Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Retirement Means Time for Walks in the Parks with Jon & Bella--That's Healthy Living!

Bella Enjoyed Boondocking in Destin
Destin, Florida
     The beach resort town of Destin was our first stop in Florida. We decided we wanted to boondock (dry camp for free) in this town so we could walk to dinner at one of the restaurants overlooking the white sand beaches and emerald green water. The parking lot of the Destin Fishing Museum and Old Destin Post Office was our free, peaceful campsite that night. 
Old Destin Post Office Museum
     We parked, dropped our leveling jacks, opened our bedroom slide, and set out our lawn chairs--life doesn't get much simpler than that! We took a walk around the grounds to visit the Old Destin Post Office, and then sat down in our chairs to read and let Bella enjoy laying in the soft green lawn for a while before dinner. 
Boondocking at the Destin Fishing Museum
     Jon and I had a nice quarter-mile long walk to the Harborwalk area in Destin where we decided we had saved enough money by boondocking that we could go out to dinner at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville®.  Destin was a much more touristy vacation town than we realized until we arrived. The area was very pretty and looked like a fun family area with pirate ship rides, fishing, shopping, and other amusement activities for the kids. We enjoyed the food, margaritas, and view of the bay, sailboats, and fishing boats while dining at Margaritaville®. The people-watching was entertaining, but the frenzy of tourist activity left us feeling we were ready for some peaceful Florida State Park time.
Beautiful Tree Carving at Destin Margaritaville Entry
Florida State Parks
    The Florida State Parks along the coastal areas that we visited were beautiful, interesting, relatively inexpensive, had water and electric hookup, and, surprisingly, had laundry facilities in good condition! They provide a multitude of opportunities for walking and bicycling, contributing to our goal of living a healthier lifestyle. Many of the state parks had white sand beaches, swimming areas, rolling sand dunes that are strictly protected, nearby restaurants, and nature walks through wooded areas and saw palmettos groves that we could enjoy with Bella.
St. George Island State Park 
St. George Island Walkway to the Beach
St. George Island White Sand Beach
     We arrived at St. George Island State Park the end of May without a reservation since we like to be flexible about where we decide to land our motorhome for the night. It is highly recommended to have a reservation at the state parks during the summer vacation months, but we were always lucky enough to pull in at between 5:00 and 6:00 in the evening and get the last RV site available. Most likely we were given a site that someone had reserved and then cancelled at the last minute. The park rangers were very friendly and helpful in each State Park we camped in. Our biggest complaint was that dogs were not allowed on the beaches within the State Parks so we had to take Bella to a beach outside of the parks for our walks.
Manatee Springs State Park 
Manatee Springs State Park Swimming Area

Manatee Springs Feeds the Suwannee River
     I have to admit that even after camping in four Florida State Parks, I never did get comfortable with watching for snakes and alligators on our walks. Manatee Springs State Park was one of the most beautiful, but the signs warning to watch for alligators and the two snakes we saw on our walk there were enough to keep us out of the swimming area. We enjoyed the long stroll on the boardwalk through the swamps to see where the Manatee Springs water joined the historic Suwannee River, hoping to see one of the endangered Manatees that live in the river, though we never did.
Gamble Rogers Memorial State Park, Flagler Beach
Campsites Overlook the Atlantic Ocean
Good Kite-Flying Weather at Flagler Beach
     Gamble Rogers Memorial State Park in Flagler Beach is a very popular, small campground so we were fortunate to get a site. We would have liked to stay longer, but one site was available for two nights due to a cancellation, so we happily accepted it. Every campsite has a view of the ocean. The beach stretches for miles, though we had to walk a ways down the public sidewalk to reach the public beach where we could take Bella. She satisfied her hunter's need by sniffing and digging in a few sand-crab holes in the sand. The weather was hot and breezy in late May, a perfect day for kite-flying in the state park. I especially enjoyed the galloping white horse kite that flew above the RVs. 

Anastasia State Park, St. Augustine
Bella Kept a Close Eye Out for Any Critter That Moved
     Not all of the wildlife was scary in the Florida State Parks. We enjoyed the many turtles munching grass along one path we walked in Anastasia State Park. Bella, our dachshund,
 is a natural born hunter and thought the turtles were something that should be chased when they ran. She never understood why we wouldn't let her. The brilliant red cardinals and curious tree squirrels kept her entertained while she was tethered in our campsite. 
    Most campsites in the state parks had natural sight-screens from neighboring sites with large shade trees, tall saw palmetto plants, and other vines and brush (full of spiders and their webs). Each site had electricity and water hookups, but no sewer. We had to drive to the dump site to dump our sewer after three or four days, so that's when it was time to move on to the next State Park. Maybe by not providing sewer hookups in the campsites it keeps people from staying too many days in a stretch and gives more folks a chance to stay in the State Parks. We were just glad they provided electricity so we could run our air conditioning. By the end of May, it was too hot for us to boondock in Florida--we would have had to run our generator all night to keep our motorhome temperature down to 75 degrees.
Walk from Anastatia State Park to the St. Johns Pier Park

Music By the Sea & Volleyball at the Pier Park
     We stayed for a week at the Anastasia State Park because it was in the city of St. Augustine and there was plenty to do and see. It was a pleasant walk along the beach to a good selection of restaurants around the pier. We caught some of the "Music by the Sea", a free concert series at the St. Johns County Pier Park where there was good rock 'n' roll and lots of dancing. Dinner at the restaurant, Salt Life, across the street provided good food, more live music, and a view of the beach volleyball games at the Pier Park. 

Free Beach Bus to Historic St. Augustine
      One day we walked about a mile from the Anastasia State Park to the trolley stop at the Alligator Farm to catch the free shuttle to the Old Town Trolley for a tour of the historic district of St. Augustine. The tour was well worth the price as we got an informative overview of the history of St. Augustine in a short amount of time. We learned about the many extravagant hotels that Henry Flagler built in the late 1800's to bring tourism to Florida. Then we walked around the downtown, saw a reenactment of a colonial day battle, and had a nice dinner at Meehan's Irish Pub overlooking the Matanzas River.
Hotel Cordova, a Henry Flagler Hotel from 1888

Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse in the U.S.A.
Reenactment of a Colonial Battle

Drawbridge on the Matanzas River & Horse-Drawn Carriages
     Of the four Florida State Parks that we visited, Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine was our favorite. In addition to all of the places we were able to walk, there was a lake ideal for swimming, wind-surfing, and kayaking. The campground was far enough from the beach and town that it was an ideal area for bicycling. We rode our bikes a few miles from the state park into town one day for haircuts and color at a very professional salon called "London Looks Hair Design". Anastasia State Park and St. Augustine had all the services we needed and the area was great for our healthy RV lifestyle! Any town where we can walk, ride our bike, or ride a bus anywhere we want to go is our kind of town!
Anastasia State Park Windsurfing & Kayaking Area

Our Florida Beach Route
     After Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine, we were on our way to Jacksonville where we had tickets to the "Florida Country Superfest"! We had purchased our tickets months ago and were anticipating a great show. More on that later...
     See more of our adventures in the United States and Mexico at .


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  2. Thanks for reading my blog article and for your comments, Anamul.