Thursday, October 29, 2020

Vero Beach, Voting and a Change of Plans…


Leaving Flagler Beach, Florida we made a longer than normal drive of a bit over 150 miles to our next stop at Vero Beach, FL. We will be here for two nights as we plan to visit Sharon’s cousin John and his wife Penny who retired in Vero Beach after spending many a cold winter in Michigan.


John and Penny have been extremely careful, as we have, dealing with Covid so we decided to do some activities while paying attention to socially distancing and staying outside as much as possible. We pulled into Tanglewood Village Co-Op, a Passport America park which we have stayed at before.


When we first visited John and Penny they lived in a smallish condo which was too small for their liking, so they have since found a nice sized home in Vero Beach. It was fun walking around their beautiful neighborhood and seeing their new digs. Not to mention Penny made us a fabulous dinner. What a great day!


The next day we took a nice long 3 mile walk through the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge (the first NWR in America) and later decided to have dinner at the American Icon brewery which has a large outdoor venue. Not only did they have some good brews they had some pretty good food as I had a burger and Sharon had some great blackened mahi on top of her salad. It’s always fun to see John and Penny!


The next morning we headed further south but waited until after lunch since we were  driving less than 50 miles to the Corps of Engineers park, St Lucie South in Stuart, FL. We only planned to stay two nights and move on down to Key Largo. However, tropical moisture was slamming this area with heavy rains and worse there was a tropical disturbance impacting the weather in Key Largo.


Not knowing for sure what the tropical disturbance was going to do we added on a few days at St Lucie South when I discovered someone had cancelled on a waterfront site. Since this site would be $15 per night using our Senior National Parks Pass we added there and cancelled three nights for Key Largo. If we were going to have to sit in rain we might as well pay $35 per night less. We also definitely needed to watch the disturbance in the Caribbean to make sure it wasn’t going to completely wash out our Key Largo plans.


St Lucie South was a great place to wait out the storms. We discovered great walking from this park over to Phipps Park which has some boardwalks to stroll and view the birdlife in the area. We also were able to sneak in a short hike here and there between rain events including a nice one at Savannas Preserve State Park. And best of all was sitting in our front yard watching all the huge ships, sailboats and yachts making their way through the St Lucie Locks.


And while we were here, we voted!!! Don’t forget to vote!


NOTE:  We are currently in Key Largo, Florida

Sunday, October 25, 2020

A Boardwalk Hike, Beach Time and a Visitor!


We continue to enjoy our stay in Flagler Beach, Florida. Every morning we take a long walk from our campsite across the road over to the beach and check out the shells. This is a great beach for shells and even thought the surf was calm when we first arrived it has been a bit rougher each day.


During our long walks we sometimes spot some dolphins which is always a treat. One thing we like to do when walking the beach is to pick up trash, especially plastics. We have noticed this year that there is a lot less beach trash which makes us happy but nonetheless we can still usually gather a handful during our walks. At least it is one less handful of plastics on the beach…


Near our park is a nice boardwalk wandering through the mangrove swamps on the bay side We spotted lots of waterfowl on the boardwalk and I was even able to see a Clapper Rail (sorry, no picture) swimming with his/her feet across a small canal. It was a rare sighting indeed. These walks have sure been a nice distraction from all the Covid news and politics in our world right now.


Each morning I ride my bike over to the beach side of the park to watch the morning sunrise. Soaking it all in I head back to Sharon waking up so we can enjoy breakfast together. It has been so rejuvenating being here relaxing and savoring beach life.


One evening during happy hour at the park Sharon spotted a Gopher Tortoise munching on the grass behind our RV. It wasn’t until I watched it for a while and realized the turtle was a frequent visitor since the grass had been “mowed” shorter as compared to the grass closer to us. It must be a favorite location for happy hour food for the Tortoise.  Next I happened to glance over at one of the campground power pedestals and felt as if we might be being watched! See what I mean by looking at the picture below…


On weekdays we end each day with a happy hour at one of our favorite beach bars sitting in outdoor seating on the second deck looking out over the surf. All too soon, one happy hour at Oceanside Beach Bar would hail the end to our stay at Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area. Flagler Beach will always be one of our very favorite places to visit……

NOTE:  We are currently in Key Largo, Florida

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Back On the Beach in Florida…


We made the short 30 minute drive south and pulled into Walkabout RV Park for the weekend. It was nice to be able to stay at a Passport America park that allows half-priced weekend camping. With weekends becoming not only more expensive to camp they are also becoming quite scarce as more and more campers seem to be on the road.


