RV Road Trip – Florida 2021

Trip map planned for 2021 – Click on Map to see details

Every trip must have a destination and a purpose. It has to start and end, otherwise it’s not a trip, it’s a perpetual journey… wanderlust or nomadic life. While very cool and addictive, we always like to have a start and a stop. To this end, this year we chose Florida.

Again, the main purpose of this journal is to record the trip for ourselves. For those interested we do like to share. We’re finding that it does inspire others to hit the road as full-timer nomads, long term trippers, or just weekend warriors. No matter what type, travel in any form seems to help enrich ones perspective.

Travel opens your heart, broadens your mind, and fills your life with stories to tell

by fellow traveler

San Diego, CA (click to view)

Bodi – Sept 2020

After leaving SLO at the end of September, we went to San Diego to hang with Bodi. We had a few days to visit before we left for Parker where we met up with Spencer and his pals for his 30th. Wow! Can you believe Spencer is 30!?

We had so much fun at Bodi’s swimming lessons. That kid loves the water. We definitely want to encourage this little fish!

Parker, Arizona – Spencer’s 30th

Spencer’s 30th – Lake Havasu, AZ

It seems that the Lovell’s can always find an excuse to party. In this case, it was Spencer’s 30th, so we rented a cool house in the keys at Parker Strip and celebrated in style!

We let the kids have the house for the sake of sleep, and we stayed at Riverland RV Resort in our 5th wheel with Bodi. We chilled on shore floating with Bodi while the “kids” spent the day on Lake Havasu in the tri-toon. Fun stuff! Happy Birthday Spen!

Gilbert Arizona

Oct 14, 2020 – Mom’s Birthday dinner at Copper 48
Mechanical Issues

When we reached Parker AZ for the birthday weekend, we discovered an issue with our inverter-charger. One of the 110 volt circuits fried the connector block inside the Go Power I/C 2000. This can’t happen as we depend heavily on this inverter. Here’s why if you want to read details. Bottom line, it left us with only the front AC unit working in 100 degree heat! Ugh! We survived.

We left Parker on Sunday and continued across the desert to Gilbert. On the way we discovered a new issue with our front hydraulic jacks. They began to extend during travel!!! That is not good!

If you can picture the front jacks on a 5th wheel, they ride about 12-15 inches above the pavement. Ours extended 8″ before we noticed this from our side mirror. Can you imagine what would have happened if Cheryl didn’t happen to catch that?

So, two major issues that we had to deal with at our next stop in Gilbert. Good that we had a month with Spen and Mel to sort it out.

Go Power Inverter Fix

The initial fix to the inverter was jumping the block on that one circuit with short 10 gauge wire. We found an 70 year old mobile RV repair tech in Mesa for this temp solution.

Bert was amazing. He tested everything until he found the issue. He crawled into our front bay and disassembled our inverter to find the burnt out connector block that bridges the shore power to the inverter/charger.

He quickly installed the temp bypass fix and Go Power sent us a new block for the permanent solution 2 days later. After watching Bert, I was confident enough to wire up the new block. Boom, back in biz.

Lippert Level Up Hydraulic Jack Slowly Extending? The Solution

While driving, we had to connect my phone to the RV’s WiFi, then using the Lippert One Control app, hit “auto retract” every 15 minutes. This retracted all jacks completely. What a pain in the butt while driving for 2 plus hours.

For the jacks, we contacted Lippert who actually connected us to a technician who knew what they were talking about. She had me hook up the trailer to the truck, open up the valve, raise and lower the legs 3 times to flush the valve, then shut the valve, and hit auto level. Poof, problem solved.

Gilbert Arizona

Being able to spend the month with Mel and Spen was great. They were in the process of moving from San Diego to Gilbert and since we had the time, we wanted to help. Besides, we got to scope out Gilbert, look for possible RV park building sites, visit my old boss Mickey, and really enjoy the area.

We stayed at the Hacienda Solano RV park in Chandler. It’s mostly snowbirds and full timers. Not what I would call a “resort” but it had a pool and was close to shopping. It was also the closest we could get to where the kids were moving.

Cheryl’s mom came out to help us celebrate her birthday, Oct 14. We had dinner downtown at Copper 48, a very tasty Italian restaurant with signature drinks. Yes, we social distanced and wore masks while continuing to live.

