Life on the Open Road

Life on the Open Road

Friday, April 21, 2017

Revisiting Familiar Locations: Disney Springs, Altamonte Springs, and Sanford, Florida

One day I awoke ready to roll so I hopped into the driver seat and off we went… to Disney Springs! It was a perfect time and day to be there as a fairly quiet and off peak weekday. I enjoyed walking around.

This helium balloon goes up and down for roughly 10 minute rides all day from opening until late at night. 
In the evening, after having returned to the RV some for the afternoon, I headed back out in my PJs for a late night walk nearing midnight. It was just as pleasant to walk around then, too. 

I learned that Cirque du Soleil has a free rehearsal viewing a couple of days a week. If it had been that day, I’d have liked to see it. Maybe another time. What they can do with their bodies is awesome to see. I’ve seen a show live and a few of their films as well. 

I made a return to Altamonte Springs where I visited the San Sebastion Trailhead. This is a really nice path for walking or biking and the parking lot I went to was peacefully in nature off a busy main roadway. There are picnic tables and such and, if you cross the bridge and walk some, you’ll find a park with fields and whatnot. I walked a stretch of the trail back and forth a few times. It was pretty. 

I also visited Sanford where there is a nice downtown and riverwalk. I found a park with a dump station to use as well.

This is by a marina on Lake Monroe in Sanford. 

This is at the park. There is a campground here, too. 
While I don’t recall having known of Sanford previously, it seems like a neat area. Disney Springs and Altamonte Springs were locations I was revisiting and I enjoyed some new and familiar experiences at. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Revisiting Familiar Locations: Lake Griffin State Park and Leesburg, Florida

Lake Griffin State Park in Fruitland Park, Florida was my favorite state park at this point and it is still one I like and would happily return to. The rangers are friendly, the campground is a great size, it’s well laid out, the showers are hot, the water is good, and there is a beautiful live oak. Maybe one day I’ll kayak or do the tour on the water. I wanted to hook up and do some tidying of the RV and this was perfect. My cat was outside in her tent for hours as I seriously deep cleaned from vacuuming to sweeping to shaking out rugs, wiping down counters and doors, organizing, moving things to the back, flushing my tanks- it looks so good with a clean up like this. I met some nice people, had a hot shower, walked the trail, and charged everything up. They only had one night open since it was just before the weekend and that was perfect and all I needed.  I was really focused on what I was doing, stopping now and then for some after a holiday chocolates I had picked up following my tradition. I have written about this park before, if you want to see some pictures. 

Still wanting more nature and a new park, I took to TripAdvisor yet again and discovered there was a beautiful park in Leesburg called Venetian Gardens Park. It’s on the water and is a lovely place to walk around. I am so glad I went here and was satisfied by the visit. I also began to notice a trend. A lot of younger people live in Fruitland Park and Leesburg! I was pretty happy to be encountering and chatting with more people who are closer to my age and even seeing families with kids. I love diversity and this place has a lot of it, especially for the area. 

Here are a bunch of photos from the day there: 

There were bird nests up in the different lights here and I watched this bird a while.  I don't recall seeing multiple nests so close to each other before. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Food for the Fridgeless: Take Out Tips

With several months of traveling without a fridge, I have learned a lot and changed my eating habits as well. It’s to my benefit as my views on food have shifted for the better. "Food for the Fridgeless" is a series of posts each Sunday for the month of April. In it, I’ve defined eating well as eating a variety of satisfying foods. I like to enjoy my life and feel good about what I’m eating. I like my choices. So, today I will be focusing on take out!

Lunch specials are often a really good deal. One of my favorite take out meals is Chinese food because it is usually flavorful and has vegetables, meat, and starch like noodles and/or rice. My favorite lunch specials have an egg roll, main dish, fried rice, and small soup plus the crispy noodles to go with the soup and, if it is American Chinese, a fortune cookie. That’s a lot of food and commonly at a great price and good portions to have a filling meal. I’m all for trying different things so mix up the main dish choices depending on my mood and what seems appealing. When I got a lunch special in the Midwest, I tried wontons filled with cream cheese in place of the egg roll. That was new to me and some of the regional options mixing Chinese with American with that particular area are interesting and fun to try, or at least learn of.
Chicken and vegetables with fried rice.

Moe's makes some good food and Moe Mondays are a great deal, too. The price and what is included varies by location, however, the taco bowls and burritos are discounted on Moe Mondays at participating locations. There is a lot of food in here, fresh, to order, and filling. Chips and a drink may be included as well. One thing I’ve done is ordered the taco bowl instead of a burrito and then used my own tortillas with it.
All that and a bag of chips! Literally, the bag in the back is full of their fresh made corn chips. They have a salsa bar where you choose your own including from seasonal options. 

If you’re a Costco member, they have a hot food area and they also sell rotisserie chicken. I’ve tried a bunch of their options and the all beef hot dog and fruit smoothies are my favorites. This is another place where the regional differences can show up in the form of one option I've not seen elsewhere. Cool.

