BACK TO WHERE IT ALL BEGAN



THURSDAY

TRAVEL DAY
YEAR #4 - STOP #11



This week we find ourselves back in Broward County, FL. We are actually at the same campground where we spent an entire month before hitting the road back in 2018.

A lot has changed since we left here almost three years ago. Back then it was at the beginning of summer and campsites were discounted to just $30 a night. This time we are here in winter and the campsites are at a premium of $45 a night.

Also we are in the middle of a pandemic and the bathrooms and showers are all closed to help maintain social distancing. The entire park is closed to the public five days a week while they administer COVID vaccines on the opposite side of the huge park.

Even with all that going on we couldn't have picked a better place to spend a week visiting family, friends and coworkers from our previously stationary lives.


We visited with most people at restaurants with outdoor seating. That way we also got the chance to revisited all of our favorite restaurants like 4-Rivers BBQ, Mission BBQ, Bahama Breeze and Thai Garlic. We also were introduced to new favorites like Bagels and a Whole Lot More and the Moonlite Diner.

We squeezed in eye doctor appointments and a visit with our insurance agent.

Several people came by our campsite for a visit when the park was open to the public on Sunday and Monday. We set up a couple of tables and chairs outdoors at a relatively safe distance apart. We even met up with one friend in a Target parking lot on their lunch break.

Markham Park Campsite D3

We didn't get to see everyone we wanted to and didn't get to spend nearly as much time as we would have liked with the ones we did visit with, but we did the best we could.

Our next two stops will include visits with family and then we'll be heading out of Florida to return to our life on the road.




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A FAMILIAR PORT



THURSDAY

TRAVEL DAY
YEAR #4 - STOP #9-10



Today we arrived in a familiar port, Port St. Lucie, FL. To be more specific we are at the St. Lucie South, Army Corp of Engineers Campground on the Okeechobee Waterway. The waterway was constructed in 1937 to provide a water route across the state of Florida so marine traffic would have a much shorter and safer route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Army Corp of Engineers are still here today, 80+ years later, to maintain and operate the St. Lucie Lock and Dam. It is one of five locks located along the length of the waterway. Two are east of Lake Okeechobee and three are on the west. The two locks on the shores of Lake Okeechobee do not have campgrounds, but the other three do and we will have visited all three of them by the end of the month.

Tricia and I have been to this particular campground before, back in 2008, before we even started dating. We were friends at the time and if memory serves me correctly we shared the exact same campsite then as we are sharing today.

The difference is today we are approaching our 10th wedding anniversary and as of this morning, I feel we are still each others best friend!

Our view to the East

Our view to the West



FRIDAY - Today we are going to do something we have only done once before.

We are going to drive away and leave THE POD behind to go spend two nights sleeping in a tent.

If you've been following this blog from the beginning you may remember that just 17 days after we started traveling full-time we said goodbye to THE POD and spent three nights in our tent on Garden Key, in Dry Tortugas National Park, 70 miles off the shores of Key West, FL. We were able to share this experience with 6 of our friends who had never been there before, personally it was my sixth visit to the park.


We didn't travel quite that far this time, but we did pack up ROVER and drive 27 miles west to the Group Campgound in the Dupuis Wildlife Management Area. This is an annual outing some of our friends get together for on Presidents Day Weekend and we decided 6 months ago to plan on being in the area so we could surprise them by showing up unannounced.

Not everyone was caught unaware. We did secure an invite from the friend who organizes the event, in case they were under strict occupancy limits due to current COVID restrictions. This is afterall state owned property and the rules can seem to change at anytime without much notice.

We had a wonderful time seeing everyone, old friends and new, and for sharing two wonderful campfires. Conversations regarding shared experiences we've had in the past were much appreciated. That is something we don't get while traveling on the road and we truly miss!

Plenty of room to social distance at DuPuis Group Campground



SUNDAY - We were the first to arrive and nearly the last to leave DuPuis WMA this weekend. As soon as we got back to THE POD around 4:00PM we noticed that brand new neighbors had arrived on both sides of our campsite.

No sooner had we begun the task of unpacking from our weekend tent camping experience we struck up a conversation with one of our new neighbors, Pam and Jim. They are from northwest Connecticut and travel part time to escape the uncomfortble weather back home. In a matter of just a few minutes an invitation was extended for us to join them at their campsite.

That's the way our new lifestyle is, strangers one minute and an hour later we've shared each others past, present and future travel plans. This act alone doesn't put them in the friends category, but instead in the acquaintance category.

After an enjoyable hour long conversation the mosquitoes kind of brought the party to an abrupt end, but not before I offered a Two Peas And The Pod contact card to them. I hope you two are reading this post and keep in touch through the comment section of our Facebook Group or through email.

UPDATE: Thanks Pam for joining our Facebook Group

This is life on the road, making acquaintances that you hope turn into friendships. Such a contrast to the weekend we spent with friends that we've known for over a decade and haven't seen in several years. Next week will be different still when we visit with friends we've known for several decades and in one case for me, over 40 years.



TUESDAY - Since noon today we have been keeping a close eye on the entrance gate here at St. Lucie South Campground. We found out several days ago that a close friend from our previous life in South Florida also just so happens to have reservations to camp here starting today.

Vicky and her new boyfriend Gary, who we haven't met yet in person, arrived around 4:00PM and set up camp just before it started to rain again. We went over and got in a few quick hellos and quickly returned to our trailer to wait out the rain.


The following morning we went to their site for an extended conversation and then invited them over to our site after lunch.

Vicky and Gary in front of their A-Liner travel trailer.

After lunch we continued with our conversation until sunset. That's when the mosquitoes made their nightly appearance and chased us back into our respective trailers for the remainder of the night.

Tomorrow we head further south to briefly reunite with more familiar faces!




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TWO PEAS



ONLY IN THE VILLAGES



MONDAY

TRAVEL DAY
YEAR #4 - STOP #8



After a grueling and exhaustive 16.2 mile move today we took on the fun task of doing a months worth of our laundry. Three loads in the mega-sized washers and an equal number of loads in the industrial sized dryers took care of the job. Now we have clean clothes, two fresh sets of bed sheets and plenty of towels for everyday cleanups. Ahhh!

In case you didn't pickup the campground name in the graphic above, we are now at Santos Trailhead Campground, which is also located on the Cross Florida Greenway. While Ross Prairie Campground was geared toward the equestrian community, Santos Trailhead is geared towards the mountain bike community.

Although you don't have to partake in either activity to camp in the campgrounds, expect there to be lots of activity going on all around you during your visit.

Campsite #15 at Santos Trailhead Campground outside of Ocala, FL

Once again plenty of outdoor space to enjoy.



TUESDAY - Today was an errand day for me while Tricia was getting her work done. First stop was Target to pick up some of the Market Pride brand cheese crackers we both enjoy snacking on while moving to the next campsite.

This was the second Target store I've checked at this week and both were out of stock when it came to our cheese crackers, they both had the peanut butter filled crackers, but neither had the cheese version. I'm not sure why that is?


UPDATE: Mystery solved!

I was in a third Target store today, Feb. 10th, and learned that Target is in the midst of rebranding all of their Market Pride foods with a new name and logo, but the same great products. Until that happens I won't see anymore cheese crackers unless I find a store that has had them on the shelf for more than a few months. I'm not sure I would want them now, even if I did find them knowing that.


Next up was Walmart to get one of our 3-gallon water bottles filled. It was here in the parking lot I saw something I've don't believe I've ever seen before!

Reserved golf cart parking at Walmart

Not only did they have reserved parking spaces for golf cart parking, there was a separate parking lot entrance from the community located behind the store. It was located on the side of the property and was just wide enough for one golf cart to squeeze through.

The reason for this special consideration? We are at the northern edge of the Central Florida mecca for retirees, the 55+ community know as The Villages. It appears there are more golf carts than automobiles in this community, so why not?

It also explains the countless number of businesses along this stretch of US441 that deal with the sales/service/mobile repair of golf carts. Some of them are just plain old golf carts but some of the residents show off by blinging out their carts with hard sided enclosures, windshield wipers, Rolls Royce style fenders with chrome wheel covers, along with an assortment of lights and other decorations. I guess the money they save on not needing to own a car they spend on their carts. To each their own I always say.

