Friday, November 30, 2012

Thanksgiving, Birthdays and Steelers vs. Browns

We have settled in at Orange City RV Resort for a month long stay.  We are near Nanc's family and have had several visits with them.  We shared the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the usual, wonderful food.  This is our sixth holiday season on the road and most of those years we have been lucky enough to spend them with family and friends in different places around the country. We also had a couple of evenings of games, watched a few football games and went to the movies to see Lincoln.  A great movie that we highly recommend. 
Bill and I pulled the big bird out of the oven.
The real cooks for the day, Judy and Nanc.
The table was ready and it seemed like it was all over all to soon.  I love the turkey, stuffing, Bill's special cranberry salad and, of course, all the leftovers for lunch that weekend.
Bill's son Eric, his wife Kelley and grandson Matt joined us for the great meal.
The Sunday after Thanksgiving we joined Bill and Judy to watch the Steelers - Browns game.  This picture was taken before the final results were known.  In the end, three of us were VERY disappointed by the results.  It is bad enough when the Steelers loose to the Browns, but having to watch this terrible performance with a Browns fan made it even worse.
Nanc and I both celebrated birthdays this week.  Mine was not any bigger deal than others since I am already on Medicare and Social Security, BUT, Nanc's was a really big deal.  She will now receive Social Security and to our surprise she is eligible for a pension from a company she worked for years ago.  This will sure help the bottom line since we did not win the big Powerball drawing.
WOW --  LIFE IS GOOD!!!!!!!!!!
 Next week we are going on vacation to Punta Cana.  Most people think we are on vacation all the time but the reality is we live in our own house like everyone else, the only difference is ours is on wheels.  It will be great to just kick back and have people waiting on us, making the bed and cooking all our meals.  Yes, life is very good and we do have much to be thankful for.

Friday, November 23, 2012

On to FLA

We moved on to Florida without any plans until December 18th.  We knew we wanted to be near Nanc's sister Judy and her husband Bill for Thanksgiving and we needed a place where we could leave the rig for a week in December while we go on vacation to Punta Cana.  At the Welcome Center we found a flier advertising a great monthly rate for first timers at the Sun RV Resorts.  We picked the one in Orange City that fit our needs so we now have reservations through the end of January.  We had a week remaining until our Orange City stay began so our first stop was St. Augustine.  We have been here before and really enjoy this oldest city in the country.
Here is Nanc doing the shell thing at St. Augustine Beach.  It is always great being on the ocean and Florida is a great place to shell and look for sea glass.  We found a piece of glass that was an old bottle bottom that had PA stamped on it.  How neat!!
One thing we love about Florida is the great variety of birds.  This is a flock of Royal Terns.  Birds are everywhere and come in all sizes. 
We went to the top of the lighthouse on our first visit so this time we just drove by and took a picture so Nanc could get her lighthouse fix.
We did visit Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, the fort that was built by the Spanish in the late 1600's to protect St. Augustine.  We have visited many old forts on our travels and this is one of the best preserved.
The San Carlos Bastion and canons overlooking the harbor.
The British attacked the fort in 1740 but were not able to drive the Spanish out.  The fort went to the British in 1763 as part of the Treaty of Paris and then back to the Spanish in 1783.  It went to the US when the Spanish ceded Florida in 1821.  The park service has restored it to the time of Spanish rule.
The streets of the old city are now mainly shops and restaurants.  It sure was a lot less crowed being here during the week.  St. Augustine is a neat city with a lot of history and nearby beaches. It is a great stop in Florida.
From St. Augustine we moved down the coast to Titusville to check out Canaveral National Seashore and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  As you can see we also took advantage of the great weather and did a pool day.  Don't you just hate how crowded Florida is at this time of the year?  We were in the area during our first year on the road to see a shuttle launch which was delayed.  Not seeing a launch is surely one of our biggest disappointments since hitting the road. 
At Merritt we drove the Black Point Wildlife Drive for and easy up close look at many different birds.  The refuge is a great place for birding because it was part of NASA's Kennedy Space Center so it has been untouched by the development you see along so much of the coast here.  These are a couple of ibis wading for food.
And here is Nanc's favorite, the Great Blue Heron.

We even got to see a Rosette Spoonbill.
When in Florida you DO NOT swim in lakes or ponds.  There really are gators everywhere.  The sign in the campground warned about the little one on the left.  The big guy on the right was on Merritt Island.  We also saw a manatee and a huge feral pig but did not get pictures.
 It was a windy day so there were very few people on the beach at the national seashore.  To help prevent erosion you are not allowed to walk on the dunes.  At high tide the water comes all the way up to the dune.  We soooo enjoy being close to the ocean!!!!!  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Charleston, SC

