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We see hundreds of beautiful sea cows, witness a rocket headed out of this world and see penguins dancing in It’s a Small World! Sea, space and distant lands in one week!

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We spent the week in Clermont, Florida, in the shadow of the Walt Disney World complex on its west side.  In reality the Winter Garden RV Resort (in the “Trails Collection” an “Encore” park) is closer by time of travel, not by distance. We are back in a Thousand Trails campground, the Orlando RV resort.  This is a huge 850 campsite campground with two pools, mini-golf, recreation building, cafe, outdoors games and plenty of appreciated extra space between the sites.  Not much for any grass, but the sites are sandy and the roads are well paved.  The check-in process was quick and well handled through the “rodeo” of golf-carts taking people from a staging area to their sites.


The local news media is all a buzz about the Space X activity that is occurring at the “Spacecoast” and we witnessed the launch of a smaller Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral while enjoying some beachside cocktails on the Cocoa Beach pier.  This was a return to this pier for us, but we learned they capitalize on the launch opportunity.  They charge $5/person to go out on the pier to see the launch.  It indeed is a great place to witness the launch. It took us a little off guard how far inland the launch complex was as it was due North of the pier. Next week they are launching the largest rocket in 40 years from same area, it will be about the equivalent of three rockets like the one that we saw. They are launching a Tesla car into space!

What is great about Florida are the beautiful wonders of nature and their affordable state park system. The Blue Springs State Park was a great visit for us on Saturday where we enjoyed a nature boat ride on the St. Johns River as well as seeing the 150 manatees wintering in the warm springs water. This is a popular attraction, so if you plan to attend get there early in the morning. When we were leaving at about 12PM there were hundreds of cars lined up to get in to the park. The park staff do a great job at preventing overcrowding and complete chaos in the park by controlling park entry at the gate. These “sea cows” are amazing creatures that float so gracefully in the water. Their little ones are born at only 30 or 40 pounds and they are just so cute with mom in the water. Out on the river we spotted more than a dozen alligators and hundreds of birds of a dozen or more varieties. Cost to enter the park is $6/vehicle and the boat is an extra $25/person.

How are the cats doing?

They are doing very well. Both of them have found their areas in the camper they like to frequent. Wheezy loves to hide under the foot of the bed, Rico on Jason’s wireless access point for the warmth and both give us the stink-eye at about 8PM to get off of their bed (the recliners.) We had to go back to free-feeding for them though, because they were wolfing down the food so fast one or the other would urp it up a few minutes later. Now they are back to grazing constantly being little piggies.

We had hoped for a quiet day at Magic Kingdom on Tuesday, spending nearly the entire day there, but according to Touring Plan’s Crowd Calendar it ended up being a 7 out of 10 day instead of a 4 day. It was a beautiful 50 degree day with a pretty good breeze, so we tried to stay in the sun to keep warm. Even though it was really busy, with the Fast Passes that we had we saw some things we have not yet seen this year. Barb has a favorite part of the Small World ride where penguins are spinning around dancing with fun. We enjoyed a spin on the Buzz Lightyear and saw the revamped Pirates of the Caribbean. We have yet to do Splash Mountain while here this time, since it has never been above the 50’s when at Magic Kingdom.


Next week Jason is taking more vacation and we will be welcoming some Wisconsin friends while we spend our second week “free” at the Thousand Trails Orlando RV Resort campground.

Nights Stayed14: January 28, 2018, - February 11 ,2018
Parking SiteSite E93
2110 US Hwy 27 S
Clermont, FL 34711
863-420-1300
Front Desk: 352-394-7575

-OR- 2210 Thousand Trails Blvd, Clermont FL 34714

Thousand Trails Park

There are two pools, mini-golf, a "cafe" in the recreation building and whirlpool. Tons of day time programming activities. The campground with almost 900 sites, biking or golf carts are the best mode of transportation here.
Remember for Next TimeThe Winter Garden RV Resort is farther away but time to the Disney parks is less than here at Clermont. To get to WDW you have to go 4 or 5 miles across on 192, that add 30 to 45 minutes itself. Stay at Winter Garden to be closer. This is an Encore park in the Thousand Trails Collection.

There is only one (sometimes two) giant overflowing trash collection dumpsters in this entire huge park. It is at the recreation building.

The campground does very poorly at any electronic communications. You have to go seek out updated calendars and guides. They really expect you to wander through the recreation building to spot what has changed on the communication boards since you were last there. There seems to be events that are happening, but the time we spotted them in progress we didn't know anything about them.

It wasn't until the third or fourth day did Jason go to the gate to find out how to get in at night. There is a guard shack but that is only staffed during the mass entry time. Otherwise, there is a number written on your check in paperwork that doesn't say anything about why it is written there. That four digit code is your after hours gate code to use to get in when the shack is not staffed. That would have been helpful to have pointed out at the check in time.
Restaurants

  • Keke's Cafe - A small local chain of great breakfast cafes with a huge menu. The southwest omelette with fajita chicken added and the build your own poached egg with portobello mushrooms
  • Grills Seafood in Port Canaveral area (also in Orlando), Barb tried and liked fresh tuna steaks for the first time
Attractions

  • Walt Disney World - 30 to 45 minutes East
  • Cocoa Beach - 75 minutes East
  • Cocoa Beach Pier Southeast of Port Canaveral
  • St. John's River Cruises at Blue Springs State Park - 90 minutes Northeast, where the hundreds of manatees hideout for the winter. This is a good place to go on a cold day, because the manatees will be snuggled up for warmth in the channel near the spring. On a warm day they will be out in the main riverway foraging for food.
WELS ChurchesCrown of Glory of Orlando
9:30AM Sunday Service
Ash Wednesday, Lent at 6:30PM Wednesday
2101 S. Apopka Vineland Road, Orlando FL 32835-5802
407-291-2262
AT&T CoverageIt was a good thing that Jason was either on vacation of sick most of the time we were here. The AT&T service was really bad for work reasons. It worked just fine for Netflix, but for interactive applications like remote desktop or for video conferencing it was nearly useless. 4G LTE low bandwidth, about 5 Mbps down 2 Mbps up with a higher latency and jitter. Most video calls required a Verizon cell phone call to supplement the voice.
Verizon Coverage4G LTE good, but we only taxed for smartphone browsing and nothing more.
WiFi CoverageThe park WiFi is useless, there is so much WiFi interference from everyone's hotspots in the park it is not possible to use at your RV. Tried to use the TP-Link outdoor access point to pick it up and the signal to noise ratio was very bad. Tons and tons of people using overlapping channels.
Anytime FitnessCampground has dark and scary fitness room with low-end fitness grade equipment. There are well paved roads in the park are good for biking and walking. There are two in the park.

Anytime Fitness about 1.5 miles to the South is bad. The equipment is really old, wobbly and unsafe. Went there once and will not go back there. This was the first time I had to complain to the "home office" about a gym.
Mail ServicesAmazon delivers directly to the park's shipping and receiving center at the recreation building. (There is a Amazon distribution center not far from here and they make several deliveries a day at this campground.) You can receive packages via USPS and UPS at the main address, First Class envelopes are not accepted. Must have the site number and the name in the address. The mail is held at the "Trading Outpost" in the main recreation building.
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