did the time go?
You can click on "photos"
directly to the first photo page, which has a connector to the second
page (if there is one).
(October 17, 2006 to May 28, 2007)
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
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
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)
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
December 1 - December
3: Lake City, Florida (93 miles)
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 -
Douglasville, Georgia (305 miles)
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
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)
Campground: Oaks 'N Pines RV Park
J - $2.419 per gallon.
just an overnight stop and a short visit with Diane's brother.
December 29 - December
31: Ocala, Florida (93 miles)
Campground: Ocala Ranch RV Park
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)
conditions: I-75 to US 44 to
US 27 to FL 192
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
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
Diane and I are big fans of Disney World, so we again bought seasonal
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
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
January 16 - January
19: Tampa RV Supershow (58 miles)
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
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
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)
Lake Magic RV Resort
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
* 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
* the daily ($55-60+) and weekly ($384) rates during the winter are
* 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
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
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
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
The voice said there was a tornado warning for Polk County. I got
and looked outside and it was still and dry. I went out and put
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
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.
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
* 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
* 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
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
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
* 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
* 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
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.
Wachula, Florida (68 miles)
conditions: US 27; Florida
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.
Winter Garden, Florida (91 miles)
conditions: US 27; Florida
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 15: Ocala, Florida (55 miles)
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 17: Lake City, Florida (93 miles)
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)
conditions: I-4; US 90; SR 59
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
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.
- May 28: Douglasville, Georgia (332 miles)
conditions: SR59; SR297;
I-65; I-85; SR154; US29; SR154; SR92
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.
graduation neared we started helping Jill get ready for it and 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.
next time, safe
Copyright © 2007,
Roaming America with Rich &
Diane Emond -
All Rights Reserved