We've been really busy since my last blog! We stayed in places that took us out of the campground more than we have the whole trip.
Our original plan was to drive down to the Florida Keys. Since we were new to this traveling thing, we weren't sure how long it would take to get there. That made making reservations hard. Once we got within striking distance of the Keys, we started looking at campgrounds. Unfortunately, all of the state parks were booked. After looking at the private campgrounds and the limited space and high fees, we decided to make a plan B. The Keys will be there another winter, when we are seasoned travelers and plan well in advance. If we are going to go all that way, I want to enjoy it thoroughly!
Well, we did go to a key, Cedar Key, on the Gulf of Mexico, off northern Florida. It is what they call "Old Florida". It's a small clamming, fishing, artsy town. We stayed at a funky little campground that had a communal fire pit burning almost around the clock. In the evenings, campers would gather around and play what instruments they had and sing. If you know Paul and me at all, you don't need to wonder if we joined in. We aren't the kumbayah type. Paul has loosened up since he retired, but the day he joins in a campfire sing along, is the day I get his mental faculties checked!
One night we decided to walk into town for dinner. Even though it was a four mile round trip, it wasn't bad. Although, that was when I decided we needed to buy bikes. It will make it a lot easier to get around the larger campgrounds, and will make running into town possible.
Our next stop was St Petersburg, Florida, which is right next to Tampa. I Have friends in the area, so I definitely wanted to stop there. Since it was the largest town we've stayed in for a while, we had a lot of errands to run. One of those was to buy bikes. We went to several stores before we both found what we wanted. Paul had the front bumper designed with a hitch so we could carry bikes on the front.
Now that we had bikes we were excited to ride to meet our friends Greg and Shari for dinner and drinks. Five miles each way? Not a problem on my trusty new steed!
One afternoon was set aside for me to hang out with my friends. I have made so many good friends through Kenny Chesney's No Shoes Nation, and this group included some of the girls that live in Florida. We met at a cool beach bar on Tampa Bay. We spent a few hours drinking, eating, talking about our past experiences seeing Kenny, and the upcoming tour. I'm sure Paul was glad I didn't drag him along!
Since the Keys were out, plan B was to go to Disney World. We stayed at the Fort Wilderness Resort Campground on the Disney property. They had bus stops at each camping loop that took you to all of the parks except The Magic Kingdom; that was accessible by boat. They also had a dog daycare where we could leave Fiona.
The Magic Kingdom was a lot like Disneyland in California. We thought if we went during the middle of the week, we'd avoid large crowds. WRONG! It was so packed that we went on one ride, walked the loop around back to the front and left. I'm glad that we didn't feel like we missed out on anything because we have been to Disneyland so many times. From there we took the Monorail to Epcot. It was pleasantly not crowded. It was a nice stroll around the park and a short bus ride back to camp. Where I promptly hopped in the truck and drove to pick up Fiona from daycare! The next day I made sure to get up early (setting an alarm, what?), and got to the Hollywood Studios park early. I finally figured out the Fastpass. You have to do it online or with an app days ahead of your visit. I thought it was like Disneyland, where you could walk up to the ride and get the pass.Um, no, that's old school! It is all accessible from a wristband that you can also link with a credit card and use to buy anything on the Disney property. That park wasn't nearly as busy as the Magic Kingdom, and we rode what rides we wanted and walked through the park in no time. There was one park left, Animal Kingdom. We thought it would have the least crowds. Nope! We rode one ride and walked around the park and back to the exit. I made a friend along the way, of course!
We really enjoyed the campground, and would stay there again. I don't think we would go to the Disney Parks the next time. Maybe just ride the bus to the Irish pub in Downtown Disney!