Sunday, January 30, 2011

We Did It !

It has been a busy last week since I last posted I know, but we HAVE been, and still are for that matter, really been quite busy. YES, we did it!  We traded in our 2001 Kountry Star diesel pusher Class A motorhome and bought a 2010 Keystone Alpine fifth wheel. YES, Boldts RV Castle has changed its look. We had been giving this a lot of thought since we both retired going back to last summer. We finally decided that was the direction we wanted to go. A fifth wheel offers RVers a number of lifestyle alternatives. From touring, to long-term stays and spot-camping, fifth wheels, AKA 5ers, offer a great deal of versatility. In addition, because they are available in such a wide variety of sizes, fifth wheels are great for the weekend camper, or full time RVers looking for all of the comforts of home. The later of course is the stage of life we are at now. More on the new 5er and our thinking later.

We had visited the RV Supershow in Tampa  a couple of weeks ago looking, and we visited a small show in Bushnell a few days later. Then we both spent hours on the computer researching companies, models, floorplans, owners forums and the like. We have learned so much about fifth wheels, the various floorplans , amenities, options  etc. The major manufacturers of 5ers all seem to have online forums where owners and those interested discuss every and all issues pertaining to 5ers. I spent many hours reading those forums. They seem to bring out both extremes from owners –those that are happy with their purchases and those that are not. Technical questions are shared regularly and a wealth of knowledge is shared. I have been familiar with the various rvers forums that are online as I read them regularly but only from the motorhome owners perspective---‘til recently.

We finally narrowed our search and research down to a couple of companies and specific models. We looked at them both online and in person and after much thought and discussion settled on the Keystone Alpine 3500RE model. We found the model and ultimately deal we were seeking at Suncoast RV in Ocala, FL. There was the traditional, how should I say it, “negotiating” , that took place both in person and on the telephone over the course of a few days to lock the deal down. Long story short, we took delivery this past Friday morning, January 28, of the new Alpine “home”. Part of the deal was that they had to “deliver” it to our site here in Rock Crusher Canyon. And the reason for this was my Chevrolet 1500 (half ton) pick up truck that I’ve had for a couple of years is not nearly stout enough to tow this 40 foot “castle”. So now we’ll need to begin researching to find the appropriate new truck to tow the new “Castle” to our future stops in the weeks, months and years ahead. And now, introducing to you below, the new, and improved, “Boldts RV Castle”.

Alpine 2010 fifth wheel

Alpine side    2011_Keystone_Alpine_3500RE[1]

As you can see, there are 4 slide out rooms that really open the living space up. That is one reason, but probably THE major plus, for the move to the 5er. The “RE” in the 3500RE model stands for rear entertainment. If you look at the floor plan above the entire rear end is an entertainment area, complete with a 40 inch flat screen tv that “rises” from the cabinetry. This area also holds the radio tuner and dvd player in the cabinets that surround the tv area.

234[1]    91457_3[1]

The kitchen area is Barbie’s favorite of all the models we looked at.

91457_7[1]The bedroom has a king size bed, dresser at the foot of the bed and a cedar closet across the back, er front of the unit as you can see.

Alpine BR     Alpine closet

There is so much more to talk about and show in upcoming posts.

With all the excitement of the new “castle” comes with some mixed feelings. We won’t see nearly as much of our motorhome friends we’ve made over the years attending “Roamin’ Rigs” monthly rallies. We joined the FMCA club shortly after purchasing our first motorhome in 1997.  FMCA is a club for motorhome owners only, so our membership is now void. We made so many friends through the Roamin’ Rigs-and lost some along the way. We so looked forward to the monthly rallies and the Southeast Area rallies and other rallies we attended. Even though the motorhome is history the friends we made during that time are friends forever and we hope to see them regularly down the road.

‘Til next time…..

