We settled into the Thousand Trails in Clermont, FL on January 16th (it is actually 10 miles from the city of Clermont):
We had two reservations, one from the 16th to the 18th (leaving the 19th) and another from the 23rd to 30th. To fill in the rest of the days depends on others canceling their reservations, so you go to the office in the early morning and they work to fill in the days based on what is now available. At 8AM on the 17th Bill went to the office and got us extended to the 19th, at 8AM on the 18th he got the second reservation moved back to the 22nd, and finally at 8AM on the 18th we got the whole two weeks handled. Now we just have to go to the office between 8AM and 10AM on the 22nd and check out of one reservation and into the second since their computer won't let them combine the reservations.
The weather has been variable here. One morning we had frost on the ground (18th), another day it was in the 60s at night. One day it was about 60 in the day and another was in the 80s. We had one fast rain storm in the middle of the night, lots of rain for about 10 minutes. But we do have humidity and the car has dew on it not long after sundown.
We dropped a note to friends Inez and Henry who we met at the campground in Thunder Bay, ON. We informed them that we were in their area and we found ourselves meeting them at the Tampa RV Supershow on the 18th. We spent a bit of time with them, going through one set of supplier booths and agreed to go to their house on the 20th, so they went off to do their thing at the show and we ours. We then looked up Linda and Howard Payne, who were doing an 11AM seminar. We had met the Paynes at Hanna Park in November. You can follow their adventures on their website of http://www.rv-dreams.com/. We talked, we explored the other supplier booths, and we had lunch with them before we all parted. Then we looked at some RVs and headed out, stopping at Camping World for some supplies on the way home.
The main RVs we toured were the 2006 Newmar motorhomes. The All-Star was interesting for the two story bedroom, but it is for families and not a couple. We liked our 2004 Dutch Star more than the 2006 Dutch Stars. We didn't take many pictures, but Kingsley Coach had some interesting models. Kingsley is known for making motorhomes using a semi-truck front-end:
But at this show they had two trailers that needed a semi to haul them. They were party trailers, based on 53' semi trailers. Lots of windows, with pop-up roofs to make them about 16 feet high and you can get a deck on the roof. Take one to a race and you will have the highest seat in the infield, park them to block the view of million dollar bus conversions and you will not be making friends. The lines were long to view them, so here are exterior shots showing all the windows:
Bill always looks at the interesting color schemes, especially ones that don't match his taste. Here is one that he had to take a picture of since he didn't like it:
They were also working on a sand sculpture during the show, here are some shots of it:
We ran into some people we know at their booths, stopped by to encourage the people at the Escapee booth, and bought our 2006 Trailer Life Directory directly from Good Sam for $11.
We had a couple items we were looking for at the supplier booths, but didn't find. A couple days earlier our shower shutoff had cracked. We had bought it for the Dolphin and moved it to the Dutch Star, it completely cuts off the water to the shower thus saving water. We bought the original over two years earlier from RV Water Filter Store at a rally, it is the "Positive Shower Shut-off" on http://www.rvwaterfilterstore.com/UsefulGadgets.htm . It is plastic and made in Europe, all the American versions do not cut the water off completely. We sometimes see the same model at flea markets and outlet malls, but didn't realize we needed to keep a spare. We didn't find one at Camping World either and bought an American one at Home Depot, it reduces the water to a trickle instead of completely off but that will still help conserve water when we are dry camping. Now that we know the European ones will wear out we will buy two next time so we have a space. Everyone sells the same unit so we are not blaming the person who sold it to us, it's the only one that does a full shut-off.
The other item was 12volt wiring parts to make an extension cord from the 12volt fuse box in the bedroom to the head of the bed so we could use a small inverter instead of the whole motorhome one for Diane's CPAP at night. The large inverter powers many outlets in the motorhome and ends up having a large load on the batteries for the phantom loads and overhead of the 2000watt device, we have a small 400watt inverter that uses much less power. We will be doing some dry camping and want to reduce our generator run times. Camping World didn't have the 12volt wiring parts but they did have 25' 12volt extension cords for $5.39 each, so we bought two and will see if the inverter can still work with the low power draw of the CPAP after running 50' from the front of the motorhome to the back. It turned out there was too much voltage drop on 50' of very small wire, so Bill will still have to make his own cord.
The other thing we have been doing is exploring the area. We stayed two weeks north of Clermont in January 2003, so we were interested in what had changed and in seeing areas we had missed. There is a lot of growth in the area and Orlando itself, 20 miles east, is very busy.
On the 20th we drove to our friends Henry and Inez place, in Mount Olive Shores North. We ended up leaving after 11PM we were having such a good visit. We were very compatible, something we had figured out in a couple hours in Ontario.
In the evening of the 22nd we noticed the hot water wasn't very hot. Under investigation it looks like the electric part of the hot water heater decided to not function, we turned on the propane part and it heated up. Looks like we have a trip to get it fixed in our future, unless Bill finds a simple cause and fixes it himself.
On the 23rd we decided it was a good day to visit Alexander Springs in Ocala National Forest. It was about 80 degrees and partly cloudy. Here are some shots of the springs, including how clear the water is when there is no wind:
Unfortunately a breeze would pop up and disrupt the water often, but we lived with it. Mostly it made it hard to get good photos of the fish, here are a couple when it was calm:
The main trail is half boardwalk and half dirt and they recommended not taking the dirt part since it was very muddy. Here is a typical boardwalk shot:
We also managed to see a Green Heron:
And three lizards:
We were going to visit Juniper Springs also, but found out we would need to spend another $8.56 for that and decided to head home. Coming back into the campground we saw these Florida Sandhill Cranes with a camper:
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