Navigating the Fulltime RV Waters Along the Rio-de-Ays

Spending a month on the Indian River has allowed us to learn quite a bit…including how it was that the river’s name came about.  More on that later….

Part of being a fulltime RVer is having to be able to deal with not having your tried and true services you are used to from back home.  While ‘experiencing new things’ is what we are hoping to accomplish on the road, there are some things we need and want that require us to think outside the box.  First and foremost is food.  That can be divided into two categories: groceries and restaurants.  In the grocery column, we had a great selection of supermarkets in Grand Rapids.  Out on the barrier island, our one and only large supermarket that is convenient to us is Publix.  That is a good thing, as Publix is a first rate chain.


In fact, our Publix store gained national attention when it sold one of the three winning Powerball tickets in the recent big  jackpot.  While we weren’t the winners, we did find it amusing to see all the satellite trucks in the parking lot that day.  All of the major networks and news organizations were there.  🙂

One thing we are enjoying here are a few specialty markets.  Our friends Rod and Mary pointed us in the direction of these gems.  The first (and most convenient) is the Melbourne Beach Supermarket.  While not truly what would we would call a ‘supermarket’ in the traditional chain store sense, this mom and pop store is a culinary dream come true.


If you like wine…which we do…this is your place!  There are three aisles devoted to it, along with weekend wine tasting.  🙂


While their selection of common dry goods is limited, their choices for specialty items like spices, oils and seasonings is outstanding!


They have a wide selection of olives; more than we have ever seen in one place.


There is also a great selection of meats and seafood available, including a weekly special that is unbelievable.  Two weeks ago, we purchased whole boneless, skinless, fresh chicken breasts for $1.59 a pound.  They were delishhhhh…

The other place Mary and Rod pointed us to is Downtown Produce. This market is located in West Melbourne, so it is more of a destination than a convenient store for us.


And while they do have a lot of fresh produce, that is certainly not their only focus.


They have a well stocked deli.  The day we were there, we saw a couple of firemen who stopped in to grab lunch, and there were several other service workers in the lot, so we assume they were dong the same. 


 A slice of cake, perhaps?


Or maybe a pastry?


They also had an extensive wine and beer selection, along with one of the better gluten free aisles we’ve come across.  Truly a delightful place.

With my food allergy, we tend to cook at home a lot.  But with eating out being a social experience, I’m usually able to find something at most every restaurant.  It’s not a big deal at all.  The reason I even bring it up is because of the delightful place we found in Melbourne called The Bald Strawberry.  It is a dedicated gluten free restaurant, complete with allergen free alcoholic beverages.


This may sound odd, but they make their sandwiches and pizzas on gluten free waffles.  They are yummy!  It is a family run eatery that seems to have a loyal following.

While we are on the subject of restaurants, we learned that friends from Michigan, Terry and Diane, were going to be in Orlando this week.  Diane and Diana used to teach together…and there was another friend (and Diane’s sister-in-law) named Diane who taught with them, just to confuse things.  🙂


Both Terry and Diane are recently retired, and they are here to share a Harry Potter weekend at Univesal Studios with their grandchildren. We met in Orlando at Bahama Breeze for lunch.  Before we left Michigan back in December, we met for breakfast in Byron Center.  We decided to aim for dinner in Vegas sometime in the future.  🙂

Another challenge for fulltime RVers is finding health care.  Dentistry has come up with a solution to this with the nationwide chain Aspen Dental.  We’ve yet to try them, but we know others who have with decent results.  Prescriptions are easily handled for us through Walgreens and CVS, and we know many people who use Walmart. We have yet to come up with a nationwide system of medical doctors (an opportunity exists!) but Diana came up with a solution for being away from our chiropractors back in Michigan.

The Joint is a nationwide chain of chiropractic offices that do not require appointments or X-rays.  They do not take insurance, but offer very low prices.  We found the Melbourne office to be very professional and modern, and the doctors were outstanding. They are open seven days a week.  We each received a barcoded key tag that allows us to go to any clinic in the country without filling out new paperwork.  Check them out at