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Manatee Festival in Crystal River

A busy week culminated with us attending the 24th Annual Manatee Festival here in chilly Crystal River yesterday. The festival was located in the heart of downtown Crystal River. This  location is right off of US Hwy 19, about an hour and a half north of Tampa and two hours west of Orlando.The Florida Manatee Festival was a two-day event, held yesterday and today, was hosted by the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce, the City of Crystal River, and the Rotary Club of Crystal River. The festival included fine arts displays, craft displays, food, music, children’s activities and of course, manatee education. To enter the festival grounds cost $3 per person. The Fine Art show hosted exhibitors from around the United States, featuring items from watercolor artwork to breathtaking photography as well as sculptures, stained glass and unique one of a kind handmade jewelry. These are just a few samples of the variety provided by the Fine Artists. Cash prizes and ribbons were awarded to outstanding artists. Craft displays sponsored and hosted by the Rotary Club of Crystal River, included over 150 craft vendors displaying a tremendous variety of woodwork, jewelry, clothing, collectibles, country craft, crochet, children's toys, knitted work and much more!


Over 25 food booths included seafood vendors offering a variety of delectable seafood plates, kettle corn, cotton candy, elephant ears, hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, tasty bakery treats and much much more kept festival attendees from going home hungry! A Beer and Wine Garden was there for we patrons 21 and over! Live entertainment was featured at the Garden throughout the day, both days, as well as large screen televisions for the sports lovers. There was alot of fun activities in the special children's area!  Sack races, games, crafts and lots more were available for the kids.  There was also a rock climbing wall, pony rides, bounce house, face painting and much more! I overheard a senior citizen say “I wonder if they thought about having an area for we old folks to play horseshoes, bocci ball, holey board or bean bag baseball.” He must have been an rver huh? Posters of the endangered manatee made by local students were on display throughout the festival grounds. Continuous movies were on display to provide Manatee Education information to all visitors as well as Manatee Education booths designated to enhance the awareness on the endangered manatees.

homosassa springs, fl #2    snap4[1]

Boat tours were available and gave festival visitors the perfect opportunity to view manatees in their natural environment.  A boat ride on the beautiful waters of Kings Bay, the place hundreds of manatees call home during the winter months was available at an additional cost. With parking at a premium a shuttle service from the Crystal River Mall dropped folks off right at the entrance to the festival for $1. It was a great way to spend a bright chilly day. If you enjoy arts and crafts shows and you are in the area next winter at this time, come check it out.

The other noteworthy activity we were involved with this week was a trip to Ocala to visit two rv dealers to look specifically at fifth wheels. We are seriously considering making the move from our diesel pusher motorhome to a more “homelike” fifth. Between the Tampa Supershow and our trip to Ocala we are fond of the following manufacturers and their products: Keystone Alpine, Heartland Bighorn, Forest River Cardinal and Jayco Eagle. If you have one of the above or have opinions, please make a comment at the end of this post. We would appreciate all input. We have been doing a lot of research and looking online. Since we plan on fulltiming or at least 95%-timing as Barbie says, we would like more living space and Barbie wants more kitchen space. Below are some pictures of some of the things we like in the Keystone Alpine.

234[1] Rear entertainment area

91457_7[1] Large kitchen

Alpine 38 in. shower Large shower

Alpine closet Lots of bedroom closet space

Well, it’s time to get back to the Steelers vs. Jets game.

‘Til next time…………………….

Monday, January 17, 2011

RV Shows & Football Games

Yes, both of the key words in the title of this blog entry are plural. Since my last post we have been to two RV shows, the Tampa Supershow and a small winter show in Bushnell. And, of course, like many Americans we watched all four football playoff games over the weekend. So it has been a busy last few days…at least that is my best excuse for the 5 day break since my last enrty. So let’s get caught up……

Last Wednesday afternoon we left our “Castle” here in Rock Crusher Canyon RV Park (RCC) for our stix-n-brix home in Valrico which is just 10 miles from the Florida State Fairgrounds outside of Tampa and home of the Florida RV Supershow. The 100 minute drive was uneventful except for the number of rvers headed south on I-75 like us. A quick stop at Zaxbys was in order in Valrico since there was no food in the house. We really enjoy the “zalads” and chicken at Zaxbys Restaurants and unfortunately we do not have one in the Homosassa, Inverness or Crystal River areas …yet. We retired early so we could get up early Thursday morn and head to the RV Supershow.

