Friday, June 26, 2015

Taking Our Time in Cedar Key

Posted from Orlando TT near Clermont, FL
 (Click on Pics to Enlarge)

We stayed in Cedar Key, FL for a week, but there are so many things to do and see that we'll make a return trip someday.  That's one of the really great things about the fulltime lifestyle.  If you see something you like, you can always re-visit.

As the docent at the Cedar Key Historical Museum told us, Cedar Key really is some a place that you have to want to visit as there is only 1 road in and out, and there isn't a whole lot at the end of that road other than Cedar Key.

Our first day we just wandered around a bit getting a lay of the town.  (Not too hard, because it isn't that big!)  The public beach at 2nd and A Street is a nice place for sunning, playing in the water, or launching a kayak or canoe to do some exploring by water.

Right down from this beach are companies who offer boat tours, watercraft rental, and this one where fresh fish is brought in for a local restaurant.

The pelicans think that this is the buffet line, I believe.

The Atlantic to Gulf Railroad ran along this stretch and ended on Dock Street not too far from here.  The railroad was completed in 1861 and the last train ran in 1932.  All that's left in this area today is this sign to commemorate this.

The entire downtown area can literally be walked after parking on any of the streets.  I didn't see any parking meters anywhere.  Island Hotel on 2nd Street was established in 1859 and still operates today.  (Notice that it opened just prior to the completion of the cross-state railroad line.)

A really good place to begin to understand Cedar Key and its' history is at the Cedar Key Historical Society Museum on the corner of 2nd Street and D Street.  The entrance fee is only $3 per person and the exhibits do a nice job of showing the evolution of the area.

Present-day Cedar Key was first called Way Key and the first plat of the area was issued by the Railroad in 1859. The area has been a home to many different industries throughout the years. The Faber and Eagle Pencil Companies established cedar saw mills here.  It's interesting to note that no pencil were ever produced here, but rather the slats were shipped out via railroad to northern companies.  The hurricane of 1896 caused all operations to cease.

The Standard Manufacturing Company was the first manufacturing company in Cedar Key. It operated from 1910-1952 and produced several fiber-related products, with Donax Brushes being one of its' better known products.

Fishing activities, of course, have always been important to a town on the water such as Cedar Key.  A ban on net fishing in 1995 by the State legislature all but put an end to commercial fishing in the area.  Area fisherman were resilient, however, and turned to clam farming.  In 1997, clam farming produced a record 100 million clams.

It would be well worth a visit to the museum if you travel to Cedar Key.

One of the things that you will notice very quickly is that there are no chain restaurants in Cedar Key.  The restaurants come and go down on Dock Street, but are all locally run.

Dock Street is a short and easy walk in the evening hours. A great place to drop in for a drink or grab a bite.  The scenery isn't too shabby at that time of day either.

You can view many more pictures of Cedar Key not included in this blog post by going to my Google+ Album. 

Thanks for dropping by to take a look!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Cedar Key RV Resort

Posted from Crystal River, FL
(To view additional pics on this blog check out my Google+ Album)

After leaving Gunter Hill COE near Montgomery, AL we made an overnight stop at Eastbank COE near Bainbridge, GA.  Since we blogged about this campground back in 2013 I'll just include this link if interested.  The next day we arrived at our destination for the coming week near Cedar Key, FL.

I don't usually do blogs just about campgrounds, but I thought I would make an exception because this is a campground we would stay in again if heading back through this area.  The name of the campground is Cedar Key RV Resort, but it is actually in Sumner, FL (just a name on the side of the road) and is actually 7 miles from downtown Cedar Key.  That was fine with us as Rt. 24 is the only road in and out of Cedar Key and was never busy while we were here.

I would imagine that this place is pretty busy in the winter, but this is now "low season" for most of the Florida campgrounds. We paid a total of $227.81 (incl. taxes) with a 1-day credit for Passport America for a 7-night stay.  That's $32.54 per night for FHUs, a concrete pad and concrete patio with picnic table.  The campground was laid out nicely with ample room to stop at registration and un-hook our toad.

The streets are asphalted throughout and the designers thought ahead enough to make the back-ins at an angle. It definitely helps for areas that have narrow streets (unlike this park).

Here's a picture of our rig parked on Site #17. We were originally assigned another site when we made the reservations, but they moved us to this site upon our arrival.  Actually, it worked out much better as the trees really helped out the air conditioners during the day.

