Monday, May 11, 2015

On the Road Again!

On the road again and this time from the St. Petersburg Beach area of Florida, to and through this beautiful area of Oregon.  My high school buddy just sent his photo taken at the Applegate Winery so some time after my adventures through Alaska this summer, I'll head down to say hello again and share the view as weather pushes me south.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Are you Looking for our 'Projects' ....... or Travel log?

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January is Produce and Production

This month has been wonderful.  I've enjoyed the pleasure of travel and shopping local tiendas, flea markets, craft shops, antique stores....and some thrift stores too, chowing down in a variety of small local eateries and working physically part of the day as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity building homes in central Florida.
When I saw the hand painted sign above, outside a small vegetable store in Fellsmere, Florida I smiled at the connection between the production we are doing building structures and the word 'produce' in which those who farm, are building a food supply.

The month began for me in Dade City, a small town N.E. of Tampa, at a great affiliate of Habitat for Humanity.  They have fine tuned their operations using the volunteers for Habitat called Care-A-Vanners.  Mostly retired folks, but not always.... who travel in their RV's or motor homes part time or full time, building homes around the country.  A fun group to work with.

Now I'm down a bit further and over close to the east coast town of Vero Beach, but in a small town called Fellsmere.  A very small town with an evenly mixed population of white, black and Hispanic.

The homes HFH are building in Fellsmere and Dade City are really nice 3 bedroom, 2 bath models. The plan changes a little in different towns and states, but usually a basic 2 or 3 bedrooms.

 Not big, but well designed.  I wish a home like this was available for me when I was starting out...but it's great for the mostly young families who are working hard struggling to make it in today's world.

In Dade City, we worked on one special house with 6 bedrooms, 5 baths.  It was for a family that had 6 special needs children.  Six total; a couple of theirs and a few they adopted. 

These small towns have a flavor of their own.  Usually there are a base population that has  been there for generations and then there are the new folks in town.  Always a nice blend of old and new.

This little Spanish tiendita (little store) is typical.  Open 7 days a week, from 10-8, this young woman treats her produce as an art formPride of ownership!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Travels Other Than By Motor Home

Besides 'Land' travel, I continue to be connected to my life on the water.  The cruising on my sailboat has ended, but not my connection to the people we met along the way.  In this case............

I continue to be asked to explain the Ulu Sail Project so here goes...
 The sails of the Kuna Indians of Panama were mostly made of scraps they accumulate from old cruising sails given to them by cruisers, or even bed sheets, political posters, or any such old fabric.  Anything that can catch the wind.

From the beginning, I always took items to give away along my path, to those I found with needs. Usually, it was toys or something simple for children.  Clothing or simple fishing gear was also in stock for 'give away's'.  Generosity is not uncommon in the cruising community.  Some cruisers devote much of their time while cruising and while at home, to do good as they move across earths surface.  I have found cruisers delivering medical supplies, books and educational material or the gift of their personal time and skills.  The close contact cruising affords offers unique opportunities.
My 'cruising' has ended, but the connection to some of those we met, has not.
                                              The Indians use what they have..

For part of our continuing story, the "Ulu Sail Project", click on this web address.

The Ulu Sail Project has now made over 300 sails for the dug out canoes of the Kuna Indians, 2/3's of which have so far been delivered.
They are traded for a couple of molas, a hand sewn ornamental part of a garment worn by the women in their daily clothing.  It's an item they commonly used to sell, but this offers them a chance for barter.  Barter, allows them to keep their hard earned cash and still get what they need.

For a short YouTube video link on the Ulu Sail Project, visit:

The "next" delivery of sails to their Guna Yala region of Panama will be in March or April 2015.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Far North Morning

"This is my truck windshield this morning.
I could work for years to draw or paint this. I hope you enjoy."
-Tim Bennett, Alaska

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Habitat For Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico, Volunteering for the 1st time...

I've been wanting to gravitate into a part time effort for Disaster Relief, for some time.  However, all groups want you to have prior "build" experience. 

Habitat For Humanity needs folks to help build within their local affiliates around the country and a part of that is open for those traveling in RV's.  I signed up and had a great time, exercising my mind, body and my spirit actually got a free 'boost'.

Here are some photos.
Day 1 for me, I saw the outer walls had been framed, installed, braced and partially sheathed.   This work had been done in the prior 2 weeks before I arrived.
These 2 shots were taken at lunch time, day 1.
Day 3, all the outer walls were nailed properly and many other smaller details done so the structure could accept the Trusses(roof timbers).  All of them were installed in 1 day by the volunteer crew, with superior direction from the On Site Supervisor 'Pete' (dang good at what he does!!) and his assistant Dyana ( also Amazing!!!)
Gorgeous views here in Las Cruces, N.M.  the mountains are absolutely beautiful!
Once the Trusses were raised and secured, the framing of the Interior Walls began with help from Local Volunteers such as this college student in black, Pete the Supervisor in white and others in the background, often RV group that works at these projects around the country.
Details checked, then walls went up.

