Friday, February 28, 2014
Polk County History Center
This little museum covers the early history of Polk County with nicely done exhibits and artifacts. Displays about the Civil War, cattle ranches, orange groves and tourism fill the rooms on the first floor of the old 1908 courthouse. Two of the rooms have hands-on exhibits for kids.
Everything is accessible. The entrance on North Central Ave. has a ramp. The sidewalks and curb cuts are in good condition.
One hour free parking is located along E. Main Street. RVs will fit by using two spaces. Museum
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Mead Botanical Garden
If you’re in the area this is a nice little park to visit but don’t make a special trip. The park has a large camellia garden, a couple of small flower gardens that are a little overgrown, a short section of paved bike trail, interconnecting dirt trails that wander through the woods, a beautiful performance stage which looks like it doesn’t gets a lot of use and a boardwalk in need of much repair work.
Most of the park is not accessible due to soft ground and slopes.
RVs can be parked lengthwise across the parking spaces. Watch for low hanging branches. Garden
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Hundreds of gators! If you want to see alligators while visiting Orlando this is the place. We were a little hesitant about Gatorland because we thought that the animals would be hugely exploited for our entertainment but most of it was okay. Watching the gator wrestling and the added attraction where members of the audience can sit on the back of an alligator (for a fee) was not enjoyable for us but the breeding marsh is great. Native birds have made the marsh a nesting ground and there’s a lot of activity. The marsh is home to 100 female and 30 male gators so even though very little alligator merchandise is sold by the park it appears that Gatorland is an active alligator farm, something that’s not mentioned anywhere. They also provide a home for nuisance alligators and animals that have been rescued and can not be released into the wild.
The park is accessible but the railings are at eye level for wheelchair users making it difficult to see everything. The gator wrestling arena has railings that block the view to an extent. The Jumperoo Show, where the alligators jump out of the water to grab chicken meat, has a section with plexiglass for children and wheelchair users. The observation tower has a long ramp with flat landings that accesses the first level.
We had the pleasure of spending the week with our daughter who came to Florida to help out after Tony’s surgery. She works at Seattle Childrens Hospital as a photographer and also takes photographs for her own enjoyment. She got some beautiful shots of the birds. For more click here.
Parking for RVs is in the grassy area at the south end of the parking lot. An accessible sidewalk leads to the front entrance. Park
Friday, February 21, 2014
Silver Springs State Park
Silver Springs, where glass bottom boat tours began in the late 1870s, is one of the oldest tourist attractions in Florida. The state has owned the land since the 1980s, leasing the springs to a private company. Dwindling attendance and increasing pollution in the water has made the attraction unprofitable and the state has taken over control of the springs. The park is being restored to a more natural state and some of the attractions, such as the small zoo, have been removed. The daily vehicle fee ($8.00) is good for admission to the glass bottom boat spring area and the adjacent park where the campground, picnic area, pioneer cracker village and the Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center and trails are located. Boat rides have an additional fee.
The boat rides are the main attraction at the spring area. The boats are not wheelchair accessible due to steps, very narrow aisles and no wheelchair parking area on the boat. The paved trails in the gardens are all accessible. The small history museum is accessible. The trails in the campground area have roots and deep sandy spots but may be accessible with an energetic helper. The pioneer cracker village and the Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center are opened on weekends only so I didn’t get to check them for accessibility.
We didn’t visit the campground. Reservations must be made far in advance. More information about the campground can be found on Dave’s and Marcia’s blog - GoingRV Way The parking lots at the springs and trails are large enough for any RV. Park
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Juniper Springs Campground
This recreation area is one of the many places that benefited from President Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps program which provided jobs for unemployed young men during the 1930s. The CCC men built the campground, trails, swimming pool around the springs and even a small water wheel to supply electrical power. The swimming pool is not accessible but the water wheel building, which houses a few interpretive signs, and the boardwalk trail are both accessible. The boardwalk is a little over one mile long, out and back. It follows Juniper Creek with views of the creek and ends at beautiful Fern Hammock Springs. A very steeply arched bridge (not accessible) crosses over the spring where it’s possible to look down into the crystal clear water and see the spring bubbling up through the sandy bottom.
None of the sites in the campground are marked as accessible but most are useable. The ground is hard packed sand and the tables have long overhangs. The campground has flush toilets, showers, potable water and a dump station.
