Snowbird for a Month…Florida January/February.2019

It all started when I realized I had an airline ticket I needed to use by the 10th of January or lose it…How could I let that happen?
It would be an experiment in some ways, but I was really looking forward to being around Claire & Emma more…I wasn’t sure how much Sara & Kevin were looking forward to a unknown length of time with me!!  So, I tried to plan an “every other week” trip; kind of pop in & out of their lives so not to drive them crazy.  We’ll see how it works!  I’m definitely stoked about being away from the Kansas winter weather!

Day 1-7 January 8-14
My friend Sherri took me early to the airport & I was in Orlando around noon, Ubering to Saras houseYay!  I was greeted with awesome hugs from Claire & Emma!  Id also been given a warning phone call from SaraKevin was sick with a stomach virus the girls had had the week before.  He was currently at work, but wouldnt be for long.  The afternoon was filled with laughter, fun, & lots of hugs from the girls.  Soon Kevin came home, looking green & spent the night sickhanging his head over the toilet.  Soon, Sara arrived & joined him in agony, vomiting all night long.  I helped out with the girls, sad Sara & Kevin were sick, but it seems Id arrived at a good time.    Sara & Kevin were better in 24 hours, but a little more exhausted than usual.  

For the next week, the girls & I just played & played.  We celebrated Claires 4th birthday with a big party at a Prince/Princess place with all her friends…it was pretty cool!  We played dress up, read books, played “Salon” with pretend mani’s, pedis & face paint.  The boys birthday gift was sets of Duplos & we spent hours building & creating!  We also played Hospital…my least favorite game as Claire never gets better…she can lay on that couch so pitiful for the longest time!  We both got the giggles one night that is a memory I hope I never forget!  Emma is growing so fast, becoming more vocal, more expressive, but still so sweet & such a compliant baby….sleeps & eats on demand!  So precious these days being with them.  And, with Sara too.  We’ve enjoyed a few late night visits, which are super special to me.  Take a peek & check out all the fun!

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Nothing keeps Sara down, so in spite of all the puking & then not eating that happened earlier this week, along with her very full work schedule, she had been planning on running the Disney 1/2 Marathon.  She was pacing a friend, so no pressure on herself, BUT STILL…. I am continually amazed at this wonderful woman!  And, her sense of fashion for this run, was just perfect!

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Day 8 January 15
Today’s my birthday!  When the idea for this trip began, I quickly called Jill to see if she wanted to get her trailer out of it’s winter storage & Toodle on over to Florida to meet me on my birthday & a week of fun!  She said yes & so today our adventure begins.  We’ve spent several of my birthdays together, & plenty of time in Florida together, but our ‘first’ for this trip, would be that I’d be traveling with her in her car & Tramper.  She’d broken down the kitchen table & made me a bed!  She’d spent a wonderful solo day the day before at Disney & she was so happy to have done that.  She’d booked another night at Fort Wilderness campground, which was pretty cool to see.  She visited with the girls some then we took off to the new REI in Orlando & a little shopping at a couple of quirky shops we’d been told about.  

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Sara, unbeknown to me, had called Jill way before she left Texas wanting to plan a little birthday surprise party for me.  I’d left early, so Sara called & told me all about it.  After a yummy lunch at the Hangry Bison, we headed back to Sara’s house for a party!  Claire was just as excited as I was!  We had party hats, a polka dot balloon, cream puffs & presents!  What a nice treat!

Jill & I were given party hats as soon as we walked in the door….Luke called right at that same time…but Claire did not want to wait!

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(This has to be the worst picture Ive ever taken as far as blocking most of the people out of it!, but Claire was soooo excited!)

It was soooo much fun!  Thank you Sara! Jill mentioned that there would be a fun campfire sing along night at the campground that night & Sara & the girls wanted to come later! 

We arrived back at the campground, but needed to eat dinner.  We were trying an experiment.  Both of us are wanting to learn about & try dehydrated camp food for next summer, but while we were at REI we each bought a dehydrated meal from a company Jill had read about called Good to Go.  We ate the Curry, which was yummy, but the problem is that the meal is really about 4 servings, so we had leftovers.  Jill’s fridge had quit working, so we stuffed the leftovers in her cooler.  Then it was time to take the shuttle to meet up with the Sara & the girls for the campfire.

