We traded the cold and snow covered grounds for the warm, sandy beaches since hitting the road again and it has been worth all the long hours in the truck to get here. We started by making the trek to pick up Little Red from Connecticut with a stop to see Eddie in Indiana, or as we call it, the Roger Inn! Once we picked up the camper after all the repairs, we shot down I-95 as quickly as we could to avoid incoming snow storms, heading for warmer weather. After two full (and I mean full) days of driving we landed in Myrtle Beach to air out and reorganize the camper. Since my (Erin’s) grandparents used to frequent Myrtle Beach, we thought we’d check out what all the fuss was about. I’m sure that it would be a great family vacation destination in the summer, but the off season is used to clean up the city and complete any outstanding construction. For us, it was just a great place to sleep with the windows open and not have to turn the furnace on.
Our next two stops before spending a month in Florida were short but wonderful. First up was Charleston where we explored the city proper and loved all it had to offer. While some of the city has been taken over by retail chains, the heart of the city is still filled with charm and amazing architecture at every turn. We loved wandering through the city market and chatting with the amazing artist who handcraft the Gullah Baskets – they are amazing. To fill the rest of the time we were there, we headed toward the outer islands to check out Angel Oak and the Charleston Tea Company, home of the original sweet tea. After some storms that brought significant rain to already soaked low lying land, we figured we should move on before getting trapped in a giant mud pit and headed for Savannah. Since we visited Savannah on our first loop out, we were really only stopping over to see our friend, Beth. We are lucky to have such wonderful friends to visit all over the country and Beth is no exception. We started out our evening at Savannah Wine Cellars and we highly recommend a visit if you are in the area. Not only did we try amazing wines, but the environment created by their team is second to none. One would think that we topped off our night by grabbing dinner at one of the city’s renowned restaurants, but we chose tradition over some fancy pants dinner, so Waffle House it was!
After it dropped down to 25 degrees in Savannah, we knew it was time to head south, way south to Key Largo. While we try to do something new and different in all the places we visit, we knew that being 100 degrees warmer than we would be at home meant we would just soak up as much sun and relaxation as possible instead. We even had aspirations to go snorkeling in the John Pennekamp underwater state park, that is until we found out how cold the water was. We did, however, pull ourselves away from the beach lounging long enough to take a trip down to Key West to hang out for the day. The Keys are absolutely beautiful and I can understand why people call it Keys Fever. And if you follow us on Instagram (Living Mile by Mile / Shea’s Instagram) or Facebook you probably saw Shea’s new obsession with all the alligators we found throughout the Everglades and Big Cypress National Preserve. It was amazing to see the variety of landscapes and animals in such a small area.
Since we had a schedule to keep, we made our over to Bonita Springs to continue our Tour de’ Friends (what we started calling Florida – ha!). Our friends and family picked a gorgeous place to call home, so much so that it had us seriously contemplating accidentally staying here for the rest of winter. We were beyond spoiled with quality time and amazing meals with loved ones. We kicked off our time with Kristen and Cade and their adorable little guys rolling around on a surrey bike. We are so happy we got to hang with them right before their new baby girl joined their family! A couple days later we crashed our friends, Rick and Terri’s house and had an amazing meal and even better conversation. As an added bonus, their son, Max, was able to join us. And since I used to babysit he and his brother, he is still a munchkin in my eyes, but it is so cool to see what an awesome kid he has grown into. The best part is, they are looking at becoming RV’ers – woot woot!! After visiting the beaches in the area and gazing at the manatees, we had one last blast with family while in Bonita. We got to spend an awesome day with my aunt and uncle, Steve and Joyce who recently made this Paradise-esk city their home. With our family being insanely large, it was so nice to sit and learn more about them as people without 100 other people around. My favorite advice about the area came from my aunt when she told us to be overly cautious while driving because the old folks go out to dinner, mix a few drinks with their meds and then hit the road. It couldn’t be more true! You wouldn’t believe the level of awful the driving is – I’m just glad we made it out safely!
Our next stop was Orlando for the ServiceNow Sales Kickoff Tech Summit and a stay at Disney’s campground. While Shea was there to get updates on all the new features of the platform, I was there on another stop of the Tour de’ Friends. The most important person, and one I have been so looking forward to seeing, was my cousin, Robyn. Even though it had been a few years since we have seen each other, but it felt like it had only been a week when she came walking up to the camper. That is, despite the million hugs I had already and was about to pounce on her. She was kind enough to bring us to Magic Kingdom so we could take some pictures of the characters for the kiddos back home and then we enjoyed a great dinner and gabbed away long into the evening. The next day was met with an early morning for Shea’s training and me hanging out back at the campground to check out everything it offered. When I got back from my walk all I could hear were little voices all jazzed that our camper was red and said Minnie – like Minnie Mouse! My relaxation day was short lived as the next day was jammed packed from a delicious breakfast with Michelle to hanging out all day at the conference center and crashing the session breaks to see all sorts of talented ServiceNow peeps. The best part – we got to see our girl, Goos in yet another state! I love that we get to see her on our travels so often! Later that evening we were pounded by a crazy rain storm but were equally as crazy to drive through it to meet up with Shea’s Alcor team for dinner. Thankfully, his boss, Amit lets me be a total tag-a-long! By now it must sound like all we do is eat, and that’s not entirely far off… nailin’ it! Our last day was filled with a much-needed bath for Little Red and another dinner with Robyn before we hit the road.
So last, but not least, we headed back down to Sarasota to catch some more sun and see one last friend before heading north out of Florida. On route to our campsite, we stopped by Airstream Ranch to see if it was worth the hype… it wasn’t. The view from the freeway was far better than what you could see from the back (neighborhood) roads; and since we didn’t feel like trespassing we took it for what it was and continued on. We have been looking forward to seeing Siesta Key since seeing our friend, Dayne’s, posts on Facebook since she moved down here and it lived up to everything we imagined… including the sunburn. But seriously, the sand is like baby powder and the water is an unbelievable shade of blue-green. Speaking of Dayne, she and her man, Willie, took us out for dinner with the most incredible sunset view. I’m so glad they followed their dreams and made the move that was right for them. And on another cool note, she designed an awesome logo for us which you will see soon – we promise!
Before this blog post hits 2,000 words, we would like to end it here with a huge, sincere thank you to all of our friends and family for your hospitality. You have filled our bellies and our hearts and we are grateful to be able to come visit you – you all picked an awesome place to live! Until next winter!! <3