Saturday, March 9, 2013


No pictures today. We were homeward bound on the last day of the trip (home a day early, actually). We just set our faces north and kept on keeping on.

Left Florence, SC, at 9:20am. We stopped about every hour for one thing or another until lunch at 1:00pm. Then it was another 2 1/4 hours to the farm. That's 204 miles in just under 6 hours including all stops.

More statistics:
     Trip length: 15 days
     Trip mileage: 1,675  (don't bother calculating miles per day,              
               we stopped in Palm City for several days)
     Fuel costs: $432.13 (prices all over the map from $3.87 to $4.39)
     Campgrounds: (1) $31.08 (We either parked at friend's and relative's houses or stayed free at Cracker Barrel --- for the cost of a meal)

Another trip is in the books. We probably won't head out again for a couple of months, but head out we will.

Friday, March 8, 2013


If this is Friday, it must be Savannah. After breakfast at McDonald's, Jean went in to a nearby hotel for information on Savannah. They gave her good information that let us drive directly to the Visitor Center. There we got RV parking (for a nominal fee), extensive information, and a marked map. With that knowledge, we headed out on foot.

Our first stop was the Ships and the Sea Museum (of course). The first floor had several very large models of ships that had some sort of Savannah connection. They are all the same scale, so we had a direct comparison of size.

One of the models was of the SS Savannah, a very early steam ship. In fact, it was the first steam vessel to cross the Atlantic (albeit mostly under sail). The room also contained a model of a steel-built river steamer from 1835. One hardly ever hears of steel ships before the Monitor and the Virginia (nee Merimac), so that was a surprise.

Outside in the garden, there were many robins and cedar waxwings feeding on holly berries. My they move fast!

Then we walked on down to the river and walked along some of the Riverwalk. We started out at one end with lunch in an outdoor cafe.

Across the street from the cafe was a fountain that featured the SS Savannah. As we watched, a city worker came along and put some green dye into the fountain. They make all the fountains spout green water for St. Patrick's Day, even though it is still over a week away. Lots of Irish in Savannah.

We walked along the waterfront for a while. The mood was festive, and the crowds were enjoying themselves. We didn't do the whole waterfront, but after a while turned back toward where the motorhome was parked.

 Savannah has lots of old buildings mixed in with the modern, but what interested Gene was that there were lots of "squares," or small parks. There are 21 in the old part of town, it seems like every couple of blocks.

The walk back to the Visitor Center got to be pretty long. We certainly got our exercise in today! But we got out of town before rush hour and scooted up the interstate to Florence, SC for the night. Homeward bound.


Back in tourist mode. We inquired in Cracker Barrel and learned how to get to the Visitor Information Center (it turns out there are several). We found free parking for the RV, got a map, and walked the three short blocks to the tourist area.

First things (history) first, we went to see the Castillio. This is a four-sided, star-type fort made of coquina, a local stone made of compressed shell. It is pretty good stuff, since the fort sustained 27 days of bombardment with minimal damage, and of the four men killed, three were killed when one of the fort's own guns burst upon firing.

The small tower-like structures on the corners of the bastions are sentry posts. They were originally painted red (the rest of the fort was painted white). There is one tall one, which was a signal tower, exchanging signals from a lookout station on the coast.

There are cannons on display in several sizes, some quite ornate. On Fridays they have firing demonstrations --- not using the old cannons.

 After an exhaustive look (too exhaustive for Jean) at the Castillio, we went through the tourist area, much of which dates back the the 17th and 18th century. It is laid out mostly for walking, and much of it is quite attractive. Only bought some chocolate (of course).

