Our 2017 winter journey actually came full circle! Click here to see a map of the first part of our winter travels, which only reflects our time starting and ending in Jacksonville. This is actually our fourth winter RVing, but only our third as full-timers. While we are residents of Florida, our “home” base is becoming Fredericksburg, Virginia – near our daughter, son-in-law and two precious grandsons. We spend between four and five months there a year, spread out. So our circle actually started there the first of January and will end there the beginning of May, before we embark upon another summer travel schedule. We have been at this now long enough, we more or less know how we like to travel. Or do we? We really didn’t know how this winter would go, but it turned out to be a wonderful experience.
On March 16, 2017, we left Eastbank US Army Corps of Engineers (COE) campground. (Click on the link for the last Winter 2017 travel post). While our next fun destination was Jacksonville, Florida, we decided to cut the trip in half and stayed in Jellystone RV Park, Madison, Florida. We’ve decided we like the shorter travel days, so we only drove a little over 100 miles in about 2 1/2 hours. We could have made the 230 mile trip in about 4 hours. But highway travel is wearing! Of course we say the rural roads are as well!
This was going to be an easy stop, right off of Interstate 10. It had full hookups, was a Passport America campground, which meant it was 1/2 price. Remember, we’re in Florida during the peak season, so full hook up sites are between $55 and $60. So we were happy to get this at $30. The sites were level, all services were good, to include wifi, and most important, we had a nice trail to walk. Here is a slide show of a few pictures of our site and the beautiful campground:
We hated to wish the winter away, but we are ending it on a high note! Next stop was Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park, 500 Wonderwood Dr, Jacksonville, Florida 32233 Phone: (904) 249-4700. We were on Site 273 and stayed from 3/17 until 3/24/2017. We discovered this park by accident when we first arrived in Florida in the beginning of our winter travels. We talked a little about it in this post. This is a hidden little gem in south-eastern Jacksonville on Atlantic Beach. As far as we are concerned, this is about as perfect at it gets!
We were here mainly to recover! We had a very aggressive winter travel schedule if you have followed along. Bill drove our bus 2,444 miles and we stopped 20 times in three months time. I’m sorry I never keep track of the miles we drive in between our stops. We really try to park where we won’t add a lot of miles, only walking miles if possible!
If you have read many of our posts, you will see we really enjoy mountains, beaches and forests! If only there was such a place on earth with all of them, mild weather and little traffic. I guess that is why this lifestyle suits us, we can travel in the off-season for the most part in these places and avoid the traffic. So this next stop is pretty close to perfection. We really enjoy walking in the woods. We both played in woods as children, so we often think we are going back to our childhoods. But there is something more to it. Have you heard of Shinrin Yoku? “It is Japanese for “Forest Bathing” – A gentle path to wellness accessible to almost everybody:
The exhalations of the forest are medicine.
We breathe them in, as we have been built over aeons to do.
Oak trees have one kind of medicine.
Fragrant pines at mid day have another.
The middle-sized herbs of the shady places
Offer their own healing powers.
We breathe in, We breathe out,
an exchange as ancient as time. Copied from Shinrin-yoku
We absolutely love walks in the woods! There definitely seems to be something medicinal about our walks in the woods. So if we could only have one geographical feature to where we hope to settle down into, we would want a forest nearby! Out our back door even!
So now I bring you to our final Florida stay in a forest campground that is also right on the beach! We never dreamed there could be such a place. We couldn’t believe how empty it was when we walked around it in January this winter. We stopped into the office to ask a few questions, such as would our 40′ motor home fit? YES, they said. We then said we plan to come back in March. The reply was we better make reservations since that is the busiest month with Spring Breaks scheduled throughout March. It does book up. We’ve never made a reservation that far out, but we knew we’d be heading back to Virginia the end of March, we thought we’d chance it and made a week-long reservation. Plus, we still have five days left over in Myrtle Beach from the time we were evacuated due to Hurricane Matthew. More on that in our next post.
On March 17, 2017, we drove 125 miles from Jellystone RV Park to Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park. It’s called Hanna Park for short. We were able to pick our site since we were there and walked around with a campground map. We selected a few prime sites and were able to secure it for a week.
But it was not perfect, but close. We’ll get perfection in heaven! As it was Spring Break time, it was full of children on bicycles and lots of campfires. That meant we had to dodge the bicycles as we walked around the campground. Now for the GREAT news, this was an alcohol free FAMILY campground. We usually think of spring break time as college students getting a bit wild, but this campground had none of that. Quiet times were from 10 pm to 7 am and everyone honored it. In fact, when we finally left on March 24, 2017 at 8 am, we were the only ones outside and we tried to be as quiet as possible!
We had such a time of serenity and healing here! A beach and a forest, but it was relatively flat. The park did have some hills as we walked around on the campground path. Here are a few pictures that show how wonderful our time was here:
And finally, we were so glad to come back to this area so we could return to North Jax Baptist Church. We were so impressed when we visited in January, we couldn’t wait to return! The worship ministry there is about the best we’ve ever participated in! And the sermon again hit home: Never Say Never! I’m sad I didn’t write up a summary, but the archive is available on-line if we need a reminder, here!
Next stop before we return to Fredericksburg, Virginia, Myrtle Beach! We have five pre-paid days left over from when we were evacuated during Hurricane Matthew in October. So we decided to squeeze it in on our way back up north. And these two verses seem to capture our thoughts as we wander back up north!
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Psalm 96:11-12