Our plan was to take two days to get from the Sharp's to Charleston, but because of another incoming storm we decided to do it in one day.  Those 300 plus miles are the most we have done on the East Coast and we did not pull into the park unto late in the afternoon.  We were glad we made that sprint because for the first three days we just sat out the weather and watched the election returns and all the spin.  "O" what a day that was.  We had been to Charleston many years ago so this was a more laid back visit. 
Our first visit was to the market where you can buy all kinds of items from cheap imports to many handmade crafts.  There were several sweetgrass basket makers and getting a small basket was one of Nanc's goals.  After looking and talking to a few weavers we finally bought a very small one from Eric.  He had learned the weaving from his mom and was already passing it on to his kids. 
A big change in Charleston since our last visit is the new Ravenel Bridge over the Cooper River.  It replaced a very rickety old span that literally shook when we crossed it.
We got our exercise one day walking across the bridge.  It offered great views of the Low Country and water around the city.  The Goodyear blimp was circling the entire time.  It was there for two basketball games that were being played on the deck of the Yorktown that is now a museum ship.  The evening game had to be cancelled because of condensation on the court.  Go figure an outdoor basketball game played on a ship deck is cancelled because of water.
Charleston is a very active harbor with many ships coming and going.  There was a Carnival Cruise ship in port one day.  We learned that many locals don't like the cruise ships because they pollute the air by running their engine the whole time they are there.  That said the day we went to the market there were many people from the ship spending money.
This is Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired, in the harbor and a couple of canons along the Battery.  We went to the fort on our previous visit so we only went to the visitors center to get our park service stamp.  It is a worthwhile visit if you get to Charleston.
Nanc on the Battery.
One of the neatest things about Charleston is seeing the great old homes.  They have very strict laws about maintaining the historical integrity of the city so there are no new, "modern" homes in the historical areas of the city. 
A few of the beautiful gardens and entrances we saw.  The one with the crooked door was a house that has been in the same family for six generations.  Bottom left is a typical home with the door on the street going on to the side porch where the "front" door of the house is.
St. Philips Episcopal Church is one of several old churches in the city that dominates the skyline.
Many of the houses are narrow and long and they come in a variety of colors.
The circles on the side of this house are big nuts that hold the bolts that were put through many of the houses following the 1886 earthquake.  That quake was the most powerful to ever hit the Southeast.
A great way to see the city is a carriage ride.  This is something else we had done before so we passed this time.  There are people who drive around all day waiting to respond to the clean up calls.
A couple of big, old beautiful homes along the Battery.
Charleston is a very neat, small city with a lot of history and a great place to walk and sight see.  We did not do a plantation tour on this visit, but that is another great option for visitors.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Sharp Weekend

After sitting out Sandy in Greenville, NC we moved down the road to Havelock to spend a weekend of driveway camping at Brian and Lori Sharp's.  We saw them a couple of weeks ago in Corolla but did not get to visit much or to play euchre.
There family has grown by two since we were here two years ago.  The new additions since our last visit are baby Mayila whom Lori is holding and Garret between Andrew and Benny.  Daddy Brian is giving Benny the evil eye. 
We had a great Eastern Carolina treat when Brian cooked up a bushel of oysters on the grill. 
What a treat!!!
Nanc got into shucking and we all (even the kids) loved them.
It was also great seeing Lori's dad, Tom, and her mom, Darlene, here with Mayila
We did a day trip to nearby Beaufort and enjoyed the waterfront.
We love being near the water and seeing all the boats.
Garret, Andrew and Benny had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I must say Garret looks really good in peanut butter and jelly:)
Beaufort is a neat, old seaport town with many old houses.  Hammock House was once the home of Black Beard the pirate.
This is how fans make sure the Steeler Nation continues to grow.  We indoctrinate them at an early age.  Of course winning six Super Bowls helps.
This is a rare picture.  I really do not do to well with babies, but I do enjoy them as long as they can be handed back to mom or dad when they need a "change".
It was great getting to spend the weekend with the Sharp family. We had a wonderful time and we thank them for their hospitality.  Having watched Brian grow up, it is great to see what great parents he and Lori have become.  It sure takes a lot of energy to have a family with three boys and a new baby.  There is a reason why you have children when you are young.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Ocracoke and Damn You Sandy II

Before the weather changed for the worse we did a day trip to Ocracoke for a another beach and fishing day.  You are really out to sea there with the only access being by boat from Hatteras Island or the mainland.
The ferry to Ocracoke is usually a 40 minute run across Hatteras Inlet.  The day we went we had to wait an hour for a boat and then the trip took over an hour because of work being done at the landing.
One of our favorite things about HI is the fresh seafood.  It is a short distance from the boat to the plate.
The beach on Ocracoke is even less crowded then those on Hatteras.  Here are a couple of different crabs we found on the beach.
Silver Lake Harbor and the Ocracoke Lighthouse.  This was one of the quaintest spots on the Outer Banks, but was also the first to change many years ago.  That said it is a trip worth taking.
The Audubon Society is not very popular here.  They have pushed the park service to put restrictions on beach driving to save a few nesting birds.  We have been coming here for many years and have never seen anyone driving dangerously or destructively on the beach.  Almost all the beach drivers are fisherman who are only trying to get to a good spot who also want to take care of the wildlife and the environment.  I am all for conservation, but after talking to locals these restrictions are really hurting local business.
As I wrote in the last entry we left the island in the face of Sandy coming up the coast.  Here are a few pictures I found on line that show that leaving was the right decision.
This is Highway 12 in Avon about a quarter mile from the campground.  We did talk to the people at Sands of Time and the campground did stay above the water.
This is near Buxton at a place where I often went to fish.  The dune was broken and sand and sea water covered the road.
This is a picture I took at the Outer Banks Motel from the cabin where Tom and Georgie were staying.  These cabin were moved back from the water several years ago.
This is the same spot during Sandy.  Gives a whole new meaning to ocean front.
Why we are not returning this year.  This is Highway 12, the only road, at Rodanthe.  Not only is the road destroyed but the dunes that should keep the ocean off the island are gone.  Most of those houses have been condemned and one went into the water during the storm.  
We sure hope this does not happen:)  With every tragedy you need a little humor.  How else does one survive and keep going?
The plan, which is always written in sand, is to head south.  We intend to go to Charleston and then head to Florida for the holidays.  As far as HI, we wish everyone there our very best.  We hope all are able to bounce back from this horrible storm and look forward to returning in the future.