That pretty well sums up our full-time RV travel lifestyle. We're used
to all sorts of adventures and mis-adventures in the last eleven years
of RVing all over the continent.
We had some more in these three day
trips we took from Kings Bay Sub Base in January and February.
Rainbow Springs State Park
Come along for the ride!
FLORIDA RV SUPER-SHOW IN TAMPA
This show is advertised as the largest or one of the largest
camping-travel expos in the country. We've heard about it for several years
but have never attended an RV show this big.
Even though we are not in the market for a new RV, we thought we
could accomplish several things by going to Tampa during the show in
mid-January -- check out
the camping options at McDill AFB, drive around the area to sightsee,
get information about disc brakes and other RV equipment at the vendor
booths, and yes, traipse through some well-made 5th-wheels and motorhomes to
see current costs and options just in case we get "new paint
fever" one of these days.
For simplicity's sake we decided to leave the Cameo at King's Bay and
stay at the Inn at McDill AFB for two or three nights.
We requested a room that allows dogs but those are available on a
space-only basis. The weather was supposed to be cool the days we were
at the RV show so we figured we could leave the dogs in the truck
overnight if necessary. Because so many people were in town for the RV
show we were unable to find a reasonably priced, pet-friendly motel room anywhere near the show grounds.
The four-hour drive to Tampa on a Thursday morning went as well as can be
expected in such a heavy traffic corridor on a cold, rainy day.
We got to the expo site at lunch time. The parking area for the expo was
HUGE and filled with hundreds of RVs belonging to people who were
attending the show. The cost to park an RV overnight was $20. As crowded
and muddy as the place was, we were glad we left our camper at Kings Bay.
Our daily parking fee for the truck was $6. Show entry was $10 each,
minus $1 coupons we had. We found a parking spot under a large tree in
case the sun came out. We left the dogs in the truck and they were fine
while we were exploring the show grounds the next couple of hours.
The show area was spread out over several acres and because of the cold,
misty weather the indoor venues were mobbed with people. There were fewer
people riding shuttle buses or walking around outside, checking out the
gazillion new RVs ranging in price from pop-up tent campers to very
expensive Class A motorhomes.
We spent time both indoors and out, but mostly in because our first
priority was checking out several supplier booths in the two large
We made a list of the vendors we wanted to see and their locations. We found
all of them except British Columbia -- America's Mailbox (our
mailing service in SD; they now have offices in FL
and TX, too),
Bigfoot auto levelers, Coach Net, Costco, CURT
hitches, Escapees RV club, MCD window coverings, Mor/Ryde, North to
Alaska, and Stop Your Trailer.
Jim had questions at several of the booths and spent the most time with
the guy he's been talking to on the phone re: disc brakes at Stop
We assumed we'd be back the next day so we didn't go look at the
Lifestyle 5th-wheel or Tiffin motorhome displays outside or the antique RV
display. We left about 3:30 PM to check into our room at McDill AFB.
Jim talks to the BigFoot rep about two of our
that needed to be replaced; he did the work
And that's when the
trouble started. Not only were there no rooms available where dogs were allowed,
they told us the security force would NOT allow us to leave our dogs in the truck overnight even
though it was overcast and cool. We tried to find a motel where we could
stay but that was rather hopeless with thousands of people in town for
We did drive around McDill AFB some, walked the dogs, and checked out
the campground. We had such a sour taste in our mouths about the base,
however, that we never did make reservations at the campground in March.
After getting some supper we drove back to Kings Bay in the rain. It
was a long day -- 14 hours total, and over 500 miles of driving.
Chalk that one up more to a mis-adventure than an adventure. We did
gather some important information, however.
RAINBOW SPRINGS STATE PARK
Our next day trip in Florida a couple weeks later was much more
pleasant -- no mis-adventures this time.
One reason was the near-perfect weather. Another was the lush
landscaping in the park, with colorful camellias and azaleas in bloom at
the end of January. And the entry fee was a low, low $2 each. That's
really inexpensive for a state park.
