Welcome to our Travel Blog!

Hi, and welcome to our RV Travel Blog! We hope you enjoy our writings. If you are a camper, I hope you find them helpful. The posts are list in order from recent back to earliest.... so if you want to read in order that they were written, scroll down or click the "Previous Posts" on the right. Also look at the "Archive" links on the right. Our trip and family photos are in the Dotphoto.com site in the links section on the left.
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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Crystal River,Homosassa Springs, Cedar Key

While in the Homosassa area we made a couple of side trips. One of note was to Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. This place is kind of like a little zoo but not quite. It is home to hundreds of species of birds and fish, as well as several "resident" manatees. There is also a underwater viewing area. This is built right over the natural springs that feed the river and in the deepest part of the river. You go down a couple of flights of stairs and look through the surrounding glass to see into the clear water. Thousands of fish and several manatees can usually be seen.

This place is also a manatee research and rescue facility and is definitely worth a trip. The flock of pink flamingos was wild...and I thought you could only buy them to stick up in your front yard!

Manatees at Homosassa Springs

Pink Flamingos! (Really!)

According to Jimmy Buffet - "Travis McGee went to Cedar Key". Well, so did Chuck and Pam.

We decided to take a ride up to Cedar Key. It is about an hour north of Homosassa then about 30 miles west. Be prepared to see nothing much but birds and water. It is a beautiful area that is not developed at all. It is what Key West must have been like 40 years ago.

We stoped at a little place called Annies for a lunch of Crabcake sandwich and a cheesburger (inparadise). Here' s a picture of Pam standing in front of Annies front door. Its definitely not your chain burger joint!

Here is the view from the end of Cedar Key looking west across the Gulf.

Tarpon Springs....

Next day it was raining so we decided to head down to Tarpon Springs and see what was in that area. We drove through a little place called Hudson Beach and found a cool little resturant right on the beach (Hudson Beach Inn and Restaurant) for lunch.

Further on down in Tarpon Springs we found a place to park..no free parking so bring $ for parking in private lots. There are plenty of gift shops with all of the little tacky souviners, but there are also LOTS of sponge shops. The sponge boats unload right there on the streets and many of the shops sell local sponges.

And of course since Tarpon Springs in rich in Greek heritage....Greek Pastry Shops!

Sponge Boats

Sponges and MORE Sponges!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Homosassa Florida

Saturday takes us down I-95 toward the Florida border. I was looking for that Flying J near Brunswick GA to get fuel. GA fuel is 23 cents less that in NC. Fuel in GA looked to be in the $2.10 range, while in NC it was $2.33.

But we were talking about something or other and the next thing I know we were crossing the FL state line. Oh well.. we'll look for fuel further down the road.

I planned on turning west on route A1A; taking it over to US301 and staying on 301 until Gainesville. I figured that there would be plenty of fuel opportunities where 301 crosses I-10. In this part of Florida you really get the feel for the farming and agriculture that is still a major part of the economy. Most think of Florida as nothing but beaches and giant theme parks (Orlando). But Florida still ranks very high in fruit, vegetable, and cattle production. And you see many horse farms in this area.

Approaching I-10 in Baldwin FL I see several truck stops that will give us an opportunity to fuel up. I pull into the giant Travel America (TA) plaza to find that there are NO RV FRIENDLY GAS PUMPS!!! This crazy place has acres of space for diesel trucks to fill up and park. And even though they advertise to the RV community, their gas pumps were so close to the front of the store that there is no way that an RV could pull into the pumps and turn back to get on the street. Next door is a Pilot truck stop that is the same way. Looking on down the road I see nothing else and I do need fuel, so I do a U-turn and go back to a small BP station/convience store. It is a small lot but the pumps are parallel to the road, so I can pull in, fuel up, and pull back on the highway. $147 later, we are back on the road.

On south through Gainsville, onto Hwy 24 and south we continue. Finally we begin to see some of the lakes and springs for which this part of Florida is known. And the temperature was warming up too. Nice! Getting back up about 75degrees or so really feels good.

Making a left turn onto Hwy 19 we are almost to Crystal River and the Homosassa area. THe traffic is heavy indicating that we are finally in a tourist area. Halls River Road, our last turn before finding the Natures Resort RV Park.

