With the arrival of our halfway point in Florida, we decided to give the fifth wheel a mid-winter spin this past week. As fulltime RVer’s, it’s a good thing to move down the road on occasion, if nothing more that to remember how it’s done. After all, we are getting older.
With that being said, we set out to visit relatives and friends last Sunday, and to take in the RV show in Tampa. The latter actually involved us boondocking at the Florida State Fairgrounds for a few nights, which we will talk about in more detail below. We left the Escape on our site in Melbourne Beach, along with our carpet and our solar yard lights. Even with that presence, we were the talk of the park when we left. One of the residents waited for us to pass by his rig and asked, “Are you coming back?” People tend not to move, once they are here…and most leave their rigs onsite all year long. We are the anomaly in the fact that we actually use the wheels that are attached to our rig. We have to remind ourselves that, even though we are surrounded by RVers, most people in the park are not fulltiming in their rigs. Either way, we all are having fun…and that’s all that matters.
Our first stop was at Southern Oaks RV Resort in Summerfield, Florida, between Ocala and Leesburg. We spent one night there to see Diana’s brother and his family. We went out for pizza at Stavros in Lady Lake, which was very tasty!
From left. Our niece Danielle, Diana, Danielle’s children: Sarah, Dalton, (cute but not related neighbor boy in the green jacket), and Caydon. Diana’s sister-in-law Carla, Diana’s brother Dan, and me. It was really fun being able to see them again!
The next morning, we headed further west to the town of Beverly Hills, Florida, to see our friends Rod and Mary. You may recall that they work camped with us for two seasons at Wild Cherry Resort in Michigan, and they also owned a home in Melbourne Beach. They were the ones who found our park for us. They recently bought a brand new home further inland on one acre of land, which gives them a lot more breathing room than they had on their 5700 square foot lot here by the beach. The only other time we had been to the area was many years ago when Diana’s dad was the construction superintendent on a community college in neighboring Lecanto. We were pleasantly surprised by the area, as it features more hills and oak trees than anywhere else we had visited in Florida. We set up camp at Sandy Oaks Resort, which we thought was nice. That evening, they treated us to a wonderful Filet Mignon dinner at their home. And we got to see Gracie girl, their wonderful English Shepard.
The next day, the four of us headed to the Withlacoochee State Trail, which is a 46 mile long asphalt rail trail between the towns of Dunnellon and Dade City.
Even though it was a brisk morning, the sun warmed us up pretty quickly. The vegetation surrounding the path reminded us of late fall on the Leelanau Trail in northern Michigan. We rode 5 miles north from Lecanto Highway to the northern terminus and back.
What a great morning for a ride with friends!
That afternoon, we headed a few miles over to the town of Crystal River. Rod and Mary rented a kayak and we put Ketchup and Mustard in Florida waters for the first time ever.
Our destination was Three Sisters Spring, as the manatees like to congregate there.
Mary was able to capture this gentle giant coming up under their boat. We saw several manatees along the route, which was really fun!
When we were done kayaking, we headed to dinner at Crackers in Crystal River, then said our farewells for a bit. We hope to see Rod and Mary again before we leave Florida in April. We had a wonderful time with them, as we always do!
4 AM Wednesday morning came early, as we packed up the rig and headed south to Tampa for the Florida RV Supershow. Our goal was to get their early enough to set up the rig in the parking lot without the hoards of people who come in their cars for the event. We actually did rather well, considering it was foggy in places, and the fact there was heavy traffic along the route. The usual traffic jam by the show had not materialized yet, so navigating the parking lot was fairly easy. This was the first time we had attempted to bring the RV. Our logic was that the show is so large it usually takes two days to see it. They even ticket the event that way, giving attendees the second day free. It cost $12 (one time) to park the RV and truck, along with $20 for each night we stayed. No hookups are provided, so we were sure to come with a full water tank and empty grey and black tanks. We also brought our new generator, which we looked forward to trying out. The one thing we failed to do was to fill the one propane tank that ran out the previous night. With the Wednesday night temperature forecast to drop to a low of 29 degrees, we knew we would need to make a propane run after the show closed on Wednesday. Unfortunately, the U-Haul dealer we went to for a fill-up had a broken pump, and the other stations in the area either didn’t carry propane or were unwilling to sell to us at night. We did fine that night, but I was sure to be at another U-Haul dealer in Brandon at 7 AM when they opened. I needed to be back to the rig before the masses started pouring into the show at 9 AM.
As far as the show goes, Diana and I covered the main indoor building on Wednesday morning and started looking at rigs in the outdoor area in the afternoon. A raw north wind rolled in after lunch, and made being in the rigs much more desirable than being outside! We did see one layout that caught our eye, but we really aren’t ready to move in that direction just yet. Still it was fun to see what’s out there.
On Thursday, we checked out more of the show before lunch, then we headed back to the rig. We made plans to have our friends Kelly and Bill from BK American Odyssey over for chili. It was great to see them again! Afterwards, the four of us checked out the show for a few more hours, which is always fun. We ran into fellow RV-Dreamers Guy and Sue from Our ‘Rovin’ Journey, who attended the same Spring 2014 RV-Dreams rally that Kelly and Bill attended. It was the first time we had met. Hopefully we will get to see them again down the road! Midway through the afternoon, Bill and Kelly had to head out for a dinner date, so we finished up the show on our own. Afterwards, we both realized that we had forgotten to take photos. At 6 PM, we headed back to our rig as the vendors were all closing up for the night, so we definitely put in a full day!
Friday morning, we packed up the rig early and exited the fairgrounds before the crowds showed up. We chose a different route back to Melbourne Beach, taking State Route 60 all the way across to Vero Beach, then north on A-1-A to our park. Despite some traffic lights and suburban congestion near Tampa, the route was much easier than trying to navigate Orlando on the way back. As a bonus, the Thursday night Atlas V launch from Kennedy Space Center was delayed until Friday evening, so we were fortunate to be able to watch it streak by as it headed southeast past us over the Atlantic.
All in all, it was a great week with friends and family, and a great little getaway! Tune in next time to see what we’ve been up to. As always, thanks for following along with exploRVistas!
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