Grassy Key, Florida

Day 32

Travel:

     We set out 6 initial destinations we wanted to achieve during our five year journey: The Florida Keys, Mt. Rushmore, Grand Canyon, Albuquerque, New Mexico (for the Hot Air Balloon Festival), Death Valley, and as far north you can go on paved roads toward the North Pole (not necessarly in that order).  Today, as we traveled the Overseas Highway, Florida, entering the Keys through Key Largo, we achieved the first of our destinations.

Of course, the first thing we did after setting up our site, was to eat frog legs, and key lime pie.

Technical Stuff:

West Palm Beach Florida to GrassyKey, Florida 168.9 miles

Travel Time: 4 hours 37 minutes

11.9 MPG

Diesel: $2.14

Boco Raton, Florida

Day 31

     The Gumbo Limbo Nature Center is a great place for kids. When Mary Martin, playing Peter Pan, looked into the camera and said “promise you won’t grow up”, I promised. Therefore I fit right in as a kid.

     The place is named after one of the dominant trees in the area. As we were walking down one of the nature trails and Barbara was describing the trees from the guidebook, I asked her if she new which one was the Gumbo Limbo? When she responded that she did not, I told her, “then it is this one.” Pointing to the tree that I happened to be standing next too. Then, from the guide, she described the tree as having a distinctive pealing red bark. Turned out that was the tree I was standing next too. Boy am I smart.

Steven and Barbara at Gumbo Limbo Tree

     The Center had an amazing aquarium from which you could view fish, turtles and and other sea creatures from above, as well as below.

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They had stingrays

Turtles

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even sea horses

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as well as fish I have never heard of

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Thirty Day Mark

Day 30

     It has now been 30 days living full time in our 5th Wheel, which we are now calling “The Sphinx” because of it’s size. Each of the 30 days has brought a new challenge, which we, for the most part, have overcome. I wanted to explain some of those challenges, and how we solved them, but Barbara says it would be too gross. Suffice it to say there is a lot to know about water conservation and waste management.

     For those that want to know: “did we make the right decision in giving up our 2,800 sq. ft. home on an acre of wooded countryside land for a 240 sq. ft. home on wheels?” YES. We have not regretted it for 1 minute. Despite the challenges and obstacles, we are having the time of our lives. Actually the challenges are part of the adventure. 

     We will be returning to Maryland for our granddaughter’s graduation from George Mason University in May, and then we will be flying to Alabama for a get together of Barbara’s family for a week’s vacation. I wanted to drive the Sphinx there, but Barbara said the time frame between Graduation and the Family get together was too short (another boxing match I lost).

     After Alabama, we will be attending the Maryland State Firemen’s Convention in Ocean City, Maryland, as I am still the Chairman of a Committee until June. After that, it is wherever the wind takes us.

     For now, we are continuing our travels in Florida.

Lake Worth, Florida

Day 29

Travel:

     Continuing our journey South toward the Florida Keys, we stayed at our first County Park Campground. John Prince Park in Lake Worth, Fl. The cost was much less than some of the other places we stayed, and the facilities much nicer. We stopped to spend time with some of my relatives, both here and in Sarasota. It is great being able to travel around the Country to see family. Sorry, no pictures of relatives. I don’t think they would appreciate having their mugs splashed over the internet.

Technical Stuff:

Arcadia, Fl. to Lake Worth, Fl. 168.8 miles

Time: 4 hours 37 minutes.

10.1 mpg

Bradenton, Florida

Day 28

Greetings from Day 28 (7) Day 28 (8)Mixon’s Grove, a Citrus Fruit Farm.

     Can’t visit Florida without visiting an Orange Grove. It turns out this is not the harvesting season. The orange juice I tasted was not as good as Bayside Skillet in Ocean City, Maryland, the best fresh squeezed orange juice I have ever tasted.

The Mixon Fruit Farm tour was given by a lifelong orange grower.

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It doesn’t matter the uniform

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They not only grow oranges, but other citrus fruits as well. Day 28 (19) Day 28 (10) Day 28 (9) Day 28 (6) Day 28 (5)

 

     Can you tell what they are? Neither can I. They are various oranges (including Valencia and Naval), lemons, limes, grapefruit, and something that is like a grapefruit, but is not. Day 28 (18)

They even had coconut trees.

