Winter Digs

Bonita Springs, FL – October, 2016 We are excited to be settled in Florida for the entire winter. Bonita Springs is a lovely area with tons going for it. It is about 30 miles north of the most southern point you can inhabit on the gulf side. This is the entrance to our park.

We have planned for some time to spend this winter in Florida. We started looking at campgrounds early last year and were a little concerned about the price and availability of sites, especially during December, January, and February. Our initial searches led us to believe we might not be able to afford this dream.

As early as last July RV sites in every state park we looked at in southern Florida were already booked solid through April 2017. We hadn’t found any campgrounds anywhere near where we wanted to be with a January rate below $1,200 and many were more than double that amount. We had hoped to tour the state spending about a month in each location.

We realized we better get serious about making reservations around July. We had made plans to meet some friends during their vacation to Naples, Florida at the end of October so we started by looking for a place to stay for a couple weeks around their visit where we felt safe leaving the camper while we hung out at their vacation home rental.

While researching all the local options Jim discovered Bonita Lakes RV Resort. Their monthly rate in October and November is just $568 plus metered electric. We inquired and they said they’d have no trouble accommodating us from October 15th to November 15th.

With that decision made we started looking for our second stop. We quickly felt overwhelmed and gave up for a while. In the meantime we read every bit of information we could find on Bonita Lakes and were looking forward to our visit.

While perusing their website we noticed that although their high season rates are $1,285 per month, if you commit to a 6 month rental it is only $676 per month plus electric. While that was a ways over our monthly budget for lot rent it was close enough that we could make some adjustments and pull it off.

We were not optimistic about them having sites still available during their peak season. We crossed our fingers and gave them a call. As luck would have it they had a cancellation just before we reached them and they were happy to give us that site.

As you know we arrived a little early, just ahead of the hurricane so we have been here exactly 30 days as of this posting. We have been incredibly happy with our choice. The park has exceeded our expectations in every regard.

I didn’t expect a fitness area but they have several nice machines and all of my favorites: an elliptical, a treadmill, and a recumbent bike. More often than not, I’ve been starting my days off in this room with a 30-50 minute workout.

The pool is our favorite spot. We can use it 24 hours a day and it’s heated to 85 degrees. Swimming and stretching in the pool is an amazing way to kick start your day. We have watched the sun come up from this spot on several occasions.

We have yet to share the pool with another soul before noon. I also haven’t seen anyone else use the fitness equipment so far. The park will get more crowded over the coming months and I’m sure that will change but it’s been just awesome so far.

There have been so many pleasant surprises since our arrival. They have pretty decent Wi-Fi throughout the park. They have easy, single stream recycling so all recyclables go in one dumpster. The park staff even picks up your trash and recyclables at your curb every morning. We don’t always use that service but it is really nice to know we can.

They also have two full kitchens at our disposal. They have several full size refrigerators we can use in a pinch. And the residents are welcome to take all the ice they make.

The park is a very nice size, just under 200 sites. A lot of people leave their trailers on their sites year round and just drive down for the winter. So it’s sometimes hard to tell if a site is occupied or not but I’m guessing at least half the sites are currently occupied and more people are arriving daily.

The park is a mix of travel trailers, park models, single wides, and even one double wide. But despite the close quarters everyone works hard at keeping it as neat and tidy as possible. Here is one of the older, more colorful residences with some newer rigs making up the rest of the row.

There is a nice lake at the back of the park with an island in the middle. They say there is normally an alligator or two roaming the lake and the canal that runs down one side of the park. Apparently no-one has sighted them yet this fall and they are generally very shy.

The management and staff here are just amazing. They are the nicest, most accommodating people we have ever met. We asked them for advice on where to find a certain tool to buy and they took us to their toolshed and loaned us what we needed.

They don’t have any activities during the summer but Halloween was the kickoff of their season and the beginning of their activities. They hosted a big Halloween BBQ potluck. We ate dinner at 4 and they had a live band from 5-7. These are our kind of hours!

The November activity calendar is packed. We’ve already joined the kayak club for their first weekly outing. We found a domino game on Wednesday nights. And we are looking forward to learning some new games. Apparently a bean bag toss league is one of the most popular events in the park.

We are looking forward to exploring the state from our new digs. There is plenty to keep us busy all winter within an hour of our door. But we plan to make several trips to other areas of the state. We can get to almost every place we hope to visit in 4 hours or less.

We probably won’t be taking the 5th wheel. It was a tight squeeze getting it into its current spot and it’s only going to get more snug as the park fills up. So we will have to get creative with our travel plans and budget. But we’ll figure it out and we’ll fill you in on it when we do.

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