Merry Christmas! May the Joys of the Holidays Shine Upon You
Wishing you Peace, Love and Happiness in the New Year.
Merry Christmas! May the Joys of the Holidays Shine Upon You
Merry Christmas! May the Joys of the Holidays Shine Upon You
Wishing you Peace, Love and Happiness in the New Year.
When nine visits turns into ten, we may never leave St Augustine again! Channeling The Barefoot Man here 🎶 for a musical note.
Anastasia State Park snuggles up to the St Augustine Amphitheater on where else? Anastasia Island reachable via the (opening) Bridge of Lions or the boring Rte 312 fixed bridge. I’d originally only been able to book two nights at the park but last minute got a third in our same spot.
Lack of snow and bone chilling cold does not impede southern-style Christmas decorating or activities, in fact it’s easier. Holiday-themed nightly events were being sponsored at the Amphitheater and fortuitously Wednesday night (our last night) would find Rockapella gracing the stage, with only a one song warm-up a cappella group. Santa, face painting and a train ride for the kids; food and spiked hot cocoa and coffee for the adults. That Captain Morgan sure knows how to warm you up from the inside out!
The Park was mostly full in the RV/trailer sites but the tent campers were wise to stay home during the extended chill. Our site was a bit narrow but plenty long enough.
The park offered one nature trail, which we enjoyed for its well and oft marked growing things.
You might have noticed how sunny the day was on Thursday while we wasted away inside one building after another. Well, that was about the last of any sun worth mentioning for our entire stay. Can you say “dense fog”? How about “cold front”? No matter; have car can travel… into town…. to shops… to forts …. and to visit boat friends also in Brunswick.
We checked out downtown historic Brunswick (a bit disappointing) and Brunswick Landing Marina where we found a plethora of catamarans. Guess this is a popular and reasonably priced spot for cruisers to leave their boats over the summer, then get it ready for a quick southward zooming.
Over to Jekyll Island where we drove around (just because we could) then over to the marina where Traveling Soul was spending a few days. We’d met Mike and Ann last November at Marineland Marina and shared Thanksgiving with them at Vero. Was great to see them and catch up, each telling as many cruising stories as we could fit in and especially enjoying those that involved others we both knew. Lunch at the Jekyll Island Club’s Cove Cottage, then back aboard for a special treat; Ann’s homemade elixir tonic water and vodka. Not like that clear stuff in a bottle, but a tweaked recipe that included ingredients such as lavender and cardamom. Add a splash of fizz from a SodaStream and vodka (or gin) and you will never feel the same about ordinary tonic water. What a treat!
Saturday the fog blanketed the coastline and even by noon when we headed up and over to St Simon’s Island it still covered the river as we crossed the Sidney Lanier Bridge affording zilch in the way of checking out the ICW. Fort Frederica was our first stop and even a Saturday didn’t bring out the visitors thanks to the unseasonably cool day, although more people were shopping in the village on Mallery St.
I’ve never counted how many forts we’ve visited but this one must put us over ten. Built under the visionary direction of James E Oglethorpe around 1736, the ruins of old Frederica recall the struggle for empire in the Southeast in the 1700s. Spain and Great Britain both claimed the land between St Augustine and Charleston (two great places today!) but Spain’s power was waning in these parts while Great Britain was building a vast empire from Maine to Carolina. As a southern frontier buffer, Georgia was founded in the territory below Carolina. An experiment in idealism, Georgia became the promised land to the “worthy poor”, as prominent English citizens, among them James Oglethorpe, a soldier and politician concerned with the welfare of both the poor and the empire, petitioned the Crown for a land grant south of the Savannah River. A perfect example of one stone, two birds, this was a way to hold the Spanish in check and relieve social distress at home.
Oglethorpe was a man of great energy and vision. He founded and led the Georgia colony for its first decade and under his guidance the colony welcomed immigrants of diverse religious views and national origins, banned slavery and rum, and successfully resisted Spanish attack. In 1734 he sailed down the coast to find strategic points to fortify. He found one on a sea island just below the mouth of the Altamaha River on St Simons.
