In this unofficial first episode I introduce myself and make sure everything works. Stay tuned next week for episode 1, in which I will talk about the Everglades National Park, and Big Cypress National Preserve. Click image for the YouTube video
In this final installment of the Tampa Bay series we are going to visit Tampa proper over the course of three afternoons. We are attending the Florida Rv Supershow in the morning.
On the first day we stay in the car most of the time, just getting a little bit of the lay of the land. We drive on the street that claims to have the longest sidewalk in the world, Bayshore Boulevard. We also drive through Hyde Park, a historic district, home to the famous Bern’s Steakhouse. The southernmost point of our exploratory trip is Ballast Point Park, from where we get extraordinary views of downtown across the bay.
On our second day we have lunch at the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Florida. Also the oldest Spanish restaurant in the United States, and one of the largest in the wold. Its name is The Columbia. While we are in Ybor City we explore some of the historic sites and take a round trip on the TECO line street car to downtown.
On our third day, we eat at a trendy restaurant called Ulele, on the riverfront. We also explore downtown a little bit and the University of Tampa on the other side of the Hillsborough River. The Henry B. Plant Hall, is a historic building, formerly the legendary Tampa Bay Hotel. Nowadays it hosts the Henry B. Plant Museum as well as some of the University services.
Overall it was a great time. On our way out we bid farewell to one of Americas iconic roadside attractions, the Airstream ranch, which was demolished just a few days after our visit.
During the break between Christmas and New Year’s we visited Mount Dora. Founded in 1880 on the northern shore of Lake Dora, along the rolling hills of Central Florida, the 12,000-inhabitant enclave retains its small town charm. We spend one night admiring the intricate and over the top Christmas decorations. On the next day we take a package that includes a boat tour along Lake Dora and the Dora Canal, dubbed “the most beautiful mile of water in the world”. We also take a short yet exhilarating seaplane ride around the Lake County area, and return to Mount Dora aboard the Orange Blossom Cannonball, also known as the movie train. On the next day we move a few miles south to Kissimmee, catch a blockbuster movie and enjoy some of the Orlando nightlife.
Ok, so I’ve been busy with work, and other things and I have neglected the blog a little bit. A few things have happened since the last time I posted, when we went to the Food and Wine Festival in Epcot, Orlando Florida. After that, a few weeks ago, we attended the Living the RV Dream Gathering, Hosted by John and Kathy Huggins, of Living the RV Dream podcast and website.
John and Kathy are the authority when if comes to full time RVing. The podcast and the website have a wealth of information about full timing and making a living on the road. Also present at the gathering were Al Hesselbart, the former historian at the RV and Motor Home Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana. He’s a living encyclopedia of the history of the home on wheels. Also, we had the Geeks on Tour, and they gave seminars on taking full advantage of our mobile gadgets. The owners of Technorv.com, Tamy and Eric Johnson also gave seminars on RVing accessories such as tire pressure monitoring systems and wi-fi extenders. Everybody had a great time and it was a great opportunity to meet fellow RVers, pur names and faces together and to see John and Kathy Huggins again. We had met them originally at the Tampa RV Supershow last January. Here’s a video highlighting all the activities.
As you can see the video also highlights some local attractions such as Downtown Sarasota and Siesta Key.
And if you want to see a solid hour of John and Kathy’s Living the RV Dream video edition…
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We are on the road once again. In the featured video, we drive up to Orlando through US-27, Okeechobee Road in these parts, as we exit Miami through the City of Hialeah. Most people take the Florida’s Turnpike going north, but if you have seen my previous posts and videos you probably know that I absolutely loathe that road, and since we are not in a hurry, we take this somewhat more scenic route.
We change it around a little bit, and take a detour right before the town of South Bay towards Belle Glade, which is really nothing to write home about. The plan is to go around lake Okeechobee on the eastern side and hopefully see the lake. The surroundings are a vast agricultural area, mostly sugar cane I believe.
As we continue going around the lake, there’s this tall levee to our left, so you can’t really see the water. The best place to see the lake and access the scenic trail that goes around it the lake is at the Port Mayaca Locks, on the eastern shore of the lake, which is so vast that you can’t even see the other side. I finally get to see this lake, after so many years living in South Florida. This is a place where we should have stayed for a while and relax, walk on the trail, but we must continue north if we want to make it to Orlando while there is still daylight. The next major town is Okeechobee, as we continue turning around to the north west as the plan is to merge with I-27 again and continue towards Orlando. This is another area which merits further exploring. There’s some artillery, a tank, and a helicopter, on display at Flagler Square in downtown Okeechobee, and the country side northwest of here is truly gorgeous, especially for flat Florida.
We cross the Kissimmee River, and US-27, and make a quick detour here to visit Henscratch Farms Winery, to buy some local wine and raw honey. The place is full of chickens roaming around.
Eventually we make it to our campground, the Orlando Thousand Trails. I have previously mentioned that we got a free membership to Thousand Trails with the purchase of Minitini, so this is very convenient. Our stay is free.