Sunday, August 28, 2016

Heading to Iowa!

Once we returned from the Florida Keys, we knew what we would keep in the motor home and what would be stored at home. Bob and I were ready to start our trip to Iowa, specifically, Forest City and the Winnebago factory for some minor repairs to the motor home. We said our good-byes to friends and family and we were on our way. Our first stop was just for one night at Three Rivers State Park near Sneads, Florida. Our plan was to spend one night and continue to Ft. Rucker, Alabama to see Bobby who was attending school on the base. Three Rivers is a nice park with a small campground. We had reservations for site 15 which was just perfect for our new rig. Unfortunately, after our long drive we weren't able to get out for a walk because it rained. The next morning, the weather had cleared.
 After packing up, we were on the road in record time and we made it to Engineer Campground, West Beach at Ft. Rucker before noon.
Since we had driven all day on Friday, and we didn't drive the car anywhere before moving to Ft. Rucker, the battery was dead when we went to unhook. Our campsite was still occupied and that was a problem. As we were hooking up battery cables a car came around the loop and Bob wanted us to hurry. I took a look at the car and its driver and knew we were okay---it was Bobby! Once the car started, Bob pulled Sol over to a gravel parking area and I drove the car around the campground loop while Bob and Bobby went back to the office to check on our site. It wasn't long before they came back and we had a new site which I thought was better than the original.
 The site was a pull through with the patio area in the shade for most of the day.
 After we got settled we set off to find a place to eat lunch. The first two places we tried were closed on SATURDAY! I don't believe I have ever seen restaurants that close on Saturday. So the third one was open and we ate Mexican burritos and enchiladas while catching up. We saw Bobby on Sunday and Monday evening.

When we weren't visiting with Bobby, Bob and I did a little geocaching near the campground. We didn't do much because of the heat and humidity.

Since Bobby had studying to do, we left on Tuesday. After hooking up the car, we decided to tow it to the dump station while it was still running. What we failed to remember was that the doors automatically lock at nine miles per hour. That's right, the doors locked and with the key in the ignition, the automatic door lock doesn't work. And yes, the windows were all in the up position! I quickly did a search on the phone and found a locksmith that was in the town closest to us. We drove to the location and there was no locksmith....YIKES! We continued down the street and Bob pulled over quickly into what used to be a gas station....the locksmith had moved about 300 yards from her original building. Within minutes she had the door unlocked and we were on our way to West Point, Georgia.  We had a reservation for R. Shaefer Heard COE Campground on West Point Lake.
 Once again, Bob made an excellent choice of sites when he made our reservation. We had a lakefront site that was level and shaded. If I am mentioning shade a lot, it is because the temperatures were in the upper 90's! The shade made all the difference in keeping Sol comfortable.
 Bob loaded geocaches on the GPS and we set off to do a numbers' run on Wednesday. The geocaches were located along a country road and were spaced about one tenth of a mile apart for quite a few miles.
On our way back to our camp site, we happened on  Fort Tyler  in West Point Georgia. The fort was the site of one of the last battles in the Civil War. As we climbed the hill we read all the information about the fort, but once at the top, we forgot to get a photo! On our way back to the car, we did find the geocache in the parking lot.

Thursday we set off toward Columbus, Georgia. We geocached a bit along the way, but only found a few. We ate lunch in The Cannon Brew Pub in downtown Columbus.
After lunch we strolled along Chattahoochee River Walk. Since the last time we visited, there is a white water raft area. We watched as a dad and his two daughters kayaked through the rapids. What we didn't get a picture of was when the dad was teaching them to roll their kayaks! When we first saw the littlest girl go over, we thought she was in trouble, but he helped her complete her roll, then watched as the older daughter rolled her kayak and came up beside it.
The reason for the white water is the dam.
While we were watching the people in kayaks, Bob spotted an osprey trying to eat his catch on the nearby rocks. Not long after we both took pictures of the osprey, a kayak got too near and the osprey flew off, flying very low as his fish was quite big!
The next day we hiked River Park Trail in West Point. The trail begins near this train trestle.
 We followed the trail through the woods near the river. Several ravines had wooden bridges which are great photo ops!
 We spotted this little fellow on the trail.
  The trail was not marked very well and we ended up taking a short cut back to the beginning after about a mile. Yes, it was once again hot and humid.