A military town named for Frederick, the king’s only son, was laid out on a bluff overlooking a sharp bend in the inland passage up the coast. First up was to build a fort; with a quadrangle rampart, four bastions, earthen walls, palisade and surrounded on three sides by a moat, Frederica was well protected. Inside sat 84 lots, most 60 by 90 feet. Each family received a building lot and 50 acres for crops. Residents included a blacksmith, wheelwright, baker, candlestick maker (yep the butcher too!), doctor and tavern keeper. By mid-1740s the population reached about 500 and prospered; growing crops was way easier than in the cold, rocky north and abundant wildlife kept meat on every table.
Two units of troops defended Frederica; Oglethorpe’s own 42d Regiment of Foot and the Highland Independent Company stationed at a Scottish settlement, Darien on the Altamaha River and later at Fort St Simons on the island’s southern tip. Fortunately for the British, Oglethorpe successfully drove back the Spanish from Georgia. But a town born of war was not likely to thrive in peace and Oglethorpe’s regiment was disbanded in 1749. Without the several hundred soldiers’ money, the town could not prosper and by 1755 Frederica was a town without inhabitants, and streets overgrown with weeds. Having outlived its purpose and the final blow, a 1758 fire, Frederica fell into ruin.
We visited the Maritime Museum housed in an old Coast Guard station on the island’s ocean shore. The fog rolled in again, squashing any thought of venturing to the beach.
I’ll bet everyone has experienced this situation with their vehicle: something looks, feels or sounds wrong but when you have it checked out, it’s behaving like a little angel. The crew at Tidewater Hydraulic were great; here we just pull in and within minutes we are in a bay and the mechanic is underneath doing his detective work. No appointment and it wasn’t like they didn’t have other jobs in the works. Slides out and in several times. Jacks down. No leaking seen. Round two and still nothing. Finally after about an hour has passed the manager says that they don’t see any leak and they could replace the hose but why? The mechanic tightens the fitting a bit and the manager says “no charge.” We insist on paying something and settle on $50. I love the south. We’d driven both vehicles just in case Annie had to stay for a lengthy repair.
By this time it’s 11am and we head a few miles away to a Speedco (an ExpressLube for trucks and RVs). While waiting our turn Russ says that we should warm up the generator which promptly quits within seconds of firing up. Ou,ou I know why- the generator is designed not to run when the diesel level is below a quarter full and we probably were that after 500 miles since the last fill-up- only two days prior.
Ok then. We lose our turn, head next door to Love’s for diesel. Thank goodness the pumps are fast-fill and the trucks move up when they are done. The process is time-consuming because you have to go in to pay no matter by which method. Pumps don’t accept credit cards. If you want a receipt then you pull ahead to let the guy behind you move up and go back in. These truck fueling places, Love’s, FlyingJ, Pilot and others are pretty much all alike. They have parking for the truckers, showers, fast food and we RVer’s just have to manage around all that. Some places have RV lanes but we’ve yet to experience that. Many regular gas stations offer diesel and we can carefully fuel up if there’s enough maneuvering room; this is more likely to occur away from the northeast.
Back to Speedco and after only a 15 minute wait we are directed in.
By 2pm we are done; just glad we didn’t go to Slowco! The process moved along, the only hitch was the generator’s oil drain plug was majorly stuck. Worse case was we’d have to drive off and buy a replacement plug if it was ruined during extraction. Nearly every time we’ve stopped for fuel or during these maintenance stops today, Russ gets to engage in conversation with a trucker. The pieces of info are priceless and enlightening, and we are reassured by how friendly and courteous they are to us and each other- well, so far anyway- and on the roads too.
