Friday, April 10, 2015

East Coast Trip, Part Two Baltimore to Key West

March 18th to March 25th. 

We have spent a week with daughter and son in law in Baltimore. This was the reason for the trip. 

The highlight of the week was our daughter's presentation of her PhD thesis. This is a big thing at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and was well attended with standing room only. Did not understand everything she was talking about but Veronica and I were proud to be there. The questions she was asked I really did not understand. One older professor after getting the answer to his question told my daughter she had done a nice body of work. My daughter's professor had snacks and a cake after the presentation. Nice to see Dr. Harr on the cake.

It has been a fun week, we did get up to the Harley Davidson factory in York PA. Had a great guide for our tour, not ready to switch to a HD but it was interesting to see them being built. We also stopped at Family Heir-Loom Weavers. It was like a trip back in time, old looms and fine craftsmanship. He has made rugs for Monticello and fabric for the HBO movie Lincoln.

Baltimore has some great restaurants and we did hit several of them.  One place we always try to stop is Faidley's for Crab Cakes.  Once you have one of their crab cakes you will always compare crab cakes to theirs. 

We head south on Thursday in the rain.

Thursday 3-26,   Total miles 450    

Got up, packed up and said our goodbyes. It has been a great week but time to move down the road. No rain as the weather man promised when we left. Several miles down the road we did hit rain off and on, not near as bad as Arkansas. This was to be a driving day as we had seen most of the areas we were going through. We switched on and off driving so no one got tired. For lunch today we stopped at a Chick fil A, Veronica had never had one. I agree with what she said after, not bad but no reason to run out and get another for a while. We are just not big on fast food. Veronica found Santee SC State Park on AllStays. Put it in the GPS and we had our camp spot for the night. Found a nice spot leveled out, popped up, paid our fee.
Dinner was soup and sandwich, it just hit the spot. We had been eating too much in Baltimore. 

Friday 3-27  total miles  350

Had a great night at Santee SP in NC. Quite with just a little rain in the middle of the night. Had the normal camper breakfast of muffins and yogurt. Took a walk to the visitors center, found out the use of the  lake is fishing for catfish, up to 20 #'s. Walked all the loops in the campground, there sure are a lot of new trailers being sold. Also saw signs of spring as flowers were popping up. Our camping neighbors were from Quebec and had a 20 ft toy hauler. They had just came from the Keys and said we should have no problem finding a camp spot. They gave us a name of a SP they recommended. Tomoka SP just north of Daytona.   We set the GPS and we were off. Looked like it should rain but just dark clouds as we drove in the east coast wall of trees. The farther south we got the more it looked like spring time. Flowers that were just coming up in Baltimore were in full bloom. 

Visitors center at the Florida border was our first  stop. They had lots of information and were giving away orange juice.

We had to get pictures at the visitors center. Traffic in the Jacksonville area was like driving through Los Angeles, we were glad to be out of there

We headed to the Tomoka State Park campground recommended to us by the people from Quebec. Beautiful drive to the park, moss covered trees that stretched across the road. However the campground was full. Asked ranger and he could not or would not give us any information on other places to camp.   AllStays showed another state park 11 miles away so we headed over to see if they had any open spots. 

We arrived and found they were also full. The ranger however was ready with a list of other campground and phone numbers to call. We parked and started calling, all the public campgrounds were full. Called a private campground, after explaining what and how small our camper was she said we were in luck. She said we could stay in their park for only $75.00 for the night!!

We looked at our Hotel Coupon book and found a Holiday Inn Express for $79.00 a night in Daytona. We like to camp but for $4.00 more I will stay at a motel. 

Saturday  3-28  Total miles 315.

Spent last night at  a Comfort Suites soon to be Holiday Inn, under construction in Daytona Beach. We could see the track from our room, I have parked and walked farther to a Nascar race.  Door tag said max rate for this room $699.00 I am sure on speed week it is that much. One of the beds had only a bottom sheet WTH Florida is not getting better. Quite room but the shower handle fell off when Veronica was just about ready to get in. I got it put back together so we could shower, very little water pressure.  Spent over an hour on the phone looking for a campground public or private for tonight no luck. We did find a cancelation on Bahia Honda SP for Sunday we took it.  We will be camping in the Keys.  

We decided to drive down to see the beach. We paid the fee and drove 6 miles along Daytona Beach, it was fun even with a 10 mph limit.
Drove highway 1A for several miles to stay off the interstate. Gave up because of all the traffic. One of our planed stops was our son in law Ryan Peterson's grand father in DelRay Beach. 

Went out to dinner with Lloyd  and Jean; had a great visit. We passed on an offer to spend the night as we wanted to be farther south. Two really nice  people, must be the Minnesota connection.  

We did get get to see a bridge open and a boat go through it as we had dinner. 

Our tour book said there were lots of affordable motels in Homestead/Florida City. We already knew there was no camping and Veronica wanted to do her hair so a motel was it for the night. Stopped at two and found they were full, not good. Started calling around and found more full motels!  Found two with rooms, one at $239 and one at $159 the lower price was a Ramada so we said WTH we needed a place to stay and it was now 8:30 pm. Wow what a dump. Smell, hard bed, and a bed cover that was no thicker than the sheet. Good shower though.  I guess with all the spring breakers and snow birds it is all the traffic will bear for cost.   Their breakfast as only carbs and powdered eggs, we left for a Cracker Barrel. 

