Monthly Archives: February 2019

Throwback Thursday Post: Living in the Moment

This is a Throwback Thursday post! Originally posted more than a year ago, it’s all still relevant. Living in the present  moment isn’t something that comes naturally to me. I tend to expend energy focusing on future plans, rather than the here-and-now. I’m still working on it!

yesterday_is_history_tomorrow_is_a_mystery_today_is_a_gift_of_god_which_is_why_we_call_it_the_presentThe other night I dreamed that I was hired back at Motorola, my workplace of 24 years. I joyfully greeted all of my colleague friends and prepared to jump back into my old role. When I awoke, I wondered why I had dreamed that? I ‘ve been gone from there for over 4 years. We’re on the road, living our new dreams. Why revisit the past?

2241_50061503745_9293_nA day later, this photo popped up on Facebook as a “my memories” photo from 9 years ago of Jeff, our two sons, and good friend Jose.  It was taken during our 2008 summer trip to the Smokey mountains – our last as an entire family. After that vacation trip, our older son became busy with summer high school football training and then with college and didn’t accompany us on our Gatlinburg trips. Our younger son went with us one more time, the summer before his life was cut short in that fateful auto accident. I had to wonder – what was the message for me here?

Looking back, I realize that time period was a most productive time of my life. I was frantically busy juggling a demanding and responsible job, substantive church volunteer work, along with my responsibilities as wife and mother. I had many great relationships in all of those domains. That time was a GOOD period in my life; rich and satisfying in all aspects. However, truly free time was almost nonexistent and I fantasized about freedom and adventure – the life I have now. Did I fully appreciate that season of life when I was living it? Sometimes maybe, but certainly not always.

My life has changed dramatically in the last few years. Our older son grew up and moved on, and then our younger son died, turning us into instant empty nesters. My job became a stressful grind after multiple company sell-offs and layoffs, fracturing and scattering my work family. I took an offered early retirement package and got out, transitioning into a part time consulting job. My church organization went through difficult times, breaking up my church family. I ultimately drifted away, unable to get past painful memories there.  The last few years have seen me through a painful process of deconstructing and reconstructing practically my entire life.  Did I appreciate that time while I was experiencing it? Not really, it was mostly painful. But, in retrospect, I can see that it was necessary to tear down the life I once had, in order to rebuild and create the life that I have now.

If you’re a country music fan, you may know the Trace Adkins song “You’re Going to Miss This”. It follows the journey of a young woman who at different stages of her life (teenager, newlywed, young mother) is always looking ahead, rather than appreciating the season of life she is in. The chorus goes:

You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this

I can relate. In my life, I’ve frequently had the tendency to look ahead in time, instead of focusing on living in the NOW, the present moment. I think that’s what I’m being reminded of here – to realize that each day has value. Even in my time on the road, it’s easy to get lost in the planning and looking forward to the next stop on the journey, rather than focusing on this place, this time.

This is what I think the Universe was trying to say to me:  Seize the day. Smell the roses. Watch the sunset. Tell your loved ones how much you appreciate them. Fully, mindfully, experience the present moment for the gift that it is.

I’ll keep working on that.


Where will we go? Nobody knows …

nnco-pyc_blk02_i01If you know anything about us, you likely know that we are planners by nature. We research major purchases for months before pulling the trigger. We planned for this RV life for YEARS before launching into it. So, it’s not unlike us to have our travel itinerary planned out for months, even a year or more, in advance.

Not this time. At least, not for sure.

Our original plan was to do a Midwest loop this year, heading back to Florida for the winter, and then head out west in early 2020. We even have Florida campsites booked for all of next winter. So what’s the deal?

It’s simply this — we don’t know where our son will be after June. His long-time girlfriend graduates from medical school this May and will be matched somewhere in the country for her residency program. She interviewed at internal medicine residency programs all over the US – literally from Portland Maine to Portland Oregon. She has ranked her preferences and submitted her list to the nationwide residency match computer, along with all of the other medical students. A computer algorithm will bump her list against the hospitals’ ranked lists of interviewed students, and match her up to a program – somewhere.

March 15 is the big day …. Match Day. Medical students all over the country will open their little white envelopes on that day, all at the same time, and discover where they will spend the next 3 years. Sean has taken the day off and we will meet up with them at the Med school for the big reveal. Followed by a celebratory dinner at her Dad’s place.

