Friday, November 30, 2018

Beach Time and Steelers

While in Brunswick we realized the Steelers were playing the Jags in Jacksonville on Sunday. We checked and found there were plenty of tickets available so we decided to go to the game. In addition, we were fortunate to snag a spot in Jacksonville at Hanna Park, a city run campground that is an easy walk to the beach.
Hanna Park is a bit tight, but doable for a big rig among all the trees. One thing, being in Florida camping is a year round activity. There were very few people here when we arrived on Thursday and most were gone when we left on Monday. On the weekend we were surrounded by tents and many families. Sure brought back memories for us when we camped with our families.
The park is near the mouth of the St. Johns River so there were a lot of ships going in and out of the port.
The birds must be used to people. You had to get really close before they would fly away, unlike Hatteras were they took off before we could get close enough for good pictures.
It was sunny but cool, but not enough to keep Nanc from collecting shells on the beach.
I thought this bird was injured as it hopped along on one leg until I got real close. Then it put down the other leg and ran, not fly away. 
On Sunday the weather warmed up so it was very nice at the game. There were many fans and a few were going after the Jaguar outside the stadium.
We went in early to check out our seats and get a picture in front of the huge scoreboard screen.
The crowd coming in was about 40% black and gold. Steelers fans always travel with their team.
Check out all those Terrible Towels as the Steelers take the field.
The Star Spangled Banner was unfurled as the national anthem was played. Jags season ticket holders get to hold the flag. A chance to do that would be really neat.
This still picture captures how well the team moved for almost three quarters. It looked like we were going to be in for a disappointing day.
Half time was very neat with the US Army Golden Knights parachute team coming down. They hit the field perfectly.
The second half started like the first with the Steelers getting down 16-0. Then with 1:17 left in the third quarter they scored a Ben to Brown touchdown, but missed the two-point conversion. With 2:29 left in the game they were still down 16-6. Then they scored on a Ben to McDonald pass making it 16-13. The defense held and they drove to the one yard line with time running out. As you can see on the scoreboard with 00.05 to go Ben squeaked across the goal line and we along with thousands of other Steelers fans went away with big smiles. What a GREAT day!!!  

We have moved to Hobe Sound for a month before heading to the Keys next month.  

