Thursday, January 30, 2014

An Entire Week In The Land of Sun, Sand And Surf - In A Nutshell

This chapter of my first 2014 trek begins on the 15th day on the road. I arrived at the "Walmart Motor Inn" in Fort Pierce, Florida last night. Here is one view of the Walmart parking lot shot with my long lens to the other end of the parking lot. You can see a proliferation of RV's of various sizes and shapes.

The vast majority of the, approximately, two dozen RV's in the parking lot have Quebec (Canada) license plates and many of these folks do not speak much or any English. They appear to be quite clannish and, for the most part, I didn't find them particularly open and friendly. But, again, that could simply be my impression and perhaps I didn't make myself as open and friendly as I could have. I did have conversations with one couple, mainly the husband. He was quite articulate in English with a strong French Canadian accent. He explained that he and his wife had been living on the road in their 24-foot Class C (cab-over bed) motorhome for four years. They were fully retired, and enjoying life on the road. He went on to explain that they were Canadian citizens, however, they had both worked for many years in the U.S. in New York, Massachusetts and Florida and were eligible for U.S. Social Security and Medicare. They also qualified for the Canadian version of Social Security and the Canadian universal healthcare. So, they had four checks coming in every month (not including any other pensions) and had full healthcare coverage in both countries.

I've mentioned this to a few people who showed some disdain at these people double dipping, but let's face it, if we could do it, we would, too. I know a few other people from other countries who have dual citizenship and will one day be covered by both the U.S. benefits and the benefits of their home country. Some might consider this "playing" the system. Frankly, it seems to me the system is designed to be played and as long as these folks aren't breaking any U.S. laws or laws in their home countries, more power to them.

So, it's Sunday and here's what I enjoyed on Sunday and Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and even Thursday. Let's see that's the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th days. As you can see from the photos, there weren't a lot of us there, but some just strolled the beach (as did I) with their feet in the water, some worshipped the sun, some searched for buried treasure, some cast their lines to hopefully bring home dinner and a furry friend even frolicked in the surf. While the water was only about 67 degrees and the air temperatures were only in the 70's, perhaps, touching the 80's, it beat the heck out of the weather I was watching on my Accuweather apps back up north. As the old saying goes, "been there, done that, got the tee shirt." I prefer this weather for right now.

I also like to capture soundscapes. A soundscape is the sound of something. For example, nature soundscapes would include ocean surf, wind, rain, babbling brooks, night sounds (crickets, tree frogs) morning sounds (early birds), etc. A cityscape would be the sounds from a town or city, traffic, people walking and talking, buses, trolleys, emergency vehicles, etc. Industrialscapes and transportationscapes might include airport sounds, both inside the terminal and outside, trains, trucks of all descriptions, all kinds of machinery like printing presses, forklift trucks, saws and so on. I've been capturing these soundscapes since back in the 70's. They, of course, require battery operated portable recording equipment. In the 70's and until around 2005 or so, the equipment was larger and more cumbersome. However, with the advent of digital recording and especially high-quality flash card digital recorders, the process can be quite a bit easier. I decided I needed to capture some sounds at Avalon State Beach in Fort Pierce. I captured some from back in my van that was some distance from the surf and then I went on the beach and captured some closer to the source. Unfortunately, it was quite breezy that day so I'm not completely satisfied with the sounds I captured. However, before I left, there was a very calm day on the beach at Pepper State Park Beach, also in Fort Pierce. And very conveniently, there was a wooden pallet that had washed ashore and provided a platform for my recording enterprise. So, here is what it looked like

And here is what it sounded like.

Nice soothing surf sounds. Play those quietly in the background as you're dozing off to sleep and you just might dream about laying in the sun on some exotic beach somewhere.

Another thing that caught my attention, also located adjacent to Pepper State Park is the U.S. Navy Seal Museum. This is a non-profit museum that receives no federal or state funding and exists only by contributions from the public and some corporate benefactors, I'm sure. The reason the museum is located here is because this is where the Navy trains their seals (starting out as underwater demolition teams) since World War II. To say I found the museum fascinating and enlightening would be a gross understatement. I have an entire folder full of photos I took there, far too many to display in this article or in the blog. There were all kinds of outdoor displays and an amazing array of indoor displays that walked the viewer through the history of the Navy's underwater demolition and Seals training and service. I went there figuring on a quick walk through and that turned out to be between two and three hours and I still couldn't grasp everything.

Here are just a few photos to give you an idea.

So, that takes us through Day 17. I left Fort Pierce on Wednesday night (end of the 17th day) and drove back up to Titusville for a return engagement at the no overnight parking "Walmart Motor Inn" that I had stayed at before. I caught myself some sleep in preparation for Thursday, Day 18, when I would meet up with my very dear friend, George Morrisey, from my National Speakers Association years and also one of the long time participants in the Veteran Speakers Retreat I coordinated for a dozen years and just turned over the reins to a new team. George has headed up our Legends of the Speaking Profession award program for about the last ten years and has made my job of coordinating the VSR much easier. George's primary focus as a seminar facilitator, consultant and author has been on "Management by Objectives." Now retired, he and his lovely wife, Carol, live in a condo on Merritt Island, Florida where they could watch NASA shuttle launches from their balcony terrace.

