Flordia Expedition

January 30, 2014

 

13 days 1,169 miles

13 days 1,169 miles

Making AK reservations and a boat trip ignited a travel itch needing scratching. Off we went on a trip around FL hitting a few interesting stops, visiting friends and family and researching for a longer stay south next year.

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120′ to bottom

Devils Millhopper Geological State Park. A FL marketing expert must have coined name as a clever way of disguising a huge FL sinkhole as something else. Now it’s an attraction with steps leading down 120’ to the point where you can see the water coming down collect in a small pond before disappearing underground. Sucked in by the clever name we explored, getting needed exercise going down and up the stairs. Finally we found the reason for the name. If you were at the top of a ladder at a mill looking down into the hopper holding the grain—I think you get the picture.

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Vast expanse no bison visible

Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park was an overnight stop for us. In the morning from the top of the observation tower the view out over the prairie to the distant horizon was impressive. However, even with binoculars the bison couldn’t be seen. Recent heavy rains had turned many of the trails into ponds so we pushed on.

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Now all we need are boats going by

Franklin Lock on the Caloosahatchee River. We called and learned one first come first served site was open. We changed course, got the site and sat watching the river out the Arv’s front window. We been through Franklin Lock many times on Odyssey and now we enjoyed a vicarious on the water experience.

Jim and Eric (on Arv's other side) lift power lines

Jim and Eric (on Arv’s other side) lift power lines

Don, Helen, Eric, Rita, Jim, Don

Don, Helen, Eric, Rita, Jim

Camp Bear Paws is quite exclusive. The phone number is unlisted. It doesn’t appear in any RV directories. High voltage wires need to be lifted to allow access. Eric and Helen call their home and grounds Camp Bear Paws. We met them back in NY when they were visiting Jim and Rita our long time friends and traveling companions and rapidly became friends. The electric wires were the low hanging power wires to their home that Jim and Eric held up to allow the Arv to get under. We had a wonderful time during our stay Koreshan State Historic Site is a subtle reminder to the modern world that you can fool some of the people most of the time. Cyrus Reed Teed started Koreshanity a religious belief that the earth is a gigantic hollow sphere with people and the entire universe existing on the inside. He moved his believers to its current site, which in 1894 was a wilderness area to isolate true believers from distractions. Using unique ‘scientific’ instruments they ‘proved’ the ocean shoreline curved up proving their belief in a hollow earth. Cyrus had also told his believers he and the true believers would live forever. Things didn’t go so well when he died and the followers began to disperse. We enjoyed seeing a glimpse of life in the early 1900’s and learning a bit about a truly unique religious belief and how to prove the earth is concave instead of convex.

Ave Maria Google Earth 2/17/14

Ave Maria Google Earth 2/17/14

Ave Maria was worth a visit just to see how one man is spending his millions hoping to buy a ticket to heaven and as he says take as many other people as he can with him. The man is Tom Monaghan founder of Domino’s Pizza.  In 2005 he started spending his millions funding the infrastructure for a conservative Catholic college town, University, Law School and a college sports complex. Now a tall Catholic Church looking like a bishop’s mitre dominates the surrounding slowly growing town 30 miles out in the wilderness to minimize distracting influences. Driving down Pope John II we came to Annunciation Circle, and I wondered if we’d be asked for Catholic identity papers if we attempted to purchase anything. In spite of the model home show in progress when we visited I left feeling I’d visited an empty stage set and wondered if Ave Maria would survive as the conservative Catholic community Tom Monaghan envisioned once his millions funding infrastructure construction, professor salaries and sports scholarships and personal influence stopped flowing.

Jan, Jim, Ruth, Don

Jan, Jim, Ruth, Don

Nike missile base in Everglades

Nike missile base in Everglades

Everglades National Park experienced near record cold weather as we visited killing any hope of having a break of warmer weather than Jekyll. Our brief visit satisfied two goals. We quickly decided we’d come back again and spend more time next year, and we had a chance to spend a bit of time with Jim (our Everglades tour guide in a preceding blog entry) and Jan friends and fellow live-aboarders. We’ve met up at a number of different National Parks where they have worked as volunteers. We’d both been Trek owners up until the trucker wiped out our Trek, and we share similar travel interests. It was fun catching up and learning a bit about their recent AK visit which we will put to good us.

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Jim and Joan

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Ruth gets two sandhill cranes to pose

Fort Pierce almost feels like home when we stop to visit Jim, Ruth’s brother and his friend Joan. It’s just comfortable being there, catching up on day-to-day happenings and enjoying each other’s company. It always feels like we are neighbors who see one another every few days instead of once or twice a year.

1 day 602 miles

1 day 602 miles

Brooksville, FL hadn’t been part of our plans until one morning late in January when I was searching the Internet for RV shops that did interior work and found a shop in Elkhart, IN that said they’d be at an RV show in Brookville, FL if their guys made it through the late winter storm . A phone call to the shop confirmed they’d be there and had furniture we were interested in seeing. A half hour after that we were on the road in the Cruze following a GPS course to the unknown. The trip was a success. We found furniture we liked. With that accomplished we decided to check out what else was available and added extra mileage by making a few more stops. At that point, late in the day, the smart option would have been to get a motel room and head back in the morning. It took us about 10 seconds to decide on driving back home so we could sleep in our own bed. January Travel was one boat trip of 62 miles, one Arv swing around FL of 13 days and 1,169 miles and one day trip to look at RV furniture in the Cruze of 602 miles. In all a good start for an Epic Travel Year.

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On The Water on Rum Tum Tugger

January 11, 2014

140111 rum tum Rum Tum Tugger floats quietly at the dock, her shiny exterior masking her experience. For two summers she cruised the Pacific Northwest playing tricky tidal currents while poking along rocky coastlines. Now Craig and Mary have brought her east to explore along the ICW. 14011 cumberland Ruth and I are delighted, we get to experience how Rum Tum Tugger rides and performs on a ride from Jekyll Island to Fernandina Beach. During our first year living aboard in 1997 we spent Thanksgiving anchored off Cumberland Island and went ashore by dinghy to discover the charm of this unique National Seashore. We visited many times after in the following boating years. Now on our first boating experience since selling Odyssey, we’d have a chance to enjoy familiar waters again. We quickly realized how much we missed the water and how unique the boating community is. Rum Tug Tugger was fun to be aboard and our hosts also former long term live aboard cruisers made for a good company as familiar waters slipped past Rum Tum Tugger’s hull. Rum Tum Tugger is sized for two people and a small dog overnight. We overnighted ashore then used the early morning hours to explore familiar streets and added a few new ones to our Fernandina beach memory banks. Craig and Mary enhanced the visit by showing us a great breakfast place we hadn’t previously discovered.

Ruth, Mary, Craig, Winnie

Ruth, Mary, Craig, Winnie

A leisurely stroll along a sandy path through live oaks took us to the Atlantic Ocean side of Cumberland Island and a walk along the beach. 140111 horseAs if on queue a few of Cumberland’s wild horses showed themselves and watched unconcerned as they found grass to nibble. Dungeness ruins are always haunting.

Tired Crew

Tired Crew

Hours slipped by, as smooth water and warm sun made for contented happy boaters heading back to Jekyll. It was a great back on the water experience and a unique experience for our Epic Travel Year. Now we are itchy to ride the Marine Highway Ferry system to AK.