Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Escribano Point WMA - Pensicola FL

Escribano Point WMA (Bayside)
Grassy Point Road
Milton, Florida

GPS: 30.513937, -86.948858 (turn-in to clay road, follow this road till it ends, no deviations!)
Youtube Video
Free Campsite.net Link

Welcome friends to probably my favorite campsite since I left in my travels (up to this date of course).   This campsite is a little tricky to get to if you try to find it with a normal car GPS, but it is well worth it.   This site is located very close to Pensacola Florida (Navarre), so if you want to explore this area, this is a terrific home base to do so from, for free.

Google navigation will take you the whole way, but car gps will repeatedly try to make you take small sandy roads that you WILL get stuck on without 4x4.   You want to take the paved roads until you get to a wide, well packed, bright red clay road just to the right before you enter the air force base proper.   

Follow this road till it ends.  This road is a looong curving road first one way then the other, with many little jeep trails that cut across from it in one point to connect it at another.   Your GPS hates you, and will want to get you stuck in these places because it thinks you want to get there faster at the risk of getting stuck.  Ignore it both going in and out.

Osceola National Forest...Rest Stop?

Osceola NF Rest Stop (Fanny Bay Trail)
I-10 Westbound Baker County Mile 318

GPS: N 30°15'15.7, W 82°23'45.5

Youtube: https://youtu.be/MzeH5ncDgBw

Strange as it seems, this rest stop just off the interstate sits within the Osceola National Forest.   Why is this significant?  Because that means rather than the department of highways management taking care of it, the forest rangers do.   More importantly, it means that you can camp there overnight without worry over getting a knock by police or security.

As I was traveling westward from Pensacola, I kinda got tired of dealing with my gps and decided to just wing it.   Near sanderson florida, there are very few free campsites near I 10 in this area, and all of them are swamp land.   It was already humid just in my vehicle heading down the road, I just could not imagine a swamp.   So I just kept on driving thinking maybe I could discover a walmart or cracker barrel soon. 

Thats when I notice this curious rest stop, which has the same sorta large national forest sign as the camping locations so i pulled in.  No signs prohibiting parking, so I was feeling good.   It only got better because this place was clearly a superior rest stop.   It was extremely clean, had nice vending machines, tons of picnic tables and wooded areas all around.   I am not positive but I think there might have even been grills.

There were water spickets for pets.  Im guessing if its meant for pets, its probably safe to drink for humans. I filled up.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Just a quicky update!

The moon was huge, despite the lies my camera tells

Greetings from the present, which is this blogs future...i guess lol   Im trying to catch up on my travels, but wanted to just update to say I'm being heavily distracted by the RTR in Quartzsite, so at least I have a good excuse!  :D

Is someone cooking a chair?

Ive already met some great people, some colorful people, some crazy people, and hoping to get to know more soon.  If you are there look for the big blue van with the white wood rack and say hi!

Monday, January 9, 2017

The beach resort the movies told you existed.

After I left Fernandina Beach, I had only a very tentative idea of where the heck I wanted to go next.   Making it to the beach was kind of my goal.   I did initially toy with the idea of plunging further south to cocoa beach and maybe the keys as well.  But i started to think this might be better saved for another trip where I have more time and resources to dedicate to going down there.

So I just started heading west on I-10.   I starting thinking that I wanted to see a few more cool things, so at a Pilot pit stop, I searched roadside america for oddities to visit.  Well one place came up a lot, and it was Panama City Beach.   Sounded really cool, so i diverted there to my second florida beach.

Freecampsites wasn't coming up with much in that area.  So i tried my second avenue, walmart.   But I actually found some news stories about how aggressive the tow companies at those walmarts are, so despite some people caliming it was cool, I vowed to avoid them.

There was a listing for some mysterious unnamed parking lot.   OK, I'm down to check that out later.   But for the day I wanted to hit the beach.   Christmas was coming up and I got it in my head to build a sand 'snowman' for my family.

I did a little research and found free parking with restrooms and cold showers at a city park, with beach access.   It was an ok park, basically just the parking lot, you walk through the bath house and then to the beach.

But what a beautiful beach it was.   The area was like some place out of a beach set movie.  Palm trees down the boulevard, neat garishly colored houses, but not in the run down crappy way it was in myrtle beach.   People lived and worked here all year, it wasn't only about getting that tourist dollar.   Everything was open, not closed for the season, which I felt was a good sign.  It was thriving and energenic.

