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! 

St. Augustine

We found a new favorite place in Florida. Well. . . another favorite place 🙂 We were told St. Augustine was a great city and now we know why. In fact, we ended up spending a few extra days than originally planned.

Our first stay was at the Bryn Mawr Ocean Resort, just south of St. Augustine and right on Butler Beach. The park was not our favorite, but it didn’t matter because we were right on the beach and were able to take advantage of some beautiful weather. The beaches were wide and uncrowded and perfect for running and biking.

In between beach time, we went into St. Augustine and wandered the nation’s oldest city. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, the city went from Spanish to British and back to Spanish control until it was ceded to the United States in 1819. The history here is deeper than we could have ever explored during our time. The Old Town Trolley tour we took gave us a good overview.

We also enjoyed wandering the old, narrow streets, one day in the sunshine and another day in the rain. Even Bob and Mia enjoyed window shopping and Bob got a new shirt!

After a few days at Bryn Mawr we moved up the beach to the incredible Anastasia State Park. We were lucky to score three days here, where people book campsites up to a year in advance. With a robust turtle habitat and the occasional snake next to the campsite, we settled in for a fun weekend. The park’s beach goes on forever and we got lucky with three gloriously sunny days which we spent on the beach, in the park, and at the campsite.

On Saturday mornings, adjacent to the park, the Old City Farmers Market is held. We walked to the market without thinking that if we bought fresh stuff we’d have to carry it back. It was only about a mile walk, and Steve just added it to his workout records!

The centerpiece of St. Augustine is the impressive Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. The oldest masonry fort in the United States dates back to 1672 when it was first constructed by the Spanish out of the local coquina quarried from the land that is now Anastasia State Park. The seashell-based stone has stood the test of time.

We wandered the grounds from bottom to top and absorbed the history as best we could. Through two Spanish periods, a British occupation, the Civil War, and now hoards of tourists, the fort has protected St. Augustine from invaders, served as a military prison for members of various Native American tribes, and been a popular tourist destination. 

Just when we thought our time in St. Augustine was coming to an end, we learned of a vacancy at the North Beach Camp Resort where we could stay for two more days. The site, the premier site in the campground, put us facing the Intercoastal Waterway with views of fishing boats, dolphins, and great sunsets. It was only two days, but we enjoyed a little extra time in this beautiful area.

We’re now heading north and have more adventures planned. Stay tuned!