As I stated earlier, the sites have FHUs with cable TV. The park was not crowded at all (again, due to the time of year), but the electric was one of the better we've found in awhile.  The water pressure was a bit on the low side, however.  I removed our water pressure regulator, which really wasn't need here, and the water flow was very usable.

The only problem with trees sometimes is that they always seem to be in the exact wrong location to be able to use our roof-mounted satellite antenna.  This place was no exception, but fortunately we were able to use the portable antenna we purchased last year.  Works very nicely in situations like this.

The park had some nice amenities as well. Karen and I are both doing water aerobics whenever we are staying in a park with a pool.  This pool was very clean and we were usually the only ones there.

A multi-use clubhouse was set off to the side of the pool and could be used for many different activities from dinners to watching TV, reading, playing cards, or just getting together in the evenings.  This time of the year there are no planned activities as there just isn't very many folks like us (meaning stupid enough) to brave the hot and humid Florida summers.

This campground served us well as a location from which to visit Cedar Key and enjoy many of the activities in that small laid back seaside town, but that's the subject of a future blog.

Thanks for dropping by to take a look!

Friday, June 19, 2015

An Evening with the Montgomery Biscuits

Posted from Crystal River, FL        (Click on Pics to Enlarge)

With this post we'll be wrapping up our 16-day stay in the Montgomery, AL area.  As you've read in our previous posts the original intent was to be here only 7 nights, but with the rabies incident and subsequent required medical attention, the 7 nights stretched into 16 nights.

This is our third time to stay at the Gunter Hill COE campground, so I'm not going into detail about the campground.  If you'd like a bit more pics and information, please take a look at one of our past posts on the subject.  Two things to point out about our current stay at Gunter Hill COE.  First, the pesky sugar ants which were a source of nuisance in previous visits were once again present.  We didn't freak out this time, however, and just treated them with Terro.  Great product, the ants were gone in a few days.  Secondly, we stayed over a couple of weekends this time when the campground was near capacity.  It was also very hot, so a lot of folks using a lot of electricity.  Our Progressive Industries EMS system cut power to our coach on a couple of occasions when the voltage got below 104.  I don't like the transfer switch in the rig having the contacts banging on and off when "good" power returns so we just fired up the generator for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon.  On Sunday when the "weekenders" left power levels once again returned to normal and we had no further problems.  Just wanted to mention that for anyone visiting during the busier parts of the year.

As most of our blog readers are aware, we like to visit minor league baseball parks when in an area which has a team.  Montgomery has the Montgomery Biscuits.  The Biscuits are the AA farm team for the Tampa Bay Rays major league team.  On the night we attendee the game they were playing the Mississippi Braves (the AA team for the Atlanta Braves).

The Biscuits play in Riverwalk Stadium which was built in 2004. Seating is about 7000, with not a bad view in the park.  The neat thing about Riverwalk Stadium, however, is that the first base side of the park is built into an old train shed which was about 100 years old.  It makes for a visually interesting touch to the park.

Because tickets to minor league games are relatively cheap we were able to sit on the third base side in Row 1.  We couldn't afford this at a major league game!

Pre-game and between innings entertainment is always a fun time at minor league games.  The mascots of the Biscuits are represented by "DJ Kitty" and "Big Mo".  They do a nice job of entertaining and interacting with the fans.

(L) DJ Kitty and (R) Big Mo

We usually don't have a good track record for the home team when we visit to watch a game.  The out come of this one was different, however, as the Biscuits pulled off the win 7-4.

On Saturday evening games, the Biscuits have a post-game fireworks display.  It was very good.  Lasted a solid five minutes, with fireworks being shot off continuously during that time.  Here's a look at the ensuing smoke with the Regions bank building providing a contrast in the background.

This concludes our time in Alabama.  It's onward and upward to Florida. You're probably thinking, Florida in the summertime?  I'm thinking the same!

As always, additional pictures for today's blog are available in our Google+ Album.
Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery

Posted from Cedar Key, FL                       (Click on Pics to Enlarge)

Not all of our time in Montgomery, AL was spent on getting rabies shots.  We also managed to visit some of the sights.  This is our third visit to Montgomery, but the first time we've had a chance to visit the state capitol building downtown.

The Alabama Territory was admitted into the Union in 1819.  The capitol was first in Huntsville, then Tuscaloosa, before being permanently moved to Montgomery in 1846. The building was constructed between 1846-1847, but burned in 1849. From 1850-1851 the present-day building was finished in the Greek Revival Style of architecture. Several wings have been added through the years as the need for the legislative bodies grew in size.

