Thursday, February 2, 2023

Lake Kissimmee State Park

January 19-20, 2023                                             Most Recent Posts
Lake Kissimmee State Park                               Florida SKP For the First Time
Site 12                                                               Highlands Hammock to Start 2023
Lake Wales, Florida

Pulled out of Lake Kissimmee State Park this morning (February 2)  on my way to Koreshan with a stop at SKP.  Koreshan was one of the last two state parks to reopen after the hurricane and they don’t open until the 3rd.  My reservation started today so I’m overnighting at Florida SKP since I had to leave Lake Kissimmee today.  Thank heavens for SKP!!   But I digress.  This post is about the first two days of my two weeks at Lake Kissimmee.  Yes, I am behind again.  But not toooo much.

PXL_20230119_194056507Lake Kissimmee State Park is another park like Florida SKP, that in 11 years of spending winters in Florida, I had never been to.   It is not exactly on the lake but is on canals that lead into Lake Kissimmee and  Lake Rosalie both of which are located within the Kissimmee River.  Made possible of course by damn dams.

The park has its good points and its bad points.   If you want to be isolated, this is your place.  It is 3 miles from the Ranger Station to the campground and 15.5 miles from the Ranger Station to the nearest town, Lake Wales.

The sites are nicely sized and separated with vegetation.   There are many trails through the palmettos, sable palms and gorgeous large Live Oak trees.  There is a kayak on the canal leading to Lake Rosalie which is too big and too rough to kayak on.



The down side is  the internet and fluctuating cell service.  Both are quite iffy though there is good wifi if you go to the camp store and not too many others are there.  The store is walkable if you are a walker.  Say a mile?  Or you can drive in a few minutes.  It’s on the fishing docks and power boat ramps

Lake Kissimmee itself is full of air boats whose pollution both noise and water make me angry.   And the last down side was a big one for me.  The mosquitos are out all day long.  If you do not have a screened room either plan to use a lot of deet or plan to stay inside unless you are moving as in hiking or kayaking.  No reading outside on the patio.  I optimistically put my reading chair out on my mat when I first arrived.

There are two campground loops each with one bath house and one washer and one dryer.


I met my first neighbor as I was backing into my site on the day I arrived.  In my backup camera, I saw him moseying along taking his time, directly behind me.  So I stopped to move him out of the way.  When I got out of the rig, a ranger was there in his ATV and moved the gopher tortoise and guide me into my site.   It was a very nice welcome.


As I was setting up my patio mat and chair I heard another neighbor snuffling around in the under brush.   Take a close look at his designs and colors.


What a face!


Although I only saw the tortoise one other time in the entire two weeks I was here, I saw an armadillo daily somewhere on my hikes or walks around the campground and very often in my campsite.


My second day I scoped out the park.  I checked out the store and walked down to the cow camp.  4 or so miles in total.

The store is called the Cracker Shack in honor of the Florida Cracker cattle and horses and those who tended and raised them, the Florida Crackers.


This view from the long docks shows the back porch where you can sit at picnic tables and use the wifi.   Not much in the store actually.  A few snacks, ice cream bars, t shirts and bait.  This side looks a lot like a cracker house (cracker shack) with the low roof to keep out the sun.


I made a big mistake here.  Not in hiking to the Cow Camp but in not coming back after my first visit.


This is the trail to the cow camp.  It’s a mile or so from the store.  Looks like they are funneling the visitors.  On this Friday, there was no one but me.



As you walk along there are these signs and a bench to sit and read them


Sign reads:  Imagine now that you are stepping into the past.  The year is 1876, this is a frontier region of Florida remote from towns, railroads or any of the comforts of civilization.  This is a cow camp where Florida cow hunters corral and catch the lean rangy scrub cattle for cutting and branding.  You will see the cattle and meet one of the cow hunters……  clearly the sign has not been repaired in some time.  But it seems to say this is a living history enactment.


Next sign says:  STOP  Beyond this sign you will enter the year 1876.  Grant is president.  The cow hunter you are about to meet is a hard working uneducated Florida cracker.  He likes to talk about his life and times and encourages questions.  Forget about the 20th and 21st century.  That history has not yet been made.

Great lead up I thought and appropriate delivery.


On the left is the pump providing water to the cattle pens.  On the right is the chickee, a shelter with no walls originally used by the Seminole Indians


The pump definitely works. 


I sent some down the trough and into the pen myself.


There was no cow hunter here today.


One side for his long table and bench on the right and his bed on the left.  The other side for a wagon.


I assume there would have been some sort of straw tick on the mattress.


There were several pens but no descendants of the Andalusian cattle brought over and left to run wild by the conquistadors.  The cow hunters were hired by the land barons to round up the wild cattle and brand them.  I didn’t realize that Florida was the first cattle state in the US.  Before Texas.  Florida still ranks high in beef production.


The pens overlook “range” as far as the eye could see.  I saw a horse out there but he was behind trees and too far away to get a good picture of.  Wonder if he was a cracker pony used to herd cracker cattle.


