Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Surf's Up!

Great food. Great friends.

Our little surfer.

Daisy retrieves a stick.

Fort De Soto campground. Waterfront sites. Sweet!

Oops. The second time I've posted this pic.

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday was one of those Florida Chamber of Commerce days: sunny, bright, low humidity, temps in the mid-70s. Couldn't ask for better weather. A welcome break from the rain that pummeled our campsite on Sunday morning.

I think it was Sunday. I'm not completely sure since one day blends into the next when you're on the road. And unemployed. (If you feel sorry for me -- please do -- send check, cash or money order to Corita Gravitt, c/o "Somewhere on the road", USA.)

We were looking for a "beach fix" and found it at Fort De Soto, a county park that straddles the bay and gulf. A beautiful spot with a wonderful campground that epitomizes tropical south Florida--shaded by large trees, palmettos, and lined with white sand. No surprise -- it's extremely popular and we were told you have to book months in advance for a waterfront site. Plus few sites allow pets and there's a no-alcohol policy. So that leaves us out.

Beyond the campground is a wide, shallow bay with Tampa's dramatic Sunshine Skyway in the background. We stopped for a look and when we jumped out of the truck Daisy jumped right into the water and took to it like a surfer-dudette. Couldn't get her out. Very cute. She started slapping the water with her forepaws and biting at the splash. She was in dog heaven. Now we don't know what the hell she is. Jack Russell? Chihuahua? Retriever? Not even sure she's a dog. But it's still all about her.

All this excitement worked up an appetite so Gail indulged us with a home-cooked feast that would have taken me a week to prepare. Crock-pot pot roast, carrots, potatoes, green beans, salad, rolls, deviled eggs, dessert. And gravy. Washed down with wine from an actual bottle, not a box. Of course, before dinner Paul had to sit out in the Florida room with Willie, smoking his cigarettes and listening to his rants about the damn Democrats and the good old days before WalMart. But Paul being the classic obliging liberal is willing to sit, listen, nod from time to time, all the while knowing that he is not just right politically but there's a free meal at the end of this rant. Hell, you feed us, we'll listen to anything.

Today we're moving on south. To Naples, the Everglades and onto Key West, our established goal, on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, we head north for a few days to Orlando and then start making our way home to Arizona.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Where'd this thing come from? It's not an RV!

Daisy stressed out at 40,000 feet.

Brian adds up the bill.

Daisy dragged a piece of roadkill onboard.

Almost ready for take-off.

The pilot--two bucks richer and wondering who's the tall dumb guy in back.

Descent into Teterboro.


Daisy. She's free! Ready to take Manhattan.

This "trumps" the trailer park.

Central Park horse and carriage. Whoa! Whoa! I'd like to see my dad pick that up in a baggie.

Our highrise hound.

Madame of Manhattan.

Daisy's two-bedroom crate.

This picture lies. I really don't have a double chin. Yet.

Dressed to the nines--Denise. And to the threes, Corita. For our high-fashion meeting.

Happiness is a well-stocked jet.

24 hours later at 42,000 feet, bound for Tampa.

$30 million-dollar jet and a three-inch television.


