Posts Tagged With: Florida

Disney’s Fort Wilderness and a Hurricane

If you haven’t figured this out yet, we are a family of Disney fanatics. Every year when we head back east, you can be sure we will spend some time at our favorite campground in the country — Disney’s Fort Wilderness.

In my last post I wrote about our journey back east, and how we arrived back to Florida just in time for Hurricane Dorian. We spent a few days with our good friends the Reyes family who are always so gracious to allow us to park at their house whenever we’re passing through the area.

While hanging out with the Reyes family, we kept an eye on the forecast for the hurricane. We were scheduled to arrive at Ft. Wilderness on Labor Day, and by the Saturday before it looked like the hurricane would be turning up the coast and not have much impact on central Florida. So we went ahead with our plans and continued on to Disney on Labor Day.

Since leaving Montana we traveled 2,700 miles, and you can imagine we were so ready to finally get somewhere and stay for awhile. We got into our site, got set up and were so happy to finally relax and not move for a month. But then, not 2 hours later, we got the news that Ft. Wilderness is closing due to the impending hurricane and they are re-locating everyone to the Disney Resort hotels.

What?!? I mean, don’t get me wrong, Disney hotels are amazing, but we just drove 2,700 miles to get here and we really don’t want to pack up and move again anytime soon. But then my Disney Pixie Agent, Tabitha worked her magical pixie dust and got us into a Disney Boardwalk Villa. I think it also had a lot to do with God blessing us beyond anything I can ask or think.

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My favorite Disney Pixie agent, Tabitha & I at Chip & Dale’s Campfire Sing-a-Long

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Disney’s Boardwalk Resort is incredible, and one of the few Disney resorts we have never stayed at. We always wanted to, but it’s just so expensive! You can imagine we were all super excited when we found out where we were being evacuated to.

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Pool and water slide at Disney’s Boardwalk

The time to relax and stay put for awhile would have to wait. Ft. Wilderness instructed us to park our RV in the Magic Kingdom parking lot along with all the other RVs that had to evacuate the campground, and we were going to the Boardwalk! All Disney hotels are pet-friendly when a hurricane is approaching, so even Fat Cat got to come along on this adventure.

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Ft. Wilderness evacuees parked at Magic Kingdom

We certainly looked like the Beverly Hillbillies strolling into that fancy hotel with our grocery bags full of everything we had to empty from our fridge, a laundry basket full of dirty laundry (because our villa had a washer/dryer in it — free laundry!), a litter box and a very squirmy and unhappy fat cat.

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I don’t even know how to caption this!

Once we got settled we enjoyed a fabulous 3 nights at the Boardwalk, and the storm hardly affected us at all. One night it got a little windy and rained a bit, but that was it. The night of the storm, all the Disney parks were closed so our hotel made all arcade games free for the night — the kids loved that!

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Disney’s Boardwalk

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Sunsets at the Boardwalk

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My parents were planning to head to Orlando that week, and since the storm was not going to affect central Florida, they went ahead with their plans. It was so much fun to have them come for a visit!

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Fat Cat had her own adventure while we were there. On our last night, we headed out to dinner with Mom and Dad, and when we got back to the room, we couldn’t find the cat anywhere. She’s been known to hide, but we really looked everywhere and thought that somehow she got out of the room. We even thought she may have jumped off the balcony, and we were on the 3rd floor!

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Fat Cat on top of the fridge, before she got lost

Finally, after hours of searching, Chris heard her collar jingling behind the kitchen cabinets. Apparently, she climbed up on top of the cabinets, found an opening and climbed down inside the hole. Once she got in there she couldn’t get out. Chris had a heck of a time trying to get her out, but finally succeeded. That cat sure knows how to get herself into trouble!

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Kitchen in the villa — notice the arrow pointing to where Chris found the cat

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This is Fat Cat stuck in her hiding place

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This is the hole on top of the cabinet she crawled into — forgive the dusty mess, it’s not my house. ūüėČ

After 3 nights of living in the lap of luxury, Ft. Wilderness re-opened and we were able to move back. The morning we got back it was weird to see the campground so empty. Of course, it didn’t take long for it to fill back in.

