Saturday, December 29, 2018

Christmas on the Road…


As we neared our eighth Christmas on the road it had me thinking about how Christmas has changed for us. No longer is it a holiday that we long for and very much look forward to. We use to deck the house in Texas with lights and decorations. The Christmas tree would be ceremoniously erected and adorned with all the ornaments we had gathered over the years.Multiple presents were wrapped and placed under the tree in the days leading up to the big day. It is quite different now…


Yes we still put up lights and yes we have a little “tree” we adorn with memories but we now only buy gifts for the grandchildren as I believe Christmas is more for children than the adults. Obviously not everyone feels the same as I, but it works for us. However one thing we look forward to on Christmas is the annual visit by our daughter Katie. She has visited every year on Christmas making the holiday a little more special to us that I think it would otherwise be.


This year she brought Brooks (her new husband) with her for his first visit to southern Florida. Brooks spent his first Christmas away from his family to spend time with us. His family is the polar opposite of us as they go all out for Christmas. Gift giving is a big event and celebrated by all. I wondered how Brooks would handle how much less celebrated Christmas is in our new lifestyle.


Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate with most of the plans we had for Katie and Brooks visit. The first thing we did was change the day we were going to have Christmas Dinner. While we may not celebrate Christmas like we used to, we have not changed in the way we like to have a big Christmas Dinner, So instead of December 25th we opted to have Christmas Dinner the day after they arrived five days before Christmas because of rainy and chilly weather.


With the weather being crappy it was a perfect day to spend indoors preparing the feast. An added benefit was that Katie and Brooks would be here to help us feast on all the leftovers which such a huge meal creates. A friend loaned us a turkey roaster so we could cook a 16 pound turkey (the smallest I could find). We made all the appropriate side dishes such as our southern cornbread dressing, deviled eggs, candied yams, green bean casserole and of course mashed potatoes with giblet gravy.


We had a grand meal and by having it on a different day we were free to spend the day at the beach on Christmas Day when the weather much, much nicer. Besides spending the day on the beach we filled Katie and Brook’s time attending parties, playing cornhole, shuffleboard and billiards.  Brooks met all our friends and they all decided he passed the test and is indeed a good match for Katie. He was such a good sport during their stay and we so appreciated having them visit.


The week sped by and we took them to the airport on the 26th. We notched yet another Christmas on our Road of Retirement and are looking forward to celebrating the New Year with our friends in IBE…

NOTE: We are now at our winter site for the season in Bonita Springs, Florida…

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Falling Into Our Florida Winter Routine…


We have traveled down to Bonita Springs for about four or five winters and as a result have gotten to know many of the the winter snowbirds and residents of Imperial Bonita Estates. While the park may not have all the amenities we would prefer to have at a  winter park destination it has enough of them and more importantly having friends here always has us looking forward to reconnecting with them


Shortly after we arrived an impromptu happy hour occurred at one of our Canadian friends who had just arrived as well. Heather and Paul, whom we first met here, are snowbirds who often travel through Mexico but were spending the winter here this season and so many of our friends had gathered to welcome them back/ Oddly enough last season we first met Paul and Sheren who were in IBE for their first season and later we found out they had known our friends Paul and Heather for years… small world!


Winter season is also the time to do some of the annual chores which RV life requires as well as some maintenace and repairs. I also took advantage of the opportunity to give the RV a good cleaning and washed her up nicely. Later in the winter I will give her a good waxing to shine her up for the upcoming spring and summer travels.


So as we settle into a routine of living life, getting in our morning exercise, taking walks around the park, playing cornhole, happy hour with friends and watching the Imperial River for Manatees we have time to fully relax and enjoy life.. I love strolling along the Imperial River as it offers a nice respite to our routine of living in a 55 and older RV park as I ponder our next season’s travels.


With Christmas on the horizon we of course had to decorate the interior of our RV with those little touches which remind us of the holidays and all the joy they bring. We are looking forward to Christmas as Katie and her husband Brooks will be coming down to visit us for the holidays. We hope the advent of Christmas is bringing you joy as well…..

NOTE: We are now at our winter site for the season in Bonita Springs, Florida…

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Imperial Bonita Estates in Bonita Springs our 2018 Florida Winter Home…


At daybreak we had a leisurely breakfast then packed up the rig to head south a few miles where we will finally arrive at our winter home in Bonita Springs Florida. We will spend three months at Imperial Bonita Estates and since we have spent several winter seasons here we have made many friends who are a mixture of snow birds and a few permanent residents.


This is an interesting RV park in that it had three sections. We stay in the area that is mostly RV’s with some semi-permanent park models. Then there is another section known as the co-op where people have the option to purchase a share of the co-op and put their own park model on it. This way they own their park model but are simply “borrowing” the land as they can always opt to sell their park model plus the cost of the co-op share. The last section of the park allows one to purchase both the land and the park model to become true home owners.


Many of the park models were destroyed last winter when a hurricane pretty much hit this area head on causing long lasting flooding and damage. As a result nearly 30 park models were destroyed and bulldozed into a pile of rubble which was hauled off site leaving nothing but the bare dirt beneath it. The park has since converted most of those back to RV sites and some who wished to rebuild had to do so under new city codes requiring the new place be elevated some four feet or more more than the original units.


