“Chewy, We’re Home”

From Gainesville, it was a short drive south to Sumter Oaks RV Park. This may sound familiar to members of the Escapees RV Club, especially those who have chosen a Florida domicile. This is the location of that domicile. While you’re not required to actually stay at this park to use it as your address, it’s quite affordable (less than the Virginia Beach KOA), and only a few miles away from the Sumter County Tax Collector office, which is where you handle your Florida license and registration. We figured we’d book a week’s stay here to take care of business.

We ended up staying for two weeks. As of May, 2021, the Sumter County Tax Collector office was booking license and registration appointments online, spacing them out to prevent long lines and a crowded waiting room because of COVID. The earliest license appointment I could get was at our checkout time the following week. We needed two of them, which would mean staying through the weekend until the following Monday. I wish I’d known this earlier, or I would’ve booked our appointments before even arriving in Bushnell. That would’ve saved us some time, as well as money on the second week. But like I said, the price was reasonable, and the WiFi is excellent, which meant we could get some work done.

This did give us another chance to slow down and relax a bit. Lister has gotten over the F/A-18 Incident and loves being outside now. In fact, he’s started pestering us first thing in the morning to open the doors and let him explore. He retreats inside during the hottest part of the day to sit under the roof fan, then comes back out at night when it cools off. He’s been quite a hit with the neighbors, too.

The motorcycling around here isn’t that much fun, but I’ve managed to get out a bit. I went exploring the “roads” around the nearby Richloam Wildlife Management Area. No whammies (that’s my way of saying I didn’t drop the bike in the dirt), but I’m not a very good sand rider, and my current tires aren’t very good in sand. Being Florida, these dirt roads are all sand. It was a challenge, but I made it through. I’d like to have some knobbier tires before trying this again.

The bike’s been quite useful, though. Aside from bringing the van to the tax collector’s office for VIN verification, we left it parked at our site the entire two weeks. We ran errands on the bike, as well as went out to dinner a few times — and the go-kart track. You’ll want to watch that video.

It wasn’t all fun and games during our extended stay in Bushnell. Not only were we in one place for two weeks, we could also reliably receive packages during our stay, so I caught up on some Amazon purchases for van projects. Trisha found these brass reading lights she really liked. The built-in dome light above our bed didn’t work, and rather than wire it to work like I did in the front of the van, I installed a pair of these lights on the lens. Each light has a built-in switch, so there was no wiring besides power needed. Easy, and practical. I like them.

I also drew a little more inspiration from Vancity Vanlife and installed a pair of exterior lights in the side doorway. I didn’t go with a full perimeter spread like him, but these lights fit perfectly just in front of the doors, allowing them to open and shut without touching. We can use them with the doors open or closed. They throw out a ton of light, so we haven’t used them much in the populated areas we’ve been staying in to avoid annoying the neighbors. No doubt they’ll be useful when we’re boondocking in the middle of nowhere.

And, we successfully got the vehicles registered in Florida and became official Florida residents. Mission accomplished! I’ll tell you exactly how we did it in a future post.

From here, we’re heading to Lakeland to visit my literal long-lost aunt Betsy and uncle Donny. I haven’t seen them since I was a kid, and I’ve never met my cousins Shannon and Kelly, who are all grown up now. We’ll be spending Memorial Day weekend with them, then staying in their house while the van goes in for a stem-to-stern checkup the following week. I hadn’t done one before the fire because it was winter and we weren’t ready to hit the road. After the fire it’s been go, go, go, aside from a much needed oil change in Indiana. I’ll feel better having a professional take a look at it before putting many more miles on it, and Betsy has one she’s used for years and trusts implicitly. Having a known-good mechanic is a huge advantage, no matter where you are. So we’ll do that.

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