Cody and Casey had more fun on this trip, too -- leashed dogs are allowed on
the trails at
We learned about this park from the website of a couple on the Cameo
online forum. Their description and photos from a kayak trip on the clear stream below the
headsprings enticed us to drive 160 miles to see the place.
The park is located about 15 miles southwest of Ocala, a mostly
scenic, three-hour drive from Kings Bay. Although it was a sunny
Saturday there were only about 20 vehicles in the large headsprings parking
area when we arrived and the trails through the park were never crowded.
The headsprings area is beautiful. The water is very clear blue and
There are two swimming areas, canoe and kayak rentals, picnic tables,
and nice smooth trails winding through the live oaks and pines.
Sorry, Casey, you can't swim in there because of
possible resident alligators.
The landscape is very lush in the park, with thick ferns, mosses,
palmettos, and camellias and azaleas in bloom in early spring The
azaleas hadn't peaked yet but lots of colors were already visible at the
end of January:
A camellia bloom
Above and below: azaleas
We enjoyed walking around the hilly, winding trails and seeing several
waterfalls. Here are two of them:
There are another three miles of trails through the forest but we didn't
We spent about an hour wandering around a couple miles of the trails
with the dogs, then drove seven miles to the campground entrance. One
purpose of our trip was to determine if we wanted to camp there after
leaving Kings Bay in March.
Flowers in the butterfly garden
We could easily hike and kayak in the park but there aren't any good
roads for Jim to ride his bike so we decided not to camp there this
spring -- maybe another year.
The campground has about 65 sites; we saw perhaps 20 that would be
accessible for our 36-foot 5th-wheel. Most were a good size, with shrubs
and trees to screen for privacy. The RV sites are full hookup for
NAVAL STATION MAYPORT
One sunny day in February we took out of town guests on a tour
of this busy military seaport and air base.
We have camped at Pelican Roost RV Park on base three times previously for up to two weeks at a
time and love walking along the beach on base property. I've written
about our activities at Mayport several times and have shown lots of
We were delayed for about 20 minutes when we arrived that morning.
Base personnel were finishing an exercise in which they conducted a mock
attack on one of the ships in the naval yard and other ships came to its rescue.
We heard later on TV that various drills were being conducted at all
three of Jacksonville's Navy bases that week.
Because it was so windy in the grassy park across from the RV park we ate our
packed lunches in The Roost, the campground's nice activity building.
Then we walked two miles along the nearby beach.
The waves were higher than usual and we saw a couple dozen surfers. The
tide was very close to its peak; we couldn't tell for sure if it
was coming in or going out. There were a lot of shells at the edge but
none that were very collectible, like more interesting ones I've seen on
All of a sudden as we were walking along some of the sea gulls flew very
close to our heads:
That was unusual. Unbeknownst to the rest of us, Jim was feeding the birds!
He had some tiny Milk Bones that he broke in half, like he does for
Casey's treats when they play ball. He threw them into the air and the
birds caught them. Pretty soon more than a dozen gulls were flying over us.
The arrow marks a tiny piece of dog bone.
Yum! A dead fish!!
After a couple miles of walking along the beach
Jim drove through the nice residential area by the ocean, through the
long-term Osprey Cove RV Park, past some older, one-story housing,
and out to the naval yard where we could see the ships more closely.
One of our guests, a Navy veteran, was thrilled to see large
destroyers like the USS Carney.
We exited the base via the air strip so we'd come out near the ferry in the town of Mayport.
We waited about 15 minutes to board and had a front-row seat going
across the wide St. John River.
Posts marking the far end of the military property at the beach
On the other side of the river we drove AIA north past some parks along
the coastline, up to Amelia Island, and back home at Kings Bay.
Next entry: photos of pristine coastal scenery, wild
horses, and more from three day trips to Cumberland Island
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil