Tuesday, December 10, 2019

New (to us) home! Polk City, Florida

It's been a trying month since we made the offer on the house. The owners had decided prior to selling that they would put a new roof on it and that was a great surprise to us. We had questioned the roof and told it would "pass" inspection, but we were going to have to look at it very closely.

We had our inspection done, which had to be delayed due to the roofers being lazy. Also, the roofers took the lightning rods off the house and didn't put them back on, so Terry was on that. Eventually they put them back up. The inspection yielded no surprises. The 4-T HVAC system is in great shape at only 3 years old is more than adequate to do the job. Roof is now new. Plumbing is all in good shape. We have 200 amp service at the lot which is good as well. Everything was in good shape.

The owners kind of lagged behind in getting it emptied out of their personal stuff and eventually hinted they would like some extra days after the closing. Our realtor reminded them they had signed a contract, so that was that. We still had stuff we had to clean out, but not nearly as much as we would have had.

We closed on December 2 and have been working since then. We moved the motorhome over the next day, the 3rd. She fits nicely under the canopy and once in, we can get three slides out, which is fine. This allows us access to everything inside.

In addition to working on the house itself, we take breaks and shop for items we need. I bought new bedding for the bedrooms and found lamps that go perfectly with the rooms. The large bathroom in the master had a handicap bench in the shower which was dirty, moldy and left stains on the floor. Terry finally got around to removing it yesterday and I started scrubbing the shower. Vinegar cleaned it up nicely and now the floor is sparkling white even where the discoloration was around the legs of the bench. It is a very large shower, so if we need a seat in there we can always add one.

We bought some new furniture for the "veranda room" but it won't be delivered for another week. The veranda room is like a Florida Room, but it was actually built as part of the house. It has windows all the way around.

We had multiple light switches in rooms that didn't seem to work. We thought they went to outlets, but had problems locating them. I had emailed the manufacturer, Jacobsen, and the gal sent me a floor plan which showed where all those light switches were ! Ta Da! So now I have lamps on those outlets so everything is working.

It's all been a work in progress, but fun at the same time. We have lots to do here and we plan on moving on to Texas after the first of the year, so we need to make a list!

I am posting some pictures but still have much to do.

 This first picture is the spare bedroom and the one below is the master.


It's been a lot of fun getting this set up the way we want. We still have a ways to go, but it's coming around.

Till next time. . . 

Dale

Friday, November 29, 2019

Holidays with family!

Yesterday morning we traveled from our campsite in Davenport to Melbourne, Florida, to have Thanksgiving dinner with Brandon and his family, Megan, Brynlee, Lily, and Megan's Mom, Diane. We had a feast too. Turkey, a chargoal grilled beef tenderloin on the Green Egg, cranberry salad, orzo salad, Bok Choy salad, sweet potatoes, roasted cauliflower, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, pumpkin pie, and pecan pie. Appetizers were cheese ball olives. Whoo hoo. Boy are we stuffed! I really didn't overeat, but I tried to taste everything and nothing disappointed. It's the first time in about 15 years we have had Thanksgiving dinner with one of our kids. While in Texas, we always had dinner with Mom and Dad, but since Daddy's gone now and Mom doesn't go down anymore, there was no family for us to commune with.

We started back about 5:15 because we realized it would soon be dark. LOL The drive over was great, very little traffic and it's the "longer" way around to Brandon's house, but it was about 1:45 hours. Going back we took the toll road (we now have a Sun Pass) and we have to jump on I-4 for the last 8 miles. As soon as we get on I-4, we are in a traffic jam. Happened the last time we drove over to Brandon's for the day. It is apparently all the Disney traffic. . . no other reason and we are right there at Disney, so I suppose that's true. I was looking at the map today and I believe I see an alternate route if we have to go again.

We've been busy exploring the area and looking at places. Will keep you updated on our search, but nothing's going on this weekend.

Till next time. . .

Dale

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Offer Time!



