Key Largo & Islamorada

Click image for video

A while back we learned that one the first campgrounds we ever visited in Key Largo was closing down soon, so we decided to make a farewell trip to Point of View RV resort. The fact that it was half price during its last month of existence was quite enticing. This was also one of the newest campgrounds on the Keys so all the facilities were top notch.
This time we encountered a lot of traffic going to down to the Keys as it was Easter weekend. The campground, as it is normal in the summer, had a little bit of a party atmosphere. Part of the campground was already under construction; bungalows or whatever they are going to build.

Dinner

After a nice afternoon frolicking in the swimming pool, we go to Dennis Latin Cafe to order some Cuban coffee, and then dinner. We opted for Sundowners and it was a great choice. Nice ambience, live music, craft beer, and tasty seafood appetizers. We didn’t get much of a sunset but it was nice. As day turned into night we continued at the Pilot House for a nightcap.

Islamorada

On the next day we drove down to Islamorada to meet Paul and Lorena of The Motorhome Experiment YouTube channel. They were staying down at Curry Hammock State Park, so this was more or less the halfway point. We had a great time eating lunch at the Islamorada Fish a Company, and exchanging travel stories. While in Islamorada we also visit one of my old stomping grounds: the Holiday Isle Tiki Bar, now part on the Postcard Inn

That was our long weekend in a nutshell. Lots of relaxing by the pool and meeting new friends.

The main song in the video is “Key West (Cayo Hueso)

Video gear I use
Sony 4K HD Video Recording FDRAX33 Handycam Camcorder
Sony Action Cam FDR-X3000 Wi-Fi GPS 4K HD Video Camera Camcorder with Flat Surface & Helmet Mounts + 64GB Card + Battery + Case + Flex Tripod + Kit
If you buy on Amazon follow the link below. It cost you the same and I get a bit of commission for sending you over.

Music for all my videos is also available at Amazon Music.

LTRVD Episode 5 – Live From Key Largo

In this episode we speak about RV inspections, RV upgrades, we interview YouTube creators and full time RVers Paul and Lorena, John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo, and talk fire safety.

Point of View RV Resort
Point of View RV Resort in Key Largo

There are two RV resorts closing down in the Florida Keys, one of them is Point of View RV Resort, where we stayed last week and from where we recorded a segment of the podcast. The other one in Knights Key in Marathon. Point of View had a bit of a party scene but it was fairly new and all the facilities were very nice.

The Motorhome Experiment

While we were at the Keys we met Paul and Lorena of The Motorhome Experiment YouTube channel. I did a short interview. Check out their channel at youtube.com/themotorhomeexperiment

Feedback

Fred asks about campgrounds in the Homestead area suitable for a big rig with a toad. I recommended Miami Everglades RV Resort which is an Encore / Thousand Trails property and is conveniently located halfway between Miami and Florida City.

Frank and Shelly ask about digital video. I use two main cameras besides my phone. The main camera is a Sony FDR AX33 and my secondary action camera is a Sony FDR X3000. I edit my videos with Final Cut Pro X, but I also recommend iMovie for beginners and Adobe Premier if you are on Windows.

Jim talks about RV inspections and mentions his website for his RV inspections business Crushed Armadillo Consulting

John Pennekamp State Park

We talk about John Pennekamp State Park, which is a future destination for us. It is a very popular place for snorkeling and kayaking. They also have a glass bottom boat tour that goes out to the coral reef.

RV Fire Safety

I found an article on RV Share that talks about fire safety tips

The song of the week is “Key West (Cayo Hueso)

Video gear I use
Sony 4K HD Video Recording FDRAX33 Handycam Camcorder
Sony Action Cam FDR-X3000 Wi-Fi GPS 4K HD Video Camera Camcorder with Flat Surface & Helmet Mounts + 64GB Card + Battery + Case + Flex Tripod + Kit
If you buy on Amazon follow the link below. It cost you the same and I get a bit of commission for sending you over.

Music for all my videos is also available at Amazon Music.

Delray Beach and Boca Raton

A couple of weeks ago we decided to return to Delray Beach and Boca Raton to explore the area a little more.