Needless to say last season when we were here the place looked and smelled pretty bad but we came down anyway to help in any way we could. It has come a long way this winter with new RV pads and new park models certainly sprucing up the place. Onsite repairs to the recreational facilities is complete as well and now the park looks better than ever.


With us being here for three months I have several projects to tackle on the RV before we head north for the spring. I will pen blogs about these projects as they are completed and I will also write a few blogs about projects I recently completed but haven’t yet written about. Blogs will be a little less frequent during our winter stay as there is usually less for us to talk about since we are in one spot so long…

NOTE: We are now at our winter site for the season in Bonita Springs, Florida…

Friday, December 7, 2018

A Few Days Along the Caloosahatchee River, Florida…


Since we were only able to score two nights at South St Lucie Campground we packed up and started our westerly trek through Florida. A few hours later after passing around the southern edge of Lake Okeechobee we pulled into the W.P.Franklin Corps of Engineer Campground. We have four nights booked and although we don’t plan to do much while here except enjoy the waterfront views from our campsite, we will surely find  a few things to do.


The W.P.Franklin Campground is definitely one of our favorites. The campground is larger that the S St Lucie campground and this one also has boat hook ups where it is always fun to be able to chat with other folks who full time on their boats.I did meet up with one couple who do it a bit differently as they were on their way from Minnesota to the Florida Keys.  They tow their boat but wherever they can they put the boat in the water and camp at at the docks with hookups. They do this because they plan to stay on their boat in the Keys instead of a campground. Pretty cool…


The campground has a boat lock on the opposite side of the Caloosahatchee River so it also entertaining to watch the various boats pass through the locks. One place we like to go hiking is the nearby Caloosahatchee River Regional Park where there are several moderate trails where we can hike a couple of miles though the wilds of Florida. We found lots of wild flowers in bloom on our hikes even in late November and we even heard couple of wild hogs as we were observing the damage they do while rooting the soil for food.


Another day we hiked in the park and even saw a couple of the aforementioned  hogs we heard on the previous hike. Part of one of the trails took us along the Caloosahatchee River where we saw a few sailboats making their way west to the locks at our campground.


Another thing we like about this campground is we nearly always see a bald eagle here and this trip was no exception as we spotted a solo eagle sitting in the top of a large live oak tree. He sat perched atop the tree for a couple of hours and it was a treat to see.


Also near our site is a lovely little bar on the river called the Boat House.  It was a great spot for happy hour and a chance to take in the setting sun as we pondered our next move down to Bonita Springs Florida where we will spend three months hiding out from the worst of winter…

NOTE: We are now near at our winter site for the season at Bonita Springs, Florida…

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Phipps Park Nature Walk near Stuart FL…


With Vero Beach in our rear view mirror we moved on down the road over to the Corps of Engineer Park, South St Lucie. We have only two nights booked which we were happy to have as this park has fewer than 10 sites. I had been watching for a cancelation for a long time before finally finding these two days open.


South St Lucie campground is right on the St Lucie Canal that leads from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Okeechobee. There is a boat lock here so it is always fun watching the million dollar yachts and sailboats make their way back and forth the  channel. Also nearby is Phipps Park a great place to hike and do a little birdwatching.


The walk over to Phipps from our park is about 1/3 of a mile. Inside the park are nature trails and boardwalks. This 55 acre conservation also has a campground and is reasonably priced so if one can’t get a site at the COE park this is a great alternative. The sites are spacious and many are right on the canal overlooking the water. Like the COE campground they are water and electric only, no sewer. Since our last visit the city has made a few landscaping improvements and added a nice walkway along the river.




We noticed a lot of wading birds out and about in the park this year. We spotted several Great Blue Herons and its smaller cousin the Green heron. While crossing a bridge an Anhinga was sitting on the rail contorting its neck in many directions trying to get a good look at us while also searching for its next meal. It was rather comical to watch…


Crossing that same bridge we saw our first Alligator, a five to six footer who was laying on a rocky berm getting warmed up by the sunshine. We discussed that alligator’s teeth can only be seen protruding from its upper jaw whereas the crocodile with a longer pointier snout has teeth visibly protruding from both jaws. A few ducks were dabbling for food and we watched a Little Blue Heron spearing small fish too. On the way out a we spotted a large lizard posing on a rock. I haven’t been able to ID it yet but will continue to research it.


Before leaving this area we drove over to Jupiter Florida to meet up with long time RV friends Jim and Nanc. Jim told us about a Jazz Jam being held at a local tavern so we met up for some dinner and drinks. The music was great and it was awesome to see Jim and Nanc again.  Amazingly we have run into them into Jim and Nanc several times all over the USA ever since we first met at Betty’s RV Park. We will forever be grateful for all the great friends we have met at Betty’s and are glad she continues to invite great people to stay at her park. We look forward to a month long stay there again next year after we leave Florida…

NOTE: We are now near at our winter site for the season at Bonita Springs, Florida…