Florida; Home for the Holidays

Sorry it has been so long since our last post, things have been busy on the Home on the Highway front. When we last left you we had just entered Florida right around Thanksgiving time. We spent the holiday bouncing between our two parents houses and seeing friends anywhere and everywhere in between.

Beautiful Ladies, Impressive genes!DSCF0120

Vacation Dad! and his beautiful daughters out for a pleasure cruise on their boat.
DSCF0146

You get two opinions of Florida, those who think it is a tropical paradise and others who think its nothing but a muggy retirement home. Like most things in life, Florida is all about the timing, and November is PRIME TIME for adventuring in our homestate. The mercury drops, humidity vanishes, bugs and tourists are banished, and we get to enjoy these pristine months in shorts and t-shirts relaxing on the beach while the rest of the country is bundled up fighting off Jack Frost. Needless to say, I love Florida.

November? Yep!

After we wrapped up Thanksgiving in Tampa with Lauren’s folks we headed down to Miami for a bit to hang out with my family. First order of business… FISHING. My crazy Uncle Wendell was happy to take the family out for a day of hunting dolphins. My Uncle is a true Old man of the Sea, not a lick of electronics to be found on the boat, no fancy GPS, no fish finder, none of the gauges actually work, hell I don’t even think there was a UHF radio on the thing.  We fish by sight, smell, and feel out here.

IMG_2299

IMG_2267

My brother Jonathan and Mama Dukes, 80’s stylin on the fishing trip

FISH ON!IMG_2307

Nice little Dolphin, To take the skunk off the boat
IMG_2293

Laurens turn at bat
IMG_2311

Sushi time! Blackfin on the menu
IMG_2320

Put a few more in the boat and headed back in for dinner.
IMG_2328

Happy Captain and Crew!

Next day we headed on down to the Florida Keys, one of my favorite places on earth. My folks have had a timeshare down in Key Largo forever and I have been exploring these mangrove waters as long as I can remember. I love it down here. Old Florida still survives in places like these.

Mom, Daddio, and yours truly.

IMG_3629

I wanted to take Lauren down to see the Everglades, one of Florida treasures. The Everglades is a biological wonder not replicated anywhere in the entire world. “The River of Grass” is a slow moving shallow body of water which used to flow from Lake Okeechobee in Central Florida all the way on down south over the Florida peninsula out to the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately due to construction, canals, and agriculture demands we have managed to completely screw up this natural flow of water reducing the size of the everglades unique ecosystem to less than 75% of its original area. Luckily we have finally wised up and are making attempts to restore this rare habitat.

IMG_2160

Osprey

River of Grass

The hell!? Hoodlum vultures
IMG_2169

Anhinga
IMG_2232

Wrapping up in the 305, We hung out with an old friend, Frank the Tank!, before we headed back up to Orlando. Great seeing you guys!
IMG_3620

In Orlando we met up with another great friend of ours, Doug, who you might remember from our Rae Lakes Trip. Doug shares our love for adventure traveling and we loaded up the 4x4s for a camping trip in the Ocala National Forest, another beautiful Florida landscape, replacing coastal Palms with Florida scrub pines. Doug is in the process of downsizing his life to move into his truck as well. He will soon be joining the overlanding crew!

IMG_3811

IMG_3780

IMG_3784

Doin’ what we do best
IMG_3826

It’s not really camping till the guns come out.. Look at that form! Oo-RAH!
IMG_3865

After Ocala, Lauren headed back to Tampa to hang out some more with the familia. They headed over to Busch Gardens for some fun with her sisters and nieces.

DSCF0104

Xmas Neels

DSCF0119

To really round our entire Florida tourist punch-card there was only one place left to go….

IMG_3871

Who needs the PanAm? We got Mexico right here!
IMG_3874

IMG_3876

My best-bud Jack and I.  During our college years, We traveled and worked our way across the country for 9 months in an 87 Chevy Conversion Van. Built a bed and a kick ass stereo system in the back. We had a cooler full of beer and a dream to make it to Los Angeles, all you need for an ultimate life changing road-trip. Man… we shoulda never sold that van!

IMG_3902

Unfortunately I didn’t get many pics of Orlando and missed out on lots of pics of my buddies. Huge Thanks to Kevin for helping me rig up the spare battery under the truck and thanks to Lauri for letting us crash at your house. Thanks to TrashCat for nothing!

One last stop before we could leave Florida. We headed down to Lake Placid to visit the place where all this rambling got into my bones…

Grandmas!

IMG_3923

My grandma and grandpa (R.I.P.) would pile all of us kids, cousins, parents, pets and whoever was standing around at the time into this monster of a motorhome and take us on excursions all over the U.S when we were young. I have so many great memories as a kid cruising the highways and byways of this great nation, seeing tons of national parks, camping, and enjoying the adventure of the cruise. I do believe if it was not for this very motorhome I would not be the person I am today. I love you grandma and grandpa, thanks for providing us another window to the world.

We scooted up from Lake Placid to Atlanta to visit one of Laurens friends, Crystal, and check out the Atlanta Aquarium. Atlanta Aquarium is badass, they have a HUGE 8.6 million gallon tank. This gigantic tank houses over 250,000 fishes, including 4 giant Whale Sharks. The Atlanta Aquarium is the only aquarium in the US to house Whale Sharks. Crystal and Quentin’s new baby loved seeing all the fishes. Good seeing you guys!

I loved this quote on this bench “History is written by those who make the wake. Not by those who ride on it nor by those who watch safely from shore.”

Tried to steal one for you Michelle, they caught me smuggling it out in my jacket.
IMG_3936

After Atlanta we started West again, Destination: Austin, TX. We camped a night or 2 along the way in some national forests in Mississippi and Louisiana.

IMG_4011

IMG_3999

Had to stop by a Drive-Through Daiquiri stand in Louisiana for some roadies.
IMG_3990

IMG_3997

I am typing this post from the back of the truck, currently parked INSIDE of Ruined Adventures house in Austin, TX. They have a badass warehouse/loft and we were able to pull our truck inside and now are camping in style. We have a long-list of loose ends to tie up but we should be heading south to Mexico here in a few days. FINALLY!

IMG_4025

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • email