January in Florida

We returned to Florida from our Christmas Tour (see previous post) on January 5th. Needless to say, we were tired from our travels and all our family holiday celebrations. We took a few days to just recuperate, do laundry, and relax. Plus, we were VERY happy to be back to warmer temperatures!

On Friday, January 11th, we drove to Orlando for a very special Christmas gift: tickets to a Billy Joel concert! The gift included two tickets to the concert, an overnight stay at a condo in downtown Orlando via Airbnb, and free dog-sitting all supplied by our son who lives in Gainesville. It was a fun little “get away,” and we thoroughly enjoyed the concert and our time together! We even made our first visit to an IKEA store!

Friday, January 18th was a beautiful day with sunshine and a high in the 70s. Silver Springs was just a few miles from the RV park, so we decided to drive over there that afternoon and explore a little. We had been to Silver Springs MANY years ago, but we didn’t remember much about it except it was a spring and we rode the glass bottom boats. We walked around and enjoyed the crystal clear waters of Silver Springs and the beautiful day.

Do you remember a television show called “Sea Hunt?” It was an action adventure show starring Lloyd Bridges who played a former US Navy frogman. Did you know a large part of the show “Sea Hunt” was filmed at Silver Springs? It was! Plus, he stayed in the motel right across from the entrance to the park in room #8 (we learned that from some relatives we visited with who live about a half a mile from Silver Springs).

The very next day, January 19th, we had plans to drive to Deland, FL, and visit our friends, Connie and Bill. Some other friends from Missouri, Debbie and Kenny, were also visiting Connie and Bill. That afternoon we had plans to attend the town’s famous “Taste of Deland” street festival. Various vendors from Deland put up tents and serve samples of DELICIOUS food from their menu. For a small entry fee, we could sample anything and everything we could eat from 1:00 – 4:00. We tried ALL kinds of food: sushi, barbecue with cole slaw, shrimp with rice covered in a wonderful glaze, desserts, and MUCH more. It was a fun afternoon!

January 23rd was my birthday. Connie and Bill wanted to see our RV and come for a visit, so they drove up from Deland. We showed them the RV park and sat outside on our patio for a while and enjoyed the sunshine and warmth. We decided to go to downtown Ocala to eat lunch at Ivy on the Square. What a GREAT restaurant with reasonable prices for lunch, and the food was DELICIOUS!

On Jan. 26th we drove to Blue Spring State Park, Florida’s premiere manatee refuge. This 2,643 acre park is the winter home to more than 200 West Indian manatees (also known as American manatees). It is home to 15 natural communities, a lagoon, a north-flowing river and a first-magnitude spring. There is a one-third mile boardwalk that follows along the bank covered with shady hardwood hammock. While on the boardwalk during the winter months, one can watch manatees swim, rest, and play in the warm 72-degree waters. The park also has a campground, cabins to rent, and a hiking trail. In the summer, one can swim, tube, snorkel, picnic, barbecue, and rent a canoe or kayak. There is also a kayak tour to experience the native plants and wildlife on a two-hour river cruise.

Viewing the manatees (called sea cows) was exciting. They are gentle, giant creatures that move seamlessly through the water. The day we visited the park, there were approximately 300 manatees present. The West Indian manatee was placed on the Endangered Species List in the 1970s when there were only several hundred left. On March 30, 2017, they were reclassified from endangered to threatened as the number of sea cows had increased to over 6,000. We thoroughly enjoyed watching them!

On February 1st, we traveled to our next RV park which was about 2.5 – 3 hours south. That will be an upcoming post, so stayed tuned!

So, for now ….. “On the Road Again!”

Betty

FLORIDA!

I am SO sorry I haven’t published anything on this blog for a while. I guess some times we all just need to take a break from everything and just relax. That is exactly what we’ve been doing: relaxing and resting.

We have been in Florida for about eleven weeks now. We haven’t done a lot of “exploring” per se because we have visited and vacationed in the state numerous times. We have explored the city of Ocala, taken walks around the RV park, and generally just spent some time relaxing. Also, we have spent some time with our oldest son, Jeff, who lives about 45 minutes from where we are staying, as well as visiting with some Missouri friends that moved to Florida about the same time we started RVing.

We spent Thanksgiving weekend with Jeff and had a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Don’t get too excited…he didn’t cook; I did! 😂 That’s OK; I enjoyed fixing the small feast for the three of us. We also attended a truly wonderful benefit concert, “Stop Children’s Cancer – Holiday Traditions: A Musical Celebration,” that our son co-emceed. The concert featured the Alachua County Youth Orchestra, several area high school choirs and ensembles, and featured soloists who were childhood cancer survivors. It was truly a blessing to all who attended and raised a lot of money for children’s cancer research.

That is our son, Jeff, on the far right next to the Christmas tree.

After the concert we went with Jeff to his work Christmas Party. It was nice to meet his coworkers and the students/future weather casters he is mentoring.

Around the middle of December we visited our Missouri friends, Bill and Connie, who had moved to Deland, FL. We attended Bill and Connie’s community choir Christmas Concert, their church’s Christmas Cantata where they were in the handbell choir, and numerous neighbors’ “block” parties. Their neighborhood likes to get together and have parties! What fun!! It was a wonderful weekend filled with meeting new friends, listening to beautiful Christmas music, delicious food, and A LOT of laughter.

The Vee Gees’ (stands for Victoria Gardens, the name of their community) Christmas performance.

Bill and Connie (on the end of each row; right side of picture) ringing their bells at their church’s Christmas program.

Their church choir performing their cantata.

December 22nd we headed out in the car to what I affectionately call our “Christmas Tour.” We drove two long days to get to Edmond, OK, for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with our youngest son, Mike, and his family. As always, we attended Christmas Eve church service and had a wonderful Christmas Day with the grandkids and family.

Jackson has discovered the photo “effects” button! 😂

The day after Christmas we headed to Missouri. We stopped in Springfield to visit with Jack’s mom and his sister and her husband.

Then it was on to St. Louis to see my folks and wait for the rest of the family to come in the next weekend so we could have our Christmas with them. After a busy, hectic, but fun weekend, we all met Sunday morning at McDonald’s for breakfast and our final goodbyes. It is always bittersweet lining up at McDonald’s and hugging every one, saying good bye, and watching them all depart for their homes in Indiana, Oklahoma, and Florida.

I’m not too sure these two are enjoying each other’s company. 😂

After shopping and spending all our Christmas money, it’s time for a nap!

Grandpa Gary and all his grandkids with spouses and great-grandkids!

Jeff flew home to Florida the day everyone else headed home because Jack and I were staying for a few more days in STL before driving back to Florida. I visited mom at Sunrise of Des Peres several times, helped dad get out his “Holiday” photo card, and even squeezed in some “girl time” with my younger sister, Lisa.

We headed back to Florida January 4th with a planned stop in Dexter, MO. We took our cute little Shih Tzu, Zoey, to her former groomer while we visited with some close friends for a couple of hours. Then we made a stop at the veterinarian’s office for Zoey’s annual shots. Needless to say, she was not happy with us after that. Then we really got “on the road” back to Florida. Our goal was to make it to the other side of Chattanooga before stopping for the night.

We made it, but it was a very long, exhausting day and evening of driving in a slow drizzle of rain and mist. We got up the next morning for the final leg of our 2700+ mile “Christmas Tour.” By the time we made it back to the RV at Silver Springs, FL, we were tired and so happy to be home. Yes, the RV truly feels like home by now!

So, for now ….. “On the Road Again!”

Betty

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