After a month on the road, life can become fairly routine. Hardly boring but you do settle into a routine. But two days last week were anything but. My cell phone rang. It's my close friend Denise in Naples, about 100 miles south of here saying our television project (one we've been working on through our company Next Step Media LLC) is moving into its next phase and we must go to New York for a meeting tomorrow.
Well, here we sit in an RV park in Tampa. Paul has nothing but Levis and t-shirts--not much to wear in New York's cold weather. Plus we have Daisy dog. So we can't possibly just pick up and go. But to know Denise and her husband Brian, who we have known for some 25 years, is to know there is always a way.
HELLLLOOOOO!!!!! Enter their private jet.
They fly to a small executive airport here in Tampa, pick us up and off we go into the wild blue yonder. We are delighting in the experience, zipping along to New York City at about 540 miles per hour but for Daisy, sound asleep in her crate, it's just another day on the road even if that road is 40,000 feet down below. Unlike her owners, she's completely unfazed. This is one cool dog. Whether in the truck, the car or a private jet.
We land at Teterboro Airport, New Jersey where we're picked up by a limo and into Manhattan we go. And the only way to follow a private jet is to stay with the jet-setters at Trump Tower International right on Central Park.
So here we are one day hanging with the roadies in their various RVs on the highways and byways of America and the next day waltzing in high-faluttin' high style in midtown Manhattan. And Daisy was the hit not only with folks at Trump Tower, by the way, a very pet-friendly place, thank you, thank you, thank you, but also with hundreds of dog-walkers just across the street in Central Park.
So Daisy took to Manhattan in quick fashion like no other dog ever has. Absolutely non-plussed by the highrise hustle-bustle. And within minutes she was the madame of midtown. One cool critter.
Let me just add if you want to spice up your life, pay a visit to your nearest animal shelter and adopt a dog in need. I assure you, it will make you a richer person in more ways than one. Whether jet-setting or just trailing one of these tin cans.
We had dinner and wine that night at the hotel. Paul picked up the tab which wasn't bad since Brian's given up drinking for Lent. But watch out for Easter. (That's when Lent ends.)
Denise and I had our business meeting the next day. Things went well. We shall see where the next step takes us.
That afternoon we packed up, went back to Teterboro in the limo and with Daisy in tow Paul made the best move of all. He tipped the baggage handler two dollars for carrying Daisy onto the plane only to watch that baggage handler slip into the pilot's seat. Paul felt like a fool for the rest of the flight. Daisy felt nothing since she slept the whole way.
All in all, it's one of those experiences we'll never forget. And how could we possibly thank Brian and Denise? They are too good to us. Well...HELLLOOOO!!! once again. What better way to show our gratitude than with combat quantities of M&Ms, chips and pretzels from Costco.
Methinks our life has slipped back into routine. And Daisy's slipped back into her crate. Such is life on the road. A pretty good life. We're off to Naples tomorrow then onto the Everglades and Key West before returning home. It's all about the dog.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Your "Daisy A Day" Fix

Rayne, Louisiana--Frog Capital of the World. I wonder why. Hmm...

You know what this is.

At Dan and Martha's.

Willie and Gail's cat house (bel0w)

Our Green Valley living room.

Trailer Trash dog.

Naval Aviation Museum pics

RV park in west Texas

Good eatin' in Biloxi.

Daisy at the wheel.

On, you husky!

...And have you checked out the song "Daisy a Day" by Judd Strunk? Herewith, a potpourri of photos in no specific order since we can't figure out how to reaarange them in proper order of our nightmare along I-10.

The first pic is of the lake we awakened to in the town of Rayne, Louisiana. It rained all day, all night but we somehow managed to pull our trailer out through the water and get back on the road. On the road to Costco! Yes, this has been another "home away from home". Made several trips to the altar of overindulgence but really haven't been able to overindulge because we no room to store 100 rolls of paper towels. Somehow, though, we manage to store our Costco wine collection but it meant throwing out the refrigerator, the stove and the holding tanks. But we do have our priorities. The Costco pictured above is in Houston.

Then, to take things really out of sequence, we stopped in the coastal town of Niceville, Florida and spent the night with our friends seen here -- Dan and Martha. They are wonderful hosts and we enjoyed Martha's famous "Martharitas" at their pool. Hope to see them again. They might be hoping otherwise.

Continuing out of sequence, this is the living room of our other good friends Gail and Willie in St. Petersburg, Florida. Paul spent four years in the Marine Corps with Willie and was best man at their wedding some 120 years ago. We could have spent the night in their beautiful house, but instead stayed in the trailer parked in the street out front. The problem was that Gail and Willie have four cats and let's face it, we don't like our dog associating with a lower species.
The next photo (another living room but small) is our launching pad. Our second home in little Green Valley, Arizona south of Tucson. Just thought we'd stick this in so you'd know we aren't totally trailer trash. But we do have a house with four walls and a roof. Or so we think since we've been on the road for a month and don't know if the place is still standing.