After a few hours, we got on A1A and headed for Jacksonville. Typical Florida oceanside. From J'ville, we jumped back on I-95 and booked for Savannah, arriving at another Cracker Barrel about 8:00. Ate supper in the restaurant, and had time to read a little before turning in.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Another exciting day. We got up early so that they could take the Roadtrek in at 8:30 to replace the automatic step. So we had half a day or so to cool our heels in the Waiting Area. So we checked our email; Gene looked at a few new Roadtreks and came to the conclusion that he still liked the Love Shack the best; we took a walk through a nearby shopping center and got throughly cold, we read; Gene tried to take a nap. Finally at about 1:30 the job was done and we now have a smoothly-working step.

We swallowed hard, signed the bill, and headed out --- to where? We decided to skip the rest of the trip plans (we had planned to explore the panhandle) and head back to the east coast. So after topping off at the cheapest diesel we had seen in days, we got back on I-4.

Skipping the boring routing details, we ended up in the late afternoon, driving up A1A toward St. Augustine. At the beginning, all the waterfront property was bought up and posted to keep everyone else out ("This is my waterfront, dammit!). But after a while the road ran right along the beach, just behind the dune. There was lots of wild Florida scrub jungle, often on both sides of the road.

Near sunset, we found a place to park and took a short walk down the beach. It was cold, and there was no one else as far as the eye could see. The beach here is long, straight, and fairly flat.

The only other life we saw were some sanderlings busily looking for lunch, and one larger shore bird that we couldn't identify. There were a couple of pelicans resting on the water offshore.

Gene thought a shell lit by the setting sun was interesting, so here it is.

Then we got back on the road, heading for the Cracker Barrel outside St. Augustine. We saw the sign from the interstate, but once we got off the interstate, we could no longer see the sign.  It took a lot of looking to find the tiny road that led to it. We are now parked at the back of the lot with two other RVs, a big Class A with a car in tow, and another Roadtrek (a 190). Looks like cold night ahead.


A quiet couple of days. We left Sebastian Inlet campground earlier than we might have in search of an internet signal and breakfast. We found breakfast eventually (about 11:15) in a crowded but interesting local eatery called Happy Toast. This mainly breakfast restaurant is owned by a Brazilian who goes back to Brazil for a month every June, taking supplies to distribute among the poor. There is a big jar on the bar where customers can contribute.

Our next stop of note was the Merritt Island Visitor Center. This is a small, but interesting wildlife museum. There is also a boardwalk out among the trees and along a pond. The trees are all heavy with Spanish moss. We could hear the calling of many birds, but there were few to be seen in the heavy forest.

We couldn't stay as long as we would have liked because we were eager to catch up with Rod and Cheryl, old friends of Jean's from Indiana whom she hadn't seen in 15 years. They were very glad to see us and we spent an interesting 24 hours with them.

Tuesday, they took us on a short tour of parts of New Smyrna Beach. The highlights of the tour were The Hub on Canal, an artist co-op that they have gotten very involved with.

The Hub is in an old building that has been many different things in its history. It contains several glass-fronted studios where artists in a wide range of disciplines from painting to writing produce beautiful things

One of the artists that we were impressed with does interesting work in fabrics. Jean was especially interested in a piece she did based on Barbara Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible.

There is also a courtyard that Rod converted from a weedy dump into a quiet place to rest, have lunch, or even a small event.

We also had lunch at a very busy beachside restaurant. Then off to see the condo they lived in when they first got to New Smyrna. It is now for sale. We almost wished we could buy it. We were both impressed with New Smyrna, a town that traces its history to before St. Augustine (albeit with a break, which keeps it from being the oldest town). It has an interesting old area, as well as a broad, flat beach.

After going back to the house and visiting some more, we reluctantly left to go on to Winter Garden. There we set up for the night at Leisure Time RV so we would be ready for an 8:30 appointment to have the automatic step repaired.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Most of a week has gone by in Palm City but it was time to bid adieu to Jean's family and head back up the coast. Following our usual habit, we drove up US1 rather than take the interstate. On our way out of the area we noted the prices for diesel were generally $4.09, but we didn't need any. Once we got up the road, away from the cities, the price went to about $4.25. Later, when we started getting low, we managed to find a station that was selling it for $4.15 so we grabbed it. I imagine tomorrow we will find it cheaper again.

