As previously mentioned, making reservations for weekends this year has been more difficult than past years and once again that proved true at Rainbow Springs State Park as well as the State Park we were going to after that. For the weekend of January 23rd, we had to resort to a more expensive, private campground where we’ve stayed before. Our destination today would be Williston Crossings RV Park in Williston, FL.
Here’s a dash cam video of our departure from Rainbow Springs SP as we drive thru all of C loop and half of B loop. The other half of B loop can be seen in our dash cam arrival video.
The first time we visited this resort in 2012 we loved it – we had a very wooded pull thru site (#312) in the older section plus it offered Passport America rates. But last year in 2014, we didn’t enjoy our stay there at all – not only had they discontinued PA rates but our site #191 was located in the newer north section of the park where there were very few trees, absolutely no privacy and no picnic table. Not to mention a neighbor with a noisy and stinky diesel heating unit that seemed to be running constantly. Because we were somewhat disenchanted with our last visit, we commented that we probably would never stay there again. But in a pinch, what’s a gal to do??? Guess the moral of this story is never say never.
Just as a note, Williston has a new on-line reservation system. I had a terrible time making the reservation – it dropped me out several times in the middle, it didn’t recognize the info in my profile so it didn’t apply the Good Sam discount and when I tried to update my profile, it wouldn’t let me. Jeesh! I was surprised because it seemed to use the same reservation system used by Normandy Farms in Foxboro, MA – I’ve never had a problem making a reservation there. When I called them to complain about their system and explain what had happened, I was told we would be given a credit when we arrived. Okay, that sounds good, at least I thought it did. But when we checked in, I was told that the 10% credit couldn’t be applied to our credit card (huh?) but we would be given a credit when we stayed there the next time. Next time I think I’ll just call!
So anyway on Friday morning, January 23rd, we left Rainbow Springs headed for Williston, another quick and easy drive, only about 30 miles along US-41. We arrived at the original and older 5th Street entrance since that is where the office is located. The new 6th street (CR121) entrance is gated and unmanned so it is not well suited for arrivals.
For this visit we reserved a site in the older wooded section, site #311. Nice back in site with a full cement pad and decent privacy. And woohoo, it even had a picnic table (well, half a picnic table – they’re small here)! Satellite visibility was limited here though – we were only able to get the DISH Eastern Arc 72 satellite.
Our rate was $43.50. A grass site near the entrance is $39 (30A only) and a pull thru is $49.50 (click here for more detailed and current rate info). As one of Good Sam’s top rated parks in 2014, Williston offers a lot of amenities – 450 back in and pull thru sites with full hook ups and cement pads, wide asphalt roadways, free cable/wi-fi, pool, fitness center, pavilion, two gated entrances, large clubhouse, gazebo fire pit, tennis, pickle ball, shuffleboard, laundry and lots of activities!
Since we were there last, they have started serving lunch at the Grist Mill. We didn’t get a chance to go there so not sure what they have to offer. And renovation work still continues on the railroad cars in the middle of the park. When finished, these cars will be offered as apartments. Looked like the outside of several of the cars had been primed and they were working on the roofs. Someday maybe that project will be completed.
In addition to their RV lots, Williston has a number of sites with park models, mainly around the perimeter of the park. In North Park (otherwise known as the Reserve), in addition to the RV sites, there are a number of larger sites (1100 square feet of cement) to accommodate park models which can either be rented or purchased. Seemed like quite a lot of sales action going on while we were there.
We had a quiet stay here, not doing much of anything, lots of walking and hanging out. The stairway down into the quarry was locked off, probably because of all the recent rain, the quarry was like a lake! We did walk the utility road however which led to an un-flooded section where all the antique cars are still rusting away.
The day before our departure we decided to go to Sam’s Club in Gainsville to pick up a few things. It was Sunday and we got a late start but despite that we thought we would go to the Flying Biscuit Cafe in Gainesville. As we pulled in the parking lot, we saw that there were lots of folks hanging around outside. After checking at the hostess desk, we found out that there would be at least a 45 minute wait. Nope, don’t want to wait that long so we left. We decided that it might work out better if we went to Sam’s to do our shopping first, then have something to eat afterwards. Probably not the brightest idea, shopping on an empty stomach can be pretty expensive.
After Sam’s, we thought we would go to a restaurant we went to last year – the Peach Valley Cafe also in Gainesville. Darn, same situation there. Looked like everyplace might be crowded. Don’t these people have other things to do on a Sunday?
By now, it was close to noon. We sat in the parking lot trying to figure out where to go and what we wanted to eat (breakfast or lunch) when Rob finally suggested a place that had really good reviews – the Gator Suyaki. In the reviews, people commented that it was one of the most authentic Asian restaurants they had ever visited. Sounded good to us!
Just inside the entrance to the restaurant, a board of specials greeted us – all written in Chinese! And then we were escorted to our table passing by other customers, mostly Asian and all eating with chopsticks. That seems like a good sign.
Then there was the very extensive menu – no chop suey here! How about Spicy Beef Tripe in Hot Pot? Or perhaps Pork Belly Pickled Bok Choy Big Wok or Fish Head with Tofu Big Wok? Chive Stir Fried Frog Leg? Stir Fried Spicy Chicken Gizzard? Beef Stomach Dry Wok? Sounds yummy doesn’t it? Maybe it is, not sure I want to give any of those dishes a try. I don’t know about you but these dishes have been absent at all of the Chinese restaurants we frequent. Sure seemed authentic to us but then again were not connoisseurs of Asian cuisine!
Rather than be too adventurous, we decided to take a safer course and order one of their lunch combos – I had Kung Pao Chicken while Rob had Hot & Spicy Ginger Garlic Chicken, both for $6.50. Can’t beat the price, probably a lot cheaper than breakfast.
The combos came with either fried rice or steamed rice (we both had fried) a salad with a ginger dressing, an egg roll, a sesame seed ball and crab rangoon. Unlike other Chinese restaurants where no sooner have you placed your order, it immediately appears in front of you. Here we waited about 15 minutes before we served – good sign, it must be made to order.
Finally our lunches arrived, not in the usual plates. Hard to explain – guess this is where a picture speaks a thousand words. Boy, was it good! Best Chinese food I have ever eaten! Quite different and much more flavorful than the food we have eaten at other American “Chinese” restaurants. Taking a bite of the sesame seed ball, we weren’t quite sure what we were eating but it sure was good. According to Wikipedia, it “is a type of fried Chinese pastry made from glutinous rice flour. The pastry is coated with sesame seeds on the outside and is crisp and chewy. Inside the pastry is a large hollow, caused by the expansion of the dough. The hollow of the pastry is filled with a filling usually consisting of lotus paste, or alternatively sweet black bean paste, or less commonly red bean paste.”
It didn’t look like a lot of food but it was, we were pretty stuffed by the time we finished. If we stay in the area again, we’ll definitely be back. Maybe next time we’ll be a little more adventurous with our menu choices.
After lunch, we headed back to Williston where we took a long walk and got ready for our departure the next day. Definitely a more enjoyable stay than last year. Funny how the right site can change your perspective on a place.
Our next stop will be another familiar place – stay tuned to find out where we went next.