Well, after all the excitement in New Orleans, we decided to take it down a few notches and maneuver our way into Florida. We spent time here back in 2020, so coming back was not exciting for me. I know many people come to Florida for the winter; hey, why not? Overall, I don't find this state pretty. It's flat, and it's full of alligators! YIKES!
Our first stop was Pensacola. We pulled into Pensacola RV Park, where we have stayed in the past and loved. It's hard not to like this place, with large sites and it's very well managed, it's also close to amenities, and we were pretty happy. The weather here was not what I was expecting, and it got down into the '20s a few nights while we were there. To say we froze our butts off is an understatement.
We took on a few adventures, one being the Naval Air Museum located on NAS Pensacola.
The day we went, it was cold, the skies were gray, and we were happy to be inside. The museum itself is enormous; they have it set up to walk around and look at airplanes and helicopters from all eras as well as carrier operations from the early start to how things run now. I'm not an airplane buff; Mark is, so I know he enjoyed it much more than I did.
We saw the plane that Mark flew in when in the Navy (EA-6BProwler), and of course, we got a picture of him standing next to it.
The setup in many of the museums we tour depicts the houses in that era. In this case it was of WW II thru early 1950s. I snapped a few photos because the way they have it set up reminds me so much of my grandma's house, especially the kitchen.
Also, while in Pensacola, I did go to the gym; my goal was to go four days a week. While here, I only went for three. The gym was packed with people not wearing masks, and social distancing was non-existent. I tried to go when there were fewer people, but it seemed to be busy at all times of the day. Have you ever tried to do cardio with a mask on? Let's say it's challenging.
The day before we left, we visited the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum (also on NAS Pensacola). We had planned to tour it on the same day we were at the Aviation Museum, but it was closed due to the bad weather. We came back that Sunday when the weather was much nicer, and the skies were blue, I am so glad we did. We were able to see so much more.
I am terrified of heights, and terrified is putting it lightly. However, I won't let that hinder me when climbing to the top of a lighthouse. Mark and I walked 177 steps to the top. Yep, it was scary, but I tried not to look down. I focused on what was ahead of me and kept looking up. Also, I hung onto the railing as if my life depended upon it. Yes, I was scared but glad I did it. Once we got to the top, the view was spectacular. I took a few pictures and then made my way back inside. We didn't hang out for long before we headed back down. So that you know, it makes my stomach quiver thinking about it as I type this.
We woke up on January 24th, packed up, and headed to Naval Station Panama City RV Park. The last time we were through Panama City was August 2020. This time we parked for four days and explored the area. We checked out the Man in the Sea Museum, its focus is to provide insight and understanding of diving history in the USA as well as deep-water submersibles.
I'm not a diver, nor do I desire to dive, but Mark was, and we found it to be fascinating. Diving has evolved over the years, and so has the equipment. Another day, we drove by the beach (Panama City Beach); what a beautiful beach it was. The sun was shining; it was warmer, far from hot, but warm enough to get out and walk to take some quick pictures.
The temperatures here in north Florida have been exceedingly chilly compared to years prior. When you wake up to 29 degrees and are running multiple electric heaters to keep warm, and cut down on using all the propane up, I'd say that is cold, especially for this area.
Friday, January 28th, we loaded up and took a 4-hour drive to Madison, Florida. It was a nice change of pace. We camped on a nice 9-hole Golf Course off the beaten path The weather remained frigid, but we enjoyed ourselves. One day Mark and I took a walk around the park; it was a beautiful sunny day. However, the wind cut right through you; not many people were out golfing.
I will put this park on my "favorites list" Madison RV and Golf Resort because it's tranquil, serene, and beautiful the people here were so friendly. If you decide to stay here, I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
We had to make some changes to our plans for our next stop, as the Famcamp at MacDill AFB (Tampa area) we planned to stay was completely full - even the overflow areas. So, February 1st, we loaded up and took off for Wauchula, Florida. Not having any idea what we were in for, it was a wonderful surprise—a small town of about 4000 people. We took Izzy into the Vet's while we were there and chatting with the Vet's son was very entertaining. It was so funny because small towns are the same no matter what state you live in; the only difference is that some have more sun than others. Small-town politics, small-town gossip, and small-town hospitality kind of made me laugh.
We stayed at the Florida SKP Resort while in Wauchula; the only caveat was you have to be an Escapee member to stay here. The campground was beautiful, very well taken care of, people were friendly. You did have to show proof of vaccine or have a negative covid test, which I find hilarious. Negative Covid tests mean not a darn thing to me. If you tested negative three days ago but have gone to town, grocery shopped and gone out to eat at the restaurant, that does not mean today you are negative. It is crazy, it makes my head hurt, and I try as hard as I can to avoid getting involved in crazy conversation with people who feel otherwise. I do not have that kind of energy. I do me, and it makes life so much simpler.
Like I have said multiple times, we always try to get out and see things no matter where we are. So, we did a little exploring. The days we chose were warm and sunny, which was a bonus. One of the first places we stopped was Manatee Village, Historical Park as we headed west towards the gulf side of Florida and the Bradenton area. It was a short stop but fun, nonetheless. They have taken different historical buildings from around the county, brought them all to this park, and set up a cute little area for people to explore.
