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Friday October 5, 2018

We were exicited about returning to Jekyll Island Campground near Brunswick. We had just pulled onto the interstate when we heard a loud explosion. The left rear RV tire blew and caused sigificant damage to the siding, undercarriage and the back slide. I changed the tire and we went home.

We have had more than our share of flat tires. After some internet research, we found that we have the wrong size tires on the RV. We were using LT load E instead of ST load G. Big diffence. We replaced all five tires including the spare. Hopefully, this will reduce future problems which are expensive and dangerous.The RV repair is going to cost us $500. Insurance will pay the remaining $5,000. We will be back on the road soon. We will "keep on truckin".

Friday August 31 -Monday September 3, 2018 Trip 129

We went to the KOA in St. Augustine for the Labor Day Weekend which has become a tradition. The trip began on a sour note. I had started the stove on Thursday night to make sure we had a good gas flow before started the refrigerator. I forgot to shut of the stove burner and when I got to the RV Friday afternoon it was incredibly hot. I think this caused the demise of the 14 year old refrigerator. We survived using coolers and restaurants but the new refregerator cost a small fortune.

I was able to get out and take some pictures. I took several during the rain while I was sitting in the truck with the window open.

I took my kayak but due to the rain, winds and unfavorable tides I was not able to use it. Our grandaughter visited us on Sunday and did artwork with Linda. She is quite the artist and hand drew this picture with ink pens. This talent did not come from my side of the family.

Check-out time was 11AM on Monday and we were packed on gone by 9:30. We had an enjoyable trip and a relaxing afternoon at home.

Saturday, June 2 - Saturday June 9, 2018 Trip 128

Saturday June 2

We left for a long anticipated trip to Fall Creek Falls State Park , north of Chattanooga, Tn. It is without question my favorite Sate park. We stopped for gas in Hahira, Georgia and bought "lucky" rooster. We have always wanted one. Shortly after that, we had a flat tire on the Macon bypass (I-475). I managed to change the tire without getting flattened by a semi. Maybe the lucky rooster needs batteries.

We stopped overnight at the KOA in Forsythe, Georgia which has deservedly earned its one star rating. It is half-way between home and Fall Creek Falls. As they say, "location, location, location." We had dinner at Wendy's near the interstate instead of Grits Cafe downtown. Forsythe is a small place.

Sunday June 3

We drove from Forsythe to Fall Creek Falls State Park in Tennessee without any problems. We took the back way to the north entrace through Pikeville. We encountered some curvy mountain roads which I enjoyed driving on. The ranger had selected our lot for us and it was perfect.I managed to back-it without any damage to the rv or campground. No animals were harmed during this manuever. This is a huge park with a golf course, pool, lake and awesome hiking trails.

The park received a lot of rain the week before our arrival and Fall Creek Falls was on full power. People were unable to hike to the pool at the bottom of the falls due to the amount of spray and mist. Two days later, the Falls was almost a trickle.

Monday June 4 (fall pics)

Burgess Falls State Park has a two-mile round trip hiking trail that passes four waterfalls before ending at Burgess Falls. It is a very strenuous hike with lots of elevation changes. (My maximum heart rate was 143.) The hiking trail is well maintained has does not have lose rocks or gravel. You cannot hike all the way to the bottom of the falls because the stairs are closed due to erosion around the support columns.

On our return to the park, we stopped at Wal-Mart in Sparta, which is forty minutes from the campground. McDonalds is nearby. Starbucks, forget about it.

Tuesday June 5 (pics) Hike fall creek falls, less water

Wednesday June 6

We decided to visit Nashville for the first time and toured the six acre indoor gardens at the Gaylord Operland Hotel. Pretty awesome. We took a ride on the General Jackson Paddlewheel boat for lunch, a country music show and site seeing.

We also went to see a full size replica of the Greek Parthenon which was originally built for Tennessee's Centenial Celebration in 1897. This is worth the trip just to get an understanding how massive the building was and how incredible it is that the original was built around 250 BC.

