Thursday, February 26, 2015

Friends and Moving, February 22-26, 2015

On Sunday, February 22nd, we drove eastward to Okeechobee.  Years ago when we first started traveling in a motorhome we had met Ray and Agnes Elderd at a Newmar rally.  Over the years we have other memorable encounters with this couple.  Ray and Agnes live in West Palm Beach when not on the road so Okeechobee was a halfway point for a meeting and lunch. 

Santa Fe restaurant was chosen randomly for our lunch.  Fortunately, this restaurant was a small place and not overly busy which allowed us to eat and then visit for several hours.  As usual we enjoyed our time with this couple.

Monday morning we struck out toward the west coast to the town of Anna Maria.  This is a resort town on the Gulf.  We parked along the beach and walked around the area going on the pier and then visiting shops.  Surprising, the weather in Wauchula was warm and sunny but along the Gulf there were low hanging clouds keeping the air cool.  We ate lunch at a restaurant, Sandbar, which was quite busy and, apparently, very popular.  After returning to the campground in the evening we went to the campground office building that has a nice porch where we visited with Buddy and Joan Redman, friends from Maryland.  Buddy and Joan overlapped a few days with us while we were in Orlando Thousand Trails and now our paths were crossing once again. We had all been so busy that this was the first opportunity to get together.  We did have to call it a night when Joan and I started feeling that we were being eaten up by mosquitos.

Tuesday morning was moving day for us as our 2 weeks at Peace River Thousand Trails was up.  We moved back to the Orlando area but since we were unable to get into the Thousand Trails park until Wednesday we had reserved a site for 1 night at Lake Magic Encore park.  We got to the park about noon and with a pull through site we did not disconnect the Jeep from the motorhome.  It was warm but cloudy with a few showers.

Wednesday morning we left Lake Magic to travel a short 5 miles to Orlando Thousand Trails and got there before 9am.  We were told that this park was booked full for the month of March so we wanted to be early to get a good site.  There is an area in particular in this park that has RVs packed together which we hoped to avoid if possible.  Tom checked in and was told to drive around to find a site and then return to inform the office of the site.  The last time we had been assigned a site.  Tom decided to get our propane topped off before seeking a site so while he was doing that I walked up to the entry gate to see if I could get a list of the sites that had been vacated this morning.  The person in the gatehouse had left but a motorhome was leaving and I asked them where their site had been.  It was I-52.  So looking on the map we saw where it was located and it was one of the limited 50 amp sites.  We made our way to the area and got our motorhome parked.  We had not eaten breakfast so we drove back to the office to report on our site choice and then on to Denny’s.  (Now this park is a membership park which we pay yearly fees and are then to be able to camp in these parks without any costs.  When Tom informed the office that we were in site I-52 he was told that there was a charge of $3.00 per day for 50 amp service in this area but the office staff said they didn’t know why.  There is 50 amp service in other locations in the park but no fee is charged there.  Of course, we could move after being set-up on this site, if we wanted, but again we would need to drive around to find something.  The fee was paid and we will remain on this site.  Later in the evening Tom was told by some other residents here that this area is a newer section and this fee is charged to recover the cost of the 50 amp service.  What a crock!!  We are so looking forward to getting out of this membership which is another story.)  Oh my, those mosquito bites from Monday evening have been driving me wild with the itching.  I have more than 20 welts on one leg.  Tom has a couple but nothing like what I have.  I also found a “Great Clips” to get a well needed haircut.

