Pick your own citrus grove and more.

We spent one afternoon IMG_2123at Showcase of Citrus just up the street from Thousand Trails Orlando Campground. It is a you pick ’em citrus grove and more. They have a cute little shop where they prepare freshly squeezed orange slushies that are perfectly delicious and wonderfully cool on a hot day. They also sell fresh produce and a wide variety of other items varying from honey sticks to salsa to baby chicks. Toward the back of the shop before heading out to the groves there is a sample stand where you can try the different varieties of citrus that are currently ripe for picking. This allows for picking favorite flavors to scout out on your gathering time.

There is much to see and experience here including a monster truck ride out in the pastures to see more wildlife and pastures too far away for the walk. We ventured out on foot collecting a variety of oranges, tangerines and a few lemons. There are handy signs at the beginning of each row of trees informing you what is in season and safe for gathering. They also have plenty of animals roaming around to give the picker a true farm feel. Chickens, and pigs and goats, oh my! We even saw our first live alligator in the water on the property near the entrance complete with a sailboat anchored out in the middle of the water which made my boys wonder if the gators live out on that old abandoned sailboat.

Out in the grove our group gathered oranges with long sticks that have little orange baskets on the end of them to help you pick your fruit from heights not easily reachable without very tall ladders. Although at first we thought we may not be able to fill our large mesh bags, we managed to gather enough after a little practice with the the picker contraptions and our bags were over-flowing with our finds.

All in all this was a fun and interesting experience. Word of warning… our oranges were not peel-able and had so many seeds that I ended up just juicing them for our personal use. Not sure if this is normal as this was our first experience, but it makes me wonder if super market oranges are also bred to peel easily and have less seeds too. If this is true, does it make them less healthy? I would love to hear from any one out there what your experiences with citrus has been.

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Feeling Free

20140218-154102.jpgToday I feel three weeks old. We have been on the road as a full-time RV family for three weeks now and life feels so different. It isn’t the big stuff, like living in 200 square feet, or moving around all the time, or even the “no day looks the same” syndrome. It is all the teeny tiniest details that make me feel like my life is so very, very different than it was just three short weeks ago. When we moved to the middle east we made huge changes, we left the USA, we lived in a culture very different from the only one we’d known. Our neighbors did not have English as their first language. We made huge changes, everything felt different in big ways. But me, us, our family, our routines, how we acted toward each other, when we went to sleep, how we ate and what we said, that all stayed the same. We had routines of work, and school and life and social time. So we felt like us still. It was good. An experience I wouldn’t change for anything. We learned so much. Now we are back in the USA, we are living in familiar surroundings, we know the language, the shopping, the street signs. Life is easy. But in all the small ways life has shifted. We live simply, we have no schedule and no plan. We can do anything today, or tomorrow, or next month. We are flying free and floating with the weather and our whims. Life is so very, very different now. I feel like a new person. The boys are different. Scott is different. We act and talk and respond differently. It feels like we are all tuned in at a higher frequency. Like walking out of the theatre after a matinee movie and realizing that it is still daylight when I expected night. Everything is so bright and the whole world seems to open up. The possibilities seem endless. I’m not sure how long this feeling lasts but I hope I always remember it. Life is beautiful especially in the smallest tiniest details of feeling truly free.

Thoughts on Thousand Trails

IMG_1974We joined Thousand Trails at the Fulltime Family Rally. Thousand Trails is a membership that allows you access to a network of campgrounds at incredible discounts. The way it all works is beautifully explained here. Our decision to join was swayed by the fact that we had no place to go after the rally in Tampa and Florida is very full and very pricey this time of year. Lots of smart folks escape to the beautiful climate in Florida to wait out the winter, so we are one of many and places are full and rates are at a season high. Many of the families we met at the rally were moving to Thousand Trails Orlando after the rally to continue their stay in Florida. After looking at all the options we decided this would be a good move for us as well even if we only used it for this season. We bought a Zone Pass, explained here. Thousand Trails Orlando was our next stop and we landed there for the maximum time of two weeks before we needed to move on.

The crowd at Thousand Trails Orlando is varied but there is a definite kid friendly atmosphere and loads of the little buggers running around. We met new families and really enjoyed our stay here. The campground is very large and has options to stay near the activity center, which is always bustling with activity, and then some more distance sites that are a bit more secluded. The location is very close to Disney and the fireworks can be seen at night over a nearby pond. Fulltime Families are known to travel all over throughout the warmer months and end up back here in winter for homeschool co-ops and loads of activities for kiddos of all ages. Plenty of outside activities include Lake Louisa State Park, cycling, farmers markets and “u pick em” citrus groves. Clermont, Florida is a short drive away with loads of shopping and choices of eateries. The park is large enough to support several onsite laundry facilities a workout room and a nature trail. They also offer seasonal sites and annual sites for longer stays that are very reasonable. All in all a wonderful destination for us and I hope to return someday. If you have any questions about Thousand Trails or our experience with them, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments section. Look for a future post on the citrus grove we visited nearby. 😉

Waking up at Walmart

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Our traveling home, parked at Walmart.

We got a late start leaving the ranch yesterday. Not a big surprise with all that is still such a huge learning curve for newbie Fulltime RVers. Scott realized our spare had the wrong lug nut pattern which needs to be changed or we have no tire for the trailer should we get a flat. And our battery, the house battery, is bad, having no water then water that boiled hot. So, we hit the road with two things that needed replacing as soon as we found a way. Discount Tire in Houston had the wheel we needed and Walmart carries the deep cycle battery to run the house when dry docked. We arrived in Baton Rouge at 12:41 am. Tired and ready to sleep, but 40 degrees here and a freezing cold trailer made for some not so sleepy people waiting to warm up. We had decided to just overnight park at Walmart and although the convenience is great, the parking lot noise, street sweeper and IHOP in the parking lot made for a restless night. The new battery worked all night to keep the trailer at a toasty 56 degrees and we all slept in our clothes piled on top with blankets. Today Tampa is just under 11 hours away. It is 7:32 am and we need some provisions from Walmart, then we should be on our way. I’m praying, if nothing else, warmer temperatures tonight and maybe a safe and level campground spot.

My Father’s Ranch. Stop Two.

Our next stop on our journey was to visit with my dad and grandmother. Not being sure when we will return to Texas, we decide to stay a little over a week and really enjoy the visit time. My favorite part of this trip is having our home with us every where we go. Often times when we are in a place that otherwise may be uncomfortable to my family, we have a place to retreat, to just relax and lay our head on our own pillow and fall into a sound sleep. It makes visit time with friends and family more pleasant for eveIMG_1703ryone involved. At least from my perspective it allows for the folks being visited to prepare less and feel less pressure to clean, feed and otherwise care for us and it allows us to let our children’s picky palettes always have food outside and when we need our space, it is just a few steps outside the back door. We had such a visit at my dad’s place and it was an easy way to enjoy our first days on the road. We also managed to clear away a few more unnecessary items and clean and organize with my dad’s help.