Private Beach and Dolphins

Spent three days at E.G.Simmons Park in Ruskin.  Another favorite to add to the growing list – but not surprising. This IS Florida, afterall.

Simmons is a county park.  While there are RV sites available, I chose to visit first on a $2.00 day pass and liked it so much later opted to dry camp overnight.

For most of the day, Mia and I enjoyed our own private beach.  I watched three ospreys fishing the bay, and off shore, a flock of what looked like mergansers.  Mullet were jumping, Mia settled in for a nap…and before too long I heard the blowing of dolphins. A pair came cruising by, right off our beach..went around the strip of island, and circled back out to the bay.

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When we’d had enough beach…well, that’s not really possible so let me re-phrase that.  When we decided to take a walk and see other areas of the park (that’s better) we came upon this black vulture picking at a very old carcass…probably raccoon or possum but I didn’t get close enough to really see. Some things are better observed from a distance.

 

 

Boondocking at Cracker Barrel

Boondocking is an RV term that means dry camping…camping overnight with no water, sewer, or electric hookups.  Some folks actually prefer to camp this way, as it’s a no-brainer for saving money.  For most RVs that are self-contained, dry camping is seldom an inconvenience, and a great way to camp while traveling or when in-between parks.

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So there I was, a few nights ago, unable to secure a park reservation for a couple more days.  Perfect time to experience boondocking.

There are several sites that offer dry camp information..that is, where it’s permitted and where you are taking a chance of being asked to leave in the middle of the night.  Walmart parking lots are probably the most common place..but not all Walmarts are officially OK for overnight parking.  It usually depends on the local ordinance..and on whether said ordinance is actually enforced.

Since being ticketed, routed out in the wee hours of the morning, or just making unnecessary poor choices are not among my favorite things, I opted for making a list, checking it twice, and then calling ahead to be sure.

Cracker Barrel restaurants seem to be very RV friendly, and I found one just off I-75 in Bradenton that said “Sure, come on down!”  They even have a separate parking area for RVs, right next to this retention pond and the resident mergansers, whistling ducks, and white ibis.  Peaceful enough – except for highway noise but what the heck, it’s a free spot..safe, and  three other RVs there too.

And then of course there are those Cracker Barrel breakfasts.

 

 

Zorro in Space

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Well OK, maybe not THE Zorro, but pretty darn close as far as the Z goes.  This is actually the contrail from the Atlas V rocket, launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex this morning.

Having witnessed Shuttle launches from Florida in the past, which were awesomely impressive – I made sure I was down by the lake at 8:30 in the morning for a clear view straight across the flatlands to Canaveral, less than 60 miles away.

Launch time approached, the winds died down, and the three people (including me) who showed up to watch were all eyes to the sky.  I anticipated lots of contrail, orange engine glow, a good view of the rocket, and maybe even a rumble.

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And there it was!  What?  That’s it?  That skinny silver speck with that little jet-trail behind it?   It was over in a minute..and the wind picked up the contrail, creating that Zorro Z in the sky.

What I learned today….Atlas rockets are never to be compared in awesomeness to the Shuttle launches…but the whole concept is still amazing.  That rocket was in space before I arrived back home, just a short walk away.

 

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.

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