Thursday morning about 6am we heard a loud crack of thunder and then a heavy downpour of rain for a few minutes.  A cold front had moved through with the temperatures only getting up to the high 60’s- still better than the snow falling north of here.  I received a message from Joan that she also is suffering from the mosquito bites.  We went to the movies in the middle of the day and saw “McFarland, USA” with Kevin Costner,  a real heartwarming movie.  We then went to our favorite barbecue restaurant in this area, Oakwood Smokehouse, for a late lunch.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cold Weather in Florida- February 19-21, 2015

Thursday morning (19th) the temperature was in the low 40's and even with the bright sunshine did not get far above 60 degrees. We drove to Ft. Myer Beach to meet a group of graduates from North Baltimore High School, the school in Ohio that Tom graduated from. Since there are quite a few graduates that winter in Florida it was organized that during the winter month whoever could attend would gather for lunch together. Skip One Seafood in Ft. Myer beach was the meeting place for February and we were about 85 miles away. It was a nice restaurant with good seafood. There were about 20 people attending, some that Tom knew and some that he didn't know. A nice day of reminiscing and catching up on others lives.

The temperature really dropped during the night and Friday morning we had a showing of 29 degrees. Still not as bad as what the weather is in Maryland with temperatures near 0 degrees along with wind. Again the sun was shining brightly and the temperature did get close to 70 degrees. The cold period was said to be over for this time and we are hoping for this winter. We went to Solomon's Castle about 20 miles away near Ona, Florida. Solomon is the creator of this castle structure.
The outside is covered in print plates. There are numerous stained glass windows. And touring through the interior there are sculpture pieces made out of old car or motor parts and pictures in wood relief.
Solomon never throws anything away so the tour guide stated. Along with his wife, 79 year old Solomon lives in the castle. A restaurant built in the shape of a ship in a pool of water is operated by Solomon's daughter and son-in-law.
There is another home called the chocolate house on the property that the daughter and her husband live. We ate lunch in the restaurant and enjoyed our meals of baby back ribs. We had been here once before years ago but new things have been added and will continue to be added. A workshop is also on the property where Solomon creates his pieces of art.
When we arrived back to the motor home a notice had been taped to our door about a water break in the campground that had been repaired but we were advised not to drink the water or wash dishes and such for several days. So we made a run to the store to obtain a few gallons of water and some additional bottles of water. Returning to the campground we saw a notice reminding us of a program on this evening with the "Old Pro", a magician. So we went to see this show. It was something to do and the kids really got a kick out of the show.

Saturday (21st) was a much warmer day but not as sunny, thick clouds covered the sky much of the day. We drove to Winter Haven stopping at "Tijuana Flats" for a late lunch. Cypress Gardens, a popular attraction, was at one time in this area. It has since been replaced by an amusement park, Legoland. We did not go to Legoland- that will be saved for sometime when we have grandkids. It is nice to drive around to see changes but I must say I feel some sadness that Cypress Gardens are no longer.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Visiting Friends and Sebring- February 15-18, 2015

Sunday, the 15th of February, we spent mostly in the campground. We did go into Wauchula for a late lunch at a Barbecue Restaurant that had some pretty good pulled pork. It was a nice day with temperatures getting into the 70's.

The warm temperatures continued through Monday. We visited friends in Live Oak campground south of Arcadia in the afternoon. There are 3 couples that we know from our Maryland camping club, Traveling Americans, that spend their winters in this park- John and Judy Rush, Buck and Pat Miles and Bob and Dottie Daniels. We all congregated by the Rush's campsite and had an enjoyable afternoon catching up on our lives. John and Judy have adopted a new dog since being down here so we got to meet "Prince Charles". Tom won second place at Texas Hold'em.

Tuesday we drove east to the town of Sebring. We stopped at the Road Course track and watched as several sports cars were racing about the track. A little noisy but those cars were really speeding through the track.
This town is located around a lake, which we drove around. We did find a good old Mexican restaurant, San Jose Restaurant, that was situated on the lake. We had lunch at this restaurant eating on the outside screen enclosed porch. Perfect weather for being outside. Clouds moved in during the afternoon and by evening we were having showers of rain. I have been working on a quilt and tonight I finished the quilting part of it. Now when we get home I just need to put the binding around the edge and it will be done. Most of the quilting I had done at home and finished the outer edges since being on the road. Tom played Texas Hold'em but didn't win tonight.

