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Home ** 2003 Travel Logs


Places Visited:

Florida: Eustis, DeLeon Sprins SP, Blue Springs SP, Melbourne.

Monday, February 10, 2003
We traveled 73-miles today. Southern Palms RV-Resort Eustis, FL.

On the way out of Payne's Prairie SP my diesel engine just died. No
sputtering, no nothing it just quit in the middle of the road leading
out of the park. It would have been a good time to panic. I tried to
restart it but it never hit. After taking a few deep breaths I
decided that the only thing it could be is a fuel problem. While
still in the middle of the road I went back and changed my fuel
filter. Fuel filters on diesels are not like fuel filters on gasoline
engines. My filter sits in a bowl on top of the engine. After
removing the filter I could see debris in the fuel remaining in the
bowl. I used a turkey baster to remove the fuel and debris then
installed a new filter, yes I had a spare. Within a few minutes and
much anxiety I was on my way. I am not certain exactly what the
problem was. I did not see any water in the system. I am not sure
what the debris was. I did put some diesel fuel additive in the tank
so if it was water the additive may have absorbed the water and
stabilized the fuel.

On the way to Southern Palms in Eustis we passed a community called
"The Villages" on highway 27 north of Leesburg. It appears to be an
upscale community with a lot going on. Does anyone know anything
about it? From what I could see golfers would love it as well as
"shoppers". Is there an RV-Park associated with the place?

We are staying in Southern Palms because we have been in State Parks
for the past 4-nights and have not been able to download e-mail. We
needed a modem connection (phone line). Southern Palms RV-Resort has
over 1,000 full hookup sites and is nearly full. Snowbirds are taking
advantage of all of the facilities (3-clubhouses, 18 shuffleboard
courts, 2-heated pools & hot tubs, exercise equipment, library, pool
tables and much more). Most of the snowbirds appear to be in their
70s and active. As we pulled into the park a group of musicians was
having a jam session with many residents in lawn chairs gathered
around. Groups gather at night to eat together, play pool, cards and
other games. It is like a big family, these folks are having fun.
Just imagine over 1,000 RV's all with awnings extended. Everyone is
ready to "party"!

Tuesday, February 11 2003
Southern Palms RV-Resort Eustis, FL. 1-800-227-9131

My private tour director scheduled two State Parks for us today. The
first on our schedule was DeLeon Springs State Recreation Area near
the US highway 17 town of DeLeon Springs. We were visiting DeLeon
Springs for two reasons. First it is home to one of the nations
largest bald cypress trees affectionately named "Old Methuselah". The
second is to experience the "Sugar Mill Restaurant".

It is not often that you will find a recommended restaurant in a State
Park but the Sugar Mill Restaurant is that exception. Their specialty
is pancakes of all things. The attraction is you cook them yourself
right at your own table. It is a hoot, it really is. Each table has
a rectangular electric grill made into the center of the table. Your
"all you can eat" breakfast comes with two pitchers of pancake batter.
One is a healthy whole grain batter the other a more traditional
buttermilk batter. You also have a choice of "mix-ins" (blueberries,
bananas, pecans, chocolate chips__you get the idea) for a small extra
charge. You can also cook your own eggs on the grill; they deliver a
bowl of fresh eggs along with the pancake batter. Bacon, sausage and
ham are the only thing we saw being delivered to the table cooked. It
was really something fun to do. The place was packed and everyone was
having fun. Those that do not know how to cook pancakes when they
arrive know how to by they time they leave. Hint; don't flip pancakes
until the bubbles stop. They probably serve something else but I did
not notice. They serve pancakes all day, yes even into the afternoon.
If you are in the area it is a fun thing to do.

"Old Methuselah" the 400 to 500 year old bald cypress was not as large
as I had anticipated. The actual national champion bald cypress is
located in Longwood around 20-miles south of here and very near
Orlando. We have not seen it but will someday.

The park also offered a guided nature cruise on a pontoon boat but our
timing was not right to catch that trip (we were eating pancakes

When Joyce and I entered the park around 10:00 it was chilly. At
least it was chilly to the group of us standing in line to dine (cook
our own pancakes) given that we were all wearing lightweight jackets.
Inside the restaurant the most popular tables were the ones nearest
the fireplace with the roaring fire. From our warm seat we were
witnessing a major incongruity. Outside in the spring several people
were swimming! The water in the spring is 72 degrees. Other
"visitors" were walking around in shorts and T-shirts. We are in
Florida where you can see anything.

