We were surprised to find out how it feels to actually get kicked out of a park… well, kind of anyway. We had planned to utilize overflow parking for one night that was full during our stay at Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Florida but to our surprise they would not allow it. You see because we had to change our reservations at this park to delay our arrival at the Everglades National Park we ended up with a 3 day stay, a non-booked day and a 2-day stay at Jonathan Dickinson.
Since we had previously utilized staying in overflow parking at other Florida State parks we assumed we’d be able to just stay in the overflow area, have fun at the park the next morning and then check back in for our last two night. So, when we checked in we asked and were told, sure… if nobody cancels for that night we’ll gladly let you stay in overflow as long as you’re in a self-contained unit. Can’t get much more self-contained than our camper van so we were extremely surprised when we checked for cancellations and found none and were then told we could not use overflow parking since we had a reservation the next night there. What??? Yep! If you have a reservation coming up you can’t arrive early and use overflow.
OK, we’ll just find a place to stay the night and everything will be fine. Wow! Southern Florida is not very dry-camping friendly. In fact they are about the opposite of dry-camping friendly. We had to drive an hour further south to find a Cracker Barrel that allowed overnight stays. So, off to Boynton Beach for that night and then it was back to the state park where we got to actually get out on the Loxahatchee River on our paddle boards and actually caught a few fish! Yeah!
So all that said, that one night could leave us bitter and upset… but, nope! We just rolled with the flow and arrived back at the gate around 10am the next morning, found our campsite for the night already open, hooked up the electric and headed out on the water for a very fun day.
And, Maggie got to meet up with two of her biggest fans, according to Shawn and Dawn Kane of Michigan. They reached out to us to find out where we were since they were in Florida and quickly made their way to the park we were at so we could spend some time together. Well, more like so they could meet the famous Maggie and we tagged along. 🙂 We found a great Mexican restaurant and headed out for dinner together. It was great getting to know them and hear about their Travato van travels too. Maggie felt right at home with them too and even rode in Shawn’s lap on the trip. See, she is the star of the channel… but we’re OK with that. She is such a bundle of love and fun and we are so lucky to have her in our life.
Have you heard the saying, birds of a feather flock together? When you feather is a Winnebago Travato camper van then it seems you flock to the same campgrounds, seeking out the same experiences. That’s what happened when we visited Florida’s oldest campground, the Highlands Hammock Campground near Sebring, Florida.
We pulled in to set up and right in front of us was a Travato… Gary Varner’s Travato to be specific. Right across the street from his was another one… Susan Pell’s Travato. Wow! Then we learned from them that Marilyn and Ann both had their Travato camper vans parked at this little campground too. 5 Travato camper vans in one park. Wow! That must be what was meant by birds of a feather flock together. What a great time we all had visiting and talking about everything from traveling, camping, eating and of course our favorite topic, Travato modifications.
As if it could only get better, our friends we’d made at our last Travato gathering, Art and Luann, came by one morning to knock on our door with donuts. We gathered up everyone else and we had a little Travato breakfast around our picnic table, right next to the Coach Whip snake that we’d seen several times, but luckily it was too much noise for him so he did not make an appearance. It is always a surprise and blessing to get to meet up with folks that know us as we travel. To be there with 5 vans all sharing stories together was just the pure definition of Travato family.
As usual we took the bikes off to ride and learned that the biking trails at Highlands Hammock are superb. One trail lead us to the Cyprus Swamp boardwalk hike, where we saw our first of many Florida alligators in the wild. If you are in or near this park this hike along this raised boardwalk trail is something you have to put on your list. The reflections of the trees, birds, alligators and sky off the black water plays tricks on your eyes. Like us, you’ll find yourself wondering where the reflection ends and actual object begins… it all kind of melts into a 360-degree picture that immerses you into nature, a place where we love to be immersed as you’ll see in this episode that features this awesome hike.
Thanks for watching our YouTube videos on our channel and staying so connected to us as we travel through Florida during PEAK season in our Winnebago Travato 59K.
Why Did We Wait So Long To Do This?
