We had planned to find an RV park in Orlando and stay for a month. We had travelled long and hard surfing the seasons going north for the summer and then back south for the fall and now we were about as south as we could get so it was time to take a break and just rest our wheels for a while in sunny Florida. One of the great advantages of long-term travel is that we are not on vacation. We do not have limited days before we have to go home. We can go to a popular tourist destination and do absolutely nothing for a day, a week, or even a month. It turned out though that the snowbirds had beaten us to Florida and pretty much all of the RV parks were full. We called or visited over a dozen RV parks and the earliest monthly availability they had was April.
Not all was lost though as it turns out that there are no less than eight Cracker Barrel locations in the Orlando area as well as the usual Walmart parking lots. We also found a Flying J truck stop that offered dump and water for $7.50 and showers for $13 along with propane and gas. It was a one-shop stop for everything we needed. We could have parked there as well but didn’t want to deal with the noisy semi-trucks.
We even considered renting a place for a month or two from Airbnb but with the holidays, the cheapest rentals were in the two to three thousand dollar range. We decided we would try the true homeless thing and bounce around from each location every couple of days as they were all in about a half an hour’s drive from each other.
An unexpected surprise was that we found a small Chinatown consisting of a couple small Asian strip malls. Nothing to great but a whole lot better than Washington DC. We would be able to get all of foodstuffs we liked. We settled in to a rhythm where we would park in a shopping center, a park or near a Starbucks for the day then go to a different Cracker Barrel or Walmart every couple of nights. It was not too much different from being in an RV park since we were pretty much self-sufficient, just needing to visit the Flying J every few days.
Instead of spending our money on accommodations we got Olivia and I a set of six day Disneyworld tickets for about a thousand dollars. Holly doesn’t like running around theme parks so we would just get a one day pass for her later. Using our free hotel nights I also booked a couple of nights at the newly opened Marriott Swan Reserve hotel. The Swan is a Disney partner hotel and right next to Epcot and has Disney perks such as early entry. At $360 a night retail it was a good use of a couple of our free night certificates gained from credit card applications.
In addition since were we in a slow mode we bought a rather large Yamaha electronic piano/keyboard for $400. It was large and bulky but not very heavy. We had wanted Olivia to learn some music and she had taken to the Harmonica, learning a few songs but since we were going to hang out in Orlando for a while we could use the free time to kick her music education up a notch.
We did not do a lot during the week, just hung out. We did take the opportunity to attend a Westgate timeshare presentation that netted us a cool $150 cash for 90 minutes of our time. We are going to see about hitting some more as there are a ton of timeshares in Orlando and a few hundred dollars here and a few hundred dollars there can add up to some decent money.
The one thing of note that happened to us is that one evening we had a minor car accident. We were stopped at a stop light one night when a big pickup truck trying to go into the left turn lane managed to bump us. It wasn’t much of a bump and at first it seemed like there was no damage. It was not until the next morning that we saw that the truck had broken one of our side running lights. By that time it was too late but the damage wasn’t bad and I should be able to replace the running light myself at little cost.