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Empty camping loop at Ft. Wilderness

We were so happy to finally be settled in our site at our favorite campground! And we stayed for most of the month of September. Jake and Jesse both have September birthdays, and that’s where they wanted to celebrate.

We were planning to get another Disney parks annual pass starting around Halloween, so for September we got a water parks pass instead. That worked out well since it was so hot, and it was great to spend so much time at Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.

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September was a fun month of celebrating Jesse’s 13th and Jake’s 15th birthdays, and seeing friends and family again.

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Danny & Kim came down to visit from Fernandina

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The Lundy’s came to hang out with us at the Campfire Sing-a-Long

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Margie and I with Chip & Dale

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Jake is not quite old enough to drive yet, but he liked pretending on the golf cart. Notice a strange Fat Cat in the back seat with a cute Jesse Bear.

 

Categories: Florida | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

On the Road Again

We have big news! We have a new RV and we are so excited to be back on the road. First I will assure you that our new RV is definitely NOT a Heartland. After our Heartless Heartland disaster we did lots of research and listened to lots of feedback. We decided to go with Grand Design, a company that I know is not perfect because nobody is, but from what I hear they are a company that stands behind their product. So far we are very happy with our choice.

So please allow me to introduce you to our new home on wheels… umm, I don’t really have a name to call this RV. You know what? We never named our old Heartland either (at this point I think we would call the old one “the big rolling turd” — a joke from the Robin Williams’ movie ‘RV’). ūüėČ

I think the new one needs a name; I’m open to suggestions, so please feel free to send any name ideas along. I will do another post later with a tour of our new home.

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Grand Design Momentum

After moving into our new home we headed back to our home state of Florida. We still had annual passes to Disney so we went back to our favorite campground Ft. Wilderness before the passes expired.

Then we went to a new-to-us location, the Florida Keys. Even though we lived in Florida for many years we had never been to the Keys. It was so amazing and beautiful and such a wonderful place to reconnect as a family and de-stress after all of the stress we went through with the stupid Heartland experience.

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Key West

It’s very difficult to get a campground reservation at any of the state parks in the Keys, which is why we hadn’t made it there until now. I was blessed to come across a cancellation for a week long stay at Curry Hammock State Park. Our campsite backed up to the water and it was a beautiful place to spend the week.

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Boys playing ball in the water behind our campsite

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Next we moved to Fiesta Key which is included in our Thousand Trails (Trails Collection) membership. We loved it there! The pool was fun, the onsite restaurant had delicious seafood, and the sunsets were glorious.

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Fiesta Key

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Walking to dinner at the campground.

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Cute Tiki huts for dinner.

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But those sunsets!

We thought it was so cool to see so many iguanas roaming around the campground!

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One day we even got to see 2 manatees swimming in the marina.

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One evening we went to the Sunset Grille for dinner. They have a pool at the restaurant which our kids enjoyed while waiting for our dinner.

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Sunset Grille

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Sunset over the Seven Mile Bridge from the Sunset Grille

We drove down to Key West to do some sightseeing one day.

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Seven Mile Bridge

Jake and I went snorkeling at Sombrero Reef with Spirit Snorkeling. That was lots of fun!

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We loved visiting the Keys and hope to return again someday.

But more than that we are so happy to be back on the road. After our Heartland fell apart we talked about whether we should settle down and buy another house. All 4 of us agreed that we are not ready to stop traveling. We love this lifestyle so much and we were not about to let a bad RV experience stop us from living our dream.

I will have another post to share about Heartland. Unfortunately they have been horrible and absolutely refuse to help us in any way. Since many people reading this might buy RVs I feel I have an obligation to share our experience to hopefully educate others on the dangers of buying from Heartland. In my next post I will share with you the results of Heartland and Lippert’s latest inspection report. It has actually given us a reason to find humor in this otherwise awful situation. The inspection report is so ridiculous that it’s actually funny. It’s hard to believe it was written by “experts”. I’ll share it with you soon and give you a good laugh.