RV repairs and updates

Right before this trip I decided to take advantage and do a couple of maintenance tasks I had been meaning to make. First was removing and eventually replacing one of the Winnebago decals which had become pretty badly cooked by the scorching south Florida sun and was starting to show its age. Second, the latch that holds the door open has started to disintegrate in Florida heat and should no longer work.

After that we departed for Delray Beach and stayed at the same RV park where we stayed last time: Del Raton RV Park. The name is a nice play on Delray and Boca Raton, as the Park stands very close to the city limits of both towns. I spent the day working on some videos, barbecuing some burgers, and catching some rays at the beach.

Boca Raton

In the afternoon we visited downtown Boca Raton, mainly an upscale shopping and dining center called Royal Palm Place.

It was a short, yet fun weekend and I hope you like our video of it.

Remember to shop at Amazon by following our link, it cost you nothing extra and we get gas money. It is a win-win situation. Thank you!


Video gear I use
Sony 4K HD Video Recording FDRAX33 Handycam Camcorder
Sony Action Cam FDR-X3000 Wi-Fi GPS 4K HD Video Camera Camcorder with Flat Surface & Helmet Mounts + 64GB Card + Battery + Case + Flex Tripod + Kit
If you buy on Amazon follow the link below. It cost you the same and I get a bit of commission for sending you over.

Music for all my videos is also available at Amazon Music.

Episode 4 – RV Upgrades

In this episode we talk about RV upgrades, RV types, downsizing, podcast apps, campground closures, and your comments.

Delray Beach and Boca Raton

We talk about our recent trip to Delray Beach and Boca Raton. I just published that video so check it out at the following link or by clicking the picture below if you can see it.

Feedback

Rene Champaign from Maine sends us a message updating us on the warmer weather.

Robert from Ohio asks for podcast apps recommendations.
I recommend Pocket Casts $3.99

Tony talks about his RV trip to the California desert and looking at wildflowers. Here’s a link to the blog post.

RVNews

We have two RV parks in the Florida Keys closing soon. Point of View Resort will close on May 1, and Knights Key Campground will close some time in July. Sad.

Downsizing

We talk about an app called Decluttr, where you can sell your old CDs, DVDs, video games and certain electronics very easily.

Recreational Vehicle Upgrades

Here are links to the solar panel kit, and Fan-tastic vent that I purchased.

Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit

Fan-Tastic 807350 Vent with Digital Wireless Remote

Here’s a playlist with the videos of all these upgrade installations


Video gear I use
Sony 4K HD Video Recording FDRAX33 Handycam Camcorder
Sony Action Cam FDR-X3000 Wi-Fi GPS 4K HD Video Camera Camcorder with Flat Surface & Helmet Mounts + 64GB Card + Battery + Case + Flex Tripod + Kit
If you buy on Amazon follow the link below. It cost you the same and I get a bit of commission for sending you over.

Ultra Music Festival – Miami, Florida, USA

Ultra Music Festival

In this week’s video we are doing something a little bit different. We managed to get some tickets to Ultra, which is this huge electronic dance music festival that happens in Miami every year in March. EDM fans from all over the world come to listen to the biggest DJs playing the latest hits. There are nine different stages playing different varieties of electronic dance music.. The DJ stands up high, like a priest, as to the more hardcore fans this type of music is akin to a religion, and there is something to be said for the messages of love in in some of the lyrics. It is also a spectacular show of lights and sounds.
I am going to give you an introspective behind the scenes window into what the festival really looks like. It is not as crazy or even crowded as you are lead to believe by the images on TV, unless you want to go to the crowded areas.

Click on image for video
Ultra Background

Ultra Music Festival has its roots here in Miami dating back to 1999. It was names after Depeche Mode’s album “Ultra”. It originally took place at Collins Park in Miami Beach, but as the festival grew, they moved it Bayfront Park, in downtown Miami. In 2016 attendance was 165,000 fans.

Episode 3 – Maiden Voyage

In this episode I go through our thought process to choose our rig, our purchasing experience, and our maiden voyage. Let the fun begin.