In February of 1861 delegates of the succeeded Confederate States convened in Montgomery to organize the Confederate States of America (CSA) and to elect Jefferson Davis as the President of the CSA.   

In March of 1965 the steps of the Capitol served as the ending point for the Selma to Montgomery civil rights march led by Dr. Martin Luther King.

We enjoy taking tours of state capitols, but there was no tour available here unless you were part of a group of 15 or more.  We picked up a brochure from the Alabama State Trooper stationed at the entrance and set out on our own. 

This is the area which held the Supreme Court Library from 1885-1940.  

The old House Chamber is located on the 2nd floor and has been restored to its' 1870-1890 appearance.  

The Rotunda begins on the 2nd floor, as well, as is positioned between the old House and Senate Chambers.  It has been restored to look as it did in the 1930s.  

The Senate Chamber was used from 1851 to 1985, but has been restored to its' 1861 appearance.  This is the room in which the CSA was established and Jefferson Davis was elected as President. 

I will have to admit that the Alabama Capitol Building was not nearly as "impressive" as some of the state capitols we've visited, but the historical events surrounding this area certainly make for an interesting visit nonetheless. 

If interested, there are many more pictures not displayed in this blog in our Google+ Web Album.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Wrap Up for the Rabies Incident

Posted from Cedar Key RV Resort, Cedar Key, FL

Hopefully, this will be our last involvement (and it's certainly the last blog) about Karen's rabies shots.

Because we can check our health care insurance Explanation of Benefits (EOBs) online, I reluctantly logged in today to take a look.
Wow.  Two things immediately stood out.  The first was that I still can't believe how expensive this series of shots are and secondly, our insurance company took care of the ENTIRE COST!!!!!!

Here is the EOB with obvious identifying areas blacked out.

Click on Above EOB to Enlarge

To summarize our entire outlay of cash for this procedure:

Paid $20 as a co-pay when we went to the Urgent Care place to get a referral to have the series of shots performed as an outpatient in the hospital's emergency room.
Paid $10 for an oral antibiotic prescription to fight any infection around the bite area.

I still cannot believe the staggering costs associated with this series of rabies shots, but I was extremely happy that our medical insurance company picked up the bill.  We are still under my prior employer's group insurance plan and will continue to have the High Option PPO with Anthem BC/BS as long as we can afford to make the premium payments.  We're still way, way behind when you consider the amount of premiums we've paid thru the years, however.

Thanks for everyone stopping by to take a look and thank you very much for all of the concern shown by our readers toward Karen during this trying time in our early fulltiming adventure.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Rabies- Do We Feel Lucky?

Posted from Cedar Key RV Resort, Cedar Key, FL

Our stay was up in the Huntsville area and on a Monday morning we were due to head to Gunter Hill COE Campground near Montgomery, AL.  A relatively short drive and it looked to be an easy leg.


The day just started off wrong.  We encountered a light rain all morning while trying to pack up and get the rig ready to move.  We finally had all of the slides in. The last thing to do was start the engine, raise the jacks, unplug the electrical cord and we would be on our way.

I was near the rear of the coach when I had Karen start the engine and raise the jacks.  When she started the engine something was different.  I heard what sounded like something hit the fan blades (we have a rear mounted radiator and fan).  I told her to immediately shut down the engine.  When she did, I heard the meow sound of a cat.   OH CRAP!

The way the shroud fits around our fan it is virtually impossible to look into that area from beneath the coach.  I've taken off the inside floor access panel several times to get to the engine, so this was my next course of action.

Still, the fan blades are positioned very close to the edge of the plastic shroud and it was difficult to see into that space.  My fear was realized, however, when I saw a very small kitten huddled into the corner of the shroud area.  I figured a bit of noise and shouting would move him along.  Nope.  I next tried a garden hose.  Nope.  As it turned out this particular kitten was injured when the engine started (and later had to be euthanized). I was able to remove him from the shroud area.

Now, the real fun began.  There was a second kitten in there who had run to the other side of the shroud.  He was not injured at all, but refused to come out. Finally, he poked his head out and I thought that I had persuaded him to jump to the ground and take off.  (I now have neighbors on both sides attempting to help out.)

Well, he didn't jump down, he climbed up higher onto the engine and was positioned between the frame and some wiring harnesses.  I was attempting to grab him from below and Karen was inside our coach trying to grab him from above.