Until then, we’ll be enjoying time with family for the holidays. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

Categories: Florida, Our Rig | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Wintering in Florida

Like many fulltime RV’ers we spent most of the winter in Florida. After spending the holidays with family in North Carolina we headed back to our hometown of Fernandina Beach, FL to stay at Ft. Clinch State Park in January. Most of the time we were there it was very cold, well by Florida standards that is. I know most northerners would question my definition of “cold”. We woke up one morning to find that the water coming into the RV from the outdoor spigot had frozen. We’ve traveled for 3 years and that has never happened. How ironic that it would happen in Florida of all places!

In spite of the cold we had a blast hanging out with friends, playing lots of games, enjoying lots of campfires and watching gorgeous sunsets.

We were so happy to be in town to attend one of our best friend’s surprise 50th birthday party!

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Good friends Danny & Kim

So much fun with friends…

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Game nights with Mimi

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Catching up with Kym

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Camping with Kelli and the rest of the Norstrem family

One night while watching the sunset we were so excited to see a couple of dolphins playing so close to the shore. Photo credit to Kelli for these beautiful sunset pictures.

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After almost 4 weeks in Fernandina we headed down to another one of our favorite places: Disney’s Ft. Wilderness campground. This time my parents, sister and brother-in-law joined us for some Disney fun.

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Later in February we moved on to Three Flags Thousand Trails where some good friends were staying. In the past I have shared pictures of some of the incredible campsites we have been blessed with that included lots of space and gorgeous views. Well, sometimes we end up with a site with a lovely view of the neighbor’s camper with barely any room in between.

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Jake and Jesse with their good friend Gavin

The sites at that park were pretty close together, but thankfully the neighbor was really nice. She brought treats over for the kids often and even told us we could use her golf cart anytime we needed it. We didn’t take her up on that, but I have to say she was one of the nicest neighbors we have ever had. In addition we got to hang out with some other Fulltime Families which made our stay there really fun.

Even though we didn’t have a lot of space between our campers, our back yard was pretty amazing with cows coming to visit us every day.

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From there we moved on to “moochdock” at a friend’s house. We met these friends on the road 3 years ago. They recently bought property in Florida with a very nice, large RV spot.

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Keith and Michele’s house

We went kayaking in Silver Springs while we were staying with them. That was lots of fun until we realized we missed a turn and ended up 2 miles downstream which meant we had the strenuous job of paddling back upstream that far. I was so thankful Keith tied a rope to my kayak and helped tow Jesse and me back!

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Peaceful and beautiful while we were still heading downstream.

Next we spent a quiet weekend at a beautiful state park on the Suwannee River.

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Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

Lastly we attended our 6th Fulltime Families rally in Madison, FL at one of our favorite Jellystone Parks. We used to go on weekend camping trips to this Jellystone years ago before we started traveling fulltime. They have a really awesome water slide and lazy river. The entire week the boys were so excited for them to open the water park. It was a chilly week, but the campground promised they would open the water park for the rally no matter how the weather turned out.

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Well, the campground kept their promise and many of the kids braved the cold to enjoy it one afternoon. The outside temperature was in the 60s, and I have no idea how cold the water was but based on the blue, shivering lips of most of the kids it was quite cold!

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Photo Credit: Brooke Foster

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Photo Credit: Brooke Foster

Rally weeks are always so busy and super fun. One day we had a field trip canoeing down the Suwannee River.

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Another day they had field games like relay races and crab soccer.

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We also had campfires, pot luck dinners and lots of other fun with old and new friends.

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FtF Rally Group Picture – Photo Credit: Brooke Foster

So that wraps up our winter in Florida and now we are making our way up the east coast. We are so excited to begin another year of adventures and making memories.

 

Categories: Florida | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Cross Country Road Trip

After an amazing summer in the Pacific Northwest it was time to start making our way back east for the winter. We had 6 weeks to get from Washington to Florida. This post will cover the stops we made along the way.

First we spent a quiet week in eastern Oregon on the Idaho border, recovering from a couple of very busy weeks in Washington. We stayed at Farewell Bend Recreation Area on the Snake River across from Idaho. It was beautiful and peaceful!

