For most of the month of February the three of us were parked on a live oak covered lot at Sunshine RV Resort, an Encore Park in Vero Beach. We choose to stay there because we wanted to see our daughter Jeri race in the Publix Florida Half-Marathon in Melbourne. We watched from the sidelines the year before. Then it was freezing cold and Diane and I were also stressed out from our busted attempt to sell our house. In other words, we were glad to cheer Jeri on but we did not enjoy ourselves much. This year was supposed to have been better, but it was not. Diane and I were sick as dogs (sorry Teddy) and could not attend the race. We sat in our coach, looked outside at the warm weather and nursed our double cases of winter cough, chills, and other flu like symptoms. Jeri figures we picked something up from Disney World, an unwanted souvenir so to speak. It took almost three weeks for us to get completely over it. At some point we were well enough to make a trip to Mulligan's by the river for some Firecracker Tacos and cheap medication also know as Long Island Iced Teas. Once Jeri heard we were no longer contagious we had a weekend visit from her, Tom, and the boys. They stayed in the coach with us. Some of the highlights of the visit were the grandboys and I snuggled up on the bed and watched Pixar's Wall-E, and we made a really nice trip to the Sebastian Inlet State Park.
While in Vero Beach, I managed to wash the coach and do some other maintenance and improvements, we added a Vista Shade to our patio awning. This provided us with some privacy as well as such much needed shade. We made a few drives along the space coast, including a return visit to Cocoa Beach. I played a lot of shuffleboard and Boccie. Diane found the Sunshine RV Mahjong group which accepted her right away. They invited her to the Mahjong girls "Formal Dress" and Chinese Dinner party. A special event held once a year. My big event was when my Space Scooter arrived from Amazon. I immediately found it to be a blast . I worked off a few inches riding it all over the campground. I met a gentleman from Canada named Noel, who owns a gas pusher Itasca Latitude motorhome. We did not get to converse much but we still keep in touch on the Web. I would get the chance later to offer him some much needed help.
It was a good month and before we knew it, it was time to leave our new friends and motor to our next destination.
For two weeks in March we parked under another LIve Oak Tree, actually trees, in Clerbrook Golf and RV resort in Clermont, Florida. Our spot was mostly sand and leaves so we used both our patio mats to make our place a bit nicer and keep as much dirt from coming into the coach. The year before we were one spot over and we liked it so we decided to come back almost to the same spot. It was a bit different this time. A lot of temporary highway pipeline workers were staying near us, and lets just be kind and say they were a rowdy, ATV, and motorcycle riding bunch of folks. In other words it could get noisy and the park quiet hours didn't seem to have any meaning. We had a nice shady spot with a good view of the Sunsets over the golf course so we made the best of it.
We took a lot of walks. I pumped my scooter around the park which was fun in spite of the one knee damaging spill I took (Jeri insisted I buy a helmet after she heard about my gross looking boo-boo) I played a lot of shuffleboard with two different serious groups of folks. I had the reputation of being a rather tough competitor to play against. Every now and then someone would say "not Derrick again, he beat me twice already" I liked hearing things like that. On one of our walks we came across a nest of Great Horned Owls high in a live oak. I quickly ran to our coach, grabbed my camera and a long lens. We watched these great birds grow every day until one left the nest and visited the closet front porch.
We had a dinner date at one of our favorite places to eat, The Crooked Spoon Gastropub in Clermont near the Citrus Tower. They have a bacon wrapped BBQed Angus Meatloaf over garlic potatoes dish that is just great. The Calamari there is very good also. They also have a huge selection of craft brews and are one of the few places to get a glass of Well's Banana Bread beer. We made a day trip to the famous Webster Flea market, a huge event that takes place every Monday. We tried not to spend any money but failed miserably.
While browsing the isles of stuff, including tee shirts, sheets (we bought a set), cell phone accessories, eye glass cleaner, (we bought two bottles) toys, all kinds of led lights, lava lamps (I want one) and such, I came across a face that seemed familiar. The smiling face belonged to a pleasant hat wearing gentleman who sold Ecuadorian crafts and art. I bought a ceramic water bird whistle from him in Galax some years before at the Smoke on the Mountain BBQ Festival. We had a nice catch up conversation. This just proves that the world can be a small place after all.
A couple of days after we visited Webster we traveled over to Brooksville, Florida. We decided to spend a week in a newly remolded RV resort called Belle Parc. It was, and still is, being expanded. It is located close to the Weeki Watchee Springs State Park, the place where mermaids and manatees live on the Weeki Watchee River. We thought that a week was not going to give us a lot of time to get to know the park, the area, or make friends. We were wrong about that. We did make friends, learned about the Park from Glen, the manager, who is also a very active kayaker. I played Wii Bowling with some of the folks. We visited much of the the area including a trip down the Weeki Watchee river in a rented tandem kayak. We learned enough to fall in love with the place so we leased a spot for three months next winter.. We discovered that two people who are visitors here at DCMR also stay at Belle Parc during the winter. We did not know that Mike and Kathryn were there the same time we were, but now we look forward to being friends and neighbors starting next January. What was it I was saying about this being a small world? It certainly is for us Motorhomers.
