It’s been awhile since I have blogged so I’ll update you on what we’ve been up to all winter.
We made our way down the east coast of Florida, stopping in Fernandina Beach, St. Augustine and then a really nice county campground near Melbourne Beach. Long Point Campground is on the Indian River and only a five minute drive to Atlantic Ocean beaches.
Many of the campsites at Long Point are directly on the water.
There were tons of birds out on the river and surrounding marshes. We saw herons, egrets, storks, osprey, ibis and pelicans. One morning I looked out our front window and could see dolphins swimming by out in the river. It was a very quiet, peaceful spot right out in nature.
The McLarty Treasure Museum was nearby and told the story of the story of the 1715 Spanish treasure fleet that was shipwrecked just off the coast in a hurricane.
Treasures from the eleven lost ships have been recovered over the years some of which are on display at the museum. We learned that the silver pieces become tarnished and encrusted over years on the sea floor but any gold artifacts recovered are as shiny and gleaming gold as if they were dropped into the ocean just yesterday.
The hunt for the motherlode of the lost treasure is ongoing to this day in case anyone wants to invest in the salvage company.
We stayed a few extra days, hoping to catch a SpaceX rocket launch from Cape Canaveral but after two delays in the scheduled launch dates we were forced to move inland to Arcadia, FL to our first reservation.
We spent two weeks around Christmas at Cross Creek RV Resort in Arcadia. It was a bit more expensive than our usual spots and our first stay at a resort campground but we had won a free week at the Tampa RV show last year so it was affordable. Our site also came with its very own palm tree.
Cross Creek had nice amenities, a big pool and hot tub, tennis, pickleball and shuffleboard courts and lots of activities. We swatted the ball around the pickleball court, played a lot of shuffleboard and went to water aerobic classes a few times a week. There was music by the pool every Friday for Happy Hour.
Arcadia had just about everything we needed as far as groceries and other shopping and had some interesting buildings downtown. Most of the downtown storefronts have been taken over by antique shops making Arcadia a destination for antique shoppers.
We spent Christmas Eve at cousin Bob and Linda’s in Port Charlotte and Christmas Day at Cookie and Bud’s, our other cousins in Port Charlotte. We also visited Mary Ann’s brother Tom and family who were visiting their son Jason in Delray Beach out on the east coast of Florida. Visiting with everyone made for a very nice holiday.
On January 1, after two weeks at Cross Creek, we moved twenty minutes north for two months at the Florida SKP Resort in Wauchula, FL. I’ll follow up with another post on the SKP Resort.
Wauchula is in south central Florida, out in cattle country. There isn’t much going on out there except for cattle ranches and orange groves. The land is as flat as could be with miles and miles of Florida prairie and range land as far as the eye can see. We caught the end of the orange harvest with tractor trailer loads of oranges driving by on their way to the orange juice processing plants.
My sister Diane flew down from Connecticut with my Dad to visit for a long weekend in mid-January. The warm weather they were hoping for didn’t really work out. Though it was nice and sunny during the day, it was cool and windy and got downright COLD at night. We had a good time though just spending time with them.
We spent a lot of time just hanging out at the campground but took some day trips out to surrounding areas. It seems that Wauchula is about an hour’s drive from almost anything else you really want to see in Florida.
We made a few trips to some beautiful gulf coast beaches, Siesta Key and Bradenton Beach.
We went to Myakka State Park with Dad and Diane and took a nature tour of the Florida dry prairie and a boat tour on the lake where we saw hundreds of alligators sitting out in the sun on the shore trying to stay warm.
We also went to Highland Hammocks State Park in Sebring for a program on the endangered Florida panther. The panther population was down to about 20 individuals in the 1970’s and has since expanded to about 240. The struggle now is how to manage the expanding range of the panther population to co-exist with ranchers and suburban Florida.
We took a long kayak trip down the Peace River where we got up close to a lot more gators including two huge monsters, longer than our ten foot kayaks, that quickly slid into the water as we passed by. Hopefully, they sank right to the bottom and weren’t stalking us in hopes of an easy meal.
A completely new experience for us was a day at a polo match in Sarasota.
The Sunday afternoon match is a big social event with tailgating and parties. The match was exciting and competitive with the horses and riders thundering by, stopping and turning on a dime as they smacked the ball around the field with their mallets.
We also visited the winter home of the Royal Lipizzan Stallions in Myakka City. They put on good show/ training session and it was fun to see the skilled riders and magnificent white stallions up close.
We try to include local delicacies in our travels and made two teks to seek out some of Florida’s finest. The first was to Plant City for the best strawberry shortcake ever. Thousands of acres of strawberry fields surrounding Plant City supply the entire east coast with fresh strawberries throughout the winter months. Four dollars bought us a big bowl with fresh shortcake and sweet, ripe juicy berries topped with fresh whipped cream. Delicious! As we chowed down at Parkesdale Farm Market we could see trailer loads of berries coming in fresh from the fields.
A good smoked mullet dinner is becoming a Florida tradition for us and the best we have found is at Ted Peter’s Famous Smoked Fish in St. Petersburg. They serve up a huge piece of smoked mullet with delicious warm German potato salad and coleslaw. Throw in a frosty mug of beer and it doesn’t get any better!
We got great news on February 25th – our second grandson was born in Richmond, VA. Hawthorne Windsor Jeffries was two days early but he and mom are healthy and happy.
We made another move about three hours north on March 1st to Wilderness RV Resort in Silver Springs, FL. Mary Ann took off for Virginia shortly after we arrived to help out with the new baby for a week or two. I’ll wait for her to get back and finish off the month of March here in Silver Springs before heading back north to spend more time with our grandsons and family.