Road Trip to Florida: Highs and Lows

road trip

The past few weeks have been vacation time for hubby and I, on a road trip to Florida.  The first step involved renting a car as our 2009 Toyota Sienna would most likely not survive the trip.  If you have tried to purchase a new vehicle recently, you will know what I mean when I say it’s not as simple as it used to be.  With our Florida destination booked for three weeks we decided to wing the rest, ie stop when we were tired.

We have experienced a few hiccups along the way but nothing insurmountable. So far.

Thanksgiving (US) Weekend

When I planned this trip, I did not realize we were leaving Canada the day before the four day Thanksgiving weekend in the USA.  Apparently most Americans travel that weekend.  This became obvious as soon as we crossed the border…the highways were packed!


The Ford Escape (we love it BTW) we rented included an onboard GPS system.  Although hubby is (still) more of a map guy, he grudgingly admits to liking the commands to “turn right now!”  I must say, he listens to her voice better than he does to mine.  We did get lost in Fredericksburg Virginia looking for our first hotel though.  The hotel clerk excused the GPS though blaming the confusion on a recent road name change.  

Since that mistake, we have learned to trust the GPS to guide us to restaurants, beaches, and tourist spots here in the Nokomis area of Florida.

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Our second night we reached Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.  A slight mix-up with Expedia on our reservations made using McDonald’s wifi (they booked us for two rooms for one night, instead of one room for two nights) was efficiently handled by that hotel clerk. So efficiently we ended up with a significant discount.  Who doesn’t love a discount, especially when travelling?

Hilton Head Island is a gorgeous vacation paradise on the Atlantic coast.  I cannot believe we have have never stopped there before but know we will again.  It was cool and cloudy with a threat of rain the day we spent there but the beach was spectacular; our favourite kind of beach that stretches for miles.

Red Tide

Our road trip to Florida continued after Hilton Head, arriving at our final destination on Casey Key, located on the gulf coast, twenty minutes south of Sarasota, the next day.  Unfortunately, we had not heard that Red Tide had also arrived a month earlier, and was still hanging around like an unwelcome house guest.  Luckily for us it had (for the most part) moved on by the end of our first week. 

In the meantime we became beach hoppers, searching for red tide-free beaches to walk.

Family Visits

A favourite part of this Florida road trip was the fact that one of our sons and his family flew down for twelve days.  Having two of our six grandchildren for at least part of the trip was an added bonus.  In fact, I’ve decided if I ever win the lottery, I will buy (or rent) a big house down here where we all could be beach bums together.  It would have to be a big house to fit all thirteen of us at once!

I think Elton John wrote Your Song with those (similar) lyrics:

I don’t have much money, but boy if I did, I’d buy (or rent) a big house where we both (all) could live (stay)

Elton John


The weather has been unusually warm and sunny for this time of year on this road trip to Florida. 

Other years we have not been so fortunate. Cooler and wetter weather is forecast this coming weekend, just in time for our departure. 

I’ll be Home for Christmas

Like that song says, this road trip will be a memory in the rear view mirror.  Although local residents here try to decorate for the holidays, a wintery white Christmas is for me!

Storm Lashes Florida’s Gulf Coast, Again

storm lashes Florida gulf coast

In mid-December of 2018, another storm hit the gulf coast of Florida. Unlike storms Gordon and Michael that hit just a few months earlier in September and October respectively, this storm had no name. At least none that I could discover.

We heard the storm warnings on the radio and TV, so the ominous clouds, lashing rain, and rising ocean swells were no surprise…

storm lashes Florida gulf coast
Nokomis Beach

Named or not, I was a witness to this particular storm. Any of the locals I spoke to that day claimed they had never seen the waves so high. A stranger sent me this copy of a video he shot. That is my husband checking out the waves crashing on and washing over the jetty as the rest of us huddled further back from the action.

The news spread fast, locals and visitors alike flocked over the drawbridge that connects Casey Key to the mainland of Nokomis. The road to the north jetty was well-traveled with those wanting to witness the wrath of Mother Nature. The level of the water rose so high with the wind and rain that most of the jetty was underwater and the beach was barely walkable…

storm lashes Florida gulf coast
crashing waves
storm lashes Florida gulf coast
water level rising to grasses

Later that day, the waves subsided somewhat, the skies cleared and a spectacular sunset promised better weather the next day…

storm lashes Florida gulf coast
here comes the sun!
storm lashes Florida gulf coast
flooded beach
sunset after the storm
beach sunset

drawing the shell collectors to the beach and the (rather bedraggled) wildlife to the jetty the next morning…

storm lashes Florida gulf coast
shell collecting after the storm
storm lashes Florida gulf coast
collecting shells after the storm

Although the beautiful beach and spectacular oceanfront homes had already sustained an incredible amount of damage in the previous storms, we saw more the next morning…

storm lashes Florida gulf coast
steps buried in sand

Everywhere I travel, I cannot help but stop to admire (and snap pictures of) the local plants. That’s the gardener in me I guess…

variegated yuccas
storm lashes Florida gulf
beach access

The stormy weather lasted around 24 hours. As much as it was spectacular to witness it, I prefer walking the beach with calmer waters and sunshine.