Silver Springs, which we had visited so many years before, and in which we had even taken a glass bottomed boat ride, didn't look familiar, either. We saw an abandoned amusement park on the southeast corner of highways 40 and 35, just west of the Silver Springs entrance, that must have been a part of the Silver Springs attraction at one time, and yet we have no recollection of it. It is (unfortunately) closed and apparently abandoned now. Such a shame.
|Silver Springs entrance sign.|
We had already decided on the Ocala area (within 50 miles) as our target destination long before we left Arizona. We wanted to stay out of major cities as much as possible, and remain in the northern part of the state, where it is less congested, slightly cooler, and makes for an easy exit to the north...whether making trips to Indiana or escaping hurricanes. Being near the coast holds no fascination for us, beautiful as it is at times. The higher prices there would be a waste of money for us. We're just not "water people".
|General location of Ocala NF.|
If we were still relying on the 120-volt refrigerator in the trailer, it definitely would have been a problem, but by using the propane refrigerator in the RV, our other electrical needs were not that great. As long as we stuck to using our propane catalytic heater (which requires no power), and minimal usage of computers and phones, we could get by with what solar charging we could get through the trees. We did have to start the RV or the generator a few times to build the batteries back up when it got too cloudy, but since the RV was still our daily driver, our errand runs helped take care of part of the charging.
|Map of Fore Lake Recreation Area|
|The entrance road to Fore Lake RA with our RV in overflow on the left.|
|The Fore Lake RA beach area across from the overflow area.|
|Our windshield view of the Fore Lake RA public beach area.|
|The white sand beach at Fore Lake RA.|
|The public picnic pavilion at Fore Lake RA.|
|The start of the loop road at Fore Lake RA, across from the picnic pavilion.|
After the weekend visitors cleared out they suggested we move to site #30, which is at the far end of a short cross street in the main loop, and another nearly ideal spot right across from the shower building.
Our view from site #30 at Fore Lake RA. The door in the middle
is a dish-washing station for those camping in tents.
We backed the trailer in as far as we could, and dropped it there. Then I pulled forward slightly, so we could come and go with the RV as needed.
|Our RV and trailer on site #30 at Fore Lake RA.|
Nearly every site in Fore Lake RA has a concrete pad, a nice picnic table with a lantern post nearby, and a fire pit and/or a grill. Sites are well-maintained as are all the buildings and facilities.
|Site #30 at Fore Lake RA, with our RV and trailer.|
|Our folding recliners in use at site #30, Fore Lake RA.|
We found another place east of Silver Springs and much closer to where we were staying, although it turned out the rent was much higher. But the convenience of everything made it worthwhile.
|Silver Springs Self Storage.|
The only problem with the state and national forest areas is that they typically have a 14-day staying period, after which you have to vacate that particular area for a certain amount of time before you can return. And around Ocala NF there is nowhere else we could go that was close. Our only option would have been to rotate between there and Osceola NF about a hundred miles north. If there were any other timing issues in getting back in, we would have resorted to short Walmart stays while roaming around. But that all adds expense and hassle, and fortunately, we didn't need it.
Being able to use our senior discount cards is great, though. And yet, when all things are considered...the fuel spent in moving around, the wear and tear on the RV and trailer, and the lack of electric power, it really isn't that much of a savings. Even if we stayed a full month at $6 a day, that's $180, plus the hassle of having to hit the road every two weeks. We have seen RV parks in other parts of the country that we could get into for as little as $150 a month, and have full hookups plus more amenities, so in reality, what is gained?
Fortunately, we got lucky. One of our RVing friends and YouTube stars invited us down to her place for a few days. We were able to time everything so that we could leave Fore Lake at the end of our two week limit and drive down to Inverness to stay for another week. By the time we returned to Fore Lake, we had been away long enough to satisfy their rules. But we'll post again on our stays at both places, and share our other experiences along the way. In future posts I'll also talk about where we are now and what we have been doing.
Thanks for following our adventures, and as always feel free to comment. If you have been to Fore Lake Recreation Area, Ocala National Forest before, or even the Ocala area in general, share your experience!