|From Torrey Oaks RV Resort, in Bowling Green, FL, 50 miles east of St. Petersburg
We had a friend visiting us Wednesday afternoon, so that mentally consumed most of the day….you know how you focus on a certain activity of the day & you don’t seem to do anything else productive because of your focus. That was the case for our day.
Ken & Kay, our neighbors & new-friends, invited us to join them Wednesday night to play Sequence again. They had also invited another couple to play who were also our neighbors a few campsites removed but who we had not formally met yet. The game is flexible enough so that any number from 2-12 people can play.
Thursday was to be another sightseeing day for us.
Anyone who has read much about RV dealers has probably heard about the Lazydays dealership in Seffner, a suburb of Tampa. I have read so much about them that I wanted to just walk the grounds. I just wanted to experience first-hand the phenomenon about which I had heard & read so much. They proclaim themselves as the largest single-location RV dealership in the world.
On their website, they describe themselves as follows:
“Lazydays RV SuperCenter has now become a representative of 18 manufacturers with 110 models available at the 126-acre central-Florida facility with over 700 employees, 273 service bays and over 1,200 RVs (their website says that they actually have 1,791 units available today) displayed in a flowered, park-like setting. This RV SuperCenter concept was a dream of Don Wallace's for over 10 years and today his dream has become the standard for all RV dealerships of the future. The new Lazydays RV SuperCenter features an on-site Cracker Barrel restaurant, a 300-site RV Park, RVIA/RVDA certified RV technicians, Flying J RV Travel Plaza and a 40,000-s.f. on-site Camping World for the RV and camping enthusiast.”
Just think about that……an RV dealership that is so huge that it has a Flying J, the largest Camping World that I have ever seen, & a Cracker Barrel on their campus. Not only do they have the Cracker Barrel, they also have two restaurants within their sales building. Their “financial services” area looked much like the nicest bank in town. Their sales offices had street names for the aisleways so that a person could find the right office. And the dealership was originally opened as recently as 1976. I have read somewhere that they sell somewhere around 50 units a day.
Just for my editorial comments (I know, so unusual for me to editorialize), as much as I have read & heard about the huge size of Lazydays, I have probably read & heard just as much about their sales & service. Though some people have said that they were able to get a decent deal from them, the high majority of service comments that I have read or heard have been negative. I solicited them when seeking to order the Phaeton; their deal was middle of the pack, $12-14,000 higher than the deal that Sherman offered.
Certainly as we walked the grounds, I felt that I would be totally intimidated dealing with a dealership that large……& I am very seldom intimidated about anything. I felt a whole new love & appreciation for Karen & Benny over there in Sherman, Mississippi!!!!!!
While headed to Lazydays, we saw several other large RV dealerships along the interstate. Certainly Tampa, Florida must be the RV dealership capital of the world. One of the most interesting dealerships that we saw was for Airstream. Not so much the dealership itself, but the eye-catcher adjoining the dealership. Check-out the photo. I took this from across both lanes of the interstate, sitting in the Jeep on the shoulder.
After getting our fill at Lazydays & the adjoining Camping World, where we bought a second windsock & improved flag stand (see photo of the front of the Phaeton), we headed further west across the Tampa bay to the town of Indian Rocks Beach.
From there, we drove southward down the beachfront road through several small communities. The communities all seemed to run together, forming just a constant run of beachy touristy areas. We were highly impressed by the abundance of new construction, mostly residential facilities. From the weather that we have enjoyed while here, it is not difficult to understand the draw of this area.
We continued driving the beachfront road for another 30 miles or so, ooohing & ahhhing, at the construction, the beach scene, just the beauty of the day & of the area, until we reached the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to take us back across the bay. This bridge crossed the water at the point where the bay emptied into the ocean, going from the peninsula west of Tampa & St Petersburg back onto the mainland south of St. Pete.
From there it was a matter of going cross-country to get ourselves back to “the house”. As we did, the big concerned was the looming ominous clouds. For awhile there I wasn’t too sure that we were gonna make it home without stopping for a spell in some location safer than the seats of the Jeep. It never quite got that bad, but we did grab some really great sunset pictures on the way.
The event du jour for Friday was the Hardee County Fair. We had picked-up a program for the fair earlier in the week that told us that the Friday event was to be the Ranch Rodeo.
I have always enjoyed county & state fairs, not so much the carnival portion with the rides, eats, etc, but more the agricultural exhibits & related events.
We knew that the Ranch Rodeo was to begin at 7:00, so we thought that we would get there about 5:45 to give ourselves a few minutes to see the exhibits & walk the midway. The static exhibits were totally contained in an area about the size of a basketball court, we learned that the livestock that had been on exhibit had all been sold the night before, & there was no life yet on the midway.
After seeing all of the static exhibits & circling the entire midway three times hearing the hawking about the ease of winning from each booth as we passed, we had killed maybe 30 minutes. We were there earlier than the rest of the crowd, so we could not watch other people “enjoying” the midway rides & games.
Having nothing else to do, we claimed our seats in the grandstand to await the start of the Ranch Rodeo. They & I have been very specific to label this as a “Ranch Rodeo”, not just a regular rodeo. Six ranches from the south Florida area had each entered a team, to compete for the title of Best Rodeoing Ranch, or something similar.
The events in which the teams competed using multiple team members included Cattle Sorting, Calf Roping, Wild Cow Milking & Cow Doctoring. In addition, a single member from the team competed in each of Barrel Racing & Bull Riding.
Some of those cows were just plain ornery!!!!!!! And some of them were pretty mean too. I have never seen a cowboy bail out of his horse’s saddle until I saw one do it last night when the cow rammed his horse.
The funniest event of the program though was the opener, before the team events. That would be the Mutton Buster event. Here any kid who had the gumption & his/her parent’s permission had the opportunity to ride a sheep for as long as he/she could stay aboard. That may sound easy to do until you see how fast a sheep runs with a kid hanging onto its neck.
Some kids hung-on through the first three steps of the sheep, the winner (repeat winner from last year) hung-on until the sheep finally conceded. Other kids hung-on for various times in-between.
Today has been low-key for us. It has been raining off & on all day, somewhat unusual for this area of Florida where it normally rains for a short while & then clears up. Tonight we have been to the campground's Saturday Night Covered Dish Dinner. We opted not to linger for the live music to be provided by the campground musicians.
One of the great pleasures that I have had during the past 21 months since beginning this journal is the opportunity to assist & encourage several other people to launch their wings in this lifestyle, just as I sought advice from other people did when we were preparing to launch-out.
I heard it said one time that the last really original idea was perhaps Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. All other thoughts since then are simply an evolution of what someone else has thought or experienced. Thus it is with any advice that I pass-on.
While I have been writing, several people have asked for my advice…or maybe better said, they have asked for more details on what we have done or experienced.
I have had the pleasure of seeing some of those readers begin their own trek. I continue to have the pleasure of seeing others continue down the path that will lead them to their own trek in the not too distant future.
The latest “offspring” is Reader Rick, who is about to push himself from the nest to begin his trek. Rick & I have exchanged several communications over the past several months.
Today Rick left a comment informing me that he had begun his own journal. In reading it, I sense maybe just a bit of trepidation on his part, but a strong sense of adventure that he wants to pursue his own experience.
Check him out at his journal. Leave a comment in his Guestbook to encourage him.
Rick, go for it…..remember that the Mother Eagle pushes her young from the nest so that it must face the opportunity to grow…..you are on the verge of pushing yourself from the nest to face the opportunity to grow…..enjoy your adventure!!!!!