That month we continued to work, but we also got to spend an evening at Top Golf, ride bikes, hit balls, hike, play games, watch movies, eat outside at some great restaurants, hang out, visit, and help set up their new place… It was a blast!

Fast Forward to San Diego Feb, 2021

Good bye Mimi and Papa

So, we had to delay the start of our trip by a week due to papa getting Covid. Maria (Bodi’s nanny) tested positive on a Thursday, Bodi tested positive on Friday, Papa tests positive on Saturday, Jan 30. By Sunday I was starting to feel a bit off and on Monday I went down.

We were supposed to leave on Feb 7th and meet up with Mel and her friends in Sedona for her 30th, but I was down for the count. While Bodi’s response to Covid was, “eh, no big”, that virus kicked my butt. Imagine being Mike Tyson’s punching bag for 10 days of training. Brutal. Everything hurt.

The amazing thing is that both Dayna and Cheryl didn’t get it. They were up in Bodi’s grill more than me, but they tested negative 3 times. We all quarantined just the same. Brandon had just finished his 2nd Moderna shot a week earlier, so he escaped it as well. What a strange virus.

We made it to Monte Vista RV Resort that Sunday the 14th. We only stayed a few days, just long enough to hang with Mel and Spen before heading South to Tucson. Yes, we played Sorry; Mom lost, Spencer won and proved she wasn’t invincible. I think it was his first win in 3 years… maybe ever? He did a dance.

Besides dinner and games one night with the kids, we did some work, drank some wine, and sipped some bourbon. That’s about all we did at that stop, but we were on our way to Florida and next up was one of our favorite campgrounds, Gilbert Ray in Tucson!

Gilbert Ray Campground, Tucson, AZ

Gilbert Ray Campground – Site A 68

I think the photo above illustrates why we love this campground so much. The photos attached support the notion. If you love the desert, sunsets, hiking, and biking in a remote area, yet still be close to city conveniences, this is your spot.

Spen and Mel came down from Gilbert for the weekend. Mel was able to get in a 13 mile run (no not a typo, 13 miles). The girl is crazy about running and does halves every other weekend, along with tri’s and marathons throughout the year. She’s nuts.

While Mel ran, we were able to take advantage of the miles of biking/hiking trails. We took in some sunsets, campfires, and some BBQ. Fun stuff. Thanks for visiting Spen and Mel!

After Tucson, we were scheduled for City of Rocks in New Mexico. However, Covid II shut that all down, so we simply bypassed New Mexico all together and jammed to El Paso for the night.

Lajintas Golf Resort – Big Bend National Park Texas

Rio Grande – Big Bend National Park

The 6-hour drive from El Paso to Lajintas was long and boring. The 5+ hour drive from Tucson to El Paso wasn’t much better. Not until we reached Big Bend Ranch State Park did it get interesting. The little border towns, river views, and steep grades made the last 60 miles worth the first monotonous 250 miles of I-10.

What a spectacular place! We’re so glad we chose to stop and spend some time here before Austin. In fact we extended our trip by a couple days because it was so fantastic, plus I absolutely had to play that course.

Purchased by Kelcy Warren (Dallas billionaire) in 2014, it’s sure to attract golfers nationwide. I learned that golfers take charter flights and come in from all over the country to play that course and vacation in Lajintas. Who knew?

After some “walmarting” in El Paso, we hit the road. Lajintas, TX is a border town right on the Rio Grande, sandwiched between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. This well kept secret is well worth exploring. The golf at Black Jack’s Crossing was spectacular both from a visual and challenge standpoint. Oh, and the food and drink at the restaurant was top notch.

We visited Big Bend and hiked the window at Chisos Basin, dropped down and hiked the Santa Elena Trail on the Rio Grande, then took in some sunset views from the summit overlook. A wonderful 4 nights on the river. The only thing we didn’t get to do was get lunch in Boquillas del Carmen. Covid shut down the border crossing, so it was a no-va. If you make it down, do that boat and mule ride to get lunch, then send us photos… please. It sounds like a fantastic day trip.

Amistad Lake – Del Rio, Texas

Del Rio was one of those small towns in Texas with great people next to a big lake. We had a good chat with the ranger at Governors Landing Campground who explained that it’s windy a lot of the time. So, a lot of fishing, but not wakeboarding or other water sports. It was a great stop over on the way to Austin.