So, March 15 will dictate our route come Fall. If she matches in the East US, we’ll likely keep to our Florida plans. However, if she matches somewhere out West, we will likely head west in the Fall and spend our winter somewhere in Arizona. Either way, it will position us to head in their direction the following Spring. The advantage of having a home on wheels — we can follow our hearts.

March 15 approaches …. we will let you know!

Grand BVI Sailing Adventure: Part 4

And now, the last installment of Jeff’s guest post!

The next morning we navigated to Great Harbor to explore Foxy’s Yot Klub, where we met and talked to the one and only Foxy. He was wearing his Make America Great Again hat, and kept us fully entertained with his many jokes and stories. Upon departing Great Harbor the yacht was sailed on a beam reach around the West End of Tortola, then sailed upwind along Sir Francis Drake Channel to the Indians for one more snorkel. Since we were tacking the entire way up the channel, I pointed out that we were theoretically violating US border laws by countlessly crossing the BVI/US line. Prior to clearing customs, a sailor is supposed to hang a yellow “Q” flag, a.k.a., Quarantine Flag, from the starboard spreader. Since we already cleared BVI customs, the Q flag would theoretically be raised every time the line is crossed into US waters, and lowered every time we crossed BVI waters. That’s a lot of flag raising. A border wall would have stopped us for sure! After snorkeling the Indians, we stayed the night at Norman Island.

On Day 7 we awoke to stormy, windy conditions. According to the weather report, it was supposed to clear up by mid-morning, so we decided to motor our way for our second dive at the RMS Rhone. Our perseverance rewarded us with a nice sunny, warm dive. After diving we navigated to Great Harbor at Peter Island, and took the dinghy over to Willy T’s. Willy T’s used to reside at Norman Island, but the ship was destroyed by Hurricane Irma. A new ship was christened, and the new Willy T’s was relocated to Peter Island. However, an injunction was filed against Willy T’s giving them until June leave Peter Island, so their future is currently uncertain. Dinner and drinks at Willy T’s were fabulous.

The next morning, after coffee, the yacht was sailed on a spirited beam reach in 20+ knot winds back to Roadtown, Tortola. After safely docking the boat – this time in full daylight conditions – we reflected over beers on a great 7 days of sailing, snorkeling, and diving, and decided that we would give it a go again in 2 years!


Grand BVI Sailing Adventure: Part 3

Jeff’s (very long) guest post continues!

Day 4 represented our first change to the planned schedule. Originally the plan was to sail off-shore looking for whales, diving or snorkeling at the Dog Islands, then sailing back to Guana Island for the night. After talking to the local dive shop regarding local reef conditions, we decided to grab a mooring buoy at Marina Cay where a dinghy could be taken to nearby Diamond Reef. With the Dinghy Mount now perfected, the crew felt comfortable diving off the dinghy. Diamond Reef is a very well developed reef, providing considerable vertical relief and an assortment of large coral and fish. A noticeable current was present at both ends of the reef, but provided a good indicator of when to reverse course. During this dive we saw a small school of large sea bass, standard reef fish, and some good-sized lobsters.

Day 5 left us with empty dive tanks, which provided an opportunity to explore the luxurious Scrub Island Resort while filling the tanks at the dive shop. Rooms on this private island go for $800-$1,000/night, but the views are spectacular. We lounged at the bar and pool while absorbing the laid-back island life. After the island visit, it was a downwind sail in 20-25 knot winds to Jost Van Dyke. We arrived later than expected and most of the mooring buoys were taken, so we moored at the less-desirable, but quiet Little Harbor. The dinghy was piloted one cove over to Foxy’s Taboo Bar, where we sampled a couple of Pain Killers. After finishing our refreshments we hiked to the Bubbly Pool. The Bubbly Pool consists of a long narrow channel set in carved steep rock leading to a shallow pond. When the waves are high, seawater violently rushes up the channel and into the pond creating a back and forth washing machine action, which massages the body.


After a long dinghy ride back to the boat we cleaned up, then watched the sunset while sipping on cold brew. Our plan was to eat dinner at Foxy’s bar in Great Harbor, but a storm delayed our departure. The winds increased considerably during the storm, and our yacht’s mooring line somehow got tangled on keel. When we tried to untangle the lines, the poorly-maintained mooring line broke. After some quick maneuvering, the yacht was carefully weaved through the scattered moored boats out to deeper water in the harbor. First crisis averted!

