I hear Mike Wendland and Yan Seiner have been trying to convince people to wander off somewhere way up north and freeze to death in a few weeks, and have a much more attractive alternative to propose. How about a Freezeout in Florida? I'm already down here and am all set up for the next few days in a location guaranteed to challenge the hardiest winter camper – Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area just north of Daytona.
It's brutal out here, I tell you. After enduring a cold snap so severe this past weekend that we actually had to turn on the Alde heater, we drove down to Gamble Rogers and got razzed by the park rangers – they call me “the vulture” because I watch the ReserveAmerica website and snag last-minute cancellations for primo spots, jumping to the head of the line that most people have to wait months in. My family's home where I spend the holidays is a short drive away, so I can show up on short notice, spend a few days, and then head back with a minimum of fuss and muss.
All I have to do is pack up the satellite dishes, stop by the grocery store, and amble down A1A through Ponte Vedra, St. Augustine, and Crescent Beach to just south of Flagler Beach, where the park is. It's a beautiful drive right along the ocean past gorgeous houses and several stretches that are nature preserves and look like the beach was when I moved to Florida fifty years ago. It takes almost two hours to go seventy miles, but who cares? It's a lot more scenic than going 70 mph across west Texas.
There's not much to do here except watch the sea and sky, but that's the way I like it. Most of my neighbors here are very, very happy people from Michigan and Wisconsin and Minnesota and Canada, walking around in a daze as if they've just landed on the moon or something. The remaining population of Atlantic right whales are occasionally spotted offshore this time of year – it's calving season. I keep my eyes peeled, but that's about all the exertion I'm planning on for the next few days.
The weather will be partly to mostly cloudy, and temperatures are plunging down to 60 tonight due to the lingering effects of the cold snap, but it will be mid to upper 70s highs, and a more reasonable upper 60s lows for the next few days. Rough, I know, but us fearless winter camping pioneers are willing to sacrifice comfort for the sense of accomplishment one gets by surviving in adverse conditions.
So if you're in the area, drop on by, and see how REAL Roadtrekers spend the winter. No cushy heated pools and massages for us, we're out here gnawing on seaweed (ok, ok, I brought a few steaks, fresh fruit, and some baked goods including chocolate cake) and doing the best we can under such oppressive and primitive conditions.