Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Good-Bye Florida, Friday, March 27, 2015

After a night of rain showers we awoke this morning to cloudy skies but no rain as we prepared to leave Florida heading for home.  As we traveled north on I-75, east on US 301 to I-10 and then picking up I-95 we had intermittent showers of rain.  The traffic on I-95 was heavy but moved well until we crossed into the state of South Carolina where we had slow moving, stop and go traffic for about 20 miles.  We did stop to eat lunch in the Welcome Center as we entered Georgia.  We stopped for the night in Yemassee, S,C. after 306 miles.  We are in another Encore park, The Oaks at Point South and what a muddy, muddy mess.  Equity Life Styles is the company that owns Encore Parks and Thousand Trails membership parks.  This trip has shown us that this company does nothing for these campgrounds.  We encountered muddy conditions in Wildwood, Wauchula and now here.  If the mud wasn’t here the numerous pot holes in the roadways would still be present.  The membership, which has a yearly fee, at Thousand Trail campgrounds allows us to camp free and we are given a discount at the Encore parks.  With the discount this park is costing us $25.00 plus some change- $4.00 is added for resort fee- to stay in a muddy mess!!   We look forward to being able to opt out of this organization.  The one positive feature at this campground was on Friday evenings Ray’s Barbecue brings dinners to the campground.  We had the pulled pork with baked beans and potato salad – very good for $7.00 a plate. 

Movie, Shopping, Kayaking and Friends, March 23-26, 2015

Monday, March 23rd was a rainy day so we decided to go to a movie.  We went to the theater in the Spanish Springs Square.  When we parked a car parked behind us had the motor running and wind shield wipers going but no one was in the car.  When returning to the car after the movie the same car still was running with the wipers going and, by this time, the rain had stopped and sun was shining.  Tom looked in the car to be sure no one was in there, tried the door which was unlocked and pushed a stop button to turn off the car.  The movie we saw was a documentary film called “The Wrecking Crew” about the studio musicians that were used during the 50’s and 60’s for many of the singers of that era.

Tuesday (24th) we spent time on this day shopping in the Brownwood and Lake Sumter Landing squares.  There are some neat shops in these squares, some are expensive and some more reasonable.  Russell Stover candy store is close to our campground so we stopped there to pick up some candies for Easter.  We were preparing for our return to Maryland.

Wednesday (25th) we drove west to Crystal River to rent kayaks and travel on the Crystal River to the Three Sisters Springs area.  Manatees are real popular in this area in the winter.  At this time most of the manatees have moved out in the gulf.  No boats are allowed in the Three Sisters Springs until after March 30 but we could skirt along the edges of the Springs and out into Kings Bay.  We saw one manatee in King’s Bay that had a tracking sensor attached.  The water in the Crystal River is very clear that the river bottom is visible and a constant 72 degrees but the bay is not as clear so if there were other manatees in that area we were unable to see them.  After about 1 1/2 hours we returned the kayaks.  Clouds were heavy all morning and finally clearing out about mid afternoon.  After kayaking we drove to Fort Island Beach to eat our picnic lunch but the bugs (no-see-ems) were so bad that we soon left and went to Hunter’s Spring Park in Crystal River (town) to eat our lunch.  Hunter’s Spring Park seemed to be a popular spot for families and kids on spring break.  A very pretty park that had a beach.

Thursday (26th) our last day before heading toward home.  Since rain is expected tonight and tomorrow we started getting ready for leaving tomorrow.  We again have been parked under trees that have dropped leaves and blossoms on the roof and awnings so Tom worked on getting this stuff cleaned off the motorhome.  I did laundry and cleaning inside.  At 1:30pm we drove into The Villages to have lunch with friends, Bruce and Cricket McGinnis and Anni and Jeff Albert at Toojay Deli.  Sadly, we bid farewell to our friends with hopes of being able to return here permanently one day.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Shopping and Winery March 20-22, 2015

Friday, March 20th, we in to The Villages at the Lake Sumter Landing Square and did some shopping. Shopping in The Villages is not usually the best place to bargain shop but the Izod store is closing so that store is having some good sales. We had lunch at Gators Dockside restaurant which is located beside Lake Sumter. We had outside seating which was really nice on this sunny warm day. Anni and Jeff Albert had messaged us that they were going to be at Brownwood Square on this evening and asked if we would join them there. The evenings entertainment was a group called "Funtastics" made up of 2 entertainers we had seen previously, Clark and Cathy (C-square) plus 2 other female singers. Another night of good entertainment.

