Where did the time go?
  (October 17, 2006 to May 28, 2007)

You can click on "photos" to get directly to the first photo page, which has a connector to the second page (if there is one).

On May 19 we celebrated seven years on the road as fulltimers. That's longer than the last job assignment I had before I retired in 2000.  On May 25 our oldest granddaughter, April, graduated from Chapel Hill High School in Douglasville, Georgia and she turns 18 on June 1. Eighteen years?  How can that be?  Wasn't it only a couple of years ago that she was sitting on our pool table as a toddler giggling at rolling the balls across the table?  Where did those 18 years go?  They seemed to have gone by so quickly now that we look back on it.

This travelog documents our winter in Florida and subsequent journey up to the Atlanta area for April's high school graduation. There isn't much touring information in this travelog. It is intended more as a diary entry of our fulltime travels. 

October 17 - October 31: Douglasville, Georgia

Road conditions: n/a

Campground: Jill's driveway

We left Jill's place last December 28 so it was nice to be back visiting the family. We spent two weeks in Jill's driveway as we tended to our medical appointments and visiting family and friends, and watching the grandkids enjoy dressing up for Halloween.

November 1 - November 30: Ocala, Florida (396 miles)

Road conditions: I-75

Campground: Ocala Ranch RV Park

We spent the month of November visiting with my mom. She doesn't drive, so our being around gives the folks who drive her places a break.  I did manage to get in a couple of rounds of golf, one of which was with my brother who came up from Port St. Lucie.  Other than that we just hung around and saw a few movies.

December 1 - December 3: Lake City, Florida (93 miles)

Road conditions: I-75

Campground: Oaks 'N Pines RV Park. This is a 67 site campground located about 6.5 miles north of Lake City near the intersection of US 441 and I-10 (exit 303). It is owned by Jim and Cherri Cramer. We come to Lake City when we are in the area to visit with Diane's brother. We used to stay at the Inn and Out Campground, but wanted to look for other choices. Oaks 'N Pines is a Passport America campground, so the cost was $15 per night versus $25 at Inn and Out. Reviews of the campground were all positive so we decided to give it a try. The park had shaded and open sites. The sites were level and had a concrete patio and picnic table. Although the sites were tight, it's a good park for an overnight or for a few days. They offered cable and free WiFi, which was the final selling point to stay there rather than in town, although the WiFi was kind of iffy for me and would occasionally drop and then reconnect. We would definitely plan on staying at Oaks 'N Pines when we visit the area.

We got to visit with Diane's brother, Jerry and his wife, Janet and adorable granddaughter, Angel.

December 4 - December 27: Douglasville, Georgia (305 miles)

Road conditions: I-75

Campground: Jill's driveway

We enjoy being in Douglasville during the holidays. Jill does a great job of decorating the house and we get to see the Christmas decorations we had in our house. One of my favorite activities when we are there is to walk the Arbor Place Mall in the morning and then settle in at Borders to read the papers and have a cappuccino. Most times Diane walks with me and then reads a book and has a tea. Nice relaxing mornings.

Our oldest grandson, Richard, was on the wrestling team and we got to see him wrestle once in a tournament while we were there. He won four matches and lost one match. Turns out he's a really good wrestler.

We got to visit and have lunch with our former neighbors, Ron and Deanna Tarlton, and lunch with my former colleague, Carolyn Green. We enjoyed both visits very much and it was nice to see them again.

December 28: Lake City, Florida (305 miles)

Road conditions:  I-75

Campground: Oaks 'N Pines RV Park

Fuel: Flying J - $2.419 per gallon.

This was just an overnight stop and a short visit with Diane's brother.

December 29 - December 31: Ocala, Florida (93 miles)

Road conditions:  I-75

Campground: Ocala Ranch RV Park

We spent New Year's weekend in Ocala. We aren't big New Year's Eve party folks unless we are with friends, so we had a quiet evening. The rest of the weekend was spent visiting and helping my mother.

January 1 - January 15: Clermont, Florida (70 miles)

Road conditions: I-75 to US 44 to US 27 to FL 192

Campground: Encore Lake Magic RV Resort

We were at Lake Magic for two weeks prior to going over to Tampa for the RV show where we hooked up with friends we hadn't seen for a while.

