Permanent Vanlife is still about one year away, so I decided to get a feel for it, by planning multiple one-week trips in the van, throughout the US Southeast.
Part of a 7-day trip to the Florida Panhandle in my Ford Transit Van Build. Day 4
Besides enjoyment, the goal of these multi-day journeys is also to get a sense of Vanlife and to add or change part of the setup in the van, if necessary.
From my Pensacola overnight camp location at a local Walmart, I manage to arrive at a deserted beach within the Gulf Islands National Seashore, just after dawn. Because dogs and National Parks are generally not compatible with each other, Joey has to stay in the van and off the beach. But he is surprisingly good with that. I leave the sidedoor open and him on the leash, so he can see where I am and what I do.
This early, there is nobody else around (also perhaps because it’s February) and I got the beach to myself. After strolling along the water’s edge for a while, I return to the van, and continue to finish a video review of the Bluetti EB55 Powerstation.
Only a few miles down the road, I find Fort Pickens, originally founded by the Spanish, but the current fortifications were built in the early 1900’s to protect Pensacola Bay.
One can spend a reasonably amount of time here, walking around the fort and all other fortifications, which are spread out in the area. But like many other things here in the Panhandle, most of the activities are suspended during the winter season. I explore the main fort and the sea-mine buildings and finish walking a short distance on the Florida trail.
The Florida trail starts here and spans a distance of 1300 miles throughout Florida ultimately ending in the Everglades National Park.
Bamahenge is a full-scale fiberglass replica of England’s Stonehenge located on the grounds of Barber Marina near Josephine, Alabama. It was designed and built by artist Mark Cline.
It may be a replica and sufficient as a rough representation of the original in the UK, but Stonehenge is much more than a collection of raised rocks and while Bamahenge is a quick, but worthwhile stop during your visit, the real Stonehenge has an ambience of its own.
The Red Brick road is a 5 mile paved stretch in Milton, Florida, that has been part on several named trails and highways. Originally part of the Spanish Trail and after 1914 incorporated into the Dixie Highway which connected the Mid-West with Florida, it is also known as State Road 1.
In 1919 the 9ft wide brick road was constructed, but quickly widened in 1923 with 4ft wide concrete on both sides of the road, to make it a two lane highway. Only one mile of it is driveable, with the remainder only accessible on foot.
Blackwater River Campsite
I make it to my next boondocking campsite, just before dusk. Located just to the East of Blackwater River State Park, the parking area of a boat launch lends itself well for an overnight stop. I am somewhat surprised though, to find five other vehicles parked, with the same idea in mind. Despite this small crowd, I have a quiet evening and a restful night.
- Pensacola Beach ➜ 30.3173, -87.2616
- Fort Pickens ➜ 30.3285, -87.2896
- Bamahenge ➜ 30.3315, -87.5671
- Dixie Highway ➜ 30.6254, -87.0210
- Blackwater River campsite ➜ 30.7108, -86.8663