 And after 10 days with this crew and local volunteers, prospective families, here we see the results.  The house now has windows, doors, roofing shingles mostly installed and the property next door? well we began on that too!

Great bunch of folks and a wonderful experience.
I was extremely impressed with the 'quality' on every detail..  Not a mansion but a Quality Home.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cap Rock Canyon, Panhandle of Texas

Moving west towards Albuquerque for this years Balloon Fiesta, I took time to enjoy a few more park campgrounds of  Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.  I swung north into Oklahoma and enjoyed a few days south of the town of Sulphur, to view a display of dug out canoes, brought to the Chickasaw Reservation Cultural Center for display, from the University of Gainsville, in Florida.

Caprock Canyon State Park, was the next stop, kind of S.E. from Sulphur but in the Panhandle of Texas.  It was a nice ride going there through open areas of farming, ranching and just open spaces.  The canyon is between small quaint, well preserved towns of Quitaque, Tx. (pronounced Kitty-Quay) and Turkey, Texas, on decent roads.

It's an interesting area for hiking within a preserve for the Texas herd of buffalo.  Many other animals and birds are easy to find.  My dog Pete got a real boost every day viewing the prairie dogs but thankfully did not see the coyotes that often came into our campground..   This photo is blown up from one taken at dusk, of a quickly moving coyote, so it's not great.  However, one large one came through my site, while I was relaxing in a chair enjoying the last light of the day.. He passed within 20 feet, until he noticed me sitting there and then he bolted into the bushes again.
Rock formations were typical of canyons out here but I found beautiful.  Shifting light of the day from sunrise to sunset always presented something to enjoy.
 Driving into Quitiquay for lunch one day, I stopped to take a couple of photos of quality local art and humor.  

One of the locals, Bob Wills, made it big time as a musician and his tour bus is still displayed in town.

The bus itself, a "Flexible" was slowly degrading, but here's a picture of one I found by accident, a few days later in an RV Museum.

This bright and shiny Flexible, was restored and used in the movie "RV" with Robin Williams.  Some contrast, but a movie company does have the bucks for such a restoration.

The town is well preserved and definitely showed pride.  The early architecture had detail in it's brickwork and the art, humor and preservation was shown on every street.  This town cares and shows respect for it's heritage.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2014

While in Oklahoma, I exchanged emails with friends Jack and Nicole who were going to the balloon festival in Albuquerque, N.M. Oct. 4-13th.

A few quick decisions were made and I was off to Albuquerque!

Worked with them as part of a "Chase Crew" for a great family of balloonists.  Back in Tucson, they have an RV business and a commercial balloon business, so they brought several special balloons to the Fiesta.  One called "the World" which of course looks like the globe and another very large one in the shape of a sujaro cactus.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Foretravel Dining Table Upgrade

Foretravel offered 3 dining arrangements; booth, J bench with sliding table top or table and chairs.  We liked the booth idea although the space for your feet below, was very tight.

The coach I bought had the J bench arrangement, which I liked the least, but it is what came with the coach I bought.

Soon, after much frustration with the sliding table arrangement, I began sketching out ideas for a new table.  The existing table only allowed about 10-12" for someone to squeeze into the seat at the aft end, whether the table was pushed in or out.
 ....the blue tape was the conceptual new table .
 If the slide was in, the table had to be pushed in towards the seat so someone can walk for and aft in the coach.  This left NO space to sit except awkwardly at the corners.

 If the slide was extended, you would normally slide the table top towards the isle for more seating room, but even then seating was uncomfortable.

While at Foretravel factory this winter, I began sketching ideas for a table with some similar characteristics of the one I built for my sailboat.  One that could flip, drop or twist, for any needs.

I kept it simple but it works!

The main idea was to have a constantly good seating position at the table whether the slide was in or out.  Secondly, the table surface area could be doubled for full table benefits.

I bought a sheet of 4' x 8' furniture plywood and a similar sheet of Formica that would match the Corian counters now in the coach, from Lowes.

Joe Griffin, a friend, came over to help out.  I cut the plywood into two 16" x 44" panels and then softened the outer long sides with a 3/8" gentle curve facing the seat and rounded the outer corners with a 2.5" radius.  Also, pre-bent the Formica with heat, to prevent cracking of it when applying to the outer rim.

All went well.  Used the existing pedestal as the tables base, but added 4" in length to the table and always allowed 16" from seat back to table .  This now allows comfortable seating.

Secured one section of the plywood to the pedestal and using a piano hinge (continuous hinge) secured the other one on top, so it could be folded out towards the isle.

To support the leaf that would be flipped towards the isle, I bought a piece of 4" x 12" x 3/4" walnut online, and used my router to pretty it up!

It lifts into position to support the extended table top and itself is supported by two 10" Drop Leaf Supports. (national hardware V1896  N249-250)

another job done.....................