It was a wonderful but chilly night.  We roasted marshmallows & made s’mores; sang along with the kind of corny but fun guy leading the sing-along; took pics with Chip & Dale & had OH-SO-MUCH-FUN-DANCING with Claire…we both love the twist!  I was in heaven sharing this moment with my daughter, my granddaughters, & my best friend!!!  What a wonderful way to end my birthday!

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Claire really wanted to see Tramper so we all took the shuttle back to where it was parked & took a tour & spent a little time inside.  Then it was time for temporary-good bye hugs. We rode with them back to their car.   The boys called & I had a great phone chat with them.  What a wonderful birthday it had been!  Jill & I soon turned in for the night, doing a little late night chatting, as always…what fun! (Some things never change…love that!)

Day 9 January 16
The next morning we visited in camp, then moved Tramper to the overflow parking area & took the shuttle to Disney Springs as the Florida temps dropped & the sun hid for the rest of the day.  We ate a yummy lunch from one of the food trucks there & finished it off with a shared bowl of Dole Pineapple Whip.  We made a few purchases for the grand kids & as always, loved spending time just hanging out together.  As we were walking toward the shuttle that headed back to the campground, we walked by a polka dotted Suburban.  I’d seen one last week when Sara & Kevin & the girls & I had gone to Disney Springs for dinner one night & I’d commented….”I’d love to ride in a polka dot car!”.  A woman approached us & asked if we’d like a complimentary ride back to the campground…it was training day.  WOW!  I was super excited about this tiny, simple, nothing thing…it’s the little things in life of surprise joy that are so awesome!  I grinned with whole way back!

We then headed west towards Tampa to go to the largest RV show in the country.  We had tickets for two days, so this would be our short day.  We strolled around looking at what we liked best.  Greg is in the market for something bigger for when he & Jill soon start to hit the road together, more often.  She wanted to visit with the guys at NuCamp, who make her trailer & get a few problems figured out.  I was just along to see some things I’d been researching, but I’m not really in the market for anything different at this point.   We found what I’m guessing will be Jill & Greg’s next RV purchase, both of us liking the same one.  It’s a Canadian made RV called Leisure Van.  I’d just seen a You-Tube video on one a few weeks before, so it was interesting to see it for real.  Greg was immediately on board & would probably have let Jill buy it on the spot, but she still loves her little Tab as long as she can get everything working properly.  She’s always wanted something smaller rather than larger, but Greg is the exact opposite.  I’m sure they’ll work it out.  I suggested they keep both & have a “She-RV” (the Tab) & a “We-RV” (the Leisure Van)!

Jill found the NuCamp site & talked with one of guys & made an appointment to come back on Friday (we’d originally planned to come back on Thursday, but Friday was just as doable.)  So, a little backstory here….before Jill chose her Teardrop, I was looking & researching Truck Campers.  I’d found one by a company called NuCamp.  Just shortly after that, Jill found her teardrop made by the same company.  It’s pretty quirky & interesting how often we choose the same things when our lifestyles are so different.  But we both like the European design & efficiency this company uses when they build their products.  So, I had been anticipating a new light weight, smaller model of truck camper they’d been working on all last year.  I was over the top happy to see the first prototype on display at the Tampa show.  So, while Jill visited with one of the NuCamp guys about the problems she’s been having, I was touring the new 670 Truck Camper…it’s very, very cool!

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Getting Lost!
We walked out of the show, heading out & needing to get to the car & on the road for a dinner date.  OMG!  We took the exact opposite exit we needed to take & got on a shuttle which said they’d take us to where we’d parked.  20 minutes later, they told us (& two other couples) that they didn’t go there.  So, we un-boarded & walked back into the now closing down show.  It was getting dark, & we were lost in the middle of hundreds of RV’s.  We finally found a salesman that pointed us in the right direction, but it was crazy!

