Flagler Beach, Florida has become one of our favorite places to visit. In the last year, we have camped there 3 times, and have day tripped there many times before.
We love the old beach town feel of the place. They have been very strict about keeping buildings from growing too tall, they don’t allow building on the beach side, and have many small businesses in the downtown area. The Flagler Beach Historical Museum is right downtown and a great spot to learn the history about the area and people.
As you drive along A1A, you can see the dunes and the Atlantic clearly. They have many pedestrian crosswalks and stairs to the beach, as well as street parking. As you drive, be sure to watch for these.
We have tried a few seafood places, local breweries, coffee shops, and sandwich shops and all have been delicious. My only place I continue to return to is Sally’s Ice Cream Shop on the north end of town–they have so many choices, but the chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick is amazing, and definitely worth a longer walk on the beach.
There are several parks and trails in the area, other than just walking on the beach, and you can see all the different ecosystems that thrive along the coast, and the work to preserve them.
Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park is also there and you can see and learn about an old sugar plantation destroyed during the second Seminole War. There are also many other state and national parks along A1A as you travel north towards St. Augustine. Marineland isn’t too far, if you want a more touristy attraction.
We love camping at Bulow RV Resort, as much for the location as for it being a part of our Thousand Trails membership as an Encore park. While it isn’t fancy, the sites are mostly level and spacious (they are grass sites), and have electric and water, with many also having sewer, but there is a dumpt station at the front entrance. Traffic on the road in can be bad since they share an entrance with a village next to it, and there are no sidewalks, but we haven’t had close calls with our daily runs or walks along it, or just staying within the park. They have a community building that has gatherings, and beverages at night, and the pool and laundry room up front aren’t spectacular, but are well maintained and get the job done.
If you are in the area,
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A couple years ago the state of Florida put out a new vehicle tag. This tag featured a kayak in the mangroves, along with some of our favorite animals in the area.
This tag cost $35 to put one on your car. $25 of that goes directly to the state parks.
Our family loves using the state parks and with the lifestyle we were taking up, we pre-ordered our tag when the option opened up. About a year ago, we were finally able to pick up our new tag at the tag agency near our home town. It looked GREAT on our truck!
March of 2023, the social media for the Florida State Parks posted this on Facebook.
Our choice in getting this tag has helped place over 800 bottle filling stations in the state parks. This will help reduce trash in both the parks and landfills.
Our family decided we would spend a week at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground to celebrate our Christmas this year. We waited until January, when the prices drop and time was more available in our schedule. We have stayed there before for both tent and RV camping weekends, so wanted to enjoy an extended stay and skip the parks to just enjoy the resort and resort hopping (an activity of just visiting the various resorts and strolling around to see the shops and enjoy a snack or meal).
The check in process is pretty simple, just have your photo ID and confirmation information readily at hand. You’ll get a map to your site and a key card for access to facilities after hours. As in any campground, drive slowly and with caution, there are lots of bikes, golf carts and pedestrians around.
The roads to the sites are one way and can be narrow if you are in a large vehicle or rig, so it may be good to get to your loop and stop and walk it to plan your approach. Being a one way loop road, traffic can build up quickly.
The sites themselves are spacious and the hookups are neat and easy to access. In the sites we’ve been in, they are about midway on the pad. Be mindful as you set up to keep your vehicle and any decor clear of the road so you aren’t an obstruction as you come and go. Our 5th wheel is 37 feet, but as we were trying to park in our site, the campers across from us had posts and lights right up to the road that we had to move to have enough swing to park. We moved them and put them back in place because they weren’t home at the time, or we would have asked them to do it.
The campground is a giant loop around which is nice for walking or navigating. There is a bus stop at the loop areas for getting around within the campground, if you don’t have bikes or carts and don’t want to pay to rent them. You can stop in all the areas of the park, or get transport to the front for busses to all the other parks and areas, or the back for transport to the Magic Kingdom.
In the middle is The Meadows, a recreation area with a pool, splashpad and rental area for canoes and kayaks along the waterways in the campground. It doesn’t appear they would allow personal SUPs or watercraft, but we didn’t ask and didn’t have time to use ours since it was cooler. There is a dog park on the outside of the loop about midway, and seems to be well maintained and has an area for both large and small dogs, as well as vehicle parking if you don’t want to walk.
At the front of the park you’ll find the main bus stop to connect to other parks and areas, the front office, and the horse barn. There is also overflow parking up front for dollies or spare vehicles, as well as guests.
