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Florida Winter getaway

  • Deciding to spend the winter in Florida like the Snowbirds we finish our home upkeep in Maryland and Doctor appointments, so we are free to be gone for an extended time.

    Tanya flew to Kiev, Ukraine to visit Mom and other family while Tom takes the RV to South Carolina to visit my son and family.

    Tanya Kiev trip was unlike other trips, her cousin was working in Germany and provided his home in Kiev to Tanya. Having a place to stay alone rather than staying with other family members provided time to herself to rest and relax. This also meant she was recharged and her visits to family and Mom were more interesting and fun. Interesting to learn how that impacted her visit.

    Tom’s visit with family had similar results for I was able to retreat to the RV for rest and recharge. Each evening grandson Zach and I would play a card game of cribbage, interestingly each night the end of the game would be so close with each of us within 3 points of ending. Wow I’ve never seen this before and it was really a thrill.

    Tanya returns from Kiev and I pick her up in Jacksonville, FL and begin our winter escape from the cold. It is the beginning of November and already 2 cold fronts have reached all the way to mid Florida. We stayed at Ocean Pond National Forest in north Florida. Nights are cold enough to snuggle under the heavy blanket and days are warm enough to kayak and fish. Sitting in the National Forest among the trees and a water view. Sunrise over the water is beautiful. What a way to begin this adventure!

    Another cold front is on its way so heading farther south we go to another National Forest, Ocala NF. It is 10 degrees warmer both day and night here! Good move! Thinking about it we have been doing this since the Rialta Rally in Vermont. I guess we have been acting like snowbirds all along. Planning to paddle the Juniper Springs river we decided to postpone this paddle to go over to Crystal Springs for the close of the spring itself on November 15 and I really did want to see the Manatees in the springs.



    Arranging a Boondockers Welcome stay near Crystal Springs we head over and launch the kayaks at a city park to paddle the Crystal River. Wow, the were so many Manatees in the river, this is the first time for both of us to see them up close and from a boat.  Huge mammals that breath air they would surface and raise their snout to blow air out.  One place they we're packed, there must have been 25 in this small cove and appeared to be sleeping, just floating and not moving.  It was kind of strange that there were so many and so immobile as we slowly paddled near them.

    The water in Crystal spring was so clear, sit a moment and allow the ripples from the kayak to dissipate and you could see the bottom as if it was not under water. No Manatees were in the spring itself currently for the surrounding waters were still warm. We were told that soon the water would cool and they would be inside the spring for the warmth of the constant 72 degree water all through the year.

    Stay with Randy and Sonya nearby and sharing life experiences was fun, they have had a great life and career. It is always so interesting to meet other people and share life’s experiences.  It was scheduled to have rain all day the next day so we're having a down day.  Good thing for Tanya has a cold starting, this is Friday, so she has the weekend to rest and let the cold work its way through.

    I kayaked the 12 miles of the Withlacoochee River to where it joins the Rainbow River, it is a wild and scenic river through cypress swamps. Very few houses and mostly near the end of the paddle with a slow current. Saw a few young hawks along the way (I recently learned they migrate during the fall). We are too far inland for the Manatees here.

    Traveling back to the Ocala National Forest intending to paddle the Juniper Spring River, Tanya’s cold goes deep in her chest and some fever too, so we look for a military hospital nearby to get it checked out. At this same time the job we were expecting to hear about in Miami became indefinitely postponed. Fortunately, another company called for work and although it means giving up the dream of spending the winter in south Florida at least there is work for the winter season.

    The ER in Jacksonville Naval Air Station was fantastic. Although they could not hear anything in Tanya’s chest, they took x-ray’s anyway and decreed pneumonia! Wow so glad we stopped and had this looked at. So now with drugs in hand we head north to DC for the winter.


    On the way north we stop at Jekyll Island to tour the Historic District. This is Tanya’s first time here and we enjoyed the tour. First time I have seen a Christmas tree with Magnolia flowers.




    A week later we have arrived and set up house in DC. Tanya’s pneumonia has cleared, and we have contact other Rialta friends in the area to meet up on weekends during the winter. This will be a great winter sharing with friends travels and experiences and keep the feeling of road warriors going throughout the winter. I plan to have some of the get togethers with a theme of “bring your favorite RV meal” so we can learn other recipes to have on the road!