01/20/19 Englewood, FL

DAY #92

Spent the day watching the football game. While I got a lot of channels, most were little more than white noise. One of the channels I did get was Fox, which aired the game.

After the game, I went over to Marcia’s cousin’s house which was only 20 minutes away in East Venice. Margaret (sister in law) and Ed (brother in law) took a weeks’ vacation and after spending a couple days in Orlando, came down here for three days.

We went to Outback Steakhouse and had a very enjoyable evening. I’m excited that we’ll all be able to hang out for the next couple days. Charlotte and Lisa (Marcia’s cousin’s) know the area well and are into the same kind of stuff, this is gonna be fun.

01/19/19. Englewood, FL

DAY #91

Today, I decided to go the other direction and head west to the gulf. I Left the camp site, did a zig-zag through Englewood, crossed the bridge, and arrived at my destination, Manasota Key.

Crossing over to the island.

The weather was beautiful and the island was jammed with people. driving south on Manasota to the islands end, I found the beach and sure enough, it was full. Did a U-turn and headed in the other direction. the island is quite long, I’d say about 10 miles of roadway, and with the exception of both ends of the island, totally developed.

The southern third of the key is comprised mainly of single family, middle class homes, or they were when built. The center of the island is where you find the condos and retail areas. And the northern third is where the price tag for homes hit high numbers. It is of course, the most scenic part of the island.

There were some nice views of the gulf along the drive.

As you enter the northern part of the island, the road narrows and trees now line the road. The county has designated the area as a “canopy area”, meaning the vegetation & trees must be maintained and not removed.

Made it to the end of the road just past the beach. Traffic & people were heavy and the beach on this end while not full, was busy. Before today, I hadn’t seen so many out of state license plates.

The end of the road.

It was a gorgeous day to be out and about. I enjoyed seeing this little slice of Florida.

01/18/19 Englewood, FL.

DAY #90

What day is it? It’s lets go see Mark & Diane’s property day. Some people go to Florida for Disney World, others to enjoy the beaches & ocean. Me, I go to see Mark & Diane’s property.

The ride was about an hour from the State Forest, and it took me from the seclusion of the woods through suburbia and into the country (physically & spiritually). They have a nice lot in a quiet area, one thing, it’s going to need some landscaping. It looks like at one time, the plan was to develop the area, and after getting the planned development started something must have happened, because it looks today like the plan just fizzled out. It’s close to rivers and protected lands. Hey, it was worth seeing.

After that excitement, I set my sights on Arcadia, FL. Arcadia is a small city 16 miles away, and lies in the center of Florida’s Citrus groves. Driving along I came across a number of orange groves, which I thought was pretty cool. It’s orange harvesting time and while I didn’t get any photos of orange trees, I got the next best thing.

Did I mention it was 75 degrees out and beautiful.

Took my time in getting back to the campground, enjoying scoping out the area along the way. Besides the groves & vegetables, saw a lot of pastures & cattle. With all the cattle I’ve seen, Florida must be up there in states supplying beef.

All in all, the camp site was working out well. The generator was working as planned, it used about a gallon of gas for running 10 hours. On the down side, It is a bit loud at load, One other thing that I’ll put in the bummer dept, the microwave won’t work off the generator. It will start up and run for 7-8 seconds and then shut down. It must take a boatload of watts, the space heater I have is 750 watts and will work, although greatly increasing the load on the generator. The maximum the generator can crank out is 1600 watts. I’ve become conditioned to using microwaves, like I’ve been in watching TV. When you don’t have it, man-o-man you really miss it.

Viviendo la Vida primitiva.

01/17/19 Lakeland-Englewood, FL

DAY #89

Time to leave Colt Creek State Park, and it’s been too short of a stay. Unfortunately, when I reserved the site, I could do so for only four days. Too bad, I would’ve liked to have stayed longer. There’s a lot of things to see and do in the area (none of which I did), and Tampa was just down the road. Reluctantly, I locked down, hooked up, screwed my head on straight, and headed down the road, next stop, Myakka State Forest in Englewood, FL.

