Thursday, March 31, 2016

Overnighting at Walmart in Bushnell, Florida

Thank you Walmart! We love to use Walmart as a quick overnight spot.

It drives me bonkers to have to pay $20-$50 a night to just park and get up and leave... I much prefer to go to Walmart for free and then go in the store and spend that money plus usually more on groceries and supplies as a thank you! More and more towns are creating bylaws that do not allow this but I am ever so thankful that the majority of Walmarts still allow us to overnight. Thank you Walmart!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

REVIEW Gulf View RV (Encore) Punta Gorda, Florida

We booked here for two weeks. This was our second two week booking with Thousand Trails so it was free for us with our Florida (South East) zone pass. Normally this is not a resort that is included but we have six extra Florida resorts over and above the three included with the pass and therefore it was free. Also normally with a zone pass we would get about 20% off this resort as it is an Encore resort if we weren't booked in as part of our first 30 days are free.

Gulf View is located at 10205 Burnst Store Rd in Punta Gorda. It is near everything you could possibly need.

VALUE 5/5 for us as it was free. It would be $3 for us after our free 30 days. Regular rates here are between $50-$60 I believe which is expensive in my books and the rating would be a lot lower if full fees were paid.

SITE QUALITY 4/5 We were in site 40 and it was fairly level. It had a cement pad for the picnic table but we parked on grass. There was a huge rainstorm our first night here and the road in front of us flooded but the site stayed basically dry. It did get a bit mucky where we parked the truck. We were fairly close to the seasonal mobile home beside us, and their large air conditioner facing but we still felt we had enough room. More room then some RV parks we have been crammed into in the past.

FACILITY FUN 3/5 There was a nice heated pool here with extra pool noodles and floats for people to use. Lots of lounge chairs/seating and sun umbrellas at the pool. Activities included shuffleboards, bocce ball, community fire pit, boat launch and a meeting/activity building. There wasn't a playground and the hot tub was adult only. There were no children's activities for the Easter holiday so I felt this wasn't very family friendly. The girls were however allowed to ride their electric jeep around as well as their bikes.

NATURAL SURROUNDINGS 3/5 The site were about average and had some grass around the lot. There were mature trees throughout the park. The river running behind the campground was a wonderful place to watch the sun set or go fishing or have a kayak ride. There was a large grass area near the meeting/activity building with large trees and a very peaceful setting along the river. My girls liked to ride their bikes here to play bocce ball and hang out.

BATHROOMS ??? Can you believe I forgot to go in them? We were out and about so much. My husband did say that he felt they were quite clean.

STAFF 4/5 We hardly spoke with the staff at all but when we did they were very friendly and helpful. We ended up leaving a few days early and they were very accommodating in returning our days to us that we left without using.

LOCATION 4/5 This location is very close to the town of Punta Gorda as well as being 10- 15 minutes away from the town of Port Charlotte. It was also fairly close to North Fort Myers and it was an easy area for all our various beach day trips we took while here. 

OVERALL 4/5 Being a Thousand Trails member and staying for free boosted this rating. If we had to pay $50 plus a night my rating would be lower. Although this place isn't on the beach it was close enough to take numerous day trips to various beaches and nature filled hiking areas like Peace River Wildlife Center and Charlotte Harbor Environment Centre. I really liked that the pool had noodles and floats for everyone to use. A playground and allowing kids in the hot tub would bring this rating up too. Overall we were happy with our stay at this park and would stay here again.

Our site #40 beside a mobile with room between

map of park

Shuffle boards? in excellent condition 

Heated pool and hot tub

The activity building, community firepit and bocce ball court in
the back ground. All along the river in a beautiful natural setting.

The river, dock and community fire pit

Monday, March 28, 2016

Caspersen (Shark Tooth) Beach, Florida

One of the beaches we have been looking forward to going to was Caspersen Beach otherwise known as Shark Tooth Beach.

However we had no luck finding any teeth, or shells, or much of anything at this beach. Luckily too I guess as it wasn't until our way out that I saw the sign that said no disruption or removal of anything from the beach. This sign I find odd as their county website lists this beach as a great place to find shells and shark teeth (see link above). So I am a little confused as to if it is OK to go shelling here or not.

We spent a couple hours here. Ian thought the best way to find shark teeth would be to dig a hole... but he didn't have any luck.

I did my usual walk of the beach with mom. The sand here is a dark grey colour instead of the sandy white.

I found some interesting egg sacs which I put back out in the water as they were a live still. I have no idea what they are but I hope they survive.

Aayla enjoyed sitting and watching the waves, going for a swim, playing with some sticks and watching the waves some more.

Interested in looking for shark teeth? Some tips for finding them HERE. Also if you do find some here is some info on shark teeth identification HERE.

