Hippie Van Travels: Camping on St. George Island

Remembering a wonderful stop along our Hippie Van Road Trip — St. George Island in the Florida panhandle!

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The Beaches of St. Joe Peninsula

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St. Joe Peninsula — Day 3 of Journey Home

{Journal Entry}

‘Pulled out around 11 am and headed North on 301/27/441, we will take 441 N/W when we see it and hopefully hit 98.  *Camped at St. Joe Peninsula last night.  I met a nice Mother-Daughter (Rebecca & Nicole) camping team, set up right beside us in a Classic Serro Scotty Vintage Travel Trailer.  I loved their rig as much as they loved ours!

We sat up ’til way into the early morning….laughing and talking, tossing back a few cold ones, just having girl time.  Lucky for me, Nico is great with Baby….so I kinda had the night off.  Come to find out, they are Florida ladies.  I exchanged emails with Rebecca so we can keep in touch.

*About St. Joe*

Beautiful beach.  Had Fun fun fun!  Watched a show-stopping sunset!  We hope to return someday soon.  Loved the beach and company, though the sites are really close together and very hard to get.  I’d definitely make reservations for out next visit.

Leaving The Florida Keys

Three weeks had gone by like a blink of an eye, and our stay in the Florida Keys was coming to an end.  It was time to start heading back to Tejas.  Even though we would’ve loved to stay in the Keys forever, we had obligations with the coming of our first grandchild.  Sometimes life just works out that way I guess.

And while the anticipation of a baby is usually a happy time, our’s was bitter-sweet, as our grand baby’s father had been murdered when my daughter was just two months pregnant.  It was a traumatic experience for her, to say the least.  So, while we’d been gone for almost two months, we had known all along that we would have to be there for her in her last trimester.  She had been spending time with her dad and brother in the time we’d been gone.  She was safe–of this we were sure.

So…the morning came when we sorted through the belongings we’d somehow accumulated in three weeks’ time, and begun to rid our ourselves of the things we knew we couldn’t carry and were sure one of our new friends could use.  T.J. was glad to take the small TV we’d been using for Baby.

We said our good-byes after the van was packed to the gills, and headed back up Overseas Highway; hoping to make it past Homestead by nightfall.  I sat quietly in my ‘copilot’s’ seat until the tears began to fall.  I could not contain my sadness for leaving this place we’d called home for almost a month.  To me…it felt more like home than the place to where we were returning.  I was overcome with grief.  Nico held my hand, comforting me from where he sat.

The scene was always like a dream: the endless miles of beautiful aqua blue water, the historic railroad bridge beside Bahia Honda State Park, the old abandoned Overseas Highway that is now used more for a footbridge or for bicyclists.  I was in love with this place for its quiet calmness, peaceful waters, even the ‘sometimes stinky’ mangrove swamp.

We had bonded with Key West the evening we sang at the Sunset Celebration on Mallory Square.  I remember, as we walked to our first gig as Street Performers, looking down at the well-worn and weathered brick streets in Old Towne…thinking how I’d love to walk barefoot on them.  The pirates who’d come to Key West hundreds of years before had walked those same streets.  I was fascinated by the idea of walking in their same steps.  Hopeless romantic…I am!

One thing I know for sure — I will always treasure our time in The Florida Keys and the nice people we met, the friendships we formed.  There is a special place in my heart reserved just for Key West and Sugarloaf Key.  To me….they will always feel like home.  I pray someday…soon, the wind will catch our sails and we will find ourselves there once again.  A girl can dream…a girl can pray.

.V..

Hippies on Duval Street in the Florida Keys

Okay, so we’d been lingering a lot on Sugarloaf Key and not had too much time for Key West until…  Until we decided we had to know more of the island that our friend T.J. swore to us was ‘much better than we’d so far experienced’.  *not word for word*  We knew we’d have to make a day of it and, once and for all, see it for ourselves; Duval Street…Southernmost Point and everything in between.

In no time at all, Peniki was blaring down Overseas Highway at 55 mph and we were once again on Key West.  This time, we’d left our bikes back at Lazy Lakes and opted to go afoot.  We tried to think like the local Conchs and check out the ‘not so touristy’ spots where, in our opinions, the local-focal were likely to frequent.  In our search, we ended up at a little outdoor bistro with a tropical setting like no other we’d seen anywhere near Duval…complete with talking birds.  One Mango Daquiri later, I was sure we’d made the right decision by choosing to take a more intimate look at Key West and Duval Street.  We were fast becoming friends with the Florida Keys.

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!

Travels: A VW Westy & Hippies at Heart

Day 22 In the Florida Keys:

Woke up….packed up a partially set-up camp, deciding to leave and explore Key Largo.  Gotta find a WiFi signal soon.  A little while later, stopped at a little sandwhich shop near the Publix Market and used the internet there.  We met a few nice folks–Kim the shop clerk and Brent the owner of the shop.  I got Kim’s FB info and we decided to keep in touch.

Had initially planned on heading to Big Pine Key to camp for a few days; at least until we went and checked the only available spot at Breezy Pines RV Campground.  It was a ‘no go’ there!  Bad energy and too many shady looking characters.  We ventured further down…closer to Key West, even though it was late in the day.  I’m glad to say, after much fear we would end up w/o a spot for the night, we landed at Lazy Lakes on Sugarloaf Key.  This is a happy and peaceful place to be.  Love it here!