Circling the star-lit harbor allowed time to evaluate options and potential plans, none of which were fully embraced. Pat and James were deployed to the dinghy to explore whether there were any open mooring buoys or available docks, while Jose and I continued circling the harbor pondering alternatives. Pat broadcast on the hand-held radio that he found a dock, so we navigated through the moored boats to observe the location. The first dock he located was not long enough, but a second option was possible. It wasn’t the best place to dock being fully concrete with no rubber or wood fenders, but it still offered the best solution to our current situation. Luckily the crew was previously briefed on how to properly throw a line and the usage of a spring line before departing Roadtown, so everything was in place for a successful night time docking maneuver. Once the dock was within range, Jose heaved the line to Pat who set the spring line on the dock. I motored against the spring line and brought the yacht to the dock for a soft, uneventful landing. Time for some more Pain Killers!


<MB comment: That was quite the sticky situation! Trying to maneuver in unfamiliar territory – in the dark – was not a trivial exercise. If they hadn’t found a dock, there weren’t a lot of good alternative solutions. Jeff texted me with their tale of woe late that night – and then I needed a Pain Killer!>

The last installment is next up …..

Grand BVI Sailing Adventure: Part 2

Jeff’s guest post continues!

The second day entailed diving the famous Royal Mail Ship (RMS) Rhone, after completing an upwind spirited sail in 15-20 knot winds to Salt Island. The RMS Rhone was wrecked off the western point of Salt Island during a hurricane in 1867, killing 123 people. Apparently, the practice at the time was to tie passengers to their beds to prevent injury during rough seas. This practice likely led to the high number of casualties. The ship broke in two after striking a reef, leaving large bow and stern sections. Only 25 people survived the wreck. The bow section is located in 80’ of water while the stern section is located in 30’ of water, which makes for a great dive profile provided you do the deeper bow section first. The sailing masts are still evident laying on the sea floor. The RMS Rhone was featured in the 1977 film, “The Deep” starring Jacqueline Bisset. Pat and James, two of our crew members, saw a rather large Barracuda, appropriately named Fang, inside the ship’s bow while diving. Both of us saw a 6’ Black-Tipped Reef Shark swimming about during our dives.

Night two and dinner was spent at Manchioneel Bay on Cooper Island. After a fine dinner, we visited a Rum Bar which featured multiple vertically-stacked rows of rare-aged rums, unique house infusions featuring flavored and spiced rums, and classic cocktails made with Caribbean rums. After imbibing various samplings at the Rum Bar, it was time make our way back in the dark to Jillsee, our yacht. MB’s repurposed night-running arm bands provided a flashing homing beacon to follow. Without some kind of homing beacon, it would have been much more difficult to discern our yacht from the other fifty yachts that peppered the dark bay.

Day 3 yielded another early start, departing around 7:00 a.m. from our comfortable night spot to the famous Baths. The Baths are one of those “must do” spots in the BVI, created from immense granite boulders un-neatly stacked in various ways and varying heights. The jumbled granite abruptly meets pristine white sandy beaches bordering the Baths. After attaching the dinghy to the dinghy line and swimming ashore, we proceeded into the well-marked pathway leading into the Baths. Progress through the maze is assisted by set ropes, steep stairs, and colored direction arrows painted on the granite. Ankle to waist-deep salt-water pools are dispersed in and around the granite maze.

After a short dinghy ride back to Jillsee, we sailed predominantly close-hauled in 15 knot winds to Leverick Bay located in the North Sound of Virgin Gorda Island, a journey of about 9 miles as the crow flies. The North Sound area is home to two of Sir Richard Branson’s islands, Mosquito Island and Necker Island. Both of these islands operate high-end resorts. Barack Obama visited Mosquito Island in 2017, where he learned how to kite surf. Another nearby island, Eustatia Island, is owned by the CEO of Google (Larry Page). All of these islands are within view of North Sound.

After piloting the boat into North Sound, the crew readied the yacht for docking at Leverick Bay Resort and Marina, which was our first planned slip location in the islands. The yacht was cautiously backed into the assigned slip so that shore power could be connected. After refilling our water tank, plugging in shore power, and turning on the air conditioning, we ventured over to the local bar for happy hour. Jumbies Beach Bar has the pirate show hosted by the legendary Michael Beans, which after 2 for 1 pain killers, was magically entertaining for his “Happy Arrrrr”.

