As a serious nomadic nudist journalist, I often do serious online research. Very serious. Like one time I watched videos of people tipping over their golf carts for at least a half hour.
So I was doing some serious research for a NUSA Sun column when I came across an article about a postal worker who refused to deliver mail packages to a nudist resort. (I had probably googled “What would happen if you walked into a post office naked?” or “Naked postal worker videos” or some other serious journalistic query.)
Anyhoo, the nudist resort that so offended this postal worker happened to be Eden RV Resort (formerly Gulf Coast Nudist Resort) in Hudson, Florida; the same place we had made reservations to spend four months during our Florida naked winter.
We had made the reservations well in advance because those nudist RV parks in Florida fill up fast for the winter. But reading this article, I was concerned: We have our mail forwarded from Tucson every few weeks. Would we be able to get our mail at Eden? Or would we have to go stand in line at the post office with a gazillion snowbirds, receiving our package with an angrily scribbled note that reads “I’ll do snow, I’ll do rain, I’ll do heat, but I draw the line at seeing your winky.”
We took our chance anyway and on November 1 moved our home from Riverboat and settled in at Eden. This part of Pasco County is more rural and laid back than the crazy-busy suburban development in Land O Lakes and Lutz. Roads, many of which are unpaved, are narrow and lined with moss-draped oak trees. It isn’t until you get out to U.S. Route 19 that Florida craziness comes flying at you with all its glory.
Joining the Eden community.
The resort is surrounded by a clothing-optional neighborhood called City Retreats. Residents can come and go through the resort, but must pay membership fees to use the facilities. And as resort guests, we could walk through the dusty, white streets of City Retreats, naked. Woo hoo!
Eden was peaceful but that didn’t mean dead. It’s a community where people invite you to join a dart game, a roving bocce game, a jam session or nightly merriment around the bonfire. They show movies at the poolside. We felt right at home at Eden, but were also dying to get out and explore, one of the biggest reasons we had returned to Florida.
In 2015, we spent a total of six weeks in Florida in May and June. It was hot and the humidity sapped us. So we soaked in the pool at Paradise Lakes, or Cypress Cove. We did little exploring, and decided to come back in the winter so we could get to know Florida.
We enjoyed having Eden as our “basecamp.” Julie even took some temporary work helping the new owners of the resort’s tiki hut with bartending. I also helped by spending all of the money Julie made tending to the beers that she tended to me.
Mermaids and the Nature Coast.
Eden lies in a section of Florida that’s part of the Nature Coast. Whether or not that name is a marketing gimmick didn’t matter. We loved the mysterious forests erupting from swamp, the broad coastal prairies laced with black water, the narrow roads winding past canals and dive bars, the gulf waters quietly shimmering offshore.
One of our favorite places to explore was Weeki Wachee. First of all, it was fun to say “Weeki Wachee.”
Second, this little city just north of Hudson is famous for its kitschy tourist attraction at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. At Weeki Wachee you can see an actual mermaid!
Well, actually, you can see real, live young women posing as mermaids. In addition to posing, they perform in a delightful and impressive underwater show. We were able to catch one of the last shows before they closed it for six months of renovations.
You sit down in a little auditorium built right into the side of the spring, with a curtain in front of you. The curtain goes up to reveal a glass wall. The glass wall is an important part of the show for two reasons:
- It allows you to see the show.
- Without it, water would rush in and flood the auditorium which could annoy, and possibly drown, visitors.
I was impressed that they could build an underwater auditorium in an existing spring, but the humdinger for me was the mermaids’ athleticism. They performed tightly choreographed moves while sucking air out of hoses. They expelled or held in the right amount of air to sink or rise and maintain the perfect level with respect to each other. The water was a consistent 72 degrees F which is pretty cold unless you’re Canadian, and yet they continued to smile and wave at the blurry audience. Amazeballs!
This crystal clear spring water flows to the coast in the Weeki Wachee River, twisting through the Florida jungle like a turquoise ribbon. We played on that river with our inflatable boat, watching the fish and encountering manatees. We loved boating on this river, and the others in the area with fun names like the Chassahowitzka and the Pithlatchascotee. The only downside was that we had to wear clothes.
When we weren’t playing on the water, we watched it. We are desert rats who miss being around water. We sat at The Upper Deck restaurant on the lower Weeki Wachee with a cocktail and smoked fish dip, watching mullets and other fish dart in the clear waters. We drove out to Hudson Beach to see the sunset over the glass-smooth Gulf of Mexico.
We were enjoying the reasons we became nomads in the first place, to explore and experience new sights.
And just like that, on the road again.
Our four months at Eden flew by. There was a lot of rain and some really cold days. There were also potlucks and dancing and karoaking and drumming to help keep everybody warm.
Friendships were a big theme. We made lots of new friends and got to reconnect with old friends who showed up from our home resort in Arizona, Shangri La, and from one of our other favorite resorts, Oaklake Trails. Our other Arizona friends had arrived at Caliente Resort for the winter, and we met up with them for some Caliente-style night clubbing.
As the days finally started to warm up, we started preparing for the next leg of our Florida naked winter: Relocating to the Atlantic Coast and Sunnier Palms Nudist Park in Fort Pierce. We floated one more time on the Weeki Wachee, watched one last sunset at Hudson Beach, took one last drive along the canals of Hernando Beach.
We also had our mail forwarded to us from Tucson, one more time. Because, in spite of the protests of one indignant mail carrier, the U.S. Postal Service came through and efficiently delivered our mail to us at a nudist resort the entire time we were there. And if that doesn’t make an American proud, nothing will.