We both agree that after spending three months in three different locations, it’s really nice to be on the road. We’re nomads again!
After leaving Lake Okeechobee, we spent a few nights back at Summer Crush Winery in Ft. Pierce, FL, a Harvest Host location that we used in November. Apparently, their RV hosting business has really taken off, because the field that we had all to ourselves in November is now roped off with numbered sites and we shared the field with 5 or 6 other RVers. They have also expanded their simple page of rules to three pages of rules and now request either a $30 payment or $50 purchase from their store if you stay more than one night. Seems like hosting has become a cash cow for them. Still, we had a lovely time here enjoying live music with old friends and sitting around a campfire with the other RVers and exchanging travel stories.
Our good friend Andrea, formerly of Glastonbury, just retired and relocated to Vero Beach this past December. It was great a to visit with her, see her beautiful new home, and enjoy some music and dancing. We’ll miss her back home, but are really happy for this new chapter in her life.
Andrea invited mutual friends Mayra and John to join us in Vero, and it was great to see them, too. Mayra and I knew each other from both Aetna and Hartford Ballroom, so it was fun to catch up on the latest news and rejoice in being retired!
From Ft. Pierce, we headed up to Brooksville to spend a few days with Joyce & Jim. We enjoyed a night listening to a Grateful Dead tribute band at Skipper’s Smokehouse and visited Homosassa State Wildlife Park in search of manatees. Best of all, we enjoyed a very fun evening while Jim and Bob had a pizza making competition and I made some killer margaritas. (The result of the cook-off was that Jim had the best crust and Bob’s toppings won.)
From Brooksville, we headed to Wildwood, FL, where we stayed with Hunter, a Boondockers Welcome host who we met last year. Hunter’s the woman who traveled for 15 years through all 48 contiguous states back in the 90’s before it was fashionable. Never at a loss for words, Hunter is a blast to talk with, and we really appreciate her willingness to share her driveway, electricity and fenced yard!
Wildwood is where The Villages is located, so we made sure to catch up with Lee, another Aetna retiree, and Lue (the other Louise who lived on our street when we were in The Villages). Lue adopted an abused dog named Lucky shortly before we met her in December and she and Tessa became friends. They had a lot of fun playing together. It was fun to catch up with Lee, cut a rug at one of the town squares and laugh over a few games of dominoes.
One of Bob’s bucket list items has been to attend Daytona Bike Week, and we got that one checked off on this trip. We stayed with a great couple named Bob and Mary in the beautiful town of DeLand, FL, which is about 30 minutes from Daytona. This gave us a jumping off point to visit Bob’s cousin Ray and his wife Cathy in Port Orange. Cousin Don was also visiting, so it was also great to catch up with him and his new sidekick “Pocket.” From there, I dropped Bob off in Daytona where he spent a couple of hours walking around the Bike Week scene while Tessa and I ran errands. Bob summation of Bike Week: it’s almost entirely old people with limps and grey hair trying to relive their youth in bars with scantily-dressed barmaids. Oh, and there were no “official” Bike Week t-shirts to buy because they are all sitting on pallets in some Chinese port, another victim of COVID19.
For our Daytona area stop, we camped in the back yard of Boondockers Welcome hosts Bob and Mary of DeLand, FL. We had a private spot behind their outbuilding where we heard owls and watched woodpeckers. Bob and Mary are really nice, fun people and very hospitable hosts. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting them and hope to see them again. Thanks for welcoming us!
Our final stop in Florida was at the Stephen Foster State Park in White Springs, FL. As luck would have it, we only reserved one night at this top-notch park. Stephen Foster wrote hundreds of songs, most famously, “Camptown Races,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” “Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair,” “Beautiful Dreamer,” “Old Folks at Home (Way Down Upon the Suwannee River)” and “Oh, Susanna!” Foster was born in Pennsylvania, lived in Ohio and only visited the south once, but he became well known for his simple tunes performed by black-faced minstrels with lyrics written in slave dialect that today is considered quite derogatory. Many lyrics have been rewritten because of that.
Because the Suwannee River cuts through Florida, “Old Folks at Home” has been adopted as the official state song, and a museum has been built in the Stephen Foster State Park complete with a carillon bell tower and craftspeople demonstrating weaving, basketry, dulcimer making and other folk crafts. It’s a great park deserving more than a one-night stay. Also, the town of White Springs is easily walking and biking distance from the park. It’s a quaint, historic town just calling out to be explored. We will make sure we come back to this campground!
As we headed into Georgia, we stopped at a gas station where a couple of young guys were playing music for gas money. We appreciated their spirit and resourcefulness and threw a couple of bucks in the bucket. See the country!! It’s so worth the drive!