Reflections on our 2017 Winter Travels

We are traveling in part, to be honest, because we can’t agree where we want to live! As we celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary (4/11/1975), we can say we don’t do anything without praying over it and both of us agreeing to it. Of course, it may seem obvious, why not settle in Fredericksburg near our daughter and family? We certainly do want to be near them, but we lived in Fredericksburg for 10 years. When we moved there, it was a sleepy rural county. We loved it! But by the time we left, it was becoming a boom town. And now, it has outgrown its roads. It is just one big traffic jam! We recently heard a sermon titled, “Never say never!” But Bill does tend to say, we’ll never live there….time will tell.

So what do we really want? We love mountains for challenging hikes and clean mountain air – but we could never handle the winters there. And really, driving winding and steep roads isn’t comfortable for us. We also love the beach. But what great beach area doesn’t have a busy season? And remember, we don’t like traffic. This winter we experienced EVERYTHING we love about our full-time lifestyle.

In our traveling, we discovered we actually like staying longer at more places, rather than seeing a lot of places for shorter times. But this winter, we ended up seeing more places for shorter periods of time! It’s the nature of living full-time on the road, especially if you have a goal to return to the same place every three months!

As it turned out, our travels this winter were actually perfect for us as we tried to figure out how to now live and eat with Bill’s diagnosis of early heart disease. We’ve written extensively on his (and mine) transformation as we figure out what eating a heart healthy diet really is! Click here for the “table of contents” if you missed it.

We drove right around 3,000 miles and stayed in 20 campgrounds from the time we left Fredericksburg, Virginia on January 4, 2017 and returned on March 31, 2017.  Here are the blog posts which chronicle our travels, broken down into “Parts” as we really didn’t know how our travels would go nor our ability to blog regularly. Click on the blue hyperlinks to go to the blog post:

