Monthly Archives: February 2018

Cedar Key, Florida: Feb 17-24, 2018

We stopped in Tallahassee on our way to Cedar Key to have dinner with some fellow RVers from Mountain Falls Motorcoach Resort. They took us to a local restaurant, ‘A La Provence’. The chateaubriand, crab cakes, fried tomatoes and dessert was fabulous. We boondocked in a church parking lot just down the street from our friend’s house. It was very convenient. In the morning we continued our journey to Cedar Key.

Cedar Key is a destination location, an island 50 miles southwest of Gainsville, Florida. It sits three miles out into the Gulf of Mexico. There is one road into the small village where just 800 people reside full time. As you come into town you cross over salt marshes. The area is a haven for outdoor people with tons of fishing, bird watching, nature trails, and kayaking. The Cedar Keys form a chain of barrier islands which migratory and shore birds love. Some of the surrounding barrier islands are federally protected sanctuaries for birds.

We spent a week in Cedar Key, at ‘Low Key Hideaway.’ This is a motel with a handful of parking spaces for RVs. We loved the location, as we had a beautiful view of a salt marsh and the sunsets were spectacular. The motel has a pretty hip tiki bar that was popular with the locals, as well as the renters.

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During low tide we would have a lot of birds feeding along the salt marsh, in front of the RV:

Our spot was within walking distance to the village of Cedar Key so each morning we would walk a few miles and tour the area.

‘the view along our morning walk’

Down by the shore we would find the clammers and fishermen at work.

We spotted many Osprey. Often times we’d see them up in the tree with a fish in claw. We spotted one male feeding and then when he was about half way through the fish he picked it up and flew over to the nest where the female was waiting for her share.

We even spotted an eagle.

There is a nice park in the village; Cemetery Point Park. I liked that their work-out equipment was situated so that you could exercise with a view.

Next door to the motel / RV park is Southern Cross Sea Farms. Charlie and I took a tour of the facility and learned a lot about the history of Cedar Key and the process of clamming. In short, the state of Florida banned the use of gill nets in state waters back in 1995. That put a lot of commercial fisherman out of work, but also opened up new opportunities, such as clamming. Due to Cedar Key’s rural location and exceptional water quality it quickly became one of the largest producers of farm raised clams in the country. At Southern Cross Sea Farms they spawn clams in their hatchery and then harvest, process and ship them all over the country. The process takes about 2 years. It was a very informative tour.

We tried various clam dishes while in town. Our favorite was clam chowder from Tony’s. We liked it so much that we bought a few containers to freeze and eat later.

It was a very restful week and we enjoyed it very much. We would return to this area again.

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Working our way to and through Florida’s Panhandle: Feb 5-17, 2018

We began our 2018 winter road trip Feb. 5th. We departed early in the morning from Atlanta and headed towards Red Bay, AL for annual service work on the RV.  We were in and out of Red Bay within 2 days.

Our first vacation destination was Mobile, Alabama. Neither of us had ever visited the area. We were lucky to find an available spot at an RV park, as it was Mardi Gras time in the area and all parks were full. We stayed at the “all about relaxing” RV park on the west side of the city, in a rural area. The park is small, but very quiet and clean with a friendly staff. When we checked in we were given a small jar of local specialty jam. From the park it was only a 20 minute drive to downtown Mobile. We would highly recommend this park if you are in the area.

We had only one day to spend in Mobile so we made the most of it. We started with a tour of the USS Alabama Memorial Park. The park offers self-guided tours of a submarine, a battleship and an airplane museum. We spent a few hours there and enjoyed it very much. It was a little chilly in the morning, low 40s, but warmed up nicely to the low 60s by early afternoon.

Pics from the Aviation Pavilion:

Pics from the Battleship:

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Pics from the Drum Submarine:

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In the afternoon we grabbed lunch at a boutique restaurant called ‘Spot of Tea’. Charlie enjoyed crab cake eggs Benedict, while I enjoyed a salad.

Following lunch we took a scenic drive through Daphne and Fairhope, before returning to the RV. All in all, we enjoyed our visit in the Mobile area.

A Pelican hanging out in Fairhope:

Our next stop was at the Bella Terra Motorcoach Resort in Gulf Shores, AL for one night. We found Bella Terra located a little farther from the coast then we would have liked, but the resort was nice. After getting settled in we headed out for lunch. I was thrilled to find that there is an Acme restaurant in Gulf Shores. I have fond memories of falling in love with their baked oysters in New Orleans.

After enjoying some oysters we took a drive through the Gulf Shores State Park. We were amazed to find that they have 450 camping sites. It is located right across the street from the Gulf of Mexico, and includes a boardwalk over the main road to get to it. We would have loved to stay there, but every site was booked through March. If you ever think about staying at this park you need to consider booking a year in advance.

