One Very Fine Day

image.jpeg
Entrance to Caves – Inside looking out

 

Hi friends and family!  We hope this post finds all well in your worlds. We are sending loving support and positive energy to anyone dealing with difficulties right now.

Kenny and I wish to share an amazing day with you.  It was an almost spiritual experience and a day full of wonder and happiness.

Part 1:  Cathedral Caverns

We arrived at a Cathedral Caverns State Park in Woodville, AL which is near Huntsville. Although not on the top ten of best things to do in AL (which it certainly should be!!), when I saw a brochure in our campground in Lillian, I was hooked.  With a bit of cajoling, Ken was on board.

The trip there was uneventful except for a “run-away-train” ride down a hair-raising decline that brought us to the park (route 431).  That is a story for another day.  But, RV buddies should take note to ensure that your trip there is coming in on an RV friendly route.

Surprisingly, aside from a ranger and his family, Ken, Uma and I were the only campers in the RV park.  The ranger helped us to get settled and provided us with information on the tours for the following day.  What a treat, he was actually going to be our tour guide!

On Thursday, we decided to sleep in and got tickets for the 11:00 tour.  Upon arrival, you feel quite small in the grand scheme of life – the entrance itself was incredible.  I am no longer concerned about squeezing through tight spaces. The ceiling of the entrance is 25 feet high and the width 128 feet wide.

Stepping into the twilight of the cavern, we began our journey with an introduction by our new camping buddy providing the history of this wonder of nature to the group of about 20 people.  Some basic background included history of the Cavern.  When the cavern was first commercialized, researchers found artifacts dating back as recent as 200 years ago to as long as 9,000 years!  The rock formations themselves are millions of years in the making.  Hard to fathom, right?

The temperature within the caves is rather pleasant especially with the heat of the day we visited and stays between 58 and 60 degrees year round.  An eight foot concrete pathway with handrails (as needed) meandered through the rooms and affords all visitors the ability to enjoy the radiance each new “room” provided.  You had to duck in several places but you didn’t have to crawl through tight quarters.  Strategically placed artificial lighting glorified the treasures each room held.  It is impossible to paint a vivid picture of the magical rock forests we explored.

The tour, lasting almost two hours, was resplendent- intricate rock formations carved out by Mother Nature over years of water running over limestone.  Each “room” we entered resulted in ohhs and ahhs that one couldn’t contain.  Our guide was a long time “caver”, researcher and actually quite entertaining.  He had scientific, historical and colorful stories about the Cavern.

Some highlights of the tour were:

  • Goliath – the largest stalagmite in the world;
  • Rock waterfall formed by actual previous waterfalls that carved the rock;
  • A 32 foot stalagmite which is 3″ in diameter at the base – grows at a 45 degree angle to the cave ceiling.  It is called “improbable” but nonetheless there it was;

and, the Piece de resistance (sorry I don’t have a French font)

  • the Cathedral for which the Cavern was named.

Entering the room which holds the Cathedral in darkness, our guide hits a switch.  The entire crowd gasps – the view is stunning – so spiritual – these are the words that came to mind while drinking in the rock formations that appear to present our group a large cathedral including an altar, church bells, an organ – the beauty of this room cannot be comprehended unless you are in the physical presence of the Cathedral.

Fun facts:

  • Although Native Indians occupied the cavern for about 7,000 years there is no evidence that they lived beyond the first two rooms – Either because the rooms were full of water or perhaps hidden until an act of nature opened the door to the additional rooms.
  • The man who purchased the cavern and opened it up for commercialization held Blue Grass concerts on Friday nights at the entrance to the cave – he sounds like he was quite the character but certainly a visionary!
  • Several movies were filmed in the Caverns.
image.jpeg
Stone Waterfall

 

image.jpeg
How many faces/figures can you see?  Similar to finding figures in clouds!

Part II:  Hiking in the State Park (See Ken’s picture above taken at the junction of all trails.)

Upon returning to our site, we changed to hiking shoes and headed off to nearby hiking trails within the park.  We took on several moderate hikes which added to our needed Fitbit steps, always a feel good thing.

Part III: Said the Raven Nevermore (See picture at top showing Ken’s first attempt at trying to rescue the Raven.)

After lunch, we took Uma for a walk though the primitive tenting/camping area.  For non-campers, primitive means there is no electricity, no water, no toilets – primitive! This area has some very large, private sites but, again, there were few people camping.

