First 20 days- Tallahassee, Southwest FL, Central Florida, and Northwest FL

So it took a little longer than expected to get started with our blog.  We didn’t worry too much about it for the first few days.  We were off the grid and out of wifi range.  We decided to enjoy ourselves and figured we would be able to catch up soon enough.  Wrong.  It’s taken us a total of twenty days to get all this figured out.  When we got to a place where we could pick up signals, we were challenged with technical difficulties and our lack of knowledge (mostly this) related to how to deal with wifi signals (lack of), setting up new devices, learning more about the cloud, learning how to work on the blog, etc.  We’ll get better with future updates and things like adding a map of our travel route, but for now, we’ll catch up  by touching on some of the highlights so far:

  • New Year’s Eve with Mom & Dad in Tallahassee  We departed on December 31st from home and had the perfect start to ring in the new year close to home. We spent a wonderful evening visiting and watching Clemson win the Orange Bowl to earn a trip to the National Championship game.  Their phone started ringing as soon as the game was over, and before midnight, plans were underway for them to make the trip to AZ with family- Joe, Julianne, Bob, Robert, Connie and Charles- to cheer on the Tigers!
Day 1. Celebrating New Year's Eve and Clemson's victory with mom & dad in Tallahassee

Day 1. Celebrating New Year’s Eve and Clemson’s victory with mom & dad in Tallahassee

  • January 2nd-4th.  Sanibel Island & Koreshan State Historical Site.  Following an incredible farewell breakfast, hugs and goodbyes, we left mom and dad’s and headed to the southwestern gulf coast.  We camped at the Koreshan State Park, a site along the Estero River that was originally settled by a small religious community in the 1800s.  We hiked along the river surrounded by lush greenery and a bamboo section in the forest.  It was quite beautiful and remote feeling in this otherwise densely populated area of the state.  We headed over to Sanibel Island, one of our favorites, where we had lunch, took a walk along the gorgeous beach, and had a nice visit with family friends, Bobbi and Marti Braun, at their home along the canal on Sanibel.
We had a great visit with Bobbi and Marty. Their home overlooks this beautiful canal and is in short walking distance to the Gulf.

We had a great visit with Bobbi and Marty. Their home overlooks this beautiful canal and is in short walking distance to the Gulf.

Hunter's Christmas gift to us this year. We love this awesome hammock! Sets up in under a minute.

Hunter’s Christmas gift to us this year. We love this awesome hammock! Sets up in under a minute.

 

Our first camping spot-Koreshan State Park

Our first camping spot-Koreshan State Park

Koreshan State Park. View from our campsite. Enjoyed incredible weather.

Koreshan State Park. Enjoyed incredible weather, perfect for hiking and biking.

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Palm tree lined streets in Fort Myers.

Palm tree lined streets in Fort Myers.

  • Myakka River State Park.  January 3rd-6th.  We stumbled onto this park during an online search  for a place to stay near Nokomis, FL where we had scheduled a meeting with reps Coach House Platinum, our RV manufacturer.  Since we purchased the RV from the original owner, we figured it would be prudent to meet with the folks at Coach House to get a thorough walk through prior to our journey.  We also had batteries installed to extend our ability to camp “off the grid”.  We’re so glad we did the walk through (everything checked out great) and especially glad we had the opportunity to explore Myakka.  It is one of the oldest and largest state parks in FL  and includes miles and miles of scenic biking and hiking trails through gorgeous sabal palm forests and live oak ridges, along a beautiful lake, and the Myakka River with tons of wildlife.  We did lots of hiking and biking and enjoyed great weather (50s at night, upper 60s to low 70s for daytime highs).  We figured that Maysea logged about 20 miles of running/walking along side our bikes and/or hiking trails with us in just one day there.   We’re also finding that this life is really quite social.  We are meeting fellow campers, hikers from all over the country.  We enjoyed meeting two couples that are fellow Coach House Platinum RV owners who love their rigs.  Myakka SP did take us off the grid- there was no cell phone service despite its location close to some of the most densely populated areas of the state.  We truly disconnected and loved it!
Late night arrival at Myakka River State Park.

Late night arrival at Myakka River State Park.

Likely a squirrel sighting along the trail at Myakka River.

Likely a squirrel sighting along the trail at Myakka River

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Enjoyed hiking and biking for most of the daylight hours here

Enjoyed hiking and biking for most of the daylight hours here

  • January 7th. Oscar Scherer State Park  We moved to Oscar Scherer State Park near Venice. We ate lunch at a great spot on the water “Casey Key Fish House”- enjoyed delicious grilled snapper with mango salsa.  Yum!  Venice is a nice small walkable town along the gulf coast with lots of scenic canals.  We were delighted to find Brohard Paw Park…an off leash dog park on the beach.  It was absolutely beautiful- white sandy beach, clear water, and filled with happy people and happy pets!

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Lunch at Casey Key Fish House.

Lunch at Casey Key Fish House.

A new experience for William...barefoot on the beach on a weekday! BA and Maysea at water's edge at this amazing dog beach right on the Gulf.

A new experience for William…barefoot on the beach on a weekday! BA and Maysea at water’s edge at this amazing dog beach right on the Gulf.

Maysea settled in for the drive between spots.

Maysea settled in for the drive between spots.

  • January 8-11th.  Wekiwa State Park  We moved to Wekiwa State Park mostly so that we could spend the weekend in the Winter Park area.  We have great memories from our weekends there when Hunter was at Rollins College.  We wandered through the farmer’s market, picking up fresh produce, walked around town, and ate at some of our favorite restaurants.  We also got to connect with new friends, Jennifer and Kate, their dog Bailey, and cat, Gypsy.  We met them in Savannah during one of our pre-adventure practice camping weekends.  After a brief friendly chat in the parking lot, we learned that they too are on a one year RV road trip adventure (from Eugene, OR) and would be passing through Tallahassee after Thanksgiving.  We invited them to stop by and camp at our house.  They took us up on it and we had a great time there and again over dinner at Wekiwa and walking around Winter Park.
Great little restaurant next to the ball park in Winter Park. Awesome food.