We got stuck in rush hour traffic leaving Nashville and I made a major navigation error in Sparta and we ended up in McMinville instead of Spencer. We finally made it back to the RV around 10 PM. Tennessee has outstanding state parks but could stand to spend some money on road signs and street lights. On the way to Nashville we stop at a no-name gas station and bought some awesome pork BBQ for breakfast.

Thursday June 7 Hike to suspension bridge and pine creek falls Hike to Cane Falls on cable trail

Friday June 8

We decided to leave a day early so that we could spend a day in Atlanta. Friday went downhill from the start. We were unable to retract our slides and, after much debate, we finally were able to pull them in one at a time. I decided to replace an older tire on the RV with the new one purchased in Macon. We ended up leaving around 1 PM instead of planned departing time of 10 AM.

We stopped for gas in Dalton, Georgia and got off in a crowded a busy area. I was smart enough not to try an get gas at the crowded gas stations but not smart enough to avoid trying to turn around in the Kroger parking lot. I got trapped in a tight area and scrapped a car with the RV. That added $1,000 to our trip cost and added at least an hour to our drive time. We arrived in Atlanta in time to enjoy some horrific Friday rush hour traffic. We decided that Atlanta was not in the cards and drove to Forsythe for the night.

Surprisingly, we had an excellent dinner at El Tejado Mexican Restaurant (eltejadomexican restaurantga.com) . Their chunky gacumoley was fantastic.

Saturday June 9

We drove home from Forsyth and arrived safely at our house around 4:30. I am not sure why the drive took so long. My guess is that Linda wantedto stop 11 minutes for lunch.

Awesome and wonderful trip!!!!!!!

Friday May 18 - Sunday May 20; Trip 127

We finally returned to our favorite lot at Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine. The camping loop had been closed for some time while they upgraded the electric service to 50 amp. This was long overdue as the old 30 amp service was very unreliable.

Thursday December 21 - Tuesday December 26, 2017:Trip 126

We spent the Christmas Holiday at Compass RV Resort in St. Augustine. It had been 28 days since our last visit. Our hosts, Jes and Patricia, were in the Christmas Spirit. We had our favorite lot which we reserved way in advance. The park was packed. We are excited to see the progress in the “Grove”, a new section with 60 campsite with brick pavers. The road is in and some of the lots were being used. It’s great to see all the lot configurations including buddy lots.

For the first time in years, we decided to decorate our RV for Christmas. We went to Lowes and found some decorations for 50% off. Our RV was voted “best decorated” by our son. (Vote count was 1-0). Although we had two Christmas trees (outside and inside), Santa passed me by. Luckily I had already bought my own stuff.

I took some great pictures at St. Augustine Beach, Anastasia State Park and Matanzas Inlet. The beach was busy despite the cold weather. I captured a large group of Black Skimmers on a sandbar in the middle of the inlet during low tide and an elusive gopher turtle at the State Park.

I made the ride home safely with the assistance of my feline co-pilot. She sees everything but is a poor communicator. The dog slept. Linda drove separately in her car.

Friday November 3 - Monday November 4, 2017; Trip 125

We made our first trip to Perry, Florida and stayed at the local KOA. The purpose of the trip was to visit St. Mark's National Wildlife Refuge to see the annual monarch butterfly migration and to hopefully kayak on some of the local rivers. We also planned to visit the top two things to do in Perry: the Florida State Forestry Museum and the Book Mark (new and used books). I think # 3 was Wal-Mart.

Saturday began with a trip to St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge after a trip to the Town of St Marks due to a navigational error. The weather was perfect and it was interesting to see so many butterflies on a single bush. They were hard to photograph. We went to Savannah's Country Restaurant and Buffet for lunch for some excellent and unhealthy food. We then searched for kayaking sites without much luck. Most of the rivers were hard to access and not very scenic.

We went to Keaton Beach to watch the sunset over the Gulf. It was awesome.

Sunday's big trip was to the State Forestry Museum. It was a small well done museum about the forestry industry in Florida. We were hoping for more information on the types of trees in Florida.