And now shooting about two weeks forward, following the nightmare along I-10, here we are at the history of naval aviation museum in Pensacola, Florida. That's Paul and Willie's old fighter squadron emblem on display pulled from the wall of the Officers' Club at Cubi Point, Subic Bay, the Philippines (sp?).

The next is Paul in front of their fighter plane--the F-8U Crusader. And don't get Paul started on that because he'll tell you with all our technology they have yet to make a plane to rival the F-8.

However, there was the F-14 Tomcat seen here with Paul and Willie that's on display in front of the museum. Paul says not a bad "bird" at all as he was given a two-hour supersonic ride on the F-14 when he was with NBC News. Oh yes, he's quite the guy...
Just ask him.

And now a real flashback about one week into the trip. This was part of the nightmare along I-10. An RV park/big rig parking lot/collection of God knows what right on I-1o in a little town in Texas. But we were pressed for time, got a good night's sleep, and moved on the next day. Such is life on the road. A good and interesting life, I might add.

And do we know a good restaurant when we see one? Traveling up and down the Biloxi gulf coast before it was slammed by Katrina, Paul could remember all sorts of good little restaurants.
But on this trip, all we could find was a damn Hooters.

Finally, since it's all about the dog. Here is Daisy driving Miss Daisy. We think it's funny. State troopers don't.

And probably our favorite picture of Daisy taken last Christmas in Flagstaff, just north of Sedona. Daisy in the snow.

Hey, it's our dog. Our blog. You don't have to read the damn thing. But if you got this far you obviously did. Thanks.

Tomorrow....from "trailer trash" to Trump Tower. And then we're off to Key West on Tuesday with a brief stop in Naples and the Everglades before starting back home.

Rumor has it...

...that there are gators in these here waters. Our campground is dotted with fresh water ponds surrounded by salt water canals. The ponds are a concern if you have pets. We keep our tasty morsel on a short leash when we take her out. Daisy couldn't tell the difference between a harmless squirrel or a voracious gator. She'd go after both.

Down the street at one of these ponds is a memorial to a woman whose body was recently found. The memorial's pretty impressive. With a large cross and silk flowers lit by an "eternal flame" (battery-powered) that burns day and night.

Rumor has it this unfortunate soul may have fallen victim to an alligator. No one knows for sure. But it makes for a good story especially if we embellish it. And we're worried about snakes.

Friday, March 27, 2009

"Daisy a Day"

Daisy does Tampa

We know you're following our blog with baited kibble breath and not getting your "Daisy a day" fix. We've been lazy. But if you can't find a daily update look up the old song called "A Daisy a Day" by Judd Strunk and that'll get you through until our next entry. As my dear friend Suzi in Sedona said, "A day without the Daisy blog is like a day without sunshine." Well said. And how true.

We're still parked at Bay Bayou RV Park in Tampa, Florida. A nice place surrounded by lagoons and signs saying "Don't Feed the Alligators".

It's been a momentous three days. The last two took us as far afield from this tin can as you can imagine. It seems almost unbelievable but we'll update you when we get photos to accompany the text.

The first day was all about Daisy. She had her first encounter with a snake--a small black one. We have no idea what it was. It was trying to slither away and she just kept after it, biting its tail. It finally escaped down a hole. She stuck her nose in after it. Not a good idea. When we get back to Arizona the creepy, crawly critters--rattlesnakes and scorpions--are coming out of hibernation so we'll have to send her to snake and scorpion avoidance school. We've talked to several people whose dogs have been bitten by rattlesnakes and the average vet bill to keep the dog alive runs $1500.

But just before the snake episode Daisy, our nine-month-old trailer trash mutt, had her first "love connection". It was with a male Jack Russell terrier; a very submissive seven-year-old Jack Russell. Of course, Daisy's been spayed but that wouldn't have mattered because she was the humper, not the humpee. She was the dog on top. Paul pulled her off the hapless male but apparently it was quite the experience because back at the trailer she collapsed and snored for two hours. After she had a cigarette. That's our girl!

