Our Next Chapter

Yup, this is it!

Daughter visits us in Florida for a week during the polar vortex, we continue our move into and have a successful test drive of the new motor home. We say goodbye to Disney for now.
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Our daughter Allie visited a week while we made our transition from the 5th wheel to the motor home. It was great that she could be part of our process from one rig to another. Even though much of the week she battled a cold and laid low, being the first to be sick in the comfort of our new space, we did get some opportunity to show her the sights of Florida. One of her favorite Disney parks is Epcot, so we spent a day there enjoying the sights, tastes, smells and sounds of the Festival of Arts. Our favorite dishes were the deconstructed Ruben “sandwich” and the melted brie bread-bowl. Twenty years ago we saw “Illuminations: Reflections of Earth” (the nightly fireworks show at Epcot) together for the first time, special in that now 20 years later we saw Illuminations together for the last time. The Illuminations program is being retired after a 20-year run. Disney is planning to debut a temporary program this summer and then a more permanent show to follow.

Allie captured this manatee coming up for a breath at the Blue Springs State Park, Florida

Allie and Barb made a trip up to the Blue Springs State Park to see manatees, but the overnight air temperatures were too warm and they were there around noon. By this time most of the adult manatees were out in the river already and just a few of the little calves were out in the spring. We made a second trip and found a few more in the spring. The temperature really does impact whether they come to the warmth of the spring. One night this year they had almost 500 manatees in the spring outflow warming overnight.

We left you in our last blog post with the afterglow of recently purchasing a “new to us” 2008 Newmar Kountry Star 3916 diesel pusher class A motorhome. In making the decision of the class A vs. a camper van class B is making a lifestyle choice and not just the purchase of a particular vehicle. If you decide to purchase a camper van, class B rig, then you are making certain choices you will give up some comforts that simply don’t fit in the space. Comforts that you choose you do not need, laundry on board, large refrigerators and freezers, big comfy chairs or coaches, storage spaces and just simply physical space in all of the living areas. Each type of camper profile has pluses and minuses to them. As as we compare our new home to our previous, we are finding that we had also made many concessions in the 5th wheel unwillingly. The 5th wheel kitchen seemed like a good fit when we purchased it, but in reality, it was not very optimal at all. The new kitchen, the new office arrangement for Jason and the overall one level flow has been very pleasing. Barb has already noted a change in her use of the space being all on one level, we just have to address the entry steps where the first step can be as high as 1 1/2′ off of the ground. We have definitively confirmed that we made the right choice and are very happy with our choice!

Just like purchasing a new house, there are many different things you want to do to get it the way that you want it to flow. There has been a lot of “Tetris” playing, trying to get all of the items we had in the 5th wheel’s storage to fit into the storage of this rig. Every time you make a move between living spaces the storage just doesn’t work the same, the storage bins you had are the wrong size and there may be more or less storage when you need it. We have made many trips to Lowe’s to get supplies for the move in and have a small arsenal of “3M Command Strips” installed. We have made more donations to Goodwill and have purchased a lot of new things to make the rig more livable. We donated the sleeper sofa and the recliner to Habitat for Humanity’s Restore, we had to completely disable the sofa to get it out. We had a boo-boo during that process We purchased new Lazy Boy recliners and had them delivered directly to the RV. This was a great transition, from what was designed to be “weekend” furniture to something more livable. There are a number of other issues we are addressing, some odd changes made by previous owners in the electrical system, some outdated systems and materials that need to be updated and new carpet.

Jason put in many hours getting our two Internet networks stable again, we have one for personal use and one for the university. He had to continue to work during the entire transition and fortunately being in the Orlando metro area we did not need much for cellular boosting. The cellular booster is now installed for our travels North again. Jason’s office is in the “passenger side” room slide, which adds complexity in getting wiring from there to the roof. There is a traveler mechanism for cabling under the slide and Jason had to run a new tube on top of that mechanism and then drilled a hole up into the slide. There was a very small profile where that could be drilled. Newmar has a peg board “garage space” alongside the tank bay in our rig which was immediately next to the refrigerator. Jason installed the Weboost 4G-X-RV amplifier into this bay, ran the smaller interior antenna cable into the slide up into the desk (drilling a hole in the floor when Barb was not looking) and thicker external antenna cable up alongside the refrigerator to the roof. We have an omni antenna on the ladder and have also a directional antenna to mount on the pole when we really need the added boost.

