With the start of February, we had reached the midpoint of our stay in Florida. Phil had been working on our travel plans for the rest of 2022 and was finding that some of our desired campgrounds were already either full or nearly full, six months in advance.
On Tuesday, February 1st, Jan participated in a cornhole tournament. Phil opted to remain as one of the spectators.
On Sunday, February 6th, we met Todd and Beth Ehlenfeldt at Big Bass Grill for some live music. Unfortunately, the band was cancelled, presumably due to cool and rainy weather, so we headed to Inverness to see Tom and Roxi Rykal’s new mobile home. After spending the last 6+ years in less than 400 square feet, the Rykal’s new home looked quite spacious to us. We all then headed to Coach’s Pub and Eatery in downtown Inverness for lunch and liquid refreshments.
On Monday, we drove to Mount Dora to get a tour of an upscale 55+ housing development, the Lakes of Mount Dora. It was a very nice neighborhood, with many of the houses backed up to the lake. Of course, the lakefront lots were substantially more expensive than the lots across the street. We toured two of the model homes, which were massive compared to our current living space and much more modern than our tastes. The amenities were very nice but, unfortunately, the weather was cool and wet so we weren’t able to assess how active the community would be on a normal day. Due to supply chain issues, it would take over a year to have a new home constructed. Bottom-line, we’re still not anywhere close to settling down so this was just an exploration of possibilities.
After leaving the Lakes of Mount Dora, we drove to downtown Mount Dora and spent some time exploring the many small shops. After making a few purchases, we had lunch at Las Palmas Cuban Restaurant. We each ordered Garlic Cubans and blackberry/blood orange margaritas. On the way home, we drove through Holiday RV Village in Leesburg. We got home just in time for bingo in the clubhouse. The crowd, estimated at 140, was about twice as large as the last time we played. As a result, the pot for the two cover-all games was $175 and $60 for each of the other 10 games. Most of the games had multiple winners so each of these pots needed to be split. Jan won one game, along with three other people, so she ended up winning $15.
On Thursday, we attended a presentation by the owners of Indian Summer Honey Farm. Their business, 40 years old, now operates with 4,000 hives that migrate each year between Wisconsin and Florida. The business generates hundreds of barrels of unfiltered honey during the summer months in Wisconsin and raises thousands of queens for sale in Florida during the winter months. It takes seven semis to move the hives between the two locations. They also contract out many of the hives for pollination of almond groves in California each year. Their presentation was very informative.
That evening, we attended karaoke in the clubhouse, hosted by the Rhythmic Rollers RV Club from Tennessee and Mississippi. There was a large crowd for the event. Quite a few good singers, and some not-so-good singers, got up to perform. It was a fun evening.
On Friday afternoon, we had hot dogs and brats by the pool. That evening, we gathered by the pool for a fireside chat. Although we were some of the few attendees at 5:30, several other couples arrived later. We had a nice time sharing stories with the other campers.
We spent Saturday afternoon at the Lake Pan RV Park for a potluck with the Ehlenfeldts, Rykals, Petersons, Laurie Tamas, and two friends the Ehlenfeldts and Rykals had met in Florida several years ago.
On Monday, February 14th, we attended a Valentine’s Day dinner in the clubhouse. There was a huge turnout for the meal, which included mostaccioli and Italian sausage. After dinner, we came back for bingo. Although we had some close games, we didn’t win any this time.
On Thursday afternoon, we drove to Clermont, FL and met Judy Jones Scanlon and Steve Scanlon, two of Phil’s childhood classmates from New Jersey. Phil has known Judy, formerly his neighbor, since fourth grade. Steve joined Phil’s cross country team for the last two years of high school and was a close friend throughout their college years. Phil had not seen Judy and Steve in about 24 years so we spent several hours getting caught up and discussing old times. We strolled through historic downtown Clermont and had dinner at The Southern on 8th.
On Friday, Jan attended a Ladies’ Afternoon Tea at the clubhouse. In addition to sipping tea and munching on finger sandwiches, the ladies played games. Jan wore a fascinator in her hair, as did many of the other women.
On Saturday, we drove to Tavares, FL with the Petersons and met the Elhenfeldts, Rykals and Laurie Tamas. We first ate lunch at the Kalua Hale Beach Bar. Then, we boarded the Dora Queen, a luxurious 80-foot New Orleans-style paddlewheel boat for a two-hour cruise on Lake Dora. We sat upstairs in the open-air section and enjoyed non-stop musical entertainment by Sal & Izy, a young musical duo we had first seen perform in December at a Lake Dora restaurant. The weather was ideal and the scenery was beautiful.
On Monday evening, February 21, we played Bingo in the clubhouse. There was a huge crowd. Jan won one of the cover-all games. The man sitting next to her also won that game, so they split the $82 pot.
On Wednesday, we visited historic downtown Clermont with the Petersons. Our first stop was at Lilly’s on the Lake where we sat on the deck overlooking Lake Minneola. We then walked a few blocks to the Clermont Brewing Company. We enjoyed dinner and drinks at Happy Hour prices.
On Saturday, we drove to The Villages and enjoyed the Strawberry Festival at the Brownwood Paddock Square. The event was very popular and it took us quite a while to find a parking spot. After making a couple of loops around the many booths on the square, Phil ordered a strawberry shortcake and we stopped to watch the entertainment. We then escaped the heat at World of Beer and enjoyed a giant German pretzel. On our way back to our car, we purchased half a flat of fresh strawberries.
On the drive home, we stopped at Sam’s Club. There was a bloodmobile in the parking lot so we decided to donate blood. Unfortunately, Phil’s blood pressure was too low so he wasn’t able to donate. However, Jan made up for this by donating double red cells. She was told that it is fairly rare for women to meet the three-part criteria for donating double red cells. During a double red blood donation, a machine is used to withdraw whole blood. Red cells are separated and retained, and the remainder of the blood is returned back to the donor. This donation safely removes twice as many red cells than traditional whole blood.
On Sunday, February 27th, we drove to Rick’s on the River in Tampa. We met Barbara and Bobbie Sanders, two friends from our 2018 trip to Alaska. We were joined by two of their long-time friends, Gary and Tracy. It was a beautiful day for dining outdoors. We all ordered coconut shrimp baskets.