Dad is traveling again, and this time, it’s by RV! Here’s his account of a 3-month trip through the American South in a class-A RV earlier this year. I give you, Dad Diaries: On the Road Again! Click here to read more Dad Diaries in the series.
To date, our RV experience has consisted of:
- 22,991 miles of travel (approximately)
- Staying in 14 states (MA to CA)
- Travel in and through 21 states in 10 trips over six+ years
My wife and I are still married. We are 30 days into this trip and there are no concussions to report from hitting my head on the slide outs of the RV.
On December 26th, the Christmas tree came down unceremoniously and we packed for three months. There really isn’t much to pack except for our clothes for the travel down and back home at the end of March. The RV has everything down to toothbrushes. It was stored inside just north of Orlando since the past trip and it started right up with the turn of the key and we were off.
The plan is to move around to some places we have enjoyed in the past in Florida and then migrate to Arizona with stops in Mississippi, Los Angeles, Texas and New Mexico. First stop? Daytona to hang out with my wife Patti’s sister Judy and husband Craig.
We hung out in Daytona for a while and took a behind the scenes tour of the Daytona Speedway. It was quite a surprise and nothing as expected. We went right out onto the raceway track. The raceway had a 31 degree bank!
Besides their downtown having an arts section where we observed a glass blowing demonstration, we travelled to St. Petersburg for an Italian Market called Mazzaro’s. Everything you could think of, including the best prosciutto I have ever had, cut paper thin. Wrap this up over melon and I’m back in Italy again!
Off to St. Augustine next. We just simply like St Augustine. A beautiful town, lots of culture , architecture and history. Of course, once we have been tagged from Massachusetts, we heard about how St Augustine WAS the first original colony of these United States. We also wanted to experience a “Nights of Lights” where the entire town is dressed in more than 3 million white Christmas lights. We actually took a night tour by boat and it was just spectacular to see from the bay. We even toured the Whetstone chocolate factory. We did find some sugar free chocolates (NOT carb free).
We also visited the fort Castillo de San Marcos protecting St. Augustine Bay. Never has been defeated. Generally because the walls were 35 ft thick and the star shaped design. Two fun facts…
- They had a oven outside the fort to heat the cannon balls just before they fired them at the wooden ships and
- During a battle, at night they would go outside the fort and dig out the cannon balls lodged in the wall to fire them back the next day.
A couple of weeks into our trip, we made it to Pensacola, FL. We developed a plan to have our freezer empty so we can fill it with seafood from our favorite place, Joe Patti’s. Much of the seafood caught in the Gulf is off loaded in Pensacola and Joe Patti has a huge seafood market and sells it basically wholesale. They own their shrimp boats and you can watch the them offloading. Every type of fish is offered including my favorite, flounder, with filets the size of a platter.
Next up, Baton Rouge. The highlight was downtown Baton Rouge, the city with a levy along the Mississippi River. A big levy. It was designed to congregate on, take walks on, watch the ships passing on, have pizza on, and even a dance company danced on it. There were many aspects of the city, but one was their Art & Science Museum (on the levy), about Baton Rouge. The unexpected highlight was seeing a 2500 year old mummy that we stood within a few feet.
We tried to tour the campus of LSU, because Patti said they won some big football game or something, but we had no such luck. The campus is completely secure. The best we could do was a distant picture of Tiger Stadium. The place was as big as Gillette. For some reason, they take their football pretty seriously. Baton Rouge and of course the campus was a sea of purple & gold.
We toured a southern sugar plantation mansion, Houmas House, named after indigenous Houma people who occupied this land. Its beauty and opulence is only undermined by the thought that enslaved people built it and supported the lifestyles of the occupants. The enslaved people also provided labor for their sugar plantation that produced the wealth.
There were incredible artifacts in the plantation: the statue of Abraham Lincoln was produced by the person who designed and carved Mount Rushmore. The oak trees on the property were 500 years old that formed the approach from the Mississippi River.
Check out Part 2 to read more about Rick’s RV travels!