The cats have adapted well to the situation. Right now our windshield is oriented to the South, they spend their mornings and afternoons laid out on their favorite blanket in the sun. They regulate their temperature by moving down to the shade and back again to the window throughout the day. They did very well locked in the bathroom with that same blanket in the sink and their litter box on the floor. No issues while we made a 25-mile test drive out onto Florida’s Turnpike. Barb even took a quick spin around an industrial space parking lot. Getting back into our site went very well, with minimal issues. Getting used to the wheels behind the captain’s seats is a new experience, although backing into our site was super slick. There are four cameras that help with the effort in addition to the use of our ham radios. Communication from the spotter to the driver is key. Once we let the cats out, give them a treat, they run to the windows to see what is new outside.

Florida Citrus

Showcase of Citrus, Highway 27, Clermont, Florida

We are going to miss the fresh orange juice with lunch every day! It is hard to find good citrus in this area, much of the “pretty” fruit is sent North and sold out of state. We were recommended the Showcase of Citrus, Highway 27, Clermont, Florida. We drove by a number of times and never stopped because of the corny roadside attraction things around their property. You need to stop! Their produce is all from their own orchard. If you want, you can grab a bushel bag and head out to the trees to pick the fruit for yourself. they have lots of wines, honey and other “farmers market” sort of items to purchase. Allie stuffed her carry on luggage with fresh fruit to take back to Minnesota with her, bringing home some sunshine to the polar vortex victims.

Showcase of Citrus, Highway 27, Clermont, Florida

We are loving the 2016 Jeep Wrangler Backcountry that we purchased to pull behind the motorhome. It has been great finding parking spaces anywhere because we fit into them now! The removable top leads to a little noise when we are on the highway. The transition from truck to Jeep meant we had to sell the 5th wheel and the associated mounting adapter, that went pretty easily through Facebook Marketplace. Both the Jeep and the motorhome got new windshields in the trade because of chips and cracks. We go back to Independence RV in two weeks where we will live in their lot for 3 days (they have full hookups to accommodate this) while they install the Blue Ox towing plate on the Jeep and the tow bars on the motorhome. They will also install equipment on the Jeep that from M&G Engineering that integrate the Jeep to the coach’s air brake system. The air brake system integrates proportionately to the Jeep’s master cylinder. There is also some additional wiring that is done for the signals. We also decided since we were already there for three days to have them install a washer/dryer combo unit. It will be an expensive three days.

We are trying not to be consumed this transition and getting away once and while. The perception of “we are always on vacation” is far from true, we have to make sure we create times away from our home that moves. We keep using our Disney Annual Passes. Barb even found the elusive Mary Poppins Mister Penguin at Epcot! She was so giddy to see him. We also enjoyed some rodeo at the Osceola County fair. There are lots and lots of horses in this area with a deep-rooted history now centuries old. There are many rodeos in Florida during the winter months to enjoy including at the Silver Spurs rodeo arena co-located at the Osceola County fair. To be honest, the caliber is a fraction of the Cody Wyoming Stampede but they do that nightly and here they perform annually. The 4-H spaces were very similar to Wisconsin, including large and small animal programs. Much of Florida is rural working farms, it is not all just Disney and Universal Studios.

What’s up next? Just two more weeks in the area and then we head North to Alabama where we will be for a month. We are currently looking to be in Wisconsin in the middle of April so Jason can attend a work-related event.

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
http://www.wintergardenrv.com/
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.
Restaurants
Attractions
WELS ChurchesCrown of Glory
http://www.crownofgloryorlando.org
2101 S. Apopka Vineland Road
Orlando, FL 32835-5802
Less than 20 minutes away is Crown of Glory
http://www.crownofgloryorlando.org
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.
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