I had some trepidation’s about the next stop. The State Forest site that I booked doesn’t have electric or water hookups, plus no flushing toilets/showers. It’s what’s called a “primitive campsite.” When I was planning the journey, the State Forest site was all I could find available that fit the time and place I wanted to be. I can make do without running water, but I’ve grown accustomed to the finer things in trailer living, like electricity and flushing toilets. Now the trailer has the capacity to hold 40 gallons of water to use for drinking, Showering, etc, and there is a tank for waste. The problem in that is I’ve been a little slow in sanitizing the water tank which they recommend before use. I’ve had the time and opportunity to get it sanitized, it’s not a difficult process. It’s like with the city water hookup and hot water heater, I don’t know why I drag my feet, why I’m so hesitant to getting it done. Maybe two weeks without, will leave the impression on me I desperately need.

Because of the lack of amenities at the State Forest, I had decided to take a short detour along the way and stop at Myakka State Park (not forest) to check on any possible walk-in sites available.
When I set out for the State Park, I set it up on google maps, and put my faith in it to steer me along the right course. Usually it does the job just fine but today, it messed up. I faithfully followed the directions given and arrived at the State Park. The only problem was, it was the north gate and that gate is only open weekends and holidays. I had to back up the trailer in a tiny spot (not fun), and wing it on my own to find where I thought would be the south gate. After a bit of a detour, I found the south gate and ranger station. This is the second time google has given me bum directions to a park.
Checked at the Ranger Station, and bummer, no sites available, it was off to the deep primitive woods for this kid for the next two weeks.

The drive was longer this trip but still not too bad, only 175 miles. I think I took every kind of road on this segment. Started on dirt, then county roads (my favorite), state highways, U.S. highways, and finally Interstate. The weather was stunning, the views scenic, and the roads were good, which made the drive a quite enjoyable one.

Made it to the State Forest, Drove a mile down the dirt road to the Administration building and checked in.

The campsite was another 1/3 mile and I was somewhat surprised by its entrance. You have to open/close the gate every time you use it. There’s a lock that you get the code from at the Admin. building.

The road continues on for another three miles.

After driving into the campground my first thought was…rustic?

There’s ten sites in this campground, of which 1/2 are tent only. I drove down to the road (path) and found site #3, home for the next two weeks. I wasn’t sure at first if I could back the trailer into the site, it was definitely a challenge.

Once in, it was a very nice site, very nice.

Got the generator out of the truck bed and started it up. It started without hassle (thank you!). It’s a little louder than I thought it would be, but seems to be working.

My thoughts on the new home for the next two weeks, it’s rustic, big time!

01/16/19 Lakeland, FL

DAY #88

Last full day at Colt Creek State Park. I’m finding that three days isn’t long enough at a stop, at least for me. I’m just getting revved up to get out and about and pow, it’s time to hit the road again. I think my laid back pace might have gotten tuned down a little too far. I need to turn it up and be more active next stop.

I did go into Dade City and do laundry. The laundromat was old and dingy. From its water stained, rotting drop down ceiling, to its faded linoleum floors. The washers and dryers were past their prime about ten years ago. The owner, who I got change from, looked about as vibrant and healthy as his business. In the end, I didn’t have to jockey for a washer or dryer and the clothes did appear to be clean.

A relic of Old Florida
Another remnant of a by-gone era.

Coming back from doing the laundry, I perused the park. The spread used to be owned by two brothers who raised cattle and cut timber on the land. They also did some mining for limestone resulting in a couple of large pits which today look amazingly natural, not man made.

At one time this was a man made big hole in the ground.

Lets take a drive down the park roads.

A palm tree all alone.

01/15/19 Lakeland, FL

DAY #87

Got up this morning and made a bad mistake, I turned the TV on. One 1/2 hour sitcom, turned into a one hour court TV show, followed by another, and then a movie hadn’t seen in ages. Next thing I know, its 4:00 pm and with sunset at 6:00 pm, no time to do anything.

Just a nice do nothing day, and a really nice place to do it (nothing)

01/14/19 Lakeland, FL

DAY #86

The only thing accomplished today, was to go into Lakeland to get a light bulb to replace the one under the hood vent in the trailer, it had burned out. I did take the long way there and back, just to get a feel of the area.

Ugh, as you leave the tranquility of the park and the connected Green Swamp Wildlife Management Area (which is a big area), you transition into exurbia-Lakeland style. Not fun driving down these corridors of commerce when compared to the back roads of the park.