When we got into Bradenton, we headed off to the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature. It is a natural history museum specializing in Florida's gulf coast history. It houses exhibits highlighting Florida history from prehistoric to the present. One of the areas in the museum is a rehabilitation habitat for Manatees. We learned a bit about the habitat and its mission. They had three manatees currently being taken care of which we were able to see up close in their big pool.
From the museum, we ventured over to explore the Village of the Arts. As you can see from the pictures, it's very colorful and creative. Some houses are dispersed in this specific neighborhood that are art studios for you to go in and explore, buy things, and support the community. We didn't go in any as we were busy looking at all of the artwork on the outside. I loved it!
We ended the day at Cortez Village. The little slice of heaven in Manatee County, Florida, is a small Gulf Coast commercial fishing village founded by settlers from North Carolina in the 1880s. (Click on the link, and you can read more about it.) We had lunch there at the Seafood Shack. What a cute place to enjoy some Blackened Mahi Mahi and Fish Tacos. The food was delicious as we sat outside overlooking the water as we watched the Pelicans dive for fish.
Another day we drove to Arcadia, Florida, another small town. We walked around and looked at shops and a few antique stores.
As it was approaching lunch time. We decided to find a BBQ place as we were heading up to Sebring area. When looking for a restaurant to eat at, we usually use Google as our resource. We found a place called James Brown Famous Flames BBQ; it indeed was a hole-in-the-wall place located in Avon Park. A little further drive than we expected from Sebring, but their BBQ was delicious and worth the drive.
Before we left the Wauchula area, we decided to visit a horse ranch and horse show featuring Lipizzan Stallions at the Herrmann Royal Lipizzan Ranch in Myakka City, Florida. I wasn't super excited when Mark mentioned it, but it turned out to be entertaining after we got there, and the show started. I have so much respect for the people there as it's a lot of work and dedication in training the horses; overall, it was awe-inspiring.
On February 13th, we packed up and headed into Clermont, FL, where we stayed at our very first Thousand Trails Resort. There's a long story behind these resorts, I won't bore you with the details now, but to be honest, the campground was nice but just way too crowded for me. It took us over an hour from when we arrived and checked in to get to our campsite. The lines were long, and there were just too many people.
The following day February 14th, we woke up, and Mark surprised me with tickets to Disney World. I had mentioned to him on several occasions that I have never been and really would like to go. (What a guy, right?) So off we went. We started the day off in the Magic Kingdom, where we walked around and went on the ride "Pirates of the Caribbean." I have many fond memories of that ride. I remember as a kid riding on it numerous times at Disneyland.
Then in the afternoon, we headed over to Epcot. I enjoyed this part of the park and decided I would go on another ride called "Space Mission."
I was the one who picked it out and was excited to "take a trip to Mars." There are two lines as you enter this ride, one for the "amateur" and one for the more "advanced." Somehow, we ended up in the Orange Line for the advanced rider. I later found out this was not a good idea. So, as we enter, they have us stand on numbers, and there are four people on our team. As you are standing there, the narrator says multiple times, "if you get motion sickness or don't like being in enclosed tight dark spaces, you might want to exit now." I looked at Mark, he looked at me, we smiled at each other my knees got weak, but I didn't leave.
I get motion sick and don't like being in enclosed tight spaces. The other two people on our team were two little girls, about 9 and 12; I think they were sisters. Well, we boarded the space capsule, and they lowered a harness on me and locked it; that's when "shit got real!" All I can tell you is this, Mark was lucky those girls were on this ride with us!! Otherwise, I would have probably lost it. I closed my eyes, and that didn't even come close to helping. I was terrified! I only refrained from screaming because I didn't want to scare those poor little girls. Thank God the ride only lasted about 3 minutes because if it had gone any longer, I might have lost my lunch! I can't blame anyone but myself, they gave adequate notice, and I just refused to listen; lesson learned.
Our last stop in Florida was Lazy Days RV Park in Seffner. This park was very friendly, and they had an onsite restaurant and bar that had live music on Saturday night; not many parks have this.
Their pool was huge and very friendly. I did not go in but walked by many times. Mark had an event to attend while we were here. The Monacoers Group he belongs to had a RV gathering (owners of RVs made by Monaco) for people to learn about their coaches focused on maintenance and upkeep best practices. It was a great time to meet others who own the same rig type we have. They served us dinner every night, and while doing that, we were able to meet others, share stories, and enjoy an adult beverage or two. It was a great time, and we made a few new friends.
We woke up on Sunday, February 20th, and headed out. I have to say, looking back, I enjoyed our time in the Sunshine State. More than I anticipated. Florida is huge, and I'm glad we could be there when the temperatures were much more relaxed. I have one other place in Florida I want to explore, and that is the Keys and once I have done that, I'm pretty much done; I think I've seen everything I need to see.
On February 20th we crossed over the Florida/Georgia line and are on to new adventures.
Happiness is not about getting all you want. It’s about enjoying all that you have. ~ Unknown
Thank you for following along…….