Thursday, March 12, 2015

Winter in Florida

Our friends Kate and Roger moved from the campground to Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area in Kenansville FL and invited us out to see their setup where they were boondocking.  It was a beautiful day so we decided to ride the bike and enjoy the sunshine.  On the ride out we stopped at a gas station finding it a busy spot as folks were setting out for a day in the swamp.  Check out this vehicle ?

I would love to go for a ride in this boat/truck, swamp buggy.

One can boondock at Wildlife Management Areas for an annual fee of $26, not a bad deal.  This location has primitive camping only during the winter, and there was a lot of people camping, some for the whole time it was open.

Kate and Roger had a nice spot and with their solar panels they were set for two months of camping.

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Mid January Tampa hosts one of the largest RV shows on the east coast.  Pierre and Ann rode with us to experience this show for the first time, it was funny to watch them, they were like kids in a candy shop.  They ride a motorcycle and were looking at toy haulers.  He found this fifth wheel which is a pretty cool idea.  It's new this year and I bet they will sell alot of them.


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In January the park really started filling up.  We thought people would arrive and not leave til March, well some did but there were alot of transits filtering in and out.  Marks business really picked up and he stayed busy all the time.  Friends Heidi and Gail, and I organized a craft show in the park.  It was a nice way to meet people and we had a good turn out, plan on doing one again next year.  Linda and Al who also stay in the park are good bowlers and we haven't bowled in awhile so it sounded like fun.  Pierre and Ann came with us as well, being from Canada they aren't accustom to bowling with larger balls and pins so it was a hoot to watch them.  We all had a good time and plan on doing it on a regular basis next winter.  

The first of February we headed down to the everglades to Big Cypress National Preserve taking the Tamiami Trail HWY 41.


Big Cypress became one of the first national preserves in the United States National Park System when they were established in 1974.  The freshwaters of the swamp are essential to the health of the neighboring Everglades and support the rich marine estuaries along the southwest coast.  The swamp is over 729,000 acres and is home to elusive Florida panther along with gators and snakes.  
Big Cypress differs from Everglades National Park in that, when it was established the Miccosukee, Seminole and Traditional people were provided with permanent rights to occupy and use the land in traditional ways; they also have first rights to develop income-producing businesses related to the resources and use of the preserve such as guided tours and airboat rides.
We spotted several gators along the canals.


There are several stop off points along the way for hiking, birding, kayaking along with a few campgrounds.  In Ochopee you will see the smallest post office in the US.


Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center is a good place to learn about the swamp.  It has a walkway over looking the water where you can view the manatee, such gentle creatures.  
Next we headed south to Everglades City for some lunch and an airboat ride.  This is something I have always wanted to do and can now check it off my bucket list.  We choose Speedy's Airboat Tours as they have smaller boats with a maximum of 6 passengers. They are the only tour company that can go through the Mangrove Jungle and Grasslands.





What a great ride!

We spent the night at a local hostel and then headed out the next morning to check out Naples, Bonita Springs and Fort Meyers for campgrounds for next year possibly.  After checking out several locations we were not impressed with any of them and on average they cost $200-$400 more a month then were are paying now.  So we decided to book again next year in Port St Lucie as we have made friends there, enjoy the weather and area.  

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Our next trip was to Mel Fishers Museum in Sabastian with Pierre, Ann, Daniel, Lucille and Dennis.  It was a nice day for a motorcycle ride and exploring.  The museum was wonderful and rich with information and treasures from the sunken ships from the 1600's caused by a hurricane.  



Once we had our heads full of knowledge our next stop on the way home was Sailfish Brewery in Fort Pierce.  When we arrived the brewery wasn't open for another hour.  After some fancy talking they served us but we had to stay outside in the court yard, not a problem.  The beer was good and the day was sunny, what more could anyone want!


This crazy crew will be back!!!

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We enjoyed several cocktail parties and dinners with our new friends but everything must come to an end.  So we planned a cookout and Mark grilled his famous wings for the Good Bye party by the pool.



A good time was had by everyone and we look forward to seeing you all next year.  Thanks for the memories.

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A couple of days later it started raining at 6 am and didn't stop til 11 am, I tell you the bottom dropped out raining 11".  


This is in front of our camper.

Looking down our road.

Folks had flip flops, coolers and tables float away.

This is looking from the pool.  It was just crazy but luckily no one had any damage.

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Mark left a couple of days later headed to Wilmington to put the van in storage and flew back a week later.  I stayed busy waxing the rig and getting everything packed away for our move north.  

We spent an enjoyable winter in Port St. Lucie, FL and will be back next year.  The weather was better here than it was in Clearwater last winter, being farther south and on the east coast works for us.

Thanks for following our travels.


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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Port St. Lucie, FL

We arrived at Port St. Lucie on November 15, this is where we will spend the winter.  Our campground, Port St. Lucie RV Resort, is small with 117 sites, clubhouse, pool and laundry.  But we are right in town with Hwy 1 only 1 block from us and all the shopping you could want.  The park is tucked in behind a storage unit facility and a shopping center making it rather private.  You really wouldn't know it was here if you weren't looking for it.


 Across the road is a nice development with sidewalks that lead to a park that goes around a lake which is perfect for walking and riding bikes.  We were lucky to get a spot in this area, The Treasure Coast, is very popular being right on the coast and so far the weather has been great.  I was put on a waiting list as folks book a year in advance!  Our site is on a corner with a very large tree and we get afternoon sun near the front of the rig.



