Posted by: wheelsandfeet | March 14, 2011

From Cape Canaveral on to the west!

Good grief.  A lot has happened since the space shuttle launch!  It has been a whirlwind of travel and road trippin for us.  From Cape Canaveral we scooted across northern Florida via Jacksonville and Tallahassee.  The road through northern Florida was pretty uneventful.  I (Pat) had done it a couple times before and was not looking forward to it.  But, a surprisingly cool little rest stop lightened the mood quite a bit!  At first, when we found out the bathrooms at the rest stop were out of commission our mood was not lightened, as you can imagine.  The alternative was to find a tree, of course!  well, in looking for that said tree I stumbled upon an awesome little boardwalk trail through some cyprus swamp!  Nice!  crazy the highway upkeep folks didn’t market this trail more for all the work that was put into it.

-sidebar:  as we’ve taken time to see the country and what the people have to offer, it’s amazing how close a business can be to making some serious profit and basically just chooses not to take that last little step to stick it’s head above the rest-

But, since it wasn’t marketed (back to the boardwalk trail…), no one else was on it!  Malto had a great time and we were sure to keep him from jumpin into the murky unknown of southern cyprus swamp.

Off to Wakulla Springs! This place is fantastic and very user friendly for some day use recreation.  preserved well.  even the tour boats (yep, touristy, but worth it.) were electric.  Alligators, snakes, variety of birds and turtles, plant life, crystal clear water and worthy side notes like, “Over there is where The Creature From The Black Lagoon was filmed.”  also, Tarzan and a few other films were made at Wakulla Springs.  12 miles and 320 feet deep as explored so far.  250 millions gallons of water comes out of the springs daily.  fossilized mastodon skeletons. take an interactive tour on the webpage to explore the cave for yourself! interesting stuff. florida is pretty surprising.

then off to more of the panhandle!  ever hear of Alligator Point?  We hadn’t either! it was pretty cool. recently known for the clamming as highlighted on the TV show America’s Dirtiest Jobs.  classic setting.  The peninsulas in Florida are so cool.  and…POOF!  THE SUN WENT DOWN! again? where the heck are we going to sleep?  “Oh, there’ll be a Wal-Mart or a rest stop somewhere…”  HAH! not this time.  Enter in Hotel Boondocking, as the road trippers so eloquently call it.

Off to Destin!  Destin, Florida.  “If it wasn’t for the Hurricane of ’95 (that’s Hurrican Opal), this place wouldn’t have been so developed.” huh?  I thought hurricane’s were devastating to the local economy!  well, since this hurricane hit Destin, the development took off like wildfire and now the hotels line the beaches like they think they’re on the florida atlantic coast!  crazy.  but there are beaches that are saved and preserved.  where the road used to run the beach and folks were passively allowed to camp alongside it pretty much anywhere, the road has been rerouted and the beach sand dunes have been preserved and are now state park or they are littered with hotels…amazing coastline, though.  The Emerald Coast to which it is commonly referred.  beautiful white powder sand, the kind that squeaks when you walk on it, that runs into the turquoise waters.  RV HEAVEN is Destin.  There’s the Hilton at Sandestin that might ring a bell.  highly advised to not stay at Henderson Beach.  although it’s beautiful, it’s busy.  Very Busy.  There’s a beach called Grayton Beach State Park that is a more mellow stay.  We didn’t stay there but know that it’s not as busy and the beach is just as perfect.  We also stayed at Topsail State Park for a night.  Great place for campin.  cheap and clean. the walk to the beach is quite a ways, though. 1/2 mile…but that keeps the place mellow!

From Destin we cruised through Mobile for some awesome oysters…and some Mardi Gras paraphernalia from a parade the day before.  We learned that Mardi Gras actually started in Mobile!

Our learning curve for the south really started to shape up at this point.  We learned a bit from Nicole’s friend, Carol, who was gracious enough to let us stay at her place for a night in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.  A fine night of dinner and wine, gettin a basic 1,2,3 on the local area, and a clean bed! NICE! Thanks so much Carol!  Mmm…and the doughnuts at the local bakery…mmmm.

The road continued down the Gulf Coast.  From here, we began to see some of the real devastation of Hurricane Katrina.  A beautiful coastline and beautiful white sand beaches as far as the eye could see.  Across the road inland, a cement staircase leading to no where.  where there were once amazing mansions, No house.  where there were gorgeous Oaks, No trees.  An address painted on the sidewalk.  devastating.  a 10 story hotel deserted.  the beach deserted.  We went to get gas and the gas station was out.  it was eery.  There was a fella at the gas station whose wife went back to college in Minneapolis.  He asked me how long the drive was to get back to Minneapolis.  I wasn’t sure, our route was a bit indirect… 😀  but I guessed maybe 20 hours…he said he was heading up there at the end of the month. he couldn’t wait.  couldn’t wait to get out of there. Biloxi.  wish we had more time to check out the heart of it. spend some dough in an area hard hit.  years from the time of the disaster still struggling.

okay! MARDI GRAS!  Time for New Orleans!  It was all too easy to pull in to New Orleans and get in touch with a buddy of a good friend from College.  Thanks to Jon hooking us up with his buddy Jon, we were able to store our vulnerable stuff (bikes, kayaks) in a safe spot in Jon’s courtyard.  Thanks Jon! 😀 Pat O’s is a damn lucky establishment, my friend. a short walk from the French Quarter with port-a-jons a couple blocks away set up for the big Mardi Gras shindig! Perfect!  Ohhh, we spent some quality time in New Orleans. Such a wanderer friendly city.  slept in the VW right on the street in front of Jon’s place.  so cool. so cool.  We lived it up! Saw The Radiators live at Tipitina’s, a MUST SEE music venue. had crawdads! Beignets! burgers at Port of Call! Jambalaya! Beans and Rice! MMMmmmm.  Hurricanes! Shrimp Gumbo! Mardi Gras Beads!  Parades! when you go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, don’t hesitate. have a great time.  easy easy to stay mellow! just get off Bourbon St.  easy, EASY, to get CRAZY!  BUT REALLY, when you’re on an adventure, it’s hard to kick back and let loose from kickin back and lettin loose!  strollin down royal. listening to the street musicians. watching the street performers…some of the best in the world.  enjoy New Orleans, a city of heart and soul.  just don’t get into a fight or piss on the street and you won’t end up in jail!  😀

I’m gonna stop here for now…so we can get some pictures in here.



  1. pat and nichole, glad you made wakulla! i was snorkeling there and from 30 yards way a manatee swam up to me and we played together for 45 minutes. we splurged and spent the night in the lodge there, great walking trails. enjoy your trip! new orleans is one of the great cities in america. safe travels. steven and louise

  2. new orleans was fantastic. my fifth time there and it continues to intrigue me. nicole’s first time and it was a great first time! always able to find a mellow new orleans even during mardi gras. funny about the manatee! that’s fantastic. when we were there the kids were in full force on the diving platform. I ALMOST joined them…but the boat ride was worth the diversion and lost interest after that. great park. classic. the lodge looked pretty fancy! looked like a great place to rest your head and eat some good eats. the other springs we visited earlier were not as well preserved. that was good to see. now in carlsbad. hope to get some photos up soon! great to hear from you, of course. oh yeah, we visited an agate ranch in texas near big bend called woodward ranch to try to find a Red Plume Agate! found one! they claim it’s the only source of the famed Red Plume Agate. it was fun. we may have visited this ranch whether or not we had met you, but maybe not! 🙂

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