The Halfway Point

The snow that tried to keep us trapped in Wisconsin as we headed to the airport

It is hard to believe that our three month rental in Florida has already passed its halfway point. We arrived on December 3 with a three month rental agreement at the Winter Garden RV resort. We are already thinking about what we have next after this is over, while looking over our shoulder at everything that has already occurred in the past few weeks. Including spending time back in Wisconsin for the holidays and numerous trips of course to the land of the mouse.

20th Anniversary!

We celebrated our anniversary earlier in December by celebrating with fireworks at Magic Kingdom and a special dessert event, but on the actual day we went to Honeymoon Island State Park and enjoyed the day along the gulf. For only a few dollars this beautiful white sands beach was very relaxing. Being a weekday it was not too busy and the rental company was there with chairs and umbrella to keep us from burning. Food was also available at the concessionary. It was a very relaxing upper 70’s degree day. Of the four beaches now that we have visited in Florida, by far this is our most favorite of them. The waters are warm, clean and calm with many dolphins playing along the shore all day long. The access price is only a few dollars and the parking lots are large. You can easily park and get to the beach without very many steps. However, from what we understand you will only want to visit this beach on a weekday.

We left off last in the blog with our Merry Christmas post on December 26, but that was a little bit of a fudge in our location. We found some great flights and some hotel specials that allowed us to fly home to Wisconsin for Christmas. It was great spending Christmas among friends and family while our cats were cared for back in Florida by two entrepreneur young girls doing pet sitting in our park. It was comforting to be back at our “home” church for Christmas with such a blessed musical base. We enjoyed catching up with friends there, as well are very thankful we got an an opportunity to say goodbye to our pastor and his family who are moving on to their new church. It was great to see our family on both sides and to surprise Jason’s family on Christmas Day because they did not know we were in Wisconsin. (Jason’s sister was hosting and she knew, but kept it a the secret!) This visit also afforded time for Jason to have an opportunity to help out his parents with their final move from the farm house to their new house along Trout Creek. Unfortunately, we did see snow the morning we woke up to go to the airport. There was about 5″ on the ground and fortunately we had very early flights that beat the snow storm coming into Minneapolis.

As we mentioned earlier, we did decide to renew our annual Disney passes. We love when people come down for vacation in the Orlando area and give us an opportunity to meet up with people from the north. You can usually spot them, they are the people that are not wearing parkas in the 60 and 70 degrees we have had here this winter. We were able to spend the day and meet up with some friends from New Richmond that were at Magic Kingdom with their family. Other family have flights booked and will be joining us before we head North on March 3. We have made it back to the parks a few times now in 2019, especially to Epcot to enjoy the Festival of the Arts. We “ate our way around the world” enjoying the various special foods for the festival.

Mean while, we continue to explore the area while we go from RV dealer to RV dealer. Last year we visited the Blue Springs State Park and fell in love with the opportunity to see the manatees. The spring gushes 70 degree water year round and that is their preferred temperature. As the colder St. Johns River gets colder they find their way to this warmer water and hang out. The park has a very ADA accessible boardwalk along the entire way that lets you see them up close. Being mammals they have to come to the surface to breath, like dolphins or whales do. They are otherwise below the water and occasionally you will hear one come up and exchange air with just a small amount of their nose come out of the water. On the day of our visit there was just 297 of these “gentle giants” in the warm refuge of the spring. The most cute are the tiny calves (about 2′ long by about the width of a basketball) sticking around near mom.

After visiting the Blue Springs State Park area we headed East over to Leesburg, Florida, checked out some vans and we made another offer on a Class B unit with a dealer. However, they could not secure the financing for it because we are full-time RVers. The lore is that none of the traditional banks will finance to “our kind” because we can run from them if we were to stop making payments. They want to know where they can “repo” the rig should we stop paying, or where to serve papers, etc. It is not even a matter of credit because you cannot even fill out an application, they simply will not loan to someone that doesn’t have a true permanent address. We thought by buying in Florida, as Florida residents, that would not be as much of an issue. As it turns out, the first thing our finance person did was Google our address and found it out that it is the Escapees Park in Bushnell, Florida. While you can get long term annual rentals there, we don’t have that.

2016 Pleasure Way Plateau-FL camper van, a “class B” motorhome

There is one financing company that is recommended by the dealers for full-time RVers to use, but the dealer we made the offer at does not work directly with Essex. So we had to go home and do the work ourselves to secure financing of the rig. Well that gave us another opportunity to pause, to think about do we really want to make the change to the Class B van life? The rig had everything that we needed, including a pre-built office area so Jason would have had minimal effort to convert anything for work. So we got cold feet and rescinded our offer again. Van life is about compromising certain things to gain a set of benefits. We still want to make the purchase here in Florida to make the titling and taxes easier.

What we are really trying to find is something that is all on one level as we get older. Yeah, that is an issue already. It is seven steps from the ground to our upper level and three steps from the lower to upper level inside. It is sort of the like having a split-level home with half of the living below and half the living above, you are constantly going up and down stairs. To find a flat floor plan we have looked at some straight hitch trailers, but really don’t like the floor plans offered. Eventually they will catch up with full-timers like the fifth wheels and motorhomes. So that leaves us with class A, B or C motorhomes being all on one level. We don’t need the sleeping capacity of the extra bed above the cab, so most class C motorhomes are also out. Now we are down to either an A or a B motorhome.

