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Author Topic: Ideas & tips for a winter trip across the Southern states - Jan 2014  (Read 4211 times)

The Escape Goat

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    • The Escape Goat
Hi all. We will be back for another RV trip in early January, driving across from Florida to California over 3 or 4 weeks.

We've been over most of the US RVing & driving in the past, but never in winter, hence the southern focus. Many years ago drove from SF to Key West Fl., via the better known stops - Vegas, Zion NP. Bryce/Grand Canyons, NO etc

I figure to stay warm-ish we need to hug the gulf coastline as close and as long as possible then cross Texas, New Mexico, Arizona to the west coast, but would love any tips on highlights, nice towns, national parks, RV campgrounds, skiing possibilities (yeah I realise that's a contradiction) and other interesting features of that drive.

thanks in advance
http://www.theescapegoat.com
Better to aim for the stars and hit the top of a telephone pole,
Than to aim for the top of a telephone pole,and shoot yourself in the foot.

Jeff

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Re: Ideas & tips for a winter trip across the Southern states - Jan 2014
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2013, 01:52:05 PM »
Once you reach northern Florida you are open to cold weather across the gulf states until reaching Houston. Also West Texas and New Mexico see occassional winter storms. Southern AZ and California will get you back in the warmer winter climes.

The Escape Goat

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    • The Escape Goat
Re: Ideas & tips for a winter trip across the Southern states - Jan 2014
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2013, 03:29:32 PM »
Thanks Jeff, well we're currently in the UK, so I'll take cool over freezing!
http://www.theescapegoat.com
Better to aim for the stars and hit the top of a telephone pole,
Than to aim for the top of a telephone pole,and shoot yourself in the foot.

halfwright

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Re: Ideas & tips for a winter trip across the Southern states - Jan 2014
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2013, 04:23:37 PM »
In New Mexico, you have Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands, Three Rivers Petroglyphs, the Very Large Array, Ft. Stanton, Old Mesilla, Lincoln, City of Rocks and Faywood Hot Springs. You can google these and see if it interests you.
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JCZ

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Re: Ideas & tips for a winter trip across the Southern states - Jan 2014
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2013, 04:25:06 PM »
Since you're going the southern route, when you get to San Diego you can check out Silver Strand State Beach...  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EbskOq_gzo

Just a about 3-4 more miles down the strand there's also Bernardo Shore RV Park in Imperial Beach, Calif.   http://www.bernardoshoresrvpark.com/

And just about 8 miles up the strand, you sure want to visit Coronado Island  http://coronadovisitorcenter.com/

Then, while there, San Diego is just a short hop across the bridge, where you'll find the Gas Lamp District downtown, Seaport Villiage, the aircraft carrier USS Midway that you can tour and the Bob Hope Memorial all within walking distance of downtown San Diego.

Now to add a little enticement, here's the average monthly temps for the area....  http://www.weather.com/weather/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/USCA0982

I sound like I work for the visitor beareau or something but I actually live 500 miles north in Sacramento.  But I'm about to transfer down to Coronado and I can hardly wait!  8)
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The Escape Goat

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Re: Ideas & tips for a winter trip across the Southern states - Jan 2014
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2013, 04:39:55 PM »
thanks halfwright and JCZ - have been to some of those but there's some ideas for us in NM and CA!
http://www.theescapegoat.com
Better to aim for the stars and hit the top of a telephone pole,
Than to aim for the top of a telephone pole,and shoot yourself in the foot.

jerrydiver

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Re: Ideas & tips for a winter trip across the Southern states - Jan 2014
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2013, 04:41:56 PM »
Derek, you'll have a great time down South in the winter.  The Riverwalk in San Antonio is to me as though a bit of Paris was dropped into south Texas, but with hugely variable weather conditions.  When you roll through Mississippi, both Biloxi and Gulfport offer good sightseeing and superb dining opportunities for fresh Gulf seafood.  The beach communities in Alabama, Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, have those amazingly, blindingly white beaches and several uncrowded RV parks within blocks of the beach, like the Alabama State Park just east of Gulf Shores proper.  Following the beach road will lead you over to Pensacola, Florida, where there is open access for visitors to the National Museum of Naval Aviation on the base at Naval Air Station Pensacola.  The freshest Gulf seafood is available right at the dock at Joe Patti Seafood in P'cola, and they have their own restaurant, as well.  The beach road eastward can be a bit congested at times in the Destin and Panama City areas, but it is such a pretty drive.  And there is the magnificent desolation in places like Appalachicola.  Temperatures can drop below freezing south of I-10, but usually only for a very few hours at a time, before climbing 20 or more deg F during the day, so you may experience a bit of cold, but not likely for any duration.  Northeast Florida has St Augustine, a beautiful place to visit and experience Spanish and Cuban food, although it's been 20 years since I was last there.  I didn't see whether you have visited Charleston, South Carolina.  It's a bit like Savannah, but with oodles more history going back to the American Revolution.  Beautiful parks and gardens, and offering many gastronomic delights, Charleston will earn a spot in your next travel blog.  Bon voyage and Bon Apetit!