During the two weeks at Lake Magic I got to play a few rounds of golf with Chuck Dombrow, my Lake Magic golf buddy who I met two years ago, as well as old friends Ray Greer and Denny Henderson.  Given that I only played golf six times in 2006 I was happy to be back in a position to play golf regularly.

Diane and I are big fans of Disney World, so we again bought seasonal annual passes again this year. That let us go into Disney World anytime we wished to just walk around for a few hours or to spend a day.

One day we went to the Webster flea market with Chuck and Linda Dombrow to look around. We bumped into our RV friend Rich Williams as we were walking around. We shared a few words and then planned to hook up at the RV show.

January 16 - January 19: Tampa RV Supershow (58 miles)

Road conditions: I-4

Campground: Florida State Fairgrounds

We had been to the Florida RV Supershow every year we were on the road except for 2006 when we were out west. Diane and I like to kick the tires and see what's new, as well as meet friends we haven't seen for a while. This year we went in with the Newmar rally along with Bob and Polly Seifried, Dirk, Norm and Linda Payne, and Peter and Christiane E. who were from Germany. Norm met then via the Internet. This year Newmar ran the rally as a "buddy rally" so the folks in each RV were allowed to invite someone who did not own a Newmar product, so Norm invited the E. to join us at the show. They were looking to eventually purchase an RV and do a lot of travel in the USA.  This year our friend, Dirk Harrington, was with us in his own new motorhome rather than visiting with us while staying in a hotel. Dirk is now a fulltime RVer and we are all happy for him.

Naturally, we did take a ride to Parksdale Farms for strawberry shortcake. Yummy.  Bill Haught was in town from Texas and contacted us.  He met us at Parksdale Farms and it was nice to see him again.

One of the attractions in the area is the Columbia Restaurant located in Ybor City. It has Cuban food and a Flamenco Dance Show. I organized an evening at the restaurant at which we had 15 people come along. A good time was had by all.

While we were at the rally Diane and Linda met a journalist from the Tampa Tribune who wanted to do a piece on RVing.  She interviewed several people at the rally, including Norm and Linda and us. She wrote a nice article that was on the paper's website and also in the hard copy newspaper. That was the first time we had our names and photos in a newspaper in an article about our RVing lifestyle. Pretty cool.

January 20 - March 31: Orlando, Florida (58 miles)

Road conditions: I-4

Campground: Encore Lake Magic RV Resort

This was the second winter that we spent three months sitting in one spot in Florida, and it was once again at the Encore Lake Magic Resort. The park is owned by ELS, a company that I was told owns more than 250 campgrounds nationwide. We have always liked this Encore park and have stayed here at least a week or two almost every year we have been on the road. There are pros and cons for all campgrounds and this one is no different.

The pros:

* proximity to Disney World and other activities in the area

* the monthly rate hadn't changed much since the last time we were here in 2004.  The rate is dependent on when you arrive and how long you stay. The best deal is the six month stay. We took the three month rate, which made it about $683 per month. Considering we paid $650 per month back in 2004, this was acceptable to us. Electricity is metered and is an extra cost. We averaged about $65 per month for the electric.

The cons:

* the daily ($55-60+) and weekly ($384) rates during the winter are outrageous.

* the park owners somehow think this is a trailer park rather than a campground and force people who want to stay for a month to arrive on the first of that month. That is ridiculous and dumb. In seven years on the road we have never come across a campground that does that, and we found out it has caused much consternation among the regular snowbirds who stay at Lake Magic. We had neighbors arrive in early March who told us that when they got to the office on March 1, they were told there were no vacancies until March 3.  So they went off to the Wal-Mart for two days and then came back to get a monthly site. They were told it was after March 1 and they would  have to pay the outrageous weekly rate. When the folks told the office person that was ludicrous, the park relented and gave them a monthly rate starting on March 3. So beware if you want to stay at this park for a month that you have to arrive on the first of the month. It's dumb and not at all customer friendly, but those are their rules.

