American Locations 42 – Biscayne & John Pennekamp

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.

 Biscayne National Park & John Pennekamp State Park, Florida

Early the next morning we drove south on Rte. A1A along the oceanfront for as long as we could. More beautiful scenery. Just north of Jupiter Island the road turned inland and merged with Hwy. 1. We continued south for a while on Hwy. 1, but eventually got on I- 95. Then came the worst drive of the entire trip. The drive around Miami. The traffic was horrible. At some point we got off the Interstate to make our way around the west side of the city. It was a snarl. We stopped to eat lunch in a Wal-Mart parking lot, that was the kind of day it was. After a brutal day driving we finally escaped the traffic into open country. We passed by one coconut tree farm after another, until we reached Biscayne National Park.

1527_Biscayne NP

1517_Biscayne NP

We could see downtown Miami in the distance.

1516a_Biscayne NP

But there were better views.

1520_Biscayne NP

1521_Biscayne NP

1522_Biscayne NP

The visitor center had some interesting displays.

1523_Biscayne NP

Rested and recovered from a stressful drive, we made our way back out to Hwy. 1 and continued south off the mainland onto Key Largo. We got a campsite at John Pennekamp State Park.

1529_Pennekamp SP

We had a site that backed up to wetlands, so we had some interesting critters prowling around our motor home.




And birds.


Like much else of the Keys, the park had sustained considerable hurricane damage. Only half of the park was open, and only half of the campground. This bridge led to the part that was closed.


So we enjoyed what we could of the park. The waterfront.

1531_Pennekamp SP


A nature trail.

1541_Pennekamp SP

1538_Pennekamp SP

I especially liked these two trees, the twisted one and the bright red one.



It had been a tiring day, so we spent the rest of evening at our site.

Next Location – John Pennekamp State Park 2


American Locations 41 – Long Point

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.

 Long Point Campground, Florida


Early the next morning we drove south on Hwy. 1 and crossed over back to the coast on A1A, then continued south. Another incredible drive. This stretch of the road is right on the oceanfront. We had intended to stay at Sebastion Inlet State Park, but the campground was full. This was the only time on the entire trip we couldn’t get into a campground because it was full. The park ranger directed us to a campground operated by the county that was just up the road. So we went to Long Point. Were we ever glad we did. I have never seen so many birds in my life. It was like being in a zoo.

1459_Long Point

1461_Long Point

1468_Long Point

It was on a small island.

1469_Long Point

1466_Long Point

The mainland could be seen in the distance.

1475_Long Point

Each of the waterfront sites had their individual water access like this one.

1463_Long Point

Of course they were all taken, so we had to set up in the middle of the island. Notice all the birds.

1458_Long Point

The middle of the island had its charms, too.

1510_Long Point

There was another smaller island with no campsites to explore, but it had been damaged by the latest hurricane and was off limits.

1473_Long Point

Back on the mainland there was a short trail through a mangrove swamp. We drove over and parked.

1476_Long Point

Notice the bird perched in the parking lot.

1476_Long Point (2)

We then hiked the trail.

1478_Long Point

1480_Long Point

1482_Long Point

1483_Long Point

There was also a stretch of ocean beach that was operated by the county park. It was a bit of a walk from the parking lot.

1503_Long Point

1504_Long Point

1509_Long Point

But it eventually led to a beach.

1485_Long Point

There was a bunch of kids cleaning up the beach.

1486_Long Point

I went in for a brief swim. The surf was so rough it beat you up.

1492_Long Point

We saw this guy cruising around in a cool ultralight.

1501_Long Point

That evening the sun performed another great ‘down’ for us. We were invited onto a waterfront site to enjoy it.

1511_Long Point

1514_Long Point

1515_Long Point

Another enjoyable day came to an end.


Next Location – John Pennekamp State Park, Florida






American Locations 40 – Kennedy Space Center

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.


Kennedy Space Center, Florida


Back on the mainland we drove south on Hwy. 1 to Titusville. We found a county campground on the coast across from Cape Canaveral. The best waterfront sites were closed because of damage from the last hurricane, but we still secured a nice one. The campground host told us the place filled up whenever there was a rocket launch since this was a prime location to view them from.


We relaxed the rest of the day, then got up early the next morning and drove to Kennedy Space Center.



Outside there was a good collection of rockets to see.



The first exhibit we went inside to see was historical. Two full grown men squeezed into this Gemini capsule.


And an Apollo capsule.


A mock-up of the NASA control center used in the first launches.


The Right Stuff, the original seven astronauts of the Mercury Program.


Of course, there were more current displays. This model of a Mars rover wasn’t built to scale. As you can see in the background, there is always a gift shop.


In another building were displays of craft designed by Space X and Boeing.



NASA partnering with GM? That’s a scary thought. But this wasn’t a real robot, just a vehicle with a man inside.


There were many other exhibits and presentations, too numerous to mention (fact check: that statement means I can’t remember them all). But they were all fascinating. Then we hit the road on a bus tour. This was that huge building we could see from Canaveral National Seashore.


Space X uses NASA’s launch facility, too. Note the water tower. This is one of their launch pads.



A crawler transport. These things are so huge.


