Let’s start off the new year with the old. This is data from Google for 2020:
Our travels in 2020: For a total of 22 trips. Thanks to Covid none to Germany or outside of Florida. But Florida has some pretty awesome places.
Bull Creek Campground
January 15, to January 17, 2021
Trip #40 and the first one without Skully. She passed away Friday morning. I guess it’s safe to say that it wasn’t the best start to the new year. The weather didn’t play nice either. Just in time for arrival at the campground, it started to rain. Heavy! It was over by the time I was set up. Saturday was way too cold and windy to be safe on the water kayaking. We still enjoyed the location and some pretty nice neighbors. We have to come back here someday. I couldn’t resist having the humongous Creek Burger from the restaurant located next to the campground. Made me gain 2 lbs. 🙂 This for sure is rural Flagler County. It’s so rural, they grow kale here. I think it’s also safe to say, we made the best of it.
Now it’s time for a short break and do some work on the house.
Citrus Hill RV Resort
February 12, to February 14, 2021
This officially was our first 55+ campground. I am old enough now. The main reason we went, was to meet up with some friends who are staying here for 2 months. The weather wasn’t perfect, but we still managed to pick some strawberries in Plant City. Next stop, the Everglades.
Midway Campground – Everglades
February 26, to February 28, 2021
Midway for the 3rd time. The gators were active and I think this was the year with the most birds I have seen in the Everglades. We went kayaking on Turner River. I/we have driven through the Everglades numerous times, including several airboat tours. This was the first time we saw the Everglades. And I know we barely scratched the surface. We also took Loop Road back to the campground. Loop Road is a 24-mile “shortcut”. It’s a dirt road that takes you right through the Everglades. There are multiple places that are worth stopping and the southernmost point of the Florida Trail is off of Loop Road. On our way home on Sunday we stopped at Kirby Storter Roadside Park. Another place one normally just drives by.
Lake Griffin State Park
March 12, 2021, to March 14, 2021
Another perfect place to put your kayak in the water. Lokai seems to be able to sense the Alligators in the water. Soon as I spotted a big one far away, he climbed into my lap and didn’t leave until we were back on land. While this was the most unlevel site we have been to yet, this park knows how to do ADA right. They have the perfect kayak launch and even the children’s playground has a swing for kids in a wheelchair. Impressive. This park is close to civilization. So we got our burgers from Hardee’s and I stocked up on my favorite wood pellets from Rural King. On our way home we stopped at Ikea in Tampa. Big mistake as usual. lol
Stone Mountain Georgia
March 26, 2021, to March 31, 2021
We left on the 25th around 9 pm and headed north on I75. First stop for the night: The visitor welcome center right after the Florida, Georgia line. We arrived there at 2 am, got a little shut-eye, and headed for Cracker Barrell around 7 am. After a hearty breakfast, we worked our way through heavy rain and even heavier traffic around Atlanta. I guess I timed our stay here perfectly with the blooming of the pine trees. On my way back from Bojangle’s and Lidle Saturday afternoon. the area around Stone Mountain was covered in a yellow haze. I have never seen that much pollen in the air. Everything here is yellow. Saturday we started our sightseeing tour with a drive around the mountain. We walked up to the carving and checked out things we can do while here. Sunday started out with overcast and rain. At least some of the pollen was washed off. But don’t worry! There is enough pollen in the air, to cover everything again within minutes. We went to the Grist Mill to see what that is about. As you can see above, picture-perfect. It’s also the place where my slip-resistant shoes failed me for the first time ever. Yup! I ended up on my butt in the water. That might have been a good thing because right after it started to rain heavily. So we waited that out before we went for the train ride around the rock. Later that afternoon we had some friends over. They brought food for an army. We had a good time. I am glad Charlene met them at a Flying J in 2019. On Monday we woke up to a sunny day. Perfect to go up the mountain. The easy way in a cable car. We spent some time on the top and enjoyed the view. Atlanta’s Skyline looks almost small. By now Charlene is pooped. I think I wore her out. So I took Lokai for a hike on a nearby island. I think he feels a little neglected because he can’t take part in most of the activities. Tuesday we took the kayaks out on the lake. This time with Lokai. He went in twice and jumped off a third time just before beaching. Wednesday started overcast again, I cleaned about a foot of pollen off the RV and we headed south. The rain helped to clean the RV and the car a little. It ended up Charlene’s “favorite food store day”. We stopped at Crispy Cream and Hardee’s. We also managed to stop at Buc-ee’s and get some brisket sandwiches and bever nuggets among other unhealthy stuff. Oh! Charlene got like 30 donuts. She must really like those. Halfway home we encountered some shaking again. Both inner tires on the rear had the tread separate from the belt. That now makes 5 out of 6 original tires junked after 27000 miles. By luck, we ran into two guys at a rest stop who were changing 3 tires on a semi-trailer. They helped us mount the spare tire to the driver’s side. It helped a little with the shaking and we made it home safe. 4 new tires are already on order. Time to get ready for the next trip.
