Saturday, January 19, 2013

Winter Sojourn 2013 - Journey South

I have been looking forward to this trip since October.  I was anxious to avoid winter and the cold, to get a change of scenery, and to be traveling again.  I did a lot of preparation and planning for the trip.  First, I had to plan our itinerary and make the necessary reservations.  I had to get the house ready, get everything put away for the winter, get the vehicles serviced, and get packed.  It seems to take longer each year, but maybe I’m starting to operate at a slower speed. 

This was our fourth winter trip to Florida.  Each year has been something different and this year would be a combination of staying put, camping, and travel.  Our plan was to stay at a condo at St. Augustine Beach for the month of January.  We like this area and figured it would be good to have an indoor place in case the weather was cool.  Then we planned to go further south for February and do a week of camping in Ft. Myers and another week in St. Petersburg.  From there, we had a house rented in New Smyrna Beach for three weeks then a two week camping road trip thru the coastal panhandle during mid March.

It took three days to drive down in the RV.  We left with having to get plowed out and shovel 6 inches of snow in 19 degree temps.  I guess it was a fitting sendoff that weather wise, things could only improve.  The drive down was uneventful.  I took my usual route down I-84 thru CT, crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge, took the Garden State Parkway to the New Jersey Turnpike and then onto I-95 for the rest of the way.  We drove about 400 miles each day with overnight stops in Edgewood, MD, and Lumberton, SC.  I used to be able to drive 600-800 mile days but now I don’t feel the need to hurry. Five to six hours behind the wheel is enough.  Traffic was light.  I got to test out my new Ez-Pass transponder for the tolls.  All the northeast states now recognize the Ez-Pass.  It worked flawlessly in all the states.  No more fumbling for change at toll booths.  It also gets discounted toll in some of the states.  Toll costs were $22.75 on the trip down.  We burned 75.4 gallons of gas over 1,272 miles on the trip down.

We arrived at St. Augustine Beach to 75 degree temperatures.  I had shorts on the next day and was riding my bike.  Just three days prior I was shoveling snow and now I'm back in summer and able to spend time outside.  It does so much good for my soul.  I was looking forward to a nice slow paced stay and hoped my colitis stayed settled down.  It was quiet on the way down, but our first night here it was active and kept me up most of the night.

We stayed the first two days at Anastasia Island State Park waiting for our condo to be available.  What a lovely state park.  Its a barrier island about 1 ½ miles from downtown St. Augustine with over 2 miles of high dunes and unspoiled beach.  I’d been there several times to day visit but had never camped overnight.

Our Campsite
We camped in the wooded hammock about a quarter mile back from the beach under a canopy of live oaks and palms.  We got to experience what coastal Florida was like before all the development.  It was very peaceful and reminded me of all the camping at remote sites I’ve done on bike trips in Florida.

Anastasia Island State Park
I got the RV de-winterized and we had two nice days camping in January.  I was surprised that the campground was fairly full for this time of year.  January temperatures in northern Florida can be cool with day time highs in the 60-70’s and lows in the 40-50’s.  But there were plenty of tenter’s and RV’s from all over the US.  I guess 60 degree temperatures beats freezing cold and snow anytime.

Up next will be a summary of our month in St. Augustine and trip to Ft. Myers.

Dunes at Anastasia State Park


  1. Hi Jim....Your trip is an inspiration! Off and on through my life I have lived in central and north Florida.....I've signed up for Bike Florida this March....plan on driving down then doing a bit of touring on my way home. Perhaps I'll get some ideas from you and Ann.

    Jane Kelly

    1. Nice to hear from you Jane. We're enjoying our trip.