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The 2nd week we spent celebrating Jake’s 13th birthday in Park City, Utah which I already wrote about. You can see it here if you missed it:¬†Birthday Celebration in Park City, Utah.

Week #3 was spent in South Fork, Colorado where the fall foliage was gorgeous! Our campground was right on the Rio Grande River.

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We spent week #4 in Amarillo, Texas for a couple of days and then the rest of the week in Oklahoma City.

In Amarillo we used the complimentary limo service to go have dinner at the Big Texan. This was so much fun and a shining example of true Texas hospitality!

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We also stopped by Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo to leave our mark on the classic cars and to meet up with our good friends the Thomas family. Somehow we always end up on the opposite side of the country as them, and our paths crossed here in Texas as they were headed west and we were headed east. Someday I hope we’ll be in the same state again for more than a day or two!

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My beautiful friend Erica who I miss so much!

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After a busy 2 days in Texas we moved on to Oklahoma City. Our campsite here was interesting, right on the mini golf course!

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While in Oklahoma City we met up with my sister’s good friend Rene who gave us a personalized tour of the Oklahoma City National Memorial where she lived and worked at the time of the tragic bombing. This was a very sobering site to see, and so interesting to hear Rene’s story of the events that happened that day in 1995.

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We also visited the Science Museum in Oklahoma City which we could go to for free on our ASTC reciprocal membership. The boys enjoyed this science museum very much!

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We moved on to Arkansas for week #5 to visit Hot Springs National Park. I have to admit we were not all that impressed with this national park after all the amazing and scenic parks we’ve been to out west. This was basically just a town with historical bathhouses. Maybe were missing something, but it seems like it’s probably more interesting for adults… not including Chris and me, we’re not adulting right now. ūüėČ

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It turns out we were parked next to another Fulltime Family at the Hot Springs KOA and we enjoyed getting to know them. I hope we meet up with them again in the near future.

The Mid America Science Museum is located near Hot Springs and it is also included on our ASTC membership so we went there too. Another super fun science museum that the boys really enjoyed!

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After an overnight stop in Tupelo, Mississippi where Chris & I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary at a Japanese Hibachi grill along with our kids, we moved on for week #6 in Woodstock, Georgia where we were able to visit with my sister and her husband for the week. We stayed at Victoria Campground which had very nice and large sites and beautiful sunsets on Lake Allatoona. We had lots of fun with Cheryl & Chris playing games and just being our silly selves.

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And then finally, after 6 weeks and over 3000 miles we were back “home” in Florida at our happy place, Disney World just in time for trick-or-treating at Ft. Wilderness.

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We purchased new FL resident annual passes and got busy exploring our favorite amusement parks all over again. Lots of other Fulltime Families spend the winter in the Orlando area also, so it was fun to meet up with some of our friends at the Disney parks.

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We even enjoyed a visit from my parents at Ft. Wilderness one weekend while they happened to be in the Orlando area.

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As much as I love traveling out west, it is good to be home. We’ll spend the rest of this year hanging out with friends and family in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. I will probably be taking a break from blogging until we begin traveling again next year. Until then, I hope you all enjoy a blessed holiday season. Remember to make the most of your time with loved ones and be thankful. ūüôā

 

Categories: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fulltime Families Tally Rally

We attended our 5th Fulltime Families (FtF) rally in Tallahassee, FL at the North Florida Fairgrounds. Affectionately known as the “Tally Rally”, this was the biggest rally we have attended so far at approximately 85 families. I have to admit, being an introvert, I was quite overwhelmed by this many people at first. When we first pulled into the giant field where we all camped for the week, I really had second thoughts about whether or not we should have come. But I needn’t have worried about that. Within an hour or so some good friends from previous rallies stopped by and we got out and about meeting old and new friends. We ended up having a blast!

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Here is a cool video that a rally attendee made early in the week:

The rally week started with a field trip to the Mission San Luis where we were transported back to the year 1703 and learned about how the Apalachee Indians lived.

