“A quarter of a billion people have wanderlust, but only 21,000 actually live the dream of roaming the world.”
We are roaming US, not the world exactly, but one frequent message we have heard from those that inquire about our bus in travels is that we are “living the dream.” We hear it from the people we meet in grocery store parking lots, at BMX tracks, in forests campgrounds, and at the beach. There is this notion that life on the road is full of freedom and free of worries. That is not always the case. Our home is on wheels. We worry about our bus. Like any home, there are things that may need repair. It also has a motor. With every bump we hit along the roads we travel, the impact is much greater than that felt in our Chevy Equinox or most people's vehicles. Every jolt has the potential to send something flying or loosen screws in our curtain rods or stove. We often worry about our kid’s comfort in the heat. We must check them for ticks and monitor the ant, mosquito, and spider bites they get. Insects are everywhere. The predominant species may vary, depending on location, but when you live in the wild, most places have something that will bite you.
We have been in Florida for just over a week. We arrived in Jacksonville last Friday. We went to Jacksonville BMX for their Friday night races. We had met Henry from the Jacksonville track in Maryland, and he had told us to come race if we got there. We felt super welcome. Several people chatted with us between races. Bryon got 2nd in his main. Following the races, Bryon talked with Chad, the track director. Chad was super rad, he told us we could sleep at the track. We got the kids to bed and cooked our dinner, before getting some much-needed sleep. We loved our night in Jacksonville and can’t wait to visit the track again!
After our night at the BMX track, we went west to the Gulf Coast. We spent the night across from Nokomis Beach, south of Sarasota. I found this spot on the app Free Roam. We pulled in after lunch and went to the beach. Nokomis beach is covered with crushed seashells. It is
a quite different beach than the one we had visited the day before in Hilton Head. Nokomis Beach is famous for shark teeth. We spent time collecting shells and swimming in the water. We even saw a jellyfish. We were between palm trees, for the night. The ocean breeze cooled the air around us. We could hear music from the restaurant across the intercoastal way and people chatting, as they fished and watched boats. We were not bothered in our sleeping spot, and left early the next morning, for the Gold Cup qualifier at Charlotte BMX.
Sunday was a fun day at the track for all. We worked from the bus between Bryon’s races. He transferred to the mains in the first round and then took third overall in the 46-50 Cruiser class. It was great fun for all of us watching him.
After we left the BMX track, we headed towards the Bass Pro near Tampa for the night. Frogs croaked in the quiet parking lot, and we all slept well. If you are ever heading through the Tampa area and need a place to pull in and sleep, we highly recommend this Bass Pro Shop.
We spent the next three days at Luna Sands Resort, in Orange City. We had free camping passes that were given to us when we did a tour of an RV resort in North Carolina. This resort was one of their partner resorts. Luna Sands was clean, but not our top choice for places to stay. One thing we have found on our journey, is some people are not super stoked on our skoolie. We got that negative vibe from the staff at Luna Sands.
We worked, swam in the pool, and walked daily at the resort. April liked observing lizards on the trees, checking the banana trees out, and learning the names of some of the plants. Chico barked at squirrels. Huge geese and sandhill cranes frequented the campsites.
We left Luna Sands on Thursday and headed to a beach south of Daytona. We hoped to drive on the sand, as it’s allowed. We got to the kiosk to pay our beach fee and were informed any vehicle over 33 feet was not allowed on the beach driving lanes or parking lots. We backed out and found a street side parking space to walk to beach from. The sand was solid and firm at the beach. The water was warm, and our bodies enjoyed the cool salty water, on the hot sunny day.
After leaving the Daytona area we headed to Lake Panasoffkee. There is no actual lake at the state-owned property, where camping is free with a permit. There are large live oaks covered in Spanish Moss. The trees were magical looking. Nearby fields held cattle, and the kids and I walked to look at them, while Bryon wrapped up bags for a customer in Tennessee. Fire ants were an issue immediately, but we dealt with them. We had planned on staying at Lake Panasoffkee for 5 nights, we lasted one.
The mosquitos were insane. No one slept well our night there, despite coating ourselves with OFF, Eucalyptus, and lighting citronella torches outside the bus. Bryon and I were up by 5 am. I spent time looking online for beaches and overnight parking. We packed up and were on the road headed to the Gulf Coast by 6:30 am Friday.
We went back to Nokomis Beach and spent all day there Friday and Saturday. We went to the beach each morning, afternoon, and evening. We took a bike ride to mail bags. People slowed to look at the bus as they drove by , and some stopped to chat. We slept at a boat ramp the first night and then a local Walmart Saturday. Nokomis beach was crowded. Many times on Saturday, cars completely surrounded our parking spot. The beach at Nokomis had more kelp on this visit, than our visit last week.
We moved 15 miles down the coast on Sunday to Manasota Beach. The lot was more open and the beach didn’t seem quite as busy as Nokomis. The beach was free of kelp. We spent our days searching out shells we found unique and beautiful. Shelling can be addictive. Today, I found my first shark teeth. They are black, and fossilized. Did you know it takes 10,000 years for them to become fossilized like this? The area along the gulf coast here in Manasota and Nokomis is famous for shark teeth.
We stayed at a local Cracker Barrel Sunday, after encountering “No Parking” signs at a couple Walmart lots, we tried to park in first. We were happy with our choice and slept well. A Cooper’s Hawk was lucky we stayed at Cracker Barrel. Bryon went to let Chico out this morning and found the hawk tangled in fishing line. He came and got me and a scissors from the bus. Byron cut the hawk loose and it flew off. We hope it is okay. I removed what I thought was all of the fishing line from the trees, where it was caught up. I did not get all of it though because Bryon got caught in what was left and hooked himself in the chest with it, before we left the parking lot. We removed the rest after that.
The beach is a great place for us to work and play from. Bryon works on bags and I work on my writing. I was hired by a website, reading and summarizing bike reviews. It’s a full-time gig and I can work when the kids are mellow or napping. It’s a flexible work schedule and supplements our income for now.
Playing at the beach is the best. The beaches we have been at have great shells. April was talking with a lady yesterday at Manatosa Beach and she gave her shells. We saw the same woman today, and she gave us coral and shark teeth. Everyone comments on April’s hair, young or old. Daph constantly gets confused as a baby boy, because she often hangs out in the Burley in a diaper, when we are not in the sand and water.
We love this life we live in Lucky 13. It has challenges and requires a lot of work, especially when we are hopping around beach to beach, as we are now. Every day has uncertainties. We are resilient and flexible. We are able to spend more time then most families together and outdoors. April is learning letters by writing in the sand. We are learning what others might learn in preschool in daily explorations of our place. Daphney is learning to develop her motor skills walking on the sand with help from mom and dad. She examines the sand, sea rocks, and shells in her tiny hands and giggles each time the surf crashes into her. The world that surrounds Lucky 13, where ever we travel, serves as our workshop, office, classroom, living room, and kitchen. Personally, I am constantly in awe with the natural world where we work and play. Yesterday, Bryon called me outside to see a turtle in it’s burrow, near the bus. We have slept near fox dens, ponds full of frogs, geese in lakes, and vast insect filled ecosystems. We never know what surprises we might find, in the places we park our skoolie. Life is pretty rad on the road.