Having secured and prepaid the vendor fee for four Saturdays at the Lake Mary Farmers Market, we scurried back to the region following our five day visit to Venice. For our two and a half week stay we would end up spending the majority of our time at Wekiwa Springs State Park, but with two weekends at Lake Monroe County Park.
PKM did not enjoy her birthday costume…
As I have mentioned before, this is almost a pattern for us. We prefer the public parks over private resorts in this region, with Wekiwa and Blue Spring State Park being our top two. But with weekend availability difficult to secure without long range planning, we often end up at the very affordable and usually more easily available Lake Monroe site for a few days.
… but she sure enjoyed her “cake.”
We started with three days there, punctuated by our Saturday market, the second of our four. We had great success, even better than our first week at the market, which we really needed after our big upgrade and repair bill on Serenity from October. Then it was back over to Wekiwa Springs for the middle of the week.
Aside from the fantastic first magnitude spring, we really love Wekiwa for the wildlife. Every visit we are almost assured of seeing wild turkeys, deer, wood peckers, and box tortoises. Our weeks there this season were no exception with multiple sightings of all those, along with a brightly marked yellow rat snake down next to the spring itself.
Son Jackson was able to join us a couple of days there, and we snorkeled and free dove around the main spring a lot more than I recall ever doing. Nothing deep or dangerous: I have zero interest in cave diving, besides, you can only get about 15 feet down before the outflow pushes you back up. Even though the water temp is pretty steady at 72 degrees, the shorty wet suit I bought at a community yard sale in Key West really made a huge difference in how much time I could comfortably spend in the water.
Jackson and his brother Hollis visiting for the day. Can’t think of anything that goes better together than power tools and drinkin’.
Then it was back to Lake Monroe for the long Veterans Day weekend and our third Lake Mary market. We had just “so-so” results, lower than the first two Saturday’s. A year or more ago we would have been quite satisfied with the sales that day, but our expectations have risen quite a bit as we have increased our inventory and become more selective in our market participation.
PKM and her new friend the gopher tortoise
At least Veterans Day was a rousing success. Quite a few restaurants and other businesses offer free or discounted meals and services to vets over the weekend, and we took advantage of this through several sit down meals and a car wash. The highlight was Texas de Brazil, one of the better Brazilian style steak house chains, where Jackson and Andrea joined us for dinner.
If you have never tried this type of restaurant, I highly recommend it. You pay a set fee for the huge salad bar (it has a lot more than salad) and then the wait staff brings different cuts of meat directly to your table and slices off a select portion based on your preferences. I believe they had 16 different cuts of steak, pork, chicken, and lamb available. My $50 meal was free, the rest of the bill was discounted. If you have vegetarians in your group, or just someone not enthused about massive quantities of meat, they can choose the salad bar only option for significantly less, and it is a great meal in and of itself.
Our diligent monitoring of the Reserve America site paid off when we managed to secure a full week at Wekiwa Springs due to a cancellation, allowing us to finish off our Central Florida time at our preferred location. We participated in our final Lake Mary market for this season, and it was straight out disappointing. It is difficult to correlate sales fluctuations when so many factors can effect them. It may be timing since we were far enough away from Christmas and too close to black Friday, or perhaps the “oh a new vendor lets check them out” effect has worn off. Here’s hoping that our upcoming Naples market is better.
We did a lot of geocaching in the area, just as we have at nearly all of our stops ever since Stepmom Marcia reignited my enthusiasm for it back in early September. If you cache in an area enough you usually find a that a high percentage of the caches are placed by the same few hobbyists. It’s always interesting to discover their patterns and tendencies.
Some of the caches are quite big, like this ammo can out in the scrub forest.
This time it was Bobby Bear whose hides I spent a lot of time searching. His caches stand out in that he has a, shall we say, stricter interpretation of the difficulty ratings. All caches are assigned a difficulty rating from 1 to 5, and a terrain rating on the same scale. A 1.5 difficulty is usually an easy find. Many of Bobby Bear’s: not so much. Whenever I pursued one of his hides I mentally doubled the rating he assigned so as to have realistic expectations about how hard it would be.
Others are pretty tiny, just big enough for a scrap of paper to act as the finders log.
Our geocaching took us as far south as Orlando, were we stopped in at yet another Moose Lodge for a drink before heading home. I think this is our 26th Moose Center we have visited since joining up in Venice, FL years ago. If you RV or otherwise travel a lot within the US, we recommend joining one of the various lodge-type organizations. Being a member provides you with an additional option for social interaction, a place for very affordable drinks and food, and some of them have RV spots either free or very cheap.
Next up: Down to Coral Springs for an unusual Thanksgiving.