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Main Forum => General Discussion => Topic started by: 2 Frazzled on November 14, 2012, 01:02:30 pm

Title: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: 2 Frazzled on November 14, 2012, 01:02:30 pm
I am looking for suggestions: We've camped in tents and cabins but never "lived" or "camped" in an RV. Since we plan to buy one soon we wanted to spend a few weeks in a rented RV so we can see what works for us and what doesn't in the hope that we can get the right unit or right mods to fit our lifestyle. Evil work has conspired to ruin our plans by delaying our test trip until the campgrounds around here have closed and the freeze factor has gone up considerably. We hope to escape our desks within the next month so we are now looking for a destination to drive or fly to for our test weeks. We also figure the rented RV might not have (functional) heating ability so we don't want to go too frigid. Does anyone have a favorite area that would have moderate temps in December and is big enough to find an RV rental? Our plan is to camp a bit, unhook, drive, camp, repeat a few times so we get the feel for that part also. We can't totally escape work so we'll need to be somewhere we can get internet access either through wi-fi or tethered phones. It can be anywhere in the country as we will likely fly vs drive due to loss of days on the road. We do have to fit in a trip to Elkhardt and Phoenix to order an RV before we return home. Any and all suggestions greatly appreciated.
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: gradygal on November 14, 2012, 01:17:11 pm
Fly to Ft. Myers FL; rent an RV at Camping World in Ft. Myers and visit some of the State Parks, Everglades National Park and Corps of Engineers Parks (if you can get a site). Beautiful weather (usually) in the winter.

Judi
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: Barry-Sue on November 14, 2012, 01:42:08 pm
We would also recommend Florida and in particular the Fort Myers Beach area.  We have been going to this park for over 10 years, just love it.  Very relaxed, casual and only a few hundred feet from the gulf but there is a lot of sand.

http://redcoconut.com/Index.htm

Barry
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: Barry-Sue on November 14, 2012, 01:50:26 pm
When you rent an RV drive or fly to your destination and then rent your RV.  Most RV rentals have a per mile charge.

Barry
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: 2 Frazzled on November 17, 2012, 08:53:50 pm
We definitely will fly south somewhere then rent. It sounds like Florida is everyone`s favorite. It`s looking like January now that the holiday season is on us. We appreciate the suggestions and are checking availability now. If you see a couple of pale northerners driving a rattling rental rig around Florida looking like lost newbies, honk! It just might be us.


Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: gradygal on November 18, 2012, 07:43:03 am
Let us know if you are going to be in the area. Would love to meet you! Heck, you could even spend a night in our driveway, if needed.

Judi ;)
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: TomHanlon on November 18, 2012, 07:48:52 am
Camping in Florida in January is like shopping in Time Square the week before Christmas. Not the same as normal, maybe fun but not normal. ;)
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: bigbadjc on November 18, 2012, 10:56:43 am
If you want to go really south in Florida, I've camped at Bahia Honda State Park which is like the last island you get to on the long causeway before Key West.  Hookup sites are available there and you are right in the middle of bird nesting areas.  We laughed our butts off watching the less than graceful pelicans diving down to the water to grab fish.  I have no idea how hard it is to get in there in January and whether or not you want to drive that far.

Jerry
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: Denny & Barb on November 18, 2012, 05:58:10 pm
Camping in Florida in January is like shopping in Time Square the week before Christmas. Not the same as normal, maybe fun but not normal. ;)

Are you saying it is difficult to find open sites without reservations?   Are you also saying it is like shopping on Black Friday?   

We were maybe thinking of Florida instead of the SW for 2014... Maybe not a good idea?

denny
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: Barry-Sue on November 18, 2012, 06:50:14 pm
Denny,

    We have been going to FL every winter since 2003 but we always plan ahead.  The state parks are 11 months in advance, the COE parks are 6 months and the private parks are a year.  With that said, however, we have met many on the road in FL that rely on others cancelling.  I guess it depends on how lucky you feel and exactly where you want to be.  Northern Florida is not as busy but if you want to go to the Keys plan ahead. 

Sue
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: Carolp495 on November 18, 2012, 08:54:30 pm
I have lived in South Florida all my life .... if you are coming to Florida .. yes the Keys can get challenging on the weekend especially Fridays going down and Sundays coming north .... but if have not been ... it is truly a trip you would want to experience. I have seen the ocean to death and been to the Keys a zillion times, but every time it is always a beautiful site to see and experience .... it is relaxing and just beautiful.  Even if you have to fight the traffic and people  ... I promise it will be worth it.

We are in Vero Beach and there are some really nice beach ares close by this area and not as crowed as down south, either way you can't go wrong ... it is paradise.  :)
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: Denny & Barb on November 18, 2012, 10:08:25 pm
Thanks Sue and Carol... Guess a bit of planning certainly pays off down there.   Thanks for the info.. Just never talked with anyone down there about accommodations at parks.   This forum is a great place to hang out, for all kinds of camping with our nice PC's. :)

Denny
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: TomHanlon on November 19, 2012, 07:14:54 am
Camping in Florida in January is like shopping in Time Square the week before Christmas. Not the same as normal, maybe fun but not normal. ;)

Are you saying it is difficult to find open sites without reservations?   Are you also saying it is like shopping on Black Friday?   

