The hotel in Kissimmee had a complimentary American breakfast to anyone staying there. Since we were all still functioning in UK time, we were up at the crack of dawn, and all showered or bathed and dressed in time for breakfast at 7am. Well, when we went to get breakfast there was a big waffle machine there, with a batter dispenser, and tons of maple syrup. Now, I don’t think any of us had ever had America waffles for breakfast before, so the waiter helped me to make them, as I couldn’t work out how to use the machine. As well as waffles we had bagels, and coffee… how American!
Watching the taxi driver whiz his way through the streets of Orlando the night before had made us wonder how on earth we were going to manage to drive this huge RV across the States. Dan phoned the rental agency to find out what time we needed to be there, and we had an hour or so to kill so we took a walk along the street the hotel was in. The kids had noticed a huge gift shop, in the shape of a giant wizard, so we took a walk there and bought both the boys some sunglasses. It was only 9am and the weather was lovely.
We spent about 3 hours at the RV rental agency. We had to sign a lot of forms, watch an instructional video, sign some more forms etc. While Dan was busy in the RV office, the kids and I took all our luggage into our new home. They were extremely excited, claiming their beds, sitting in the chairs, opening the cupboards etc. After I had lugged all the baggage in and made ourselves comfortable (Barney had christened the toilet) the manager asked to speak to Dan. He said that because we seemed like such a nice family, and because we were taking such a long trip, he was going to move us to the brand new RV that had just come back from its first ever trip! So I lugged out the baggage and moved it into the newer RV, which was exactly the same, but shinier. We were instructed on how to hook up to electric points, how to empty the sewer tank, how to run the generator etc. It all looked extremely scary.
By this point some people we had met on the RV forum had come to meet us. They are a lovely couple called Jim and Pat, who had kindly organized somewhere for us to stay on the first leg of our trip. They are just the loveliest couple. Having never met us before, they offered to meet us at the RV rental agency, and let us follow them back to the RV park in Titusville. I couldn’t get over how kind there were (and are still being) to us. Following them back to Titusville was a true god send. Dan was extremely nervous about driving a huge vehicle on the wrong side of the road, on busy highways where we are unfamiliar. He took several drives around the car parking lot before we started following Pat and Jim onto the big roads. They had the foresight to bring walkie-talkie radios with them so that we could communicate with each other on the road.
The drive to Titusville was, to say the least, scary! Terrifying. Dan did an amazing job, but the RV was so wide I felt like I was going to end up in a ditch much of the time. They have these huge lorries in America, big scary looking massive things, and every time one of them overtook us we were both having palpitations and hot sweats. Thank goodness that Jim and Pat met us, or I don’t think we would ever have gotten out of the parking lot.
We stopped in a sort of American Diner / Sports Bar place on the way to Titusville, where kids eat for free. We filled up on buffalo wings and Pepsi then carried on our journey.
The Great Outdoors….
The RV park that we are staying in at the moment is called The Great Outdoors. It is not a holiday type RV park, it is a community of condos, where people retire, or where the rich people have their second homes. Pat and Jim arranged for us to hire the lot opposite them as the people who own it are away. We knew it was going to be much nicer than the budget RV parks we plan to stay in along the way, but we didn’t realise quite how amazing it would be. Our eyes all popped out of our heads as we drove into the village. We have truly started with the best first. Our RV is now parked in a beautiful drive, surrounded by big palm trees. We have nature trails around us, conservation areas behind us. We are moments from a covered swimming pool, and surrounded by grey squirrels (much to Barneys delight).
It took a few attempts to get the RV backed into the drive. Our RV is about ¼ of the size of most of the vehicles parked here. Its barely noticeable at the back of the driveway. We are right opposite Jim and Pats home. They live in a huge 40-something ft long coach type RV home. Ours is 25 ft long, for comparison. Pat took me to the supermarket that evening where I was able to buy some food and essentials for our new home. (Which was a god send as there was no way Dan intended to drive the RV again for a few days!)
The kids couldn’t wait to get out and explore their new temporary home, and I unpacked all our clothes and made the beds. Our first night here was a strange experience. I lay in bed feeling quite claustrophobic, going from wondering what on earth I’d done dragging my family to the other side of the world for such a long trip, to feeling on top of the world that we were here. Dan and I were both utterly exhausted from 3 weeks of hectic organizing, and 3 days of intense travel. I went to bed with a headache and really didn’t get much sleep from being in a strange place, with strange noises.
Its now 7am on Sunday morning (3rd February). I’ve been sitting in my bed typing this whilst everyone else is slowly starting to wake up. As I’m sitting here typing, I can see a grey squirrel watching me from the palm tree by my window. Behind our RV, from where I’m sitting, it looks like a rainforest. Its beautiful to sit looking at.
So yesterday was our first real proper day of holiday. A day where we didn’t have to travel or do anything stressing. Pat and Jim (who’s kindness is truly phenomenal) leant us their golfing cart while they were away for the day. All through this park is the most amazing golf course. And most of the residents here drive around in golf carts as there is a 15mph speed limit. So after breakfast we all took the golf cart and went to explore the 12 miles of The Great Outdoors. We found a nature trail and took the cart down it. It was like disappearing into another world. All three kids had the best time exploring the swampy woodlands. In one of the swamp areas where we stopped, big fish kept flying out of the water. There were heron type birds in the water and Jimmie spotted one scoop up a large silver fish and gulp it down in one go. In one of the big lakes Jimmie spotted an alligator! Right enough we could see its eyes poking out of the surface as he slowly glided around the pool. Spotting our first alligator was quite exciting for us all.
We spent several hours exploring in the golfing cart, getting out for walks, or to sit beside a swamp of lake. The boys loved every minute of it as they are both real outdoors loving lads. In between we came back for lunch and then took a swim in the nearby pool. When we came back to stop for the day wee Barney spent ages outside with a broom, sweeping the patio, in a world of his own. And the big kids entertained themselves by making up songs about the trip so far.
At the moment we cant get our wireless connection to work. I spent ages trying to fix it, as did Jim. Hopefully one of his friends is going to take a look at our laptop to see if its fixable. But until then I don’t know when I will be able to get onto the net, so I’m just writing my blog posts daily, and will load them onto the net as and when I can get a connection.
Today we plan to take a trip somewhere. We need to find a walmart to buy a few bits, and then hopefully we will find our way to a beach where we can let the kids run wild.
So far, it has been a totally amazing experience. I am still feeling slightly panicked and home sick at times, when I think about how long it will be before I get to sleep in my nice comfy bed again.