That afternoon, I went kayaking on the Wacissa River in Jefferson County which is not an easy place to find. There are twelve springs within the first mile and one half of the river but they were hard to find. I elected to kayak up a side spring feed creek which was a good choice. The river has a lot of aquatic vegetation and a narrow clear channel.

We left Sunday at 9.30 and arrived safely at around 2:30. We covered the 140 trip at a blazing average speed of 25.5 miles per hour. We had a flat tire on I-10 which we discovered when we stopped at Loves truck stop near Madison for lunch at their Arby's. It took me an hour and a half to change the tire. I still don't understand why it took so long to get home. It was a great trip with no complaints.

Friday September 1 - Monday September 4, 2017; Trip 124

We were all packed and ready to go to St Augustine for the Labor Day Weekend when noticed that we had a nail in the left front tire of the truck. This was our first flat on the truck in 13 years. We had in repaired in less than an hour and still arrived at our campsite before dark. There was a beautiful class A coach parked next to us with a nice view of the back of our RVwhile we had an unobstructed view of the lake. (editors note. pic of lake view in top right corner and pic of owners RV at night in lower left. )

Parker went to Pet Paradise (fancy name for pet sitter) on Saturday to play with other dogs and we took advantage of the time with a little shopping and dining out. The weekend was devoted primarily to RV maintenance. The park has cable and we were able to watch the Alabama-FSU game which did not live up to the pre-game hype.

Sunday was more RV maintenance however we were able to meet Allen and Danielle for dinner. Her baby is due in two weeks and she can't wait. She looks a little uncomfortable to me. We left Parker in the car with the AC running. We could see him from our table. We looked out and somehow he managed to roll down the window and he had his head out. Sunday evening I went out and spent some time taking photos of Roseate Spoonbills and other water birds. I got some nice shots.

We left Monday morning and were home by noon. It was an enjoyable weekend and it's always nice to escape. The RV returned in better shape than it left.

Friday August 18 - Sunday August 20, 2017; Trip 123

We made a hot summer trip to Ft. Clinch State Park in Fernadina Beach and stayed at the Beach Campground. It is newly renovated with a nice bathhouse and 50 amp service on some sites. All the sites are easy to back into. We arrived and set-up early enough to enjoy the sunset. I went for a walk along the inlet to the beach after dark. It was so dark even with my flashlight, I couldn't see the fishing pier which runs parallel to inlet. I later found out that it was so heavily damaged by Hurrican Mathew that it was demolished.

I always enjoy taking pictures when we go camping. On this trip, I brought a 10 foot step ladder to take angle shots, my new tripod and my flash equipment. The only thing I forgot was the actual camera. The first time in 123 trips. I took some nice pictures with my cell phone.

Despite the weather forecast, we had beautiful weather and no rain. We enjoyed Friday's sunset and had a limited sunset view on Saturday due to the clouds. Saturday's sunrise was uneventful and I slept past sunrise on Sunday.

I walked down the inlet beach from the campground to the Fort. I was a longer walk than I thought, probably 2 miles. I returned on the hiking trails next to the road. These are some of the nicest state park trails with evalation changes due to the bluffs. I took a nice picture of a deer. I saw 5 deer in total including a doe.

Cell phone service is weak and sporatic. You could use the internet but we were unable to stream any movies or u-tube videos. Such a hardship!

Sunday morning we lazily packed up, left the park at 11 AM and were home at 1:00. It was a safe, enjoyable trip and a nice weekend escape.

Friday July 28 - Sunday July 30, 2017; Trip 122

Our trip to Paynes Prarie State Park south of Gainesville turned out to be quite an adventure. We arrived before dark. however, due to the location of the trees, we were unable to back the RV into the site. I did manage to get wedged between a tree in front of the truck and one behind the RV. It took me awhile for be to maneuver out of that dilemma. Finally, due to darkness and misquitoes, we gave up and headed back home.

