The last time we left you we were at the Escapees Rainbow Plantation in Summerdale, AL. We left there on February 3 and moved on to Mayo, FL where we stayed two nights at the Suwanee River Rendezvous RV Park. Our next destination was Torrey Oaks RV & Golf Resort in Bowling Green, FL where we would stay for four nights as we made our way to Arcadia, FL to attend a boondocking rally.
After settling in at Torrey Oaks, we got a call that some of our friends were having a get together in Winter Haven, FL, about 45 minutes away. Greg and Cori (RV Solar Solutions) had driven all the way from Pennsylvania to attend the rally. We were delighted to see them again, along with other friends, Bill and Kelly (Bill and Kelly taking on America), and Lee and Tracy (Camper Chronicles). We had a fabulous time visiting, eating, chatting, laughing like crazy, and catching up, as you can see.
Back at Torrey Oaks, Craig and I were invited to attend a Friday night event at the resort. (Let me tell you, this is the first “resort” we stayed in that really is a “resort”! Many RV parks use the word “resort” very loosely, but this one did not disappoint.) We were fortunate enough to get a Passport America discount, and only paid $64.20 for THREE NIGHTS! It PAYS to be a member of Passport America, for sure! Anyway, as we entered the event center, there was probably a couple hundred people eating, dancing, and having a great time. We met a lady who shared a lot of information about her life on the road and it is always interesting to hear others stories. Considering we were the strangers in the room, we did have a good time.
On Sunday, February 8, we traveled another 28 miles to Arcadia, FL where the boondocking rally was being held at the Turner Agri-Civic Center. Our hosts were Howard and Linda Payne of RV-Dreams fame, and this is the third rally they have hosted that we have attended.
If you are unfamiliar with the term “boondocking”, it is living off grid with no electric, water, or sewer. And this is what we were here to learn. Normally, one does not travel with full tanks (fresh tank: potable water; grey tank: shower and kitchen run-off; and black tank: sewer) because of the added weight. That is why we “staged” at a park nearby so we would not have to travel very far with all of the extra weight.
This was our first attempt at boondocking and we did very well, I might add. The only issue we encountered was, once again, with our propane hoses. Even though we are equipped with plenty of solar, it is nice to have a generator to top things off when needed, and we can use the energy provided by the generator to indulge… occasionally… like using a hairdryer and flat iron!
The morning after we arrived at the rally, Craig spent about 4-5 hours troubleshooting why our generator would not keep running and he figured out it was the hoses. Even though we had replaced our hoses and regulator back in November, we had not used our generator enough to realize it was really not really fixed. So, after buying another regulator and a new set of hoses, we were off and running without a hitch. My man’s got talent! LOL! We now have spare parts in the event something goes wrong in the future. No more headlamps in the house for us!
Throughout the week, Craig, Greg, and Bill were extremely busy doing what comes naturally… fixing things. These guys were kept quite busy all week making repairs for several rally attendees. If you know Craig, he was certainly in his element! I believe Greg and Bill were, too! All three work together beautifully and, together, they make one heck of a team. Do I smell a mobile business… maybe?
We ended the week with 1/3 of our water remaining in the fresh tank, and our grey and black tanks still had a way to go before needing to dump. Although we could have conserved even more, we cooked and prepared food to share with friends which used more water than if it were just the two of us. So, we never felt deprived of anything and are quite confident we could actually go off grid for about 10-14 days. That’s encouraging.
During the rally we had several potluck meals, breakfasts cooked outside, and impromptu seminars. We also had a rig walk-through which normally doesn’t happen at boondocking rallies, but it was requested this time around and most everyone participated. It is always interesting to see all types of RVs and how other RVers live. Our last full day was Valentine’s Day, so Linda (along with the help of a few volunteers) cooked several large pots of different flavored chili. Although I am not a big chili fan, it was very delicious. For dessert, volunteers baked red velvet cupcakes. Yes. Off-grid!
