Thursday, March 30, 2017

#41 - Thursday, 30 March 2017 - Kissimmee Prairie Preserve S.P., Florida

Today is my last at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park. I've said that before and returned, but this time I can honestly say it is my last visit in 2017. It's supposed to reach 90ºF today after a high yesterday of about 87ºF. At 10 pm last night it was still close to 80ºF. But the weather was perfect for sleeping and a gentle breeze kept me comfortable. Tomorrow morning I depart. It will be the last day of March and it is time to get out of Florida. I've had my maps out over the course of the past couple days, but they can be overwhelming as every location intrigues me in at least some way. That's the amazing thing about America – you could spend an entire year just exploring one state. As someone who seeks snakes and spiders, Florida holds all sorts of treasures. But I am itching for the west. I love the deserts and rocky hills and mountains. My next destination is Texas and that state would require years to explore.

My plan – admittedly a strong word for my very loose ideas – is to head out tomorrow morning with no set destination. See, that certainly isn't "a plan". I looked for state park campground vacancies near Tallahassee, but they are hard to come by. I looked at RV parks in my phone book size directory. Then I realized that I just want to get west. I can crash at a Pilot Travel Center or Wal-Mart parking lot or rest area when I get tired. I'll half fill my reserve water tank and fill my propane and just keep filling my truck fuel tank until I feel like stopping for a couple days. I'm still considering a quick visit to Jackson, Mississippi, but likely will just take I-10 west across the panhandle of Florida cutting across the narrow southern tips of Alabama and Mississippi, and circumvent New Orleans as I cross Louisiana into Texas.

I have an amazing set of six eBooks that are guides to boondocking in the southwestern states. The author has been everywhere and pens her "Frugal RV" bibles telling you how to live on the cheap everywhere. The guides not only tell you where to camp free, but also the best roads to shunpike. As I've explained previously, this means using secondary highways and back roads to avoid interstates. I don't have a problem with using interstates as I like the services that are found along the way like truck stops and nice rest areas, but the biggest attractions of shunpiking are seeing out of the way places most don't visit and, even more so, circumventing major cities. As I enter Texas and look to head southwest I don't want to take the superhighway right through Houston. I'll follow her route around it and toward Austin before heading south and trying to avoid San Antonio.

Either way, the "plan" is to get to Texas for April and make my way to Big Bend National Park. Unfortunately, April 15 is the change of seasons for most camping locations. That means that the warm climate south uses reservations earlier in the year due to the influx of snowbirds. By mid-April reservations "are not necessary" and everything becomes first come, first serve. I'm going to look for an "off grid" free boondocks campsite near Big Bend, but I'd really like to camp in the state park if possible. It doesn't make sense to avoid camping fees and then spend more on fuel to drive in and out every day. There are two campgrounds within Big Bend operated by the National Park Service. Only one accommodates RVs the size of my Wheelhouse. However, it does not have electric/water hookups. That's fine for a week and can be stretched to two weeks by minimizing showers and dish washing and such. There is a third campground in the park (maybe on outskirts?) that has full hookups and is operated by a third-party vendor. I'll give them a call once I get to Texas. For the geographically challenged, Big Bend is extreme southwestern Texas so there are plenty of spots along the Rio Grande I plan to visit prior to spending a couple weeks around Big Bend. But first I need to get out of Florida and tomorrow I will try to put some miles behind.


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