Sunday, April 12, 2015

East Coast Trip March 2015 Part Three, Key West to Home.

Wednesday 4-1 Total miles 270   

Got up and toured the Everglades NP. Did a walk around Royal Palm Hammock, Interesting sign telling you to cover your front windshield. The vultures like to eat the wipers and the rubber around your windshield.
The walk was on a raised board walk where you can look down  at fish, turtles and alligators also birds everywhere. 

There was more wild life in such small area than I have ever seen. 

Slow driving north from the park, construction everywhere. One section we passed plant nurseries side by side for over 12 miles. 

Everything around the NP is agriculture, looks like everything grows here. 

Some of the trees looked like they must be fake but they are real.

We crossed over hwy 41 and stopped to look at several nature areas and have lunch. 

All across hwy 41 was mangrove swamps and I am sure alligators. 

Finally got on I-75 going north, Veronica found a county park we would make around 4:30 and it looked good so we picked it to stay for the night. EG Simmons park was only 1/3 full, we were told you can not find a spot from November to February. 

After that it is too hot and too many bugs. Not hot but we sure have the bugs. So many bugs we decided to lower the top and drive over to the beach and watch the sunset. Florida does have some great sunsets.  I have heard about NO SEE EM's but this was my first experience with them. So small they go right through regular screens. We have used a lot of insect repellent and they are still with us. Finally closed all the window and doors in the camper. It is starting cool down and would be great to have the windows open but no way tonight. Warn inside but not having the bugs are so much better. Tomorrow we will be going out to breakfast away from the bugs. 

Thursday 4-2   Total miles 325

Got up and got out of the bug capital. Decided to get up, go and have breakfast on the road at a restaurant. I did not put on bug spray as I was only going to lower the top and leave. BIG mistake! The no-see-um's swarmed as I lowered  and latched the top. I would feel the bites for the next week.  We only found fast food looking for breakfast, finally found a Starbucks and stopped. Today we plan to drive as close to the bay as we can and stay off the interstate. I just love seeing what a state looks like when you get off the main roads. Florida has a lot of farms and some of the smaller towns look like a poverty definition. Around lunch we were looking for a spot to get something quick and local.
Spotted a small Bar B Q place. Daddy Bar-B-Q in Perry FL. Great chopped pork sandwich. Around 2:00 we start looking ahead on AllStays for a place to camp. I guess all of the east coast vacations in Florida this time of the year. Several campground said they were full. Decided to drive on and check when it got there. 

We drove to a local park and had our pork sandwiches under moss covered trees.  

Stopped and checked in the town of Apalachicola for any camps near by. St Josephs Peninsula SP said they had an spot but could not hold it. I asked if it was taken did they have a spot I could just part and explained what I was camping in. The ranger said sure I could stay in a parking lot if needed.

Drove 25 miles and the one spot left was still open. We took it, as with all the other Florida Parks it was a tight campground.

We are way out in the bay, check the picture to the left. This was the tightest camp we had stayed at, still better than some of the private RV camps (parking lots) we passed full of super size RV's. I guess there is some kind of endangered mouse and the mouse gets priority on space. The phone kept going from eastern time to central time. I looked on a map and the peninsula is just inside the central time zone. We will drive back into eastern time before we head west. 

This also was one the prettiest parks we have stopped at. Boardwalks leading to white sand beaches.  

Friday 4-3  Total Miles 222

Goal today, get out of Florida. We have spent the last 5 nights in Florida and it is time to make some time and get home. First things first we needed to do laundry.
Stopped in Port Joseph, a great little town. We gain an hour today so it only took an hour to get everything clean.  The local pizza place was named Joe Mama's Pizza, someone has a sense of humor. The road by the coast was slow and full of traffic.  Followed the coast as far as Destin Fl and then got on I-10.  

Traffic slowed to a crawl on I-10, we are not covering much ground today.
Half a mile later we saw why, a travel trailer on it side and holding the pick up towing it in the air. Someone was having a bad day.  We had hoped to get into Mississippi today, however the bridge into Mobile AL was slowed to a crawl. 