While at the rally, we had an opportunity to either canoe or kayak the Peace River. Craig chose a canoe. While we were able to keep the canoe upright the entire time, I would much rather do a 2-man kayak simply because the center of gravity is lower to the water. Every time Craig moved in the canoe, it would begin to tilt and I would find myself leaning the other way. By the time we finished, I felt I had a really good workout.
We did have a little excitement, however, during our float down the Peace River. As we were entering the last bend just before take-out, we noticed a couple in our group had hit a bridge support and their kayak capsized. We were quite concerned, at first, because no one came up right away. After what seemed like a long time, Lynn finally popped up first. Afterward, Ed surfaced, as well. About that time we had arrived at the bridge to help. The current was swift and the openings between the bridge supports were narrow, but we managed to grab on to the supports and hold ourselves in place in the event more assistance was needed. Cori and Greg had already passed under the bridge, but were able paddle their kayak back to the scene. Bill and Kelly were behind us, so they were able to grab on to the bridge support at the point where Ed and Lynn’s kayak was overturned and pushed horizontally between two of the bridge supports by the current. Cori climbed forward on their kayak to help rescue Ed, and Lynn was clinging to the bridge support at the other end. We could tell by the look on his face that Ed was on the verge of shock. All he could do was ask where Lynn was. He was assured she was “OK”. Eventually, Cori coaxed Ed into their 2-man kayak while Bill and Kelly got Lynn and Ed’s kayak free and let it float out from under the bridge. By this time, and after getting her life jacket on, we believe that Lynn had let go and floated to shore where another couple picked her up in a canoe. Everyone was relieved, to say the least, that everyone survived and was pretty much unscathed by what could have been a very unfortunate situation.
After the boondocking rally ended, Greg and Cori and Craig and I headed over to Lazy Days to spend their last 4 nights together before they headed back to Pennsylvania. Lazy Days is a GINORMOUS RV business which sells any and every kind of RV you can imagine. There is also a huge service center onsite. Additionally, there is an RV store, conference center, cafe, a huge campground, and much, much more. This place is so big that they have shuttles to get their patrons from one place to another, and there are so many RVs coming in to this place that they have to have someone up front directing people where to park just to check in!
So, there we were, back-to-back, neck-to-neck, with all of these people. This is not the place for us, but it is all we could find at the time we booked backed in November. Recall, Florida is a haven for snowbirds and reservations are made at least a year in advance for most RV sites throughout the state. Consequently, we have only been able to find a state park with a site available for us this Thursday and Friday nights, but we have no idea where we are going after that. The weather is too cold and icy to head further north (Georgia or South Carolina), but we will figure something out. I think. I hope!
Tracy and Lee invited us to join them for sunset on the beach. After our visit with them and Kelly and Bill at the park where the four of them are staying, Greg, Cori, Craig and I followed Tracy and Lee to Clearwater Beach. Our stroll with friends was so much fun, and relaxing, and beautiful!
Tracy had told us about a gentleman who plays taps every day at sunset on the beach. Every, single, solitary day unless it is too windy or raining. So, we waited with great anticipation. Well, he showed up and I got myself poised to take a video. He crossed the bridge onto the beach, walked out close to the water’s edge, placed his instrument on the sand, and stood in solitude looking out to sea as the sun was sinking fast. Fortunately, I had an opportunity to chat with him briefly beforehand and ask if there was a particular reason he does this. While I had already guessed, I just needed to hear it from him. Sure enough, he was very kind and explained that he is a Vietnam Veteran, and he does this for every soldier who did not make it home. He said his salute seems to attract a lot of folks on the beach, but he said he would do it even if he were there all by himself. Here is his salute to the fallen, and here is my salute to him. I wish I had asked his name. (Make sure your speakers are turned up.)
After the beach experience, we headed over to Crabby Bill’s for a nice seafood dinner with good friends.
Eventually, it was time to say goodbye, for now, to our friends. We hosted a wonderful dinner in our home Thursday evening but, unfortunately, Lee and Tracy were not able to join us. We will, however, see them soon down the road.
What a nice life! Until next time…