So Monday, November 11th, we met with the real estate agent and went through a property we had looked at previously in Mount Olive Shores. This is a motorhome community. . . you must have a motorhome to live here and it must be a Class A. No problem there.

I'm sure we haven't seen every port home there is in central Florida, but we've seen a lot of them. We really wanted to be in a community so that we were surrounded by like-minded people and would feel more secure. We will not be stopping our travel and we wanted to find a place that we could "leave" and travel around a bit. We wanted to be "close enough" to Brandon and Megan and Brynlee, but not "too" close. We wanted to be within an easy distance to a major heart hospital and good cardiologists for Terry. This place is centered between Orlando and Tampa. We wanted to be inland enough to not be impacted with every storm that comes through.

Many of the communities have small RV lots that you pay anywhere from $40,000 up to over $100,000 and all you get is pavement. You normally cannot put much else on the lot except your RV. Some do have "casitas" but none of them we looked at would have room or space to put everything we want to bring. Most had fees of at least $250 a month for amenities, all of which included golf, which we do not play.

So back to this particular property. It is in a motorhome community. . . not a lot of activities, but some. No big hall, but a smaller version. Friendly RV'ers. It's gated and the gates are closed all the time. You must use a code or a clicker to get in. The house is a manufactured home, a Jacobsen. They are made in Tampa. It is about 28' x 48', two bedrooms, two baths, large living room, dining space, large eat-in kitchen, and a sunny Florida room that spans the entire back of the house. It has brand new replacement Pella windows, all new flooring throughout, and the entire interior has been repainted. It comes furnished. The owners decided also to put a new roof on and it will be done this next week. Outside is a two-story shed with workspace for Terry. There is a 55' RV port on the far side of the drive and between that and the house is a shorter carport where MinnieMee will live. It is large enough and long enough to park both cars and our cargo trailer.

So we went back to take another look and we made an offer. The owners countered, splitting the difference between their asking price and our offer and we accepted. We wanted a quick closing as did the owners, but they wanted the roof on. That was not a condition but they were told it needed done, so they did it. Also, we are having inspections done and the week after next is Thanksgiving week, so not a lot will happen then. So our closing is set for the Monday after Thanksgiving. Whoo hoo. We will have it before Christmas, but I hesitate to say "in" it because we have a lot to do. But Phaeton Place will be parked right out the door in her spot under the canopy, so we will be staying in there till we get things fixed up. They left it furnished, but we will undoubtedly be sorting through what was left and pitching/donating what we don't want. But the upside of that is that we have no furniture and no home furnishings to put in it, so we will use what's there till we replace it.

It will be quite some time before we get all our stuff here. We're debating how to do that and the jury is still out on that one. But since we are spending about $3000 a year on storage, the sooner the better. And we have a few things to bring over from the place in Texas. Not sure when/if we will keep that place, but I doubt that we do. For now we are thinking we will head over there sometime after Christmas. There are some things we could take out now.

I'm wanting to get Mom down here. She is excited about it and would love to come. She wants to escape the cold up north. So we're trying to decide when that could happen. We have plenty of room for her and she would love the area.

So until then, we wait. We had some documents to sign and we have to take our trust in to the title company Monday for their perusal. We were never in this area of central Florida much, so we try to go somewhere everyday and look around. It's been fun.

Till next time. . .

Dale

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Theme World RV Resort, Davenport, Florida

It was time to move again, so we headed over towards Davenport and into a park known as Theme World RV Resort.  Everything down here is an RV Resort whether it is or not! LOL This is right on I-4 and SR 27. 

There is another large RV community here known as Deer Creek. It is very nice and made up of several separate communities each with their own distinct personalities. They all have their own hall with pool and then there is the main hall and pool. Once again, you own your own lot, but the park is owned by the developer. The lots are very small for the most part and there are a lot of limitations. You can have stick built casitas next to your port, but the ones that we liked had very short ports that Phaeton Place would barely fit under. No space for all our stuff and two motorhomes on one lot not allowed. We liked some of the lots themselves, but they would require building something and then we still couldn't have what we needed anyway.