Our plan was to get up early, stop at Dunkin’ Donuts for some coffee (their coffee is a favorite of ours) and a bagel and get to the fairgrounds shortly after opening at 9:00am. The beauty of retirement is timelines are extremely flexible—there is no hurrying and NO set schedules to follow. Good thing, because we arrived at the Supershow a little after 10:00. Our plan was to visit the vendors areas first before the crowds arrived and it became bumper-to-bumper up and down the aisles. When that happens I feel obligated to keep moving instead of stopping and “window shopping” or asking about products and services. On our first pass through the Expo Hall vendor area we stopped and chatted with Steve and Judy in the River Vista Mountain Village booth. River Vista in Dillard, Georgia, is where we own our 2nd rv site and was our “home” from last June until just before Thanksgiving. Steve showed me some photos of the eight inches or so of snow that had just fallen there last week. Again, the beauty of rving…can’t imagine sitting there and adding 8 inches of snow to this picture.

011 Now, we’ve been there and seen some flurries, like below in December of 2004, but not 8+ inches!

   Barbie in snow    Jeff in snow

After chatting with Steve and Judy and getting caught up on River Vista happenings since we left, we went through the remainder of the hall and only purchased a book, 2011 The RVer’s Friend, the North American Diesel/Parking Directory. It lists all rv accessible diesel fuel and service locations including places with overnight parking available and dump sites. For $10 I couldn’t pass on it.

We no more moved outside to head to the other vendor building and we ran into fellow Roamin’ Rigs (FMCA Tampa Bay area chapter) members Jim and Wilma, who we hadn’t seen since last spring. They were working with an outside vendor. Needless to say that was a lengthy conversation but most enjoyable. We then moved towards the other vendor building which really contained many displays for rv campgrounds and resorts. Before we entered the building we met Tom and Sharon, our current President of the Roamin’ Rigs and his wife. Once we entered the building, we saw Keith from ELITE  Resorts (the former owners of Rock Crusher) whom we met last year when he worked at RCC. It wasn’t soon after that we met friends Bruce, Carol and Florie from RCC who made the day trip down to the Supershow. They are our park “chefs” responsible for doing the cooking for all dinners, soup and salad nights and dessert evenings at Rock Crusher. And what a fabulous job they do. After moving thru that vendor building we met up with great friends Pat and Sandie, also Roamin’ Rigs members and neighbors in both the Valrico/Brandon area of Florida and the Dillard, GA/Franklin NC areas. Their Brandon home is about 6 miles from us in Valrico and their Franklin rv site is about 20 miles from our Dillard site. We also all were employees of the Hillsborough County (FL) School System during our careers. Wouldn’t you know as we were sitting chatting, another of our Roamin’ Rigs members, Doug, walks up. I’m telling ya it’s a small world.

We were to have met up with a group of fellow rv bloggers at the Floating Restaurant area in the Supershow around noon but we never made it unfortunately. After our visit with Pat, Sandie and Doug I looked at my watch and it was already 1:30pm. Time flies when you’re having fun huh? Well, we’ll certainly keep in touch with our blogger co-horts and meet them in person down the road somewhere.

