Whenever we’re making a repositioning, it’s always a choice of what pace to take. Do we concentrate on just getting to our next destination by having long driving days and few stops? Or do we meander and take time to explore? Both have their benefits.
We didn’t have an event in Austin we were aiming for, so we had some time. We don’t always get that flexibility. We are also deep in the middle of some major work projects on a strict deadline, so we needed to make sure there was plenty of time & energy for focused work hours.
We decided to embrace our love of staying in state parks. We’d route based on which parks had availability, decent odds of cellular signal (we of course used our app, Coverage? for that) and were generally on our way. We opted for aiming for very comfortable, yet productive 4-5 hr driving days – giving us about 200 miles of range between our stopping points.
The reason we love state parks include:
- Scenic places with hiking trails and outdoorsy things to do
- Capturing a piece of history about a location
- Campsites with plenty of room
- Easily booked online – no phone calls for reservations needed
After staying in too many commercial RV Parks these past few months, we were ready for views that didn’t include our neighbor’s sewer hose.
And we’re always on the hunt for camp locations where we can feel comfortable leaving at least one side of windows open all day and night long while still feeling secluded. (Our criteria: Can we walk around nekkid inside our own home, with the privacy blinds on our darkly tinted windows open – and not impact anyone.)
Stop A: April 22 – Wekiwa Springs State Park – Altamonte Springs, FL
Before leaving the state, we wanted to touch base with our development team – who live in the north Orlando area. My parents (and business partners) also came in for the afternoon to join the team meeting.
One of our favorite parks to stay at happens to be Wekiwa Springs in Altamonte Springs. It’s a park that puts you feeling right out in nature, but yet you’re really close to town and amenities. It’s always a perfect spot for us while in the area, but incredibly difficult to get into over a weekend. We snagged a spot for during the week, and attended to a lot of business meetings and conducted work hours.
Wekiwa Springs didn’t disappoint – we got spot 33 (our lucky number – we were both 33 when hit the road together, and our Oliver’s hull number was 33). It’s huge, treed and makes us feel like we have our own wooded yard surrounding us. Wekiwa has accessible hiking trails right from the campground, which is perfect for having no excuses to take a break from work and be active (us computer nerds need all the help we can get). There’s a wonderful spring fed swimming hole and beautiful kayaking – which are the major attractions of the park. But this time around we didn’t manage to take a swim or go kayaking (but we have plenty of times in the past).
I even had a unique combo business consult & hair cut with our nomad-friendly small business law firm while in the area – The Meehle Law Firm. Yes, our law firm is *that* awesome. (We highly recommend them for Florida based roaming business folks – hair cuts are optional.)
Window Report: We felt comfortable leaving all our windows open all the time, except the front windshield. Score!
Price: $27/night (with taxes) – 30amp electric, water
Stop B: April 27 – O’Leno State Park – High Springs, FL
As Wekiwa was full up for the weekend, Friday was the day we’d move on and start our journey out of Florida. While most state parks are very easy get into during the week, the popular ones tend to be full up months in advance for the weekends. They are a mini-vacation destination for locals. So I searched around for spots, and found availability at O’Leno State Park just north of Gainesville.
As it wouldn’t give us much distance, we decided to just book one night. This turned out to be a good decision. O’Leno is one of Florida’s oldest state parks, and its major feature is the Sante Fe River which submerges underground at this location – which is pretty cool. Unfortunately, the water level has been so low for so long, that the swimming and kayaking has long since been shut down. There’s really not much else besides some hiking – which we accomplished during our brief visit.
Oh, and the ticks – the park is infested with them (ick).
The campground itself was decent – the sites were a bit smaller than other parks we’ve been to, but not too bad. The dirt road needs some smoothing and there are a couple of tight turns – which we of course felt maneuvering the bus!
One night was enough for us to check out this park, and we were ready to move on.
Window Report: As we had occupied campsites visible on both side, we didn’t feel comfortable leaving our windows open all the time. Boo.
Price: $19.80/night (with tax) – 30 amp electric, water
Stop C: April 28 – Torreya State Park – Bristol, FL
There are a bunch of state parks in the panhandle of Florida, and we looked into trying to grab a spot at one along the gulf with no luck. Poking around, I found a couple of spots open for a Saturday night at Torreya State Park just west of Tallahassee.
Coverage? didn’t have us thinking there’d be good signal, so we only booked one night. I honestly didn’t have any expectations coming here, after all – if it was that good, it wouldn’t be available on a Saturday night. Maybe I should have read the description of Torreya first:
High bluffs overlooking the Apalachicola River make Torreya one of Florida’s most scenic places.