Frank Hurst

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Re: Ideas & tips for a winter trip across the Southern states - Jan 2014
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2013, 12:14:55 AM »
Jerrydriver, your post are hard to read, You shout so loud you make my head hurt. I have a hard time reading your post.
On most web sites all capital or bold post are considered shouting. :-)

Frank
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SeilerBird

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Re: Ideas & tips for a winter trip across the Southern states - Jan 2014
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2013, 05:52:43 AM »
Jerrydriver, your post are hard to read, You shout so loud you make my head hurt. I have a hard time reading your post.
On most web sites all capital or bold post are considered shouting. :-)

Frank
I have to agree with Frank, your posts are impossible to read. There is no point to large bold letters unless you are just here to annoy people.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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ruthandken CDN

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Re: Ideas & tips for a winter trip across the Southern states - Jan 2014
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2013, 06:16:41 AM »
Ouch, ditto, really, really hurt my eyes.
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The Escape Goat

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Re: Ideas & tips for a winter trip across the Southern states - Jan 2014
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2013, 10:59:03 AM »
Thanks for the ideas. Bumping this as it gets closer.

Will now only be going from Miami > Key West > Gulf Coast and dropping in New Orleans or nearest nearby where it's possible (not all companies have an office in Louisiana). Need to go north after that and don't want to take the RV through snow.

Question, for mid-January, is it necessary to book anywhere/everywhere along this route?

Apart from Key West, am thinking of stops around Pelican Bay/Naples, Steinhatchee region, Port St Joe area but happy to hear other ideas.

Preference for quieter beaches, small towns etc as opposed to the spring break kind of atmosphere
« Last Edit: December 16, 2013, 11:37:09 AM by The Escape Goat »
http://www.theescapegoat.com
Better to aim for the stars and hit the top of a telephone pole,
Than to aim for the top of a telephone pole,and shoot yourself in the foot.

Lou Schneider

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Re: Ideas & tips for a winter trip across the Southern states - Jan 2014
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2013, 11:54:47 AM »
As far as skiing, there's a ski area just outside of Flagstaff, AZ.  Flag is around 6000 ft. elevation, high enough to keep it in snow when Phoenix is in the mid 70s.

bucks2

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Re: Ideas & tips for a winter trip across the Southern states - Jan 2014
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2013, 12:01:49 PM »
I like Karchner Caverns and Rockhound SP when you get into southern NM and AZ. Oddly enough you may need to check the websites and get a reservation for them a week or two before you plan to be there in Jan and Feb. Tombstone is a great place to look around and see what a mine looks like and see what the old west may have been like. Although its commercialized it's worth seeing just because.

Ken

The Escape Goat

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Re: Ideas & tips for a winter trip across the Southern states - Jan 2014
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2013, 12:27:52 PM »
Thanks folks, probably only RV-ing as far as NOLA.

But... whats it like driving an RV in January as far as roads, ice, snow goes?

We could extend it out to New Mexico via Memphis, Arkansas, Oaklahoma, Northern Texas.
http://www.theescapegoat.com
Better to aim for the stars and hit the top of a telephone pole,
Than to aim for the top of a telephone pole,and shoot yourself in the foot.

Kim (skyking4ar2) Bertram

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Re: Ideas & tips for a winter trip across the Southern states - Jan 2014
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2013, 01:02:03 PM »
As a native Arkansan, you do not want to plan a trip along I-40 in the winter. Weather is just too crazy, especially as you cross Oklahoma. If you are on a schedule, it's not your first choice. We spent a week in Little Rock stuck in freezing rain and ice last January. We make sure we are off I-40 by mid November to elude fast moving systems.

Traveling along the Gulf coast in January will present it's own problems without reservations, although you should not get shut out. It's where all the snow birds who don't want south Florida or south Texas are going to be traveling. And everyone floods the Gulf Shores area in January, having left the north right after Christmas.

We winter in Gulf Shores, typically, and in the Baton Rouge area. Between those two places can be thin pickings, other than Gulfport/Biloxi. New Mexico, even the southern part, can be a crap shoot in January, again because of the nature of the jet stream. Swinging across Texas on I-10 might be a better fit to stay south, or there is south Texas!