* we aren't pool folks, but the rules for using the pool have been changed. Management will say that they do not have a permit for using the pool after dark, but we learned the real reason is there isn't enough light provided around the pool. That miffed many of the regulars who like to use the pool after dark. The pool has a light, and there are lights around the pool, but apparently not enough light. If the park owners added additional lighting, we were told the pool could be used after dark.

* to reserve a site for the next winter season requires one to put down a one month deposit. Although we have run across parks that require a deposit, we have never seen a park require an entire monthly rate. That could mean several hundred dollars that the park holds for almost a year.

Fuel: Filled up in Clermont on US 27 for $2.519 per gallon.

We enjoyed our winter in Orlando, but it got interesting in early February when the tornados were in the area.
First, we did fine as the tornados were north and south of us. I'm sure you saw the damage done in Lake County as it made the national news.

Second, our weather radio works and I believe everyone who lives where there may be tornados should have one.  We went to bed late the night before, like around 1 am, so we were still asleep at exactly 8 am when the thing went off.  We were both sound asleep and I near jumped out of my skin.  It was still pretty dark in the room, and even darker under the cabinet on the night stand where the radio sits.  I fumbled with it to turn it off.  The voice said there was a tornado warning for Polk County.  I got up and looked outside and it was still and dry.  I went out and put the awnings up and then came in and told Diane if she got up right away I'd treat her to breakfast at Denny's.  Diane moves at lightning speed when breakfast is offered.  ;-)

I put the TV on to see all the damage that was done north of us in Lake and Volusia Counties and part of Marion.  So I called my mom and she only had a few storms, but nothing big she said.  As you probably saw on the news, Lake and Volusia were hammered with 14 known dead at the time.  I think the final total was 22 dead.

Lake Magic is on the border with Lake and Polk Counties.  The campground is in Polk.  Across the road (Rte 192) is the Denny's and Publix and that's Lake.  And then Orange is just down the road to the east.  The net was that the storms went above us and below us.  Whew.  When the radio first came on with the forecast and warnings I thought we were going to pull a Dorothy and Toto and end up in a funnel cloud on the way to see the wizard. Those tornados are scary.

Here are the highlights of our stay in Orlando for our own diary purpose:

* we had a wonderful visit with Julius and Robin Aita at the Canadian pavilion in Epcot.  I used to work with Julius and Robin in Miami.  We have hooked up with Julius a couple of times, but Robin wasn't able to make those visits.  It was nice to see her again after all these years.

* we spent many days in Disney World and never really get tired of going there. Epcot is our favorite park, and "Soarin" is our favorite ride. A couple of times we arrived too late to even get a fastpath ticket and there is no way we would stand on line for 90 minutes for a two minute ride. We did get to go on the ride several times during our stay in the area. We also like walking around the World Showcase to watch the street performers, see the movies or shows in the pavilions, getting our sushi fix at the Japanese pavilions, and just enjoying the ambiance.

* I didn't have much a golf game. I was never able to get it back to where it was back in 2005, which resulted in losing eight strokes to my handicap. However, the big plus was being able to play the Disney World courses for $30 (after 1 pm) or $45 (before 1 pm) thanks to knowing someone (Chuck) who worked at Disney and gets to play for the lower rates.
I would never have played them at the prevailing rates of $149 to $169 a round. I totally appreciated the opportunity to play those nice courses. Mostly I played with Chuck, but also got to play with Ron Cells, Gene Newcomer, Denny Henderson, and Ray Greer.

Chuck and I met some nice folks when we went out as a pair and joined up with two other folks. One day we met Knox and Vickie from Pittsburgh who owned a manufacturing company and were members at Oakmont. Another time we met Bruce (from Memphis) and Pete (from Phoenix) who were neonatologists in town for a conference. One can meet some nice and interesting folks on the golf course.

Disney has sold 900 acres of its property to the Four Seasons hotel chain, which I learned was owned by Bill Gates and some Saudi shiek.  They will be developing the property. As a result, both Eagle Pines and Osprey Ridge will be plowed under. Eagle Pines will go away this summer and Osprey Ridge will go away in 2010. It seems such a shame to destroy these courses rather than build a resort hotel around them.