Getting time to find a camp for the night, looked on AllStays and found Meaher SP. Pulled in and they still had spots. Almost all the rigs were big dollar motorhomes. One Lance TC, a coleman tent trailer and a few tents. Right on the water and a nice breeze blowing. Weather radio said rain and thunder after midnight, we will see. 

Saturday 4-4  Total miles  293

Last night was as humid as I have felt in my life. The sheets had a clammy feel, we both slept well but the windows were open all night. Rain was forecast but did not arrive. Got up early and turned on the weather radio. Current Temp in Mobile 76 degrees and 96% humidity!  We turned on the vent fan and wiped the inside down. Got on the road early and headed for Mississippi. Mobile had a modern downtown but also a fine historic area we passed with moss covered trees. The leaves were just starting to come out on the oaks.  Drove through some beautiful small towns, got gas at $2.14 a gallon a sure sign you are not in CA. Stopped at a Win Dixie and stocked up the camper. Highways 98 and 84 are not interstates but had a 65 MPH limit even with  streets crossing, the locals were driving over 70 MPH. Great road and everything turning green made it look like a postcard. At Natchez we found a small fish place for lunch. All deep fried with hush puppies and fries. Good but tum's for desert.

Got on the Natchez's trail at mile zero. Stopped at several of the historic places on the trail. 

Really liked Mount Locus Inn. The rangers gave lots of information on the history of the area. 

Our planned stop for the night was Rocky CG, free and first come first served. We pulled into the first open spot, parked and walked around looking for any other spots. Only one other open spot and most of it was in a marsh not good.  

Two Expo style campers were in the campground. We talked to the people in this one from Germany. They were near the end of a drive around the good old USA. The camper would be loaded back on a ship in Baltimore for its trip back home. 

Sunday 4-5   Total miles 466    

This is to be a driving day. We are up early and on the road by 7:30.
The Trace is almost deserted this early. Going to research who decided to make a road a park, it was a great idea. 

We decided on the way out east, when we drove the upper Trace we wanted to see the lower section. We were rewarded with springtime on the lower trace. If you are ever in the area the Natchez Trace Parkway is a must see. 

Turning off when we got to where I-20 crosses the Trace and head west. Shortly we are in Louisiana and headed for TX.  Just before Shreveport we find Shane's Seafood and BBQ. In the state of Louisiana seafood is catfish!  The BBQ was good though. 

The radar showed heavy rain, yellow and orange on the radar coming up, it was right. We are the small blue dot in the picture to the left.  Wish we could bring some of the rain home.  I guess turning your head lights on in the rain is not a law in TX. Scary to see how some people drive in such a heavy rain. Speed limit is 75 MPH and many are way over that. Our goal is to get west of Dallas so we do not have to deal with the traffic on Monday morning. We pull into Weatherford and stop at the Hampton Inn for the night. Tomorrow we hope to be out of TX.
Monday 4-6 Total miles 528

Yes our longest driving day, did not plan on it but it happened. Got out of Weatherford TX at 8:00 AM and set a course to New Mexico.
Driving across the Texas hill country was nice with many wild flowers out. I do think the cities spread seeds by the freeways. Saw more blue bonnets in the cities than in the country. We drove in a 40 mph wind most of the day, really hurt the gas milage. Also running 5 below the 75 mph limit did not help. We had planed to stay at Brantley Lake SP just above Carlsbad NM. We were there at 3:00 pm because we had crossed to Mountain Time and gained an hour. It was 93 degrees and windy. Cooking in the heat did not look like a good idea. Checked AllStays and found a BLM camp side just outside of Lincoln NM. Figured we would be there in just two hours so drove on.
Just Below Artesia NM Saw flashing red lights  and slowed. The pickup with the lights then pulled across the freeway blocking traffic. Looked and saw a small suv in the ditch. Soon there was a parade of red lights coming up the freeway. 

About 10 minutes later a chopper was landing on the freeway to life flight someone. Soon after we were directed to turn around and take a detour. This added 30 to 40 minutes to the day. At Roswell we turned up the mountain toward Lincoln. Nice to be on the small roads again. Interesting seeing nice homes and we were along way from nowhere. Driving through Lincoln was fun, old city with many adobe buildings. 

