For the second year now we have been in Florida for the coldest part of winter in Wisconsin and we are loving every minute of it. Also for the second year, Barb’s sister Deina has visited for a week. However, this time Jason headed North to Wisconsin to be at his grandma’s 100th birthday celebration.
There is quite the contrast in weather between the two, Jason experiencing some of Wisconsin’s snowiest winter on record and Deina enjoying some of Florida’s best winter weather in the 80s and sunny. Deina and Barb had a great time with several visits to beaches between the thunderstorms that pop up quickly this time of the year. Jason was fortunately upgraded by the rental company to a full-size Ford F150 4×4 for his week because absolutely would not have made it back to the airport without it. Deina’s visit was perfectly timed to avoid all of that fun.
Centennial Birthday Celebration
Jason’s maternal grandmother Verna turned 100 this year! That was the reason for Jason’s one week visit to the great white north of Wisconsin. She was born in 1919 and has seen significant historic events over that time. A country school teacher at age 18 and then for decades while being the wife of a farmer on the 1800s built Klemish farm. She saw the advent of radio to television, and crank telephones to smartphones. Her birthday was actually on Saturday, February 24th, a perfect day to be able to celebrate between the two major winter storms on the actual day. The gathering was perfect with well over 150 people turning out to express their birthday wishes. She had a grand ole time and held up amazingly for the four hours event. It was great for all to catch up with family and friends from decades past, as well as to see lots of photos and genealogy materials that could be captured.
Will We Ever Get Out of Here?
We had planned to be headed north by around the first of March. We really underestimated the transition from the 5th wheel to the motorhome. Trading the rig was the easy part. That caused the cascade of trading the truck for the a small vehicle, our jeep. To trade the truck we had to purge everything related to truck and trailer life, such as selling the 5th wheel hitch. Once we got the jeep then we had to get it equipped out with the Blue Ox Towing “plate” and the wiring harness. As well as we needed supplemental braking on the jeep, so we extended the motorhome’s already installed M&G Engineering Brake System to the jeep. To have emergency break-away braking (to apply the brakes on the jeep should it become disconnected) we had to install an air tank in the jeep. It was not available when the dealer had it, so Jason had to finish up on that install.
Of course, not all of this could come together without a little more drama. When we hooked up the jeep to the motorhome at the dealer, we had no right side signals on the jeep. A quick diagnosis we found out that half of the control module in the back of the 2008 Spartan chassis was burned out. We were to leave the next morning for the North, heading to Georgia. Fortunately, Barb was able to sweet talk the RV park into getting us in for a week. They had to do some juggling, but with spring break peak coming they could not give us more than that week. So every day after work Jason went over to the RV dealer to pester the parts people to make sure the part got ordered. It actually did not get ordered until late Tuesday of the following week and showed up on Wednesday. Jason could easily install it since it was a half dozen modular plugs in and out of this box. Jason also got the air tank installed and then we could mate up in our campsite to make sure everything was working. We got all of this done by Thursday and even got a chance to run over to Epcot to check out one more festival.
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Since we were a week late in leaving the area, we ran over to the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot one evening. This festival is beautiful! The photos look great, but in person, the colors are absolutely amazing. This is especially true if you can go late in the afternoon and see it sunset with the brilliant Florida sun emphasizing the colors. There are of course the numerous food booths that go with any of the festivals and some new ones were open now. Including one focusing just on the local honey ecosystem and one focusing on Florida citrus. Barb even found another penguin at Epcot, one made out of trash that was just found in the ocean drawing attention to the issue of waste that ends up there.
Finally! Heading North!
We have finally gotten out of Florida and are headed North toward Wisconsin. We are planning to be in Wisconsin mid-April for Jason to be at a work meeting. Until then we will be heading to northern Alabama and into the Nashville, Tennessee, area to meet up with some friends for about a month. From there we will be headed up to Wisconsin by Easter weekend.
On our way North we had to stay over for a night between reservations. We used our Harvest Hosts membership and stayed at the Golden Acres Ranch just a mile or so from Georgia in Monticello, Florida. We were there with two other guests overnight and had a great experience. As with all stays at Harvest Hosts locations we made some purchases at their country store and have been enjoying some great local berries and orange products.
We have already put our money down on our same spot in Winter Garden, Florida, for next year. We shortened our stay by a month and are planning for only December and January. We have found Florida just gets so busy beginning in February and even worse in March. So we are going to make our way back East late in 2019 and land there for the new year. So far no plans after January 2020, but given our new situation with the motorhome, we don’t feel we need to book that far out and will be flexible as we likely will head west over the top of the gulf coast.