Monthly Archives: December 2013

There is Something About Cedar Key


Written By: Jeremy and Robin This year, our first holiday season on the road we decided that Cedar Key, Florida sounded like a good place spend a couple of weeks. We had previously joined an online group of other full timing "nomads" and this grouped organized a gathering at Sunset Isle RV park.

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At first we were a little surprised to pull in and see what looked like a pin hole that I had to back the trailer into. The usual group of fellow travelers immediately ascended onto the scene to offer assistance. We could tell instantly that this park was different than any we had ever been. Parking was actually a breeze with the helpfulness of our experienced neighbors and new friends. Once we got in we realized we had a gem of spot tucked away in the back corner. Our site backs up to the salt marsh and we even have access to a shared doc area and crab cage.

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For good reason, the sunsets are the claim to fame of Cedar Key. Night after night our group of new friends would gather on the docks or at the Tiki Bar next door to see what mother nature had in store and to share a drink and swap stories with a unique group of fellow Nomads.

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We had a great mix of experienced road warriors and quite a few others that were newly living on the road just like us. After quite a few weeks of island hoping all on our own, our social calendar was suddenly full of happy hours, trips to wineries, potlucks, breakfasts and nights on the town.

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The town of Cedar Key, Florida is charming and we got an opportunity to stock up on fresh veggies and local seafood bought along the road. The restaurants (and most things around town) are causal, quaint, quirky, and colorful - Perfect for our taste.

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It is also one of the most dog-friendly towns we have been so far. They seem to be treated a little more like friends than pets. No leash laws and plenty of indoor establishments (even bars and restaurants) that allow well-behaved dogs inside. The locals find all kinds of ways to bring them along for the ride.

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At our RV park, an onsite chicken coup supplies the breakfast cafe with fresh eggs and we even participated in a Christmas day potluck for all of us on the road for the holiday.

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A community fire pit burns all day and night and an interesting conversation or new friend can be found about any time you stop by to warm up. Best of all, you never had to wonder if you were welcome. Pulling up a chair or striking up a conversation with a fellow traveler always seems natural and easy at this place.

 20131225_154741 There was wildlife to be seen and photographed everywhere. Unfortunately we didn't get any good shots of the Wild Hogs and Eagles that we saw while hiking but the flock of white pelicans were pretty cool.

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Although the sunsets and wildlife are the claim to fame, the local musical talent and all around unique gathering of friendly, colorful, diverse and interesting people are what made this place like no other. Maybe in the world. On any given night live bluegrass, country, gospel, or folk/rock could be found either at the clubhouse or at an informal gathering around a campfire, or a small venue in town. Some of the locals that winter here are joined by anyone that is carrying an instrument or that can carry a tune. The result is something special as is everything else about Sunset Isle RV park in Cedar Key, Florida. The experience is something we consider ourselves lucky to have been in a time and place to experience. I would try to explain better but I can't. RV Lesson #8: Some experiences on the road can't be captured or recreated in a blog. You just have to live them and learn to appreciate the gift found in every present moment, unique location, and colorful personality. As we get set to leave we are sad to say goodbye to the new friends and place that we feel like we have known forever. At the same time we are happy to have connected with a group that we are sure we will see again - either here, or wherever the road takes us.

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The Island of Newly-weds and Nearly-deads

Written By: Robin Here is the story and pictures of our trip to Jekyll Island, GA. Our first outing to one of the local establishments helped us to better understand the current story of beautiful Jekyll Island.  As we sat by the water and filled our tummies with local seafood and brew, we chatted up the "rah" bartender and got the scoop.  Her description was "the island of newly-weds and nearly-deads"!  After we stopped laughing she proceeded to tell us about the busy-season full of young couples getting married in the gorgeous historic district and how beautiful and prosperous the island is during the spring, summer and fall.

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With temperatures in the high 60's and mostly sunny days during our stay in early December, we found it to beautiful in the winter too.  That being said, we had noticed a different feel to this island but couldn't quite put our finger on it...until we heard her description and realized that we were the closest thing to newlyweds that we had seen there so far (and we have been married for over 11 years!)  It helped to explain the strange looks we were getting. We heard all of the stories about how this little island used to thrive for many other reasons, including their old convention center where many conferences were held.  Apparently over the last 20 years many factors, including the economy and the creation of an enormous Convention Center in Savannah have taken a toll on the island, and contributed to the many closed down hotels and shops we noticed as we drove in.  We thought it was just because it was "off-season", but apparently this little gem is in a state of transition.  In the last few years they have built a new state-of-the-art Convention Center, several new swanky hotels are being built and some old ones renovated.  I heard from several locals throughout the week that they are "coming back". From the looks of it, they are indeed. The great news for us was the ability to score a nice RV site for the week, and some of the best golf prices we have experienced so far.  To our surprise in early December, the local golf courses are well-maintained, nicely designed, fairly empty and super cheap!  I don't think we paid over $15.00 per person for 18 holes with a cart!  We played a very unique nine-hole course that has been around for over 70 years and had a mini history lesson on several holes.

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Although it was hard to resist golf every day, we also took some time out to explore the island a little.  Driftwood Beach became one of our daily dog walks.  A relaxing a beautiful setting to watch the shrimp boats at work, listen to the waves and let the dogs explore.  IMG_3215IMG_3286IMG_3233 IMG_3241 IMG_3236

There were probably many things to do that we didn't take advantage of this time around, like visiting the city of Brunswick which was just over the bridge.  After hearing about all of the plans on the island to revive it to a bustling resort, we decided to enjoy the slow, relaxing pace that was currently the norm this time of year, without the all those newly-weds!

