The Sunshine State, part 2.

Howdy! When we left off, Lily and I were still soaking up the sun in the Florida Keys. I spent the second half of our stay scootering around Key West, trekking across the old Seven Mile Bridge to Pigeon Key, and exploring Bahia Honda State Park.

Of course, I enjoyed many Rum concoctions and patronized a fancy little wine bar on Duval Street. Believe me when I tell you that I didn’t want to leave Key West.

Dry Tortugas National Park

This was a huge highlight of being in the Keys. The National Park is located 70 miles from Key West and is only accessible by ferry or seaplane.

I took the seaplane and it was amazing. Flying at low altitude over the pristine Gulf of Mexico showcased a few rusty shipwrecks, some sea turtles, and even a shark or two circling about.

Fort Jefferson is the largest brick structure in the Western Hemisphere and was used as a military stronghold, prison, and hospital quarantine station before being named a National Monument in 1935. It was upgraded to a National Park in 1992.

The infamous Dr. Samuel Mudd was imprisoned here for his alleged involvement in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The theory of his intentions is highly debated.

Many Cuban refugees make it to Dry Tortugas on their way to the United States. The refugees are intercepted and their primitive and usually overcrowded boats are towed in and grounded on the beach in front of Fort Jefferson. While I was on the island, I accidentally walked into an area of the fort where border patrol agents were detaining and questioning a group of people that had been captured the night before.

I wandered around and explored the entire island for a good 3 hours and then we all scrambled onto the seaplane and headed back to Key West. It was such an awesome experience that I will always remember.

Everglades National Park

After leaving the Keys, we stopped at the Everglades to try and spot some fresh water alligators. And it was a success. I went on a ranger guided night walk thru the glades on a raised walkway and had no problem summoning the alligators to me.

Camping inside the park among the Long Pines was super fun and lent to some interesting noises and creatures that came out at night. The sunset was really spectacular too.

The Gulf Coast

At the end of the year it was time to begin our journey west. We’ve officially passed the halfway point of this trip and must say goodbye to Florida. On the way out, we stopped at Carrabelle Beach and Destin to enjoy a few final southern sunsets and have one last sunshine state happy hour.

And so, that concludes our time in the Sunshine State. We spent just over 30 days in Florida and had the most amazing time. There are still places I want to see so we will be back again soon.

As always, thanks for following our travels and Happy New Year! We will see you again soon for another adventure update as we cross the Lone Star State on our way west.

Happy Travels!!!

The Sunshine State, part 1.

Hi there! Lily and I have been enjoying the month of December bouncing around the southeastern most state while winter is in full swing practically everywhere else. We survived Thanksgiving traffic on I-95 and made a few interesting stops along the route to Florida so let’s get going on what we’ve been up to.

South Carolina and Georgia

Myrtle Beach was the first logical stop along our journey south. We spent just a few nights in this seaside tourist town to recharge, refill, and check out the beaches before crossing into Georgia.

Then it was on to Savannah for a few days of plantation style camping and Thanksgiving dinner at a charming hotel bar in the historic waterfront district. I will confess that Georgia has always been my very least favorite state to visit but Savannah was a wonderful little treat.

As luck would have it, I stumbled into a little gem of a wine bar/store while wandering around the waterfront. I even bought some imported wines to take with me on the road.

Tampa, FL

Immediately after turkey, we enthusiastically waved goodbye to The Peach State and continued south into the sunshine Mecca of Florida. I was very excited to arrive in Tampa and visit with some friends that I’ve not seen in a few years. Lily and I got setup in Fort DeSoto Park just in time for the mosquitoes to welcome us and start their feast.

While in Tampa you must walk around Ybor City. It was the perfect place to stock up on local coffee beans and it was a fun morning excursion with my friend Selvin navigating the little streets filled with chickens.

Back at Fort DeSoto Park the gulf coast sunsets were incredibly stunning. This was my first time seeing the sun set behind the ocean since leaving the west coast. I rode the scooter around between the west beach and east beach just soaking up the sun glow splendor.

Before leaving Tampa, I spent a windy and fun afternoon happy hour at the St. Pete pier. It’s always so much fun to drop in on friends when I’m traveling around. Thanks for hanging out Dawn!

St. Augustine, FL

After 5 days in Tampa we packed up and hit the road to explore the oldest city in the country. We once again camped in a jungle like setting but the mosquitoes weren’t as bad here. The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument was the main attraction in St. Augustine.

And of course the sunsets from Vilano Beach were absolutely epic every night we were there. St. Augustine is a very special place and I for sure will return again someday.

Orlando, FL

We left the ocean to head inland for my birthday week festivities. This is my first time at the Orlando theme parks and I thought it would be fun to celebrate my birthday here since Disney World and I are the same age. Lily and I stayed for 7 days at the Disney Fort Wilderness Campground and had an amazing time.

Selvin came down from Tampa to share the adventure with me and that made it even more amazing and fun.

First stop was Universal Orlando for the Harry Potter magic. It was so realistic and literally felt like you were in the movies as we walked around Diagon Alley and Hogsmead. I loved every minute of it. Especially the frozen butter beer drink!

Then it was off to Disney World – Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios. We really liked Animal Kingdom the best. The live animals and Avatar rides were awesome and the park seemed much less congested by strollers and mobility scooters.

Key West, FL

The pinnacle and mid-point of our east coast adventure! I had booked ten days in paradise about six months before ever leaving Seattle. This is what I’ve been looking forward to the most – being at the southern most edge of the continent we are traversing in the Airstream.

And what’s better than a Key West sunset from Mallory Square. It was stunning, literally the best sunset I’ve seen so far.

So that’s part one of our December in Florida. There’s a lot more to come so stay tuned for the next blog update and be sure to follow @paulandlilygoplaces for more pics and videos of our Airstream Adventures.

We will see you again very soon with amazing pics from Dry Tortugas and Everglades National Parks. Happy Travels!!!