Tag Archives: Ace High Farms

Busy Winter in Florida!

When we first got to Florida in December, after several months of working hard at Amazon, we initially thought we would just kick back and relax a bit.  In a sense, we’ve done that…but we have also used the time to get several much needed projects completed.  Diana has been taking care of paperwork, and preparing some very delicious meals.  I’ve been tackling many of the maintenance projects we’ve needed to get done, which I’m about halfway through.  We have made it a point to head to the beach as often as possible, so as to not miss any good beach weather.  So far, the weather has been extremely kind to us!

On New Years Day, we headed one hour south to Summer Crush Winery (formerly Endless Summer Winery) in Fort Pierce for their New Years Day celebration.  We visited them last year as part of the Harvest Hosts. They have made a few improvements and are bringing in some big name acts, so we plan on making a few more trips down there.

This is our 4th of the last 5th New Years that we’ve been in Florida, and it still seems surreal to us seeing people in summer clothes in January.

The Uproot Hootenanny Band provided the lively entertainment for the day. 😎. The base fiddle player reminded me of our friend Greg Young.  I kept looking to see if his wife Cori was in the audience.

We also made a separate trip to Fort Pierce to pick up Honeybell tangelos from our favorite fruit stand, Ace High.

Their harvest was a bit smaller this year, due to the effects of Hurricane Matthew, but what was left was delicious!

We also visited the National Navy SEAL Museum in Ft. Pierce. SEAL stands for sea, air, and land. This is a very well done collection on the property of the original training grounds for the Navy’s elite frogmen.  Outside there is watercraft, some of which you can go inside. There is also an obstacle course that children are able to explore under their parent’s supervision. Inside there is a very educational movie on the history of the SEALs, and several exhibits of weapons and gear that they have used through the years. Be warned that the movie at the beginning is about two hours long. We didn’t plan for this, so we were rushed to see the actual displays as a result. When we got back to the car we discussed how military museums leave us with mixed feelings. We certainly honor this elite military team and all of our nation’s service men and women, and we appreciate their defense of our country’s freedom.  We also feel uncomfortable when war is glorified or presented in an action/adventure sort of way, as we found in a few instances here and at a few other facilities. If you find military museums to your liking, this one is worth your time.  Our admission was $10 per person.  They are open Tuesday through Saturday 10-4 and Sunday 12-4, and are closed on Mondays.

One of the maintenance items we’ve taken care of thus far are front brakes on both vehicles.  The Escape was just a matter of taking the front wheels off, removing the calipers and replacing the pads.  The truck was a bit more involved, as the left front caliper that my friend Rod and  I replaced last January was defective and not working properly.  It consistently read 20 degrees hotter than the other side, and there was more wear on the inside brake pad. Luckily it was still under warranty, so I changed that out as well.

I also washed and waxed the fifth wheel.  Waxing is a bigger job than it sounds on a 2007 rig, as the Fiberglas sides had oxidized a fair amount.  The system I used included an oxidation remover, which required a lot of elbow grease!  It’s done and it looks fabulous.  If you don’t believe it, just ask me. 😉 (My mom would have said, “Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back.” 😀Diana)

In addition, our auto-slider Pullrite SuperGlide hitch needed some maintenance.

The biggest issue was that the old tracking roller (the one to the left with the smaller nut) had come loose.  Had it fallen out, we could have lost control of the trailer.  The new roller (to the right) has a castle nut and cotter pin to prevent that from happening.  Other than that, it needed a few minor adjustments to tighten up some of the play in the hitch travel.

Oh, and then our refrigerator decided to quit on us.  A few quick readings with a multimeter showed that it wasn’t getting any 12-volt power.  Luckily it turned out to be a blown fuse.  😀.  Thank goodness it wasn’t a fried circuit board, as this run over $100, and there are two of them.

The only maintenance projects left are to replace the rear brake shoes on the Escape and all of the brake shoes on the trailer.  That should be finished up in the next week or two, which leaves us the rest of the winter to play!