We decided to stop at the KOA in Starke, which is about 35 north of Gainesville and closer to home. We never had a reason to stay there before but it turned out to be a nice, well maintained park with friendly staff. Good location: one mile north of SuperWalmart and one one south of Sony's BBQ (Starke's major tourist attractions). Of course we made two trips to Walmart and ate Saturday night dinner at Sonny's.

Saturday morning I drove to Mike Ross Goldhead State Park which was about 30 miles away, just north of Keystone Heights. We have never camped there and I did recon and found serveral sites that we can easily park in. (Lesson learned from Paynes Prarie debacle.) The lakes were full of water and water lillies. We plan to stay there in the future. I hiked down into the ravine which is awesome and a must for anyone who vists the park. Be aware that there are 83 steps to climb to get back out. It didn't seem that many on the way down.

That afternoon, Linda and I toured the town and found some awesome old, interesting and well maintained homes on Walnut Street. We then visited Powells Dairy Freeze on Highway 301(Family owned for 43 years). Linda stopped there many times back in the day. It turned out that the memories were better than the ice cream. I convinced Linda to drive to Lake Butler, the county seat of Union County, as part of my quest to visit all 67 Florida county seats. It is a small place but we did find the lake. (52 so far.)

Sunday's forecast was for 100% percent chance of rain so I hooked-up the RV Saturday night so that all we had to do to leave on Sunday was to unplug the power and leave. This turned out to be a good choice. We got home Sunday around noon after an enjoyable trip. We you camp, you have to be flexible.

Friday June 30 - Tuesday July 4, 2017; Trip 121

I took Monday off and turned the July 4th Holiday into a four day weekend. We stayed closed to home in St. Augustine at Compass RV park www.compassrvpark.com. We arrived Friday at 5PM and went out to eat to allow the air conditioners cool off the RV. Our dog, Parker stayed with another camper who watches pets for a small fee. She lives at the park but unfortunately is moving to Ocala.

I spent most of Saturday enjoying the outdoors and taking pictures. One of the places I visted was Guana State Preserve off A1A north of Vilano Beach. The park has a eartnen dam at the main vistors center that separates Lake Guana to the North from the river to the South. I enjoyed watching the people fishing and crabbing from the shore and the kayakers. Its a unique place to visit.

On Monday morning, Linda took our granddaughter to Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum. They didn't believe it but had fun. Later that day, I drove out State Road 207 to visit the Town of Hastings. When Flagler developed St. Augustine he asked his cousin Hastings to create a farm west of town to provide fresh vegatables to his hotels. There are still many farms in the area but the actual town is almost non-extistent. Its claim to fame is that it is the potato capital of Florida.

On Tuesday, we packed up and were home by noon. Very nice weekend.

Friday April 25- Sunday April 27, 2017; Trip 120

We went to St. Augustine and stayed at Compass RV. Details and pictures to follow.

Friday January 27 - Sunday January 29, 2017; Trip 119

We braved another trip to St. Augustine under cold and windy conditions. We stayed at Compass RV and spent most of our time indoors. Compass continues to make improvements and now has a gated entrance and a new clubhouse pavillion.

Its always enjoyable to get away. We spent Saturday with our granddaughter. Linda took her to the movies to see "A Dog's Story" while I drove around with our dog Parker and took pictures. Linda and Melia played cards after the movies. I had to decide between working on the RV or taking a nap. I chose to nap.

Allen and Danielle came over to the RV and cooked us dinner. We played Kanasta and I lost, again. I'm on a losing streak.

We had a lazy Sunday morning and just met the noon checkout deadline.

Thursday December 8 - Sunday 11, 2016; Trip 118

We decided to go to St. Augustine despite the forecast of cold and very windy conditions. The wind made outdoor activites cold and unpleasant. We made an inventory of items that needed repairing and went to Ocean Grove RV to order the parts.

Our granddaughter Melia came over for a visit on Saturday. She and Linda made bunch of holiday craft ornaments. She also enjoyed riding the electric scooter around the park.

We returned home on Sunday without any problems.

