Cafe Masaryktown and Planning Our Summer Travels
In spite of the fact that the weather here in Florida has gotten much nicer, we haven't been motivated this winter to do much sightseeing because we are completing the transfer our Year 3 blog into book form. Click here to read our previous post about how we do this. We have, however, taken advantage of the nice weather to ride our bikes around the campground numerous times, and even over to Walmart a few times to pick up a some groceries.
As we approach the end of February it is time for us to work on our summer travel plans. Although we are planners, we know and accept that ultimately it is the Lord who directs our steps; and so we always say, "This is the plan, God willing." :-)
We learned from friends that AAA Tour Books are a good resource for travel info. The tour books combined with the internet can tell you just about everything you want to know about an area. We pay particular attention to the AAA "Gems" as they are designated as particularly worthwhile.
In the photo below, Margery is surrounded by some of the AAA Guide Books we picked up for this year, and she is reading from a National Geographic book on the national Parks. We find the NatGeo book very useful because it gives good info on driving tours and hiking in the national parks.
We've had a couple of readers and friends ask us how we decide where we want to go. There's no right or wrong way to plan your travels - you have to find what works for you. We tend to do a fair amount of planning, but we know of quite a few people who don't plan at all. They just stay until "hitch itch" hits, then they take off in whatever direction strikes their fancy. Even though we do a lot of planning, we still leave some flexibility in our schedule.
The first thing we decide is where to go. For us, national parks will always be a high priority as destinations because they tend to have the most spectacular scenery and the most interesting wildlife. Free admission with our America the Beautiful Senior Pass also makes national parks and national monuments a real bargain.
We usually start off with a single destination and build on that. Our first year it was to get to South Dakota to become residents...register the vehicles, get our drivers' licenses and become registered voters. Year 2 was Yellowstone. Year 3 was Yosemite and the Pacific Northwest. Year 4 was Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Ca. This year, we must return to South Dakota to renew our drivers' licenses which must be done in person every 5 years. Yes, it has been 5 years already. South Dakota requires an eye test and a new photo for renewal.
We'll research to determine if there is a preferable time of the year to be at our destination(s) with respect to weather and/or special events. Once we decide our destination and when we want to be there, Margery has the mapping software plot the most direct/fastest route. We then look to see what sightseeing 'detours' might be feasible. The AAA Gems along the map's route guide our route variations which are entered as via points to the original shortest/fastest route.
Our campground research includes finding suitable campgrounds along our desired route, especially with respect to satellite reception. Margery has found a spreadsheet of campgrounds she has researched works the best in the long run. It saves the repetitive work of looking up the same campground over and over because we forget the details of that campground. The only reservations we make far in advance are for holiday weekends or in high tourist areas. Otherwise, we refer to the spreadsheet within a week or two of our arrival in a particular area and make our decision about where to stay.
We were originally scheduled to leave Blueberry Hill on March 9th, but, as they have done in previous years, Blueberry Hill offered an extra month for $250 to anyone who wanted to extend their stay. So with the really nice weather, we've paid for the additional month. We'll probably leave around the end of the March. Driving our decision will be based on when the azaleas are blooming in Bellingrath in Mobile, AL. The half price extension is a good deal even if we don't stay for the entire month.
With all the inside work we have been doing, we were up for a little road trip to try a new-to-us restaurant. Cafe Masaryktown, which was mentioned in an RV blog we follow, is located about half an hour south of Bushnell near Brooksville.
Cafe Masaryktown is in the old Masaryk Hotel, which was built in 1925. In 1924-1926, a group of Czech immigrants from New York and Pennsylvania moved to Florida to establish a farming community on 10,000 acres of land they bought. They named the town they established Masaryktown after Thomas Masaryk who was the first president of the new republic of Czechoslovakia that was formed in 1918. Their attempts at growing citrus and vegetables failed, but a thriving egg and poultry industry eventually developed.
The cafe specializes in Cuban sandwiches and other Cuban dishes. Prices are very reasonable. A regular 7" Cuban sandwich is $3.99, a 9" sandwich is $4.49, and a 12" sandwich is $6.99. A combo that includes a 7" Cuban and a side (French fries, cup of soup, salad, or deviled crab) is available for only $5.49. We both had Cuban sandwich combos with deviled crab as a side.
A Cuban sandwich is baked ham, salami, Swiss cheese, pork, mustard, mayonnaise, and dill pickle on Cuban bread. The sandwich is heated in a panini press or under a weight on the flat-top grill. The deviled crab was nice and crispy on the outside, but it wasn't what we were expecting and we weren't crazy about it. However, we both liked the sandwich. We got plenty to eat, and we each ended up taking part of our sandwiches home to eat later.
After we finished our meal, we headed back to the motor home for an evening of TV. We have another couple of restaurants to try and some other activities in mind, so look for our next post.