FLORIDA SKP CO-OP
Before we even started our journey, Paul purchased an Escapee membership. The membership gives us access to Escapee parks and co-ops, reduced rates at other campgrounds, and a job board, to just name a few of the benefits. I was a bit apprehensive at first but he was confident we would utilize it and make our money back quickly. Our first opportunity to stop at an Escapee park was the Florida SKP Co-op in Wauchula. In looking at the website, there were plenty of activities and seemed very community based. For this reason, we decided to stay a week to recharge our batteries and to celebrate Thanksgiving.
It was a short ride from Miami to Wauchula and we arrived on a bright, sunny day. The folks at the office were extremely friendly and showed us to our site. It was our first back-up spot in a quite a while and Paul was anticipating parking the rig. After about 10 minutes, Denny, a workcamper at the resort, offered to help us park, as there was someone else waiting. Although I think Paul could have successfully backed us in, we accepted the offer and were leveling the rig within minutes.
We had a few hiccups during our week stay, but it was generally very relaxing and enjoyable. We swam in the pool daily, caught up on some work, helped out around the grounds a bit, and played shuffleboard and pickleball (it’s a mixture between ping pong and tennis). It was nice to finally be able to chill out for a bit instead of moving around so much.
On one of the days, we decided to make a drive into Tampa, Florida. It also happened to be the same day that I placed Paul’s keys on the back bumper of the truck and drove away. We realized my mistake about 5 minutes before we left and found the keys in pieces on the road once we turned out of the resort. To get the keys replaced, we needed to head toward Tampa anyways so we figured we would try and salvage as much of the day as we could.
A few hundred dollars later, and new keys in our pocket, we were pulling into the Cigar City Brewery parking lot. Having a few sips of the beer instantly changed our moods. We started with a flight of Space Pope IPA, Café Con Leche on nitro tap, Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout and…oh…my…HUNAHPHU’S IMPERIAL STOUT?!?!?! Yes, they actually had this normally $50/bottle chase beer whale on tap and comparably priced to any other imperial stout on the market? Amazing!
So let’s run through the line-up: Space Pope – a melangé of all of our favorite juicy hops: galaxy, mosaic, citra and CTZ give a peach-pineapple nose with a flavor of soft orange and mango. Next up the Café con Leche – the nitro tap gives this taster a nice creamy mouthfeel with a big nose of coffee beans; taste is more subdued but follows with smooth roastiness. Marshal Zhukov comes in next and sadly this one was the only slight disappointment of the day; for being such a big, velvety beer the flavor was muted up front with a boozy bite to finish. We wanted to love this one but instead we both sorta just liked it. But batting clean-up, the showstopper: Hunahphu’s – where Zhukov didn’t quite hide its ABV or live up to our expectations, Huna did both with ease. Rich layers of cocoa powder and cinnamon with subtle notes of vanilla and chili pepper. We aren’t usually fans of pepper beers, but this one does a phenomenal job incorporating a bit of the heat and piquant character without overwhelming the palate. Wow! Being completely unwilling to be done there we got a pint of Cubano-style Espresso Brown and bought a bomber of the Café con Leche to share with friends in Atlanta (article coming soon!).
PICNIC ISLAND PARK
We then decided to find a dog-friendly park on the bay on ScritchSpot. HealthyPaws, the company we use for Jackson’s pet insurance, had sent an email earlier in the week with an introduction to ScritchSpot, an app that lists all of the nearby dog parks, veterinary hospitals and clinics, and pet-friendly hotels and restaurants. It helped us to find the best dog park in the area, Picnic Island Park.
The park has a fenced-in dog area right on the bay, along with a boat ramp, and frisbee golf for those without dogs. We arrived just at sunset and watched the sunset over the bay as Jackson ran in the sand and waves and played with the other dogs. Jackson had a blast swimming in the water. It was his first time braving the waves!
We woke up on Thanksgiving morning, cooked an extra special breakfast of cinnamon rolls, and FaceTimed with our families. We then decided to take a walk at Peace River, just a short ride away. Although we missed our family, it was nice to not have any obligations as Paul and I have hosted Thanksgiving for the last few years. We had signed up for a potluck at the co-op and had made two apple pies as our contribution. They provided the turkey, gravy, stuffing and mashed potatoes and the rest was family style with contributions from everyone. We also had to bring our own plates, glasses and utensils. We had such an enjoyable time. There were even leftovers the next day!