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So, let’s say you have a 35-foot motorhome. It’s late winter, you’re cold, and on a whim you want to go to Florida to warm up. Where will you stay?
Here are your choices for places to stay in Florida during the winter:
- Wal-Mart parking lots (some allow you to stay, some don’t)
- State parks (usually fully booked, especially on weekends)
- Private RV parks (fully booked or they want $100-150 per night)
- Free parking by the beach (oh wait never mind, that isn’t an option)
Sorry if I sound sarcastic. We actually went to Florida twice. When we were leaving Alabama, I was so, so cold! We had some extra time to kill, and I really missed the ocean and the beach. I asked Ryan if we could head to Florida and then go north toward Augusta. We were directly above Panama City Beach, and I thought maybe, like the California/Oregon coastal area, there might be a few beaches with overnight parking. Or at least a place we could park next to the beach during the day, and then head over to a Wal-Mart at night.
Nope. I used Google Earth to zoom in on the gulf coast area and there was no beach access that I could see. The area had a bunch of private homes with beach front property, and some beach resorts with private access. Maybe a couple of parks, but there was no room for and RV to park. Reports from blogs and forums confirmed this.
As for the Wal-Marts, all signs pointed to no overnight stays at the ones we looked at. So rather than drive another 50 miles there and 50 miles back to try to see the beach, we decided to stay at an interstate rest area. It was Florida, and at least it was warm. But there was no beach.
Click on the image below to save to Pinterest for later!
After our sleep at the rest area we drove in to Tallahassee. They had a vegan restaurant in town, Sweet Pea Cafe. It’s a tiny place with a very small menu and just a few choices that are gluten-free. Ryan just got some fries, while I ordered the Falawesome: a falafel wrap in a gluten-free tortilla. I loved it! The fries were very salty, though.
After our food we headed up into Georgia, where it started getting cold and rainy. Oh, well. It was for a good cause.
Our second trip to Florida
After we left Augusta, it was cold and rainy again. Optimists that we are, we thought we’d give Florida another try. We’d been getting good at the un-planning thing, which was hard for me at first but I started liking it so much that I didn’t want to go back to the old ways. So we went down along the Georgia coastal area to the eastern Florida coast.
The first campground we came across and wanted to stay was Fort Clinch State Park. Why? It’s on the beach!!! We also needed some fresh water and a dump station. We drove up to the campground and unfortunately they were fully booked. But, for a fee we were able to enter and park there for the day. We had some lunch and took a look around Fort Clinch. It’s directly on the water and you can walk on the wall where the cannons are and see the beach.
It was very windy. We were out there in sweatshirts and knit caps, and I put on a scarf and gloves too. But I didn’t care. I finally got near the ocean again and stood on the beach for a few minutes. This was my first time seeing the Atlantic Ocean since age 12, and Ryan’s first time ever.
Built in 1847, Fort Clinch is all brick (nearly 5,000,000 of them!). Though constructed by the U.S. (Union), Confederate forces seized the fort and used it until the 1860s. It remained abandoned until the 1930s when reconstruction began and was open to the public as part of the state park in 1938. It closed to the public briefly to be used once again as a military post during World War II, and has been available year-round for day use and camping ever since.
There is a separate entrance fee to visit Fort Clinch, likely because park staff do Civil-War period reenactments and are available to answer questions about the Fort and its history.
The rest of the park is also beautiful. It has paved roads, walking and biking trails and picnic areas. There are also two campgrounds – one with an ocean view and one surrounded by trees.
We stayed in the area for awhile longer, boondocking at Wal-Marts and working on our business.
My obsession with Spanish moss
I think this is a good time to bring up Spanish moss, as I’ve mentioned it a few times in earlier posts about the south. I became totally crazy about it and began photographing it everywhere I went. To a southerner, this may seem laughable, but a west coast girl like me has Spanish moss exposure deficit.
Spanish moss is in the bromeliad taxonomic family, which means it’s more closely related to pineapples than moss. It prefers tropical climates with lots of water (which makes swamps an excellent setting) and grows in Mexico, South America and the Caribbean. It isn’t actually from Spain.
Native Americans called it “tree hair.” When French explorers first saw it, they were reminded of long beards worn by Spanish conquistadors, so they started calling it “Spanish Beard.” Of course the Spaniards didn’t care for this, so they dubbed it “French Hair.” Eventually the name changed to Spanish moss.
Spanish moss is not parasitic in that it doesn’t root into the trees it grows on (it has no roots at all), nor does it get its nutrients from them, but rather grabs it from the moisture in the air and of course the sunlight. We saw it covering electrical lines, street signs and fire hydrants, although I read it will only survive on trees. As it grows in one direction, it dies at the other end.
Even though it is not parasitic, if it grows too heavily on a tree it can prevent the tree from leafing properly, which can cause damage to the tree.
It is also very strong. We saw twigs and smaller branches that either fell off or snapped off from the moss. They became entangled in it and were dangling with just the moss to keep them from falling. After one experience driving through some low-hanging moss and hearing the invisible branch scraping on our roof, we knew to avoid the moss from then on.
This concludes my teaching session for the Florida segment of our travels. ; P Now, for a sneak peek on the full post, coming shortly, about our new business.
Selling used books online
Was that a let-down?? Let me tell you why this is a great business for me in particular, and why it works so well for a traveler.
- I love books. I live and breathe reading books. I would rather read a book than just about any other indoor activity. If I am in the middle of a good book at bedtime, I may stay up half the night to finish it. I can easily read 2-3 books per week (when I’m not working three jobs like I am now).
- Ryan enjoys it. He likes going to find books, and checking online to see what we sold today. Once we learned how things work, Ryan took over as our primary person, which frees up time and energy for me to focus on blogging (and the other job).
- Books are cheap to buy. You can find them just about anywhere, and many of them are consistently under-priced because for some unfathomable reason, people just don’t find most books valuable. When you sell them at their actual retail value, a profit can be made.
- You don’t need to carry around inventory. With our method of selling, we ship them in to be sold and distributed elsewhere, so we don’t need space for a lot of them. Depending on your buying style, you could potentially buy, inventory and ship books all in the same day.
The next post will be about the method we’re using to buy and sell books and why we chose it, and how much money we’ve already made (our first sale was within just a few days of listing)!