Can you believe that as long as we’ve been RVing (20 years now) we’ve never driven the eastern coast of Florida? We’ve always thought of it as the “busier” coast – more built up and, therefore, less natural. For us, that means much less appealing.
But we had the time, opportunity, and a good reason to drive it last week – all the way from Ormond Beach to Miami.
We knew this coast was known for its beaches, but not that the entire coast is almost one continuous beach – 266 miles long! (Perhaps longer – we only drove the section south of Ormond Beach.)
We could have driven that distance in a day or two, of course, but what fun is that? Our personal challenge was to take four days over it and not use the Interstate (I-95) at all! We met that challenge and also only drove small sections of State Rte 1. Whenever possible, we were on roads that island-hop along the Atlantic side of the intercoastal waterway. Yes, the streets with low-speed limits and a stop sign or signal at every intersection.
What possessed us to sign up for that?
To volunteer for a busy traffic route, we had to be able to take our time and be well-rested when we started. Luckily, we had both components.
We had just finished a fun but busy and rather tiring 5-day-long RVillage Rally near Live Oak, Florida, where we were promoting Boondockers Welcome. We stayed an extra night in the campground after the even ended just to rest and unwind. It rained most of the day, which was perfect. No need to feel guilty about not accomplishing anything more than laundry.
Our next two nights, at BarnQuiltFarm (a Boondockers Welcome host) were just as relaxing. They hosted a record number of RVs (eleven) on our first night there, with plenty of room for more. Their whole motto for guests is – “Please come, enjoy our property, and relax – that’s all we expect of you”.
Along with another guest, I accepted our hosts’ invitation to learn square dancing. It was beginners’ night at their local club. It was so much fun that I may just have to look for a club to join when we get home. If nothing else, it would be an excuse to buy and wear “petticoats” – a pretty skirt with multiple crinolines and ruffled undergarments. What girl doesn’t want to do that as an adult at least once in her life?
Wanting a few more days of downtime, we learned from friends who were at Ocean Pond ( a first-come, first-served campground in Osceola National Forest) that there were a few campsites available. We headed there, signed up for three nights and used that downtime to decide what direction to go next.
The weather – mostly cold and rainy – made our decision easy. If northern Florida was still this cold, it was too soon to explore the Panhandle. Let’s head back south!
In fact, we decided to go to Miami. We had a particular reason – I’ll make you wait until my next post to tell you about it. But this is where the drive along the east coast comes into play.
We stopped to walk about five miles every day in the surf and sand ar various beaches each day. We were surprised at all the beach access opportunities we found – each one, without a parking fee! For frugal-travelers like ourselves, that was such a treat, especially compared with the California coast.
And on several stretches of beach, there’s even an option to drive on the beach itself (although that requires a $20 per day permit).
As important as the beach itself was the free camping we found along the way. With Boondockers Welcome hosts, of course. We enjoyed each new host we met. I think this host near Port Canaveral would have kept us another few days if we had not made plans to be in Miami by a certain had.
We always consider it a bonus when we meet fellow boondocking guests at a host’s place. Russ was no exception. He chronicles a lot of his travels on Youtube, including this one about his stay with these hosts.
After a couple days, it was time to move on. We still had a few beaches to walk! We particularly enjoyed the beach at Canaveral National Seashore where everything is natural (even the people – the last section of beach is designated for nude bathing!)
After our last beach walk, we neared Miami, where our intercoastal islands route was lined with huge mansions on both sides of the road. We realized that we had accidentally chosen a route taking by the homes of “the one percent”. Yes, including a fairly famous one I won’t mention by name. We did feel as though we appropriately represented the other 99% (simply by the contrast, as we drove by in our thirty-year-old, well-preserved camper van).
Perhaps not so coincidentally, there was no free public beach access anywhere along here – probably there wasn’t ANY beach open to the public at all. And the traffic congestion soon became unbearable and continued this way all the way to downtown Miami.
But, sometimes cursing our decision, we struggled on. Why? That’s a whole other topic and you’ll have to wait for my next post to learn the reason.
- Total days on the road this trip: 38
- Total camping costs to date: $60.00