A visit to Florida’s Lake Griffen State Park

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As some may know we purchased our new, 2018 Roadtrek Class B this past December but due to some medical issues we were unable to schedule our first trip to check out all of the systems until now. I am happy to report that we did finally get away for a couple of days to test out all systems in our “Sunset Princess” and our shakedown cruise went off even better than expected. All systems operated efficiently with the exception of the on-demand hot water heater which I need to research but with the temps in the 90’s here in Florida the cold water tap was actually warm enough for our needs this time!

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Our Class B is a completely self contained 19′ vehicle for camping, sightseeing or escaping the paths of looming hurricanes. It has a generator on board, full bathroom, sofa that makes into a queen-sized bed, microwave, two burner stove, furnace, refrigerator and a 24″ color TV with surround sound. We purchased it because with two bad knees Niki can no longer negotiate a car seat in a standard Detroit automobile. This has swivel seats making life a whole lot better.

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We set-up at Lake Griffin State Park located between Ocala and Orlando. Not really a destination Park but serene and quiet especially in the middle of the week. The Park has full hook-ups which is our preferred way to travel and makes a Simplicity SRT our perfect choice.

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The lake itself is about a mile from the campground with a canal that connects the two. The campground rents canoes and kayaks and there is also a Ranger guided tour of the waterway probably available on weekends.

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The restrooms, shower section and laundry area were spotless, brightly lit and well maintained.

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This Park has 40 campsites including seven pull-throughs of varying lengths. All sites have electricity and water and seven have sewer hook-ups with ten having 50 Amp service. We chose site 9 but would recommend sites 10 and 11 as being longer and more spacious and also having full hook-ups.

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There’s a beautiful boat ramp, dock and picnic area where canoes and kayaks may be rented. It’s located at the head of a 1,000′ canal that leads to the Dead River which empties into Lake Griffen. There are massive old oaks dripping Spanish moss throughout the Park including a mammoth old oak near the entrance and said to be the second largest in the State.

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I have attached some photos taken in the Park. Their are several Nature Trails and the children’s play area includes a swing for wheelchairs that I had not seen before. They do a lot with and for children including camps in the Summertime. We found the staff to be most courteous, conscientious and smiling. It’s apparent they love their jobs.

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One of our favorite things is to visit the locals favorite restaurants when we visit a new area. Our first was a visit to the “Original Stavros Pizza Restaurant” nearby in Leesburg at the suggestion of the Ranger on duty. It is a beautiful restaurant inside. Though some of their dishes may be excellent the Italiian subs we ordered were not. They were wet with dressing to the point of puddling and the taste was not up to par.

Another evening we tried the La Palma Mexican Grill and the outcome wasn’t much better. Niki and I both had the Chimichanga dinners. The refried beans had a burned taste and the chicken chimi’s were tasteless. The rice was pretty good. All in all we should have patronized the American Legion Post only a short distance from the campground.

Lake Griffen State Park is located at 3089 Hwy 441-27 in Fruitlnd Park, Florida.
Website: https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/lake-griffin-state-park

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Sunken Gardens – the must-see roadside attraction that may well live forever!

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Located in the heart of St. Petersburg, Florida is a leafy oasis and one of the longest running roadside attractions in the Country. In 1903 a plumber named George Turner, Sr. bought this four acre parcel that included an ancient sinkhole and a lake. He drained the lake to use the nutrient rich soil beneath to pursue his love of gardening and ornamental horticulture.
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By 1924 his amazing gardens were attracting visitors at 25 cents a head and has continued to this day and visited by tourists from around the World.
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Now owned by the City of St. Pete it’s a local destination for school children and tourists to visit as well as the perfect setting for many weddings. It brings a bit of the tropical forest with plants, birds and other animals to this sub-tropical paradise.
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I was fortunate to visit The Gardens with our local Photography Club where I assure you there is no shortage of photo opportunities.
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It’s a place you might like to add to your “must-See” list when you visit the Tampa, St. Pete, Clearwater Beach area. It’s located at 1825 4th Street North in St. Petersburg, Florida. More photos on our Suncoast Visitor’s Guide at https://www.facebook.com/TampaBaySnowbirdGuide/. -Jack Armstrong

Family Fun and Free near Clearwater Beach

The April issue of Jack & Niki’s Suncoast Snowbird Visitors’ Guide is now live on the ‘Net.

