A Change Of Plans - Wednesday - January 29, 2014

Wednesday  -  January 29, 2014

This morning, we were suppose to head to Midway Campground about 200 miles south. The main reason we wanted to go Midway was to ride bikes at Shark Valley and hike a couple birding trails. 

Well, we woke to the cold and rain that was predicted here until Friday. However, when we checked the weather at Midway, it was raining there and not suppose to clear up there until Saturday. It just didn’t make sense to drive 200 miles to sit in the rain. We can do that here, have internet connection, save the diesel money and be closer to our next reservation on Sunday ;0)

29h - Fireworks

One of the really nice thing about E. G. Simmons is they don’t take reservations.  So once you get a site, you can extend your time for up to 14 days.  After that, if they still have open sites, you can extend for an additional 14 days.  If you pay for 28 days when you first arrive, you are guaranteed and additional 28 days at a time up to 128 days.  So you could spend 4 months if you wanted to!!!  We only wanted four additional days which was not a problem.
It was too cold and damp to do much outside, so we decided to use our newly purchased Florida State Park Pass and go check out some State Parks in the area.  There are three parks fairly close to E. G. Simmons:  Alafia River SP, Little Manatee River SP & Lake Manatee SP.


We headed east from E. G. Simmons (E) to Alafia River SP (B).

00 - map


Entrance to Alafia State Park01 - Alafia - Entrance

Alafia, pronounced al-a-fie, covers 6000 acres.

We entered at the Ranger Station entrance.00b - Park Map

After talking with the wonderful park ranger, we turned to the right to see the Campground.

The campground has 2 loops, one with 12 sites the other with 18 sites.

The sites are large, well spaced, paved with water and 50amp electric hookups!!

The bath house with showers is located between the two loops.00e - Alafia Campground Map

There are back-in and pull-thru sites.02 - Alafia - Campground

Our favorite site is Site 4, the only site with a view of the pond:o))03 - Alafia - Campground - Site 4

From the campground, we drove down to the Picnic and Bicycle Trail Head area.04 - Alafia - Picnic and Bike Trail Area

It is very well maintained with excellent maps and trail head markers.

Alafia River State Park will definitely go on our campgrounds to visit list!!


Our next stop was little Manatee River State Park (C).00 - map

We headed south and then east along route 674.

At the intersection of Rt 674and 301 at Sun City Center,
we stopped at Super Wal-Mart to pick up a few things.


Turning south on Rt 301,
we had a short drive to Little Manatee River State Park.
05 - Little Manatee River SP - Entrance

After receiving a park map from a less than enthusiastic Volunteer,

we headed down the park road to the Canoe Launch.
06 - Little Manatee River SP MAP

The Canoe Launch was a beautiful area.

06b - Little Manatee River SP- Canoe Launch Area06c - Little Manatee River SP- Canoe Launch Area

Next stop… The Campground06d - Little Manatee River SP- Campground

There are 34 sandy sites with water and 50amp electric. However, the sites are small and much closer together. In our opinion, the campground was less than impressive.  A better option for us would be to camp at Alafia River SP, then just drive to Little Manatee SP if we wanted to kayak the river :o))

The next park on our map, Manatee Springs State Park, will have to wait for another day to visit.  It was already nearly 4pm and we decided to head back to the motorhome. 


Thursday  -  January 30, 2014

Today was a Rain-out :-((
   Rain, Rain, Rain

We did get a short break in the rain in the afternoon and went for a walk.  While we were walking, we got a call from Linda Payne who was looking for a place to hang out while Howard and the guys were installing a new satellite dish on their rig.  The 3 of us went back to our motorhome and managed to kill the rest of the afternoon laughing and reminiscing about past RV-Dream Rallies and discussing future plans!!

Friday  -  January 31, 2014

 Another rainy day !!! 
  01 - Rain Rain Go Away

We did have some entertainment though ;o))

This cute kitty thought he could catch a squirrel???
02a - Stalking Cat

He would stalk the squirrel on the right, creeping closer and closer!02b - Stalking Cat

Finally, the ATTACK!!!
02c - Stalking Cat

Close… but the Squirrel always got away !!!