With no reservations, we simply cruised into a few campgrounds around the lake, checked to see what was available, and claimed our spot for the night. This spot was right on the highway. It had great views, solid internet, and 30 amp power. No water, but we were able to fill up using a spigot across the road. $10 bucks was a steal. The dump station was free and a mile away. A good stop over.

Austin, Texas – La Hacienda RV Resort

Sushi night

Austin is a great town especially since Steve lives there, and Kendall will fly in from anywhere at the drop of a hat to visit his pals. This crew has been through a lot in the last 30 years and shows no signs of slowing down.

We stayed for a week in Austin, 3 nights at La Hacienda RV Resort near Steve’s house, then 4 nights at McKinney Falls State Park just South of Austin. We took care of our laundry, oil change for the truck, and Cheryl got some serious work done at Steve’s beautiful home office while we visited.

Besides a couple days of golf, we just hung out, ate good food, and told stories. What fantastic pals these are. We all met at Call America in the 90’s and have stayed in touch ever since.

McKinney Falls State Park – Austin Texas

Great bike trails

After we left La Hacienda near Steve’s house in Cedar Creek, we set up at McKinney Falls SP, about an hour drive. It was absolutely beautiful and you would never guess it’s just a couple miles from the airport. A little oasis just down from the big city of Austin.

We had Steve and his daughter Dylan out for dinner our first night. She is such an amazing young lady. It was great conversation and so much fun to hear her stories about school and friends, but it was really fun to hear how she kicks her Dad’s butt on the course. She’s a single digit handicap and on her way to LPGA! Steve, you’re one awesome dad and a lucky one at that.

Given our proximity to downtown, we also got to eat at Blacks BBQ in Austin. Wow, it was so damn good! We were 5th in line at 11am and we went for it. Well, I did. We ordered just about every meat dish they had. We ate until we could eat no more. After the carnage, we still had 3 boxes of food leftover which lasted until Louisiana!

Sea Rim State Park – Texas

After leaving Austin with bellies full of BBQ, we headed down through Houston to the coast. We landed at Sea Rim State Park on the advice from Nina and Paul at WheelingIt.us. This was our first real touch of camping on the gulf coast.

It was a great drive through Houston and on through Port Arthur, through the refineries and shipping lanes. What an awesome spectacle of industry. It’s like seeing where your chicken dinner actually comes from.

Sea Rim is on the coastal marshes just West of the border with Louisiana. The bird species found here are wide ranging. We got to see our first American alligator. That was cool. Other cool things found here are driving and camping on the beach. We didn’t do that. Instead we opted for a walk.

Galveston – Bolivar Peninsula Texas

Bolivar Peninsula, Crystal Beach Texas

This stop was actually a slight backtrack due to campsite availability at Sea Rim. We wanted to visit Galveston so, we drove about an hour West to Crystal Beach since they had availability over Spring Break.

It’s a short ferry ride to Galveston and as you can see in the photos, they do allow RV’s on to the ferry. We had a nice meal at Steve’s Landing and met Dave who just finished building his RV park, Haileys Beach-N-Bay. It was named after his grand daughter Hailey. He had to bring in 40 truckloads of material to raise the campground above the water level.

Baton Rouge Louisiana – BREC Campground

Farr Park RV Campground at the BREC Equestrian Center

After leaving the Galveston area we headed across the river and over to Baton Rouge. We heard about this RV campground on the mighty Mississippi with a bike path that went all the way into downtown. It was quite a site to see the barges being tugged and pushed up and down the river.

We really started getting into the creole food scene once we hit Baton Rouge. We had some pretty good size storms come through with tornados. We still got to spend a day in the city and enjoyed a great lunch at Cecelia’s Creole Bistro.

This campground is huge and near empty. There were only two other RV’s in this park when we arrived. It’s really designed just for large equestrian events with space enough to keep your horse. Really enjoyed the space and proximity to the river walk.

New Orleans – Bayou Segnette SP

Our campsite after 10 inches of rain in two days

As you can see from the photos, we arrived dry and we got very lucky. Not that we managed to avoid floating into the swamp. No, we were lucky to have an amazing day in New Orleans under sun and perfect weather. Check the photos, before and after.

We arrived on a Saturday. On Sunday we drove to Algiers Point and took the ferry across the river to Jackson Square. With bikes in tow, we proceeded to bike the town. We took in all the sights on bikes. What a cool town it is. Love visiting.

