On the First of November I picked up the motorhome from Mr Mobile RV in Port Charlotte where he had undergone round 2 of this season’s repairs and upgrades. After swinging by Gloria and Jerry’s in Venice we headed up I-75 bound for our first stop back in Central Florida: a weekend stay at Lake Monroe County Park.
Since we keep things fairly loose and flexible, we had not planned far enough ahead to secure weekend reservations at our preferred CFL campgrounds. This meant that while we would enjoy several five and six day stints at Blue Spring State Park and Trimble County Park, we would be bouncing between those locations and our back up weekend spots, starting with Lake Monroe.
We have stayed there many times during our five years of full time RVing, and thus I have written about it many times in this blog. I won’t go over every little bit, but for those in the region needing a weekend place when the popular state parks are full and you don’t want to pay private resort prices, this is a good option. For $17 a night you get a large wooded site with power and water, a marina with boat ramp, and a dump station.
The down sides: there is no on site ranger or even a camp host, so the rules, such as quiet hours and leashed pets, are not well enforced; there are nearby active train tracks so you will have an occasional train whistle during the night, and the power plant a couple of blocks away makes a lot of industrial, steam-like noises for much of the day. I don’t mind the place, Rose is not keen on it.
We have a good number of friends and family in CFL, but another reason for staying through much of November is we have a weekly market in Lake Mary that is usually pretty successful for us. It is run by the city and thus managed by a paid employee, which we usually find translates into a well run venue with a low weekly fee. (Most markets tend to be run by a private citizen, often one of the other vendors, who has negotiated use of the location and charges vendors noticeably more than an equivalent city run event.)
We had secured permission to do four straight Saturdays plus the once a month Wine and Art Wednesday, an evening affair with an outdoor bar and food trucks. We had good to excellent results in four out of five of those markets, but even with one less than stellar performance, we always enjoy the ambiance, live music, and other vendors at this local venue.
After our weekend stay at Lake Monroe, we finally got back into Trimble Park, near Mount Dora, one of our favorite CFL campgrounds. With only 15 sites and situated on a beautiful chain of lakes, it can be difficult to get a reservation, particularly on weekends. We find that a lot of the campers are locals enjoying a weekend getaway. It is a beautiful campground with every site under old growth tree canopy with most of them backing right onto the lake shore. There is a good amount of wildlife activity as well; during our various stays we have seen osprey, hawks, alligators (small ones) raccoons, various herons and other wading birds, snakes, and of course a plethora of squirrels. The price is right too, only $23 a night for power and water sites.
For the next weekend even Lake Monroe was full, probably because of the long Veterans Day weekend, and we were forced to pay more than $40 a night at Twelve Oaks RV Resort. Under normal circumstances I would call the place ideally located for our needs, but with the massive construction project going on to expand State Road 46 into some sort of superhighway, the location is actually a bit intimidating. Twelve Oaks actually lost part of their property to the project, and every time you leave or enter you are passing through the construction. Oh well, it was only two nights.
I did my usual tour of restaurants on Veterans Day (many offer something free or heavily discounted for vets) and was quite happy with the results. I definitely made the right decision for breakfast by skipping the absolutely slammed Denny’s and IHOP and hitting the far less crowded Bob Evans for a great country style meal.
After that we had two stays at Blue Spring State Park totaling eleven nights, broken up by another weekend stay at Lake Monroe. Blue Spring never fails to deliver some interesting wild life sightings. In addition to the gar and catfish clearly visible in the crystal clear spring head, the temperature had dropped low enough that the manatees had returned. It is always nice to see them, but their presence also means that the spring is closed to human swimmers. I also had occasional evening visits from a raccoon and an armadillo as well.