Tuesday, January 20, 2015

OUR ANNUAL TREK TO FLORIDA!


After working at Amazon in Coffeyville, Kansas for 3 long months (more on that experience another time), it was time for our now annual trek to Florida.  This is always so exciting as we know what awaits us in Florida - warm weather, sun, sand, and great friends and family! 


We left Coffeyville on December 31st where the temperature was a bone-chilling 12 degrees with a nasty wind blowing. While unhooking the water, etc., Doug had to come in several times to warm up as it was soooo cold! When we decided to travel and become workampers, one of the things we really wanted to avoid was cold and snow! It is amazing how quickly your body adjusts to being warm so this cold was especially making our teeth chatter! We really wanted to get going as rain and sleet were in the forecast for many of the states we were going to be traveling through.

The first night we made it as far as Pine Bluff, Arkansas and stayed at a small campground right off of Highway 65. It was dark when we arrived, but a very nice man with a flashlight came out, took our $20 cash, and showed us to our site. There was a definite smell in the air and later we learned it was from the paper mills in the area. Even though it was New Years Eve, not much celebrating was accomplished as we were both very tired from travel and still recuperating from the night shift at Amazon. 2015 here we come!

The second day, January 1, 2015, we headed south towards Jackson, Mississippi, through Hattiesburg, and to Mobile, Alabama. I think it is always exciting going through Mobile as you venture through this great tunnel downtown that goes under the water and then when you come out of the tunnel you cross the bay on a very long bridge!

The two years previous to this on our journey to Florida, I had driven our van separately from Doug in the camper. Since I have a long history of an aversion to bridges - and there are lots of bridges in this area - this bridge in particular is very intimidating.  I was always hanging on tight and praying that I would make it safely to land! But this trip was a great opportunity for me to look around and enjoy the view - as long as Doug keeps his eyes on the road! 

 
The view of the bay from the bridge in Mobile, AL, in a moving vehicle!


 We had made reservations at Azalea Acres near Robertsdale, AL. It is located only about a mile off the Interstate. The very informative lady on the phone met us at the gate and guided us to our very large, cement site. Not all of the sites were cement but they were all very large. There was plenty of room in the front and the back of the camper to park several vehicles. It was pretty warm when we got there and it was easy to remember why so many people head south in the winter months. This RV Park is only 25 miles from Mobile, Alabama, and about 40 miles from Pensacola, FL, making it a great central location when you are traveling through this area. It was such a great location we decided to relax and stay for 2 nights! There is a direct expressway that will take you to the Gulf Shores and Perdido Beaches, which we took the opportunity to check out on the second day we were there even though it was a little cloudy. 


Gulf Shores Beach

The weather was supposed to get colder with the possibility of freezing rain so we decided to take off fairly early the next morning to head just 55 miles east near Holt, Florida. The campground we chose was River's Edge just a few miles off the interstate. We knew they had previously hired workampers so we wanted to check them out. It is set next to the Yellow River in a great wooded area. The staff was very friendly, even though we wanted to check in early. There were a few empty spots but you could tell there were quite a few snowbirds that made their winter home there. We easily got settled into a pull through that was grass and sand. We soon remembered we were in Florida and now there would be sand everywhere! There are wide open spaces and a boat ramp with apparently good fishing right there in the river. This definitely looks like it would be a great place to work!


River's Edge RV next to the Yellow River



The next day we took off for our final destination, Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park. We wanted to stay in the panhandle of Florida for a few months so this looked like a good place to start. It isn't right on the beach but it is a lot cheaper than even the state parks on the beach at $16 a night. Bonus! You also get a pass to use the Henderson Beach State Park facilities which are only 10 miles down the road! We found a couple downsides - you can only stay 14 nights at a time and there is no sewer. But, we wanted a place to land to check out other campgrounds in the area, and the dump station was easily accessible. Our campsite was very large with lots of trees and surrounded by a wooden fence.



It is right on the bayou so there is a boat ramp and some beach areas. This was a beautiful setting, as are most Florida State Parks, with lots of trees and hiking trails.We went for a walk pretty much every day and it was very peaceful and serene. Loved seeing the "Prayer of the Woods."

























 
Well that was our exciting adventure to Florida this year! If you ever have the chance to visit a warmer climate in the winter - or even better yet call yourself a snowbird for the entire winter - DO IT! For many years we knew people headed south for the winter but we really did't realize how wonderful it is until you have been here. I really don't know how to describe it! I lived my whole life in South Dakota enduring the cold winters and all the time hating the cold! I mean really hating the cold - talk about hibernation! Now it is such a great feeling to be able to go outside and be active during the winter months. In fact, I think it is healthier! We eat better, exercise more, meet new people and have new experiences!  I guess what I am trying to convey is get out and LIVE YOUR DREAM - what ever it is!

What is YOUR dream? What are the steps YOU need to take to make it happen? If I can provide any information or encouragement, I would be happy to help you in any way I can!



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