On the Road Again – Goodbye, For Now, Florida

Hi Friends and Family,

We hope all is well in your worlds! For those that are having difficulties, please know that we keep you in our prayers.

Kenny and I just left our winter campground and are back on the road heading to Tucson, AZ,  to attend the wedding of Ken’s cousin Debe’s daughter Kayla. It should be quite the event as there are many family members attending. We are looking forward to seeing everyone again!

I am writing today to share some highlights from our time in Flagler Beach, FL, just in case you are ever in the area.

On a cool day, Kenny, Susan, Mark, Jackie, Billy, and I went to the Jacksonville Zoo. It was spectacular! I enjoyed it more than the Bronx or San Diego Zoo. They had both animal and garden exhibits and the park was laid out well. The enclosures were spacious and, for the most part, the animals were quite close to see and photograph. You can even feed the giraffes (for $2) which, of course, we did.  There were many animals I had never heard of and certainly never seen before! We strongly suggest that you visit Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens if you are ever in the area. (Note: Susan and Mark are our friends from Palm Coast and Jackie and Billy, my sister and brother-in-law, were vacationing in St. Augustine so they could join us.)

Giant Anteater
Pink Flamingos – they had orange flamingos too!
Southern Cassowary- reminded us of a Jurassic dinosaur
Debbie feeding the youngest giraffe in the exhibit – what long tongues they have!

Another fun time was going to Escape U, which is an Escape Room in St. Augustine. We went with Susan and Mark and, no, we did not escape! There are several different escape rooms each having their own theme. We choose the Save the Fleet room where we had to escape from three different rooms and then power up the lighthouse beacon in order to safely guide the fleet into port before the hurricane hits. Our team had to find and identify clues, locate keys, solve puzzles and work together to escape. Each of us had different ways of looking at things so all contributed to our partial success. We made it to the third room but we weren’t able to power up the beacon before our time ran out. Bummer! No worries, the game was fun and very challenging and I will certainly go to another escape room in the future. (Note: There are sometimes Groupons available so check that out before going.)

Pontoon Ride – Halifax River (L to R) – Sherry, Bob, Debbie, Jackie, Ken, Susan, Mark, Bill

We paddled several enjoyable kayak trips and our friends from Bulow, Sherry and Bob, were kind enough to take us out on the Halifax River in their pontoon boat. On that trip, we were treated to a brief show of dolphins playing near the boat! Thanks Bob and Sherry!! We traveled with Susan and Mark to High Springs, FL and had a very pleasant time kayaking on the Santa Fe River and exploring several of crystal clear springs that branch off from the river. We stayed at Ginnie Springs Outdoors Campground where many scuba divers stay. Ginnie Springs is very well known as there are several underwater caves for divers to explore. It’s a very nice campground and we hope to return sometime when it warmer and we can tube on the river.

Our most notable kayak trip was a day trip to Ocala, FL. There was supposed to be a group of us from the Bulow RV Resort but for various reasons, the group dwindled down to Susan and Mark and Kenny and I. The day had perfect weather, 75 degrees, sunny, with a bit of a breeze. We launched at Ray Wayside Park and paddled upstream against a moderate current for three hours, then turned around and had a lazy paddle back which only took an hour. Silver Springs River is known for their wild monkeys (Rhesus Macaques) which have inhabited this area for over 80 years and one of our goals was to see the monkeys.

Debbie, Kenny, and Mark rafting together for a photo op
Susan demonstrating how fast her Hobie can go
The forest and wetlands were stunning
My honey posing for me
First monkey we spotted on a private dock along the River

Short video – wait for it

On our paddle upstream we encountered many types of birds, a few alligators, lots of turtles, exotic flowers but no monkeys. We could hear them but couldn’t see them! We had pretty much given up on finding them, but on our return trip, there they were. There was a private dock with a boat that looked like it hadn’t been used in years. I would have preferred seeing them in their natural habitat but was still happy that we saw them. There were two monkeys close to the river’s edge then several more set back in the forest grooming each other. There was even a baby that we could see! Quite a successful day. (If you wish to find out how they got there, goggle National geographic FL monkeys.)

Safety Message – What was left out is that 30% of Rhesus Macaque carry herpes B virus which can kill (didn’t find that out until after our trip)

Our time at Bulow Park has been memorable. We walked a lot, golfed a bit, took some Salsa lessons, and generally relaxed. It was sad to say goodbye to our friends there. Most every night we have a “fire circle”. Those that are in the park area near us gather around our community fire ring. All bring their chairs and choice of a drink, to chatter, amuse each other, annoy each, and generally enjoy each other’s company. It is a gathering of friends and you never know exactly who will be there and never what the subject of the night may be. Discussion of politics is not allowed and there is always something that is “belly-laugh funny “that occurs. We love this crowd of Bulow friends. Thanks to all for the surprise going away party you threw for us. Pot luck is always so yummy! It was wonderful and also sad to have all in one place to say our goodbyes. See you guys November 2019! Safe travels, stay healthy!

These are our Bulow friends, all ages, all backgrounds, all with their own stories to tell. Patsy is missing from the group. At the time, she was organizing the food table but you need to know that she and Ronnie are at the heart of this group. 🥰

Until next time, we raise our glasses and toast to you:

May the leprechauns be near you,   🍀

To spread luck along your way. 🍀

And May all the Irish angels,            🍀

Smile upon you St. Patrick’s Day.             🍀

Irish Toast