From FL to Myrtle Beach, had to find an overnight stay. After almost 7 hours of driving, we stopped at this precious little gem. MUCH better than a truck stop, don't you think?? :-)
Before leaving in the morning, we walked 3 miles on the trails (listed below), then rode our bikes about 12 miles on the other trails. We saw over 20 alligators, numerous birds (herons and Anhingas), a lot of frogs and unfortunately, numerous deer flies that drove us nuts. However, surprisingly we did not encounter many mosquitos here during this visit.
Stay Details: Santee Coastal Reserve, McClellanville, SC
* This is a small FREE campground in a beautiful reserve which lies inside the Francis Marion National Forest. The campground is total dry camping, meaning there is no bathrooms, water or garbage for people. You have to be totally self-contained. There are about 8 sites that are First Come, First Serve, and there were 3 left when we arrived. There were several beautiful trails in the area, a boardwalk over the marsh, and the possibility of seeing quite a few different animals. We walked the Marshland Trail, the rode our bikes on the Cape Trail and Eldorado Trail.
* The Eldorado Trail leads to the ruins of the Eldorado Plantation which was build in 1797, was hit with a canon ball during the Civil War, then ended up burning to the ground years later. It was a very interesting piece of history.
Our final stay at Bee's Resort this year was with our friends Bill & Marilou.. After being together since California, we have met up several times during our travels, and will now be parting ways for a while. It was a bittersweet stay, as we really enjoyed spending time with them, but we also had to say our "See Ya Later's".
A visit to Silver Springs did not disappoint. It is the world's largest fresh water springs, and several movies were shot here, including the original "Tarzan" movie series and "I Spy" just to name a few. We would highly recommend a visit here. They have glass bottom boat tours, kayak rentals, and many trails you can bike and hike. We finished the visit with a surprise view of the Starlink launch which was 90 miles away!
Stay Details: Bee's Resort; Clermont, FL
* This time, they allowed us to stay in a regular campsite which was very pretty and across from our friends. Bee's is a nice resort, with a swimming pool that was open (and warm), a walking trail and shuffleboard.
Maria reserved this campground for the last 2 days on her spring break. It had 50a and water at all sites, was mostly waterfront sites, and absolutely beautiful!
The next day, Maria's friend gave her tickets to Seaworld for all of us, so we enjoyed the day there! It was extremely busy, but we all had a great time.
Stay Details: Trimble Park, Mt. Dora, FL
* This campground is an absolute beautiful campground that has mostly large waterfront sites, and a beautiful serene environment. The bath house was clean, and the playground was small yet very nice. It was a little tight getting around with a bigger rig, but we made it with no problem. We will definitely stay longer next time we come here.
During our stay at Long Pine Key, we met up with Maria, Steve & the kids. It was great to see them after a year of traveling!
After resting and working on her camper for a day, we visited Wooten's Airboat tours. We bought the package which included the airboat ride, swamp buggy ride andgator park. The airboat ride was phenomenal!! Buggy ride.. Not so much. It was still fun being all together though.
The next day we all went to Key West. Visited John Pennekamp State Park and took a kayak tour and small hike. Mark had to work on his class halfway to Key West, so we found good cell signal, and the kids went on their way. They went shopping in downtown, then we met up again to get our pictures taken at the Southernmost Buoy.
We visited the beach, the kids swam in the ocean, and we found a spectacular sunset! After that we satisfied our hunger at a Mexican Restaurant.
Stay Details: Long Pine Key Campground; Homestead, FL:
* This is a beautiful campground nestled inside the Everglades State Park. The sites are dry camping only (no hookups), and are spaced pretty far apart. The kids parked oposite of us, and we were close enough to comfortably share the picnic table and refrigerator. We were also right next to the bath-house, so it was convenient for everyone.
* We walked the Anhinga Trail in the morning, and we saw a large alligator, and many Anhinga's along the way. It was a nice short trail for the kids.
* The only problem we had was some other campers were screaming at eat other until 2am, but the rangers were quick to take care of the problem in the morning.
During our 2-week stay at Bee's Resort, we were able to get in some sightseeing, truck maintenance, and quality friend-time. The friends we met in CA (Bill & Marilou) were scheduled to be with us here, but they were delayed due to truck issues. They came in later, and we really enjoyed seeing them again! In the meantime, we made friends with the people who were next to us: Tom & Eleanore, who serenaded us with his guitar and singing; Carl & Ruthie who also have a Reflection, quickly became friends; and Dub & his wife who we helped back in and get parked; and finally Robert & Kim, needed help with a severe septic problem as we were walking through the park. They were all wonderful people, and we were very blessed to have met them.