At the back of the park, you’ll find the camp store, a play ground, the restaurants (both sit down and walk up), and the boat area for rentals and boat transportation to the Magic Kingdom. We had breakfast at the walkup restaurant and it was not only tasty, but a fair price, considering it is Disney property.
There are activity schedules and nightly movies and smores, so be sure to check the schedule they give you at check in.
Sidewalks are all around the park, but it does get dark at night, so be sure to have some sort of flashlight if you will be out after dark and not using the busses. They do enforce the bicycle helmet laws for children, so be sure to have those ready. Once confusion we ran into was that some cast members tell you to ride your bikes on the sidewalks, although they are not wide enough for two way traffic or for both pedestrian and bicycle, and there are blind corners. Just be sure to proceed with caution whichever surface you ride on. There are bike parking racks at the bus and boat stops for you to secure to if you are taking transportation. We forgot our bike chains, but never had an issues with them–but they are not electric either.
If you do want a golf cart/club car during your stay, the website does have information about renting them. At the time of our stay, they were $60-$80 per day and we prefer a bike ride anyway. If you do rent one, have some sort of lights or streamers to temporarily decorate with so it is identifiable in the sea of carts in the parking. Also be aware there are some Cart Only pathways and No Carts areas, so watch for signs.
Park admission is not required to stay at the campground, or any of the resorts, so that can save lots of money and you’ll still have plenty to do. We did end up spending one day at a park, courtesy of a friend with tickets. If you decide to enjoy the parks, be aware of the rotating additional hours at the parks for those staying in resorts and plan accordingly for transportation. The busses and boats can get pretty busy at peak times. We spent our time around work and school exploring the resorts, Disney Springs and The Boardwalk.
Another helpful tip, be flexible in your dates to stay–this can save you a lot of money. Our stay in January was a fraction of the cost to have stayed in December or February and we had a variety of sites to choose from.
While it does have resort prices and great amenities, it’s a bit lackluster in delivery and the sites are kind of small for larger rigs, making arrival, departure and setup a bit challenging. But it is very well maintained–all sites are washed down and reset before guests arrive.
There is resort wifi, but we didn’t use it much. We have Verizon cell service and I was able to work all week with no issues, even with tree coverage. Due to the tree coverage, Starlink won’t work well. We saw many people reaching theirs through the back of sites and out to open areas on the sidewalks for signals–not recommended.
This is a great location if you want to explore Disney property or visit the many things to do in the area. You can park your vehicle and won’t have to drive again, if you don’t want to! We did enjoy it, but are undecided on whether we will return, unless we have plans to visit parks. We had annual passes for 7 years, so have done a lot of it.
In my next blog post, I’ll go more in depth about navigating around the WDW Resort system using their free transportation, so be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it and other great information!
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While Florida may be best known for its beaches and amusement parks, the thousands of springs in the state are a definite popular attraction.
For centuries, people have visited and lived near these fascinating areas for their life giving water. In fact, if you are near springs, you are probably not too far from a burial mound from the indigenous days, and all sorts of artifacts have been found around them. Thousands of springs have been discovered already, and more are still being discovered because of how Florida is structured over the aquifer.
I grew up in Central Florida and have camped at several of these campgrounds, and spent the days enjoying the flowing waters of some, explorations of others, and searching for shells and sharks teeth at others. Each has something different to offer, so it is worth a trip to several. During peak seasons in summer, if you aren’t there early for day use, you may not get in. But dozens have campgrounds attached to them, which allow for use in the day use areas.
This week, our family enjoyed camping at Salt Springs in Ocala National Forest. The campground offers both paved RV camping as well as primitive tent and off-road RV camping. The full hook up campsites are a good size, fitting our 37 foot rig with room for our truck in front on site 24. There’s overflow parking if your RV is larger and the vehicle doesn’t fit entirely in the spot. The sites are paved and mostly level, which is impressive since there are several hills throughout. There’s a picnic table, grill and firepit at the sites, as well as a tall pole and hook, possibly for lights or a lantern. While I am not certain of the pole’s purpose, I can tell you to check carefully before setting up–we had to hook up and move up a few inches when we couldn’t open our outdoor kitchen–a detail we missed since we were focusing on the slides and not the trees.
The area is peaceful, but not entirely silent. It is near a major road with lots of daytime traffic and the sound of families around the campfire in the evening. But most campers are respectful of the quiet hours and settle down if you are an early sleeper.
