Monday, May 31, 2010

Made it!

Here we are in Ponciana.  A suburb of Kissimmee Florida.   It is raining like a bastard.  The campground is full and the hotel rooms are completely sold out.  It has rained like this almost everyday.  The guy camped next to us muttered something about a "water leak" and is now mysteriously gone.We have learned to get up early to get our sunburn out of the way before noon.   Our campsite (116) is almost as far away from the pool and bar area as possible.  Why do we worry about getting soaked after getting right out of the water?  We do.  The rain also limits our menu choices.   Cooking a steak over a gas grill under the cloth awning is ill advised.

We only had two incidents on our way down here.  Our fueling stop was at a Flying J.   They have a special island for motorhome diesel.  It is cheaper because it has no extra road use tax.   We were in that lane.  The pump malfunctioned.  The guy behind me was impatient because that was the lane that he wanted to use to dump his poop tank.  He was furious at me.  He impatiently tapped his Sperry Topsiders and put his hands on the hips of his neatly pressed chinos as he hissed something about how long of a process this was becoming.   Who cares.  He is way overdressed for turd herding anyway.   

We were hurtling down 95 about 63 mph just south of Daytona when all of a suden, out of nowhere we were suddenly jolted from our hypnotic driving trance and assaulted by a horrendously loud, eardrum rattleing,  insanely high-pitched, almost hypersonic, wailing sound.  Like a carbon monoxide detector gone mad or Satan's own teakettle furiously boiling and wailing for relief from the flames.  Imagine a silent dog whistle for a 27 foot tall mutt. "What is that?"  P leaned forward and looked up.   "WINDSHIELD!"  Screeeeeeeeeeee  I know the prisoner dolphins in Sea World heard it.   She gestured up at the corner of the gigantic glass panel in front of her.   Screeeeeeeeeeee  "IT'S LOOSE AGAIN."  Oh hell now what do we do?  A sign appeared over the interstate.  Rest area 1 mile.   We pull in to the rest stop, get the ladder out of the storage and duct tape the windshield.  That's it.  We drove the rest of the way in comfort.  We have an appointment to have it fixed when we leave here.   There are a bunch of love bugs stuck to the part of the tape that blew back and exposed the adhesive to the insect world.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

American Automobile Association

We are still getting ready to drive to Florida.   Even though Disney didn't work out we are still going.   It is a nice time of year and after all we have been home for almost 6 weeks.   In a row!

This expedition requires a lot of getting ready.    Preparation for this trip has divided itself into several sets of tasks.   

Food is a biggie.   We are not towing an extra vehicle behind us.   That means that we would need to have about a week's worth of food.   We have stocked up on PB and J, pop tarts, microwave popcorn, rice krispy treats and hamburger helper. Maybe a few steaks, pork chops, burgers and hot dogs for healthy meals.

Pets are another necessity.  The parrot cage is all set up.   The cat box fits perfectly under it.   That should keep all  the animal poop mostly in one place given no sudden stops or reckless driving maneuvers.   Livestock food is stored under the bathroom sink.   Which category is that?

TV is the other biggie.  The DVD VCR is all installed.  It works the flat panel over the drivers seat, the 13 inch in the back bedroom and the great big dinosaur 29 inch outside, in the patio storage area under the floor.  There is no satellite receiver to go with the dish mounted on the roof.  The TV switch board is still kind of a mystery but hopefully we will decipher the functions of those little push buttons when we get wherever we are going.    Most campgrounds have cable available up so that means we get to run yet another wire from the back of the coach.   Along with the sewer hose, electric cord, special white drinking water hose we will now have a TV cable to deal with.   With the TV outside we will be able to enjoy the great outdoors while enjoying our healthy red meat dinner.

We have 100 gallons of diesel but the propane is getting low.   There is construction along part of our route.   The propane distributor is on a section of road that will allow us (me) to  avoid the construction zone and driving on the skinny lane diversion. The mirrors have already been repaired several times. We will get refilled on that other road for sure.

The route selection process is very tedious.  There are lots of route mapping web pages.   The one  from Bing maps looks good but it's 38 pages long.   We sat in the Diner yesterday where P suggested AAA.   Great idea, they have all kinds of travel stuff, we paid already and it might be fun trying to figure out where the office may be.  Our GPS took us right to the AAA office.   They had 30 parking spaces, well marked and wide open.  Hey that's a break, we should be able to great service.  In and Out, nobody here.  We walk in, exchange greetings with the nice lady at the counter and take a number as directed.   As we stroll to the back of the office the lady calls us over and asks how can she be of service.   She pulls map after map from her well stocked drawer, hands us a few large paperback TourBooks, CampBook and a pamphlet about Road Service options from AAA.  Armed with all this literature in a slick AAA plastic bag we got back in the van, started our GPS and headed home.

Wait... GPS!  We need maps why?  No wonder they were not busy and so well stocked.  I'll let you know how this goes.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Screwed by THE Mouse

We are getting ready to drive the camper to Florida.  I made reservations at Walt Disney World Resort from Playa.    It really was a great deal.   After shopping for different dates when the park attendance was low we found low rates.  We got; 6 nights in the Walt Disney World Campground at a deluxe campsite, 6 day Park Hopper tickets with 2 quick serve meals and two snacks apiece for each of those 6 days and a Disney version of a Bubba Keg.  On top of all that they promised a $500 cash card to use inside the park.  We could buy meals, booze, t-shirts or rent a Segway and ride around!   The invoice showed all this listed for $1200.   Now that's a good deal.         

The next morning I checked the reservations to show P the great deal I got from Disney World web site.   But they were different!   I called (from Mexico) to get the facts about that.   The guy at Disney Reservations told me that in order to receive the $500 cash card we had to reserve 6 days in the park.   It was the same price as the package I ordered from last night so I readily agreed.   About 10 minutes later the second confirmation e-mail was delivered.  

