Feeding The Hungry

Auburndale Food Bank, Auburndale, Florida

February 9, 2023

The hungry in America are all around us. We may not see them nor are they usually easy to find. However, open a food pantry and offer quality food items to those suffering from food insecurity and you’ll see them by the hundreds.

Barb and I discovered back in late 2022 that our lives lacked purpose. There was no driving reason to get up in the morning. We were retired. Off the road. Just taking up space. We were literally beginning to rust in place. Perhaps some of you know what I mean. To grow old and rust away is to becoming increasingly inactive. You start sleeping later in the morning. You wander aimlessly through the day. You have no mission that moves and motivates you. We knew we needed to do something. We just didn’t know what that something would be.

My first instinct was to find a museum where I could volunteer. To that end I made several phone calls and one told me very enthusiastically do we ever need new volunteers. I was encouraged to fill out an application and was assured you’ll hear from us by next week. Weeks went by, I made follow up phone calls and here we are five months later and I’ve never heard from them. Oh well.

About the same time Ms. Barbara said, more to herself, do you think we can find a food panty that we could volunteer at? She made several phone calls but only one seemed interested. That one was The Auburndale Food Pantry which we paid a visit to that very day, and here we are four months later serving there two, sometimes three or four days a week.

There are several sections inside where all the work is done. This is known as The Packing Plant. In this room we make up bags of staples for distribution. Depending on what has been donated by the various supermarkets in the area the bag will sometimes contain the following: a bag of rice, a bag of walnuts, a can of beans, a can of fruit, a can of soup and maybe a couple of bags of chips.

The bags then go into boxes – five bags to a box – and they are then taken out to the

distribution room where they will be handed out to our clients. This is the room on a typical day prior to distribution. On average we need to make up 400 to 500 bags or more per week. Our doors are open on Tuesday and Thursday for distribution.

Along with the staples we also distribute

packages of meat. This is The Meat Locker just after we received a donation from several of the local supermarkets. This was a really good day but unfortunately not all days are like this. We then unbox all of this meat and make up bags of 2 to 3 pounds for distribution with the staple bags.

We also distribute

baked goods. This is the Bakery Room. When I took this picture our shelves were a bit bare. As with the staples and the meat so with the bakery we never know week to week what we are going to have.

For instance this past week we received 2,300 pounds of canned fruit from the USDA. We also received 7,526 pounds of staples and meat from the USDA. In the past we received about 3,000 pounds of fish. Another week we received cartons and cartons of eggs. We’re grateful for everything we receive.

Now, as to how much we distribute – this past Thursday we were able to provide for 863 people. Which is about 4,200 pounds of staples and meat and bakery out the door. And, yes, this is a typical day of distribution. Our food pantry is the third largest in Polk County.

So that people is where we are overcoming the rust in our lives. We donate our time to unload trucks, make up bags of staples and meat, move boxes from room to room and do whatever else needs to be done. It is truly a most gratifying way to spend one’s time.

In closing let me end with this, a brief poem that I’ve come to embrace as my goal in life:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

(by Hunter S. Thompson)

God’s best and blessings to you.


November 5, 2022

Temperature 82 Degrees, Overcast with Rain Showers

We Moved – Temporarily

Yup, we are back on the road again. A whole lot sooner than expected but that’s OK.

We’re still in Florida but a bit south and east from the house in South Bay. We’re at a really nice county park called South Bay Campground which is just about 4 hours from the house.

This is our new home until Saturday of next week. A nice spacious, level, paved site with FHU for under $30’s a night. Move closer to the coast and you find the price goes through the roof – like the starting rate for a site is usually around $95 per night!

To our amazement we practically have the whole place to ourselves. A good 50% of the sites are vacant. Granted, the campground is in the middle of nowhere but it is a jewel in all respects.

OK, we’re not completely alone. The canal behind us has been known to harbor some much unwanted visitors.

So, that is where we are but I guess everyone might be wondering Why?

Here’s the deal. My son called and asked if we could do him and his significant other a big favor. It seems that they were going to take two short vacation cruises that were going to cost them next to nothing. However, they needed some help with ground transportation.

They planned to fly into West Palm Beach and had a hotel room reserved and transportation already arranged for this leg. However, that was the end of their prearranged ground transportation. That’s were we come in.