Stay tuned to see what we are up to next!  😎😎


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Lake Okeechobee and Honeybells

On Wednesday, we headed over to Placida, Florida to spend a few days with Diana’s cousin and his wife.  Placida is on the Gulf side of Florida, so our journey was going to take us completely across the peninsula.  We took State Route 70 out of Fort Pierce and headed west through the state’s agricultural land.  Not too far out of town, we stopped at Ace High Farms fruit stand to pick up some oranges and grapefruit.

Ace High is a sixth generation family farm.  Their citrus was freshly picked and it really showed, as it looked fabulous.  The first thing we spotted were a few bags of Honeybells, which we knew nothing about.  After questioning the owner, we purchased a bag along with two Ruby Red grapefruit.  When we arrived at Placida, Diana’s cousin and his wife looked at the bag and said “Those aren’t oranges….those are HONEYBELLS!!!”  In no time, we were each peeling the skin off of our fruit, juice flying everywhere.  My, oh my….they were delicious!


They are a fairly uncommon variety of tangelo, and they are listed as only being available in January.  We were right at the tail end of the season. According to one grower, Honeybells are so rare, only one in 5000 people have ever tasted them.  So if you have, consider yourself a rare bird!  😉

After our visit, we headed back on the same route.  There aren’t a lot of choices for roads in that region of the state.  It is almost completely level, and I am fairly sure that none of it exceeds 20 feet above sea level.  There are a lot of cattle, some sod farms, a lot of citrus groves and palm tree nurseries.  Canals criss-cross the land every so often, and the soil is rich and black.


It was a pleasant trip both ways, as it was a different sort of agriculture than we were used to seeing. At one point, I imagined myself in Midwest…until I saw a palm tree.  🙂

When we pulled into the city of Okeechobee, we decided to drive to the southern end of town and see Lake Okeechobee.  This is the nation’s third largest fresh water lake completely within the U.S. border (Lake Michigan is #1) and it is the largest that sits within one state in the Lower 48.  With that being said, the entire lake only averages over a little more than 8 feet deep, with its maximum depth just a touch over 12 feet deep.  Historically, it is a natural lake that takes in water from the Kissimmee River from the north and flows southward into the Everglades.  The key word being historically.  This is Army Corps of Engineers territory.  After a hurricane in 1928 sent a storm surge over the natural peat dam at the south end of the lake and killed 2500 people, the U.S. government stepped in. President-elect Herbert Hoover toured the devastation and after consulting the Army Corps of Engineers, proposed a dike around the lake.


By 1961, the current 30 foot high dike that encircles the lake was completed, basically turning it into a reservoir.  The former president was on hand for the dedication, as the project was named after him.


While a lot of good has come from this dike…namely, safety from the lake’s fickle level…so has a lot of not so good.  In 2008, a drought exposed large portions of the lake bottom, allowing the Corps to scrape 35,000 truck loads of polluted mud and dispose of it.  Problem was, it was so contaminated by arsenic, it created a huge disposal problem. That muck wasn’t there before the dike.  Currently, the water level is too high (due to El Niño), and the Corps is concerned about the dike eroding. The cure is to send the water into the canals and into the ocean and gulf, resulting in the fresh water damaging the salt water aquatic creatures and plants.  It is also creating algae blooms in the ocean and gulf, otherwise known as Red Tide.  As is usually the case, the more that mankind interferes with nature the more things are disrupted.  What most impressed me was the sheer size of the project.  I had no idea how large of an area this affected.

One thing we noticed is there is a National Scenic Trail on the top of the dike.  The portion we saw was asphalt, and it had plenty of folks using it.  It looks like a great place for a bike ride!  We will keep that in mind for the future.


There was also this fishing pier where we crossed the dike, along with a nice restroom building and picnic tables. We had our picnic lunch while enjoying the views.


From the pier, I was able to zoom in on the smokestacks of the power plant 15 miles to the southeast.  To the right of that, the lake extends another 20 miles to the south.


Lake Okeechobee is definitely a huge body of water!

After we left Okeechobee, we stopped back by at Ace High. We were fortunate to be able to get another bag of Honeybells. Diana’s cousins are great hosts and have a lovely place for entertaining. They prefer not having their picture posted on the web, so we are honoring their wish for privacy. They were very close to Diana’s parents, so it was nice sharing old memories and making new ones. What a nice way to spend a few days!


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