Saturday, April 26, 2014

Plenty to See in Southwestern Florida

It is Friday, April 25th, and we have been hanging out in the central Florida community of Wauchula, about 70 miles east of Tampa. Again we are staying in an Escapee Co-Op RV Park. All of them are good but this one is amazingly sterile. All the grass is trimmed much like on a championship golf course. Life is slow here. We are now working at acclimating ourselves to the eastern time zone where we are suddenly three hours ahead of our family and friends in the pacific time zone.

We stay up until midnight and get up around 8 A.M. This, once again, is a very quiet RV Park in the country and off major highways. It is actually 3 miles into town and we are surrounded by farms/ranches with crops, cows, and horses. A couple of the ranches are beautifully manicured.  

We arrived in Wauchula when we moved the coach from Summerdale, Alabama back on Monday, April 14th. We got a slow start out of Alabama and I had forgotten we were going to lose an hour because of time zones. We drove for seven hours on Interstates 10 east and 75 south and were still 100 miles short of Wauchula at 4 P.M. We found a home for the evening in the Escapee RV Park in Bushnell, Florida. This park was two or three miles off and east of Interstate 75 south. Again, a charming little spot inhabited by the hustlers of yesteryear. The people we are meeting in our travels are very colorful.

When we departed Bushnell the next morning, the 15th, we took the roads less traveled and were rewarded by less traffic on nice roomy country roads. We completed the trip to Wauchula in just less than two hours. I had communicated with the people in Wauchula a couple times in the prior week to insure they would have a space for us. They assured me the weather was starting to get warmer, more humid, and the “snowbirds” were abandoning the park and moving back to their northern homes and hangouts. We were rewarded with one of our nicer parking spaces when we arrived.

We were up early on Wednesday the 16th and decided to take the highway south, about 70 miles, to the Ft. Myers area. This is a major stopping area for many snowbirds in the winter and we got a tip on an island RV Park that peaked our interest. This park turned out to be on the small island known at Matlacha. (Pronounced Mat-La-Shay.) This was a very interesting park 25 yards from the Gulf of Mexico that had room for only 10 tenants, and there was only one in the park at that time. What a beautiful little spot but we finally decided we wouldn’t move from Wauchula after staying a week. Our next coach movement will take us into the Miami area around May 12th.

We had Easter dinner at Don Jose’s (Mexican) Restaurant 30 miles east of Wauchula in Sebring, Florida. This restaurant is on the edge of a lake. The atmosphere was pleasant and the fare was standard.

We debated going into Tampa last weekend to see the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team play the New York Yankees. Finally decided not to fight the crowds and were very happy when we determined all four games in the series were broadcast on a local cable channel to our DISH satellite.

Florida Highway 64 is a very desolate road that passes in front of our RV Park. We took the trip west into Bradenton, Florida this AM on 64. It was 58 miles dead west to Holmes Beach on Anna Marie Island in Bradenton. Bradenton is on the west coast just south of Tampa. What a beautiful place. Janet waded into the ocean and said she felt the temperature was around 70 degrees. The water was crystal clear. We had fish and chips at the snack shop on the sand. Toured a nearby gift shop and took the hour drive back to Wauchula as all the Friday afternoon beach goers were starting to figure out where they were going to park. The opposite traffic looked like they were headed for the Balboa Peninsula in Orange County on a summer weekend. We got in and out by 1 P.M. unscathed!

By the way, the temperature at the beach was indicating 80 as we were departing. Beautiful day but the sun beats down different here. Much more intense. We saw a few lobster looking people with the early stages of a nice sunburn.

Wauchula is like many of the small western and southern towns we have been hanging out in. A post office, a main street – consequently named “Main Street”, a high school on Main Street, and all of our fast-food friends. Naturally it has a Wal-Mart, but the supermarket of choice down in this area is Winn-Dixie. Prices seem higher in these smaller towns. Bread is just over $5 a loaf, and lettuce is now $2 a head. Really!

In the heart of Florida unleaded gasoline is currently around $3.75, with diesel around $3.90. Shell is very visible down here in the south along with BP stations (British Petroleum). There seems to be fewer Chevron outlets.

Our coach continues to serve us well. I think I have said there is always something wrong with the coach. Always something minor that is. Something always needs to be tightened, or sprayed. That is just the way it is!

Our strategy of centrally parking the coach in the boonies continues to payoff. We are perfectly placed in Wauchula to take advantage of the sights in central, south, and west Florida.

We are just living the peaceful life and seeing the sights. Look for another post in a week, or so. You never know when something exciting is going to happen!

Regards to all.

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