There’s a camp store with basic supplies a short walk away, and just down the road, within biking distance, is a small grocery, a Dollar General, a laundry mat and pizza shop, as well as the post office, should you need it.
The swimming area is in one section and has a shop with floats, towels and snacks, but isn’t open during the week, or at least wasn’t while we were here this week. There were manatees enjoying the springs while we were here and it was such a treat to see them silently swimming around.
Down another lane near the primitive camping section, there is a boat launch if you bring your boat, kayak or paddleboard. Rentals are also available if you don’t have your own.
There are a few hiking trails through the area, but, unfortunately, they were closed while we were here due to hurricane debris still needing cleared and paths recut. There is also a basketball court, horseshoes, cornhole, and shuffleboard all in the camping area. If you are gathering with a large group, there’s a large covered pavilion next to the basketball courts with picnic tables, grill and firepit.
This campground also offers several dog stations with bags and a disposal can, and we didn’t notice any issues of owners not cleaning up after their pets on our visit.
There are several other springs and things to see and do not too far from here, if you choose to venture away from camp, so there is plenty to do.
If you have work to do, or need to use the internet, we had a good signal and no issue with our Verizon service. Our Dish Network satellite picked up signal without issue, so my guess is Starlink would also work well, although I didn’t see any here while out and about.
If you are looking to stay here, book through recreation.gov and don’t forget to use your membership for a discount, if you have a national parks pass. They do have some first come, first serve spots most of the time (these show as FF on the website), so if you are passing through, you may find a spot. If you are coming with other people but can’t find sites available next to each other, just ask up front if they can help since they sometimes get cancellations and can move you together (but be gracious if they can’t).
There are several Campground Managers here, so if you are looking for a Workcamping spot, definitely check this place out.
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Last month, we had our first Harvest Hosts experience at a local farm called Roos and Coos Farm. First of all, if you don’t know what Harvest Host is, it is an RV membership that allows you to stay overnight for free and locations all over the US. They can be farms, wineries, breweries, museums and much more. They won’t have hookups so you will have to boondock (camp unplugged with what your RV can provide or a generator, if allowed) but it is a great chance to experience some neat places.
Roos and Coos Farm is in Plant City, Florida and is a rescue. Marlene, our host, is very friendly and kind, to both people and the animals she cares for. She told us they had all sorts of animals when her kids were growing up and took in pets of friends, as well. They have turned it into a non-profit rescue and provide homes to all kinds. We saw a variety of animals including Watusi cattle, Coos cow, sheep, kangaroo, raccoons and many others. They were just finishing up a new aviary when we visited and we hope to return to see the finished product.
There was a nice size area for our 36 foot 5th wheel, however, the road is narrow with no turn around and the gate access isn’t large, so be sure you are a confident driver since there is no turn around and it is a one way street.
It was quiet and peaceful. We enjoyed it, as did our pups since it is pet friendly!
There are places to eat and visit nearby. We ventured over to Keel and Kurley Winery, another Harvest Host location, for a drink then hung out at the farm.
Whether you want to camp or just want to visit while passing through, tours are available by appointment, so reach out and schedule, it is worth the stop. There is no cost, but they do accept donations to support the animals, and they have an amazon wish list, if you want to support them.
We look forward to so many other Harvest Host locations in our travels!
Like or comment below and share with others to support the blog. I post weekly on a variety of topics about travel, family, and education. Until next time, you can find me on Twitter @AddictedtoTeac1 or on Tiktok: @sonya.BOMSquadleader. You can find more about our adventures on our our website at BarnesOnMove.com, Facebook, TikTok & Twitter: @BarnesOnMove . Support us and get more in depth and personal interactions at Patreon: Barnes On Move
It’s been awhile since I blogged. Life has been going 90 miles an hour with family and teaching, as well as doors opening for new chapters in life. So, let me catch you up!
At the end of October, we took a week off and traveled to the mountains to Helen, Georgia, one of our favorite little towns! This time we took my dad with us and we all had a great time enjoying the cooler weather. On our way home, we stopped to see my brother and his family, then stopped at Amicalola Falls, but it was too foggy to even see Springer Mountain. I have always dreamed of the AT and was hoping for a day hike to see the official start, but we could barely see through the lodge window. We also stopped at Stone Mountain, which was amazingly beautiful. I hadn’t been since I was a kid and it has changed so much.