In our latest episode we finally break down and order something we need from Amazon even though we’re miles from home. That meant having the package shipped to an Amazon “Drop Box”. Since we’d never done this before we didn’t know what to expect. All in all it was a great, somewhat efficient experience.
The package was arriving on a travel day for us, which in hind sight was not smart on our part. That meant staying in Orange City and Deland much longer than we thought we would be but we found great things to do and it turned into what is pretty much a typical day for us. We found a great Cajun restaurant. We found a bead shop so Lynn could pick up jewelry supplies because she’s decided that she misses making jewelry and it gives her something to while the video editing is taking time.
So what did we order? It was an adapter that allows us to connect our Osmo Pocket camera to a tripod and to the mount it on the dash of the Travato. It was such a good purchase we later ordered a second one so we would have to be taking it on and off the mount on the dash. We’ve also since learned that if there’s a Whole Foods (or Whole Pay Check as some call it) near you there is probably an Amazon Drop Box there too.
It’s Easy To Get A Shipment On The Road These Days
To find out if there’s one near you just check out on Amazon as usual and change your shipping address and select the option for drop box near you. It will pop up a dialog that allows you to select the closest one and have your package shipped there instead of your home. It really is pretty simple and I’m not sure why we took so long to take advantage of this great option for those of us who live on the road in an RV.
Being A Nomad Is Easier and Easier These Days
Speaking of RV, if you’re thinking of purchasing a small camper van and seeing places like Florida it is so “doable”! We love how nimble and efficient our Travato is. We take it everywhere and never worry about having enough room inside or about whether we can get into or out of any parking situation. Compared to our days of pulling a 5th Wheel it is a big relief to never worry when you’re rolling down the road. That stress has dissolved completely and for that reason alone it’s a great decision. Gas mileage and the things you get to see and experience together is a great bonus too. So, if you ask us, if you’re thinking about downsizing to a van or you’re thinking about it as your first RV, we believe it has been one of the best decisions we’ve made in our RV’ing days.
In the end our important-to-us package came and we rode off into a blue sky horizon, at least one of us saw blue skies. The other two saw clouds, clouds, clouds. It might be in how you look at the horizon as to what you see. Here’s hoping you see blue skies in your horizon and that our paths cross somewhere out there on the roads that we now call home.
As we continue our journey south in Florida we find ourselves in Ormond Beach, Florida at the “old Florida” style State Park, Tomoka State Park.
We originally schedule our 5 days at Tomoka State Park so we could be close to our aunt and uncle, who were scheduled to stay in Ormond Beach during that time. As we get older we realize the importance of family and making sure we do our part to visit as often as we can. Steve and Marion always go out of their way to both visit with us and make us feel welcome no matter where they are. But as circumstances would happen, they had to leave early, before we arrived, to take care of a family matter back in Miami. So, Lynn and I found ourselves at the lovely park and beautiful area with no plans and no set agenda.
And… it rained… no poured… 3 of the days we were here. One of the days it was supposed to rain all day so we took off to Ormond Beach to take in a movie and find a place to eat seafood. Both choices were perfect. It’s a great thing to do when it’s rainy or really cold… get out of the van and lean back and watch a big screen and then let someone else cook for you and clean up.
As we rode bikes when the sun was out we found out so much about this historic area and park. We met up with Scott Cornelius a.k.a. Captain Corn of the Tomoka Outpost and learned how he’s always dreamed of owning the store and how he made that dream come true. He and his wife are awesome folks and you need to look them up if you’re in the area.
Many of you who follow us on YouTube have been asking for more shots of normal day to day life inside the van… the cooking, cleaning, etc. So in this video Lynn prepares two meals for you to see and they were delicious meals too.
And what video from us would be complete without a hike or a beautiful sunset. This one has both. All in all we did not get to do the visiting and reminiscing with family we had planned but as we always do we made the best of it.
Thanks for being connected to us as we travel around North America in our Winnebago Travato 59K camper van.