“Happy Arrrr” doesn’t last forever, so afterwards a taxi ferried us up to Hog Heaven Restaurant for some heavenly ribs and chicken, and of course more pain killers. The view from the top of the mountain restaurant was spectacular and the food was extremely tasty.

The next morning we could not help but to notice the very high-technology boat next to us in the slip. This roughly 30 plus foot, fully-enclosed go fast boat, was equipped with all the most modern electronics. The dock hands informed us that this boat was owned by Larry Page who uses it for transportation and joy rides to and from his island. While leisurely sipping on our morning coffee we observed a Captain on a 45’ catamaran, who inadvertently forgot to untie a dock line, lose control and collide with the dock and the corner of a building. Ouch! After briefing our crew on the dock departure plan we left our slip without incident…..whew!

And the adventure continues on the next post ……

Grand BVI Sailing Adventure: Part 1

This begins a multi-part post about Jeff’s fantastic sailing adventure in the British Virgin Islands last month. I didn’t go along because, well, I’m just not into that. Plus it was a “guy” trip! I enjoyed staying solo in Orlando, experiencing peace/quiet and playing with Sean and friends. Win-win! Here’s Jeff’s guest post:

Several months ago a good friend of mine suggested that we take a sailboat around the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Although I had ventured into BVI waters before, this was the first time as Captain. After finalizing the crew (4 total including me) we settled on renting a 2017 42’ Jenneau 3-cabin yacht, leaving out of Roadtown, BVI. The general plan was to circumnavigate Tortola BVI, visiting a number of out islands and coves along the way.

The BVI is one of the top sailing destinations in the world, and there are virtually unlimited options regarding sailboat rentals. They are blessed with consistent trade winds, line-of-sight navigation, stunning mountainous scenery, spectacular snorkeling, pleasant diving, and white fine-sand beaches. The warm, clear waters are exactly what you expect of a tropical paradise. As the sun rises it continually develops and refines the inviting blue/green water. The reefs are healthy, well-developed, and colorful. The biggest problem to overcome is how to spend the limited 7 days on the yacht!

All of us are certified divers, so it seemed natural to obtain scuba gear and tanks for the week. One of our crew members had a BVI dive shop deliver 4 tanks and gear directly to the yacht. Getting to the BVI was relatively painless, but required some careful advance planning since we needed to first fly into USVI, then take a ferry over to Roadtown, BVI. Alternatively, we could have flown directly to BVI, but the cost of flights were substantially more expensive, even after factoring in ferries, hotels, and taxis.

Since all of us left from different States, we opted to stay on the yacht Friday night to ensure all crew members were present for a Saturday mid-morning departure. This also allowed time to provision the yacht on Friday afternoon, and get familiar with the yacht systems prior to departure. Friday night was spent sampling the local brew, and socializing with some of the Captains who happened by our occasionally loud pre-departure party. One of the Captains met up with us from time to time as we circumnavigated around the islands, after comparing notes and determining that our planned itinerary seemed better than his! Since none of the other crew members had previously visited BVI, an aggressive but flexible schedule was prepared for the week. This schedule was predominantly followed, but altered several times to accommodate additional diving activities.

The first sailing day entailed sailing a beam to broad reach in consistent 15 knot winds across Sir Francis Drake Channel, with snorkeling planned at the Indians. Upon arriving at the Indians we waited for a National Park mooring buoy for about a ½ hour, but still had enough time to snorkel most of the Indians. After a delightful snorkel, our first overnight mooring buoy was secured at Norman Island. After snagging dinner reservations at Pirates Bight Bar and Grill, the dinghy was launched on its maiden voyage to our second snorkeling site of the day, the Caves.

The Caves consist of three deep water-cut tunnels carved into Norman Island. One of the caves extended about 100’ into the mountainside and another consisted of a deep, well-developed arch which projected sunlight from the opposite side.

