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!