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Florida – Land of Sunshine!


We arrived in Florida from Savannah and after passing through Jacksonville, we took the A-1-A highway to Daytona Beach; what a pretty drive right along the coast for the most part; lots of high end properties, small beach towns and plenty of sunshine. We checked into the resort which turned out to be right on the beach at Daytona Shores. We had a one bedroom condo with an ocean view on the 11th floor; so soothing to hear the surf ALL day. Weather was warm and sunny so the first order of business was a walk on the beach.

We spent the week relaxing, walking the beach at least twice a day, Doug did a bit of work, Fran worked on the website and we took part in a few resort activities, like a meet and greet, a Zumba class, bingo night and drove on the beach. Daytona Beach is drivable, tide permitting in the off season. That was cool! We did do an afternoon drive one day to the Ormond Loop which was a scenic drive just north of Daytona and despite signs that said “low branches” we did not have an issue with the roof of Tigger.

On the 13th we drove to Orlando, for another week long resort stay in Kissimmee. Fran has friends that she used to babysit for as a teenager in Ottawa who are “snowbirds” that live in Frostproof (yes that’s a real place!) about an hour away. We invited them to join us at our resort for a night and we all went to the Al Capone Dinner Theater for a fun evening of corny jokes, dinner and some Christmas carols. Before getting back to the condo we stopped in Olde Towne and took in the cruising antique car parade that happens every Saturday night and since it’s December that parade was precede by a golf cart Christmas parade.

Our plans for the first part of the New Year have changed. We thought Doug would be working in Austin, Texas for a few months but the arrangement was not satisfactory to us. We had been so confident this was going to happen that we booked two flights from Austin to go and visit each of our children. SO we are still going to mosey on to Austin and then after both trips, we’ll head west to Baja and begin our journey south of the border.

So this week in Orlando, gave us a chance to get a few more things done to Tigger in preparation for next year’s expedition. We have been having issues with our Pioneer stereo/back up camera which we keep getting temporary fixes for, so we decided finally to put in a new unit. As it turned out, the lifetime Sirius radio we were told we had was not; the original owner was still paying for it on an annual basis! We discovered this because an update did not go through so we called Sirius and learned the facts. So to be fair, we did track down the owner through a son, left a message and never heard back.   It was sweet while we had it. However going south of the border means the reception gets worse until it’s nonexistent anyway so we’ll reconsider when we get back to North America full time.

We had new shocks put on the front of the rig (way less bouncy now) as well as constructing some new secret cubbies for valuables and are considering options to make the vehicle a little less penetrable.   We are also reconsidering taking our motorized bikes with us; while they are handy, we find we are not using near as much as we’d thought, they are heavy and maybe a little too much temptation in third world countries. So we’ll post them online as we head westward and see if we get any bites.

One evening we went to the nearby town of Celebration where they make it “snow” every evening in December. It’s actually bubbles but it’s cool to see the kids play in it. They also have this “fake ice rink” on which you can skate (rentals are $10 for a half hour!). The town is very picture perfect and clean. We met a couple from Newfoundland of all places while watching the snow fall.

We left Kissimmee on the 20th and drove northwest to Crystal River where we were able to see manatees in the shallow warm waters of the Three Sisters Springs. Amazing creatures that don’t like water colder than 68F! Can’t say as I blame them. There was at least forty in one area. They feed in the Gulf and come to Crystal River to stay warm. They pretty much just lie around conserving calories so it is easy to see them. Side note: Fran got her first ever “senior” discount here: 55 and over saved $1 on the tour price.

We continued up the west side of Florida and spent that Saturday night parked at a boat launch site on the Ochlocknee Bay. The weather began to get cloudier but it was still a very comfortable temperature. Sunday we moseyed on westward along the coast of the Florida panhandle stopping to do some shopping, get Tigger washed, and enjoying the views.

Our destination for this week of Christmas was a resort in Destin, Florida. We got a studio condo for $89 for the week and as Doug needed some internet to work Monday to Wednesday we splurged once again J. The Gulf coast beach was across the street through a private walkway for guests of this resort (between two huge resorts right on the beach). It rained Monday morning, poured on Tuesday but cleared up by Christmas completely. We loved this beach as well with its white sand and surf. Christmas morning after opening our stockings, we took a 7 mile walk on the beach in the sunshine and there were lots of others doing the same. The rest of the week the weather varied but we walked the beach at least once a day. We are saving opening Christmas gifts until we get to Montana next month to celebrate late with Serena. Since we are flying west, and Serena is currently using our car, we have decided to drive from Big Sky to Victoria and see our mothers, siblings etc.   We’ll spend the weekend with Serena (she’s booked us a room at the lodge at her employee rate) and drive to BC from there returning on the 25th to fly back to Texas on the 26th. Two weeks later we are flying to Toronto to see the grandkids, Fran’s sister and cousin and maybe some friends.

When we left Destin, we drove through the Florida part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore – spectacular white beach with NO resorts; just sand, dunes and water. We stopped a few times, got out our chairs and watched the surf – fantastic.

We are currently (Dec 29th) in Pensacola, Florida for a couple of days before heading through Alabama (stopping near Mobile for a bit) and getting to New Orleans for New Year’s Eve.

Happy New Year Ya’ll! 🙂 the best to everyone for 2015.