Our next stop was Blue Springs State Park located near Orange City on
US highway 17 (30-miles north of Orlando). We were not expecting much
but Blue Springs turned out to be a great park. Hundreds of visitors
were enjoying the park on a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in
the mid-70s. It was cool earlier in the day but the afternoon is
nice. Huge manatees were crowded into several hundred yards of the
spring run. The state has constructed a walkway along the edge of the
spring run (from the spring itself down to where it connects with the
St. Johns River). The walkway was filled with visitors walking up and
down while viewing different groups of manatees. Large tarpon and
alligator gar were sharing the spring run with the 30 or more
manatees. Blue Springs also offers a 2-hour nature and ecological
cruise on the St. Johns River.

If you want to see manatees this would be a good park to visit during
cold weather. In January and February when the river temperature is
cooler than the 72-degree water coming out of the spring manatee crowd
into the "warm water" of the spring. They venture out into the St.
Johns River to eat then return to the warm water. The spring water is
crystal clear and you are able to view the manatee from this elevated
boardwalk. The state has really provided a nice facility to view
these gentle giants. Don't come here in the summer or hot weather
expecting manatee to be crowded into the spring run for easy viewing.
As soon as the weather gets warm manatee spread out up and down the
river. They are only congregated around the spring now because the
river is cold and the springs are warm in comparison.

Blue Springs State Park has 50 to 60 RV sites with water & 30-amps.
Nothing special but it could be a good place to spend some time near
the St. Johns River.

Wednesday, February 12 2003
We drove 104-miles from Eustis to Melbourne Land Yacht Harbor (A private Air
stream RV-Resort) Melbourne, FL. $25 per-night 50amps full hookup
concrete pads, a real "snowbird" park _. No pets!

Several things amused us on our short jaunt to Melbourne. Signs such
as "Live Bait" and "Jungle Cruise" become as commonplace as the
proverbial Circle K store. A bumper sticker said something about
"fishing 5-days and working 2-days".

In Melbourne and Land Yacht Harbor we are in familiar surroundings.
Land Yacht Harbor is the quintessential "snowbird" park. It is an Air
Stream park with individuals owning each of the over 300 sites. The
park is geared to individuals who like to hibernate near civilization,
shops, flea markets, restaurants, cultural events and the beach, not
hidden in a remote forest. Snowbirds may not be accurate since many
of the owners are from southern states like Georgia and the Carolinas.
Possibly they should be classified as "heat seekers" instead of "snow
birds". When a site owner is not using their site it is leased out to
visitors like us. We were lucky to get a site as we only see 3 or 4
vacant sites in the entire park.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday February 13, 14, 15 and 16 2003
Land Yacht Harbor (A private Air stream RV-Resort) Melbourne, FL. $25
per-night 50amps full hookup concrete pads, a real "snowbird" park _.
No pets!

We spent each day with Joyce's Father who is 89 years old. He is able
to go to lunch with us but is capable of very little more. Even the
lunch outing requires a nap to recuperate. We usually returned to the
motorhome after lunch and strolled Pop's around the RV-park in his
special lightweight wheel chair or sat next to the motorhome watching
resident's come and go. The Park has a pair of resident sand hill
cranes. These wild birds have become fairly tame since the park is
fenced and no pets are allowed. When sitting in the yard these birds
will come within 3 to 5 feet of you if you do not make a sudden move.

The temperature was nice every day but it got into the mid-80s on
Saturday. The talk around the park was of the best stories residents
could tell after talking with their children back in the frozen
northland. My children said they were digging out from under 2-feet
of snow! Mine said it had not been above freezing since Moses crossed
the river! Then they all break out into a wicked laugh.

The residents of this park are active. They all walk or ride bicycles
around the park stopping to talk to everyone they meet. Several have
mopeds or electric scooters they use in the park to visit friends, get
mail, take the garbage bag to the central dumpster and things like
that. At night the clubhouse has over 70 individuals playing pool,
cards and an assortment of other games. Like I said, these are active
individuals enjoying themselves to the fullest.

We are leaving in the morning (17 February) for Highland Hammock SP
near Sebring. That is all until next week

Mike & Joyce Hendrix







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