Going Home – Our Epic Alaska Road Trip Comes to a Close

All great trips eventually come to an end.  For Julie and I our epic Florida – Missouri – New Mexico – Alberta – Alaska – Washington State – California – New York ……and finally to Florida road trip was coming to a close.

Augusta, GA

We had spent the last few days in Columbia, SC and were on our way to Augusta, GA.  We didn’t really know too much about Augusta, but figured if the golf Masters were held there every year, we thought that it had to be a pretty nice city.  The drive from Columbia to Augusta was only a little over an hour and a half, so in no time at all we were pulling off the highway and into the city.

Almost immediately our hearts dropped a bit.  The downtown area of Augusta looked like…well..not great.  The buildings themselves were beautiful but run down a bit.  The main street downtown, broad street featured two one-way streets with a tree lined mall in the middle.  This ran for about 10 blocks.  The thing missing though for the most part was functioning businesses inside these buildings.  We drove around for a bit before deciding that we didn’t feel comfortable parking our home on wheels in this section of town.

Oh well we thought, let’s go check out the golf course.  That area of town should be pretty nice.  Augusta isn’t that big and in no time, we were next to the golf course.  In the back of our minds we thought that we probably wouldn’t be able to see any of the course as it is private property and sure enough, there was no area of the golf course that we could actually see. 

Ok, so no golf course.  The area around the golf course has to be nice.  This for the most part was nice.  The only problem was there was nothing really to do.  We drove around looking at houses and saw some fairly nice strip malls.  Another strike for us today was that it was Sunday.  Most businesses it seemed were closed here on Sunday.  So downtown was a bust.  We couldn’t find anything to see on or around the famous golf course and almost every business was closed.

Our normal way that we go about finding neat neighborhoods is to simply google the name of the town and fun neighborhoods in that town.  We also look on google maps to find commercial and business areas.  As Augusta was on the smaller side the only area of this nature that we could find was the mall.  Oh well we thought, off we went.  Once we got there we thought “Finally – something that’s open!”.  While we didn’t plan on initially watching football that day, since we couldn’t find anything better, we saddled up to the bar and watched our favorite football team, the Buffalo Bills.  We ordered beers and some food and sat down.

It was a sunny day and we were in an area of the bar/restaurant that was an indoor/outdoor area, so we didn’t feel terrible about watching tv on a beautiful sunny day.  As we didn’t want to watch tv all day we left around halftime after we finished our food.  We walked across the parking lot to the actual mall where we walked around and checked out a few stores.  We then walked back to Bubbles and headed to the campground for the night.  We were a bit disappointed in Augusta as we thought it was going to be much more than it actually was.  No worries though, we were excited for the next day.

Hilton Head Island, SC

The next day we woke up, had breakfast and started to make our way to Hilton Head Island, SC.  We had visited Hilton Head two years prior but had just visited the island for a few hours.  This time we had booked a campground for two nights.  It was a three-hour drive from Augusta to Hilton Head and we arrived mid-afternoon.  Here we checked into the Hilton Head Island Motorcoach Resort.  We were a bit taken aback by this place.  It was exactly the opposite of what Augusta was, simply amazing.  It was the nicest RV park that we had ever been to.  At this RV Resort the spaces are privately owned then in turn can be rented out.  Each spot was different as each individual owner could do what they want.  Most put in paver stone driveways with intricate patterns along with fancy patio furniture.  The property also featured a pool and hot tub, a community building with showers, tennis and pickle ball courts.  All in all, it was an awesome place.

One of the best things about Hilton Head Island is that once you are there you almost never have to get in your car to go anywhere.  There are paved bike trails all over the island.  Knowing this Julie and I grabbed our bikes and our bike helmets and were ready to ride!  The bike trail didn’t connect directly to the RV park but after a short ride on the road we turned onto the bike path and made our way the mile and a half to Coligny Beach Park.  Here we locked our bikes up and headed to the beach.

Hilton Head Island beach is massive.  It seemed to us that the beach was at least a quarter of a mile wide.  We walked down to the water taking a few pictures and basking in the sunlight as the waves lapped at our feet.  We walked down the beach doing a bit of people watching as we walked.  We then spotted a tiki bar called the Tiki Hut.  We walked over, ordered 2 rum runners, sat down and listened to the band playing.  We felt a world away from where we had been 24 hours earlier.  We were loving it.  Once we finished our rum runners we headed back to our bikes and biked back to the rv park.  We made dinner and relaxed in our amazing spot for the rest of the evening.

We woke up the next day ready for a day of fun.  First up for the day was a few games of tennis!  When we started our journey back in 2017, we thought that we would be stopping in city parks and playing a lot of tennis.  As it turned out, tennis courts were far fewer and harder to find than we had thought.  At this RV park though there were multiple courts and free to use.  Julie and I are not great at tennis, but we just have a good time hitting the ball back and forth to each other.

After tennis we walked over to a restaurant that we had seen while biking called Captain Woody’s Bar & Grill.  We were not terribly hungry, but their menu featured a lot of crab which we both love.  We ordered a mix of snow and stone crab and devoured them down.  We then wanted to enjoy the amazing RV Park for our last night, so we walked back, relaxed on our little patio and listened to some music before making dinner and relaxing for the rest of the night.

St. Augustine, FL

The next morning, we woke up and headed off the island.  Today we were headed back to the Sunshine State with St. Augustine as our stopping point for the night.  Off the island we headed and within half an hour we were crossing the border into Georgia.  We passed by Savannah then stopped to pick up some tacos at one of our all-time favorite taco shops, Flaco’s Tacos!  Flaco’s is a great lunch spot right off of I-95 near Savannah.  Anytime we drive through Savannah we always make a stop at Flaco’s.  From Flaco’s we continued our journey south crossing the state line into Florida and made it to our campground just south of St. Augustine.

The next morning, we woke up and decided to spend the morning in St. Augustine.  We had visited St. Augustine a few times before and have always enjoyed coming back.  As history buffs it is one of the most fascinating places in the country as it is the oldest city in the USA.  We knew that we would not be over to the east coast of Florida for a while, so we decided first to take a walk along the beach.  St. Augustine does not sit directly on the beach so first we drove north from our campground staying on Anastasia Island to the little town of St. Augustine Beach.  We walked along the beach taking in the sea air and enjoying the morning. 

We then drove over to the city of St. Augustine, parked and walked around a bit.  In a state where an “old” building was generally built in the 1960’s it’s pretty neat to see buildings built in the 1700’s and are still standing.  We then stopped in A1A Ale Works Restaurant & Taproom for lunch.  We both had delicious meals!  After lunch we walked around the city a bit more, walking off some of our calories before hopping back into Bubbles and driving to our very last stop of our trip, Ocala, FL.

Ocala, FL

For quite a number of years now the Ocala North RV Resort has been the first and the last stop for all of our RV trips.  It’s two hours north of Tampa; perfect distance for our first and last days of a trip.  Pulling into the RV park, memories of our 1st day of our Alaska trip flooded in.  We had left for Alaska April 30 and now it was October 31st; almost 6 months exactly of travel.  When we started out Alaska seemed so far, so distant.  We were embarking on an adventure, one that would take us to the western edge of the continent.  We had no idea what was in store for us and what adventures or misadventures we would come across.

We had no idea that tornadoes would force us off of our planned route in Kansas pushing us all the way to New Mexico, where we were able to explore thousands of years of native culture in Albuquerque and Taos.  We had no idea that because we signed up for a beer & bbq tour in Calgary we would be introduced to Russian coworkers who became fast friends.  We certainly never thought that we would be on the lookout for two teenage killers while driving through the Yukon Territory.  We walked on glaciers and fished for halibut and salmon in Alaska.  We were able to visit Seattle one last time before my Dad retired and headed back home to the east coast.  We saw Julie’s favorite place in the entire world again; Redwood National & State Forest Parks in Northern California.  We rode a turn of the century paddle boat in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Tahoe in Nevada.  We celebrated Julie’s birthday with her parents and Indiana cousins in Indianapolis.

As always when we go on RV trips, we have an end destination.  On every trip however the points in-between become just as important as the final destination is.  That was as true on this trip as every trip that we have taken.

After setting Bubbles up and having dinner we settled in for one last night in the RV.  The next morning, we woke up, cleaned out Bubbles water tanks and headed south on I-75 to our new hometown of Tampa.

Next up…We (attempt to) start a business, travel with friends and family and start to RV in the age of Covid!

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