Little Manatee River State Park
April 9, 2021, to April 11, 2021
Well, while every weekend camping is a good weekend, this one was slightly disappointing for the fact that the kayak launch is inaccessible to anyone with a walking disability. The launch area is about 1/4 of a mile from the parking lot. You get there by taking a path full of loose sand. If it was paved, I could have used the wheelchair. Not here. We still made the best of it. And I got to use the new grill more than I had planned. Time to do some maintenance before the next trip.
Coneross Park, South Carolina
May 3, 2021, to May 8. 2021
We left on the 2nd right after I came home from work. Once again we stopped at the Georgia Welcome Center on I75 for a few hours of sleep. This could become a tradition. It was a pretty uneventful drive to the Park. So we thought. We were met with some rain in northern Georgia but it dried up by the time we got to the Park. While setting up I noticed that the back of the RV was covered in leaves and grass. That’s when our neighbor walked up and asked me what route we took and if we encountered any tornadoes. Then, and later through the news, we found out that we drove through tornado allee on our way. So the week started out wet, including Tuesday. Starting Wednesday and the rest of the week we were able to enjoy some cool but nice weather. We managed to kayak a little and we did a trip to the mountains. A nice short break at a beautiful COE park. On our way home we stopped at Stone Mountain to meet up with friends. We made it home nice and easy without any tire issues. Let’s hope it stays like that.
Jonathan Dickinson State Park
May 21, 2021, to May 23, 2021
Gone with the wind was the motto of the weekend. Well, really for the week. What is up with this weather? Didn’t stop us from having a good time. We met up with friends and had lunch with them at our campsite. In the early evening, we took the kayaks out on the Loxahatchee River. At times the wind was so strong, we were going backward. It was still fun. We also went to the off-leash dog beach in Jupiter. Lokai made some new friends. He can socialize after all. Now it’s getting ready for the big trip to Wisconsin. Until then!
Wisconsin and back
June 4, 2021, to June 20, 2021
For our first leg of the trip, we left right after I got home from work on the 3rd. We managed to take off at 8:10 pm. Our new record. What a little prep will do. Once again we drove to the Visitor Welcome Center in Georgia for a quick rest. By 6 am we were on the road again. Buc-ee’s provided breakfast and some travel snacks. We were only held up 6 times by traffic. We did make it through Atlanta without issue though. But after about 930 miles we made it to our friend’s place just after 7 pm.
It’s official! Kentucky by far has the best roads. Everywhere! After a great weekend, we left our friend’s place just after 7 am. Soon as we crossed into Indiana, the roads got bad, only to get worse around Chicago. Charlene was happy to see the Sears Tower and other familiar things. I was happy to leave this place behind. The skyline is impressive though. We got some bad news! No more Jelly Belly outlet store. Permanently closed. We planned to stop here twice. Good news! You can still get everything online. Wisconsin too needs to work on their roads. While not as bad as the formerly mentioned, they still suck.
We spent 9 days visiting with friends and family. On June 10th we celebrated my parent’s wedding anniversary across the pond. We had a few video chats with them throughout the day and had friends over at the campground. It almost felt like we were there. On the 13th I took Char on a trip to memory lane. We finished off the day by kayaking Fox River, behind what used to be the farm my Dad first worked when he moved to the US in 1957. The very same river Char grew up on in Illinois. Speaking of Illinois.
On the 15th it was goodby Wisconsin, hello Illinois. Setting up at the campground, I noticed that, one of the prongs of the plug that is kind of essential to get power to the RV, had broken off. This required a 30-minute trip back to Wisconsin to buy a new plug. In the end, It was an easy fix. The first night here it went down to 49F. Welcome to Illinois. On the one full day, we had there, we visited fire station #13, bankrupted ourselves at Fanny May and Jarosch’s Bakery, and secured our eternal resting place at Windridge Memorial Park.