Friday, November 23, 2018

Jekyll, St. Simon and Fort Frederica

We left Hatteras Island with the plan to take a couple weeks to get to Florida. As a backup, we had made an appointment in Ocala for early December to have annual RV service taken care of and have the intermittent acceleration and jack issues checked out. But instead of going there, we found a Cummins dealer in North Carolina that could get us in the day we were leaving the Outer Banks. 
We got the annual service done the first afternoon without finding the answer to the acceleration issue. Also, we couldn't see the "jack man" until the next day. The results were several hours of labor cost with neither issue being resolved. They told us they thought the control board needed to be replaced on the jacks. They called HWH and were told the board was no longer available and we would have to send it to them to be rebuilt and it would take eight weeks. Eight weeks with no jacks is not an option we could live with. While the jacks don't retract as the are supposed to with the store button, they do come up by holding the level button, so at least we were able to keep moving south.   
We took two days to drive the 400 miles to Brunswick, Georgia, an area we have passed several times but never stopped to explore. John Hinton told us about a neat local restaurant, Typsy McSways, so we checked it out. The food was great and as a bonus they had live music.
We did a day trip to Jekyll Island and, as you can see, it was chilly so Nanc had to wear her Betty's RV Park hoodie. Our first stop was to Driftwood Beach with its many fallen trees on the beach. These old trees that have been brought down by erosion give the area a surreal look. If you go there, make sure you time your visit to low tide as the six to nine foot difference between high and low make the beach inaccessible at high tide.  
This is the remains of the home of William Horton, the first European settler of Jekyll Island in 1735. Horton was the second in command under Georgia founder James Oglethorpe. Oglethorpe banned slavery but believed in prison reform, so Horton was required to bring 10 indentured servants from English jails to work the land. The slavery ban ended in 1751.The house was built with tabby, a mix of equal parts sand, lime, oyster shells and water that was poured into forms to build the walls. 
Spanish moss covered trees over the biking trail that goes around the entire island. We were surprised by the homes on the island that were mostly small ranch style and not the big beach houses we have seen at other seaside towns.
In 1791 the island was purchased by Poulain du Bignon who turned the land into a large industrial cotton plantation using slave labor. Members of the du Bignon family are buried here.
In 1886 the du Bignon family sold the island to a group of millionaires who formed the famous Jekyll Island Club. The group included the Morgans, Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and other wealthy families whom, with their combined wealth, controlled 1/6 of the money of the entire country.  
These families built "cottages" where they stayed during their visits to the club. This is the Goodyear cottage.
Mistletoe cottage was named for the plant that grew on the island. It was built by Pennsylvania's House of Representatives member, Kirk Porter, the founder of the YMCA. The last owner was John Claflin, founder of Lord and Taylors.
The original Jekyll Island Clubhouse opened in 1888. After falling into disrepair the building was renovated and reopened as a luxury resort in 1985. Today you can play croquet on the lawn, but it looks like the traditional white clothing is mandatory. Jekyll Island is a great stop and a place we could visit again.
Another day we visited St. Simons Island that is just north of Jekyll. The island was and still is famous for its oak trees.  This is what drew early settlers to the area as the trees were well suited for building wooden sailing ship because of their curved branches.
Another attraction here are the spirit trees. There are 20 on the island but only seven are in public areas. The first, Cora the protector of the Loggerheads,(pictured in the center) is by the visitors center. Even with the guide, finding the other six is like a scavenger hunt as they are tucked away on the trunks of the trees throughout the town. 
In the late 1800's after the lumber industry declined the island became a popular tourist destination. 
The St. Simons Lighthouse. The original one that was built in 1807 was blown up by Confederate solders in 1861 when they abandoned the island. This present one is 104 feet tall and was completed in 1871.
Of course if you are allowed to climb to the top Nanc has to do it. Great view of St. Simons Sound and Jekyll Island to the south. As you can tell by Nanc's outfit, it was much warmer than when we were on Jekyll Island.
Looking north you can see all the oak trees that cover the island.
The light keeper's house has been restored to its late 1800's appearance when the keeper had to carry oil to the top to keep the light burning through the night. This is the family pantry.
The keeper's bedroom also served as his office. The house was home to both the keeper and his assistant and their families.
When Georgia became the last North American colony of the British in 1732 (a half century after the first, Pennsylvania) it gave the British land that bordered it to the south with their enemy, the Spanish in Florida. This created the need for protection, so two forts were built on St. Simons Island in 1736. The ruins of Fort St. Simons has eroded away. The site of the other is now Fort Frederica National Monument. This is a replica of the the palmetto huts the first settlers lived in until the fort and town were built.
To support the fort the town of Frederica was laid out by Oglethorpe. The town had eighty-four 60 by 90 foot lots and each family was given 50 acres to grow crops. This was Broad Street, the 75 foot wide main street that was lined with orange trees. 
Those who settled here had to have a skill that would contribute to the community. The foundations are all that remain of most of the town. This was the houses of the town doctor, Thomas Hawkins and a tavern owned by Samuel Davison. 
The only structure remaining in the town is the entrance to the soldiers barracks. Like many buildings here it was built using tabby.
The magazine and earthen walls are all that is left of the fort. While the fort was never attacked, the troops stationed here did battle and defeated the Spanish at nearby Bloody Marsh. The Spanish attacked Fort St. Simons after Oglethorpe tried and failed to capture Castillo de San Marcos, the Spanish fort in St. Augustine.
After the threat from the Spanish ended, Oglethorpe sailed back to England in 1743. The regiment stationed here was disbanded in 1749 and without the troops to support the businesses, the town fell into disrepair and was mostly abandoned by 1755. We enjoyed our day on St. Simons and will need to return to see more of this neat coastal island.