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The next day we had a field trip to the Tallahassee Museum and Tree to Tree Adventures. The boys had their first experience on a ropes course. Jesse was not yet tall enough for us all to do the larger ropes course with zip lines, so Jake and Jesse did the ropes course for smaller adventurers. The larger one looked like lots of fun so once Jesse is a little bit taller we will look for a place for us all to do this together.

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Besides the ropes courses, the museum was fun to explore. It was more like a zoo and gardens.

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One of the really fun activities for kids at the rally was building a box city. Many thanks to the mom who came up with this idea! It was a big hit with all the kids. They built a city out of boxes and then had to sell stuff and earn “money” to spend at other businesses in the city. Some of the kids thought it was funny to commit crimes so they would be arrested and brought to the city jail. ūüôā

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One afternoon some of the adults played bubble soccer. This was hilarious to watch! Chris played, but I did not. It looked pretty dangerous and painful, and you even had to sign a waiver in order to play because you could get seriously hurt or even die. No thanks, I’ll just watch. ūüôā

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One evening the moms attended a Pampered Chef party, other evenings were spent having potluck dinners followed by games or dancing. After all the other festivities, we usually could be found at one of many campfires around the fairgrounds while the kids ran around and played until they crashed from exhaustion.

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We had such a great time at this rally! If you are a fulltime traveling family or planning to be, I would highly recommend attending one of these rallies. For us it has been a great way to get to know other families living this lifestyle.

 

Categories: Florida, Fulltime RV'ing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

St. Andrew’s State Park – Take 2

Last year I wrote a post about the not-so-great experience we had at St. Andrew’s State Park in Panama City Beach, FL. The manager offered us 3 free nights if we would come back again sometime, so we took him up on that and I am so glad we did! This time we ended up with the best site in the park and it was amazing! Our site was on the end so we didn’t have a neighbor on one side which gave us so much space, and it was right on the water. I was up early our first morning there and was rewarded with the most beautiful sunrise. It was like God was painting the sky before my eyes that morning for about 30 minutes. The colors and reflections in the sky constantly changed while I watched the Master Artist at work.

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Our campsite was on the lagoon side, but the state park is also on the Gulf of Mexico so in the evenings we went over to the ocean side to watch the sunset and play on the beach.

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We were surprised to find out that our friends Kym and Galen from Fernandina Beach were in Panama City at the same time as we were. We kept missing them in Fernandina so it was so nice to finally catch up with them somewhere else.

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My parents came to visit us there too which was lots of fun. The boys got Grampa out playing football on the beach with them. These pictures mean so much to me because my dad is 72 years old, and it’s so awesome to see him so energetic and playing on the beach with his grandkids. Just before Jake was born (over 12 years ago) my dad had quintuple bypass heart surgery. Every time I am reminded of that time, I am so thankful that he is still around to play with his grandkids. He is such a blessing to them!

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Jake and Grampa walked way out almost to the end of this jetty before they had to turn around because it was getting dark.

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I stayed behind on the rocks and watched the boats and birds.

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We went on a short hike at the campground on Gator Lake, but we didn’t see any gators.

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My sister always likes to pose my kids in front of signs like this to make it look like they’re breaking the rules, so we took this one for her. ūüôā

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Chris got to do some fishing while we were there too, but it was all catch-and-release since every fish he caught was so small.

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We had a great time at St. Andrews and I’m so glad we came back to give it another try. Next up another Fulltime Families rally in Tallahassee!

 

Categories: Florida | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Second Nomadiversary

Two years ago today we moved out of our house to begin this amazing adventure on the road, and what an incredible ride it has been! We started out saying we would do this for 2 years, but we quickly realized that there is far too much to see in this beautiful country to stop after 2 years. So we are onto more adventures for year 3. ¬†But first I would like to share this video of the highlights of our second year on the road, as well as give an update about what we’ve been up to lately.

If you missed our 1st year nomadiversary video you can watch it here:¬†One Year Nomadiversary. This is why I blog. I am certainly not a professional blogger and I don’t do it for money, but I like to keep this as a sort of travel journal so we can look back and remember everything we did. It is really fun to look back at prior blog posts and nomadiversary videos and count our blessings. If it helps anyone with travel planning or inspires you to travel, that’s an added bonus.