Unfortunately for me, there was no sign anywhere on the hike or here at the camp saying that any reenactment was done any more.  I later learned that there is a ranger who portrays the cow hunter on Saturday between 10 and 3.  I don’t know if they bring in any cattle or ponies but I doubt it since neither were here on the day before.  Apparently they used to.

The next day was Saturday but I usually stay home and away from the increased folks on week-ends and at that point I didn’t know anything was still done at the camp.   The next Saturday I had a 24 hour return of my fever and didn’t want to go anywhere.   I’m really sorry I missed this as it is the one really unique thing about Lake Kissimmee State Park.   So learn by my experience.  If you go to Lake Kissimmee State Park, be sure to visit the cow camp on Saturday and tell me all about it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Florida SKP for the First time

January 13-19, 2023                                                          Most Recent Posts:
Florida SKP Resort                                     Highlands Hammock to Start 2023
Wauchula, Florida                                   Days Before and After at Alafia River



Woke up on moving day with a puddle of water on the dashboard on the driver’s side.  Obviously there is a leak.  I had already discovered what may well be a much more serious leak and arranged for Todd to come to SKP on Tuesday so I’ll just add this to his list.


20230113_163131I’ve been a member of Escapees RV Club (SKP) for years but this is the first time I’ve ever stayed In one of their parks.  Pretty sure they are the oldest RV Club in the country with an interesting history.  Link to them is above.  

When I was making my reservations for this winter ELEVEN MONTHS ago, I ended up with a gap of 6 days where I was unable to get a reservation in any state park even reasonably near to the one I would be leaving January 13.

This is a membership park meaning that members own their lots and rent them out when they are not using them.  Escapee members have first chance at buying and renting.

The park is mainly RVs but there are also a few park models.  My site G18, was right across from the pool and club house, laundry, and library.  Very Convenient.


The pool, on the right was closed for pump repair.  That’s the clubhouse beyond.


Like most private RV parks during Florida Winters, this one has “activities”.  A few were listed on this sign on the corner across from the clubhouse.


They gave me the January Events Calendar when I arrived and clearly they need new toner in their printer.  I’ve enhanced this quite a bit so that you can read it, maybe.  It appears the ukulele is big here with lessons and performances.  I’ve never seen that before in any of the private parks I’ve visited looking for somewhere to be for 1 or 2 months rather than moving every two weeks.


Too bad I didn’t arrive in time for the Baked Potato Lunch & Ukulele show at noon that day. What a hoot!   And I was too busy with Mike to do Breakfast or Happy Hour on Monday.  But I did make it to Bingo at 7pm on Wednesday though I did not take any pictures I realized as I was putting this post together.


Another wonderful thing about being here was that I had located Mike who said he would come by and take a  look at the RV and give me a price to wash and wax it.  He came the afternoon I arrived and said $300 and I said yes.


He came the day I got there and every single day I was at the park.  That’s Friday to Thursday.  He was even there the day I left. 

The first two days he brought a helper, in the picture, above but the 3rd day he said the guy wasn’t helpful enough.


On Tuesday morning at 9am I opened the door and said hello Todd and he said no I’m Tony, Todd sent me.  I had researched local RV Techs and found only two that were highly recommended and Todd was the less expensive of the two.  Tony had a website but not enough comments on line about his work.  Todd had sent Tony who did jobs for him.  Tony told me he had taken over Todd’s Florida number when Todd went to NY for the summer and then set up his own business.  Obviously he does not have enough customers so he needs to take Todd’s over flow.  I feel it was very unprofessional that Todd not to tell me he could not come since the reviews upon which I based choosing him were all about him not his business or anyone else who worked with him.  Word to the wise.  Make sure the person you think you’ve hired is actually coming.  I was not happy and won’t use Todd again.  In future,  I’ll pay more for RV Guru who I found had great recommendations from people in the park and make sure he’s the one who is coming.

20230125_114812This is why I called Todd and  my biggest problem which has been going on a while apparently.  I’m 5’ tall and don’t use my shower for anything but storage.  I shower in the campground showers.  So I never look up there but when the wetness got close to the medicine cabinet, I noticed it and I am very very worried.  I called immediately to set up a Tech to come when I was at SKP.  Pressing the wet areas the morning I moved here when the water was on the dashboard, they were wet and soft behind the ceiling carpeting.

20230117_094456Tony said all he could do was caulk around the skylight.  That’s probably true but I have the roof of this rig checked every single year by either a mobile tech or an RV service center.   SUPPOSEDLY it was just checked in May before I came when my slide topper was replaced.  How could they not see the sealing around the skylight was cracked, if they actually checked all the caulk on the roof which is what I asked them to do.   I have no idea how long this leak has been going on but it doesn’t look new.

He caulked the skylight and around all the running lights so now I’m waiting for another big rain.

