Heading to the Mountains of Orlando

Actually I’m now just south of Clermont, FL, in a park called Thousand Trails Orlando.  The WiFi service is unavailable at the site, so it’s been a bit between posts.

The elevation here is about 128 feet – and in Florida, that’s a mountain. I could tell especially when I got my bike out of the RV basement and went for a ride.  What the heck???

I am in love with this park.  The sites are spacious, there’s a lovely lake and a hiking trail through the pine woods.  Mia is loving it as well.  Apparently we are very close to Disney, as we can hear the fireworks every night and I’m told if I go down to the lake, we can see them as well.  Haven’t done that yet…

There’s a small dog park with a resident gopher tortoise, which I haven’t figured out just yet.  Does the tortoise make it out of the very small park?  And if not, how does he survive on the minimal grass present?

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The tortoise hole is in the small dog area..which also has me wondering, once again but for different reasons..what the heck?  I had to discourage Mia from popping down the hole for a visit, and she is just an oblivious, non-hunting Chihuahua lap dog.  What do the terrier do with this easily accessible turtle hole?  I can only assume it is actually abandoned and the fencing and sign is an attempt at public education.  No tortoise in his right mind would want to live in a dog park!

 

Peace River Revisited

It’s the Peace River, but it’s a different park..this one in Wauchula.  And the River is flooding due to the heavy rains and storms we’ve had.  I’m here for two weeks..if my site doesn’t flood. The water is about 30 feet away…and some RVs whose owners are away are not faring so well.  I’ll stay as long as the water behaves.  We are NOT flooding a brand new RV.

I only unpacked the most necessary items, and the river did crest and recede, so all was well for the first week.  Once the water started to recede I was able to walk some of the trails, though they remained pretty soggy for days.

This is a beautiful park, with some interesting old oaks and vegetation.  It has all the usual amenities if you are in to that sort of thing..I always tend to head for the woods rather than the pickleball courts..though I did observe that pickleball being played…when heard at a distance and through the trees..sounds a bit like wild turkeys.

There are a lot of campers here who are grumbling, but Mother Nature is Mother Nature and there’s not a whole lot one can do to stop a river from flooding.  Hunker down and take your chances, move to higher ground, or leave the area.   I’m very happy I decided to stay, though I must admit I was up frequently during the night to check the water levels.

The water is going down…but it’s not quite there yet.  Today I watched kids riding bikes and wading through the flood waters…not a smart thing to do, especially in Florida.  We have a lot of dangerous critters here – alligators, snakes, and fire ants, just to name a few.  Fire ants can survive balled up in floodwaters.  Alligators and snakes can be displaced and aggravated, just like people.  Granted, the flood waters here were coupled with temperatures a lot colder than what gators and snakes like or tolerate, but why take the chance?  Not to mention sewage and other nasties that can be carried in flood waters.

 

Mia is Not Impressed

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I am really surprised how smoothly and quickly I’ve reverted back to the RV lifestyle.  Having a new vehicle is helping a lot…the first time I connected to power I couldn’t tell if I really was hooked up, or if the lights were on because of the batteries.  There was no noise.  No visible or audible hint that everything was connected.  My ’77 Coachmen would hum…this one, not a sound.  I finally determined, with my brother’s ever-logical help, that the TV wouldn’t work on batteries and so yeah, the TV was on so I was actually connected to the power. Duh.  I’m getting used to the idea that everything with this motorhome is easier..and actually works!
However, Mia is finding the adjustment a little more nerve-wracking.  She doesn’t mind living in the RV so much…but when the whole house hits the road, she’s a little nervous.
I have to find a carrier I can belt into the passenger seat..but for now her comfy bed gives her a place to snuggle in and still be somewhat next to me.  In the old car I had, she used to lean against me when I drove..of course she can’t do that in the RV and so is a bit more apprehensive.  Chihuahuas shake anyway at the slightest provocation, and there’s nothing much I can do for her except be encouraging and make her feel safe.
Of course, ice cream always helps.

