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Trip to Never Never Land

December 2, 2012

It was purely an impulsive act that started during our morning walk. We decided to go to Disney World for a few days. The inspiration for the trip was to see the Osborne Christmas lights we’d seen on TV a few years ago. A few hours after deciding we had reservations at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort for the Trek, 3-day theme park tickets and were on the road heading south.

We hadn’t given Fort Wilderness much thought. We figured it would be populated with people like us coming in for a short visit. Like all things Disney, we expected a first class set up, but not much more. As we arrived we began to feel like we were in Never Never Land.

Trek at Fort Wilderness.

Trek at Fort Wilderness.

Some things, like how spread out the every thing was showed up immediately as we drove over a mile seeing only the entrance roads to circle roads where the RV sites were located. We quickly discovered that all sites were paved and well spaced and nicely landscaped. I was surprised to see a tree stump in the utility hookup area. Closer inspection revealed the tree stump was concrete (every thing at Disney World seems to be made out of concrete) and concealed power, cable and dual water faucets. One of faucet connections was for the wash down hose supplied by the resort. Pushing the site completely over the top, or in this case into the ground was the stainless sink sunk into the utility area to catch and drain any spilled sewage from the sewage hookup connection. The utility area was graveled to allow for easy drainage while eliminating picking up mud from damp soil.

Utility area has a cement tree stump and sunken waste drain sink

Utility area has a cement tree stump and sunken waste drain sink

Two other things had caught our eye as we drove around the circle to our site. We were surprised to see a number of sites with impressive displays of inflatable Disney themed Christmas decorations. Also, many of the sites had decorated golf carts parked.  As we walked around and struck up conversations we learned that Fort Wilderness is a major long term winter destination for Disney collectors and others just loving resort living.

At first we thought the resort put up the mega inflatable Christmas displays we encountered. We quickly learned the displays were all private, that there were competitions for bragging rights, and many of the RVers with huge displays put up changing displays. One person said “You should have see Halloween.”

One RVer's Christmas display

One RVer’s Christmas display

We poked around getting a kick out of seeing ‘RV resort living’ but didn’t come close to getting a complete sample. Our focus was visiting the theme parks. We left fairly early and got back late and tired from spending the day wandering and enjoying the Magic Kingdom one day and Hollywood Studios the second day. Next time we visit we’ll block out more time to explore Fort Wilderness.

Window stuffed with Disney characters.

Window stuffed with Disney characters.

Oh yea. The Osborne Christmas lights, the reason for going in the first place, were great.

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Settling In

June 2, 2012

Our new summer home is a radical departure from past summers when if we were not traveling we lived in a marina environment either on the boat at dock, or in the Trek in the marina parking lot.

Summer site at Montezuma

Now we live at the end of a dead end road in the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.

 

The Trek faces southeast and shading the site patio in the morning.  Trees and tall grasses make us almost invisible to cars entering on the Refuge road.  The sun sets in the evening through the trees just in front of the marsh beyond.   Our nearest neighbors are a pair of Ospreys nesting a few hundred yards away.  They entertain occasionally with their calls but are invisible to our view out the Trek’s front window.

 

Osprey neighbors atop pole to left of trees

Sunset view

We settled in, put the awning out and bought two extra outside chairs so guest have comfortable seating.  The extra chairs let us set up an afternoon patio on the opposite side of the Trek so we don’t have to drag chairs to get out of the late afternoon sun when sitting outside.

 

The feeling of being settled in for a long time rapidly got us a bit too complacent and lulled into not being as watchful of the weather as we normally were on the boat or when traveling on the Trek.  We badly misjudged an approaching storm that as it passed over Seneca Falls became a microburst causing major damage in town.  We found ourselves in 40+mph wind and rain getting soaked to the skin trying to retract the awning.  The wind decided to help and the windward end of the awning became a giant sail flying up until with a snap the windward support arm that had been acting like a spinnaker pole broke free from the awning roller and came crashing down.  Without the arm holding the awning out the roller crashed back against the Trek, dropped down, and plastered the awning tight against the Trek body.   Minutes later the wind was gone and we had a mess on our hands.

