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  1. One of my favorite roads in Florida is Route A1A along the northern Atlantic coast. This two lane road hugs the coast for 72 miles from Daytona to Ponte Vedra Beach. For many of those miles, the ocean is in your windshield and just a stones throw from your RV's side window. Much of Florida's Atlantic coastline is heavy developed, but along A1A, you can experience many miles of undeveloped coastline. On a recent stay in northern Florida, I got a chance to re-experience A1A. I first encountered A1A about 15 years ago while on a week long bicycle trip. The major part of our route was biking along the coast from Titusville to St. Augustine. Much of the route had us biking on A1A. A few years later, I biked the northern section from Ponte Vedra to St. Augustine. Here's a map that shows the route that A1A follows. I like this road because its very scenic with miles and miles of unobstructed ocean and beach views. There's also much to do and experience along A1A. Starting in Daytona Beach, you drive past miles of high rise condo's that seem to typify Florida's coastline. But just north of Ormond Beach, the condos start to disappear and are replaced by barren hummock dunes. Along the route, there's small beach towns, several state parks, and nature preserves. Gamble Rogers State Park has some of the best beach side camping in Florida. Strolling through the gardens at Washington Oaks State Park is a favorite stop. Flagler Beach is a small funky beach side town that begs you to stop for lunch and walk on its long pier. Marineland is marine mammal park that lets you get up close and experience dolphins. Matanzas Inlet has parking areas allowing you to enjoy both ocean and bayside beaches. Nearby, at Fort Matanzas National Monument you can tour and experience a colonial Spanish fort built in the early 1700's. St. Augustine Beach As you approach St. Augustine, you go thru the small beach communities of Painters Hill, Beverly Beach, Butler Beach, Crescent Beach, and St. Augustine Beach. Anastasia State Park has some great camping and access to miles of unspoiled barrier island beach just outside of St. Augustine. The St. Augustine Lighthouse, which is near the state park entrance, is open for climbing and gives you spectacular views of the surrounding area. In St. Augustine Beach, you can also access several beach ramps that allow vehicle access to the beach. From here, you can experience driving on the beach for 9 miles south to Matanzas Inlet. St. Augustine Beach is one of my favorite beaches due to its lack of high rises, low key atmosphere, and miles of wide flat sandy beach. St. Augustine is one of Florida's most historic cities. Its a small city and very easy to experience either by walking or on a bike. The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument dominates the city water front. There's numerous historic sites to see within the city. Some of my favorites include the Lightner Museum, Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, The Bridge of Lions, and St George Street. North of St.Augustine, A1A continues thru the small beach side town of Vilano. North of Vilano, A1A continues north through numerous miles of undeveloped coast line thru the Guana Tolomato Matansas Reserve. There are several access points to the beach along this section of the road. This is just a sample of what there is to experience along A1A. There's plenty of places to stop and enjoy the view and to grab some food. Here's a blog article I wrote about Historic St. Augustine that gives some additional information. Also, here's a web site link with info about the route Florida Scenic Highway - A1A We enjoy this area and have spent several winters in St. Augustine Beach. This year, we spent two weeks at the Bryn Mawr Ocean Resort in our RV. The RV park is right on the ocean in St. Augustine Beach. We've also camped at Anastasia State Park and would highly recommend both places. On our recent drive to St. Augustine Beach, I used my new Panorama DashCamhttp://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=jdawjou-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B00LXRR7L4 to record our drive along several sections of A1A. The dashcam makes it so easy to capture the experience of driving on a scenic road. Here's a link to a video I made with some of these clips so you can see and experience a little bit of what A1A is like - You can follow more of my journeys at: http://jdawgjourneys.blogspot.com
  2. I just want to give some KUDOS to Blue Ox and one of their dealers. I bought a motorhome recently and it came with a Blue Ox tow bar and much of the associated parts. I only needed a base plate and wiring kit for my 2009 Scion xB. I looked it up the installation on line and saw that it was not a simple bolt on for my car as it required removal of the front fascia and some cutting with a power saw, so I quickly decided it was a job for the professionals. I contacted Blue Ox by email and they referred me to their dealer in my area (Hitch and Weld of Naples, Naples FL). They are also the only dealer in the area without going to the East coast or up to Ft. Meyers so I was a little leery I was just getting a name. I also bought my base plate and wiring kit at the recent Tampa RV show from the Blue Ox exhibitor booth--it was discounted and included free shipping to my home. I was wondering if the local dealer wasn't going to be too happy I was bringing my own parts. Needless to say they were very pleasant to work with and very professional. Hitch and Weld of Naples is a Man, wife and son business that has been around a long time. Not only is the installation job very professional looking it was much cheaper than the quotes I got from some places in the Tampa area (almost 50% less in one instance) and it is the labor charges. The owner dealt with me and he was very helpful telling me to call him any time if I have any questions. So, if you are in south FL or close enough you want to see Naples or lay on the beach when you are having some work done, I think you will find the drive for your anything towing, trailer or hitch needs well worth the drive. If you live near here, this is a good company to do business with!
  3. From the album: Life