But how can I get the damage to the inside repaired?  And will it get worse if I don’t?   I assume it might be rotten behind the carpeting.  Will that spread like mildew and rust??   I’d really appreciate your advice if you have any.



The day I arrived, I had been visited by Marianne who brought me a bag of goodies with information to welcome me to the park even for only 6 days.  She had come back this morning to invite me to a happy hour that one couple did in the driveway at their rig. 

So at 4:00 I took my water and walked up.   I put my chair down next to Marianne since she’s the only person I know.  That’s her sitting by me on the left.

There were quite a few people and inside the screened patio some folks had brought snacks.  I was glad to see people that seemed to be my age or younger.



Only the lack of hiking within walking distance of the park, or anywhere near the park actually, makes me hesitate to try to stay a month here.  Below is the map of the park’s “measured mile”.  I folded it up and put it in the pocket of my jeans which is why it looks so bad but  the first few times it was hard to remember which way to go and which roads to use twice.  Not sure you can see the arrows.  The white lines are the streets.  The park is not large, which I like.  There are 3 streets running N-S and 3 running E-W.  You start at the clubhouse, turn left, go to the end of the street, turn left and just keep making lefts until you are back on the original street when you turn right and then right and so on.  You travel the middle street twice.  It seems to take forever but I dutifully did it 3 or 4 times each of the first days.


After a couple a few days of doing the measured mile I was pretty sick of it and looked for other hiking opportunities the only one that wasn’t just a sports park was  Paynes Creek Historic State Park 13 miles from the park.  The day before I left SKP, I paid $3 to get in so I could do some “real” hiking.

I put Ruby where you see the P for parking below and hiked down to the boat ramp sign on the Peace River in the upper left


There is a small drop off spot but you have to drag your kayak through these posts and down to get to the put in which is along the Peace River.


This is the launch.


Looking down river.  Looks like a nice “Peace”ful  place to paddle as it appears you could paddle either direction and not need a shuttle.  The river supported a large population of Calusa Native Americans who occupied this area hundreds of years ago.


I walked a ways along the river which obviously has sandy banks including up to to where Paynes  Creek flows into the river and then headed back to the central area in the park.


Walking along the river I came to what was a dock I assume that must have been washed out in the recent floods.  Many state parks on rivers all over the state were closed for a long time because of the flooding caused by hurricane Nicole.  She’s the one that sent me from Fort Clinch when it closed in November.


This is the trail map they give you and shows the Kayak Launch and other trails in white dots.  As you can see, the trails are not named, color coded or are numbers used to enable you to know where you are at any given time.   I thought this was seriously ridiculous.  And it turned out to be a real problem.


Notice on the map above where the Suspension Bridge over Paynes Creek is located.  It takes you over to the monument.  I went to the bridge first.

Sorry for the white beam in the photo below.  I meant to take another one from the other side of the bridge at this same distance but with my back to the sun.  However,  when I came back there were several people on the bridge and I forgot to do it.



Paynes Creek which the bridge crosses


20230116_145820I’m not terribly keen on monuments to white settlers who moved into the Native Americans’ homeland and took over. 

In this case, in the spring of 1849, tension between settlers and Seminole Indians prompted the federal authorities to establish the Kennedy-Darling Trading Post on the northern end of the Seminole Reservation.  In July 1849, the post was destroyed by what the park calls “defector Seminoles”.  Probably meaning those who weren’t keen about having their land taken.

In response, in late 1849, Fort Chokonikla was built nearby as the first outpost in a chain of forts established to control the Seminoles.  And no doubt resulting in the Seminole Wars.

I’ve blown the picture  up so you can read the memorial to the two men who were killed.   Wonder where the memorial to the Seminoles trying to protect their homeland is.


After this I went to the site of the trading post and then thought I would round out my 10K steps for the day on the trails.  Mistake.  I got well and truly lost even with the trail map I showed above.  No trail names, numbers or anything to tell you where you are.  Eventually I found my way out by trying to retrace my steps but everywhere in the Florida Scrub looks the same.  I was too busy trying to figure out where I was to take any pictures, and too tired when I finished to stop at the Visitor Center on my way out.


PXL_20230118_230921185 Over the course of my 6 days at SKP,  in addition to washing and waxing Winnona, Mike was detailing the rig, washing and waxing Ruby, I didn’t ask him to he just said that such a great looking rig had to have a shiny red car to pull and he was right Ruby needs washing and waxing.  He sealed the roof, treated the rust on my steps and bins and painted them, washed the windows inside and out.  He really likes my rig and wanted to do whatever he could for me.  A nicer guy you could never find.

I ended up giving him $300 in cash and a $200 check.   He obviously wasn’t paid by the hour.  And I felt like I had gotten a lot for my money.   He also checked and assured me that Tony had in fact sealed all the running lights and the skylight.   He wasn’t there all day always but part of every one of the 6 days I was at the park

And now I’m moving along to Lake Kissimmee State Park where I also have never been before.  This next post should have me caught up to real time finally.