Thursday, February 16, 2017

2017-2 Exploring Osceola County Florida


Exploring Osceola County

Campground:  Shelter Cove Rv community.  I own a lot here and will be renting it out when not in-residence.  See my Shelter Cove Rental site for more info.

2017 Travel Season….
Target date:  Mid March

The 2017 travel season is almost upon us and I’m ready to start my 13th year on the road again.  It’s been very pleasant this winter in the Central Florida area as the temperatures have been almost perfect all winter long.  With only a few days being chilly/cold.  As we often say in Florida, We survived the 3 days of winter.

We even had happy hour shuffle board games
Sun was really bright for those facing it

It’s Feb 9th and I’ve gone for a swim a couple of times this past week as the daytime temps are in the low 80’s and the pool water is back up to the 82-84 degree range.  I continue to lead the shuffleboard games on Wednesday and we recently had a happy hour/shuffleboard event one weekend.  Lots of fun and was able to have my Sister Dorothy and an Arizona friend, Jim M, join us for all the fun.

Shuffleboard history.  Did you know shuffleboard was originally a tavern game and was first introduced as a shuffleboard court on a cruise ship in the 1840’s.  It  made the leap so to speak from ship to shore in Daytona beach in 1913.  St Petersburg Florida  had the most elaborate courts with 110 courts and 5,000 members.  Today the club is still active and has 65 courts.  It remains a popular sport in Florida and Saint Cloud has an active club and courts in town.

The big news recently has been that Kissimmee which is in Osceola County and right next door to Saint Cloud is the fastest growing area in Florida this year.  How did they figure that out?  Well, they track one way rentals at U-haul and that’s how they came up with the info.

holy cow, that can only mean more snowbirds moving to Florida

Have you ever misplaced something and just can’t seem to find it anywhere?  Well the other day I was looking for my large National Geographic’s U.S. map book.  It’s not something that one can hide easily as it’s pretty big.  Since I couldn’t find it and I had wanted to start a new map book for travels starting this spring, I picked up a Michelin Large format Atlas 2017 along with a U.S foldable map that’s plastic coated for quick reference.  We travelers love our maps and I certainly hope I can find my old one as it has many notations one each page/state with invaluable information.  The new Michelin book has a unique feature in that many states also show surrounding portions of other states bordering the main one featured.  Great for seeing where I’ll be crossing into an adjacent state.

Won’t be long before this map book will be heavily highlighted with travel routes.  Let the adventures begin.

We Rv travelers love our maps

Exploring old ruined church of dreams.  

Exploring Jesus Miracle Chapel ruins

I was watching the local news the other day and an article came up about the Jesus Miracle Chapel in Holopaw.  Holopaw (more or less a dot on the map) being only about 15 miles from Shelter Cove, I decided I had to go see the place for myself.  The story goes that the builder of the chapel, a Rev Lee Hoffman, 92 of age, was trying to re-build what he had started.  Osceola County is ready to condemn the place and the pictures will pretty much tell you why.  It fell into disrepair due to lack of funds to complete it and health issues.  Hurricane Charley didn’t help matters.

might be time to move on?

hurricanes and poor construction 

I met Mark Lund who is valiantly attempting to remove rotting timbers with the hope of rebuilding when fund raising gets under way.  Some folks sure have big dreams even when confronted with what appear to be insurmountable odds.  So consider these the before pictures and next fall when I come back to this area I’ll update you on the progress,  if any, of these Christian’s with really big dreams.  Reminds me of the song 

“Next time your found, with your chin on the ground
There's a lot to be learned, so look around
Just what makes that little old ant Think he'll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, can'tMove a rubber tree plant
But he's got high hopes, he's got high hopesHe's got high apple pie, in the sky hopes”
One might say I’m overly optimistic, and I’ll plead guilty to that any day.  The song alone puts a smile on my face.  Did you know it came out in 1948, singer Frank Sinatra.

