We are now in Key Largo which is in the upper keys, staying for two weeks at John Pennakamp State park right on the water. We left Koreshan state park yesterday around 11:00 and got here about 3:30 or so . 187 miles, seems every time I drive pretty far I get pretty tired for a day or so. Guess I am getting old. This is a big State park most of it is in water as a preserve for coral reefs. They have two beaches here not very big, a boat launch and a marina where you can get tours on the glass bottom boat, or go scuba diving or snorkeling out at the reefs. You can also rent canoes and kayaks and go out to the mango groves on the sea trails they have. Will be in the 80’s for at least the next week here. Below is some pictures of our site, which is a tight one and the beaches.




The Marina area.


One of the beaches, which are all coral here, not sandy like we are used to.


Melissa, saying it’s cold.


OH, No the creature from the black lagoon emerging, Oh no it’s lovely Melissa


Yesterday we rented a canoe here at the park, and canoed part of the Estero River. We canoed about 2 hours or so. The Estero river is about 10 miles long and runs east to west dumping into the Gulf of Mexico. There it is about 1/4 of a mile wide, up here at the park it is only about 100 feet or so wide. The water here is fresh and salt, what they call brackish. There is one thing that thrives here that does not like brackish water. Yep, alligators. That was a relief as we canoed along. It was fun, i think next time we would go by kayak, smaller and more agile, if we don.t tip over first.

The park is at about mile 7 of the river, it was the original homestead of Gustav Damkohler. He was tired of the Fort Myer’s area getting more and more populated. so he came up the river and at about mile 7 he hacked out a piece of land on the south side and built a small cabin and starting homesteading. This was around 1880. In 1882 he came here with his family and got a homestead grant for about 200 acres from the state of Florida. At this time the river was the only means of transportation as there were no roads, it  was a complete wilderness here. Really more of an everglade with swamps, along with tons of flys and mosquitoes alligators and snakes. Try doing that today, right. By 1894 he had acquires to his land holdings a total of about 400 acres. Then he read an article in some paper about a Dr. Cyrus Teed, from Chicago looking for land to form a new Koreshan unity of religian,  his “New Jerusalem” so to speak. Damkohler invited Dr Teed down to Florida for a visit. The visit lasted six weeks with Dr. Teed and three of his followers with him cramed in a small one room cabin. Shortly after Damkohler turned over most of his land to Dr. Teed and the Koreshan unity. A decision he would later regret, as he moved out in the early 1900’s and eventualy ended up in Alaska where he died. The Koreshan unity of new religion however did not die and thrived until the 1950’s then declining until the last Koreshan member passed away in 1982. more on the Koreshan Unity settlement in Estero later. Below a few pictures from our canoe outingIMG_2620The original Damkohler house still satnding

IMG_2621The original piers for the dock leading up to the grand entrance to the Koreshan Settlement

IMG_2618A Crane being very still

IMG_2617Melissa paddling her heart out.IMG_2619Some of the river ahead.


Yesterday was beach day or should I say walking the beach doing shelling. Looking for sea shells of course. It turned out to be a mostly sunny 82 degree day, and we had a lot of fun. We first dropped Cooper off at dogy day care, then we went to Mel’s for breakfast and to map out our shelling day. Not much to it really just go to the beach and find shells. Well not so simple this is an art I am told. You need to get up pretty early to get all the good ones, because that is when the tide goes out, then they are pretty much just lying there. I am not talking about your one or two-inch sea shells, were talking about the four-inch and bigger ones. There are a lot of people who do this as a hobby. you can buy nets to scoop them up and shovels if you wish. Anyway we decided to go to Sanibel Island where some of the best shelling is.  As yesterday was Monday we did not think there would be much of any crowds. In order to get to Sanibel you have to cross the causeway, which of course you have to pay for. $6.00 to cross, we then stopped at one of the causeway beaches. Not many people, we spent about an hour there and found some pretty Ok shells. We ran into a guy at the beach sitting in his chair fishing for sharks.???? Yep sharks says he catches up to five ,six footers, then lets them go. Not for me. Anyway he said you have to go to the northern end of the island for good shelling. After we left there we drove on Sanibel island ( Tourist trap for sure) and made our way to Bowman’s beach at the northern end of the island. This is a public beach park own by the City, but has become very popular of late.  When we got there, there were a fair amount of cars, and of course you have to pay for parking. $10.00 bucks first hour $5.00 every hour. After we paid our dues, we made our way to the beach which is a ten minute walk.  The beach is pretty big more than a mile of so long. We made our way to the water’s edge and starting looking for shells. There were also a fair amount of other people searching to. As I mentioned it was a pretty hot day and nice to get your feet wet in the water, which I thought was pretty warm. All in all we spent 4 hours going up and down the beach finding shells. It’ pretty hard work we were tired when we left. POictures are below of our outing.

