Thursday, March 12, 2015

Winter in Florida

Our friends Kate and Roger moved from the campground to Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area in Kenansville FL and invited us out to see their setup where they were boondocking.  It was a beautiful day so we decided to ride the bike and enjoy the sunshine.  On the ride out we stopped at a gas station finding it a busy spot as folks were setting out for a day in the swamp.  Check out this vehicle ?

I would love to go for a ride in this boat/truck, swamp buggy.

One can boondock at Wildlife Management Areas for an annual fee of $26, not a bad deal.  This location has primitive camping only during the winter, and there was a lot of people camping, some for the whole time it was open.

Kate and Roger had a nice spot and with their solar panels they were set for two months of camping.


Mid January Tampa hosts one of the largest RV shows on the east coast.  Pierre and Ann rode with us to experience this show for the first time, it was funny to watch them, they were like kids in a candy shop.  They ride a motorcycle and were looking at toy haulers.  He found this fifth wheel which is a pretty cool idea.  It's new this year and I bet they will sell alot of them.


In January the park really started filling up.  We thought people would arrive and not leave til March, well some did but there were alot of transits filtering in and out.  Marks business really picked up and he stayed busy all the time.  Friends Heidi and Gail, and I organized a craft show in the park.  It was a nice way to meet people and we had a good turn out, plan on doing one again next year.  Linda and Al who also stay in the park are good bowlers and we haven't bowled in awhile so it sounded like fun.  Pierre and Ann came with us as well, being from Canada they aren't accustom to bowling with larger balls and pins so it was a hoot to watch them.  We all had a good time and plan on doing it on a regular basis next winter.  

The first of February we headed down to the everglades to Big Cypress National Preserve taking the Tamiami Trail HWY 41.

Big Cypress became one of the first national preserves in the United States National Park System when they were established in 1974.  The freshwaters of the swamp are essential to the health of the neighboring Everglades and support the rich marine estuaries along the southwest coast.  The swamp is over 729,000 acres and is home to elusive Florida panther along with gators and snakes.  
Big Cypress differs from Everglades National Park in that, when it was established the Miccosukee, Seminole and Traditional people were provided with permanent rights to occupy and use the land in traditional ways; they also have first rights to develop income-producing businesses related to the resources and use of the preserve such as guided tours and airboat rides.
We spotted several gators along the canals.

There are several stop off points along the way for hiking, birding, kayaking along with a few campgrounds.  In Ochopee you will see the smallest post office in the US.

Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center is a good place to learn about the swamp.  It has a walkway over looking the water where you can view the manatee, such gentle creatures.  
Next we headed south to Everglades City for some lunch and an airboat ride.  This is something I have always wanted to do and can now check it off my bucket list.  We choose Speedy's Airboat Tours as they have smaller boats with a maximum of 6 passengers. They are the only tour company that can go through the Mangrove Jungle and Grasslands.

What a great ride!

We spent the night at a local hostel and then headed out the next morning to check out Naples, Bonita Springs and Fort Meyers for campgrounds for next year possibly.  After checking out several locations we were not impressed with any of them and on average they cost $200-$400 more a month then were are paying now.  So we decided to book again next year in Port St Lucie as we have made friends there, enjoy the weather and area.  


Our next trip was to Mel Fishers Museum in Sabastian with Pierre, Ann, Daniel, Lucille and Dennis.  It was a nice day for a motorcycle ride and exploring.  The museum was wonderful and rich with information and treasures from the sunken ships from the 1600's caused by a hurricane.  

Once we had our heads full of knowledge our next stop on the way home was Sailfish Brewery in Fort Pierce.  When we arrived the brewery wasn't open for another hour.  After some fancy talking they served us but we had to stay outside in the court yard, not a problem.  The beer was good and the day was sunny, what more could anyone want!

This crazy crew will be back!!!


We enjoyed several cocktail parties and dinners with our new friends but everything must come to an end.  So we planned a cookout and Mark grilled his famous wings for the Good Bye party by the pool.

A good time was had by everyone and we look forward to seeing you all next year.  Thanks for the memories.


A couple of days later it started raining at 6 am and didn't stop til 11 am, I tell you the bottom dropped out raining 11".  

This is in front of our camper.

Looking down our road.

Folks had flip flops, coolers and tables float away.

This is looking from the pool.  It was just crazy but luckily no one had any damage.


Mark left a couple of days later headed to Wilmington to put the van in storage and flew back a week later.  I stayed busy waxing the rig and getting everything packed away for our move north.  

We spent an enjoyable winter in Port St. Lucie, FL and will be back next year.  The weather was better here than it was in Clearwater last winter, being farther south and on the east coast works for us.

Thanks for following our travels.

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