We’ve been in south Florida almost two months. Why two months? South Florida was fantastic for us. We had never spent time in Naples or Miami or the Keys. Reservations in state parks in the Keys are difficult to get and we didn’t know about other campgrounds yet. A group in the airstream owners club arranged reasonably priced camping at a commercial campground for early April and we were fortunate to get to join them.
It put us in striking distance of Key West for sightseeing, visiting friends, and dining. We followed Stern’s Road Food recommendations for dining at Blue Heaven, El Siboney, and Pepés Cafe & Steakhouse. GREAT recommendations! All three were absolutely fab food, fun service, and three really interesting decors. We would easily return to all these when next we are in Key West. We also enjoyed Hogfish on Stock Island, the best scallops we’ve ever tasted.
nice place for a draft
And we almost did the three bars we felt obligatory, Green Parrot, Captain Tony’s, and Sloppy Joe’s. Green Parrot was nice — we stopped in for awhile, enjoyed a nice draft beer and had a fun conversation with a young couple on vacation from Fargo ND. Why would anyone want to leave Fargo in the middle of winter? Go figure. Captain Tony’s was not so nice. And we decided not even to go into Sloppy Joe’s, enough smoke at the sidewalk distance.
our 1st kayak trip
Everglades National Park has a lot for us to do. We dry-camped in Long Pine Key Campground,
visited and kayaked at nearby in Flamingo
. We also kayaked at Islamorada (with friends) and at Bahia Honda State Park. Islamorada was great — this was our first kayaking experience, we did it with six good friends, and there was a lot to paddle around and see.
We won’t likely kayak from Bahia Honda again unless we rent privately — their concession only provides for open water kayaking on the ocean side. It was windy, current was strong, the kayak’s seats were very crummy, and bobbing around with nowhere to go was no fun.
We camped in two different state parks in the Everglades, Collier-Seminole and John Pennekamp. Pennekamp has many great kayaking trails, an aquarium, and a neat small campground with full hookups. We enjoyed kayaking from Pennekamp the best.
Our only dining failure was because the Cracked Conch in Key Largo closed down. It turned out a win for us because we instead dined at Buzzard’s Roost nearby and had a wonderful dinner on Garden Cove.
You might remember our post about giving our big red truck some loving? (it was the prior post to this one) Turns out, Sunset Chevrolet (in Sarasota) didn’t love our truck as much as we might have hoped. Down the road a bit going perfectly straight on the road we realized our steering wheel wasn’t top dead center, it was off 10 degrees. Then the oil change warning triggered every time we started the truck.
Heading north from Key Largo we arrived in Oscar Scherer State Park between Venice and Sarasota. No reservation needed by mid-April, the snow birds have already taken wing. The campground was quiet, despite being close to so many people. We enjoyed this quiet retreat and were glad to have full hookups for the RV since daily high temperatures still were nearly 90 degrees.
Sunset cheerfully took the truck into their service bay. An hour later they let us know there is no charge, the oil change reminder is now corrected, alignment checks out great, and road test showed all is good. We drove south to Oscar Scherer and realized the steering wheel is little, if any, better. And we just gave up on Sunset Chevrolet. Nice enough, but just not worth the time and gasoline to drive back up there and mess with this.
Now in Bushnell at Escapees Sumter Oaks RV Park. Suddenly we’ve found cooler weather (high in 60s Saturday), and are in a great place to catch up on reading and preventive maintenance. The swimming pool is indoors, they have an extensive library and a nice dvd selection. We’ve enjoyed catching up with a few amateur radio operators here including Leo K9GDI and Russ K8JLP, and are sorry we missed seeing the Lopes, N1HRS and N1OEV, who left only days before we arrived.
viewed from Hogfish Grille and Saloon
The sun has set on our Keys adventure, for now. Key West joins Albuquerque and Charleston SC as one of our favorite food towns. We did so much more than browse great dining places, and had a really good time touring on foot, by truck, and by conch train. The paragraphs above cover just the past three weeks, since we left our campground in south Miami where we had stayed all of March.
Dana Point, So Cal
We’ve had an amazing winter. The first two months we spent in Mesa AZ playing tennis and hiking, taking dancing lessons and spanish lessons. We spent January traveling from Mesa through Maricopa and Yuma to Doheny State Park on Dana Point (near San Juan de Capistrano) to visit friends, then to south San Diego for sightseeing and finally dry-camping in Quartzsite with friends for two weeks.
February started with traveling from Quartzsite to Spicewood TX to spend a few days with friends touring the area and enjoying some fantastic food spots. Then onward to Florida in time for the southeast’s finest hamfest, Hamcation Orlando, put on by the Orlando Amateur Radio Club. Directly afterward we spent a week in Sarasota for the airstream club’s Florida State Rally. Then down toward southwest Miami for our March stay. We think you’ll enjoy hearing a little about our first visit to Miami — but not today.
Bloggers block is a terrible thing — there’s just no good place to jump back in and start the story. So much to share. One more good reason to do it now, and not procrastinate.
See you down the road!
Jim and Debbie
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