So, back to how the Indian River got its name.  Diana was talking with her cousin Duane the other day about the lack of traffic on A1A on our barrier island, as compared to Gulf Boulevard on Estero Island at Fort Myers Beach on the other side of the state.  After she got off the phone she asked me, “What is the name of our barrier island?”  That little question led to a very interesting internet search.  It turns out that this island had been inhabited by an ancient tribe of natives for the 4000 years prior to Juan Ponce de Leon stepping ashore here on his expedition from Puerto Rico in 1513. The tribe was named Ays (pronounced Ah-ees) by the Spanish, although it is believed that Ays was the name of the chief.  It turns out the Ays and the Spanish didn’t gel, and the natives were eventually wiped out by the conquistadors….but not before Juan Ponce himself was the recipient of one of their poison arrows, eventually claiming his life.  Fast forward to the 21st century.  With the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s landing coming up in 2013, a local resident was pushing to have the yet unnamed barrier island hold the moniker Ponce de Leon Island.  When it came up to a vote in Cocoa Beach, one councilman asked the gentleman if he had given any consideration to the Ays people who preceded the Spanish.  He said he had, looked to both sides and said, “I don’t see any Indians standing here asking you for anything.” The councilman retorted “That’s because the Spanish killed them all.”  Thus began a contentious period, resulting in the island’s communities and the U.S. Board of Geographic Names stepping away and leaving the island without a name.  In the process of researching all of this, I discovered the origin of the name ‘Indian River’.  When the Spanish mapped the area, they named the water on the west side of the island ‘Rio de Ays’.  Roughly translated, it’s the River of the Ays Indians…or Indian River.

So next time someone sends you a box of Indian River citrus, you will know the history of the name.  🙂


Buy Indian River fruit from Amazon here

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32 thoughts on “Navigating the Fulltime RV Waters Along the Rio-de-Ays”

  1. Sounds like you’ve discovered some great shops and restaurants and are enjoying your winter in FL…. as you should. Are you getting much use of those kayaks? If we are going to spend more time along the coast, a kayak is on my wish list 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You had to go and say that, didn’t you. When we were at Blue Spring SP I saw all the people having fun and said to myself, maybe Jim & Diane have got the right idea — maybe Kayaks would be fun. Of course that idea lasted about 5 minutes and we realized we aren’t near Blue Spring very often — but at least you had me thinking — and now you tell me you haven’t had the kayaks off the roof. I’m thunderstruck. I’m heart broken. You’re an evil man, Jim, you tempt people with the dream of floating in kayak-bliss while not imbibing yourself… 🙂 (Yank, yank, yank on your limb)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know you’re joking, but it’s been a tad chilly, Peter. Plus, we’ve been re-grouping and taking care of business after our last few months in Michigan…so biking and hiking are good enough right now. We get far more use out of our bikes than we do from our kayaks….but we would never think of not having them, as they create an amazing experience for us when we use them. You bring up an interesting point, though. We’ve had several people get worked up about us not having the kayaks off the truck. We’ve owned them for over 20 years, so they are a huge part of our lives. They will get used in due time, but it will be on our terms when we do.

        If I were to suggest a tool for exercise for you and Peg, I’d go with bikes and/or a good pair of walking shoes and trekking poles….before I’d suggest kayaks. Even the inflatable kayaks that so many RVers use require some strenuous lifting and some serious cardio to inflate. Our are 39 pounds each, plus gear.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It struck me as humorous because most of the people I know who carry boats of some sort don’t get them off the roof very often. Our neighbor at Palmdale had a canoe on his roof and at the end of the season I asked him about how often he got the boat off the roof and even though he had gone fishing in waders, from friends boats, and from a commercial charter he had not taken HIS canoe off the roof all winter long — just carried it around.
        We had a canoe for a while — because I am such a fussy sitter (I never sit still and my last time in a kayak I ended up upside down in the water trying to keep my camera out of the water) if we ever got a boat I wouldn’t even consider a kayak. they always LOOK so appealing, but in practice I think about them and think about them and it never seems to me that it’s something we would do regularly enough to make it pay for US. I so envied the folks in the river the other day — that looked to be so calm and peaceful — and yet that was the first time I though that in months, and months even though we have had people with kayaks on their roofs at pretty much every place we’ve stayed this year.
        We do get out and walk. Shoes we have and while I see people using the poles I doubt that I’d use them. We have walking sticks that live in the basement which I also don’t use.

        I have lifted kayaks at Cabela’s to see how heavy they are —they are certainly lighter than any canoe! Maybe for me it just comes down to the idea that I always love boats but can’t bring myself to own one. We went through that with a sailboat once — had the checkbook out to buy a 25’ hunter and tore the check up with it 1/2 written because I finally came to terms with the fact that no matter how nice it looked — I couldn’t see us renting a slip and actually going down to the boat often enough to make the boat a real part of our life.
        Do you know what I mean? it’s a temptation — like an ice cream cone… Looks like fun, smells like fun (you know how a waffle cone smells when you walk by the store) but it’s not something you really NEED, and may even regret after buying it?????

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Finding grocery stores and restaurants in every new city can be great fun, as well as, a little aggravating. But in our travels back and forth across the country we have found that Kroger has s store in almost every area. While they are under a variety of different names, they all have the same Kroger products. I love finding neat specialty stores. Sounds like found some real gems:)

    Thanks for a little background history!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We sometimes struggle with the absence of some of our favorite groceries items when away from the Midwest. To the point where my sister has been kind enough to send us care packages now and then.
    Interesting how the Indian River name came about!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There is a lot of things to think about when you are full time RVers. I think finding supermarkets is kind of fun but dealing with doctors and dentists must be a bit more stressful. I’ve always wondered how do you deal with your mail for example ? Do you have a fixed address somewhere ?

