Visit From David

Current Location: Our RV Lot

When we last posted, we had finished cleaning out the brown shed on our lot. We had turned our focus on the white shed, which will store things including bikes, golf cart, etc. We spent a couple days before David arrived cleaning up in that shed and had it pretty well organized by early Sunday.

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The workshop end of the white shed

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The garage end of the white shed

We also picked up or ordered several items that all arrived by the end of the week. We decided to keep the two bicycles that the previous owners left behind. The tires and tubes were all dry-rotted, so Malcolm put new tires and tubes on them. We also ordered a new grill to replace our three-year-old Coleman red grill. It finally gave up on us while we were last in Fort Wilderness.

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Stuff to do

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The new (purple) grill

We also bought an inexpensive pressure washer from Lowe’s. Malcolm used it part of the day on Sunday scrubbing dirt off of part of our pad.

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Pressure washing the pad.

Aside from the bicycles, another item that we kept was a refrigerator that was left behind. Fortunately, the previous owners had propped the door open, so it wasn’t mildewed inside. We filled it with drinks and it works great.

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The fridge

David arrived on Sunday afternoon. After dropping his stuff in the trailer, we drove him out to Disney Springs and went to guest services so he could buy his Disney tickets using his military discount (5 days with park-hopper for about $240 with tax). We walked around there for a while before heading back to the trailer.

On Monday morning, we headed down to the post office to see about getting a key to our mailbox here at the park since we’ll be using it as our “regular” address. They told us we needed to bring in a copy of our deed. We did that on Tuesday morning and they got us set up to have a new lock put on the box (standard procedure). Unfortunately, they only put new locks on on Tuesdays and we had just missed the bus on that one. We will be able to access our mail next Tuesday.

We spent Monday through Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at various Disney parks. Malcolm and David rode the coasters and other fast rides. We all rode some of the slower rides and often we just walked around and traded Disney pins.

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All three of us at Epcot

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The Valentine’s couple

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Rollercoaster time

On Thursday, we headed into Orlando. We walked around the Mall at Millenia for a while, then headed to an indoor go-kart track where Malcolm and David drove go-karts for a while. They are electric carts and can travel up to 45 mph. Whee! Not many pictures from that event, as it was difficult to get any good photos.

On Saturday morning, we played a round of miniature golf on the “professional” course. It was challenging and fun. We brought our own putters (David bought one at the thrift store around the corner for $2).

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Fore!

David packed up this morning and headed back home. We all had a great time together this past week and we’ll miss him. We spent the rest of the day today finishing up some items around the lot such as pressure washing the rest of the slab, running our trash, recycling and yard waste over to the respective dumpsters and spraying the lot for weeds.

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Relaxing outside

Malcolm will be back to a regular work schedule this coming week. Meanwhile, it is back to relaxing outside the rig as the sun sets.

Settling In

Current Location: Our RV Lot

We’ve been busy the last couple of days just cleaning up the lot, sorting through the stuff in the sheds and generally tidying the place up. We’ve met a few of our neighbors and, through them, found out that the previous owners haven’t even been on the lot for three or four years. They did have someone generally keeping the place neat, though, so it wasn’t in bad shape by any means.

We cleaned up outside on Wednesday. We removed the various solar lights that were placed around the property as they were no longer working. We replaced them with new ones from Lowe’s. Malcolm spent some time trimming dead limbs from trees, and sawed down a couple of dead trees on the property. The community has a couple large roll-off dumpsters specifically for yard waste.

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New solar lights

Aside from a bunch of outdoor furniture the previous owners left behind, we also inherited a couple of bicycles and a golf cart. On Tuesday, Malcolm tinkered with the cart and got the charger to charge it up, or so we thought. We were excited that it was driving after sitting with dead batteries for several years. The newly charged batteries worked for about 3 minutes. We ended up replacing the batteries with new ones.

We have a cart of our own in Alabama, but won’t be bringing it down until later in the year, so we’ll use this one for now. We already have friends that are buying this one from us when they move in later this year. There is a pretty nice shopping center just outside the park where you are allowed to drive your cart. We took advantage of that today to stop by Family Dollar to pick up some light bulbs.

