Ever find yourself dreaming of sunny Florida on a cold and dreary winter day? This past New Year's, Dave and six friends turned this dream into reality by renting an RV and heading south.
Our trip south began on December 28th with a long journey from College Park, MD to Naples, FL. For most of us, traveling by RV was a new experience. We rented our vehicle from Cruise America, whose large conspicuosly placed logos immediately identified us as amateurs. The pros scoffed at our rental as they cruised by in their smooth-riding machines of comfort. Our RV, on the other hand, shook like Mt. Saint Helens on a bad day as we reached "higher" speeds.
If the travelers on Interstate 95 only knew who was driving this
beast of a machine, perhaps they would have stayed home.
Traveling in an RV is not all fun and games.
In Naples, we stayed with my sister and brother-in-law for a few days. I enjoyed spending time with Elizabeth and Eric and checking out the new house they were building. Leaving Naples, we drove eastward through the famous "Everglades." Here, we took a side trip to experience the swampland and examine the numerous alligators that inhabit the area. For the most part, the gators lay quiet and watchful, but as we approached they quickly transformed into savage man-eating beasts of prey. Or maybe they just ran away.
Taking the RV offroads in the Everglades.
In the name of photography, Dan casts fear
aside to approach this creature of death.
We continued on from the Everglades until we reached the Florida Keys where we stayed at an RV park for a few nights. In the Keys, bad weather prevented us from a planned snorkeling trip, but the storm passed in time to celebrate the new year on Key West. After the Keys, we traveled on to our final destination, Miami.
Route 1 in the Florida Keys.
In Miami, we attended the 2002 Orange Bowl featuring the Maryland Terrapins and the Florida Gators. The mighty Terps dominated the pre-game warmups and coin toss. Unfortunately, as soon as the opening whistle blew, the Gators destroyed all hope by completely annihilating the opposition. Halftime provided little consolation as entertainment legend Lil' Bow Wow attempted to answer the question "Where's the Party At?" in what Orange Bowl organizers dubbed "the most stunning halftime show in college football history."
John and Hide prepare for the big game.
Halftime at the Orange Bowl.
For our final day in Miami, we visited South Beach to bask in the warmth and sunshine one last time. The night of June 3rd was spent at an RV park near Daytona Beach, and on the 4th, we packed our bags and headed home.
South Beach, Miami.
John hanging out on South Beach.
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