As we walked by the pond, splashing water caught our attention so we explored more closely.  A rather large bird, we think a raven, was stuck in the mud along the edge.  It was up to its breast but both wings were free.  As he flapped and struggled, we knew what had to be done.  Captain Ken to the rescue!  Action was required quickly as the poor bird was so tired that he went under the water several times each time struggling back to the surface by flapping its wings.

Initial attempts weren’t effective at all.  Ultimately, Kenny found the perfect Y-branch that he was able to gently maneuver in front of the raven, taking on the weight of the bird.  Carefully, placing another branch in the thick mud, the bird was able to grasp it with his feet to perch and rest.  Being the size of a big chicken or rooster with thick mud weighing it down, it was very difficult for Kenny to provide enough to leverage to pull the Raven out.  It was crystal clear that the bird was counting on Kenny to save him and clear to Kenny that the bird wanted his help.  Their eye contact told all.  A clear man/bird bond, there was not a chance that either would give up.  They were working together.

With a grand effort on Kenny’s part and a very grateful bird, he was released from the mud and flopped on to semi-dry land where he laid, out of danger but clearly without energy.  As we were uncertain whether he had injuries, we left him there to gain his strength.  We returned about 30 minutes later to check on him and were so happy to see that the Raven was up on the hill in the camping area walking/hopping around, preening his wings, getting the mud off.  He was fine!  Great rescue Kenny!!  What a rewarding occurrence!

Part IV:  Batty about Bats

When we returned to our site, we chatted with our ranger/camping buddy/tour guide and the subject went to bats.  He and I are batty about bats!  He told us about a cave nearby that housed about 200,000 bats and gave us directions.  It was dusk and they would be heading out to feed soon.  We immediately hopped in the car and headed to Sauta Cave National Wildlife Refuge which was about 10 minutes away.  So, at the end of our idyllic day, we watched the exit of over 200,000 bats – off to begin their hunt for dinner.  (Lessons learned:  bring an umbrella or wear a raincoat with a hood.)

What a full, glorious, exhausting day!  It goes down in history as one of the best days of our lives.  We are so grateful that we are able to be on this journey.

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

Never lie, steal, cheat or drink.  But if you must lie, lie in the arms of one you love; if you must steal, steal away from bad company; if you must cheat, cheat death.  And, if you must drink, drink in the moments that take your breath away.  Anonymous – a variation of an Old Irish Blessing

 

Misadventures of K, D, & U

Hi again family and friends!  We hope all is well in your worlds!  As we know that several of you are dealing with some very difficult situations, please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.

So it was time to leave FL and head off to the Southwest.  Our next stop was Ocala, FL, than after a two night stay, off to Chattahoochee, FL, then Lillian, AL.  For our RV friends, the camp we stayed at, Ocala RV Resort, boasted that we were in horse country so we, stupidity, assumed we would see some horse farms.  Wrong!  We were right off the highway.  But, it is a very sweet location with a small pond including ducks, turtles, and fish.  Nice place for families with children.

Of note, when you feed the ducks wait and watch.  Dun-dun, dun-dun, dun-dun, all of a sudden from all areas of the pond tiny heads appear  – turtles.   All are frantically swimming to ME!!!  This was a bit off-putting, sort of like prehistoric dinosaur heads popping up. There were hundreds and I do believe hundreds from all areas of the pond swimming to ME!!!  Surprising, the ducks had no interest.

Pretty cute at first.  Then, a bit creepy, then all was well as they just wanted the duck food and were gentle and a bit standoffish once they arrived.  Kids would love it as they would never feel threatened but very excited.  As an adult without knowledge of the turtles my thoughts were – were they snapping turtles and bite?  Do I have enough food to keep them at bay?

 

Our next stop in Chattahoochee, FL, was recently purchased and in the process of  rennovating the property.  It will be quite different when complete as they will have zip lining at the campsite.  New owner was very friendly and helpful. We were overnighting, just one night.  We head out of FL on Sunday and off we go, Kenny, Uma and I.  We are excited that we are leaving FL and heading west.  We are off to Lillian, AL, our next stop.

If you have been reading our blog, you know that, to date, all has been going smoothly.  Well, as we know, things never continue to go smoothly which is part of our adventure, right? Or misadventure?

