Our second full day at Ocala North and we’re getting a little feel for the territory.
The park manager hosted a residents meeting today (coffee & donuts) and there were a couple takeaways from the meeting.
- It appears there was an ownership change in September of ’15 — the old owners lost the property to the bank and the bank is not operating the campground with a manager hired by them (I think the same one that had been managing before).
- Residents still here from before the changeover feel the bank is doing a better job than the old owners but at some point there is likely to be another change in ownership when the bank manages to sell the property to a new buyer.
- We were surprised that in a park with about 160 sites (RV and Park Model) that only about 40 people were present for the meeting. I asked about that and found that a fair number of residents are:
- Equestrian owners who’s horses are boarded here during the winter
- Local workers who find it’s cheaper to live in the RV park than in an apartment
- There does seem to be some park ’spirit’; the meeting organized a few activities — several associated with food and playing games.
- Having met more of the residents now it’s a nice quiet kind of park. I think we’ll be quite comfortable here.
- The pool heater is to be installed sometime this week — which depending on the forecast may mean that no one will still be using the pool — we may be in the 60’s for a good part of the week.
We did a little driving around on both Monday and today (Tuesday). Yesterday we were mostly just snooping around the area. We drove through the Ocala National Forest, around the Ocala and Silver Springs area, checked out some of the smaller communities on Monday.
Today we went investigating the groceries. If there is one reality we aren’t all that happy about it’s that we’re 14+ miles from the nearest ‘real’ grocery. And similar distances for other services. We checked out one Winn Dixie “Marketplace” — a very disheartening experience. The ‘regular’ Winn Dixie store was a little better. The Publix grocery has a nicer produce and meat section as well as ample variety but their costs are significantly higher than the local Walmart which we also visited.
Between the prices and the distance I think we’ll learn to be very judicious about our trips to the grocery. We found the local Lowes and Home Depots — they’re right there in the same range of distance. We’ll want to be smarter about ‘going to town’; Milwaukee spoiled us in the sense that we knew were everything was and we could maximize our impact in single trips. Here we’ll need to think about what we’re doing.
After two days of exploring we’ll probably spend the next two days laying low and hanging out in the park. Florida is a big place and we don’t have to see it all, or see it all quickly.
One thing for sure — now that we have gotten into the Ocala area any temporary illusions about traffic evaporated. No matter how fast you are driving there’s someone who thinks you’re going to slow, and there aren’t enough lanes for the traffic provided to fill them. In this regard, South Texas beats North Central Florida. You do have room to breathe in Texas. But three months from now we may feel very differently. 🙂 These are strictly initial impressions.
Lena’s Restaurant is on Florida 19 East of Ocala and Silver Spring. This little hole-in-the-wall place has roots in Massachusetts and prides itself on New England Clam Chowder. The restaurant has been around for 30 years so it’s doing something right. The prices are reasonable. The Seafood is fresh (what we had anyway). The waitresses are quirky with ample attitude. It’s a small place — I don’t think you could sit 30 people inside — but you won’t kill your budget and you’ll leave feeling good. I would not bother with the burgers (and such) they looked pretty mundane and fast-food-ish. The seafood though is worth a stop. It gets rated #3 out of 18 restos in the Silver Springs area. I never know how much to trust Trip Advisor because sometimes chains seem to get rated way higher than they deserve but this is definitely an interesting lunch stop
Tuesday I had to give into my addiction to Chinese Hot & Sour Soup. So we checked out Ocean Buffet in Ocala. Rated 58 out of 382 restos it’s a Chinese buffet — ’nuf said. The actual buffet is about average for a Chinese buffet. In addition to the usual offerings there’s also a pretty decent sushi selection, and a hibachi grill to get your selections cooked to order in front of you. The Hot & Sour Soup is loaded with lots of good stuff and for a change is has some HEAT! Very nice. I’m not sure how often we’ll return. Unless we are in the area it’s too far to drive just for an average Chinese buffet.
I suspect that as we explore further out from our home base that we’ll find other equally interesting places for luncheons. I can’t wait to return Tarpon Springs and St Augustine and a few other places.
So, there you have our Tuesday recollections. Thanks for stopping by and I’ll chat with you tomorrow.