The Ultimate Road Trip: THE SILVER SNAIL : A solo woman's full-time RV adventure
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St. Joe's Peninsula, FL

It was a pretty long day of driving to get to St. Joe's Peninsula State Park. Just when I thought I was there, it was another twenty miles of driving an empty coastal road crammed with empty summer homes. It felt like the place had been evacuated. Finally, at the end of the road, after checking in with headquarters, I arrived at the campground, and it was bustling with activity. Like all other Florida state parks, this one was no exception to desirability, though a bit easier to get reservations, being in the northern part of the state. I was a little bummed to notice that the campground looked like a warzone and wasn't aware that they had recently implemented some controlled fires. But it was at the base of an 8 mile-stretch of pristine wilderness beach that extended to the tip of the peninsula. This is what they mean by white sugar sand beaches. The giant dunes on the gulf side were fantastic. Temps were mostly in the 70s, sometimes mid-80s, when I could read and tan on the beach. I really liked it here.

My site was positioned right at then entrance of the campground and across from the trash, so I was subject to most of the campground traffic. More than anyplace else, people here were very neighborly and almost every day someone would introduce themselves and ask about me and my Airstream. Soon after my arrival, Klaus was walking his dog past my site and came over to say hello. He seemed to get a kick out of my little trip, especially with Riley and Peyote, and was eager for me to meet his wife Helga. They were great: easy, comfortable, warm and pleasant, and sweet to each other. Met and married in Germany, now living in Canada, they came down to Florida for the winter. Over a tasty lunch that Helga had prepared, we chatted and Klaus showed me their mobile GPS unit, strongly encouraging me to get one. I didn't realize how handy these gadgets were, especially since Riley had been failing miserably in his navigation skills as co-pilot. The next day I was leaving and I wished I had more time to spend with these guys. Later, I did some research and ordered a GPS to be delivered to my stop in Mississippi.

I also met Sally here, the first other solo woman traveler I had met on my trip so far. She hailed from the Seattle area and was driving a vintage Dolphin with her two Cairn terriers, Sophie and Stewart. I gave her a ride into town and while we took care of business at the post office, library and grocery store, I learned that her part of Washington was very similar to my part of Maine so we gave each other some great tips on where to go. It was unfortunate that we were heading in opposite directions, as it would have been nice to re-connect with her along the way. We ended up having dinner at the marina in Port St. Joe's, where both of us sampled alligator for the first time. Battered and deep fried, it tasted like popcorn chicken...only gamier.

The big bummer about this place was that Riley could never join me on the beach, as the no-dogs-on-beach rule was strictly enforced here as well. There were plenty of hiking trails to explore, though, which we covered daily. Peyote loved her time outside where she'd catch bugs, roll in the sand and bask in the sun. My pals seemed to be diggin' this new life.

It was nice to be in this coastal region, where the towns were small, the pace slower, and no traffic to contend with. After crowded St. Augustine and the traffic of Savannah, it was a welcome change.


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