John and Sandy's RV Adventure Journal

April 2010 Journal

This morning I finished up working on our website and photos.  Today we are heading to Caw Caw Interpretive Center for some hiking.  They have about 7 miles of trails.  John and I did most of the outside perimeter for about 4 miles.  This is a nice park to hike in.  The trails are marked well and easy hiking.  There are forest, marsh, boardwalks and open trails.  We were lucky again.  We saw multiple gators, anhinga, great egrets, mother and baby ospreys and lots of other birds.  After our hike, we relaxed by the cow and got some things packed up.

This morning we headed to Historic Charleston.  We parked at the visitors center and walked down what’s called museum mile.  It’s actually about 1.5 miles from the visitors center to Battery Park.  There are many houses you can tour and museums to visit.  However they all charge a fee to tour.  We were able to tour some of the grounds.  The Calhoun House is 24,000 sq ft with beautiful outside landscaping.  We got to Battery Park and walked along the waterfront, then headed to Church Street and to Tommy Condon’s Irish Pub for lunch.  We moseyed on back to Big Red.  We had a nice day in Charleston.

This morning we were heading into Charleston but got sidetracked still looking for a recliner for John.  We finally found one.  We brought it back to the cow and had to put it together and get rid of the one we had.  Then we drove to Ace Basin National Wildlife Refuge for some hiking.  We hiked a total of about 4 miles.  We saw gators, wood storks, various birds.

Today we were up and out early.  Back on the road about 270 miles to Charleston, SC.  We got in and all set up at Lake Aire RV Resort.  We need a new recliner, so we went to check some out.  It’s really hard to buy because the width is limited due to the RV slides.  We didn’t find any we liked, but we will.

Today we headed out for some shopping and to gas up for tomorrows trip.  We spent most of the day packing up and getting ready to go early tomorrow.

This morning we all got up before sunrise and walked to the beach to watch the sun come up.  Some clouds made it a beautiful sunrise.  Coffee’s ready so we relaxed and had our morning coffee on the verandah.  We viewed photos on the TV and exchanged them.  We had to say our “See you later” to Jim and Diane.  They are heading to Orlando and Margaritaville for the afternoon and evening.  They have a morning flight back to Chicago.  This afternoon we did some domestic stuff and that was about it.

Nice easy day.  After coffee and breakfast, John and Jim walked down to our pier for some fishing.  Diane and I did some reading.  After a while, I walked down with my fishing pole and tried my luck.  None of us caught anything today.  Jim had a big hit but it broke the line.  After dinner, we headed to the pool and then back to the pier to catch sunset.

Today is a hiking day.  We headed over to Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve.  This is about 5 miles up the road.  Between 2 parks there are over 20 miles of trails.  We all started out on the 2 mile Guana Loop Trail.  We have been so lucking in spotting wildlife on hikes.  Today was the same.  We saw a Gopher Tortoise, Ospreys, Armadillos, woodpeckers, all sorts of birds, butterflies.  John and Jim were ready for more.  So Diane and I had our books and we found a scenic shelter and did some reading.  John and Jim headed to the Timucuan and South Point Loop Trail.  These two combined is 6 miles.  They had quite a show on their hike.  They saw lots of Armadillos, a couple families of Feral Pigs with babies, a Barred Owl.  When they met us, another walker pointed out a Black Racer snake.  It was happy hour time and we headed to Aunt Kate’s at the back of our park and had some cocktails and appetizers while enjoying the afternoon sun and overlooking the river. 

Today we headed back to St. Augustine and the trolley.  Our first stop was the San Sebastian Winery.  They had a nice tour of the winery and then tasting.  This was the best wine tasting we have ever been at.  There were about 25 in our group.  We all got to taste 9 different types.  Back on the trolley.  We got off at Flagler College and walked around.  Now lunch, we walked to A1A Ale Works and had a nice outside table overlooking the intercoastal.  We walked over to the church Henry Flagler had built.  It was beautiful inside.  We hopped back on the trolley and got off at Our Lady of Leche park and church.  We walked around the grounds and along the marsh and intercoastal.  Were done.  We headed back to red, stopped at the store and went back to the cow.  We had tuna filets on the grill made some cerviche and had a few cocktails.

Today is a laid back pool day.  Jim and Diane came over.  After some cappuccinos on the verandah, we headed to the beach.  All we had to do was walk across the street from our campground.  John and Jim took a walk down the beach while Diane and I did some reading and soaked up some rays.  Oh no, a cloud.  A few clouds came out and it got a little cooler.  Time to head to the campgrounds hot tub.  Nice!!  At the pool, we enjoyed the hot tub and pool.  Then the sun came back out and we got some more rays.  We went back to the cow, got some dinner together and then headed to the other side of our campground along the inter-coastal river.  We did some fishing and Diane did some reading.  We all caught something.  I’ll have to teach the boys how to fish, I caught a couple and they caught one each.  BTW, mine was also the biggest.  We think it was a scorpionfish but were not sure.  Another rough day.