We had promised Brandon and Megan we would watch Brynlee Saturday night so they could get away for a night to celebrate their 8th anniversary. On our way down there we stopped at The Great Outdoors Resort in Titusville, Florida. This is a huge RV community where you can buy your lot. I don't know how many people live here but it's probably in the thousands. It is way huge. We had a very nice realtor show us around the place. Once again, first impressions are important and everything we looked at required work and prices we were quoted for that work were way more than most places we inquired. And prices were pretty much double everything else we had looked at. And also, you can't live in the casita if you have one, but there are port homes where you can. But those are mega expensive. They have so many amenities in this park, but most we wouldn't use, including the golf course. So we decided against this park.

We traveled on to Melbourne and arrived in time to visit with the kids before they left. We had a great time with Brynlee, taking her to McDonald's and playing with her and Lily. Once the kids returned the next day, we ate out at Sonny's with them, then returned to Theme World RV Resort at Davenport. It was about a 2 hour drive, but that was with stopped traffic on I-4. We only had about 8 miles to go on the interstate, but it was stopped. The next day was Veteran's Day and there was more traffic going to/from the theme parks, so that was apparently the problem. We did spend time talking with Brandon about the Mount Olive Shores property and we decided we would take another look.

Till next time. . .

Dale

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Majestic Oaks, Zephyrhills, Florida

When we left Sebring, we drove up to Majestic Oaks RV Resort, in Zephyrhills, Florida. There were several places here we wished to check out and once again, this is a Passport America park, so camping was cheaper here. Most of the parks that honor PPA do not offer it through the winter, so we had to look around to find one that accepted it now.

Majestic Oaks, as Buttonwood Bay, did accept seasonals all winter. Their rates are fairly expensive, as is anything in Florida during the winter. It is a nice park, however, and they throw in some perks if you wish to stay for the winter and come back the next year, etc.  Once again it was a very nice park and we could walk the flat streets every day. On our last day here, I rescued a turtle. . . seemed to be a leatherback of some sort. He was covered in mud, so obviously just dug out from a bank. We had a lot of rain the day before, but he had found himself in the street. I didn't want him to get killed, so I used my towel I had to move him up onto a driveway. Later I looked for him and he was gone so hopefully he made it back to one of the ponds in the park.

Right across the highway was the Emerald Point RV Resort which I had heard about. It also was a very beautiful park, but once again, extremely small lots, and no space to put all our stuff. Two RV's not allowed, etc., etc. Dogs were not an issue; we saw all sizes. We talked to one owner whose place was for sale. Like our Texas park, you can have stick built casitas next to your port, but you cannot live in there. Not a lot of storage, etc., so we passed on this park. Good thing we decided against this place, because I don't want to have to spell Zephyrhills all the time. I always misspell it.

One park where I was sure we could find something was one I had seen on line this summer. One residence had multiple RV ports and I was sad I had missed it before it was sold. This is Hampton Courts/Country Aire in Dade City. Another seemingly great park, with very little for sale, but a few interesting places. We stopped in at the office thinking we would get a list of available properties, but since owners own their lots, they don't work with the office when they want to sell. They use outside realtors or for sale by owner. Which is okay, but it just means you have to drive around and hope to find an owner home. The real problem we found out by visiting the office is that the park is not owned by the residents. They own their lots, but the owner/developer owns all the common areas and the park in fact is for sale. The secretary said it wasn't going to happen and it had been for sale for the six years she had worked there, but this opens up a whole 'nother can o' worms. Some of the roads were falling apart and there were upgrades that were needed with the community center, etc. Easy to see the owner wasn't putting any more money into it and if it happened to sell, a new owner could raise the monthly fees to anything he wanted, justifying it by saying they needed to upgrade roads, sewer/water system, etc. No thank you. While resident owned parks have their issues, everything to be done requires the membership's approval. Not so when you don't own the park. You are at the mercy of the owner.

