Sharon, Fiona and I have been back from Europe since mid-October, and have been reunited with our Roadtrek since mid-November, but driveway camping gets old in a hurry for us. The satisfaction of being back in our Roadtrek wore off, and it began to feel like a grind. Actually, it WAS a grind – my sister already thinks of me as her yardman, and has been encouraging me to branch out into drywall and appliance repair as she looks around and decides what needs fixing. I love my family, but I needed to get out of town.
Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area just north of Daytona is our go-to place for a few days of oceanfront camping near my family – I have written about my techique for snagging spaces made available by last-minute cancellations here before. I got lucky – as soon as I went on the website, there were a couple of days in spot 9, right on the water. With the senior Florida resident discount, it was 30 something dollars for two nights. Such a bargain! We have been hitting Gamble Rogers every winter for the past seven years of fulltiming because it's cheap, directly on the ocean, and we can grab short stretches of available spots on short notice.
When the appointed day came, we packed up, stocked up with a few day's groceries, and noodled on down A1A for a couple of hours, through Saint Augustine and Flagler Beach, until we spotted the familiar water tower that marked the spot. Checking in at the park office to get our rear view mirror hang tag and the gate codes, we learned that the park rangers had taken advantage of the Hurricane Irma evacuation back in September to burn the vegetation between the campsites and the crest of the dune, which was both a safety consideration and an esthetic improvement – it had never been burned in the history of the park, meaning there was a dangerous accumulation of fuel, and the view of the ocean from the campsites improved considerably once it was burned. The hurricane evacuation was their one and only chance – this park is open year-round, and booked six months in advance. Our spot this time used to have a little window in the wall of vegetation that you could see the ocean through – now it's wide open. Palmettos are fire-tolerant; the charred trunks sprouted new fronds almost as soon as the embers cooled.
Setup is a breeze – back into your spot, open the rear doors, haul the satellite dishes out and set them up, and then cook dinner. Our couple of days here is the last balmy stretch before some rain and cooler weather comes in on our checkout day Wednesday, sunny and in the mid-70s. It's always warm at night right here on the water (mid-60s), and the locked gate means we can sleep with the back doors open, listening to the surf and watching the full moon rise over the ocean right after dark. A couple of nights here was just the break we needed. Fiona really misses the beach when we've been away for a long time, and we really hadn't been right on the water in months. She sits on her ledge across the back door and monitors the underbrush for rodent and crustacean activity. The land crabs haven't gotten any slower, but she's been losing a step or two as she gets older, so actual captures of wildlife are non-existent. All she has is the thrill of the chase.