By this time my back and legs were getting pretty tired as I continue to build up my strength and endurance following my summer back issues. Barbie went in several fifth wheels to check them out as we have been toying with moving in that direction as we spend more and more time on the road and tend to stay in places for more than just a few days at a time. Barbie found more than one 5’er she could call home. By the time she was through looking at rigs we decided it was time to head out. Well, wouldn’t you know we met up with more Roamin’ Rigs members. We chatted with friends Steve and Linda, also both fellow educators, and now fulltimers for the past few years. I actually taught math at the same school with Linda, and later I taught and coached football with Steve at the high school level. It was great talking with them in person and not just thru emails. As the four of us were chatting, Paula and Barry, also Roamin’ Rigs members walked up and we got caught up on their world travels over the past year or so. What a great full day it was at the Supershow. And, we made it thru without spending the “BIG” bucks!

Friday morn we traveled back north to Crystal River and spent the rest of the day relaxing except for a trip out for a pizza for dinner.

Saturday we went out to breakfast early then drove the 40 miles over to Bushnell where there was a small winter rv show across from Blueberry Hill RV Resort. We explored about a half a dozen fifth wheels before enjoying a leisurely drive back to RCC around Lake Panasoffkee and thru Inverness. I don’t know what was happening southbound on I-75 from Bushnell but traffic was not moving and it was backed up for miles. I’m glad we headed northbound. We made it back to the “Castle” just in time for the first of the two football games. Our “winter neighbors” here at RCC, Jim and Russ, from Michigan, arrived Saturday and after setting up their 5’er came over and visited for awhile. Sunday was much of the same, i.e. football games on tv,  except we did break during the games to drive the golf cart down to the clubhouse for strawberry shortcake. As I said earlier, Bruce, Carol and Florie do a great job. They gave us a choice of cake or biscuit for the base and then ice cream, whipped cream or BOTH to go on the strawberries. It was great I’m tellin’ ya! After a little chatting with others it was back to the football. Being a longtime Steeler fan I am quite pleased they are still in it after a scare from the Ravens.

So I think that has me caught up. I apologize for the length of this post. That’s what I get for waiting 5 days. Thanks for hanging in there with me and following our blog.

‘Til next time……

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

On Our Way to the RV Supershow

This afternoon we will leave Rock Crusher and the “Castle” to head down to our Stix-n-Bricks home in Valrico. We’ll stay there tonight so we can attend the Tampa RV Supershow tomorrow. The tickets are good for two days so if we don’t see all we want tomorrow, we can go back Friday morning before returning to Rock Crusher. We have been to the Tampa RV Supershow each year since 1985-that would be 25 times. We’ve exercised good restraint for the most part. This will be our 26th show, and although tempted every year by some rv, we only succumbed to buy twice-thank goodness! We purchased a 32 foot Mallard Sport travel trailer (our 2nd travel trailer) at the ‘90 show and then we bought our first motorhome, a 34 foot Thor Infinity in 1997 at the show.

moonshine creek    Thor Infinity

The beauty about the Tampa Show is the size and variety of the rvs available to view…and purchase. It is definitely the most comprehensive show around. I honestly believe if it is made, it is on display at Tampa. Even though we’ve made it 23 other times without dropping the “big bucks”, there has always been some item(s) we couldn’t do without from the vendors booths.

There certainly will be many rv bloggers and their followers at the show as well. Tomorrow, there is to be an “unofficial” gathering of those who want to meet and chat at the “Floating Restaurant” just outside the main Expo Hall at noon. We look forward to putting the faces with the names of some of those bloggers we’ve followed on their adventures.

We’ll report back on our Supershow escapade over the weekend.

So……’til next time………..

Friday, January 7, 2011

It’s a WINNER !

For those of you who have followed our blog at least from November, may remember reading my “Thanksgiving Eve 2010” blog entry and viewing the 16 pictures I posted from driving through the “Fantasy in Lights” holiday display at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. We stayed at Pine Mountain RV Resort during our 3-day stay in the area. The resort ran a photography contest and awarded two winners from photo entries submitted taken at the Fantasy in Lights display. Well, I was notified by telephone yesterday that I WAS one of the winners! It was announced on their Facebook site HERE today. Below was my “winner.”