Hot ’N Ready Pizza at Little Caesars are consistent and good. I like the veggie pizza where I can find it, otherwise, plain or pepperoni for $5 plus tax. Fast service, real cheese, simple ingredients, and hits the spot.
Bag of salad(left, in the dark there), pizza, water and mood lighting one evening.

I learned that Wendy’s was offering a $2 keychain for a free junior frosty with any order for 2017 so I got one. I have enjoyed the 4 for $4 on a number of occasions. Burger King has(or had, if it isn’t still current) a 5 for $4 meal choice I’d sometimes get as well. Taco Bell has some tasty eats. Fast food is fast food. A quick and hot meal can be appreciated, especially when fridgeless and it’s hot and you’re traveling. And, maybe you just like it anyway!

I first ate at Dennys on my birthday last December. I’ve since become a fan. The menu has variety and the chain is easy to find and usually open 24 hours. Gift cards are a great gift for a traveler and I was happy to be given some to a couple of my favorite places to eat. This was one of them.
This was the seasonal turkey dinner. I've had the Grand Slams and other choices, too.

Trying a local joint for a regional food is awesome. I wrote about eating a pasty from Joe's Pasty Shop in Michigan last Summer. Alas, I ate it without taking a picture. This Winter I stopped by The Fruitland Park Cafe in Fruitland Park, Florida and got the fish and chips with cole slaw. Very good! I got take out since it was near closing, however, I'd dine in there, too. I don’t eat in restaurants all that often as a solo traveler, preferring take out much of the time, however, some places have that special or famous appeal that makes it fun and a treat.

I've come to look at grocery stores in a new way. I wrote about some fresh and pantry items in the store and also utilizing the deli in the previous, “Food for the Fridgeless” posts. Well, in addition to that, many stores now have hot bars, sandwiches, hot meals, fresh soups, hot side dishes, pizza, salads, pot pies, ribs and chicken among other items. I’ve even seen a breakfast yogurt bar and, in the Southern states especially, you may very well find a large variety of fried or otherwise prepared chicken wings and drumsticks. I personally have tried some of these things and am fond of the occasional rotisserie chicken. I’ve tried them at various stores from the Midwest to Northeast and Southeast and the quality and flavoring can vary, however, it has been fairly easy to find a plain chicken with just broth in a number of places. That is my usual preference. Pair it with mashed potatoes via potato flakes, apple sauce, a vegetable or whatever you like and you’ve got yourself a nice hot meal. Now I have not eaten an entire chicken at once like that as a solo traveler. My cat is happy to join in! If you have a thermal cooker (I’m just touching on this kitchen item here- might be another post at some point), you can put the rest of the chicken in and make a good soup or some other meal with it. Thermal cookers basically act like a crockpot except you don’t need to keep them powered once they’re initially heated. They’re insulated and keep foods hot or cold for several hours.
I tried Italian green beans here and they are so delicious!

Chicken, peas, apple sauce, mashed potatoes. Mmm
One of my favorite cuisines is Thai food. I don't have have tips other than to look at the menu and reviews and see what appeals to you. I got some Thai food in Upstate New York during my first trip in this RV back in Summer of 2015 and it was good. My preference is to go to restaurants that aren't chains for this. Asian fusions can be good. Authentic Thai is great. The same dish may have different ingredients and be more sweet or savory depending on the region of Thailand the recipe is from.

Take out when you haven't got a fridge may take on a new and different purpose than when you do and still opt for it. Get creative! There are lots of ways to mix and match with take out to keep a variety of foods in your experience. Keep in mind that you want a meal that will satisfy yet not have left overs you need to keep cool. Go with what you’re body is in the mood for. I trust my body to let me know what it wants and I eat it happily, appreciating it, and enjoying it!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Revisiting Famliar Locations: Sholom Park in Ocala, Florida

I am so glad I somehow became reminded of this day because I may have left it out and am happy to highlight it here!

One day I decided to make a trip to Ocala again to see someplace new. I learned of Sholom Park and it sounded like a lovely spot to visit. It IS!

I spent hours here, walking along, reading the signs, enjoying the nature. It is a beautiful and well cared for park. I’d return and I’d recommend it. There was such a nice mix of plants and wildlife and it was a pleasant place to spend the day. The flow of visitors fluctuated and when it got busier, I just went back into the RV and got out to walk around more after. I stayed until closing and when I looked at the sign with the hours for the seasons, I had to ponder for a good moment because it was so lovely out that it being Winter had me questioning what season it was. I can imagine how beautiful it is in the other months! There's more than I've got pictures for. It isn't huge, yet a good size and the various areas have their own feeling to them. It's a really great place. I hope to visit more parks like this.

An interesting note is that I knew "Sholom" to mean "Peace" and also said as a warm greeting or when departing. As I walked around, I recalled the greeting of neighbors during church where it is commonly said, "Peace be with you" and then the response, "And also with you." When I then read the sign here saying that the meaning was, "Peace be unto you" it brought me full circle to a stronger and greater connection. Far more than I'm going into here, I remember enjoying pondering that and then seeing the sign with the definition. Sholom Park is well named. See for yourself: