Saturday, December 19, 2015

West Coast of Florida . . .


A quick drive up the West Coast . . .
While driving up the West Coast we stopped at three different campgrounds. The first was in North Naples at Lake San Marino RV Resort. This was a Passport America campground that was mainly a mobile home park for Winter residents. Inexpensive with PA, San Marino is a good place to stop over for the night.  It would make a great location to stay for a month.

Heading on up the road, with the intention of doing some parasailing off of Fort Myer's beaches, there were virtually no places to park an RV there. It's a beautiful and quaint looking little town, but the street is very narrow and parking is in short supply.  We decided to drive further up the road toward Sarasota where we wanted to stop at the Ringling Museum, a place we had visited previously and thoroughly enjoyed.

Horseshoe Cove Carefree RV Resort was our camping spot for our Ringling visit this time.  I could have stayed here indefinitely. A Passport America campground also, it was a great spot to winter over and that may be an option we take up some day. They have a little park like setting on an island with nature trails and I did see a large alligator swimming in the water, so I'm not quite sure I want to have Sweet Pea that close, or myself for that matter.

Ringling Museum . . .
Ringling Museum is a special place with large statues (one of David) and paintings you would die to have in your home to gaze upon daily.  The Rubens particularly are the ones that I can stand in front of for hours.
Statue of David

Rubens

I love the Rose Garden at Ringling. The roses were in bloom and some of them had such sweet scents. And the massive Mangrove was a delight to see.
Large Mangrove

David Austin Rose "Heritage"

Guy is always enamored with the circus displays and he can spend quiet some time looking at those. A must-be-seen-to-be-believed 44,000-piece Howard Bros. Circus Model and the Greatest Show on Earth Mural celebrates the entertainment that has delighted packed houses in towns across America. Howard Tibbals is the genius behind these carvings.
Under the Big Top Carvings
Circus costumes

Howard C. Tibbals
Cedar Key . . .
Our last stop in Florida was at Cedar Key RV Resort in Cedar Key. Again, this is a Passport America Campground and one of the nicest. It is a relatively new campground with very roomy sites. Cedar Key itself is a lovely picturesque fishing village. I had visited here previously years ago when my parents lived down here and it has not changed much over the years.


I was kind of anxious to get back home. The weather for our stay has not been ideal and even tho NC is cooler, it was getting close to Christmas and the idea of spending Christmas at home in front of our fireplace just seemed like a good idea. After all we had a couple of good weeks in the Keys and that was the whole intent of our trip South.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

2015 FALL FLORIDA . . . KEY WEST



Bahia Honda from the old bridge

Down Under in Florida . . .
Why is it that lately when we travel it seems to rain? We had rain follow us from upper Florida all the way down to the Keys. We had a small break in the weather when we stopped at our favorite flea market outside of Melbourne, FL. Renninger's Flea Market is always a favorite stop for us when we head down South.

We spent the night at Goldcoaster RV Resort in Homestead  before heading out onto The Keys. What a night. I knew it was a mistake when we pulled in. Guy had to walk thru a foot of water to get to the office to check in. I told him we needed to keep going down the road till we could find something better. Trouble is - there are few campgrounds in this area. Probably would have been better off staying at the Miccosukee Resort and Casino. We were awake most of the night watching the water creep up closer and closer to our RV. By the time we departed at 4am we were standing in a foot of water. Fortunately, we were able to get out of there without any problems. I will never do that again. If I see water, we'll just keep on driving till we drive out of it.

Bahia Honda . . .
We managed to get a few nights booked at a couple of State Parks on The Keys. The first of these were spent at Bahia Honda. Found the secret! You have to book about 1 to 2 weeks out by finding sites that have cancellations. Seems that folks who book 11 months in advance will cancel a couple of weeks out from their dates. Worked out perfectly for us. If we had not been retired, it could have been an issue. But we were ready to go!
Seascape from Bahia Honda

Our spot was site #16, right next to the water. In fact we even had a private dock a couple of spaces from us between sites 13 and 14. A great place to kick back, relax and close enough to Key West to venture down there for a spell.
Site #16 between the old bridge and the new bridge

More beautiful ocean views

Sweet Pea

Looking thru the foliage onto the old Bahia Honda Bridge

Sunset from our campsite

One of Bahia Honda's many birds

Jellyfish swimming around the dock

Barracuda

Key West . . .Down Under Destination
Sweet Pea had a ball walking around Key West and meeting all the incredible statues doting the streets.  A giant Statue of a dancing couple stood in front of the Customs House, which depicts Renoir's Dancing in the City. Then there's a lady toting a grocery bag among many others. They were a gift from Seward Johnson. He’s part of the Johnson & Johnson family and he lives in Key West.
Dancing Couple in front of the Custom's House


Lady toting a grocery bag
A giant statue depicting Renoir's Dancing in the City adorns the entrance to the Kew West Art and History Museum, commonly known as the Old Post Office and Customs House. Surrounded by smaller statues. - See more at: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/25082#sthash.AEyUf2Tl.dpuf
A giant statue depicting Renoir's Dancing in the City adorns the entrance to the Kew West Art and History Museum, commonly known as the Old Post Office and Customs House. Surrounded by smaller statues. - See more at: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/25082#sthash.AEyUf2Tl.dpuf
She also made a few friends in Sloppy Joe's Saloon. Some of the patrons had their yorkies and chihuahuas there so she fit right in. We parked the RV next to Fort Zachary Taylor State Historic Site and Park. Previously we had parked inside the park but you have to pay. But this time we just parked on the outside of the fence next to the entrance booth. It's only about a four block walk to the Center of all the activity.

Key West Rooster
Balmy skies at the dock

Beautiful large wooden boat

John Pennekamp State Park . . .
From Bahia Honda, we then went to John Pennekamp State Park, closer to the mainland, but still another great campground. Roomier than I had expected from comments that I had previously heard. We took a late day cruise on Spirit of Pennekamp Glass Bottom Boat and saw some incredible reefs and fish.
Crossing The Keys

The dock at John Pennekamp

Rows and rows of kayaks
Water wake from the glass bottom boat ride

Beautiful Pennekamp waters

Sweet Pea
Everglades . . .

On our way to the Everglades we stopped off at the Miccosukee Casino to see what kind of gun shows Miami provides. No, we didn't gamble - just not into that. But we had to walk a mile from where they had us park the RV. Got my daily exercise in. I've done really well at keeping my walking and biking  activity intact this trip.

Down in Flamingo, in the heart of the Everglades, we stayed at their National Park Campground. I would not advise that route. There is virtually nothing there. The campground was so full of mosquitos that you couldn't enjoy yourself for fighting those boogers off. We were entertained, however, by a young couple who parked beside us and proceeded to set up their tent. They fought that tent with the rain, mosquitos and wind till they finally got it up. I guess they decided to get back into their car for a few minutes when a big puff of wind came along and blew their tent all the way across the campground end over end. Needless to say they decided to pack it up and departed. Although I kind of felt sorry for them, it was a good laugh. It's only a 50 mile drive down there so they didn't have that far to backtrack. I don't think a tent for the everglades is a very good idea. That is what I call really "roughing it"!
Flamingo Welcome Center