Living the RV Dream with Traveling Robert – Episode 2 – Champagne in Maine
On this second installment of Living the RV Dream with a Traveling Robert we talk about Maine, andone of our listeners recommends Stephen Foster Culture Center State Park, in White Springs in northern Florida.
Interview with Rene Champagne
Rene has been a viewer of my YouTube channel for many years, a YouTuber himself at Boondocking Mainahs. He travels with his wife in a Coleman travel trailer. Which he has retrofitted to allow for handicapped wheelchair access. Below you can see some pictures of his modifications.
Camping in Maine
We also spoke about some of his favorite boondocking spots, one of them in Eustis, Maine, on the northwestern part of the state, near the Nash Creek
Peabody Mountain, Little Larry Road, in Bethel, Maine.
We also talk about paid campgrounds. His favorite is Recompense Shores at Wolfe’s Neck Farm.
Knowing me, you know we had to talk about food, and the differences between Florida Lobster and Maine Lobster. Here’s a picture of his favorite lobster roll.
We also spoke about Maine’s most famous Acadia National Park. It has the first sunrise in the United States, with a view of Katahdin Mountain.
Calle Ocho, Spanish for Eighth Street, which is where the festival takes place, was founded in 1977 by a group of Cuban-Americans, and it closes the Miami Carnival festivities. It is nowadays organized and sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana and although it is a far cry from its heyday in the 80’s and 90’s it is still one of the largest street festivals in the world, with over one million people attending each year. The festival has broken many records, the most notable in 1988 when it made it to the Guinness Book of World Records by forming the world’s longest conga line with almost 120,000 people. Originally 24 blocks of SW 8th Street became a sea of people dancing, with food and drinks stalls, and 30 stages with live entertainment. In 2017 they only closed down 15 blocks of 8th street and there were only about 10 stages. It is still definitely something to see if you are visiting south Florida in early March. One thing to note if you are a visitor is to leave before sundown. Things can get a little rowdy and occasionally violent as some people get drunk and tend to misbehave. Otherwise enjoy this Pan-American apotheosis of flavors and sounds.
Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve. Living the RV Dream with Traveling Robert podcast. Episode 1
I’ve been living in Miami for almost 30 years, and it is now that I’m beginning to discover the great State of Florida. Before RVing, most vacations consisted of going to some faraway place. Having a trailer, and the fact that we are “trapped” in the state being to far south, has forced us to explore places that are closer, and until we start fulltiming that will be the case. One of those places is pretty much in our very own our backyard: the Everglades National Park.
In my experience there are three main areas to explore.
Florida City Entrance
The first entrance is by Florida City, where there is a road that goes all the way to Flamingo, at the southern tip of mainland Florida. There are two main campgrounds in this area. The first one near the entrance is Long pine Key, which is primitive. The other one is Flamingo, at the end of the road, which has water and electric. There are plenty of nature trails, and even a missile site from the Cold War era. Right outside the national park, there is this place called Alligator Farm, where you can see all kinds of reptiles and birds. They also have very enjoyable airboat rides.
The second entrance I’m going to talk about is Shark Valley. The entrance is located on US-41, the Tamiami Trail in the Miccosukee Indian reservation. There is a 15-mile loop road that you can see by riding your bicycle or by taking a tram tour. At the southernmost point of the loop road there is an observation tower where you get unobstructed commanding views of the Everglades. On the loop road you will see plenty of wildlife, particularly alligators, much more plentiful during the winter months.
Big Cypress National Preserve
As we continue West on US-41, we enter a more wooded area called Big Cypress National Preserve. Do stop by the Oasis Visitors Center to get some information and see the alligators on the side of the road. This is also the southern terminus of the Florida Trail. There are several campgrounds on the area. Midway has water and electric, Monument Lake and Burns Lake are primitive. The best kept secret is the loop road that begins at the Monroe Station. It is an unpaved road that goes deep into the preserve. In my opinion the best experience because you can stop by the side of the road whenever you spot some wildlife, which is everywhere. The road ends on the east by the aforementioned Miccosukee village. There’s another primitive campground near that end of the road called Mitchell’s Landing.