After snorkeling the Caves, it was time for our inaugural water entry into the dinghy. There are three ways to enter a dinghy from the water: using a dinghy ladder which is the easiest; pulling yourself up and over the dinghy pontoons while forcefully kicking with fins (this is not very easy for us old guys); and the Dinghy Mount. Since we did not have a dinghy ladder, the Dinghy Mount was the preferred method. The Dinghy Mount consists of laying on your back in the water and reaching up over the pontoons while grabbing the handles. The key is making sure you grab the handles on top of the pontoons, not the side. While floating peacefully in the water on your back with your legs fully stretched out, you essentially do a back flip into the dinghy by throwing your legs over your head and into the dinghy while your head dips down in the water, then pulling yourself the remaining way into the dinghy (since your legs and most of your body are now in it). U-tube has some wonderful videos of how to do this technique, and it is a great safety maneuver if you are too tired to complete another entry. After one or two false starts we all were able to successfully accomplish the Dinghy Mount! After cleaning up, we piloted the dinghy to the Pirates Bight and had a wonderful BBQ rib/chicken dinner, while watching the sunset over the horizon. What an awesome first day!

<MB editorial comment:  I’m just picturing the boys attempting the “dingy mount”. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!! THAT might have been worth the trip to just see it!! >

The adventure continues ……


Throwback Thursday Post: Crossing to Mexico from Big Bend National Park

A year ago at this time, we were visiting the Big Bend area of Texas and experienced one of the most unique border crossings ever. Enjoy this Throwback Thursday post!

Just on the other side of the Rio Grande River in the Big Bend National Park lies Mexico, and the small border town of Boquilles del Carmen. Years ago, crossing to the small towns just on the other side was casually done, with no border crossing formalities. That all stopped after 9-11, when the border was closed indefinitely.

The tourist town dwindled to almost nothing when tourist traffic stopped. In April 2013, the border re-opened as an official port of entry, open Wednesday through Sunday only.  The tiny border village revived, and exists primarily as a tourist village with two restaurants, a tiny hotel, and one telephone line.  I have been through many border crossings, but this one has to be the most unique.

002We parked and entered the small border crossing building. The park ranger explained the process, including what we could (and could not) bring back across the border. We could bring handicrafts, but no minerals, animal bones or alcoholic beverages. Since there was no mechanism to collect taxes at this small station, no tequila allowed over the border (except in your stomach!)

From the building, we walked down a winding path to the bank of the Rio Grande River. Seeing us arrive, a rowboat was dispatched for us from across the river. Technically, one could swim across, but looking at the swift current dissuaded us from even the thought. 27750846_10212958025119151_1434082334826610130_nOnce rowed across, we climbed up the other side,  paid the $5 per person round trip fee and were asked if we wanted a ride to the village, about 3/4 mile away. We had the choice of a burro, horse or truck. We could certainly have walked the distance, but hey, how often do you get a chance to ride a burro! We ponied up the $5 each (round trip) and mounted our donkeys, and plodded off on the only road toward the village, led by a guide. Frankly we could have walked faster, but riding a donkey was a whole lot more fun.

Once we reached the outskirts of the village, we dismounted and our guide gave us a tour of the town. He spoke almost no English, but Jeff’s Spanish was just sufficient to make communication possible.  He escorted us first to the Mexican customs office, a white trailer surrounded by a chain link fence. We filled out the necessary forms, showed our passports, and were on our way in a few minutes.

006We walked through the town, littered with tables full of local handicrafts for sale.  We trekked to the nearby hot springs  — but had to hastily retreat because the spring was in use as a makeshift bathing facility. I usually enjoy meeting our Mexican neighbors, but not quite that intimately. As we continued, we learned about their clinic and toured the town hotel. It was more like a hostel, but for $20 person, it offered a lodging option. If you missed the 5 pm closing time for the border crossing, you would need it! Our guide’s wife worked at the hotel and just coincidentally had her own collection of handicrafts for sale where I picked up a couple of things (of course).

Growing thirsty and a big hungry, it was close enough to lunch time, so we backtracked to one of the two town restaurants. We could choose from burritos, tacos or tamales, and we both opted for the tamales. They were delicious, especially when chased down with a local beer (or two).  The restaurant owner (who spoke perfect English) coincidentally had a few things for sale, and I picked up a supply of Mexican vanilla extract.

After lunch, we figured we had pretty well done the town. We checked back in at the Mexican office, turned in our paperwork and had our passports stamped.  We then headed back to mount our burros for the slow amble back to the river. After dismounting, we thanked and tipped our guide and clambered back into the rowboat for the return trip across the river. Back at the US border crossing building we were metered one at a time to a kiosk where we scanned our passports and were interviewed by a remote customs agent. It took just a couple of minutes each. Formalities concluded, we were officially back on US soil.