* Of course, Diane and I did see lots of movies during the winter. A new Regal theater opened up closer than the one we used to occasionally go to the last time we were here. That gave us the AMC at Pleasure Island and the Regal as choices for where we wanted to take in a movie.

* We got our two cracked windshields replaced from damage caused on our journey to Alaska last summer.

* My RV buddies who were members of the Elks Lodge kept telling me to join, but we were never in one place long enough to really do that. This year I found the Orlando lodge and finally joined the Elks. Some of the lodges around the country have RV sites for travelers. We have stayed at a few while traveling with RV friends who were Elks. Some are like a small campground, others just allow RVs to park in the parking lot.

* For seven of the years we lived in Marietta I volunteered to work at the Bellsouth PGA Golf Classic, and the Nationwide Senior PGA tournament. I always kind of wanted to work the Bay Hill Invitation, which was changed this year to the Arnold Palmer Invitational, so I went online and found the site and volunteered to work it this year. I ended up working as a marshall on the 18th hole and enjoyed the experience. I did get to see some of the big names come by, like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, and many more. It was fun.

It was a busy season at the Encore park this winter with many nights with no vacancy. As March was drawing to a close the snowbirds started their migration north and the park started to empty out during the last week of the month. Diane and I finished our last week with me getting to play two last rounds of golf and we spent two days in Disney World.

We got to meet some new friends during our stay, as well as visit with old friends we hadn't seen for couple of years.

April 1 - April 7: Wachula, Florida (68 miles)

Road conditions: US 27; Florida SR 64

Campground: The Resort SKP Co-op - this is one of the nicer Escapees Co-op parks. It wasn't busy this time of year so we were able to get a nice site on a concrete pad. They offer free WiFi, but it didn't work very good. The regulars who own lots aren't very happy with their WiFi service.

Since we hit the road back in 2000 we have always put Avon Park in our path to visit our friends Paul and Diane Andrus. For the past four years we have had an additional reason to stay in the area when our fulltime RV buddies, the Eberlys and the Ackermans, started workamping at the state park in Bowling Green, Florida just north of the SKP park.

We were in Arizona last winter so it was two years since we last saw everyone. Our first visit was with Bob and Donna Eberly when we played a round of golf with them up the road at the Torrey Oaks Golf Club. We had a nice day and a good time. Diane and I hooked up with them again, along with Dick and Kay Ackerman, for dinner at the Elks Lodge in Wauchula later in the week.

I got to play a round of golf with Paul while Diane got to spend a relaxing day with Diane Andrus at their home where they had added a pool since our last visit. After golf we had a great meal and visit chatting about their upcoming trip to China and their last year's trip to Peru. Having been world travelers when I was working, Diane and I are always interested in chatting about various world destinations. We found out that Paul and Diane would like to do a safari someday, as would Diane and I. Maybe we'll all do that together some year if the timing is right.

We had a very relaxing and fun week and then got ready to start moving north to Atlanta.

April 8: Winter Garden, Florida (91 miles)

Road conditions: US 27; Florida SR 50

Campground: Boondocked in the Independence RV parking lot.

Our Dometic refrigerator was part of a recall that needed to be addressed and decided to have it done at Independence RV as we like the folks there and trust them to do the job right.

April 9 - April 15: Ocala, Florida (55 miles)

Road conditions:  I-75

Campground: Ocala Ranch RV Park

We spent a week in the Ocala area visiting with my mom and helping her out with some errands and chores.

April 16 - April 17: Lake City, Florida (93 miles)

Road conditions:  I-75

Campground: Oaks 'N Pines RV Park  The problems I was having with the WiFi on our previous stop here seemed to have been fixed and the WiFi worked great. 

We stopped in Lake City for a couple of days to visit with Diane's brother and his wife (Jerry and Janet) and granddaughter, Angel.

