Monday 31st July saw us say goodbye to the Florida Keys. But before we left we just had time to visit a Dolphin Research place right next door to Jolly Rodger on Sunday afternoon. Went in there a bit late and had to leave early because their automated lightening system warned of an approaching storm.
Waving Goodbye Feeding time.
Monday turned out to be an interesting day. Packed up early as we had quite a long drive and after seeing the traffic on Saturday I was quite worried how long it was going to take to get us off the Keys, but that part turned out to be quite quick. As we drove north in got blacker and blacker, and then we got a text message from Sue Thompson saying Venice was under a Tropical Storm alert and it certainly looked like it.
At times the rain was coming down quite hard, although the wind wasn’t too bad.
Lots of rain Big puddles!!
As we went further north it was still raining and we realised that all this water lying around wasn’t as normal as we thought.
We later found out Venice had some quite large floods, which luckily for us had subsided by the time we got there.
After some confusion on Anne’s part as to whether we were going to Naples or Venice (luckily I had booked an RV park near Venice on Sue’s recommendation), and after about 5hrs driving with one rest stop (need to figure out better where you can stop with a 35ft RV and 10ft of tow car!!), we got to Venice.
And then we found the campground, Royal Coachman RV park.
Another back in site, but this one was nice and wide, but for some strange reason all the facilities were on the opposite side to where are our input and output doors were, so they all had to be routed under the RV. We quickly got set up and changed, as we had arrived a bit later than we thought and were due to meet Mike & Sue at 6.00pm.
Finally got to their house at 6.15pm and met Mike & Sue for the first time in 30 years!! We met them first EuroCamping in France, and had kept in touch when they moved to Florida and bought a business selling subs in Venice.
We spent a very nice evening with them, bringing each other up to speed on what our various offspring, and ourselves, had done in the intervening years. Had a great meal at Bonefish and they showed us around Venice and their local beach, admittedly in the dark by then!!
We left them much later than planned and did a quick reconnoitre to find out where the nearest accessible gas station was to get an RV and tow into, as the journey up had nearly emptied the tank.
Tuesday 1st August saw us packing up to leave Venice to go to St Petersburg where our next stop was to be to stay with Judy & Mike. Judy is Anne’s penfriend of over 50 years, so we could not go past them without seeing them. They had offered to put us up and let us park the RV on their drive. That was going to be fun as the RV is 8ft 5in wide and their gateway was 9ft 3in. Ho hum another tight reverse, I might be quite good at this by the time we finish!!
It was only a short drive today, so first things first, fill up with petrol (gas). Off to the Racetrac we found the previous night and fill up the tank. $153 later (68 gallons) we are full !! Good job gas is cheap in the USA.
Then onto St Petersburg, and on the way we actually found a rest stop on I75!!
We arrived after about 2 hrs which was a nice gentle drive, will have to make sure we have more of those.
Then we found Judy’s house and after some delicate manoeuvring got the RV into the driveway through the gate with about 4 inches on either side.
All parked up. The RV is as tall as the house!!
The next day we met up with Barbara (Judy’s friend) and went to see some alligators at Sawgrass park a lovely park with raised wooden walkways. And for the first time we actually saw some alligators.
Walked around the park for all of the morning and then went to a diner for lunch, and then we were going to have a tour around downtown St Petersburg in the afternoon but another large rainstorm came in and it rained for the rest of the day.
Next day we walked around another park called the Sunken Garden that had been built into a sink hole.
Then in the afternoon after a lunch we visited the Dali Museum. Very interesting place with an immersive AV area where you wear a pair of AV goggles and explore a Dali painting, wow.
I was amazed they let you take pictures of the actual pictures, so I only have a few!!
If you are ever in St Petersburg it is well worth a visit, I heartily recommend it.
On Friday Mike took a “sickie” (apparently unheard of, so we were honoured) and we went out for the day on his boat.
Boat being brought out of the boat “shed”. It is huge and they are stacked 4 high.
Lift putting a 26ft boat in the water, like it is a toy!!
Loaded up the drinks and us and off we went.
We went to get some fuel for the boat first (it takes as much as the RV!!), and then we toured around the Inter Coastal to very nice place for lunch.
In the afternoon we then went out to see the Skyway bridge which is what I275 uses as a more direct route to St Petersburg than we used, but I didn’t fancy it as it is subject to high crosswinds at the top, which is pretty obvious when you look at it.
High enough for big cruise ships to go under!!
Got back just in time for them to store the boat again,
Mike very kindly put a video together of our day on the boat.
That’s all for now, bye.