Sunday 3-29  Total miles   100 

After a breakfast at Cracker Barrel we hit the road for the Keys. Lots of traffic in both directions. We stopped at the Visitors Center to find it was still closed. Down the road to the Key Largo SP. In CA if you are staying at one park and have a confirmation you can show the ranger you can visit another park. Not so in Florida, I asked and was told each park is a separate fee.

We did have a nice visit and walk around, even if the mangrove trail was closed for work. Veronica said lets go back to the visitors center, good call. The attendant was an excellent salesman, he showed us everything we wanted to see on our way down Hwy 1. We also asked where we should stay in Key West if we stayed another night. Next thing we know I had reserved a B&B for Monday night. We drove until we found a Publix grocery, stopped and got fixings for lunch. 

Drove until we got to the parking area for the 7 mile bridge, a suggestion of the visitors center.

Pulled in, popped the top and made lunch. After lunch we walked a little on the old 7 mile bridge and then the wind came up, time to head back to the truck. 

South and soon we were at Bahia Honda State Park.
Had to turn left across traffic and there was a line on the north bound side. Soon a car in the line left a space for the car in front of me to get in line. Another did the same for me. Nice people in Florida.

Where are all the people going? We waited in another line to check into the campground. Soon we were set up and ready to head for the beach.
At the beach we found where the people were going. The beach was full, and the water warm and clear. You could walk out 50 yards and not go over your knees. Our grand daughters would love it here. 

Finished our walk by the marina looking at some nice boats. This was our camp for the night, tight but the weather was great and we had a great stay there. 

Dinner was a steak we had brought from home 20 days ago. The little freezer in our small fridge sure works great. After dinner we walked over to see our first sunset in the Keys. Florida is getting better. 

Monday 3-30  Total miles 35 

Last night the road noise from the bridge was a constant companion. At times it would be quite only to have a truck come by sounding louder than before. We did sleep in until 7:30 I guess because we were awake so much. 65 degrees so we did our Chi Gong outside this morning. We have been doing Chi Gong every morning to say flexible. We have a short drive this morning to Key West is less than 30 miles away. Did our morning walk around after breakfast. Found out why so many campers were pulling boats.
Several of the camp sites have boat docks next to your camp. What a deal $40 to camp includes launching and a dock for your boat. I was told you do need to call 11 months ahead and get lucky to get a spot with a dock.

We drove south and went to the Key Deer visitor center. We were given several locations to look for the deer. First one was the Blue Hole, the largest body of fresh water in the Keys. Saw our first alligator there, also a turtle.

Started to walk around and spotted two Key Deer, wow they are so small and so tame.

One of the deer did a photobomb with Veronica.

We then drove over to No Name Key to see more deer and we did as they crossed the road in front of us.
No Name Key was fun to drive through as most of the houses had docks right behind them.  

Now to Key West and checking in at the B&B. Key West was still full of people and the traffic was packed. Veronica went in to see where we could park. They had a system, one of the employees took a parking spot when empty on the street and then moved their car when a guest showed up.

Room was very nice and we walked to the harbor for lunch. Stone Crabs were on my list as I have never had them.
The large ones are not cheep at $30.00 for a half pound (2) but I needed to give them a try. Very good but a Dungeness Crab is better.

We then walked to the most southern point in the USA. 

We had reached the end, everything now is headed back toward home.
Back to the B&B for a short rest before sunset at Key West. 

We watched it with over 1,000 other people.

One cruse ship was just leaving, one was still docked. I think many of the people were from the ship. Those things are huge. 

Tuesday 3-31 Total miles 145      

Got up and had a bacon and egg breakfast at the B&B, stayed away from the sweets for a reason. Just a block away was a bakery that made Cronuts. I have heard of them but had never seen them. We each got one and ate half saving the other half for Everglades NP.  Key West is a night town, bars do not close until 4:00am. Because of that everything starts later. The B&B had breakfast at 8:30 and the bakery did not open until 8:00. We ate on our patio over the pool. 

Not sure anyone watches the sunrise like they watch the sunset. We took our time getting ready as we were only going to cover just over 100 miles today. We enjoyed our stay at the B&B. 

Key West was as funky as everyone said it would be. They have some great homes to walk by and enjoy the weather.

The weather could not have been better, lower humidity and temps in the low 80's.  

The views driving up the Keys were just a nice as they were driving down. The flowers were in full bloom everywhere you looked.  I had a preconceived idea of the road to Key West being one long bridge. There is only one long bridge, the 7 mile bridge. The road is on land 80% of the time with short bridges between the Keys. Almost every Key is like a new town to drive through with shops, schools and gas stations just like any other town. 

Stopped at the Everglades NP visitors center and decided to stay at the Long Pine Key campground. Lots of spaces available as it is getting near summer and I guess people just do not camp in the summer heat and humidity.  

Warm when we set up camp but a true tropical breeze cooled it off into the 60's. 

Used our Fold and Go Bar-B-Q to grill chicken breasts. Had a baked potato we had in the freezer from CA so it and vegetables with a green salad was dinner. Food always tastes better camping.  That bakery with the cronuts also made Key Lime Pie. We did bring a piece with us for desert, it was great. 

We dined inside just in case the bugs came out.

Read outside until it got dark 7:45. Just enough of a breeze to keep the bugs away.

Part 3, as we leave Florida behind and head west.  


  1. You are seeing parts of the country we may never see, so this is lots of fun B& V! When will you be taking your granddaughters to that warm water beach? :)

  2. Thanks Ski your blog is the inspiration for mine.

  3. Read the whole thing Bill, thanks for the fun. What is it with Florida, anyway?