In 2 years of travel we have visited 24 states and 24 national parks/monuments. It’s hard to say what has been my favorite experience so far, but in 2016 I would say it’s a tie between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.

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I never did get around to sharing last year that we were interviewed by Epic Education Radio. Here is a link to the podcast if you would like to listen.¬†http://www.anepiceducation.com/eer069-family-rv-living-in-the-usa/¬† Honestly I probably didn’t share it because I am generally shy and not comfortable talking in an interview like this. But some people said they liked it and it was helpful, so here it is for your listening pleasure. ūüôā

It has been a while since my last post. Since then we have been spending time with friends and family in NC and FL. We stayed at Ft. Clinch State Park twice to visit friends in Fernandina Beach where we used to live.

Ft. Clinch has 2 campgrounds: one on the beach, the other on the river. We stayed on the beach side last year, you can read about that here: Ft. Clinch State Park. This time we stayed on the beach side for 3 nights, and stayed on the river side the rest of the time. These pictures are from the beach side.

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Chris enjoying evening happy hour on the beach hammock.

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Both campgrounds are wonderful, but I think we like the river side a little better. The river side campsites are larger and surrounded by trees so you get more privacy at those sites. We also had a lot more room for friends to visit.

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The boys got a new slackline kit for Christmas which was fun to try out with friends.

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And I finally got to beat Doug at Mexican train dominoes which means I don’t have to eat a bison burger! ūüôā

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The sunsets behind our site were glorious!

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After Ft. Clinch we moved on to the Gulf Coast of Florida to St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach. I will write about that next time. Cheers!

 

Categories: Fulltime RV'ing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Disney’s Fort Wilderness

While we were in Florida last winter we purchased Disney annual passes. We got some use out of them last December and January and then headed west. Now that we’re back on the east coast again, we headed back to Disney to get some more use out of those passes before they expired.

We stayed at¬†Disney’s Ft. Wilderness campground for Halloween and went back again a few weeks later to enjoy the sites decorated for Christmas. Ft. Wilderness is still my favorite campground ever. Disney just knows how to do everything with excellence, and their campground is awesome. Of course you have to pay for that awesomeness. Ft. Wilderness is definitely the most expensive campground we ever splurge on. For us it’s worth it to stay right on Disney property and take advantage of the bus, boat and monorail transportation to all the parks as well as all the amazing amenities this campground has to offer.

Our first stay started the day before Halloween so that’s where our kids went trick-or-treating this year. Many people decorate their campsites for Halloween and give out candy. This was such a fun place to go trick-or-treating!

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Sorcerer Mickey and the Storm Trooper

Some nicely decorated campsites.

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Can you tell which storm trooper is Jake and which one is a decoration?

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Ft. Wilderness has so many fun things to do that you could really stay there and not even go to any Disney parks if you don’t want to. They have a really nice bike trail that goes between the campground and the Wilderness Lodge Resort Hotel.

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The marina beach area on Bay Lake is really nice. From there you can catch a boat to Magic Kingdom or to the Contemporary and Wilderness Lodge resorts.

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At night you can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the Bay Lake beach and also the electric light parade passes by every night at 9:45. Both are awesome to see!

The pool at Ft. Wilderness has a water slide, a kid’s splash park and a hot tub. Every day they have a pool party and games for the kids.

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One weekend while we were there some really good friends from our Nassau County Homeschool Group (NCHE) came to stay with us. Our homeschool group had planned a Sea World field trip which was perfect timing so we could attend and see lots of friends from where we used to live.