Our rig

My wife and I have a Winnebago Micro Minnie 1706 FB. At the time that we bought it, it was the shortest and lightest towable that Winnebago made.

Minitini, the trailer

These units turned out to be so popular that Winnebago vastly expanded their towable lineup. And you would have thought that lot of research went into buying this thing. You would think that I checked every single system in the unit, like John Huggins or someone with a little more sense would have done. Not me! I only had two major concerns: that it would fit in the driveway next to the house, and that it was light enough so that I could tow it with my existing SUV. I did check the brochure to make sure it had adequate holding tanks. It came with this innovative technology called a tankless on demand water heater by Atwood; the latest trend. In theory I could have endless hot showers, they didn’t say how hot but it looked great on paper.

Dalton Highway, Alaska

Before this we had little experience RVing in fact. We started thinking about it more or less 10 years before we actually decided to bite the bullet and get our rig. Back in 2008 or 2009, we went to the Palm Beach RV show, just to look around. We were clueless about RVing. In 2010 we went to Alaska because I wanted to drive on the Dalton Highway, which is Americas northernmost road. While most of the road is unpaved and probably not suitable for most RVs, we did see our share of class C’s and trailers. We thought it would be cool to do this with an RV, have our own bathroom and not have to use the outhouses. After that we did a couple of trips renting class C’s and for the most part we loved the experience, especially a trip we did in the Four Corners region.

Monument Valley

During that trip we really got the RVing bug. We had gone to the Tampa RV show, and we were sure that what we wanted was a gas engine class A, something under 30 feet because we wanted to camp at some state and national parks, and that seemed to be the length limit. We were fixated on a Winnebago Itasca model, the 27N. Had there been a diesel pusher under 30 feet, that would have been our first choice. Winnebago does make something they call a class A diesel under 30 feet, based on the Mercedes Benz Sprinter chassis, but it is really a B+ disguised as a class A.

Yolo Moment

This was 2014, and on that summer my dad got sick and passed away. And when that happens in someone’s life sometime it is a wake up call.  I started thinking: what if I die and I never get to travel in my own RV and live the RV Dream? This was around the same time that I saw the brochure for the Micro Minnie. At 7′ wide and 19′ long, it fit in my driveway like a glove, and although it was on the heavy side, I still could tow it with my Kia Sorento if I traveled light, so we said, let’s go see this rig. I want to see it in person. So we went to la Mesa in Ft. Myers “just to see it” and as soon as we stepped inside it just felt right. It felt like we belonged in there, which is a very subjective and emotional way to choose an RV. I would not recommend this if you are spending 100K or more. But it was $21,000 marked down to $16,600, so after a short deliberation I had one of those YOLO (you only live once) moments, signed on the dotted line, and the rest is history.

Delivery

They were very quick to let me sign the papers, but when we arrived on the following Friday to take delivery, they looked at my SUV, and I could see the expression in their faces. Are you seriously expecting to pull this trailer with that car? Old Kia doesn’t look like much but, tongue weight 500lbs, check. 3500lbs tow capacity check, barely. That’s where I was pushing it because the Micro Minnie is just under 3000 dry, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I figured I would have to tow with my tanks empty and take it slow.
Then they started adding line items to my bill. It turned out I needed a new hitch, and a weight distribution system, and anti-sway bar, and a break controller. I had obviously not done nearly enough research on trailers. Up to that moment I had done mostly research on class A’s. It had never crossed my mind I would end up getting a trailer until that series of events in the summer of 2014 accelerated the process. I said, let’s make it as safe as possible, and while we’re at it let’s add and extended warranty and gap insurance. Then during the walk through when I had to hook it up to the car with the manual jack, I started breaking a sweat just going up and down, so I said, in for a dime, in for a dollar, how much does that electric jack cost? To make a long story short the final bill came up to around $20,000.
We didn’t care! We were so excited. We were going on our maiden voyage, with our yet to be named brand new RV.