Friday November 18 - November 20, 2016; Trip 117

We went to Stephen Foster State Park in White Springs, Fl (population 786) for our 2nd annual group Thanksgiving Campout. (It was the Group's 13th, we are late comers). The weather and the park were both gorgeous. We left Friday morning and arrived around lunchtime.

I went to Big Shoals State Park to check out the Suwannee River and plan my Saturday kayak trip. The river was closed due to low water conditions. The river had no water flow and had dry spots where you would have to carry your kayak. Friday night we had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner with the group.

Saturday morning I went to McDonalds at the interstate (3 miles) for a take-out breakfast and Redbox videos. I decided to drive to Suwannee River State Park and check out the campsites and enjoy the drive in the country. I needed fuel but the town's gas station was out of diesel so I drove back to the interstate for a fill-up.

Saturday night we had a Thanksgiving feast with the group (about 35 people). Dinner included smoked pork, fried turkey, all the fixings and a ton of deserts.

We left Sunday morning around 10:30 and were home by 12:30. Easy trip home.

Friday October 22 - Sunday October 23, 2016; Trip 116

We went to Paynes Praire State Park in Gainesville, one of our favorite. Details and photos to follow.

Friday September 2 -Monday September 5, 2016; Trip 115

For Labor Day weekend, we made a short trip to the KOA Campground in st. Agustine Beach. Details and pictures to follow.

Saturday July 2 - Monday July 4, 2016; Trip 115

We decided to go to Compass RV Park in St Augustine for the 4th of July Holiday weekend. We drove down on Saturday morning to avoid the crazy traffic and afternoon heat.

The campground had a band on Saturday and Sunday night at the fire circle which was about 20 feet from the RV. I used the word band because the word "music" didn't fit. Two different bands neither of which could, in our opinion, play non-painful music. I think it even hurt the dog's ears.

Our granddaughter Melia came for a visit on Sunday and we went out for a nice lunch and the she did artwork with Linda and we played two games of Rummikub. I lost both.

Our RV awning is disintegrating (10 years old). Melia helped me rip off some of the dangling pieces. I stood on the picnic table with Melia sitting on my shoulders. Luckily, Linda didn't see us. She would have freaked.

We left Monday morning around noon and were home and unpacked by 2 PM. Nice trip.

Friday September 2 -Monday September 5, 2016; Trip 114

For Labor Day weekend, we made a short trip to the KOA Campground in st. Agustine Beach. Details and pictures to follow.

Friday May 27 - Sunday May 30, 2016; Trip 113

We visted Compass RV in St. Augustine. Details and pictures to follow.

Thursday April 21 - Sunday April 25, 2016; Trip 112

We visted Compass RV in St. Augustine. Details and pictures to follow.

Friday March 18- Sunday March 20, 2016; Trip 111

We decided to get away for the weekend despite the forecast for 80% chance of rain. We went to St. Augustine KOA and our granddaughter spent Saturday with us. It was a nice weekend with NO rain. I'm glad the weather forecasters are so bad at their jobs.

Linda and Melia went to the movie "Miracles from Heaven" while I drove around and bought RV repair parts and took photos.

We left early on Saturday to try and attend Palm Sunday services at church. We missed the service but made the picnic afterwards. Nice weekend overall and nothing broke.

2015 Summary

We only made five camping trips during the year compared to an average of about 12. The last part of the year was especially frustrating due to mechanical problems with the truck and the Florida State Park Services inconsiderate use of fences.

The truck needed new head gaskets and without a tow vehicle we had to cancel our planned fall trip to Paynes Prairie State Park, a group campout at Ft. Clinch State Park and Thankgiving at Anastasia State Park

Finally with a fully repaired and operational truck we went to Anastasia State Park for a ten day stay for the Christmas and New Year holidays. We arrived on Christmas eve and were unable to back into our lot due to two fences installed by the State Park without much thought. We returned home safely the day. The next day I noticed that we had another flat tire.