So that's our quick update. Over the next day or so with accompanying photos you'll see how Daisy went from Florida trailer trash to Manhattan's Trump Tower in a little over three hours. Daisy...enjoying the "high life" in more ways than one.
*** The two photos above feature our good friends ("good" because they bought us lunch!) Willie and Gail. A classy couple who've rolled out the red carpet during our stay in Tampa. They're the reason we are here. Willie and Paul were in the Marine Corps together many, many years ago.
Ybor City is the historic Cuban section of Tampa. Once home to cigar factories, today it's a cool place to stroll around then dig into authentic Cuban "pressed" sandwiches and sip high-octane cafe con leche.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I Hate Tampa

Squirrel in tree

Fish Dinner

Actually, I don't and Florida's been very good to us. Up until yesterday on this, the 3,471st day of our trip.

We made reservations at a well-known RV "resort" in Largo, north of St. Petersburg. Made it through a central reservations number. We finally arrived at the resort in early evening. We should have been there at least an hour earlier but we received no return call from the "resort" staff only to discover the office closed and no reservation slip waiting for us. We drove around this "resort" that's touted by Florida Tourism and other RV organizations. We couldn't find a single space that would accommodate our little 18-foot trailer.

The place was a mess. RVs stacked on top of one another. People working on cars. Crap strewn everywhere. The place looked to be a derelict. We called central reservations trying to get our money back; they didn't want to refund us. About this time we did get a call back from the resort manager. She apologized profusely for the mix-up but did say the RV office was closed on Sunday which did us absolutely no damn good. She was sorry for the inconvenience and said she'd do everything in her power to get us a full refund. We shall see.

At this point, we sat back and said, "what the hell do we do now?" RV parks in the region are packed to the gunnels. It's high season: the weather's almost perfect. It's spring break and baseball spring training is under way. A bad time at the last minute to find a space to land your beast. Fortunately, Paul's Marine buddy Willie came to the rescue. We parked the rig in front of his house in St. Pete. Had a snort or two, as we are sometimes wont to do, and then discovered it was his wife Gail's birthday so we took them to dinner, came back, had another snort or two as we are sometimes wont to do and slept snug as a bug in the rig. Snug, that is, until the garbage trucks started coming around at 5 in the morning on Monday.

We rolled out of bed. Gail prepared a fabulous breakfast. We called around and found a wonderful RV park in Tampa called "Bay Bayou". It's advertised as one of "Good Sam's" top 100 RV parks in America. We booked it for four nights and driving across Tampa bay bridge it started to rain. Rained as hard as it had in Texas and Louisiana. Paul was tensing up. We didn't know where we were going for sure. His back is still bothering him. Finally found the RV park and believe me, it lives up to its reputation. It comes highly recommended by us. Bay Bayou in Tampa.

We were assigned a back-in space which always makes me a little nervous because I'm the one who has to give Paul directions. And Paul says he can't even comb his hair in the mirror much less look in mirrors to precisely back a 21-foot-long (total length) trailer between trees, posts and concrete pad. He tried to be cool but did blow it couple of times. Back in, pull out. Back in, pull out. People were watching and that made him even more uptight. When he yelled at me the second time I started to tear up, stamp my feet and said "I hate Tampa!". I was pissed. But we finally managed to get down and locked to the applause of onlookers. Nothing fell off the trailer today but I was about ready to fall off this trip. And leave it all to Paul and Daisy. Let her help him. She'd bite his ass.

But the market's up 500 points. Tomorrow's another day full of the promise of sunshine. And now Paul has said he'd do a make it up to me with a nice fish dinner. "Long John Silver's" here we come!

By the way, Daisy has settled in quite nicely to the trip. She's gone from chasing deer to raccoons to ducks and about an hour ago at this park she slipped her leash and away she went after a squirrel. Squirrel went up the tree. Daisy hit the tree head-on. Shook her head and had no idea where the squirrel went. Paul picked her up. She was fine but her back leg scraped open a bag of poop in Paul's pocket. Daisy's poop. Not Paul's. But poop's poop. And after yelling at me Paul got what he deserved. So went day 9,227. It's still an adventure and it's still all about the dog.