"Birthday, Clams and Ham"- Update 01
Thursday, December 8, 2016
It was a little chilly during the night, but it was kinda nice snuggling down under the covers. That is not something we do often in Florida. It was 50° when we got back on the road at 8:20 this morning.
We retraced our route back five miles on SR-40 to SR-19 and headed south. For the first 15 miles we were still in the Ocala National Forest. There was a sizeable area that had controlled burns on both sides of the road. At the end of a dirt road was a homemade sign, “Sunset Strip”.
We left the forest in Altoona and passed Lakeview Terrace, a “Not-for-Profit Continuing Care Retirement Community.” We have visited here before and know two couples and two singles who live in Lakeview. It is quite beautiful. In Umatilla, we passed The “Dam” Smoker B-B-Q and then crawled at a snail’s pace during some road construction. We passed several mid-century homes.
We were surprised at how large Eustis is, although the population is only around 20,000. A walkway is built along the shore of Lake Eustis with twenty boat slips. I bet sunsets are spectacular from there. The Eustis Historical Society Museum looks interesting. Every February the town holds GeorgeFest. The first festival was held in 1902 and today it is the 2nd longest ongoing annual event held in honor of George Washington.
In Tavares, we passed the 269-bed Florida Hospital Waterman. It has recently been named a Top General Hospital for 2016 by the Leapfrog Group. The annual Leapfrog Hospital Survey is voluntary and only about half the hospitals in the country take part in it. We drove over the Little Lake Harris Bridge – 3,130 feet long.
The first citrus juice plant in Florida was built in Howey-in-the-Hills by William John Howey in 1921. He founded the town and incorporated it in 1925. We passed a number of horse farms. In Groveland we saw acres and acres of rows and rows of trees: citrus; nuts; decorative. Several nurseries offer oaks, crepes, elms, magnolias, palms, hollies, etc. We zigzagged where SR-19 ended and SR-33 began a block away.
We passed cattle and – for some unexplained reason – the soaring wings of a hang glider lying in a field. We were driving south and several big trucks were driving north. There were empty or loaded flatbeds; dump trucks; tank trucks, etc. I mention this because as each one passed us, we were hit with a strong blast of wind. A manufactured double-wide had three saddles draped over the railing of the front porch.
We came upon road construction and while Al was concentrating on dodging orange traffic cones, a train whistle sounded and Al jumped. It had startled him and we both laughed about it. We never did see the train or tracks. We did see the road construction turned out to be resurfacing. Two flatbed trucks passed us piled high with sod. Sheep and goats are for sale. We passed a large hay field with huge hay rolls and two donkeys. We saw more horses and more donkeys.
In Polk City we passed the Fantasy of Flight Museum. Right next door to the museum is an RV Park. That might be a fun, short trip. That is where we drove onto I-4 for the last thirty-five miles or so. We saw a most unusual building like nothing I have ever seen before. We passed it before I had a chance to take a picture. It is the Florida Polytechnic University.
The following is their Mission Statement.
"The mission of Florida Polytechnic University is to prepare 21st century learners in advanced fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to become innovative problem-solvers and high-tech professionals through interdisciplinary teaching, leading-edge research and collaborative local, regional and global partnerships."
One of the things they are working on is robots in space. The dream is to be known worldwide as a “University of Innovation”.
We finally arrived at Lazydays RV in Seffner – a suburb of Tampa. Lazydays was founded in 1976, and is the world’s largest RV dealership. It sits on 126 acres and has more than 2,500 new and used RVs. Both the Tampa and Tucson locations were featured on the reality TV show Big Time RV on the Travel Channel. We don’t watch the show at all because it doesn’t truly represent 95%-99% of RVers. We watched it twice and the show only seems to deal with buyers with unlimited funds – not everyday people.
Maddy was happy to see the sliders go out. She knows that means we have stopped for the night. We cooked up some leftovers for lunch and just took it easy for the rest of the day.
Total miles for the day: 117.0.
Total miles for the trip: 168.8.
Friday, December 9, 2016
We woke up to the pitter-patter of rain on the roof, but it soon stopped. The reason we are here is because there is a ham festival in Plant City. The Tampa Bay Hamfest is the largest Amateur Radio trade show on Florida's west coast. Al left in the morning and didn’t return until about 3:30.
My day was quiet and peaceful. I seldom get days like this at home. I wrote on this blog and did some reading with my kitty snuggled up next to me.
When we first moved to Florida we bought the St. Petersburg Times from a box. We did not have it delivered because of our frequent travels. Then the newspaper changed its name to the Tampa Bay Times. Then it stopped delivering to boxes in Ocala. However, it is delivered free of charge every day to every site in Lazydays. Today, it is half the size it used to be and doesn’t have much of interest other than the comics and crossword puzzle. About the only thing I read that was interesting was about the man who created Jelly Belly candies. (He now has a candy shop in Clearwater.)
The temperature this morning was in the 40s but our electric heater worked just fine. A few hours later I was able to turn it off because I opened the windshield shade and the sun streaming in filled the Roo with plenty of heat. Even though the outside temperature never passed 60°, the Roo was warm the rest of the day. In fact, it was so warm that when Al came home we opened the door – much to Maddy’s pleasure.