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Beaches, Goats and  Crocodiles: My Florida Adventure

March 26, 20245 min read

Beaches, Goats and Crocodiles: My Florida Adventure!

HI there!

I hope you're doing well and breaking free from your comfort zone. I know I am! 

I’m currently wrapping up my tour of Florida here in Amelia Island, just a few miles from the Florida-Georgia border. But let me rewind a bit and share the highlights of my 5-week road trip through the Sunshine State. I started off in the Panhandle in the small town of  Gulf Breeze, between Pensacola and Destin. There wasn’t much to do in Gulf Breeze but it made for a great base to explore the panhandle.  My favorite field trip had to be  Pensacola with its brilliant white sand beaches and crystal-clear, turquoise waters. Did you know Pensacola is home to the Naval Air Station Pensacola, where the United States’ Navy Blue Angels  are based? Unfortunately, they weren’t practicing while I was there.  

Leaving Gulf Breeze behind, I had a free night before my next destination, Cape Coral. So, naturally, I opted for a cozy camping spot at a little homestead farm near Tallahassee. And If you missed my encounter with the adorable baby goats trying to hitch a ride in my car on FB, you can catch it here!

My dog-sit in Cape Coral was easy peasy.  Bella was a sweet, very old black lab and one of the easiest companions I’ve had so far. Bella’s house was very comfortable and included a heated pool with a big backyard and lanai which was a first for me.  Lanai's are a wonder thing and I think all southern, mosquito ridden homes should have them lol. Oh! And the weather was heavenly – consistently in the 80s. It was even warm at night (heaven).  Again, not a lot to do in the town however, I did take a day trip to Everglades National Park. It is an absolute must if you visit Florida. Did you know Everglades is the largest tropical wilderness of any kind in the U.S., protecting rare and endangered species like the Florida panther, American crocodile, and West Indian manatee? Unfortunately, I only saw the crocodiles; lots and lots of crocodiles! The trails through the park are short and are all boardwalks because, yep, crocodiles…

With a few days to spare before my last Florida pet-sitting gig in Amelia Island, I swung by The Keys to catch up with my sweet  friend, Nana whom I originally met in Austin while we were both serving as missionals at Community First Village.  While there, we drove over the iconic Seven Mile Bridge, enjoyed some amazing fresh seafood by the waterfront, and explored  the history of Pigeon Key – which has a fascinating history as the site for the construction of the Overseas Railway in the early 20th century.

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Venturing onward, I left the Keys and drove 6 hours to the tiny town of Mims, near Cape Canaveral where I camped at another private homestead.  BTW if you’re wondering where I find these little out of the way places to camp, I use the app Hipcamp. I prefer to camp at  state and national parks when I can but they were booked in Florida since it’s spring break season.  Anyway,  after a quiet night in Mims, I headed to Canaveral National Seashore which I loved with its interesting blend of Atlantic coastline and lush marshland.  It was filled with all kinds of birds, a few dolphins and butterflies enjoying the honeysuckle (which also smelled amazing!). I also stumbled upon the absolute most beautiful little trail which is below in the video.

Next up was Crescent Beach, just a 90 minute drive from Canaveral Seashore. I actually stayed in a hotel for a change which was just a block from the beach (ooo fancy!  Not… it was a Super 8 but it was still a block from the beach!).  Crescent Beach is just outside St. Augustine so it was a little crowded, being that spring break was in full swing.   St. Augustine is definitely worth visiting though if you haven’t been.  I started the day with a scrumptious birthday brunch of french toast and fresh strawberries and then  headed across the street to tour Castillo de San Marcos National Monument – a must-visit for history buffs. Did you know St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited European-founded city in the United States? Also, Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest Fort in the United States and was originally built by the Spanish, then  later controlled by the British, who renamed it Fort St. Mark, and then returned to Spanish control before being transferred to the United States in 1821. Whew, there’s a trivia question!

My final stop in Florida was a two week dog sit in Amelia Island.  Princess Kate certainly lived up to her name.  She was the sweetest, yet most stubborn little Shih Tzu ever Lol.  I don’t know if Amelia Island will make it into my top 10 but the neighborhood that I was in definitely does!  Amelia Park was an easy 1.5 mile walk to the beach and was like walking through a rainforest with lush plants and flowers everywhere.  Between walking to the beach almost everyday and walking around the neighborhood, I hardly ever got in my car.  Oh and the azaleas just happened to be in full bloom when I arrived.  Incredible!

All in all, Florida was a nice, usually warm, place to start my journey up the east coast. I’m headed to Georgia for a couple of days now before I start another pet sit in Charleston, South Carolina.  Keep an eye on my Instagram and Facebook feeds for pics!  

Until next time, keep living simply and intentionally to create a life of purpose with no regrets!

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Kelley Gatewood

Kelley Gatewood, the driving force behind Simply No Regrets, is on a mission to inspire women, particularly fellow empty nesters and women starting a new chapter in their lives, to live authentically and purposefully. Embracing a full time, nomadic lifestyle, Kelley travels the country solo in her SUV, combining pet sitting, volunteering, and camping for lodging. Her passion lies in empowering women to step out of their comfort zones, embodying simplicity and intentionality to create lives without regrets. As a coach and digital course creator, Kelley equips women with the confidence and resilience needed to pursue their dreams, passions, and bucket list adventures. Through her own journey of intentional living and daily boundary-pushing, Kelley leads by example, demonstrating the transformative power of authenticity and courage. Email Kelley to invite her to your podcast or blog as a guest, and join her in inspiring others to embrace a life of no regrets, filled with purpose, adventure, and empowerment.

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