We took a little break from blogging this winter. When we last posted to the blog we had finished spending November in the Florida Panhandle. December found us in Clearwater where most of the month was spent getting our yearly physicals and dental work. This included colonoscopies for both of us and a bone density and mammogram for me. Thankfully everything checked out fine for both of us. It was certainly a relief to get that behind us. We made a trip to Vero Beach the week preceding Christmas to see Bill’s son Sean and Bill’s Aunt Charlotte. We attended the annual New Year’s Eve Pajama Party at the home of our friends Ben and Anne in Tampa. Ben is an ordained minister and he performed the wedding of our mutual friends Denise and Ralph in Ben’s backyard around the pool. It was certainly a unique New Year’s Eve!
In January we spent sixteen days in Seffner waiting to have our major slide mechanism replaced. It was a frustrating time as we had issues with the warranty company and ordering the parts was put on hold until the issue could be resolved.
It wasn’t all bad. Bill reconnected with Pete, a college friend he hadn’t seen in over thirty years. We certainly did enjoy getting together with Pete and his wife several times. We accompanied them to the large Tampa RV show and our first ever visit to an IKEA store. While at the RV show we were able to catch a quick visit with our good friends and fellow full timers, Jack and Karen. It is always good to see them when our paths cross, which certainly isn’t often enough!
After our slide repair was finally completed we headed slightly north to Bushnell for a two week stay. While there Bill enjoyed meeting some fellow amateur radio enthusiasts and attended one of their meetings.
We made a few day trips. One trip was to the Florida National Cemetery located in the Withlacoochee State Forest located fifty miles north of Tampa in Sumter County. In 1983 the state transferred land to the VA for development of the National Cemetery. The first internment was in 1988. There are committal shelters located throughout the cemetery for families to use for committal services prior to burial. We walked along the peaceful Memorial Pathway lined with memorials honoring American veterans.
We also visited the Dade Battlefield Historic State Park. This 80 acre park has a historic battlefield and Visitors Center. At the Visitors Center we saw a video and toured the museum with displays of clothing and weapons used by the soldiers and Seminoles. On December, 1835, 108 U.S. soldiers and officers were marching from Fort Brooke in Tampa to reinforce Fort King in Ocala. One hundred miles from Fort Brooke they were attacked by 180 Seminole warriors. All but three of the soldiers were killed. In 1921 the state legislature appropriated funds for the preservation of the battle site as a memorial. We enjoyed our visit here which included some geocaching.
On February 8th we left Bushnell and drove to the Central Florida Fairgrounds in Orlando for the annual Hamcation. Bill really looks forward to this amateur radio event each year. This year we parked with members of the Family Motor Coach Association – Amateur Radio Club. We enjoyed afternoon Happy Hours and a potluck dinner. There is always lots to talk about when RVers meet! On Saturday Bill’s friend Terry came over to visit and attend the Hamcation with Bill. Bill and Terry were Boy Scout friends and attended the same church many years ago in Orlando.
Too soon it was time for goodbye hugs and promises to meet sometime, somewhere down the road with our RV friends. We headed south to tiny Wauchula for a two week stay at an Escapees SKP park. Wauchula is not close to much of anything with Sarasota about an hour away, but it is hard to beat the campground price and friendliness of Escapees SKP parks. Everyone is treated like family. An example is the laundry room where washing is only $1.00 per load and drying is 75 cents. You don’t go anywhere without being greeted with a wave, smile and a hug.
While in Wauchula we drove to do some geocaching at Paynes Creek Historic State Park. This is definitely one of Florida’s less known and visited state parks. Even though it was President’s Day weekend, the parking lots were empty. This park is the site where Fort Chokonikla once stood. The fort was built in 1849 due to increasing tensions with the Seminole Indians. The Seminoles didn’t want a war and the fort never came under attack. The high number of casualties did not come from the Indians but rather from disease carrying mosquitoes. In 1850 because of sickness the fort was abandoned and never reoccupied. While in the park we went to the Visitors Center and watched an ancient movie about the fort. The Visitors Center had a few displays but did not even have a park ranger on duty. The only state employee we saw was the person at the gate taking the $3.00 per car admission fee. I am sure they didn’t make enough on admission to even come close to paying the salary of the person taking money.
One day we drove down near Port Charlotte to visit with Bill’s childhood friend Bill and his wife Lynn. Bill and Bill had not seen each other since 1971! We had a lovely visit and lunch overlooking Lemon Bay. After we finished eating we sat talking and Bill and I started coughing. We were told it was from the dreaded red tide that had washed in.
Another day we drove an hour down to Northport to visit with Bill’s cousin Shirley and her husband Jim. We had such a good time talking we forgot to take a picture!
Our next blog posting will be from Big Cypress National Preserve near the Everglades.