Wow! We went in the longest bike ride ever today with the absolute best reward! I’m so glad I didn’t throw in the towel and turn around when we got to the first road block which was a busy busy road with absolutely no shoulder, other than a 5 foot culvert next to a thin white line. We knew it would be too dangerous to bike on that road so we found a 10 minute detour through neighborhood streets that took us to our next road block which was an equally ridiculously dangerous road to bike on. There are absolutely no sidewalks here and nowhere for a safe bike ride but we were gonna make it to our destination no matter what!!!! So another detour and another dangerous road and then some grass walking and a short ride on the bad bad road but we did finally make it to this amazing seafood restaurant! And on top of all that hard work, we found out that it’s crawfish season. I could not have been happier!! We had the most amazing lunch!! Then actually found a halfway decent ride back to the campground mostly using the rail trail that we started out on.
The weather is getting cold again. It’s amazing how hard we try to chase 72 degrees, there will always be those in between days where we are pretty damn cold when we get out of our cozy zero degree sleeping bags. Today is one of those days. I think I’m a little better with the morning cold than Greg is. He usually has to put the Mr. Buddy heater on. I usually just throw on some extra layers and wait for it to warm up. Eventually we will probably install the Webasto Diesel Heater under the passenger seat but for now we just deal with it or drive more hours chasing the weather.
We are working our way over to Florida. Seems to be a little warmer there. Currently, (Feb. 3rd) we are in Biloxi Mississippi. We did a little casino camping last night at the Scarlet Pearl Casino. Casino Camping is great as long as you don’t get the “dreaded knock” in the middle of the night. To avoid that, we went inside, spoke to security to make sure they allow overnight RV parking in The lot. We saw two big RVs out there and a couple of trucks but wanted to check and be sure anyway. They said it would be fine and to park on the outer lots and not to block anything. So with the van we can fit in a regular parking spot so we didn’t go by the other RVs. We took the bikes out of the van to set up the sleeping arrangements for the night. We usually lock the bikes to the back of the van but last night we locked them to a fence behind the van. We got everything ready for bed. I was about to crawl into my cozy warm bed when we get the dreaded knock!!!!!! A very nice security guard telling us we can’t lock the bikes up to the fence and that we also can’t park where we were parked. We had to move the van over by the other RVs. It was a little back and forth with this guy and his supervisor on the radio. They had to check the camera footage to see that we had come inside and that we had spoken to security and that we had dropped some money into the slots. He was making it very difficult to keep “ the Long Island” from lashing out. In the end, we got the approval (again) to park overnight. It’s good to know that they are watching every move in the parking lot and that security is on top of things.
Next morning we went in for some gambling and complimentary coffee and danish.
Oh. I forgot mention that last night we had the most amazing meal in Biloxi at a place called Half Shell Oyster House. The food down here is so amazing!
Continuing to head East. We did a couple of hours to Flora-Bama. The border of those two states and an amazing venue/huge bar for bands. I think there were three stages. Plus the place is right on the beach and they had a great Oyster Bar and fantastic shrimp tacos. We watched a little bit of the Country Music entertainment but not really my cup of tea so I can only take it in small doses. This place must be so much fun for Spring Break.
From there, we continued in another 15 minutes to a great State Park called Big Lagoon. We got the last spot in the place. Went for a nice bike ride to the water and ate King Cake and Icecream for dinner.
Next stop, A State Forest overlooking a lake with a fishing pier. Long 2 mile dirt road to get here but worth it as we have the whole place to ourselves except for some fishermen that come and go but don’t spend the night. There are a bunch of Old Oak trees and huge pine trees that make this place a beauty. Plus, on top of that, someone left a ton of wood to have campfires on both nights that we stayed. The only thing that’s annoying is that they closed down the envelope deposit thing where you would normally put your 9 bucks in and envelope and slide it into the metal secure envelope deposit thingy. That would be all fine and good but instead they make you go to Reserve America to pay for you site and the charge a 7 dollar service fee for each night. So our 9 dollar camp spot just turned into a $16 dollar camp spot. Not that that is a lot of money for a spot, but just the point of it. It’s a little ridiculous if you ask me.
It’s miserable, dreary, rainy and cold but we stayed here anyway because it’s just so nice to be back in the forest. Plus the birds here are everywhere. Specifically cardinals and woodpeckers. Today is supposed to be another yucky day, weather wise, so we are gonna head a little further south to another National Forest campground.
We got the last spot in the Lake Griffin State Park in Fruitland Park, Florida. It was a cute little campground with a Huge Oak tree. They also had an outdoor laundromat. I’ve never seen that before. I thought it was the coolest thing until the bugs came out. The bugs were pretty brutal. I had to go back into the safety of the van while Greg dealt with the laundry.
The next morning, Mindy and Beeba, our friends from Raquette Lake came for a visit to the campground. They rented a place down the road in Lady Lake for a month. we went on some short hikes and of course had to go check out that giant tree again.
We checked out of Lake Griffin at 1 and headed toward another water management district spot. Greg drove and I figured out how to do the online permit. There is a combination lock at the gate to this place and without the combination, you can’t get in. The permit to get the combination was pretty straight forward and it was free so what’s to lose. We had a little trouble finding the entrance to the area where they allow camping but we did finally figure it out. Had some trouble putting in the combination and thought maybe we were at the wrong spot but it turned out there was a second lock on the gate and the combination worked! We opened the gate and drove right in.
At the end of the dirt road was the camping area and also a huge red barn. This is a horse camp so they have the barn and other horse type things. We picked out a nice spot and then showed the host our permit. A lot of these remote places have hosts that stay on the property. We are really enjoying the serenity of this place. There’s so many birds here. This one particular Cardinal really enjoys us and the van.
There’s a bunch of turtles here as well.
There’s also a great hiking trail here. We only did a short portion of it but plan to hike more of it later.
We had to switch out our camp spot for our second night here as our first spot had a bit of a fire ant situation. Those things hurt like a bastard. Luckily we were able to move across the way for the second night.
Heading out of the woods and back to the coat to visit my Dad and Rosemarie. They “winter” in Lauderdale by the sea. The closest state park was 30 minutes away from them at $60 a night. However they closed the bathrooms and showers because of the COVid. So we decided to check out AirBnb and found a place within a 5 minute walk from them and the beach at $52! Plus a great spot to park the van for the four days and not have to worry about driving it around. Everything we need is in walking distance, not that we really ever needed anything because my Dad and Rosemarie kept us very well fed with Delicious homemade meals. Plus they have a great pool and sitting area where they are staying. the temperature was in the 80,s which is great. And the Sunrises on the beach are amazing.
Next stop, A visit with our friends Lisa and John in Port St. Lucie. We had so much fun. It was great to spend time with them . We went to this huge flea market and we went to the casino, out to eat and Lisa is also an amazing cook so we ate well while we were here. we parked the van in the driveway here. It rained every day off and on but the temperatures were in the 80’s every day. This area of Florida is very pretty. Plenty of places for shopping and very clean and landscaped beautifully. They are both so lucky to be living here.
Tomorrow we head out back into the woods for a few days, although this “city” living has been wonderful, we do prefer the solitude of the woods.