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12/8/15 - 1/21/16 - Alabama and Florida

The best part of living in an RV is that you can change plans instantly.  We had every intention of spending all of December in Summerdale, Alabama but the weather was rainy and we had family coming to spend their Christmas break with us so we decided to find a sunnier area - Florida!  We were in Alabama from 12/7 thru 12/25 and did get to do a little sightseeing but the weather was mostly uncooperative so we didn't do as much as we would have liked - I guess we'll have to go back some day.  

Gulf Shores Alabama on one of the few sunny days
Sue, Earl, Tom, Megan and Elizabeth had every intention of visiting us in Alabama but with the weather not looking so good we called them to see if they wanted to meet us in Florida instead, and, of course, they said yes (what's four more hours in the car?)  They drove straight through from Lake In The Hills, IL to Bushnell, FL in about 18 hours and arrived on the 26th. The best part of the trip (I know Megan and Liz are not going to be happy with me for telling this) is that Tom didn't tell the girls about the change of plans - they still thought they were meeting us in Alabama.  Even after entering Florida they still thought they were heading to Alabama!  To say they are geographically challenged is putting it mildly.

Maddie loves visitors
We arrived in Bushnell on the 26th about three hours ahead of the others so we got set up at our park and then headed over to the Microtel Hotel to wait.  I asked the hotel clerk to say "Welcome to Alabama" which was pretty funny but the girls had already found out from someone who wishes to stay anonymous  that they were in Florida. 
We had a wonderful time in Sunny Florida playing tourist.  We took an air boat ride to see Alligators, walked thru Homosassa Wildlife State Park, swam with manatees in the Crystal River, drove to Cocoa Beach on the Atlantic to frolick in the waves and spent an afternoon visiting Aunt Arlene and Uncle Al in Clearwater - WOW - what a busy week.

Marty, Sue, Liz, Mary, Tom and Megan (Earl is hiding in the background)
Family Time!

Cousin Time - Mary, Sue, Cindy, and Tom

When we got off the airboat, they let us hold an alligator.
Homosassa Wildlife State Park  - Alligators, Hippos and Eagles - Oh My!

Lu the Hippo, an honorary citizen of Florida

It took us about three hours to get to Cocoa Beach and it was definitely worth it.  We lucked out with a parking spot three spaces from the beach and spent almost two hours there.

Frolicking ----

40 years ago this was Sue and I (yeah, right)


Black really is slimming!
The highlight of the week had to be our swim with the manatees. We signed up with Crystal River Manatee Tour and Dive Company and after watching a short video we headed out to find manatees.  Since it was so warm the manatees were still spending their time in the river.  When the temperatures drop they will head for the springs.  Captain Glenn gave us very strict instructions about staying calm and letting the manatees come to us.  We were all given wet suits to help us with buoyancy and snorkels and we got in the river. The river was murky and it was a little freaky to have these gentle giants bump into you.  Our guides led us to a mama and her baby and everyone had fun playing with them.

In the river with the manatees

Earl was keeping an eye out for manatees
 When we were done playing with the manatees our boat headed to the clear waters of the springs and everyone had fun taking pictures and snorkeling. 

Say Cheesehead Megan


Here's a link to a short video that Marty took of our week:

All good things must come to an end so very early on January 1st it was time for our visitors to head back north 😂.  We had a wonderful week, the next time we see Elizabeth she'll be a college freshman!!  

We were very luck with the weather - it was in the 80's all week and sunny.  Alabama was rainy all week so we definitely did the right thing heading east.
One last hug from Meg
Once we recuperated from our northern visitors it was time to visit more family here in Florida.  Marty has a cousin, Linda, whom he hadn't seen in about 35 years! They even had the same 3rd grade teacher - Mrs. Gerrie Konopacki.  We all love family history so it was fun to visit and share some information.
Marty, Mary, Linda, and Marty

When Liz was here she wanted to go to a flea market (gotta love that girl).  We never made it while they were here but we did go to the Webster Market on Monday, 1/11.  We bought a few t-shirts for 2.00 each and some lemon bread and enjoyed walking around looking at everything.  I even got some ideas for possible future craft projects.
FiestaWare - my favorite! 
IPad problems had us driving to Tampa on the 19th to visit the Apple store (an hour away).  They weren't able to help us that day (an overloaded server) so we'll be back there on the 28th to take a class and, hopefully, get my IPad fixed.

We also made it to the Tampa RV Super Show (the largest in the U.S.).  We had fun walking thru lots of new RV's ( we still like ours better than any others we've seen).  We also walked thru the vendor area and talked to a few places about possible future workcamping jobs.  We even saw Kelly, our boss from Amazon - no, we are not going back there!

Our park (Sumter Oaks Escapee Park) is small and quiet.  We walk the park a couple of times a day to get our steps in (3 times up and down each row = almost 10,000 steps).
These noisy sandhill cranes rule the park (there are two of them)

Tree faces are everywhere

We have some real "asses" for neighbors
That's it for now.  Our current plan is to leave Florida on 1/31 and visit a certain family in Louisiana early in February.  Then it's on to Mesa for March and north to Washington from there.