You just never know what you might see along the bike path here in west Orange County. Here was Tuesday's sighting: a beautiful male Peacock! He was so tame, he walked closer and closer to me as I was snapping photos, so my later shots were much better than the earlier ones. He wasn't interested in me; just in finding bugs in the leaf litter.
What a gorgeous bird!
Monday this week was also one for the books. We took Pearl in for her first official service appointment. We'd had a leaky tire valve fixed at a tire shop since we've been in Florida, and Barry has done quite a bit of work on her systems himself, but it was time for the Ford F53 chassis experts to work their magic. Although we bought Pearl here at Independence RV, they don't work on chassis issues.
Independence sent us to Rush Truck Center, farther east in Orlando. We had to take her in twice. The first time was just to check her over as we were having an issue with the engine "missing" and steering column vibration at higher speeds (60 mph+) when accelerating up hills. Barry went out on a test drive with the tech but couldn't get the speed up high enough due to the speed limits (and there are no hills!) to reproduce the problem. They did read a code from the computer that could indicate a fault in the fuel sending unit, however.
Our second trip to Rush was to get the work done. We had the first appointment of the day at 7 am, so had to wake up at the ungodly hour (for us!) of 5:30 am, unhook and leave the campground by 6:30 am, still before dawn. That was not particularly fun as we are not early birds, but we'd done most of the preparation work the day before, leaving us minimal work in the morning. We saved time by not even making coffee before going as we knew they'd have it at the service place.
This would be the first time Barry had ever driven Pearl in the dark, a bit disconcerting. Fortunately, by the time we arrived at 7am, it was light!
Since Pearl is our home, we had to bring Paisley in with us to wait. Fortunately, Rush has a nice lounge, so we were able to use our laptops, read, get coffee. use the rest room, and take Paisley outside whenever we needed to.
We traded off going for meals so the other could keep an eye on Paisley. Barry hoofed it to McDonald's to bring back our breakfast, and I did the same to Subway for our lunch. Each place was about a mile away.
Pearl was right outside, so we could keep an eye on the progress of the work.
As the day warmed up, the air-conditioning in the lounge became too much for us, but we were able to move to a nice table in the shade outdoors. Pearl was just behind the fence on the right, so Barry could talk to the tech.
We got a tune-up with new spark plugs and a new fuel filter installed. They'd planned to replace the fuel sender unit as well, but it sits on the top of the gas tank. When the tech. started looking at dropping the tank, he discovered that our rear level-legs would have to come off, and they would have to cut a hole in the bracket behind them to access the tank bolts. Not a great design! This would also mean an overnight stay in a hotel for the three of us as he would not be able to complete the work that day.
After some discussion, we all agreed that this work could wait. We wanted to see if the other fixes may have cleared up the problem we were noticing without the additional work and significant expense of dropping the tank. That is something we think can wait until later if the problem doesn't go away. Barry has the Ford F53 shop manual, and it suggests spark plugs as one of the primary possibilities for the symptom we were having, so we want to take things one step at a time. We don't mind spending the money if it is absolutely necessary, but we want to be sure it is before we do,
Driving back to the campground, Barry said that Pearl seemed to run and even idle more smoothly, so we are cautiously optimistic. Until we travel to a place with hills, we won't know for sure that the problem is resolved. In any event, It is nice to have this behind us, at least for the moment. We -- and Pearl -- survived our first service appointment. And it surely was a pleasure to sleep in until 7 am the next morning!
Once again I've had to take an unexpected break from the blog; this time to take a trip up to Ohio due to a death in the family. But we're back now, and I'm hoping to post more regularly going forward.
I've been promising a couple more RV renovation posts for awhile, but, as with most projects, we do the work a little bit at a time, and I didn't want to jump the gun until we were really through with a particular area. After what seems like a loooooong time, we finally put the finishing touches on our front slide-out redo recently, so I hope you're ready for the big reveal!