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Shopping in the golf cart

By the way, here are some more pictures from around our lot. These are our two sheds. Both are 10′ x 16′ sheds. The white one has double doors and will store most of our stuff and our golf cart when we are out traveling. We plan on finishing out the interior of the brown shed to use as an office, guest quarters, laundry and half bath (it is already plumbed for sewer and water is nearby).

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The two sheds

Here’s a glamour shot of some of our landscaping and the trailer in the background. The “grass” at the bottom-right corner of the picture is our neighbor’s.

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Our site from next door.

The area behind the brown shed is finished out nicely. We’re thinking of making it a sort of quiet getaway with possibly some chairs or maybe even a canopy. We’re not sure just yet.

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The “Back Yard”

Today we cleared out the brown shed and swept it out. It was mostly filled with outdoor furniture, most of which we didn’t care for. We debated trying to sell it locally, but had noticed a thrift shop in the shopping center right outside the entrance to the neighborhood. We stopped by and they said we could bring all of it over if we wanted to, so we did. The thrift shop proceeds benefit a local homeless shelter’s food bank, so we thought it would make sense to help them out with some nice outdoor stuff. They were excited to receive it all.

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The cleaned out brown shed.

With the brown shed cleaned out, we continued on to the white shed. We removed a bunch of homemade shelving and pulled out a bunch of old stuff left behind by previous owners. Malcolm loaded it all up in the truck and hauled it over to the park dumpsters. We’re going to keep the bikes and the small refrigerator that was left behind.

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Cleaning out the white shed

Aside from cleaning, sorting, yard work and general improvements, Malcolm has been able to get in some paying work. He’s found the outdoor office somewhat preferable in the afternoons.

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The Outdoor Office

With most of our cleaning and sorting out of the way, we’ll be settling down for a bit. Our son David is coming down to visit with us next week. We’ll be making a few runs over to Disney with him and generally visiting with him.

 

Our New Home

Current Location: Our RV Lot at Deer Creek RV Golf and Country Club

After we left Jonathan Dickinson State Park, we returned to Fort Wilderness Campground at Disney World for two nights (Sunday and Monday nights). We needed two nights locally so that we could go over and get things coordinated for our new RV lot that we purchased last week.

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Back to Disney

While we were here a couple weeks ago, we drove over and met up with one of the realtors at Deer Creek RV Resort and looked at several lots that were for sale. We had looked at them online back in December and thought we might consider purchasing a lot to use as a winter home as well as providing us an address in Florida for what we hope will be lower insurance rates. At the time, we decided we would take a day away from Disney and look.

We ended up falling in love with the site that we ultimately purchased. It is immaculately landscaped and was owned by another couple that were getting ready to hit the road full-time and decided they’d rather have the money than the lot. As we found out later, they hadn’t even been on it for almost three years. We felt like we got a really good deal on the lot.

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Our new lot

The lot has two 10 x 16 sheds on it. One shed has a single door and the other has a double door so that you can put a golf cart in it. That will be great for us as we have our golf cart, which is currently in Alabama. As part of the deal, we got to keep all the items in both sheds. There was an assortment of outdoor furniture, a couple of bikes and a golf cart.

We have friends that have also bought a lot here that are interested in buying the cart from us, so we’ll be selling it. Malcolm tried to get it charged up today, but the batteries are pretty much shot. We went ahead and bought a new set of batteries for it so we can drive it around until we bring our cart back later in the spring.

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Nighttime at the Homestead

Our plan is to primarily stay here late fall through winter each year and periodically other times of the year. We’ll still be traveling around during the spring and summer as we’ve always done. We’re planning on switching our address on everything to this address and use it instead of the Escapees Club mail service. We’ll try using the USPS forwarding services (or mail hold for shorter trips) when we’re away and see how that goes. Worst case, Escapees has a mail service in Florida that we could use, as well.

Location-wise, we’re near the intersection of I-4 and US 27 (the latter goes right by the entrance to the park). Walt Disney World is about 15 miles northeast of us. This area is growing and has a lot of new development. There is a nice shopping center just around the corner. It has a Target, a JC Penney and many smaller stores.

The tax office for the county (Polk County, Florida) is literally just around the corner. We can see the building from the back of our property. That will make getting licenses and license plates fairly straightforward. There are also several stores in a shopping center just outside the park. We are allowed to drive golf carts over to the stores since they’re off the main road.

Our short-term plan is to be here until early March before heading to Texas and Louisiana for a couple Heartland Owners Club rallies.