Saturday (21st) we went to the Farmer's Market in Brownwood Square again this week. Like last week the square had vendors around the perimeter and it was quite busy. For lunch we stopped at a barbecue restaurant, Burke's, which proved to be a good eating place. In the evening, we went back to Brownwood Square to see the evening entertainment, Scooter the DJ. Scooter is a very popular entertainer. The square was jam packed with people and the area for dancing was equally packed. Scooter is not just a DJ, he dons wigs and acts out songs, gives direction for doing various line dances and keeps the crowd moving and laughing.

Sunday (22nd) we drove south toward Clermont to Lakeridge Winery for their Seafood Festival. And this place was crowded. We did take chairs along but had a difficult time finding a place to set them up. There was a big variety of seafood available, mostly fried. We did get some fish, scallops and shrimp and then sat eating and listening to the music that was being performed. Vendors were also selling crafts and such and, of course, wine was being sold. Leaving there we headed back to the campground making a stop at Wendy's for a couple of frosties. It was a very warm, upper 80's, day.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Villages and Silver Springs, March 14-19, 2015

Saturday, March 14th, we drove to the square at Brownwood in The Villages for the weekly Farmer’s Market.  The entire square was lined with vendors, not all fresh produce.  We had to get some of those Florida strawberries that are in season now.  A Golf Fest was being held in The Villages that Tom attended while I stayed back at the campground. 

Later in the afternoon we went to Oakwood Smokehouse restaurant for barbecue food.

Sunday, 15th, we stopped at 3 of the numerous open houses in The Villages.  Everyday there are open houses of all price ranges and models in The Villages.  Moving on we went to Leesburg for the Art Festival that was being held there.  We received a text message from Cricket McGinnis, a friend that lives in The Villages with her husband Bruce, asking about meeting for dinner about 4pm.  So we went to The Villages again to have dinner with Bruce and Cricket and other friends of theirs Pat and Bill at Sonny’s Barbecue restaurant.  After dinner we all went to Sumter Landing Square for the evening entertainment.

Monday, 16th, we went to an early showing of the movie “Still Alice” and then ate a midafternoon dinner.  In the evening we again went to The Villages (Brownwood Square) for the evening entertainment.  A male and female singers called C 2 (C square) were performing and had been highly recommended by Bruce and Cricket.  We were not disappointed, they were very good singers.

Tuesday. 17th,  we drove to Spanish Springs in The Villages as there was going to be big goings on here today for  St Patrick’s Day.  We had lunch of corned beef and cabbage at Toojay’s Deli  which was really good. 

Then at 4:30 there was a parade that lasted about 40 minutes.  There were a variety of groups – decorated golf carts, baton twirlers, belly dancers to list a few groups made up of the residents in The Villages. 
Our friends the McGinnis’ and the Alberts, Jeff and Anni, were in a group of Segway riders.  After the parade, celebrating was continuing in this square but we chose to leave as it was extremely crowded.

Wednesday, 18th, we went to Silver Springs State Park.   We had been here several years before when this was privately operated.  In  2013 this park became state operated.  The glass bottomed boats remain and we took the 30 minute tour on the Silver River.  The jeep tours and animals that had been here are no longer here.  The state plans to keep this in a natural condition with native plants.  There are kayak and canoe rentals available.

