Monday, March 29, 2010

Naples, FL and the Signature Motorcoach Resort

We drove from Okeechobee to Naples, FL to the Naples Motorcoach Resort where we were invited to pay a visit. The Winnebago Tour did its usual great job and we had a very nice trip.

We arrived at the Naples Motorcoach Resort where we were invited to pay a visit. This is a brand new resort and is absolutely beautiful as can be seen by this entry fountain. Located to the south of Naples, it is in a nice location for seeing the sights.

There are about 180 sites available in the new resort (which opened in February). Currently, these are offered for sale and while expensive, offer some great amenities.

One thing that really attracted Rick is this gulf access canal and boat ramp, so he could take a small boat out for some flats fishing. Very interesting!

Of course, Orinda got to go out to eat and the Cheesecake Factory was a great choice. We met some old friends here for lunch and had a wonderful time, although I think we ate too much!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Silver Palms RV Park and Lake Okeechobee

We have enjoyed our short stay at Silver Palms RV Park in Okeechobee, FL and found it to be a beautiful park. This is the first year it is open and the sites are very well laid out and beautiful.

This is a great place to walk around one of the beautiful lakes. Sunset is always a beautiful time and southern Florida is known for wonderful sunsets as you can see here.

We spent some fun time walking around the Lake Okeechobee waterfront were we saw this very cool airboat. Powered by a V8 engine, this one will almost fly! This is a very active area for fishing and boating since Lake Okeechobee is the largest freshwater lake totally enclosed in one state. Almost 35 miles across, this lake is huge!

After looking around the boat launch area, we decided to go to Lightsey's for some great seafood. Located right on the lakefront, this is an Okeechobee institution.

Rick wished he could catch a bass this big! Orinda was impressed, but didn't think this was the kind of seafood she had in mind.

They had a great menu -- and Rick suggested that she try the Okeechobee Sampler. Orinda decided that the crawls or hops part of the description above was probably not for her, so we got the seafood platter which was wonderful.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Deer creek and Lake Okeechobee

We spent a few days at the Deer Creek RV Resort and had a great time. This park is located in Davenport, FL near I-4. Rick really enjoyed this park since there was a great golf course there and he was able to play a couple times. They are selling lots here and we were able to stay at one to try it out. Nice, as you can see above, but we are going to check a few more spots.

After leaving Davenport, we traveled down to Okeechobee, FL to visit a new RV park called Silver Palms. Part of the tour we took of the area included a great boat tour of the Lake Okeechobee area where we saw some interesting wildlife. Here, Orinda is getting ready to take the tour (the boat is at the left of the picture).

I really enjoyed this great blue heron who gave us a great view of himself taking off. These are BIG birds and I bet the wing span on this guy was at least 5 feet. A beautiful bird.

We also saw a number of large gators. This fellow looked to be about 10' long. I don't think we will be doing much swimming here!

When we came back to the RV park, we were delighted to see this pair of sandhill cranes who apparently nest in this area. You can even see the 2 chicks who are about 2 weeks old. This is the first time I have ever seen baby sandhill cranes. It was amazing to see these large birds stroll through the RV Park as the babies hustle right along nest to them.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Let's Install a TruCenter and hit the road!

We have really enjoyed our Winnebago Tour and overall, it drives great. However, this is one BIG box rolling down the road and wind, road camber, etc. really can move it around. As a result, sometimes it is a real hassle to fight the wheel and keep it going straight. Many have been the times when I wished I could "reset" the steering wheel so it would track straight while in a crosswind. Enter the TruCenter from Blue Ox, seen above. This device is supposed to do exactly what I wanted, according to the BlueOx folks at the recent FMCA rally in Brooksville, FL.

I received the TruCenter from RVupgrades promptly and they did a great job making sure I had the right mounting adaptors. While not a terrible job to install it, you will have to deal with some HIGH torque nuts (above 250 ft. lbs). As you can see above, I was successful in mounting the TruCenter which attaches behind the tie rod.

If you look carefully to the left of the TruCenter, you can see 2 nuts (1 1/8") that attach the axle/airbag mounting to the coach. You will need to remove these two nuts to attach the mounting bracket. The other end attached to the tie rod and was no problem.

I used my trusty 1/2" breaker bar, but knew we would need some extra muscle to remove these nuts. So ---
Enter the 4' cheater bar (3/4" pipe) which allowed me move these nuts rather easily. Leverage is a great tool!

I have now had the chance to use the TruCenter and am delighted to report it works great! Our first day out saw us in some strong crosswinds and what a relief it was to hold the steering wheel steady, press the TruCenter button and bingo, the coach now ran straight! It was great to adjust this while driving. A very nice upgrade.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Boating on the Dora Canal

We finally had a reasonably warm day and decided to take the pontoon boat out and explore the Dora Canal. This beautiful waterway connects Lake Eustis and Lake Dora on the Harris Chain of Lakes. Orinda and Cody are ready to go, but first, we had to transit Haines Creek seen below.

Haines Creek is a beautiful ride itself. It is about 3 miles from Dad's house and dock to the mouth of the Creek on Lake Eustis. As you can see, this is somewhat wild and filled with wildlife.

Haines Creek is an open river system -- but the Dora Canal, above, is cut right through a cypress swamp and you are really in the wild. This is an amazing boat ride and in fact, there are several commercial operators that give rides. However, we had no problem as Rick eased the pontoon through.
Orinda and Erica had a great time watching for birds and wildlife, although it was still too cool for alligators. Cody did not seem to be impressed at all! The canal is about 3 miles long and is about 3 to 6 feet deep.

Birds are everywhere and are used to the boats cruising up and down, so you can get a great view. This great blue heron gave us a wonderful closeup as he took off from a log in the water. Amazing!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Golfing and Boating in Leesburg, FL

Rick had the chance to join a local golfing group that meets each Thursday at the Baytree Country Club. This is a great, smaller course that is very challenging since the fairways are narrow and there are a number of hazards to avoid.

Rick is ready to go! He had a good round and almost got a hole in one (4" away from the hole!) Maybe next time.

Baytree is a nice community and has an attractive clubhouse. We meet in the proshop before teeing off and I have enjoyed getting to know the guys in the league.

Another enjoyable activity we had taken part of is cruising on the Harris Chain of Lakes.
We partnered with Rick's parents on this nice 22' pontoon boat which works great. Propelled by a Suzuki 90 hp outboard, the boat will really step up and move, although most of the time we enjoy sedate cruising.

This gives an idea of the waterways in the area and there are literally hundreds of miles to explore. In fact, you can run all the way to Jacksonville, FL and the Atlantic is you wanted. We will be exploring the famous Dora Canal soon and post some pictures of that.