Honestly, we weren’t surprised that after driving about 25 miles from Chattahoochchee, we had an alarm sound.  For those that don’t know, if a safety alarm sounds you have a very short time to get 14 tons of motor home off the road before the engine shuts off (less than a minute in our case).

Okay guys, this may seem tame occurring in daytime but it was daytime on a very popular highway with a speed limit of 70 MPH, it was scary.  Each passing car/truck rocked the RV.  Kenny got us off to the side as best he could, set up safety triangles, got on his safety vest and Uma and I took shelter on a hill, on a towel next to fire ant mounds!

imageIf  you are already bored with this post,  for RV folks, please read on for important information that may be useful to you in the future.

We were towed to Walmart – yes, that is correct a Walmart in Marianna, FL. (Sorry Keathley Klan) but we were happy to be in a safe place.  No auto repair shops were open but we were assured that they would tow us to a repair shop early Monday morning.

There are some things that I have to acknowledge during our Sunday day/evening in the Walmart parking lot:

  1. We were grateful to Walmart for allowing us to dry camp in their parking lot;
  2. A women’s shampoo/haircut/blow dry is $22.00 + tip – yup – I actually did this and got a really good cut!  Of course, it all depends on the stylist you get, right?;  and,
  3. It is allowable (legal – who knows?) that you can park a truck in the parking lot and sell puppies and rabbits.

Our first tow to Walmart resulted in a broken fog light; no big deal.  Our tow from Walmart to repair shop resulted in another broken fog light, a crack in the fiberglass front left side and our electric step gone forever.

We know that our adventures will also result in misadventures which we will have to embrace.  Grrrrrrr – so hard to embrace breakdowns.  Okay, so I am really rambling but for RV’ers important lessons can be learned so I will ramble on.

We belong to Good Sam Club Roadside Assistance, et al, and they sent us to a repair shop that they believed would fix our problem. After checking their website, Kenny had serious doubts.  But they towed us to a shop that I won’t disparage.  They tried very hard to help us.

I will try to paint a picture of this for you.  We were in a small FL town about 50 feet from a railroad track where freight trains ran regularly, blaring their horns, rocking our RV, not a problem except for their first run at 3:00 AM.

The repair shop was composed of southern gentlemen, respectful, gracious, and we were introduced to our life line auto mechanics – Danny-Ray, Lightening, and Killer.  Not making this up – all true.  They were great at normal repairs judging by how busy they were,  extremely  good at their craft, and local police had their vehicles serviced there.

Although Danny-Ray tested things on the RV early morning until end of each day, on Wednesday he and his boss threw up their arms and gave up without offering any suggestions on what we should do next.

Okay, we had been calm until then and now we were very concerned.  Kenny had to maneuver through dealing with various contacts,  Spartan (our chassis connection), Cummins and Allison (engine/transmission).  All were amazing and extremely customer focused.  Bottom line, Kenny contacted a mobile unit which arrived Thursday am and we were on our way Thursday afternoon.

image.jpegLessons learned RV’ers or future RV’ers:

Insist that the repair shop they are sending you to is a repair location that has the expertise to understand and deal with problems with your particular RV.  If you have concerns, keep all records so that if things go wrong, your expenses will be considered for reimbursement.  Good Sam’s Roadside Assistance has acknowledged our problems and, although, they wouldn’t allow a mobile unit on our first call, they are being supportive of getting our RV back to its original shape.

We arrived safely in Lillian, AL, staying in a quaint, sleepy KOA park advertised as being on the Gulf, with a beach which was a bit misrepresented .  A walk to the beach provided a great pier, if you had an inkling to fish or had a boat to launch but very brackish.  Certainly  not a place to swim.  And the beach, if you could call it a beach, is not a place one would put down a towel and stake a claim.

But, we would stay there again if we were to end up in that neck of the world.  Surprisingly gorgeous beaches within 20 minutes (either FL or AL).  Who would think that the AL coast would have pristine beaches?

The AL coast was perfect – Kenny and I got our Fitbit miles in walking the beach.  It was clear, warm water, not crowded.  RV’ers take note, stopping there is worth your time.