The park is owned by a Kiwi couple (New Zealanders) and their children. We have stayed at their park several times over the years and it has been fun to watch how it has evolved into a really nice little park. We also love the chickens and ducks released most afternoons to roam the park and I even had one stay with me during happy hour outside the RV.


During our stay we decided to take a drive down to Fernandina Beach in Florida about an hour or so away. We haven't explored this area so with the weather a bit rainy we figured it would be a nice drive. We found that Fernandina Beach has some nice beaches and has a quaint little town for exploring. Luckily near the end of the day the sun came out so we stopped at the Sand Bar for happy hour on the beach.


Upon leaving Walkabout, our next stop on our road south was at one of our favorite state parks near Flagler Beach Florida, Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area. We will stay for five nights as we were lucky to pounce on someone's cancellation.As we were pulling into Flagler Beach there were some heavy rains off the coast so we hurried to set up.


After setting up we strolled through the park’s really nice and short nature trail on our way over to the beach. Usually the surf at Flagler Beach is  pretty strong but our first few days there was not much wave activity to speak of making the beach strolls quite pleasant.


As always we enjoyed looking though the tons of shells on this stretch of beach. We often walk the beach to the south from the park but occasionalyl will also head north. Few people are ever on this beautiful beach making the strolls quite peaceful. It sure was good to be back on the beach to hear the surf, the seagulls, smell the sea and watch the Ospreys and Brown Pelicans diving for food.


We even spotted numerous dolphins just offshore. I am not sure we have ever seen so many dolphins as we did one afternoon on the beach as there were hundreds of them. There must have been a plentiful supply of fish to feed on as there were many groups of them hunting the waters offshore. So happy are we that we decided to embrace this lifestyle where we can find a measure of peace in these tumultuous times.


NOTE:  We are currently in St Lucie South COE Park in Florida

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Finding RV Parks in Georgia…


We enjoyed our brief stay in Walterboro South Carolina but needed to move on south. I was hoping we could extend at Colleton State Park but that didn’t work out. We still have four nights to fill before our reservation at Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area at Flagler Beach in Florida.


As a result I had some planning to do. So my first place to look was on the Passport America site to see what was close by and I found a couple of prospects. First was the Southern Retreat RV Park in Brunswick, Georgia. We have stayed there before but it was called Golden Isles RV Park then.


Looking on the details on Passport America about the park it said they only honored Passport America rates Monday through Thursday. Golden Isles did the same but always let us stay through a weekend at the same rate when asked. We tried that with the new owners only to learn that things had changed and stays are limited to only one night on the PA rate. Well shucks!!!


I searched the  PA website again and found Walkabout RV Park a little further south in Woodbine, Georgia. We have also stayed there before but the last time we called they said that the sites they had available at the PA rate were full. With fingers crossed we called to inquire and found out they had availability for the weekend so we quickly booked Friday and Saturday nights.


Then we called Southern Retreat RV Park back up and booked Wednesday and Thursday. SO we ended up with two nights at 50% off due to PA and paid for one full night. We packed up, hit the road and pulled into Southern Retreat RV Park a few hours later.


We went touring one day while we were there and revisited some places we have been to before such as St. Simon’s Island, Fort Frederica and stopped at the Tipsy McSways in Brunswick for happy hour. It was as enjoyable this time around revisiting these sites as it was the first time we visited.


NOTE:  We are now at Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area in Florida for five nights.  

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Colleton State Park in South Carolina


As we pulled into Colleton State Park we were surprised at how small it was. Sites at this state park are fairly close to one another but at least we scored a nice pull through site.With few campers in this out of the way park we mostly had unobstructed views of the forest out our windshield instead of other campers which made it nice.


This park is mostly a park utilized by canoers and kayakers as it is on the Edisto River. The Edisto River is one of the longest free-flowing blackwater rivers in North America. The tannic acid of decaying leaves, branches and roots of the hardwood trees surrounding is where the water gets its black color from.


We discovered a short nature trail right beside our campsite making it pleasant to take morning strolls through the woods. Also there was s short boardwalk over to the Edisto River where boaters can easily put their watercraft into the river. There were lots of Pileated Woodpeckers in these woods making their loud and vocal calls.


One afternoon we took a scenic drive to see the countryside. We did have a planned stop at the Walterboro Wildlife Sanctuary near Walterboro SC. We hoped to get in some good hiking but sadly were limited since most of the boardwalks were in disrepair due to past hurricanes.


