Monday, September 12, 2011

Markham Park Weston

Chuck did his homework and found an RV campground west of Fort Lauderdale, where for forty dollars a night one can park with hook ups and walk the dogs.

Clearly this isn't Key West, obvious as soon as you notice the giant and attractive recycling container, because public recycling in the Keys is a Modern Concept, yet to catch on.

Markham Park in Weston has a nice big well equipped place for dogs to roam, divided into Big Barkhams and...Little.

A winding paved path circle the big dog park which has trees, tiki huts and doggie obstacles. My wife thought Cheyenne might enjoy a balance bar.

It was a cute but bad idea and Cheyenne saw the light faster than my wife did.

And cats make a handy target for dogs elsewhere in the park. Cat-ist objectification.

I wondered what the budget is is for the city's dog shit bag program. They don't joke around here.

Our anti-social dogs watched the locals doing their thing and there were lots of them, all busy.

Even though it is September and you'd think it would be empty, then you remember the demographics of the Big Mainland City.

This woman got her dog in France and she had to talk to it in French which isn't as obscene as it sounds. Allez, pooch.

It wasn't sunny but it was hot band a little muggy.

Certainly wam enough for Cheyenne.

And even Zuzu and Tootie got tired soon enough.

We were a long way from home, 175 miles, but Chuck had a reminder of home.

A man's best friend deserves all the comforts.

Cheyenne wasn't at all sure about the paddling pool but then locals were on hand to show her it's done.

Time to go home and get dressed for dinner.

Indian food was on the menu.

Chuck noticed how much Layne missed Indian and he kindly arranged an outing to the Indian Palace. But that's another story.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

My Life In An RV

It's an odd sensation riding in something the size of an 18 wheeler and yet to be in something that more accurately resembles a moving home.

With a tank that holds one hundred gallons for a 700 mile range one pays four hundred dollars at current prices, or close to. Tires are big and expensive, parking is awkward, backing up with a car in tow is impossible and so forth.

Yet it is quintessentially American to travel and see over the horizon to view what comes next. My wife and I did it by sailboat, Chuck and Wayne do it by RV. Not a bad way to go.

One tows a car behind and if you think of it as a home on wheels the whole setup is ideal in a hurricane zone. Have a disaster? Get in the RV and fire up the generator. Leave town and take your car with you.

Traveling with dogs? An RV is ideal with air conditioning, space for food and water bowls and all the reassurance of the familiar, in a home setting. Wayne is convinced Cheyenne used to travel by RV in her former life she took to it so easily in the boys' vehicle. She slept, we traveled.

The dogs got out and walked at stops. Cheyenne and I walked the woods and found an old truck buried in the undergrowth. We are explorers, my dog and I.

You never know what you might see over the horizon, except for a truck stop, a gas station or more roadway. They are part of an RVer's life, always. The bad news is a cheaper RV will be noisier underway the boys tell me. And this is complex machinery so things will break.

Some members of the family like traveling, and an RV suits her just fine, the little explorer.

Modern traveling homes are fast, relatively speaking and comfortable and easy to use. I was amazed to see how much modest little cars held us up in our imperial passage along ordinary roads.

I saw motorcycles braving the thunderstorms of South Florida while we sipped cold drinks and watched the windshield wipers blat back and forth.

They charged forty dollars for the night which seems a lot except they gave us electricity water and sewer facilities, just like a sailboat in a marina.

We parked and set up our home life with air, a kitchen and beds,

All mobile and all just like home.

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Seen On Highway One

It is a rare day I am the passenger when riding or driving the Overseas Highway, but it happened when the boys took us to Miami in their American Dream.

It turns out the front step well of the RV makes for a splendid perch to distract the driver with chatter and take pictures of the road unfolding before us.

Much to my surprise a forty foot RV can travel easily at the speed of smaller traffic and the easiest pictures to take were those that I snatched while we were held up by dawdlers in small cages. I like taking pictures of Florida riders as their casual attitude not only reminds me of my youth but makes serious riders gnash their teeth. Tolerance is the lost art of the 21st century.

This cyclist in Marathon impressed me with his totally relaxed manner as he dodged giant cars and casually crossed four lanes of traffic with no signs of stress.

I have a suspicion Cheyenne used to be 'walked' in a manner resembling this next picture. She used to start our walks by running after I got her from the pound. I had a little talk with her and explained that I amble and only gallop in emergencies. She took the message to heart and now she gets to be a dog and investigate everything as we stroll. Not all dogs are so lucky.