For bikers or hikers, please visit the Gulf Shores State Park.  We had a great bike ride.  For hard core bikers (Shelly and Christie/John and Elizabeth) the trails are probably too easy. For me, perhaps not Kenny, it was such a fun ride.  Gentle, somewhat challenging, but great coasting opportunities and this occurred in both directions.  (Elizabeth and Christie, don’t laugh at me!). Trails are well manicured and well marked so based on maps provided before you start out, you can determine how many miles you wish to travel.

I only saw butterflies and bunnies, but Kenny called me back to see a diamond back rattlesnake that he had seen that I had ridden past.  They are poisonous so Kenny’s motives of having me circle back were questionable.  Note to family and friends:  If I die of weird circumstances, please investigate.

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

Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey. – Babs Hoffman

 

 

 

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun with Dick and Jane and Bill and Jackie and Susan and Mark

Hi again friends and family!  We hope all is well in your worlds!

As noted in our last post, Bill & Jackie arrived and the week of their visit went by in a blur with the blending of both relaxing and fun adventures.  It was wonderful to see them again.  We (all) were a bit skeptical regarding our tight quarters but nothing to be concerned about there.  After all, we have shared much smaller space bc (before children) when we camped together in Charlestown, RI, in a tiny Shasta.  Brought back some great memories.

The KOA on Pine Island was pretty empty.  We were told that the Snowbirds usually left by the end of April.  The remaining campers called themselves the Survivors and lived there year round.  Pine Island is their home and they appear to be very happy living there.  It certainly is a great place to be!

The Survivors knew each other too well and their banter and teasing was entertainment in itself.  When in the pool, you can’t help but hear what everyone was saying so you had to get engaged in their silly conversations.  The four of us felt welcomed into their circle of friends.  All came to the pool with their noodles and floated around.  The first time I went there I thought I was interrupting a water aerobics class but they just laughed when I asked that question.  They said if it was, the leader wasn’t moving.

The temperature ran 80 – 90 degrees during our stay so the pool was refreshing and there was a hot tub as well.  We were told by the survivors that when the snowbirds were all there, the camp was hopping with crazy, fun activities but our time was very low key, quiet, and relaxing.  On our particular site, we weren’t allowed to have a camp fire but we were allowed to use the community fire pit by the pool which the four of us enjoyed.

When our friends from Palm Coast, Susan and Mark A., heard that Billy and Jackie were coming they made plans to join us on the weekend.  So, of course, it was time to select some fun activities.

A trip to the KOA laundry provided us with rows of brochures showing us various unique things to do in the area.  On Saturday morning, the six of us headed to Captain Steve’s Swamp Buggy Ride.  (Take a peek on line to see the website: captainstevesswampbuggy.com)  When speaking with him on the telephone, he made me promise that I would bring him a sandwich “and not a wimpy one either – did you see the size of me on our website”.  So, we were a bit surprised that our guide wasn’t Captain Steve but a member of his family, Victor.  Oh well, we ended up with more food for us to eat.

This particular swamp buggy tour is mentioned in Travel National Geographic as a must do.  Big Cypress National Preserve is 730,000 acres of freshwater Big Cypress Swamp and a place where you wouldn’t want to get lost or be in after dark.  Too many critters running around at night.

Our adventure was about a 3.5 hour swamp trip seeing whatever Mother Nature intended for us to see.  The buggy, running on tractor tires, stood about eight feet in the air – it was huge!  It is powered by a 1952 International 4-cyclinder engine.  Kenny was impressed with that although I don’t know what that means.  We loaded our cooler onto the buggy and off we went.  Although we didn’t see any panthers or bears, we saw numerous varieties of birds that I hadn’t seen before.  Susan, knowing all of them, provided us with their names and tidbits of information about each.  We were blessed with spotting three baby (yearling?) deer without their Momma and several alligators ranging from two to eight feet.  The ride brought us by all types of fauna and flora including huge blooming air plants.

And, along the way, Victor provided us entertaining tales of other trips and information on swamp country.   We were in the middle of no where and if the buggy had a breakdown it would be several hours before any help would be able to reach us.  No worries – no breakdowns.