     Part of the tour included rescued animals by Wildlife, Inc. they use part of the farm’s land for rehabilitation of the animals, and education of the public through a live exhibit.  

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Day 28 (13)They had baby alligators, python snake, Day 28 (14)Day 28 (15)Day 28 (16)raccoon, skunks,

hawks, a bob cat and even a hick turtle

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      We then walked through their gardens Day 28 (1)

 

 

 

To their fish pond.Day 28 (2) Day 28 (3)Where we were met with open mouths.

     These things are running around all over Florida. Day 28 (11)

 

 

 

     They are called Anoles, a harmless lizard. Would you like me to bring one home to you?

 

RBB&BC

Day 26

    OK, before I tell you, do you know what the title of this article means? I will give you a hint. We are in Sarasota Florida. No? How about a picture:

Day 26 (58)  Still no?

 

 

Now you know.

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      Yep. Ringling Brothers Barnum & Baily Circus Museum. We thought we would spend a couple hours here, then spend the rest of the day at Siesta Key, because I liked the name, and then watch the sunset.

     Wrong, we spend 6 hours on the Museum grounds before they kicked us out for closing. We never got to the Art Museum of John Ringling, which is supposed to be one of the best collections on the East Coast for European art.

We did get to see the Rose Garden: Day 26 (5) Day 26 (11) Day 26 (10)

And his home:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Look, I learned another new thing, a slide show.

RELEASE THE KRACKEN
Release the Kracken

As was expected, it was lavishly designed and furnished

with multicolored windows to give each room a different hue

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Simon says “everyone look up, but keep your mouth closed”.

We also visited the very cool Circus Museum:

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So that’s where animal crackers come from

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Not enough room to put up and down.

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Self Portrait in the funny mirror

 

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It is not easy being the last elephant (the view sucks).

 

 

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Eventually, they rode me out on a donkey

After being kicked out, we went to Lido Key. Lots of Birds.

We sat to relax in what happened to be feeding time for the pelicans.

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they would fly, looking for their fish, then dive straight down into the water to nail them.

Then eat them, take off, and repeat the process. Sorry you can’t hear Barbara doing the sound effects for the dive:

— yee-alm —- boom.

Meanwhile, down a little way, sail boats were coming in for the evening, when one tipped over

They eventually righted themselves and made it safely to shore.

And so ends another broadcast day.

 

 

But wait, here is a candid shot of Barbara, don’t tell her I took this:Day 26 (26)

 

 

Old Town Arcadia, Florida

Added picture of Barbara Singing at the Opera House in Arcadia, Florida. Not sure how this reblog post works, yet.

The 5th Wheel

Day 23

The old town of Arcadia was established in 1886._DSC0792      Typical of towns at that time, it had shops, general and special stores, entertainment and necessities. Some of the original buildings are still standing, with most of them converted into antique shops. Day 24 (5)     The most impressive was the Opera House. Now a museum and antique shop, it has a lot of the original items, including stage scenes, projectors, spotlights, and posters.

     I had a photo of Barbara singing on the Opera House stage. I think she founded it and deleted it. Ah Ha, found it.Barbara

     There was a QR code that brought me to a self guided tour and history of Arcadia. If you are interested (and why would you be?) here is the link: http://selfguidedtour.historicdesoto.org/

View original post

Old Town Arcadia, Florida

Day 23

The old town of Arcadia was established in 1886._DSC0792      Typical of towns at that time, it had shops, general and special stores, entertainment and necessities. Some of the original buildings are still standing, with most of them converted into antique shops. Day 24 (5)     The most impressive was the Opera House. Now a museum and antique shop, it has a lot of the original items, including stage scenes, projectors, spotlights, and posters.

     I had a photo of Barbara singing on the Opera House stage. I think she founded it and deleted it. Ah Ha, found it.Barbara

     There was a QR code that brought me to a self guided tour and history of Arcadia. If you are interested (and why would you be?) here is the link: http://selfguidedtour.historicdesoto.org/

Arcadia, Florida

Day 22

Travel

     We have been very fortunate that the 7 RV parks we have stayed the last 22 days have been so accommodating. When we stayed at Southern Palms RV resort, the owner had one of her employees guide us to the site and gave Barbara tips on how to back me in. Hopefully she won’t back me off a cliff again, leaving all 6 truck wheels off the ground.