April 18 - April 29: Summerdale, Alabama (335 miles)

Road conditions: I-4; US 90; SR 59

Campground: Rainbow Plantation

Our first sort of plan was to tour some of the Florida Panhandle on the way to Atlanta, but decided against that due to it being spring break time (too many people) and the cost of some of the campgrounds. We'll do it another time. Once that decision was made I suggested to Diane that we could swing over to Rainbow Plantation (the Escapees RV park) and surprise Norm and Linda.
The last time we saw them was at the Tampa RV Show in January, and we knew we wouldn't see them again until possibly in the fall. It was easy for me to not say anything in the almost daily notes I trade with Norm, but I know Diane was just bursting to tell Linda we were coming their way. She did manage to keep it a secret. We arrived and checked in at the office and asked for a site close to where they were parked. We came down the road and Norm spotted us and told Linda we were there. Out they came to welcome us with Linda running up the road to give Diane a big hug. If the tears and hugs from Linda and Diane were any indication, it was obvious they were glad to see us and the surprise worked. I love doing stuff like that.

We ended up getting a site next to Jim & Donna Aslin who we met at The Resort (the Escapees RV park in Wauchula). They had their 2000 Dutch Star painted in the same pattern and colors we would like to have ours painted. Although they left the next day, I'm glad we caught up to them again. Jim was very helpful in pointing out the things they did with their motorhome to spiff it up.

Other than visiting with Norm and Linda, we played some games, took in a couple of movies, shopped and, of course, went out to eat a few times.

Norm also helped me install a couple of small muffin fans to help vent the outside area of the refrigerator. We have been getting temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s in the fridge whereas they should be in the mid 30s. The fans didn't make a difference. However, as we were nearing the end of our stay in Summerdale, Norm suggested moving the thermostat that is clipped to the fins inside the fridge and placing it on one of the shelves. He was thinking that the fins are the coldest part of the fridge and may be faking out the thermostat such that it thinks it's cold enough in the fridge. Bingo. That solved the problem and now our fridge runs in the mid 30s and keeps things colder. Norm is very handy and knowledgeable and I learn something every time I'm around him.

For movie fans I will tell you there are a couple of new stadium seating megaplexes in the Summerdale area now. Down the road near the Tanger Outlet shops is a 14 screen Cobb Theater megaplex, and in Orange beach there is a 15 screen Rave Motion Pictures megaplex. As I usually do, I called each theater to get info on prices and snack refills. I was amazed at the prices for tickets as we haven't seen them that low in ages. Cobb charged $4.50 per ticket and Rave was $4 per ticket. Cobb refills only the large popcorn, and Rave refills both large popcorn and large soda. So we opted to drive the extra six miles to the Rave theater to take in a couple of movies (Fracture, which was very good; In the Land of Women, which was okay). I don't know about the Cobb theater, but the screens in the main auditoriums at the Rave theater were huge, just the way we like them.

April 30 - May 28: Douglasville, Georgia (332 miles)

Road conditions:
SR59; SR297; I-65; I-85; SR154; US29; SR154; SR92

Campground: Jill's driveway

We had a nice drive up from Summerdale to Douglasville, albeit a bit long. We got settled into Jill's driveway before the rush hour traffic started moving through the area. Diane needed some major dental work done which necessitated a longer than usual stay. We took care of our doctor and dentist visits, took in some movies, some of which were with various combinations of grandkids depending on the movie. Of course, we renewed our morning routine of walking in the Arbor Place Mall and then getting comfortable in the Borders store to read a book and newspapers.

When we are in town we like to visit with our former neighbors, Ron and Deanna Tarlton.  We were able to hook up with Ron for lunch at our favorite barbecue place, Williamson's Brothers, and enjoyed our visit.

As graduation neared we started helping Jill get ready for it and the party.  The build up to the graduation went smoothly.  Son, Curt, and grandson, Talisian came in from New York and we had twelve people attend the graduation.  It was held outside on the football field and the evening was calm and warm, absolutely beautiful.  The party was held the next day and it looked like everyone had a good time.

This wraps up our long lay over between travels since we got back from Alaska last fall.  Our plans are to travel up to New York to visit with Curt and Talisian, and with Diane's sister, Marge.  Then it will be back to Atlanta to store the motorhome in Jill's driveway while we go on vacation to Europe for about three weeks.

This travelog spans many months so I apologize if I have forgotten to post any photos of folks we visited along the way.

Until next time, safe travels.....

Copyright © 2007, Roaming America with Rich & Diane Emond - All Rights Reserved

Return to Travelogue Menu