We left St Augustine on Tuesday, January 10th AKA Hell Day of driving. It. Sucked. What was supposed to be a short two-hour drive morphed into a horrendous eight plus hour ordeal thanks to hellacious traffic and a vehicle and brush fire on I-95 South. We were at a complete stop for close to an hour when Ross decided he was getting hangry. The good thing about traveling with a tiny house is that the whole stocked kitchen is only 12 feet or so behind the driver’s seat. No big deal to jump out and grab a snack, right? Suddenly, the traffic starts moving. I’m talking like 40 mph out of the blue. Well, crap. I jump into the driver’s seat and slowly start pulling forward because this giant tiny house on wheels is sitting still in three lanes of moving traffic and drivers behind us aren’t happy about it. I drive for about a mile before traffic stops again, and I wait for Ross to get back into the truck. Nothing. Where is he, and why didn’t he take his cell phone with him?! Traffic moves again. Ugh. Ok. I pull forward slowly again, and we drive for another two miles to another complete stop. Finally, Mr. Celery and Peanut Butter appears and I scoot back to my passenger seat. And I am dying of laughter. Absolutely hysterical. He’s not so much. Think Chris Farley in Tommy Boy screaming, “What’s gotten into you?!” He said that at one point we drove past a police officer and they kind of just looked at each other. I’m crying I’m laughing so hard. Anyhow, we get it together and now we keep snacks in the cab of the truck.
Our home base in Orlando was supposed to be a “tiny house community” just north of downtown. I was so stoked about it. Other people like us! I think they advertised 13 tiny houses on the property mixed with some RVs. As we pulled in, I declared without option, “No flipping way. We are not staying here.” First, it was on OBT (Orange Blossom Trail), which should have been my first clue. It was an absolute sardine can of junky rigs some of which were literally held together with duct tape. Nope. Uh uh. We drove around the tightest loop we’ve ever encountered to try to get out. We had to back up and pull forward three times to just get out of the exit! Note: mad props to Ross who is becoming a most excellent tiny house driver. Ok, now I’m stressed. And we’re mad because the pictures online were gorgeous lakefront spaces. Yeah, no. Now, normally this wouldn’t be a major issue except this is January in Orlando so it’s peak snowbird season and everything is booked solid. We pulled into a parking lot and started semi-frantically calling everywhere we could Google. Full. Booked. No vacancy. Not until March. Nooooo! Then, finally, at 4:45 p.m. some angel pointed us to a RV park in Haines City, Florida which is a cute little city south of O-Town. They closed at 5pm, but they had a spot available and we were welcome to come enjoy with our THOW and two dogs. Oh, thank goodness. Then, I-4 traffic kept us stuck for another hour and a half. This. Is. Ridiculous. We eventually got there. Tired, hangry, grumpy. However, that ridiculous misadventure led to the coolest place. We booked a week at Central Park, but ended up staying for two weeks because we had such a great time!
The people at this park are amazing. Everyone is so happy all the time. As a general rule, RVers (and tiny housers) seem to be happier people than most, but this was incredible. We made friends with some great neighbors (see: Ross’s picture with Milt in the “Vote for Pedro” t-shirt). Milt even taught Ross some on the guitar and helped him re-string it. We sat outside and chatted with Jack & Cindy Leatherwood whom I absolutely adore. They and their dog, Molly, were just the sweetest. Rosemary in the front office is a doll. You know you’re in good with her if she calls you Honeybun. We miss all of them already! The park was so clean and well-kept. The pool was great, and yes, we swam in it in January. The weather was perfect, except for the one fluke day of tornado warnings and rain. We did fine, no worries. All in all, it was the perfect stay.
And of course, Orlando means Mickey Mouse. Walt Disney World (WDW) Parks has a great special right now with all four parks in four days for $70 per person per day. Basically, we did all of Disney (Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Epcot) for two people under $600. I call that a win. Ross had not been to WDW since he was very little, so this was a real first visit for him. We had a blast. I cannot stress enough… if you are going to Disney, get the Magic Bands and the WDW app! Our friends Toni & Heath Perkins are Disney gurus and told us this little trick. We scheduled all our fast passes on the app and could tell from it what the wait times were at each attraction. With a little bit of planning with the app, we never waited more than 45 minutes for anything, and that wait was only because there was no fast pass for that one. Hint: schedule your three allowed fast passes early in the day because after you do those, the app allows you to book one fast pass at a time. This means fast passes all day, y’all. Score!
And because our roller coaster itch wasn’t fully scratched, we decided to do Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure Park-to-Park with the unlimited Express Passes in a single day. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a special for this, so we vowed this would be our last financial splurge in Florida. Disney is great, but Universal is our favorite. I think we rode Rip, Ride, and Rock-It four times. And my absolute favorite… Harry Potter. Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade are simply astounding. I’m so impressed with the creators and J.K. Rowling (because wow, her story is awesome). We had such a good time and rode some coasters from open until close!
Now it’s about time to head south and see what the Everglades National Park and the Keys have in store for us. Until next time…