The hit of our time in Florida was seeing our oldest son, Scott, who was home on leave from Afghanistan. His family was staying at a relative’s vacation home in Orlando so he could enjoy his leave in a festive setting. We stayed at Fort Wilderness at Disney World and spend time with Scott and his family touring the various parks of Disney World. The icing on the cake was having our other children, Dave and Elisabeth, join us. It was the first time in over a year we had all of our family together and Bob and Pat loved it! We will spare you the details and let the pictures tell our story. We all had a great time!
From Orlando we moved to MacDill AFB near Tampa for the last few days. Raccoon Creek Campground is the RV park run by the Morale,Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) Branch, and it was packed. MacDill has approximately 340 sites with full hookups that you can stay on for up to 180 days. However they have an almost unlimited number of “dry camp” sites which are essentially a piece of ground to camp on. We went into “dry camp,” where you get electricity from your own portable generator, load up your fresh water tank and live off of that. This was our first dry camping experience (sometimes called “boondocking”) and we learned a lot.
While at MacDill we invited our niece, Robin, and her kids to join us. Pat’s sister, MaryLee, had flown down from Wisconsin to visit Robin, so we had quite a crowd. We had everyone over to our campsite for dinner a couple of nights. We all went to the beach at the RV park where we swam, paddled kayaks, made sand castles and buried kids in the sand. It was a good time to spend with and talk with Scott, and a good time for him to decompress before he returned to Afghanistan.
However, as with all good things, it had to end. We took Scott back to Orlando to catch his flight back to Afghanistan and took Dave and Elisabeth to the airport in Tampa to fly back to their respective homes. Bob and Pat stayed on for a few more days to spend time with Robin, MaryLee and the kids, Destiny and Jeremiah.
Near MacDill is the Weedon Island State Wildlife Preserve with canoe/kayak trails that lead you through a series of islands and channels through mangrove trees. Tampa Bay is off the Gulf of Mexico and is a tidal basin. With the tides coming in and going out the water level is constantly changing and, as a result, the kayak trail can get pretty tight during low tide. We teamed up with another MacDill camper and spent a morning paddling in the bay, it was great fun!
One of the best kept secrets in the Tampa Bay area is the Armed Forces Military Museum. This is a small operation, but they have done it up right. Bob said he had never seen such a well-maintained collection of military equipment, all displayed in a diorama form that brought the display to life. It is well worth the admission fee, but military personnel and veterans can get in free with their military ID card.
Our stay in Disney World and MacDill AFB was a great opportunity to spend time with family. Oddly enough, this gathering would have been more difficult if we were still back in Michigan. Our RV lifestyle is certainly giving opportunities for adventure in more ways than one.