Have you visited Shark Tooth Beach? Did you have better luck finding anything? Next time we go to Florida we will be buying one of those metal sifters for sure.

Siesta Key Beach and Playground, Sarasota, Florida

Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota is definitely a beautiful beach but even on an overcast day it was sooo crowded. Parking was very difficult so make sure you go early if you plan to visit. We aren't early risers and pay for it in parking frustrations. We did however make it here before lunch and it still was crazy.

This beach also has a wonderful playground. In all honesty the playground was what made me decide to visit this beach (thanks to a pinterest pin).
Coolest Castle playground ever

It was a fun looking playground that resembled a castle and had numerous slides, rock walls and climbing apparatus nearby. It was fun for the girls to play on with dad while I tried to find parking.

The beach in the distance. It goes on with white fluffy sand for miles and is quite busy even on an overcast day in March. Luckily the water is still warmish.

Sierra was happy to finally have some bigger waves to play in.

These waves were a bit too big for Aayla's comfort zone and she forgot how much fun she had the other day in the little waves.

After some fun here  it was time for lunch and a drive to Shark Tooth Beach!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Hunt at the Shell Factory, North Fort Myers, Florida

The Easter Bunny found our trailer thankfully.

There were eggs everywhere inside and outside of the camper. Once they were all collected the girls traded some of the Pershops and Shopkin toys that were inside the eggs. Then we decorated our cookies that Sierra picked out at the store the other day.

 After we headed to The Shell Factory, Nature Park and Fun Park in North Fort Myers. It was advertised that they were having a free egg hunt for the kids.

Well they had an egg hunt which was basically just walking around the trail in the closed Nature Park area and being handed eggs by the volunteers a long the trail.
waiting for the trail to open

Receiving their first egg on the trail
After we walked the trail it was advertised that the Easter Bunny would be there...he was not.

So we explored a couple things like the fire truck and rock wall and tried to make the best of it.

 Then we headed inside to look at their "tourist trap" store.

We bought a few tickets so the girls could play a couple games.

 Posed for a couple pictures and wandered around before leaving.

I know it was a free event but we couldn't even see half the animals and if we wanted to, we had to come back in a couple hours and pay full admission to "see" the nature park. To be honest after walking through it I don't think it was worth coming back to see really (adults $12, kids 4-12 $8).

I think the event would have been so much better if they had a discounted admission and let you enjoy the park. Or even full admission with an egg hunt as an extra treat. I guess their hope was that people would hang out and do other paid stuff in the park and come back (and I am sure some did). Those activities in the Fun Park would add up quickly too. Fun park fees were as follows: Paddle boat and fish food $5, Mini golf $/ kids $4, bumper boats $5, Trampolines $3...thankfully their rock climbing wall was free.

I felt like we were being nickle and dimed and we left. I hate free things that aren't free as a form of advertising and I felt really let down. We thought this would be a great family Easter event. Win some and loose some I guess.

Have you visited the Shell Factory? What are your thoughts?

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Stump Pass Beach State Park, Manasota Key, Englewood, Florida

Today we visited Stump Pass Beach State Park. Cost to park here is $3 and oh so worth it! Sierra wanted a pool day at the RV Park with dad and stayed home. She was sad to see everything she missed while we were out. It was so much fun!

It didn't take long to hit the water! Oh that beautiful water!

Aayla is learning to like the waves.

Grammy takes the turtle float out in the waves.

And she tumbles...

There were dolphins swimming here pretty close to shore.

This Grey Heron was the perfect poser.

Examining a shell Aayla found

My water logged water baby.

After we were good and wet we walked the trail to the tip of the park. Well we didn't make it all the way but we saw some wonderful things along the way. Someone we asked said we were about half way.

This pair of lizards was quite fun to watch. I'm not sure if they were mating or staking territory but they did the funniest dance around each other. I should have recorded it.

All along this path there are spots to stop for a picnic lunch and a swim even, if you wanted to cool off again.

wood pecker

seed pods

cactus flower

 A gopher tortoise walked right across the trail.

Further down the trail when you go out to the beach it is more natural and less busy.

looking for lunch
 On our way back...little legs were getting tired.

We popped back over to the beach to walk partway back and I am so glad we did!
sea sponge that washed ashore

 This!!! This was truly amazing! We thought we scored the mother load of shells but soon realised they were mainly all alive. For some reason on this one small area of the beach, these snails were rolling in the surf.

Grammy trying to find an empty shell.

Aayla is really getting the hang of the waves now and has lost her fear of them.

Another great beach day. Somethings you can just never tire of! Or rather we can never tire of no matter how many we go to. They are all a little bit different and wonderful in their own ways.