Monday, 6 January 2014

It's a Tough Old Life

Life is has just been too miserable recently for me to arouse the motivation to write a decent blog post. We are in Key West where it never stops raining, every face wears a frown, and the scenery is too depressing to discuss. I knew from the moment the road left the mainland that this would be an awful place

Without being too harsh to Brunswick, it’s fair to say that we were glad to leave, and that life has improved for us since heading south. Georgia certainly has some great places to visit, but spending so long living next to the interstate left us feeling the need to start moving as soon as possible.

After picking up the truck and grabbing our suitcases from the motel, it was already too late to start travelling any distance, so we went back to St Simons Island to spend the night. Our first night boondocking was totally uneventful, and was as easy as any night we’ve spent free camping in Europe. We found a public park about one km from the town centre and spent an undisturbed night in a quiet leafy suburb; the only knock we got on the door was from three teenage skateboarders who were curious about what the vehicle was and how we came to be in their neighbourhood. This quickly became a pattern and 24 hours after we’d collected Jim form the port, we’d shown eight people around the truck.

Something which is worth noting for people who haven’t visited a lot of American parks, is that on the whole, they consist of a car park with a small picnic area attached. As with all things in the US, people usually drive to their local park, and in many cases the area of parking dwarfs the area left for recreation. This is bad news for someone who wants to enjoy a walk in the park, or let their dog loose (most parks require dogs to be on the lead anyway), but great news for someone who wants to park overnight in solitude. Our experience so far is that you may get a knock on the door soon after sundown telling you to leave, usually there is scope for discussion, but if a police officer comes knocking, just make sure the lights are off and he’ll leave soon enough.

The next few days were spent slowly travelling south. We spent two nights parked on a quiet back street in the Neptune Beach area of Jacksonville and a night in a park in Cocoa on the space coast, before spending our first night in an RV park in Hollywood, a few miles north of Miami. Cities are always hard places to free camp, and it can be more perilous when you don’t know a city well enough to decide which areas are likely to be suitable, and which should be avoided. We chose to pay $40 a night, for a bit of peace of mind, and to be in a suburb connected directly to downtown Miami by the TriRail and MetroRail transit systems. The RV Park we stayed in was chosen on the recomendation of a guy in the Expedition Portal forum, and is inside a regional park called the Topeekeegee Yugnee Park. The park itself is nice, with a lot of green space around a central lake; the RV park is well spaced out but all plots are within a few meters of the TriRail line which doesn’t stop running until around 11pm.
We saw the new year in, back at the RV park, tired after walking around Miami all day. Miami has some attractive areas, but we both agreed that a day was enough to see what we wanted; Miami is not a city that you can easily walk around, and the transit system is limited to the downtown areas which don’t have much of the tourist attractions. SoBe (South Beach) was a bit of a disappointment; the old art deco buildings are well preserved but the area is like a theme park, with terrible music blaring from a long row of overpriced bars,  interspersed with cheap tattoo parlours. It’s like a cross between Ibiza and Camden Town.
South Beach in Miami, taken from a bridge to Downtown

South Beach Miami - Trashy and overpriced
We left Miami and headed straight for Key West. We intended to stay for a day or two and have now been here for 5. I suspect we'll be here for a few days yet.

Jim the overland motorhome truck - parked in Key Wwest, Florida

Boris the Golden Retriever enjoying the beach in Key West


  1. Sounds good chap! Better than being here though! , most of the uk is under water at the moment.Like to watch your YouTube video ,but its says that Iam unable to in this country ��. Great pictures though!

    1. Hi Stephen, I guess it's because I added a copyrighted soundtrack to the video. When I get a chance I'll reupload it with some open source music instead

  2. I hope your trip is improving. Been looking for more updates and blog posts. Do you have a thread for this excursion over at ExPo?

    1. Hi Michael, The trip is awesome at the moment. We've had more beaches, hiking, art galleries, and live music in the last 5 weeks than I normally get in a year.

      I have a thread on ExPo here:

      but I also occasionally post for advice in other parts of the forum.

  3. I've got to this stage in a trip, its called exhaustion. Just find a quiet spot to recover your strength before sallying forth again. Its a trip not to be rushed, after all.

    1. Hi Michael, thanks, but my comments were entirely sarcastic, Key West is a place of eternal sunshine, cocktails, beaches, and fun. If someone can't have fun in Key West, I don't suppose there much hope for their future!