It was as very interesting day, although more expensive than one might expect. Transportation (boat and burro) was $20, lunch was $25. Adding in souvenirs and guide tip, the total was around $80 for a few hours in town.  But, this is the village’s primary source of revenue so in my opinion, it’s money well spent for a unique experience.

Doing Disney: Epcot’s Festival of the Arts

083Jeff and I are back in the Central Florida area, within reasonable proximity of Disney World. Back to taking full advantage of our annual passes!

Disney is a master at finding ways to entice you back to the parks. I’m sure a high-paid team of Disney Management huddles together, looks at the seasonal attendance patterns, and plots ways to suck you back in during the “low” attendance times. Nowhere is this more evident than at Epcot, which hosts a seemingly nonstop series of Festivals, each with their unique features. The Festival of the Arts at Epcot begins almost immediately on the heels of the Holiday Festival, running from mid-January through the end of February.

Epcot’s World Showcase area is ideally suited for special events like these. There is a large area to work with, several stages, and permanent “special event” kitchens scattered throughout the various countries. No matter the festival theme, each country can insert their own unique flavor.

The arts festival features displays of Disney-themed art (for sale, of course) throughout the world showcase. Mostly pictures/paintings, you can also find sculpture, jewelry, glassworks, bath products, even a “dye your own” silk scarf booth. You will often find the artist at their booth, working on their next creation. It’s fascinating to see each artist’s “take” on the iconic Disney subject matter.  One unique art style displayed is the chalk sidewalk art. So ephemeral, it’s sad to know that it will soon be washed away in the Florida rain.

088Guests have the opportunity to join in the fun at the “paint by numbers” poster. Each guest is given a numbered color and invited to fill in several squares. It’s cool to see the picture emerge over the course of the day. Once completed, a new poster is mounted and the completed artwork displayed elsewhere.

Another opportunity to join the fun is at a free interactive workshop at the Odyssey Festival Showplace. We took part in a 15 minute “draw a Disney character” workshop. Sitting at tables, a Disney animator instructed us line-by-line through a face drawing of the character Stitch. OK, mine turned out looking more like an evil don’t-feed-it-after-midnight Gremlin. But it was cool and rather giggle-inducing!

094The performing arts are also represented at the festival. Local bands and musical groups perform at the festival stage while “statue guys” amaze and amuse. The highlight (for me) was the thrice-nightly “Disney on Broadway” show at the American Pavilion stage. Each night, two veteran Disney Broadway stars perform a selection of Disney Broadway show tunes. Each couple perform a different show. I caught two different shows over different visits, and they were both just awesome. My favorite part of all!!

I went several times to this festival. The folks you see in the photo are Marissa’s family, who played with us for a couple of visits. There’s so much to see, it can definitely keep you entertained for more than one visit. The food offerings at the special event kitchens change with each festival, aligning with the theme. Different singer/actors perform different “Disney on Broadway” shows throughout the festival.  And all this is on top of the regular Disney rides, shows and displays. Disney really knows what it’s doing.

And that’s why we own Disney stock.

Campground Review: Markham Park, Sunrise, Florida

IMG_4113This is an update of a review done during our first visit in 2017. This was the first park we actually lived in, taking us truly full-circle after our first year of adventure.

Campground Review Summary

  • Name: Markham Park Campground
  • Dates of stay:  February 1-15, 2019
  • Location: 16001 W State Rd 84, Sunrise, FL 33326  (near the intersection of I-75 and I-595)
  • Type of campground: Broward County park
  • Cost: $44.80/night
  • Additional fees: >4 campers, pets, extra vehicles, certain park activities
  • Stay limit: none, subject to availability
  • Accepts mail / packages: yes
  • Cell reception:  AT&T: marginal signal
  • Website:
  • Pros: Spacious full hookup sites in a well-kept park with many amenities. Price is reasonable by Florida standards.
  • Cons:  Florida summer heat/humidity, bugs, marginal bathhouse

Full Review

Broward County’s park campgrounds are underappreciated gems. Markham Park campground has 88 full hookup (30/50 amp, water, sewer) sites, 8 of which are paved pull through sites. Previously we had snagged one of these, but weren’t so lucky this trip. We ended up in two of the standard, back-in dirt sites. We couldn’t get one site for two consecutive weeks, so had to change sites mid-way during our stay – and we booked many months ahead. To get a preferred site for any length of time during high season requires booking a year in advance.