So we crossed Emerald Point and Hampton Courts off our list. Only one other park was still on the list. . . Mount Olive Shores, in Polk City. We had visited there a year and a half ago but weren't real impressed, so we were kind of down about the lack of progress. We could buy acreage and build a house, but we would prefer something in a park with people around us. This would afford security and also many parks catering to snowbirds provide mowing/lawn care, etc. Anything remote would require more security and vendors to handle the work when we aren't there. And we plan to continue traveling.

So we took a day and drove over to Polk City and up to the gate at Mount Olive Shores. Couldn't get in. I quickly looked up their website and found they had a signup sheet going for an outing. I figured the phone number for the person in charge would likely be answered, so I called. Sure enough I got a live person. When I told her we would like to come in and see the park she asked me to wait a minute. Turns out her friend, a realtor handling properties in Mount Olive Shores was there visiting. She said she would come to the gate and let us in. We connected with her and fortunately she had time to show us around. The few places she showed us that were for sale did not fit the bill for us. They were some of the cheaper ones and others there had double ports, etc. There isn't much for sale in here and it usually doesn't last long. So she took us to another more expensive property.

First impressions mean a lot and I compare everything to how I left our property which we sold in September. This home was not empty, being sold furnished. I didn't care for some of the furniture, but I have no furniture, so it's a plus to have something to use until I can buy what I want. Most importantly it has a huge RV port and a shorter port and you can put anything you own there as long as it's on the concrete. It gave us a lot to think about. So after two weeks of looking, we had one possibility. It was too much to think about on the fly, so we said our goodbyes to the realtor and left. The hunt continues.

Till next time. . .

Dale

Monday, November 04, 2019

Buttonwood Bay, Sebring, Florida

When we left Ortona Lock Campground, we traveled north through Lake Placid to Buttonwood Bay RV Resort between Sebring and Lake Placid. That allowed us to explore the area and check out the campgrounds we were interested in checking out.

Of particular interest was Camp Florida Resort in Lake Placid. We have friends who have bought in here so we wanted to check it out. The sites, however, were small. The camp was well laid out and people seemed really friendly. The camp is divided into circles each with it's own identity. The problem we found was that of the five circles, only two allowed pets and we were told you could walk your pet in your circle and perhaps the common areas, but not in the other circles. Not a bad rule, but then your pets are limited to 20 pounds each. My Scotties were all over 20 pounds. That limits you to the smallish dogs and many of those are problematic, but since they are small, people accept that they cannot do much damage. And we could not allow our granddogs to visit because they are both over 20 pounds. And we couldn't park all our stuff there. We liked the location and the amenities, but decided it wouldn't work for us.

looked at other possibilities in the area and out around Lake Istokpoga, east of Sebring, but that was a washout. A sad note, however, while driving around the lake we saw a dead black bear on the side of the road. From the size, it looked like an adult, and a recent incident as scavengers had not yet descended upon it.

We did some exploring around Sebring. We owned a condo here and went by to see what it looks like now. It is still in very good condition, but the community has need of some upgrading. Some of the homes needed work. Terry's parents lived here for many winters, but it wasn't a place we were interested in. We never lived there other than to visit the folks at Christmas time. We also checked out Uncle Bill's home where he and Aunt Francis lived in the winters and also Uncle Dan's place. It was a trip down memory lane!

We also drove out to the Highlands Hammock state park west of Sebring. It is exactly as we remembered it although there have been a few controlled burns in the hammock leading up to the park. They do that to help save the environment in the event of a wild fire. We also visited the museum on the grounds. It is a history lesson on the CCC, the Civilian Conservation Corp and how parks like this one were built by individuals being put to work by the government in order to turn the tide of the Great Depression. The workers were paid a wage but much of it was returned to their families. They were given enough to spend, but all their needs were met while they were working on the various projects the government had created. An interesting time.

