On the road again! Yeah, we're on the road again. And boy does it feel good. We departed Florida on January 27. Florida is a delightful place to visit and we take with us some great memories. Disney World and the Everglades are two of our favorites. Everything they say about them is true, plus more. If you have a chance - go to either.
We had expected Disney World and the Everglades to be great but found a few other places that were pleasant surprises - Frostproof, the Tampa Super-RV Show and Destin. We spent a month in a "RV Resort Park" near the farm community of Frostproof, Florida. Let me explain the term "RV Resort Park." In Florida it means an upscale mobile home development with a good number of sites for folks like us who are passing through. Very often, it also means a swimming pool, shuffle board court, lots of planned
activities, and seniors. Suzi thought it was like spending four weeks with her grandparents. A local said Frostproof had changed little and we could see that was true. After all the lights, development, and fast movement we had experienced, it was nice to find a more laid-back, slower pace.
We debated about going to the RV Super Show in Tampa right up to the moment we left and are very glad we did decide to go. The shear size of this show was amazing. They advertised 250 suppliers and vendors with 6000 Recreational Vehicles on site. It actually looked like they under-estimated. We arrived at the show about 10:00 AM and left after 6:00 PM. We went with the intention of checking out trailers but soon realized a few things about trailer design and manufacturers - trailer manufactures do
not use their product. To these folk, space is not a commodity of any importance. We aren't sure who they think use their trailers but it is doubtful they are thinking of full-timers like us. By noon our investigations lead us to the Class C RV's. Class C motorhomes are like those pick-up trucks with a house on their back (called a slide-in) - only bigger and its all one unit. The Class C's had several features we were looking for but would require us to buy a run-about car and get a sizeable mortgage. We are not ready to take either step so we departed for Destin, Florida in our faithful old rig. All in all, we learned a great deal and are glad we took the time to visit this show.
Destin, Florida is a very pleasant beach community located on the Gulf of Mexico, about half way between Panama City and Pensacola. It seemed to us that Destin had only recently been "discovered" for most of the buildings looked very new. The homes have a Victorian-gingerbread, multi-colored look to them. As attractive as the community is, it is the beach and water that is the true draw. Imagine a beach with sand the color and texture of granulated sugar. And the water is the color of an old glass coca-cola bottle, a translucent green. Destin is another place we recommend visiting.
Of course, January has not been all play and pleasure. We completed the last National Forest in Florida - the Apalachicola.
Then, we went to Alabama where we surveyed the Conecuh National Forest and started the Talladega (we'll finish it in the Spring when the ice melts). After Alabama, we traveled to Mississippi where we completed the Bienville and started the DeSoto National Forests.
The difference between the campgrounds we surveyed in the Eastern and the Southern National Forest Regions is amazing. For one thing there are a lot more National Forests in the Southern Region than the Eastern (32 vs 17) but far fewer campgrounds (181 vs 279). This means a great deal of traveling between Forests and campgrounds for us but we get to see more of the country. Another difference we have found is the level of facilities available in the Southern Region. Although we found only one campground in the south with full-hookups (water/electric/sewer), there are quite a number of campgrounds with electric and water hookups. And WalMarts - wow! they are all over the place here. We think back to the time we spent in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin and how delighted we were if a campground had at least a water spigot and not a hand pump.
Must tell you about one thing we have found very annoying - hunting deer in Florida, with dogs. This is not like "Hunting to the Hounds" over hill and dale with your stead gracefully leaping over fences and across streams. The hunters we have seen park their pick-up trucks, with what looks like a bass-boat seat mounted on a pole in the bed of the truck, along the side of an open field. They mount the seat and await the arrival of deer. The deer are basically herded to them by half-starved dogs that were released on the opposite side of the field by their buddy. The dogs we have met (losing your huntin' dog is so common, they have communal pens along the side of County and Forest roads) are all skin and bones and FEAR. Seeing these dogs has almost, driven Suzi to join PETA. We know hunting is necessary to maintain a healthy deer population but somehow this form of hunting, using starving dogs to herd the game to the hunter, seems a bit like cheating, to say nothing of cruelty to the dogs.
The upcoming month will be busy, with many miles to be covered. We will visit as many National Forests in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas as weather permits. Then, we will return to see the Gulf of Mexico but this time from its western side near Galveston, Texas. Should be lots to talk about next month - 'till than, take care and be healthy.
Suzi and Fred