   20   Today we are heading into St. Augustine to do the Trolley Tour.  We decided on Old Time Trolley.  There is free parking and then you can take an open air trolley around the city with narrated information so you can learn the history.  There are 22 different stops and you can get on and off at any one of them.  So we took the tour up to stop 15 and got off to find a place for lunch.  We walked down St. George Street and found Millworks.  It has a roof top restaurant and overlooks the “Castillo de San Marcos Fort” and the inter-coastal waterway.  After lunch we headed to the fort.
The fort was finished in 1695.  It’s the oldest masonry fort.  We walked around the fort and read all about the history of it.  Then we did a ranger talk.  The speaker didn’t look like a ranger at all, but an army man from the 18th Century.  He explained all about the fort and all about why the Spanish always wore so many clothes.  Mostly 5-8 layers of wool.  Even in summer in Florida.  It seems like you would pass out from overheating.  He explained that back in those days you had to keep yourself covered from the insects and the sun.  The wool, even 5-8 layers is breathable and actually kept you cool.
They only bathed about twice a year so the oils in there skin also helped to keep you cool.  He explained how you had one pair of shoes for your life.  They were made by hand and there was not a left and right shoe, just a straight shoe.  After being measured the shoe maker would hand sew your shoes.  Then you would put them on and step into a bucket of water and really get them soaked up.  Then you would keep them on for a couple days and they would slowly dry out and form to your foot.  Over time the souls would have to be replaced but the shoe still kept its form.
After the fort we headed to the visitor center for some info then back on the trolley and to Big Red.  It’s happy hour and we headed to the Reef Restaurant right outside our campground on the ocean.  We got some cocktails and appetizers.  We decided to head to the pool.  We went back to Jim and Diane’s hotel.  The clouds came out so we just relaxed on their patio, had some cocktails and ordered a pizza

19   Today our friends Jim and Diane arrived.  Their staying down the street.  They came by the cow and we listened to music and had cocktails.  We took a walk down to Aunt Kate’s Restaurant.  It’s right next to the campground.  Aunt Kate’s is on the river side.  We enjoyed happy hour cocktails, while soaking up the sun and looking out over the river. 

Today is moving day.  We didn’t go far, only 100 miles.  We got all set up at North Beach Camp Resort in St. Augustine Florida and then headed out for some groceries.  Tonight we just hung around the cow and relaxed.

   17   Today is domestic day.  We got our laundry, cleaning and pre-packing done, then headed to the pool.

We headed out to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge today.  The visitor’s center has a ¼ mile elevated boardwalk where we saw nesting Ospreys, and a large gator.  We toured the VC to learn about the area.  Just outside the office on the feeder we saw another new bird, the painted bunting.  We are now going to head to Black Point Wildlife Drive.  This is a 7 mile drive within the refuge that has different stops for nature, wildlife viewing and hiking.  Along the road we saw and Eagles nest, various alligators and lots of birds.  First we came to the Wild Bird Trail.  This is a short ½  trail in the marshes.  We saw some new birds.  One we had a hard time identifing.  After research it’s the Pied-Billed Grebe breeding.  The other is a blue-winged teal.  Now on to the Cruikshank Trail is a 5 mile loop with an observation tower and 2 resting cabanas.  John did the whole 5 miles.  I relaxed in the observation tower for a while where I say 2 roseate spoonbills.  Then I walked to the last cabana and waited for John.  I got in almost 4 miles.  Along the way we saw more spoonbills, gators, herons, egrets and more birds.
Then we continued on to Scrub Ridge Trail.  This is a one mile loop trail.  We saw so many of the endangered Florida Scrub Jay it was amazing.  They were also very friendly as long as you were quiet.  They gave us a good show and posed for pictures.  One even jumped up on Johns head for a photo shoot.  He didn’t want to get off when it was time to continue on.  We made a quick stop at the manatee viewing area, but the manatees were out so we didn’t see any.  We had a good day we really enjoyed this area.  Now it’s time to head home.

   15   This morning we headed up the road about 75 miles to Seasons in the Sun RV Resort in Titusville, Florida.  We are here for 3 nights.  After we got set up we headed to the chamber of commerce for some area information.  We have 2 full days here.  When we got back we took a walk around our campground and played some pool.  I did terrible.  John beat me all 5 games.  I need a rematch tomorrow.

