After our exploration of the Everglades, we headed North up the East coast of Florida, or so I thought. My back was really hurting so I decided to crawl in the back and lay on our bed, I had no intentions of napping but quickly fell asleep as I snuggling with the dog. Well, I’m normally in charge of helping Jeff navigate so he doesn’t wreck while looking at the atlas or the phone, I had thought he knew where we were going when I crawled in the back, but awoke to the sound of a ladies voice. Some how Jeff got onto a toll road that was taking us back to Naples, the complete opposite way we were heading! As I laid in bed I could hear him trying to explain where we going and she insisted we had to pay the toll and to continue. Frustrated Jeff paid the $3 and we went on the parkway. Luckily about 20 miles into the drive there was a rest stop and we where able to turn around and go on the right way, just $3 less in our pockets.
We continued our way up the coast, going onto Jupiter for a jaw dropping drive. The houses there were huge and it’s amazing what people can do when they have too much money to spend. We were also able to find a couple parks we could take Manko to, I have felt so bad she has been cooped up in the van while we enjoy the beach. It was also Jeff’s birthday, so we decided to splurge and we got a hotel in Fort Pierce. It was nice to sleep on a big bed and lounge in jammies without worrying someone may peer through the van windows. We caught up on ‘The Walking Dead’ and just relaxed for the evening, it was great!
Jeff and I were both really wanting to go camping, so we decided to head to the Ocala National Forest. On our map it shows the forest has a giant brackish lake, Lake George, so we were determined to find the lake. In Idaho we’re used to easily getting to just about every lake, creek, river and stream. And camping is also very easy to access in our home state, free camping at that too. Well, as we were driving into the forest we were noticing, camping may not be as easy as we thought. We found a state park in the forest, however it did not allow dogs at all, so that was out. There was one or two pay campsites, however we’re really trying to save our cash and they looked pretty full too. A lot of the prime lake areas were private land with homes, so we kept driving. I finally found some roads on my phone that looked like they would take us to the lake and we started going. At first it seemed easy but then the roads got sandier and coming from Idaho we’re not too familiar with driving in sand and especially with 2-wheel drive. Realizing we weren’t going to make it to the lake and we may get lost, we decided to find a pull out spot for the night. Like I’ve said before, Florida forests are very dense and much different than what we’re use to. The areas are often so thick, there are hardly any walking paths for exploring. We tried to walk around but ended up just sitting in the van discussing how much we loved and missed the mountains.
We headed to the Daytona area in the morning to visit with my younger siblings. I saw my siblings a couple years ago when they came to Idaho, however Jeff has never met them, so I was really excited for our visit. We arrived at my brother’s place and we were greeted with open arms. They had just moved into a new apartment just days before, but my brother and his girlfriend were the most gracious and wonderful hosts. We were able to park our van at their place and stayed for a couple days, we felt so comfortable there. My sister came over one night as well and we all had a big dinner and shared great conversations. Jeff and I really enjoyed our time there.
We spent about 12 days or so in Florida soaking up the sun and found a lot of birds. We never found a manatee but did see a lot of gators. We also learned about ‘no see ums’ and we’re so glad to not have those in Idaho! Florida was beautiful but we’re now onto to explore a new area.