About 2500 miles turned on my new RV’s odometer during our road trip from Maryland to the southernmost point of the US in Key West, Florida. And oh what a time it was!! So much more about the journey than the destination. During a time when travel is so limited by the global pandemic, we found another way to GO!! Lots of learning and experience gained during this trip! This seemingly simple way of traveling is still quite complex with all the smart features Winnebago put into the Solis, so I’m sure we still have more to learn.
The first leg of our journey was about a seven hour ride down to the eastern shores of southern North Carolina to Swansboro. About ten minutes from Emerald Isle beach, Swansboro’s downtown sits on the docks and we always have to stop at my favorite shop there, Bake, Bottle, Brew for some coffee (or beer or ice cream depending on the time of day!). They also have cute little tchotchkes – I’m particularly found of their funny sock collection – and a good selection of wine and beer to go, plus stuff to make your own beer! Someday I do want to try that!!
You can sip and savor outside on the deck overlooking the water, but it was pretty chilly that day, so we brought our warm coffees back into the van after a quick moment to enjoy the pretty scene!
We got an early start to keep on heading south and decided to make us some sandwiches for lunch…while we were moving!! That was fun – keeping my balance while preparing our lunch at 60 mph.
Our next stop heading south was Savannah, Georgia, which is now high on my list of places to visit when this pandemic is over.
Oh so quaint!! We had no trouble finding a parking lot, there was some street parking too. We stopped at the Moon River Brewing Company for so yummy brews after several hours of driving (mine was a rosemary infused IPA- so good!). And they were dog-friendly, so that was really nice!!
Turns out you can walk around the town with your drink, so we took our beers to go and walked around downtown Savannah!
It is a beautiful city and I really need to come back when I have more time to spend here. We decided to press on a little further south before bunking down for the night, and made it another two hours to Jacksonville, Florida in time for beddie. We awoke to a beautiful sunrise on the beach, ahh…my favorite!! Someday I need to be in a place where I can watch the sunrise and/or sunset every day! #lifegoals.
We walked a little on the beach nice and early to stretch our legs before getting back on the road. Our plan was to get down to Miami by evening and stay there before getting an early start in the morning out to the keys. We spent a little safely distanced time with some family, which was awesome but sad because we can’t be closer during this time. We parked the van and enjoyed a nice quiet night in a neighborhood right near downtown Miami (parked in front of a cousin’s house – nice and safe!!). Had to fuel up with some coffee and of course found a Starbucks in downtown Miami right on our path!! And the pup got her usual puppichino.
It’s a bit of a drive to get to the bottom of Florida, turns out there is more past Miami! And thereafter, you’ll get to the beautiful scenic bridges across the blue-green waters over and through the Florida Keys!
We passed through Key Largo and then stopped for lunch in Summerland Key where we got some awesome grouper sandwiches from the Square Grouper – I would definitely recommend this for a delicious and hearty fill up!
We made it down to Key West to start our keys endeavors from the bottom up!
When we got down there, there was roadside parking along the beaches going toward the downtown area, but we quickly learned that it was not going to be ok to park there overnight as we had hoped. There are signs prohibiting it and a good number of patrol cars, so we figured it best to not even try. If we had a big RV, we’d have probably needed reservations, but with our cute little Class B Solis, we could still wing it, and it was pretty easy to find street parking from which everything was walkable. We made our way to the dog friendly beach, unfortunately Key West wasn’t as dog friendly on its beaches as I had hoped. The dog beach was small, but the pooch sure enjoyed her play time!!
Time for a cool cocktail! Also ok here to walk around with your drink, so we grabbed a couple mojitos to walk around town with!
The closest bar to Cuba! Another fun fact – there are wild chickens all over Key West just strutting about.
We walked around pretty much the whole downtown Key West area, making our way through the parks, the southernmost point of the US, and to Mallory Square where people gather to watch the sun sink into the sea!
It was way too crowded for my comfort (due to the COVID situation), so we walked back to the van and had a make-shift cheese plate, wine, and some Key Lime pie we grabbed on our walk back!! Fun dinner and drinks in our little hotel on wheels!! I loved it!
We turned in pretty early and had a nice sleep until we were awoken by a cacophony of roosters (flashback to the above note about wild chickens!!) starting at about 4 am, so that was funny and annoying, but we lingered in our comfy camper bed a bit.