Our first Uber assignment was to pick them at

the hotel they were staying at and take them to

Margaritaville by Sea. The cruise line has a Heroes Sail Free program that allows all active and veteran military, first responders, law enforcement officers and educators to sail free on a 3-day, 2-night cruise to Grand Bahama Island. Since my son is in law enforcement this was a win-win for him.

Our second Uber assignment would be to pick them up when they returned and then bring them back to stay with us for a night. Easy enough and we have the room, so to speak, in Elvira.

Our third Uber assignment would be to transport them from our place to

Port Everglades for a Royal Caribbean Cruise for 4 nights on Liberty of the Seas. What can I say, perhaps both of them should have enlisted in the Coast Guard since they seem to enjoy being on the water so much.

Wait, we’re not done.

Our fourth Uber assignment would be to fetch them when they return from the cruse and transport them to the airport at West Palm Beach for their return flight home.

Got all that?

Now, if we decided to stay at the house and pick them up when and where needed would have meant a minimum of a four hour trip – one way – each time. But, from here at the park it is no more than one hour for each trip. A big difference I believe you will agree. So, that is why we are where we are for this week.

That then is what we are doing for the next week. Sure is nice to be retired and available. Till the next time, take time to enjoy each and every minute that God gives you.


October 23, 2022

Temperature 82 Degrees, Abundant Sunshine

Museum of the Great Lakes

Visited August 17, 2022

Guess what? No automobiles in this blog! Now how about that.

When we were at Sauder we took a ride one day to Toledo, Ohio and the

We had no idea what we would discover at this museum but were we ever amazed. What a well laid out and informative museum this turned out to be. We both agreed that we learned oh so much during our time here and our trip there was definitely well worth it.

There was so much here that I could never do this museum justice in just one blog, or two, or three for that matter. So let me, instead, just give you a snapshot of this remarkable museum.

Before you even get into the museum proper there is this little tidbit of information about Toledo that I found rather amusing. Toledo was so desirable a location that Ohio and Michigan almost fought a war – the Toledo War – for control of it. President Andrew Jackson had to intervene personally, giving the city to Ohio. Michigan got the Upper Peninsula.

This is the entrance to the museum. The large white board is actually a movie screen on which you are treated to an exceptionally well done film giving an overview of the Great Lakes.

Discover America’s Third Coast and it’s many different roles in our history.

We did, indeed, discover all of this during our time at the museum.

The five lakes displayed just below the movie screen. Of the five lakes we’ve been to each and every one within the last four years.

Did you catch that? Together they are Earth’s largest group of freshwater lakes, holding 21 percent of the world’s fresh water and 84 percent of North America’s.

Regarding each of the lakes.

Anyone recognize the picture above? That is Miner’s Castle which is part of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. We have many amazing memories of our cruise along this stunning shoreline.

This lake is the deadliest of the Great Lakes. We discovered when we were at Lakeside RV Park that in and around the Mackinaw Bridge there are at least 35 known shipwrecks. This area is now off limits to divers in general because in the past uncontrolled looting of the shipwrecks was taking place.

The first to be discovered. And today much of it is exactly like it was 10,000 years ago.

The last lake to be discovered. But not to be forgotten it (is) strategically important to controlling access to the rest of the Great Lakes.

Thanks to the construction of the Welland Canal and the Saint Lawrence Seaway System this lake is now the region’s gateway to the world.

The museum is divided into a number of different exhibit areas. Each area was well laid out and offered a wealth of information about different aspects of Great Lakes history. Following is a snapshot of some of those areas.

Great Lakes travel can be treacherous, and sailors battle unpredictable weather, shoals, rocks and the limits of their own technology. This area highlights both what has been done in terms of lifesaving equipment as well as the many different technologies used to safely navigate the lakes.

Moving on to yet another section.

Here in this area we learn how the boats on the lakes have evolved from crafts driven by manpower, then by wind, steam and finally diesel.

For thousands of years, native American canoes were the only vessels on the Lakes.

Because of the lightness, speed, and cargo capacity of canoes early fur traders adopted and then adapted them to what became a voyageur canoe. The problem with a canoe, though, was that it was limited by the strength and stamina of the men at the paddles. Therefore, in time sails were added to the canoe’s but this too presented a problem, they could only go down wind.

