January 14-31 Florida, Alabama and Mississippi

We arrived in Palm Harbor. First stop was the hospital to visit with Gregs mom as she recovers from her surgery. She is doing great and will be home in a couple of days. She had to stay an extra day because her blood pressure was low but looks and feels great.

Her surgery did not keep her down and we were out and about town enjoying dinner, shopping and other fun things. We found this place called Vampire Penguin which makes dessert made out of flavored snow. It’s sort of like shaved ice but a different consistency. And they put all kinds of syrup and toppings on it. It was delicious!

Greg’s Dad got a new Lectric bike like Greg’s. He got the step through kind with the bigger tires. We went down to a beautiful park on the other side of Lake Tarpon called John Chestnut Park. We did some of the Pinellas bike trail and road through some fancy neighborhoods and through the park. It was a really nice bike ride and the best part about electric bikes is you never get tired. Fake exercise at its finest.

We had a nice steak dinner at Longhorns steak house down the block. Our waiter said “No worries,” way too many times. I guess that phrase is better than the “no problem” we usually hear over and over from servers today.

Marilyn broke out some old pictures of Greg as a baby. I couldn’t believe how chubby he was!!! He eventually started to get taller and started looking more like Greg in the school ages photos.

We headed south toward where my Grandparents had a house in Largo Florida. We went to the old neighborhood and were a little disappointed. The house was repainted but still kind of outdated and the neighborhood was not kept up very well. It used to be so beautiful there.

We also went to visit the botanical garden which I have vague memories going to with my grandparents. That place has really expanded and was really nice.

We then drove over to the Cracker Barrel to get some dinner and a good nights sleep. We woke up and much to our surprise we were parked next to a van that is owned by People that we follow on YouTube. We have been following their channel since the beginning. We learned so much from watching them and here they were parked right next to us. When they awoke, we went over to meet them and their dog Roodle. We chatted with them for a while and they told us about a Tiny Home Festival this weekend at Pinellas Park. we bought our tickets online and headed over.

YouTuber “one Advanture at a time.”

The Tiny House Festival was awesome. There were so many varieties of what a tiny house is including loads of Conversion Vans like ours and Large and small buses and also some typical tiny houses up on trailers. We got to tour most of them. I’m glad we came to the festival.

There were also lots of vendors and food trucks here and lectures about tiny house living. We even met a professional disc golf player. He gave us lots of helpful tips and we bought a long range disc from him. Hopefully that will help us to improve our game a little.

We wound up staying 3 nights at that England Brothers Park in Pinellas. It was really a great time, so happy we made the choice to go there and hope to meet up with those people again some day down the road.

During the weekend we were able to get away and attend my cousin Ali’s sons birthday party in Indian Rocks beach. They had the party at Jimmy Guanas which was a fun beach restaurant with a water park. Her son Caleb is absolutely adorable and I was so happy to get to spend some time with my cousins. Happy 1st birthday Caleb.

From there we headed about an hour and a half to the Homosassa State Park. This came very highly recommended by my Dad and also Greg’s mom so we went to check it out. It was $13 per person to get in but it was worth every penny. The Manatees were plentiful. The cold weather really drew them in to the springs. There’s an underground bd viewing area that was soil. So many fish too. Also it was like a mini zoo with other animals to check out.

From there we drove another 45 minutes to a campground. It’s been way too long for us. I feel like we haven’t been camping in the woods for an eternity so it was great to get back into the woods. The place we picked is called Tidewater Trailhead in the Goethe State Forest. It is 13 bucks a night here and we are the only ones here. What a jackpot!!

We stayed two days and had to move the van from our spot in the shade out into the open field to get some sun. our batteries were needing a little boost. I sent the drone up. Haven’t really been using the drone too much this trip because we have mostly been stealth camping. This location was perfect for a little drone footage.

We moved another 45 minutes further north. The further north you go in Florida, the less people and traffic. There’s more trees and wildlife and all those things that attracted us to van life. We we’re able to get a reservation at Manatee Spring State Park. We headed to the spring and did some hiking all around. We didn’t see any Manatees but supposedly they are here so we will check again in the morning. I don’t know what the whole fascination is with these manatees. Greg keeps saying watching a manatee is like watching paint dry. They mostly just lay there and do nothing. Nothing at all.

Our campsite

Big storm hit us. Lots of rain and wind. Plus the temperature dropped severely. In the morning we put on our winter gear and headed back to see if we could see any Manatees. The volunteer guy we spoke to said the river was super low and when it’s that low the manatees do not come down to the spring. It’s all well and good as we got our fill of them at the Homosassa State Park.

