(January 1 to February 10, 2008)

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).

January 1: Lake City, Florida

Road conditions: I-40; I-75; local roads

Campground:  Oaks n Pines RV Campground    

Oaks n Pines has free WiFi and a great cable TV network that includes some HD channels.  Although we were scheduled to arrive at the campground in Orlando today, we decided to spend it in Lake City so we could watch the bowl games in HD.  It's nice to have such flexibility.

January 2 to January 14: Orlando, Florida (162 miles)

Road conditions: I-75; SR 44; US 27; SR 192

Campground: Encore Lake Magic RV Resort

It was nice to get back to Lake Magic. We like this park and have met lots of folks over the years with whom we still maintain contact.  Chuck and Linda Dombrow were back for the winter and I was looking forward to playing golf with Chuck. Carmen and Guy, the French couple we met who are from Quebec, were also back for the winter. They also have a Dutch Star that was painted by Precision Painting.

Our Disney World passes were set to expire on January 9, so we went into Epcot for a couple of days to walk around, do some rides, eat some food, and watch the Illuminations fireworks. We decided not to buy passes this year.

It had been a year since we saw Hedda and Alan Gnaizda who come down every year to use their time share at Orange Lake. The timing was great and we got to visit with them before we headed off to the Tampa RV show.

January 15 to January 19: Tampa, Florida (58 miles)

Road conditions: US 27; I-4

Campground: Florida State Fairgrounds

We have gone to the Tampa RV Show every year that we have wintered in Florida. It's always a nice several days, especially when the weather is nice. We get to kick some tires and check out the new features on lots of motorhomes, as well as visit with old friends. This was the second year that we have gone into the show with the Newmar Kountry Klub. We had four other rigs going in with us this year: Norm and Linda Payne, Don and Gloria Martin, Dirk Harrington, and Gustav. We made arrangements to all meet at a rest area on I-4 and then caravan to the show. We got to go into the fairgrounds a day earlier than the general public, which made it easy as there was no traffic in the area.

After we all got set up, we decided to take advantage of the free day to go to Parkesdale Farms for their delicious strawberry shortcake. It seems every year we get to introduce someone new to this experience. Last year it was Peter and Christiane E. from Germany. This year it was Gustav. He said he loved strawberries so this was a great treat for him.

We met other folks at the show and I have included photos on the photo pages.

One of the things we look forward to when we are in Tampa is a visit with my Aunt Mary, cousin Jay, and friends Dave and Jacque Fuson. We did get to visit with my aunt and cousin, but it didn't work out to get with the Fusons this time. We look forward to doing that next year.

Naturally, eating out is a big part of our days at the RV show, usually with a good sized party. On a trip to a Wal-Mart one day Diane spotted a Buca di Beppo. We experienced eating at one of those restaurants in Phoenix back in 2006. So we rounded up some folks (seven of us) and went there for a family style Italian meal. We recommend trying a Buca di Beppo if you come across one in your travels.

January 20 to January 31: Orlando, Florida (58 miles)

Road conditions: I-4; US 27

Campground:  Encore Lake Magic RV Resort 

It was back to Lake Magic until the end of the month. We had made a couple of trips to Port St. Lucie to visit with my mom, but decided those trips were too expensive due to ever increasing gas prices and tolls. So we told staff at Lake Magic that we would be leaving early and heading to Port St. Lucie.

Dennis and Cindy Henderson decided to spend a couple of weeks at the Thousand Trails park up on US 27, so I got to play a couple of rounds of golf with Dennis, Ron Cells, and Gene Newcomer before we left the area. I knew I would miss playing golf with them and Chuck, but it was really necessary for us to move down to Port St. Lucie. On the positive side, I would be able to play golf with my brother, Charlie, and high school buddy, Frank Pesile, while in Port St. Lucie.

Diane and I also got caught up on current movies during our stay in Orlando. We love the Regal theater they built out at the Loop shopping center.

February 1 to February 2: Davenport, Florida (10 miles)

Road conditions:  US 27

Campground: Theme World 

Diane's brother-in-law in Phoenix contacted her and said he was planning a surprise 50th birthday party for Diane's sister, Carol, and it would be great if she could be there for the surprise. We looked into using our companion ticket that we had with Delta and found flights were available on Sunday of that weekend, but not Saturday. When I realized that it was Super Bowl Weekend I understood why there were no flights available on Saturday. Sunday was wide open to use the companion ticket so we made plans to fly out early that morning.

I had no desire to drive to the Orlando airport from Port St. Lucie for a 7 a.m. flight, so I started looking for a place to leave the motorhome while we were gone. Given that the daily rate at Lake Magic was something like $55, that wasn't an option. Theme World is located at the intersection of I-4 and US 27 and allowed seven days at the Passport America rate (half price) even during the winter. So we made a reservation to leave the motorhome there while we were gone.

February 3 to February 9: Phoenix, Arizona (flight)

Road conditions: N/A

Campground:  Diane's sister's house

Our flight was scheduled to connect through Salt Lake City. The weather report indicated snow so we checked at the Delta counter to see if they could get us a connection through Atlanta. Luckily, the ticket agent was very helpful and got us a flight through Atlanta. The trip was very nice and both legs were on time.

I have to take a minute to say a few words about the wonderful car rental location at the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport. They have consolidated the car rental companies into one huge complex off the airport grounds, but not far from the terminals. It's one huge building with covered parking tiers where rental cars are picked up and dropped off. There were numerous buses running between the complex and the terminals. A wonderful idea that seems to work great. They did, however, have a sign on the door telling folks who were coming into Phoenix for the Super Bowl to allow three hours for checking in and getting to their terminal. Not being very fond of such crowds, I would avoid something that like the plague.

After picking up our rental at Hertz we headed to the church where the party was to be held. We got there a little early, so we called our niece, Jenny, to find out when she would be arriving. It wasn't long before she and one of her cousins arrived and got us into the room. It was nice to see Jenny and our other niece, Justine, and nephew, Jeff.

The surprise party for Diane's sister went off perfectly. We hid in another room when Carol and Kevin walked in and she found out it was a surprise birthday party for her. They gave her a digital camera and then told her there was another gift. She was asked to turn around while Diane and I walked out and Diane stood a few feet behind her. Then they told her to turn around. Carol was shocked. It never entered her mind that Diane would be there. Carol is a very even keeled person and I have never seen her cry other than some tears after we have visited and were getting ready to leave. Well, not this time. She hugged Diane very tight and cried. I mean really cried. I'm sure that her friends and in-laws weren't used to seeing her so emotional, and I'm sure some folks had no idea what the relationship was between Carol and Diane. The more the emotion went on, the more folks watching the scene became teary eyed.
There probably wasn't a dry eye in the room.

The downside to when the party was scheduled was that it was right during the Super Bowl which, as fans know, was one of the best Super Bowls ever. The best we could do was to monitor the progress of the game on a computer that was in the room. It may have been a bit disappointing to not have been able to see the game, but to witness one sister's love for the other made it worth it.

February 10: Davenport, Florida

Road conditions: NA

Campground:  Theme World

We had a great time visiting with everyone in Phoenix. Our flight back to Orlando was uneventful with a two hour stop in Atlanta. Both legs were on time and it was nice to get home.

Our plan for the rest of the winter was to drive to Port St. Lucie and stay there until the end of March.

Until next time, safe travels.....

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