We always plan ahead for mental health holidays from the parental care vortex to visit some of our favorite Florida locales. Even better, this year we had the opportunity to meet up with some of our fellow full-time traveling friends in the Sunshine State. Despite the challenges, it was another good winter in Florida.
Apalachicola & Friends
We were happily anticipating reconnecting in Apalachicola with our fulltime traveling buddies MonaLiza and Steve of Lowes Travels. We met here several years ago in our first year of fulltime travels, and meet up with them whenever our paths are anywhere nearby in our journeys (which isn’t nearly often enough). We had a great time together in Apalachicola for a few days, exploring the town, feasting on seafood, and catching up on life since we last saw them. With them heading for the west coast and us heading up the east coast, it’s going to be a while before we see them again, so we made the most of our time together.
We were also delighted to have the opportunity to meet up with Sue, Mo and adorable Mattie of MoHo Travels. Although we live only an hour from each other in our southern Oregon hometowns, it took several years and a cross-country trip to finally meet in person. We enjoyed a lovely visit, seafood lunch, and a stroll around Apalachicola, and made plans for a kayaking trip on the Wood River when we return to our hometown in 2020.
And we were especially happy to share a couple of days with Rick and Karren, my uncle and aunt who came up from the Keys to visit. Looking back, I’m very grateful for that time we had together. That may have been the last time for us all to gather at my folks’ home.
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Silver Springs & Friends
Despite our many kayak adventures in Florida, we had yet to paddle Silver Springs, one of the largest and deepest springs in the world and a destination for nature-seeking travelers since the mid-1800s. We planned our trip to meet up with our dear friends Perry and Beth, who we first met in Florida and have since met up with at Lopez Island, Nashville, and Big Bend National Park. (Sharing travel adventures with good friends is the best!)
Campsites at the state park are hard to come by, but we discovered nearby Santos Trailhead State Park. The park is known as a mecca for mountain bikers, but it’s also only 10 miles from Silver Springs State Park. We enjoyed biking the (easy) trails at Santos, an afternoon glass bottom boat tour at Silver Springs, and a full day of kayaking on the Silver River. There’s nothing like the crystal clear turquoise waters of the Florida springs.
Cedar Key & Friends
We followed up our adventures at Silver Springs with a few days at Cedar Key, one of our all-time favorite spots in Florida. We love the biking, kayaking, the quirky little town, and the birding. And despite the sardine-like accommodations of Sunset Isle RV Park, it’s where we always choose to stay. The people are friendly, it’s biking distance to town, there’s a tiki bar next door, and the sunsets are spectacular. We enjoyed sharing Cedar Key adventures with Beth and Perry, and also met up for a fun happy hour with Karen and Krash, who spend their winters in Cedar Key and with whom we have many friends in common in the RVing world.
The Okefenokee Swamp (An adventure in south Georgia)
We enjoyed our visit to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in 2018 when we visited the eastern side of the park and were captivated by the beauty of the wetland prairie. This time, we spent several days on the western side at Stephen C. Foster State Park in Fargo, Georgia. We took a guided boat tour of the swamp, kayaked the swamp, biked the trails, and hiked. I’ve seen enough alligators to last me a lifetime, but the bobcat was very cool.
A postscript: The saga with my parents has dramatically escalated since we left Florida in early April. Despite our best efforts to prevent disaster (which I wrote about here), my mother fell and broke her arm 10 days after we left and she’s now in a rehab facility with little hope of returning home. We are tenaciously attempting to continue on with our lives and our travels while managing care for my parents long-distance. I am acutely aware that it is the end of an era, but I take comfort in knowing that they had a good long run. My parents embraced every day, and never held back in going for their dreams. We’re trying our best to do the same.