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In this issue we suggest ten local nature parks to visit. All are within a ten mile radius both in and surrounding Clearwater and all offer something special for visitors.

All are FREE to visit. Most have picnic areas, children’s play areas and trails to visit Nature’s flora and fauna. They are also a great source to find “Art Rocks”.

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So get out and enjoy Spring and the beautiful paradise that surrounds us.

You can find it here: http://www.tampabaysnowbirder.com/

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A State Fair in the middle of Winter??

In February when much of the Country is buried in snow and freezing temperatures it’s nice to visit the Florida State Fair in sunny Tampa with blue skies and temps in the 70’s. It’s rides, food, entertainment and attractions – musical acts, racing pigs, zoo, circus, flying dogs, dancing bears and all of the cuddly baby animals you can take!

Join me as we take a photographic tour of this year’s 2018 Florida State Fair on my Pinterest page at https://www.pinterest.com/snowbirdrvtrail/this-is-the-florida-state-fair/.

Keep current on Tampa and Suncoast Area happenings on our free monthly Snowbird Visitor’s Guide at http://www.tampabaysnowbirder.com/.

February on Florida’s Suncoast – Things to Do!

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Okay, what do an Italian-American Festival, a concert band, community chorus, running in your underwear, Mardi Gras, a State Fair and a Flamingo Festival have in common?

To find the answer to this and other more serious conundrums check out Jack and Niki’s Tampa Bay – Suncoast Snowbirder. Our new February issue of things to do and places to go on Florida’s West Coast – the Suncoast and Tampa Bay area – is free and online at http://www.tampabaysnowbirder.com/.

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In photographic summary: The 2018 Florida RV Supershow

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We have added a 22 photo Pinterest summary of our visit to the 2018 RV SuperShow held at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa (January 17 through January 21.)

You can view the photos and descriptions at https://www.pinterest.com/tbsnowbirders/2018-florida-rv-supershow-in-tampa/.

If you attended the Show we’d love to hear your opinions. Your comments and questions are always invited.

Jack and Niki
http://www.snowbirdrvtrails.com
snowbirdrvtrails@gmail.com

 

The 2018 Florida RV SuperShow has arrived!

Niki and I were fortunate to visit the 2018 Florida RV SuperShow today on “Industry Day” before it opens to the public tomorrow.

The Florida RV SuperShow, arguably the largest RV show in the Country, is at the Florida State Fairgrounds from Wednesday, January 17th thru Sunday, January 21st.

You’ll find nearly every trailer manufacturer represented with hundreds of all types of Recreational Vehicles to walk through, dozens of vendors with the latest gadgets to make your RV life fun, safer and more comfortable. Add tons of information about campgrounds in many States and free RVing seminars and you’ll walk away knowing you’ve experienced an RV happening.

We had a great time meeting and talking with many of the vendors. Oh, did I mention you will also find all of the great food that you’d find at the best Fairs and Shows.

These are a few photos from our visit today – some of what you will find when you visit.

Main Entrance to the Florida State Fairgrounds is located at 4800 US-301, Tampa, FL 33610.
For a large map of the RV Show visit http://www.frvta.org/wp-content/uploads/2018-publish-for-web-vas-of-1-14.pdf

 

Jack & Niki ask – Guess who’s coming to town?

No, it’s not the jolly old fellow with the long white beard. He came and left last month and is now seen regularly at the hot spots in The Keys with his wife and entourage of small, happy people.

No, it’s the 2018 RV SuperShow setting up at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa!
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Everything you want to see and know about every type of Recreational Vehicle and the people that know them best will be at the Fairgrounds starting this Wednesday, January 17th through Sunday, the 21st of January.