As soon as we returned to our site, Russ jumps out and says that the driver side hub cap fell off, he might have run over it and we have to go back and look for it! That piece need to be removed to check the tire pressure and must not have gotten back on properly. This should be fun- scouting the grassy road edges and median with 3 lanes of traffic whizzing by! Needless to say, that shiny disc remained elusive and I am in jeopardy of losing my “finder” title. Speedco told us to send them the bill after we purchased a replacement from a Freightliner dealer in Jacksonville on our way to St Augustine Monday.
1,047 miles. In three days. I feel like we have been transported in the blink of an eye. I’m pretty sure that traveling that distance in Ms Ortolan would take us 4 to 5 weeks!
Benj bid us farewell in Clinton; he heading due north and we, well, mostly south with enough west to avoid NYC. As we approached The Tappan Zee Bridge a sign proclaimed, “High winds, trucks consider alternate route.” Oh did you see me cringe? Sure, we braved that cross wind, and how great that we basically looked at each other and said “what wind?”
We traveled through snow (teeny bit) and our second KOA stay brought us by cotton fields in North Carolina. White puffy cotton balls balanced atop brick-red stalky bushes created a field of high-topped snow. I had the urge to pull out my nail polish remover but my newly polished toes screamed nooooooooooo.
Three days to Brunswick, GA with each successive day longer than the one before and despite the length, each one an easier drive. The worst stretch is I95 between Wash DC and CT and we avoided most of that. By Day Two my hand was disengaged from the handrail next to my seat and by Day Three I was feet up on the dash, pink piggies smiling in the sun. :-)
The hydraulic fluid leak Russ discovered before Thanksgiving still appeared unchanged as evidenced by the paper towel test. When we had to make an unscheduled stop to retract the bedroom slide a ½” the next move was to find a service place in Brunswick. He’d noticed that section moved out just enough to be noticeable and sure enough when I hit “retract” the slide pulled in. Not sure if the reduced hydraulic fluid had allowed the holding pressure to drop or maybe it was a fluke; either way we needed to address the leak.
At 4pm we arrived at Coastal GA RV Resort, got situated and promptly washed a very grungy Bonny. The park isn’t really a resort but having a pool must qualify it to claim resort status. It’s a huge cement parking lot with grass and shrubs separating each site. But it’s level and allowing vehicle washing at no extra cost is a rarity. Our spot was a pull-through and close to the pool and laundry.
My plans for lovely weather Thursday appeared to be in serious jeopardy thanks to the hydraulic repair and oh while we’re at it let’s do that engine and genset oil change at Speedco and fill up with diesel. Chores first, play eventually.
As we make final departure preparations I must squeeze in a few words about things to be thankful for:
In no special order:
– Two months of projects are done, with only two new issues to resolve
– Spending time with family and friends
– great food and company on Thanksgiving. Awesome pies and we took home some leftovers
– No major injuries or illnesses
– Russ saw an allergist- yippee!!
– The price of fuel is dropping
– My washer/dryer combo unit- love it
– My microwave/convection oven works really well
– Our water pipes didn’t freeze
– Departure day weather looks precip-free
– Adventures lie ahead in the months and years to come
Bonny received her spa treatment despite the cold, windy day available to make that happen. “Wipe New” is as good as its name; just keep it away from the painted sections. That blue painter’s tape came in handy for help with that.
You may not be surprised to see that we relented and opted for a special license plate to complement Bonny’s.
Notice that CT makes a poor choice with the term “camper” plates but cleverly fits in the word. Opted for locking screws, of course.
Much happiness aboard when Benj arrived safely; first at David’s for Thanksgiving feasting. Although I noticed we don’t consume quite as much (pie especially) as we used to, but Seth, Matt and Benj sure ate their share.
Our last four Thanksgivings were spent with 100-plus other cruisers in Vero Beach where most us sat safely on moorings, rafted together so that no one was without a place to be.
Being with our family (missing those in CA and MA as well as those who have passed on) was simply wonderful and we treasure every moment, for who knows where we’ll be next year.
Benj brought us a goodie bag filled with treats he knew we’d love. Dark Chocolate Quinoa cubes, dark chocolate kissed mango slices, the cheese pictured and more.