Saturday morning we drove to LaGrange, Georgia to tour Hills and Dales Estates before heading to Columbus to meet Bobby, his friend Eric and his wife. The house was gorgeous, but photography was prohibited. The house belonged to Fuller Callaway,  the younger Callaway brother. The older brother built Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. After our tour of the 1916 mansion, we walked in the gardens which were started in the 1850's by another family.
The gardens are beautiful and huge! We could have spent several more hours walking through them, but we had to get to Columbus!
We made it to Columbus where we met Bobby, Eric, and Sherlye at The Cannon Brew Pub. After lunch, we said our good-byes to all and headed across the river to Phenix City, Alabama, to visit Chattahoochee Brewing Company before heading back to the campground.

Sunday we did another numbers' run for geocaches in Alabama. We found most of the ones we were looking for and are getting closer to the number 6000!

Monday, we went back to the River Trail and walked the entire loop trail which was a little over three miles

We have enjoyed our trip so far, but it was time to move on. We had more people to visit and places to see. Tuesday would be a moving day.

The Florida Keys--July, 201

When we left St. Lucie, we drove a bit farther than usual (almost 300 miles) to get to Curry Hammock State Park just north of Marathon. The park is relatively new, established in the early 90's, with the campground being completed in 2005. Bob and I were there for two days before Jennifer, Andy and Sydney joined us to spend a week camping.

The guys took advantage of a sunny day to take the kayaks out.
 They followed the trail around Curry Hammock through the mangroves.
While the guys were gone, the girls stayed on the beach and played in the sand. Every now and then we went out in the water to cool off.
 Grandpa and Sydney enjoyed watching the kites flying over the beach at the day use area.
 It didn't take long to figure out the kites were attached to humans on boards! The kite boarders kept us entertained most days when we were on the beach.
We took a day to drive to Key West. We stopped by the naval station and Sydney enjoyed sitting in the big chair.

The only problem was that she didn't want anyone else to sit with her!
A trip to the butterfly garden was on our agenda. We all enjoyed watching the butterflies.
Every evening we took a walk to see the crabs along the nature trail and we ended with a trip to the playground near beach in the day use area.
Any time someone was outside the RV, they were the designated iguana watcher. The iguanas loved the tree next to our picnic table.
Sydney was a big help in the RV. She helped me make desserts.
And best of all, she liked to sweep the sand off the floor.
Jennifer and Andy had to get back to work after their week. The weather was not nice the last few days--lots of rain and wind so no beach activities. Once they left, the weather cleared so Bob and I could go kayaking. I think red was the official color for anyone kayaking with Bob!
Bob and I also visited the two breweries on Islamorada. We toured Windley Fossil Key State Park which was the site of rock quarrying for the railroad that ran the length of the keys.

Bob and I enjoyed our trip to the Keys, but we needed to get home to get ready for our trip to Iowa. Since it was still summer and schools were not in session, we had reservations for the first part of our trip which would begin August 5.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Time for a Trip to the Florida Keys--July, 2016

After our return from Lake Louisa State Park, Bob and I did some maintenance on the motor home, I had more doctor appointments, and we had a neighborhood get together for the Fourth of July. Then it was time to head for the Keys! As usual, Bob and I stuck to the 2-2-2 Rule for RVers. Travel 200 miles, stop by 2 p.m. and stay 2 days!

Our first stop was Patrick AFB. We wanted to stock the pantry and check out the new campsites and shower/laundry room. As we drove into the campground we spotted this family of ospreys nested on top of the loud speaker pole. I don't know how they stood the noise! We couldn't tell if there was one baby or two, but they kept mom and dad busy flying back and forth with fresh caught fish!
Once we checked in and got set up, we made a quick trip to the commissary, then we came back and relaxed. The new campsites look ready for use---they have been sodded and are watered daily by a water truck All the new campsites are pull-throughs. The shower/laundry wasn't open for use, we assume they will open after a final inspection.

