We have been in Florida for 2 weeks today (Tues Dec 2); we left Atlanta Tuesday, Nov 18 and took about 5.5 hours to arrive at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Campground. Bill took the CR-V to scout out the site before pulling in with the rig, and shortly after we were all set up and ready to relax for the evening.
This CG is a state park and had only water/electric sites, which we weren’t worried about considering we were only staying until Sunday. We figured we would be conservative in our water use, as to not overfill the tanks, and assumed we would be able to do that just fine. This was our first time at a state park and what we’ve heard about them was true; the site was large with plenty of screening between sites for privacy. The CG and park were beautiful, with the Spanish moss hanging from the trees, plus they were setting up all their Christmas displays, which were quite extensive. They were scheduled to turn it all a few days after we left and I’m sure it was an amazing site!
While at this location, we rode our bikes, visited the museum and little shops that are right in the CG, toured the little town of White Springs, took care of laundry and other boring chores.
We hadn’t had a fire or a s’more since leaving PA
We pulled out on Sunday, Nov 23 and arrived here in Clearwater later the same day. It was an easy drive and we were set up in plenty of time for my Dad to come by and say hello. I think he was looking forward to seeing how we actually “lived” in our new home. He had seen the rig back in May, parked in our driveway during our “We’re Outta Here” party, but seeing it “in action” would be different. All our stuff is in it now and we are all hooked up and he wanted to see how it all worked.
Monday was a BIG day! We officially became Floridians, using my parents address. My Mom went with us to the Tax Collectors office, which is where you get your driver licenses, switch the titles and register your vehicles. Thankfully, we didn’t have to take written driver tests. I am sure we could pass “what does this sign mean?” kind of test, but if they got into “what is the penalty for a first DUI?” we might not have passed that sort of thing. The only thing we had to do was also pass an eye test – just read line #5 and it’s all good! It was an expensive day, the total coming to about $864 for 2 9 year driver licenses (one with a motorcycle endorsement), transfer 3 titles (the truck, 5er and CR-V) and initial registration for all 3 vehicles. I say initial b/c the following years won’t be as high. We also had to bring proof of FL insurance, which I had all set up through Miller Insurance. Marlene was very helpful in getting us all set-up with all we needed. Sadly, we didn’t get an itemized receipt from the tax collector, but I think you can look on-line if you need exact figures. Since we are using my parents address, we don’t have anything with that address in our name (the vehicle insurance cards didn’t count), so my Mom had to show proof of address (2 utility bills in her name) and also sign an affidavit that we are living with her. I actually felt a bit bad, b/c we technically aren’t “living” there, but she had no problem so I didn’t say anything. I don’t know, just the affidavit, its like being under oath, isn’t it? Guess maybe I am over-thinking it – wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done that. We left there after about an hour with everything all done. That was one of the last things to do toward our full-time RV life!
The very last thing I needed to do was 100% decide on and apply for health insurance, which will begin Jan 1. I showed Bill the options I thought would work for us, using RVer Health Insurance website. We decided on an Assurant PPO Bronze plan with a $6000 deductible/out of pocket max. We are “banking” that we will remain healthy and won’t even use it, except for preventative care. But, if one of us does get sick or injured, as long as we stay within the Assurant network, our max lay out will be $6000 for a year. Sounds like a lot, but if we had gone with a silver plan with a lower deductible/out of pocket max, the premium would have been about double. The other thing is, if one of us does get sick, we can change the plan next year to a lower deductible plan. I really don’t want to get into too much detail on this b/c everyone’s situation is different and I don’t want anyone misled by anything I say about it. I am not an expert and we just choose what we considered to be the best value for us.
During the week, we went shopping for Thanksgiving, which now seemed to be very fast approaching. Before we arrived in Clearwater, it felt like we had all the time in the world, but now all of a sudden, it was THIS THURSDAY! I don’t know how that happened! We went to Costco and Trader Joe’s to get all the goodies!
While we were out shopping, we forgot to shut the bathroom door, and Cocoa got into the garbage. Here is a pic of her sporting her new look:
Bill and I arrived fairly early to my parents to get the turkey in the oven Thursday morning. We got us a BIG ONE – about 19.5lbs, but Bill wanted to be able to make soup and I LOVE having turkey dinner for like 4 days in a row after the actual holiday. We had all the fixing’s: mashed potatoes, stuffing with apples and craisins, brussel spouts, corn and carrots. Friends of my parents, Jan and Bud also came for dinner and brought the traditional green bean casserole, crescent rolls and also homemade cranberry sauce! For dessert we had apple pie with ice cream and pecan pie. My plan worked, and there was plenty of left-overs for everyone!
Friday we drove down to Bradenton to visit with friends. It was wonderful seeing Jo & Ben and Gene & Eileen. We also met Gene’s Mom, Rose. Eileen cooked up some yummy chili and we just sat around for hours talking. It was a great evening and Bill and I are both looking forward to seeing them again. Wish I could post a pic or two, but we were so caught up in catching up, no one remembered to take out their camera! About 10 minutes after leaving, I looked over at Bill and said “No one got any pics!” boo!
Saturday was my birthday, yes, I will admit it – the BIG 50! WOW! It’s a bit scary “saying” it out loud! Bill said we would do whatever I wanted, and I wanted to decorate my new home for the upcoming Christmas holiday. Earlier in the week, I had gone to Michaels and gotten plain garland, lights gold and silver decorative leaves and also some sticky things for the windows. I brought my favorite ornaments from home to use. While I did my decorating, Bill made me my absolute favorite thing – Carrot Cake for my birthday cake! Later in the day, my parents came by to visit and for dinner, bringing another one of my favorites – lamb chops! YUMMY!
I missed my kids really bad this weekend. Like REALLY bad! On the verge of tears if I think about it too much missed them! I did talk to them both on Thanksgiving (my son cooked his first turkey all my himself!) and also again on Saturday for my birthday, and that helped, but isn’t quite the same as a hug and smiling face in person. You know what I mean. I am used to sharing them with others on holidays, but would still have seen them at some point, especially since my birthday mostly always falls on Thanksgiving weekend (unless it is very early). I guess this is something I will have to get used to. When we first moved away from my niece and her kids, it was VERY hard, but (sadly) we’ve gotten used to it. There are days it is harder than others and I just find that spending a bit of time, maybe looking at pics and just remembering happy times helps. A phone call can help, or to be honest, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it just reminds me of what I am missing.
Ok – enough of that! My friend, Tracy said on her blog that she tries to paint a realistic pic of what is going on and what this full-time experience is like. I agree with her and I really had to think about it though, b/c I do usually paint the “everything is wonderful” picture, which, of course, isn’t realistic at all, is it? I always thought of that as being optimistic and maybe it is, but still not fully reality. Guess I could mention the “not so wonderful” things but just not dwell on it, right? Well, consider the “not so wonderful” stuff mentioned. I have a feeling that missing my kids will be a common “not so wonderful” part of this lifestyle.
I have this tradition of eating my birthday carrot cake everyday for breakfast until it’s gone, so here is a pic of the last piece:
We have a lot to do while here in FL, and I will keep you all updated as we get it done.