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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

A Surprise in Store

~Monday, February 13, 2023~

Day 975 (Travel Day)

“We sure wish we had just one more day,” said Inger & Jeff departing Topsail Hill State Park Campground. This seems to be a popular sentiment when we’re leaving places that we could just stay at forever. Breaking up all the peace and quiet were the sounds and vibrations of a few practice bombs being launched from the nearby Air Force base. And wouldn’t you know that the sunny, warm beach weather decides to present itself on departure day. I guess 3 lousy weather days out of 8 good ones isn’t too bad. And with all the inevitable sunny days we’ll have in our next 2 months of being in Florida, we shouldn’t be complaining whatsoever.

As we ventured southeast toward Clermont, FL, we had lovely temperatures of about 70 degrees and not a cloud to be seen. The plan is once we get past tonight’s stay at Lake Louisa, we have 4 nights of “wingin’ it” (first-come, first-serve accommodations)……very unusual and nerve racking for us. But what the heck? It doesn’t hurt to throw a little caution to the wind sometimes, right? When we were booking all of our reservations for Florida about 9 months ago, we had a problem with one particular week (this one) where we just couldn’t get into anything…..state parks or otherwise. As I’ve said before, I dread trying to book Florida for the winter months because EVERYONE and their grandma wants to be here. If you might recall in our previous blogs, we had several weeks, about 9 months ago, where, because of our time difference to Florida’s, it forced us to get up at o’dark thirty several days in a row, to hit that button precisely when Florida’s reservation window opened (8:00 a.m.). It was rejection after rejection as campsites would get completely booked in the first minute. Eventually we would get our wish, but man, oh man, what a process.

Right after we decided to extend our stay at Topsail for one extra night so we wouldn’t have a travel day on Super Bowl Sunday, we checked reservable campgrounds closer to the Orlando area to break up our drive to ultimately land us in the Tampa area for one whole week. Only ONE place, an award winning campground called Lake Louisa State Park had 1 campsite available for you guessed it….1 night. We’ll take it! Unfortunately, our stay would be a teaser as we arrived right before dark, just in time to meet the park ranger closing up for the night and get a sliver of a glance of our supposed extraordinary campsite. There was absolutely no indication that we were close to a big city. A short drive from Orlando, this 4,500-acre state park comes complete with 3 beautiful lakes for plenty of water activities, and 20 miles of trails for horseback riding, biking and walking. And if you’re not too keen on RV’ing it, there’s always the glamping alternative they offer at about $120/night. Too bad we won’t be taking full advantage of those amenities, this go-around. So we WILL be back!

And our campsite couldn’t have been more perfect from what we could gather via headlamp. We think it might even have been the best site in the joint as it was tucked right up to a tropical forest, with plenty of space and full hookups for a great price. We really didn’t get to experience it at all once we found out that our friends Derek and Kristen, whom we met on Loy Butte Road in Sedona, Arizona over a year ago, were camped just 15 minutes from where we were. They are Thousand Trail members (one of the largest networks of RV resorts and campgrounds in North America) and as to be expected, were staying at one of them…..Thousand Trails Orlando. Now trying to pinpoint our friends in a 1,000-site campground??? Eek!!! Jeff and Derek had been keeping in touch where Jeff knew they were in the town of Clermont but wasn’t sure exactly which Thousand Trails they were staying. What a hoot! They were only 15 minutes away from us. So 30 minutes later, we found ourselves with great company, a bonfire and a beer at the Alonzi’s. It was so great to see them after all these months. And it’s as if no time had gone by, picking up right where we left off. While the kids romped inside the fifth wheel avoiding their bedtime, we and the parents enjoyed some great conversation and scrumptious tortilla chips by the fire. Meeting their friends from Tennessee and Texas, we learned we’re all in the same boat in trying to set new roots in completely new areas. The Tennessee couple, originally from Michigan, just purchased some property near Chattanooga and are about to launch into a year-long construction of their new home. Turns out they were outbid by all-cash offers on several homes they were desperately wanting. Of course, we were reluctant to speak up about that issue 🤪Another couple, originally from Lubbock, TX have now found their forever digs in Fort Collins, CO, now that their months of anticipation of getting their kids into private school worked out. Fort Collins was on our radar as well, but found it not conducive to a few retirees. There’s always the Lotto! Maybe it would help IF we played!

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