In November, we decided to take a leap of faith and check off some dreams. We are selling our home, moving into an RV and will home base at some family’s property nearby when we aren’t traveling. We love Florida and have seen many places, but there are several we have never seen and some we have always dreamed of living in. So we will be traveling around the state to see them all, as well as allowing my husband to grow his photography business and pursue other goals for it. My son and I will continue to work and school remotely since my job allows me to work anywhere in Florida, so it’s perfect!
So now…we have purchased a camper and are in the process of selling everything we own that won’t go with us, and storing only a few hard to replace or things we will definitely need. Don’t worry, the 2 dogs and tortoise will be going with us! The chickens will have to find another home, though. Our house goes on the market this week and, once it’s sold, we will get some things done to the RV so we can live and work in it, then hit the road. We’ve been dreaming of this for at least 6 years, so we know it won’t be easy, but we have back up plans!
As for the blog…I love teaching and won’t be leaving anytime soon, but probably won’t be putting out as much content. I will create more based on teaching while traveling and share resources from the places we go that may be useful to teaching. I have always dreamed of being a travel writer, so plan on blogging about our adventures. That means I will create a new blog just for that, and will be able to showcase some of the mister’s amazing pictures! I’ll keep you all posted in case you want to follow along there and learn more about Florida!
If you’re like most of our family and friends that found out what we are doing, you have questions! Post them in the comments below or follow me on Twitter (@addictedtoteac1) to find out more.
What is it that we crave about summer? We count down the days as we race towards it
at breakneck speeds—longing for its arrival—but why? Is it the chance to slow down? Is it temporarily doing away with agendas,
alarm clocks, meetings and parent communications? Is it traveling or getting
quality time with family that we don’t see during our hectic school
routines? It may be some or all of
these, depending on you. For me, it is
not only these things, but also the chance to sit back and analyze how I did
things, what worked and what didn’t work, as well as trying on new habits and
seeing how I can make them fit in my life.
Routines are an important thing to me, and not just because
I am OCD (CDO my husband likes to say since I have a habit of alphabetizing
things (don’t get me started on my love of my label maker), but also because I
have learned that routines make for consistency and efficiency, two key
elements for success. This past school
year has been a challenge. We moved into a new house to make room for my mother,
my oldest son finished his Associate’s degree and started at a new college for
his Bachelor’s, my husband changed jobs after dreaming about it for two years,
and I was committed to a training program for the duration of the school year
that came to a conclusion about the time my mom became fully retired. Whew! I was exhausted. The routines we had had in place since my
husband had joined the ranks of the teaching world 4 years before (which were
pretty consistent from when he ran his own business before) were suddenly
thrown for a loop only a couple of months into the school year when he decided
to leave education and go into business for himself again. We did our best to adjust, but by the time
the school year ended on the same day that my mom became a full retiree, we
still hadn’t adapted.
I am also a huge travel bug.
I often jokingly say that I work to support my travel habit, which is
not too far from the truth. I have
downsized possessions dramatically over the last few years into a more minimalist
lifestyle as well as paid off most of our bills, so a good portion of our
budget was for now and later fun money (vacations, entertainment and
retirement). With the job change, that
changed for us quite a bit, so we’ve also had to adjust and, luckily, had room
in the budget. But we still plan to work
in a few trips this summer. Truth be
told, I am writing this in the kitchen of one of our family members we are
visiting as we are doing a loop to see them and check off a few more states
from our bucket list.
Every educator does different things with their down
time. For me, I spend it reconnecting
with family, both near and far, refreshing my home with a variety of projects
and trying out new routines that I can establish at a slower pace and maintain
when I go “back to work” in August—although I, like most, will work during the
summer attending trainings, reviewing my practices and material from the past
year, analyzing test data when it drops, and creating/adapting new things for
next year based my end of year student surveys and data about the upcoming
students given to me by the prior grades teachers. Don’t get me wrong, I also
get out and enjoy the longer days and extra family time by taking advantage of
some of the discounted or free activities available in our local area like
weekly movies, zoos, aquariums or theme parks—if you are lucky enough to live
close to any of those.
Our family will have to establish some new routines with all
our lives changing in the last few months, so there are things we can do over
the next 6-8 weeks to help us out during the school year.