Just off the road was a BLM campground. Free if you do not use water or elec. 

Found a level spot for the night and we were set.

Tuesday 4-7  Total miles 373

Nice night at the BLM campground.
We were at altitude as all our packaged goods were puffed. See our morning oatmeal to the left. 

We decided to drive back and look around the town of Lincoln.
Interesting town and a lot of history here.  

Most of the homes were adobe and some had been stuccoed. The ranger gave a lot of information, I still do not see how someone supports their self this far from nowhere. 

The rock above was from 1941 see sign to the right. 

This old water cistern was one of the oldest structures. 

Next stop was the Smokey the Bear Museum in Capitan NM. Yes there was a real Smokey and he was found after a wild fire near here in 1950. He lived until 1976 at the National Zoo in Washington DC. Smokey is also buried here. There were two other Smokies after the original. Both Lincoln and Smokey were stumble upon sights. We came this way because of the BLM campground on our way to our next stop. 

On the way to Pie Town we passed The Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array is a radio astronomy 
observatory. These large antenna go on for miles.  

Pie Town was on Hwy 60, we saw Pie Town on a TV show and though we might as well stop as we were with in 100 miles. Not sure where the end of the earth is but you can see it from Pie Town. There are two pie shops and one was closed. We had lunch and pie. Downside was the waitress, who I guess just did not want to be at work. Not fast food, but a hamburger should not take as long as it did. Pie was good but again the waitress was slow to come take our order and longer to get it. Oh well, we have been to Pie Town. All of the roads today have been small with two lanes. Also the wind was 40 mph +. Nice to be off the interstates but slow going. We had planned to stop at the Painted Desert for the night. Got there and the wind was even stronger with no shelter. Decided to drive ahead to Winslow and check out a county park.
Free, nice spot on the back of a small bluff offering some protection to the wind. Now 7:00pm and the wind is slowing down.  Looks like two more days and we will be home. Tomorrow night we should be somewhere in southern CA. Arizona does not change to daylight savings time so we gained another hour today. We are back on California time.

We did go by "the corner" for a couple of pictures. The flat bed Ford needs a FWC flatbed model camper.

Wednesday 4-8  Total miles 491    

Had a nice night at the Winslow County Park, free and flush potty is a winner. Also the wind died down some time during the night. At first it felt like we were driving down the road the wind was so strong. Got on the road early and headed to CA. All interstate today so we will make some time. As we climbed up the hill into Flagstaff the wind picked up, it would be with us most of the way to CA.

The desert was blooming as we drive across Arizona. Color was everywhere. A month ago the area with snow, it was all gone now. 

Got gas at the Lake Havasu turn off, last station before CA. $2.29 per gallon we will pay more than a $1.00 more per gallon when we get to CA. At the CA inspection station they asked where I was coming from and I did not lie I said Lake Havasu, he said have a nice day. I wonder how long it would have taken if I said Key West?  Cool weather as we got to Needles and had lunch, 72 degrees. All the way across the Mohave Desert is was 70 or below!

This was our view as we drove up to our campground. Where did summer go?

When we got to the county park in Techahapi  it was 55 degrees going to get cold tonight. Also there was snow on the hill just above the camp.  We will be up early tomorrow as we have not adjusted to all the time changes. 

Thursday 4-9 Total miles 269     

Going home today.  Great county campground, only two other campers last night. It was cold for California. We had a great trip. 8,310 miles 614 gallons of gas. We did a trip across the USA in our old camper in 2011. This trip we did not stay at one Walmart, the AllStays app on the Iphone found us some very nice campgrounds. We did stay at 6 motels, 2 because campgrounds in the north were closed and 1 in  Daytona Florida because it was $75.00 to camp. If not, we would have only stayed at 3. Our camper has been a great investment. Driving and camping is still the best way to see America. Our National Parks are true treasures and this trip we saw three National Parkways. Natchez Trace, Blue Ridge and Shenandoah. All three had much to offer the traveler. The Florida Keys were a tropical treasure, just to bad you have to cross the rest of Florida to get there. Our next Big Trip may be Alaska, just not sure what year. 

Video of the campgrounds we stayed in.