Day 15 – Florida Roadtrip – Richmond, VA

The next day we went to a Camping World RV sales lot somewhere near I-95. At each campground we walked by these RVs and trailers, I never have been inside one. Some of them are soooooo huge! And cost over $100,000. So we were very curious to see what was inside of those big ones but also what those small pop-up ones look like inside.

The big ones can sleep10 people and have cable TV, air conditioners, heat and a full kitchen as well as a shower and a toilet. The small ones with no bathroom are very small. They can still sleep four and have two gas burners and a sink. Also there is a table to eat for four. I have to say I was jealous about the indoor kitchen. But mostly because you don’t have to put it away…
We had lunch in some small redneck ville in North Carolina.

Once we arrived in Richmond VA, we decided that we were not ready for such a big city yet. So rather than planning for a downtown walk the next morning, we found a historic farm to go to the next morning and to watch some sheep shearing.

For dinner Renzo found a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant. It was a real dive, but the food was fantastic and the owners were the most wonderful people, an elderly couple from Vietnam.

All the greater then was our shock when we arrived at the motel that we had already made reservations for on the way. The entrance are was entirely packed with dozens of high schoolers on a field trip, apparently some kind of sports team. They were pretty well behaved but we were worried about a bunch of screaming teenagers keeping us up all night.

In the end, the teenagers were quiet and what kept us up instead was some rotten wiring and/or air conditioner that decided to make a lot of noise most of the night.

Day 14 – Florida Roadtrip – Sho Nuff, Savannah, GA

Life without camping is easy and boring. We stopped at our favorite fish/shrimp BBQ place near Savannah GA. Sho Nuff seafood & BBQ 5850 Ogeechee Rd, Savannah, GA 31419.
If you are driving on I-95 it is well worth the detour. Last year we got boiled shrimp in some red sauce. It was the most delicious shrimp we ever had. This time I wanted to order the same but by mistake they fried it. At first I was disappointed but in the end it was the most delicious fried shrimp I have ever eaten.

We then continued on I-95. At around 8 pm we stopped at some highway hotel. I still can not tell what I prefer from all the variety. Howard Johnson in this case had a decent breakfast and clean bed sheets. In all our travels we stayed in Budget Inn, Motel 6, Motel 8 , Econolodge, Quality Inn, La Quinta, Sleep Inn and probably more. All of them are a different level of shittyness but all around $60 and mostly clean.

I also want to sing an ode to Indian people. Not American Indian in this case but Indians from India. Why may you ask? For working and running countless God forsaken hotels and gas stations. I always wonder how they must feel in the backwaters of Florida or Georgia? In those places they probably have no friends at all.

I asked one guy in a Georgia gas station if he likes it here? He was shaking his head violently: NO! He can not wait to go back to Mumbai. Thank you anyway. I appreciate your service.

Day 13 – Florida Roadtrip – Pine Island, FL

I forgot to mention that yesterday we went food shopping for the first time since the beginning of this trip and went for an oil change. All together we will have driven almost 4000 miles by the end of this trip.

In the morning we went to Pine Island beach. It was a nice small beach with a playground, cafe, and knee deep calm waters. All the ingredients for the happiness of 3 and 4 year old boys. Also there were horse shoe crabs, regular crabs that buried themselves in the sand. Also we were at some point in the middle of a swarm of black flies. All of a sudden we were covered in them and the next minute they were gone. Then everyone’s cellphone got an Amber alert. That was puzzling but thank God for Google – we found out that the Amber alert means that a child was abducted in Tampa. Apparently they let everyone in the state know.

Our kids had a blast at the beach and we stayed there as long as the weather permitted. We had already prepared for the evening rain in the morning.
Since the beginning of this trip we were carrying three pieces of tarp with us – only now we got to use it. When I had bought the tarp and opened it up in my apartment I was thinking this is huge! Now that we opened it on the campground to hang it over the table it looked impossibly small! So we managed to hang two of them over the picnic table and to cover two beach chairs. It only took us two hours. Our neighbor on the other hand had a perfect set up with expandable poles that originally served as gold ball retrievers which he now used as the center dome for his tarp. A real engineer at work.

But our construction held up well. It was raining pretty heavily in the late evening and most of the night but our table and chairs kept dry. Our tent once again proved its worth as well – no water inside at all!

The next morning we made our last campfire, slowly packed up and prepared for the long trip home, with only one extended stop, in Richmond, Virginia. No more camping – it’s cold and wet north of here, so we’ll drive right through.

Day 12 – Florida Roadtrip – Chassahowitzka River, FL

As we learned just yesterday, even though it says “no alcohol on campground”, this is not enforced at all. When I went to complain to security, nothing happened. That is the price you have to pay for the convenience of car camping. It is so easy that every moron can do it. Apparently, in Tampa / St. Petersburg it is a common thing to do: go camping, get fucked up.

In the morning we rented a canoe. Everyone got his own paddle, even Yelisei. It was all around beautiful. The water was so clear you could see all the way to the bottom. There were several springs that we could see as perfect circle craters. There was so much fish, it made me think of the time before America was discovered. I imagine you could fish with your bare hands here. On a motor boat you could go far down that river but on our paddle boat we went to different shallow inlets that were shady and abundant with fish and just magnificent.

We had lunch on land on the edge of a perfectly round and blue pool of water fed by several springs. It was full of big fish. Timofei found a long piece of gras and was fishing. I think he was convinced that if he puts a stick in the water then eventually there will be a fish on the end of it. He was quite disappointed that no fish came to bite. He could not understand why, although I explained to him the concept of fishing rods and bait several times.

Then we had to decide what to do next. It looked like it was going to rain where we were going to go next, so we decided to stay put and go to the beach nearby the next day.
We moved to a different site, away from the drunken boys. In the evening by the fire we enjoyed not only peace and quiet but also armadillo and several raccoons just a few feet from us.


Day 11 – Florida Roadtrip – Chassahowitzka River, FL

The girl was indeed still there, so Timofei was happy while we were packing up. It was time to leave the Keys and start heading north again. It was a long drive all the way north of Tampa, to a campground at the Chassahowitzka River. The drive was pretty uneventful except for the usual entertainment provided by Timofei and Yelisei.

The campground was in a gorgeous swampy forest with lots of Armadillos and Raccoons and it was pretty empty, except that we ended up next to three college boys who were pretty nice initially but then got more and more drunk until one of them thought it would be cool to run screaming after an Amadillo, with a machete in hand…

Their drunken loud chatter was pretty annoying – we told them twice to keep it down, but it was of course useless. Eventually, their chief moron passed out at midnight and so did his followers. Thankfully, the next day made up for it though.