A Warm and Relaxing Week

Current Location: Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Jupiter, Florida

We’ve been spending the week here at Jonathan Dickinson State Park. We stayed here for a day last year and really liked the park, so we made reservations for a week this year. Since Florida’s state parks fill up quick in winter, we have actually had this reservation for 11 months (the window of time in which reservations can be made).

Though the weather started out fairly cool, it quickly warmed up during the week. It has been in the upper 70’s every day with mild evenings and no rain at all. We’ve also been treated to really pretty sunsets about every evening. Here are a couple:

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Sunset #1

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Sunset #2

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Sunset #3

Malcolm has gotten in a fairly good amount of work this week, though he was running out of stuff to do by the end of the week. Otherwise, during the day, we have gotten in a little sightseeing. On Wednesday, we drove down to Jupiter, Florida and stopped to take a tour through the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse. Malcolm climbed the lighthouse stairs to the top to see the views while Val stayed firmly planted at ground level.

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Lighthouse and Museum

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The lighthouse

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View of Jupiter Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean in the distance

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Looking up inside the light

On Thursday, we drove down the coast to find a good place to walk on the beach. Having public restrooms was another criteria, so we drove for a bit and ended up at Juno Beach Park. It was a beautiful day to walk along the beach. Though there were a lot of people enjoying the weather, it wasn’t super crowded and there were plenty of parking spaces in the parking lot.

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Juno Beach Pier, Atlantic Ocean

We walked down the beach about 1/2 mile, then turned around and headed the other way about 1/4 mile past our starting point before heading back to the car. Along the way, we found a few small shells and some neat flat rocks that had washed up in the surf. At one point, Val found a big piece of shell sticking out of the sand but could not pull it out. Malcolm dug it out after a bit of effort and we were rewarded with a huge shell. Nothing was living in it and it had some dents and dings, but it was a great find. We took it with us.

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Super Shell

Malcolm did a few activities on his own while Val took care of some of her projects back at the trailer. The state park has a nice set of mountain bike trails (and paved riding trails) that he wanted to check out. He got a few miles in over the course of the week. It helped remind him how out of shape he was, though.

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Hitting the trails

Malcolm also went horseback riding. The park has a horseback riding concession that is essentially first-come, first-served. When Malcolm drove up, they were loading up a group of riders on horses. After the group left, the person in charge signed up Malcolm and another couple that had just arrived. Since most all the horses left on the ride just before, Malcolm figured he would have to wait for a while (it’s a one hour ride).

Instead, the employees asked Malcolm if he minded riding by himself along with one guide, since they had just two saddled horses available. Malcolm said yes, and he and the guide headed out for a quiet one hour ride with just the two of them.

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Back from the horseback ride

Today we headed up the coast to do some shopping. We picked up items for a few different craft projects and ate lunch at Chick-Fil-A, the only meal out we’ve had all week. We also filled up the car with fuel on the way back to the campground since we’re heading out tomorrow morning. We filled up the truck on Friday evening for the same reason.

We’re heading back north tomorrow, but will still be in Florida for a while.

 

 

Disney and Southward

Current Location: Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Jupiter, Florida

Here’s a day by day account of the rest of our Disney visit last week.

Friday, Jan. 20

We drove down to Tampa to the RV show there. We wandered around the vendor halls and dropped in to visit friends at the two different Heartland product areas. Malcolm had lunch from one of the food vendors there before we walked around the show some more. We didn’t walk through many RVs before heading out mid-afternoon to drive back up to Disney.

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Selfie at the RV show

We ate dinner at the trailer before heading up to the beach at the campground to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks, then stopped by Crockett’s Tavern at the back of the campground to enjoy an adult beverage.

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Fireworks from the beach

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Adult beverages

Saturday, Jan. 21

On Saturday morning, we took our free miniature golf cards that we were given at check-in and played a round of miniature golf at the Disney mini golf course. The course was themed in music from Fantasia. It was a fun course to play.

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Time for some golf

We spent the rest of the day at Magic Kingdom, enjoying the warm weather and riding some rides.

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Time for a race

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Vrooom

After our day at Magic Kingdom, we caught the monorail over to the Polynesian Resort for our dinner and a luau. It was an excellent show and the food was great, as well. A definite recommendation.