 

Wet clothes and shoes got spread out to dry.  Then after a bit of obligatory beating myself up for not taking action sooner in the face of an oncoming storm I sat back and figured out a way to roll the awning back up and secure it for travel so we could get it repaired.  A new end cap and return spring are on order and soon we’ll be back to normal and have the awning back to provide a bit of additional shading.

 

A dowel holds the broken awning in place for travel.

Now with that lesson fresh in our memory, we’ll continue on with the adventure of being full time volunteers—which is proving; as you will shortly read, to be an interesting, enjoyable, and healthful experience.

Lifestyle Change

May 18, 2012

It was difficult to leave.  I poked around, checking Odyssey, making sure everything was all right.  Outside a Carolina Wren chirped its merry song from a nearby bush.  Aboard Odyssey the morning sun added a bit of sparkle to her interior.  I kept finding little things to do, excuses to stay just a bit longer, soaking up the feeling of being aboard, enjoying memories surfacing of prior days and events aboard.

Finally I pulled myself back to the present and took on one last sad task.  Slowly I furled Odyssey’s flag, a well-practiced task, now unusually difficult because of a lump in my throat and tear stained eyes.  It was time to leave.  It would be difficult, but I knew the next time I was aboard, Odyssey would be different, jut a nice interesting boat owned by someone else.  Our Odyssey would be forever locked away as a series of memories, blog entries and photos to be enjoyed as they surfaced.

I took a few minutes to take one last picture of the transition, Odyssey and the Trek together for the last time.  Then it was time to leave, drive out past the brilliant azalea bush– a wonderful hint of the land-based beauty we enjoy.  It was time to move past the hurt of leaving our boating lifestyle and the vessel that made it possible and to move on to new adventures.

We’d reluctantly decided to put Odyssey on the market after years of discussion.  The love of being aboard, on the water, traveling, finding new anchorages and places to explore had slowly been offset by reality that we were changing, and compensating for age and changing abilities by doing less and less of what we loved.  It was time to move on and find new adventures within our capabilities.

Talking with friends who had sold their boats and tracking selling prices on boats for sale provided a feel of the market.  Most boats like ours were taking a year or longer to sell.  Former owners suggested having a comprehensive list of notes to work from so the occasional questions about items not in the sales listing could be easily answered.   Finally we put together two plans. First I set up a comprehensive for sale web site showcasing Odyssey’s details and unique features making her ideal for cruising and at the same time allowing the potential buyer, dreaming about ownership the opportunity to explore in detail and discover the answer to questions they might ask.

With the web site started, we set up our cruising plan for the next year.  We would attempt for part of the year to sell her ourselves while we explored.  We made arrangements for storage on the hard during hurricane season with a broker working on selling her while we were ashore.

We were ready with firm plans for the next nine months.  We turned on the web site and set off traveling up the Potomac to spend April in Washington, DC enjoying spring as the first leg of our plan.

We’ve always cautioned our friends that our plans are always subject to change and change they did.   Almost immediately we had inquiries.  The first caller visited, look around, commented that he didn’t need to take pictures because the web site was so comprehensive and then said they wanted to buy Odyssey.  That was our first shock.  The second shock came instantly as a complete surprise to both of us.  Neither of us could respond immediately because of the lumps in our throats.  We hadn’t anticipated our emotions would get in the way when faced with an offer that meant we would turn Odyssey over to someone else.  Finally we managed to say yes.

Odyssey passed her survey with just a few minor items to correct and we worked our way through the emotional shock of selling her.   With the sale completed we rode Ron and Linda Jones across the Chesapeake from Deltaville to Taylor Creek.  Ron and Linda provided us one last adventure aboard as they worked Odyssey into the shallow creek waters to tie up.  She’s in good hands and soon will have a new name and adventures as Ron and Marry prepare to retire and start exploring.

We’ve moved on, our Coastline Cruising adventure (for now) is complete.  Now we live aboard our Safari Trek RV full time.  This summer we are full time volunteers at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuse in NY and get a RV site in exchange for our work effort.  Future posts will provide a glimpse of our lifestyle change.

That’s all for now,

Don and Ruth