We were maybe thinking of Florida instead of the SW for 2014... Maybe not a good idea?

denny

Denny, yes it will be like shopping on Black Friday with respect to the long lines everywhere and the large crowds everywhere you go.  It will be worth the trip if you keep in mind that you will have to wait in lines to do just about everything from seeing the tourist traps to getting a seat in a restaurant. One of the nice things about owning a PC is that it is small enough to fit in just about any available campsite, not like a bigger class A. Reservations are good if you know when and where you want to be, but most camp grounds will have a site or two that you can fit into. At least that has been my experience. I like to travel in the shoulder seasons, before the snowbirds take flight or after they return back home to the roost. September, November, or April, May time frame.
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: gradygal on November 19, 2012, 08:16:52 am
I disagree with Tom! It depends on where you go in Florida--it is not like Black Friday or Times Square (at least where we go and we live in FL). I suppose if you are in Miami, his view might hold true. Our goal is to take the PC to a different campground each month in season. We have not waited in long lines at restaurants! We usually eat in the PC.

Yes, we have to plan! We don't go to the Keys 'cause usually the State Parks are all booked in season. But there are other interesting places to see. And the weather is much better than the North in the winter.

So, come on down next year
Judi
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: Barry-Sue on November 19, 2012, 08:37:22 am
I disagree with Tom as well.  We never have experienced the long lines everywhere you go.  The only places to avoid where you might run into this are those famous "SPRING BREAK" places during a short 2-3 week  time frame--usually the first two weeks in March.  What is nice about January and February is the weather and all the fun activities the cities put on.  There are always concerts in the park, art shows and yes don't forget the swamp buggy races.


Sue 
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: TomHanlon on November 19, 2012, 03:08:27 pm
Ladies, ladies please don't take me wrong. I am not saying not to go, just expect that in some parts of Florida, which is a really big state, you might run into some crowds. We have been down to Florida many times at different times of the year and always have a good time. There have been some hard times, like the week between Christmas and New Years that we went to WDW only to find out that is the busiest week of the year. Besides it seemed like everyone was calling me "Mate". I guess it is their summer break time down under at that time of year. >(

Yes Judi, you will not stand in any lines at restaurants if you eat in your PC. roflol We like to eat out at least once a day to sample the local food. Ever since I got out of the Navy many years ago, I have tried not to stand in a line to eat if at all possible. :-D
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: Carolp495 on November 19, 2012, 08:37:12 pm
OMG Sue ... they still have swamp buggy races ?????
I haven't been to one of those since the early 70's ... are they still held in Naples ??

Carol

Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: Barry-Sue on November 22, 2012, 05:22:27 pm
Carol,

     The swamp buggy races are still going strong.  And yes---still in Naples.  Login to see a couple of pics.

Sue
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: ge_montana on November 24, 2012, 10:49:01 am
We live an Florida, and our state parks have a reservation system, where you can make reservations at a last minute reservation at some of the campgrounds that we find most intriguing, those with less people and don't have cable or cell.

I will suggest that when you rent, try to request a vehicle with as few miles as possible (say under 12,000 miles), especially if either one of you are not fully sold on RVing. We did this just before making the decision to buy. The RV we rented had 93,000 miles on it, and shook and rattled like crazy, almost put my bride off. i would not let her drive the vehicle as it was so out of align and not balanced. We used CruiseAmerica, they did give us a big discount when we brought it back.

We stayed in a little known county RV camping site in Levy Count. Mound Park just outside of Cedar Key, great weekend good seafood, first come first serve, and we were able to look beyond the junk vehicle we got from CruiseAmerica. Never been happier on the road.

Greg
2010
2551S
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: 2 Frazzled on December 06, 2012, 07:16:51 am
Thank you everyone for your suggestions. We finally booked and ARE going to Florida but more north than south. We're renting from CruiseAmerica in Gainesville and staying in two different state parks near there. One is Manatee Springs and I am on my never ending quest to watch Manatee happily playing in the water. We saw some in Belize but we kept our distance so as not to disturb so we really only got a quick look at one that swam under our boat and checked us out super briefly. With any luck some will be hanging out in the warm, clear spring water where I can watch them. The other park is Paynes Prarie - they have Bison. Now I've been in the midst of hundreds of Bison in South Dakota but Bison in Florida is rather intriguing. Who woulda thought you'd find them there amidst the alligators?
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: NHWanderlust on December 06, 2012, 10:16:51 am
Come to NH. We have and Elk farm (http://www.velvetpastures.com/home.html) up the road and a Buffalo farm in the next town. But a little cold to visit now.
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: Ron Dittmer on December 06, 2012, 01:25:50 pm
2 frazzled,

I hope you will see more Manatees than we did (none) last month in Cape Canaveral.  Hurricane Sandy encouraged them to leave the area because the waters got too cold for them.  Maybe it's better now.

