Looks like it took me as long to post about Florida as it did to explore Florida. There was so much that we did. While the state in and of itself is interesting, it’s not a place I would settle down. If I were a billionaire, I would own some Florida sure, but live there all the time ?? na. Trade me any sub zero day for a beach, sunshine, warm weather, etc. Well if you don’t remember I was working on a series about Florida that I intend to wrap up here. If, like me, you have forgotten what I wrote about you can check crazy people here, South Alabama here, west coast here, and the keys here.
We were planning to stay in Winter Haven, Florida, for the duration of winter. It is the home of Legoland Florida and 30 to 45 minutes from the attractions in Orlando. We decided it was best to take a our time and hit the beaches as we worked our way north. We ended up going to 6 different beaches. It was an amazing week of travel exploration, sand, and beautiful oceans. Looking back on it, the hardest part and most time consuming piece of the equation was parking the rv. …
One area in Florida that I was excited about was Miami. Or Miami Beach, to be more precise. – Did you know they were two separate localities? – All those 80’s movies and TV shows of my childhood got the best of me as I daydreamed and planned our trip. I was really looking forward to seeing what all the hype was on south beach Miami but we had concerns about two young boys we had in tow. We have seen a lot of things in a lot of places so we felt we could buffer most things and limit the negative exposure; we made it through Vegas after all. What we learned was that there was no parking for things as big as our rig anywhere in Miami Beach. If we had gotten there at 4 am, maybe … but it’s highly the luck of the draw. The good news is that if you find enough spots linked together they can be yours for an extended amount of time as long as you are ok plunking quarters in or paying every 4 hours. Unfortunately, we didn’t find anything close to Miami Beach and, at this point in our trip we were new to constant boondocking and didn’t want to make any risky maneuvers with our house. So, while we drove past South Beach, we enjoyed what we saw and moved on north.
To the nude beach! … j/k … Well kinda. We ended up parking here at Haulover park. This section of the beach is clothing mandatory, and is a beautiful spot. Parking for RVs was $10 and there was plenty of space. If you get there early you can park really close and basically day camp on the beach (you cannot stay over night though). From here, if your soul desires, you can head north the nude part. The idea made the boys blush a little and we got some chuckles out of the fact it was an option. Needless to say, we stayed put on the southern end of the park. It was a beautiful day, great swimming and some relaxation.
Dry camping on this end of Florida proved tricky. All of southern florida is filled with no parking signs, no over night parking, no rv parking, no unattended vehicles etc. It felt almost like going to the airport. Essentially, “you can’t stay here!” Many parking lots are a tow first – ask later kind of lots, if you leave a vehicle there unattended. We managed, with a little effort, to make it work. We found spots, took up and payed for multiple spots, or got a bit creative. Most of the time we left a note on the dash with my cellphone number, hoping that if there were issues we would get a call, then we didn’t travel very far from the RV. At most we would go 2 or 3 blocks away from the RV when we did head to the beach. All in all, it worked out. We managed to cram our 5th wheel into 3 spots with the truck dangling out a little on closed curve in a parking lot with no issues. We didn’t stay the night there though, we may have in a small class a, b or campervan, but it worked. In fact, most beach towns allow overnight parking (like in Ft. Lauderdale) as long as no one notices you are sleeping in it. To that note, if I do go back it will not be in this big of a rig. It will be in something a little more manageable.
From Miami we zig-zagged in and out from beach town to main land, staying at Walmarts, Home Depot’s, rest stops, and parking lots where they told us they wouldn’t report us. Our favorite stops were – We got spend time at Las Olas Marina in Ft. Lauderdale a week before spring break went into full swing. John D. MacArthur state park before the bug season kicked up – they have beautiful natural beaches, cheap parking, and when not busy enough, space for RV. Some of this drive is a little blurry. We did spend some time in West Palm Beach, but I can’t remember where we got in the water. It was all a lot of fun.
Winter Haven, Florida was pleasant – we had spent almost 3 weeks dry camping and were able to park for an extended amount of time. We streamlined the remaining parts of the trip and took some time to assess how things were going. Our Travel and experiences have been amazing. School is going well. Business was slow – it had all but died in Texas but is picking up … sort of. We still hadn’t caught up financially, in fact, even though things were better we had begun to fall behind more. Our expenses right now have been the lowest we have had in 10 years. I was reminded, had we had these problems in Denver with the rising costs of housing and freezing winter storms, the winter would have been a lot worse.
In short, even though things were slow financially, and we were forced to make cuts, some changes and refocused our goals, we have had an amazing year. If we hadn’t set out on the road we most certainly would not have experienced everthing we have. We would not have been blessed by all the people we have met and all the wonders this country is full of. All in all this has been a pretty amazing year!