Off the Grid in The Florida Keys

We’d lost all track of time or day by the end of our first week in The Florida Keys.  Sugarloaf Key had proven to be a perfect landing spot for our little family; our old rig a welcome sight to practically everyone at Lazy Lakes.  I had the feeling that most folks didn’t know quite what to make of the ‘Hippies’ in the classic Volkswagen Westfalia Van.  I was proud of Peniki…beyond measure!

So we’d survived Publix Market that first trip to Key West; never to return again.  Winn Dixie had proven to be our grocery store of choice on the island.  As for short ‘beer runs’ and other necessities, we biked on over to Kickin’ Back Market a few miles up from Sugarloaf Key, or just made a quick jaunt over to the KOA Campground Store…right next door to Lazy Lakes.

We had fallen into a laid-back routine by our second week in the Keys:  I fed the fish right behind our camp-home every morning, Nico had his regular visits from friends for guy talk out by the street or sittin’ around our little abode.  And even though it had been our intention to ‘rough it’ while we were on this adventure, it seems the kindness of others had lavished us with a few of the ‘finer’ things of camp-life; furnishing us with a TV hooked up to cable, fans, and a few chairs we’d really needed, freshly caught Mahi Mahi steaks, and some of the best company I believe we’ve ever shared.  I really was loving life in the Florida Keys.  Still, in my deepest subconscience…I knew, we would soon be returning to the rat-race to welcome our first Grandson into this world.  If only, I thought to myself often, we could have everyone we love in one place…this place, I would never have wanted to be land-locked…ever again.

All in all, we stayed a full 3 weeks in the Florida Keys, and loved every minute of it!  After that night at T.J.’s barbecue, we were destined to sing our songs on Mallory Square, for all of Key West to hear at the Sunset Celebration.  It was an entirely different gig for us; an unforgettable experience I’ll forever cherish.  I met a man who made an impact on my life; a fellow, much more seasoned, street performer.  His name was Dr. Zeaus (spelling?), though I cannot recall his real name.  I hope someday I can remember.  Either way, we had an interesting conversation about life and the way people aren’t allowed to live the way they wish anymore…in this day and age.  How we both feel that folks are no longer really ‘free’.  I’m sure our beliefs would be met with much opposition, but to each his own.  Right?

Needless to say, Nico and I took Gypsy Vin Rose to the Sunset Celebration on Key West and the evening was truly magical!  Just as the sun was setting, we sang our hearts out; one of our favorite original songs ‘Time’.  The music…the moment…the bit of money we made from passersby…the memories made…the much-appreciated words of a stranger “You guys have great spirit.”  I’ll never…ever forget such words of encouragement.  Still, no one was ever more encouraging when it came to our music than our friend T.J.  And even though the CD we left him with was still just a rough-cut, live and unedited, he loved it just the same as if it were our polished studio work.  It was real!  As we know GVR must always stay!  To us, our songs need to flow like the water, remain free as the wind: that is the voice of Gypsy Vin Rose.  To us…anyway.

As for our thoughts on Key West, besides that first bad experience at Publix, we took rather well to the island life and the Conchs thereabouts.  Riding bikes, snapping pics, fishing, kicking back with friends, swimming, touring and lunching on Key West, and singing at the Sunset Celebration.  So many things about our three weeks in The Florida Keys, not to mention the wonderful new friendships we’d formed, are memories I’ll always treasure.  And because there is still so much to tell, I couldn’t possibly cover it all in one sitting.  I invite you to keep posted.  The adventure is just beginning!

 

 

 

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Three Weeks in the Florida Keys

Day 2 on Sugarloaf Key:

For us…this morning was a new beginning.  The light of day had brought with it a better view of Lazy Lakes Campground and the clear water lake beside us.  More of our new neighbors stopped for a friendly ‘hello’ and to tell a few tales of their younger days when they either owned or knew someone who’d owned a Hippie Van like Peniki.  Still, we seemed to be frowned-down-upon by the more ‘uppity’ clan of big-riggers; the ‘old codgers’ I call them.

