Sunburst RV Park, FL
18 Nov, Thu: Sunburst RV Park, Dover, FL
We're parked under spreading oaks so have shade but can always find a piece of real estate in the sun if desired --just now it's warm enough that we prefer shade. The days are beginning in 50-60 degree range and quickly rise to high 70's-80's.
We've learned that this is really three adjoining parks so there are miles of park roads to be walked without ever going near a busy highway. Our venture to Wal Mart and Publix grocery was totally pleasant as we drove on a country road, by a lemon grove, through a residential area, a short stretch on a highway, and then were at those two stores in the same shopping mall.
20 Nov, Sat
We walked via park roads to the Encore Park next door to get in on the Welcome Back Party. Well over a hundred folks were happy to have returned to Florida and eager to participate in a delicious free meal: BBQ pork, baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad, carrot or chocolate cake and drinks. We sat with two couples who are parked near us and Romeo and Arlene offered to bring us back in their car as it was very dark and there aren't many lights in the parks. We invited them in and had a great visit - Romeo grew up in South Berwick, Maine, so he and Cal had a good time reminiscing about people and places in that area. We think it likely that Romeo's great grandfather and Cal's great uncle worked together in the Salmon Falls Foundry!
22 Nov, Mon
Today we took a ride down to Fort Myers and saw plenty of evidence of weather-related devastation, including Blue Tarp Roof subdivisions, broken signs, trees etc.
We stopped at one rest area where there was a huge pile of broken and twisted highway signs. Some of the intersections have or had big tall light poles. In many cases they were folded over like broken stalks of corn. The highway exit signs have been replaced by portable, generator-driven electronic ones on a trailer like you see at construction sites.
24 Nov, Wed
We've been talking with our grandson, Rich, and his wife April who've just moved to Clearwater from Kodiak, Alaska. Rich is in the Coast Guard, stationed in Clearwater, and they're living with April's mother while working on the house they've purchased nearby. When Cal learned that Rich and April are still in the painting phase of renovation, he offered to help. So today we drove 40 miles west. It was great to see the kids and their daughter Kendra, and Cal felt good about being useful - he primed ceiling and walls of two bathrooms.
25-26 Nov, Thu-Fri
Helen and Bob who have an RV and whom we've mentioned often in our updates, invited us to their home in The Villages (south of Ocala) for Thanksgiving. Turkey and all the fixings were delicious and it was special to share the time with friends.
1 Dec, Wed
Romeo and Arlene picked us up for a visit to Tarpon Springs. Its waterfront is a working seaport and the shopping district has the feel of a Grecian fishing village.
Romeo and Arlene have been here a number of times so knew which Greek restaurant we should patronize for lunch after some browsing in little shops.
Then we took the city trolley to see the historic buildings and homes and learned that 'the man who changed Tarpon Springs into a "sponge town" was John King Cheyney. In 1891 he formed the Anclote Sponge Company in Tarpon Springs. Cheyney later hired John Cocoris, a young Greek sponge buyer who convinced Cheyney to bring his brothers and other Greek divers to Tarpon Springs. With their advanced rubberized diving suits, copper helmets and pumped-in air, the divers brought in nearly four times as many sponges per man per hour as harvesters using the hook method. Five hundred Greek men entered Tarpon Springs in 1905 and 1906. More immigrants followed, and the sponge docks transformed into a replica of a Mediterranean port city with restaurants and markets.'
A devastating red tide and the production of imitation sponges changed the picture for the Tarpon Springs sponge industry in the mid-forties, but the beautiful Victorian homes, Greek restaurants and fishing-oriented shops remain to delight tourists.
The weather was perfect for our catamaran tour on the Anclote River from the city docks to the Gulf of Mexico. We stopped along the way to observe an eagles nest, but no eagles were about today. When we got out to the Gulf, a number of dolphins entertained us with their cavorting around the boat.
We visited the sponge factory where we saw a couple of most informative films which described the details of sponge harvesting. Tourists used to be able to go out on a sponge boat to see the operation firsthand, but that is no longer running.
We stopped in Brandon, a town very near 'home', for a super fish dinner at Shells, thus putting the finishing touches on a very special day.
2 Dec, Thu
We met RV friends, Pete and Ellie, in Lakeland for lunch. We drove through Plant City which is famous for strawberries, and we're told they have giant strawberry festivals. The Plant City water tower is painted to look like a strawberry. Publix is a huge grocery chain. We drove by their headquarters, an immense complex of industrial buildings; and the water tower nearby has the shape of a three-tiered birthday cake, complete with candles.
5 Dec, Sun
Only ten more days and we'll be leaving Sunburst RV Park and moving back up to Southern Oaks south of Ocala for a month. We've enjoyed great weather every day, and as we watch the weather map for the rest of the country, never wish for a minute we were elsewhere. When we received an e-mail from friend Sally in Tucson, AZ, she advised, 'stay right where you are, it's cold out here'.