The 17th century saw the first true boats operating on the Lakes. The Le Griffon is believed to be the first true sailing ship of the upper Great Lakes. She and others like her are considered the ancestors of every boat that has worked on the Great Lakes.

But as ships grew ever larger there was a need to find a more robust form of propulsion. The logical choice would have been the use of steam. But,

Still the need for an even more reliable and robust form of propulsion was needed. This resulted in a transition finally to diesel powered boats.

Along with the change in propulsion came the change in the material used to construct boats that worked the Great Lakes.

So, the above is just a very small portion of what is here in this incredible museum. If you like the Great Lakes, or like history in general I would strongly suggest putting this on your list of must places to visit.

Thanks again for spending some time with us.  It’s always great to be able to share our story with family and friends. Comments? Feel free to share them with me. And always remember, cherish every moment of every day that God gives you and live those moments to the fullest. 

Our continuing mission remains the same: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have not been before.


Oct 14, 2022

Temperature 84 Degrees, Abundant Sunshine

Looking Back On Our Summer

The past several weeks have given me a chance to reflect on this past summer and our travels through the mid-part of our country.

The following is a snapshot of sorts of our travels.

We left on April 6th and we returned home on September 26th. We came home a few weeks earlier than expected simply because we had checked off all that we hoped to do.

We covered a total of 7,294.3 miles. To put that in perspective that’s the equivalent of going from New York City to San Francisco, returning back to New York City and then going back out to Kansas City, MO – plus a few more miles! We sure did keep the wheels on Elvira rolling this summer.

We traveled through 15 different states and spent a brief period of time in Canada. We started in central Florida, swung across the Panhandle, headed up through Oklahoma, next was Kansas and Nebraska and then over to Iowa, then west to South Dakota, into Wyoming and North Dakota, stopped briefly in Canada, moved onto Minnesota and Wisconsin, then to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, down through Michigan to Ohio, down to Kentucky, then Tennessee, back through Alabama and finally back home to Florida.

We stayed in 35 different RV Parks.

This was the worse of the worse. This was our site at The International Peace Gardens on the border of North Dakota and Canada. Torrential rain the past week had turned the campground into a swamp. And with the swamp came hordes of hungry mosquitoes. In addition, because of the rain and a severe staff shortage the gardens had not been planted. All in all, this stop was a total waste of time and a big pain in the behind. Which explains why we left two days before we were supposed to.

This was one of our nicer sites. This is our site at Scenic Hills RV Park in Millersburg, Ohio. A nice gravel site that was dead level, good spacing between sites and lots of green grass. This park was in the heart of Amish country and was the reason we had come here. During our time here we learned a great deal about the Amish and their way of life. They are a people who truly live their faith day in and day out.

The only problem with this RV Park is its location. If you are driving or pulling something of substantial size the roads getting to and from here can be challenging. It was while leaving here that we got to test the brakes on Elvira when we came over a blind hill and found a dog standing in the middle of the road. Yup, the brakes work great.

We spent several days mooch docking in the driveway of our good friends Steve and Patti in Green Lake, Wisconsin. They were such gracious hosts and we were truly treated like royalty. As we prepared to depart they extended an invitation to return at any time. That’s an offer we’ll probably take them up on in the future sometime.

We stopped at 18 different roadside attractions.

This is the sculpture entitled Dignity on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River at a rest stop off of Route 90. The 50 foot high stainless steel sculpture depicts an indigenous women in Plains-style dress with a star quilt.

Of course we stopped at Wall Drug Store. Come on now, what would a trip to South Dakota be without a stop at the place that began by handing out glasses of cold water for free to weary travelers.

Advertised as the only Corn Palace it is a place that has to be seen to be believed. And if you go, don’t just snap a picture of the outside but be sure to tour the inside and learn its history and of the many famous celebrities who have performed here.

We visited 45 different museums of all different subjects and sizes.

In terms of unique, hands down it was the Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota.

We also had a wonderful time at the real Wizzard of Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas. Forget the one in Florida it is not the real deal but rather a tourist trap.

We visited quite a few auto museums but the Gilmore Car Museum is the best of the best. It is the largest automobile museum in North America. It has over 400 vintage and collector vehicles on a 90 acre campus.

While at the museum we took the time to go for a ride in 1929 Ford Phaeton convertible.