Snowbirds and Lettuce Lake

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After a whirlwind move, and spending the first few days parked in my brother’s driveway while I repacked and sorted, I decided my first camp would be Lettuce Lake Travel Resort, near Arcadia.  The main reason for this choice was they had sites available.  Finding available sites in Florida in snowbird season can be nearly impossible, so I considered myself lucky.  Anything near the coasts or Disney are booked solid until April..unless you happen on a cancellation.

Lettuce Lake is actually a tributary of the Peace River, and the park..though crowded..still had some nice quiet areas near the water.  Since this first trip was more about getting acquainted with my new home, I think I would have been equally as happy anywhere that had full hookups and didn’t wipe out my bank account.

Spending the week here sorting through all the stuff that was randomly thrown into the RV to facilitate the move.  I think there are some things I will never find.

Stump Pass Beach State Park

 

Stump Pass Beach State Park, located in Englewood Florida, ranks high as one of my all-time favorite spots in the Sunshine State.  There’s no camping..but for a day visit and a wild beach..it’s awesome.  The park is at the southern end of Manasota Key, with the Gulf on Mexico on one side and Lemon Bay on the other.

On a recent visit there, I came upon this gopher tortoise enjoying its lunch.  The tortoise was a bit of a ham and didn’t mind being photographed while it ate.

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Stump Pass is a great quiet beach, only 60 or so cars are allowed in the parking lot and if you don’t mind walking toward the tip, you can find yourself on a very private and quiet spot either on the Gulf or on Lemon Bay.  The hitch is the Ranger closes the park gates immediately after sunset..so if your car is left behind, so are you. Best to check at the gate for park closing time and plan to be there.

New Year, New RV, New Life

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I have a friend back in New Jersey that usually begins her phone calls to me with “so where are you living now?”  She says I’m never in the same place very long, and she doesn’t understand how I can do that.  She’s a Virgo though, so I suppose anything out of the normal routine is difficult for her to comprehend. I mean, she alphabetizes her vegetables. Seriously?

On the other hand, she was brave enough to venture south from NJ with me in 1995, in my brand new old 1977 Coachmen Leprechaun.  It was my first full-time RV and my ticket to Florida. It was very orange. We only broke down twice on the relocation trip..all minor stuff though I can’t recall now what the problem was. I do recall spending one night in a service garage in North or South Carolina.  Needless to say, I did not do much actual going in that RV, though I did name it Boldly Go.

When I arrived in Florida,  I promptly redecorated, replacing orange shag carpeting with white vinyl flooring; painting cabinets white, and recovering cushions with a bright tropical print.  I lived in that RV for about a year, then put her in storage when I moved into an apartment.  I sold that RV a few years later, always with the thought of returning to the RV lifestyle someday.

Fast forward to Dec. 2015, and a spontaneous not-so-serious visit to a local RV dealer,  just to see what RVs looked like nowadays and if a good old used one would ever loom large in my future.  The short version of what happened next?  I happened to stumble upon their end-of-month-end-of-year  have-to-meet-sales-quotas…etc. etc. etc.

Granted..most people don’t make such a decision spontaneously, and certainly not over the span of 2 days…but hey, how bad could it be? Next thing I knew…Voila! Boldly Go II and Happy New Year to me!

On Dec. 31st I took delivery of Boldly Go II and by Jan. 2nd was moved out of my apartment and into a new life.

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I’ve toyed with the idea of starting a whole new blog, but after a few attempts, I decided to just continue now with Natural Notes.  I’ll write when I have wifi service, from where ever I happen to be at the moment.

My New Sidekick

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Mia

I’m the first one to admit it – things just haven’t been the same since my old pal Boomer died in 2008.  So here’s my new sidekick, 6 pounds of pure terror who will take on the grizzly bears on television and chase greyhounds at the dog park.  She is small enough to take along most places I go, she’ll fit into the basket on my bike, and she’s right there on my lap when I’m sitting around doing nothing.  We’re looking forward to cooler weather and lots of adventures together.

In other news, I’ve just received a notice from the Bird Banding Lab about a band recovery.  It seems that an American Robin I banded at Raccoon Ridge in northern NJ on May 25, 2008 was found as a roadkill on August 11, 2014, in Avon, Monmouth County, NJ.  The person who found the bird turned in the band.  Although a little sad – I much prefer a report about a bird caught live by another bander – it’s nice to know this one survived for six years.