Summary of our Florida experiences - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-24-2016, 02:51 PM   #1
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Summary of our Florida experiences

Well....15 1/2 weeks complete. Arrived home last evening following a slooooow return to winter. Didn't have any appreciable amount of snow until Bangor, Maine. And here at home, we were welcomed with the lament "you brought the snow with you!!!".
Seems winter here in New Brunswick has basically been a non-event. Go figure!
There have been only 4 snowfalls over 8-10 inches and THAT is unheard of. But they went from snow-free grass (albeit brown) to snow-covered on the evening we left Myrtle Beach and now have 8 inches on the ground.

We travelled right down to Key West and spent nights in a wide variety of spots. State, municipal and private parks in Florida and South Carolina, truck stops in Georgia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Florida, Walmart and a hotel with RV plug ins in Maine, Home Depot and Cracker Barrel in Florida and an Escapees park in Florida. We also parked at the home of friends at their mobile home community in Florida.

As one would expect, there were pros and cons to each one. The ability to use of truck stops/Home Depot/Cracker Barrel/Walmart while travelling was very handy. Only once were we told we couldn't stay--after getting permission from the store manager---and that was in Homestead, Florida. The 5 other RVs plus us all were told by a security guard at about 9 pm that we "would not be asked to leave from Home Depot"...so on we went, down the road a block, to Home Depot where we joined 7 more RVs and spent a quiet night.

There is a guy who is on You Tube who full-times in his Casita 16, from Florida, known as "the Willful Wanderer". He shares a multitude of spots where one can camp for free or a minimal cost. Most are within the National Park system. He shows videos of the campgrounds and gives good info on the nearby communities. We decided to investigate---for future trips---alot of his recommendations.
The bulk of them are lovely. Quiet, peaceful, underused spots often with fire rings, tables and most have some form of bathroom facility nearby--whether pit toilets, portab le units or full service bathrooms. His travelling instructions enabled us to find these places easily.
But...the reason we didn't stay in any of them wasn't anything to do with the spot---or the facility---or even the location. It had to do with my fear of snakes. And in each of these spots, after talking to folks who were camped there, they all admitted to having seen at least one snake while there. Well, that was it for me!
However, to those not afflicted by the same fear as me, these would ALL be great choices. Going to YouTube and viewinghis videos on Florida, in particular, (there are 4 or 5) gives one excellent resource to find an alternative campground for those who enjoy off-the-grid camping.

All in all, it was a wonderful first winter away. Now we have to sit down and go over the financials to figure out the total cost of our time away and decide a plan for next winter.
We have compiled a little book for future reference with notes on the parks we viewed but chose not to stay in. I cannot believe how many spots we actually visited!

The one tie between them all----we had zero bad experiences with other campers. We met amazing people, made many new friends and shared lots of stories, laughs and even a few tears. We were given a tent (9x16), a queen-sized double-high air mattress, a queen sleeping bag by neighbouring campers while we were in Key Largo who flew in to Miami from Dallas and bought camping stuff but didn't intend on taking it back with them. We thought this to be a unique experience....until the next week, the campers on the other side of us did the exact same thing!! This time we gave some other folk the "leftovers". Seems hotel costs in the Keys prompted this.....
We met a man in St. Mary's, Georgia who took us for a tour around town in his car that lasted 2 hours!! Then he took us to his home to show us his treasured possessions.
What a treat! There were chickens in one spot who walked the campgrounds freely but chose our bbq grill to lay eggs each day---one from each of them--so we had fresh eggs!
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Old 03-24-2016, 03:11 PM   #2
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I thoroughly enjoyed your post. Thanks, Raz
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Old 03-24-2016, 03:44 PM   #3
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Theresa,
Thanks for sharing your traveling experience with this group! Sounds like you all had a wonderful time! Glad you made it back home safe and sound. Please keep posting on this site. I really enjoyed reading about your travels.
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Old 03-24-2016, 03:48 PM   #4
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Thanks for the travelogue Theresa, it was fascinating-and informative-to read.
So glad you had such a good time!!!
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Old 03-24-2016, 04:33 PM   #5
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Theresa, you're lucky, you can travel in winter! I live in Florida and have to wait till the spring time until I can travel North...
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Old 03-24-2016, 09:07 PM   #6
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Thanks, everyone, for your kind words. It was a great trip. Ended in time to be home for Easter, as requested by our boys...since we weren't here for Christmas
Again, thanks to Norm and Ginny for their hospitality. We enjoyed meeting you very much.

I find the drive long....that's the anticipation, I know. And the return journey is always bittersweet. But we have to give kudos to both Flying J (we stayed at 5 different locations) and TA travel centres (both RV friendly) as good overnighting spots. We actually enjoy them more than Walmart and find we sleep more soundly. Maybe we've just been lucky re: the noise from the trucks, but honestly, we don't find it disturbs our rest. Both chains have great amenities (showers, laundry, 24 hour restaurant/washrooms, and in our experience, have been clean.

Now....on to planning the next trip....
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Old 03-24-2016, 09:22 PM   #7
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Theresa- I'm glad you enjoyed our state. One of the reasons I'm searching for the perfect RV is I want to take my husband to Canada. I have cousins in Ontario and British Columbia, and really want to show him the Bay of Fundy and its beauties. Plus, I'de like him to see some of the beauty in NW Ontario and Manitoba, where I took my Boy Scouts on extended canoe camping trips.
I encourage people to check our prime Manatee viewing spots in winter- Blue Springs, Crystal River, Homosassa Springs- and to tube our Ichetucknee in sumer. Makes a marvelous canoe/kayak trip in winter, along with the Santa Fe and Peace rivers. And you haven't experienced the beauty of Florida till you've backpacked the Wekiva State Park Florida trail, or the Ocala National Forest part of the Florida National Scenic Trail.
Hope to meet all of the people whose posts I have so enjoyed reading in the future.
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Old 03-24-2016, 09:24 PM   #8
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And also thanks for the tips on Flying Js and TAs. Have you ever asked at a Cabela's, Bas pro shop, or Gandy Mountain about staying in their parking lots?
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Old 03-25-2016, 08:00 AM   #9
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Some of the big Cabela stores have truck/ RV parking lots on the side or in the rear of the store.
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Old 03-25-2016, 08:21 AM   #10
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Yes, Mitzi, one can overnight at Cabela's. We only pass 2 on our route. Each one is in a good location for us but also happen to be close to another overnighting spot that we usually use. Perhaps another time we will switch things up and try them.

Bass Pro--cannot answer that as we only pass 1 on our way and it isn't a spot we are close to bedtime. The same for Gander Mtn.

I must say that Cracker Barrel turned out to be a good spot for us. We had heard of their welcoming policy to RVers but hadn't tried them. They are open from 0600 and close at 2200 and that worked just great for us.

Your recommendations for Florida nature trails are good ones. We had heard of them from other campers. Manatee viewing at Blue Springs is incredible. And we also visited the Tampa Electric (FPL) site and enjoyed their totally free viewing set-up.
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Old 03-25-2016, 10:31 AM   #11
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Great post. What an awesome winter.

I have seen the full time Casita guy on youtube. Good to hear his stuff is helpful (you never know).
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Old 03-25-2016, 10:33 AM   #12
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Thanks for posting, would love to see your list of your stops and your perspective on others !!
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Old 03-25-2016, 12:33 PM   #13
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This should be required reading for all new campers ! Thanks for sharing.

Happy camping!
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Old 03-25-2016, 03:01 PM   #14
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Theresa, you are an entertaining writer and probably a delightful person, from all the friends you made (including the chickens). Perhaps you should start a blog, it would probably help finance your next trip!
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