We are now in Hobe Sound, Florida for a month before heading to the Keys in the middle of December. We sure are loving the beach and weather in South Florida.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Hatteras Island

We left Delaware and headed down the Delmarva Peninsula on our way to Hatteras Island. Our plan was to stay on the north side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and cross the next morning. We have been this way before in Opus so we knew what to expect. When we learned the weather forecast was for wind the next day, we decided to get across while the winds were calm.
The 23 mile bridge-tunnel across the mouth of Chesapeake Bay opened in 1964 with one bridge having two-way traffic. In 1999 a second southbound bridge opened so now there is no traffic coming toward you....... 
......except in the two mile long tunnels that have one lane in each direction. As of May 2018, 130 million vehicles have crossed this engineering marvel. In the RV it is a neat but intense trip, especially in the tunnels.
After an overnight stay just north of the Outer Banks, it was on the Hatteras Island. We always love seeing the Bodie Island Lighthouse because it means we are on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, our favorite beach location. 
The original Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet opened in 1963 allowing easier access to the national seashore. It was supposed to last 25 years so it was well past time for replacement. There has been major erosion under the piers and in 1990 a dredge broke loose in a storm and took out over 300 feet of the bridge, making it a necessity for replacement sooner rather that later.
Construction on a new bridge started in early 2016. As you can see, the new bridge will be higher and wider, but still only two lanes. The last of the road surface concrete was poured while we were there and the temporary platforms where the cranes worked from were being removed.
One of my favorite Hatteras things is surf fishing. It is very relaxing and usually fun catching a variety of fish. Not this year!!!! I DID NOT GET ONE FISH:(  It was so bad that on a couple days the same piece of bait lasted all day.
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest in the United States. We were here in 1999 when it was picked up and moved 1,900 feet to save it from the encroaching sea. That was quite interesting to witness.
As often as we have visited here we have never toured the US Weather Bureau Station in Hatteras Village. The station was one of several the government built in the early 1900's. They were important for warning ships at sea and local residents of impending storms. If you want an inside look at how early weather stations operated, the station is worth a visit. It has been renovated and is now run by the park service. 
The surf was up so there were many surfers on the water. Maybe the rough ocean was why the catching was so bad.
There are always plenty of birds to entertain you on the beach. Grebes stuff themselves with so many fish that they can't fly until they digest them, so they just waddle down the beach. We have seen them so full they can't even walk.
A panoramic view at the beach and not one person can be seen. When we first started coming here in the 1970's you could find places like this even in the summer.
It was cool the first couple of days we were there, but as you can see it warmed up enough that no shoes, no shirt was no problem.
Nanc even held the pole to try and change my luck. It did not work and for the first time in many, many visits to Hatteras I got skunked.
The happy couple celebrating our 49th anniversary at Pangea. It was a great day and we already have plans to return next year for the BIG 50th.
There are several great restaurants on Hatteras that we support while we are here. Pangea, Oceania Bistro, Ketch 55, Sandbar, Gidgets and High Moon are our favorites. They are all locally owned and at most the owner will be there to greet you. This is Waterhigh, the house band and owners of High Moon. This time of year the bass player, Danielle, is also the cook so when someone places an order she leaves the stage and goes to the kitchen to prepare your meal. 
I'm not sure what kind of birds these are, but we saw hundreds of them heading south for the winter......
.....and that is what we did after two weeks on the island. This is the last time we will cross the old bridge as the new one will be open for our next visit. 
Thousands of birds on shore and in the water as we crossed Oregon Inlet. Maybe we will see some of them in Florida with the rest of us snowbirds.
You can't get out of this area without crossing many bridges. The one over the Alligator River has a swing bridge where we had to wait as several boats passed through. You can see the masts of two sailboats.

We are now in Georgia and will be in Jacksonville over the weekend. We will then be heading further south for a month before going to the Keys for six weeks starting the middle of December.