Return to Clermont, FL

On Saturday Dec 11, we left Flagler Beach at 10:15 with Acey’s mileage at 79,992.8 and Thor has 96,797 and we have 1554.2 miles on our bikes! A nice clear day for the relatively short drive this morning. As we drove past Orlando, a strange mountain apepeared. Perhaps it is part of Universal Studios Park.

We arrived Thousand Trails Orlando RV Park in Clermont about 12:30. Jim hooked up power and water while Linda made lunch; then we ran a “quick errand” to south Orlando to pick up 2 hubcaps for Acey’s front wheels. We lost one on our way to Alabama and the spare we had was not configured right to be put on. We have lost 5 hubcaps since we bought Acey; not sure why they fall off…. potholes, bad roads… It took over an hour to go the 20 miles to the supplier – we got there just before they closed at 3. Traffic is TERRIBLE here! We don’t plan to see The Mouse or any of the other amusement parks during our stay. Here’s the new hubcap!

Sunday morning we tuned into YouTube to worship with Stephens Valley Church, watching last week’s service (December 5); the second week of Advent. The scripture reading was the Christmas message found in Luke 2:1-14; The good news that our Savior has been born – and the angels exploded with joy and praise!

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

You can see the Stephens Valley Church service here. We were able to Zoom with our Sunday School Class as well.

We packed up lunch and drove to the Green Pond Road Trailhead to ride our bikes on the General James A Van Fleet State Trail. We rode this rail-to-trail route in January. The trail is in the Green Swamp and is very remote and straight with very few street crossings. We had our lunch at the trail head and met a couple of guys doing a 100-mile ride! The trail is 29 miles – and one of the fellas lives 17 miles from the trail; he was taking his buddy for his first centennial ride! Good for them!! We rode south to the end of the trail – well actually the beginning since the mile markers start at “0” there.

As we rode, we noticed several holes dug by gopher tortoises; with their shovel-like front legs, they dig burrows that typically range in size from 20 to 30 feet long and from 6 to 8 feet deep. They can move pretty fast; we saw them near their hole, but they dove in before we could stop and get a photo! They spend 80% of their time in the burrow – and do not swim!

We saw a tortoise on the bike path, and it moved off into the grass as we approached.

Gopher tortoises can live 40-60 years in the wild. We saw some munching on grass – they are herbivores. We enjoyed our ride, tho it was a bit hot! We rode back up to the 10 mile mark making a ride of just over 20 miles today!

Monday we went to see Immersive Van Gogh at the Orange County Convention Center. Linda had tickets to see this event in Nashville with Eve and Amanda at Thanksgiving, but the folks running the exhibit didn’t have it ready and the show was postponed until December. Linda got the Nashville ticket refunded and found she could book 2 tickets to go in Orlando! The signs pointing the way were kind of fun; lets Gogh!!

One of Vincent’s many self portraits (of 36!) was enlarged as we entered the venue.

If you thought 36 self portraits were a lot for him to have painted during his short 10 year career, imagine that he also wrote over 2,000 lettters in his lifetime – and 900 have survived.

A time-line of 6 years of Van Gogh’s life was on display before entering the Immersive audio-visual portion. You can barely make out the image on this sign.

But, in the presentation, there it was! Meet The Potato Eaters!

The Immersive Van Gogh experience was quite interesting; we weren’t sure what to expect – you should Gogh!

Apparently, Van Gogh would paint by candlelight, placing candles on his hat – Linda seemed to recall that she read about Michelangleo doing the same – artists had to use ingenuity to work in the dark!

That was just a taste of what we saw; a link to some famous paintings by Vincent Van Gogh can be found here!

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After the Van Gogh experience, we headed back to Acey to do some laundry and started to think about packing for our cruise! On Friday, our sons are flying in; we are putting Acey in storage and going on an 8-night cruise on the Carnival Mardi Gras over Christmas!

On Tuesday, 80 degree weather was predicted for the afternoon, so we left after breakfast to go on a bike ride. It was really muggy, but not buggy! We crossed over a bridge and Jim noticed a big gator floating, probably asleep, in the water below. There was a lot of reflection from the trees and glare from the sun – but here it is!

Linda spotted a black long-necked bird perched in a tree – it is probably an anhinga

We found a concrete mile marker – a remnant from the railway that ran here and the numbers likely indicate mileage to Richmond, VA where the RR headquarters are.

We have mirrors to see traffic behind us so we can make room for them to pass.

We rode up to the 18 mile marker of the General James A Van Fleet State Trail and on the way back, we saw the gator had not moved from where we saw him earlier – we rode 16.5 miles today.

After lunch, we went to the pool for a while – our tan lines need some help – we have been outside wearing shorts, t-shirts and shoes – on the cruise we will likely be wearing sandals and chilling out by the pool some.

Wednesday we got more things ready for our cruise next week! It rained off and on all day – but, after lunch, it seemed to have stopped, so we walked over to play mini-golf; it began to rain again after the 3rd hole, so we went to the Rec Center for a few minutes, waiting for the “liquid sunshine” to stop… (this is the Sunshine State after all!) So a few minutes later we were able to finish the last 15 holes! This squirrel was busy digging by one of the holes.

On our way back to Acey, we saw a pair of cranes – they walk all over the campground, squaking and checking things out. Kind of unusual!

Thursday, after breakfast, we packed up lunch and arrived at a walk-in clinic before 9 when they opened to get an antigen test – required for the cruise. Chuck and Chris also got tested this morning and we were thankful that all 4 of us tested negative for COVID.

We drove to the northern end of the General James A Van Fleet State Trail at Mabel and rode to the 21.5 mile mark – leaving 3.5 miles of the trail not covered by us this week. We found a place to eat our lunch and look out over the Green Swamp.  Rainwater drains across the Green Swamp to create the headwaters of the Withlacoochee, the Ocklawaha, the Hillsborough and the Peace rivers. This is the source of water for much of the state!

There was another concrete mile marker from the former railway located not far from the trailhead.

There were several gopher tortoises out as we rode past. We biked just over 15 miles today – making a total of 52 miles for the week! We got back to Acey and started packing up and preparing for our move in the morning. We are getting excited about being with our sons and cruising on the Mardi Gras! It will be a different Christmas this year, and we are thankful that we have the opportunity to go!

We send our wishes for you all to have a Merry Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. …And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus – hear the hymn here!

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13 thoughts on “Return to Clermont, FL”

  1. You have such great adventures! I hope you have many more in 2022 and many years after that! Happy Christmas and Happy New Year! Have fun on your cruise!

    1. Thanks Patti! We hope to meet up with you and Mark while we are bouncing around campgrounds in Florida! We will be over your way in January. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in the meantime!

  2. Hi Linda & Jim,
    Merry Christmas. That Van Gogh exhibit was fantastic. You captured some great shots of the show; and you did well on the birds, too. Safe travels, Ted & Nancy

  3. L & J!! So glad to read your discoveries and collected insights, a gift from your home state of Florida, where you met! Enjoy the ocean scape on the cruise with a new year on the horizon! God’s serene but active creation displaying intricate balance far beyond our abilities …. All glory due the Lord most high!

    1. Thanks Linda! We really consider Tennessee our home state (not Florida) since we lived in Nashville longer than anywhere else, even tho we are both from the Detroit area originally (as you are)! We look forward to spending time with our sons this coming week and having a fun time cruising in the Carribean and celerating Christmas!

  4. I love reading your adventures, the pictures. You are a great writer. We spent one Christmas on American Cruiselines going up the Mississippi from New Orleans. Merry Christmas and a safe and happy new year.

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