We started at Acme Oyster House for lunch. Got in line just before 11am and waited about 15 minutes to get in. Great oysters, great food, great beer. Love it. Of course Bourbon Street hasn’t changed. And what would be NOLA without beignet’s from Café Du Monde.

At this stop we were able to get a lot of work done. It rained non-stop for two days. We had great internet so what else to do when its pouring buckets. At least we were close to the Piggly Wiggly for supplies. I was also able to get a set of new Michelin’s for the truck and take care of some other maintenance too before we headed East to Mississippi.

Davis Bayou SP – Ocean Springs Mississippi

After leaving New Orleans, and just after 10 inches of rain and a flooded bayou state campground, we thought for sure we’d find flooding in Biloxi, Mississippi and this bayou campground. Nope. Ocean Springs still received 10 inches of rain, but the Davis Bayou SP is mostly sand. Check out the photos and difference between each coastal campground, Bayou Segnette and Davis, in our photos.

Not too impressed with Biloxi, but Ocean Springs is where local college kids go to party. What Covid? By the time we reached this beautiful town, most people had their shots and were ready to cut loose. Spring break found a mix of college kids and college minded adults out to party.

We rode our bikes from the campground into Ocean Springs, about 3 miles or so. First we got lunch at Murky Waters, a very good BBQ place. Spent time shopping the farmers market in downtown. After that, we sat down for music, drinks, and small plates at Mosaic. That place was hopping. Glad we got their early. It was a lot of fun.

The campground is the perfect launching site for fishing. We biked all around and it’s a beautiful area. Got to see more alligators, which further supported Cheryl’s “no swimming in swamp” rule.

Dauphin Island County Campground- Alabama

We stayed at Dauphin Island Campground in Alabama. Not what I’d call top of the scale in terms of quality, but it was certainly a cool place to check out.

We rode bikes all over that island and there’s a lot to see, from beaches, to swamps, gators, snakes, historical sites, restaurants, marina, etc. It’s definitely a destination vacation spot for the locals. We loved the chatting it up with the locals and exploring the island.

Meaher State Park – Alabama

Love this campground location and the huge campsites!

So, this was a good grab by Cheryl… master of campground bookings. She always seems to find the great spots by researching blogs from other RV’ers, reviews, and tips given by others who got lucky enough to book a site and then write about it. If you can nab a spot at Meaher, go for it!

We did some exploring, biking, and relaxing. Of course, we still had to keep up the appearance of actually working from the road too. Not an easy task on a trip like this, but we managed.

Holt, FL – Blackwater River State Park

Made it to our destination state!

Blackwater River State Park was pretty cool, but it was just an overnighter. Nice sites, well maintained, and it was on the way. Did a bit of hiking/biking around the park. No breweries or visit to the town. Check out the photos and you can see where the name came from.

Emerald Beach RV Resort – Navarre-Pensacola, Florida

Emerald Beach RV Park – Navarre, Florida

Given that the southern most tip of land in the lower 48 was our main goal/destination for this trip, we had to pick and choose places to overnight. Cheryl was awesome and booking unique stays throughout our trip and sometimes this meant a night at a cool place, before we could stay for a while in one spot.

Our goal was 3-5 nights at each spot, but in this case we wanted to stay at Perdido Key RV Resort. We couldn’t check in when we wanted to so we booked Emerald Beach for a night, then backtracked to Perdido Key.

Emerald Beach RV Park was a great overnight stay. We arrived early enough to take in the sunny afternoon, took a drive out to Santa Rosa Island and Pensacola Beach, dinner, and a movie. Definitely a nice place to stay if you can get a spot on the deck. Otherwise, it’s a long strip of parking lot finishing at the beach.

Perdido Key RV Resort – Florida

This spot was fantastic. We really enjoyed our stay at Perdido Key RV Resort. First of all, the location was perfect for exploring the Pensacola area and we had 7 days to do it. So we buzzed around that whole area hitting all the cool spots.

Besides the great beer, beaches, and food we made it to a state where anyone could get the vaccine. We opted for the J&J and got jabbed at the nearby Publix drugstore. Florida was still requiring masks at the time in some situations, but for the most part it felt like freedom given that everyone who wanted to be vaccinated could be.