After spending a leisurely two days at Patrick, we headed south to a new-to-us park that we have wanted to visit for quite some time--Port St. Lucie South Recreation area by the Corps of Engineers. It is a campground that is very popular and small! Most of the time you need reservations to get in and yes, we had reservations!
The campground has 9 RV sites, with three of those being waterfront. We had site number 2! This is a view of our site from across St. Lucie River. Yes, there were boat slips for overnighting at this park.
This is one of the few Corps of Engineer Parks where you are allowed to walk next to the lock as boats go through and you can walk across the dam to a nature trail on the other side of the river.

It was quite hot in July, but Bob and I found a nice county park where we could hike and geocache. Halpatiokee Regional Park is located not far from the campground. Our first trip to the park, we didn't find the major hiking trail we were looking for, but we did find quite a few geocaches on the smaller trails. Since it was so hot, we tried to get out early to do our hiking. One of the trails in the park was Gopher Tortoise Trail. It was properly named as we saw gopher tortoises and their holes everywhere!
To vary our sight seeing trips, we also visited Jonathan Dickinson State Park. We climbed the tower on the tallest mound of dirt (mountain) in south Florida.
This long boardwalk led up to the tower steps.
I used my phone to get a panoramic view of the area which was an army base in World War II.
 Of course, on a hot, hot day the best place for lunch is a microbrewery! We found Tequesta Brewing Company in Tequesta, Florida. They didn't serve lunch, but the cafe next door delivered!
 There were a lot of places to visit in this area, but the temperatures were too hot to do too many outdoor activities. We definitely want to return to do more exploring.

It was time to move on to THE KEYS!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Still Catching Up--May and June, 2016

Bob and I planned to visit Mayport in early May, but my gall bladder said, ain't no way....not happening. In fact, I'm not sure what happened to May. I do know that as soon as I was given the okay after major gall bladder surgery, Bob and I hit the road. We went for a quick trip to Lake Louisa State Park near Clermont, Florida. Jennifer, Andy and Sydney joined us so we could drive to Disney and activate our tickets. After we got set up, I took it easy for the rest of the day, enjoying our site and the fresh air.

 Once the crew arrived, Sydney wanted to drive the bus. That look says, "P-Paw, hurry up and get my picture, I'm busy driving this bus!"
 Earlier in the week when Sydney found out we were going to Disney, she kept saying she was going to hug Goofy. We had to wait in line, but she got her turn to hug Goofy.
 We all enjoyed a train ride around Magic Kingdom. It helped us cool off a bit.
 It was a long day and it wore me out, but it was a lot of fun. The next day the crew had to leave. Before they got on the road, we walked the boardwalk at the day use area in Lake Louisa looking for gators and other wild animals.
 After saying good bye, Bob and I stayed at Lake Louisa for several days. We did the usual geocaching, hiking (boy was it hot!) and visiting breweries. This trip we visited the Crooked Can Brewery in Winter Park, Florida.

When we returned home, it was time to prepare for our summer trip to the Florida Keys.

Time to Play Catch Up---April, 2016

Bob and I stopped at Patrick AFB before continuing our trip home. We did the usual while there, geocaching, bowling, bike riding, hiking, and visiting micro-breweries.

Our favorite place to geocache in the area is Wickham  Park in Melbourne. The geocaches change every year or so as many mega events are held at the park. Some of our favorite finds this time are pictured below.   The infamous 'pull the finger' cache, yes, you had to pull one of the fingers to shoot the cache out the tube!
 This cache had hollow golf balls and we had to find the one with the log by forcing balls from the bottom of the jar by placing balls in the top of the tube.
 When we arrived at Patrick we were told we missed the bad things that happened the week of them was a fish kill by brown algae. Bob and I found reminders of the fish kill as we walked the path along the Banana River to the Outdoor Rec Center. Not only did we see the fish, but they still smelled really bad! The other bad thing was a water main break that caused all the campers to boil their water for several days.
 On a bright note, the new bathroom/laundry facility is almost finished. It is located behind the new community building where campers register. There were also 30+ new campsites under construction.
 As usual, the sunsets are always beautiful over the Banana River.
Bob and I visited 2 micro-breweries, one in Melbourne--Intracoastal, and one in Cocoa Beach--Cocoa Beach Brewing Company (this one was really a nano-brewery).

We enjoyed our inaugural trip in our new motor home and were looking forward to more!