We still enjoyed our hike and we even found one on the boardwalks open. This allowed us better access into the tupelo swampland. It made for another great day for us on our Road of Retirement… 


NOTE:  We are now at Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area in Florida for five nights.  

Monday, October 5, 2020

Migrating South–A New Philosophy…


As the leaves have begun to show signs that fall and cooler weather have arrived, it is time for us to start our migration south. During normal years I would be excited about the trip planning to our winter destination but this year, with Covid-19 so prevalent, I am not so excited to plan this journey.


Why is that? Well for starters we are on the east coast and when we are on the east coast we like to explore the small towns and larger cities to enjoy what they have to offer. Out west we focus on hiking due to the abundance of  public lands available to discover nature’s beauty and solitude. We also like to visit local breweries everywhere we go to taste different craft beers and support local businesses while visiting.


With Covid-19 still holding the USA in its clutches these type of visits simply won’t happen for us. With me having a science background and education we take Covid-19 very seriously and do our best to avoid any situation in which we don’t feel as though we can be safe in. While we will still visit an occasional brewery they must have ample outdoor seating as we will not visit one with only indoor seating. Yes, we are very cautious.


With that in mind as we plan our travels south we will drive slightly longer distances and stay at places for shorter periods. Where we normally like to travel 100 to 150 miles we will stretch that to a couple hundred miles at a time between stops. Likewise we normally like to spend no less than 3 nights at any given location but now will often only spend 2 nights.We will stay longer at places which offer what we feel are safe activities during this pandemic. Oh, how glad we will be when this is all behind us.


Our first stop was one we have been to many times before as it is a nice distance away from Raleigh NC and easy to get into and out of. Bass Lake RV, a Passport America park, is under new ownership and now only takes Passport America for one night but we were able to use our Good Sam’s discount for the second night.


All we did while during our stay was to walk around the nearby lake, catch up on our laundry and watch some college football. Yes our team the Texas A&M Aggies took one on the chin from Alabama but it was to be expected. We are still avoiding laundromats by using our portable ZENY Portable Mini Twin Tub Washing Machine. We bought this back in March when the pandemic chased us out of laundromats and it has not only kept us safer but has pretty much paid for itself by now.

NOTE:  Our next stop for us will be Colleton State Park in South Carolina for three nights.  

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Our Stay in NC is Coming to a Close…


We discovered yet another great Disc Golf Venue at the Buckhorn Disc Golf Course. This course is adjacent to a lake used for cooling a Nuclear Power Plant nearby. Sharon and I played this one afternoon and as I have mentioned before North Carolina has some great scenic courses. With views of the lake from the heavily wooded Pine Forest one cannot help but enjoy this stroll through the woods.


As our last weekend arose for visiting with Katie and Brooks we made plans for a grand last meal. This evening’s menu was going to be Smoked Beef Brisket, Texas Chapel Hill sausage and Texas styled pinto beans. Brooks and Benny woke up early to get the brisket started after letting it sit overnight with a nice rub on it. Letting a rub sit overnight really intensifies the flavor and offers the opportunity to achieve a better “crust” on the outside of the brisket.


While the brisket was smoking its way to “perfectdom” under a constant 225-240 degree fire we decided to go off and play some disc golf. This time we played at the Apex Disc Golf Course, a really nice little course. Unfortunately the back nine is under construction for renovations in the park so we played the front nine twice but still had a great time. Benny, the Corgi, really enjoys these golf outings a lot.


Once back at the house we all watched a bit of football as our Fighting Texas Aggies had their season opener. Though there were high expectations I saw in their first game it might be a long season unless they can get going a bit faster. As the games were playing the brisket was cooking and after many hours it finally reached an internal temperature over 200 degrees Fahrenheit. After letting sit a bit, I sliced it up and dinner was served.


What a great way to end our last weekend here in Raleigh NC… with family and with a great meal!


With our departure date coming up this weekend we have finally made last minute plans to head south. Our next stop will be in Dillon SC for a couple of nights and then over to Colleton State Park for a few more nights. Next we will move to the Brunswick Georgia area for a couple more nights before spending five nights at Gamble Rogers State Park south of Flagler Beach. We plan to spend a little time in Florida visiting Sharon’s cousin John and his wife Penny before heading on over to South Padre Island in Texas for the winter months…


NOTE: We are currently in Raleigh, NC and plan to leave on October 2nd moving on over to Dillon SC next…