Thursday, February 8, 2024

Winterpaloozafestathon Finale

 Thursday Feb 1st came and we picked up the truck. Totally miffed at the situation but are over it now. We left Avon Park Friday morning bright and early. But where did we go?

As often happens with us, when we are done with something, we are done. So we pointed the truck north and drove 4 days home. Back to the SSUVFL. Three of those days were long driving days for us. Usually around 8 hours. The last day was shorter and what a relief when we pulled into our beautiful property. We both got out of our vehicles and said "We may never leave again". LOL.

It has been a strange winter for sure. We got home and there is no snow at all. Normally we would have 20-30 inches on the ground and the temps would be hovering around 0 for weeks at a time. But not this year. However when we were in Florida, most people we talked to said that that is the coldest (their words) it has been down there for many many years. 

What did we learn from this little expedition? Well, we know that we are done with the full time lifestyle. Heck, we don't even consider ourselves as part timers either. We felt like we needed to take a trip just because we haven't been on the road for awhile and that RVing was just a huge part of our life back then. I guess you could say that we have moved on.

We thought we had planned well. Making many stops in places that are fun to be at. Lots of beach time at first but the cooler temps really didn't make it as enjoyable as it could have been. Remember, I only found $.06 metal detecting. 

We will have to rethink the way we travel in the future. The pickup camper got to be small after a while. We don't know how we lived in it for almost a year one time. Especially when it was cold out and you couldn't sit outside. Very few places we were at allowed fires and we didn't have the room to bring our propane fire pit.

So we are home now, deeply entrenched into our fortress of solitude. Now we can concentrate our efforts on our home expansion and the food trailer business.

Until then.

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Winterpaloozafestathon. Jan-26th-Feb 1st

 As I pulled out of the campground at Ft. Wilderness and started our trek south, the car behind me felt that I cut them off or something as they drove 50 in a 35 and quickly flipped me off as they went on by. So much for the happiest place on earth.

Our next stop was going to be the Everglades National Park and to Key West. That was the plan anyways. But fate was not going to let that happen.

Ever since we stopped in Mississippi coming down here, I have been watching an oil leak from under the truck. Every stop we made I would see a little spot of oil. Gradually the spot got larger and larger. Since we still have a lot of miles to go and the truck is carrying a heavy load, I felt that maybe it should be looked at by a professional. So knowing where we were going, I made an appointment at one of the Dodge dealers on the way. 

Not camping. Sitting outside of the dealership playing tiddly winks.

Still there playing Jacks this time.

So we got to the Dodge dealer in Avon Park, Florida. Removed the camper so they could get it on the hoist and then waited for the autopsy. I was really hoping for something minor that could be fixed easily. With fingers crossed we waited for a couple of hours.
Gandolf getting probed.

Later on, I went inside since I wasn't getting a phone call and got the bad news/good news, news. The bad news was that the leak was coming from the timing cover housing. It would take a week to fix it because it is very involved. Sad face. The good news is that our extended warranty would cover the repairs. Happy face. The bad news was that we will have to cancel the Everglades and Key West.  Sad face. Our warranty went up to 100,000 miles. Our truck has 99.960 miles. If I would have waited till we got back to Minnesota to have it looked at, it would have been out of warranty. Happy face. When we went to the dealership I got this message on my phone.
That was from after I picked it up. Notice any other messages?

So we found a campground that had room for us. We called four before one had an open spot. Unloaded the camper and now we wait. It's Friday and they said it would be done Wednesday. We are at the mercy of others. We are in Avon Park, Florida. If you are looking for an affordable place to winter in Florida, check out this area. It is an hour and a half to the coast in either direction. Being on the coast is expensive just because you are on the coast. The RV park we found is an older park. I said that it was the trailer park that time forgot.

Word quickly spread throughout the park about our predicament. The people here are so friendly. The first day we had two separate people offer us their vehicles to use. Strangers mind you. We thanked them and declined because fortunately we had our Jeep with us. So many have stopped and chatted with us. Telling us what there is to do here.

Day one stranded. Saturday promised to be the nicest. So we jumped in the Jeep and drove over to Anna Maria Island. Beach day!

