We returned to our state of residence again for our fourth three-month-long “winter” in Winter Garden, Florida, again, December 1, 2021, to March 1, 2022. (Spoiler alert, we left before March 1, more about that in our next post.)
DC to Florida
A couple of lessons were learned on these two travel days. First, don’t leave at Noon from DC on Sunday after Thanksgiving! It took over 4 hours to go 90 miles south out of the DC metro area. Once we got out of that mess it was pretty decent sailing. Barb had a bad migraine and was able to lay down while Jason continued pressing the pedal to get us south away from the forecasted snow in the Virginia and North Carolina area that night.
The second lesson is to go with your gut feeling about your safety. We usually do not mind staying overnight in Walmart parking lots and it is rare we don’t feel safe when we do. However, we stopped in at the Walmart at Lumberton, NC, and decided that was not a good idea. We use overnightrvparking.com to scout out locations and this one seemed OK but it had not been updated in a while When we pulled into the parking lot there were surveillance camera trailers with flashing red and blue lights parked all over the parking lot. Jason went in and talked with a manager who said it was OK to park, but when pressed about any crime issues in the area she stated, “I sure would not stay here overnight.” So we pressed on again, finding that there was the Lumberton KOA the next exit South from there. We had a quiet, but expensive ($64+tax) and also safe, night there.
Rested up from the long and nerve-racking day before we were ready to go at daybreak and made it to the Winter Garden RV Resort by about 6PM. Of course, we had to make a stop at the Florida visitor center that was once again serving fresh orange juice!
Winter Garden RV Resort
Most campgrounds in this area have seasonal site packages where you get a steep discount when you book and pay for three months. As with everything, the costs to stay have increased, but it is still under $25/day for the site, water, trash, pools, etc. We were a little upset though to learn that the site we had selected had still not been repaired since we had left in March of 2021. The concrete pad on the site was being heaved up by a tree root and the park had not yet repaired it after we complained last spring. So we got moved to a much less desirable spot with very little space. It was quiet, level, and served the purpose anyway but was not walking distance from the pool as hoped.
This year we volunteered for Give Kids the World Village assisting in different capacities to help raise money for Make a Wish families visiting the Orlando area. One silver lining to CoVID was the birth of the “Night of a Million Lights” fundraiser event that happened when the Village was closed to visiting families. Volunteering gave us something to do during the blocked-out periods when we cannot go to Disney during the peak holiday times. We did this on several nights including on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and even on our wedding anniversary on January 2nd. It gave us a chance to get out, interact with other volunteers, and all for a great cause. We met many Disney Cast members that were completing their volunteer hours and many of those are ex Wisconsin or Minnesota residents who relocated to Florida to work for the mouse.
Sun Country to Minnesota
We made the decision that Barb was going to fly to Minnesota to spend time with our daughter and her family there in January. This was a tough decision to make. Sun Country airlines we very good at honoring the special requests for seating and for ADA assistance at both ends of the trip. Travel went very smoothly and Barb had an awesome time in the super cold snap of January in Minnesota.
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Class B Vans?
Those that have followed us for a while know that our current 39′ class A motorhome was a surprise! We had set out to find a 21′ foot class B van and ended up in class A instead. We continue to watch the class B market and still are thinking about the nimbleness that a van could bring to travel.
So Jason headed to the Tampa RV show to meet up with some friends from Wisconsin while Barb was up north with the family. We continue to have our eye on the new Winnebago Ecko “B+” format. But the Arriva by Coachouse was also spotted with a great fold-out office space integrated with the driver’s seat. Many of the manufacturers are finally starting to understand that working adults traveling full-time are a viable market for them. We continue to watch and wait. Mostly our hesitancy now is having to travel with our two geriatric cats and their paraphernalia that takes up so much space.
This is the “year of the 50th” anniversary of Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida. Lots of shimmering iridescence trim, merchandise, and magic. This year we felt very comfortable with the pandemic situation and the way Disney was managing the it, even with the significant case numbers in Florida.
Jason tries to take Valentine’s Day off from work each year and we try to do something special. Our plan to enjoy the beach was kabashed because of the cold weather (like the 50s and 60s sort of weather) so we went to Disney and enjoyed the day! We topped off the day with dinner at the Boatwrights Dining Hall with prime rib and creme brulee!
We did put down a deposit on a “premium site” immediately across from the North pool for next year. We are looking forward to another year of Disney because we also renewed our annual pass for the coming year. So I guess that sets it! We are going back to Disney!