We only stayed in Cedar Key, Florida, for a week, but we packed it full of fun stuff. One of our favorite things was kayaking out to Atsena Otie (which means cedar island in a tribal language). Mike and I shared a kayak and accompanied guide Mandy Davis and three of her friends on an awesome daylong adventure.
Mandy is an accomplished, seasoned naturalist and guide who’s recently set up shop in Cedar Key. She runs Hidden Coast Outdoors, and the Atsena Otie adventure is one of many tours she offers. Not only did Mandy show us how to kayak, but she also educated us on the history of Cedar Key. We learned that the city of Cedar Key was located on Atsena Otie Island. Cedar Key was an important port. Two mills on the island produced ‘cedar’ slats for shipment to northern pencil factories. Economic decline began when Henry Plant’s railroad to Tampa began service in 1886, and a devastating Atlantic hurricane in 1896 was the final blow.
We made the short hike to the now-closed pier and the cemetery. Mandy brought along paper and crayons so we could take headstone rubbings. I chose a grave marker with my name (except with a Z instead of an S). What a unique souvenir! We then kayaked further east for lunch. Mandy prepared a homemade, gourmet Mexican meal for us, and we ate on the beach near eaglets and other water birds.
It was a glorious experience, so much fun and a wonderful workout. $90 (per person) VERY well spent!!
We’ll have a more detailed post on the delightful Sunset Isle RV Park in Cedar Key, Florida, very soon. Until then, we wanted to share a quick video of our rig, the park and the gorgeous Gulf of Mexico area – taken by Mike with the Phantom DJI.
The rig next to us is a more modern version of ours. Our motorhome is a 2000 Holiday Rambler Endeavor, and our neighbor’s is a 2006. How funny that we’re parked side-by-side!
Mike uses a DJI Phantom QuadRotor with a Tarot Dual Axis Gimbal and a Gopro Hero 3 Silver. The DJI Phantom already comes with a GoPro mount. The Gimbal just allows the quad rotor to move without disturbing the camera – for smoother video.
The gimbal also allows remote tilting of the camera.
It does take some RC mechanical skill and understanding to attach this gimbal. The Phantom comes with a transmitter’ however, Mike connected it to the higher-end transmitter, a Spektrum DX7s he already had for his helies. So all of his RC Aircraft fly with the same transmitter. DJI does have a plug-n-play Gimbal ZenMuse, but it costs more. DJI has released a new Quad Rotor, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Quadcopter with Integrated FPV Camcorder. It comes with everything built in Camera, Gimbal, even a mount for your phone on the transmitter, so it can transmit the video nearly live to your phone. That way, you can see what the camera sees.
Blade is one of his favorite RC heli companies; their GoPro platform 350 QX RTF is a good one as well. But, like his Phantom, if you want better video from it you will have to add a gimbal. Although he hasn’t flown this Blade 350 yet, he has a couple of their helis, and it would be his guess that it would be the easiest to fly and work on.
We’re so excited. Our first videocast is out!
We’ve been wanting to do a podcast and video since we started the RV lifestyle, but it’s been tricky to pull it all together – what with traveling so much, dealing with winter challenges, and figuring out what formats we wanted to use. We finally decided to just go for it. At 37 minutes, our first vid is a bit long, but we needed to catch everyone up on our first 7 1/2 months.
Going forward, they’ll mostly be short, quick hits, and we’ll show you all kinds of cool stuff – like how the rig is decorated, how we handle various RV chores, what our campground experiences are like, product reviews and more.
So, please take a few moments to watch us and share, share, share! Thank you!
Before we left Milwaukee, probably for the last time this “season”, we had dinner with our good friends Larry and Maribeth at Mo’s Irish Pub. The company was awesome; the steamed veggies were crisp; and I was digging the light fixtures.
In the morning before we left town, we stocked up at the grocery store so that we’d have healthy stuff and save money by not shopping at the truck stops. We also popped into Hobby Town, so Mike could pick up something airsoft-related. I can’t keep track of all those gizmos! At the checkout counter, I spotted these freaky snacks. If these are what the early bird gets, I think I’ll sleep in from now on!
It’s amazing how impressive a city’s skyline can be as you motor by in the RV. The Chicago skyline was enchanting.
It’s not every day that you see a dinosaur as you roll down the interstate!
The Corvette is Mike’s favorite car, so we had to stop at The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. We didn’t buy the $10 per-person tix because we were meeting Stevi for lunch in Smyrna and didn’t have time to do the full tour. That meant that we didn’t get to see the sink hole either. The docent told us there was plexiglass around the hole so museum goers could see it, and apparently there’s a live webcam of the repairs.
One of the very best things about our RVing adventure is reconnecting with friends we haven’t seen in forever. Mike worked with Brian at MMI; they were both instructors. But Mike hadn’t seen Brian and his wife Donna since 1997! So, after we had lunch with Stevi, we caught up with Brian, Donna and their grandson Bowe for a late dinner at the Montana Saloon & Grill in Talladega. I was delighted to meet them – such nice people! – and was sad when Donna had to take Bowe home since she had to be up early the next day. Thankfully, Brian was able to hang out for a while, and he and Mike visited over a couple of beers in the rig.
No drive down I-75 in Georgia is complete without a stop at the World’s Largest Peanut. There’s a picnic table and plenty of grass to walk the bark babies. As a bonus, it’s right next to Carroll’s Sausage & Meats, which has an adjacent RV park.
We knew we were outta the cold when we saw this orange-and-pecan stand in the parking lot of the Flying J at the Georgia/Florida border. We bought a bag of fresh oranges, a bag of homegrown raw pecans and a bag of pralines from Moses himself. $30 well spent!
Complimentary fresh-squeezed orange juice and grapefruit juice at the Florida Welcome Center. We picked up a Sun Pass while we there to cover those pesky tolls that are so easy to miss when you’re driving.
We arrived in Florida two days before our campground reservation. Sunset Isle in Cedar Key couldn’t squeeze us in, so we boondocked in the Walmart parking lot in Chiefland. We snagged a lovely spot next to the water. Practicing good boondocking etiquette, we asked management’s permission, didn’t put down our jacks or push out our slide. Feel free to send us a gold star!
Our boondocking parking lot not only had a Walmart but also a hair salon, a Radio Shack, a clothing boutique and a Mexican AND a Chinese restaurant. Viejo Amigo was a surprisingly charming eatery. It was the first time we’d been served a salsa carafe.
We’re super excited to move into our camp spot – with full hook-ups! – for a week. Bring on the famous Cedar Key sunsets! But it sure has been a fun trip getting here.