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For a larger map of the RV Show visit http://www.frvta.org/wp-content/uploads/2018-publish-for-web-vas-of-1-14.pdf

2018 will Celebrate 33 years of the Florida RV SuperShow. This show is recognized as the greatest RV show in the country. Campers welcome, daily seminars, over 450 vendor booths and more than 1550 RVs covering 26 acres – it is a site to see!

Niki and I try to attend the show each year on Press Day to see what’s new with the RV manufacturers, gadget suppliers, new campgrounds to visit and we’re doing it again this week. We will report back during the Show with pics and some of the new things we discover. This is not just an RV Show – it is an event!

If you are an RVer or have an interest in joining the vast brother and sisterhood of carefree, fun-loving souls roaming our Country’s highways and byways then this is the  time and the place for a serious visit! Find more about the week ahead below.

-Jack and Niki

Main Entrance to the Florida State Fairgrounds is located at 4800 US-301, Tampa, FL 33610.

  • Public DaysJanuary 17 – 21, 2018

    Open to the public for 5 days, Wednesday through Sunday, this is a must see show for all RV enthusiasts. Whether you’re an experienced RVer or just getting started, the SuperShow is made for you! Offering educational seminars, daily entertainment, trams to help you get around, and the latest innovative RV products and accessories! Two booth exhibit halls are full of parts and accessories, campgrounds and resorts, tourism information, towing supplies and many other products. Plus you’ll find all types of RVs from small travel trailers to bus conversion luxury motorhomes.

  • HoursWed – Sat: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Sunday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • LocationFlorida State Fairgrounds
    4800 US Highway 301 North
    Tampa, FL 33610
  • Admission$10 per Adult
    Each ticket good for a FREE 2nd day return!
    Children under 16 are FREE

    Click here for On-line Ticket Sales

  • DiscountsSenior Citizen’s Day
    Wednesday Only – $1.00 off admission
    Military and First Responders
    $1.00 off every day
    (Not valid with other discounts)
  • ParkingGeneral parking is handled by the Florida State Fairgrounds.

    $6 per car, $12 per RV

    Special RV Entrance
    RV’s can use the southern most gate to the Florida State Fairgrounds located on US Highway 301

    Here’s a map to your VIP RV Gate
    (Parking fees still apply)

  • PetsMild-tempered dogs are welcome on a leash. Please clean up after your pets.
  • CampingOvernight Camping:

    Overnight Camping is available and is handled by the Florida State Fairgrounds.
    Click here for instructions

    Area Campgrounds:
    Connect to Camp Florida for area campgrounds

Seminar Schedule

Wednesday, January 17 – Saturday, January 20

  • 10:00am Basic RV Maintenance presented by Rob Cochran
  • 11:00am RV Weight and Tire Safety presented by Walter Cannon
  • Noon Habitat RV Care-A-Vanners (Habitat for Humanity) presented by Lucius Herrmann
  • 1:00pm RVing 101-What You Will Need to Know presented by Bob Marx
  • 3:00pm Extended and Full Time RVing presented by Bob Marx
  • 4:30pm RV Generator and Cummins Engine Maintenance presented by Bryan Greene and Chris Crowel

Sunday, January 21

  • 10:00am Basic RV Maintenance presented by Rob Cochran
  • 11:00am RV Weight and Tire Safety presented by Walter Cannon
  • Noon Habitat RV Care-A-Vanners (Habitat for Humanity) presented by Lucius Herrmann
  • 1:00pm RVing 101-What You Will Need to Know presented by Bob Marx

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We took to the high seas!

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I apologize if we have missed answering anyone’s message or comment this past week. We decided to make Niki’s Birthday/Christmas present a little more special this year and we took a week’s cruise on Holland America’s Eurodam out of Fort Lauderdale.

We had a good time, met some very nice people and of course ate far too much and too often.

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We visited Grand Turk….
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San Juan, Puerto Rico….
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St. Thomas….
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and the trip wound up with a visit to the Cruise Line’s private Island at Half Moon Cay.

They treated Niki well for her birthday

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and we saw a bit of how the other half lives!
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I thought our friends might like to see some photos of a warmer place as we head for a long cold spell.

and Happy Birthday Sweetie,

Jack
(YCB)