Our repairs in Valdosta were completed by late morning, leaving us plenty of time to continue south to our selected Passport America park, Grand Lake RV & Golf Resort, between Gainesville and Ocala. This was intended to be a low cost single night stop before we continued towards Orlando to meet up with family and check on The Big Kahuna at his storage location. The $19 PA rate for a very nice, full hook up, pull through site at a place with plenty of resort style amenities was not, in and of itself, enough to induce a longer stay despite the slack in our schedule. But a quick bit of research into local farmers and craft markets at which we might vend changed our minds.
Since leaving Wisconsin our pace of travel, family meet ups, a bit of illness, and the need to retrieve and store the old bus had largely precluded participation in any markets. After having done eight of them in a five week period from late August through September, we had not managed to find a single opportunity in October. But our Friday arrival at Grand Lake Resort prompted research to see if perhaps there was a Saturday market nearby with a loose enough set of vendor criteria and low enough fee such that we might participate. We found the Market Under The Oaks just 16 miles south, and after contacting the manager, we were cleared to participate at a cost of only $5! Rosemarie began furiously organizing our stuff while I walked down to the resort office to extend our stay by a day. At which point I stumbled across another option.
Grand Lake RV Resort runs two park-wide yard sales annually, and the fall event was scheduled for the next day. This is not a small park, it has nearly 400 sites and the vast majority appeared occupied. So we were faced with a choice: a welcoming but apparently small local farmers market, or a community wide yard sale, both of which had a lot of unknowns. Just how small is Market Under The Oaks? Would it be another tiny little event with six vendors and practically no customers like in Washburn, Wiconsin? Or might it surprise us with a more robust buyer throughput like the three in Grand Marais or even the Rusk County event? As for the yard sale: had it been advertised outside of the park? Or even aggressively within the park? How many of those nearly 400 “occupied” sites were empty RVs and mobile homes still waiting for their snowbird owners to arrive?
We decided that with so many unknowns, we might as well try the yard sale option, which would entail a far greater degree of convenience and allow an extra hour of sleep. Accordingly, the next morning we did our standard table set up in front of Serenity, and enjoyed a slow trickle of park residents throughout the morning, interspersed with a handful of potential buyers from outside the park, though almost all of them had some sort of connection to residents. Sales were slow, but we enjoyed a last minute surge from one family that pushed us into figures beyond any of the three events we had done in Grand Marais, so we counted it a rousing success.
Things might have been significantly better, but we learned that a large portion of the park residents had not, in fact, yet arrived from their winter domiciles, and we were competing with a major flea market type event in a nearby town. Nonetheless, we think we made the right decision, though we look forward to participating in Market Under The Oaks, perhaps during our northward push in late winter. Hopefully we can also time our travels such that we can join Grand Lake Resort’s other community wide annual yard sale, which we were told is even better.
As the yard sale wound down, cousin Amy and her sons Elijah and Jude arrived to stay with us for a night during their journey from Virginia to Orlando. There we would all meet up with Linda and Jayson at Universal Studios. They had previously camped with us for a couple of days in Maine, and it was great to have them with us again, particularly since Amy brought wine. Pro Tip: always bring wine.
Pad Kee Meow had, perhaps, her most tense dog encounter to date: Rosemarie took her on a walk, during which she was on her leash as per the park rules, and a loosely controlled yippy little dog escaped his owners grasp and made a loud and aggressive bee line for her. She did the standard cat thing, back arched and hissing, and the dog, several pounds lighter than our possibly part Ocelot feline, did the wise thing and pulled up short. This is something we have to be on the alert for: the overwhelming majority of dog owners in the parks we visit control their pets, and properly introduced it seems like 80 to 90 percent of dogs will tolerate a cat. But we worry about the outside odds, the aggressive dog combined with an owner lacking control.
Lastly, Grand Lake Resort has a golf course, and given my recent involvement with the links after decades away, one might think I would take the opportunity for a around. Alas, time was too short, perhaps next time, but I did scoop up a folding pull cart from one of the other yard sale participants for only $5. This pushes my total golf equipment investment to $18.75. Fantastic.