All along US-41 in this area there are plenty of touristy places to do airboat rides, eat frog legs and alligator bites, although my favorite place for that is Joanie’s Blue Crab Cafe, which is located further west by the site of the Ochopee Post Office, smallest one in the United States, and the road that goes to Everglades City, which is my third (fourth) and final recommendation.
From Everglades City at the National Park Service the is a great boat tour. From the tour you can see all kinds of birds but the main attraction are usually the dolphins. If you go in the winter they will sail by Indian Key, where there is a massive flock of white pelicans. You can only see them in the winter as they are a snow bird. There are a couple of campgrounds in this area. There’s the Outdoors Resort of Chokoloskee, at Chokoloskee Island, and Trail Lakes on US-41, and further west there of course Collier Seminole State Park and Naples/Marco Island KOA.
Hope you enjoy this first episode of the Living the RV Dream reboot. Don’t forget to send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or a voicemail by following the link on the top right corner. Also watch my videos on YouTube.
In this unofficial first episode I introduce myself and make sure everything works. Stay tuned next week for episode 1, in which I will talk about the Everglades National Park, and Big Cypress National Preserve. Click image for the YouTube video
In this weeks video and blog post we are going back to the Everglades and Big Cypress National Preserve to do a couple of things we haven’t done before.
We are staying at Monument Lake which is one of the few places this time of the year with any site available. We’re visiting in February at the peak of snowbird season.
In the video and blog post I use Everglades and Big Cypress interchangeably because they are very similar ecosystems. Big Cypress my favorite of the two areas is, as the name suggests a lot more wooded. The first activity we attempt is to walk a short section of the Florida trail. In South Florida, besides alligators, pythons, panthers, great blue herons, and anhingas, the most abundant member of the animal kingdom is the mosquito. The mosquitos are relentless on the Florida trail. I was under the impression that the winter was the non mosquito season. I was obviously greatly misinformed. It has also been an unusually hot and humid winter.
After our epic fail at the Florida Trail, we decide to the next best thing, which is a loop road that goes pretty deep into the Big Cypress National Preserve. This is truly the highlight of the trip, and the highlight of the loop road is the Sweetwater Strand. In the strand, which is like a river crossing the swamp, we can see all kinds of different birds and the heavy vegetation provided by the taller Cypress tress, makes it feel a lot cooler than the rest of the area. We see all kinds of different birds, and plenty of gators, some of them perhaps too close for comfort.
On the next day we visit Shark Valley, which is one of the most popular and famous places on the Everglades National Park. The is a loop trail where you can ride a bicycle and if you are lazy like us, there is also a tram. The tram is noisy and uncomfortable, and very much overdue for an upgrade. There is an observation tower at the far end of the road. The views are fine, but I guess my expectations were so high that I end up a little underwhelmed. We plenty of wildlife as well. The tour is presented by an elderly couple, and it is full of anecdotes and valuable information.
The culinary highlight of the trip is Joanie’s Café, in which the swamp platter which includes gator bites and frog legs is a winner.
Stay tuned for another compilation video coming soon about the 3 or 4 mail things to do in The Everglades National Park, and the Big acupressure National Preserve.
In this final installment of the Tampa Bay series we are going to visit Tampa proper over the course of three afternoons. We are attending the Florida Rv Supershow in the morning.
On the first day we stay in the car most of the time, just getting a little bit of the lay of the land. We drive on the street that claims to have the longest sidewalk in the world, Bayshore Boulevard. We also drive through Hyde Park, a historic district, home to the famous Bern’s Steakhouse. The southernmost point of our exploratory trip is Ballast Point Park, from where we get extraordinary views of downtown across the bay.
On our second day we have lunch at the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Florida. Also the oldest Spanish restaurant in the United States, and one of the largest in the wold. Its name is The Columbia. While we are in Ybor City we explore some of the historic sites and take a round trip on the TECO line street car to downtown.
On our third day, we eat at a trendy restaurant called Ulele, on the riverfront. We also explore downtown a little bit and the University of Tampa on the other side of the Hillsborough River. The Henry B. Plant Hall, is a historic building, formerly the legendary Tampa Bay Hotel. Nowadays it hosts the Henry B. Plant Museum as well as some of the University services.
Overall it was a great time. On our way out we bid farewell to one of Americas iconic roadside attractions, the Airstream ranch, which was demolished just a few days after our visit.