 Mark has wanted a popup shelter for a while to park his bike under so we scored one at Sam's Club
with side curtains.   Well we put it up, set up the chairs and tables and voila...a wonderful outside living room. The first week the evenings were chilly so we turned on our outside propane heater, dropped the side panels and we were toasty warm.  Needless to say the bike is not parked under it!

We made friends with a couple from Quebec, Pierre and Ann, and they ride a motorcycle.  So after Thanksgiving we hooked up with Bill (we met him at Fontaineblue State Park in New Orleans) who was spending the holiday with his sister in Jupiter and planned a ride.  Pierre and Ann joined us for a nice ride of the area as Bill knew his way around.  We rode the A1A  down the coast to Juno Beach where we watched windsurfers play in the waves.  Then we visited a Marina checking out the huge yachts seeing how the other half lives.  Lunch was enjoyed in Jupiter by the water front.


Thanks Bill for a wonderful day!

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Our next adventure took us to Daytona Beach for our nephew Randall's graduation from Palmer Chiropractic College.  We stayed at the Dream Inn where Marks brother and wife (Lynn and Susan) were staying.  It was a small hotel with that old time feel.  We had a slider door that opened to a patio that looked right out to the beach, it doesn't get any better than that.  

Daytona Beach is one of the last beaches that you can drive your car on which of course I had to do!


Annelien's parents Christo and Alida and brother Andre flew in from CA.  It's hard to believe that it was two years ago we spent the holidays with them in CA. We all had a great time playing miniature golf in the afternoon.  That night for dinner we went to a wonderful German restaurant complete with a band that provided great entertainment.  


Lots of beer, sauerkraut and sausages for everyone!

The next day was the one Randall had been waiting for......Graduation!!!

This is a post that he made to Facebook that morning and it brought tears to everyone's eyes.


Today, after a very long road, I graduate Palmer College-FL as a doctor of chiropractic.
I want to thank all of my friends, family, and Class 144 for the most memorable experience of a lifetime; countless hours studying, infinite class memories, boards stress, but making lifelong friends and colleagues throughout the process. Also, thank you Annelien Williamson for supporting me every step of the way; without you I would not have been able to achieve such an accomplishment.
I know my Grandpa, Dr. Ray Williamson, DC would be proud and I really look forward to this path and a new chapter as a physician.

          We all know Ray was looking down on Randall as he graduated and was so very proud of him.


                                  You did it Randall and we all couldn't be happier for you!!!  

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                                              There were some visitors to the park one day.


Sandhill Cranes.
These birds are large and tall weighing any where from 9-14 lbs, standing 2.5 to 4 feet with a wing span of 5 to 7.5 feet.  Everybody had their cameras out taking pictures and the birds just looked at us with an expression like "what are you looking at!"

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Originally we had talked about spending the winter around Lake Okeechobee so we decided it would be a good motorcycle ride to check out the area.  Our friends Pierre and Ann came along for the adventure.  Not to far out of the city there are lots of farms and orange groves.  It was nice to be back in the county, then our route took us down this wonderful tree covered road.\ It was the highlight of the ride.


We weren't impressed with Lake Okeechobee but if you were a fisherman than it is a good location.  This is why we like to explore areas nearby for future reference.  We stopped in Indiantown for lunch and then headed home.  It was a nice day to be on the bikes.

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Pierre and Ann were flying back home to Quebec for the holidays so we took them to the airport in West Palm Beach then did some looking around. Trip Advisor told me to check out Clematis street which is the main road through the heart of the downtown area.  The road ends up at the park where the sand tree is every year.  We had been hearing about this on the news and I will say it was very impressive.  


    Across from this park is the intercoastal waterway complete with huge and I mean huge yachts. 


OMG our jaws dropped as we walked along the marina.  The above yacht is 190" long and you can charter it for a week at the cost of $300,000 plus expenses!!!  Were not in Kansas anymore Toto, so this is how the other half lives.  The monthly dock rent is around $3,500.  West Palm is high dollar so we didn't even check out any campgrounds knowing we probably couldn't afford to stay.  We are only an hour north so we can come visit anytime.

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The spot next to us in the campground has been vacant as the park doesn't really fill up til after the holidays.  So we have been parking my truck there, well we came home and there was a trailer setup.  It was a nice young couple, Roger and Kate, and they have been fulltiming for 3.5 months.  They sold everything and hit the road.  It was very refreshing to see this young couple living life outside the box.  We hit it right off and became fast friends.  They like beer, we like beer so we visited 2 breweries having a great time.  The next morning it was decided that 1 brewery would have been a better idea.


A good time was had by all and we will stay in touch.  They are moving an hour north of us to do some boondocking and we will visit them at their new location.  


Roger writes a blog Rolling with Grass and I have added a link to it on my blog list.

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Our grandson Reed and his mom were in Flagler Beach so we made plans to met them at the zoo in Melbourne.


Reed was most fascinated by the monkeys.


Just look at those beautiful blue eyes.  
We were so happy to spend so time with him and his mother.

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Well that sums up the year for us.
  Mark became a certified RV Technician, we white water rafted, walked the Appalachian Trail,  climbed Stone Mountain, kayaked with alligators, drank too much on Bourbon Street, traveled through 5 states (Louisiana being our favorite), visited 6 breweries, spent time with old friends and made new ones.  It was a great year and we look forward to what 2015 has in store for us.
As always,
thanks for following our adventures. 

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