Last March, before we even signed the purchase order for our RV, I booked our campsite at Grayton Beach State Park on the Gulf Coast of Florida.  At some point, years before, I’d seen pictures of this beach and become mildly obsessed with visiting. The area features miles of unspoiled white sand beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters, and protected dunes. It is absolutely stunning prime real estate that has some how, some way, not been sold off to developers. And this being ‘low season,’ we basically had it all to ourselves.

Our kind of beach. The kind with no one on it.

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Where the birds outnumber the people….

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Where this was the “crowded” section…

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and, where the sunsets are almost guaranteed to be spectacular….

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The problem for us was this magnificent beach was about to be visited by almost a week of less-than-magnificent weather. After our first day, it was a lot of this:

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and this:

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And sometimes, this:

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(Which, by the way…. is super Not Fun in an RV.)

BUT!!!!!  Our house has wheels, which means we can be flexible. With a few mouse clicks, I extended our time at Grayton Beach and shortened our visit to our next stop, giving us the potential to see some more nice weather before we left.

But, did that mean our long planned week of awesomeness was now gonna be sad and dull and boring??  Not at all. Thanks to the magic of Instagram, we ended up having a great week in spite of the cruddy weather!

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Before we left home, one of my biggest concerns was how we were going to make friends on the road. We’d had the same social circle for years and really hadn’t had to try very hard when it came to our social life. I was worried because, as much as we like hanging out with people, neither of us has ever been the type to start conversations with random strangers. So, how were we going to meet people when we were traveling?

I decided to ask one of the RV bloggers I followed for her advice. She told me the key was Instagram. She said most of the younger RVers were on it, and if we just followed those folks, posted on occasion, and mentioned where we were, people would reach out and offer to meet up. And that is exactly what happened.

Most recently, when we were in Savannah, I posted a picture on Instagram of one of the parks downtown. Soon after, Brandon and Kerensa from Drive Dive Devour commented that they were staying at a nearby campground. After a quick conversation, we ended up meeting up with them for drinks. They gave us all kinds of great information about where to go, what to see, and what to expect in this new lifestyle. When we told them we were heading to the Gulf Coast in January, they mentioned that their friends, Nancy and Betsy from RV-A-GoGo, were going to be spending the winter at a campground just down the beach from ours.

As we arrived in Grayton Beach, I saw that Jen and Deas from Nealys on Wheels had just checked into the same campground we were in. We connected over Instagram and when I suggested a happy hour, she said they were heading out that night with, wait for it…. Nancy and Betsy!  Turns out, they had all been friends for years. They invited us along, and so began a great week of hanging out with great people.

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Betsy, Jen, Deas, Me, Kevin, & Nancy the first night we all went out.

We ended up hanging out with Jen and Deas just about every night

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And Nancy and Betsy would join us every couple of outings…..

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We made fast friends with all of them and instantly felt welcomed into their group. It really set our mind at ease that we’d be able to find great people to hang out with as we move around the country.

While on the coast, we also got to see our very first RV friends, Mike and Kathie, from Life Rebooted. We first met them about eighteen months before we bought our RV. I’d somehow come across their blog and noticed they were also from Northern Virginia and had the same coach we were interested in. They answered about a million questions for us, and really helped us as we navigated the whole process. We’d tried to meet up with them a couple other times since we hit the road, but it never worked out. So when our paths were finally going to cross in Florida, we made it a priority to see them. As it turned out, they had been hanging out with fellow new RVers Ben and Lanni, so, one night, all 10 of us got together.

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Mike, Kathie, Jen, Deas, Nancy, Betsy, me, Kevin, Ben, and Lanni

We’ve found that conversation flows freely in these groups. Our fellow RVers are friendly, welcoming, and easy to engage with. And obviously it helps to be surrounded by people who relate to what we’re dealing with on a daily basis. Put another way, normal people have zero desire to discuss renegade slides, GPS routing disasters, and poop tank management. RVers? They live for that shit!

In any case, by the end of the week, the questionable weather had departed and we could head back to our spectacular beach, comforted in the knowledge that wherever we go, we’ll likely be able to find fellow RVers to laugh and/or cry with.  Without Instagram, we never would have met most of these folks, and our week in Grayton Beach would have been a LOT less fun.  So thank you, Instagram!

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I’ve got one more post coming about our time on the Gulf Coast (I’m trying to keep the “Art of War” length posts to a minimum, so I’m breaking this one up). In the meantime, we’re heading to Pensacola for what will now be a quick visit, and then it’s on to New Orleans!! Time to break out the stretchy pants and higher-limit credit card. Bad choices are about to be made!!

 

Where we stayed: Grayton Beach State Park

13 COMMENTS

  1. Great pics! I sometimes like the beach better on cloudy days – looks mysterious. Glad you are meeting up with nice people. Can’t wait until you get to the Big Easy!

    • Yeah, we’ve definitely noticed that sunset pictures look better when there are a few clouds… it gives the light something to reflect off of. And even bad weather can be interesting…. But this particular beach is really at its best when the sun is shining and the water is relatively calm. We eventually got there… it just took a long while. 🙂

  2. See, you found your set of friends! Beautiful beach photos, and if we ever have to go back to FL this will be one of our stop. We missed Grayton Beach.
    I was thinking of you guys when we saw those tornado watch while you were in the panhandle. Fortunately you were spared as shown by all your smiling faces.
    We met Mike and Kathie and Opie in Bryce Canyon, UT last summer, great folks!

    • What a crazy small world the RV community is! It definitely feels like everyone knows everyone – or at least, they know who you’re talking about. Funny…. And yeah, we didn’t get the worst of the storms, but they were pretty intense. We’ll definitely be in the habit of checking the weather wherever we are from now on. You can’t be cavalier about it when you’re living in a tin can. 🙂

    • Well, thanks to you guys, New Orleans was a HUGE success…. memories which we’ll hold onto forever… and we’ll need to…..since we’ll never be able to afford to go out again. 🙂

  3. That was way too much fun meeting up! Wish we could have stayed longer and hung out more! Thanks for the intro to Jen/Deas and Betsy/Nancy! Now I’ll have to start following their blogs and hope we can meet up with them again.

    • Yeah, I wish we’d had more time to hang out too, but I’m sure our paths will cross again!! And definitely follow them on Instagram and the blogs. Great people!

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