Weather report says tomorrow is suppose to clear and get warm.

Hopefully, we will get a chance to go kayaking!!

Adios Lazydays! - Tuesday - January 28, 2014

Our time at Lazydays has finally ended :o)) 
We hope we got the battery issue resolved…   Time will tell!?!? 
Originally we thought we would be released yesterday, but the paperwork was not completed until almost 4pm and we decided to stay one more night and not travel during rush hour!!!
So, early this morning,
we traveled 30 miles south to E. G. Simmons County Park where we got site 9 for the night.
00- Site 9 E.G. Simmons County Park, Ruskin, Florida  00b - Site 9 E.G. Simmons County Park - backyard 
Tomorrow,  we’re heading to Midway Campground in Big Cypress National Preserve for 4 night:o))
We did a quick set up and headed out to see the Manatees at the Tampa Electric Company.
The manatee viewing center is only a few miles north.
We finally had some shorts weather :0)01 - TECO Manatee Viewing Center
The viewing center is free and has a nice platform and boardwalk.01b - TECO Manatee Viewing Platform
The extremely cold winter has brought hundreds of manatees to the warm water.
Every dot you see in the water is a manatee!!02 - Large number of Manatees02b - Large number of Manatees closer
We spent some time watching these amazing creatures.
Then we headed out the boardwalk through the Mangrove Tunnel.03 - Mangrove Boardwalk
In warmer weather, you can see the manatees swimming in and out of the channel.
They need to leave to feed and then return to the warm waters near the electric plant.
Today, they hadn’t started to move yet, but we did see a little nature!!
04 - Great Blue Heron under the mangroves05 - Mullets in the sunshine06 - White Pelicans

Back at the campground, Bill got our bikes out while I made some lunch.
After lunch, we headed out to explore the park.
Bill headed off to find Howard and Linda of RV-Dreams who are camped here.
Since we only are here for one night, I wanted to check out the park.
Great roads and a beautiful canoe launch…
07 - E.G. Simmons - Bike Ride  07b - E.G. Simmons - Bike Ride - Canoe Launch

A view of the Tampa Electric Company where we just visited the manatees…07c - E.G. Simmons - Bike Ride - View of TECO
Large boat launch area into Tampa Bay…
07d - E.G. Simmons - Bike Ride - Tampa Bay Boat Launch Area  07e - E.G. Simmons - Bike Ride - Pelicans enjoying the sunshine
Nice little beach area and view of Tampa across the bay…
07g - E.G. Simmons - Bike Ride - Beach Area  07h - E.G. Simmons - Bike Ride - City of Tampa across the bay
There are Osprey EVERYWHERE…
08 - E.G. Simmons - Bike Ride - Osprey08b - E.G. Simmons - Bike Ride - Osprey08c - E.G. Simmons - Bike Ride - Osprey
I could have spent hours watching the Osprey,
but first, I needed to find Bill, Howard and Linda!!
Just a short ride and I found the 3 of them enjoying the sunshine!!
20 - Visiting with Howard and Linda
It is always great to spend time with them:o))
We’ll see you again at the Boondocking Rally in February!!

Lazydays Saga Continues – Thursday – January, 23, 2014

We are still at Lazydays and have finally made some progress.  We last reported on Tuesday, January 14th that we were in the service bay and our maintenance work had begun.  Baby sat in the service bay on Wednesday and Thursday and nothing was done since our service technician had be assigned to work the Supershow at the Fair Grounds;o((

On Friday, our technician began the search for the battery problem.  It seemed nothing made sense.  Mid-morning Bill got a call to come to the bay.  The service tech believes he has found the problem.  Apparently, our coach has the WRONG batteries.  The standard 34Y Journey comes with two 12 volt wet cell batteries and a 1000 watt inverter.  We upgraded to three 12 volt AGM Maintenance Free Batteries (actually wanted 4 but the 4th wouldn’t fit) and a 2000 watt inverter.  We got the correct inverter, but our batteries were not AGM.  Apparently, our coach was set to charge AGM batteries, but was charging wet cell batteries at the AGM rate.  That burnt the wet cell batteries out at about 5-6 months.