Maiden voyage

The RV had come with a complimentary one year membership to Thousand Trails but we decided to save the thousand trails for some other time and rough it out at a nearby state park called Koreshan Historic Site, right on the Estero River. By the way Thousand Trails is probably a great deal if you are fulltiming but if you are vacationer/weekender like us in south Florida it was not worth it. There was nothing within reasonable distance so it was very unlikely we would use the 60 nights included in the package. There were some Encore properties we could go to, and in fact we did go to some of them later on, one of them the infamous Fiesta Key, and we would get a discount.

Going back to out maiden voyage, it was so exciting. We were now part of the club, and total newbies. One thing is to know the theory and another one the practice. I won’t go into how many tries it took to back up the trailer into our back in site. Eventually I parked the thing, not exactly straight and not exactly where I wanted it, but we managed. Luckily it wasn’t too busy in early September. Then, how do we detach the trailer from the car? Luckily I had filmed the guy who gave us the walk through so we watched the video, step by step and got everything figured out. There was a nature trail, and at that very moment I discovered a Florida I had never seen. I had lived in Miami all of my adult life, in the same state, but I had no idea this existed. RVing had changed our lives.

The historic site here consists of some buildings that used to belong to a sect founded by one Cyrus Reed Teed. They founded this place in 1894 as New Jerusalem. Teed died in 1908, and by 1961 it had become a ghost town, so the land reverted back to the state. Nowadays you can tour the structures, and the state park is very picturesque. There’s exotic vegetation from all over the world, and you can kayak on the river.

While we were in the area we also explored other campgrounds for a future visit. I had heard from a good friend of mine, a fellow musician and RVer, about this RV Park right on the beach called Red Coconut. It is located on Estero Island, at Ft. Myers Beach, so we went there an reserved a campsite for a future trip. WE reserved site 18, which is not officially waterfront, but since it is the first site, on the northern side of the park, and the beach access is right next to it, you get unobstructed views of the Gulf of Mexico. But I’m getting ahead of myself here, since I am actually going to talk about fort Myers, and fort Myers Beach in more detail in a future episode.

By the way when we returned home I managed to back the trailer into my driveway on the first try. Maybe I’m getting the hang of this.

Watch the video of our maiden voyage here

The podcast is being streamed on Thursdays at 11am, 5pm, and 11pm, and on Sundays at 6pm on WRVO Radio Network 1.

Episode 2 – Champagne in Maine

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 at Moxie Falls, Jackman, Maine

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.

Coleman camper modified for handicapped access
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

Nash Brook, Eustis, Maine

Peabody Mountain, Little Larry Road, in Bethel, Maine.

Black Nubble Mountain

We also talk about paid campgrounds. His favorite is Recompense Shores at Wolfe’s Neck Farm.

Recompence Shores Campground
Lobster Roll from Erica’s, in Hapswell, Maine

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.

 

 

Crescent Beach State Park

The tune of the day is Music City, which I originally composed for the Nashville Portion of my Great American Road Trip 2016

For more information about the Great American Eclipse 2017 visit https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/

 

Miami Carnival: Calle Ocho

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.

Episode 1 – Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve

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.

Alligators by the Oasis Visitors Center

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.

Shark Valley

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.

Monument Lake Campground
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.

Sweetwater Strand, Big Cypress Loop Road

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.

Everglades City

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 robert@travelingrobert.com or a voicemail by following the link on the top right corner. Also watch my videos on YouTube.

Links:

Everglades YouTube Playlist

Original interview with John and Kathy

Living the RV Dream podcast:  Gathering Episode

Living the RV Dream Gathering 2015

The podcast is being streamed on Thursdays at 11am, 5pm, and 11pm, and on Sundays at 6pm on WRVO Radio Network 1.

See you next week, when we will have our first interview.

If you buy on Amazon follow the link below. It cost you the same and I get a bit of commission for sending you over.

Living The RV Dream Episode 0 – This is Only a Test


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


Video gear I use
Sony 4K HD Video Recording FDRAX33 Handycam Camcorder
Sony Action Cam FDR-X3000 Wi-Fi GPS 4K HD Video Camera Camcorder with Flat Surface & Helmet Mounts + 64GB Card + Battery + Case + Flex Tripod + Kit

Free in my RV