Well, I’ve been here at the new Home Base for just about three weeks now. I’m not fully settled in, but I’m certainly making great progress. I’ve repurchased many of the things I had gotten rid of when I sold my house over five years ago – like a lawn mower, edger, blower, and an outdoor patio set and umbrella. Damned if I had thought I’d never own that stuff again. Oh well, such is the life of home (base) ownership. Here, a couple of friends come to welcome me to the community!
The Community – Saddlebag Lake
First and foremost, I absolutely love my site! It was most certainly a bit of a gamble to purchase the lot without actually physically visiting it. I relied mostly on pictures, Google satellite view, and other Internet resources to learn as much as possible about this site, the community, and the surrounding town of Lake Wales. Now that I’m here, I can definitely say that I’ve scored! This lot is everything that I would have imagined, and more! The couple that sold it to me were magical in their landscaping skills, and have turned this lot into a beautiful, lush, tropical oasis. My RV fits nicely tucked away, while providing ample remaining space to park the big boy truck. Having the open space towards the community building to one side, and the extended pie-shape elongated frontage on the other side truly makes the site feel massive. I can honestly say that in all my RV travels in the past two plus years, this is the most spacious site I’ve had surrounding my RV ever! I really have the feeling that this is home, rather than just another crowded RV site.
I’ve found the community to be very nice also. As I was driving in with my RV upon arrival, I had that worry that the community might be run down, old looking, and filled with junk RVs – something that I’ve seen in far too many other “own your own lot” communities. But from my arrival at the gated entrance, all the way through to driving to my lot, I saw nothing but beauty and pride among all the residents. Though this place dates back to the 70s, and frankly some of the units still on the property are probably from that era, all are extremely well kept and beautiful. The community is mostly empty now as it awaits the return of the snowbirds, but the few surrounding year-round residents have all taken the time to drop by and say hi. There is definitely a cordial and atmosphere of friendliness here, which I’m so enjoying.
The Town – Lake Wales
With a population of about 17,000, the town of Lake Wales sits pretty much center of the state of Florida. It is home to the national headquarters of Florida’s Natural -the only national orange juice brand made from 100% USA oranges. Speaking of oranges, there are vast groves of orange trees all over this area, including mostly surrounding this community! Downtown Lake Wales contains a nice historic district, with stores and restaurants. It features a bi-monthly farmers market, and a monthly car show. It has nice parks, bike trails, and a very active chamber of commerce and community development. In fact, I’ve already sat in on a couple public Zoom meetings discussing the initiatives in progress to improve and evolve the downtown district. Very exciting stuff going on here!
I had expected to have the standard fare of grocery, hardware, and Walmart all within 15-20 minutes of me. I didn’t expect, however, that I’d also have a large Flea Market, Gander RV (aka Camping World), and Rural King (aka Redneck Walmart) within that range too. What a wonderful surprise! I checked out the flea market this past weekend, but given the summer heat and still influenced by the Covid pandemic, it was probably only about 20 percent filled with sellers. I’m hopeful that come this winter, this place will be hopping. Those that know me well, know that I love a good flea market!
The Weather – Hot & Wet!
I’ve learned fairly quickly that a daily afternoon shower, with or without thunder and lightning, is a regular occurrence here during the summer. I’ve also learned many of the locals have a name for it – Cocktail Hour! Well, I can certainly get on board with that practice! But it does rain a lot – usually daily. And it comes and goes quickly, so you’ve always got to be vigilant and ready for it. When I learned that the HOA fee does not include lawn care, I figured it won’t be so bad to mow the lawn every 1-2 weeks as it will be good exercise. I did NOT however, expect the excessive growth from the regular sunshine and daily shower waterings to force me to have to mow it more like twice per week! That is way more demanding than I had anticipated and not what I signed up for.
Coupled with that is the heat. No doubt about it – it is hot in this part of Florida in the summer. So much so that even light outdoor activity in the afternoon often results in being totally drenched (not from the rain) – requiring a shower and change of clothes. But I’m anxious and grateful of the weather that will be forthcoming this winter, while our friends and families up north are freezing and shoveling the snow.
The Wildlife – Diverse and Entertaining
Before I set out on my full-time RV journey, I purchased a couple of bird feeders thinking that if I were at an RV location for a month or more that I could put it out on the site and enjoy the local flying wildlife. Well, that actually never happened, and I drug those two feeders all over the country with them having never left the storage bay in which they were placed upon my original departure over two years ago. So, I figured now was the time to get them out and filled with goodies for all the local birds. So I purchased a couple of shepherds hooks from the local hardware store, a couple of suets, and a bag of seed. I got them setup, and sat back to wait for the birds to arrive. Well, wrong again! It was mere hours after setup that the local squirrels got wind of the treats inside, and commenced to devour the feeders contents. While this was certainly not my intent, and their voracious appetite will likely empty the feeders in less than a week, it has been entertaining watching them hang in all sorts of directions to nibble on the feed. I think I’m gonna have to get a different feeder if I actually want to have any birds being fed.
I’ve also been blessed with recurring visits from a group of large birds, which I believe to be Sandhill Cranes. I’ve seen them wander throughout the community, and often I’ll spot them as they pass through my yard. Kinda cool to see them up close and personal like this. I wonder what kind of feeder they prefer?
The Plans – Next Steps
Well, I’ve resigned myself that I can make it through the summer here, and look forward to the winter when the weather will be pleasant, and the community will once again be filled with residents. Still too early to tell what my plans for next year will be. I’m keeping a close eye on events, and taking a wait and see approach before finalizing anything. I’ve got a list of projects to complete, both on the RV and the homestead, that will keep me busy for the foreseeable future. I also plan to visit with family in the area, so a bit of local travel will be on my agenda. Even though I’m not RV traveling, I do hope to keep up the blog with whatever exciting things are going on. Even one of my cousins and loyal blog follower suggested, “… continue your blog in FL. Make up stories about your brothers to keep it interesting if you have to”. Well, I’m not sure that would be too well received by my brothers who are also blog followers, but I do appreciate the encouragement to continue! With that in mind, till next time, be safe and safe travels.