     At the one site, I don’t know why the woman was so upset. First her child was clearly in the campsite designated for me, and second, she had 4 others. One of the sites boarded next to a church. I was surprised how a grave marker from the 1600’s crumbled so easily when tapped by the RV.

     Sometimes we get our signals crossed. Fortunately, Barbara screams loud, and I didn’t hit her.

Technical Stuff:

We pulled into a truck stop to stretch our legs. Can you believe they have handicapped parking?Day 24 (1)

Eustis, Fl. to Arcadia, Fl. = 142.7 miles

10.0 mpg

3 hours 55 minutes

Diesel: $2.00 per gallon

 

Eustis, Florida

Day 18 –  19 – 20

Travel:

Breaking down to leave, the fighters came back to laugh. I’m glad I can provide them with entertainment.Day 20 (1)

 

 

 

 

     After setting up camp in Eustis, Florida, went to Mt. Dora, which we climbed to the top. Not much of a view. Met with friends from Baltimore who live here  part of the year. The husband (in the blue shirt) is on a lawn bowling team. Day 20 (2) Day 20 (3)

Don't let the shoe leave the mat!Don’t let the shoe leave the mat!

Traveled to DeLand, Florida, where we took a boat ride on the St Johns River

and saw marvelous birds, (click on picture to view, and again for a better view.)

 

Day 20 (18) Day 20 (21) Day 20 (20) Day 20 (17) Day 20 (15) Day 20 (14) Day 20 (12) Day 20 (11) Day 20 (8) Day 20 (5)

turtles,

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and, of course the Florida staple, alligators.Day 20 (19) Day 20 (6) Day 20 (7)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

we even saw some baby alligators: Day 20 (13)

 

 

 

 

Technical Stuff:

Jacksonville, Fl to Eustis, Fl: 155.7 miles

10.8 mpg

3 hours 21 minutes

Amelia Island, Florida

Day 17

Travel:

     Fort Clinch is another one of those forts that never fired a shot, or received a shot. Built about 20 years before the Civil War, the Southerners never bothered to put the cannons in (probably why they lost the war. Plan ahead guys, if your going to poke the bear, be prepared). At the beginning of the Civil War the Confederates occupied the fort. When they heard that a regiment of Union soldiers were sailing down from New York, they abandoned the fort, allowing the Union troops to enter without resistance.  The Union Soldiers fortified the fort with cannons and other defenses, but never were engaged by the Confederates.Day 17 (7)

 

They had a unique flagDay 17 (18)

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Barbara really goes for the guys in uniform.

 

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     Also on  Amelia Island is the Fernandina Historic District. This was a popular area from the end of the Civil War until the first decade of the 1900’s. The wealthy came from New York to take advantage of the South’s loss.

Day 17 (34)

Barbara chats with one of the locals.

They had some neat Inns:

Day 17 (37) Day 17 (38)

 

Peg leg Mike was there also, but left his parrot home.  Day 17 (33) 

Technical Stuff:

Diesel: $1.88 gallon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jacksonville, Florida

Day 16

Travel:

     Left South Carolina for our next stop in the State of Florida. As we were departing, the fighter jets flew over again to laugh.  Day 20 (1)

I am glad I can bring such joy to their lives.

We have arrived in the Sunshine State. So far, it has lived up to it’s name.

Technical Stuff:

St. Helena, SC to Jacksonville, Fl: 173.7 miles

11.8 mpg (after all, it is downhill)

3 hours 53 minutes

Port Royal, South Carolina

Day 15

     On our way to Port Royal, we stopped at Fort Fremont on St. Helena Island, South Carolina. It was built at the beginning of the Spanish-American War to protect the U.S. Naval Station in Port Royal.

Day 15 (1)Day 15 (29)

 

    Since no part of the Spanish-American War took place in the States, the fort never engaged in battle.

    Port Royal was a disappointment, as I expected stories of Pirates and Swashbucklers.

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     Being the first settlement on the continent, I also expected elegant homes.

Day 15 (4) They did a poor job of upkeep.