Great little restaurant next to the ball park in Winter Park. Awesome food.

The Briar Patch in Winter Park. A must for a weekend brunch. We love sitting outside in the many sidewalk cafes along Park Ave, New England Ave in Winter Park.

The Briar Patch in Winter Park. A must for a weekend brunch. We love dining at the sidewalk cafes along Park Ave and New England Ave in Winter Park.

  • January 11-13.  A visit with Pat & Jack Miller in Stuart, FL  We headed south when we found out it would work for us to connect with long time friends, Pat and Jack Miller.  Pat and I figured we’ve known each other since I was about 10 years old.  It had been over a year since we last visited, so it was a real treat to catch up.  We had a great visit and lunch with Pat and her sister Kathleen at a restaurant overlooking the intracoastal waterway.  We stayed nearby at Jonathan Dickinson State Park, took in hikes around the park, and found another great dog beach for Maysea on the Atlantic at nearby Jenson Beach.
The beautiful view along the intracoastal waterway at Pat and Jack's home. So glad we got a chance to visit with them as one of our first stops.

The beautiful view along the intracoastal waterway at Pat and Jack’s home. So glad we got a chance to visit with them as one of our first stops.

Pat & Jack Miller. Looking good!

Pat & Jack Miller. Looking good!

Walton Rocks Dog Park in Jenson Beach- great spot to romp in the Atlantic Ocean

Walton Rocks Dog Park in Jenson Beach- great spot to romp in the Atlantic Ocean

  • January 14th.  North to O’Leno State Park.  We picked this stop mostly for its convenient location on our travel route and were pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful setting.  Features included a suspension bridge and several buildings that were constructed by the CCC in the 30s.  We enjoyed wonderful hiking trails along the river in the midst of a longleaf pine forest.  We thought of Marjorie, William’s sister, a lot during our visit to this park, as she has a great interest in the long leaf pine.  We felt the change in this more The temperatures dropped significantly- we used our heated mattress pads- a great purchase.  They are awesome for  staying warm and cozy without the need to blast the heater in the RV.  We headed out from here to head over to Grayton Beach State Park for a weekend songwriter’s festival.
One of several wooden bridges bridges built by CCC

One of several wooden bridges bridges built by CCC

Flowing stream along the trail

Flowing stream along the trail

Interesting info re: long leaf pine

Interesting info re: long leaf pine

Long Leaf Pine

Long Leaf Pine

Suspension bridge constructed by CCC

Suspension bridge constructed by CCC

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  • January 15th-19th.  30a Songwriter’s Festival and Grayton Beach State Park. Though our plan is to not have a plan for much of the coming year, we decided when we started that we would schedule time to make it to the 30a Songwriter’s Festival.  There were tons of talented artists featured at multiple small venues- restaurants, listening rooms, a vinyl record store, etc.  The headliner, Jackson Brown, played at a small outdoor venue and was terrific.  We really enjoyed music from the lesser known artists and newcomers as well.  We also did tons of biking on our e-bikes to get to the venues along 30a.
30a Songwriters Festival

30a Songwriters Festival

Enjoyed the 30a Songwriter Festival. This is Jackson Brown, the headliner.

Enjoyed the 30a Songwriter Festival. This is Jackson Brown, the headliner.

  • January 19th.  3 Sons Bar-B-Q and cousin Chris.  Before leaving FL, we made a final stop at the best Bar-B-Q spot you’ll find (and I mean it!).  We pulled up and managed to surprise my cousin, Chris Vaughn who runs this from a food truck in Freeport, FL.  We had a great visit, and he filled us up with the BEST brisket, pulled pork, ribs, cole slaw, tater salad, and baked beans ever!  We took enough food for meals for a week.  If you’re in the area, 3 Sons Bar-B-Q is a must.
Great to see Chris and eat the best BBQ and sides ever! If you're in the area of Freeport, FL- don't miss it!

Great to see Chris and eat the best BBQ and sides ever! If you’re in the area of Freeport, FL- don’t miss it!

Brisket, pulled pork and homemade sides- tater salad, slaw, baked beans. Yum!!

Brisket, pulled pork and homemade sides- tater salad, slaw, baked beans. Yum!!

Cousins!

Cousins!

One of our favorite aspects of our trip so far, is connecting with family and new and old friends.

 

 

 

3 Comments on “First 20 days- Tallahassee, Southwest FL, Central Florida, and Northwest FL

  1. What a wonderful start to a grand adventure!! thanks so much for sharing with us. the pictures add such fun to your adventures. May they all be this exhilarating!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Eliza LOVED seeing y’all!! And Jim and I stayed at Fausse st. park–it is lovely. Wonderful to follow your adventures–maybe I’ll venture into retirement before long myself, with you inspiration.

    Like

    • We really did LOVE our time with Eliza. So awesome to see her in her city, learn more about her new job (sounds so great and like it’s a perfect fit). And a real treat to see her beautiful home and neighborhood. Hugely impressed by her business savvy as landlord too. Cool that you and Jim ventured to Fausse St. Park- it was deserted when we were there- nice peaceful stop. The journey so far is certainly giving us plenty of moments to enjoy as well as stop and reflect to ponder what comes next. Will be posting pics of restaurants we’ve enjoyed from the book you gave us for Christmas- some great spots! A real standout was in Santa Fe,NM. Biggest challenge to date is getting a strong enough wifi signal to upload/post pics and update. More to do with overcoming my technical deficiencies. Sigh.

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