As some of you may already know, we are expecting another grandchild to be born at the end of April. Our youngest daughter Bobbi-Leigh is expecting her first child. We are enroute to her home in Southern Indiana as we want to be there for the blessed event. Since our departure from North Fort Myers was on April 1st and Bobbi’s due date isn’t until April 30th, we’ve decided to take two weeks to meander our way back to our home state.
Before departing the Fort Myers area, Don and I took one last outing. We’d been hearing about Fishing Village in Punta Gorda all season long but had yet to see it for ourselves so two days before leaving, we decided to take a hiatus from breaking our camp and go check it out.
It wasn’t what we were expecting. A strip of land stretching outward into Port Charlotte Harbor consisting of shops, restaurants, suite rentals and a marina. For some reason we had visualized it as being an old fishing village but we enjoyed our visit anyway. We took our time browsing the many diverse shops along both sides of the boardwalk. One home decor store particularly caught our eye and we both agreed it was a good thing we no longer had a stick and brick home, we were enamored by the several of the paintings and a set of lamps. Since we have no place for them in our fifth wheel, we saved ourselves a substantial amount of money.
After shopping we dined on fish and chips at the Village Fish Market restaurant. Not only was the meal tasty but it was served in perfect portions. We felt satisfied without being stuffed. Next stop before leaving was the marina. We like reading all the unique names that folks christen their boats with. We saw many a Brown Pelican trying to entice the fishermen to toss them a few scraps and we spied this one lone Great White Egret minding his own business until I came along with my camera.
It was nice spending the afternoon just the two of us together.
On our last full day at Seminole Campground we finished packing everything. I also did up the few laundry items in the hamper. Around 2 pm we did take a break to meet up with our Seminole Camp gang for one last meal together before us and another couple depart in the morning. Barb and Janet had been talking about the Islamorada Fish Company restaurant so that was our destination for our end of season finale.
Not only did we like the atmosphere but our waitress and food were fabulous, and the conversation pleasant. We will miss the friends we’ve made here but it’s nice knowing we will all be returning for the next Winter season.
In the morning we once again bade everyone farewell and safe travels then departed Seminole for a short two hour drive north to Palmetto. Once again, we will be visiting old friends. Our purpose for choosing Palmetto as a stopover.
We chose Frog Creek RV Park and Campground because of its great reviews on rvparkreviews.com. Oh were we disappointed. We had paid for a full hookup site with patio but ended up having to park in an unlevel grassy electric and water site instead. The park advertises itself as big rig friendly but very few of the sites can actually accommodate a rig of our size. It’s not that the first site wasn’t deep enough, it was adequate, but the narrow roads and haphazardly way vehicles were parked made it difficult for us to swing our back end into the slot. Even the pull-thru grassy site was narrow and we did need to ask two other campers to move their vehicles so we could swing in.
We were told that our E/W site was the same rate as the FHU site because it included a pump out of our tanks. We were okay with that but later found that even though we signed up to have both our gray and black tanks emptied, only the black tank was done. Our other reason for negative feelings was that all the grassy sites were in dire need of mowing. The grass was high and the biting bugs bad. Fortunately we didn’t spend much time hanging around the campsite.
We made plans on the evening of our arrival to meet friends Steve and Becky Rasmussen for dinner at the River House Reef and Grill. The Rasmussens recently moved here from Indiana. Even though they are both still working, they call themselves semi-retired simply because they are living in Florida. We met many years ago when Don and I were first transferred to Indiana from our jobs in Michigan. We had been looking for a church home and that’s how we came to meet. Steve was the minister at the church we joined.
A lovely setting, the restaurant is on the end of a pier at the marina that stretches out into the Manatee River. The location afforded us with a gorgeous sunset over the water. The food was delicious and the conversation continued long after the meal was over. With so many shared experiences and memories, the conversation never waned. It was so good to see them both again.