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They joke about the "nearly-deads", but it struck me that this lifestyle might be exactly what makes it really only a joke.  Yes, the median age of the island seemed to be around 70, and yes sometimes driving 3 miles takes 15 minutes because you are behind the golf-carts that seem to replace cars here, but no one here seemed nearly-dead to me.  There was no shortage of 70+ year olds walking the golf course, riding bikes and hiking around.   In fact we met a delightfully lively couple at the car rental/mini-golf/pizza place who was busy planning their 65th wedding anniversary!  I understand the desire to bring more business to the island, but hopefully they won't lose the serenity that keeps even the oldest residents young at heart!

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Hunting Island State Park, SC

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Our previous blog focused on how great it was to use the RV to visit families even if the RV parks and locations were not always a tropical island. This is about our arrival to a park that is a tropical island. Although our previous stop at Myrtle Beach State Park gave us a taste of the weather and beach access that we have been yearning for, our arrival at Hunting Island State Park finally made the ideal the reality.

After crossing a half dozen tiny bridges including one bride where we had to pull over to avoid scraping the trailer on a passing truck. We turned left at the State Park signs and entered a beautiful, primitive jungle/beach setting that reminded us both of something out of the set of the TV series Lost. Except with rock solid 4G LTE internet access, 50 amp service, and DirecTV. There is a small path leading straight out of our private camping spot right to the beach.

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We were very happy that we did not try to squeeze into the loop that is right on the beach as the weekend atmosphere was a little more crowded than our out of the way loop with secret access trail. The only possible negative is that the sites are water and electric only. The nearby bathhouse could be cleaner but then again, that is the price you pay for this type of remote and private setting.

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The weather for us has been very close to ideal too. High temperatures in the mid 70's and night time lows that are in the upper 50's lower 60's. Not bad for December. Considering the ice storms we are reading about on-line from seasoned snowbirding veterans, we are feeling pretty good about the timing of our current route South. Enough of me blathering on, back to some photos to take you away from your ice storms for a minute.

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During high tide, the beach was almost non existent and the trees were sticking out of the water. Low tide revealed one of the coolest beach settings we have ever experienced.

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Given the time of year, the beach was pretty much ours. This was a very friendly place where well behaved and trained dogs like Hank can frolic off leash. Happy dogs even on a cloudy and foggy day!

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I don't know what it is like during peak season, but for my money in mid December, this place has to be hard to beat.

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Wildlife was all around including a raccoon that was a bit of a nuisance all week. He chewed a hole in our water hose and used the shower for drinking and cleaning. We were told that you have to leave water out for the raccoons to keep them from chewing your hose. Would have been nice if they told us that when we checked in. He also left his muddy foot prints up and down our truck where he seemed to enjoy exploring at nigh.  I am convinced that both raccoons and squirrels would never have survived if they were not so cute. People would have exterminated them long ago if they behaved like they do but looked like possums.

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A buck also made a casual appearance one afternoon.

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The State Park's claim to fame is the historic light house. The views from the top looking back at the campground beach were very cool. We did the longish hike through the jungle to the lighthouse and then took the short route back across the beach once the tide receded at little.

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There were other nice hikes like the marshland boardwalk and fishing pier.

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Saturday's football games were a little disappointing for our respective Ohio State Buckeyes and Missouri Tigers, but when this is your living room it is hard to get too upset.

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As I write this we are on our last day here at Hunting Island State Park. If we were headed home after a long vacation, we would be feeling that pit in our stomach right now. With our new lifestyle it feels more like we are leaving vacation to go on vacation!  Until next time.

Heading to the Beach

As I read on social media about the ridiculous cold temperatures and snowy weather that everyone else is experiencing, I almost feel guilty complaining about the last two cloudy days we have experienced at our current location in Sourth Carolina as we make our way south for the winter. We left our last family stop in Ohio and headed out a couple of weeks ago to our first southern destination of choice, Charlotte, North Carolina. We set up at the Carowinds Camp Wilderness RV park on the south west part of the metro area. Nothing spectacular but we did have an angle for the DirecTV antenna and the park had some good trails for dog walking and hiking. We spent two weeks exploring the city, visiting with some good friends in the area and staying busy with our respective work. We enjoyed a night out brewery hoping near Charlotte's NoDa Art district. The other thing that I got to do on four different occasions while in Charlotte is my absolute favorite hobby - golf. I haven't gotten to play as much as would have liked in the last few years and one of my big and selfish priorities for this winter is to play as much as possible.  In addition to a future travel map for us I may post a golf course map of my rounds on the road at some point. After leaving Charlotte our first beach destination was Myrtle Beach State Park. I have vacationed in the area many times over the years with family, but this was my first experience with the State Park. The Park itself was a little tighter than the typical state park setup, but the beach access was good and our particular site was very nice once we got the trailer wedged in just right.

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We cooked thanksgiving dinner in the trailer and we marveled about how many people filled that park over the holiday weekend. The weather was cool but nice and I got a chance to play a few rounds of golf with my uncle who came down from Raleigh for a few days. Rufus and Hank got to experience the ocean for the first time and they really enjoyed eating everything that smelled fishy to them. Overall our visit was enjoyable and we would return to this park. We managed to get a few good sunrise photos when we got up early a couple of mornings. IMG_2684 (2) IMG_2712 (2) IMG_2808 (1280x851) IMG_2780 From there we headed out to the first of three consecutive island destinations. Stay tuned!