So I eventually did get to make my sand man, well, about ten versions of him before settling for this one.   It is a lot harder than you think to build one!   Especially when all you have is a regular plastic bowl and a kiddie shovel someone left on the beach :D

Mission accomplished, I resisted the urge to enter those glistening, refreshing looking clear green waves, and went to look for my overnight spot in the mysterious lot.

Turns out the lot is near a dave & busters which is apart of this huge outdoor mall called Pier Park.   Its a neat little place with shops, an overpriced I-max theatre, a little choo choo train and amusement rides for kids.   I went to the starbucks here for some uploading, and then crashed in the lot about 6.   By about 12:45, 45 minutes after dave and busters closed, I got a knock from the security guard.

I expected this to some degree, hence my early bed time.   He told me to try the walmart and was very nice about it, but no staying in the mall.   As I left, I noticed at the actual fishing pier, cars parked in the public spaces for beach access.   I triple checked and there were no signs forbidding over night parking.   I even checked ordinances, which only prohibit it in restricted areas.  So I spent the rest of the night there until before sunset, where I hit the beach again to catch it (pic at the top).

The tear in the side is drawn on!
On the way out, I wanted to check out a couple of those oddities.   Right near the park was some of the 'giant' stuff, like giant shark mouth you can stand in etc.   What really got my attention, and made me want to get a closer look was Ripley's and Wonderworks buildings.   Not what was inside (tho i'd like to visit one day and go inside) but the unique..architecture?  Artistry?  Someone was awesome, thats for sure.

Note the upside down trees and phone poles!
After that I hit the backyard burgers (i think its called) across the street, and they were amazing.  Why isn't this a huge chain?? And took off heading toward Pensacola, and probably my favorite camping spot so far on my trip. 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Peter's Point Park, Fernandina Beach Fl

Peters Point Park
1974 S Fletcher Ave
Fernandina Beach, Florida

Camping on the beach?   It was definitely one of my traveling bucket list items, and I am glad I did it.   Though to be honest I was rather miserable for most of the night.   :D  The van has spoiled me, most especially the mattress.  You would think sand would be soft and comfy but you would be terribly wrong.   Maybe compared to rocks!

Don't let that fool you though, I had a really nice time here.   Getting to the beach in florida was a kind of mental milestone for me, and walking onto the beach brought a smile to my face.

 Fernandina beach is a gorgeous, upscale, golf resort type of area.   Unlike the other beaches I have visited, this one doesn't seem to care about tourists one way or the other, which is almost a relief.

Of course it has its drawbacks too.   You were once able to freely camp at the beach parks like Peter's Point (there are 3-4 of these on this stretch of beach), but now there are signs forbidding it.   However, you are technically allowed to camp on the beach itself, and that is the loop hole I exercised.

Is free camping always the way to go when traveling?

Free official spot, best of both worlds
 So far I have gloried in the fact that I have paid next to nothing for free camping on my travels so far.   But today as I pulled out of a texaco station after having to abort an attempt to find a camp spot in the Dragoon Mountains of Arizona, I began to wonder.  In my mind I was thinking, sure, free is always better.   But if you are just looking for a place to crash for a night or even two, sometimes it isn't worth the cost in gas, wear and tear and time to go out into the middle of no where.  I've seen rv parks for 15-39 dollars a night, I probably spent at least 15 in gas to find that campsite in the mountains if you count my return trip.
It was quite pretty, despite traffic
 Now of course there are other factors to consider.  How much are experiences worth to you?   You can very easily find a roadside rest area or parking area, especially down in the southwest.   But it won't be as beautiful as this camping spot.    It's also kinda nice knowing the likely hood you will get a cop knock is low, but you wont in an rv park either so thats kind of a wash.

But this has it beat I think
 Scenery and memories aside, lets assume you are all about efficient traveling.  I think boondocking at a free site, even if it takes more in gas and time, becomes worth it when you extend your stay.    The longer the stay, the better the value.   One trip in, and one trip out costs the same whether you spend 1 night or 14.   In any RV park, even the cheap one for 15$ with full hookups I saw in Iraan Texas, can't claim the same.   The longer you stay the more it costs.

Since I wanted to go to the RTR this year I haven't stayed more than 3 days at any spot, but after the rtr my rate og travel will slow down significantly to conserve finances for just this reason.   But when you are on the road and moving around, the jury is still out whether its worth it to always seek out those free spots.

What do you think?