Traveling along the Gulf Coast, watching miles and miles of coastline, definitely put me in a zen place. Plop me in front of a body of water and I am at peace. I prefer the ocean, but I appreciate lakes and rivers as well. In addition to the Gulf of Mexico, so far I have felt obligated to dip my toes into the Ochlockonee River and the Rocky Bayou. But seeing beautiful aspects of nature aside, I have discovered there are definite disadvantages to using roads less traveled. In exchange for avoiding interstate traffic and boredom, travelers on back roads miss the ubiquitous rest stops when the need arises to stretch the folded body or to use the bathroom. Although grocery stores are scattered here and there, they aren’t necessarily what I call full-service grocery stores. We stopped to restock food supplies at one small town USA grocery store and found such a dismal selection that our entire purchase consisted of two gallons of less than palatable water and a package of asparagus. If buying organic produce and alternative food items is your norm, their availability in the small town grocery store will probably be fleeting at best or more than likely, non-existent. Imagine my excitement when I spotted a Natural Food Store as we were passing through a town in the panhandle of Florida. Now imagine my disappointment when the loaf of bread I usually buy cost over $7 at said store, $3 more than I usually pay. Needless to say, I left that bread in the store. So do I need to say “it ain’t all good”?
Oh how I loathe thee!
In past years we would drive 12-16 hour days (on interstates) to get to a destination. Then drive 12-16 hour days to get home by a deadline. Part of the allure of this trip was having no deadlines or schedules and consequently avoiding interstates as much as possible. So after spending 5 days vs. the usual 12 hours getting out of Florida we needed to get to central Mississippi on a schedule. So instead of the 4-6 hour driving days on back roads we spent 8 hours on the road today with more than a few of them on I10. Erratic and inattentive drivers were the rule of the day. Add that to the homogeneity of today’s America along the interstates and it became a less than enjoyable day.
So please do us a favor, if you spot us on an Interstate during our travels please flag us down and direct us to the nearest back-road!
“On the road again Goin’ places that I’ve never been Seein’ things that I may never see again And I can’t wait to get on the road again” – Willie Nelson
Although this is my theme song, it isn’t quite true because our first stop is a wonderful island on the west-central Florida coast called Cedar Key that we visited four years ago. This place is a hidden jewel with old Florida charm and sans the commercialization of Walmarts and McDonalds.
We were hosted by a great couple, Pat and Cindy Bonish, who are the owners and operators of the Low Key HideawayÂ . Â Full service RV spaces and well-appointed suites are available. Â Located on the Gulf of Mexico, the Low Key Hideaway is famous for sunset watching off the pier. Ã‚Â The tiki bar is between the motel and the pier where you can get the Low Key Hideaway Special drink and a lemonade drink that is definitely not your kid’s lemonade!!! Â The tiki bar also offers a great selection of microbrews. We met fabulous and friendly guests at the tiki bar who made sure we didn’t go hungry. Â We were fed alligator tail, venison, clams, fresh-caught trout and red snapper. Yum Yum! Thanks Dan, Lori and Tilly and the rest of the gang for the great food and company!
The only disappointment we experienced while on Cedar Key is discovering the loss of one of the most striking structures we have seen on the water.
This building was called the Honeymoon Cottage, built as a vacation get-away for a family who lived in Gainesville. Â Over the decades, it has succumbed to the ravages of mother nature and is now no more.
So our two-day stay here has come to an end, but never will we forget the spectacular sunsets, hospitality and good eating!
Finishing the prep for our first post retirement trip. It’s going to feel good to be able to travel for the first time with no deadlines!
The schedule has been changed a few times but the basic premise is the same; Florida to the end of the road in Deadhorse Alaska and back. The route? Who knows, we’ll figure that out as we go. We hope to do a lot of back road/dirt road exploring and stay off the beaten track when we can. The truck and camper are “off the grid” capable for extended periods so we hope to do a lot of remote camping along the way.
This was a little shake-down run on the trailer in New Mexico last year. Nothing like views for miles and total seclusion!