The Pensacola Naval Museum was on the way to our next destination so we decided to stop there, with the RV towing the Jeep. We had confirmed that there was a parking lot large enough to accommodate our rig. However, we missed the appropriate turn for the gate entrance to the museum and ended up going to the Naval Base main entrance. There was no way we could turn the RV around before going through the security gates. Security made us pull over and wait 10 minutes for a police car to lead us back to the exit. After that excitement we decided to park the RV at a nearby Target parking lot and simply take the Jeep to the museum, as you have to go through yet another security entrance. We finally made it to the museum and spent a couple hours there meandering around the planes.

After the museum we continued on our way to Navarre’s Emerald RV Park in Navarre, FL. It was pretty much the only RV park along the panhandle we were able to find a spot at last minute. When we arrived it was pouring down rain. We had been dealing with a ton of rain and cold weather since leaving Atlanta the week prior.

During our time in the panhandle we visited the Air Force Armament Museum. It was very interesting. They have a large variation of armament from the early days of WWI through today. The write-ups and displays throughout the museum were well done and informative.

We also visited ‘The Gulf Islands National Seashore’. It is a short 10-minute drive from the Emerald RV Park. We found the national seashore park to be extremely quiet at this time of the year. We rarely saw a car go by as we drove and walked along the park’s main road. I regretted not having brought our bikes on the trip, as a ride through the park would have been enjoyable.

We discovered, through their blog (https://liferebooted.net/), that fellow RVers, Kat and Mike were staying just east of Destin, at Topsail State Park. We were able to meet up with them for lunch at the Back Porch Restaurant in Destin. Last year, by pure coincidence, we discovered through their blog that they were staying at the Lost Dutchman State Park in Phoenix, AZ while we were there. Turns out, they were our nextdoor neighbors.

The week spent in Florida’s panhandle was very enjoyable. The Emerald RV Park was centrally located in between Destin and Pensacola Beach. The sunsets from the park’s dock were very pretty.

If we returned though we might pick the Santa Rosa RV park, just down the street from Emerald. It has a nicer pool to sit around and larger patios. Another good option is the Pensacola Beach RV Resort. It is on the island, next to Gulf Islands National Seashore. There are a number of waterfront lots facing the inner waterway. It is close to Pensacola and within walking distance to a number of shops and restaurants.

We spotted this unique ‘Martian’ house not too far from the Pensacola Beach RV Park. Pretty crazy:

Our final stop in Florida’s panhandle was in St. Joe, and that was just for lunch. We were working our way to Tallahassee for an overnight stay and visit with friends. The drive along the coast to St. Joe was picture perfect. We drove through numerous quaint beachfront towns. For lunch we ate at Sunset Coastal Grill, along the water in St. Joe. It was fabulous.

We look forward to returning to the area in the future.

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Catching Up after being home for a few months

We ended our last road trip, in early October, at Mountain Falls Luxury RV Resort in Lake Toxaway, NC (http://www.mtn-falls.com/). We consider this to be our RV home base. In 2016 we purchased an RV lot up on the ridge.

This past October we sold that lot and purchased another lot, with a Coach House. Closing on the new property was scheduled for the week after our return. We were very excited to close the deal and have a beautiful home on the ridge.

After moving up to our new lot we spent a couple weeks at Mountain Falls, enjoying Fall colors in the Blue Ridge mountains. We then headed to our stick and bricks home in Atlanta, GA for a few months. We enjoyed catching up and visiting with family and friends.

During our time off from RVing, we participated in the Carolina Balloon Festival, in Statesville NC (http://www.carolinaballoonfest.com/). Charlie has competed in this event, off and on, since 1980. It is always a lot of fun. This year’s weather pattern was perfect for flying.

In December, we spent a few days at the Lake House, enjoying some scenic snowfall.

In January, we flew the plane down to Florida for a short vacation.

 

We visited the Kennedy Space Center, which we both enjoyed very much. We had the opportunity to see the SpaceX Falcon Heavy from a distance. Unfortunately, we were just a couple weeks too early for the launch.

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Our hotel was right on Cocoa Beach. Sunrises were beautiful, as seen through our hotel window.

After a few days in Cocoa Beach we flew down to Stuart, FL to visit some friends and then flew up to Hilton Head, SC. We had some beautiful sights of the coastline, as well as the Kennedy Space Center from the air.

After a busy few months at home, it is time to hit the road again. We’ve decided to do Florida this winter, with the goal of relaxing a little bit. We’ll see how that goes….

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