A few months back I mentioned to the wife, “hey, lets make a ‘loop’ through Florida!” – of course being married as long as we, she immediately disagreed that it would be a ‘loop’ – somehow it was important to her that I recognized that! Being what it was – it was indeed a ‘time-out’ for the winter’s cold; plus it was a ride to my ‘home turf; – whatever the reality of the motion – it’s the ‘ride’ that I love.
I came up with a tentative plan; grab the RV, ride through Plains, Ga – maybe even drop by the Civil War POW camp at Andersonville near there – not sure why, but I wanted to do that. I wanted to follow the back roads down through Western and Central Fl to the turn-around point in Fort Myers on the Gulf coast – before crossing over to the east coast to visit a cousin along the way. Kim’s sister visiting Fl added a little ‘fuel’ for her – but the main course for me was a few days in the hometown with long-time friends Al and Ava.
A few days prior to our ride I located a camper cover for my pickup in Jacksonville (at the perfect price) so that blew our initial plans. We hitched up the trailer and headed down through the backroads towards Jacksonville. Along the way Kim enjoyed her first RV night with the Walmart zamboni sweeper in Waycross – life is simple (noisy sometimes) but very good.
Second night was a little better, a few miles from Jacksonville we spent an evening with some old friends from NC – Rick and Sue Montgomery, plus their family. A driveway stop along the St John in the RV (I love the independence and not putting any pressure on folks when visiting). With that I do like to run into old friends, it’s special for some reason – maybe about closing some of life’s ‘little-circles’ as we go.
At Ricks we enjoyed a long overdue visit around a campfire with a family that we hadn’t spent face-time with in 20 years. What a great bunch of kids, er – adults now..
Leaving our trailer at Rick’s Kim and I moved on for another RV night at Paynes Prairie State Park; an unexpectedly peaceful evening in the woods. She also encountered her fist armadillo beside the camper, but her efforts to get a ‘selfie’ with the burrowing critter failed.
A few miles down the road we visited another old friend and school-mate Dan Goddard – we each spent waay too much money on fast cars ‘back-in-the-day.’ Dan always seems to be in good spirits so its fun to visit him each year as I pass through. His son Danny writes and plays for the band the New 76’ers – talented, and ‘super highway’ tunes. With a few laughs and hearty tales of quarter-miles that turned into years; Kim and I moved on once again.
From Dan’s we rode towards Crystal river, beings that this wasn’t a trip about ‘schedules’ or doing fancy things; we drove to the Gulf at Inglis and simply stopped! It was lunch time, so Kim made some sandwiches and we just sat there tantalizing the seagulls and watching the fishermen come and go.
This ride was about ‘enjoying the ride’ and this is exactly what we did; all back-roads – no interstates.
Later in the afternoon we eased over to the Beef O Brady’s in N Lakeland, where we found ourselves head-first in Kim’s first ‘bingo’ gaming session with a flock of grey. After posting on facebook of our visit – I was contacted by my cousin – We had missed on some home vittles and gator ribs just a few blocks away…….. doggonnit!
Two nights in Palmdale, Fl
Fish-eating Outpost has been a lifelong camping spot – it’s changed little over the past 40 years. A busy place in the summer – but during February it is possible to find some cool Fla ‘peace’ while camping (few of those ‘doggone people) – just the way I like it.
I love it too that the train is the only noise to break the owl’s calling each night.
In Ft. Myers we had a great three night visit with Al/Ava/Walker, the Stewarts; fine folks and ‘the best of’ friends.
We found (and helped) them do what they’ve been doing for many years; just lingering around searching for items (and people) of interest.
They’ve enjoyed the same back-yard for the past 40 years – where there’s always room for friends (bring some peanuts for the squirrels and wood-peckers). Al had a fire going for us each night, they too had a little owl that kept us company through the night.
With that same back yard comes the same driveway – one that I have slept in a number of times over the years (for much different reasons) – and yes, it was better in the RV; perfect place and weather.
We enjoyed a perfect visit.
After three fine days of hometown air; it was back to the ‘Creek‘ for another day of ‘feet-up’
– the sunset kinda said it all.
At no time had we been rushed to keep a schedule – heck, thats how its suppose to be isn’t it?
But I really did want to visit a cousin, so off to another driveway along the east coast; Lee and Sandy’s in Hobe Sound
Sandy has an awesome spirit; a friendly soul with an ever present smile on her face
Cousin Lee was busy working on a ‘long-board’ idea – an old ski and set of skateboard trunks from the thrift store came together nicely
The next day we walked to the beach, little more than a mile away.
Kim had a great time collecting shells, I think the Atlantic was the calmest and blue-ist that I have ever seen… folks were fishing and pulling whiting in right and left
A quick picture for our Moms (Elsie and Marie Hilliard, sisters). Thanks Lee and Sandy for the hospitality and some awesome fajita’s.
After Hobe Sound it was North to Ocala, and a visit with some prairie-birds; Kim’s sister Patti and Scott Atkins
The first day we did the ‘tourist’ thing,’ Glass-bottom boats at Silver Springs
The following day it was on to a more independent experience at Juniper springs
Where we were the ones being watched
It was all good
Four hours of simple paddling, Juniper is a great little ‘run’ if your ever in the area
After a couple of days in an Ocala hotel, a ‘resbit at Salt Springs campground in the Ocala National Forest was added to the list – it was also another time to just sit back with absolutely no pressure. Feeding the squirrels was my biggest task (note: M&M chocolate covered peanuts makes them abit ‘squirrelly’).
Day 16 put us back for the trailer and a fine second visit with Rick. The weather was right for chili and he had a batch waiting for us, mmmmeat! thanks Rick. Great place, nice sleep in the RV with more owls through the night
It was a fine ride for Kim and I, long overdue time – yet in the end I think I created a monster, Kim loved the ride and never brought up the fact that it wasn’t really a ‘loop’ again – I guess it really didn’t matter.
the monster? – she wants to do it again……