Buttonwood Bay was a very nice park. We were able to wash the motorhome and the car while we were there. Most parks do not allow that. And we were on a double concrete site, so we parked everything on pavement. They accept Passport American which means we camped for half price! Score! Very nice. The neighbors were friendly and we chatted a bit. The park is on a lake, Lake Josephine, which was very pretty and they had a nature trail/walking path along the canal going into the lake. We were able to walk a different route here every day. Every park here has sand hill cranes that hang around. Not sure why they like the parks, but they do. They aren't skittish, but I would imagine if they feel threatened, they could chase you away!

From Sebring we drove on up to Zephyrhills to check out some other parks.

Till next time. . .

Dale


Friday, November 01, 2019

Ortona Lock

Once we left Brandon's, we traveled south down around Lake Okeechobee to see what RV lots and property might be available. We passed by the lake and traveled on west to the Otorna Lock and Campground on the waterway that runs from Fort Myers to the lake and on through. It has a system of locks which make it possible for boats and barges to traverse the state. We were camped at Ortona Lock which is a COE camp.

What a gem! This campground is immaculate and we scored a site right on the canal! The lock is open from 7:30 to 4:30 daily and all manor of boats and ships travel through the locks in both directions headed for their day's adventures. They take the annual parks pass so we camped for $17 a night! Whoo hoo! Water and electric only, but a great place.

We got up to walk in the morning which we have finally been able to do again. Terry is starting to feel a lot better and started walking while we were in Melbourne. We walked over to the lock and watched some boats come in from the lake side. We talked with the one couple. They winter down here from Wisconsin, but instead of an RV or a trailer, etc., they live aboard their 52' yacht! How cool is that. I would LOVE to do that. They had just arrived in the state the day before, got aboard and were now headed to Fort Myers. They were a very nice couple and we enjoyed chatting with them. I think over 90% of the traffic through the locks is made up of pleasure boats and we didn't see any barges or anything. . . only pleasure boats. . . but what an array!

We also had a resident EAGLE who spent time in a dead tree opposite our site on the canal. He was really beautiful and could be seen there most days. The campground host also told us we could see feral hogs in the fields to the east of our campsite, but we never saw any. Would like to have seen some, but I know to stay away from them. I only looked from the safety of the motorhome! Also, to get to our site, we had to cross a bridge over a small creek and there were so many birds down in the creek all the time fishing and digging around for morsels to eat. We saw what I thought must be a muskrat, but was told later it was an otter! Whoo hoo!

We did some exploring around the area and visited a couple campgrounds, but nothing intrigued us. The place we are looking for must have enough space to put all our stuff. We will probably downsize from two motorhomes and get rid of our cargo trailer, but not yet, so it will have to be a special place.

One exciting event happened while we were exploring the lake around the Clewiston area. We had driven out of town and turned around to come back. It was four-lane divided but as we approached the town, movement on the side of the road caught my eye. Terry didn't see it, so I did a U-turn and went back to look again. As we approached the spot, DOZENS of black iguanas came up from the ditch on the right side of the road, heading for the pavement. They weren't close enough to get hit, but we could see them very clearly. I mean DOZENS of them. This was right out of a scene from Jurassic Park! And then we saw it! This was a green iguana, but was orange in color and was HUGE. He would have given any one of my Scottish Terriers a run for their money. As we passed by, he turned back toward the ditch and we got a really good look at him. This must be a frequent occurrence because there are signs all over not to stop on the road or the berm. So taking pictures was out. It is a heavily traveled road and taking pictures on the fly just wouldn't cut it. So we had to be content with our memory! What a sight, though. Later I did some reading up on these creatures. Unfortunately they are an invasive species, not native to the area, and wreak havoc on the environment. They have no natural predators and create problems. So it is open season on them, you can kill any on your property, no permit needed. If you have them and don't want to kill them, you can call someone who will. Kind of sad really. They just want to live. And the reason they are moving right now is because it is mating season! It was an interesting encounter for sure!

Before we left, we saw an alligator cruising down the canal. He wasn't real big, but he was there, nonetheless. They say anywhere in Florida you find water, you can find a gator. LOL After a few nights, we traveled on up to Lake Placid to explore some parks we know are there. Wish us luck!

Till next time. . .

Dale