We enjoyed our slow, peaceful trip down the Weeki Watchee. We paddled against the easy current for about three miles. We crossed Hospital Hole, a very deep spot in the river where sick fish come to get well, so some say. We made a right at a fork in the river and spotted a manatee. We paddled up and floated along next to it. The manatee made a little flutter of its big round tail every now and then just to keep itself moving up river. It would come to the surface for air just inches from our kayak. We followed it for quite a long time until we reached deeper water and we lost sight of it. About that time we saw a boat in the river. The owner of the boat was selling drinks, ice cream, snacks, and sandwiches. We floated alongside and purchased ourselves a couple of Dove Bars. Why not? It was a hot day and how often do you get to use a "paddle thru" as oppose to a "drive thru"? Just around a bend in the river from the ice cream man, we saw a large tree with a group of fearless kids climbing it, grabbing a tow line , swinging out, letting go, and plunging into the clear water. I thought about it but didn't make the climb myself. I didn't need that much adventure, the four hours on the water was quite enough.
The end of March was coming closer as our week in Brooksville ended. Our next destination was in Kissimmee, the Sherwood Forrest RV Resort, to be exact. We used our Thousand Trails membership to get ourselves a two weeks stay for a total of eighteen dollars. Can't beat that. We planned to not do a lot. Maybe wash the coach, and do some other spring cleaning before it was warm enough to head back to the Blue Ridge Mountains. We also would make a return visit to both Disney Springs and Epcot. Sherwood Forrest is located very close to the Disney World exit on I-4 so going there in the morning and coming back in the afternoon to take care of The Bear would not be hard to do. Of course I looked forward to another visit to the "happiest place on earth." Some say it is also the most expensive, even if that were true I don't care.
Month 4, and another Magical Day
The day after we set up camp in Sherwood Forest we made an evening trip to Disney Springs. It was hot, felt like a Virginia Summer Day. Diane and I had dinner at Earl of Sandwich, good food, good prices. After that we just strolled around. We saw a glass shop that we had never visited before. I found a Goofy glass mug that you can get customized with your name, yes, I bought one, didn't need it but that didn't stop me. It was a nice evening, we heard a great Sax player, had a bit more stroll and then drove home. The evening was a nice appetizer for the big meal of a visit to:
Epcot and the International Flower and Garden Festival
This April visit to Epcot was really something special. The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival was in Full Bloom so to speak. It was a brilliant, hot, in the nineties, day. It was also more crowded than our last visit to Epcot due to all the spring breakers and a huge group of British folks there. We caught a couple of rides early, Ellen's Energy Adventure was our first attraction. It was a no lines, no wait and interesting ride about energy with Bill Nye the Science Guy. It was the flowers and the many beautiful topiaries that got most of our attention. We also made it onto the Mission Space ride. We waited in the "less intense" or as some call it, the "less chance to hurl" line. It had been a long time since I was on this ride, which was still fun even with the scary air sick bags in a pocket in front of me. I insisted on seeing the Pixar Shorts show again. We also visited what Diane found to be the coolest thing there, the Butterfly Pavilion. It was cool, and I took lots of pictures:
I shot a bit of video, it is okay but it would have been better if I figured out which butterfly to follow... I tried to shoot all of em!
We grabbed a bite of lunch, (I had a really good bowl of Asian Noodles with chicken and veggies) then we left Epcot about 1:30. I captured a couple of shots of the great flowers at the entrance to the park then we drove back to our coach and took care of Teddy Bear. We were back at Epcot around 4:30 which was the booked time of our Test Track Fast Pass. I love that ride! Test Track and Pixar Shorts are my favorite attractions at Epcot for sure.
We walked lazily thru the World Showcase killing a bit of time before we had dinner in Japan. We watched the Acrobats in China, rode a boat in Mexico, and listened to a really good Mariachi band. Everywhere we went were more beautiful flowers. We arrived at Tokyo Dining just before six. We were seated on the spot by two very lovely Japanese ladies. Diane sat down, I removed my camera from around my neck, pulled my camera back pack off my shoulder and as I started to put it on the chair next to me, my metal water bottle fell out of its pocket. It hit the ceramic floor with a loud bang. The cap busted. Water went everywhere. The ladies immediately rushed over and started to towel it all up. Diane gave me the "I can't take him anywhere" look, which I deserved. The wet mess was taken care of and we ordered. I was starved, and I had been looking forward to a good Sushi dinner for weeks. I had high expectations and they were met. The Calamari (I don't know the Japanese word for cooked squid) was absolutely great. My volcano roll was too. Or was it a dragon roll? I don't remember, but it really was good, and the prices were very reasonable for the service and food we received. After dinner we strolled (I keep using that word) and took in the sights until we reached France. The bakery there looked very inviting, so we wondered in, and came out with a tasty strawberry tart for me and a Creme Brulee for Diane. We both were winding down with the sun, and as we left for home the lights started to come on and I took a couple of parting pictures to help us remember this time, another Magical Day. It would soon be time to head north and our next stop: Charleston.
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