2020

#17

Chassahowitzka (say that 3 times fast)

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January 31, 2020 to February 2, 2020

Another one that was slightly cold and wet. Too cold to use the kayak, but just right to go and tour a distillery. So instead of getting cold and wet on the outside, we went and got warm and cozy on the inside. NJoy Spirits was about 10 miles from the Campground. It sits right in the middle of the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area. That means 5 out of those 10 miles were on a dirt road. And yes, the Santa Fe is perfectly capable.

We ended up with some rum and whiskey-infused chocolate. Well worth it. 

#18

Cedar Key.

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February 15, 2020, to February 18, 2020

What a nice surprise.

We found a nice campground about 6 miles from Cedar Key. On Sunday we had our must-have waterfront lunch and on the way back we saw this sign. Shell Mound and something about an archaeological site. Hit the brakes and turn left. 5 miles later we stopped at this nature path. We checked it out, but it was way too much for Char to handle. But there was more unpaved road to follow. So we did. We ended up at this boat ramp and fishing pier. 

Char was shocked (no pun intended) by the number of clams and oysters in the area. Nearby was this small hill that was made out of shells that natives amounted there a few thousand years ago. We came back here on Monday and Char actually went on a hike to shell mountain. She was so fascinated by what she saw, that she actually made the hike. Kind of mind-boggling when you think what the natives accomplished 3000 years ago.

I think this area could be on the shortlist that we need to return to.

#19

Silver Lake Campground Withlacoochee State Forest.

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February 28, 2020, to March 1, 2020

This was a last-minute trip. A nice park that is a little to close to the interstate. But it’s neglectable. The lake was good for 2 great sunrises that most, including Charlene, missed.

Saturday we went to check out the Dade Battlefield. Read up on it yourself. Pretty interesting.

#20

Goshen.

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March 13, 2020, to March 15, 2020

Who wants to wait 4 weeks for the next trip? Not us!

So we found this private place on Hipcamper. The owners, David & Joanne are great hosts. We even had dinner together. Char had quite a few conversations with the chicken.

A nice quiet weekend. And the beginning of Covid.

#21

Space Coast.

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March 27, 2020, to April 1, 2020

Carlene’s birthday trip and keeping social distance. We first went to Manatee Hammock right across from Kennedy Space Center.  The campground was half full and everyone practiced distancing. Kinda funny talking to people 10+ feet apart.

The most beautiful thing about this place is the sunrise over Cape Canaveral. Almost all the pictures I took, are sunrise pictures.

After 3 nights we moved on to Long Point Park. This is a County-owned Campground on an island on the Indian River. This is a beautiful place.

We parked right at the waterline. Before I could set up, I had to get a chair for char so she could sit by the water. Right away she was greeted by pelicans and a ray. At dinner time we had the first dolphins visiting.

On day two (her birthday) we had dolphins and manatees swing by. Charlene was in heaven. The day was topped off by an amazing sunset.

This place is on our shortlist for sure.

#22

Not going to Germany.

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May 9, 2020, to May 18, 2020

Thanks to this great pandemic shutting down everything, we ended up going to Northern Florida. For the first week, we stayed at Twin Lake Camp Resort in Defuniak Springs. This campground is nestled between two lakes. I bought Mitchell and Char a fishing pole and they went for it. They didn’t catch anything but they had fun anyway. Char made a new friend though. A white, domestic duck, that must have escaped his owner to join the Mallard’s living here. She named him Aflac.

Two days before we were to leave for Suwannee River State Park, that park was canceled on us. I managed to find us a little Florida Cracker Campground right on Ochlockonee Bay. While the spots were rather on the small side and our neighbors 2 spots down were real rednecks, it was still nice. Char found a few shark’s teeth and some shells.

Round trip we did exactly 1000 miles.

#23

Riverside.

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May 22, 2020, to May 24, 2020

Another last-minute, who wants to wait 3 weeks, weekend getaway.

We had visited here 3 years ago when Charlene’s sister camped here. Since then it became an Encore Park and they expanded quite a bit. We stayed in the newer part of the park near the pool and near the river. The sites are big and the infrastructure works great. I think we will do this again. It’s also close enough to take the Mustang with us. Great for fishing too.

#24

Alafia State Park.

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June 5, 2020, to June 7, 2020

This was a rainy one. I did manage to get one hike in on Saturday. Lokai and I went on the Lonesome Lake Trail. And lonesome it was.

We will be back! Hopefully with better weather and another opportunity for some hiking.

#25

Didn’t go to Kentucky.

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June 10, 2020, to June 15, 2020

Covid restrictions suck, but we made the best out of it.

We ended up finding a no-frills campground in Franklin County. They did have a total of 3 cases up there but to my knowledge nothing active.

In the description of the campground, it was indicated that this is a basic place with no pool, all gravel, nothing special campground.

Well, they are wrong! This place is special. The staff is great, and the people we met there were some of the nicer people you can meet. Our site was right on the water and the sunrises are beautiful. We did some fishing off the pier and as you can see, Char caught a big one. The flounder was gifted to her.

We did meet up with a couple that we met on RVillage.com. We had a great afternoon and I am sure we will meet up again.

Overall this was the campground with the most RVillage’ers present that we have been to.

Lokai and I even managed to take a long walk along the beach. Plenty of untouched beachfront on one side of the campground.

#26

Kissimmee Prairie.

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June 3, 2020, to June 5, 2020

This was the perfect getaway for the dogs. No fireworks whatsoever.

On our way into the campground, we were greeted by a group of deer. They also came to visit the campground on Saturday and they were there to say goodbye on our way out. Lokai and I managed to get in a few hikes. I think I wore him out. Char was able to take a few shorter hikes too. This place officially is in the middle of nowhere. I was surprised to have a cell phone connection. We drove 40 miles without even hitting a Dollar Store.

#27

Jonathan Dickinson State Park.

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June 17, 2020, to June 21, 2020

A trip to the East Coast near Jupiter. You can see the effects of the pandemic. The only thing open at this wonderful State Park was the lookout tower on top of Hope Mountain. Charlene climbed it with me. All 85 feet. She was on top of the world. At least for a moment. We had a great time despite the occasional rain and the closing of attractions. Lokai and I got our hikes in and we managed to visit the beach. Conveniently the off-leash dog park 20 minutes from the State Park was also the only place that was somewhat accessible for Charlene. After visiting a few places on the Atlantic side of Florida I am beginning to think that the beach is out of reach for anyone not able to climb two stories of stairs.

Just for this beach, this State Park will make our shortlist. Hopefully, the next time we come, we will be able to rent a canoe or something to explore the Loxahatchee River.

Bought 2 kayak’s since. 🙂

#28

Staying in Florida.

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July 31, 2020, to August 15, 2020

Here is another (and hopefully the last one) covid affected trip.

Originally my sister and her kids planned to visit from Germany. As you can figure, that didn’t happen.

So instead we made plans do take the RV to Wisconsin and back. Thanks to the spike in cases all over that was nixed also.

Here we are in Florida. On short notice, I put a trip together, staying in Florida.

We started out at Highlands Hammock State Park. A park with lots of short hiking trails suitable even for Charlene. She kept herself busy chasing down deer and taking pictures of them. Well, you don’t really have to chase them, as they more or the less come to you. They walk right through the campground. We had a very nice neighbor too. He was so sociable, he had his hammock on our site. Understandable since we had the perfect trees. On day two I asked him to take it down since he hung out while Charlene was enjoying sitting outside. A picture of him is now part of a 5-star review of this park. 🙂

Remember Isaias?

Yes, he screwed us too. We were supposed to go to Long Point Park on the East Coast near Melbourne on August 3rd. That park was evacuated on August 1st. So we stayed another night at Highlands Hammock. We made it to Long Point Park on August 4th. This for sure is becoming our #1 place to stay. I sent Char floating on a tube. No worries! I did tie her to the shore. We will be back in October. This time with kayaks.

We stayed there until the 10th to move on to Myakka River State Park.

On the 11th we had a nice thunderstorm in the area. Or should I say right over our head?

Sometime before 5 pm there was lightning and thunder at the same time. With that, the power went out.  Turns out, lightning hit a junction box about 20 feet behind our RV. FPL had to replace that thing. By 9 pm power was restored.

Well, we really never lost power because we have the generator. Love that thing!

While there, Lokai and I racked up some mileage.  I did the canopy walk.  And Char took a bite out of a gator. Deep-fried with ranch dressing.

Overall I would like to think we made the best out of the situation and then something.

#29

John Pennekamp State Park.

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August 28, 2020, to August 30, 2020

It’s getting tough to get something in the Keys. Got lucky with this one. It also was the first trip with our new kayak’s. And am I glad we pulled the trigger. It’s so much fun to explore the mangrove tunnels. And finally an activity that Charlene can participate in for a longer period of time. She managed to paddle for over 2 hours. She is pooped, but it’s doable.

#30

Tomoka State Park and Wekiwa Springs.

September 11, 2020, to September 15, 2020

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On our way up there we managed to meet up with Charlene’s Flying J friend. The two met at a Flying J a few months ago and it instantly clicked. They were near Port Orange, Daytona and we happened to be in the area too. Pretty cool.

We barely fit into this campground. You get to the park taking the Old Dixie Highway. The clearance here is 12 feet, 6 inches. It felt like less than that. But how beautiful. I picked the right site. We had a path at the back of our site that led straight to the river. We were able to launch our kayak’s right from there. Char was happy because I was the first to take a dive. Again she is holding up pretty well and we went on 2 tours. It’s amazing what you get to see from a kayak. A whole other world that we just pass by without noticing otherwise.

I took her on a drive to Daytona and she got to see the International Speedway and Daytona beach. Unfortunately, it was a little to wet to drive on the beach itself. Maybe another time.

We only stayed one night at Wekiwa Spring. Thank God. We were hoping to take the kayaks to the water, but this place as beautiful it might be is inaccessible for anyone with disabilities. Not to mention that I would have to carry the kayak’s a couple of hundred yards to the launch area. Too bad, because it could be almost worth it.

#31

Blue Spring State Park

September 25, 2020 to September 27, 2020

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This weekend we spent at the most visited Spring in Florida. At least when you ask the Manatees. They hang out here during the winter months. And even now there are some to be seen there. Just not a couple hundred like in winter. We managed to see one. He even swam right next to me and underneath Charlene’s kayak. Pretty cool if you ask Char.

We did encounter other cool critters like Alligator Gar and their cousin who they are named after. A couple of gators in different sizes. One seems to hang out around not far from the spring. He was maybe 5 to 6 feet long. When we went to the lagoon nearby in our kayaks Sunday morning, we saw a slightly bigger one. I would guess him between 10 and 12 feet. Do I need to mention that we skipped the lagoon?

Overall a great park. The sites are spaced out, you could think you are alone. We had a ADA site just across from the Bathhouse. We didn’t use it. The kayak launch is a short walk from the parking lot structure. Good thing I constructed the dolly. It would have been interesting to carry the kayaks to the launch myself. They have benches near the launch where Charlene could sit down, rest and wait for me setting up the kayaks. I wish there was a way to transport someone with walking difficulties from the launch to the parking lot. This one is kind of borderline. This park could make the shortlist if we didn’t have to drive through Orlando, I4 is so rough right now I think we lost a weight on one of our rear wheels. I felt like a Martini. Shaken, not stirred.

Update:

We didn’t lose a weight. We must have hit something somewhere between the campground and Orlando that caused a bulge on the inside tire on the rear passenger side of the RV. Time for the first tire replacement.

And see below!