The rain continued during the night but by Wednesday morning the sun was shining. A cold front is again moving down into the area keeping the temperatures in the low 60's. Don't know what happened to us but we did not get up until almost 10am. We have never stayed in bed that late but then we hadn't planned on doing much today. Tonight it is predicted to be cold for this area. We are not complaining as the weather at home has been really cold (low digit temperatures).

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Moving Further South- February 7-14, 2015

I seem to be falling behind writing this blog but I will try to catch up our last week's activities. On Saturday, the 7th of February, we returned to Mt. Dora for an Art Festival. Streets were lined with vendors displaying and selling their artistic works. And the streets were filled with people checking out all the art. Street performers, The Propellers, were performing in the area of the beautiful Lakeside Inn. It was a beautiful day.

Sunday was spent at the campground not doing anything exciting. Monday we again went to the Webster Flea Market buying some fresh produce including strawberries. Before returning to the campground we stopped in Clermont for lunch at a Mexican restaurant which we thought was very good. The clouds were heavy in the morning and then in the afternoon and through the night the rain poured.

Tuesday morning the rain had stopped and we were making a move a little further to the south to Zolfo Springs, Thousand Trails Peace River Park, about 70 miles. We had been to this park years ago but at that time it was not a Thousand Trails park. This park operates what they refer to as a "sewer lottery". Part of the park lays so low that it is often flooded so sewer cannot be installed in this area. As one comes into the park you have to park in an non-sewer site, your name is then placed on a list, at 12 noon daily a list of available sewer sites is displayed, you then need to check out these sites to see if the site can accommodate your rig and then at 1pm names are called in order of the listing and sites are selected. First off we needed to find an non-sewer site which was not an easy task due to the previous rains making the area of most of these sites super saturated and not a place we wanted to park the motorhome. Luckily, a park employee directed Tom to higher ground and a make-sift site in a roadway with water and electric. We quickly parked and then checked out the available sites for the day. Tom was at the drawings for the day and surprising there were still sites available when his name was called but not satisfactory for our motorhome (too much slope). So we remained parked in the roadway for at least one night. Tom played Texas Hold 'em in the evening winning $18.00.

Wednesday we were hanging out waiting to get a permanent site going through the same procedure as on Tuesday. There were more sites available today. We both went to the calling out of the names for the sites and when we were called there was still many good sites available. So we now had a site which we relocated to that had sewer in addition to water and 50 amp electric on dry ground. We were relieved because we felt we could not plan to do anything until we were situated in a permanent site. I made a crock pot of vegetable soup. Tom again played poker on this evening winning $10.00.

Thursday we were free to do as we wished so we took off. We drove south to Arcadia and then northwest to Bradenton then down to Sarasota. We then drove along Gulf Drive, a beautiful drive with the bay on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other side. The water was the beautiful turquoise blue that the Gulf is known for. We drove south to north on a very busy drive and very congested touristy areas up to Bradenton. We did grab lunch at Five Guys before leaving Bradenton.

Friday we did not do much today but go into Wauchula to the grocery store and CVS. We have been hearing all week about a cold front coming through that would bring the coldest temperatures since January 2014. In the evening, the temperatures dropped into the 40's before we went to bed. Up north temperatures in the 40's in the daytime would have been welcomed as the front was causing low temperatures down to 0. We did attend a program in the evening in the campground with the Weaver family. This family group of 4 brothers, 2 sisters and a brother-in-law aged 13 to late 20's performed bluegrass style music of mostly gospel. Entertaining.

Saturday, the 14th, Valentine's Day, started with going out for breakfast at a local diner, Pioneer Restaurant. We then drove south again to Punta Gorda, a very pretty city. We walked about an area called Fisherman's Village that had small interesting shops and a free military museum the was small but had some nice displays and docents that liked to talk about their experiences in the military. Ponce Beach is a beach on the Peace River, the water here was not the pretty color of the Gulf. In Port Charlotte, the Greek Orthodox Church was having a Greek Festival that we stopped at. We did split an order of Greek fried cheese and bought a few of those delicious Greek pastries to take with us. Before leaving Port Charlotte we stopped for a late lunch at Dean's South of the Border Restaurant (Tex-Mex food) that we thought had great food. This morning started out with temperatures in the high 30's but the bright sunshine brought the temperatures up to the low 60's. A nice day to be out and about.