One last note: this is posting number 401. This means, dear reader, that you may have read 400 posts before this one. Wow! If you even read 25% of them, that’s pretty amazing. Thanks for being a follower or stopping by once in a while. Now that we’ll be traveling the high ways instead of the high seas I can’t predict much except that we can cover as many miles in one hour as we did in one day. See you down south!
Despite all the things we needed and wanted accomplish, high on the list was getting together with friends and family. Dining out was not forgotten either. :-) We tried a few new places; all looked to be a success though we won’t need to return to one. Enjoyed a few old favs but timing and weather kept us away from Lobster Landing. Their version of take-out came in handy though and it’s called ordering a lobster roll “in parts”. All the components are provided, wrapped individually, tucked in a bag along with an instruction card. Wouldn’t expect any less from the top hot lobster roll place in the USA.
Halloween meant we’d head to David’s for our first trick-or-treats “at home” in years. Showers kept away the hordes and all we heard about was the best costume, George Washington, who arrived before we got there! Well, I made the most of it.
During the summer months our favorite go-to wine emporium regularly offers Saturday tastings on the deck with evening events during the week. Lucky if we get to one. Fall and winter means a kicked-up schedule that includes tasting events of the non-vino variety. Yep, always looking for the bright side to the cold weather. One event we jumped at (you need to reserve space) was a tasting of Saxtons River Distillery’s small-batch, craft-made maple-based liquors aged in American oak. Talk about high quality, unique and tasty.
My friend Linda had been pressed into plant caretaker service this summer before we left for Maine. The collection looks better than ever. Now if it can withstand the cold for just a few more weeks…… brrrr.
Remember Micky Dolenz? The Monkees- right? Well he was starring in “Comedy is Hard” at the Ivoryton Playhouse with Joyce Dewitt so couldn’t pass up a girls’ night out to see that. While there we saw the house manager, a former co-worker who promptly signed up Cathy and I to usher in Nov at the Chester Meeting House for “Becky’s New Car”.
The cold weather continues to encourage hot meals using cookware I rescued from storage. Eggplant meatballs, a Frugal Gourmet recipe, is an easy dish that results in moist and flavorful meatballs. A copper casserole that I inherited from my parents was the perfect size. Alone or with pasta and a side salad, delicious!!
Local Channel 8 (ABC) weather for the shoreline and inland, one phone set to Clinton and the other to Killingworth (north), we tried (more for fun than anything else) to determine if we were still shoreline or had crossed up to inland with its colder temps and greater likelihood of SNOW. On Nov 14 you can see we got our answer as the green was rain all day and the blue was (at least that time) sleety, slushy snow-like precipitation.
By the third week of November, “put up wall photos” made its way onto the list; I thought it was never going to happen. Our lounge (that’s what the light switch says) and galley areas have minimal wall space so we grabbed a few small prints, some sea fans and left the rest in storage.
Our venture into New Haven brought us to Miya’s Sushi where owner Bun Lai has created “sushi for the masses”- as well as a mind-boggling array of sushi for those who can spend just a bit more. This is not the type of restaurant we’d ever set foot in if not for someone holding our hand. So thank you to Cathy and PJ and kudos to Russ for bravely ordering and eating sushi. The chopsticks were another story. :-)
Romping: whole wheat tempura-fried tilapia, papaya, goat cheese, and African spices
Invented by Maasai chefs of Kenyan sushi bars.
California Roll Royale:
Maryland blue crab meat and sliced avocado, drizzled with curry sauce
The sake was cold which surprised me as I thought sake was usually served warm. Each couple shared a bottle and while I can’t recall the exact name, one was something along the lines of “Emerald Witches Lips”.
Now if we could just muster up a bit of black magic to make the white magic (snooooooow) vanish before dumping on us Wednesday (sorry kids), this mom would be greatly relieved. Can a broom be used in lieu of a shovel? it worked as a rake. Maybe we could shuffle it off to Buffalo. :-)