The sites are level and provide cement patios as well as full utilities and wide paved roads. The entrance is easy to spot, very wide, and the 2 lane 60 MPH road opens up with a very long left turn lane to make it easy to slow down with a large RV to turn. The pool is heated and well used as is the clubhouse and the bike racks. The laundry room is very clean and inexpensive. WIFI is excellent all through the park! They have local brochures available. Super Walmart is nearby as well as plenty of restaurants. It was great to get back to a clubhouse with puzzles again. I have gotten my jollies with several puzzles since arriving.
Since I planned to be staying a while, I had some fun putting out some of my trailer decorations. I even had time to wash the Maine mud off the front and I washed the windows with my new collapsible bucket. The collapsible buckets are great! They do work and store neatly out of the way in their own pouch. Did some other annual maintenance too.
The Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties were lots of fun. For Christmas Eve, we had a cute little show in the clubhouse along with punch and cookies. For Christmas we signed up for tables, planned menus, and everyone brought something. I was in charge of olives and green salad. I think I put out a pretty decent salad bar for my table. The turkey and ham, stuffing, potato salad, shrimp, pies, etc. were all delicious and I was stuffed. The next night we had Christmas Dinner Part II – Leftovers which was just as good though fewer attended. Stuffed again and we still had enough left to take some home. For New Year’s Eve, we brought snacks up to the clubhouse to listen to a singer they hired with a karaoke machine. A few brave souls besides the singer serenaded us. There was lots of dancing including line dancing and a little Macarena. Near midnight, they turned on the big screen TV to watch the ball drop in NYC. I got plenty of hugs.
The park is near the winter headquarters for the Royal Lipizzaner Stallions in Myakka, FL. They are just starting their 2009 tour and I managed to catch the show one night in Lakeland, FL. It is an amazing fusion of classical music and precise dressage skill. The horses and the uniforms of the riders are beautiful. Horse and rider act as one. I have wanted to see them since I saw Disney’s “Miracle of the White Stallions” as a kid. It was worth the wait. Even the young children attending were well behaved and in awe.
A got an invite from another single lady camper to go see Solomon’s Castle nearby with her. Solomon’s Castle is the home of an artist he built to look like a genuine castle from junk and it shows off his sculptures made from junk. He is very talented with a great sense of humor. When we got there, a bus tour of senior citizens had already arrived. The tour was very interesting and the castle magnificent. The aluminum outside skin is made from printing plates he gets from the local newspaper after they are done with them. They have a special suite in a tower that you can stay in if you have $100 to spare. Lunch is served up onboard a ship in the moat in a restaurant run by Solomon’s daughter and husband. The menu is very lean but the portions of what they do have sure are not. Wow! I enjoyed the meatloaf very much and my friend had their famous apple crisp with cinnamon ice cream. Naturally before we went there, I checked on geocaches and found there is one there out on their nature trail. I found it very easily thanks to the clue.
Another day I checked out a little park on the Peace River where many people go to pan for shark’s teeth. I kid you not. It is all rocky there and covered with tiny shells and sharks teeth of all sizes. I saw men wading in wet suits while panning. Of course, I was really there to find a geocache. Mission accomplished.
That same day, I went to the Cracker Trail Museum to learn about local pioneer life and….. you guessed it… find a virtual geocache. Virtual caches are not actual containers with items but rather some interesting sign or object you must see and get some information off of to claim the find. In this case, I had to get a pioneer’s full name. The museum was worth the dollar to see and I liked where the virtual was.
While here, the park did get robbed one night. The thieves stole items left outside unlocked including 1 bicycle and invaded RVs that were left unlocked while inhabitants slept to steal wallets and other valuables. No one woke up or was confronted. The bike was later found in a field. I post this only as a reminder that whether you are in a house or an RV, don’t forget security. Lock things up and don’t get too complacent no matter how nice the neighborhood is.
My laptop died while working one night here. I had to scramble very fast to get a new one since I do work a normal 40 hour a week job over the Internet. The nearest large city with choices is Lakeland 47 miles away so I drove up to the Circuit City, Office Depot, Staples, and Best Buy there. I found 2 I liked and could afford but of course they were out of the 1 I finally chose. They checked stock for me and I ended up making a second trip 80 miles away to Kissimmee, FL. When I got there, I spoke to 3 different computer sales associates to get their opinions on my two choices considering my needs. I lucked out and also got the store expert as one of them. I am very happy with the one I finally bought, an Acer Aspire 6930. I am not too crazy about all the ridiculous security in the Windows Vista that came on it but am learning to deal with it as I move my files and programs over from my old hard drive. I love the new built-in wifi card which is very strong. I am getting great signal on it even in my aluminum skin trailer. Having a DVD writer again is certainly nice. My old laptop did not have that. Intel Centrino CPU, 3 gigs ram, 320 gig hardrive, surround sound with subwoofer, built-in webcam, and 16″ screen are also very nice. Vista performance analyzer is giving most of the components scores in the high 4s. Only gaming graphics scored 3.4 but since I don’t game much, I don’t care.