The last several years there have been no guarantees, and even last week, only the tip of southern Florida had any warm area - everybody else was covered in low temps and freezing precipitation.
Kim & Christi Bertram
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The Escape Goat

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    • The Escape Goat
Re: Ideas & tips for a winter trip across the Southern states - Jan 2014
« Reply #15 on: December 16, 2013, 01:57:12 PM »
Thats good advice, I was never really keen to drive an RV in wintry conditions, though I will be driving a car from New Orleans to Memphis, the across to Los Angeles.

I might see what location/beach/town/RV campground advice pops up for the Gulf drive (will be mostly in Florida), and maybe have to book that week or so in advance.

Advantage is that we usually stay 2 nights and move on, so if there are short term spots left spare we can get those.
http://www.theescapegoat.com
Better to aim for the stars and hit the top of a telephone pole,
Than to aim for the top of a telephone pole,and shoot yourself in the foot.

Kim (skyking4ar2) Bertram

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Re: Ideas & tips for a winter trip across the Southern states - Jan 2014
« Reply #16 on: December 16, 2013, 02:01:19 PM »
I don't think you will have as much problem being a filler for a day or two at all. Lots of nice bump stops along that route.
Kim & Christi Bertram
SKP 106183
FMCA 420913
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2012 Thor Damon Tuscany 42RQ
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel
Taos Monte Bello RV Park, El Prado, NM

ljcygnet

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Re: Ideas & tips for a winter trip across the Southern states - Jan 2014
« Reply #17 on: December 20, 2013, 03:45:40 AM »
There's a world's largest flea market/rock show/etc. in Quartzite in the late winter/early spring (February/March). Quartzite is on I-10 between Phoenix and the California border. It's well worth stopping for a few hours -- you never know what you'll find, and the people watching is amazing.

Phoenix has a Renaissance Faire that is a bit hokey, but worth attending for fun, in the late winter/early spring.

You can drive to the top of South Mountain, the big mountain south of Phoenix, and some neat trails. There's also a riding stable at the base that has trail rides. It's worth the drive to the top, but again, leave your trailer somewhere -- don't try to drive rig up to the top of the mountain. It's a very narrow, twisty road and there's not a lot of places you could turn around. If you do drive up it, I recommend timing it see the sunset and the city lights at night.

If you want to go a bit out of the way and don't mind mildly chilly temps in winter, Wildlife World Zoo in Camp Verde, Arizona (a couple hours from central Phoenix depending on traffic on I-17), is WELL worth the price of admission. It's a bit of a different zoo than most -- the animals are in large enclosures on acreage. They also have a big cat show where the zoo staff play games in an enclosure with lions and tigers that's worth watching -- the cats look like they're having a blast, and so far, they haven't killed any of the staff, LOL. If you venture up to Camp Verde, you might also see the sights in Sedona, go antiquing in Clarkdale, and definitely drive up to Jerome. (Just drop your rig somewhere -- you DO NOT want to try to take a rig through Jerome!!!!)

The tourist train from Clarkdale up the verde river canyon is worth the price of a ticket, too -- especially if you can afford first class tickets. It goes through a wild and remote canyon, and you are very likely to see bald eagles, hawks, and assorted other wildlife. DRESS WARM as the wind can be quite cold.

Do be aware that it's possible to be stopped by the cops in southern Arizona, particularly on I-10, Maricopa Road (Hwy 347), and I-8. Drug and human smuggling from Mexico is a major issue, and for obvious reason, travel trailers -- or any trailer -- are objects of suspicion. The cops may make up a pretext to pull you over -- they often told me that I had a "brakelight out" and my brake lights would be fine later. (I drive a beat up pickup and always seemed to get pulled over when I had a load of hay bales in the truck. I figured they thought I might be hiding pot under the hay.)

Just bear in mind they're NOT looking for you and they aren't interested in harassing genuine tourists. Arizona likes tourists! *grin* They're really looking for the guy who's got two tons of weed or a couple dozen illegal immigrants hidden in his rig. If that's not you, you'll be just fine. The best way to deal with them is to just relax, smile, be friendly, follow their orders exactly, and make sure your paperwork's in order and your rig is properly hooked up. (Brakes and lights connected, etc.) You may find a rude/curt cop occasionally, but I've yet to run into one who's been abusive of his power beyond making up an excuse to pull me over in the first place.

(The smugglers themselves won't bother you. They don't want to make trouble -- they want to fly under the radar and not be noticed.)

 

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