We took a 7 day cruise leaving out from NYC on election day, with a stop at Port Canaveral.  We kayaked in the Mangroves of Cocoa Beach to see Manatees but none were found.  None at the big wildlife refuge either, just north of the landling strip for the space shuttle.
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: 2 Frazzled on December 06, 2012, 03:44:36 pm
Ron, we've done a similar search on the east and west coast. Went to the power plant outflows near Ft. Lauderdale (warm water, hundreds gather), no manatees.  Drove up to a spring on the east coast, reports of mother and child playing at the boat ramp the whole week before... but they apparently left just before we got there. Hit the gulf coast on another vacation and checked out a power plant that has actually set up viewing platforms for the crowds of people watching the crowds of manatees but the gulf had warmed up and they had left days before. Went to the gulf and kayaked where they feed on the grasses... no manatees. This time we are camping for a whole week near a place called Manatee Spring. I'm hoping my luck improves. If it does, I'll post pictures. Meanwhile you can google "manatees gather at power plant" and select images to see just how many we missed!
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: Ron Dittmer on December 06, 2012, 04:43:34 pm
Yep, just bad luck.  Those pictures are great.  It gives us something to return for.

My brother and his wife Kayaked with Manatees which were all around the two of them.  My sister-in-law was deathly afraid the kayak would tip over from bumping and they be swimming with the manatees, but the Manatees are quite respectful of visitors floating around in plastic cigars.

Except for this fellow.
(http://hurricaneaquasports.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/12-09-06-060_0003-2.jpg)

I would love to snorkel with them like we did with 10 foot span, 30 foot with tail, Eagle Rays a few days later on our cruise.
(http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-I9QU9bGj9Ro/TWVHe8V6GNI/AAAAAAAAANY/zXOEc67KfAo/s1600/spotted%2Beagle%2Bray.jpg)
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: 2 Frazzled on December 07, 2012, 07:53:35 am
I LOVE the Kayak snuggle picture. I wonder if he/she thought they'd found a friend or if they just wanted a ride. We also snorkeled with rays and sharks and squid and barracuda and lobsters and all sorts of other critters in Belize. We booked with Hugh Parkey's Belize Adventures. Absolutely awesome trip. They have a private island in the calm waters behind the reef with over the water cabanas, a restaurant, manatee museum (they do manatee research there) and a full padi dive shop (we don't dive but had a blast snorkeling). We found them at the National Geographic Travel and Adventure Show that comes to DC every year (as well as other cities in the U.S.) Their guides and trips and accomodations were excellent. The food and service were great;  the price was great. They totally took care of us from the time we landed at the airport to the time they dropped us back for our flight home. We can't say enough good things about them and the cool things we did. We stayed on the island for several days with snorkeling, kayaking (booked one sunset kayak tour with them and their guests have full use of their kayaks whenever they want), manatee tour, etc. We then did three days in San Ignacio with guided tours of the Belize Zoo, several Mayan ruins, a horseback ride through the "jungle", cave tubing, zip lining, etc. We were supposed to finish after our three days in San Pedro where we did a bit of shopping, snorkeled with sharks, rays, turtles, and took a sunset sailing cruise but I didn't want to leave so we quickly booked a few days back on the island for relaxation. Nothing beats laying in a hammock under the palm trees on a white sand beach with azure water lapping the shore. I swear I'm going back some day.
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: ge_montana on December 08, 2012, 03:41:56 pm
FYI we plan on being at Paines Prairie this weekend.

Have you made your trip yet? If you do go to Manatee Springs, be sure to visit Cedar Key. There is a fresh seafood market, at where the sidewalk first starts, that features both local fish, cultivated oysters and clams, and always wild atlantic shrimp.

greg
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: 2 Frazzled on December 09, 2012, 06:58:02 am
Greg, thank you for the inside info. We will definitely add Cedar key to our must see list. Enjoy your trip to Paine`s Prarie. I hope the bison and other critters let you get a peek at them.
Holly
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: grimes34 on December 16, 2012, 11:29:16 am
I also agree with Fort Myers area, The Red Coconut is on the beach. 50cent trolly to tons of places to eat & drink cheap!  buy a some cheap bikes when you arrive keep them for your trip, then donate them to the Salvation Army when ya leave!

Also Google maps is good for searching camp grounds, And anything else you may need 
Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: Mike on December 22, 2012, 03:02:02 pm
Se  Judi's comments. There are many places to camp for a night or two around west central and south central Florida. Florida has excellent state park camping and many commercial rv parks.  Since we use Verizon Mi-Fi I can't attest to the availability wi-fi. Most of the commercial parks have hot spots if you must. We have stayed in most of our state parks having lived in Florida for over 40 years. Nearly all of them have up-graded in order to accommodate the larger RVs.   Mike

Title: Re: Need suggestions for "test" camping in an RV
Post by: Zorba on January 01, 2013, 03:17:42 pm
Nuts. If I have to make reservations, I might as well stay in a motel.