I also lost my aircard service here. Apparently Sprint changed their contract quite significantly. It now has a cap of 5 gigs per month instead of unlimited and they capped roaming at only 300 megs. Now I only use 1.5 gigs a month even with working fulltime over the Internet but I do roam a lot as I travel. 300 megs is just enough to do email. Whoopee! They called me to tell me I was violating the new contract and offered me a chance to get out of the 2 year contract free. I took the out. Without roaming, their coverage is pretty pitiful compared to others like Verizon. They could not have found a better way to kill their company. A little checking on the Internet shows they are losing customers in droves over this. They didn’t even bother to come up with a new plan and charge for roamers. So now I am wirelessless (is that a word? ).
At the end of my stay I had to move into one of the overflow sites to make room for other members wanting to enjoy the facilities. Even the overflow area is nice with flat wide slots, water, and 20 amp electric near the clubhouse. Certainly no worse than a state campground but with great wifi. Hint: to use an air conditioner on 20 amps, kick the refrigerator over to gas. The fridge does use a lot of electricity. It really isn’t that hard on the gas either.
Despite my bad luck with the cold and broken computer while I was here, I also had some good luck. I stumbled across a long term resident with a woodshop stocked with tools and the talent to go with them. I explained to him the problem I have had for 2 years with the front board of my couch which comes off to use the storage space underneath. I have had it taking up space in my bedroom because if I put it on the couch, my dang cat will drop down behind the couch and get stuck which I can’t have happen while I’m asleep or away. I had an idea of what to do but no tools and the nice gentleman came up with an even better idea. After I pulled the staples and peeled back the upholstery, he cut an 8 inch circle in the end of the board. I replaced the upholstery and fit it over the edges of the hole then stapled it back down. The Dang Cat now has her very own private condo under the couch completely furnished with her large cushioned pet pad. She loves it! I am considering adding a name plate over it or a mailbox. LOL And like any wife who gets one thing new, she had to have more furniture. To replace her pet pad in the living room, I bought her a very well cushioned new cat bed. The older we get, the more padding we need.
While in the Ace hardware store nearby, I discovered they carry RV parts including the ones I have been looking for in RV stores. I was able to fix the maddening drip of the bathroom faucet and kitchen faucet as well as replace the electrical receptacle in the kitchen where only one outlet had been working. We are a 2 holer now! What was funny was I had asked a couple of men how to get the wires to push down into the connectors because I have always used the screw type receptacles. It became clear that I would have to hover the wires over the connectors and then push the back plate into the faceplate and this would set the wires properly. Unfortunately, I have zero upper body strength. One of the men tried to do it for me but that sucker just wasn’t having it. He finally gave up and provided me with a large C clamp and block of wood I had requested. I fit the pieces together, placed the wood over the back, then clamped them together and snapped it right in. Moved the clamp a little and snapped the rest in. Heh heh who needs brawn when they have brains. Aar aar aar!
Lastly, rather than than jump into another 2 year contract for wireless, I have just purchased a used aircard from a reputable dealer on Ebay. The key to buying them on Ebay is to make sure they don’t require a contract and that they either provide the ESN number off the back of the aircard so you can call the service the card is for and verify it can be activated (not stolen or with an existing balance owed), or they guarantee they have checked it and it can be activated and they have excellent very high feedback. It was fun getting back into the auctions since it has been awhile for me. I enjoyed kicking some butts back to their mommas when I sniped the item out from under them in the last 7 seconds. Muwahaha! I still got it very cheap too. When I get the card, I only have to call the service and activate it on a month to month contract. I will have to pay a setup fee but that is still better than a 2 year contract with an out clause that requires $175 to get out of it. This is also a great way to upgrade to one of the newer cards if you need to since you can activate them on your current plan. I chose a card that is identical to my fairly current Sprint aircard so my external antenna will fit it. I wasn’t in the mood to buy another antenna or adapter. I suppose I could go ahead and sell off my Sprint card now to recoup some of my costs.