 

 

 

 However, there was an oyster festival going on, and I got to shuck my first oyster. A skill omitted in my traditional upbringing. Day 15 (6)

 

 

 

 

On our way back home, it is weird calling a trailer home,  we stopped at The Cypress Wetlands of Port Royal.

Day 15 (8) Day 15 (10) Day 15 (17)It was a green goo, but had some neat birds. Click on a picture for an up close and personal view.

Day 15 (9) Day 15 (19) Day 15 (27) Day 15 (25)

Beaufort, South Carolina

Day 14

      In our travels south this is the first place we encountered Spanish Moss, an air feeding plant or epiphyteIt, that grows hanging from tree branches. It absorbs nutrients from the air and rain. It use to be called an air plant.

day 14 (12) day 14 (13) day 14 (14)

     Where did Spanish Moss come from you ask? Well, I am glad to tell you:

     We are in the Beaufort area of South Carolina, where, according to legend, is where Spanish moss originated way before the English settlers arrived in the 1600’s.

     In an Indian village, not far from where I am standing,  a Spanish soldier fell in love at first sight with an Indian chief’s favorite daughter. Though the chieftain forbade the couple to see each other, the Spaniard was too love struck to stop meeting the maiden in secret. The father found them out and ordered his braves to tie the Spaniard high up in the top of an ancient oak tree. The Spaniard had only to disavow his love to be freed, but he steadfastly refused. Guards were posted to keep anyone — the chief’s daughter above all — from giving food or water to the poor Spaniard.

     The Spaniard grew weaker and weaker, but he still would not renounce his love for the girl. Near the end, the Chief tried to persuade him once more to stay away from his daughter. The Spaniard answered that not only would he refuse to disavow his love, but that his love would continue to grow even after death. When at last the Spaniard died, the chief kept the body tied up in the tree as a warning to any other would-be suitors.

     Before long, the Indians began to notice that the Spaniard’s beard continued to grow. The Indian maiden refused ever to take a husband — unless the Spaniard’s beard died and vanished from the tree. As the years went by, the beard only grew stronger and longer, covering trees far from the Indian maiden’s village. Legend says that when the Spanish Moss is gone, the Spaniard’s love will have finally died with it.

     And now you know the rest of the story.

Hunting Island, South Carolina

Day 13

Finally, we are South enough that flowers are blooming.

     Another beautiful day. Actually every day is a beautiful day when you’re retired, even when it is windy and raining. Although it was a sunny, clear, cloudless sky day; as I write this at 2 in the morning, it is pouring. What a beautiful day.

     Exploring the Islands, we went to Hunting Island State Park for some hiking. Plenty of wildlife. Day 13 (18)Don’t step on the alligator.

Do you recognize the diamond back turtle?Day 13 (2)

We went out on the pier, then into the woods for a hike across the river to the Atlantic Ocean.

It was so windy the red flag warning was displayed.Day 13 (17)

     Down by the ocean was the graveyard of all the debris of the previous storms. It was neat.

We next went to the lighthouse of Hunting Island.Day 13 (20) Day 13 (19) Day 13 (22) Day 13 (21)

     We rounded out the day with a leisurely dinner on Lady’s Island, where we ate seafood that slept the previous night in the Beaufort River. The view from our table was exquisite.Day 13 (1)

St. Helena Island, South Carolina

Day 12

Travel

     Each day brings new challenges. Most RVs have what is referred to as an RV refrigerator. It is a small 9 cu. ft. refrigerator that is run by the batteries of the RV (commonly referred to as “house batteries” to distinguish them from the car or truck batteries), and propane. Yes, propane. The RV fridge does not use a compressor, like your home fridge, but a method of cooling called “absorption”. This uses the heat of the propane flame to cause a chemical reaction that absorbs heat from the refrigerator box, leaving cold.

     The advantages of this type of box is it weighs less, uses 12 volts and propane to run, which means you do not have to be hooked up to electricity. The disadvantage is that they are small, and propane has trouble running a flame at high altitude because less oxygen.

     We decided that we wanted a full size “residential” refrigerator for both size and the ability to use a compressor to cool, rather than absorption. No problem at altitude. The disadvantage is they weigh a lot, and only run on 110 volts. This means I need to be hooked up to power. For traveling down the road, or camping without power (called boon-docking) I need electricity. This is achieved by installing an inverter. This device transfers 12 volts from the house batteries to 110 current. I also can use my 5.5 kilowatt generator to power the refrigerator._DSC0508

_DSC0507
This is 20 cu. ft. My one at home is 18 cu. ft.

