Finally in Florida!

We finished up our time at Amazon on Monday, Dec 21 at about 10:30pm. We were as packed up as we could be without bringing in the slides and set the alarm for 7:30am.  We pulled out of Heartland Campground before 9 and started the LONG 850 mile journey to Clearwater, FL.

I wish I could tell you it was a pleasant, uneventful trip, but like George Washington, I cannot tell a lie.  I was very stressed, probably b/c I was tired and very anxious. Travel days are not my favorite as a rule under the best circumstances, although I had made huge improvements in this since starting our life on the road, for this trip I was just not 100%.   The GPS was annoying me, by not being as clear as I’d like, then I was doubting the route, I forgot to plan for fuel/gas stops, etc.  I was just in a bad mood.  You would think I’d have been in an awesome mood – we were done at Amazon on our way to see family.  Maybe it was partly b/c I knew I wouldn’t see my kids at all.  Anyway, we hit heavy fog in Chattanooga, just in time for needing gas and fuel.  Could hardly see the exit, could hardly see the driveway for the truck stop and making a left out of the driveway after filling up was scary.   But we made it and plugged along.   I was (I hate admitting this) distracted most of the day.  I couldn’t find a decent radio station, my mints fell onto the floor (Bill got on the walkie talkie when I wandered unintentionally into the shoulder to pick them up), I had a headache – just wasn’t my day.   At one point a car completely cut me off while merging and I did a quick look in my mirrors, but neglected to look over my shoulder before swerving to the left and almost hit the car already In that lane!  Then we decided to stop for dinner and a nap.  I wanted to avoid Atlanta during rush hour.  I’ve seen it and it is UGLY!  Even Rt 285 that goes around the city gets VERY heavy traffic.  So we stopped at a Cracker Barrel right before Marietta, seeking comfort food.  Before heading in, Bill did his usual walk around the truck/rig and my car.  Well my back right tire was very low. Thankfully we have a good spare (Bill is really good about that kind of stuff!) and it didn’t take long to change the tire.  I actually think the biggest pain was getting the tire cover off.  After a quick inspection of the tire, he spotted the offending screw.   I probably picked it up when I wandered into the shoulder, although there is no way to know for sure.

Thankfully Cracker Barrel was able to seat  us right away and I got one of the last pot roast specials.  It was delish!  Cracker Barrel does not disappoint!  After a relaxing dinner, we joined Callie in the rig (we let her out of her crate before going inside – she always rides in her crate strapped in the car with a seatbelt) and set the alarm for an hour.  Bill was up before it but I waited until it went off to get up.   It was around 7:30 and back out on the road we went, the goal being to get fully south of Atlanta.  The GPS said to stay in one of the 4 right lanes as we approached 285, but it didn’t say there would be one last right lane added at the last second, so a last minute “holy crap – get over” moment got me all wound up again!  I started feeling like I was just not catching a break at all!  We drove longer than usual (feeling wide awake after our naps!) and we made it a total of 530 miles, leaving about 320 miles for the next day.

We were up and out by 8am and after stopping for gas/fuel arrived at our home for the week, Clearwater Travel Resort.  I am glad to report our travel day #2 was significantly less stressful.  We stayed here at Clearwater Travel Resort last year, and liked it for its cleanliness and convenient location.  We like this spot better than last years.

there's a small pond/lake behind us and a walking trail - lots of birds!
there’s a small pond/lake behind us and a walking trail – lots of birds!

We’ve been spending a lot of time with my family since we got here, but that’s what this part of our time in FL is about.  We learned that my brother had driven down with my sister, surprised my parents and was going to surprise us.  Being a newlywed, he missed his new bride and wanted to be home for their first Christmas together as husband and wife.  So he moved his flight up several days and went home to NJ about 12 hours before we arrived.  He was very apologetic when I spoke to him on the phone, but stated many times “I just missed my wife!”  I will admit I was disappointed but if a man misses his wife, he has to go home, right?  I actually find it very sweet.  He didn’t call to tell her he was coming home early and she got the shock of her life while watching TV after a LONG day of work as a Dollar Tree store manager.  I told him he needs to solve that by bringing her along next time.

We had a quiet Christmas with my parents and sister.  After dinner, we decided to go out and see Largo Park, which is all decorated with lights.