I took a leisurely drive from Titusville to Merritt Island on Thursday (Day 18) morning and arrived around noon to enjoy George's company for lunch, talk a little about the Legends selections for 2014 (the selection committee that George chairs and I'm a member of would meet by conference call on the morning of January 27th. Of course, I had no idea where I'd be on that day, as I told George. But. I went on to say that as long as My McVansion that housed my McMobile Office could find a location with good cellular phone signal, I'd be on the call, as always. After a delightful lunch at a local eatery and much spirited conversation and reminiscing, we parted ways. George went back to his condo and a nap. I headed towards Tampa where I'd be meeting up with some other mutual friends of George and mine, Richard and Joan Parker, on Friday, the 19th day, at the huge Tampa RV Show where they were exhibiting.

I headed across the state and just happened to pass through St. Cloud, Florida, where another NSA and VSR friend and his wife, Michael and Christine Aun, live. Unfortunately, Michael was the victim of a car accident (he was rear ended) and Christine was in SC providing support for her ailing mother. So, we couldn't connect at this time. It still might happen, time will tell. I chose an RV friendly Walmart Motor Inn in Brandon, Florida for my overnight accommodations. It turned out to only be about 15 or 20 minutes from the county fair grounds where the RV show was located. I had been to this show about three or four years ago, so I knew what I was looking for.

I met up with Richard and Joan, who used one of their spare exhibitor badges to gain my entrance to the show saving me a sizeable entry fee . . . and for which I was very appreciative. Richard was dealing with some kind of cold or bug (which has later implications for me, though not because of Richard). They showed me their new project in Alabama where they are building an RV "Port" community. Basically, one buys a lot and a small home specifically designed with the RVer in mind. Attached to the nicely designed small home (around 1,200 sq. ft.) is a covered veranda attached to an RV port where the owner parks his/her motorhome, under roof, with full connections, so the RV actually is an extension of the small house. From what I've learned, this is a popular new trend for the RV lifestyle. I guess you could say it's like having your cake and eating it, too. Richard and Joan have their own 40' Country Coach and have planned on one of the lots and houses in this community they are developing being theirs.

I then wandered around the rest of the RV show. There was just about everything you could ever imagine in RV's at the show from the tiniest pop-up A frame trailers to the behemoth 45' multi-million dollar Prevost motorcoach conversion motorhomes. It's amazing what a difference in one's thinking a few years can make. In January of 2011, just a little over two years since I walked off the Oakhill Ranch for the last time, I was at this RV show going through every size motorhome on the lot, checking out the beds, the showers, the galleys to see which felt the most like "home." Now, three years later I happily inhabit a mere 50 sq. ft. I went through very few of the motorhomes on display. I found not one that I went through interesting or enticing me to want any of the vehicles. And mostly, I was totally aghast at the prices, even the show specials, that were listed on these units. Virtually nothing matched my lifestyle interests nor could I see the value for the prices asked. Of course, that's just me. There were thousands of people pouring all over those things, many with their checkbooks out and writing deposit checks.

So, what does it all mean? It means beauty and value are in the eye of the beholder. I'm glad those folks are buying those glossy, glittery, every convenience and luxury one could want motorhomes and trailers. That means all those workers who build those condos on wheels will have jobs and can maintain their own lifestyles. What it means for me is that, more than likely, when I'm ready for another McVansion, just as I did with this one, I'll design it and construct it to my personal liking and functionality. Maybe I'll pay to have some of the work done by better craftspeople than me, but when it will be ready (and they are always a work in progress) it will suit me perfectly (or at least as near perfect as one could get it).

Well, the end of the day was rolling up and I was planning to make my way to Hudson, Florida where I'd be meeting up with and parking My McVansion with another full-time vandweller and his better half. So, I moseyed out to My McVansion, climbed in, cranked her up and made my way up the road, arriving just before dark after driving through Tampa rush hour traffic. In the next episode I'll introduce you to Marshall Ellgas and is lovely better half, Allison. Oh yeah, and this is the end of Day 19. I squeezed in one extra day. We'll start at Day 20 next time (and I'm writing this on Day 30).



El Candil said...

Ed, when a person is eligible for Social Security and Canadian equivalent at the same time and applies for both, methinks, their benefits are reduced somehow to account for that extra payment - there is some sort of agreement on this between the countries.

Ed Helvey said...

Interesting thought!. It would seem to me that if an individual lived in both countries long enough and met the qualifications for full eligibility for each country, that they should be entitled to receive the benefits they earned in each country. But, then again, far be it from me to attempt to think I have a clue how politicians think. They are a breed until themselves and mostly self-serving IMHO. But, thanks for that thought - something to ponder.