IMG_2612The bridge to the casuseway

IMG_2613More of the beach at the causeway

IMG_2614Prett blue flowers on a bush we saw.IMG_2615Some of the shells we found

IMG_2616More shells


Yesterday we went to Dog Beach. Before I get to that, in the morning I had to go to Camping World about 20 miles away. In our travels so far we have not had a need for one, because we have had a sewer hook up most of the time. I have been putting it off, but it was time to get a crapper tote. When I got to Camping World, they had 3 sizes to choose from I had thought I would get the big 37 gallon one, but after looking at the size of it, it was out of the question, it was too big. So I decided to get the 27 gallon model. Now these have come a long way. It comes with a sewer hose already connected along with an 90 degree elbow for ease. It also has a fill sensor so it lets you know when it is full. But the nicest part of it is it has a nice long handle and 4 wheels, very easy to get around. It was not that cheap, so I had to bite the bullet. Here at Koreshan and a few other parks we will be at we will have no sewer so I needed to get one.


Back to Dog Beach. After lunch we decide to go there. This is a beach for dogs hence the name. It is one of the first beaches you get to when you get to Fort Myers beach area on the gulf. When we got ,were a lot of cars. Friday after Thanksgiving. The beach is a little bit of a walk through a wide flooded area (because of the tide). The water here varied in-depth from a few inches to over a foot deep. Then you come to the path that is between trees to get to the actual beach area. The area here is about 200 yards wide for the dogs. The water here is up to a couple of feet deep about 200 yards out also. When we let Cooper loose(as this is an off leash park) away he went, terrorizing all the smaller dogs. Boy did he have a lot of energy to get out. We also went in the water and got Cooper to get in for a while. There were all sizes of dogs here, running and crashing into people, including Cooper. We were there for about 2 hours. We had a lot of fun and Cooper did too, but he is pretty agressive with little dogs so we had to watch him a little closer.






Today we celebrated our first major holiday on the road, and away from family and friends. It was cloudy today but warm about 80. Didn’t really feel like Thanksgiving. After having breakfast we decide that we would take Cooper to the dog park, and then have an early dinner at Mel’s diner. My brother Jeff mentioned we should go there and after checking it out noticed they were having thanksgiving dinners from 11 to 8 pm. About 1 we went to the dog park and had Cooper run around some spent about a half hour there. He had a riot as there were other dogs there he could play and run with. After that we went to Mel’s and Oh boy were they packed. So we decided to order two dinners to go. For $14.00 you got a salad, chicken noodle soup,Turkey ,stuffing,mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberries plus beans and corn. I’m not a fan of stuffing so Melissa took that and I got her mashed potatoes. Man, oh man was it good, we were stuffed.


This Thanksgiving is a little more special this year, as Melissa and her sister Jennifer are now 11th generation descendants coming from the Mayflower. After doing extensive research the last few years, and making application to the Mayflower society, they both have been accepted and confirmed decendants from pilgrims. this is coming from their fathers (Smith side). Their 11th grandfather Edward Fuller made the trek over on the Mayflower with his wife and kid. his wife dying the first cold harsh winter. So there you have it pilgrim.


This morning we got packed up and headed out to Koreshan State park in Estero Florida. One thing Alafria didn’t have was sewer, so we had to go to the dump station, my first time at one. No big deal just like when hooking up to a sewered site. Was there for about 20 minutes and left about 11 am. It was a nice sunny 80 degree day today. It was a 140 mile journey to Korestan, which is about 10 miles south of Fort Myers on the gulf side. We ar right by the Estero River and 10 minutes to the beaches. Got here about 2:30 and drove to our site, number 5. It was a tough back in today, not a wide entrance, with a big tree on my blind side. After about 10 minutes of jockeying, i was in. We then got settled in and took a walk around the park. Very treed and lots of bushs. We will be here for 10 days. A few pictures of our spot below.





Today we did some hiking. We went to the other side of the park where they have the trails. The place had about 100 vehicles parked there. This is not only a hiking area it is also a mountain biking and horse trail area. Mainly mountain biking ,from what we have heard it is one of the best places to mountain bike in the country. The main loop about 2 miles long is for hikers ,bikers and horses. Then the trails brake off from there for mainly mountain biking. It goes from easiest, easy, moderate, hard, hardest. You just take the one you want. Hikers cannot go on the designated bike trails. All together we hiked about 5 miles. We did see some other people with dogs, but you do have to be on guard, bikes come up fast. I was a little surprised also to see the number of OLDER people mountain Biking, I mean my age. Good for them. On the trail I had it in the back of my head, but didn’t see any Gators or snakes, thank goodness. Took some pictures which are below, with a little description of each.