#32

Long Point Park for the 3rd time.

October 9, 2020 to October 11, 2020

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As you can see by the picture, we had an other tire issue. I guess whatever we hit 2 weeks ago, damaged both tires. I always check tire pressure before leaving. And good thing I do. The inner tire had 0 air and quite a gash in the sidewall. FMCA Roadside Assistance was pretty much useless. I ended up calling tire shops myself. I find it amazing that none of these places is either able or willing to work on RV’s. Thanks to Google I found Jesus though. He has a mobile roadside service and he came to the rescue.

Other than that we had a great weekend. We met up with Pete and Libbi who we met last winter at Rainbow springs. The rain didn’t bother too much. We enjoyed each other’s cooking and had a lot to talk about. Lokai went on a quick kayak trip with me. By his looks I think he wanted to kill me. The dolphins were active all weekend. Another fantastic weekend at Long Point Park. We will have to make a few more reservations here next year. Especially since they let us park off site to wait for Jesus and get the tire fixed.

As for the disability aspect this park works out very well for us. Since this is an island and pretty much all sites have water access it is relatively easy to get in and out of the kayak. The main shower house is pretty new and maybe a little far to walk, but we don’t use those facilities anyway. The sites can get a little soft after heavy rain since they are grass only.

#33

Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park (Long name for a small island)

October 23, 2020 to October 29, 2020

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Getting away for a week, we started at Paynes Prairie for a night. We were greeted by mosquitos. Thank God for bug Spray. If you ever drive I75 just south of Gainesville, you see an area left and right covered in water lilies. That is Paynes Prairie. On the 24th we moved on to Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park. Beautiful sunrises on a beautiful beach with a steep breeze blowing every day. We were going to get some kayaking in, but this water moccasin changed my mind. Did I mention I hate snakes? Charlene collected more shells than ever before. We still left plenty behind. They do a good job there making everything accessible. They go as far as putting matts on the beach to walk on. We skipped the storm that wasn’t really a tread to begin with and went to O’Leno State Park on the 27th for 2 nights. This is where the Santa Fe River disappears. We barely fit here with our RV and some of those trees made me a little nervous. But we were able to score the only drive through site they have. Over all a great place in the middle of the woods. Lokai and I got some hikes in and even Charlene made it to the limestone quarry. We got the kayaks out on the river and Charlene enjoyed going underneath I75 to feel the sound and vibrations of the vehicles driving over the bridge. If I can score that pull through again, we will be back to explore the area with our kayaks.

#34

Oscar Scherer State Park

November 5, 2020 to November 8, 2020

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Yes, an extra day. Our normal 3 day weekend getaway was beautifully interrupted by Charlene’s older sister getting married. We added a night to our normal routine so Charlene could take the RV to the campground on Thursday. Yes, on her own. And she did a fantastic job. She backed the RV into what I would consider a slightly difficult site on her first attempt without having to rearrange. I am impressed. It might have helped, that I wasn’t there. I think if we camp out close to home, we could do this thing more often. Char drives to the campground and I meet her there after work. Perfect.

Oscar Scherer is a perfect little oasis in an urban setting. Camping, hiking, biking, fishing and (in our case) kayaking. Maybe it’s a good thing that most people don’t know what they have in their backyard.

The launch area could have been a little closer to the parking area, but it was doable. The launch is perfect for people with disabilities.

#35

Highlands Hammock State Park (for the second time)

November 20, 2020 to November 22, 2020

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We came here for the second time to enjoy another weekend off. Unfortunately the weather didn’t play nice. Charlene didn’t feel too good either, so what do you do in those cases? Right! You visit a distillery. We ended up at the Sugar Sand Distillery and came home with Gin and 2 different Moonshine’s. Lokai made a new friend and so did we.

Our fantastic RV specific navigation software sent us on some interesting RV friendly rout. A little over 6 miles of dirt road. Not something I would have chosen, but once confronted I committed to it and it was worth it. We saw Florida in a way you normally don’t see it. In the end it also saved us 20 miles.

