Orange Ya Lovin’ Florida?

Today I sit back and reflect on how blessed I’ve been on my adventure so far.  Just thinking about what I’ve been doing lately, well, I am so lucky to have found Secret Spot Park.  And I owe it all to a bartender I met on a drizzly day.

More than once the Secret Spot Camp Hosts have held little BBQ get togethers, and occasionally they even included live music from some very talented campers passing through.  I’m feeling like a local, getting into the routine of having somewhere to go at 4:00 on a Tuesday…kickin’ it with the gang….it’s all becoming so comfortable….

Then Lois, Buddy and I help native Wisconsinians and Camp Hosts Mike and Karole celebrate their 50 year anniversary at a fabulous little beachside restaurant called Little Harbor.  What a fun sweet couple.  How amazing to share 50 years of life with one person. You don’t see that too often these days.  What an interesting group around the table, too.  Me–the lone ranger, and Lois and Buddy–still practically newlyweds.  But nothing beats great company, great cuisine, and a great beachside sunset.  Cheers Mike and Karole!

Don and Edna from Canada are camp hosts on the other side of the park, also determined to help me with leveling my trailer. Don is a brilliant motor head, and rebuilds bikes. He also sells these crazy antenna toppers – recall Rat Fink from the 50’s?  He sells Rat Fink antenna toppers that are hilarious!  Guess Don has a new nick name…Rat Fink Don.

Dennis and Jane from Michigan are also camp hosts on the far side of the park and  formidable chili cook off competitors to boot!  We don’t get to see them much on our side, but they presented some darn good chili on that cold windy day!  Dennis offers to stop over sometime before I leave and assist with a lesson on preparing the hot water heater for winterizing, just let him know.

John, the Iraq vet, blows into camp looking for some solitude.  Well, it’s been proven that won’t happen in this park for anyone staying in a tent.  I give him my wrist rocket to defend himself from the raccoons.  It’s a little less noticeable than a hand grenade.  We have several great talks about dreams and plans and career and life paths.  His path is a difficult one, as is for many of our returning soldiers. 

And then there’s Pennsylvania Dave.  When Dave drove into the campsite across from me he had a gal with him.  A couple days later she was gone.  I asked him where she went.  Well, she was his wife, and, well, without going into detail, I guess that’s one way for a divorce to start.  How sad.  Lois, Buddy and I embark on a trip to the giant flea market everyone talks about, and we take Pennsylvania Dave with us. 

The Canadians are coming, the Canadians are coming!  I am flanked by Canadians in gigantic coaches with all the bells and whistles! John and Colette, the veteran snowbirds whose motto is “home is where we park it” along with Cecile and Bob who are on their first voyage south of their border with their rig.  And these folks know how to party!  Two fantastic couples with big hearts, great stories, and better Clamato juice than what we have here in the lower 48.  Collette and Cecile are a joy to visit with! Thank you Bob, for introducing me to Wild Turkey Honey!  And John is yet another patient RV extraordinaire willing to help me with my Toy Hauler.

It’s all good here at Secret Spot Park.

But it doesn’t stop there.  My friends at the Dog House are stellar folks as well.  Not only do they make great seafood in their restaurant on wheels, but they graciously allow me to use their address to receive shipments from Riverside Trailers.  They even have an Avon connection!  This is critical since the Avon Skin so Soft Bug Guard seems to be the only product in Florida that will actually combat the droves of no-see-ums and other blood thirsty flying creatures I am plagued with.

What I didn’t realize was the extent of the small town community feel here until my visit to Dooley Groves Country Farm Market.  Eager to get my hands on some real fresh citrus, I drove there in search of oranges and grapefruit.   Dooley’s has been in business for 45 years.  The Houghtaling family knows how to grow oranges, especially the Honeybell, which is a rare hybrid cross between a Tangerine and Grapefruit.  Yum, yum, yum.  I am excited to grab a fine selection of Honeybells, and a few grapefruit to boot.  The checkout gal asks me where I’m from.

“I’m not from here; I’m staying at a campground.”

“Oh? Which one?”

“Secret Spot—super nice people and wonderful place.”

“Oh I know, I have friends there.  Do you know Lois and Buddy?”

“Oh heck yeah!  Love them!  They have been a blast to get to know!”

“Really?” she pauses…. “Oh, you must be the girl that won the chili cook off!”

And she calls out to the other workers in the market to tell them.  Suddenly I’m chatting with them all about chili and cooking and they are so thrilled for me that I won the contest with the curious idea of white chili!

It’s a small world, isn’t it?  And it’s all good.

Orange ya lovin’ Florida?  You bet I am!

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