Monday, March 22, 2010

Wednesday March 17, through Monday, March 29, 2010: In Wauchula, Florida:
The trip from Wildwood was short (135 miles) and uneventful, The RV park (Peace River) is large and nice. It’s a Thousand Trails preserve. Wauchula is not located near anything, which is usually a good thing. We got the last site with a sewer hookup that we were able to back into without hitting anything. Whew! The main attraction here (for Becky) is an active bunch of pickle ball players. Becky has been playing almost every day. She is trying to get me to play, and bought me a paddle. We’ll see. Bill told me on the phone that one of our friends tried the sport the other day---and fell flat on his face the first time he tried to hit the ball, I’m not encouraged by that news. Through Saturday, we otherwise mostly hung out, played with Daisy, and watched movies from the local Red Box. We've had great weather here---so far.

On Sunday, we decided to go on a field trip to Tampa and St. Petersburg (175 miles, roundtrip). The minute we left, it started raining---and never stopped. Sometimes it was verrrrry heavy. As a result, we toured the two cities, and a bunch of hamlets along the way, sitting in the front seat of our truck. (There was no way we were ever going to go outside in that weather.) So much for museums, war memorials, gardens, etc. From what little we saw, Tampa is a nice place and St. Petersburg is kind of a dump. We may go back and update this very thorough analysis someday soon.

Surprise! They have alligators and oranges here in Florida.

Monday night around 8:30 we had a power blackout. It turned out that one of the fittings in the wiring that connects us to the "city" power pedestal melted. I think it was from getting wet in the rain on Sunday. (We had a similar problem involving a different fitting while in very wet Harlingen, Texas in January.) Fortunately I had a replacement fitting in inventory and I was able to fix it within the hour. On Tuesday, I made the trek to a "nearby" town (40 miles, roundtrip) to buy a handful of what I hope to be waterproof fittings, and retrofitted all of my outside connecting devices. We'll see if that prevents the problem from returning in the future.

When I got to the store to get replacement fittings I realized I had forgotten to bring my wallet. On a longshot, I asked the clerk if I could save a return trip by taking the merchandise now and giving her the credit card number later---over the phone. She said yes. Amazing! I guess RVers are both trustworthy and trusting. It's a nice feelng.

On Friday we went on a field trip to Sarasota (125 miles roundtrip). Very nice place. I wonder who can afford to live there. We visited the St. Armand's Circle, an interesting shopping area on St. Armand's Key (part of Sarasota). There are 120 or more stores, restaurants, etc., located around a center circle. The key, and the circle, were started by John Ringling (the circus guy) many years ago, as the beginning of a high-end real estate development. It didn't work initially because of the Great Depression, but it works now. Very impressive, and very popular. There are some great homes in and around St. Armand's and Sarasota generally. Daisy went with us and had fun dazzling the patrons at the circle.

We had a picnic lunch at a little park on Longboat Key, just outside the Sarasota city limits.

Becky finally got me to try pickle ball. The first day, I was so-so. The second day, it was so windy I couldn't judge the flight of the ball, and was somewhat less than so-so. But I won't be daunted. When we get to another park with pickle ball courts, I shall return.

We travelled to Sebring (the home of the Sebring International Raceway) one day and saw Crazy Heart in an actual theater. The story was a bit of a downer, but the movie was very well made and definitely worthwhile. Jeff Bridges definitely deserved his Oscar. Colin Farell was also in it, which I had not known, and showed how impressively versatile he is. The next day, we returned to Sebring (60 miles roundtrip) to visit Highlands Hammock State Park, a vey interesting nature preserve. It consists of 9,000 acres of trees, swamps, and other wild nature things, including orange trees growing in the middle of a stand of mangroves.

There was also a boardwalk through a large swamp. What started out as being four feet wide with handrails on both sides turned into being two feet wide with a handrail on only one side. Since I am a chicken whenever I get over water, I was not happy with the change.

In Florida, incidentally, and apparently only in Florida, the word "hammock" refers to a stand of broad-leaf trees creating a dense cover. As was true in the park we visited, there are often other trees mixed in. Hammocks are all over the state.

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