    I love specialty supermarkets/shops. Here in the uk I’ve found some farm shops with a lot of handmade cheese, fresh meat from the farm and handmade preserves. It’s quite good because it’s quality products.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, there are mail forwarding companies, Gin. The biggest ones with the most services are located in the states that don’t have state income taxes: Florida, Texas and South Dakota. Depending on state laws, fulltime RVers can use the address to establish residency in that state. Most companies will open your mail if you request them to, so they can scan the contents and send it to you electronically. Amazingly, it is quite reasonable, depending on your level of mail. Banking has also gotten easier, as most transactions are able to be done online. Lab tests can be done through Quest Diagnostics nationwide (and I believe worldwide), so that is also easy.
      As you are a world traveler, you bring up an interesting point: most of these services we speak about as U.S. RVers are available worldwide. The Internet has definitely made it an exciting time to be alive! 🙂


      1. Oh this is such a great service ! I’m very impressed.

        As for the bank, yes, luckily, you can do most things online these days. As long as you have a reliable internet connexion. And yes, internet has brought a lot of freedom and some good things !

        Do you think the RV lifestyle is also popular in other places than in the US ? In my mind when I think about RV I automatically associate it with the US and the wild plains and national park 😉 But I’m totally biased 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I always like to find the local grocery stores when we travel. Looks like you found some good ones. Public is where I usually shop at home. Thank you for telling the history of the name Indian River. I have brought back many bags of grapefruit and oranges back to Georgia! I wish I had some right now.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We always used to stop at one of the citrus stands to stock up on the citrus. Our daughter used to live near Plant City and somehow we always missed the strawberry festival. Sounds like a lot of fun. I’m getting hungry thinking about all this fruit!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. You dont really think of the health care issues you might face when you are on the road all the time. These are all great tips for me to keep in mind as we approach retirement. Looks like you are having fun and learning a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. While we have found a Safeway in most places so far, I find I prefer the local, specialty stores now. I’ve found wonderful items and brands that are new to us – and usually great! That looks like a produce store Bill would really like 🙂 Great info on the Indian River

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Love your stories Jim.

    Now is the time that you find the flip-side of RV’ing. It’s wonderful to be out and away from the things you know, but you’re getting the opportunity to appreciate why people like being NEAR the things they know as well. Life gets easier if you know where you can find life’s little necessities.

    But you’re not going to find me fleeing to familiarity any time soon. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you head this way, plan on stopping into Melbourne Beach Supermarket. You may find some long sought-after spices or oils. The place is amazing. When we first saw it, we thought ‘Man, Peter would love this place!’

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was looking very carefully at your photos. I’m sure you’re right. I’ve been hoping that if we get over there it would be when there’s a couple days of nice weather in a row — with it being 160-ish miles I might be tempted to stay over some place rather than drive 350 in one day. Be nicer to do that when it would be more worth it.

        while I’m thinking about it — How long did you spend at the space center? I’m wondering if Mike would like that and how much time on his foot. It’s hard getting a straight answer from him about how long he wants to do various things — being a guy he doesn’t like to give away his weaknesses. And even Katy has a hard time knowing what he’s really up for.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. 9 AM to 5 PM. A portion of that was a bus ride out to the pad and the Saturn V Center…and then the bus ride back. Don’t pay for the extra tour…the bus ride is included with the regular admission. Also, do NOT miss the Atlantis and the Saturn V Center.

        I think there is a launch this Friday AM. Look on the KSC website.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. They are coming down 2/28 and because there’s a race in Daytona on that date Mike does not want to go East from Orlando that day — I think they are talking about Wed. that week — but a lot could change several times over. I’ll let them know how much time you spent there and let them decide if they still want to go, or how much time they want to spend there. That’s ‘their’ trip and we’ll just be chauffeurs for a few days. 🙂 And we’ll probably be exhausted by the time they leave!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I agree, having to find new grocery stores is both a challenge and exciting at the same time! Sometimes it works out – sometimes we are disappointed. We have liked Publix and Kroger. Haven’t had as much luck with the smaller Mom & Pop places like the ones you’ve found. Although, we have found many fresh seafood places here in New Orleans – not leaving tomorrow without a run to get shrimp!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have always liked Publix, Kelly, as they always seem to be fully stocked. We used to have Kroger in Michigan, but they are few and far between now….or at least we haven’t been where they are. Walmart is a disappointment to me, as I am so used to Meijer…which I believe has more variety.


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