The other cool experience was the storm that hit the night before we left. It was buckets of rain, thunder, and lightening… what a show! The grand finale was a bolt of lightening hitting the mast of a huge sailboat across the channel about 50 yards away. It was like a bomb went off leaving smoke above the tip of the mast.

The next day we rolled it all up, including a few frogs that found their way into the channel of the awnings. We hit the road at the back end of the storm with a bit of rain, not enough to stop our trip though. Oh, we ended up finding that frog in Moab, Utah. He was pretty dried up and crispy.

Coe Landing Campground – Tallahassee Florida

Coe Landing Regional Campground

The general rule that you can almost always count on is that regional and state parks are going to deliver much better value than a private RV park. They’re not always in the best shape, but generally the sites give more privacy and space. Coe was no exception when we made it to Tallahassee.

We got to watch the gators creeping around, watch the kids fish, and took some nice hikes. I had good internet between AT&T and T-Mobile so was able to work without any problems. It was a great place to park it for a bit.

Besides the great location just outside of town, it was really cool to explore the city, the college, and downtown area. The history in Tallahassee was thick and fun to dive into.

Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park – Ginnie Springs, Florida

Ginnie Springs, Santa Fe River

Our next stop after Tallahassee was the High Springs area, just Northwest of Gainesville Florida. The Santa Fe river has many natural springs that create a cove of crystal clear water. As the spring water flows into the main channel, it transitions to black water.

We stayed at Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park, which is just South of Ginnie Springs, a private campground. We paddled about a mile up river to explore, then did an easy float down river to Ginnie which is about a mile South of Gilchrist.

At Ginnie you can cave dive, snorkel, camp, or just float. Yes, there are gators in the river but they don’t like to be where people are. Plus, their diet is mostly fish and turtles, so not many confrontations happen and there are thousands of people who float down the river in tubes each year.

This is a must stop for anyone visiting Florida, in our opinion. The springs are just so unique and calming. The water is 72 degrees year round, so perfect for the hot and balmy Florida summers.

Salt Springs -Ocala National Forest, Florida

Salt Springs FL. Typical weekend for locals

After visiting Ginnie Springs area we headed down to Salt Springs to check out the scene down there. What a blast! If you blow up the Google satellite map you can see the boats just outside of the spring. The springs create a wide channel that empties into Lake George, which is also fed by the St. Johns River.

We had fun hanging with the locals who anchor by sticking a pvc pipe into the sand. They then tie off, turn on the music, and start the BBQ. We paddled out from the campground in our kayak and met some really fun people.

The campsite was really cool. We had full hook ups and grass all around with plenty of space between sites. Paved drive allowed for great biking, walking, and the kids had a blast in golf carts, bikes, and scooters.

The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort – Orlando Florida

Fort Wilderness, Orlando Florida

We arrived in Orlando around 2pm and picked up Cheryl’s mom that evening. Went to dinner and stayed at Fort Wilderness for 5 nights which allowed a visit to the Wild Animal park, Epcot, and two days of Magic Kingdom.

From Fort Wilderness you can ride the boat over to the park and avoid the headaches of parking, traffic, etc. It was a nice perk that only comes when you book Fort Wilderness. Had fun at the pool and also riding bikes through the campground.

Disney’s Wild Animal Park April 2021

Disneyworld during a pandemic in April was interesting. The mask police were on it. Even a nose slipping out would get you a quick tap on the shoulder and request to comply. It wasn’t Florida summer hot, but it was muggy and hard to breath. Didn’t like that part, but it was nice to visit and Animal Kingdom included the new Avatar ride.

Avatar Flight of Passage was absolutely the most amazing virtual reality ride I’ve every done. They nailed it in every way, from the line outside the ride to the 3D banshee bareback flight through the forest. We waited about 90 minutes, and some people told stories of 3 hour waits… but still worth it.

Disney’s Epcot

Always a great time, but I have to say the highlight for me was the Biergarten Restaurant and an hour of unmasking while I downed a 1/2 liter of lager and took in some much needed oxygen.

The Magic Kingdom

We had fun at the Magic Kingdom, a stroll down memory lane. We had taken the kids there when they were in grade school. Now we’re looking forward to visiting someday with their kids. Wow, time does fly.