Okay, so we didn’t see any bears or panthers but we did get the opportunity to DRIVE the buggy!!  Of course, all six of us wanted our turns.  And, it wasn’t like we were driving in a straight line on dry land.  We were driving the swamp on fun winding trails!  And before going back to our car, Victor put the peddle to the metal to show what the buggy would do.  Some mud flying – but who cared?  It was great fun to drive the buggy!  Honestly, I thought that was the best part of the trip.  Notice that a picture of Kenny driving is from within the buggy – there was no way any of us were getting out of the buggy to get a better shot.

image
Kenny concentrating on maneuvering through the swamp

On Sunday, Mother’s Day, I was a bit nostalgic, thinking about my traditional Mother’s Day which was kayaking down the Farmington River with Zoe, Aaron, Tristan, Dylan and Nikki and Dan.  I was a bit downcast until I spoke with Zoe and Nikki.  Both said the weather was bad, cold and dreary and, if I were home, we would never have gone kayaking in that type of weather.  I was almost happy to hear that.

This Mother’s Day, Bill drove all of us to Santibel and Captiva Island.  We went shelling at Lighthouse Beach.  There were millions (truly millions)  of shells to choose from.  Of interest, in one area, there were hundreds of conch washed up on the beach.  Those that appeared to be alive, we threw back in the ocean but we found out later that it is probably something they have adapted to over the years so they would have survived.  But on that day, I picked up several of those that were all dried up on the beach thinking they were dead.  I may have saved some but I may have been the murderer of others.  I definitely threw more back than I took.  In any case, I have a guilty conscious about that particular activity.

We had a late lunch on Captiva Island at the RC Otter.  We had wanted to go to the Bubble Room since everyone had raved about it but we were too late for lunch and too early for dinner.  RC Otter served up yummy lobster bisque and great Reuben’s.  All-in-all, made for a pleasant and satisfying Mother’s Day.  Of course, hearing from all three daughters madefor the happiest moments of the day.  We hope that all Mothers, of both children and animals, had a great day!

Our final adventure with Bill & Jackie was a trip to Seminole Casino where Bill & Jackie went home ahead of the game and Ken & I broke even.  Of course, Ken & I had to play the Game of Thrones slots.  With special bonus pop-ups, who wouldn’t want to play it?

Sadly, Bill & Jackie left Tuesday morning so it was back to K, D & U.  We are very much looking forward to future visits with the whole gang.

Because I missed kayaking, Ken & I rented a kayak on Wednesday.  We paddled out seeking dolphins and Manatees (which you can usually see in this location) but we didn’t see any.  We thoroughly enjoyed the calm waters as we paddled through the mangroves watching the antics of a variety birds (where is Susan A. when we need her?) that make their home in the area.

We spoke with our youngest daughter, K-T, on Mother’s Day and she asked us if we were ever going to leave FL.  We both laughed at that – we stayed longer than we had intended to, but, why rush through things when we are having so much fun.

But now it is time to head southwest.  We anticipate traveling along the coast of Alabama no later than Saturday, Sunday, Monday or whenever.  Retirement has had us adapt to a rather flexible schedule.

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

Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk.  That will teach you to keep your mouth shut. –   Ernest Hemingway

K, D, & U

 

 

 

 

Seeing clearly again

Hello to friends and family!

Well since it has been raining here for the first time since we’ve been on Pine Island, we thought it was a good time to get caught up.

As mentioned in our last post, Ken & I took a boat ride to Dry Tortugas National Park which is about 70 miles from Key West.  The boat ride was 2.5 hours each way and the seas were calm and flat, the day was sunny and warm/hot all of which made for a comfortable ride (AC inside and great sea breeze outside).  Upon arrival you can take a tour of the fort, snorkel, or relax on the beach.  Although we brought our snorkeling gear, we ended up exploring the fort for the majority of our time there.  We joined the 11:00 tour which was fascinating.  As a child, I didn’t pay too much attention to history but now Kenny and I are soaking it in.

Upon arrival had to get a standard tourist shot.
Upon arrival had to get a standard tourist shot.
From inside fort looking out view
From inside fort looking out view

Our tour guide was a history nut!  During the 1.5 hour tour, he gave us history from when Ponce de Leon discovered it in 1513 to when construction began in 1846, to current day – all without missing a beat!  After all of the effort in building the fort, it was never completed and never had any battles.  Too much information to get into the blog, you’d fall asleep, but we strongly suggest that if you ever get to Key West, take advantage of the trip there.  Your tour guide will keep you enthralled.

Beautiful architecture!

