We had no idea how popular Florida was with RVers during the winter until we tried to book reservations two months before our trip…only to learn that many Florida winter RV spots book up eight months to a full year in advance. This made it slightly challenging to find places to stay near popular destinations such a Naples during the month of February.
However, while researching for our trip we were lucky to stumble upon the website Campendium which shows all camping options in your search area from free BLM land (public land) to spendy RV resorts. In addition, users can leave star ratings and detailed feedback about the condition of the site, how level the sites are, what amenities are included and even the strength of cell signal in each spot (3 bars AT&T 3G, 2 bars Verizon 4G, etc.). This last bit of info is super helpful on our trip given that Max is working remotely and needs to be connected during the work week. Using Campendium we were able to find a nice RV spot at Belle Mead Campground in Picayune Strand State Forest that was roughly 45 minutes away from the Naples pier for $20 per night with reservation or $10 per night first come first serve.
You can see why so many snowbirds come to Naples in the winter because the beaches are beautiful, the weather is warm and it just has that Tommy Bahama upscale relaxing vibe to it. In the three days that we had there, we spent most of our time on the beach between Naples Old Pier and Naples New Pier as both were good places to relax and for Max to shoot seascapes. I loved how every night about 30 minutes before sunset the local residents would come down to the beach with a picnic blanket and a bottle of wine to watch the sunset. Just as the sun dipped below the horizon you could hear a round of applause as everyone clapped for that night’s performance.
In addition to relaxing on the beach, we got some much needed trailer maintenance done during our stay in Naples. After our bug situation in the Everglades, Max purchased clear silicone caulking and applied it around all of our window screens to prevent further bugs from flying through any small cracks. We also finally bought the right connector so that we were able to hook up two Lead Acid Marine Batteries to the trailer giving it one extra day’s worth of power. So now with two batteries we officially have two day’s worth of power when “off the grid”. We’re still contemplating purchasing solar panels, but for right now are getting by with two batteries and a generator.
I mentioned that Max is working part-time remotely on this trip, but I haven’t shared much about his other big time commitment and passion – photography! My husband Max is an extremely talented landscape photographer which is a big reason why we decided to go on this 14 month US adventure. His biggest constraint with photography is not having enough time in the field to shoot, so this trip is perfect as it allows him to work a couple hours, but also gives him the ability to shoot at sunrise and sunset in new locations without worrying about being to work at a certain time each day. Flexibility is key when it comes to outdoor photography, as the weather can change at any moment and you need to be at the right place at the right time to produce amazing work like he does. I’ll be posting more of his photos on the blog as we go, but if you want to see his current portfolio you should check out his website at maxfosterphotography.com.