Deciding to visit a Disney park, reservations and tickets were required. We were hoping for Hollywood Studios, but they were booked through to April 22nd, so we went to Animal Kingdom instead. I must say, we do not have the desire to return any time soon. Maybe it's just us getting older, but we also don't think it's worth the expense.
We really enjoyed our visit to Tampa, Fort DeSoto in St. Petersburg, and our bike riding around the island and shores. We've been wanting to visit LazyDays RV for a long time, and it was amazing. This is a HUGE place, a LOT of RVs, and very nice staff.
During our stay, we also had time to upgrade our furniture, and get some spark plugs changed on the truck.
Stay Details: Bee's Resort, Clermont FL.
* This resort has very tight sites, and we were placed into the overflow area in the front by the road. After a walk around the park, we realized this was actually better than many other sites, except that we were under an acorn tree which rained small nuts on our roof for the next 2 weeks. It wasn't too bad, and we still had full hookups. Just know that most of the people at this park are seasonal, so you will feel like an outsider at first. However, just making an appearance helped alleviate some of that, and we made several friends in no time. Their restaurant is closed down, and the people working the front counters are not very nice. Just smile and be nice to them and they will loosen up. This resort also accepts mail for you. GO AMAZON!
Well what do you do when you suddenly find out that the Starlink Falcon9 is scheduled to launch in the morning? Well drive to the coast and wait 9 hours for the launch, that's what!
That's exactly what we did when Mark suddenly found out that Starlink postponed their recent flight and it was now scheduled for the morning! On a whim, we decided to head 2 hours east, find any location we could, and to wait until the launch at 3:13am. We planned out a dark park location which we later got kicked out of, then moved to the roadside location where we walked down next to the water and enjoyed each others company while we waited; about 15 miles straight west from the launch pad. We did manage to get a few hours of sleep during the night, and Pica was very well behaved during this crazy night.
The launch itself was spectacular! The SpaceX live broadcast playing in the background; the rumbling of the boosters; the ground shaking from the mighty thrusters that were lifting 60 more satelites into space.. It was just awe-inspiring and emotional to say the least. I don't know why it got to us that way, but maybe it had something to do with the meaning of the mission.
Twenty-four years ago, we took our honeymoon trip to Orlando. We watch a Space Shuttle launch then too! Now after these many years, Shuttles no longer fly. Instead, reusable rocket boosters send up satelites that promise to bring world-wide Internet and communications; our future. This launch was the 76th safe landing return of the first stage booster Falcon9.
Everyone should try to see a rocket launch some time in their lives, but this night was was absolutely spectacular. Watch the 3-minute video to see the entire thing. It gets blurry, but straightens up around the 1:10 minute mark.
This is a wonderful museum that is also a "Harvest Host" and a "Boondocker's Welcome" location. They allow RVers to stay overnight at their location in hopes that they will visit the museum. Of course we did just that, and what a museum it is!! They did a wonderful job putting all these articles together, and even had several pieces that we've never seen before, including Abraham Lincoln's Hearse, and a Batman section with real and replica cars.
Tallahassee Auto Museum had 6 other travelers in the very large yard with us this night. The gates closed at 5:00, and we were all snug and safe. We highly recommend staying or even visiting this museum. They have a lot to show you, and the stay at night is very peaceful.
We left our previous location early so we could tour the area and park closer to the beach. Most of Florida State Parks are full this time of year, so we used a new resource called "WanderingLabs" which search campgrounds for openings due to cancelations. So, I put in my request for 3 different campgrounds around the Panama City area, and within an hour we had an opening at this park! I had 15 minutes to reserve it, and we were in!
During our stay here, we rode our bikes on the trails, visited the beach, and enjoyed the beautiful outdoors. This is a definitely a park that you should put on your ToDo list if you are in the area. It is absolutely gorgeous and well kept!
Stay Details: Topsail Hill Preserve Campground - Santa Rosa Beach, FL
Site #35. Our site had a broken cement pad, so it was difficult to get the camper up there without hurting any tires. We did a great job as a team once again, and we were situated in no time! Before heading out on the bikes, Mark worked on some class work. Before long, he was ready to relax and ride the trails.
