Got five days? “Maximize your adventure opportunities with an RV.” That was our mantra for the second part of our 2016 RV adventures in Southern Florida. Picking up a 37’ Class A Thor Challenger motorhome from Planet RV in Broward County, FL, we were off in search of three of Florida’s must-do activities.
Key West, Florida
If you’ve ever wanted to experience some of the most beautiful seaside locations in the US, Key West has to be right up near the top. Even the 120+ mile drive through the Florida Keys is a visual treat with the multi-hued Atlantic Ocean out one window and the Gulf of Mexico out the opposite window. Huge, puffy white cumulus clouds accent the deep blue skies making each passing bridge a post card worthy sight.
Driving our Class A motorhome meant we could appreciate more than most. Sitting high above the cars around us, we already had a perfect line of sight to the horizon around us. Add to that a windshield big enough to swallow a cow, and we had a picture-framed vista for all these Rembrandt worthy scenes.
Most windshields in passenger cars, no matter how large, are broken up with that rear view mirror smack in the middle. Chances are, even if there is a beautiful cloud formation above, you are only going to see the bottom of it. Not so in a Class A motorhome. From the dash to the ceiling, most grade school children could stand straight up in the front window. It’s that tall…and that makes for a great view. We even got to watch a waterspout as we crossed Marathon Key.
But all that was an unexpected bonus on our drive to Key West. We were actually heading there to watch the sunset from Sunset Pier and score some Key Lime pie and Sea Salt Caramel’s from Sweet Pete’s. In addition, the Mahi tacos at Sunset Pier were absolutely amazing, ranking right up there with the Lake Perch tacos in Put-In-Bay, Ohio, also known at the “Key West of the Midwest”.
If you travel this way, we’d definitely recommend Boyd’s Key West Campground, just outside Key West on Stock Island. Just outside their gates you can catch any of three buses that take you into downtown Key West. Parking of RV’s is not allowed in the city and their aren’t any lots that seem to accommodate them either. Here are some scenes from our first night in Key West:
The elusive Florida Panther
Chances of seeing a wild panther during a drive to the Everglades are probably similar to those of winning the PowerBall lottery, but it was worth the chance. Driving to the southern tip of Everglades National Park it was fun to watch how the surrounding vegetation changed, the further south we ventured, the thicker it got. Long story short – 0 Panthers; 19,773 mosquitos.
[Oops – the Florida panthers aren’t black – my bad!]
The big excitement was watching a great blue heron take off, right in front of our windshield!!! It was like watching it on the big screen as we drove 40 mph right toward this magnificent bird. Luckily, as we rapidly braked, it swerved at the very last moment, avoiding becoming a hood ornament.
Parking here in the Everglades – no problem. At the Flamingo campgrounds, they offer only electric, pull through sites, but the price was extremely reasonable – $15.00 per night for Golden Passport members. Admission to the park was free in connection with the 100th anniversary of the National Parks this year.
Southern Florida’s biggest outlet mall
Miramar Outlet Mall called our name and before even getting there, we discovered that they have a Design Center right across the highway. “45 Furniture stores under one roof” read the sign. As we just downsized, we are actually looking for smaller furniture, so that became our first destination. I didn’t have any ideas of taking anything home in the RV, but we had to look never-the-less.
While Maureen shopped later at the outlet mall, I grabbed a quick shower in the parking lot. Well actually, I grabbed a shower in the RV in the parking lot. With an on-board generator, and a self-contained plumbing system, you can really take advantage of all its luxuries anywhere you park.
When I finished, I grabbed a coffee at the mall’s Starbucks and uploaded some videos and photos with their high speed Internet connection. I’ve got good Internet at the office, but even there, my upload speeds were half what they were at Starbucks.
Finishing up our trip, we spent a couple nights at the Koa – Naples campground. It was a total pleasure. Easy to get into and out of, it was a great place to camp with a big rig. Staff were super friendly and helpful and I’d definitely go back again.
Wrapping up two weeks in some large RV’s
After being on the road for a couple weeks in both a Class A and a Class C RV, I’ll admit it was quite the trip. Having a home on wheels is something every senior who drives ought to experience at least once. The feeling is so liberating, you just might decide you want to be a “full-timer.”
We had the good fortune of driving two rigs from Planet RV, 3030 Burris Road; Davie, FL. I’d recommend them highly if you are in that area. Both RV’s were a delight to drive, and made the experiences something we’ll long remember.
My guess is that you’ll feel challenged as you first slide behind the wheel, but after a couple miles and few right turns, you’ll quickly feel in control. From there on, it’s nothing but good times.
Check out the other articles in our 2016 RV Adventure series:
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Also published on Medium.