Sunday, February 27, 2011

Patrick AFB to Everglades National Park--Feb. 10-23, 2011

This is a long post. Don't forget that you can click on a picture to see more detail! Enjoy!

Bob and I pulled out of DeLand on the morning of February 10 and headed for Patrick. We wanted to stock the freezer and get some other necessary items before moving on to Everglades National Park. After stocking up, we decided not to stay at Patrick, but to head down closer to our destination. As we pulled out of the parking lot we heard a horrible scraping sound. Bob immediately pulled over and we both got out to see what was wrong.........As I looked at the back of the rv I let out a huge "oh no!" The tow receiver on the rv had broken. Not just come loose, but completely broke on the passenger side. Another rver pulled over to see if he could help. I turned on the car's emergency lights and we all three proceeded to unhook the towbar from the broken receiver and stow it in the car. It looked like we would be staying at Patrick after all.

From our spot on the side of the main road we drove to the campground and got the last overflow spot! Since we were having 'mechanical' difficulties they would have found a spot for us even if it was in the picnic ground parking lot. We decided to pay for 3 nights. The next day we started looking for a place to purchase and install a new hitch. We found an 'rv expert' that would overnight the hitch and it would be installed on Saturday morning.

We got a refund for our third night at Patrick and headed out Saturday morning to get our new hitch installed...or so we thought. We arrived and no none could tell us if the hitch had arrived. Then the 'rv expert' said it had arrived, took a look at our rv and with an incredulous voice said, "that is a big rv, I can't work on that." Long story shortened, Bob got in the rv, I got in the car, and we drove to Everglades National Park!

Long Pine Key Campground near the entrance to the park was full so we continued to the southernmost campground at Flamingo. As we neared Flamingo (38 miles from the entrance) we saw one of the best sunsets ever. The sky turned a dark pink and looked the color of a flamingo! Of course there is no picture since we were driving in separate vehicles and there was no place to pull over!

We finally arrived at the campground and found a spot to call our own for the next 4 days.Sunday morning we drove to Flamingo visitor center to get brochures and maps. On the radio tower behind the center was an osprey nest. Bob got a picture of the nest, the mother osprey flew in with a fish and fed her babies...... then flew away. I found it strange that the osprey backed away from the nest instead of flying straight.
Also behind the visitor center we saw white pelicans resting on a sand bar.After talking to the rangers, we decided to hike to Snake Bight. A bight is a small bay, but there were a lot of mosquitoes along the way. We had on so much DEET that they flew into us and bounced off--it was a weird feeling.Once we got to the boardwalk at the end of the trail, the wind kept the skeeters off us.
Tuesday was a kayaking day. Nine Mile Pond was the water trail of choice since we were told the others might be too dry. The rangers were right, I wouldn't have wanted to be in a canoe as the water was very shallow in places.We followed the numbered pvc poles through the mangroves most of the way. It is called Nine Mile Pond, but the kayak trail was a little over 5 miles.
Tuesday we did some more hiking. We started the morning with a short hike around Bayshore Loop Trail.

Then we went to Christian Point Trail. It was a much longer trail. It also had skeeters dive bombing us and bouncing off. Along the trail we spotted this osprey.
We stopped at the end of Christian Point to bird watch. A couple arrived about 5 minutes after us and we had a long chat. They were from Colorado Springs.
When we made the return hike 45 minutes later, the osprey was still perched in the same tree.

Later in the afternoon we biked around the campground and to the visitor center parking lot. We had a great time at Flamingo.

Wednesday morning we broke camp and moved north to Long Pine Key Campground. Since there was a three day weekend coming, it would be our base for a week.As you can see, we were prepared. We set up the satellite dish and the screen room! We got internet, but the signal was weak even with an amp and an antenna. We had a phone signal, but it was even weaker since we aren't able to hook our phones to the booster and antenna.

We found a map posted in the campground that had a bike trail. We decided it was time for a long ride. We estimated that the ride to Pine Glades Lake would be about 7 miles and then by road back to the campground would be another 3 or 4 miles. Well, we were wrong! The ride was a little over 15 miles. Here is a picture of us at Pine Glades Lake. We were a little over halfway in our ride!Needless to say were were tired after that ride and we both rested once we got back to the rv.

Thursday we went to Royal Palm and walked Gumbo Limbo Trail and Anhinga Trail. We found a virtual geocache along Gumbo Limbo. Anhinga Trail follows Taylor Slough. The trail is a raised walkway along the slough with boardwalks in some areas. We saw many gators, herons, anhingas, and turtles.
The next day we went just outside the park to bike ride along the canal. We also found several geocaches. As we returned to the park on our bikes, we stopped to get a picture of the entrance sign. Notice that the national park symbol is missing behind me.
Friday night we went back to Royal Palm and Anhinga trail for a night time ranger program. We enjoyed the walk along the slough at night. We got to see 2 bull gators fighting for territory. It was strangely quiet along most of the trail as the birds we had seen during our daylight visit were sleeping.It helped that there was a full moon that night.
While we were at Long Pine, we hiked most of the trails and rode our bikes wherever possible. We had a great time at Everglades National Park.

On Monday we decided to leave the park and drive to the Keys. It has been over 5 years since we last visited. We stopped south of Islamorada to eat lunch at Wahoo Grill. I had the shrimp po' boy and it was more than I could eat. Bob had a cuban sandwich which is his favorite. On our way back to the campground, we stopped at Wal-mart in Florida City to get water and a few other items.

We left Everglades National Park on Wednesday morning and traveled to our next destination. Hmmm.....I wonder where that was?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Time for an Update! October through mid-February

As we were leaving Camp Blanding at the end of October, I couldn't resist taking a picture of the sticker on our grill.....
We arrived home and immediately set about choosing paint colors for the outside of the house. It was in desperate need of a new coat! Bob and I settled on a leather color for the house and kept a dark brown for the trim.

Whew! When that was done, it was time for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Jenn and Andy spent Thanksgiving with us. Bob's parents came for a visit just before Christmas and then Charles and Lisa visited for MLK weekend. We took them to Blue Spring to see the manatees.As January drew to a close Bob and I knew it was time to get back on the road. So our first trip of the new year found us traveling to Huntsville, Alabama to see Bobby who was there TDY until mid-February.

Most of you know we don't like to drive long distances every day so our first stop was at Marine Corps Logistic Base in Albany, Georgia. It was a nice post and since we arrived after dark, a gate guard led us to the campground. We got the last space!

We spent two nights in Albany and were able to pick up some geocaches in the area near the visitor center which also is near the river walk. Our first cache was in the visitor center and the attendant was the cacher who place it! We discussed caching for a while and then we set out to hike the river walk.
When we returned to the visitor center we took time to visit Ray Charles Plaza. Ray Charles was born in Albany and the city has a great memorial to him. The bronze piano fountain has speakers surrounding it playing 'Georgia on My Mind.' And yes,the area around the fountain is painted to look like piano keys.We enjoyed our stay in Albany--who would've guessed!

Then it was on to Ft. Benning, GA. We approached Uchee Creek Campground from Alabama to avoid driving the long distance on post to get to the campground.

Once again we spent several nights before heading to Huntsville. Oh, did I mention it was cold? Well, it was! Not only was it cold, it was rainy. Bob and I have decided we don't like cold.

Once in Huntsville, we stayed at Redstone Arsenal's Fam Camp which was not far from the PX and commissary. Our first night at Redstone, Bobby took us to the Huntsville Havoc hockey game. I hadn't been to a hockey game in many, many years. There was a lot of action, but no bench clearing fights. The mascots we not very animated and did very little to get the crowd involved.

While we were there Bob and Bobby caught up on their online game and I did a bit of reading. It was too cold to go and do much.

Our last day it warmed up enough for Bob to grill steaks and of course we watched the Super Bowl. We all cheered for Green Bay.

I was able to sneak outside and get a picture of a great sunset behind the rv.We didn't waste any time getting home. Bob drove straight for I-75 in Georgia and we headed south. Did I mention it was cold? We spent one night in a rest area in Georgia and made it home the next afternoon. We stuck around for a day to get our mail, then headed out for Patrick AFB and points south.