Some people ride with helmets in the Keys.

No really, even if gloves, which I think can be even more useful in a crash, go by the board. The last time I fell off at 45mph in a badly marked construction zone I scraped my leather gloves but my helmet never touched the ground. Next time perhaps.

Oddly enough some people like to fish more than they like to ride motorcycles. The smartest one's have a two wheeler to ride to the fishing hole and it's equipped with pole holders and poles riding vertically and waving around like buggy whips.

This next picture highlights one of my motorcycling bugaboos: high visibility clothing. This stuff is sold as a passive 'safety' device on the grounds that it makes people more visible and thus increases their sense of safety on our vicious roads. As this next picture illustrates modern faired motorcycles frequently make the concept worthless yet you can bet the riders are unaware of how hidden they are. Helmetless, they ride thinking their "high viz" clothing gives them a mantle of protection like a wizard's cape.

The only safe way to ride is to be aware, and practice your skills. Turning wide is not one of those skills, but modern 800 pound couch cruisers so popular on the straight roads of Florida, make leaning complicated. Oh, and take a riding class where these skills are taught even if they are bound by convention to recommend passive safety aids to make everyone feel better.

Or take off the motor, relax, and watch the cars go by wondering why the rush...

But the lure of the open road is why one needs a motor, some ugly saddlebags and a tank full of $4 gas.

Seven miles to the gallon while you brew coffee and heat a Cuban mix in the microwave on the RV, or you go 45 miles to the gallon braving thunderstorms and distracted cagers while riding the Bonneville. You choose, but at least in the RV no one expects you to wear a high viz vest.

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RV The Keys

As shocking as this may sound I have never traveled in an RV,or, more accurately, up until last week I had never previously traveled in an RV; but I have now.

The strangest things happen when your back is turned. I had expected my weekend off to be spent in the usual pursuits, catching up on sleep, watching a Netflix, gardening, organizing the freshly renovated porch.

Instead I discovered my wife and the boys had planned an expedition to the mainland. What about Cheyenne? was my first thought, but Cheyenne did just fine on the tiled hallway (!) floor.

The contraption is 40 feet long with twenty feet of Honda Element and trailer hitch at the back with a camera to monitor it's progress. It's a rig as long as the 18 wheelers I used to drive and I needed months of training to be let loose on the highways as a Teamster.

Not Wayne, he put on his baseball cap, sank into the Lazy Boy that does double duty as a driver's seat and while we cracked some Yuenglings in the back, off we drove. My home and my stationary refrigerator are off to the right of Niles Channel in the picture below.

Actually we did not drink beer as we traveled though I am told in some states, including that where Anheuser Busch is headquartered, beer drinking by RV passengers under way is legal, a sobering thought. 'We encourage responsible drinking' they tell us, but not if it impacts corporate profits. Mind you Key Deer are no obstacle to machinery like this, drunk or sober.

Viszlas like to travel on the bed which sits above the diesel engine and is rather warm for furry Labradors.

My wife sat at the desk and made phone calls to students and their parents about a forthcoming school event, I stood at the front and took pictures of motorcycles while Chuck fiddled with the stereo and told Wayne to watch out for braking drivers ahead.

The dog bar was open behind Chuck's recliner, a testament to the smoothness of the ride across Flatistan.

Onward we went and I was entranced by the height of the views, crossing mangrove woods and later the Seven Mile Bridge.

Zooming down the hill I noticed the cars in front of us kept slowing us down. "Another stereotype shattered," said Chuck after he told Wayne to slow for more brake lights ahead.

Channel Five Bridge looking south before the highway turns east into Matecumbe Key.

So people sigh piteously when faced with a drive up the Keys. Aside from the prospect of Swedish meatballs at IKEA I simply enjoy the drive.

And it's not at all bad in a giant RV. My wife got to pee with out us having to stop which is a big fat positive to a straight man on the move, and even though it felt more like a boat in a seaway than a house while moving it is surprisingly amusing to have all the comforts of home easily to hand while traveling a mile a minute, slow poke cars permitting.

At seven miles to the gallon of diesel it is never going to replace my Bonneville which is, in my mind, still the best way to go. Though Cheyenne might disagree.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad and written at the desk while riding the RV.