Today we headed back over to the North Sebastian Conservation Area.  We really enjoyed it last time and this time just the same.  On our hike we saw a large nest in a big dead tree.  Then we noticed the Mom and Dad Ospreys that lived there.  We couldn’t see the chicks but we heard them and Dad was bringing a fish home for dinner.  After watching them for a while, we continued on and saw a pair of Florida Scrub Jays.  They are similar to Blue Jays, but only in certain areas.  We saw what we thought was pair of Sand Hill Cranes flying.  These are huge birds.  Soon we came to a boardwalk crossing a small lake.  There they were.  We were able to get pretty close for some good photos.  We would highly recommend this area to other hikers and birders.
When we got back we headed to the pool for a while.  Had an early dinner and packed up some stuff.  We are back “On the Road Again” tomorrow.

   13   Today we went to buy a new camera.  After lots of research we decided on the Sony H55.  It’s a 14 megapixels and 10x optical zoom.  Since we take so many photos we really like the extra zoom.  I played around with the camera and John washed Red.  Since I sent out our quarterly update yesterday, Katie’s friend, Kristy called.  We are really close to her.  So we headed over to Capt Hiram’s to meet her and her boyfriend Wes.  We got there early and met Rick and Cheryl.  They are part time gypsies.  Last summer they were up in Maine, so we got some good info from them.  When Kristy and Wes got there, we had some drinks and dinner.  Wes has a RV in Desert Hot Springs CA.  Their thinking of flying out and driving it back to Florida.  We had a great time and might meet up with them over the weekend.

This morning we headed out to Sebastian Inlet State Park.  This is about 12 miles from our campground on the barrier island.  We parked and walked in over the dunes.  We took a nice beach walk to the inlet and on to the Fishing Museum.  It’s Monday and the only ones on the beach and the piers are pretty much the fisherman.  We really enjoyed the museum.  We were the only ones in there and a couple rangers took us through it and we learned all about the both the history and the present information about this area.  Then we walked back along the beach.  John needed a longer walk so I set myself up on the beach to soak up some rays and John continued his walk.  I love watching the waves and listening to the surf. 

Today is just a laid back day.  We did some camera and campground research and then took a nice walk to the produce stand.  John needed to make a new batch of salsa.  We watched the Masters Golf Tournament and just hung out.

Today we headed into Sebastian to hike the North Sebastian Conservation Area.  There are quite a few trails.  When we pulled up to the parking area we saw a sign, “Gopher Tortoises Crossing.  When we got out of the truck, there was a Gopher Tortoises.  He didn’t care that we were there.  A few feet further and there was another one.  We continued on the trails.  We saw other turtles, birds and then in a tree we saw a large bird.  It was a Bald Eagle.  He was just hanging out in the tree checking out his area.  We really enjoyed this area.

This morning after coffee on our patio, we headed out for Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.  This refuge is the first one established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903.  It’s about 8 miles from us and they have 3 trails.  First we hiked the Birds Impoundment trail.  This is a 2.5 mile hike through mangroves and overlooking the Indian River.  We saw lots of birds.
Then we drove down to the other trails.  We took the Centennial Trail.  This is a ¾ mile hike along bays to a overlook of Pelican Island.  Then I took a break and found a nice bench with a beautiful view and did some reading.  John needed more, so he continued on to the Joe Michael Memorial Trail.  This is a 2.5 mile hike.  While I was reading I saw a snake in the grass.  John also saw a snake on his hike.  We got back and relaxed outside and then we were done.

On the road again!  We left Homestead and headed for Sebastian Fl about 180 miles.  We were all set up by 1pm.  We took a drive into town and to the Chamber of Commerce to get some local information.  Then we took a nice walk along the waterfront and then over to the park behind City Hall.  There are trails over there and we took a short hike.  Then we headed home and took a walk around our campground.  Actually it’s a pretty big campground and we only walked around about half.

Today is our pool and laundry day.  We got our domestic stuff done and then headed to the pool to soak up some rays and do some reading.

