Moving Northward in Florida State Parks ++

Since finishing our time in the Ft Lauderdale area we’ve been slowly working our way northward and beginning to think about the final portion of this six-month journey.

We left Ft Lauderdale and traveled to the northern part of Florida over two days. Overnight we stopped at a very cool Harvest Host, Organicaworld, where they are growing hemp that is being converted to “hempcrete” to build houses. They also had a cool farm store, a mean brisket, and some very friendly donkeys.

Our next stop was a visit to Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, a unique property just south of Gainesville. Paynes Prairie is the only place in Florida where wild-roaming horses and bison can be found. We didn’t find them, but we enjoyed the paved 16-mile Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail, which runs through the park. 

Florida is so different from our home in Arizona. You can see from the photos that the Spanish Moss is prevalent and the forest is thick. Yes, we’ve run into bugs once in awhile but nothing a little bug spray won’t take care of.

From there we headed to the coast and to one of our favorite Florida cities: St Augustine. We stayed in this area for about 10 days last year and were lucky enough to score a seven day reservation this year at Anastasia State Park, which is located in the middle of the action. We were even warmly greeted by a local critter when we pulled in.

From our heavily wooded, secluded site, we could easily bike into town, kayak the nearby waterways, and walk to the Saturday Farmers Market.

We toured the famous lighthouse and took in the sweeping views. Overall though, we weren’t very touristy…just enjoyed the nice weather and beautiful area.

We continued the laid back vibe during our four days at the Jekyll Island Campground. We visited here last year as well and wanted to explore a little more. We rode our bikes around the island and visited the local museum to learn about the impact of the Rockefellers, Morgans, and Vanderbilts on the island in the early 1900s.

One day we took in the local art festival. I even had a chance to learn to weave.

Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate during our final days there but we kept busy in the trailer with reading, taking in a night of Bingo, and news-watching. The inclement weather also made for some spectacular sunsets.

We’re now in Savannah for a few days to take in the country’s second largest St Patrick’s Day festivities. We will actually be on our way west on the big day, but the fountains are dyed green and the party has started. 

Over the past few weeks, we’ve kind of shifted into traveler mode, rather than tourist mode. It just means we aren’t trying to see everything and do everything possible. Traveling in the RV gives us the option to slow down, soak in the places, and go at our own pace. That’s the mode we’ve been in recently…and it’s kind of nice! 

Jonathan Dickinson State Park

When you score two weeks at a Florida State Park in January, you jump on it. After our busy week in Tampa at the RV Supershow, two weeks of sitting in one place sounded great. Jonathan Dickinson State Park (JDSP), located just north of Jupiter, Florida, is a perfect place to chill.

This state park is located just across from Highway 1 and the Intercoastal Waterway and backs the Loxahatchee River. Complete with history, a varied ecosystem, and lots of trails, we kept busy for a full two weeks.

Most days we started with a run or bike ride through the park. With paved paths, single track, and very quiet roads, we had plenty of room to roam. Along the way we saw wildlife including deer, otter, and tortoises. Hard to believe there’s so much wildlife so close to the city.

There’s lots of history in the area as well. Our first exploration was of the 1860s-era Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse where we climbed the 105 steps to the top for sweeping views of the coastline and surrounding area. We even got a certificate for reaching the top!

The Jupiter area is home to large estates, including one owned by Tiger Woods. We enjoyed driving the A1A and peering through the hedges to catch glimpses of the mansions of the rich. Is that creepy?

On the one cold and blustery day we had we drove north to Vero Beach to meet up with our friends Jennifer and Cliff, who we met at Tampa RV Supershow. For some reason we didn’t get any photos of our group at American Icon Brewery but we did get a few shots out at the beach. 

Back near the park we found Blowing Rocks Preserve, a Nature Conservancy site that protects the unique rock structures along the coastline. We wandered up the beach to watch the waves crash up and through the rocks, which made for some good photos and a nice morning.

Jonathan Dickinson State Park is located about 30 minutes north of Palm Beach. With a little research we learned about the Lake Trail, a walking and biking trail along the Intercoastal Waterway that backs the massive mansions that populate Palm Beach. Have you ever seen so many yachts? 

The trail passes the palatial Flagler Museum and a majestic kapok tree that hints to the preservation that allows this area to flourish. 

Also in Palm Beach we strolled the famous Worth Avenue, which is kind of like Rodeo Drive. Filled with swanky restaurants and exclusive boutiques, we fit right in wearing our bike gear.

Then, because we enjoyed Palm Beach so much, we returned to visit what was voted the country’s best farmers market, the West Palm Beach Greenmarket. The large, waterfront market features a huge selection of produce, baked goods, and just yummy stuff. Beauty abounds in this affluent area of Florida. 

Our time on the Treasure Coast was filled with lots of time reading, cooking, and just relaxing, just what we all needed after the Supershow. But the adventures continue and we’ll have more to report soon. 

Everybody enjoyed the rest of Jonathan Dickinson State Park!

Happy New Year from the Florida Keys

Happy New Year! We’ve been continuing to bask in the warmth of the southern Florida winter weather. Here in the Keys we’ve enjoyed temperatures in the 70s and 80s while thinking about our friends and family in the Midwest and in Prescott who are enduring typical winter weather.

We know we are so lucky to be here, especially since finding an RV site is so difficult in the Keys. We had to work to piece together our reservations this time of year. Thus, we’ve jumped around a few times over the last few weeks.

We were able to book four nights at the newest KOA around. The Sugarloaf Key/Key West KOA was severely damaged in Hurricane Irma in 2017 and has been under renovation ever since. The newly opened, completely reconstructed campground features a beautiful pool, a pub, full service marina, and all new facilities.

We kayaked right from the resort, and Steve got in some good fishing in the channel next to camp. We also took advantage of the easy-to-access Overseas Heritage Trail to get in some good runs and bike rides along the water. The dogs enjoyed the sunshine too!

New Years Eve took us to nearby Mangrove Mama’s for a drink and then back to the KOA to enjoy a local band. As usual, we didn’t make it to midnight but it was still a fun evening with lots of festivities to enjoy.

After our time at the KOA we drove about 20 minutes north along the Overseas Highway to one of Florida’s premier state parks. Getting a campsite at Bahia Honda is like winning the lottery and we scored four nights. With some of the few beaches in the Keys and breathtaking views, this is the kind of place you never want to leave. 

A highlight of the park is the broken bridge, a remnant of the park’s beginnings when Henry Flagler’s railway arrived on the key in 1908 en route to Key West. The 1935 Labor Day Hurricane swept a train off the tracks, destroyed miles of rail lines, and seriously damaged the bridge. The railroad never ran again. The bridge found new life when they laid a concrete slab on top and opened it to cars. Now it’s a picturesque viewpoint from which to watch the sunset and a silhouette that makes for great photos.

Like at the KOA, we never left Bahia Honda while we were there, except to run the trail and to kayak the bay. Steve did some good fishing under the bridge pylons. If we can get reservations here again, we’ll jump on them!

We headed back towards Key West after this incredible stay and will report on that time in the next post. Spoiler alert: it includes appearances from our friends Tom and Nancy and a few more spectacular sunsets.