  4. It might be a bit early, but I'm already thinking about my winter in Florida. One of the reasons I bought my current RV was so I could use it to escape New England winters. I love summers in New England. I love traveling across the country in the spring and fall. But I really look forward to going to Florida for the winter. I don't do winter activities and I'd much rather be sitting on the beach in January or riding my bike instead of the being stuck inside and complaining about the cold. Spending the winter living in an RV is a different type of RV travel. You can drive to a warm place like Florida or Arizona and do a some road tripping for a several weeks. I've done that, driving and exploring various parts of Florida for about a month. But now, I do my RV road tripping in the spring and fall and like to find a nice place to stay put for most of winter. For me, it's the drive-the-rig-south-and-park-it-for-three-months type of RVing. Its a stationary version of RVing and lots of folks do it. Some like to go to the southern Arizona desert in places like Quartzsite and park out in the desert for little or no cost. I've been to Quartzsite and it's not for me. I prefer finding a nice RV park that has amenities, activities, and has an attraction nearby like a beach. After spending the past six years wintering on Florida, my favorite winter roost is the Fort Myers area. Its has a nice tropical climate and its right near the ocean. I found I like the west coast of Florida much more that the Atlantic side. Things seem to be a little less expensive and its more laid back. Spending the winter in an RV park is big change from where I normally live. I reside in a small town in a very rural part of New England. My neighbors are trees, cows, and corn stalks. The only sounds at night are the coyotes yipping. When I go to Florida, its a dramatic change of habitat and pace. While I like rural living, I like being able to make a change for a few months to be closer to people and urban conveniences. It makes me appreciate both types of living. Walking Fort Myers Beach At the RV park, I give up my three acres and spacious country home for a parking spot with a concrete pad. We're packed in pretty close together with neighbors just few feet away. You can't help but meet and interact with people. I'm there for an extended time (not just a short vacation) so it helps if there are activities in the park or things to do nearby. I like the group breakfasts / dinners and sporting activities that they have in the RV park. They're things I don't get to do at home. I also like bicycling, reading, and going to the beach (nice things to be able to do in the winter). Waterfront sites at San Carlos RV Park The big rigs parked for the winter So, what's a typical day like. Here's a sample of things that happen on a typical day. I often wake up smelling bacon wafting into the RV from a neighbor cooking breakfast outside. I say high or stop and chat with 2-3 people on my way to take a shower. People in the RV park are super friendly. I usually see a half dozen more people by noon. These impromptu chats happen often and through out the day in the RV park. I get on the Internet to write, check the news, and keep in touch with my family. I take a nice long walk or bike ride just about every day. I go to an activity if there's one I signed up for or run some errands, if needed. Two to three times a week I ride down to the local fish market and get fresh-off-the-boat seafood. Sometimes we go out for a drive and explore the area. Almost every day is a beach day and I either ride my bike or take the bus to the beach. Its only a mile away. Many restaurants have free live music at happy hours so I may go to one that's near by or just go to the daily happy hour in the RV park. You don't have to drink alcohol or spend a lot of money to enjoy a happy hour. Its a great chance to meet other snowbirds and enjoy some free entertainment. We eat out more when in Florida. Everything is so close - we can walk to many restaurants. Its definitely the easy life. However, after 2-3 months of this easy life, I'm ready to work my way back home where there's more space and more work to do. The cost to stay at an RV park can be all over the place. At the place I stay, its about $3,900 for a three month stay. For that I get water, electric, sewer, a pool, showers, laundry, and free wifi. That averages out to be about $44 per day. I used to pay around $2,900 to rent an ocean side condo for a month so for me the RV park is a good deal. There are cheaper places to stay, but I like being close to the ocean and for that I'm paying a little bit of a premium. Also, many places in southern Florida fill up quickly for the winter season. I made my reservations in May for my winter stay. Most of the state parks in southern Florida are booked solid a year in advance for the winter months. Its best to make reservations well in advance if you're planning for an extended stay during the winter. Northern Florida is different. There's plenty of places with availability but its a lot colder and they can get some nights with freezing temps. The RV park lifestyle is not for everyone. But I like it. I think is fairly economical and its sure beats staying home and looking at the snow and counting the days until it goes away. With my RV, its so easy to make it go away with just a couple days of driving. Follow more of my journeys at: http://jdawgjourneys.blogspot.com/
  5. From the album: Florida Panhandle in Winter

    Picture of our Tiffin Phaeton and toad (Smart Car) at Blackwater River State Park among the long leaf pines.

    © Liz Keeler

  6. Chris and I will be going to Florida and/or the Gulf Coast as snowbirds this Winter. As newbies we welcome all advice and suggestionse. I'm more in favor of making reservations but the DW would rather move around more freely. What are your expieriences and suggestions? We only have one trip under our belts which was a week stay in Newport News/Virginia Beach area which by the way traveling from KY over I-64 at night towing our Jeep was an excellent learning expierience. Thanks guy and gals in advance. We will be leaving KY in Jan and returning Mar or Apr. P.S. I guess there is no way around winterizing the Vision and then de-winterizing once we are in the South.
  7. Watch out when you get to FL. Many of the municipality's along the coast prohibit camping in parking lots like Walmart. ORMOND BEACH IS ONE OF THESE COMMUNITIES. The Walmart that I pulled into, directly adjacent to I-95, was nice enough to send an employee out before the shift came of "John Law" to write tickets. Thank You Wal-mart! Needless to say, I have since "Boycotted ORMOND BEACH" during my last six trips. NO STOPS, NO FOOD, NO GAS, and also, I will 'NEVER' visit a Camp Ground in ORMAND BEACH ,FL. Wm. Giles. wwg@mac.com 864-346-2121.
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