Frosty and the kids - Bill downloaded Frosty the Snowman for me so I could watch it - first time in YEARS!
Frosty and the kids – Bill downloaded Frosty the Snowman for me so I could watch it – first time in YEARS!
this giant tree was in the center of the park
this giant tree was in the center of the park
Loved this one in Black & White
Loved this one in Black & White

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When we got back from seeing the lights, my sister gave me the most amazing gift. I was a sobbing puddle of mush.  She also gave my Mom one and has one for my brother.

it is soft and comfy and I can wrap it around myself and imagine Andrew hugging me
it is soft and comfy and I can wrap it around myself and imagine Andrew hugging me

The following day, we headed to Myakka City to see The Original Herrmanns Royal Lippizaner Stallions of Austria.  I was here last year with my friend, Dr. Jo and I enjoyed it so much I came back with my Mom, sister and Bill.

they are magnificent!
they are magnificent!
this was snapped right before it back-kicked
this was snapped right before it back-kicked
these are their mares, the brown one is still a Lippizaner and is considered good luck and she is 10 months pregnant (horses are pregnant for 11 months - can you imagine?)
these are their mares, the brown one is still a Lippizaner and is considered good luck and she is 10 months pregnant (horses are pregnant for 11 months – can you imagine?)

After seeing the beautiful horses perform, we headed a bit north to visit a true Roadside America place.  I am not sure if it is actually on the app, but it is a place my friend, Tracy, would love.  We were all hungry and decided to have lunch at their on-site restaurant, Boat in the Moat.

the owner is an artist - this was the first thing we saw
the owner is an artist – this was the first thing we saw
after walking through some garden areas and then you come around the corner and see this
after walking through some garden areas and then you come around the corner and see this – the outside is made of used lithographic plates from the local newspaper, they are installed inside-out.
Boat in the Moat
Boat in the Moat – I took the pic this way so you could see the cool stained glass windows
back of the boat
back of the boat
after lunch we took a tour that includes a lot of the owner art work
after lunch we took a tour that includes a lot of the owner art work
this was one of the coolest items
this was one of the coolest items

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there was tons of stained glass the owner created himself
there was tons of stained glass the owner created himself
loved this - was in his kitchen
loved this – was in his kitchen

Bill and I took care of some routine doc visits, and our time in Clearwater (for now) was over.  We will be back in 2 weeks, for more visiting and finishing up doc visits for the year.  Watch next week to hear all about our visit in the beautiful FL Keys!

 

0 thoughts on “Finally in Florida!

  1. I am glad you got to Florida. Isn’t the weather glorious?! We are like two ships passing in the night. I am at Hillsborough River State Park near Zephyrhills and heading east. What is this Roadside Attractions app you mention?

    1. My friend has the app – I don’t – but I believe it’s called Roadside America and it has all the goody stuff on your route, like the largest ball of yarn, etc. I may just look it up

  2. Great report! We live in Ky and head to central Flordia several times a year. We no longer go through Atlanta/Georgia but through Alabama. It adds 1/2 hr to our drive but the stress is non existent due to avoiding Alanta and the greatly reduced traffic is incredible……In fact, sometimes the drive is actually shorter time wise due to not sitting in traffic on the interstates during peak travel times such as Spring break and Christmas.

  3. I love your blogs, they are so much fun to read, your trips seem to come alive when you write. Glad you made it to Florida safely, we are in Lake Conroe, Texas. Cold, cold here.

    1. Thanks Joni! I am so glad I got to meet you guys! Hope our paths cross again on the road – so maybe instead of just sitting across the table at break we can share a campfire!

  4. I am glad you got down to Florida. Isn’t the weather GREAT 🙂 Hope you guys have some good down time XX&OO

    1. We are – but the Keys are one of our fav places (so far!). Hope (at least) some of you are still around when we get there (Feb 20’ish)!

  5. You guys do some driving! Almost beat us 🙂 Enjoy your time in the keys. Life your friend above, we’re not too far from Conroe, and it IS cold here 🙁

    1. We generally don’t prefer to move that much – but this was special circumstances – we wanted to arrive and set up and RELAX!
      Sorry to hear it’s cold where you are – we are enjoying awesome weather! (Sorry – don’t mean to rub it in!)

  6. I am so happy to hear you had a nice Christmas. What a very special gift from your sister. Sorry the drive to Florida was so tense but I am sure once you got there it was worth it. Enjoy the Keys and the great weather. It has been so mild in Maryland and even warm in December but that is a thing of the past. Next week only in the 30s for a high. BURRRRRR. Not looking forward to that. Thanks for the great post as always. Happy New Year.

    1. Hi Chris! Happy New Year to you and your family! I’ll post about it next week, but the drive down here was much nicer!

      I heard it was supposed to get colder up north – will be “not as warm” here but still nice! Hope the rain they are predicting goes away!

  7. Love, love the Roadside America place and how sweet is is that Bill downloaded the Frosty show for you. Also love the blanket…that is very special

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