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We took a break from Disney (as if we ever need a break from Disney!) and went to visit my sister and brother-in-law in Atlanta and then my parents in Charlotte for Thanksgiving. Then it was right back to Ft. Wilderness for my favorite time of the year to be there. The way some campers decorate their campsites is something to see! We like to rent a golf cart whenever we’re there in December so that we can ride around the camping loops at night and check out all the decorations. Ft. Wilderness is huge! Having a golf cart to get around is nice, but certainly not necessary. They have internal bus transportation to take you all over the resort if you don’t have a golf cart. Disney charges way too much for golf cart rentals so we rent from someone off property for half the price Disney charges. Keep that in mind if you go, there are other options. ūüėČ

This campsite was right in our loop and it’s amazing. They come every year I think because we’ve seen this set up many times and it’s one of the best.

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Another one that seems to be there every year is a site that includes a lighted walkway and they allow you to walk through their site and check out all their decorations. It’s pretty amazing and super nice of those folks to let a bunch of strangers wander through their site.

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And lastly, Cinderella’s castle at Magic Kingdom is stunningly beautiful at Christmastime. Although I really miss the Christmas lights they used to have at Hollywood Studios.

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I love traveling all over the country, but I will always love coming back to Disney whenever our travels bring us back east.

If you need advice or tips on traveling around Florida, please check out my friend’s blog over at Crazy Family Adventure for the Ultimate Florida Road Trip. They put together a great post with ideas for visiting many different places in Florida. Their post also contains some helpful links for visiting Disney World.

We’ll be spending the remainder of this year with friends and family in FL and NC. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed 2017!

Categories: Florida | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gulf Islands National Seashore

Our last stop in Florida was in Pensacola Beach.  We stayed at Ft. Pickens Campground on Gulf Islands National Seashore.0305161203e

This place is perfect if you are looking for a peaceful, quiet and uncrowded beach.  Our campsite was just steps from the beach.  It was the most beautiful white sand beach, and we almost had the whole beach to ourselves.  It was rare to even see another person out there.  We spent most evenings on the beach watching the spectacular sunsets.

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Sometimes during the day I took the boys to the beach to play in the sand or I just went by myself to enjoy a good book.  This was the perfect place to relax!

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One day we saw lots of dolphins swimming in the waves and we saw this large group of ducks or birds floating down the current all clustered together.  It was a strange sight!

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Even Fat Cat loved this place.  She wanted to be outside all the time; she even made friends with an armadillo!  I really wish I had a picture of that!

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Gulf Islands National Seashore is part of the National Park system which means they have a Junior Ranger program.  There was a bike path from the campground to Ft. Pickens so the boys and I went over there one day to tour the fort and do some activities towards earning their Junior Ranger badges.

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Touring the fort…

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There was also a museum to tour where we learned about the birds and sea life that is common in this part of Florida and we watched a movie about the history of Ft. Pickens.

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Earning new Junior Ranger badges…

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We enjoyed this park very much!  I would highly recommend it if you are looking for an uncrowded place to go near the Gulf Coast.

Categories: Florida, National Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

St. Andrews State Park

St. Andrews State Park is in Panama City, FL on the beautiful gulf coast. ¬†Like most Florida state parks, it takes some diligence to get a reservation, and even more so if you want one of their highly coveted lagoon front sites. ¬†I didn’t make this reservation at the 11 month window because other than going home to Fernandina Beach, I don’t usually¬†know¬†that far in advance where we’ll be.¬†So for this reservation I had to watch for cancellations and was happy¬†to eventually find a waterfront lagoon site had become¬†available¬†for the dates I wanted.

Here is a picture of our site on the lagoon.  Too bad it only lasted about 20 minutes!

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You know, living in an RV can sometimes come with some challenges.  The day we got to St. Andrews was one of those days.

The first thing that happened was we couldn’t find our site. ¬†It is not clearly marked from the road. ¬†Once we found our site I realized it was at a very weird angle and I¬†wasn’t¬†sure how Chris was going to back our house into it. ¬†He starts getting the rig into position to give it a try when this joker in a little convertible comes whipping up beside us and pulls into our campsite like he’s just going to spend the day there. ¬†Um, no, I don’t think so! ¬†Chris told him he’s getting ready to back into that site so he pulls out, but instead of driving away he pulls up right next to Chris so that Chris can’t even start backing into the site until this guy¬†gets out of the way. ¬†Meanwhile I’m behind the rig on the phone with Chris because my job is to¬†direct him in and we’re both just wondering what this joker¬†is doing sitting there in the way. ¬†The guy acts all mad at us like we’re inconveniencing him or something, but he finally drove off.