This is a beautiful place to visit but I would not want to live there. Lots of people packed into a small area with one main road that is usually bumper to bumper. 

Day two stranded. A neighbor said that there is a nice State Park that is not far from here. Highland Hammock State Park. Rumor has it that a "Skunk Ape" was seen  there. "Lisa! Warm up the Jeep because it is going to be in the fifties here. Lets go!" 

But first my little woman wanted to do some shopping at the local mall. You know the type of mall that was the pinnacle of 80's and 90's capitalism. Lakeshore Mall.
We have never been to a mall this empty. It was very sad to see this, remembering all of the good times as teenagers that we have spent in malls. One building that could offer so much in variety, foods and so many different friends to meet up with. With so few tenants, I was surprised that it is still open. 

On to the state park. $6.00 entrance fee. Cheaper than a Bud light at Disney. What a vast wilderness. There is an auto loop with several opportunities to hike. One such hike we wanted to do starts out as a boardwalk out into the swamp. Then it turns into a catwalk for the rest of the duration. The catwalk was a smaller/narrower boardwalk with only one railing on one side. But that part was closed to weather damage. Awww. We got some good "Skunk Ape" hunting pictures from that area.

We did a few of the hikes and then went to the CCC museum they have at the park. Very informative day.

On the way home we passed a Winn-Dixie. Winn-Dixie is one of the grocery chains they have in Florida and I love them for one reason. Wing bars. That's right, I said wing bars. Most, not all, I have found will offer a variety of wings that you can stuff in a bucket for the low, low price of $15.99. That's less than 2 Disney Bud lights. This store had plain wings, hot wings, garlic parmesan and my favorite, Teriyaki. They also had bbq ribblets. I got them all! BWAH HA HA HA!

Day three stranded. What are we going to do? There are not a lot of things to do. So we looked on the map. I found a place about 55 miles south of us called "Gatorama". To the gatormobile.

Gatorama is a roadside attraction. It has been around since the 50's. It was very clean and well kept. Lots and lots of alligators, crocodiles and caimans. There is a saltwater crocodile that is absolutely huge.

The first thing I liked about Gatorama were their warning signs.

I am pretty sure that people try to jump in there and pet the friendly 12 foot alligator. Gatorama is a working alligator farm. They raise the gators for food. Shocking, I know. They have to separate the sizes so that they don't eat each other.

Then they have large open areas with alligators and another area for crocodiles. I did not know that crocodiles were native to Florida along with alligators. The guy feeding them said that in Florida, if you see a body of water, always assume there is an alligator in it. I remember a couple of years ago a child was taken in Disney World in one of the many water holes they have around the resorts.

They also had a 20 foot Saltwater Crocodile. 
You can't see him very well but he is floating in the water there.

After that we went to find a place that served Gator. The Gator Shack was the closest so off we went. 
Deep fried gator bites! YUM, YUM!
Day four and five of being stranded wasn't very interesting except for this. 

Tuesday I stopped by the dealership to check on the progress. I said I want to be sure it is going to be done . Our service adviser said it would be done on Wednesday. She didn't give a time. Or a poop!

Wednesday came and they said it would be done on Wednesday. So we waited hoping to get the truck so we could hit the road on Thursday. Finally around four I said to Lisa that I am going over there. Now our service adviser was something else. You would think that they would have to have some people skills to maintain that job. She was the worst. I asked her about the truck. She looks at me like I just interrupted her game of bubble pop and meanders back to the shop. She came back and said it would be done Thursday by noon. Really? I can't do anything about that. She didn't give a poop.

Thursday comes and around 11 I finally get a call from some guy at the dealership. He says the truck is done and ready. My service advisor is on vacation now. Thank you for your business.

Not the best dealership experience we have had but we are glad it didn't cost an arm and a leg for that.

"Gladys! Throw the cats in the camper and lets get going to our next grand adventure!"

On a personal note. I had to tone down some of the language from my editor. Also, the cost of the repairs would have been over 77 Disney Bud lights. That would have been a weekends worth at Jethro and Bambi's.