We swung down by the beach in Ft. Pierce. The sand in this area is very white.

All along through this area the water was a lovely aquamarine color.We stopped to admire it and spotted what looked like a turtle nest, marked off. Lots of pelicans diving on the other side of the river.

Back on the road, we stopped for some lunch and shopping. While there, we got online and looked for inexpensive places to stop for the night. Not much luck there.

A little later we stopped at another beach. Cold and windy, there were very few people on the beach. Here they had this interesting fiberglass sculpture of a turtle. Thought that was pretty neat.

After finding what looked to be our best bet (in the big book) for parking for the night, we headed back to the beach (that's where the GPS sent us). It said to turn on Jungle Trail, so we did. Guess what? It turned out to be a jungle trail; a narrow dirt road with heavy, wild growth on both sides. We're having a real adventure.

After a while we ended up on A1A, which we could have gotten to by  a more boring route. As we were approaching our next turn, we went by Sebastian Inlet State Park. On a whim we pulled in and asked if they had any camp sites. As luck would have it, they had two. Usually you need to reserve a space in a Florida state park months in advance.

So we are in Sebastian Inlet tonight. After we got set up, we took a walk to look around. The temperature was pretty cold, low 50's (okay you northerners, 50 is cold for Florida) and it was blowing half a gale. There were a couple of kite surfers taking advantage of it out on the sound.

But after a few minutes, we headed back for the warm shelter of the Roadtrek. Took a short nap and had a hot supper. Another day (if somewhat cold) in Paradise.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


Still in Palm City. We are staying near the St. Lucie River, with the usual assortment of Florida wildlife. Pelicans are common, along with egrets, and a couple of different kinds of herons. Jean has seen a couple of wood storks.

Today we went to a flea market. a biiiiiiig flea market. It covers the area of a small farm. We saw a fair amount of used stuff, but it seemed to be mostly vendors. There was a lot of blister-packed merchandise.

Vendors ran the full gamut. There were lots of places to buy golf equipment and supplies, also cell phone accessories, kitchen stuff, etc. There was even a barber shop.

Perhaps the ultimate for a flea market was this new car.

We spent several hours there, and had lunch at the outdoor food court. Then we went to Walmart and got another case of water for the motorhome. We are still winterized because in another week we expect to be back in the frigid north for the remainder of the winter.

After our adventures in capitalism, we went back to the ranch and Jean did the laundry (a once-a-week chore) while Gene (the captain) took a nap to sleep off the exertions of flea-marketing.

Life on the road is so tough.

Friday, March 1, 2013


Today started out cool and cloudy. It turned into cold and nasty. But before it became nasty we went to a beach on Jupiter Island.

 The road to the beach went through a long arcade of banyan trees. We had driven through rows of live oaks before, but the banyans are so cool, and you don't see them much outside of southern Florida.

Approaching the beach, there were lots of sand pipers and a few sanderlings. One of the sand pipers had only one leg, but he was able to hop around and keep up with the rest.

While we were there a guy came down, carrying one of those stand-up paddle boards. There was a good deal of surf running, so it was interesting to see him work out beyond the break.

After a while of paddling outside the break, he came closer in and began surfing. In effect he was surfing with a long board.

He did pretty well .... most of the time.

After a while, we drove back in to Stuart to have lunch at Pelican Beach, our favorite waterfront restaurant. The food was good, but it was cold out on the deck (there is no indoor seating). We watched a boat out on the river. Sometimes he would go roaring up or down the river, and then he would shut down and just drift for a while.

Later, Anna went online and discovered that he was restoring oyster beds in the river, dumping in shell and oyster larvae.

After some shopping, we thankfully headed back to the ranch. Still no news from the insurance company (I have already authorized the repairs, so we are keeping our fingers crossed).