Lots of little things to keep me busy this past winter.  I took a tour of historic homes built in the 1910-20’s era for the Union soldiers here in Saint Cloud. You might remember from a previous report that the town was developed as a retirement location for Union soldiers after the Civil War.  Land was provided for building a home in-town plus 5 acres farming plots outside of town.  Cost started at $25 and sold out quickly.  Prices gradually rose and a new town was born.  These are some of the historical home still in use today.

a sampling of the 1910-20 era home in St Cloud

concrete blocks made to look like cut stone

typical Florida Cracker home

this is a Sear's House, shipped by rail to the site
as a kit with all parts, windows, doors etc.

The local VFW and American Legion often have breakfast/lunch or dinner specials for members and visitors.  My sister Dorothy and I took advantage of one at the VFW and had a hearty breakfast for $5 all inclusive and browsed their indoor flea-market.

An interesting factoid about my local area.  Across the from lake Center is a community with some rather unusual named streets.  The main entrance is called “Eden Street”.  With the following streets off of it:  Adam street, Apple street, Creation Street, Eve Street, Fall Street and Fig Street.  After that come Genesis Court and Temptation Court.  I’ll check out the local library to see if I can find an answer as to why the streets are so named.

pine trees are now planted from airplanes!

I haven’t been able to get much information on the unusual naming of streets, but I have found out that there was a Shaker Settlement back in the early 1900’s on the outskirts of Saint Cloud.  The
Mormon’s also own thousands of acres of ranch land here in Osceola County and it’s possible the naming of streets might have something to do with either of those groups.  I drove over to the community along Eden Street and talked to a number of neighbors there.  Seems there are quite a few retired airline pilots who filled me in on the pilot lifestyle.  Many of the retired pilots continue to work overseas.  They were telling about a buddy of theirs who fly’s special charter flights out of Saudi Arabia.  He was hired to fly to Paris to pick up a jacket that someone had left there.  Flying back to return the jacket, it was the only passenger for the round-trip flight.  Now that’s when you know you have more money than you know what to do with it.

We were talking about all the pine trees in the area and the pilots told me how they now plant tree seedlings via air-drops.  Each seedling having been wrapped with a bit of dirt, water, fertilizer and a pointed cone shaped weight that plunges to earth from the plane and plants itself in the sandy soil of Florida.  They said that’s how most all forests are re-planted these days.  One pilot even said that’s how they plant rice patties here in the states.  I learn something new every day.

RV traveler Tip:  Verizon has reintroduced the “unlimited” data plan.  I signed up for it even though I already had a grandfathered “unlimited” plan but with limits on voice and I had to pay for each text message.  The new plan saved me money, and now I have unlimited data/text and phone service including use in Canada and Mexico.  Even got a new cell phone and 10” tablet and I’m still under what I was previously paying.  Making me a Happy Camper.  Check it out, it might be worth updating your cell-phone plan.

Enjoy your day and get started on planning your next adventure.

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017-1 Shelter Cove RV Community, Saint Cloud Florida (an Update)


a few Rv lots down from my corner lot
is this view of Lake Common

Campground:  Shelter Cove Community, Saint Cloud Florida. A gated Rv community on Lake Common.  My new winter residence or when ever I'm in the Central Florida area.

It’s a Hippy Dippy lifestyle here in Florida

Welcome to the New Year and a new adventure.  In the last two articles of  the 2016 season I described Shelter Cove and a bit about the local town of Saint Cloud Florida.  This article will concentrate on the Shelter Cove Community where I've purchased an RV lot.

My Corner Rv Lot with new palms planted

Shelter Cove RV Community:  

Since those last two articles, I’ve had a bit of work done on my corner Rv Lot.  My Rv lot already came with a large concrete pad, full utilities and a 9X12 ft shed.  The only thing it was lacking were plantings in the rock bed surrounding the Rv lot.

