As the month of June rolls to an end, I’ve got some great news to share. First and foremost, I am finally leaving this campground and heading to my next destination. Tomorrow, July 1st I’m packing up, hitching up, and leaving the place I’ve called home for the past seven months, and heading to Boerne, TX. New sites, new smells, new surroundings, but likely the same oppressive heat that I’ve had for the past couple of months. Oh well – that’s how it goes. But, it’s a change that I greatly look forward to. For the other really, really big news, keep on reading.
I’m Officially About To Become A Floridian!
Well like several of my similarly retired brothers, I too will soon have a “place” in Florida. Not a place in the traditional sense (like a house or condo), but a place that is more suited to my nomadic lifestyle. I have recently executed a sales agreement to purchase an RV lot in a 55+ community on Saddlebag Lake in Lake Wales, FL. Nothing fancy – just a 4,000 sq/ft piece of grass with a concrete pad complete with RV full hook ups (power, water, sewer), and a new shed with power and water, all on a beautifully landscaped corner lot (pictured left – RV not included). It’s a place I can park my RV and enjoy community living. It’s a medium sized lake-side community off the beaten path and surrounded by orange groves. It’s made up of 790 owners – 200 of whom live there full time, while the other roughly 600 call it home during the snowbird season. The community has all the standard fair of retiree amenities including a pool, tennis/pickle ball and shuffleboard courts, and a recreation center that hosts a variety of activities and social clubs. It also has a nice lake for those who enjoy boating and fishing.
While I’m not yet ready to settle down, the combination of my own recent health event (eye surgery), combined with this year’s pandemic and most recent civil unrest, has led me to think it prudent to have somewhere I can call Home Base. Somewhere that I own and control and could go to at any moment in time if the need or want arises. Meanwhile, until I’m ready to enjoy it myself, I can optionally rent out the property to other RVers looking to spend time in sunny Florida.
The location of this Home Base is smack in the middle of the state both north/south and east/west. The small town of Lake Wales has its own charm – complete with shopping and dining opportunities as well as tourist interests such as vast orange groves and juice production. It is also the host town to the famous Bok Tower Gardens, complete with a 60 bell carillon. Other popular venues are also nearby including 15 min to LEGO Land, 50 min to Disney, and 80-90 min to the beaches on either coast. It’s also centrally located and allows quick and easy visits to any one of my three brothers who also reside in various parts of Florida.
So who knows what the future may bring. When I’m ready to slow down my travels, perhaps I could spend 6 months in FL, then spend the other 6 months continuing to explore cooler places to the north. But in any event, it will be nice to own a Home Base that I can count on and go to when life events dictate. Someplace I can call home! I’m looking forward to closing on the purchase in the coming weeks.
Note: The photo at the very top is a Google satellite view of Saddlebag Lake Resort. The heart shows where my soon to be lot is located within the community.
One Additional Project Complete
In the last blog, I told you about my National Park bandana project that I completed. This month, I took on a project to help reduce the summer heat in the RV, and to better control the flow of natural light. The RV door has a window in it that is frosted so you can’t see in or out, and has no native curtain or shade to block out the sun. So, on a nice day I don’t get the benefit of seeing out the door, and I have no way to block the sunlight from pouring in. This is a common issue with RV owners and many, like me, have taken the initiative to resolve the problem.
Thankfully, the window in the door has a standard size and mounting method within the RV industry, and a third party manufacturer has developed an easy replacement solution. Their product features a tinted clear window, with an integrated accordion shade which can be open or closed to control both the sunshine and view through the window. Installation was fairly straightforward by completely removing the old window and framing, and installing the replacement window assembly. Literally a 30 minute job. Since I didn’t have a second pair of hands, I used tape on the outside to hold the outside window and frame in place while I removed the dozen or so screws from the inside that hold the entire thing together. Simply reversing the process was all it took to install the new window. I love now having the ability to shutdown the flow of the bright sun beaming through into the RV in 90+ degree weather, while also having all my windows now with a nice consistent tinted view from both inside and outside. Another project checked off the list!
With all the hunkering down I’ve been doing due to the COVID virus, I have not been doing much in the way of sightseeing or generally playing tourist. Most of the local attractions have been closed for months, and even if opened, I’m not sure I’m ready to venture into them with lots of other people. I’ve had a bunch of Corpus Christi Roadside America sights marked off on my to-do map, and with time running out, I decided to take a scoot ride there on a nice day and check them off the list.
First up was a visit to the Selena memorial and bronze statue. Selena Quintanilla-Perez was a young up and coming singer/songwriter, model, and fashion designer. She was Billboard magazine’s top-selling Latin artist of the 1990’s, and often called the Queen of Tejano music. In 1995 at the age of 23, Selena was murdered in a hotel room in Corpus Christi by Yolanda Soldivar – her friend, business associate, and former principal of her fan club. Two years later, this memorial was created, and also happened to coincided with the release of the movie titled “Selena” featuring Jennifer Lopez in the staring role. Truly a sad story and tragic end to this young and promising girls life.
The next item to visit was a status of Jesus in a boat in front of the First United Methodist Church. The statue depicts the calming of waters while keeping a watchful eye on the Corpus Christi shoreline. This statue certainly has a wonderful waterfront view! Next up is a sculpture of a man and woman inspecting a car having a For Sale sign in the window. History tells that this was commissioned by a land owner to be put on a corner piece of their property. This corner was very well travelled and would often find real cars with for sale signs parked there. This way, the land owner would no longer have to to call and threaten to tow would-be car sellers. What a neat and effective solution! Next is a 30 foot tall, two ton metal fish-eating Heron that adorns the entrance to the Oso Bay Nature Preserve and Learning Center. Named “Rusty”, it was built from scrap metal in 2015 by Texas artist Dixie Friend Gay. Very cool!
Last up is a tribute to the first ever “Whataburger” burger joint. As mentioned in a previous blog post, Whataburger was founded by Harmon Dobson in Corpus Christi back in 1950. Sadly the original stand that started it all was long ago bull dozed before its historical significance was recognized. So, a storage building in the parking lot of a new Whataburger location was painted to replicate and pay tribute to the small burger stand that started it all.
Well, as noted in the intro, I’m very excited to be leaving this place and moving on to something new. I’ve also been working on finalizing my plans for the rest of 2020, and setting up preliminary plans for 2021. However, the Florida RV lot purchase may convince me to change my winter plans, and subsequent 2021 travel agenda. I’ll be giving some serious thought to that in the coming weeks and months, especially once I’ve officially closed on the property. I’m very much looking forward to visiting with a friend I’ve not seen in decades at my next stop, and continuing that travel and friend visit trend at least for the next several months. So, onward I go and until next time, be well and safe travels.