Virginia to Jacksonville (Winter 2017, Part 1)

We loved our walks on a fabulous trail around this beautiful lake. It looked different every day but this was the best day!

This is the day the Lord has made!  We loved our walks on a fabulous trail around this beautiful lake. It looked different every day but this was the best day, blue skies and sunshine.

If you read our Reflections on December 2016, we had a bit of a rough December. We failed to mention on top of everything else how cold it was – but then, it’s been a cold winter about everywhere! But living in a motor home isn’t ideal for temperatures in the low 20s and let along the teens.  It was so cold, we had to bring in our slides for a few days to have less square footage to heat. The day we were pulling out (we had them opened for a few days) the moisture turned to ice in the slide covers!  This was the third year of RVing and spending December in Fredericksburg, Virginia. So this was the third year we had to literally “flee” a freezing winter storm, they are now naming them so this was Helena.

We don’t remember what they called the winter storm or super cold front we were fleeing last year, but that “flight” ended in a tire blow out. You can reminisce about it here. We were not only fleeing the cold, we were on a mission to help my mom after the passing of my step dad.

We were hoping this year we would have a bit of a less eventful journey to warm weather this year. We definitely decided Myrtle Beach is too cold in January (from our flight there in January 2014) and Helena this year was actually going to hit northern Florida, too, but it wouldn’t last long there or end up with any snow.

We made it to Jacksonville driving for two days and spending only one night. The first leg of the trip ended up being about a six-hour drive around 350 miles. Then off to Jacksonville, driving 5 1/2 hours for over 333 miles. That was much more of an aggressive trip than we prefer, but we had to beat the possible snow storms, which we did!

Map by Google

Trip one to start our warm winter travels! Fredericksburg, Virginia to Dillon, SC to Jacksonville, Florida. Map by Google maps.

Needless to say, we were pretty exhausted when we arrived and drained mentally. Not only were we fleeing the snow, we were carrying with us the burden of totally altering the way we eat for Bill’s health. He has always been a bit of a fussy eater.  He took over cooking for us in 1989 – when we remarried. One reason we travel in a motor home is because we want our own kitchen since we are not fans of eating out. We had a fantasy of traveling around the U.S. on our motorcycle, but couldn’t imagine eating out full-time….

The good news is that Bill has adapted really well to cooking for our new diet. But he sure was depressed at the thought of being an Irishman, not eating bread, potatoes and red meat! As for me, I was ecstatic at the new diet plan his cardiologist recommended so I said, “No problem, I am on board 100%.” It sure makes it easier when you do something like this as a team!

One thing we were excited about coming to Jacksonville (aside from the fact it was one of Bill’s favorite places to live before we were married) was that we could shop at a Whole Foods Grocery Store (and a few other places). We have two friends who shop there nearly exclusively and Bill’s brother and wife (our mentors) sure think it’s great. Needless to stay, it was a huge disappointment for us. 😔 Maybe we just don’t get it yet. But it helped us learn more about “whole foods.”

The other good news is that Bill now MUST walk in a way to get his heart rate up – we have been doing it but maybe not as regularly as the cardiologist said he needs to. So it’s now an everyday matter. Plus we are adding lots of stretching, sit-ups and push ups. His cardiologist was VERY optimistic that Bill could do this and that he was already in good enough shape, he just needed to become more regular and make the dietary changes.

Our week in Jacksonville was an opportunity to research recipes and figure out how to eat differently for a lifetime. Not just a crash diet, but a lifetime change of diet. Thanks to Bill’s brother and his wife, who have been through this, they suggested to start tracking our consumption of food. They use the “Lose it!” app, but I had previously used the “FoodEducate” App.  We now track Bill’s diet on the one and mine on the other. WOW, it has been such an eye opener! And we also had to start an aggressive workout plan – we decided to just get up and go do it!

diet – noun
the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.

Back to our travels! Since we really didn’t know when we would arrive in Jacksonville, we couldn’t make reservations. So the day we were driving there, I started to call the various parks. We do know some places fill up, but not all. You just have to be patient and look. But we were having a hard time finding any place with a site for us….on top of the fact, we didn’t want to pay $55/night. I kept researching and found a place that would charge us only $150/week for a full hook up site. How bad could it be? It was an old trailer park recently acquired and undergoing changes to become an RV park.

In our last post, we said we couldn't get the generator to start before we left Virginia. She was humming for us now.

In our last post, we said we couldn’t get the generator to start before we left Virginia. She was humming for us now.

The RV park was centrally located to the many places we needed to go while there. And nearby we found a really nice place to walk, Lake Bethesda Park. We ended up having a relaxing and wonderful week, exploring new foods, exercising more diligently and shopping at Camping World for a few RV necessities and figuring out our itinerary for the next few weeks. We know it is hard to get into some locations January – March in Florida.