Another beautiful morning.  We are heading to Shark Valley, another area of Everglades National Park off the Tamiami Trail RT 41.  We are meeting Mark, Tatianna and Johnny there at 11am.  When we first got there right away not even 2 feet off the road we saw a big gator.  This place is loaded with gator, cormorants, anhinga, turtles, gars, jumping catfish, and birds of all kinds.  We signed up for the 1pm tram ride over to the observation deck.  It’s 17.25 per person and a 2 hour trip.  You can walk or bike there if you want, but its 15 miles round trip, so we took the tram.
We had 2 hours before our ride so we walked along the tram road and found a trail.  We didn’t get to far.  There was just so much wildlife it was pretty cool.  We saw some huge turtles and an alligator decided to cross the road right behind us.  He was only about 20 feet away.  He laid down in the road for a while to soak up the sun.  Then he moseyed on to the other side.  I guess that was a road closure in the Everglades.
We got on the tram and started our journey.  It’s the end of winter and were also at the end of the dry season so the plains are dry with some water.  In September this area will be all water.  In almost every little area of water we saw a gator.  We saw some baby gators only about 4 inches long.  Gators grow about 1 inch a month, 12 inches a year for about 6 years.  So you can get an idea of old they are from how long they are.  Also if you only see an Alligators head you can get an idea of how big they are.  Look at the end of the snout to the beginning of the eyes.  If it looks like 5 inches, then they are about 5 feet long.  The babies we saw were born in the fall.  Right now it’s mating season so the alligators are starting to pair up.
On the way to the tower we also saw a couple new birds for us.  One was the Emerald Ibis and the Black Starling.  We also saw some Rosetta Spoonbills.  These are beautiful birds.  Like a Great White Heron, but larger and light red all over.  Their bill is like a big spoon.  We got to the tower and went up.  There were gators, turtles and birds all over.  Back on the tram and once again we were seeing just so much wildlife.  I would recommend this area and the tram is well worth the money.  In addition to pointing out so much wildlife, it’s narrated by a guide and you learn so much about the Everglades and all the wildlife in it.  It’s time to head out.
We stopped at the Miccosukee Casino for a couple cocktails and some slots.  John, Mark and Johnny had a couple beers (Mark and John), Johnny had juice.  Tatianna and I went to play some slots.  I don’t like this casino.  No table games and the only slots are the new electronic ones.  Some are 1 and 2 cents.  But they are set up so you have to play a minimum of 20 to 40 lines so a 1 cent machine is 20 to 40 cents and so on.  Needless to say I didn’t do well, but they did serve free drinks so at least I got a couple drinks out of it.  We said our “see you later” to Mark, Tatianna and Johnny and headed back to the cow.  We had a really nice day.

Today we did some campground research in the morning then headed over to Best Buy to look at cameras.  Then we just hung around the campground and relaxed.

4   Today is Easter Sunday.  This morning I’m catching up on our journal.  We headed over to Mark and Tatianna’s around noon.  They invited us over for Easter dinner.  We had a great dinner and took a nice walk before dessert. 

We chose Homestead because it’s close to Everglades National Park.  Mark, Tatianna and Johnny came over to our place around 10am then we all headed to the Everglades.  We stopped at the visitor’s center to get a map and some information.  Then we went to the Royal Palm area.  There are two hiking trails there.  We did the Anhinga Trail first.  This is a ½ mile loop on a boardwalk built over the swamp.  We all really liked this trail.  We saw a lot of different wildlife.  Birds, fish, turtles, alligators, lot of alligators.  In one small area there were at least 12 of all sizes.  A couple really cool things.  We saw an Anhinga (large bird), spear a fish then beat it against a tree until it was dead, then toss it in the air to catch it and eat it.  Also an Osprey dove down and caught a fish in his talons and then flew away with it.
After this walk, we took a lunch break.  We had brought sandwiches and snacks.  Then we hiked the Gumbo Limbo Trail.  This was totally different.  Birds were the only wild life and this was more wooded forest than watered everglades.  We left this area and stopped at the Long Pine Campground to drive through and check it out.  It’s a basic campground but no utilities.  We continued on to the Pa-Hay-Okee Overlook.  This is a small tower that overlooks the River of Grass.  We decided to head back to the campground.  We got back, had some snacks, cocktails and listened to music.

Today we are heading to Mark and Tatianna’s house.  They have a 21 month old boy, Johnny.  So we spent the day with them.  Tatianna made a great breakfast for us and then we took a nice walk over to this huge park near their home.  When we got back to their house we had a couple cocktails and relaxed.

Today we are “On the Road Again”.  We had a great time over the winter here at Lazy Lakes RV Resort.  We met a lot of great people that we will keep in touch with.  Normally we would be on the road by 8am, but today we are only traveling to Homestead Florida about 115 miles away.  We don’t want to arrive before 1pm because today is a big travel day for RV’s and we want to wait until people from the campground we’re going to leave so we can move in on their site.  So after we did a few preparations, we decided to talk a walk around the lake.  We were able to see some people that we missed from yesterdays walk.  It’s a good day to travel, so we got packed up and on the road by about 1030am.  Heading back to the mainland from the “Conch Republic”.  We got checked in and on our site at the Boardwalk RV Resort by 3pm.  We decided on Homestead because we have family in the Miami area and want to visit with them.  We went out for a little shopping and then called our relatives Mark and Tatianna.