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