Friday, February 06, 2015

What Have We Been Doing For the Past Week??? Friday, January 30 to Friday, February 7, 2015

On Friday the 30th we went to Mt. Dora, a town north of Clermont. It was our first visit to this interesting town full of quaint shops. We caught a scenic train ride that went slowly from Mt. Dora to Tavares and back. This area is lake country and the train traveled around a lake. In Tavares we were able to get off the train and walked about a very pretty park. After returning to Mt. Dora we had lunch in a restaurant with an outside balcony which made interesting watching. Groups of Segway riders were touring the city with a guide.

Saturday we went west to Dade City for the annual Kumquat Festival and what a crowd of people. Buddy Redman went along with us as his wife was off on an excursion with her daughter and granddaughter. The streets were lined with vendors on both sides and stuffed with lookers between. A car show was taking place on one of the large parking lots which Tom and Buddy took a gander at. Kumquat pies, made in the fashion of Key Lime pies, were being sold for $20.00 a pie, pricey I thought. Some vendors had sprigs of Kumquats as decoration on their stands but we didn't see any place selling kumquats. On our return we did stop at a barbeque place for lunch rather than eating at the festival while walking around.

Sunday was spent quietly in the campground.

Monday, Disney Village was our destination. Surprise the Village is undergoing some changes mainly with the parking areas. Huge parking garages are being built and parking next to the Village is gone. There is parking across the main street from the Village, also. There is a distance to walk either place of parking. We parked in the garage and had to walk through Pleasure Island to get to the Village. Lego had some new to us Lego sculptures outside. Some of the stores have been made over but otherwise much the same. There were some real heavy clouds and as we made our way toward the parking garage to leave the skies opened up. As the first drops hit us we headed for the first store we came to, to get out of the rain, which was a sunglass store in Pleasure Island. In no time the place was packed with folks seeking refuge. After several minutes of heavy downpouring the rain let up and we made our way to the car. Don Pablo's, a Mexican restaurant, was our next stop for lunch. This restaurant is on International Drive and has been a favorite of ours in this area.

Tuesday we went to a nearby Wendy's for lunch and then to the movies. "Black or White" was the movie that we saw for $6.00 a person, a special Tuesday price. We noticed today that gas prices are jumping up. No longer are the prices below $2.00 as the jump is 10 to 15 cents more per gallon. We knew it wouldn't last.

Wednesday, February 4th, a special day for Tom and I as we celebrated 48 years of marriage. We started the day by going to Bob Evans for breakfast. For dinner we went to a favorite Disney restaurant, Boma, at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. We had a little mix up getting to the restaurant as a second lodge is now in that area and the roads have been reconfigured. We did finally get where we wanted to be and had a very nice dinner.

Thursday we spent in the campground. We did receive our medicines that were wrongly routed to our home address, then to Todd and Beth's who had to forward them down here. And Tom finally, we hope, has got my account with OptumRX straightened out so it can be activated with the computer. He has dealt with many techs on their end for the best part of a month. It would appear that the problem was solved but the next time logging in would not allow us to get in and we'd start over with a new tech (reaching the same tech was impossible and apparently, they were not in the same area as they did not know one another). But yesterday, a tech Cindy, made a call to us and finally got the problem solved.

Today, Friday, we are meeting an old friend, George Callender, for lunch. George and his wife, Pat, were camping friends of ours from our days of Newmar Kountry Klub and the Maryland Newmar Club. Sadly, Pat, died a couple years ago after they had moved to Florida. George continues to live down here and we try to see him when in the area.