We are Lynn, Owen and Maggie and we are having a blast living in a TRAVATO camper van, traveling around the country exploring new and old places. This week started out with us in Fernandina Beach asking the ultimate question that pops up when you have no destination in mind… Which way should I turn? Left or Right? Tampa or Miami? All along we had thought maybe we’d like to just meander down to Key West taking in as much of Florida as we could. But, somehow we convinced ourselves that heading over to Tampa to be part of the Tampa RV Super Show was a good idea. So after I turned in our camping pass we had a decision to make right then… turn right and head towards Tampa or keep heading down the coast.
We turned right. RV Super Show here we come. Not so fast. Thirty minutes into the drive and Google Maps has routed us many miles north of Orlando due to accidents. So much north in fact that we were rolling past Gainesville, FL and a place another camper had told us we should visit, Payne’s Prairie State Preserve. So we stopped in and although the ranger, who was so nice to us and to Maggie, told us they were full but said we could stay in overflow parking. Well, as Lynn said, that beats the crap out of Walmart and that’s what we did.
The next morning we were at the RV Super Show and ready for a fun day. The day started out just right for us as we met up with Dave, Irene and Pistol of Cary On Vagabonds. After spending some time with them we headed out into the heat to see what we could see. A few hours of that and we were back in the van discussing the RVs and people we’d seen and met so far. Then it was off to a Winnebago Travato meetup where we were so happy to meet so many online friends face to face. Later Winnebago fed the 70+ Travato owners to a pizza dinner around a circle of fellow T owners. We went to bed glad we had made the trek over to Tampa.
The next morning we were up early heading to St Petersburg to spend the day with longtime friends. By dark we were driving back towards Orlando looking for a Cracker Barrel to pull in, eat and spend the night and realizing how very much we missed our dear friends in St Pete. Our Cracker Barrel turned out to be the one right beside the Daytona Speedway and it was from there that we watched and filmed the January 21, 2019 lunar eclipse, blood red moon. Wow! It was a spectacular way to end a great weekend. We slept like babies, well except for the diapers and the waking up every 2 hours to nurse part. Thanks for being part of our journey as we trek down the coast of Florida searching for adventure, fun and friends… not necessarily in that order.
After months of planning and prepping the day finally arrived, on my birthday of all days, for us to pull out of our driveway and onto the road that would lead us in search of 70-degree weather. As we pulled out of the driveway it was 20 degrees, much colder than our target temperature.
Our first night had us spending the night at Myrtle Beach State Park so we could celebrate my birthday, which we did. The temperature dropped down to 30 that night but we stayed “warm and toasted” as our oldest granddaughter once said.
Next on the journey was a trek off the highway in search of a place to walk by a river. That trek nearly got us stuck in our van but we managed to make it back to a paved road and keep heading south. This leg of the journey ended at the Georgia coast with us spending the night boondocking at a Cracker Barrel. That’s where the journey will continue next week.
During this week we also solved our need for better internet connectivity while traveling by getting a Verizon Hotspot and the prepaid unlimited data plan. So far that has been a great addition to the van. I’m creating this week’s blog while connected to it and it’s just like being at home. We’ve watched whatever YouTube, Hulu or other streaming as much as we’ve wanted without worrying about using all the data like we have on previous trips. It makes it feel just like home even though we’re living out of a van on the road.
But, It Just Feels Different
It does. It feels different… to have no deadline… no reservations… nowhere you have to be on any given day or hour… just free to literally go where the road leads you. Every day starts out with a conversation of “where do you want to go today”. We’ve now started tweaking that conversation to say where do you want to end up a week from now, which makes the planning of the route and camping sites a little easier to accomplish. But, it’s hard to put into words just how it feels to have that kind of freedom. You see, we’ve been on many long trips in a camper, even a 6-week trip in our van to Acadia. But, each of those trips had reservations and things marked on the calendar that required us to be back in NC by a particular time or be in the next state by a certain date for a reservation. So it seemed we were always hurrying to get somewhere so we could relax. Now, it’s just never hurrying to get anywhere and the relaxing is just part of the normal every day life. The only stress so far is adjusting to this lifestyle of freedom, but we are making strides to get to be pretty comfortable with it so far.
We’ll continue to update this BLOG as we continue this journey in search of 70-degree weather. It’s a great problem to have don’t you think?