We Are Snowbirds in Central Florida
I can’t believe we are actually Snowbirds! In November we traveled from Northern New York through the eastern US visiting many of my ancestral stomping grounds in Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. We stopped over to visit good friends in Atlanta and arrived in Florida on December 1st. All the way down Jack Frost was chasing us. What a relief to get to WARM Florida.
My dad has slowed down over the past few years. I knew it would be a risk living on the right coast for a year, and hoped there would be no issues. In December however, he fell ill, and passed away on the 31st of December. This involved 2 flights to Oregon during December and early January. Fortunately I was able to spend some time with dad before he died at age 98.
The RV Lifestyle poses significant challenges if you have elderly parents or siblings. We have 3 large dogs which adds to the complexity. Though it’s not the best solution, we managed through this talking about options before we left. Christine stayed to take care of the RV and the dogs while I flew to Oregon. Make sure you have a plan for handling family emergencies while you are on the road before they come up!
The first trip to Eugene I had freezing rain and black ice to contend with. The second time there was several inches of snow that just wouldn’t melt. Both are very rare occurrences in Eugene. I grew up there and can count on one hand the number of school days missed because of bad weather.
Before we retired, we upgraded our Thousand Trails membership to “Elite”, that added several Encore resorts to our membership. We decided to try some of the Encore resorts because they were closer to the Gulf than the Thousand Trails.
Vacation Village Resort – Largo FL
Vacation Village Resort is on a very busy highway in a semi-industrial area of Largo. The lots are very close together, and all the nicer lots are held for seasonal or monthly residents. Thousand Trails members lots are out by the front near the street. No dog park unless you consider the 12″ wide dog walk – a strip of sand and grass with doggy bags – a dog park. I would not consider this a resort, although they did have a pool. We stayed there 12 days.
There are lots of trails around Largo to take the dogs walking, and a couple of nice dog parks around the town. Dog beaches are hard to find though – the best being Fort Desoto south of Saint Petersburg.
Winter Quarters Manatee – Bradenton FL
Winter Quarters Manatee is on highway 75, and I mean right on 75. The “Resort” had pretty good reviews, and if you are on the far side of the park away of I-75 the freeway noise and smell is not bad. However, Thousand Trails members seem to be relegated to only the lots closest to the freeway even when other lots are available. Otherwise, the park is very nice with 2 pools and a nice recreation area and a dog park.
Like Largo, there are some nice parks where you can take the dogs, but only 1 dog beach that we could find near Robinson Preserve. The only reason we didn’t move on here is because I had to fly to Oregon for my Dad’s funeral.
RV Glass Solutions
We stopped at RV Glass Solutions that recently opened up a shop in Florida. Before they distributed to other glass shops – now they can handle RV Glass installations themselves. We got the side window that was fogged up measured.
We stayed 2 weeks at Thousand Trails Orlando between the 2 Encore resorts. Orlando Preserve is a true Thousand Trails park with lakes and plenty of space between rigs in most sections. There is some road noise from the highway, but the campground itself far enough away that usually you don’t hear too much. There is a dog park and lots of trails. At night you can even see the fireworks from Disneyworld! The campground is currently undergoing major upgrades. Our site recently had 50 amp service installed, and more sites getting power upgrades. Staff was friendly, bathrooms and showers were clean.
Happy Trails from the SNOWBIRDS Trippin’ Engles