Wekiwa Springs State Park
Last week we were in Fruitland, Florida at Lake Griffin State Park; our drive there was a little more exciting than we like.
On Tuesday, we had an 8:30 AM appointment at a heavy-duty truck alignment place (Josam’s) in Orlando to have the motor home’s front end aligned and to get new front tires – the old tires were wearing unevenly and needed to be replaced. We were camped in Winter Garden – about 20-miles from where we needed to be. Driving in and around Orlando is tricky at best especially in a motor home towing a jeep! So, we consulted the GPS and Map Quest to pick our route in and out of the city. The easiest-most direct route was via the Florida Turnpike – lucky for us, there was a turnpike exit right into the industrial park where Josam’s is….piece of cake!
The Florida Turnpike is a toll road that works best if you have Florida’s Sun Pass transponder (we don’t) but, since it also has cash toll-booth lanes we figured we’d be ok.
Tuesday morning we awoke at 5:00 AM…coffee down, and levelers up we were on the road by 7:00 …we wanted to allow plenty of time since we were going to hit Orlando’s morning rush hour traffic – and we did. Traffic was fast and heavy zipping into the city. Ted is a cool-professional Motor Home driver and he held his own. We made it through the first toll-booth cash lane without a problem and surprise! The toll was only $3.00 for both the Ventana and the Jeep. Cruising along we checked the time…we were in good shape. As we approached our exit traffic was everywhere. Ted managed to get into our “exit only” lane ….whew…then we saw it! A big sign that said, “No Cash Accepted – Sun Pass Only! $100.00 Fine For Violations!” What? We can’t stop….we can’t turn around…surly they have a credit card lane. We did the only thing we could do….we kept going.
As we jake-braked along the exit ramp we could see a Sun Pass Toll Scanning area ahead – and more signs promising a $100.00 fine for non-payment…but nowhere to put in a credit card. We looked at each other and Ted hit the gas! As we sailed through the scanner a big FLASH hit the windshield and we were photographed….wide-eyed and scared like a deer in headlights!
Feeling like a criminal, I immediately pulled out my phone and looked up the Florida Turnpike toll-system to see what we needed to do to avoid having our “Wanted Poster” hung on the toll-booth walls. It was unclear….seems you could mail a payment in. To be safe, after our appointment at Josam’s, we took the Turnpike again so that we could stop at the first toll-booth where there was a person so we could ask what to do about our violation. The lady shook her head at us and gave us the address and a card to mail in with our $3.00 toll-payment. The check is in the mail! What are the odds that this will all work out without a couple of more phone calls and letters? Slim to none. We continued on to our next home for a week: Lake Griffin State Park.
Lake Griffin State Park campground is small and very quiet, a great place to just sit back and relax. They have a nice dock on Dead River which feeds into Lake Griffin. From the dock you can take a tour boat or rent canoes to explore the area.
It is also home to the largest live oak tree in Florida – or at least one of the largest depending on what brochure you’re reading. No matter, it is a majestic tree. This is a photo of its massive base – impossible to take a picture of the entire tree that did it justice.
Lake Griffin State Park is just a stone’s throw from “The Villages”. We didn’t go anywhere near “The Villages”….I am just not ready for that much organized geriatric fun. We did ride into Leesburg to visit Lake Griffin and found a wonderful park right on the lake front where we could walk and enjoy the city.
The surrounding area has many interesting hiking trails but, unfortunately, none of them allowed dogs…why? We think it might be because most of the trails pass through swampy areas and dogs might attract alligators and if that’s the case……we’d rather not hike there anyway.
Yesterday, we hit the road again and headed to one of our favorite Florida State Parks: Wekiwa Springs – we’ll be here for a week.
Thanks for Riding Along,