Our boat was Yankee Freedom and the trip fee included, park entry fee, breakfast, lunch, total of 5 hours of boat time, tour and snorkeling gear to use.  Drinks were available on the way home, the crew was friendly and fun.  If someone named Jeff conducts a tour of the fort (he works on the boat) be sure to sign up with him.  He was so passionate about the history that all were totally engaged and he had exceptionally funny tales about what happened there.

On Sunday, we hung out at Bahia Honda State Park Beach.  Boasted as the best beach in FL, we strongly disagree.  It is very nice but I guess we are spoiled by ME, HI, MA and other more beautiful beaches in FL.  It was a pristine sunny day.  The beach wasn’t overcrowded and the water refreshing.  But in order to get entirely wet you had to dunk in or sit down and splash your shoulders which would not be under water.

For our RV friends, we had tried to get a site there for our stay but they were booked solid.  After seeing the roads into the Park, we were happy we were at the Jolly Rogers. We would have had to unhitch our car and it would have been terribly difficult to get our RV through all of the winding roads.

On Monday, we left for Ft. Myers and stayed overnight at a Good Sam’s park called Lazy J.  The park was okay, the people nice but the only amenities being offered were laundry and sketchy wi-fi, it was a big disappointment considering we paid the same price as a KOA with all amenities.  We were there for only one night so it was fine.  We did see some adorable calves with their momma’s playing in the field nearby – they were fun to watch since they were prancing around like deer and ran over to the fence to say hi to Uma.  She didn’t know what they were and never barked at them and they had no clue what she was.

On Tuesday, ARE YOU BORED YET?, we went to Hudson, FL, to get our cloudy side windows replaced.  That was an interesting four days!  We camped in a parking lot with 10-12 other campers doing the same thing.  We did get out for some local walks but mostly stayed there.  We met interesting folks from all over the US and Canada.  There were crazy tales shared over sipping wine/beer in little gab groups early evening.  Although mostly a dull few days, the results were two huge side windows crystal clear for the FIRST TIME!  It is so nice to be able to see out the side windows and watch the world go by from both the front and the side windows.  We highly recommend Sun Coast for their professional workers and accommodating staff.

Of great importance, during that week we bought a satellite dish!  Hip, hip hooray!  We were missing our Game of Thrones, our guilty pleasure, and now we don’t have to.  For fans of the show, Jon Snow is alive AND Winter is Coming!

We’ve been at a KOA on Pine Island since last Sunday relaxing in the pool and culling down more “stuff” in the RV.  More donation boxes to drop off.  Yes, it is crazy that after 40+ days we are not yet completely organized.  We highly recommend this location.  There are no beaches on the island but the KOA is perfect.

This is our base for another week.  Right now, Kenny and I are sitting outside in the rain – protected by our awning of course – patiently awaiting the arrival of Bill and Jackie (Ken’s brother and our sister-in-law).  We are so excited that they are coming to visit with us for the next week or so.  Jackie and I met when we were 14 working on tobacco in Windsor. She and Bill met when he was living with Ken and I for a short time. And, how cool is that, we are now related!  We are looking forward to some fun adventures with them!

Happy Mothers Day to all moms.  Our usual Mom’s day was kayaking together on the Farmington River and we will most certainly be missing all on that day.  It was always one I certainly cherished as a special family day.  We miss our kids/grandkids desperately but are in contact with all weekly.  For those with kids local, hug them tight as we wish we could.

So, here are Bill and Jackie!!  Need to sign off.  We hope all is well in your worlds.  Until next time, we raise our wine glasses and toast to you:

Don’t wait out the storm, learn to dance in the rain.

K, D & U

P.S.  I have pictures but my IPhone isn’t communicating with my IPad again!  Need to spend two hours on the phone with an IPhone representative.  I will add some pictures to this post when I can find time to do this.  This has been an ongoing problem since my email changed.  GRRRR.

 

 

Downtime

Hello friends and family! We were too busy relaxing last week to write anything but we are on the road again so we have some time to get caught up.

We enjoyed Flager Beach so much that we extended our stay. Our view from the front windshield was the ocean.  Although the park was pretty full, there were very few people on the beach and at night we had bonfires in the sand right in front of our RV.   There were only two other groups having bonfires as far as the eye could see.

