Summer in Florida? Why? Thatís what we have been hearing from some folks. We decided that since our plans for the summer had changed, we would come to Florida and check out some parks for next winter. Also, Millie wanted to get together with Carolyn Hornor in Largo and go over the Traveling Threads newsletter. The Traveling Threads is an Escapees BOF group and Millie is going to be the new newsletter editor for this group.
On our way over from Texas, we stopped and visited with our daughter Debbie and her family. They moved to Gretna, LA last December and are working helping with the clean up in New Orleans.
It was quite an ordeal finding a campground we could get into. Everything in the area that is open is filled with refugees and relief workers. Dick was finally able to get us reservations at a park in Robert, LA; just east of Hammond.
We made arrangements to meet the family in Slidell at a restaurant for dinner. As we were getting ready to leave the park, Deb called and said they were at the restaurant and it was closed due to mechanical problems and they would meet us at the Outback.
We got to Slidell, found the restaurant and met the family. (Debbie, Russell, Chad and Rikki.) It was great to see them. We had a nice long visit over dinner and got some catching up done.
We arrived in Tampa and checked into Tampa East RV Resort. This is the park where we spent time the winters of 2003 and 2004. It is really strange to see the park so empty, we are accustomed to it being full.
While in Tampa we rested and Millie did some sewing. We also ran some errands and took Dickís glasses to get them repaired. He dropped them out of his pocket one day while hooking up our utilities and stepped on them!
Millie talked to Carolyn Hornor and arranged a meeting for Friday. We drove to Largo on Friday morning. We got caught in a major traffic jam on the Franklin Bridge due to an accident, which took a lot of time and we were late arriving at Carolynís.
We had a nice visit with Carolyn and her mother. Carolyn showed Millie how she had done the newsletter and gave us all the files. Carolyn has done a wonderful job with the newsletter and Millie is hoping she is equal to the task.
We headed back to Tampa from Largo and just after leaving the Franklin Bridge, going east, traffic was again at a crawl for several miles. Another accident on the freeway! (And we thought Houston had bad traffic!)
We did laundry on Saturday and kept an eye on the weather reports. The first tropical depression of the hurricane season had developed in the Gulf of Mexico and the Tampa area is in the projected path. If it developed into a tropical storm, we could be in for heavy rainfall and we were planning to leave here on Monday. If the rain is heavy, we will just stay in Tampa one more day.
On Sunday we read the paper, updated the webpage and Millie worked on a quilt she is piecing. We had some rain showers in the afternoon, but nothing heavy.
About 2AM Monday morning the sky opened up. It was really pouring hard when we got up and we decided to just stay put for a couple of days and let the storm blow through. Fortunately, Alberto decided to visit further to the north and the hard rains on Monday were all we got. We had a few showers on Tuesday.
Wednesday was a beautiful sunny day and we hitched up and drove south on I-75 to Fort Meyers. We located The Groves RV Resort and checked in. The spaces and roadways in this park are narrow and not good with our rig.
Thursday and Friday were spent making the rounds of parks in the area that we had included on our list. We are finding parks here to be more expensive than in Arizona, also older and not as scenic. We had one park that even turned us away because of our tow vehicle. They said they did not want MDTís in their park! It was an older park and fairly run down, so it really didnít matter that much to us.
After checking out parks, it was time for some play. Sanibel Island is said to be one of the best shelling locations in the country. We made the drive over the causeway (toll) and found a parking area near the beach. The water on this side of the Gulf of Mexico is much more beautiful than on our Texas side. They were having a problem here with a red algae washing up on the beaches right now. It was caused by Tropical Storm Alberto stirring up the waters.
We walked along the beach. Millie shed her shoes and walked in the water. The water was really warm and she was wishing she had worn her swim suit. We found some pretty shells but not anything spectacular.
After leaving the beach, we drove further down the island and across the bridge to Captiva Island. Captiva is more upscale than Sanibel, with large homes lining the beach. It was a pretty day and the drive was nice.
Our last day in Ft. Meyers was spent visiting Everglades National Park. The park covers much of southern Florida and contains several ecosystems. We visited the Gulf Coast Visitors Center at Everglades City. This diverse park is the home of both alligators and crocodiles, the only place in the world where this occurs.
We purchased tickets for a boat tour operated for the park. The tour was 1-1/2 hours and we toured Chokoloskee Bay and the Ten Thousand Islands area. This part of the park contains islands made up of Mangrove trees. Three types of mangroves exist in this area, Black, Red and White. The Black Mangrove has roots that grows above the water line and is adapted to living in both salt and fresh water. The roots also help them survive the rise and fall of the tides.
We saw a number of birds on the islands, including egrets and osprey. Manatees also live in this area, but we didnít see any on this trip.
When we reached the point where the bay meets the gulf, we were greeted by a pod of Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins. We had a great time watching this friendly creatures, who even ďsurfedĒ in the wake of the boat.
After we returned home to Ft. Meyers, the sky opened up and we had a terrific rain storm. The next morning we noticed that our neighborís awning was up over the top of his motor home. Even though he had it tied down, the wind had caught it.
We hitched up the next morning and made our way east to Titusville. We had some problems with our trailer braking system and it took longer than normal to make the trip, so we were tired when we arrived. We checked into Seasons in the Sun Resort and did a minimal set up. We are going to be here for 2 weeks so we can do our full set up when we are more rested.
A couple of days of rest and we were ready to check out the parks on our list. It looks like we will definitely be staying on this coast next winter. We have found the parks here to be newer, with larger spaces and less costly. We looked at the parks on our list and on the way back home, saw an ad for a park in the area that we didnít have on our list. We decided to check it out.
Willow Lakes is a park with purchased spaces, but they do offer some rental spaces. We stopped at the office and talked to a member of the staff, but the rental agent was not in. We were given literature on the park and told we were welcome to drive through the park. As we were driving through we noticed a for rent sign on one of the lots and wrote down the phone number. After we got back home, Millie called and inquired about the availability of the lot. The space is available and it looks like we are going to be spending next winter there!
We had tropical rain showers nearly every afternoon. We are hoping to see the launch of the shuttle Discovery on July 1, so hopefully the rain will be out of here by then. Florida has been experiencing drought and wildfires so we understand the need for the rain and donít mind it.
The day we looked at parks, we drove along highway US1 and you can see Cape Kennedy across the Indian River. We could make out the launch area with Discovery on the pad. We really find it a thrill to see this.
We did laundry one day and found the cost really high in this park. ($1.50 a load to wash and the same to dry.) Millie did the ironing and worked on the quilt she is piecing. She is hoping to have this one finished in a few weeks, so she can move on to her next project.Next month: Shuttle Launch, Jacksonville, Coastal Georgia. See you then.
Take care and we will see you again next month.
(Lots of new photos in the gallery, take a look. We couldn't link to all of them.)