Fort Meyers Beach – San Carlos Island RV Park

San Carlos RV Park, Ft. Meyers, Florida

After leaving Mickey behind in Orlando we all headed Southwest to Fort Meyers, Florida and checked into San Carlos RV Park and Islands. This is a great place to Winter, and many people do just that to escape the cold in the Northern states and Canada.

We showed up late April, right at the end of the Winter season which is why we were able to get a spot there. It was still busy, but not crazy so we were able to get into some great restaurants and enjoy this popular destination vacation spot.

The island where the park is located is surrounded by the lagoon, Hurricane Bay. We kayaked all round the bay and took one day to enjoy the beach nearby. After a couple days we said good-bye to Bonnie (Cheryl’s mom) and dropped her off at the airport. Back to Morro Bay she went while we continued our journey South toward our destination, the Southern most tip of the continental USA.

Collier-Seminole State Park

Collier-Seminole State Park

South of Fort Meyers is Collier-Seminole State Park, just off highway 41 at the edge of Everglades National Park. We had seen our share of gators, so we didn’t have to go too deep into the National Park to satisfy our desire to check it off the list. This state park campground had plenty of skeeters and other unknown bugs to validate our understanding of what the swamp contained.

The reality was that San Marcos Island wasn’t too far away, so rather than tough it out with the mosquitos, we drove out to Ciao Bella Ristorante and had a great dinner with fantastic wine. We didn’t even put the kayak in the water. Figured it was pitch black and we kinda knew what was down there.

Kings Kamp RV Park – Key Largo, Florida

Kings Kamp RV Park Key Largo, Florida

The drive down to the keys was awesome, lots of small towns and roadside attractions related to the everglades. Kings Kamp was a stop over, but it was really cool. It was my first time to the keys and all that I expected as it related to pulling, stopping, and turning 8 tons of trailer.

This park was tight… I mean tight. It’s hard to really grasp the tightness of this small little park, but trust me it was tight. The turn onto the street leading to the park was small and yes, tight. Then the gate into the park was so narrow and tight I had to hug the left side of the street to get into the park.

After check in, I learned that our reserved site was at the end of a road that I’d have to back into. I had to round a palm tree down the boat ramp to get the rig straight, then back up 100 yards into a narrow road missing telephone poles and cars along the way. I had to jackknife it and then pull forward onto the pad. The next day was nuts as well. Luckily the spot across from us was empty so we pulled straight into that spot, cranked it to miss the pole, got it straight, then left.

While that experience was nuts, we’re still glad we stopped there. It was 4 hours to Key Largo, and another 3 to get to Blue Water Key just North of Key West. You can see by the photos that we had a nice bike ride and sunset at this little overnighter, just one stop a way from our trip’s destination, Blue Water Key RV Resort, Key West, Florida.

Blue Water Key RV Resort, Key West, Florida

Blue Water Key RV Resort, Florida

Are you kidding me? Is this real? Does this exist? Are we really parked on a chunk of coral in the middle of the Florida Keys? This place was unbelievable and we timed it just right, first week of May, 2021. Weather was perfect, the flock of snowbirds was thinning, and Covid fears were starting to wane.

First off, the photos are a pretty good representation of what we experienced. Our rig was backed up to tiki hut with a fridge full of beer and beyond that a swim dock on crystal clear warm water. On either side were azaleas so thick you could barely hear through them, let alone see. Total privacy on the water RV pad with full hook ups.

All I can say is that this place was amazing. We explored and ate and drank like we were on vacation with no budget and the last days on earth were just ahead. We didn’t miss anything that we wanted to do, and it was all just perfect.

Our dinner at Louie’s Backyard was fantastic. We actually spent the day in Key West riding bikes all over, getting drinks, lunch, exploring. Then just before our reservation time we rode our bikes to this fantastic restaurant, fixed our hair, put on a new shirt, and had one of the best meals ever.

One of the highlights was a pontoon boat out to a sand bar near the Marvin Key. We dropped a pin because it was so perfect, check out the satellite view. We anchored the boat, walked about a mile up the sand bar with our tubes, then floated back to the boat on the current while sipping drinks and listening to classic rock.

The thing we missed at the boat orientation by the new chick was that we had to stay on the GPS route set for us. Also, we had to be back before the tide let out. She spent so much time telling us about the amazing things around us and never said we couldn’t go there! So, we didn’t stay on the GPS course and we didn’t get back before tide went out. We got stuck outside the reef, a big no no that could of resulted in a visit by the Coast Guard.