He climbed higher and Karen, who had already put on some rubber gloves, was able to grab him and carry him out of the coach.  Just as she was ready to release him he twisted around and bit her twice on the finger.  Really OH CRAP now!

We really didn't know what to do at that point.  It was Memorial Day Monday and the kitten (believed to be between 8-10 weeks old) was wild and had just taken off.  Karen immediately washed the wound and one of our neighbors who deals with show dogs gave her a topical antibiotic which he claimed is very effective in bites.

So finally in this discussion we turn to the subject of rabies.  All we knew about rabies was that essentially if you contracted it and were not vaccinated, the chances of survival in humans is VERY slim.  After a bit of research on the subject we found that according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) rabies in humans in the United States,  between the years of 1995-2011, was 51 confirmed cases. Of those, however, only 2 survived without further vaccination. Not 1 of those 51 cases involved contact from a cat, however.  Bats and dogs were the most frequent carriers.

I next checked with the Alabama Dept. of Health who indicated that 50-60% of rabies cases were contracted from raccoons.

Ok,  what to do?   Should we go with the statistics which indicate that the chances of contracting rabies from a cat bite is very slim.  We also pondered that a kitten this young would have probably been killed in a fight with another wild animal which could transmit the disease.

We also have visions of multiple painful "shots in the stomach". Fortunately, science has progressed in that regard.  Although not a "real" consideration, the series of vaccinations is darned expensive.

Well, we decided to play it safe.  When we got to Montgomery we immediately went to an urgent care place.  Actually, a waste of time.  The rabies vaccination series is not something the average urgent care, or doctor's office for that matter, is going to have on hand.  We were sent over to Baptist Health Hospital where a supply of the vaccine was on hand.

The way the rabies vaccination series of shots today works as follows for a person who has never had the vaccine before:
1) Human Rabies Immune Globulin (HRIG) is administered based on a person's weight.  This shot is administered as near the site of infection as possible.
2) The rabies vaccine will be given on days 0 (the same time as the HRIG) and on days 3,7, and 14.  These shots are given intramuscular (IM) into the deltoid muscle.

Because the HRIG would be pretty darn painful as one shot, Karen received one dose in the right arm, and one dose in each buttock.  The first vaccine shot was administered at the same time into her other arm.  Subsequent shots on days 3, 7, and 14 were alternated in the arms.

So............we decided to be safe than sorry.   I actually love Karen very much (although she might dispute that sometimes) and I'd hate to lose her to a disease which could have easily been prevented.

Our original stay at the Gunter Hill COE was due to be 7 days, but we extended it to 16 days to allow the series of shots to be administered at the same hospital.   How much did all of this cost?  We have no idea at this point.  The entire procedure has been submitted to our Anthem BC/BS, but I do intend to post the final costs once we have them.

Hopefully, this will never happen to anyone else, but if it does, at least maybe some of the old "horror" stories we were envisioning can be dispelled through our involvement here.

If you do ever encounter a bite from a wild animal, or domestic animal, attempt to capture the animal. Animal Control personnel will quarantine the animal for 10 days and if no signs of rabies manifest itself in the animal, then none of the shots will be required.  Wow, I sure wish that we would have had the presence of mind to capture that little booger!

Thanks for dropping by to take a look!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

U.S. Space and Rocket Center Visit (Part 2)

Posted from Gunter Hill COE Campground near Montgomery, AL
(Click on Pics to Enlarge)

A couple of blogs back I wrote about our first day visit to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and the Redstone Arsenal.  We returned on Sunday May 24th to tour the rest of the Rocket Center. Even with a full second day to visit we discovered that there is a LOT to see. 

We began with a short tour of the Saturn V rocket located in the Davidson Center for Space Exploration.  The Saturn V rocket on display is one of only 3 complete rockets in the world. This rocket was our "heavy hauler".  It carried five of the enormously powerful F-1 rockets in the first stage. To give a feeling for the amount of energy involved, each of the F1 engines generated 1.5 million pounds of thrust for a total of 7.5 million pounds combined. That is more than 85 Hoover Dams combined!

This is a picture of Stage 2 of the rocket.

The next three pictures, in proper sequence, ascend up the rocket to the capsule positioned at the top.

The assembled rocket stood 363 feet tall. Fully fueled for takeoff it weighed 6.2 million pounds.

