this day we still talk about the quality of that meat. Another perk was close access to the York Heritage Rail Trail. This trail runs along sides of train tracks that were originally part of the North Central R.R. system. The entire trail is 21.3 miles in length, starting at the Pennsylvania/Maryland border and ending in downtown York. It's a beautiful area which is why we extended our stay by an additional week after arriving.

      This park is basic, but recommended if you're low maintenance and enjoy superb food in a country setting.

      #4 - Bonny Rigg Camping Club
      Location: Becket, MA
      Reasons: Again, this is a no-frills park with basic amenities. The reason it is on our list is entirely about location.

      I can't say it more plainly - we are in love with the Berkshires! There is a gentle serenity to the area that captured our souls. Bonnie Rigg is actually a private "camping club" open year-round and one of the few RV parks available in the Berkshire Mountains of MA. We enjoyed a peaceful brook flowing within ten feet of our site while parked under sprawling pine tree. Beyond the park proper, the entire area is stunningly beautiful with breath-taking views at every turn. We shopped at a small market in Chester that was surprisingly well-stocked and in the middle of a very beautiful neighborhood; old Victorian homes, a gas station that looked unchanged since the fifties and a town center reminiscent of a Frank Capra movie. It is an area we will return to as soon as possible.

      #3 - Promised Land State Park
      Location: Greentown, PA
      Reasons: We generally stay in private RV parks because they offer lower rates for extended stays. State parks and private campgrounds each have their niche and are equally comfortable in their own ways. But no matter how much research we do, we just never know if the places we choose will equal their promotional information; they all promise to the the Promised Land of RV campsites. At this park we found a place that exceeded all expectations in unexpected ways and lived up to its name.

      Although it is very remote and deep into bear country, Promised Land State Park is well worth the visit. What set this stop apart from others was the near perfection of its campground and facilities. We drove along roads and parked in a site paved with new, smooth asphalt. The grounds were exceptionally clean and the bathroom facilities were like something out of Star Trek; ultra-modern lighting triggered by motion sensors, spacious showers with slanted drains, low-flow plumbing fixtures and ample hot water. The landscape is ruggedly wild and the staff, as opposed to many state parks, knows the meaning of customer service.

      #2 - Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park
      Location: White Springs, FL
      Reasons: This was our very first stop on this journey and a place we fell in love with immediately. The park is centered around the historical influence of Stephen Foster and is defined by a plantation-era designed visitors center and lush woods filled with massive oaks draped in Spanish moss. The place just screams antebellum Old South. The centerpiece of the park is the world's largest carillon tower comprised of 97 tubular bells. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., it chimes the hour including notes on every quarter hour. At 10, 12, 2 & 4 it also fills the park with renditions of Stephen Foster tunes. They are some of his lesser known works, but still beautifully melodic. The sounds of the bells became a very relaxing part of our days. It sits directly on the Suwanee River and hosts an open-mike coffee house the first Saturday of every month.

      Most sites are on gravel, but level and close to modern, well-maintained bathrooms. The staff is exceptionally friendly, the grounds immaculate and the historical displays fascinating. As with most state parks, stays are limited to only fourteen days, but a stay at this place for even overnight is worth the trip. Between the people, the daily carillon bells and the setting it felt almost ethereal at times. Our stay at Stephen Foster is the primary reason we chose to return to the White Springs, FL area.

      #1 - Kelly's RV Park
      Location: White Springs, FL
      Reasons: This place is not at the top of our list because we are currently staying here. It is at the top because it deserves to be in every way possible.

      Aside from being well maintained and providing excellent amenities like an open library filled with hundreds of books, this place is special because of the people. From the day we arrived we were welcomed with open arms and made to feel as if we had come back home. Most of the permanent residents started the way we did. They arrived initially for a short visit and now have been here for years. It's that kind of place. Everyone is friendly, concerned about one another and works hard to make this area feel like a true neighborhood. The owners, Mary & Richard, define the meaning of gracious hosts and the rural setting is wonderfully peaceful.

      I could go on for paragraphs about the joys of staying at Kelly's, but most of what I would say can be found in recent posts. Deb and I agree, it's without a doubt, the best place we have stayed so far.

      Until next time, Happy Trails.

      copyright 2009-2010 Lane A Geyer
      photos by Deb

      Enhanced by Zemanta