A motorhome also brings the self-contained nature we are looking to have in the lifestyle as well. We want to have the ability to be flexible in our locations and be fully self-contained. We want to be able to use Harvest Hosts in 100 degree weather and not swelter because of our little generator runs out of fuel every four hours running only one of the two air conditioners. We want to be able to nimble enough to park at a Cabella’s or a Cracker Barrel overnight as we travel along the interstate from point A to B. And most importantly, we are back to that need to be able to physically move from the living to the bathroom to the bedroom without having to traverse three stairs. So we continue our search for RVs in the land of dealers everywhere.

We only have about six weeks left now here in Florida and we will begin to make our very slow ascent back to Wisconsin for the summer. Have hope, spring is just around the corner!

Winter Garden RV Resort

We have stayed here now a total of three separate times over two different winter seasons. (Jan 15-28, 2018) (Feb 18-Mar 3, 2018) (Dec 3, 2018 - Mar 3, 2019)
Feature1st Stay 20182nd Stay 2018Winter 2018-2019
CampgroundWinter Garden RV Park
13905 W Colonial Dr
Winter Garden FL 34787
(407) 656-1415
Encore Resorts Property
Nights Stayed13: January 15-28, 2018
14: February 18 - March 3, 2018

(12 nights, we left on Friday and did not stay to the very end of our reservation. 14 in the "system" officially.)
90: December 3, 2017 - March 3, 2019
Parking SiteSite 191

Site is not too bad, it is small but the East side of the site is up against an older park model home. This actually secludes the space and there are some shrubs too. The full time seasonal neighbors to the West were nice, quiet and working day/night shifts. CATV was not good. There is an extra sewer connection in the way of the outdoor kitchen. Good distance to the dumpsters and the bathroom that serve the area of the park. Up on a hump, level once you are up on the hump. Not really walking distance to the pool from here. It was pretty quiet here, with the exception of the working neighbors who were very courteous to their door slamming as they come and go.
Site 279

Stayed this time on the Trails Collection add on package. 279 is a tiny little spot in the Northeast corner by the fire station and is 5 speed bumps from the front entry. The electrical system at this site is very old. The CATV is not available here, had to run a cable over to the neighbors site. The 9th Street to get to this site is really beat up, no speed bumps but the entire road is such a mess it might as well have tons of them. Really tight to get into sites on this row because of the storage units that are on the North side of the road. You may or may not have space for swinging into your site on the South side of the road. Not walking distance to the pool from here. Other than the fire station this is a quiet spot.
Site 169

We were to be on site 191 but when we got here it was a complete mess. They had recently dug it up for an electrical project and the entire site was loose dirt. There was no way we could be in there and not sink in, so they allowed us to move to site 169. 169 actually has afternoon and evening shade from a tree on the west side of the lot line and turned out to be a much better site.
WELS ChurchesCrown of Glory
2101 S. Apopka Vineland Road
Orlando, FL 32835-5802
Less than 20 minutes away is Crown of Glory
2101 S. Apopka Vineland Road
Orlando, FL 32835-5802

About 45 minutes to the Northeast is King of Kings , a larger church with a bigger school but it is farther.
Remember for Next TimeCamping World is about 2 miles to the East, but is old and tiny.

Book a full two weeks and not 13 days, their discount for weekly rates is deep vs. the daily rates.
Winter Garden RV Resort is an Encore park and is then available as the Trails Collection package.

Tampa airport is about 1h45m from the RV park with good traffic. With bad traffic it can be over 2 hours away.

Access to Magic Kingdom through the 528 route south from Highway 50. About 20 minutes and you come at it from the Contemporary Resort side.
Great Super Target in Winter Garden Village, Lowes next door. Publix is across Colonolio Drive from the RV park.

Camping World is now closed locally and is their cheap RV brand America's Choice RV.

Showcase of Citrus, Highway 27, Clermont, Florida - do not be afraid of the corny roadside attractions, the produce is all from their orchard. If you want you can grab a bag and head out to the trees to pick the fruit for yourself.

Indenpendence RV - Newmar dealer where we bought the 2008 Kountry Star 3916 - an amazing dealership!
AT&T Coverage4G LTE very good, low latencyAT&T is turning out to not be the better of the two carriers this time. Using the Weboost with the hotspot.
Verizon Coverage4G LTE goodVerizon is doing very well using the external antenna in the window. Weboost not as effective with this right now.
WiFi CoverageNone at the sites, only at the recreation buildingWiFi is available for a charge at the sites, otherwise it is free at the recreation bulding
Anytime FitnessThere are two Anytime Fitness facilities in either direction about 2 miles out main entry. One to the East that takes twice as long to get to but is half as far as the one to the West. The Eastern gym in Winter Garden has more modern equipment but the Western gym in Clermont has less stop lights. There is also a third a few more minutes to the South.

Campground has a good fitness room with low-end fitness grade equipment. Also there are well paved roads in the park are good for biking and walking. There are two warm pools in the park.
There is a 3rd Anytime Fitness center to the South, with better access during traffic.
Mail ServicesCan receive packages via USPS and UPS at main address, First Class envelopes are accepted. Must have the site number and the name in the address. The "Wi-Fi" room at the main office building has mail slots, you have to check there to see if you have a pack slip in your mailbox. You can also steal other people's mail there if you are so inclined.