Apollo Beach and Lithia Springs Park

Lithia Springs Park
Lithia Springs Park (Hillsborough County Park)

Yes, it’s taken us a month to get away for our first weekend in Benny!

This was our first time really using Benny as a home.  We’ve turned on the lights now and then, and the toilet’s been used several times in my weekday activities with two kids.  But we really needed to get away and use all the systems in order to learn how to use them.

We started out with a trip to Apollo Beach to see the manatees that hang out in the warm waters of the TECO plant during the winter months:

TECO smokestacks
TECO smokestacks--surprisingly aesthetic on this beautiful day
TECO solar panels
Part of Tampa Electric's largest solar panel array.

manatees at Apollo Beach
Millions of Manatees!
TECO manatees
Us girls in front of the manatee viewing.
David and Ada at the manatee viewing
David and Ada at the manatee viewing

happy passengers
Happy Passengers

Florida Mesa
I didn't know we had mesas in Florida?

Then we drove to a county park to spend the night:

hooked up motorhome
Benny hooked up to a campground for the first time.

Lithia Springs Park trail
Exploring the Park

Lithia Springs Park Trail
Exploring the Park

Family at Lithia Springs Park

He made my weekend.  He did all of the man stuff–propane, hookups, driving, navigating–and most of my half of the work too–carrying children, cooking dinner, washing dishes, reading stories, sweeping, etc.  I got a much needed break, even though he probably needed one just as much.  David, you are my valentine 😉

At dusk we were back at the campsite:

Hooking Up the Water Hose
Ada helped David hook us up to the campground water.

one year old eating watermelon
We enjoyed some watermelon.
dinner in motorhome
David made dinner (our first time cooking in the RV).
Dinette Bed
We made the dinette into Ada's bed for the first time.
motorhome bed
Our Cozy Bed in the Morning Sunlight
Toddler Walk
Setting Out on a Morning Walk


Waldorf Doll
Ada takes such good care of her littlest sister!
Lithia Spring
Natural Warm Spring is 76 degrees, year round.

Lithia Spring
Not warm enough on this chilly morning!
girls behind fence
Poor Caged Children

My favorite part of our short stint living in the RV was how easy it was to focus.  Instead of going looking for Ada to come brush her teeth in the morning, potentially getting sidetracked by an emergency diaper change or potty trip, a spilled cup of water, the ringing phone, and Annabelle’s finally being unable to wait to nurse any longer . . . instead of all that, I just said, “Ada, come here–let’s brush our teeth.”  And there she was.  And while we were there, I brushed my hair and hers.  Then we prepared breakfast, and cleaned up breakfast.  And keeping an eye on the children was built in because they were RIGHT THERE interacting with us.

One thing at a time.  Easy peasy.

In a moment of too much honesty, I will report that mine and Ada’s hair don’t necessarily get brushed every day because the children get hungry and I have to start cooking, then we’re late for wherever we’re supposed to be first, and I haven’t sliced apples and prepared other snacks to bring with us, and Annabelle needs to be redirected away from the oven, and someone gets hurt and needs comforting (even though I need to be stirring the scrambled eggs), and on, and on.

Having all of our family activities in 176 sq ft (and that includes beds, cabinets, engines and drivers seats), brought a level of simplicity (although it reeked slightly of randomity) that I appreciated.

Ada with Winnebago
Ada and Benny


  1. Dana
    February 14, 2011

    That is no Mesa! It is most likely a trash dump 🙁 kinda takes the ‘beauty’ away from it, huh?!

  2. Meredith
    February 14, 2011

    First off, Ada looks so much like you! =) Second, how did you whittle down your “things” (you know, all that stuff people like to fill their homes with…) to fit into the RV? I’m having a bit of a time questioning what we need and want can be gotten rid of now that we only have about 700 sq ft of space to put it. I think we had 1200-1400 sq ft in our apartment, so it feels like half our stuff is just in the way.

    1. Free Range Dreams
      February 14, 2011

      We’re not moved in yet, but I’m working on it and am starting to see how it will all fit. I’ll do an in depth post on it, just for you!

  3. Jen Romero
    February 14, 2011

    I love this post and I love lithia springs. I also love the manatee viewing center. I need to bring Orson before it’s too warm.

    Oh and I never brush my hair, if it wasn’t obvious.

    I look forward to reading more!

  4. Dannette
    February 15, 2011

    Goodness Gracious, I just have to say – I absolutely adore you & your beautiful family. There is so much love here, I am really looking forward to following your blog & all your adventures! I just have to tell you one more time, I am so happy for you guys!!!

  5. Lindsay
    February 15, 2011

    This will be the first blog I’ve ever had any interest in following. And I can’t wait to read more! Your SO cool!

  6. aimeed
    February 17, 2011

    Love the pictures! I’m really excited for you. And someday I have to see all those manatees.


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