We’d been in contact with Janine Pettit, a podcaster we both follow a & are sort of star struck with…she was attending the show as part of her sponsorship.  She texted us back in the afternoon & wanted to know if the two of us wanted to meet her & her daughter for dinner in Ybor City…we said YES!  It was a lovely dinner!  We spent a couple of hours, just the four of us, visiting mostly about books & reading (you would have thought it would of been about travel!).  Her adult daughter, Georgia, was so awesome & I can’t imagine a better way to spend an evening….so much fun!  

We were camping that night at one of Jill’s Harvest Host’s sites which was a golf course parking lot south of Tampa.

Day 10 January 17
Jill needed an oil change before we went further & we found a really cool place called Take Five…you never have to get out of your car!  It’s the most efficient auto place I’ve ever been to & we both were pretty impressed for something so mundane.

Then we took off to the Manatee Viewing place just west of where we’d camped.  There were at least 50 manatees swimming about near the warm of waters of a power plant.  We also did a short hike down a path to a tower to climb with a great view of the water.

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We’d decided it would be easiest to just to camp at the RV show (which is in their grassy field) parking lot for the next two nights.  So, we went back to the golf course, hooked up the RV, stopped & filled it with water, then drove back over to the RV show & found a place to park for the next couple of days.  Jill is great & hooking up & unhooking & the learning curve to tow has been short & seems like it’s been easy.  We spent a little time taking a break that afternoon, then took off back to Ybor City.  We had a plan for this evening.  I’m huge fan of Florida author Tim Dorsey…he writes the quirkiest, craziest, books I’ve ever read.  And I’ve read all 21 of them!  It’s like a huge caffeine surge when you read these books.  I’ve gone to one of his tours before when I’ve been in Orlando, but he’s just releasing his 22nd book & Jill & I had planned to go to the event tonight.  We went early enough to grab some dinner & really cool place called the Collective in Ybor City.  We sat at the bar & looked at the menu from about 6 different places within the restaurant….it was a cool & delicious concept.  Right across the street was a tiny independent bookstore called Inkwood where Tim would be speaking.  

He’s from Tampa & has a long time relationship with the tiny bookstore.  There were only about a dozen or so people in attendance but I loved it.  He’s just a regular guy; not really a speaker so he just opened the floor up to questions.  And I took full benefit of that!  I asked about 3 or 4 questions that I’d always been curious about & he answered them as well as told interesting & funny stories.  He’s just so regular for a guy that writes so off the wall crazy things!!!  I had such a wonderful time!

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It was late by the time the book talk was over, so we headed back to Tramper & turned in for the night.

Day 11 January 18
This morning we just chilled in the camper for awhile & visited…which was great.  We went into the RV show & I checked out a couple of other Truck pop up campers I’d researched, but two of the companies I wanted to check out, weren’t at the show.  We visited Greg’s choice of BIG Leisure Van again.  We went back out to Tramper, ate some lunch & had a beer.  I sat outside & read awhile, while Jill took a nap inside Tramper.  Then it was time for her to go back inside & meet up with her NuCamp guy to discuss her issues with her trailer.  

Jill & I both follow a photographer & blogger named Mandy Lea.  She’s sponsored by NuCamp & is an amazing photographer.  Her & her boyfriend Kendrick, travel all over the country in a small Tab.  When we arrived at the NuCamp site, both of them were there.  We were STARSTRUCK!  Reluctant to go up to them, but eventually did, we ended up visiting with them for about 20 minutes.  Turns out Kendrick is originally from a podunk town in Missouri…glad he got to escape!  They were both wonderful to visit with & we really enjoyed the time with them.  Jill’s fix it guy was helpful to her & gave her directions on which steps to take to solve her problems.  I revisited the new prototype taking a second long look at what it offered.

We went back to Ybor City to have a yummy dinner at Shrimp & Company.  Afterward, we walked down the street to a Pirate Bar, but just ended up glancing inside & not ordering anything.  

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We made our way back to the trailer, had a beer & good conversation & called it a night.

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