Before dinner, we left Pica in the rig and went to the beach. We arrived shortly before sunset, and were able to get some awesome photos!
There are NO bad sites at this park from what we can see, and this park is very well maintained and clean. We highly recommend this campground if you are in the area. The walk to the beach was .9 miles, and the pool was closed due to Covid.
Packed a lunch and spent the day visiting the Gulf Islands National Seashore and Fort Pickens, just south of Pensacola, FL. It was a beautiful 70 degree sunny day. The drive through the Seashore area was awesome, with beautiful mult-colored homes and beautiful beaches and water.
We saw a lot of evidents of the recent Hurricane Sally, but were also glad to see people actively rebuilding their properties back to beautiful. Some homes & businesses were left abandoned, and thousands of trees and debris is still scattered around.
Ended with a fabulous B-Day dinner at Lambert’s Cafe (Home of the throwed rolls)
What an awesome day!
Stay Details: Wilderness RV Park; Robertsdale, AL
* Note: I didn't mention this in a seperate blog because the campground isn't worth mentioning our opinion. It is very run down, with many older full-time residents that let their campers get into disrepair. Many areas in the park were an eye-sore, so we mostly kept to ourselves and toured beautiful locations nearby.
This is a Coast 2 Coast park, and I would not recommend staying here unless you really need to.
After a 6-hour drive and about 50 miles of it being bridge over Louisiana swamp land, we ended up at a very nice Coast to Coast resort, Abita Springs. It is nestled amongst very tall pines, has a swimming pool, 3 ponds and a hiking trail.
I am finding out that when we request 50 amp sites when booking a camping reservation, it usually lands us smack in the middle of huge rigs and motorhomes, not the remote and quiet sites we prefer. So, we asked to downgrade to a 30 amp site and they reluctantly honored that request. When we returned from our excursion to New Orleans, we packed up from our sardine location and hastily moved to our new pond-side site with fewer rigs and more wildlife. It was darker, much quieter, had a beautiful picnic area in the pines and even occasional visiting ducks and geese!
Highlights of the visit to New Orleans: There were only a few things we wanted to see in New Orleans, so we planned for a quick visit.
- Lake Pontchartrain Bridge is the world's longest single bridge over one body of water. We think it was pretty awesome, except it was so foggy we couldn't see anything until our return trip back over the straight-long span.
- Venice: Located at the southern most end of the Mississippi River, the trip down to the end of this peninsula was nothing short of spectacular. We learned that levees built on either side of the road were meant to keep out the storm surges and protect homes and businesses. During hurricane Katrina, these levees were breached and the locals suffered from a 29' storm surge. Even 15 years later, there is still plenty of evidence from the Katrina's devestation. The 400-year storm left such an impression on New Orleans, you can take a tour of it from the French Quarter.
- Eagle: Stopping at the Plaquemines Parish Museum, Mark spotted an eagle sitting in the tree watching us. It was protecting its nearby nest and I was able to get a few photos!
- South Plaquemines High School: Most of the homes and business south of the levee gate was built on pylons to raise it beyond probable storm surges. Check out this high school that has been built above ground! The name of the HS football team? The Hurricanes!
- Venice: At the end of the peninsula, we stopped to walk around the marsh. The Pass A Loutre State Wildlife Management Area was nearby, so this area is rich with wildlife! We saw Pelicans, Osprey, Loons, Egrets, Herons, and even Alligators!
- French Quarter: We walked the markets in the French Quarter, and even though neither of us are the 'shopping' type, we enjoyed the experience of the area. We even had a Biegnet at the Cafe Du Monde!
The ornate iron railings around town and seeing Bourbon street was one of the more interesting points of the visit. There were young men scattered around town making money by shining shoes, playing music and telling jokes. We can now consider this visit checked off our list, and have little desire to return. It was definitely a learning experience, and now we understand why so many people were affected by the hurricanes here.
Stay details: Abita Springs RV Resort: Abita Springs, LA.
* Site # 223 changed to site # 25. The sites in the smaller pond loop have water and electric only, with 30-amp electric. The park does have a dump station near the entrance. We chose site 25 because it was an easier angle to back into, and our large windows would face the pond.
During our time at site 25, we had the peninsula to ourselves and the local ducks seemed to love spending their day with us; even laying down next to us as we sat and worked. :-)