What are the odds?

My new friend Dave and I are standing at the end of Dave and Sally’s lot on my last full day at Outdoor Resorts in Long Key, Florida. We are looking down the street and Dave asks if I had met their neighbors, Deb and Laura, across the street. I tell him I hadn’t, and he tells me I will have to come back next winter to meet them.

“They just left. They have been staying on that nice big lot right there on the water since we bought this lot ten years ago. You’ll have to have them tell you the story about last year when they had a 5th wheel delivered to them. It was quite an ordeal to get it out of there when it was time to leave.”

Fast forward ten days to when I pull into site 171 at Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park in Jacksonville, Florida. I stayed at Hanna Park in 2019, connected with one of the campground hosts, fell in love with the park and returned in 2020. I hadn’t been back to Jacksonville since. My attempts to connect with the host failed, but I booked a couple of nights hoping to find her when I arrived. Hanna would be my last campground before home. I needed a couple of days to be by myself to ride and write, mostly to write.

Two women sat outside at site 172 watching me back into my new spot. As I hooked up the water and electricity, my new neighbors asked where I had come from.

“Well, technically from the Keys, but it took me ten days to get here. I made stops in the Everglades, West Palm Beach, Merritt Island, and Daytona to visit friends on my way home.”

“Where in the Keys?”

“Halfway between Key Largo and Key West.”

“Like Long Key . . . Marathon … that area?” 

“Exactly like Long Key. Yes!”

“Ever heard of Outdoor Resorts?”

“No way! That’s exactly where I just came from! Planned to be there four weeks, ended up staying six. Didn’t want to leave. I loved it! Great people! Have you been there or something?”

“I’ve been going there since the 70’s. My aunt used to take us there when it was just tent camping. We used to have a place there, but we sold it several years ago. We still go sometimes, but we didn’t make it there this year. But we have friends coming over here in about 30 minutes who just came from there. Do you know Deb and Laura?”

“Are you serious? This is crazy. Do you know Dave and Sally? They just told me the day before I left that I needed to meet Deb and Laura. Deb and Laura are coming over here?”

“Yes. They are coming over for dinner. They were both in the Navy, so they are staying over there at the Navy Base. It’s just on the other side of this park.”

So, I go for a ride around the park and when I return, I introduce myself to my neighbors Sally and Sharon and their friends Deb and Laura, who had just arrived from the Keys. These women met at Outdoor Resorts ten years ago and have been friends ever since. We talk until dark.

In the morning, Deb suggests I take the ferry over St. Johns River and ride my bike to another camper park over there. So, instead of writing all afternoon, I spend the day exploring, join my new friends for dinner at a Thai restaurant, and finish our visit with a walk to the lake for the sunset. I learned Deb and Laura have been living in an RV full-time for over 20 years. They have owned two Class A’s each for ten years and have had the fifth wheel now for two. Sharon and Sally have owned at least ten campers over the past 35 years. Their three horses and two cats (the dogs travel with them), keep them from leaving their Florida home for more than a week or two at a time.

The morning we were to leave, my new friends invited me to breakfast on the Navy base. Having never been on a base before, it was difficult to decline, but I didn’t have time to eat and ride before check-out at noon. We exchanged phone numbers, and they agreed to follow my blog and keep in touch.

Beginning with the story about getting their fifth wheel off their lot, I know my new friends have hundreds of travel stories to tell me—stories I would never get to hear if I had not met Ray in Rhode Island who invited me to Outdoor Resorts, where I connected with Dave and Sally because they are from Bloomington, IN where I went to college. What are the odds? The funny thing is, I never connected with the campground host at Hannah Park; but if you ask me why I haven’t finished my book FINDING JOY, I will say it’s because I’m always out there finding joy.

Or in this case: finding Sally and Sharon . . . and Deb and Laura.