We decided to do a big driving day and head toward Port St. Joe on the advice of my cousin Ali. A big driving day for us is anything more than 2 hours. The drive to Port St Joe was just under 4 hours and we never made it. As we were driving there, the road skirted the gulf and we were passing some great views and some great fishing towns. We were also passing lots of huge mounds of Oyster Shells so we just had to stop.

It was bitter cold on the water but we threw on all our winter gear and explored the town of Appalachicola. There were several seafood restaurants. We picked one and had some amazing Oysters and Shrimp.

We then found a spot to stealth camp for the night right on the water across from the shrimp boats. We woke up before the sun, bundled up and went outside to experience the beautiful sunrise from the dock.

We left early and drove another half hour to Cape San Blas. We parked for a little while by the beach and had some breakfast. The beaches here are just magnificent. They call this coast “The Forgotten Coast.” If you ask me, I prefer this coast over all the others. There’s less people, less traffic and way more serenity plus the Oysters are out of this world.

We continued along the coast to Port St. Joe. what a cute little main st. We walked around a cute antique shop and some other boutique type stores. We had lunch at The Brick Wall which of course meant we would be eating Oysters. A dozen raw Oysters here were only 16 bucks. That’s a great price. We got a dozen raw and a dozen Oysters Rockefeller. They were amazing.

Headed further west to Panama City to our destination for the night. Another State Park where I got the last spot available once again. This place is called St Andrews State Park. It’s right on the water and completely updated. We had this little bird that was really interested in the van. He stayed perched on the side mirrors for a while just hanging out with us. There were lots of deer in the campground also. We had a nice dinner and enjoyed our time here in the woods.

We packed up and took a bike ride to explore more of this state park. The beaches here are beautiful and filled with fun and unusual shells.

Then we continued west on the forgotten coast and made a few pit stops along the way. Our first stop was to a town called Rosemary Beach. It was so cute. Brick roads everywhere with small boutiques and restaurants. We loved it. We walked around a bit and then went back to the van for some lunch with a neighborhood cat that watched us eat.

From there we headed further west on 30A to the next town called Seascape. Some guy recommended that we travel on 30A instead of going back to the main thoroughfare. I’m glad we took his advice. It was a great drive. The Truman Show was filmed in this town so we stopped to take a picture of his house from the movie.

We were kind of on a time crunch to make it to Destin, Florida for a meet and greet with another couple that we follow on YouTube. (RV Lifestyle) we had a nice time chatting it up with them and the other people that attended.

Mike and Jennifer Wendland. RV Lifestyel

We booked another night at a Florida State Park called Fred Gannon in a town called Niceville. The nicest thing about this town was that the deisel was only $4.25.

Next day we decided to head north as another big storm was coming and we were getting all kinds of flood warnings on our phone, so we headed up to Alabama and did some Casino Camping at the wild Creek Casino. Both of us lost and we even lost at the buffet. Probably the worst buffet we have ever had. I couldn’t even recognize what the food was! It was so terrible!! Very disappointing indeed. We took a break from the place and watched a movie. There was a movie theater and a bowling alley in the Casino which is fun.

Today we are heading back down south to the shore. We got a primitive spot at another State Park on the Gulf in Alabama. The place has laundry and we are in dire need of clean clothes. We stopped along the way at the outlets. Found some good deals and actually “real” bought, as opposed to “fake” buying. When we usually go shopping we fake buy a lot of things because we really do not have the room in the van to really buy anything. But this time we actually did buy a few things. I needed new sneakers, Greg found a really cool pair of jeans made out of canvas and I bought a new sundress/pajamas. We arrived at the campground, got our laundry done and did a little bike riding. There are tons of bike trails here. We will explore even more of them in the morning.

Had a peaceful night and hit the trails again it’s so foggy in this area.

After the bike ride, we had a some more Oysters for lunch at a place right on the Gulf. We missed their 75 cent Oysters by a day. Oh well.

We then drove 2 hours to Mississippi to Harrahs Casino. That is where we currently are and I am up 200 bucks as of right now!! I believe Greg is down 200 bucks. That’s pretty much how it works with us. When one wins, the other loses. Let’s see what the rest of the night brings.

My favorite game!!

Well that’s about it for January. Below is the January calendar. We didn’t do too much driving so the diesel bill is fairly low.


  1. I don’t know what the whole fascination is with these manatees. Greg keeps saying watching a manatee is like watching paint dry. They mostly just lay there and do nothing. Nothing at all.

    What do you want? Maybe a Manatee floor show? I can see it now, a Manatee Conga Line, with them all wearing top hats and little bow ties.

    Current temp in Raquette is 2 degrees. This Saturday 2/4 is the Ice Job. Supposed to be really cold. Sub-zero. Keep warm Greg & Lorraine. Mitch


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