Our Move to the Suncoast

Well, it happened. After 25 years as Colorado residents, the Williams Family packed up our WellRoundedTravelers, sold most of our belongings (including the house), and headed south to warmer (hot?) pastures. As we explore our readers will learn much more about the Suncoast, but for now, I'll cover how we managed to get here in just 4 short weeks.

The Suncoast of Florida is basically the central-south Gulf Coast. Roughly running from Tampa south to Naples, and is highlighted by pristine white beaches, plenty of outdoor activities, and a populace that's slightly younger than most non-Floridians think.


We chose to relocate from the majestic mountains of Colorado to this area of Florida for a few reasons. First, as much as we love the snow, shoveling and plowing just so Angie could get to surgery for 7-8 months per year was getting a little old. Also, since my bride has been working more than full time in the OR for nearly 20 years, she's ready to put in part-time hours assisting surgeons, and more full-time hours of family time. Lastly, with my FT job, living in an area with better weather year-round just makes a bit more sense.


Ok, on to the adventure!


We moved from our house in Monument, CO two days before we sold it. That meant that we spent our final day at the house doing all the last-minute things you normally do. Painting, cleaning, moving, packing, and re-painting. It was just getting dark as we loaded up the GX-460 and trailer for our trip to the BaseCamp Cabin for the first part of our journey.

Moving from CO to Florida 

Since we were leaving Colorado for good (as permanent residents), we wanted to spend a couple of summer weeks enjoying our amazing cabin in the Collegiate Peaks area. Our BaseCamp cabin is located in the heart of Buena Vista, and even though we've explored the area for years, we really wanted to soak in the best time of year in Colorado a little more before the push South (and East).

 Exploring Buena vista colorado

After almost two weeks in BV, CO...the day finally came to move on. We actually had the cabin all ready for friends and family to use a day early, so instead of getting up before sunrise and pushing to Kansas, we decided to leave BV and stop over at Peterson AFB for the night.


This was a fitting final nights stay in Colorado though. You see, I originally  moved to Colorado from Michigan back in 1996 as a young US Air Force airman. For the first 9 months I lived in the centennial state, Peterson AFB was my home. It was actually quite surreal to spend the last hours in Colorado with my amazing family at the USAF location that helped start our grand Colorado adventure.

Last night at Peterson afb 

Our route to Florida was almost the longest way to get to the most southern state. Since we had an additional 12 days of slack time before we could officially move in, we decided to visit friends & family along the way. Our first stop was to be just outside Milwaukee, WI - but first we had to cross the Great Plains.


One benefit of 25+ years of military service is that we are entitled to excellent family lodging at most military installations, as long as they have room. This worked out well for us on this trip, since we first stayed at Ft. Riley in Kansas, and later had the opportunity to visit Moody AFB in Georgia.


This was the first time the WellRoundedTravelers ventured east out of Colorado. We've explored pretty much all points west of the Colorado Springs / Denver / Front Range area, but never east. While many Coloradoans don't see much point in traveling east, this trip was actually fairly interesting, especially when viewed through the eyes of our little explorers.


Driving this route really does show off how the central United States feeds America. Endless fields, farms, and families taking care of the land as it has been done for hundreds of years. Towns and cities are spotted along the route, spaced just about a days ride by horse & wagon. Yet we are able to cover entire states on the high-speed interstate in a matter of hours.


(See our Ultimate List for our must-have road trip items)

From Kansas, we pushed all the way through to the Mississippi River at the Iowa/Wisconsin/Illinois border. Just before crossing the river (the first time for our kids via car), we stopped at Veterans Memorial Plaza in Iowa. This is a very well done, modern memorial that includes Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF), the war that I served in. It was nice to talk about my past service with the kids and to illustrate all those that have sacrificed for our freedom.


We finally arrived in Oconomowoc for a few days with our long-time friends from Colorado. They moved back to WI from CO about 7 years ago, and have an amazing property near one of the many lakes in Wisconsin. It was really cool spending a couple of days exploring with them, and catching up on current and future adventures.

Having fun on the lake in Wisconsin


It was a relatively short drive from Oconomowoc down to the north Chicago area to visit Angies family. Her aunt and uncle and their children are always very accommodating and make us feel right at home.


We were able to spend some quality time hanging out at the local pool in addition to catching up on family news. We followed that day up with an amazing night exploring the neighborhood in the golf cart, watching the kids go crazy ion the playground, and enjoying cousin Matt's brand new custom wine cellar.

 Lake time in Michigan

Next stop after Illinois was back toward my roots in Michigan. Mom & John live in Onondaga, on the street I grew up visiting when we lived in the Detroit area. Due to the long drive from MI down to FL we only stayed one night, but it was still long enough to start a grease fire in the grill and almost burn down the deck.


We also went through some remaining items from my high school days in MI, that my mom has been storing for over 25 years. It's really great heading down memory lane every once in a while, and looking through old photos certainly helps show why I (and my awesome family) have such a great thirst for exploration.


From Michigan it was due south..quickly through Ohio and Kentucky and in to Tennessee for a short nights sleep. From just outside Knoxville we headed over to Chattanooga then due south toward Atlanta.

We managed to swing in for an hour to see an old USAF Reserves friend, just north of ATL. It's been at least 5 years since I last saw him, when I was headed back to Colorado with my mother in law's car as they were moving from FL to CO. Interesting how the times have changed.


Our final stop before becoming permanent Florida residents found us at Moody AFB in Georgia. Just north of the state line, this was the first time our family has been to this particular AFB and we had a great evening and a lovely morning checking out the excellent aircraft display. All loaded once again, we rolled south to our new life.


As so many people do, we stopped at the Welcome to Florida visitor center first thing, complete with the family photo under the sign.

We made it!


Of course, there was one more hotel night before we closed on the house the next day. So much excitement, so many plans. After years of pondering and months of planning, we had arrived to begin our new southern adventure!


Our new home base is located just east of the Sarasota-Bradenton International airport, so quick trips to various places will be easy to arrange. The new casa has a pool, plenty of land to take care of, and a lovely pond behind it. No we haven't seen any gators, yet.

We also have miles of trails in the neighborhood suitable for mountain biking and hiking, and we're located in south-central FL which gives us easy access to literally thousands of great adventures. Disneyworld can also be reached in less than 2 hours when the traffic cooperates.

Finally arrived on the Suncoast 

We're also just about 3 hours of Miami International Airport - which means we'll be able to jump off to Europe with direct flights pretty much any time we want. Not to mention the entire eastern seaboard is now just a few hours drive or a short flight away.


Let the next adventure begin!

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