We left the campground and headed over to a place that Greg found in his obscure places app. A place called “Robert is here.” It’s a farm stand, a very popular one. There’s a whole story behind it if when Robert was a small child and his dad would make him sell vegetables on the roadside and his sign said Robert is here. Now he’s a grown man and his farm has really expanded. They have every fruit flavored milkshake or smoothly you could imagine. They also have an absurd amount of exotic fruits. Lots of animals and good barbecue.
Had a nice afternoon at the farm and then headed to Everglades National Park. We decided on two nights at the Long Pine Key Campground which is by the entrance. The last time we were here we stayed at the way bottom at the Flamingo Campground. This campground we are in has no electric so it’s pretty empty. They have showers and flush toilets so all is well and that’s pretty much all we need….. actually we don’t even need that.
We took a bike ride around the area a little and caught the most amazing sunset. It was darkest orange/red I have ever seen.
Next morning we woke up to an equally stunning sunrise.
We decided to travel the extra 40 miles to check out the other side of the National Park. We did a few hikes through the Freshwater Marsh and the mahogany forests.
We stopped for some lunch at a pond and were greeted by some huge Ravens.
Last time we were here, this place was loaded with alligators. This time not so much. However we did get to see one on our road trip today and he was a biggie!!
The Ravens here are a bit weird. Most Ravens Caw. This one was doing a Caw and then what sounded like a dial tone on a phone. Lol
Next day we took a hike down by the Royal Palm Visitor Center. When we got to the visitor center we noticed that a few of the cars had tarps over them. Coincidentally we had just listen to a podcast about this. Apparently turkey vultures like to rip apart the windshield wipers on cars. This parking lot that we were in was one of the areas where they had a problem with the turkey vultures. They do not know how to stop them from doing this so they offered tarps for people to put over their cars and over their windshield so that the turkey vultures do not rip the windshield wipers off. They didn’t have one big enough for the van so we went off on our hike without one. When we got towards the end of the hike we looked over and noticed that there were some turkey vultures hovering around the parking lot so we hurried back to the van.
From there we drove to Hialeah Park Casino.
They had a special promotion going on for people who are new to that casino so we got our card and they loaded it up with $50 we took it over to a slot machine and bet the max amount. Greg lost his 50 and I won $136. We had dinner at the Cracker Barrel and decided to spend the night there in their lot. As Greg was setting up the van for stealth mode to sleep there for the night, a raccoon tried to come right inside the van and Greg had to shoo him away. Other than that we had a pleasant night and enjoyed a nice breakfast at the Hampton Inn in the morning.
We drove another hour back to our favorite Free Campground. The one that had the mosquito problem and I can tell you the Mosquitoes have gotten worse. Thankfully I was able to pick up the handy dandy tennis raquette bug zapper and have enjoyed zapping those little bastards.
We stayed two nights and days mostly inside the van because of the rain and the bugs.
Despite that we still love this place. The camp host Steve is really on top of things and the showers are private and hot.
We were planning on spending a third night but because of the lack of sun our batteries started getting a little too low for Greg’s liking. For those that don’t know, we have two 100 watt flexible solar panels in the roof as well as a portable fold out panel for when we are parked in the shade. That’s 300 watts that keep our lithium batteries charged which keeps our fridge freezer running and our lights and fans working. Without sun, however, the batteries will drain and the icecream will melt. So change of plans for the third night and we drove to a KOA to plug in the van and get the batteries fully charged.
This KOA is huge!! 750 campsites!! They have 4 laundry rooms, a golf course. 2 pools and a big convention center. It’s the biggest KOA I’ve ever seen. And lots of cabins too for renting. We did laundry and took showers and ate icecream. Big Thumbs up for this campground.
Next day we went on vacation to a dude ranch with my cousin Maureen and DickC. Greg and I were here last year and really loved it. This year was a lot different. Last year we basically had the whole resort to ourselves because of the pandemic. This year, the place was packed out. The camping field was so crowded. Greg and I were unable to get a spot by one of the picnic tables so we kind of just parked the van by the horses. And we were glad we did cause it rained all weekend and the entire field was flooded out.
Despite the rain, we had a great time at the Ranch. The rodeo was pretty amazing!
Maureen rented a golf cart so that was lots of fun and way dryer than riding the bikes in the rain.
OMG! I almost forgot to mention that Greg got attacked by red fire ants. He must have stepped on one of their nests and they started crawling up his legs and biting his ankles, calves and feet. They are viscous!! Thankfully he was able to take care of it by spraying them with bug spray and then taking his shoes and socks off and brushing his legs and feet with a broom. It was crazy.
That night I checked a few of the Florida State Parks to see if we would be able to get a site but they were all booked. I guess Thanksgiving in Florida involves camping at the State Parks because every state park in the area was booked solid. The next day, I checked again to see if there were any cancellations and was very surprised to see a tent spot for two nights at Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine. I grabbed it right away and we drove the 3 hours to get here. It’s a great park right on the beach and it biking distance to the historic downtown area.
