Saturday, July 29, 2017

Reeves, LA to Perry, FL via Highway 84

After many busy hours followed by a laptop crash, I am finally getting back to our travels again. Look at the bright least I haven't been posting so often that I have become a pest!

I have a new HP laptop, slightly better than the ones I have been using in the past, and so far, the change to Windows 10 hasn't been a big problem, so without further delay, let me continue with our story.

After leaving our friend's place near Reeves, LA, we headed northeast on Hwy 165, around Alexandria, and up Hwy 58 to meet up with Hwy 84 just west of Jonesville. We made one quick stop at Alexander Forest WMA, at the south edge of Alexandria, to refresh our tanks (they didn't even charge us), and then continued on our way through beautiful green southern pine forests and gently rolling hills most of the way.

We arrived well before dark at the Brookhaven, MS Walmart. We had great weather all the way, but as dusk fell, we could see a very dark straight line of clouds moving in from the west.

The approaching line of clouds from the Brookhaven, MS Walmart.

A straight line like this usually means a huge temperature shift, and often brings serious storms with it. We were fortunate not to experience any that night, but heard the next morning that a tornado had hit New Orleans.

This is why we watch the weather constantly as we travel. Had we simply continued east along the most direct route down I-10, we could have easily put ourselves in harm's way. But between weather reports and the fact that we choose to stay off the Interstate highways as much as possible so we can see more of rural America, we chose to follow a more northern route away from the coast. As a result, we got nothing more than a little rain.

The next morning at the Brookhaven, MS Walmart.

Once the rain stopped, the skies cleared and we had mostly sunny weather again, all the way to our next target of Andalusia, AL and the Walmart there. We were able to get a beautiful parking spot right along a grassy yard, and enjoyed a quiet night of sleep.

Great parking at the Andalusia, AL Walmart.
Sharon and Angel at the Andalusia, AL Walmart.

The next morning we spotted a beautiful red coach, probably a Marathon or Prevost parked not far away.

A beautiful red coach at the Andalusia, AL Walmart.

It just goes to show that no matter how much money you have (or don't have) it is foolish to throw it away on campground fees when all you need is a place to sleep for the night. The only time we pay camping fees is when we plan to be at a place for awhile. Nightly stops are no excuse for throwing money away on outrageous fees just to park your wheels for a night!

From Andalusia, we continued on to the east side of the loop around Opp, AL, and took Hwy 52 to Samson, AL, then headed south on Hwy 87 into Florida. Hurray! We finally made it back to Florida after being away from it since November of 1993! Soon after we crossed the state line, we headed east again on Hwy 2 to get over to Hwy 231.

Since the Welcome Center was only a couple miles north, we stopped there to check it out.

Our RV and trailer in the back lot at the Hwy 231 Florida Welcome Center.

As always, the welcome centers offer a glass of fresh Florida orange juice, of which we had to have a sample, and tons of information on things to see and do.

The Florida Hwy 231 Welcome Center.

They even had a space suit on display in the lobby.

Space suit on display at the Hwy 231 Florida Welcome Center.

Once we had gathered all the printed information we chose to carry, we continued south on Hwy 231 all the way to Panama City, where we again made use of a Walmart on the east side for our overnight stop.

Our RV at the Panama City, FL Walmart.

The next morning we got on Hwy 98 and followed the coast past Port St. Joe. This was also the first time we had seen the Gulf of Mexico in many years, so sightseeing was our top priority enroute to our more eastern destination of the Ocala area.

Before we got to Appalachiacola, we decided to turn off on State Road 30A, just to see where it went. It took is past St, Vincent Island NWR, and out to Cape San Blas, and the end of the road. Along the way was mostly residential area, with many expensive homes and resorts set among the beautiful Southern Pine forest and beaches.

A St. Vincent Island NWR map at Cape San Blas, FL.
Our RV at the end of the road, Cape San Blas, FL.
Signs at the end of the road, Cape San Blas, FL.
The boat landing and ferry dock to St. Vincent NWR at Cape San Blas, FL.

After a short stop there, we continued on to Appalachiacola, and across the causeway to Eastpoint.

The first bridge on the causeway approach, Hwy 98, Eastpoint, FL.
Crossing the causeway toward Eastpoint, FL.

All along Highway 98, one can get a great view of the Gulf. This is a beautiful drive, right along the shoreline.

Only one example of the beautiful drive on Hwy 98 near Eastpoint, FL.

This took us on to Carabelle, with a short stop at the beach there.

Our RV beachside at Carabelle Beach, FL.
Carabelle Beach, FL. looking west.
Carabelle Beach, FL looking east.

This was the first time we had set foot on a Gulf beach in more than 24 years, and it felt great! We fixed a quick sandwich for lunch there and continued on. The route of Hwy 98 parallels the Gulf for many miles, and makes for a beautiful drive all the way from Panama City to the little town of Medart at the eastern edge of Appalachiacola NF.

After Carabelle, we took a slight detour on Hwy 319 through Appalachiacola NF and then back to Hwy 98 again, and on to Perry, FL, our next overnight stop at a Walmart.

Our RV and trailer at the Perry, FL Walmart.

From here, there wasn't much to see. We followed Alt 27 down to Ocala, and thought we may use another Walmart or Sam's Club, but the traffic was horrible and the spaces very tight. The one place we thought we were going to stop had changed it's parking rules, so we decided to leave and go farther east while we still had daylight.

The brief stop gave us time to fix a quick sandwich and check parking info on my smart phone, so we decided to head for Ocala NF, in hopes that they had spaces open. They did. We'll talk about that in the next post.

Although this pretty much ends our trip across the country as we get settled into a somewhat stationary lifestyle for awhile, there will still be some interesting stories in the next few posts, so please stick around. If you enjoy the stories so far, please subscribe to new post notifications so you don't miss out.

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Ed Helvey - Location Independent Traveler said...

I drove most of that route along the Gulf on my way from Florida to meet up with you in Reeves, LA. I also stopped and stocked up at that Walmart in Perry, FL and picked up a batch of General Delivery mail at the Perry Post Office on my way to camp with a group of fellow vandwelling nomads in the Goose Pasture Camp Ground off Rt 98. It was a beautiful, secluded area.

John Abert said...

Thank you for commenting. If we find it possible in our travels, I would love to drive the entire southern coast, and maybe stay a few days in select spots... except in August through December... peak hurricane season. The best times are the first four months of the year, before it gets too warm.

I'm glad you enjoyed your stay at Reeves. We left the day after you did, as they had trouble with their septic system not draining properly. We decided that since a dump station was so far away that we would just go, before any more of their company arrived and made the situation worse. It was time. Other than paid campgrounds, I never like to stay anywhere more than a week. We had accomplished what we needed to and it was time to move on.