After driving twisty backroads for many miles and feeling like we had reached the middle of nowhere – we were completely blown away by this place.
The campground is a huge circle (with a mix of nicely sized spacious sites and some quite small ones with little privacy – whoever took the time to note this on the ReserveAmerica.com website, job well done!) with the front a public scenic overlook of the bluffs.
Bluffs!! In Florida?!?
But we hardly had time to take in the view, because everyone here was so gosh-darn friendly. Within 30 minutes of landing, we had met at least a half dozen fellow campers, shared many stories, had an invite to dinner and given countless tours of our bus. (FYI, if you watched Jonathan’s video interview we posted earlier this week, we definitely don’t have the same experience of never getting to talk with our neighbors.)
And the best part? Those gorgeous bluffs made for excellent cellular coverage, so all of our devices were quite happy! I got online and booked the site for a second night. We enjoyed a hike from the campground, explored the Gregory House and did laundry for $2. Yes, laundry.. at a state park! Wild.
We will definitely be stopping back here for a future visit, and be exploring the dozens of miles of hiking trails to find some of the nearly extinct Torreya trees the park is named for.
Window Report: Our first night we had immediate neighbors, so didn’t feel comfortable leaving our windows open. The second night the park was nearly empty, so we let the sun & moon shine in!
Price: $17.20/night (with tax) – 30 amp electric, water
Stop D: April 30 – Gulf State Park – Gulf Shores, AL
Our escape from Florida! We had always heard tremendous things about Gulf State Park, and were curious to check it out. We had originally thought we’d plan to plop down here for several days, until we saw the price. Starting at $34.41/night (with taxes) for a basic site and with them having 496 sites (how could it feel like a relaxing place) – we just couldn’t justify committing until we got there.
With this park, you make a reservation for your 2 night minimum for a basic site. All sites are assigned upon arrival, at which time you can upgrade to a lake view or lake front site. As we’re view-junkies, we decided to splurge for lake front. Our friendly reservation agent grinned and said ‘I’ll put you in site 33’. (There’s that magical number again!)
When we first pulled up to our spot, all we saw was a line of trees and pouted – ‘We paid for a lake VIEW, not trees!’.
But once we got the bus backed in and angled across the site (remember, you don’t have to back in straight!), we had a most fabulous spot! Our office view was magnificent, plus we had a completely private feeling space with shore access. Splendid! But honestly, all of the lake area sites are HUGE with ample space between them.
Our cellular signal was great, plus the park offers free WiFi. The lake side sites tend to be the fullest during the week – with the rest of the park pretty empty. So we used our WiFiRanger Sky (now nicely mounted on our roof, thanks to our fridge replacement dominoes) to snag a WiFi signal from one of the more distant and underutilized hotspots, which gave us more bandwidth. Sweet!
We did end up extending our stay for a third night, as it was an ideal spot for getting a lot of work done. We only left the park once for a quick drive around the area and a glorious swim at the beach.
The park is indeed beautiful and well laid out so that you don’t feel like you’re in a 496 site park – but we’re not sure we’d want to be there when it was full up. But would like to return in the future perhaps planning to take advantage of their weekly and/or monthly rates.
Window Report: The way we parked, our entire curbside felt completely secluded – we left all the windows open all the time on that side. Which allowed us to awake every morning to gorgeous gulf sunrises from bed. We even reversed the pillows to the foot of the bed, to maximize the sun rise views. Score!
Price: $41.07/night (ouch) – 50 amp electric, water, sewer, WiFi, Lake front
Stop E: May 3 – Bayou Segnette State Park – Westwego, LA
On previous repositioning from Florida to Texas, we’ve stopped in New Orleans – one of our favorite cities. Last time we stayed at the French Quarter RV Resort, which is an ideal location if your focus is exploring the French Quarter, as it’s in stumbling distance. The park itself however is quite pricey ($79/night) and not very scenic on its own.
This time through, our focus was work – so we took the advice to try out the nearby Bayou Segnette State Park. You can catch the free Algiers Ferry nearby to get into the FQ if that’s so desired.
When I saw there was availability over a weekend, I just snagged 3 nights (Thursday – Saturday) and figured we could extend if desired. Much to our surprise, we discovered that was right over Jazz Fest!