Our long lost friends, Susan and Mark, were kind enough to continue to be our tour guides and joined us at the end of our stay at Beverly Beach Resort (Flager).  They brought us to two amazing locations. The first location, Princess Place Preserve, is tucked away from the beaten path and is located on 1500 acres of breathtaking property.  You feel as if you stepped back in time.  There you can hike/walk on any of their well maintained trails. There are also equestrian and bike trails, canoeing/kayaking, fishing, and both equestrian and regular camping sites.  We had Uma off leash and we saw only four people on our trail all day.  We owned that trail!  Very secluded; a hidden gem.

For birders, there is a 40-year old bald eagle’s nest which contains one chick and two diligent parents. We didn’t see them but the chick is due to fly April 2016. The day was well spent walking, having a picnic lunch, and soaking in the beauty of the reserve.

On Friday, Susan and Mark brought Ken and I (and Uma, of course) to another hidden treasure, Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park, also located in Flager, which had been a plantation and mill. Susan and Mark took us on another trail there which was equally splendid to travel. The trunks of many of the trees were enormous! They must be hundreds of years old. When we had some rain, we “hid” under tree limbs to keep from getting too wet.   Later, we explored the ruins of the mill where there the history of the plantation was provided. We had to say our goodbyes to friends at the end of the day because we were heading out Melbourne.

image
Mark, Susan and Kenny on trail in Bulow

In addition to the time with friends, we took long walks along the empty, pristine beachfront. (We have to get our FitBit steps in!)  Oh, and Kenny wants everyone to know that our RV had a Spa Day when a mobile unit washed and detailed it.  Although ours is an older model, it looks pretty snappy!

For our RVing friends, we recommend the park we stayed in, the Beverly Beach Resort in Flager.  Thanks to Brian and Lisa D. for their recommendation.  We suggest that you stay across A1A rather than on the beachfront.  Although the view had spectacular sunrises, the salt spray pelted our RV and, believe it or not, within that week, both of our bike chains became so rusty that we had to have the chains cleaned up at a bike shop!  Conveniently, across the street is a snack shack that served everything from stuffed cabbage and knockwurst to fried Brie salad.  One-man-show though so you can’t be in a hurry.  Great food with great prices.  We highly recommend that you try it.  The owner/chef/server is very friendly and the food is not your normal snack shack fare.

On Saturday, we headed to Melbourne to visit some family and reconnect with Cindy and Lenny B., our CT camping buddies.

We met up with my second cousin’s wife and one of her sons, his fiancé, and their beautiful 7-month old beauty queen.  Right before leaving Melbourne, we had dinner with our friends from CT, Cindy and Lenny B., who happened to be in the area the same time as we were.

image
Paul, Melissa, and sweet baby Phoenix
image
Andrew, Sharon and Kenny with puppies – though hard to see

After visiting family and friends, we left Melbourne on Wednesday, stayed in Ft. Lauderdale overnight on our way to the Keys.  While in Ft. Lauderdale, we saw Kenny’s cousin Sharon and her son Andrew as well as their happy dachshunds, Eva and Maggie.

For fellow RVers, take note.  I would not recommend staying at the Kozy Kampers RV park in Ft. Lauderdale.

Our current location at the Jolly Roger in Marathon is spectacular!  You can snorkel right here and everything is no more than 1.5 hours from this base.  There is a very large Bark Park, you can fish off the pier, good size pool, clean, friendly fellow campers.  We are overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.  If I walk ten steps, I can be in turquoise water.

We have reservations on the Tortugas National Park Ferry (our second National Park of our adventure) on Saturday.  However, if you have more pre-planning time than we have had, set up your reservations.  We were lucky that there was a cancellation.

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

May you live as long as you want, may you never want as long as you live.

K, D, & U

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction to our Adventure

For those aware of our contest to name our blog, the winner is Lisa P., who has also helped us tremendously with the WordPress tool.  With her help, the blog is now up and running.  Sincere thanks to you!  There were many clever submittals but her submittal felt right for our trip.  She submitted the “wine”ding road” which we tweaked only slightly to R”wine”ding road.  For the purchase of the blog name, it had to be http://www.rwinedingroad.com.

Finally, after taking too many months to sell out home, completing the final upgrades on the RV and becoming official South Dakota full-time RVers, we left CT on 3/25/16 almost six months after our anticipated leave.

