Tuesday, April 12, 2016

More of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve

This is definitely a nice, quiet state park. There are twenty campsites in the regular campground and about that many in the equestrian campground. The park is 18 miles off  US 98 and the same distance off US441. If you make the trip, be sure to have all your supplies as Okeechobee is the nearest town with shopping. When we were driving from Highlands Hammock, we spotted several pull-offs for Hickory Hammock Reserve, South Florida Water Management District. We took a day to drive out and explore those areas and to find some geocaches. Two  of the parks have camping, but no hookups. We also saw the largest bat house we have ever seen!
We found the geocaches and then headed into Okeechobee to find a place to eat lunch. We chose Parrot Island Grill. It turned out to be an excellent choice. Bob and I both ordered fish and chips. Once we were finished, we realized we could have split an order. We each had six large grouper fingers--more than you usually get in an order of fish and chips!

After lunch we drove back to the park and rode our bicycles around the campground.

Our next day we stayed in the park and hiked another trail. There are many miles of trails in the campground, but there is no easy access to most of them. We hiked south from the campground to the edge of the park. There were many wildflowers and birds along the way. The pink wildflowers were in the drier areas of the prairie.....
 ...and the irises were in the swampy areas.
 This meadowlark kept landing on the trail in front of us. We finally got a good picture before it flew away the last time. We were both on the lookout for a grasshopper sparrow as they are endangered and Kissimmee Prairie is their primary habitat.
 On the nature trail to meet our main trail, we found an interesting oak tree with exposed roots.
Another afternoon we road bicycles to the intersection of Peavine Trail and Military Trail. We spotted  two alligators, a northern harrier

 and some sandhill cranes.
From a distance, we could see a large vehicle on the side of the trail. As we approached it, we found out it was a machine to clear trees. It pulls the trees up by their roots.

We spent one more day out of the park geocaching along US 441. Some of the geocaches were in spots that were too wet for us to claim them. In one field there was a family of sandhill cranes. The chicks were very young!
 There was a cache somewhere on this sign, but it eluded us.
 On our way back to the Solei, we finally spotted a photogenic crested cara cara. We saw one in this area each day, but it always flew away before we could get a picture. This one landed in the road and waited for us!
Of course, one afternoon I took pictures to complete the tour of our new coach. At the front, the passenger seat turns around. The right arm rest pulls up to make a table for my computer.
 Here is a view of the pantry and the refrigerator. Some people opt to get a washer/dryer in this closet, but we wanted the extra storage.
 These drawers are on the driver side bedroom slide. Yes, that is a large television in the bedroom.
 We chose the queen size bed to ensure we got larger night tables on the side. With the king size bed the night tables are not large enough to hold a bottle of water.
 The end of the coach is nothing but closets! We have so much storage we don't know what to do!
And that concludes the tour of the interior of our new coach. We are really enjoying all the space we have now that we didn't have in the Windsport.

After five days, it was time to say goodbye to Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park. Our next stop....Patrick AFB.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

On Our Way to a New to Us Park

After leaving Highlands Hammock we drove a grueling 45 miles to our next stop---Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park. Okay, the drive wasn't really grueling, in fact it was a nice smooth ride. Bob is really enjoying the drive!
 The park is located north of Lake Okeechobee in south central Florida.
 It is definitely away from 'civilization.' The entrance road is not paved, but is hard packed fine gravel. From the entrance to the campground is 4 miles.
 Bob parked Solei and immediately turned off the engine. I was outside and couldn't figure out what was wrong. I stay outside to watch to make sure the jacks all deploy. He looked to be reading a manual or something. I asked why he turned the engine off and he looked at me funny. I reminded him that the engine is supposed to be running when he puts the jacks down and the slides out! He laughed, he forgot the new set-up sequence!
 Once we got everything in place, it was time for a rest.

We spent the afternoon exploring the park near the campground. Yes, this is Florida, and yes, there are alligators.
Bob and I didn't see any gators on our first outing, but when we rode our bikes to get a geocache the next morning, Bob spotted this one sunning near a pond about 50 yards from the geocache. This is much smaller than the one on the news the same day that measured 14 1/2 feet long and over 800 pounds (it had been killing cattle on a local farm)!
I can say that we are definitely enjoying Solei! As with everything, there is a learning curve, but we are adapting well.
I've had requests for inside tour, so here goes. The front living area has a sofa on the left, a recliner with a side table, a large television over an electric fireplace.
 Next to the sofa is the bench dining area. The sofa and bench seat are on a slide.
 The kitchen back to the bedroom is also on a slide. I have more counter space in Solei than I did in our previous RV. Yes, that is a residential refrigerator at the edge of the picture. Surprisingly, it has much more room than I expected.

It is time for me to get moving--another hiking day---I'll continue the tour later!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

First Trip in Our Solei

Technically, our first trip was home from St. Augustine where we purchased our Solei. This was taken right before we pulled out of the dealership parking lot.
Once we got her home, Bob installed 6 AGM type batteries in place of the 4 that she came with. Once we return from our first 'shakedown' trip, Bob will install five new solar panels on the roof. While she was in the RV garage, Ed and Elsie came for the tour. Ed couldn't resist trying out the driver's seat. Looking good, Ed!
 Once the batteries were installed, it was time to pack and get on the road. I was surprised at how much more storage we have in this coach. We actually hit the road with empty compartments inside and out!

Our first stop was Highlands Hammock State Park in Sebring, Florida. Bob and I enjoyed this park on our first visit when we had the old Pace Arrow, again when we had the Windsport and now we have enjoyed it in Sol.

For those of you who are not familiar with hammocks in Florida...no, they are not beds suspended between two trees....they are marshy swamps with broad leafed trees surrounded by areas of pine and scrub.
Once we set up camp, it was time to explore. We rode our bicycles around the hammock road the first afternoon. We also did some hiking and geocaching.
 We spent seven days in the park. We hiked most of the trails, even the bike and horse trails. One morning the sun was hitting the scrub just right and we could see many spider webs. Looking in the other direction, you couldn't see any.
 This was on the bicycle trail as we walked the edge of the hammock.
 The day we hiked the horse trail we kept seeing wild turkeys. This tom ran in front of us on the trail, leading us away from his harem.  On this trail we also saw two deer and a black snake.
 There were also some pretty wildflowers blooming along the bicycle trail.
Later in the day we hiked some of the trails off the hammock road.  This is the swamp in the hammock. That is not grass, it is duck week growing atop the water. The tree roots were gnarly and exposed. Cypress knees were also in abundance.
 This was the end of the boardwalk trail. We found a geocache not far from here. Also, three river otters surprised us as they swam under the boardwalk. Bob and I both thought alligator when we first heard the water moving.
 We enjoyed our stay at Highlands Hammock. When Bob made the reservations, we didn't consider that we would be leaving on Sunday--along with most of the other campers! We got up early enough to get packed and hit the dump station before most of the others were ready to go. As we pulled out, two other RVs lined up to use the 'facility.'

It sure is nice to be on the road again!