Next Chris could¬†finally start trying to back into the¬†site and I have to say that he did an amazing job. ¬†He has really gotten quite good at this! ¬†Our RV has an automatic leveling system so once he got in the site and unhitched he started the leveling process. ¬†When it was done the tires on one side of the rig were up off the ground. ¬†The site was that un-level! ¬†We realized that’s not going to work so we had to re-hitch to the truck and move a little, get some buckets¬†of dirt and make piles under the levelers so we could try again. ¬†Don’t ask me why we don’t have leveling blocks… that’s something Chris says he’s going to get one of these days. ūüėČ

Anyway, attempt #2 worked and we¬†were finally¬†unhitched and leveled and ready to set up. ¬†That is until I realized the refrigerator wasn’t working. ¬†Then I realized half of the RV doesn’t have power. ¬†A few minutes later the whole RV lost power. ¬†By the way, if you’re an RV’er and you don’t have one of these Electrical Management Systems¬†(EMS), get one. ¬†I think this saved our appliances and electrical system from serious damage that day.

We called the park office and they sent a park ranger to check out the electrical pedestal. ¬†He wasn’t able to fix it and since it was Sunday they would have to wait until the next day to get an electrician to come out and fix it which means we had¬†to move. ¬†What? ¬†Are you kidding me?? ¬†After all the trouble it was to get into this beautiful site, now we have to move? ¬†Oh, and there are no available water front sites either.

Here is a picture of the new site. ¬†Nothing really wrong with it. Nice and woodsy and lots of room. ¬†It was also across from¬†the playground which the kids loved. ¬†It just wasn’t the waterfront site that I had worked so hard to reserve.

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Anyway, we thought they were getting an electrician out on Monday to fix it, but on Monday the park employees acted like there was nothing wrong with the electric at that site and we should just move back to it if we wanted to. ¬†Chris took our¬†EMS back to that site to check the voltage readings and it was not good at all so he told the employees we can’t move back until they fix it. ¬†By Tuesday it seemed nobody was really taking this seriously and they were just blowing us off, so Chris asked to speak to the park manager who came by our site Tuesday afternoon.

I have to say the park manager was awesome! ¬†He listened to our¬†concerns and took full responsibility for the whole situation and said he would get an electrician out to look at it as soon as possible. ¬†The electrician came out Wednesday and confirmed that yes, there was indeed an issue with that electrical pedestal and the issue could eventually¬†affect the other sites nearby. ¬†The manager was very good to us and refunded us for half of our stay, and offered to give us 3 free nights if we would come back sometime. ¬†We will certainly take him up on that. ūüôā

In spite of all that drama, we did enjoy our stay. ¬†St. Andrews is a beautiful park with one side on Grand Lagoon and the other side on the Gulf of Mexico. ¬†The boys and I hiked the trail around Gator Lake. ¬†We didn’t see any gators though until the very end when a lady pointed one out to us. ¬†It was a small gator and covered in green stuff so he was hard to see.

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There were some cool trees to climb on this trail.

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We also saw several deer at the campground.

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And my favorite: the sunsets.  You know I love sunsets!

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One more thing went wrong while we were there. ¬†As soon as we were hitched up and ready to leave on our checkout day, I noticed a bubble on one of our tires. ¬†So Chris had to change a tire before we left. ¬†He’s getting pretty good at that too, it was the second one in 2 weeks!

I honestly wouldn’t trade this traveling life for anything, but sometimes things don’t always work out the way we want. ¬†I always remind myself that whatever happens I can trust God¬†to make sure we are where we need to be. ¬†I pray over all the plans that I make and every trip we take. ¬†I pray that if the plans I made are not His best for us that He will change them. ¬†So when things don’t go exactly according to my plan, I try not to get too disappointed and trust that things happen the way they are supposed to. ¬†It’s not always easy though, because you know I am human. ūüėČ

 

Categories: Florida | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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