June 17th was the day we headed further south again. It pretty much took all day to drive through Illinois. We took a wide turn around Chicago. The roads are slightly better out in the country. Traffic is not as bad either. Lots of corn and soybeans here. We made it to Kentucky late in the afternoon. Canal Campground is a beautiful place in the land between the lakes. No cell phone reception either. But deer come to visit you and Char got to see her lightning bugs. Instead of kayaking, we took a drive to an 1850’s settlement just across the border into Tennessee. On our way back we took a detour through Bison Prairie. They were hiding from us, but a few turkeys crossed the road. I wonder why?
We left the campground around 8:30 in the morning of the 19th and headed home. We had rain pretty much all the way through Georgia and into Florida around Ocala. Google Maps and Road Trippers navigation routed us around 3 major traffic jams. 1 in Nashville, 1 in Atlanta, and 1 just before Macon. Bojangles seems to have staffing issues and closes early in those locations that we tried to get fried chicken. Buc-ee’s came to the rescue with pulled pork and brisket sandwiches for dinner. We got a good night’s sleep at a rest stop in Georgia and made it home by 1:30 in the afternoon of the 20th. 2813 miles later. Time to clean the RV and the car.
Bill Frederick Park Orlando
July 2, 2021, to July 4, 2021
Let’s see, Oh Ja! Rain, more rain, trip to Ikea, and more rain. The perfect park though to stay in while visiting the parks. Lokai and I got a few walks in.
Lake Louisa State Park
July 16, to July 18, 2021
Was this really trip # 50 already? Time flies by when you have fun. What a beautiful place on the outskirts of Orlando. This was the first time we had bikes with us and Char enjoyed exploring the park on her e-bike. She still has to figure out that you can use it fully electric and that you don’t have to peddle yourself. The kayaks got wet too. And this time not from rain. The A/C worked overtime. The sunsets here are some of the best. On our way home we stopped at Lazydays in Tampa. Time to upgrade the RV?
Myrtle Beach and back
August 02, to August 15, 2021
Yes, we upgraded!
We cut our trip short by canceling 4 nights in 2 State Parks to take delivery of the RV and to load it up. On August 2nd we left for Myrtle Beach. The first night we pulled into a Cracker Barrell for the night. Unfortunately no breakfast. They didn’t open until 10:00 AM. Crazy! We continued on to Myrtle Beach State Park. Somehow it was a little rainy. The weather was 50/50. But we got some beach time, and Lokai got his walks. Char tricked me to go to a Medieval Fair thing. Yup. Check! On the 9th we headed South again. We stopped at Camp Lake Jasper. I left Charlene behind to go back to work for 2 days. Char made some new friends there and I managed to buy some of the last peaches of the season. On our way home we stopped at Paines Prairie for 2 nights. I swear! This place shrunk! Roads are much small compared to our last visit and the trees are closing in. Or we just got too big for this place. 🙂 This was a great rip. The new RV feels great. Not too many things that need to be fixed. Char is worn out, and we can see ourselves going full-time in this.
Long Point Park
August 27, to August 29, 2021
Another weekend at Long Point Park. Charlene’s favorite spot. Maybe mine too. We met up with Pete and Libby for a weekend of talks, food, and something to drink. Camping is even better when you have friends around. The river is full of surprises. This time I found a big conch. I put it back where I hope no one else will find it. Other than that it was uneventful. And that is a good thing!
Collier Seminole State Park
September 10, to September 12, 2021
Our second trip to this State Park nearby. We were surprised to find it nearly empty. Maybe a dozen sites were occupied. This time we came with our kayaks. So we spent some time on the water having fun with some rather strong current. Lokai only went in once. Saturday evening the sky opened up and converted the campground into a small lake. We enjoyed the show from inside the RV through our humungous windshield. Another relaxing weekend.
Peace River RV & Camping Resort
September 24, to September 26, 2021
Our first Thousand Trails Campground. Famous Peace River RV & Camping Resort. One of the most talked-about places we have been to. I think we like it. In off-season that is. We were looking forward to some kayaking and sifting for shark’s teeth. Well, the river had something to say about that. With all the rain this summer, the river was full. The current was quite strong. We skipped kayaking. Areas of the river where you normally can go and sift through the sand for artifacts? Flooded. We skipped that too. We did go to the Wildlife refuge nearby though and enjoyed the pool and the hot tub. And some beautiful sunsets. I picked the right site for a perfect view. We will be back. And if we do decide to stick with Thousand Trails, we found our membership specialist.
