With the fully operational Geo Tracker back in our possession after more than eight weeks for the engine rebuild, you might think we would immediately head out for our 2021 adventure plans, but even this late in the winter we still had time to kill before our early spring commitments began. The Tracker fiasco did not really delay our Florida exit so much as destroy our intended late winter Florida exploration: given more time we would have bounced around the state hitting a few favorite and a couple of new spots. As it was, we contented ourselves with two weeks in three Florida State Parks for our final Florida 2021 hurrahs.
The uncertainty of the Tracker repair completion date had not only forced us to cancel some reservations, but also precluded us from making anything more than tenuous new ones. Once Xtreme Zukes Offroad had the truck in their shop for final repairs, we were comfortable making a few reservations, but this late in the game, in Florida, during the peak snowbird season, options were limited, despite the ongoing COVID pandemic.
Regarding that: I only have anecdotes and subjective personal observations, but it really seems like whatever loss in business Florida RV parks experienced due to state/local restrictions, the Canadian border closure and other snowbird travel reticence has been largely made up for by the otherwise booming RV industry, with families of all types itching for some form of vacation but without pandemic risks and limitations. It will be interesting to see what happens to the RV industry as vaccination rates climb, restrictions disappear, and all of those people who bought RVs during the pandemic start back to traditional travel and vacation patterns. I’m predicting a used market glut and an associated drop in prices for both new and used.
Anyway, we expanded our search area and loosened our criteria, which finally exposed a five day opening at Hillsborough River State Park, a new place for us. While we would have preferred one of the fantastic campgrounds located at a major spring or right on the water, Hillsborough River was still quite nice. It was another typical Central/South Florida State Park with swaths of scrub oak and pine forest surrounding widely spaced campsites under a moderate canopy. At $29 a night for an electric and water only back in site is not the best deal going in Florida State Pak campgrounds, but its solid compared to the private short stay options, and it’s hard to complain about a last minute winter reservation anywhere in Florida.
Having spent an unexpected five grand on vehicle repairs on top of completing a multi month stay at one of our most expensive RV parks, we kept things pretty tight: other than groceries and topping off our big propane tank we satisfied ourselves with mostly free activities during our stay. That meant evening walks to the nearby lake and several geocaching outings.
In significant family and related RV news: Dad and Stepmom Marcia have hung up their full time RV lifestyle. After nearly six years on the road, the last couple of which involved increasingly focused house hunting, they bought a place in Central Florida and promptly sold their fifth wheel. Though we will miss family joint camping events, especially the accidental ones, they spent a lot of time travelling and were quite ready to have a permanent home, especially one that ticked so many of their lifestyle requirements.
Once they finalized their move in date they offered us their two remaining and unneeded RV park reservations, beginning with the nearly next door Lake Louisa State Park. Given the Central Florida location, size of the campground, and somewhat more available reservations compared to other nearby public parks, it is surprising that we have never stayed there before. Having now experienced it, and with its close proximity to Dad and Marcia, we are certain to use it again down the road.
The park contains the region typical scrub oak, pine, and palm forests, but adds atypical rolling hills and meadows throughout the extensive, lake dotted acreage. Dad and Marcia had snagged one of the full hook up, pull through sites, making our stop that much more convenient. $28 a night for a site with these amenities is a good deal particularly considering the beauty of the surroundings and the price you would pay at a comparable private RV resort in the region.
Digressing a bit: Rosemarie and I do not make pull through sites a priority, though we know plenty of RVers who do. We generally chose the greater site availability afforded by back in sites over the ease of parking provided by a pull through spot. If I were pulling a big travel trailer or fifth wheel, I would be looking for pull throughs as well, especially for short stays. But with our quick disconnect Blue Ox flat tow system, I can have Loki parked out of the way in under two minutes, and Rosemarie is quite the expert at guiding me back into even tight sites.
Having said that, there really is something nice about just pulling right in and being able to get right to setting up camp, and we are grateful for those times we get to experience this minor luxury. So thanks to Dad and Marcia for this campsite and the next, and for the great-though-too-short visit.
Next: A monthly report and then our last eleven days in Florida for some time.