Thanksgiving Week & Arrival At Our Winter Digs – Lithia & Ft. Lauderdale FL
We’ve made it to December! The end of our travels this year, the end of 2016. Can’t deny I’m kinda happy to see this year pass, but I’m also looking forward to doing the round-up of all our adventures and giving you the low-down on the best RV campgrounds we visited this year. We achieved plenty and managed some sweet locations this year, in between it all.
In addition it’s my FAVORITE month of the year so I’ve got my annual Christmas Gift List to write (coming very soon) and I’ll be throwing myself into decorating “the beast”, appeasing the ever-mischievous RV”nisser“ (very important) & procuring all the various food stuffs we enjoy for Christmas. With my family flying over in only 3 weeks (!!) we’ve got lots to prepare. Plus I’m determined not to miss a moment of the spirit. The Santa Hat is out, the Christmas Candle is lit and Christmas Music is running non-stop. Yes, I LOVE this time of year and I’m not ashamed to admit it!
But Before I get into December I should really wrap up what we did the last month of November.
A Week’s Rest At Alafia River State Park, Lithia, FL
After we finished our week at the RV repair shop we drove all of ~30 miles to settle in at one of our very favorite State Parks in Florida. It’s a hidden gem we discovered over 6 years ago when we first passed through the area, and honestly the only reason we even stopped here was because it was the closest place we could find to stay near Paul’s best buddy (of over 40 years!) Freddie.
The park itself is really in the middle of nowhere. It’s a super small campground ~45 mins SE of Tampa, smack in the middle of Florida’s farm belt. It’s an area dominated by large ranches intermixed with smaller towns. The “big stuff” is all up in Tampa so down here is mostly countryside and urban shopping.
And in the very midst of all this is where you’ll find the lovely, green oasis of Alafia River State Park (*updated review & video coming!)
The easiest way I can describe it is that it’s a wildlife, mountain biking, horse riding, hiking, kayaking and basically all-around fabulously natural paradise. There are several lakes, ~20 miles of hiking/riding trails and ~20 miles of the best mountain biking in the entire state of Florida. From easy to advanced the trails snake through dense forest, lakes and interesting formations left over from the old phosphorus mine that used to be in the area. The biking is so good it’s won numerous awards and attracts bike enthusiasts from all over the state. There’s even a few super easy tracks for wimps like me.
When we first got here in 2010 we immediately fell in love, so much so that it made our “top RV parks” list of the year. We ended up staying there again on our way out of the state in 2011, and it was the VERY first booking we made when we started our 2016 plans way back in December of last year. Thanks to our 11-month ahead planning we managed to snag the entire week of Thanksgiving, and despite all the crazy changes that we went through this year we were able to keep that one reservation.
Thanksgiving With Old Friends
We arrived on a warm Monday afternoon and both felt immensely relieved as we pulled into our generous and green site. The park was just as lovely as we remembered, even more so since the last 6 years has allowed the greenery to grow and mature giving the sites even better privacy than they had before. Plus the hiking/biking trails are just as naturally beautiful as ever.
We spent the entire week literally just puttering around the park and reconnecting with Freddie, his lovely wife Julie and their equally lovely kids Jessica and Juliana. Spending time with friends that you’ve known for over 40 years is not only special, but it’s also effortless and relaxing. Paul and Freddie mesh like two peas in a pod and since they both married tall, European gals it turns out us women have quite a bit in common too. Plus Polly totally hit it off with their doggie Lucky, so the pooches had a good time too.
We had Thanksgiving dinner together and enjoyed many hours just hanging, walking and and sharing hilarious stories of the boyz past shenanigans. It was a blast of a week and exactly what we needed to re-center and relax.
Settled For Winter In Fort Lauderdale, FL
We left our hide-out on the following Monday and made our very last drive of the year to Fort Lauderdale where Paul’s dad has helped us to find a leased site for the winter.
It’s the last drive of the year for the beast and hopefully the last drive we’ll have to do separately. After ~600 miles of not being able to tow after our accident in NC, we’re hoping to get the final collision repairs completed while we’re here. Our car is already in the shop (we dropped it off on Tuesday) and our tow bar has been refurbished by Roadmaster and will be on it’s way back to us shortly. Once ALL that is done we should be finally back to “normal”. What a relief that will be!
In the meantime “the beast” is settled in nicely to her new site. Since she’ll be stationary for the next few months we did our usual prep work to prepare her for sitting still. So we added biocide to our diesel, we cleaned, 303’d and covered the tires and we “lubed” the slide seals. We may even (if we get motivated enough) do a complete wash & wax too. These are all things that are tough to do when you’re in constant motion, but perfect when you’ve got a bit of travel downtime, and when you’re a fulltime RVer you’ve got to squeeze in the work while you can.
We’ll be here on and off over the next months, just hanging with family & enjoying the area. We’ve rented a house in Miami for a few weeks while my side of the family comes over from Europe, then we’ll come back here and start planning whatever it is we’re going to do in 2017. This past year has triggered a lot of questions for us and we’re not sure what that means yet for next year. We’ve had lots of discussions and lots of ideas, but nothing I can talk about…yet. You’ll know when we know 🙂
I’m not sure how prolific my blog will be this month, but I’ll certainly be doing the usual end-of-year round-ups and the few bits and bobs that I usually cover in December. Until then, here’s wishing you a most enjoyable start to the very last month of the year!
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