One of the perks of being retired is having your good friends suggest you join them in Florida on Monday and on Friday you are on the road headed south!
Leaving Michigan’s cold, snowy face behind we beat it south with just our truck (no RV) to join our friends at a Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral condo. With a winter snowstorm forecast chasing us, we drove 10 hours, 600 miles to Corbin Kentucky. We stopped for the night, awoke to their first snow of the winter and with more to come we high tailed south 12 hours and 790 miles (taking note of the temps going up, and up – John calling out “I’m going 70 and its 70 degrees!) arriving at our friend’s nice beachfront condo rental Saturday evening.
The condo had a great view of the ocean from it second floor end unit balcony. Very lovely with views of cruise ships coming in and out from the Cape Canaveral Port just a few miles north. The ocean air smelled wonderful and felt so healthy to breath in, and the sounds of the surf filled our ears.
On Sunday we were welcomed with warm temps, a beautiful long, long sandy beach, big waves and waters warmer than our icy Lake Huron in summer. We had a spectacular beach day, we swam and rode a boogie board on the waves. No better way to say “Hello Florida sunshine!!!” Jim’s sister, Diane and her friend Nancy drove over from the west side of Florida to join the fun.
Kathi (my fellow kick ball Queen and best friend from grade 4) and her hubby Jim were on a work/holiday away from their home in Canada. We were there as tag-a longs. It was marvelous! We filled the week with lots of beach walks, sunrises, ocean swims, shell finding, Amaretto coffees, hot tub soaks, pool swims, key lime pies (3), two for one Margaritas, sandy feet, Yuenglings Beer (for me), spicy take out chicken, hiding John’s rocks, good conversations and lots of laughs.
We were treated with a visit from their friends Kathy and Darious. Kathy and I both stood up in Kathi and Jim’s wedding 46 years ago. John called our reunion “the three K’s.”
Our friends Ann and Jack from Michigan drove up from their winter condo for a visit and a windy walk on the beach at the end of the week.
Midweek we went to Merrit Island National Wildlife Preserve and drove the 13 mile loop road. We saw loads of birds, wild boars, and a couple huge alligators. We couldn’t go the visitor center due to the government shutdown.
Not too far from the condo there was a neighborhood with many wild peacocks free roaming throughout. They were on the lawns, roosting in the trees and sharing their beauty all about. Pretty cool.
After a full week of beach condo bliss we said our goodbyes on the Monday. It helped a bit that Monday was cool and windy, not a good beach day. Time for us to head north.
We didn’t feel the need to rush home to freezing cold Michigan too fast. We stopped in Chattanooga Tennessee and the next morning we drove to the top of Lookout Mountain. The shut down prevented us from going to the park with the “lookout” platform and we didn’t want to purchase tickets to Rock City, nor did we want to download the paid parking app, so we satisfied ourselves with quick snatches of views between the fancy houses that sit literally on the edge of the lookout ridge or cliff face. Elevation 2,388 feet. Hard to imagine living on top of a mountain like that. There is a small touristy downtown and a school somewhere up there, but you would need to use the steep, winding, full of switchbacks mountain road to commute to work and most shopping.
Next stop was Nashville. We spent an enjoyable afternoon visiting the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. It features 9 acres of lush indoor gardens under large soaring atrium ceilings. Enjoying and indoor temp of low 70’s we wandered around and over garden pathways and bridges taking us to waterfalls, water fountains, and an indoor river. All were surrounded by fantastic landscaping with thousands of blooming tropical plants and green trees. There is no charge to walk around and we skipped the $29 parking fee by parking at the nearby Opry Mills Mall.
The next day, Wednesday, we landed at our son Jim’s home south of Indianapolis, Indiana. He, his wife Jessica and grandson Patrick gave us a warm welcome with Patrick hosting a dance party with his musical toys. Such a happy engaging little man!
On Thursday we arrived at our daughter Theresa’s home. She and hubby, Howard, treated us to a lovely fish and chips dinner at a charming old world English Pub and Inn/Bed and Breakfast in Eaton Rapids near Lansing, Michigan. After dinner Theresa and I were able to tour the elegantly decorated bedroom suites upstairs. Very beautiful.
We arrived home safe and sound on Friday afternoon. There was a good 8″ or more of snow on the ground and bitterly cold. Brrrrrrr.
Traveling without the RV was a completely different experience. We definitely traveled much farther each day and at a faster clip. Our gas mileage improved tremendously without towing the RV. Our diesel truck averaged 20-25 mpg compared to towing at 11-12 mpg. It was certainly a real treat to be able to stop at our children’s houses and stay the night instead of parking at an RV Park somewhere.
The condo stay had the luxurious ocean view and a short walk to a lovely beach. It would be hard to find an RV site that duplicated the view and beach access. We searched for the best hotel prices, using the coupon books available at the interstate welcome centers. With taxes our rooms ran $75-$85 per night. Paying hotel fees was painful and although clean enough the rooms were not luxurious. My one complaint was the presence of small and scratchy bath towels!
Our food costs were higher without our RV kitchen but while traveling we only ate one restaurant meal a day. I made and froze breakfast burritos on both ends of our trip. We microwaved in our room and enjoyed for breakfast. They were a big upgrade to the high carb complimentary hotel breakfast offerings. I packed road lunches from a stash of food that we hauled along in a cooler and large tote bag. My RV brain felt the need for an extensive pantry to choose from. I am sure we carried way more food stuff with us than the average road tripper.
The biggest difference by far was my feeling of being ready to “go home.” In our RV, I don’t experience that as I feel “at home” in our RV.
We haven’t cemented our plans for our RV trip to the southwest, Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, Sedona etc. Could be next month or next winter. We know we want to go, but when? Until then, thanks for following along.