  1. From Fredericksburg to Jacksonville  We were fleeing the cold, so drove longer than we would have liked! We made one overnight stop on the way and arrived pretty well beat. We had no idea where we are going to stay and realized, it’s so much more expensive in Florida from January to March (we actually knew that but were optimistic we could find honey pots) and so much busier! Not to give anything away, we found lots of honey pots. And then the healing for Bill began as he accepted his diagnosis of heart disease. We were able to really focus on what we needed to do to heal his heart. And again, not to give it away, but he is doing FANTASTIC and well on his way to EXCELLENT health!
  2. From Jacksonville to Ross Prairie Trailhead Campground Honey pot # 1. Oh this was such a sweet spot for us! It is a “State Park” but really not! You have to know how to get into Florida State Parks in the winter! And we are experienced as we learned two winters ago. The camp host said we sure where lucky we got the reservation as they were booked up! It’s called prayer and persistence that got us in! So not only was the campground awesome, we came to this area to visit with dear friends we’ve had since we remarried in 1989 – in fact, the patriarch was the Pastor who remarried us! We hit it off and have remained dear friends.
  3. From Ocala to Zephyrhills to visit two state parks. Actually, we picked this private campground to be close enough to visit family, see a few state parks and to do some food shopping in a major city! We were a bit consumed with finding whole foods that suited our new Heart Healthy eating plan!
  4. From Zephyhills continues to Paynes Prairie State Park, Micapanoy, FL, Honey Pot # 2. We actually wrote three posts while in this area! So much to do, so little time! 
  5. From Micanopy to Three Rivers State Park, Sneads, FL. Honey Pot #3. Oh yes, we know how to work the ridiculous reservation system. Trick # 1 is to not be there on the weekends. Arrival on Sunday works fine but plan to leave on Friday mornings. This was probably our favorite state park this winter – or was it our second?
  6. We had to take a blogging break, so wrote about buying a new mattress on-line! That was fun and again, things just worked out so  perfectly for us! We have now slept on it for over three months and still love it!
  7. From Sneads, Florida to Emerald Beach, Florida. This is a private park and was a bit pricey for our taste since we don’t use any of the amenities, except the full hook up sites! We came here to be closer to my mom (Debbie) for our now yearly visit. Mom and I lived in the same town for over 10 years. We love her location here, but hang on, it only gets better!
  8. From Emerald Beach to Fort Pickens! Honey Pot #4! Wow, why didn’t we discover this instead of Emerald Beach? We seriously didn’t know it was so close to my mom now how FABULOUS it was! We definitely will return next winter – although we probably will have to move our motor home between sites.  This place books up and the weekends are insane! And a side note, we became friends with a couple we plan to see and definitely communicate with regularly. You see, the Mrs. has a similar need to eat the NEW way we are eating so she has become a bit of a mentor!
  9. From Fort Pickens to Sweet Home Alabama! We stayed in a private park – it’s the weekend after all! We lived in Mobile, Alabama from 1986 until 1988 and began a love affair with Alabama. I was transferred there and actually thought about changing jobs to stay….but alas, this was where our marriage fell apart. So it’s a bittersweet memory but since our marriage was restored and we are now a stronger and healthier couple for it! We did have a real sweet time here, but maybe not the hiking we thought it would be. We finally found a great place to not only hike, but where we might stay next time.
  10. From Alabama to Mississippi, Davis Bayou CampgroundWe wish we could say this was Honey Pot #5 as it was part of the Gulf Shores Seashore National Park System. We are glad we went but we had to drive pretty far for a decent hike. Part of our heart healing journey was for Bill to get in good workouts to exercise his heart. Nevertheless, we had a very sweet time here and heard a sermon that has stuck with us about being “All In!” It was not only about being spiritually all in to our commitment with the Lord, but being ALL IN on our new heart healthy lifestyle!
  11. From Mississippi to Gunner Hill, Montgomery, AlabamaOh, yes, we are back because we had to turn around to start our journey back to Virginia!  So please meet Honey Pot #5. While this is our second Army Corps Of Engineer parks ever (first one was Canal Campground in Land Between the Lakes which was amazing), we didn’t really understand what a great VALUE they are! This might be our favorite place of the winter! Or was it Fort Pickens? Hmmmmm…..
  12. From Montgomery, Alabama to Cotton Hill, Fort Gaines, Georgia. We are on a roll, our second Army Corps of Engineer parks this winter. This is Honey Pot #6. It would have been perfect except that the Army was in a dispute with the county over the sewer system. So normally, like Gunner Hill, it would have been full hookups. When we are working out like we are, we go through the clothes, so our washer and dryer run daily! We had to keep our stay here a bit short – but we still manages to extend one night! BTW, it was spring break so we HAD to leave when we did because it was booked up starting on a Monday! However, we were blessed and managed to score a “walk up” in a desirable area!
  13. Staying in Georgia, Eastbank US Army Corps of Engineers. This park was recommended by another travel blogger. Maybe because of the weather (quite cold and WINDY) or that we didn’t know we would go down a very narrow road and STEP hill the minute we checked in, but this was not a honey pot! However, we made the best of it and ended up having a GREAT time. We were to stay three days but lost a day since we stayed longer in Fort Gaines. We are glad we went but probably won’t return again. 
  14. Full circle back to Jacksonville, Florida. We did stay in a private park after we left Eastbank but not enough to write a full post. But afterwards, meet Honey Pot #7! WOW, we discovered this park when we were in Jacksonville January. We KNEW it was a score and decided we would return. We talked to the reservation crew when we stopped by then for a day hike. They encouraged us to make our reservation then as March is spring break MONTH and it books up. So we had to get here for our reservation  – which is something we don’t like to do. We hated the pressure, but yet, we knew we had to be here in this time frame as our daughter KNEW we’d be back there on March 31! From here, we made a stop at our new “standby” overnight campground, Bass Lake in Dillon, SC, on our way to Myrtle Beach. We have written extensively about this beach, we didn’t memorialize it. 

That was our wonderful winter! We made it back to Fredericksburg in time to fully enjoy time with our grandsons and their parents. We had lots of sleep overs with the boys. They LOVE our motor home as it is their perfect size to run wild!!! And we don’t have to chase them. We felt like we were on top of our new health healthy food plan and our daughter and son-in-law let us experiment on them. While there, we invested in a NuWave Air Baker (it’s called Fryer, but it really just bakes) and a Veggie Bullet. WOW, we needed to simplify how we cooked and these two items did it. Maybe one day, we will do some sort of recipe blog post….not sure.

Next up, time to start our summer travel adventures. Click here for a sneak peek. 

How appropriate to conclude with this appropriate Psalm!!!

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103: 1-5

2 thoughts on “Reflections on our 2017 Winter Travels

  1. We keep traveling because we can’t figure out where we want to settle! I do know it won’t be on the east coast (even though all our family is there). We both love the weather and outdoor activities of the southwest. But right now I can’t imagine sitting in one place. We enjoy at least two weeks in one place, but a month is even better. We tend to do a few weeks of shorter stops getting to an area for a long stay. You had a wonderful winter. Now you need to edge your way to Arizona and Utah:)

    Liked by 2 people

    • We long for the day to get out to the SW and Utah!! Wow, you two have wetted our appetite! We wish our grandsons weren’t so adorable. And we can’t wait for their parents to say, “please take them for the summer/winter!” We offer every time we leave to take one of them.
      This lifestyle is so addicting!

      Liked by 1 person

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