I had 5 Roebelenii’s (pygmy palms) and one foxtail palm planted in the rock bed bordering the road.  The Roebelenii’s came in groups of three so actually I had 15 planted.  They can also come in single and double groupings.  They are native to southern China, Laos and Vietnam.  The foxtail palm is native to Queensland Australia.  Most of the world was unaware of it’s existence until 1978 when an aboriginal man brought it to a botanist.   The pygmy palms are slow growing and will reach approx. 7 feet tall.  The Foxtail palm can grow to 30 feet.  Both palms are very popular as tropical foliage.

new palm trees planted

Pygmy Palms and a Foxtail Palm
and Queen Palms in the background behind RV

I’ve also purchased two outdoor chairs and a chaise lounge all with red cushions and a red umbrella. Making for a very colorful patio arrangement.  They will all go into my storage shed when I travel around the country with my 5th wheel camper.  Leaving the RV pad available for rent.

I’ve started up a weekly shuffleboard group since the park has two shuffleboard courts.  They are a bit rough and could probably use resurfacing, but our group will make do for now.  Along with an always warm/heated swimming pool we also have a basketball court and I discovered the other day, off of one of the many hiking/golf cart trails through the woods surrounding the park, there is a golf range for practicing ones golf swings and putting skills.  It’s along a nice stretch of grassy lawn and even has a small lake for a bit of skill trying to keep those golf balls out of the water.  I must admit I’ve really enjoyed going up to the pool this winter as the day time temperatures throughout December have remained a bit on the warm side with low 80’s most days. Temperatures are normally in the low to mid 70’s this time of year.

This road is one of two undeveloped loops with some utilities in place
Roads and trails that lead to hidden adventures

two shuffleboard courts
golfing link practice area

golfing practice area, and nice walking area

I’m getting to know many of my neighbors as well.  Having grown up in Northern Michigan (a Yooper),  it’s kind of fun meeting all the people from N Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota as well as a few New England states and Canada.  One gal is already trying to teach me Finish, as I never learned to speak it while living in a predominately Finish and Swedish speaking part of the country.

Our big event this holiday season has been the weekly Christmas boat parade which we’ve enjoyed every Saturday in December.  A special evening involved the park putting on a Christmas golf cart parade which I had invited my Niece Kelly and her family, my sister Dorothy as well as a number of Shelter Cove residences to watch the parade and have a bit of party cheer from my Rv lot.  That evening we not only got to enjoy some great company but we also watched the golf cart parade and the boat parade in the same evening.  Music and dancing were held at the club house, but most of our group remained at my Rv site for the evening.

Another local event held on the third Friday of each month is the Saint Cloud “food truck night”.  Local food vendors (12 in all)  fill up one block of the downtown area for outdoor dining.  A portable stage is set up for musicians.  After eating and listening to some music, one can explore the shops downtown for that perfect gift or antique.   Dorothy and I attended the one in December.

a monthly downtown St Cloud event,
food trucks, entertainment and evening shopping

Shelter Cove is a community where the owners of the Rv Lots also own the surrounding common grounds.  This includes quite a few undeveloped Rv lots, vacant platted lots and wooded acreage surrounding the park.  We Rv lot owners also own the buildings such as the clubhouse, workout room and Laundromat, swimming pool, boat launch area, sewer and water plant.

The board of Directors recently approved the development of two Rv lots which will then be available for rent or fore sale.  With plans to develop at least two more each year.  Two of those newly developed lots will be next to mine.  A local management company oversees all of the basic money issues to ensures that the park remains healthy and viable.

building a new boathouse

an older park model removed
and new concrete pad added

an empty lot purchased and is now being
upgraded with a large concrete pad and extra utilities added

One of the exciting things I’ve noticed is the continual and gradual improvements that the lot owners are making.  I’ve only been here for two full months and within that time period I’ve seen at least 6 Rv lots improved with large concrete pads and utility hookups being upgraded.  Numerous sites with older park model units on them have either been updated or removed with the lots being improved for new residents.  Many of the owners in the park own multiple lots that they improve and then rent out or eventually sell to new owners.  Some have as many as 5 to 17 RV lots.  I purchased my lot from a Mr Wilk who has owned at least a half a dozen lots and was the board president at one time.  He is in the process of selling most of them at this point since purchasing property on the Gulf of Mexico.  Two of his lots are opposite my RV lot.

the first Shelter Cove Board Meeting that I attended
good questions and a number of action taken
during the meeting.  Very successful from my view.

