We departed Clermont on April 01 and, instead of heading north as most snowbirds do, we headed south and spent a couple of days at the Silver Palms RV Resort in Lake Okeechobee, Florida, which is 120 miles southeast from Clermont. If one has never been to Lake Okeechobee before, let me forewarn you beforehand that there is absolutely nothing there for non-fishing people to do, except relax. This is exactly what we did. The weather was hot, however, the pool was quite refreshing and we spent our afternoons swimming and talking with the locals at the resort.
The resort itself is absolutely beautiful and quite large, and although a little on the pricey side, if one is interested in a place to park their RV, I would highly recommend this place. It’s quite peaceful and the grounds are in pristine condition. There is a large clubhouse that offers a billiards room, a card room, and a library as well as a generous sized gathering room for various activities and dinners. The resort is currently expanding and they are in the process of building a second clubhouse. If one was interested, the resort has lots for sale as well. If Dave and I were to the point of the settling down, and wanted to be some place off of the beaten path, then this would be a contender. For more information on Silver Palms RV Resort, go to www.silverpalmsrv.com.
After leaving Lake Okeechobee we returned to Clermont, but this time we stayed at the Thousand Trails Orlando campground for 10-days as we wanted to spend a bit more time in the area. We met up with Arlene and Barry who had returned back to the area and spent an evening with them playing Wizard (a great card game!) and getting caught up on their adventures, as they spent time in Miami and the Florida Keys. Their adventures sounded awesome and we can’t wait to explore some of that territory this coming winter. Oh, and if you two are reading this, you need to start your own blog site so we can keep up with you two! 🙂
On April 13, we began our trek northward and we left Clermont, FL for the Ocala Sun RV Resort in Ocala, Florida, which is about 60-miles north-west of Clermont. We wanted to visit Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing and the RV resort is only one mile from the museum, so the location of the park couldn’t have been better.
In all honesty, the museum itself was not what I was expecting, especially when driving up the driveway to the facility. To say I was impressed once we got inside of the museum is an understatement! The museum is open every day between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm (closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas) and between the two buildings, they have slightly less than 300 cars on display. The rate to get in is very reasonable as well; Adults $20, Seniors (over 60), Military/Veteran, College Students, Teenagers (13-18) $15, and children (5-12) $10. Group rates are available as well but I’m not sure exactly how many people constitute a “group,” so I would suggest calling the museum in advance for group information.
The average tour takes about 2-3 hours to see everything or, unless one is like my husband, then it will take longer. One building, aptly named the Antiques building, consists of antique cars and has one of the largest collections of Fords, not to mention muscle cars and rare vintage automobiles. This was my favorite building as I love antique cars.
The second building, aptly named the Drag Racing building, has a collection of world-famous history making Dragsters, Funny Cars, motorcycles and many other exciting racing vehicles from the early days of drag racing to current day. Between the two buildings there is an amazing collection of Hemi engines, Flathead engines, rare manifolds and carburetors that have been restored. This was Dave’s favorite building by a long-shot. Regardless of what type of car one is into, it’s almost guaranteed that one will find something at the museum that captures ones’ attention.
I took SOOOO many pictures of the cars that were at the museum, that there were way too many to post here. Sorry! 😦
We departed Ocala on the 15th and stayed overnight in Tallahassee, FL on our way to Milton, Florida. Originally we wanted to stay right in Destin, FL but, unbeknownst to us, the rates in the panhandle area increase around the first of April and continue to rise throughout the summer. The reasoning behind this, or so we’ve been told, is that the temperatures in the panhandle area of Florida are much cooler in the summer months than central and southern Florida, so that’s where a lot of people head to for spring/summer vacation, which in turn, drives up the prices. Who knew!?
After extensive research due to that bit of knowledge, we settled on Milton, Florida, which is home to Naval Air Station Whiting Field, and is located about 367 miles north-west of Ocala, Florida and 48 miles north-west of Destin, FL.
We found a really convenient RV Park on the outskirts of Milton called Avalon Landing RV Park and spent the next four nights there. Avalon RV Park is located 5 miles from Pensacola and offers one of the best sceneries we’ve experienced to date, as it sits right next to the Indian Bayou. Unfortunately it rained practically every day we were there, so taking pictures of the place would not have done it justice.
