After my Mexican adventure we spent two glorious weeks with our wonderful homies in California before we hit the road again. Florida here we come! It’s just a measly 2300 miles away.
But before we get to the subject of how darn expensive it is to camp in Florida we made a few stops along the way. First up, White Sands National Monument in New Mexico.
It’s a stunning 275 square miles of the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. But where’s the ocean?
Next stop was New Orleans where we devoured crawfish with ice cold beer and visited some dear friends. My buddy Marti gave me the sailing bug! He is refurbishing a 37 foot L Francis Herreshoff Meadowlark, a boat that draws less than 2 feet of water so he assured me we can just jump off the bow right onto the beach. Count me in!
Finally we arrived in the Florida panhandle. After much effort we secured a spot in Grayton Beach State Park. It was beautiful and affordable like all the FL state parks, but not easy to get a reservation.
The beaches are beautiful along this stretch of the Gulf of Mexico, talcum powder white sand and clear blue water.
And we were right next door to the famous town of Seaside, a place I’ve always wanted to visit.
Next stop was Siesta Key in Sarasota. This is one of my favorite beaches in the world. Unfortunately this is where the weather stopped cooperating. Spring in Florida is usually rain free and temperate. As we drove into the state they were experiencing a drought, it hadn’t rained in months. But our visit put an end to all of that.
We did manage to get a few good days on the beach though.
And some sunsets!!
But the best part of the West Coast of Florida was visiting with our family and friends. I got to see my Uncle Jake, and my cousins Jordan (RIP), Angel, Baby Bear and the latest addition to the family, Riley. Missed you Snoop, hopefully one day soon. A big shout out to Aunt Turkey Lurk, Sarah, Grammy Judy, Papa Stew and Linda. And to all the Broadwells. Also thanks to Buddy and Maggie for letting us park in their driveway and to Ringo and Maddie for taking us booze cruising. And Elvis, thanks for the great steak dinner!
It was a blast!
Glamping is all about the real estate. Location location location. The quest for the best spots officially began.
It wasn’t easy finding RV parks right on the beach, or any body of water for that matter, especially ones you can afford. Jeez, and I thought British Columbia was expensive!
There were only a couple of private RV parks right on the beach in the Panhandle, all costing at least a $100 a night. We’ve never spent anything close to that, even on the coast of California. There was a reasonable park on the beach in Siesta Key, but darn if dogs aren’t allowed. Total canine discrimination!! We were determined in our search but then the tropical storms started rolling in. First Beryl in May, then Debby in June. Maybe being right on the water wasn’t such a good idea?
We had a great spot (see below) on Long Bayou at the Madiera Beach KOA for $46 a night. But after a few days we were evacuated to higher ground when the water encroached after 13 inches of rain due to Debby. And then there were the tornadoes! We actually had to run to the nearest concrete building as the news anchor said “get to your tornado rooms right now!” It touched down a couple miles south and did all sorts of damage. Us Westerners just aren’t used to all this weather!
We did score beachfront on North Ft. Myers beach, the Red Coconut RV Park, but only stayed one night as it cost… $100 a night!
Then it was off to the Florida Keys! Surely we would find some affordable waterfront spots there? First stop, the Calusa Campground Resort and Marina, but again for $100 a night with fees and tax.
Next up was Curry Hammock State Park. It was great and affordable, as they all are, but we could only get a spot for 1 night. All the state parks are booked way in advance even in the summer months.
Finally we found the best deal in the entire state of Florida at the Bluewater Key Resort, which is only 10 miles from Key West. Not only was it waterfront and NOT a $100 a night (off season), they give you a lot of bang for your buck. There are various ways to book but we used the Bluewaterkey.NET website. Pat and Dennis were the best of hosts and pride themselves on their concierge service.
We loved our premium canal front spot with it’s outdoor living room, a kitchen and dining room under two palapas. All spots are individually owned and decked out differently and though most every spot has it’s own dock (bay front or canal front), ours had an underwater light that made it a living aquarium at night. And all this for only $68 a night (cash price)!
After a year on the road we were thrilled to have real furniture and such a lovely outdoor living space. We had a nice breeze but depending on the time of year, the bay front spots can actually get too windy. We stayed 10 glorious days and wanted more time.
When Pat and Dennis didn’t have availability they kindly referred us to the Bluewaterkey.COM group and we were able to get a bay front spot for around $86 a night. There was a palapa but no furniture yet the dock was great for fishing and you know how I love seafood!
We rented a boat for 5 days and had a glorious time before the storms resumed. I love boats!
This was our favorite hangout, the flats off Lois Key, about a mile offshore. We could watch the tarpon, sharks and barracuda swim by. “Watch” being the operative word.
As my human would cast and cast again, trying to actually catch these creatures with a tiny fly I would just dunk my head under water, lunge at them swimming by, snag them with my teeth and hurl them into the boat.
But did they thank me, no! All I heard were screams, some words I can’t repeat here, then a lot of scrambling around and finally a splash. For some reason my humans didn’t want these cute little guys in the boat.
I hooked up with this really cool dude at a nearby party island. We belted back a few beers together and talked critter patrol. Look at that hottie! He really knows how to live!
All good things must come to an end but we made one more stop on the way back to the mainland, in Marathon. We stayed at Knights Key Resort and Marina for $68 a night. We didn’t have an outdoor living room but the view was great.
And we loved the Sunset Grill Tiki Bar right at the foot of the 7 mile bridge. You could swim, drink and eat all at the same time. And I was allowed on the deck!
We had some more beautiful sunsets before the gully washers started again!
As we headed up the east coast the first waterfront spot we found was in Melbourne Beach on the St. Johns River. It was an Outdoor Resorts, with a pool on the beach side and spaces right on the river for $60 a night.
In Ormond Beach we stayed at the Coral Sands Inn RV park (see below). We loved this spot right on the ocean and it was a bargain at $75 a night. Further north along the A1A in Flagler Beach there are other beachfront spots, but again for around $100 a night.
We wanted to see Saint Augustine so we stayed at Bryn Mawr Ocean Resort. There are dunes between you and the water but the breeze was good and the price was about $70 a night.
St Augustine was a fascinating town! Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer and admiral Pedro Menendez de Avilis it is the oldest continuously occupied European- established city and port in the continental United States.
And the place is haunted! Locals and visitors alike have experienced a wide range of unexplained phenomenon, captured amazing ghost pictures while strolling the cobblestone streets, and have even found that when they were video taping various areas that they ended up with some spectacular ghost videos.
Castillo de San Marcos (seen below), or “The Old Fort” to the locals, is rumored to be one of the most haunted places in the entire city. Among the various sightings are in the watchtower it is said that a light ignites on nights that are relatively stormy. And a soldier is often seen dressed in lavishly clothing that represents the era, looking out to the vast sea. This is normally experienced when the sun is just starting to rise, or when the sun is setting. And in the dungeon of the fort, many individuals have experienced strange sensations. These sensations include goose bumps, breezes, the feeling of being touched, and many individuals have even experienced physical sickness in the dungeon for no apparent reason. I call BS cause it didn’t happen to me!
There is a long list of haunted places and tours are offered… if you’re brave enough! Stayed tuned for more of my adventures up the East Coast, all the way to Nova Scotia.
Coming up next: Deep in the Heart of Dixie!