Norfolk Island Pines and
bougainvillea's in bloom
I’ve seen new boat docks being built, sea walls improved, Florida rooms/screen rooms added.  All adding to the overall beauty and value of the property.  And the owners all prefer the tropical look, planting many varieties of palm trees and semi-tropical vegetation from rubber tree plants to colorful bougainvillea in shades of red and purple.  Even a number of  graceful Norfolk Island Pine which is native to Hawaii.

I like that the Shelter Cove community is not a 55 year old+ community.  Anyone can rent or own a lot here after they have gone through a background check first of course.  This has helped to reduce the number of shall we say, undesirable elements from entering the park.  There are about 5 or 6 families with children living here.  Though most of the residents are probably over 55 and many are “snowbirds”.  Coming down only during the winter months.

Needless to say, I am enjoying my stay here in Saint Cloud Florida with family and friends.  The Rv lifestyle affords me to try different areas of the country and this new location will fit in nicely any time I travel back to Florida, my second home.  (I still consider Northern Michigan my original home) and the rest of the country is my back yard that I get to explore at my own pace.  And what a life it is.  I have so much to be grateful for, especially all the great people I meet along the way and many that have become lifelong friends.

Additional Links:

Shelter Cove Link  This is Shelter Coves public WEB site.

My Rv Lot for rent Blog site  (still under construction but has current info)

Saint Cloud Florida and Shelter Cove:  Blog post 2016-34 and 35 provides more insight into Shelter Cove and the local area


Shelter Cove Golf area

Shelter Cove Lot 55 and community pictures

Shelter Cove Christmas Golf Cart parade and Boat Parade

Thursday, November 24, 2016

2016-35 Saint Cloud Florida, Settling in for the Winter Season


Campground:  Shelter Cove Condominium. 

hibiscus flowers, native to Hawaii
bloom year round in Florida 

Osceola County, Saint Cloud Florida

Oldest building in St Cloud, a former bank
it is now the Chamber of Commerce

In my last report I shared some information about the Rv community that I purchased an Rv lot in.  Today I’ll share a bit more information on the surrounding community of Saint Cloud Florida.

St Cloud was founded in 1909 as a retirement community for Civil War Union veterans.  They were offered five acre lots for $50.  It was common in Florida to name the streets in a town after states.  The north/south streets in St Cloud were initially named after states that supported the Union, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, etc. later, as the town grew, other states were added.

antique shops

tea rooms

two hotels, this one will become an
upscale condo

another historic hotel and shops

the City hall sits at the end of the main street

the Hunter Arms will be renovated soon

Osceola County which is just south of Orlando is 90% rural farm land consisting mainly of cattle ranches and orange groves.  The St Cloud area initially got it’s start as a sugar cane producer and processing area.  But quickly died off and the plantation was sold.  St Cloud was incorporated in 1911 and has expanded dramatically since then.  Doubling in size in the past 15 years.  The size of the city is controlled by voluntary annexation based on supply of water/sewer availability.  Much like most areas in Florida, if they can get water/sewer/electric service to an area, the town continues to grow with little or no development plans other than, if we build it, they will come.

less than a half mile south of my Rv complex

how cool to have zebras as neighbors

and of course cattle ranches as next door neighbros

St Cloud:  Population 43,316
Osceola County:  Population 310,211
Income level:  low; $20,00 per capita, $49,000 per household.

downtown St Cloud

Shelter Cove is about a mile east of town off of I-192 and another two miles NE on Nova Road.  The two mile drive on Nova road consists of a new housing community current under construction, a couple of large cattle ranches, scrubby marsh forests and finally the entrance to my community on the left and an older established community bordering a chain of 5 lakes on the right hand side.  If you continued on Nova Road for another 20 miles, you would see a smattering of houses but mainly cattle ranches surrounded by forests and pine hammocks with the occasional canal linking the numerous lakes and wetlands.