We got off the bus to tour a large hanger that had been converted into a museum. This is not a mock-up. This is the actual equipment NASA used in their original control room.


One really big rocket.


The actual Apollo 11 capsule, plucked from the ocean.


The Atlantis Shuttle is on display.


With the Canada Arm extending out from the cargo bay.


The suit and equipment used in space walks.


We spent a full day here, from opening to closing, and still didn’t see it all. So we were exhausted. We drove back to our camp site and crashed.


Next Location – Long Point, Florida



American Locations 39 – Canaveral

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.


Canaveral National Seashore, Florida


Leaving Tomoka State Park, we drove south on North Beach Road into Ormond Beach, where we crossed the Halifax River to get back onto Rte. A1A. We drove south through Daytona Beach. Another nice drive along the coast. We crossed back over the Halifax River at Dunlawton Ave., then turned south on Hwy. 1. In New Smyrna Beach we crossed back over to the coast on South Causeway to South Atlantic Avenue, on which we drove south into Canaveral National Seashore. After stopping by the visitor center, we made frequent stops, to view the sound.

1343_Canaveral NS

And birds, of course.

1350_Canaveral NS

We turned down several lanes off the main road.

1347_Canaveral NS

And made several stops where we could park the motor home and walk around.

1344_Canaveral NS

1345_Canaveral NS

We stopped by this old home that had been restored and made into a museum.

1351_Canaveral NS

Here is a Wikipedia entry about it:

Eldora is an uninhabited place in Volusia CountyFlorida, United States. It is located within Canaveral National Seashore, south of Bethune Beach and west of County Road A1A. The average elevation is 3 feet above sea level.


Eldora was a prominent community of orange groves in the latter part of the 19th century. After a freeze destroyed most of its crops, it was nearly completely abandoned and has never regained its population.[1]

After the death of its last residentDoris “Doc” Leeper in 2000, a locally famous artist and conservationist in the 1980s,[2] the management of the town was officially turned over to the federal government, and the town is now located more than two miles within the borders of the Canaveral National Seashore. The town claims no permanent residents, and visitation is limited and subject to park hours. Only two of its original buildings remain. The largest, “The Eldora House“, now holds a museum.[3] Although the town’s orange groves were nearly completely wiped out over one hundred years ago, some trees still remain.

The town is also the site of two marine research facilities jointly shared by Daytona State College and the University of Central Florida.


Eldora is located at 28°54′33″N 80°49′11″W. The town’s location is remote, as it is only accessible by one service road, County Road A1A. It is nearly a thirty-minute drive to the mainland through New Smyrna Beach.


The most interesting thing inside was this rock formed by fused shells.

1353_Canaveral NS

After a short rest…

1355_Canaveral NS

We walked around the grounds.

1356_Canaveral NS

1359_Canaveral NS

At another stop I took another short hike.

1365_Canaveral NS

The sign said this was coffee beans growing wild.

1366_Canaveral NS

Near the beach there were shell middens, like I had seen at Skidaway in Georgia.

1369_Canaveral NS

I came upon some wild pigs. I followed them for quite a way on the trail. But they finally became aware of me and scattered into the brush. So I cut my walk short. I don’t know if they were dangerous, but I know enough not to upset a mother when she is with her brood.

1361_Canaveral NS

We parked at a beach access and relaxed on the beach for a while. The surf was calm enough here so I went in for a brief swim. Yet another advantage of traveling in a motor home – you always have a changing room available.

1378_Canaveral NS

After we left the beach we drove to the very end of the road. From where we could see one of the enormous buildings at Kennedy Space Center.

1382_Canaveral NS

From here we backtracked out of the national seashore and across to the mainland.


Next Location – Kennedy Space Center






American Locations 38 – Tomoka

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.


Tomoka State Park, Florida


We drove south from St. Augustine on Rte. A1A. It was a beautiful drive that hugged the coast. Along the way we stopped briefly at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park. I saw an alligator there. It was underneath a small bridge my wife was standing on. When I pointed it out she quickly got off the bridge.


We turned inland on High Bridge Road and crossed the Halifax River through Bulow Creek State Park. We turned south on Old Dixie Hwy. This took us through some low-lying marsh land, with water nearly up over the road. Another beautiful drive. We turned off onto North Beach Rd. and into Tomoka State Park. The campground wasn’t busy, and the sites were very private.

1325_Tomoka SP

1330_Tomoka SP

There is a memorial to the Tomoka Native Americans who originally settled here.

1312_Tomoka SP

At the northern point you can see across the Halifax River to the development on the nearby Atlantic coast.

1314_Tomoka SP

1315_Tomoka SP

From here we hiked a trail along the Halifax River.

1316_Tomoka SP

1319_Tomoka SP

That evening we went to the riverside to watch the evening come on.

1334_Tomoka SP

1331_Tomoka SP

We saw a pair of dolphins playing in the river. The next morning I took a thermos of coffee down to the river to watch the sunrise. In the pre-dawn I could hear some large animals in the trees, but I never saw what was making the racket. The lights in the distance is the high-rise development on the coast.

1336_Tomoka SP

Later that morning we continued south down the Florida coast.


Next Location – Canaveral National Seashore