Bill had to do a few maintenance things as well.  One of the first things was to see why the generator wouldn’t start. We figured it just didn’t like the sustained freezing weather because it started just fine here. We don’t dry camp or boon dock because we don’t want to have to use the noisy and smelly generator. But we have to run it at least 15 minutes every month to keep it working – and just in case we ever need it!

Probably a highlight of our week, was to attend North Jacksonville Baptist Church on January 8. We almost choose another church because they were having a guest speaker, Rick Coram for a revival. I hoped to have time to write a post about it on my personal blog – but haven’t had time. Let’s just say it was one of the best services we have attended on our three years on the road!

The day before we were to leave, as we always do, is check our tire pressures using the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). I remembered it hadn’t seemed to work properly on the trip south. I had to call the company to see what was wrong as I couldn’t find a reset button on the monitor. Simple enough, the batteries in the modules had died! So off I went to Batteries Plus to get the batteries not carried by our old faithful Walmart. I rushed them back for Bill to install them only to learn he needed a special screw driver to remove the cover of the battery. Off we both went this time to Lowe’s – which was near the Batteries Plus Store. Not that it was far, 20 minutes (four times does add up), but we really try to be judicious when we drive – not wanting to waste gas or precious time!

The best activity was when we took a day off to explore. We wanted to go for a long hike and discovered Kathryn Abbey Hannah County Park had great trails…..shhhh Bill doesn’t want anyone else to know about it! Below is a slide show of the park’s trails, campground and beach! Imagine, all rolled up into one. Bill said this is his Disney World! I think it’s a slice of heaven!

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We loved the Hanna Park Campground so much, we are now booked to stay there near the end of March as we prepare to head back up I-95 to Virginia for the month of April. We were warned that it does get busy in March due to Spring Break time. We learned about it AFTER we made our reservations at the other “under construction” RV Park. Oh well, we think had we stayed here, we may not have been so productive. We would have been out at the beach every day!

We were so grateful for the very productive time we had here in Jacksonville.  It was really a blessing in so many ways and we just can’t but help thank God we accomplished so much! Here is our itinerary until the first week of February. Although it was a chore to make these reservations, it all fell together! We are so excited about all the State Parks! We will continue writing about each location:

Ross Prairie State Park, Dunnellon, FL  (1/13-17/2017)
Country Oaks RV Park,  Zephyrhills, FL  33540  (1/17-1/24/2017)
Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park, Micanopy, FL 32667 (1/24-26/2017)
Three Rivers State Park, Sneads, FL 32460  (1/26-1/31/2017)
Emerald Beach RV Park, Navarre, FL 32566 (1/31-2/7/2017)

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

9 thoughts on “Virginia to Jacksonville (Winter 2017, Part 1)

  1. I love hearing from you, seeing your photos of the beautiful parks and beaches, and learning about the unique RV life. I praise God for you! In prayer for the Trump-Pence inauguration and for America, as well as for the awakening and wising up of the foolish virgins – the time is short!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you dear Sister for stopping by and for your precious comments!
      Oh yes, praying for a smooth transition today and excited for the short term future (4 years at least)! Lord come quickly!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Shattered in Him

    Have safe travels!! Sounds like such an adventure!


    • Thanks for stopping by! I was just looking at past posts on Facebook. A few years ago I said, “another mundane day doing laundry and office work.” I don’t remember my last mundane day-maybe then in 2013!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That county park looks lovely. We love finding places like that! We were in Jacksonville a couple of years ago – in January, like you, and it was cold. We were there for an event, and afterwards went south to Flagler Beach. There’s a real nice park to hike through near there. Maybe I’ve blogged about it … can’t remember.

    On the dietary front, that’s great that you’re tackling the diet together! I’ll let you in on a little secret … I’m no fan of Whole Foods either. I’m trying to remember the chains in Florida … Natural Grocers? Sprouts? Trader Joe’s? Publix, Safeway and Krogers are my go-to’s just about anywhere in the country. Just shop the outside aisles and you’ll be in good shape.


    • Thanks Shari! We can’t imagine this journey without a team approach! I’d love to find a Trader Joe’s! My Fooducate app will make recommendations on healthier alternatives, and many are Trader Joe’s brand! Maybe I’ll find one today while around Tampa. Yes, we are shopping on the outside of the edges of grocery stores. It’s amazing!
      I think Flagler area was seriously hit by Matthew. I’ll have to check it out!


  4. […] we’ll just post our travels in various parts.  We were in Jacksonville in our last post, found here. We really enjoyed our time there. We’ve stayed around Jacksonville in the past, just for a […]


  5. […] is the second of our three stays in State Parks (the first was Ross Prairie near Ocala): From Zephrhills, we drove 90 miles away, just outside of Gator Country, Gainesville, to […]


  6. […] a truly heart healthy lifestyle. We have written a number of travel blogs about our winter travels, which start here: Bill drove our motor home 2,444 miles, we stayed in 20 different campgrounds and traveled as far […]


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