Natures Resort http://www.naturesresortfla.com/ is a quiet kind of place located on the Halls River. The camp store and office is located near the main entrance. A winding road takes you through the cg down toward the river where you find a lagoon (pond), clubhouse and activity room, laundry mat, and a marina store with a little cafe.

We chose a site (there were only a couple to choose from this time of year since it is peak season) that is about 150 yards from the river. We unhooked the car, backed the RV in, and in no time we were in our Homosassa home.

The next thing is to find some fresh seafood. I had spent time on Roadfood.com (http://roadfood.com/) to try to get some recommendations for this area. One of the places is Charlies Fish House in Crystal River. So that was our first stop. It is right on Crystal River and the view was great, as well as the food.

Over the next couple of days we'll explore the area.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Headed for Florida

We have spend most of the week during our "Spare TIme" to get the Bounder ready for our trip to Florida. Last week I was able to get the coach back to Tom Johnson RV in Concord for some warranty service. This included finding and fixing a leak under the kitchen sink, working on the slide mechanisms (they seem sluggish and require you to push the slide switch several times in order to get them completely out), plus several other small items that needed to be taken care of. Most of the stuff was done well, but they still didn't get the slides fixed. My concern is that that will cause something else to go wrong with the slides, but they assured me that its ok. A part has been ordered from Fleetwood that is supposed to take care of this issue.

I also was able to get up to Rowells RV and Customizing last Saturday to get some valve stem extenders added to the rear dual tires. This has taken care of the tire pressure check issues I wrote about earlier.

Most of the evenings this week were taken to load up the Bounder with our clothes and other supplies. Pam cooked several cassaroles that she put in the freezer so we have several meals ready to eat. But I am looking forward to getting some fresh seafood in Florida.

6:10 PM Friday we pull out of the drive way and head south. Since the FMCA rally doesn't start until Wednesday, Dad and Mom will not leave until Tuesday, so we will meet them in Brooksville Wednesday.. so we have several days to explore the West Central Gulf Coast of Florida.. the Nature Coast.

Headed south down Hwy. 601, we intend to stay on US 601 to Camden SC, pick up US 521, then I-95 to FL. After that, I want to take Highway US 301 south to Gainsville then cut cross country to Homosassa. We have reservations at Natures Resort in Homosassa FL from Saturday through Tuesday.

Traffic was light, so the drive was easy. Bobbi was her ususal nervous self the first hour or so, but after that she settles into the routine nicely. Camden is a pretty town, and there we found our way to US501. Sumpter is a little further down the road. The last strech of 501 before getting on I-95 had some major construction going on, but eventually it will be a 4 lane road from Sumpter all the way to I-95.

It was dark when we turned onto I-95, but when you first get on the interstate you really feel like you are traveling! We pulled off at a rest stop just south of I-26 for a very short break and then back on the road again.

By about 10:00 were getting near Savannah and had to decide what to do for the night since I don't drive all night. I did want to leave early so we could get to Homosassa by mid day Saturday. The last thing I wanted to do was pull into a strange RV park after dark. But by 10 we decided to find a place to get some sleep. I knew that Brunswick GA has a Flying J truck stop that we could use for fuel and rest... but that is still well over an hour away. A friend with Savannah coonnections had told me about a Wal-Mart parking lot at the airport exit in Savannah. We found the exit and pulled off. The Wal-Mart had a small parking lot, but the Home Depot next door had plenty of room... and there were already over 20 RVs pulled in there.

We had to circle the lot a couple of times to find an out of the way place to park, and I wasn't sure when the Home Depot opened on Saturday morning, so I wanted to aviod taking any space that early morning do-it-yourselfers might use getting an early start on their weekend projects.

It was a rather noisy place, with trucks in and out all night, and at about 2:00 AM the parking lot sweeper started work, but all in all, sleep was accomplished and by 8:00 AM we had had our coffee and were back on the road.

Editorial: There seems to be quite of emotion in discussions and on the internet forums about spending the night in a public parking lot as opposed to paying for a campground space. I understand all of the sides to that discussion... but for me it is not a matter of money.. it is a matter of convience. Why spend the time finding, getting into and out of, and paying for a space to spend a few hours resting? If the campground owners want to provide that service, then they should have an area within their property that is esentially a parking lot. For a very small fee ($5 - $10), you could park - no hookups, generators ok, in and out. If you need it, for another couple of bucks take water and use the dump station. I think a secure area like this within the CG property would fill that niche.