Of course the service techs did not know we had order AGM batteries and so they are instructed to replace the batteries in the coach with the same batteries.  Each time the cause of the burnt out batteries got more puzzling.  It was just a fluke that our tech found it this time.  Bill just happened to say something like, “Man we got the AGM batteries so we wouldn’t have to mess with them and that is all we have done since we got the coach!”  

Now that we know the problem, it seems like a simple fix!! Put 3 AGM batteries in and we will be on our way!! Not so fast… first they have to verify the order. Then they have to determine if Winnebago built it to spec or if the coach was alter after delivery.  Then we have to decide who is going to be billed for the batteries.  So out of the work bay we came.  Of course, it is now the weekend… a holiday weekend to boot… and nothing gets done during that time.  So we just wait and wait and wait:o(( 

Finally, yesterday (Wednesday, the 22nd) we decided to move up the food change and rattle a couple cages.  Eventually, Lazydays decided to put the batteries in and figure out the blame latter.  However, the bays were full and we did not get in until late today.

The good news is the batteries are installed, the bad news is these are the WRONG AGM batteries and they don’t have the right ones in stock.  So it will be until tomorrow before they can get them.  But at least we are in the service bay and believe we have found the problem.  We still have a couple other small warranty items yet to be done also.

We are hoping to get released early next week and plan to attend the RV-Dreams Boondocking Rally from Feb 9-16.  It is taking place about an hour south of Lazydays.  So we will have an opportunity to give the batteries a good test and not have to wait 5-6 months to see if indeed we have corrected the problem.  If things still aren’t right, I believe we will head to the Winnebago Factory this summer!!
While we have been waiting, we took a couple road trips.  First trip was on Sunday to E. G. Simmons County Park to visit Sherry and David.  It is only 30 minutes from Lazydays and we will probably go there once we get released from Lazydays.

Sherry and David had a great site on a canal that flows to Tampa Bay!!00 - E.G. Simmons - Sherry and David's site 64
We visited for a while and then hopped on bikes for a tour of the park!!
01 - E.G. Simmons - Park -01e - E.G. Simmons - Park - TECO manatee viewing area01c - E.G. Simmons - Park - Beach on Tampa Bay01d - E.G. Simmons - Park - Cityy of Tampa across the Bay
It was cold and Sherry managed to wear her bike helmet over the hood of her sweatshirt.01b - E.G. Simmons - Park - Smurf Sherry
Her attire definitely made me think of  Smurfs ;o))
We really appreciated the tour and did manage to see some wildlife!!03 - E.G. Simmons - Wildlife - Racoon     03b - E.G. Simmons - Wildlife - Pelican
03c - E.G. Simmons - Wildlife - Osprey     03d - E.G. Simmons - Wildlife - Osprey
It was so nice to get back to nature that I told Bill we needed to do that again.
Tuesday afternoon we headed to Lettuce Lake Park. 
It is only about 15 minutes north of Lazydays.
It is a nice oasis in the city with a nature center and a boardwalk.04 - Lettuce Lake Nature Center and Boardwalk
05 - Boardwalk along Hillsborough River05c - Boardwalk along Hillsborough River
The boardwalk runs along the Hillsborough River.
05a - Boardwalk along Hillsborough River05d - Boardwalk along Hillsborough River
The weather was quite cool but we did manage to see a few birds, a turtle and a water snake.06a - White Ibis06b - Yellow Crown Night Heron06c - Great Egret06d - Wood Stork06e - Little Turtle06f  - Water Snake
We will both be glad when Baby is fixed so we can spend more time doing the things we enjoy:o))