I drove over to the seaside town of Melbourne 43 miles east the other day.  It’s pretty much a straight shot along I-192 along a four lane divided road with grassy median between.  Passing mile after mile of flat grassy planes dotted with long leaf pines and cabbage palms.  Cattle ranches and the St John’s river flowing north to Jacksonville.

A quick drive at 65 to 70 mph until one hit’s the town of Melbourne proper with traffic lights every other block, slowing traffic to a crawl.  The old part of town is a very active shopping/eating destination.  One I didn’t get a chance to explore near the noon day hour as every parking spot was filled along the 8-10 block stretch.  The beach side is divided from the town proper by an inter coastal waterway with bridges leading to the resort side with it’s miles of sandy beaches and the Atlantic Ocean.  A university, aerospace industry manufacturing buildings and an international airport take up large chunks of land in town.

Back in my neighborhood, the short drive along Pine Grove Rd heading towards my nieces house, I pass by a gentrified ranch along Lake Lizzie with separate paddocks for Brahma bulls and a heard of zebras.  All with views of the lake.  Expensive real-estate for some very contented animals.  White egrets, blue herons and tall sand hill cranes with their red patched heads can be seen along the roadside water ditches and lake side.  Driving through St Cloud the other day, a pair of sand hill cranes sauntered slowly across 4 lanes of traffic, stopping all traffic including a police car with flashing lights and sirens blaring in a hurry to get somewhere.  Needless to say the cranes took their time walking across the road.  They are a protected species and they know it.

I’ve attended two events in town.  The first is a monthly get together of bluegrass musicians providing free entertainment for a group of perhaps 20+ listeners.  It takes place at Peghorn Nature Park in one of their buildings recreating an historical farm community.  The musicians were a bit rusty in the onset of their playing, but quickly meshed together and provided some great bluegrass music.

Peghorn Nature Park

and yes bananas can grow in central florida

Peghorn Nature Park

a fun day listening to bluegrass music

the youngest member, played numerous instruments

The other event held at the St Cloud Civic Center was a Thanksgiving celebration and thank-you to the community.  Held a week before Thanksgiving, it was a great way to enjoy a “free” meal with locals from the community, meet the new major and a few council members.  A free raffle was held with numerous gifts given out, but I didn’t win anything.

Thanksgiving Dinner at the Civic Center

Many other events are held at the Civic Center and the next one I’ve got on my schedule is a free movie.

I described the drive east on I-192 heading to Melbourne earlier in this article.  Heading west thru Saint Cloud along I-192, traffic is busy through town but one is able to catch mostly green lights on a good day.  Once you are out of St Cloud, entering Kissimmee, you can forget about actually moving anywhere quickly.  With added traffic congestion and numerous traffic lights to stop your progress you are now in the midst of tourist haven.  Jam packed with all those tacky touristy gift shops, restaurants, hotels/motels and finally all of the Disney Worlds, Sea Worlds, gator world etc.  Not for the faint of heart or any sane person.   There are a few back roads, but at this point I’m not willing to share them with you the reader.  Preferring to keep those back roads as congestion free as possible for now anyway.

St Clouds two screen Theatre

along 10th street

the two screen theater

Living just 15 minutes from downtown St Cloud is a major plus.  It may be a small town as far as the historic part goes, but it has some great advantages.  Like the two screen movie theatre that plays current movies.  I went there the other day to see “Fantastic Creatures and where to find them”.  The movie has only been out a few days and anywhere else would have been super crowded.  Here in St Cloud, it was a small crowd and only $6 for seniors.  By the way, I loved the movie.

Happy Thanksgiving from St Cloud Florida.


Bluegrass Music and pics from around Shelter Cove

Saint Cloud Florida