In terms of sheer size there is none bigger than the National Museum of the Air Force. We’re talking about 19 acres of exhibits spread out over four huge hangers. Lace up your walking shoes and take your time because there is so much to see.

This is a memorial in the United States that honors the victims, survivors, rescuers, and all who were affected by the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995. It had to be one of the most sobering museums we visited. There was one exhibit, it was from a building across the street where a meeting was in progress. They were tape recording the proceedings of that meeting the morning of the bombing. You knew what was coming, but even so when you heard on the tape the deafening blast you just froze in horror and disbelief.

We took the time to tour six National Parks.

At the top of our list was The Badlands National Park. It is so hard to describe it, you just have to see it for yourself. Words like stark, awesome, rugged, dramatic come easily to mind. We consider ourselves so fortunate to have been able to visit this area.

Mt. Rushmore National Memorial. The approach is through the avenue of flags. You see them in the distance but nothing can prepare you for that moment when you first step onto the Grand View Terrace and come face to face with the four presidential figures. It literally took my breath away. We were so honored to have been able to visit this Memorial. I was surprised to discover that the memorial was never completed. Once we were involved in WW II no further funds were set aside for the memorial so all work stopped at that point in time.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. What stunning natural beauty. Since it is best viewed from the water this was also one of two cruises we took.

Also on our list were three state parks.

We had a wonderful two weeks at Custer State Park. There were the begging burros, bison aplenty, a visit to the just opened Bison Center, and fun traveling Needles Highway, Iron Mountain Road and the Scenic Loop Road. We visited here in May and what to my wondering eye did I see one day but snow softly falling to the ground. Thankfully, it didn’t last long nor did it stick. But snow in May?

We visited two historical villages.

Our first stop was the Amana Colonies. Here we took a walking tour of one village, a van tour of the entire colonies, we saw a parade and had a delightful time watching the Maypole Dancers.

We also made a stop at Sauder Village. It was amazing to learn what one man accomplished in his lifetime despite the major setbacks and difficulties that he encountered along the way. As for the village itself, what started as a small historical village has now grown to be recognized as Ohio’s largest living history destination that now includes not only the historical village but a bakery, restaurant, Inn, campground, exhibit hall and retail shops.

We attended 1 Musical.

This was the Grand Ole Opry on steroids’. Their web site says it best: The Medora Musical is the rootin’-tootinest, boot-scootinest show in all the Midwest. There’s no other show quite like it. It’s an ode to patriotism, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Great American West! And it is indeed! It was an action packed evening of entertainment that thrilled us to no end.

Also on the docket was the Ohio Renaissance Festival.

This was my first time at the Festival and I must say it was a hoot. I absolutely enjoyed myself and look forward to one day going again.

In terms of sheer fun I must confess it was my

walk across the headwaters of the Mississippi River. I can now say I’ve both crossed the mighty Mississippi and I’ve also been on a riverboat cruise on the river down in New Orleans. That covers both ends of the river.

Not to be forgotten was the Dayton Aviation Trail

That resulted in my collecting my very own Wilbear Wright Bear. He now sits proudly on the shelf in our living room

As for T-shirts, I collected 30 new T-Shirts.

My collection is now at a respectable 86 T-shirts total.

But the overwhelming highlight of this trip was the time we were able to spend with my son Paul and his wife Brittany, as well as the time we were able to spend with a number of old friends we hadn’t seen in years. But even better were the new friends we made this summer.

Truly, two of God’s beautiful people – Dan and Betty – who I now count as our dear friends. What an awesome time we had with them.

They were the ones who introduced us to the game of Rummikub which has now taken the place of Mexican Train in our house. I’m coming for you Dan!

Well, that in part was the summer that was. We had a blast from the time we left until the time we returned home. How much did it cost us? Forget it! Way too much but it was worth every penny that we spend. COVID, then cancer, we just had to go. Life is too short and too precious so you have to live to the fullest the days that God gives you. We returned home knowing that we are as we continue to say two of the most blessed people on the face of the earth.

Thanks again for spending some time with us.  It’s always great to be able to share our story with family and friends. Comments? Feel free to share them with me. And always remember, cherish every moment of every day that God gives you and live those moments to the fullest. 

Our continuing mission remains the same: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have not been before.