Our home out in the distance.


The main map you need to follow for the trails.


A bridge on our hiking trail.


Another part of the hiking trail.


One of the bike trails off the loop.


One of the bike ramps we saw. Pretty neat we saw a number of people do this. Not for a beginner.



A bridge on the bike trail, no railings.





We are now at Alafia River state Park near Tampa. We left Fort Wilderness this morning about 11 or so, we got here at about 1 pm, not a far drive today. The park is pretty new, it used to be an old Phosphate mine, then closed and turned over to the state. They have two camping loops with 30 rv spots, with water and electric. The sites are pretty far away from each other something we are not used to, and the area is somewhat flat with a lot of brush and fields, not a lot of trees. The park is known for its bike trails, the best in Florida they say, who knew. We will be here till Monday. The weather has turned a little cool for the next few days, then back into the 70’s.  In Disney it was 85 or hotter each day. Below is a few pictures of our site




Our stay here at Disney’s Fort Wilderness is coming to a close. Tomorrow will leave here to go to Alfia River State Park, near Tampa. I will make a more in depth post soon on our experiances here. Some thoughts on this place , it is a megatropolus, huge, and tons of people. There are 9 resorts around the big lakes, all have 1000 rooms or more, plus you have Fort Wilderness Lodge with 500 more and For wilderness campground, with 800 rv spots and 400 cabins. To get most anywhere you take the bus, they are everywhere and each loop has a bus stop, you just take it to the terminal and get on the bus to where you want to go. Then there is the monorail, which is an elevated train like, it has been here from the start. It goes around all the resorts and to Magic Kingdom and Epcot. All of these places and the parks themselves have pretty high security. At the parks, your bags are checked you are checked and you then need your magicband to get in . No magicband you are not going anywhere. You get it when you arrive all set up with your info and the parks you have paid to get into. Sort of an I. D. bracelet. Back to the campground, as I mentioned it is huge, all the loops have a bus stop at them and a full bathroom facility with laundry. There are sidewalks all over and there are usually more golf carts on the roads than cars ,and trucks. The loop we are in is more established, we have good separation between sites with trees and shrubs. Other loop are sparse, but it really doesn’t matter where you are. Each night you can go to the beach and watch the fireworks from Magic Kingdom, also at about 9:40 each night they pipe in Disney music across the campground for 20 minutes. It is hard to not get caught up in it all. Some people are staying through the holidays and have all there Christmas decorations already out. The workers here are all friendly and always waving, the place is also very clean. Here and at the parks, i had a few thoughts on things, if you don’t want to spend a lot of money don’t come here, things are expensive. A bottle of water is $3.50. At the parks you are just drawn in to the food, which is very good bust expensive. If you do not like to be banged into by hundreds of strollers at the parks, don’t come here. They are everywhere, with kids in them and they don’t get out of the way. Also it was funny to see all these peole rush into the parks in the morning with smiles on there face and by the afternoon these same people were all lined up along the sidewalks with kids screaming and parents yelling at everyone, Funny. Also if you do not like to wait, don’t come here. We did pretty good with waiting for the rides and such , our shortest wait was 10 minutes, our longest was 90 minutes. These are just a few thought i have about it all. As i mentioned i will make a bigger post in a few days on the total experiance.


Yesterday we left Swannee River State Park. We left about 11am, after doing our usual one hour pack up routine. We got to Disney’s Fort wilderness Campground about 3 or so. After we got checked in we drove to the 200 loop, and found our site 235. The roads here are not very wide, I backed in pretty good except I almost took out a two foot high site marker on the other side. luckily a guy saw me and came over to help out, otherwise I might have damaged the front tire so how. Once we got in we set up, and relaxed a little.

This place is huge ,it has over 800 Rv spots in many different loops, and about 400 cabins. Our spot is very close to the lake, and marina. The boat from there takes you to Magic Kingdom. Also the place is pristine, manicured gardens with tall pines and plenty of palm trees. There are two pools and about 5 restaurants just here in the campground. One thing that we laughed about is, everyone is driving a golf cart, the place is so big to go anywhere you need one. They rent them here and are $62.00 a day. We also have Cooper set up at the parks boarding kennel for a few days while we visit the parks. They also have fireworks every night over the lake. Here are a few pictures of our spot.