Ok so I lied. I didn’t manage to get to the Blog until now. But good news, we have made it four weeks, with the most recent leg of our journey made up of reunions with friends, meeting the oldest Hippo in the US, catching baby sharks, our generator breaking down, a mild case of sun poisoning and Paul getting up close and personal with a big tree. We began the week on the west coast of Florida and ended on the East coast, where we began. Initially, we didn’t plan to spend so much time in Florida, but with the warm weather, inviting beaches and spending quality time with friends, it’s been perfect. Full time RV life has treated us well thus far.
Day 15-18: After our gator excursion, we headed north to Beverly Hills and hung with Dianne. Some of you may remember Dianne from our camp store, where she has worked for the last two seasons. Well now she is doing the same at a nice RV resort in Beverly Hills called Sandy Oaks RV resort. When we arrived, Dianne welcomed us with open arms and escorted us to our home for the next few days, a nice flat full hook up campsite right near her own. The site had a few trees, one of which Paul backed into… and lucky for me, I was not directing him so couldn’t get blamed. The damage was minor, and I think his ego may have suffered the bigger blow. This campground is very well kept and probably one of the friendliest campgrounds we have been to so far. Everyone greeted us, stopped to chat, and made us feel welcome. The first day we relaxed pool side and then dined with Dianne at her site. She made a delicious crock pot lasagna, we brought salad and wine, and we then headed to the community firepit. Here they provide the wood for the fire, and we brought the s’mores ingredients. That evening while Paul and the kids played some billiard pool, Dianne and I did a few security loops in her golf cart, which I have missed! The next day we headed to Homosassa Wildlife Park, thanks to Dianne for letting us use her jeep. This park, if you aren’t familiar, is home to Lou, the oldest hippo in North America. Lou wasn’t too thrilled with the visitors, and didn’t move much, but we enjoyed seeing her. We also enjoyed seeing manatees, alligators, snakes, panthers, flamingos and more. We grabbed a late lunch at a local restaurant and headed back to camp and chilled. Dianne was such an awesome host and so gracious to let us use her Jeep, we are ever so thankful!
Day 19: In the morning, after hugs and maybe a few tears, we headed back toward Kissimmee to visit long time friends Pete and Donna Chubbuck. Their campground was full, so we boondocked at a nearby Cracker Barrel. We visited with them for the afternoon, with endless BVs, conversation and remnisicing. Back story: I have known Pete and Donna…well my whole life. They are more like family than friends. Pete was the Best Man in my parent’s wedding. He and my dad, aka Jade or “Greasy” , were both stationed at Hamilton Air force base in California, where they met, and have been great friends since. That evening, Pete and Donna picked us up at our “site” and we enjoyed a nice dinner at Macaroni Grill. All the waitstaff had fresh breath thanks to Pete’s usual Mint handout. A balloon artist randomly arrived at the table and entertained the kids while we enjoyed dinner, conversation…and more mint handouts. After dinner we headed over to their campground for a night swim in the pool, and a soak in the Jacuzzi. And later, Donna graciously drove us back to our parking lot RV spot, with the best rates around. I have to say boondocking is not too bad, with the generator keeping the a/c running for a comfortable night sleep and for Moose…Oh yeah did I mention its been in the 80s? In the morning, Pete and Donna met us for a lovely breakfast at Cracker Barrel. And yes our waiter had lovely fresh breath thanks to Pete! It was great to reunite with these two. Great company, with a few laughs! So grateful… Next East to Melbourne!
Day 20: We came across a campground in West Melbourne, at Wickham State Park, with one open site, which was pretty much the only campground in the area with availability. The kids were excited to hang with some other kids, playing hide n’ seek, UNO and accompanying them to the playground. This is the moment we realized our generator was not working. Paul attempted to diagnose the problem, for about two hours. Ultimately we determined it was out of his scope and we were going to need a professional. We grilled some dinner, and then off to sleep we went.
Day 20-26: The original plan was to stay a couple days (Its Monday today) and hang with our friends the Harris family, who were about 20 minutes from Wickham State Park, near Melbourne Beach. We aimed to end the visit with a birthday party for Will Wednesday night with his friends, departing Thursday morning. But its February …and everyone heads south in their RVs to Florida for the winter. So upon calling many places to find a RV generator repair, we were met with “Maybe next week” or “I can fit you in maybe in a few days, but not sure if we have the parts”. So we arrived at the Coppola/Harris Compound…one of the best RV resorts on the East Coast of Florida. One dog friendly campsite, with water/electric, unlimited kids activities, transportation to nearby restaurants, and beaches, our own personal fishing guide “Captain George’, and the friendliest hosts we could ask for! This impromptu week of vacation was filled with beautiful beach days, surf fishing, body surfing (with a few “washer machines” thrown in), local eats, happy hours, dolphin sightings, and a whole lot of laughter. Paul and the kids visited Turtle Creek Sanctuary with the Harris’ one day while I did some work. They enjoyed a picnic and laid their eyes on some snakes, turtles and a manatee. Will enjoyed his birthday afternoon/evening beachfront, where we grilled some hot dogs, fished some more, and sang Happy Birthday to the sounds of waves crashing in the background. We headed to Kennedy Space Center on the only rainy day of the week which was perfect. We got to experience a simulated launch, and engage in hands on learning exhibits. I have to say, I got chills and may have even teared up during some of the Awe inspiring moments in Space. We were hesitant on visiting, given the expense and additional unknown expense of the generator repair, but we didn’t regret the decision for a moment. Oliver enjoyed learning about the logistics and details of a launch as well as Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon. But truly he appeared most motivated by the food stands and longing for a snack. We brought food from home, and he was not impressed. William loved just hanging with his buddies Marshall, Cameron and Morgan. Overall another great day had by all.
