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Tallahassee and the Florida Panhandle

January 23, 2006

It feels so good to be on the road again! We left Orlando on Thursday and headed up to my mother's house in Umatilla for one last mail stop before leaving. After saying our goodbye's, we continued north on 441 to I-75 North. Making that turn onto I-10 westbound was a great feeling. We've always wanted to go west, but have never had the opportunity.

It looked as though we were going to make it all the way to Tallahassee that night, so we started calling ahead to find a campground. The one that we preferred to stay at was booked so we called the next closest one. That campground was called Lakeside RV Park. Let me just say up front: I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS PARK TO ANYONE!!

We were arriving after their office closed, but they just said to put $28 in an envelope and in the overnight drop slot. No problem. After arriving, I was setting up the RV and Cricket went and dropped off the money as instructed. We then settled in for the night.

Our original plan was to stay for just one night and then go to our first choice for campgrounds. They had some openings for the next night and they offered more to do at the campground. The next morning however, we decided to just stay at Lakeside instead of moving the RV again just for one night. I mean they had full hookups, with cable TV and wi-fi. We went to the office to pay for a second night but nobody was there yet. So we decided to drive into Tallahassee to see the capital, and pay when we returned.

I'll tell you about Tallahassee in a moment, but I want to finish my thoughts on Lakeside RV Park. When we returned, I went back to the office to continue our stay. That's when the problems began. The lady in the office there said they never received our money in the drop box. Now we have a dilemma. We paid the money by cash, which was a mistake. But she says it wasn't there when she opened the office. And she said the price for the spot we were given was actually $34, not $28. Of course the woman we spoke to over the phone was off that day.

After a few minutes of going back and forth trying to debate the issue, I decided that I'd be willing to split the difference and pay an additional $14 to make up for what was lost and another $28 for another night. She would not agree to that. If we wanted to stay another night, we had to pay $34 for the previous night and another $34 for the next night. Up to this point I was calm. But that was when I lost it!

I didn't want to debate anymore. I wasn't about to stay anymore. I'd pay the $28 which THEY lost and we'd be out of there. And she still tried to tell me that I must pay the correct $34 price! I refused, and paid only the $28 which we were quoted over the phone and we left. Later I posted to the Open Roads Forum online about this incident. The last time I looked, over 300 people read that thread. So because they were not willing to split the $28, they probably lost more than that by other RV'ers not willing to stay there either.

Back to better things. Tallahassee's capital building was a lot different than all the other's we've seen. The original state building, which was still standing right behind the new one, looked like the typical capital building. It was 2-3 stories tall and topped off with a dome. The new one, built in the 1970's, was 22 stories. It wasn't one of the prettiest, but what we did like was the observation room on the 22nd floor! With windows all around you can see the entire city. After taking in the view, we stopped at the 5th floor on the way down. On that level was the gallery from which you could sit in to watch the Senate and House debates.

While we were there the legislature was not in session. However there were a bunch of college students holding a mock debate on abortion. So we watched the proceedings for a while and explained to the boys how it worked so they could understand what was going on.

On to the next stop. We left Tallahassee and continued a short drive west to the white sandy beaches of Topsail State Preserve. Topsail State Preserve is in the Florida panhandle just east of Destin. They have a beautiful RV park there with lots of space between campsites. And while the beaches may not be as pristine as before the hurricanes, they were still peaceful and relaxing. The sand was really soft and I wasn't able to ride my bike on it. But it did make for some great photos even though it was overcast and foggy. One morning I went out early to catch the sunrise. God sure knows how to paint a picture doesn't he?

Well so much for Florida. Today we're off to Alabama. Enjoy the rest of the photos and we'll see you out on the road.