Last stop is Publix, for a few days worth of groceries and lunch from the deli. Yummy!




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THE FIRST 1000 DAYS



THURSDAY

TRAVEL DAY
YEAR #4 - STOP #7



Today we hit another milestone in our fulltime RV journey,

1000 days on the road!

If you are wondering what we have been up to for the last 2-years 8-months and 23-days you're in luck, because if you didn't already know, we keep track of all kinds of things.


We have driven our truck ROVER over 46,000 miles and towed our trailer THE POD over 21,000 of those miles. We have camped in 175 different locations in 29 of our United States. We have spent a month or more in 14 states and at least 1 week, with one exception, in all of the others.

We are averaging 110 miles everytime we change campsites, spending 49% of our nights in State Parks and 32% in Federal Parks (NPS-USFS-COE) at half price.

We have visited 11 National Parks, 9 National Seashores, 12 National Monuments and 16 other National Park Service properties. We have camped in 9 National Forests and 14 Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds.

We have visited 10 World Heritage Sites and explored 39 underground Show Cave Tours.


Now you may be wondering what does all this cost?


We are averging $676 a month for camp fees, $13 a month for propane, $19 a month for laundry, $238 a month for gasoline and $877 a month for groceries and eating out. That's a total of $1823 dollars a month for living expenses.

Add to that our fixed monthly expenses of $504 a month for things like 2 cell phones, 3 data plans, truck and trailer insurance plus tag renewals, Amazon Prime Membership and 2 Kindle Unlimited Accounts, Sirius/XM radio and our health insurance, it brings our Grand Total to $2327 a month.

With my Social Security check and Tricia's part-time employment check we have only dipped into our Investment/401K/Savings Accounts one time and that was for a huge upgrade we did to our solar package on the trailer last February. That upgrade was more of an investment to give us the ability to comfortably camp unplugged and for FREE when we start visiting the National Forests and Public Lands in the western United States.


It's been an exciting first 1000 days and we can't wait to share the next 1000 days with you!



SUNDAY - Well Super Bowl Sunday has finally arrived. We hope to be watching the game from our campsite here at Ross Prairie Trailhead and Campground in Dunnellon, FL.

We are going to try something new and use a FREE 7-day fuboTV subscription to stream the game LIVE using our cell phone and broadcast it over to our 28-inch television to watch.

My tests all went well, let's hope it still works at game time and that I remember to cancel our subscription before the $65 a month charges begin to appear on the credit card next week!

NEWS UPDATE: IT WORKED FLAWLESSLY!

CONGRATS: TOM BRADY AND THE TAMPA BAY BUCS


Ross Prairie is the first of four Florida State Park campgrounds you will encounter if you are traversing the 110 mile long Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway from west to east. The greenway begins at the Gulf of Mexico and ends at the St. Johns River.

Ross Prairie is small for a state park campground with only 14 sites, all have water and electric hookups, with a dump station on the way in and out of the campground. There is a large equestrian center right next door and an extensive trail system for hiking and horseback riding in the Ross Prairie State Forest.

Campsite #3 on the outer loop of the campground

Plenty of room to enjoy the outdoors here.




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CHILLAXING AT FAVER-DYKES STATE PARK



MONDAY

TRAVEL DAY
YEAR #4 - STOP #6



With an uneventful travel day across the state of Florida we arrived at Faver-Dykes State Park for a four day weekend visit.

Campsite #15 at Faver-Dykes State Park outside of St. Augustine, FL

A side view of our campsite.

With nothing planned for sightseeing here we instead took all four days to chillax and enjoy the park. We have driven through this campground years before on a previous trip to the St. Augustine area, but have never camped here until today.

In an effort to camp at all 55 Florida State Parks that offer RV campsites we felt it time to check this one off the list. This is the 45th Florida State Park that one of us have camped in over the years, 22 of those were in a tent before we started to RV, so we only have 10 more to go.

We won't see the remaining 10 this year, but one more future trip through the state of Florida ought to "git-er-done" as Larry the Cable Guy would say!

We found the perfect place to watch the sunset was from the fishing dock, where we also found a palm losing it's battle to remain upright.

Fishing dock overlooking the prairie

Literally holding on for dear life




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Until next time

TWO PEAS