I’ve improved the comfort greatly thanks to a foam mattress and a cushioned mattress cover. These bones are too old to rough on a hard bed!! I was excited to make breakfast in the van for the first time!! Ok, so I had pre-made the egg bites, but I used the propane stovetop in my camper kitchen to heat them and that counts!! Also confirmed that the smoke detector works!! Lol! I used my mini Keurig to make us some good coffee, which confirmed our suspicion after a couple circuit trips that you need to use the generator or be connected to shore power for anything that requires heat!
It was actually awesome, just relaxing with breakfast in the van on a side street with the breeze blowing through. Due to the crowds (which wouldn’t bother me under non-pandemic circumstances), we decided to cut our time in Key West short and head back up through the other keys. It is a gorgeous drive! We made a stop at Bahia Honda State Park, which was a nice spot to walk around, stretch a little, and even learn some history about the railway that crossed the keys.
There were nice big beach and park areas, this is a good stop during the day if you’re road tripping around the keys and there was plenty of parking room for big rigs. It was a $10 fee to get in. We headed up a little ways to Marathon where I had found a good looking spot, Key Colony Beach.
It was nice and chill here and we thought, hey! Let’s luxuriate in a hotel that’s dog friendly and available for the night. Lo and behold!! There was a hotel that was dog friendly, had its own private beach that was also dog friendly, and had one dog friendly room available – score!! The Gluntz Ocean Beach resort would be our stop for the afternoon and evening!
The staff was extremely friendly and even made a special exception for our big dog who was above their max weight limit. She got some major beach time out of this stop!!
Such a cutie, she was putting on a show for the few other people on the beach!! We grabbed some drinks at the beachfront restaurant at the hotel while we waited on our room, Havana Jack’s. Had some good fruity cocktails on their outdoor patio, also dog friendly!!
The weather was pretty windy and both sunny and cloudy at the same time, and we got a glimpse of a rainbow while we were enjoying our drinks!!
Our room was nice and spacious, the suite had a full kitchen, and everything was very clean.
I’d definitely stay here again, hopefully when the weather is better. It was too windy to take advantage of their watersport offerings (kayaks and paddle boards). We walked around the Key Colony Beach area and found it to be a really nice town. Sunset Park was a pretty spot to relax a little.
We got cleaned up for dinner and walked over to the Key Colony Inn since we were still on a grouper kick and they had plenty on the menu. What a great pick!! Very safely distanced dining experience during COVID too. Service was excellent and the food was delish, with portions big enough to get lunch out of them the next day! We got two different preparations of the grouper, one “almandine,” in a buttery lemon sauce and one with a bearnaise sauce with tomato and asparagus. Mmmm!!!
Since the weather in the morning was still less than ideal for water sports or chillin on the beach, we walked around the town a bit and then decided to head back north. This ended up being a very good idea to get back to the mainland as all the traffic was heading down the keys!! More beautiful driving back over the bridges!!
We drove back up a good ways onto the mainland and decided to land at the Boynton Beach area to stop for the evening and make camp there – at a Cracker Barrel parking lot!! They’re RV friendly, as are several other retailers like Lowe’s, Walmart, Bass Pro and others. Good to know!! We dined outside at the Brass Tap and had a great stout flight with a hearty appetizer dinner for our NYE dinner!
Admittedly, we didn’t make it to midnight, but all the fireworks definitely kept us up most of the night!! No worries!! Hoping 2021 is better than 2020!!! We woke up early and hit the road north up the long state of Florida. Our next landing was Amelia Island where we spent the afternoon. Such a cute town!!!! We definitely should have stayed a night here, note for next time, as we found parking right at the beach that totally looked overnight-able. A lot of notes for next time during this first big RV trip! Only negative about Amelia Island was that we couldn’t let the pup off the leash, but at least it was ok to walk her on it.
The downtown area of Amelia Island was small and quaint and I’d definitely like to come back! It’s right at the very top of Florida just beneath the state line.
We continued north and made our way to Santee, South Carolina near Lake Marion. The plan was to bed down and then wake up early for some hiking, but unfortunately that got rained out. However, it was all just such a great experience learning about RV-ing and surviving it with each other!! We pressed on north, homeward bound. No, we did not stop here…
I’m so excited for more RV adventures to come and can’t wait to share about them!! I’m still new to this, but having this kind of long trip under my belt, I feel like I’ve at least got a notch in it!!