Friday August 7 - Sunday August 9, 2015; Trip 110

The St. Augustine Beach KOA was again our destination to spend some time with our granddaughter. Linda and our granddaughter Melia art journals (great fun) and tie dyed tee shirts (big mess).

I climbed to the top of the lighthouse which was more strenuous than I thought. It has 219 steps on a spiral staircase and is the equivelant of climbing a 14 story building. But what a view.

I saw a group of about 25 roseate spoonbills next to a retention pond, of all places. They had all landed to wait out a nasty group of thunderstorms. I normally only see one or two at a time.

Friday June 12 - Sunday June 14, 31, 2015; Trip 109 Williston Crossing RV Resort http://www.willistoncrossingrv.com/ Bubbaquest cedar lakes woods and gardens http://www.cedarlakeswoodsandgarden.com/ Tyrannosaurus rex A T.rex named sue http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/ Butterfly Rainforest Florida Museum of Natural History at University of Florida

Friday May 29 - Sunday May 31, 2015; Trip 108

We went to St. Augustine for a weekend trip after replacing our AC/DC converter and other miscellaneous repairs. Everything worked fine. Summer is here and we were glad we have two AC units.

Friday night I watched the sunset over the river but, due to the lack of clouds, there wasn't much to photograph. I went downtown and took some nightime pictures. No great pictures but I enjoyed myself.

My Saturday morning outing was rained out so I went back to the RV for a nap. Linda and I had an outstanding take-out Philly steak sandwich from the "World Famous" Oasis Restaurant. Later that afternoon I spent several hours a Matanazas Inlet and Washington Oak Gardens State Park enjoying the sun and taking pictures

Sunday morning we packed up for the trip home. I happened to notice that the front left RV tire was missing chunks of tread. With the help of a neighbor camper, I changed the tire. Lucky I noticed the damage before the tire came apart on the interstate.

322 nights in the RV

Friday March 27 - Sunday March 29, 2015; Trip 107

We went to St. Augustine for a weekend trip with our new batteries and tire (see trip 106).

Our grandaughter Melia spent Saturday afternoon and night with us. She had a had fun playing games, doing crafts and reading. She enjoyed reading Shel Silverstein's "Falling Up" and she is great at the card game Ratuki. On Sunday, Linda took her to see the movie "Cinderella".

Our new batteries slowly lost their charge and when we return to the storage lot they did not have enough power to run the hydralic legs to lift the camper off the truck. A nice young man helped us and we used jumper cables and that problem was solved. We obviously have a problem with the ac/dc converted box which means another trip to the RV repair shop.

Friday February 20 - Saturday February 21, 2015; Trip 106

I went to Ichnetuckee Canoe and Cabin for a one night stay with my son Michael and my friend Tom. The purpose on the trip was a ranger lead sunrise canoe trip on the Ichetucknee River. We arrived shortly after dark and noticed that we had a flat tire on the RV. We dedicided to worry about that later. Tom brought some awesome pizza rolls for dinner and we played Rumicube until the lights started fadeing. We had an electrical problem with the batteries and dedcided to worry about that tommorrow along with the tire.

We awoke at 5:10 to 31 degree canoe weather but had planned ahead and brought layers of clothes. We shared a canoe and I sat in the middle and enjoyed the scenery while Michael and Tom did the paddling. You can only be on the river at Sunrise if you are on a range lead paddle and this was my first such trip; which is limited to 8 canoes. It was also the first time I have seen manatee in the river and we spotted at least 9.

Tom and I took a kayak trip on the Ichnetucknee after lunch and Michael went to Oleno State Park to go hiking. The kayak trip was totally awesome. We saw three manatees that enjoyed rubbing against our kayaks and having their backs scratched. We also watched three young racoons bathing and cleaning each other.

We changed the tire (I watched Tom and Michael) and put my backup car battery in the RV and we were good to go. I was home by 8:30 without any additional worries; just an upcoming bill for two batteries and a tire.

Wednesday December 24 - Sunday December 28, 2014; Trip 105

We spent the Christmas holiday at KOA in St. Augustine. