The first of December saw us back on the road, heading south. We got off to a later start than normal though, tying up some loose ends before we left the area. Years ago, we had our wills and other legal documents drawn up while we were still Alabama residents. We finally got around to getting them all updated now that we’ve been Florida residents (for three years!) Luckily, our Alabama attorney was able to make all the changes, much easier because she had all the originals in her computer database. What we didn’t count on was that signing all that stuff was almost as bad as when you buy a new home. We were there almost three hours, reviewing and signing all our documents.
finally hitched up our home on wheels and hit the road around noon, with no
clear destination in mind for that evening.
Our plan was to get as close to the Florida state line as possible before
stopping for the night. We made it
as far as Dothan, Alabama, stopping there for a couple of reasons.
#1 - The sun was starting to set by this time and all the holiday shoppers were out in
force, some of whom had left their brains and common sense at home.
Several cars pulled right in front of us, causing Larry to slam the
brakes on. Have these people no
clue how long it takes almost 30,000 pounds to stop!!!
After a couple of these episodes, we were ready to get off the road,
which led us to...
#2 - Conveniently,
there’s a Camping World in Dothan.
Some Camping World locations allow you to overnight there, so here was a
convenient place to stop (and a chance to leave some of our money buying some RV
stuff.) This particular Camping
World store is partnered with Emerald Coast RV, an RV dealership. What a surprise to find out they had water and electric
pull-through sites available for their customers and we were welcome to park in
one. The weather was comfortable
enough that we weren’t going to need electricity, so we opted to dry camp in
another part of their lot, leaving the sites to others.
after a good night’s sleep, we got back on the road – traffic was better in
the morning. Our destination was
Pelican Roost, the military campground at Mayport Naval Station in Jacksonville,
one of our favorite places to stop. As
we have at our last stops there, we were assigned a pull-through site overlooking
the waterway – life is good!
of our week’s stay at Mayport was doing mundane things--like laundry, washing
the rig and the truck, stocking up on groceries, and the like.
We took a couple of long walks on the beach, which was practically
deserted. Shelley even felt up to
walking with us. Her days of
walking several miles with us are history but she managed almost two miles with
us one time.
beautiful sunny day we packed a lunch and drove to the Fort
Caroline National Memorial and Timucuan Preserve, located in northeast
Caroline pays tribute to the colony that the French tried to establish near the
mouth of the St. John’s River in 1564. With
help from Indians, some 200 soldiers and artisans started building the village
and fort, naming the area La Caroline, after their king, Charles IX.
Good relations with the Indians eventually soured and by the following
spring, the colonists were close to starvation.
They were about to leave in 1565 when Jean Ribault, who originally
discovered the area for France, arrived with a relief expedition of supplies and
600 soldiers and settlers, including women and children.
Hearing of this, Spain’s Phillip II sent Admiral Menendez to dislodge
the French. Ribault set sail to
attack the Spanish but his ships were scattered by a hurricane and beached south
of the fort. Menendez attacked the
weakly guarded colony--140 settlers were massacred.
About 40 to 50 escaped and sailed for France. Menendez then went south and found the shipwrecked Frenchmen
and killed them, sparing a few musicians and those that professed to be
Catholics. In 1568 the French
attacked and burned the fort then sailed home.
Spain rebuilt the fort but abandoned it in 1569.
France never again strongly challenged Spanish claims in North America.
Timucuan Preserve tells the story of pre-Columbian people, the Timucua, whose
lives depended on the rich natural resource of the St. Johns estuary.
They took advantage of the waterways for transportation.
They made tools from natural materials, then cut, burned and scraped tree
trunks to make dugout canoes. They
hunted and gathered in the forest and marshes, fished, and collected oysters and
clams. The most easily recognized
clues are the mounds of shells found throughout the preserve.
touring the memorial and preserve, we walked one of the many trails located on
the preserve and met a fellow walker who informed us we were currently standing
at the highest point in Jacksonville, maybe 100 feet? Nosebleeds were not a problem at that altitude!
day, we enjoyed lunch at Singleton’s Seafood Shack – good seafood at
reasonable prices – just don’t let the décor (or lack of) turn you away.
next stop was another military campground and a very familiar one – Manatee
Cove at Patrick Air Force Base, just south of Cocoa. Military snowbirds hadn’t started to flock in yet so we
were able to get a water and electric site for the first two nights, then we
moved to a full hookup site overlooking the Banana River for the rest of our
across from us were Garry and his fur-kid, Happy, a Goldendoodle (part standard
poodle and part Golden retriever).
Garry’s not sure why it’s doodle instead of poodle, but however
it’s spelled, Happy was adorable and very friendly.
He looked quite a bit like a black standard poodle but you could see the
retriever part in his head shape and sweet personality.
Shelley has a new friend now. We
find she’s mellowing as she gets older and gets along better with other dogs
than she did when she was younger.
major WOW moment our first week at Patrick – we witnessed the shuttle being
launched from nearby Cape Canaveral, while parked in a day use area at Patrick.
It was awesome to see the sky light up in that direction and to hear the
roar of the engines. The
pictures we took barely represent what we saw that night.
What memories, though!
kept the local Lowes and Home Depots in business during our stay there, buying
whatever was needed to do repairs and maintenance on the house in Palm Bay (we
own the house but Lucille’s parents live there year-round.)
A good part of our time was spent taking care of the homestead with some
time in between to visit with Lucille’s parents.
Lucille got to see her brother Roger and his wife Kathie and cousin Richard, who had all just disembarked from a weeklong cruise as they stopped to visit us all in Palm Bay. Roger and Kathie live in Arizona and Richard in Nova Scotia, so it was a plus to see them while they were in this part of the country.
Eve we attended the candlelight service at one of the base chapels.
One of the chaplains performed an opera-quality rendition of Jesu
Bambino – very moving. Christmas
Day, we visited with Lucille’s parents for a while, with all of us going to
Golden Corral for a holiday meal. They
had quite a spread for a very reasonable price – we enjoyed Christmas dinner
without having to worry about the preparation and clean up.
Lorraine and Florence came up from Tamarac New Year’s weekend and Yvette and
Pat came down from Georgia. New
Year’s is always a dual celebration – the New Year and Lucille’s
mother’s birthday. Yvette and
Lucille took turns preparing meals that weekend – we never go hungry when we
all get together. Lorraine made a
couple of her famous custard pies – they were history in a short time.
Sunday, Pat, Yvette and the two of us decided we needed to burn some calories
from our meals, so we first drove to Goode Park, a regional park a few miles
from the house. Besides being a
popular place for boats, canoes and kayaks that launch into Turkey Creek, it’s
a popular gathering spot for manatees. We
experienced another WOW moment that afternoon.
At least seven manatees (six adults and a baby) swam to us at the dock to
get some attention. They love to
have their bellies rubbed and will do a slow roll so you can oblige them.
Most of them were pretty active that day, with one of them even spraying
us with water as it ‘sneezed’. We
saw at least another dozen in the middle of the creek and spoke with some
canoers who said they had to carefully paddle through a herd of them.
we drove to nearby Turkey
Creek Sanctuary and walked some of the trails through the hammocks – the
weather was ideal for our nature hike that day.
and Eileen, longtime friends from Alabama who relocated to Florida years ago,
invited us to a cookout at their place on Lake Poinsett one evening.
We met their friends Ron and Loretta, also full time RVers and enjoyed
seeing Rick’s father then too. If
you’re ever in the area, be sure to call Captain Rick for a ride on one of his
airboats – a memorable
experience with a knowledgeable guide.
day, we drove to Kissimmee to visit with Rick and LaVerne, with whom we’d
worked in Connecticut over the summer. They
surprised us by inviting John and Maureen, also coworkers at Lone Oak, while we
were there. Rick and LaVerne are
working for MGM, one of the Disney attractions.
They offered to take us into one of the attractions but we opted to spend
time visiting with the four of them. We
did go to the All Star Café for lunch, a Disney restaurant that is part of the
World of Sports. We all benefited
from Rick and LaVerne’s employee discount.
John and Maureen are currently workamping at Sun N’ Fun RV Resort in
Sarasota and will spend part of their summer back at Lone Oak.
It will be fun working with them again.
We’re hoping that sometime this winter, the four of us can get together
finish off our December news with a ‘small world’ story.
Earlier this year, we met Ed and Camille Pronovost at Jekyll Island
Campground in Georgia. Their last name got our attention – could they be related
to friends we grew up with in Connecticut?
After chatting with them, we found out that although they were from
Connecticut, there was no known relationship.
We gave them our business card and went our separate ways.
Imagine our surprise to hear that after reading about our travels and
specifically our work at Desert Haven Animal Refuge in New Mexico, they decided
to make that a stop on their way to their winter jobs in Tucson, Arizona.
A few days’ stop turned into two weeks during which they fell in love
with the place and the work that is being done there.
Besides volunteering while they were there, Camille has added a link to
Desert Haven on their personal website and established a Paypal link for those
wishing to make a donation. She
updates the blog weekly with Desert Haven happenings.
This is yet another example of the wonderful people and friends we are
making while enjoying the full timing lifestyle. Check out Ed and Camille’s website: http://protechrvtravel.blogspot.com/2006/11/desert-haven-animal-refuge.html
– the year has ended! This also
marked the end of Year Three on the road – boy, has time gone by at the speed
of lightning! To those who wonder
how long we’ll continue traveling – no plans to stop anytime soon.
We’ll go as long as health and finances permit.
up: January in Palmdale, a very,
very small town northwest of Lake Okeechobee, with friends Harry and Marie;
meandering around Florida before we head back to Jekyll Island mid-March.