IMG_0149I was pleased with most of the pictures I took that evening because 1) they were taken with a relatively new camera, Canon PowerShot SX30 IS, I had purchased just a month earlier, 2) it was drizzling most of the evening so some shots were taken thru the windshield, and 3) they were all taken from the front passenger’s seat of he car as Barbie drove through the display. What did I win you ask? 

Here’s what the other winner, Ruth Copeland, and I will receive:

  • Two night stay at Pine Mountain, an RVC Outdoor Destination on a concrete RV site or in a Yurt (heating, wood floors, beds…really neat!)
  • Free winter pack including a firewood bundle, bag of ice, Wii rental, and coffee/hot chocolate in the morning for the whole family

So we’ll be headed back up to that area again in the not so distant future. We’re thinking about driving up in the car and staying in one of the Yurts. That would be a new experience for us.

That’s our excitement for the day….well, except for the fact that Barbie finally found (after a telephone and computer search) and purchased her “Wonder File” today. We had to drive up to Dunnellon to get it and it only cost $14.99. It’s been a great day for the Boldts---hope your day was great also.

‘Til next time…..

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Trip to Cedar Key

Since we’ve returned to Crystal River last month we have wanted to take a drive up to Cedar Key for a look/see. The last time we visited there was a few years ago. Since then the pier has been rebuilt and a few new eateries and watering holes have opened. Then when Howard and Linda, from RV-Dreams, a blog we follow daily of their rving adventures, wrote of their stay in the Cedar Key area recently, that did it. We planned to go today. There were two establishments we knew were must stops this trip: 1) Tony’s Seafood Restaurant and 2) Black Dog Bar & Tables. We were thrown a curve today as the weather forecast was calling for a cloudy day with a strong chance for showers. Nevertheless, we had planned for today so we went. The weather went south about the time we arrived in Cedar Key. It started drizzling then, about 2:00pm, and didn’t stop until about 6:30 and we were pulling back into Crystal River.

On the way in to Cedar Key, we first drove through a new campground, Cedar Key RV Resort. This resort is new since our last trip to Cedar Key and is six miles from Cedar Key. It not only rents sites for any time frame but also sells sites. The website is worth a visit. There are great photos of the resort as well as the Cedar Key area on their website. Since the rain was starting to come down we did not stop in the clubhouse or office for info. We’ll do that on our next trip to the area.


Our first stop was Tony’s Seafood Restaurant. We had discovered some time ago that Tony’s serves a “World Champion” clam chowder. Not just once, but a 2 time champion in 2009 and 2010. Both Barbie and I love New England style clam chowder so we knew this had to be a stop. Tony’s history is worth reading. Click on “Tony’s” for how the restaurant came to be and all about the chowder---except the recipe. Oh, YES, the clam chowder is truly outstanding. We even brought a quart “to go” with us. You can order it and have it shipped to you. It’s all on the website. Barbie had chowder and a tossed salad. I had chowder and some onion petals. Everything was terrific. We’ll go back for a full meal next trip.


After our “lupper”, late lunch-early supper, at Tony’s, we drove over a couple of streets to Dock Street, to Black Dog Bar & Tables. This place is one-of-a-kind. It is a wine, beer and cigar bar. They do not serve food (except for the peanuts in the shells served with the beers) but you can get that upstairs, next door, across the street or at one of the many eating establishments within 100 yards on Dock Street. Next month, BD&T will celebrate it’s first anniversary of  opening. There is an enormous wine and beer list. And I’m not talking about all Anheuser-Busch and Miller Brewing Company beers. The place is right on the water and the outside deck would be a great place to have a cold one and smoke a fine cigar. There is a big screen tv, dart board, chess set-up and comfortable chairs besides the bar itself. Jay and Connie the owners made us feel like regulars, not first timers. They are most hospitable and a pleasure to talk with. We honestly were a bit disappointed when we first went in, no, not with the beer selections or anything like that. You see, Otis, as in “Black Dog”, had not come to work with Connie and Jay this afternoon.