Bayou Segnette was a delightful and beautiful park – the sites are huge with lots of open space around them, although most are not shaded. There was park WiFi, but we just couldn’t get it to connect reliably on any of our devices – but our cellular signals were strong and quite usable. Best feature? They all come with hoola hoop hooks! (grin – you might be a NuRVer if you get this joke).
And the other surprise about this park? FREE LAUNDRY!! We were already shocked at laundry being available at a state park on this repositioning, but FREE?? It only could have been better had they done our laundry for us! Suffice it to say, we did more laundry in the past 2 weeks than we normally do – just because we could!
While there, our new friends from the Pork Chop Express rendezvoused with us. They’ve been followers of ours for a while, and just launched on their nomadic journey – that very morning! It was way cool to get to share in someone’s first day on the road and we hope we’ll be meeting up with these two many times in the future. Our friends Lisa & Brian also stopped by for a bit, and it was good to catch up with them. We also met another bus nut couple who were staying at the park in their nicely re-done Wanderlodge.
We did end up extending our stay by two nights, staying for a total of 5 nights. In that time, we never got into the French Quarter or to Jazz Fest. Sometimes you just have to let go and realize .. this isn’t vacation, and it’s not always about seeing the stuff places are known for.
We did get a lot of work done, and have found if we want to do local stuff too – we just have to stay longer than a few days to have the time and energy.
Window Report: While lacking defined seclusion between sites, there was plenty of space between. Given the awesome angling of the sites, we felt comfortable leaving the curb side windows open all the time… except the morning of lawn maintenance (oops). Score!
Price: $26/night – 50amp electric, water, WiFi, Free Laundry
Stop F: May 8 – Lake View RV Park – Eunice, LA
We had 500 miles to go now on our repositioning into Texas, and getting pretty ready to get ‘there’. After advice from our friends over at Cheddar Yeti, we had aims to make Sam Houston Jones State Park near Lake Charles, LA as our final state park stop. We set out in the morning from Bayou Segnette for what should have been an easy 200 mile drive, leaving just one long driving day.
All was good until traffic on I-10 came to a complete stop before reaching Crowley, LA. Apparently a tanker truck had overturned near Jennings spilling benzene, so they were re-routing traffic on surface roads. It totally rocked being stuck in traffic in our home – as we had access to our bathroom and kitchen – and we were even able to get up to dance and make popcorn. But after over 4 hours in stop and go traffic, we knew we were not going to make it to the park in time to enjoy it.
Listening in on our CB radio, we had picked up that all of the truckers were thinking like we were – find the nearest free parking area and stop for the night. So I decided to pull up the RVParking app (free) on my iPhone to see what was nearby. I found Lake View RV just north of Eunice, just a couple miles from our current location. I tried calling, but there was no answer. Given that their website said they had over 90 pull thru spots, we decided to take a chance that the park wasn’t full yet (imaging that every RVer stuck in this traffic mess had the same idea).
We arrived to discover that only one other RVer made the decision we did – and we pretty much had the entire park to ourselves. A gorgeous lake view, quiet evening and fast WiFi. A perfect place to rest up for the final leg of our journey, as we now had tacked on about 50 miles to our already planned long driving day. And a perfect double bonus score – they’re a Passport America park, so our fee was half price!
Window Report: Given the lack of neighbors, we felt comfortable leaving all our windows open. But had there been nearby neighbors, this would not have been true – the sites are right next to each other with no division.
Price: $17.44 – 50amp electric, water, sewer, cable, WiFi, beach party
Stop G: May 9 – Hill Shade RV Park – Gonzales, TX
Two years ago, Hill Shade RV Park hosted the NuRVer Gathering – and it’s been in our hearts ever since. The park itself is great – very low key, shaded and pretty. It’s the people who run this place who make it feel like coming home… if their home had wheels, they’d be NuRVers themselves. We were greeted with hugs from the entire family and got settled in our sweet park side spot.
We’ll base camp here in Gonzales for most our central Texas stay. Finding a spot in Austin for the entire duration just proved to be too difficult, and besides – our work & meet-up schedule has us shuffling between Houston, San Antonio and Austin. So this really is a perfect location for us.
And besides.. we know the WiFi works.. after all, we installed it for them.
Window Report: One downside of this park is the lack of privacy between sites. So sadly, not much comfort level in leaving the windows open all the time. But as the most the residents here are oil workers – they are early to bed and gone most of the day. So we feel privacy at home.
Price: $325/month – 50amp electric, water, sewer, WiFi and unlimited hugs
So, that rounds up our Florida -> Texas repositioning. We’ll be sticking around central Texas until early June, when we start meandering north towards St. Louis.