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. This time I visit South Florida.
On this second day of this trip through South Florida, I wake up on the parking area of a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Venice, with several other RV’s, neatly dispersed on the property.
This free service offered to the RV community is greatly appreciated by me and should not be misused; instead, pay them a visit and have a good meal there.
After an early start, I’m first on my way to fill up with groceries, clean up and have a good breakfast.
Punta Gorda railroad Depot
I have love for old trainstations, but this 1928 Spanish Mission style train depot is better known for its segregated waiting rooms as an inescapable reminder of past wrongs.
Damaged by hurricane Charlie in 2004, the building has been fully restored and houses a small museum and cafe.
Otter Mound Preserve
Mounds or middens are old dumps for domestic waste which may consist of animal bone, mollusc shells, potsherds, etc.
Otter Mound is a shell mound, a prehistoric refuse heap, consisting chiefly of the shells of edible mollusks intermingled with evidence of human occupancy.
This ancient Calusa mound (700AD – 1200AD) is one of many mounds found in this part of Florida.
Named after the family that lived here, this small residential park is preserved now for its historical and ecological value.
Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk
Tamiami trail leads straight to Miami on the East coast and hosts several small roadside parks, each often with a boardwalk that explores the local habitat.
The 2,300ft (700m) wooden Big Cypress Bend boardwalk takes you into the heart of Fakahatchee Strand, the largest bald cypress and royal palm swamp in the world.
This former logging site is now becoming a new state park.
Ted Smallwood Store
Ted Smallwood arrived here in 1897 and became postmaster for this small community in 1906. In 1917, Smallwood built the general store, that was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
This end of the road store that overlooks Chokoloskee Bay takes you back in history and offers an authentic look of old Florida.
The store closed in 1982 and reopened as a small museum with most of the original building and content intact.
Kirby Sorter Roadside Park
Another roadside park with a nice boardwalk, that shows part of the Everglades ecosystem.
By nightfall I arrive at my boondocking spot, located at the end of the Florida trail. Located on an unpaved side road of the Tamiami trail, I can enjoy the clear dark night skies and sleep undisturbed at this southern tip of the Florida mainland.
- Cracker Barrel Boondocking ➜ 27.1105, -82.3874
- Punta Gorda Railroad Depot ➜ 26.9294, -82.0459
- Otter Mound Preserve ➜ 25.9117, -81.6985
- Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk ➜ 25.9416, -81.4693
- Ted Smallwood Store ➜ 25.8100, -81.3624
- Sorter Park Boardwalk ➜ 25.8683, -81.1544
- Everglades Boondocking ➜ 25.7599, -81.0354