Thursday, 19th, after breakfast at Waffle’s and then to the grocery store was a stay at home day.  Cleaning, laundry and cooking dinner (yes I cook now and then).  The weather has been warm(80 plus degrees) all week with bright sunny skies

Friday, March 13, 2015

Two Moves This Week, March 8-13, 2015

Sunday, March 8th, was a leisure day spent at the campground.  We walk at least once a day around this campground and sometimes, like on this day, we walk the perimeter twice.  We also do a lot of reading.  Tom and I both have e-readers and spend time reading.  We did carry books with us but find e-readers much better.  There are web sites that list books for e-readers for free to $2.99 daily and I have found most are pretty good.

Monday, 9th, we went out to lunch at Tropical Pollo.  I had a chicken Tropi-bowl which consisted of rice, beans, tomatoes, onions and chicken served in a bowl.  Tom had a barbecued chicken meal.  A variety of sauces are available to add to the food.  We thought it was good.  We then stopped to pick up a few items at Wal-Mart.  When we returned to the campground we were given a paper at the entry gate saying that there was a problem with electric being out in the park which also caused a problem with the water.  And wouldn’t you know it this was a hot, upper 80’s, day.  Thankfully, we did have about 1/3 of a tank of water on board.  We did run the generator for a little while but cut it off as it cooled in the evening.  About 10pm the electric finally came back on but the water situation was that the water would need to be boiled until declared safe.  Since we were leaving in the morning Tom disconnected the water and we just used from the tank and drank bottled water.  These Thousand Trail parks are so in need of up grading but obviously like most of these membership deals money is not funded for such.

Tuesday, 10th, we moved to Tavares, 33 miles away, to Fisherman’s Cove Campground.  We had wanted to go to the Thousand Trails Campground in Wildwood but could not get in until Friday.  This campground was a Passport park so for $58.50 we had 3 nights of camping.  This is a nice park situated on a hill.  Our site was on the top of the hill, nice and level with 50 amp electric.  After setting up our campsite we drove to Mt. Dora, a short distance away.  We had lunch at the Bavarian House, a German restaurant, and then walked about the town stopping in the shops along the way.

Wednesday, 11th, we decided to check out the town of Tavares.  Tavares is located by a lake and is called “Seaplane City of America”.    There is a real nice city park along the lake that we strolled about and watched a seaplane take off.  We ate at Al’s Landing along the lake on an outdoor patio.  Nice 80 plus temperatures.  While eating, a city policeman drove into the parking area next to the lake and took a 2-3foot alligator  out of his car and put the gator in the lake.  And then a seaplane pilot that landed his plane on the lake brought the plane up the boat ramp onto the parking lot. 

Such an entertaining lunch!

Thursday, 12th, was another day that we stayed in the campground with nothing to write about.

Friday,13th, we moved 27 miles to Three Flags RV Resort, another Thousand Trails park that we were at 2 months ago in January.  This park is close to The Villages.   We plan to be here for 2 weeks and then start our travels north.  When we left this park in January there were some sites that were extremely muddy and those areas are still quite muddy.  Luckily, our site is not in that muddy area but, unfortunately, we are under trees that block our TV signal.  We can live with that problem better than mud and being hung up when we need to leave.  We did go into Wildwood for lunch at Beef O’Brady’s, a popular sports bar here in Florida-  good burgers and such.  I had fish tacos that were very good and Tom had a burger.    In the evening we had a shower of rain which this campground certainly does not need. 

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Lake Wales to Leesburg, March 2-7, 2015

Monday, March 2, we drove south to Lake Wales.  When we moved from Wauchula last week we passed through this area and saw “Florida Naturals” orange juice packaging plant and a bill board advertising a visitor’s center.  So we decided to go back there to the visitor’s center.  We had hoped to have a factory tour but that was not the case.  There was a 15 or 20 minute movie shown every half hour.  Disappointingly, only a very short segment showed the processing and packaging of orange juice.  Most of the film dealt with the growing and picking of the oranges.  Leaving this visitor’s center we drove to Chalet Suzanne located along the Lake Wales.  Presently, this old restaurant/inn is closed and is being sold.  We did drive around the town of Lake Wales and then had lunch at Chili’s. 