Many of the campsites are pull through and fairly long but because of the angles and trees it may be a little difficult to maneuver a large RV into place. Campground
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Alexander Springs Campground
The two accessible sites in this campground are excellent with large, paved parking pads which extend under the tables and around the fire rings, grills and lantern posts. The tables have long overhangs, the fire rings have high sides, the grills are low enough to use from a seated position and the lantern posts have two hooks, one low and one high. A paved path leads to the accessible restroom/shower house. The dump station has a potable water faucet. There’s enough foliage between the sites for some degree of privacy. No electricity at the campsites.
An accessible boardwalk starts at the swimming beach and travels through the forest about 1/3 a mile before a large tree blocks the way for wheelchair users. Shortly past the tree the boardwalk ends and the trail become sandy.
Many of the sites are long enough for larger RVs. Campground
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Lake Panasoffkee Moose Lodge
Tony became a Moose member last summer but we haven’t had a chance to camp at another one of their lodges until now. This one is out in the countryside near a spring fed fishing lake and the little town of Lake Panasoffkee.
The camping area is behind the lodge. The spaces are short but a few are long enough for big RVs. Water and electricity are provided but there isn’t a dump station. Moose members pay $10.00 a night. Lodge
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Two Down, One to Go
Old cooling unit and new cooling unit.
There isn’t very much of a difference in the two units. Some of the replacement cooling units for larger refrigerators have more coils than the original equipment but our little one must not need them. The new unit is working great and has a three year warranty. The installer informed us that Dometic had missed an important step in the construction of our refrigerator. A mastic has to be applied to the coils before the cooling unit is installed in the refrigerator box. Ours had none. We’re going to contact Dometic about this issue.
No sign of mastic.
We spent way too many days at the Ford dealer but the engine purrs now. Both of the exhaust manifolds had broken bolts but after they were replaced the engine was still ticking. The ticking was caused by a bad bearing which damaged the valve cam so all of that had to replaced too.
On to the last fix. Tony is getting his hernias fixed on Feb. 14th. How’s that for a Valentines Day present!
Sunday, February 2, 2014
Repairs to Everything
We had rocky start with our little motorhome but, after fixing all of the problems with the basic construction, things have been pretty calm for the last four years. Our water pump failed, most likely due to poor design, and we switched out the cheap RV faucet on the kitchen sink for a residential one but everything else in the living quarters has been fine. The truck has preformed flawlessly. The tires were recently replaced at 60,000 miles and we had to get a new starting battery about a year ago. That’s it!
Well, nothing lasts forever - time to get jolted back to reality! We heard a little ticking noise in the engine and went to a dealer to get it checked out – broken bolts and leaking exhaust manifolds. Yikes! Woke up the next morning to warm milk - 45 degrees in the refrigerator. We went to a RV repair shop where the problem was diagnosed as a blocked cooling tube. Banging on the tube to break the blockage didn’t work so we have a choice of getting a new refrigerator, replacing the cooling unit with standard equipment or replacing it with an upgraded cooling unit from RV Cooling Unit Warehouse. The upgraded unit costs almost as much as a new refrigerator but it’s supposedly a much better unit so we’re having one installed in our old refrigerator.
Tony is even getting in on the repairs. :- D He’s had a couple hernias for years. Lately they’ve been causing pain at times so he’s getting them fixed. The procedure should be simple – laparoscopic so no cutting or stitches and back to normal in three days. Crossing our fingers!
So we’ll be sitting in shops and waiting rooms for a couple of weeks. We might sneak in a few side trips in but my posts on the blog will be way down. Thanks for visiting and please check back in a few weeks. :- )
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Saddle Creek Campground
While there is nothing really wrong with this campground, it remains a last choice for us. The campground is small and the sites are close together. Some of the sites are large enough for any RV. County residents get a good break on the nightly fee but the regular fee, with water and electric, is $23.00 a night plus $5.00 to use the dump station. The park itself is very pretty. It’s an abandoned phosphate mine with long pits which have filled with water and piles of tailing that form islands. Most of the 750 acres of the park is lake which is stocked with game fish. There are five boat ramps and fishing appears to be the largest draw.
I didn’t check the restrooms for accessibility. The tables have short overhangs. An accessible fishing dock is located across the street from the campground. Campground
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