All in all, the folks at LL are turning out to be a pretty warm bunch of retirees, part time beach bums, or full time ‘conchs’ as they so lovingly refer to native residents or transplant natives of The Florida Keys.  Again, our new friend T.J. happened by on his bicycle…on his way down to a little store called Kickin Back, a mile or so down Overseas Highway.  Being the nice person he is, he asked if we needed anything while he was there.  Lucky for us, we were well packed, and at that time only needed to buy more ice for our ice box.  The campground office sells ice and is really laid back on when campers pay.  Like I said, Lazy Lakes is just the place to go for a relaxing vaca in the Keys.

For most of our first full day on Sugarloaf Key, we’ve lolly-gagged about on our bikes with baby in tow, met a few more nice locals, and relaxed for the first time in days; got a little fishin’ in too.  We ended our day with a few brewskies by our trusty old VW Van, overlooking the myriad of fish from the ‘backyard’ of our new place in the Keys; however temporary it might be.

Tomorrow will be a busy day when, in addition to the barbecue we’ve been invited to at T.J.’s, we will head in to check out Key West, pick up a few more groceries and supplies…and see how the local ‘Conchs’ live.  I can hardly wait!

VW Westfalia Family Road Trip — Hippies at Heart


Day 20–Mother’s Day:  Flagler Beach to Sebastian Inlet SP

Mother’s Day today!  Woke up around 9:00 or so to a beautiful sunny day on Florida’s East Coast.  Lovely ocean waves in the distance; I can barely hear them from our campsite at Flagler Beach’ Gamble Rogers State Rec Area.  We really do like it here.  The facilities are nice, with clean restrooms right across from us, and a laundry facility as well.  I can see the Atlantic Ocean from our temporary front yard.  ;  )

Nico cooked breakfast, made some coffee and fed Baby too.  Flagler is a very inviting place, but I think we’ve decided to press onward.  We were up and gone by noon, but in our travels, we’ve discovered that A1A Highway along the Atlantic Coastline, is NOT a friendly road!  We were going the speed limit of 55 mph, but cars were still idiotically passing on the wrong side of a skinny two lane road…with no shoulder to pull over if needed.  Crazy Drivers!  We escaped A1A as quickly as possible, and opted to take Highway 1 on down from Ormond Beach.  The SP there was nice, but still not the best we’ve seen.

Stopped near Daytona for drinks/ice/gas, and decided to head for Sabastian Inlet SRA.  [Note to Self: Daytona…YUK!  No Go There Again!]  A little while later, there we were at a nice campsite across from the Gulf side of Florida, watching the sun set over the water.  ‘Met a nice couple from Jacksonville–Eddy and Suzanne Shores–camped out next to us at Sebastian Inlet.  But we quickly realized that the Park Hosts really ‘STINK’ there!

Travelling with Baby in a VW Hippie Van

We travel for up to 6 months out of the year, and more often if we’re lucky.  Part-time living/traveling with our little one in Peniki, our Vintage VW Westfalia, is what life is all about for our family.  For us…it’s the way to go!

Here’s a little story that was recently published on Green RV Living, about how we roll…and live PT Off the Grid.  God Bless and Happy Travels!

*Peace!*

http://cheapgreenrvliving.com/Family_IN_VW_Bus

Travels: A VW Westy & Hippies at Heart

Day 18: Econfina River State Park from St. George Island

 

Pulled out of St. George at around 12:30 PM on Friday.  We said goodbye to Rob West; our nice camphost from Pennsylvania.  ‘Found an island grocery market and a ATM, then stopped-off at a little roadside seafood stand and bought the day’s catch directly from the fisherman who’d caught it that morning. What we bought:

1 lb shrimp, 2 lbs red snapper filets, 2 crab cakes.  Yum!  I’d be cooking the cakes later on down the road, along with the shrimp, and the fish I planned to save and cook the next day since it was frozen.

While at the seafood stand, we met a nice man, a retired college professor.  He loved the van!  : ))  We love St. George Island!  …hate to leave.  We both agree we could live quite happily on Saint George Island.  Never know…maybe some day!

*Beautiful drive along coastal 98 headed East, as we were leaving the long bridge to/from St. George.*

We stopped at an IGA in Carrabelle, FL for groceries and stuff.  The ladies at the store were really nice and helpful.  You don’t see that everyday!  *Cute little town, that Carrabelle!  I took pics of a kewl wooden boat-bar.  Love it!!  We wanted to stop, but we had to forge ahead.