Tuesday (3/3) we did not do much except go to Bahama Breeze in Kissimmee for lunch.  It was such a beautiful day that we were able to eat on the outside patio.

Wednesday (3/4) we went to the Sanford Orlando Kennel Club for greyhound dog races.  We opted to go to the clubhouse where we were able to have lunch and watch the races.  We had a fun day placing bets not really knowing what we were doing.  Of course, we did not make any big bets and we lost some and won less but it was a good time.

Thursday (3/5) Tom took the Jeep out to a lube place to have it serviced while I stayed back at the campground.  The day was warm in the 80’s here in Florida as we were hearing about a major snow storm hitting Maryland (about 10 inches of snow).

Friday (3/6) the weather had changed during the night as we woke to cooler temperatures and clouds.  The temperature did not reach 60 degrees today.  We went to the movies to see “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”.  A real enjoyable movie with characters of our age group.  On the first Friday of the month the town of Clermont has “First Friday Truck Food” that we thought we would check out.  A variety of restaurants park their kitchen equipped “trucks” along blocked off streets and sell food. (The variety of food changes each month)  Music is also performed in the area along with vendors selling crafts and such.  On this evening there were Venezuelan, Portuguese, Hawaiian hot dogs, cupcakes,  gelato and other foods offered.  We had a Venezuelan dish of rice, black beans, pulled beef  topped with cheese and cilantro.  We attempted to eat at outside picnic tables but it became windy and began to sprinkle rain so we retreated to the Jeep where it was warmer and dryer.  Returning to the campground we stopped at the activities center for the entertainment of “Then and Now”, a couple that performed a variety of music.  A full and fun day!

Saturday (3/7)  we drove north to Leesburg to go to a “New Home and Remodeling Show” at the armory.  It was a small show.  Nearby there was a farmer’s market in the downtown that we walked about.  Like lots of downtowns there were quite a few vacant stores.  Driving back to the campground we ate lunch in Clermont at “Ay Jalisco”, Mexican, of course.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Rain and Kevin Costner- February 27- March 1, 2015

Friday, February 27th, was a cold, cloudy day for Florida.  Temperatures did not get out of the 50’s and it was breezy.  We started to walk and needed to come back to the motorhome to get warmer clothes before continuing with the walk.

Saturday was another day of miserable weather.  We woke up to rain and the rain continued all day, although it was warmer than the previous day (60’s).  We had purchased tickets for the Kevin Costner and Modern West concert at the Strawberry Festival in Plant City that was scheduled for 7:30pm.  Since Plant City is west of our location we were hoping that the rain would be stopping in that area in time for the concert.  We left the motorhome about 3pm.  We went to a restaurant in Kissimmee, Chuy’s, for an early dinner before heading to Plant City.  The rain continued through our travels but after getting to Plant City and parking the rain slacked off.  We walked about the grounds in rain coats checking our the numerous vendors.  A must do at this festival is to get strawberry shortcake.  After paying $4.00 each we went through a line getting a dish with a choice of cake or biscuit (we choose the biscuit) and continuing huge bowls of sliced strawberries and whipped cream are set out for everyone to serve themselves and then a whole strawberry is plopped on the top.  The concert stadium was totally outdoors.  As we entered the stadium we were given some paper towels to dry off the seats.  We had also brought seat cushions along.  The concert started with clips of Kevin Costner’s movies shown on jumbotron screens.  Kevin Costner and Modern West performed for about an hour and half with Costner singing and playing the guitar.  All songs were originals except for the last one.  He is not the best singer but he is a good entertainer.   The rain held off until near the end when there were some sprinkles.  All in all it was a good concert.  Driving back to the campground we encountered rain most of the way back.

Sunday, March 1, stared out being another cloudy day but became clearer during the afternoon.  It was also much warmer with temperatures reaching the 80’s.  We spent most of the day in the campground.  We did go out for lunch at the Crooked Spoon which calls itself a “gastropub”- fare was salads, sandwiches and limited entrees.  Food was good but we thought expensive – $12.00 for burger served with chips.