We just returned from our first "vancation" (sorry), traveling as far south as we could go in the continental U.S. -- a total of nearly 2400 miles over 11 days. I never took a Spring Break in Florida when I was in college, so I think this road trip was overdue by a few decades. Our campsites were at Hilton Head Island, St. Augustine, Marathon, Key Largo, and Jupiter (where we stopped to see a Cardinals-Mets spring training baseball game).
The bicycles were aboard and were used four times, mostly for rides on various parts of the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail. This is a 107-mile "rails-to-trails" conversion that is still incomplete but quite spectacular as it crosses both land and bridges spanning the islands. Our favorite stretch was through the Saddlebunch Keys, just 10 miles from Key West. We also enjoyed the extensive network of paved paths weaving through ultra-bike-friendly Hilton Head Island.
We had booked reservations at scenic campgrounds in advance and were not disappointed, especially with those that put us close to the water. The most beautiful campsite views were at the aptly named Point of View RV Resort (now closed) in Key Largo, where we also rented a tandem kayak and paddled out to a mangrove island inhabited mostly by pelicans and cormorants.
Our original plan was to spend more time on Hilton Head Island, but that part of the trip was cut short after setting up our first campsite in high winds and rain. Seeing that we would be stuck in a weather pattern of unseasonably cold temperatures and steady rain, we left the next day to seek out Florida sunshine and booked new reservations at St. Augustine Beach and at a marina on Knights Key in Marathon. The RV Parky iPhone app made it easy to find these alternatives, and we were very glad that our schedule was not locked in by airline tickets or hotel deposits. We made it back to Hilton Head for a couple of days on the way back to Chapel Hill.
We learned a lot about van camping on this trip, and perhaps the biggest surprise is how the motorhome felt simultaneously big and small: big in terms of storage, with a surprising capacity in all of its cabinets, drawers, and compartments; small compared to nearly all of the other motorhomes we saw on the road. For our purposes, which are primarily travel rather than long-term camping, this "Class B" motorhome size worked out perfectly and gave us enough mobility to explore and to park near grocery stores or restaurants (even in crowded Key West).
You can see some of the photos from our trip in the new Florida Coasts collection.
[Follow-up in this blog post]