Riverside RV Resort
September 30, to October 5, 2021
Work camping at Riverside. I am working, Charlene is camping. With her sister and brother-in-law. Well, I got to enjoy some time off also. Mainly setting up, breaking down, fixing water leaks, and killing an ant army. I still had a good time. Dana and Bryan camped right next to us and we got to admire each other’s new RV. Charlene enjoyed spending time with her family, and Lokai has a new friend in Bryan. Time to get ready for the next campout. Going to Long Point Park again for a week.
Long Point Park
October 8, to October 14, 2021
Maybe I should count how many times we have been here yet. 5 times? 6 times? Who cares? You still get eaten up by no-see-ums and it’s still beautiful. We drove here through a torrential downpour that even was too much for one of the wiper blades, the weather turned out great though. Almost too hot at times. We got our kayaks in the water a few times, saw manatees and dolphins, and met some awesome neighbors. We had a great time.
Crystal Isles RV Resort
October 22, to October 24, 2021
Our third weekend at a Thousand Trails / Encore Park. It’s free, near Crystal River, and had a pool. We didn’t take the kayaks because Char was already hurting enough. But we checked out the area for future visits. And the area is definitely worth visiting again. While waiting for the sunset, we watched 2 dolphins feeding on a school of fish. Now it’s time to get the new washer into the RV. That will be an interesting one.
Lake Kissimmee State Park
November 05, to November 07, 2021
Yeah! Another weekend that started with rain. Also the first cold front of the season. We now know that the heat pump and the furnace work. I think it’s safe to say that this park was not made for RV’s like ours. Getting into our site was challenging and the low-hanging branches gave me anxiety. I knew about Florida’s history when it comes to cattle and cowboys. Little did I know how much of this history is still shown in the area. While I don’t think we will be back to this park, we will be back to the area.
Sherwood Forrest RV Resort
November 19, to November 21, 2021
And the theme continues. Rain. Sherwood Forrest is another campground included in the Thousand Trails / Encore collection. A little cleaner than the other campgrounds we visited so far, but tight. For sure an option to stay near the Orlando attractions, but nothing to brag about. The best thing about this place? Charlene’s favorite restaurants are within 1/2 a mile.
Myakka Ryver State Park
November 23, to November 30, 2021
Only one short, nightly rain shower. Perfect weather. Finally!
This was our Thanksgiving campout with Charlene’s sister and her family. We cooked too much, ate too much, and enjoyed what the park has to offer. Lokai and I went swimming with the gators. He jumped in 3 times and then decided to take me with him for the 4th time. No gator bothered us even though we saw at least 20+ on our 2-hour kayak trip. The biggest one we saw was the size of our kayaks and he didn’t care about us at all. This park has a few quiet, easily accessible corners that Charlene enjoyed very much. For the first time, we made use of the washer/dryer that I installed 2 weeks ago. Glamping is fantastic. And the heat pump and furnace worked just fine. Now we just need to get the door fixed. Now it’s time to get ready to see some Christmas lights in St. Augustine.
St. Augustine, Ocean Grove RV Resort
December 02, to December 05, 2021
We got an early start by leaving Thursday after work and spending the night at the newly renovated rest stop just before Tampa. We crossed the State staying far away from Orlando just to stop in Daytona for Brisket at Buc-ee’s. Friday evening we went downtown to see the Christmas lights and ended up enjoying some folks singing Christmas carols. We did quite a few walking and Charlene happily got whipped out. We were back Saturday though. During the day. We had to visit the Spanish Bakery and St. Augustine Distillery. Needed some Gin 🙂 We stayed at the campground for sunset. And it was well worth it. Sunday we had to stop at Buc-ee’s again for you know what.
December 17, to December 19, 2021
We might have a new campground on the shortlist. Spacious sites, full hookups, and even a pool. While the spring itself was closed due to being flooded all summer, Lokai and I still managed to hike some of the trails around that place. Saturday we took the kayaks, went up the Suwannee River and into the spring. Hopefully, by the time we make it back here, repairs are made, so we can check out the boardwalk alongside the river.
Long Point Park
December 31, 2021, to January 02, 2022
Finished the year nice and easy. Although with a buh buh. Somehow I managed to book the wrong dates. We had to leave Saturday instead of Sunday. I managed to find us an alternative campground 25 minutes away. I still smoked the New York Strip for 4 hours and we had a great dinner. Note to self! Pay attention to dates when making reservations. Now it’s time to get ready for the first trip in 2022. Off to New Orleans.