Meal Planning and Preparation. We will try out new
recipes and get back into meal prepping and menu planning, as well as
simplifying our meals. We got in the
awful habit of eating out or eating prepackaged/easy meals for the last month
and that did not help us handle the crazy routines that the end of year brings. We have tried all of the prepping ideas for
meals and have actually found the simplest for us is stocking up on family
packages of meats and freezing into portions (we cut into bites when cooked to
cut down on overeating) and we keep fruits and veggies on hand to accompany
them. We can go from freezer to table
(or lap on the back porch) in 45 minutes, even on a busy day, and feed our
family of 5 for well under $20 for the meal.
Going out is actually an inconvenience for us.
Home projects. There is always maintenance to be done as a homeowner, so we will take care of those, as well as cleaning out closets and cabinets to purge forgotten possessions and reorganize them. We have found that having less stuff helps us clean faster and we have less to clean, which means more time for life. I stumbled over minimalism a few years ago while looking for solutions since I am a terrible allergy sufferer and we have loved the simpler lifestyle. But those old habits of a lifetime to take a while to break, so refreshing the home and reviewing the books I have help quite a bit. Not familiar with minimalism, or not sure how it could possibly fit for you? Check out the author Joshua Becker and his realistic family approach that works for us at https://www.becomingminimalist.com/.
Planning for the next school year. I know, you don’t want to think about it, and
I don’t either. But I don’t like a crazy
start to a new year, so I do a few things early in summer to help. When we are cleaning out those closets and
cabinets, I purge any clothing items that don’t fit or need repair or replaced
so that I can get those ordered, fixed, purchased or budget for them. My son’s school has a uniform, so we will
pass on any items that someone else can use and get his items ordered early so
that we can pick them up at orientation.
I also start shopping school and art supplies, prepackaged snacks,
cleaning supplies, and anything else that could help around the house or
classroom or could be donated to his classroom teacher. Those BOGO sales run all summer, so taking
advantage now helps me out a lot later in the year.
New routines and habits. My daily reading, devotions,
exercise and cleaning routines all slacked off in the last couple of
months. I take the time to figure out
why, shuffle my day around and put into practice my routines during the summer. I can go at a slower pace while I make them a
habit and then a few weeks before going back to work, I can time how long it
takes me to do all the things, allowing me to adjust my wake-up times and bed
times to accommodate. I do the same for
my little one so that we can reestablish his routines before going back, as
well. I also look at how well we have done with chores and will adjust our
chore charts, laundry rotations and shopping days. With so many changes this year, many of our
routines never got followed or were tweaked during the year, so a family
meeting over a delicious and relaxing meal gives everyone a chance to chime in
on what works and doesn’t work so that we can adjust. It sounds like a silly thing, but no one
fights over the washing machine, yells about a stack of dishes, or complains
about an empty cabinet when we work together.
Travel and quality family time. We usually plan a
couple of trips in the summer in addition to celebrating birthdays for several
family members. We usually plan a big
family trip and a smaller get away nearby, and sometimes these double as a
birthday celebration. With the change in
jobs, we sold our camper and have less time to go on adventures. This year, we are fitting in an early summer
trip to see family and check off more states (with any luck, by the time you
are reading this, I will have checked off state number 50 for me, and number 30
for my soon to be 8 year old). We are
also working in a couple of other trips, but they will be business related for
my husband. When we are at home, we
capitalize on the summer movies at the local theater and the passes to parks
Rejuvenate your mind, body and soul. This is probably
the most important one I do with the slower pace. I love to sit on the porch in the early
morning, before the Florida humidity chases us all into hiding until sundown
like in those apocalyptic movies. While I am out there with my tea, or a book,
I will take the time to connect with each sense—what do I see, hear, smell,
taste, feel—and it really helps me connect with the world around me and helps
me stay clear and focused during the day.
I also try to get in for a massage, a new exercise program I heard about
from a friend, as well as taking care of as many doctor’s appointments as I can
so as not to interfere with the school year.
So, what kind of things do you do over your break? Are you a Netflix and chill in your jammies
all day, every day while capitalizing on Uber Eats and grocery delivery
services? Are you like me and try to
accomplish a lot? Or are you somewhere
in the middle?
If you are not a teacher, or get only a week or so off, you
can work in some these ideas to your own schedule, even with only a week or two
off. Choosing only one or two things to
start with this break can still make a difference and you just work on other
things on future breaks. It may not
sound like how you want to spend your break, but if the way you were doing
things wasn’t working or making life run smoothly, then you owe it to yourself
and those around you to try new approaches to making your life easier. You just need to take that first step. Happy summer!