The tour of the center actually begins around the perimeter of the Saturn V suspended overhead.  It starts with the Mercury project capsule and progresses chronologically to tell the story of the United States space program through the years.  The Mercury project was our effort to place a man in orbit around the earth.  The Mercury capsule only had room for one astronaut.

The next item on display was the Gemini Mission Simulator.  This was a piece of training equipment used to train astronauts on earth for ingress and egress movements in space.

A lot of displays are devoted to the evolution of the rocket engine. On display are the F1 (used in the Saturn V), but also here are the H-1, a V-2 rocket engine (used by the Germans in WWII), and J2 engines.
A lunar rock sample collected during the Apollo 12 mission is on display, as is a restored Airstream trailer used in the early days of space exploration to quarantine returning astronauts from space.
The real Apollo 16 Command Module is on display in the center.
We continued outside to visit "Rocket Park".  On display are rockets used to transport satellites into space, ICBM missiles from the Cold War Era, and even some "concept" lunar rovers which never made it into production.

Because the Redstone Arsenal is so tightly connected to the space program in Huntsville, a collection of weaponry is also displayed.

Of course, I had to "pose" in front of the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) on the Lunar Crater.

There is an entire building devoted to the collection of space hardware and astronaut gear.  You can even pretend to be an astronaut.  (I think we're a bit too old for this one, however!)

One very interesting part of the exhibit was devoted to patents devoted to any type of connection to the developments which have come about as a result of the space program.  Does anyone else recall, or have, one of these when they were younger.  I knew immediately what this was when I first saw it and even had one when I was small.

The center also shows where the U.S. Space Program is headed in the future.  The Hubbell Space Telescope is due to be replaced in a few years by the Webb Space Telescope.  This will allow scientists to see much further into space than possible today.  Also, the next generation of transport vehicles will be carried by the Space Launch System (SLS).  This is to be the successor to the Space Shuttle System which is now part of our space history.

We completed our visit by watching another 3D film, "Hidden Universe" in the huge IMAX theater.  There are also a number of attractions designed to demonstrate some of the training astronauts encounter with names such as "Space Shot", "G Force", and "Space Mission Simulator".  We decided to pass on these.  There is truly a lot to see at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL.  We would highly recommend it to anyone interested in this type of American technology history.

I have many more pictures available for viewing in our Google+ Album on the US Space and Rocket Center.   Please take a look.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Alabama Jubilee Hot-Air Balloon Classic

Posted from Gunter Hill COE Campground near Montgomery, AL
  (Click on Pics to Enlarge)

Our last blog was about the visit to the US Space and Rocket Center (Part 1).  We actually enjoyed another event between those two visits and this blog is about the Alabama Jubilee Hot-Air Balloon Classic. (Part 2 of the Rocket Center visit will be in the next blog.)

The Alabama Jubilee began as a hot-air balloon race in 1978 in Decatur, AL. It is the oldest, and now the largest, such event in the entire mid-South area. The event was held on Saturday May 23 and Sunday May 24.  We attended on Saturday.

The event kicks off the summer season and was very well attended.  Point Mallard Park is bordered by the Tennessee River and Flint Creek on two sides.  As it was a nice day, many boaters were out to begin the season and watch the balloons.

The event draws a very large number of crafters, vendors, and food vendors selling all types of “healthy” (or not) foods.  I’m not sure if this rig belonged to one of the vendors or one of the balloonists, but I thought it was interesting.

Many of the balloons were going to offer free “tethered” balloon rides, but the winds didn’t cooperate and they had to be cancelled for the day.

The real draw for the day was the evening “glow” by approximately 24 of the balloons, but several live bands were scheduled to play prior to the evening's main event. The first band, called the “Overtones” began about 7 PM and played a lot of cover songs from artists spanning the ‘70s thru the ‘90s.  They were pretty good and the crowd seemed happy.

The second band of the evening was named “Four on the Floor”. These guys had been together for a number of years and played a real variety of music.  Again, good music and they played until the “glow” of the balloons began.

Just at dusk set in and the sun sank below the trees the balloons aired up and started to “glow”. 

When all were inflated, there were about 24 balloons participating in the evening “glow”.  I understand that there were approximately 60 balloons competing during the daytime races on Saturday and Sunday.  I thought Tweetie Bird and Sylvester were some of the more unique balloons.  (Insert Pic # 1030261)

Here’s a short video of some of the day’s sights and sounds.  The group “The Overtones” are playing during the second half of the video.

           (The video is best viewed in 1080 resolution and full screen)

Thanks for dropping by to take a look!