Florida bound – finally Snowbirds!

It’s surprising that we’ve been on the road since July 2014 and we only just now make it to Florida.

Our travel plans did not originally include Florida as we were heading to the Canadian west again – to personally greet the arrival of Grand Baby #9! But, as is always the case, plans can change.  Due to ‘sold-out’ RV parks in the Victoria, BC area we had to re-visit our itinerary.  My family was going to Naples for Christmas and New Years – so, we did too.

We’ve been in Florida for 2 months staying in a dozen different places – in an effort to get ‘the lay of the land’.

We arrived in Orlando on December 21st (our 1st stop)  – more specifically Disney’s Wilderness RV Campground located smack in the middle of Disney World. What a Christmas sight!  Campsites and golf carts were decorated for Christmas – primarily with Disney characters – and the competition was on!

We checked in to the Naples Motorcoach Resort on December 22nd – just 20-25 minutes from the house that my sister Kelly had rented for a month. It was a beautiful big house – complete with lanai and swimming pool – providing great accommodations for the family travelling from various points east.  My Mom and Gil flew in from Toronto.   Shannon, Gabe, Joseph & Celeste drove from Boston.  Sister Sue drove from Tara, Ontari0 and Kelly drove from Toronto.

Obviously, the pool was the highlight for the grand-kids who were in it all the time! Christmas was great, food was delicious and the company enjoyable. The giant lego’s that Joseph and Celeste received for Christmas kept us all busy – especially Mommy!

Gil and Jeanne (Mom); Joseph & Celeste and snacks for Santa & Reindeer

New Year’s Eve was spent on the beach in Naples for their fire works extravaganza! Thousands of people – with chairs, tables, picnic baskets and coolers with champagne and the likes.   The bonus was watching dozens of Chinese lanterns being lit and floating over the Gulf of Mexico – like stars on the water.  Following the event it was back to the house for more champagne and a chocolate fondue.  A great welcome to 2017!

Photo Credit: Shannon Ross Perrotta                                    Fireworks: Jacquie Johnson Embellishment

We hunted for alligators; did an Everglades Air Boat Tour with the grand kids; toured the Shell Factory; enjoyed the trolley tour in Naples with Mom, Gil, Kelly and Sue and giggled at the antics of “Wayne – our Trolley Master”.  Mother and daughters (x3) enjoyed a few water aerobics classes and we ate and drank some more! Of course, we shopped and the Fort Myers Flea Market was a hit!

1st ever Florida Everglades Air Boat Tour

Fun at The Shell Factory in Fort Myers, FL

We said good-bye to Naples on January 15th and headed to Tampa to partake in the –

Joining a Newmar Rally at this Super Show we were parked (in the shade) with 150 other Newmar coaches immediately adjacent to the Fair Grounds. This RV show had hundred’s AND hundred’s of motorhomes, trailers, 5th wheels  and campers on display – and in every price bracket imaginable.  If you can’t find what you’re looking for at this RV show then it’s just not available…

We left Tampa on Sunday, January 22nd for a business trip to Fort Myers – specifically to North Trail RV Collision Centre. Unfortunately, we had a little ‘ding’ to the rear passenger side of the coach when we ’kissed a chain link fence and concrete yellow post’ in Quebec City in September.

We had previously made arrangements with our Ontario insurer to get the body work done in Florida and our appointment was set for January 23rd.

It took a week to complete the repairs and while we could stay overnight in the coach, every morning we dropped the coach off at the collision centre, packed up the dog and cat in the truck – and went exploring. One afternoon we actually took the pets to Sanibel Island!

Freddie (the cat) was a highlight for most beach-goers!

With the body work complete we checked in to Cypress Trails RV Resort in Fort Myers for 10 nights.

One of the perks to attending any RV Show is visiting the vendor booths – many of which are RV resorts in the area – enticing you with free night stays.   Cypress Trail RV Resort was offering ‘buy four nights and get four free’!  This was a relatively new resort with lots of amenities. It is very common in Florida to have RV lots for sale and this was no exception.  The lots are purchased and then upgraded to include shade shelters, outdoor kitchens and landscaping, etc. – all in an effort to personalize your real estate.  Of course, when you purchase your RV lot you likely return to the same park every year.  We’re not quite there yet!

We re-located to Whisper Creek RV Resort in LaBelle, FL on February 6th.    Yahoo – three free nights! This 55+ RV park included quite the collection of old and new RV’s and park model homes (tiny houses). The very friendly people that we talked to had been coming every winter for years!  I enjoyed the largest water aerobics class I’ve ever participated in – 32 co-ed retirees!

After enjoying our ‘free nights’ we left on February 9th for Polk City (near Lakeland).  We were meeting up with Dennis & Nicole – friends that we met at the 2015 Parade of Roses Rally in Pasadena, CA.  We have crossed paths with them at least 1x/year and it’s always fun.

Unfortunately, I have no pictures of Mount Olive Shores North  – but it’s the most unique RV community we have ever stayed at!

Not a campground, Mt. Olive Shores North is a deeded lot development that houses both RV’s and/or custom site built homes on the same spacious lot.   The custom site-built homes/casitas come in a wide range of home styles, colors, sizes and prices. RV pads and super pads are laid out in various configurations with many landscaping options.

The amenities include 2 clubhouses –  swimming pools, a computer/Internet room, fitness rooms, a movie theater, tennis courts, pickle ball courts, a boat ramp/dock with a community owned pontoon boat, and gated storage.

Next up – Daytona Beach! We stayed three nights at the Daytona Beach RV Resort – a popular French Canadian RV park located 10 minutes from the RaceTrack. Exploring the city, the beach, the race track and ‘Happy Hour” Margaritas kept us busy. Another water aerobics class – with one ‘older’ man and 12 ‘old’ women was hysterical!

A couple of months ago we investigated in-field RV parking and tickets to the Daytona 500 but they were completely sold out!  This event is still on our ‘butterfly’ list with a note to ‘plan early’!

We then drove 97 miles to St Augustine!  Another 3 days of history and sight seeing  – and you can read all about it here!

Heading north and west to the Alabama border we stopped in Miramar Beach (near Destin, FL) – and were suitably impressed! The nicest beach and beach town we have EVER been in! The sand is cool and silky – think ‘icing sugar’!’ The Gulf of Mexico water was a brilliant emerald green colour. The sunset – a vibrant orange!

Our last stop was Pensacola, the home of a high school buddy of Chuck’s.   Bob met us at the Pensacola Beach RV Resort and we walked to Red Fish Blue Fish for lunch.   Delicious oysters, shrimp and margaritas enhanced the reminiscing.   Flipping the pages of the ’69 High School year book was fun!

Well, that’s it for Florida.  In conclusion – our favourite areas of Florida are definitely those points to the North and West…

Will we be back?  Absolutely, we’re Snowbirds!

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