They are now somewhere in the Caribbean, sailing the blue waters, but not long ago they were here in South Florida and we got to meet them. I am, of course talking about Nikky and Jason “The Wynns” Former RVers and now sailors, they have one of the most successful YouTube travel channels. I’ll admit I could relate to the much more back in their RVing days, but it is still very entertaining watching sail around the world particularly the learning process.
I made a quick video about the meetup they had at the Lauder-ale Brewery, and here’s a video of that.
Our first point of interest is Stiltsville, nowadays a ghost town on the water. It began early in the 20th century as a gambling and bootlegging operation, as it was legal one mile offshore. From the 60’s until the late 80’s it was very much a party scene. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew was the last nail on the coffin of what was a town on stilts. Only seven structures remain, most of them in ruins.
Nixon Beach Sandbar, Miami
Next we go to the famous Nixon Beach Sandbar for a swim. It is located right by the entrance of Hurricane Harbor. This area is home to many lavish waterfront mansions. Nixon Beach Sandbar is notorious for the numerous boat parties that happen here. People tie their boats together, and the flow of booze and loud music go on throughout the day. When we went, May 20, it wasn’t so crowded. Perhaps because the water had not reached that magical 90ºF mark. After our swim and some drone flying we cruised around the harbor to see the homes of the rich and famous, and their boats up close and personal.
No Name Harbor and Boater’s Grill
After all this we have worked up an appetite, so we navigate east, towards Cape Florida State Park and the creatively named No Name Harbor. After a pitcher of sangria, some minuscule conch fritters, and a delicious seafood paella, we decide to call it a day, sailing into the sunset, back to the marina.
In today’s video we are going back to the Florida Keys. The Keys are divided in three main sections. The Upper Keys encompass Key Largo, Tavernier, and Islamorada. The Middle Keys is basically Marathon, and perhaps the most developed area of the Keys. The Lower Keys are basically everything south (or west rather) of the Seven Mile Bridge, my favorite part of the Keys, and that’s where we’re going.
Click on the image below for video
Our first stop is at the Indian Key Fill, a man-made Island that is roughly at the halfway point. I usually like to stop here when going to the Lower Keys because there’s usually plenty of room to park and have a snack, stretch our legs. In the distance you can see Indian Key, a historic site and ghost town only accessible by boat. Taking advantage of the remoteness and natural beauty of this area I decide to test out the new DJI Mavic Drone, which just arrived this morning.
Sugarloaf / Key West KOA
After going through Marathon, Big Pine Key, and many of the other Lower Keys, we arrive at our campground, the Sugarloaf / Key West KOA, self-proclaimed the Southernmost KOA. We are only 20 miles from Key West so everything from here on is pretty much the “southernmost”.
We spend the next day and a half frolicking by the pool, kayaking, eating and drinking. The two main places we visited were Mangrove Mama’s and Boondocks, which were not very lively this time of the year. I never realized before how low the low season really is around here. The campground was half full, and at one point we were the only people at Mangrove Mama’s.
Key West Sunset Cruise
On the second day we drove to Key West to sail on a sunset cruise. We’ve wanted to do this for a while. After some research we opted for Sebago, one of many companies that offer this type of cruise. The cruise takes two house and we were pleasantly surprised that there was an open bar with all you can drink champagne, sangria, select beers, wine, and margaritas. Oh, by the way, the sunset was pretty spectacular too.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.