#36

Thanksgiving at Sun N Fun

November 25, 2020 to November 29, 2020

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We squeezed in a last-minute reservation at Sun N Fun in Sarasota. I have a love-hate relationship with this place and now that their price went up to $80 per night without discount and less service like garbage pickup, I am torn even more.

Other than that we had a great time. Well, after a rough start. at 9:45 AM on Wednesday I heard a pop-pfffft coming from outside. Come to find the passenger rear tire being flat on the RV. It was the same tire that we got as a replacement at our Long Point Park outing. It was older and we did get some mileage out of it. I am not going to complain. Since I had a spare already, I got Mitchell and we started the wrestling match. It was a tough on and my tire changing tools now carry battle scars. I drew blood, but in the end we won and the RV should be fine for a while with new shoes. If I don’t meet another pothole that is. By shortly after 11:00 AM we were back in business and we still made it to the campground at my planned time.

Once there we started enjoying time with friends and family. We even extended our stay by a day. Somehow we got a 10% discount applied to our full stay also. But it’s not enough to change my feelings about this campground. We did have a great time though and it was kind of nice for a change to have a 10-minute short commute to work. We will work on Thanksgiving at a State Park for next year. I just can’t stand these crowded places anymore.

#37

Koreshan State Park

December 4, 2020 to December 6, 2020

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Yup, you guessed it! A weekend getaway. Becomes a pattern doesn’t it. This time in nearby Estero on the site where the Koreshan cult settled.

We left the cold front and the rain early Friday behind us and enjoyed perfect weather at the campground. On Saturday we got the kayaks wet and paddled upstream on the Estero River for a few miles. What a beautiful place to explore. Going under US 41 and an old railroad bridge. Lokai and I got a few miles hiking under our feet too. This was another who would have thought we have that in our backyard experience. I knew about Koreshan State Park since I moved here. Why did it take me 23 years? No idea. But we finally got here and I am sure we will be back.

#38

Hillsborough River State Park

December 18, 2020 to December 20, 2020

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We stayed close by again. This park is about 30 minutes from Busch Gardens. We will have to remember that! It seems to be an older park that could use some site updating. There was evidence of the sites being flooded. We stayed dry though. As you can see by the above picture, we thought we might have to skip launching the kayaks. There would be no way for Char to get down there. Another launch area didn’t look much better. We did manage to find the main launch site across from the pool area Saturday morning. Yes, this park has a huge pool. Closed due to covid of course. But we got the kayaks wet and paddled all the way to the rapids and back to the campground. Char really enjoys these trips. We passed up 3 alligators and one turtle that was practicing planking.

#39

Sebastian Inlet State Park

December 28, 2020, to January 03, 2021

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A trip overshadowed by Skully getting sick again. I ended up calling Dr. Myers and got her some meds. Yes, I drove home for a 6 hour round trip. Who wouldn’t? We are still wondering what it was because Lokai came down with the same thing. Both are OK again.

Other than that we had a good time. We even extended by a day. This place is in a unique place as that you have the Atlantic on one side and the Indian River on the other side. That makes for some cool sunsets and if you don’t sleep in, some cool sunrises the next morning. Dolphins must like the inlet. You see them all day. We (or better Char) chased them in our kayaks. Char had a blast. To bad it was rather windy while we were here. The current and the wind can wear you out quick.

Saturday we drove a few miles down south onto the jungle trail. There is a unofficial kayak launch area not far from Pelican Island. We paddled around Roosevelt Island and then to Pelican Island. We discovered a sandbank near where the white pelicans hang out. That is where Char walked on water. I think this might be an area that needs further investigation.

And who knows, maybe next time we come here the volunteer patrol is less intrusive. If I do get an email to review our stay, I might just mention how I felt about some particular volunteers. But we still enjoyed our time. Overall a great place to be.

Now we need to work and make 2021 equally good if not better.