The remaining days were spent beaching it. Although I felt confident in my sunblock usage, I did end up with a little sun poisoning on my forehead which resembled the beginning of a unicorn horn with Oliver unable to maintain eye contact with me. So a hat it was for the remainder of beach days and basically anywhere I went in public. The beach waves were spectacular for body surfing and surfing in general if you have that skill or equipment, which none of us did. We caught some waves, as well as some sand in places I wasn’t sure you could find sand. One of the days, shortly after getting out of the water, the rods started going crazy, hooking some baby hammer heads (bonnethead). I mean it was a little nerve wracking knowing mommy shark probably isn’t far away and we were just in the water. Oliver assured me that hammerhead mothers leave their young, which made me feel better but I didn’t go back in that day. We also spent a day at Sebastian Inlet, with a lagoon on one side perfect for kids to play in the calm water. And the other side was perfect for fishing…. if the birds don’t steal your fish. The kids enjoyed an intense game of sand Pictionary and used dried palm leaves to build a shelter resembling Survivor. To end the day, a dolphin joined us in the lagoon, which was pretty amazing.
Over the week, we hit a couple local restaurants, Squid Lips and Ozzys Crab House. But for the most part we grilled, hoping for fish dinners. We would hit a Publix on the way home from the beach based on the day’s catch. Will and Cam both have a taste for the spice so we did conduct a hot sauce challenge one night, which was impressive. One morning Moose and I took a walk to a local Cuban bakery, Tree of Life, where I got myself a delicious Café con Leche and brought some pastries back to the gang.
Overall I refer to this part of our journey “A blessing in disguise”. Although our generator issues weren’t ideal, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the week. The kids were thrilled to see their friends and they all got along very well. Most days resembled scenes from Lord of the Flies. Some mornings we were greeted by Morgie at our door. The kids went between the house and the camper keeping themselves busy with UNO games, Simon Says, basketball, cops and robbers…. simply enjoying their reunion and lots of snacks. And if you have ever met George and Christina (they used to organize kids activities last summer at DPC) you know how wonderful they are. They are both very laid back, easy going and simply a joy to hang out with. It was effortless and so much FUN! And their hospitality is unparalleled. They transported us around in their cars, made stops if we needed, included us in their plans and made us feel very welcomed and relaxed. The Harris family ROCKS!
Day 27: “Parting is such sweet sorrow” We headed out mid morning. Lots of sad faces but it was time. Of course, within an hour or so, we got news of all the fish being caught by George and Cam at the beach. Paul, demanding pics for proof, cried only for an hour or so. We found a campsite near the generator repair shop we had found. This campground is North of Orlando, Wekiva Falls RV park, with sulfur springs in the middle of the park and I think maybe a few alligators lurking. So despite the few times I thought someone had a propane leak, we got used to the smell of the spring. The playground was located right across from the campsite which was perfect for the kids. They also had a small camp store, a weekend tiki bar, pool, a clubhouse and dog park. After checking in, we walked around to check out the space and then went for a swim. The pool was clean and warm. We had hit a Publix on the way to get something for dinner. You see because we don’t know where our next stop is, whether we will have power or the generator operable, we aren’t able to buy too many groceries at once. And, honestly, I love this type of shopping. The fridge never gets overcrowded, I don’t have to think too far ahead to meal plan and nothing has time to expire. We grabbed some food to grill and did the usual, grill and chill! Cable was working here, so we partook in some reality TV which was a real treat.
Day 28: In the morning, we decided to stay one more night as the weather was going to be nice and the next day not great, so perfect for hanging at the generator repair shop. I did some work most of the morning, with a meeting scheduled by phone and the usual paperwork. Because we didn’t plan on staying, we really didn’t have anything for dinner. We haven’t had pizza since the night before we left for the trip, so it seemed like the perfect solution. Finding a delivery of decent pizza was challenging, and anyone that knows me, knows what I mean by “decent”…aka DELICIOUS. We found a place nearby that looked yummy so we took an Uber and off we went. Even Oliver, the family food critic, raved about it. After, we headed home and hunkered down for the night.
That’s all folks…Until next time! Hope you enjoyed reading about our last two weeks. Our “plan” is to head west next if all goes well with generator repairs. We will keep you posted. And will most likely publish the next blog in 2 weeks…maybe 🙂