Roads into the campground are all paved and wide enough navigate with care, however the campground circles are tight for a big rig and you have to keep an eye out for low-hanging tree branches.

The sites were quite spacious and quite scenic, but I got a bit tired of constantly tracking dirt and mud into the rig. Our previous visit’s paved site was much cleaner. Our first site this trip was level, but the second site was not. Even using front wheel blocks we were unable to level the rig and just lived on tires (no jacks) for the last few days of our stay. We had no trouble obtaining satellite signal through the scattered trees. The sites also come with a wood picnic table and fire ring. One minor annoyance –  sewer connections are raised, making for an awkward uphill sewer dump process.

Considering that the local KOA’s run north of $70 per night for a very tight site, Broward County’s cost of $45/night seems reasonable. The price is $10/night less off-season. The parks do not offer weekly or monthly rates. A car pass is issued to cover weekend entry when the park charges admission fees of $1.50/person. During the week, entrance to the park is free. The office staff was friendly and helpful, and we were able to ship mail and packages to the office with no problem.

012The campground is spread out over the western side of the park. Trash dumpsters and bath houses are centrally located. Although adequate, the bath houses are aging and could use more cleaning attention. I elected to use my own shower facilities. AT&T data signal was available, but marginal. Being close to Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, we were able to pull in a variety of over the air channels on our digital antenna.


The real benefit of camping here is the range of amenities offered by the park. The park is equipped with the usual picnic tables and pavilions, playgrounds, tennis courts and walking/biking paths, as one might expect. But the park also has a shooting range, model plane airfield, disc golf course, mountain bike trails, several boat launches, workout equipment (the Fitness Zone) and a dog park with three separate zones for large dogs, small dogs, and puppies. The park even has an observatory, which is free and open to the public on Saturday nights. With all that the park has to offer it is well utilized, especially on weekends. Weekend traffic through the gate can be quite backed up.  However, the campground itself is off to the side and relatively isolated from the busy-ness of the rest of the park. Mostly you see road bikers whizzing through their laps and folks jogging or walking their dogs. It should be noted that passes are required (fees charged) for use of the dog park, airfield, and mountain bike trails. During this trip, I was so busy working and visiting friends that I didn’t have time to take advantage of the park amenities.

Since the park is at the edge of the County, adjacent to the Everglades, some level of mosquitos and bugs are inevitable. The County does fog for mosquitos which helps considerably but they can still be bothersome, especially at dawn and dusk.

Bottom line:  It’s a good choice for South Florida camping, but I prefer the paved pull-through sites. The bath houses could stand some updating and better cleaning.020

You can’t go home again …..

quotefancy-2156902-3840x2160.jpgWe just completed a whirlwind two-week visit to South Florida, our prior home of 35 years. We had originally thought to stay the whole month of February, but were unable to secure campground reservations for more than two weeks – even after trying nearly a year in advance. It’s a function of scarcity of (decent) campgrounds in the area and peak season demand.

We crammed a lot into two weeks! Routine doctor, dentist and vet appointments were scheduled and completed. You’ll be happy to know that aside from finding one bad tooth (which was remedied) and being a bit overweight, Pumpkin is in fine shape for a senior cat and will be sharing his Haiku insights for some time to come! We entertained friends, walked along the beach, and went to a party. Jeff rode his motorcycle, mountain biked familiar trails, and attended the Miami Boat show.  I worked a fair bit during our stay –  inspecting jobsites, catching up with fellow employees in the office,  and visiting a long-time client.

A highlight of our stay was our group visit to the Florida Renaissance Faire. Before our launch, I hadn’t missed attending the Ren Faire for at least 20 years straight! My sister and her daughter flew down from Indiana, while Sean, Marissa, her sister and dad drove from Orlando for the fun.  We feasted, imbibed, shopped, and enjoyed the varied entertainment. Huzzah!

It was wonderful to see our friends, re-visit old haunts, and explore familiar territory. Yet … it was also sad. Being “home” stirred up old griefs and reminders of what I had given up for this life on the road. I was home …. but I no longer had a home there. I rejoiced to reconnect with good friends …. but we had to immediately separate again. Happy / sad.


In a way it felt like trying to fit into shoes that I have outgrown …. or fit into a life that I no longer live. It’s time to move on, rather than move back.

That feels right.