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
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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
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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

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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

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