Desiring sunshine and warmth, we decided to head down towards Key West, taking our time and ultimately spending December and January in mostly rain and cold.
On the three nice days (out of six) we spent in St. Augustine, I had the best time at Lighthouse Park! There were trails, shade, and beaches and everyone loved me. Well, that was before I was forced to submit to a grooming where I got a “puppy cut” – after that people looked at me and asked, “Poodle?” How annoying! The Historical St. Augustine was boring (for a dog like me anyway), but I did get to go into a doggie store where the Boss bought three bags of specially baked cookies; yum, yum. Ha, Ha – the “soft-serve” ice cream that Mr. Big bought turned out to be tasteless ice-milk, YUK! I was also allowed to go with B&B for a ride out to the Guano River Wildlife Preserve where the Boss took pics of the sunset – very strange – but at least I was not required to pose!
Our second stop was in Mims, memorable only because I ate something, don’t know what, that was really bad for me and ended up at Young’s Animal Hospital. Luckily, before all that, we were able to visit the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge which was interesting. There were lots of birds and turtles and I even saw an alligator (no, I wasn’t afraid and I didn’t bark!). Although still early in December, RVers staying at the Seasons in the Sun RV Resort had a Christmas Parade where they decorated golf carts and drove around after dark, throwing candy, waving, and generally making noise – I just watched!
Onward to the beautiful town of Hobe Sound and the Jonathan Dickenson State Park. The weather was great, the Hobe Sound Beach was beautiful (second only to the Florida National Seashore), and the ocean was an incredible blue/green/purple. I swam and romped (and then slept for several hours) like crazy! While there, we trekked all over the State Park and went to the top of the Observation Tower. I am beginning to like the Southern Florida Wetlands; especially the sunsets (too cold for bugs!).
At the Larry & Penny Thompson Park/Campground in Southwest Miami, I had a not-so-fun time. It was either totally overcast and cold or it rained for four of the six days that we spent there, and B&B left me home alone to take an Everglades Airboat Sunset Tour, visit Zoo Miami, and loose money at the local Casino – so unfair! Plus, at the Park next to the campground, there were No Dogs Allowed.
In the Florida Keys, we only made it as far as the Fiesta Key RV Resort in Long Key, about 60 miles north of Key West. Rationale for not going all the way to Key West – too much traffic and another four hours of driving! Out of the ten days we spent at Fiesta Key (which was a great little resort) it poured at some point during the day/night for seven days; what a drag! The Boss loved the blues of the waters and the colors of the sunsets, Mr. Big loved the girls in their bikinis, and I loved all the long walks and the hugs and pets from kids around the resort. On the few hot, sunny days B&B visited the Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park, had the “best” lunch at Wahoo’s, and drove back up to Key Largo for a patio lunch at the Conch House making a quick stop at Anne’s Beach (I went them on that trip). Christmas Eve was spent in the Winnebago pigging out on the special Pina Colada Cake that the Boss made and New Year’s Eve was spent having dinner in the resort’s outdoor seaside restaurant and consuming mass quantities of alcoholic beverages (I slept through both events).
Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon was our next major stop (that is, more than an overnight). The campground was really nice and it offered both tubing and kayaking down the Crystal River, but the weather (cold and mostly overcast and rainy) put a nix on those activities. We did walk through the very, very pretty Gardens which had many waterfalls and flowers, and a swimming area at the 72 degree Rainbow Springs – the headwaters of the Crystal River. I was not invited to lunch at Swampy’s but I heard that the Alligator Bites were very good (only kidding, neither the Boss nor Mr. Big would touch them, but the thought of a juicy alligator leg had my mouth watering).
Carrabelle Beach and the surrounding area is a favorite haunt of B&B’s so they were very unhappy to see, first-hand, the destruction that the 2018 Hurricane Michael had wreaked on the “Forgotten Coast.” From Carrabelle to Apalachicola to Mexico Beach (where Michael made landfall) almost everything had been flattened by the 165 mile/hour winds and many homes and businesses were not being repaired or rebuilt. The abundance of abandoned properties and smashed forests up and down Highway 98 made for a somber visit which was only made worse by the rain and cool weather. On a happier note, we did walk from the Carrabelle Beach RV Resort to the beach almost every day (sometimes twice a day), and, finally overcoming my fear of the surf, I actually swam, by myself, in the Gulf of Mexico. Mr. Big was thrilled (probably because he didn’t have to go in) and rewarded me with praise and treats. The Boss, not so much – apparently she didn’t enjoy cleaning up the sand and salt water drippings! Lunches, without me, were “drunk” at the Blue Parrot on St. Georges Island and the Owl Café in downtown Apalachicola and no-one took any pictures of me! Although I don’t understand why, I suppose that the Boss found the first full moon of 2020, the “Wolf” Moon, a more attractive subject. BTW, don’t ever order Pizza in Carrabelle Beach – it’s the worst ever, take it from me!
On arriving at Presnell’s Bayside Marina and RV Resort in Port St. Joe it was hot, the sun was shinning, the sky was blue, and the clouds where big, white, and puffy, and the Boss exclaimed “this is just beautiful!”. Well, that was the end of that… rain and cold for the next three days!
It was cold every day in Grayton Beach State Park (in the very pretty community of Santa Rosa Beach) and we only had one day of sunshine – which we spent walking the trails through the sand dunes. The Boss took pictures of the beach at sunset and I would have gone with her but Dogs were not allowed on the beach (what a bummer). Also, as much as I love cold weather, I was not allowed to stay hooked up outside the Winnebago because, of all things, Mr. Big has accused me of being a “digger” and said that he was tired of filling up holes! What a baby.
Our last stop in Florida was Pensacola where we stayed at the Pensacola Beach RV Resort. Rain, rain, rain! I am really tired of it. My routine on rainy days is now well established; get up, eat, take a morning walk, share a banana with Mr. Big, demand that the Boss play with me, take another walk, take a nap, eat lunch, take another walk, take an afternoon nap, eat dinner, take a walk, nap for a while, play hard with the Boss and or Mr. Big, take a last walk, and go to bed. About every third day I am subjected to a “brush-up” by the Boss – coat brushed, ears cleaned, paws trimmed, and teeth brushed. On our last day, Mr. Big charged up the nail grinder… I didn’t like the sound of that, something bad must be coming up! During our stay, B&B left me home alone several times to go shopping (or so they claim) – and I wonder why they come back home smelling like shrimp or ice cream?! I did get to go in the Jeep out to Fort Pickens where we walked around for a while. On the way back we stopped at one of the Pensacola “Dog Beaches” – I would have gone for a swim but dogs were not allowed to be off-leash, so I had to be satisfied with romping in the sand.
All in all, I can live without Florida – I’m hoping Mississippi will be better.
Y’all come back now, ya hear! Your buddy, Bones.
P.S. Don’t forget to check out the Florida pics in the Gallery!