Despite the rain, we decided to make the best of our time there and headed out the next day to explore the Gulf Islands National Seashore, which offers recreation opportunities and preserves natural and historic resources along the Gulf of Mexico barrier islands of Florida and Mississippi. The protected regions include the mainland areas and parts of seven islands, which consist of Santa Rosa Island, Perdido Key, Petit Bois Island, Horn Island, East Ship Island, West Ship Island and Cat Island. Petit Bois, Horn, East Ship, West Ship, and Cat Islands are accessible only by boat, however.
The white quartz sandy beaches (along miles of undeveloped land) and aquamarine waters are simply stunning. There are historic fortifications, such as Fort Pickens, and nature trails galore there, not to mention miles of beach where one can just sit and gaze out the ocean (my favorite thing to do!).
Thankfully while we were there, the rain decided to stop and it turned out to be a wonderful afternoon. I took off my sneakers and wadded into the ocean. Oh, the water felt fantastic!! The beaches here were simply beautiful and I can only imagine how packed it is during the summertime.
Arlene and Barry were in the area (about an hour away from where we were staying) visiting family, so they came down the following day and met us for breakfast at the Scenic 90 Café in Pensacola. The café’s décor reminds one of the old 50’s style diners and the food was really good and was very reasonably priced. Highly recommended!
After breakfast, the four of us visited the National Naval Aviation Museum (formerly known as the National Museum of Naval Aviation and the Naval Aviation Museum) in Pensacola, which is a 350,000 square foot military and aerospace museum that sits on 37-acres at the Naval Air Station. This is a museum that one needs to go to when visiting the Pensacola area! It is the world’s largest Naval Aviation museum and one of the most-visited museums in the state of Florida. They have over 150 beautifully restored aircraft representing Navy, Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard Aviation. Admission is FREE! That’s right….FREE!!
The National Air Station is also home to the Blue Angels and, on most Tuesday and Wednesday mornings (weather permitting) from March to November, one can view the Blue Angels practicing above them. Practices typically begin at 11:30 a.m. (Central Time) and last about 75-minutes. Admission to the practices is FREE and open to the public.
Thanks again, Arlene and Barry, for a wonderful day! To say that we enjoyed this excursion and meeting up with you two again would be an understatement!
For more information regarding the National Air Station or watching the Blue Angels practice, go to www.navalaviationmuseum.org.
We left Milton, FL on Monday, April 20 and overnighted in Athens, AL before arriving the next day at the KOA North Campground in Goodlettsville, TN. Goodlettsville is located about 18 miles north of Nashville and we decided to spend two nights there. Although we had been to Nashville many times before, we decided to take a Grayline Tour of the city as there was a tremendous amount of construction being done around, and in, downtown Nashville. At least this way we would have someone knowledgeable driving us throughout the city and we could hit the highlights of the places that we wanted to visit, such as the Ryman Auditorium, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Grand Old Opry, and Opryland USA (Gaylord Hotel). Talk about a tiring day! Whew! My dogs were a barkin’ before we got back to the campground!
We left Tennessee on April 23 with the thoughts of stopping overnight in Elizabethtown, KY; however, we just kept driving and arrived at Lake Monroe Village in Bloomington, IN late that afternoon. I think both of us were anxious to get back here and take care of medical and business related items that needed to be dealt with. More importantly, we were looking forward to reconnecting with our friends who, in many ways, have become an extension of our family.
The reason why I titled this blog as “The road…..home?” was that I have always considered New Jersey my home, as that is where I was raised. I left there in my early 20’s moving from state to state with my husband as we followed work contracts. I’ve returned throughout the years to visit family, less though as I get older. I still have a brother and sister-in-law who live in New Jersey, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins, but in all honesty, Bloomington feels more like my home now. I’ve made so many close friends here and, more importantly, I feel comfortable here, like you get from the feeling of putting on an old, soft, comfortable sweater that fits.
So yes, Linda, I’ve arrived back home. 😉