Monthly Archives: November 2014

Back to Florida

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Sunday, Nov. 9 – Headed Home

Today we’re towing the Airstream to Fort De Soto Park located on a group of small islands at the mouth of Tampa Bay. It’s not far from where we used to live in St. Petersburg. When we started out on our journey last April, we hadn’t planned on returning to Florida but with the holidays approaching, we’ve decided to spend a month in Sarasota to be with family. Being close to home also lets us see our former dentist and doctors for one more checkup before heading out west.

Last time I posted we were at Assateague Island on the eastern shore of Maryland. We’ve spent the last month working our way down the eastern coast and since this area of the country is so familiar to me, I didn’t consider our travels all that blog-worthy (not to mention I’ve gotten a little lazy). We did have a few interesting stops along the way which readers might find interesting.

Kiptopeke State Park, Virgina

After leaving Assateague Island, we spent a few nights at Kiptopeke State Park at the northern terminus of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel. Bridges make me nervous and the thought of driving the 23 miles of bridges, causeways and tunnels that span the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay was not something I was looking forward to. I was sure this drive would make for an exciting blog posting but it turned out to be a non-event. Oh well.

Outer Banks, North Carolina

Our next stop was the Cape Hatteras National Seashore on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Of the four National Park campgrounds on the Outer Banks, Ocracoke is the only one open past Columbus Day. Ocracoke Island is only accessible by ferry. The ferry ride from Hatteras to Ocracoke takes takes about an hour, is free and leaves often. When we arrived at the dock, we were immediately waved on board. Our timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

Normally cars are loaded side-by-side. Our Airstream and truck is probably taking the space of 5-6 vehicles.

Normally cars are loaded side-by-side. Our Airstream and truck is probably taking the space of 5-6 vehicles.

Trixie and Eddie enjoy their first ferry ride ever. One of the crew members, who has a Wire Fox Terrier at home, stopped by to visit T&E during the crossing.

Trixie and Eddie enjoy their first ferry ride ever. One of the crew members, who has a Wire Fox Terrier at home, stopped by to visit T&E during the crossing.

Ocracoke Island is just a few miles long. The town of Ocracoke, on the southern tip of the island, contains a number of hotels, B&Bs, restaurants and a single grocery store that sells a little bit of everything. Most people get around by golf cart since fuel is expensive here so be sure to fill up as we did before arriving. The rest of the island is undeveloped and part of the National Seashore. The National Park campground is a mile or so north of town and is very similar to the campground at Assateague. Dogs are allowed on the beach so Trixie and Eddie had a great time chasing each other through the surf.

Mosquitos were pretty bad so we set up our screen tent. Many found their way inside the Airstream and as we killed them, about half left a bloody mess meaning they must have bit one of us. Even so, the trip out here is well worth the effort.

The National Park campground at Ocracoke sits just across the dunes from the beach.

The National Park campground at Ocracoke sits just across the dunes from the beach.

Even though the weather was warm, we had the beach pretty much to ourselves.

Even though the weather was warm, we had the beach pretty much to ourselves.

 I would have expected more campers at Ocracoke campground during this time of year.

I would have expected more campers at Ocracoke campground during this time of year.

Ocracoke Lighthouse sits inland to protect it from the frequent storms that strike the Outer Banks.

Ocracoke Lighthouse sits inland to protect it from the frequent storms that strike the Outer Banks.

After spending a week on Ocracoke, we left on the southbound ferry for Cedar Island. The 2-1/2 hour trip crosses the open waters of Pamlico Sound and cost us $45 since our rig is over 45 feet in length. Passenger cars pay $15 and reservations are required to ensure a spot. The morning we left, a cold front came through bringing with it 20 knot winds out of the northeast. Since the ferry travels in a southeasterly direction, waves were hitting the ferry on beam making for an uncomfortable ride. Neither of us got seasick but it was a close call.

Charleston, SC

Our next destination was the James Island County Park just minutes away from the historic section of Charleston SC. James Islands offers full hookups which was a welcomed relief after a few weeks of boondocking. The Harris Teeter grocery store just around the corner was also an added treat after the slim pickings we had in Ocracoke. We love us some nice grocery stores.

We had big plans to spend a lot of time in Charleston, but they never materialized. After traveling around so much, we’ve discovered we much prefer the solitude and serenity of the boonies over the hustle and bustle of the city. We did meet up with an old high school friend / former roommate from my college days. We both agreed we hadn’t changed at all in the 30 years since we last saw each other.

Savannah, GA

Our next stop was Skidaway State Park just outside of Savannah Georgia. People often compare Savannah and Charleston given their similarities. It we had to choose, we prefer Charleston since it’s less industrial and has more of a small town feel. Again, we only spent one afternoon in Savannah. Most of our time was spent exploring the state park with its many trails and boardwalks.

Skidaway State Park offers a number of unique trails that lead through the marshes.

Skidaway State Park offers a number of unique trails that lead through the marshes.

Another trail at Skidaway State Park.

Another trail at Skidaway State Park.

St. Augustine FL

We left Savannah for Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine FL. We loved St. Augustine. It’s small, there’s lots of restaurants and inns and it’s home to Flagler College making St. Augustine one of “America’s Best College Towns” per Travel + Leisure Magazine. As we travel around the US, Cindy and I think about what it would be like to put down roots in each of places we visit. College towns always rank high on our list putting St. Augustine on our short list of possibilities.

Ponce de Leon Hall built in 1888 as a luxury hotel is the center piece of Flager College.

Ponce de Leon Hall built in 1888 as a luxury hotel is the center piece of Flager College.

St. Augustine is so small and close to Anastasia State Park that we spent much more time visiting the city than Charleston and Savannah.

Castillo De Marcos National Monument overlooking the bay at St. Augustine.

Castillo De Marcos National Monument overlooking the bay at St. Augustine.

Castillo De Marcos National Monument.

Castillo De Marcos National Monument.

Courtyard within the Castillo De Marcos National Monument.

Courtyard within the Castillo De Marcos National Monument.

The St. Augustine Lighthouse is one of the most beautiful lighthouses we seen on the east coast and is open to public.

The St. Augustine Lighthouse is one of the most beautiful lighthouses we seen on the east coast and is open to public.

 

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