Of course it was not to be.  Somewhere between Mexico and Philly they decided I was getting too good of a deal and they sent Tinkerbells friend Turd-kerbell to see me.   That's right, the Shit Fairy visited my little section of Disney reservation land.   Those dirty bastards changed my reservations.    So I called up and talked to Moniquea or somebody.   She insisted that I had made reservations for a cabin and denied that the guy who guaranteed me a $500 cash card even existed, no less talked to me.  even if he did promise me a half a grand he "Was just talking."   

Okay stay calm,  I tried not to go all New Jersey on her and just hung up.   I looked on line at my Verizon Wireless bill.   There was a 16 minute call to Disney!   Right in my e-mail were the two (2) confirmation receipts.   So I looked on line to see who would be the person to best handle this Cluster Fuck of Confusion.   I wrote a very polite letter to Meg Crofton, President of Walt Disney World Resort and mailed it to her office.   I had a copy of the phone bill, a copy of the legal paper I use for a phone log, printouts of each confirmation and the invoice showing exactly what I was getting ripped off.  

Three days later some Goofy (get it?) bitch calls me.   She is calling from Meg Crofton's office and wants me to explain the problem to her.   "Don't you have my letter?"   She did have it and she assured me that her reading skills were above average.   "I want you to honor this reservation."   She launched into a detailed oratory of her extensive knowledge of the inner workings of  Disney's reservation system.   She said that the guy I (never) talked to "didn't have the authority to offer" me a great deal like that and he only dealt with dining reservations.   So she knew who promised me the package!!!!   Here comes the Jersey.. "So what."   She sucked air, "Excuse me?"    I explained that "He offered it to me and I bought it  and now I want it and, I have a receipt."   She went off again, her lilting voice repeating her memorized operation policy and saying some other wild crap about the offer never should have been extended to guests of the campground and the grass is green and the sky is blue and fish swim and... That's when she got it, "Cancel."   
She asked "What?"   
"You heard me."   And just then, through no fault of my own, the one phrase I had been consciously trying to avoid came rolling out of my mouth,  "Fuggetaboudit."   
"You want to cancel your reservation?  For only $1467.09 more you could have everything you wanted except for the gift card."
  The flood gates opened, it was all down hill from here.   "Okay, you don't read too good, now you got trouble hearing too?  We . are . not . coming.  Gimme back my money."
She was shocked  "You want to cancel?
"Hey are you stoopit?"   I sounded like Rocky Balboa to myself now,  "Look Muffie, We . are . not . comin', got that?"
She indicated that this time my message had gotten through.  She seemed amazed.  It was completely out of her paradigm that somebody would blow off DisneyWorld.   Do they often more than double the price of a vacation and get away with it?

I didn't tell her to get f#^(ed or anything like that, she had a six hundred dollar deposit and i want it back.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Here is the snorkel trip report from Feb 11, 2010.   The day started with a pickup from OXXO.   They pulled up in a big bus.   There were 4 people on the bus.  We made it 6.   That was the entire crowd, 6 people.  We got to the marina quickly.   One guy got off the bus and greeted our host.  Pepe said Hi to everybody but he remembered us from last year!  We got hugs and the super deluxe Mexican hand slap greeting.  Pepe made sure everybody filled out our forms and drank a drink.   Good start at 10:00 am.  Pepe kept handing everyone drinks all day long.  He was non-stop.  Even if you didn't order one they kept coming.  So okay now it was time for everybody to get on the boat.  He was herding us.   We walked out to the Pier onto a very nice tri-maran.   As we exited the harbor  Pepe told us it was okay to start enjoying our special trip option.   They drove us around a bit and gave us our flippers and snorks.   I guess our boat must have had something special about it because we attracted so much attention.   Four other boats with scuba divers came up next to us and waved.  Also 2 or 3 wave runner parades came by and one flotilla of little speed boats followed their leader right past us.  Most people seemed to be very interested in the make and model of our boat because they smiled and waved to us and inspected the vessel very closely, but others just kept their eyes straight ahead. 
After our crew dropped the anchor we all put on our vests, masks and fins.   We looked really funny wearing that stuff out of the water.   Soon after we got in Pepe started yelling to come to his location.  He grabbed the camera from me and took off swimming fast.  We followed him closer to the reef.  He had spotted a sea turtle!   Hopefully the pictures will turn out.  (They didn't)   The weather was a little cloudy so the color of the water was only just beautiful.   Spotting the turtle made up for that.   We saw an big angel fish too.   Lots of Jacks and millions of those yellow and blue fish were around all the time.  Pepe had a bottle of fish food he was dispensing.   He even caught a fish with his hand and held it above the water for a second or two,  Just long enough for a picture.
Okay enough snork.  Pepe wanted to know if anybody wanted to ride the spinnaker.   They thrash you all around violently til you fall about 20 feet back into the Caribbean.  Nobody wanted to do that.   The captain got on the radio to make sure our lunch would be ready.   We pulled up at a lonely spot where a grill and table with tablecloth was awaiting us.  There was something special about that deserted spot too.   Our chef and his two assistants had prepared an impressive feast for the 6 of us.   Hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, chicken and two kinds of tacos.   They had pasta salad, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa and some Mexican condiments on the side.  We hung around on that beach for about 2 hours.   I also think there was something interesting in the sand because during all that time about 8 people came by.   They were really staring hard at the sand even though we waved at them.
That is when they ran out of rum and started feeding me vodka. 

February 2011

Experience is a great teacher.   This time our new underwater camera went directly to the hands of Pepe.   He was gracious enough to snap a bunch of photos, some of which are posted here.
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