After getting the boat moved to Fort Myers on our initial leg of the Great Loop, and a couple weeks to get into the swing of urban life – it was time to return to bus life!
Well, at least for a week.
Our mission was a combination of getting the bus into its longer term storage on the east coast of Florida, and conducting some intense cellular signal testing of boosters & antennas along the way for RVMobileInternet.com.
We booked up stays at 3 different Florida State Parks with known challenging signals, and hit the road.
A week, by the way, it not nearly long enough to enjoy the ride AND do focused intense work.
But first.. the video version of this trip, for those who enjoy a more interactive story and hearing more about life back on the bus (~14m):
First Stop: Myakka River State Park
We had visited this park just before picking up our boat, and had routed there for the same reason we returned – a known highly challenging cellular signal area. We also fell in love with the park on our last visit, hitting many of the biking trails.
We booked 3-nights in a pull-through site at $26/night so we wouldn’t need to unhook the Mini Cooper.
Our first day was focused on getting all the gear we’d be testing installed and getting the bus back into livable mode after being in storage for 6 weeks.
And our remaining day was sitting on our butts listening to the drone of the air conditioners (it was roughly 170 degrees out I think), reading each other speed test results as we tested about 70 different combinations of boosters, antennas and cellular carriers.
Sounds like fun, huh?
Unfortunately, between the heat and not having our electric folding bikes with us (we’ll be using them on the boat… well, not ON the boat, we don’t have the much deck space) – this visit wasn’t nearly as much fun as our last.
There aren’t many hiking trails nearby the campground to explore for breaks, and did I mention it was hot?
But it was still great to be back in the bus! And Kiki *really* enjoyed being able to explore campsites again (lizards live in bushes after all, not on docks.)
Oh, and the signal testing – we managed to get usable signal on all four carriers, and did actually enjoy some Netflix on our pull down projector screen. Ahhhh… we have so missed having a large screen.
Second Stop: Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park
Next up was a new to us park on the way that looked to be a bit out in the middle of nowhere – thus potentially with challenging signals. (It still bewilders me that we intentionally seek out places with bad signal.)
The park is 10 miles north of the town of Okeechobee, and the campground five miles down a gravel road. Our freshly washed bus & car where now covered in white dust and love bugs (why did we pick mid-May for this trip again?).
The campground was cute – just 40 sites divided between two loops, one designated equestrian the other family. I had selected the only pull through site, which almost required us to unhitch to angle into. But Chris managed the tight turn like a pro.
Aside from the camp host and a couple other campers, we pretty much had the place to ourselves.
It’s little out of the way places like this that we love finding in our RVing. Wide open views, privacy and peace & quiet.
Oh, and totally usable streamable cellular service with the right gear.
If we had more time on our hands, this is the sort of place we’d return to in a heart beat to get away from it all. At just $16 per night with water & electric, it’s a little gem.
Third Stop: Sebastian Inlet State Park
In all our visits to Melbourne to visit my mom, we’ve never been able to score a site at this beachfront park before. When I saw an opening for two nights, I snagged it.
And I’m so glad we did!
The park is a mix of waterfront sites that are a bit packed together, insanely huge pull thrus and some back in sites along the trees – which is where we ended up.
In between testing rounds we enjoyed walking around the park and visiting the beach. And $28/night, it’s well worth a stop. I wish we could have stayed longer, but with Memorial Day weekend approaching – it was time to get the bus in storage.
Wrap Up Thoughts
If we ever again propose such a short RV trip with so much work crammed in – please remind us of this post. Never again should this be attempted, we visited so many gorgeous places and really didn’t get to enjoy them. We’re still playing catch up.
BUT, the trip left us totally committed to integrating in RVing into our travels. We just love the lifestyle. And we really feel that splitting our time (extended time) between boat and bus will be ideal for us.
It feels good to have the last of the major logistics handled of transitioning from bus to boat life.
Which we’ll of course repeat again and again as the seasons dictate in the coming years. Hopefully we’ll get to be pros at it. We still have lots to learn about long term storage and keeping two nomadic vessels safe, outfitted and ready to go.
The bus and Mini are both now in privately arranged storage, with trusted folks keeping an eye on things for us (and some remote cameras – we’ll perhaps share on that later).
We stayed with my mom a couple nights to recuperate after this way too hectic week. And then she drove us back to the boat in Fort Myers, joining us aboard for a week.
We are now car free, and experiencing urban marina life on foot, bike, rental cars and Lyft. We have a grocery store and dining just blocks out our door, and we’re totally enjoying some much needed still time.
We’re enjoying our extended stay in Fort Myers as water levels rise in Lake Okeechobee with all of the recent rains. We’re also working on getting a dingy setup, which would give us flexibility to head south to the Keys if we wanted.
Our hearts go out to the entire Escapees RV Club family.
Co-founder Kay Peterson passed away earlier this week, but not without leaving behind an incredible mark on the world. Her and her husband Joe’s vision lives on, now in the hands of the 3rd generation of the family – with our friends Travis & Melanie Carr at the helm.
We feel so blessed to have gotten to know the family as we helped launch Xscapers back in 2015, introducing this incredible resource that began in 1978 to a new generation of RVers.
A life well lived, indeed.