Went back to the trailer and replaced the bulb. Yea, it worked. Even something as tiny as changing a bulb feels good when it works.

This guy looked so serious.

01/13/19 Fruitland Park-Lakeland, FL

DAY #85

The next stop on the journey was only 47 miles away, and with a 1:00 pm checkout, I decided to make it a “late start” kind of day. I seem to have quite a few of these and you know what, I like them.

Bidding Lake Griffin State Park a fond farewell, I put the truck in gear, locked in the coordinates, and away I went. It was a nice drive, tree lined and rural most of the way. One thing that continues to “pull my chain” is all the garbage you see on the sides of the roads. Made it to Colt Creek State Park and after checking in at the ranger station, off I went to find the campsite.

The drive to the campsite was about a mile from the entrance, with most of the way being on paved roads, it was only the last 1/4 mile where the pavement ends and the dirt (sand) begins.

Where the pavement ends.

This is Florida’s newest State Park and what I saw on the drive in, I liked.

I found my site, pulled in, and setup. All in all, a really nice arrangement. I like that I didn’t have to back-in, and that the site was level.

It’s a nice campground.

Lots of TV stations coming in which I have to admit, I like, and the Verizon signal, is OK for surfing, but not much else (e.g. uploading). I’m amazed at how much data I’ve used in the past month. Its like twice as much as I normally used in Osakis. I wonder, is there a difference between Cell Data & DSL?

Only here for the next three days, I’m thinking the times going to go quick.

01/12/19 Fruitland Park, FL

DAY #84

Last full day at Lake Griffin State Park. I really slept well last night, so well in fact, I didn’t get up until close to noon. Must’ve been the physical exercise of being in the water 2+ hours with the Manatees yesterday.

The time here has been a good one. The campgound provided for a comfortable secluded site, along with nice amenities. It served as a good base for exploring the area. I really enjoyed this island, not so much the desert surrounding it. I’m finding, that I’m a country boy, I just don’t like the city. Does saying this after a lifetime of city living make me a hypocrite? No, I don’t think so, I’ve always been drawn towards rural living, and now that I’ve been given the chance, let’s just say, I’ve not been disappointed.

Even including “The Villages” and the endless strip malls and fast food outlets, the area has charm. From the pastures and forests, to the “Old Florida” styled homes and downtowns that still excist. It is an enjoyable place to hang out.

The weather continues to be almost a non-factor. Its just so nice, that you start to take it as normal, and when you do, you don’t think about it anymore.

Took a leisurely late afternoon drive, saying so long for now to this slice of Florida.

01/11/19 Fruitland Park, FL.

DAY #83

Today promised to be a big day. I had rescheduled my swim with the Manatees to 10:00 am and this time, I was determined to make it.

Looking out the trailer window, the morning looked promising. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and the winds were light. Got up, dressed, and headed out the door, yeow, the temperature was only 46 degrees out. I knew it was going to be cold but still. I guess the space heater being on overnight had lulled me into thinking otherwise. The cold had me a little worried. The water temp would be 72 degrees which is OK, but the air temp when getting out of the water could make for one bone chilling experience, something I could live without.

Made it to Crystal Falls in plenty of time. Got the chance to take a couple laps around town. You can still find “Old Florida” in the town proper. It’s a style that I like the more I see, and I really appreciate that some of it remains to still be seen.

The temp was warming up and looked like it would be in the mid 50s, still cold enough to concern me. I found the place, checked in, put on my govt issued wet-suit, and then watched a video about the dos & don’t when swimming around the manatees. After that, it was off to the van, which took us to the boat.

The boat took us to a place in the bay known to have manatee’s, and we weren’t disappointed.
Into the water we went, and while it was cool, it wasn’t that bad. The water was murky which was somewhat of a bummer sight wise, but you could still see the shapes of them in the water and more so, once in the water, you could feel them when moving your arms around to keep above water. You’re not supposed to touch them, only let them touch you, but given the murkiness of the water and having to move my arms around to keep my head above water, it was hard not to do.

I didn’t take any of the photos so they actually came out pretty good.
That’s me with my back to the camera. It was so neat, even though they were hard to see, it was like they would come underneath and bump into you.
That’s me, the fat boy on the left. The others kept touching me thinking I was a manatee. (Just kidding).