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Pre-luau selfie

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Part of the show

Sunday, Jan. 22

On Sunday, we hung around the trailer most all morning. We headed out during the day to do some walking around. We also stopped by Home Depot and picked up a pre-fab kitchen wall cabinet to use as additional storage at the end of our island. We’ll eventually put a top on it and bolt it down proper. Right now, it’s holding our Instant Pot and the stand mixer.

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New kitchen storage

Monday, Jan. 23

On Monday, Malcolm headed to the Orlando office to work for the day. Meanwhile, Val met some friends at Magic Kingdom. Their oldest child used to be in pre-school with our granddaughter Violet before they moved across the state of Washington. We got to visit with them a couple days this past summer at Lake Chelan. Malcolm caught up with everyone around 5:30 or so. We rode a couple rides, watched fireworks and ate a late dinner before saying goodnight.

Tuesday, Jan. 24

On Tuesday, Malcolm headed to the office again to take care of work. He ended up working all day and headed back home around 6:00. We had dinner at the Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Fort Wilderness Lodge.

Wednesday, Jan. 25

We started the day by having breakfast at the Trail’s End restaurant at the back of Fort Wilderness. They have an excellent breakfast buffet. After breakfast, we headed over to Epcot for the day. We had lunch in the Japanese restaurant, Teppan Edo. They cook the food right in front of you. It was a fun lunch.

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Epcot

Thursday, Jan. 26

We met our friends at Magic Kingdom again on Thursday. We arrived fairly early and spent the day. They came on over in the afternoon. Since they had more family with them, they wandered off on their own to enjoy the park. We headed on out to eat dinner back at the trailer.

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Horse drawn trolley at Magic Kingdom

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Big Thunder Mountain rollercoaster

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Cinderella’s Castle

Friday, Jan. 27

On Friday we headed over to Animal Kingdom park since the weather had cooled off a fair bit. We had gotten used to 80 degree sunny days, and Friday’s high was only in the upper 50’s. We rode the safari ride as we had heard that cool weather is the best time to see the animals out and active.

Saturday, Jan. 28

Saturday was another cool and somewhat dreary day. Since we needed to leave on Sunday and we knew it was forecast to rain, we started taking down all our decorations and other non-essential items outside to cut down on pack up time the next day.We also went out and filled up the car and the truck with fuel.

We met a family that had just pulled into the campground after lunch right behind us. They, too, were heading to Epcot. We took them on the scenic ride to Epcot (bus to the back of the campground, boat to Magic Kingdom, monorails to Epcot).

Unfortunately, we just missed each connection on the way and gave them a taste of some worst-case transportation at the parks. It took more than an hour to get to Epcot. To top it off, Epcot was extremely busy and security getting into the park was somewhat hectic. They made their first Fastpass with their daughter to meet the characters, but just barely. Hopefully, they took the bus back from the park and saved a lot of travel hassles.

Sunday, Jan. 29

Sunday morning, we awoke to rain, as expected. We drove the car over to the overflow parking lot and picked up the truck. We finished packing up the trailer, hooked up to the truck and drove back out to the overflow parking lot around mid-morning. We dropped the truck and trailer off, hopped in the car and drove to the other side of the parking lot. Then we took a bus back to the Trail’s End restaurant and had brunch. We were wasting time so that we wouldn’t get to our next destination too early (3:00 PM check-in time).

We rode the bus back to the front, drove the car over and picked up the truck and trailer and hit the road south. We arrived here at Jonathan Dickinson State Park at the back edge of the rain clouds. It cleared up just enough for us to set up without getting wet. We spent the afternoon and evening just relaxing and enjoyed a great sunset as the last of the rain clouds were heading out to sea.

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Heading south

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Set up in Jonathan Dickinson State Park

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Sunday Sunset

Monday, Jan. 30

It was back to the regular grind today. Malcolm worked all day in the trailer and Val took care of laundry. She hung most of the laundry outside as it was in the upper 60’s and windy. A few items went in the dryer. At lunchtime, we headed into town to pick up groceries at Publix. Malcolm took a short ride on his bike in the afternoon. We were also treated to a nice sunset again this evening.

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Monday Sunset

The rest of the week will be a little of the same – work and errands. We’ll probably do a little sightseeing here and there in the area. At least the weather is warming back up to normal temperatures the rest of the week (mid- to upper-70’s).