The owner of the boat called and said, “Hey, tell me this GPS dot isn’t you in restricted sanctuary waters.” Hmmm. Not only did we go outside the reef into restricted waters chasing dolphin, we got stuck in deep water outside the reef.

I found the spot where we went out, but at this point it was about a 1-2 feet deep river type current flowing against us. With Cheryl at the bow spotting the path, we narrowly escaped being stuck at sea. We plowed a new channel back into the Turkey Basin where our GPS route would guide us back.

Needless to say, we learned what “dredging” was. It was a freak out complete with the shakes from adrenalin. I took two inches off that aluminum prop grinding it in the sand, but we made it back. The “new girl” was freaking too. She knew she messed up as bad as us and was very happy to send us on our way. Whew!!!

Leaving was tough. I could spend a season at that place. We seriously thought about buying a pad as there were several for sale. The most expensive was $1.2 million and least was about $500k. Hmmm. We’ll just rent. Next stop Juniper/Port St. Lucie.

Jonathan Dickinson State Park – Jupiter Florida

Jonathan Dickinson State Park

Besides getting to see my cousin Bret, this location was great for both biking and kayaking. We kayaked up the Loxahatchee River and biked all round the state park which his huge. The campsites are big and spread out with plenty of room for toys and tents.

Anastasia State Park – St. Augustine Florida

Anastasia in St. Augustine was a stopover, mainly because we could only get one night. Had we been able to get more, we would have. St. Augustine is the oldest city in the US and it’s about as quaint and interesting as you can make a city.

We had a great time and experienced quite a bit in just the half day and one night. We rode all over Anastasia State Park to explore, then we went over to the city and toured around, stopping at the Tini Martini Bar for a tuner, then off to the Ice Plant for dinner. That drink in the photo is a very unique Manhattan made with Woodford Reserve, a homemade bitters, and a burnt sugar syrup in place of the sweet vermouth. The ice wasC crystal clear and takes days to make. They created something very hard to replicate. I know, I’ve tried and failed. Fun stuff.

Crooked River State Park – Savannah Georgia

Crooked River State Park, Savannah Georgia area

Cheryl found the ideal state campground to base camp. It’s just outside St. Mary’s on the border between Florida and Georgia, South of Savannah by 15 minutes. So, it was in the middle of a swamp yet close enough to Savannah that we could explore the city easy enough, yet camp in a remote area. It was an awesome place.

The last time we went through Georgia was 2014, we skipped Savannah due to time constraints. We’re really glad we stopped and spent time this year. We toured this beautiful city with Old Savannah Tours, a hop on/off bus tour with period actors jumping on and off to explain “how it was”. I think they did an awesome job presenting Old Savannah.

Smokey Bear Campground – Gatlinburg Tennessee

Old Mill Restaurant, Pigeon Forge TN

One of the places Cheryl really wanted to visit was Smokey Mountains. She found a great RV park, the Smokey Bear, just outside Gatlinburg. The owners were in the process of fixing it up and gave us a great pull through that made it easy to get in and out.

Gatlinburg and the surrounding little towns, shops, and restaurants were fun to explore. One of the great experiences was Doc’s 321 Cafe and Marketplace just outside of Cosby, TN. That guy used to live near San Diego, CA. He sold his property and moved to Tennessee years ago and built out what he loved to do; collect, eat, and drink.

We picked up jam, spices, fruit, and vegetables at Carver’s Orchard and Applehouse Restaurant more than once. On one outing we rode a chairlift up a hill to catch the view, drove by Dollywood, had lunch in Pigeon Forge, and finished the day with a bobsled ride. Gatlinburg is one big playground for the locals and a great place to experience.

Friend Visit – Lebanon Tennessee

As we made our way back from Gatlinburg, we made a stop in Lebanon to visit friends who escaped California for the Tennessee lifestyle a couple years prior. What a beautiful place they have, and I was able to fit our monster rig perfectly into their drive.

Paducah, Kentucky

Dry Ground Brewing

We’re really glad we stopped in Paducah on our way to Branson, Missouri. We stayed over night at a park just outside of town. After setting up, we headed downtown to explore. It was rich in sites, cool people, history and like many small towns these days, had a great brewery to visit too.

