Before I get to our travels west this spring, we had a great winter in Florida, with several highlights this year. We arrived right on Christmas after finishing our sting at Amazon, our seventh season doing PEAK at Campbellsville, Kentucky. What follows is a succinct description of our winter.
-Christmas and New Year's Eve was spent with our family and friends, Ken and Jodi Himes
-RVer's picnic was at Tarpon Springs this year, at Fred Howard Park. It was really nice, although quite cool that day. It's great fun to see everyone that's hanging out in the area.
-We went on a four-night Royal Caribbean cruise with my sister and her family
-We had our annual 10-day family reunion at Walt Disney World.
-We worked at the Florida State Fair for Scootaround for two weeks in February, as well as the classic car show at Daytona Speedway in March.
-We had a great kayak down the Rainbow River with John and Carol Herr and Pat and Diana Brown. We always enjoy kayaking with them! John and Carol are doing a summer-long trip to Alaska and Canada and I can't wait to hear about it.
-We did a big cleaning on the rig, doing a purge of anything we haven't used in quite a while. Al also installed two solar panels on the roof and did some "tiling" work in the kitchen. Love my new "stone" backsplashes :-)
-We spent the day in Clermont, visiting with Tom and Ellen Whitesell and Dan and Jonell Anderson. Tom and Ellen are working in Skagway, Alaska, this year, and we're looking forward to hearing about their adventures.
-Our financial adviser extraordinaire and good friend Mark Poitras and his family came for a visit. The obligatory visit to the Homosassa Wildlife Park was done and enjoyed by all.
-All doctor and veterinarian visits were done and clean bills of health were obtained for another year!
There were many other things we did, but that's pretty much the highlights. The winter went so very fast, and before we knew it, April 2 arrived and it was time to head out on the road again!
Our first stop was in Concord, North Carolina, at Charlotte Motor Speedway. We were working the Auto Fair with Scootaround for that first week. The downside to this was that we needed to be there on April 2. Easter was April 1. So we drove all 540 miles in one day. I really don't like traveling that way. We did take a different route from what we did last year though, which was I-95 from Jacksonville to South Carolina. This year, we stayed on Highway 301 all the way from Gainesville, Florida, to Columbia, South Carolina. The drive was great. Good roads, light traffic, no stress.
The Auto Fair is interesting. It's neat to see the classic cars. For the most part, though, we don't stray too far from the area that our booth is in. It was pretty busy the first two days, and then the third day, it poured rain all day. The next day it was very cold! It was not fun to work that morning. I had all my cold weather clothes on and brought my electric heater to keep my feet warm in the booth. That was the last day anyway, and by the end of the day we had everything packed up on the trucks and we were ready to head out on the road, unencumbered by any jobs for the next month and cash in our pockets!
Our first "destination" stop was Hot Springs National Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It's different from most of the national parks we've visited so far, in that it's not nature-related. Hot Springs is preserving the history of the "healing waters" of the natural springs found in the area. It became built up as a recreational area where people came to 'take the waters" in bathhouses.
Bathhouse Row, as you see it today, consists of eight bathhouses that were constructed between the years 1892 and 1923. This area, together with the Grand Promenade that runs behind them, was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1987.
We took a tour of the Fordyce Bathhouse, which has been extensively restored and now serves as the national park's visitor center. The next day, we went to the Buckstaff Bathhouse and immersed ourselves into the experience by having a full-service bath. It was nice. I don't think I would do it again, but it was interesting, and "when in Rome..."
There's also a lot of gangster history in Hot Springs -- yes, the gangsters came to Hot Springs to relax in the bathhouses -- so we visited the Gangster Museum of America. You just never know what you're going to find as you travel :-).
Baseball also has a history here. Spring training used to occur in the area as the hilly terrain made for good conditioning. They also liked the players to soak in the baths after carousing all night. The thinking was that the spring waters would help flush the alcohol out of their systems :-).
So it was a pleasant three days that we spent in Hot Springs, topped off with a few quality moments spent in the campground's bathhouse around 11:00 p.m. due to tornado warnings. Better safe than sorry, so we bugged out to a more secure spot than our RV for a while. Luckily, the bad storms were not anywhere too close.
That's probably enough words for now so I will end it here and hopefully, no promises, continue on in a day or two with our next stop, Bernalillo, New Mexico.