But first, the "before". Below is what we started with in our front slide-out area when we bought Pearl over a year ago. A typical RV dinette and sofa from 2007. Serviceable, but very boring. Although you can't really tell in the photo, the dinette cushions were sagging and uncomfortable. Furthermore, the sofa had no storage underneath at all, since it included a pull-out bed, which we didn't anticipate ever needing. And it was incredibly heavy, as those behemoths always are.
We wanted to lighten (in weight) and brighten (in color) the whole slide-out space. Barry especially wanted it to have a Mexican flair, with the cheerful, vivid hues we love, which I thought would be fun to do.
As detailed in this post from late last year, we started the renovation by pulling out the dinette, sofa, and valances. In their place Barry built simple wooden platform furniture with great storage underneath both the dinette benches and the sofa. We had new cushions made and covered in organic cotton duck in a bright green. Although we lost the sofa bed, the platform sofa would make a great sleep space for a shorter adult (like if I get banished with a cough!) or a child. And the three large baskets we bought for underneath store a ton of stuff!
We did all of the above in North Carolina in the late fall. When we got to Florida, we pulled all the new furniture away from the walls, and I painted them a warm yellow. And Barry removed the old plastic mini-blinds, installing new cellular window shades in a neutral tan in their place.
The next step was to paint the furniture. I decided to paint it black to go with our Mexican blanket and our window frames. We added burlap valances with black trim from Etsy over the cellular shades to soften the look, and hung up a cheerful flag garland (also from Etsy), reminiscent of the colorful flags hanging everywhere in Mexico. A myriad of colorful pillows on the sofa completed our festive decor.
Although not technically part of the slide-out, during the same timeframe, we replaced the original front pleated curtains that close off the windshield at night. We had burlap curtains made by yet another Etsy seller. These are lined with blackout fabric, which is a great help in some campgrounds that are very brightly lit. And I replaced the original cornice box valances on either side with pretty beaded valances from Saffron Marigold (I highly recommend them for lovely curtains and other linens.)
Both side windows at the captain's chairs look like this now.
The curtain slides around on a track to go half-way round the windshield on each side. The two of them meet in the middle of the windshield.
Hope you enjoyed seeing how we've changed Pearl to better suit our tastes and personalities. We are really enjoying the changes!
It's been longer than I realized since my last post. We've been keeping really busy doing RV projects, and in between, taking time out to enjoy some nice bike rides along the local bike paths. I do have a couple of project posts in the pipeline, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share some photos from a couple of recent rides. Spring has sprung in Central Florida, birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and my nose is running!
Yesterday Barry was finishing up a project, so I rode the West Orange Trail solo, stopping several times to take photos of birds -- and this beautiful Monarch Butterfly enjoying the lantana blooming alongside the trail in Ocoee. Lantana is one of my favorite flowers and one I used to grow in our yard in North Carolina. It always attracts butterflies!
My next stop was a few blocks off the trail, Newton Park in Winter Garden, right on the shores of Lake Apopka. This is a reliable spot for seeing shorebirds and others, and the view is so pretty.
The Purple Gallinule pair were in their usual spot just below the dock. Such exotic birds!
And a rather large turtle was floating along, enjoying the sunshine. There's no way to tell scale in this photo, but he was a foot or more long.
My last stop was the small pond at the west end of the Oakland Park subdivision, where I spied this Wood Stork fishing in the shallows. Like I was on this day, he (or she) was flying solo.
The West Orange Trail is visible beyond the pond in this photo. To me this is one of the prettiest sections of the entire trail, with lots of trees and Spanish Moss gently blowing in the breeze.
Here are a couple more bird sightings from another recent ride. This time I pedaled west onto the South Lake/Lake Minneola Trails that traverse rather hilly (yes, in Florida!) Lake County.
I enjoyed seeing a pair of Sandhill Cranes at a pond right beside the trail in Clermont. Only one made it into this photo.
And farther west, on the shore of Lake Minneola, I had so much fun watching this busy "condo" building of nesting Purple Martins.
Finally, I'll leave you with one of our recent sunsets over the campground.
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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