Refueled in Pancea while down the road, and had every intention of going on to our desired destination, but considering the time-of-day and how tired we were, we decided to camp for the night at Econfina River State Park.  Come to find out, there were no campsites at the park, so we found a rural spot at a private compground up the road and secured a spot for $17.  Not too bad!  And the primitive site was very secluded and lush with Palmettos and Palms…and that scary Spagnum Moss hanging from the trees.  It reminds me of the Scooby-Doo mysteries every time I see it. Lol  This trip, we’ve seen it a lot too.

*Nice old bald man (The ‘old bald man’ part…his words, not mine.  lol) named Ron, who we met back at Econfina while asking for directions, loaned me some sunblock/bug repellent called ‘Cactus Juice’.  It comes from Texas!  hahaha  Good stuff!  We used a little then returned it to the store nearby, per his request, the next day before we pulled out.  He said he knew the folks there at the store and they’d hold it til he came in the next fishin trip…that next weekend more than likely. : )

We cooked the shrimp from St. George on the open fire-pit that night.  It was delicious!  Once we turned in, we had a bit of a scare when we heard some goings-on outside our camp.  Blanca had been fixated by something out in the woods all day since we’d arrived.  Nico went out (I begged him not to, but…you know men) to see what it was, but seemed rather spooked when he came back in.  He said what ever it was, it was circling our campsite, was very heavy…and very fast.  Needless to say, he stayed in after that.  ; )

Obviously we made it through the night, or I guess you wouldn’t be reading this.  Haha  It had been a good day…all in all.  Many…many Blessings!

A VW Westfalia & Hippies at Heart: Grayton Beach to St. George Island, Florida


Day 16:

Met a nice couple from Gainesville, FL this morning who bought a copy of our CD (First one sold!!  Yay!!!).  Huck told us that he’s a native of New York State and his wife Leah is from Colorado.  They had two sons, and they were there at Grayton Beach SP on a family camping trip.  Nice people!  I hope they keep in touch.

We finally hit the road at around 2 PM (Ugh!!), leaving Grayton Beach headed East on 98.  It was a nice drive with no complications.  Yay!!  ‘Arrived at St. George Island State Park after passing over a three-mile-long bridge and snapping a few pics of the lighthouse there on St. George.  While we were stopped at the Ice Machine, an older couple pulled up in a golf cart wanting to snap a pic of us; the Hippies in the VW Van.  Too Kewl!

Arriving at SGI SP, we paid for a couple nights and set to work on camp.  ‘Met camp-host Rob West from Pennsylvania while buying firewood for our campfire-to-be.  Settled in for the night after setting up rig and cooked a bit on the fire.  Turned in at a reasonable time…for a change, but didn’t get much sleep (for a good reason, this time).  Nico and I made up for lost time.  Yayah!

Not bad for a day’s work!  We were lovin’ St. George Island so far.

A VW Westfalia & Hippies at Heart: Grayton Beach State Park


Day 15: 

Finally…time to sit still and enjoy the beach.  We paid for 2 nights, and boy…was I ever glad we did.  Nico loved it at Grayton as well.  The beach was a wonder of white sand and perfect waves.  We surfed as much as we possibly could on a surfboard with ‘no wax’!  Whoooaaa!  Slippery when wet!  Lemme tell ya!  But…even still, we had a blast being kids again!  It seems having a little one in our forties has brought a bit more of the kid out in the both of us.  Gotta love that!

Even though this particular day was rather a blur of fun, surfing, exploring, biking to the beach and around the park and such; even a bit of foraging for wild blackberries…growing beside the park road, it was just what the doc ordered.  By day’s end, I actually felt fulfilled and rested…all in one.  And while Nico had gone to take a shower, and baby slept soundly beside me, I found my Zen and wrote a song; singing the tune into my Zoom recorder…just so I wouldn’t forget what had come to me.  It’s an upbeat…beachy…reggae-ish kind of islandy sound.  I can hardly wait to get the music right on it so we can record.  The day was  a success…if only for that reason, though there were so many more reasons for a girl/Mom/Wife to feel blessed.

Happy…Happy Day at Grayton Beach State Park.  A wonderful place to see on Florida’s Gulf Coast.  I know we will visit again.