     The point of this rambling (after all, I am retired with nothing to do for the next 5 years) is to describe to you the following:

     Our fridge comes with an ice maker and filter cooled water. We have now exhausted the ice we brought and decided to hook up the ice maker. First, I went to the water dispenser to prime it. Pushed button. Nothing. I figured the dealer probably did not want to turn on the water to the fridge until delivered. No problem. Went to turn water on, can’t find valve. Looked behind unit, where it is on my house fridge. Not there. Looked under sink, where most of the water connections enter the coach. Not there. Is this beginning to sound like the cable/antenna switch? After a day and a half of searching, I found the turn on valve OUTSIDE the coach, by the rear spare tire. Why I did not think to look there first is beyond me.

     St. Helena Island is one of 200 islands, collectively known as the “Sea Islands”, off the main cost of South Carolina. They include Port Royal, of pirate fame, and Parris Island, close to the heart of all marines. Not far from us is the US Marine Corps Air Station. Fighter jets were constantly flying overhead. At first I thought they were just doing maneuvers, then I realized, one flew over our RV site and went back and told the others of our attempts to set up camp. The others then came to see and laugh for themselves.

Technical Stuff:

Florence to St. Helena Island 171.2 miles

10.9 mpg

3 hours 37 minutes

Florence, South Carolina

Day 10 & 11

Travel:

    Florence, South Carolina, is a dinky little town, which appears to be totally under some sort of construction. We parked in the RV campground, set up our unit and took off to get some dinner at places recommended by our hostess. The first place was closed. The second place we went to seek our supper was completely blocked by construction. Finally we were  able to get our dinner at Jersey Boys’ Pizza. A small place with a few table and chairs, but mostly catering to take out. They had the best pizza. We ordered a 16″ cheese steak pizza, which appeared to be much larger. I guess Domino’s uses a different measurement for their 16″. Two pieces, and I was full. The rest is now a midnight snack waiting to happen.

Technical Stuff: 

Four Oaks to Florence 123 miles

10.6 mpg

2 hours 41 minutes

Diesel: 1.84 gallon

Raleigh Oaks RV Resort

Day 8 & 9

     We spent 3 nights at Raleigh Oaks RV Resort. The current owners purchased the resort from the KOA organization, but it is now their private resort no longer associated with KOA (Kampgrounds of America), a national organization of camp grounds.

_DSC0453

The Campground has 150 RV sites, 30 cottages,_DSC0444 _DSC0447 2 full size swimming pools, a spa, fitness center, numerous game courts as well as a tennis court. Obviously, this time of year, a lot of the amenities were closed. They serve complimentary coffee, juice and waffles each morning. The employees could not do enough for you.

Most of the sites are pull through, no backing up. All had picnic table, fire pit, water, electric, and waste disposable._DSC0442

Like most RV parks, the sites are close together._DSC0443

 

 

 

 

Technical Stuff:

     When we hooked up our cable to the park’s cable outlet at our first RV park, Williamsburg, VA., to our new 48″ HD TV, the station’s came in with lots of static. The stations over our roof antenna, came in clearer, but some still with snow. When we hooked up our cable to the outlet at the Raleigh Oaks Resort, the same thing. We asked the host if their was a problem with their cable, they asked if I turned on my booster. I did not know I had a booster, much less as how to turn it on. I had no idea even where it was.

     She was kind enough to send over one of her employees with a lot of experience with RVs. He was at my RV before I could walk from the resort office back. He pointed out that each RV is different, but each has a switch which must be activated to transfer the signal to the TV from antenna to cable and back.

     He first looked at my TV, not their, next at the wiring coming into the RV, not there, next at the bedroom TV, not there. I informed him there was a box with switches down low behind the main stereo system, not there.   I then remembered that one of the cabinets below and to the left side of the TV had a box with a cable. That is where it was. It was a black small push button, mounted on a black box in a dark cabinet. I could have looked for a year and not found it.

     How many other things are lurking in hidden places on this unit that I don’t even know enough to ask where they are?