Mill Creek Campground, Table Rock Lake – Branson Missouri

Mill Creek Campground – Table Rock Lake, Branson, Missouri

This was an awesome place to stop for a few days, visit Branson, play some golf, and just chill. Table Rock Lake is all things recreation and the supporting businesses are all about great food, fishing, boating, and everything fun.

Our campsite was out on a peninsula with one road out to a turnaround allowing pull throughs and back ins from paved roads. It had rained like crazing in the days prior, the lake was up and flooding some of the sites. Glad we picked one that wasn’t under water.

While there I played a round at Top of the Rock golf course which is in the Big Cedar family with Ozark’s National, Payne’s Valley, and other great courses. My TBO buddies played there the week after we went through.

Lake of the Ozark’s State Park – Missouri

Boating in the Ozark’s was a bucket list thing we had to do. As fans of Jason Bateman and the Netflix series, “Ozarks”, it was a must do thing. We had a great spot near the water at the campground and the boat rental place was just around the corner.

Overall, we enjoyed the Ozark’s area immensely. It got a little bit busy for our taste at some locations, but we did manage to find a little brewery that fit our taste just right.

It’s definitely a destination vacation spot for anyone living within a few hundred miles. You can see that owning a home on the lake is a thing there with some places running into the millions. Glad we made it and spent the time. Now it’s time to get back home.

Deer Creek Valley RV Park, Topeka Kansas

Deer Creek Valley RV Park – Topeka KS

We did a lot of driving around in Topeka and got a good feel for it, but we really didn’t find anything remarkable. We drove to some swanky neighborhoods and saw some old houses along the river, but downtown wasn’t a real draw. So, we want back to the home on wheels and made margarita’s with our Ninja. One step closer to home.

Peak One Campground – Breckinridge, CO

Peak One Campground – Colorado

This was a great stop over, two nights, on our way to Moab. We made it from Topeka, set up shop and went out to explore. Just enough time to visit the local brewery, hike, bike, and take in some sunsets on the lake. It was the perfect place to prepare for what came next, the last hurrah in Moab, Utah with the kids.

Portal RV Resort – Moab, Utah

Portal RV Resort – Moab, Utah

Since we talked up Moab so much to the kids, Brandon and Dayna planned a trip out to meet us in Moab on our way back from Florida. Spence and Mel weren’t able to make it, but Jeff and Heather had some time off so they towed up OJ, and Brandon towed up the Sonoma travel trailer.

We stayed at a nice RV resort in the middle of town with a nice pool and close to all the stuff we wanted to see and experience; restaurants, off-road trails, and… more off-road trails.

Chicken Fingers – Moab, Utah

Moab Utah – Hell’s Revenge

Hell’s Revenge & Fin’s n’ Things

Hot Tubs on Hell’s Revenge Trail

The thing about Moab is that there is so much outdoor activity to do and places to explore that you can pack a multi-faceted vacation into just one location. Since Brandon dragged OJ (White Bronco) all the way out to Moab from San Diego, we had to get the most of it, and we did.

You can see the hot tub videos in this section that was pretty cool. The year prior we saw a modified truck get stuck in this same tub. It wasn’t an issue for OJ, but we didn’t know that going in. Cheryl wasn’t too happy with me for supporting Brandon’s decision to go for it. Turned out fine.

Cinder Hills OHV – Dispersed Camp near Flagstaff, Arizona

Cinder Hills OHV

After leaving Moab we traveled through Monument Valley, back to Flagstaff area. We didn’t take OJ off the trailer because it just got too late and we had another 7 hours of driving the next day. This is where we parted ways. The kids went back to San Diego, and we headed West to visit Cheryl’s family in Bakersfield.

Garland Prarie Dispersed Camp – Williams Arizona

Garland Prarie – Dispersed Camp area

We like this location near Williams, Arizona. It’s a good stop over place to visit Williams, or Grand Canyon. Long Jim Loop is another favorite spot for boondockers. We hit this place after leaving the kids at Cinder Hills. After this was Bakersfield, then SLO, CA.

Bakersfield River Run RV Park

On our way back to SLO, we stopped at River Run RV Park and spent the night so we could visit Cheryl’s bro. He had just finished restoring this ’70 Chevy stepside. Nice.

Next stop…. Home. San Luis Obispo CA. and the trip is done. Fin!