We have been delighted that Uma, our 9-year old Sheperd, is a great traveler!  She loves all of the new smells and isn’t a barker so can stay in the RV when the temperature is agreeable and we can’t take her with us.  We have been able to easily day-board her when needed and she even loves that.  What a huge relief for us that she is enjoying the ride.  However, she has taken over one of our couches as her own.  We are okay with that since the leather couch is easier to clean off the dog hair than our other couch which would be a magnet for dog hair.

image

Kenny’s upgrades (with help) have paid off.  The new floor is easy to clean (thanks Dan), the roof looks snappy and we won’t have to worry about any leaks anytime soon (thanks Bill, Brett, Kari, Jackie), new TV set-ups give the interior a definite upgrade and take up so little space (thanks Aaron, Nikki, Dan), and another thank you to Herbie and Patty for their overall support during all of our preparations for this trip.  The RV is running well and we will keep our fingers crossed that we won’t have any major issues moving forward.

Love, hugs, and kisses to our wonderful children and their spouse/significant others, our amazing grandchildren and strong support of our extended family and friends that made us feel that this trip is one we deserve even though we will all be separated for some time.  We think of everyone everyday and have our sappy, crying jags regularly missing all.  But we know now is the time to be selfish.  We both have our health and are happy for it.  Thanks to all for your support.

This initial blog will be wordy, but in going forward we hope to give you some insight to our trip but also provide you with information you’d like to know so please send us comments or questions you may have.

To date we have been traveling pretty much on a whim traveling down the East Coast visiting friends and family.  We are currently in FL where we will tentatively plan our year while we are here so stay tuned.

On our journey to FL, we stayed in Virginia Beach.  While there, we stayed in an amazing KOA campsite.  Of note, there are jets flying overhead all day with crazy maneuvers and the noise runs from 9 am until 9 – 10 pm.  Regardless, we loved it – so much fun to watch pilots having so much fun.

During this time we organized the RV more but did have some fun biking and hiking.  At Back Bay Wildlife Refuge, we took a boardwalk hike and the following day went biking with a picnic lunch on the beachfront in Virginia Beach.  Of the time in Virginia Beach, we enjoyed most our hike in First Landing State Park.  There were very few people around and with Spanish Moss draping gracefully from the trees we passed, it felt so magical and surreal.

Colonial Williamsburg was worth the trip.  A must if you can fit it into your vacation plans.  So much history, it was much like Sturbridge Village on steroids.  Check student vacations and stay away from summer, if possible.  It has become somewhat commercialized in the last five years, from what we understand.

We imagine that during the summer all areas we visited would be completely, crazy, overcrowded.  Regardless, we have now added Virginia Beach to our bucket list.  We’d love to stay on the beachfront with our entire family.  We’d provision for our time there just like a boat trip and never leave the property.  The beach is spectacular but traffic would be horrible during the best season!  Best to provision and stay put.

We just left  St. Augustine which was founded in 1565 and the history is so fascinating.  So much to see and do for any interest.  We suggest that you take the full trolley ride then determine what you wish to see. We took in the fort and the fountain of youth as well as some of the museums.  While visiting the Fountain of Youth, we drank water from the Fountain of Youth.  Alas, we still woke up with our wrinkles.

Today, we moved to a beachfront RV park in Flager where, for the next seven days, we are perusing our RV travel magazines, sipping cool alcoholic drinks, watching FL sunsets, having glorious campfires and mapping our next stops on Rwinedingroad.

We don’t know yet how our blog will evolve but if you are a future full-time RVer or travelling cross county, or want to know prices of places we stay, or issues we’ve had to address or can offer your suggestions of places to see or things to do in any areas we are moving to, we’d love to hear from you.

We have a new contest for anyone interested.  MaryEllen M gave us a Travelocity gnome and he’s travelling with us.  You will see pictures of him as we travel along.  He’s like the gnome in the movie Amelie but smaller.  Desperately, he needs a name.  Any suggestions you provide will be considered.  There are no monetary awards for naming him, just bragging rights and our acknowledgment on this blog.  We look forward to hearing from you.   He wasn’t feeling  well on our trip to Williamsburg or St. Augustine but he’s now on the mend.

When we post where we are headed, we’d love your suggestions of places to visit, restaurants, hiking or biking trails, anything at all that you think we’d enjoy on our journey.

Until next time, we lift our wine glasses to you and make a toast.

May your best of today be your worst of tomorrow.

K, D & U

 

 

 

 

 

RV

 

 

 

 

 

 

B