We arrived, set up and immediately headed out on the bikes to get a feel for the place although it was almost sunset we wanted to do a little exploring to be prepared for the following day. There also was a cold front coming in. The temperatures would be dropping over 25° overnight.
We made it back to the campground just in time to ride the bikes to the beach and check out a beautiful sunset.
Next day I called my Dad and Ro cause I know they’ve been coming to St Augustine for years. They gave us a bunch of suggestions on things to do and see and so we headed back on the bikes, back into the town. It was pretty cold and windy so the first place we stopped was a tea shop for a nice hot cup of tea.
From there we went to The Colombian for some lunch. They have this salad that they serve from a recipe from 1905. It was delicious and they make it tableside which is fun.
We did a bunch of other touristy things there. We spent all day and will need to go back again to see everything we missed. It’s too big to do in just one day. also the place was PACKED!! I guess the whole world goes to st Augustine for Thanksgiving. I haven’t seen that many people in the same place in a long time. We decided against the Trolley Ride as everyone one of them that went by was packed to beyond capacity. Yet, the federal campgrounds close every other campsite. Makes me laugh.
Road the bikes back to the campground and stopped along the way at Olsteens for some dinner. It’s a seafood restaurant but also like home style type of menu. We got it to go because I didn’t want to ride the bikes in the dark on that main road. Greg used to be a Newspaper delivery boy so he was able to bike while holding the dinners
Next morning I woke in time for a beautiful sunrise on the beach
We headed out the Wednesday before thanksgiving in the hopes of finding a spot at the Ocean Pond campground which we stayed at a month ago. I can’t believe we’ve been in Florida for a month already. I also can’t believe how many people go camping for Thanksgiving. We were lucky again and got a spot and decided to spend Thanksgiving Day here cause we figured most every other option was going to be booked. Besides this is a beautiful campground.
The temps have starting dropping here in Northern Florida. We are looking forward to getting back to the desert where it’s a little warmer but we don’t really like driving more than 2 hours a day so it’s gonna be awhile. We headed west to our next spot which was called High Bluff Campground. On the way in are ridiculously large speed bumps through a neighborhood and then a well maintained dirt road. We thought it looked a little familiar and by the time we arrived at the campground, we realized that we had been here before. This year was a little more crowded than last year. That seems to be the way it’s gonna be from here on out. We sure got spoiled in our first year of traveling through the pandemic. We had a nice night, a nice dinner and woke up to 35°. Thank God for the WeBasto diesel heater that Greg and Timmy installed. If not for that we would definitely be driving 10 hours a day to get to the warmth of the desert.
We watched a couple of videos in the warmth of the van. One of the You Tubers that we follow (Lex and Riot) had a video about a free camping spot here in Florida that looked nice so we plugged it into the Google maps and lo and behold it was 2 hours from us. I was able to reserve a spot. This is a free campground but you do need a reservation permit. We arrived, grabbed site 14 and walked around a bit. The water here is so cool. There were at least 12 pickups with empty boat trailers so this must be a very popular spot for the locals to come and fish and enjoy the river. We actually considered blowing up our two man kayak to check it out but then remembered the Alligators. Still a little uncertain about kayaking with an inflatable kayak in alligator country. That would be like rubbing peanut butter all over my arms and hiking in bear country.
Time for a shower. That usually means a truck stop or a campground. In this case it was a beautiful state park in Alabama called Meaher State Park. It was right in the water, mostly huge rvs but they did have a tent section which we like much better, especially when the tent section has electric. It was a pretty cool state park campground. There were two huge piers going out above the water. The showers were hot plus they had laundry. Actually, the showers were a little too hot. There was no temperature control, you just pushed a button and the water came out for like two minutes and then you push it again. Over and over. It started out good but then got soooooo hot I couldn’t stand under it anymore. Not the best shower, but even a bad shower is better than no shower. Sort of like pizza, even bad pizza is good.
Headed out for a three hour drive to try and get back into the 70 degree weather. It’s been a little chilly. Finally got a chance to stop at a Buc-ees Travel Stop. These places are HUMUNGOUS!!! You have to experience it to believe it. Whoever owns these are geniuses. They are the crème de la crème of travel stops.
Headed onto Louisiana to a Harvest Host Location. This place is an Oil Rig Museum right on the river in a cute town called Morgan City. We spent a little time in the town before heading to the Harvest Host. Enjoyed watching the photo sessions by the town Christmas tree and then had some Louisiana southern cooking for dinner.
Arrived at the Harvest Host spot in the dark so didn’t really have any idea what it was like until the sun came up. What a great spot we picked.
The 10 AM tour of the oil rig was amazing. I never realized how many men and woman live on them and the whole process for drilling oil on the ocean. It was fascinating.
Today we head towards Texas. Almost to the border but stopped at another Harvest Host. The Crying Eagle Brewery. Not nearly as exciting as the Oil Rig, but the food was amazing. The place was huge and the parking lot where we parked the van was big, flat and private. We had the whole lot to ourselves. (Except for some homeless across the way in the woods) Great way to end November and get into the holiday spirit. The place was beautifully decorated.
Totals for Novembers expenses.
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