Thursday, December 15, 2016

#2: Thursday, 15 December 2016 | Huntley, Illinois

I am in a holding pattern. I will close on my house on Tuesday, 20 December, but I can’t flee the frozen heartland until I have four axles beneath me. My shiny new travel trailer and truck are expected on disturbingly vague dates: “by Christmas” and “by the end of the year”, respectively. My itinerary for 2017 will be open, and I will follow the weather to try to stay between fifty degree nights and eighty degree days. However, snowbirds flock to Florida during January so I have already made some campsite reservations. The first begins 3 January 2017 for four nights at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park. Will I make it?

Kissimmee Prairie is between the Kissimmee Chain Of Lakes and Lake Okeechobee with the Blue Cypress Conservation area just to the east and the Atlantic coast near Vero Beach just further east. There is much to see in this area and it is the base camp from which I will seek to find the introduced population of the Mexican theraphosid species Brachypelma vagans along the canals and orchards near Fort Pierce. It is my first destination regardless, but the question is whether I will have to forfeit my prepaid campsite during the first week of January. While much of my western camping will be the boondocking, the free and dispersed primitive camping I defined in the first blog entry, Florida has fewer opportunities for staying at no cost on public land, and during the month of January most RVers crowd southern Florida. The state park offers full hookups with electricity and water for $16 a night so I eagerly made a reservation hoping my timeline would jive. Now I just need Coachmen RV/General RV and Ford/Tom Peck Ford to do their part. Because of the many snowbirds (people who flock to warmer climes during the northern winter) who made reservations long ago, campsite reservations are tricky and I was only able to book four nights. Once I hit the road I will be able to begin picking some other spots. The only other reservation I have made is not prepaid and is not in a state park. I will seldom stay in private and comparably expensive RV parks during 2017, but I will have to during January and have my second set of dates scheduled beginning 16 January at The Boardwalk RV Resort in Homestead. This is a great location to be able to explore Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Reserve and drive out to the Florida Keys. I’d like to try to find a campsite in the Everglades while I’m down there, but I will find comfort in knowing that my RV is parked in a gated RV park with security if I decide to drive all the way out to Key West without it. It all depends on timing. Should the Gods of Love and Reason (who caught that Rush reference?) cooperate and RV and F-150 arrive by December 29, I will be off and will make it to Key West for New Year’s Eve (sought alone to rule the fate of man … Cygnus X-1, Hemispheres, Rush).

As I mentioned in the premiere posting, this blog will be an almost daily supplement to what will be daily posts to my @jacobipix Instagram. Follow the exploits of one guitar-picking, snake and spider chasing photog and his little parrot as they tour America. It’s a reality TV series in the making! You’ll learn all sorts of crazy stuff including new words like boondocking and shunpiking. How about glamping? It’s a matter of perspective, but I am pretty sure I wouldn’t qualify. This word is a mash up of glamour and camping and refers to those who have more amenities than most people do in their brick and mortar homes. Hell, I just watched an episode of Big Time RV where a couple bought a $650,000 motor home. That’s right. That’s four times what I sold my house for! But I’ve spent years camping in leaky tents, sometimes freezing me arse off in a cheap sleeping bag poorly suited even for summer. Some will accuse my new 31 1/2 travel trailer of being too posh. The grass is always greener …

As I wrote before, I will return to Chicago in early February to fly to Dubai and on to Kuala Lumpur and my final destination of Kuching, Malaysian Borneo. After a week at the LimeTree Hotel in Kuching, I will return to KL to fly to Langkawi Island to stay at Berjaya Langkawi Resort. However, with any luck, before the month of January ends my buddy John Apple will be joining the spider chase in Florida. Those of you who know John know that he is an expert on araneomorphs or "true spiders", as well as other little invertebrates. I imagine his girlfriend Ashley will be with him, and the three of us will comb Florida for all sorts of creepy crawlies. Having John as a field researcher will definitely increase my yield of true spider photographs for upcoming projects, and it will be good to have some company around the campfire at night.

Stay tuned as I continue to document #roadtrip2017. My post frequency will increase as I take delivery of my vehicles and prepare to depart. I will be on the road to Atlanta as soon as I can, overnighting in a hotel there during my two day trip to southern Florida. Will I make it for New Year’s Eve and toast 2017 with a tropical drink in some bar in Key West? Or will I still be bundled up in Chicagoland? Only time will tell …

All the best, MJ

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