Since we had inquired about Otis in our conversation with Connie, much to our delight, she asked a “regular”, who came in later, if he would go to their home and get Otis. So, after all, we did get to meet the adorable labradoodle who obviously runs this place. As other regulars began trickling in we ended up having a great conversation with with a gentleman who lived, went to school  and worked in the Brandon area where we lived. He even knew or had for teachers some of our former colleagues. Small world, I’m telling ya. It was truly a great afternoon at Black Dog & Tables. We WILL be going back. Oh yeah, in case you are interested Barbie sampled “Well’s Banana Bread Beer”, and “Sea Dog Blue Paw Wild Blueberry Wheat Ale.” Huh, you say??? I’m telling ya they both smelled exactly as their titles. And, Barbie said they tasted that way as well. I, on the other hand, had an “Orange Blossom Pilsner” and a “Raging Bitch Belgian-Style India Pale Ale.” The Raging Bitch “jumps out of the glass and nips at your taste buds with its delicate hop bitterness. At 8.3% ABV, that would be alcohol by volume, this bitch is dangerously drinkable.” I wasn’t wild about the Raging Bitch. Orange Blossom Pilsner (OBP) claims right on the bottle that it is "Florida's Honey Beer," and you shouldn't let the fact that it is brewed in South Carolina turn you off to the idea that it is a product of Florida. From a review, “OBP, by its very name, is a pilsner, and the central taste is clean, light, and crisp. The smell is pleasant, and the appearance is a lovely straw color. I've found some pilsners to be a little watery or skunky, but neither of those issues bothered me here. What sets OBP apart from other pilsners, however, is the fact that it is brewed with 2.3 tsp of honey in every serving. Keep in mind, the beer is not sweet by any means, as all the sugar ferments into alcohol, and the fermented honey instead gives the beer a nice, dry finish.” That review said it all. I really did enjoy the OBP.

I guess you can tell, we really enjoyed BD&T. And so my friends……

“Til next time……

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year – New Look

We rang in 2011 last eve so I figured with the new year should come a new look with the blog. So I added a recent picture I took at Ho Hum RV Park in Carrabelle Beach last month. It’s interesting,  a few moments ago as I was reading through my ever-lengthening list of rvers blogs I follow, I realized I wasn’t the only one with the idea. Some bloggers made some drastic changes to their templates and “look.” I’m not really comfortable with “big” changes in any part of my life, so I limited the change of our site to just adding a background photo to the blog title area as you can see. Oh yes, I did change the color of the font in that title area as well. I can change that picture regularly to give it a seasonal or regional look depending upon the time of the year or our location.

However you rang in the new year last eve, I hope you were with family and/or friends that shared an excitement and hope for what the new year has to offer. I don’t know if the rvers here at Rock Crusher Canyon RV Park 1) went out on the town to celebrate, 2) hunkered down in their own rvs for the evening,  or what because our crowd at the clubhouse consisted of only about 30 people. It definitely was not a loud, rowdy, chicken dancin’ group like we’ve partied with at Lazydays in past years.

Dec 30, 2005 052      Dec 30, 2005 049

NO, we had no New Year’s Baby, nor did we have any table dancers at RCC last eve-thank goodness.

New Years Baby   Table Dancing Darlene 2 

And RCC didn’t have the Roamin’ Rigs clowning or stacking empty drink cups either.

December 2002 Rally Pictures 039    Dec 30, 2005 039

Ahhh memories of years past.

Getting back to last evening, we took a ride around the campground after shutting down the music and saw no one out and around and nearly all lights out. I believe the RCC rvers are either saving themselves for 2011 or  they too have used up their New Year’s Eve craziness in past years. But, that is part of the beauty of RCC. The rvers are friendly and the campground is quiet and peaceful in our state park like atmosphere.

DSC_0022     salute

So here’s a toast to a GREAT 2011. ‘Til next time…….