The following day we took time to explore the area. We’d never been to this section of Florida before but having heard so many good things about it, we wanted to check it out. We are always on the lookout for a area that we might like to settle in when the time comes for us to exit from our gypsy lifestyle. On this day we started with dog friendly De Soto Memorial Beach then crossed over to Anna Marie Island where we continued south to Lido Key. Not only did we want to see the beaches but we had a list of RV Parks we wanted to visit too.
We found a pleasant surprise at De Soto Memorial in Bradenton. The beach was pretty much what we were expecting. Dog friendly beaches are usually not in a premier location, but it was clean and doable. Tucker took great pleasure romping in the water. It’s been a while since he’s been to the shore, The surprise though was that this is part of our National Park system.
It is believed that in May 1539, the explorer Hernando De Soto and his fleet of 9 vessels, landed near here. It was the beginning of his 4 year quest for gold and glory. This is where he began his 4,000 mile odyssey westward. The park is compact so it didn’t take us long to cover and one of the cool things about it……I collected another stamp in my National Passport book.
This Gumbo Limbo tree caught my eye. Also called West Indian birch, the tree is native to Florida. It ranges from Cape Canaveral southward to the West Indies and Central America. Legend states that pirates carried Gumbo Limbo limbs with them to mark the burial spots of their treasure. Some refer to the tree as the “tourist tree” because it stands in the sun, turns red, and peels. This tree is one of the largest in the country. It’s thought to have been here since the 1930’s.
Coquina Beach was spectacular. Not only does it have the soft, pristine white sand that Florida’s Gulf beaches are known for, but the vast, shaded picnic area was much to our liking. A wonderful setting to come and spend an entire day. The only drawback was our Golden boy wasn’t welcomed here. (The photos of Coquina Beach is taken off its website & doesn’t do either the beach or picnic area justice.)
We also stumbled upon a small RV park located very near the island beaches. Beautifully landscaped, on the Intercoastal Waterway, clean, and quiet…..we booked a 3 week stay for October. Can’t wait to come back to explore some more.
Our last and final day in Palmetto we spent hanging around the Suite Pea. Don was trying different things out on the galley tv. It’s constant pixelating has been driving him nuts. I spent time catching up on small projects that I’ve been putting off. In the evening we dressed and headed to the First UMC in Palmetto for the Good Friday service. We sat with Becky and listened to Steve’s sermon. It was good to hear Steve preach again. He truly has the calling for the ministry. After saying our goodbyes we drove back to the rig for an early bedtime. It’s moving day again tomorrow.
Our next stop was Tallahassee RV Park in Florida’s capitol city. Our stay was only for 2 nights, just to carry us through the Easter weekend. We took advantage of the campground’s laundry facilities and I prepared a menu and shopping list for the upcoming week. We did feast upon ham, asparagus and Orange Buttermilk salad for our Easter meal with leftovers to spare.
We gained an extra hour leaving Florida and arriving in Alabama. We have 3 nights booked at the Rainbow Plantation Escapee Park in Summerdale, just north of Gulf Shores. Don said it felt like we’d come home. We’d spent 2 1/2 months here our first year on the road. We liked the park, the people and the surrounding towns so much that we put our names on the list for a future ERPU site. This place is the numero uno contender to call home when we hang up the keys. No other place has met all of our criteria like Summerdale has.
After we’d set up camp, Don threw in the towel over the tv and called Sunshine Satellites to come out on the following day. We also needed to pick up another Y connection at Camping World for our water hookup, (I won’t name names but it wasn’t me who left the one we had in Tallahassee), and since our external gas tank pump quit working on our way to ‘Bama, Don needed to order another one at the local auto parts store. I figured while we were out running around it would be a good time to do the grocery shopping as well. As we were heading out of Rainbow Plantation we recognized our friends Bill and Ann’s fifth wheel and stopped for a quick chat.
It’s funny but it seems no matter where we travel anymore, we run into people we know. This RV lifestyle is definitely a social one. Did I mention we have a lunch date planned for Thursday with John and Pam Cook, our friends from Seminole Campground?
Here’s lookin’ at you kid……………….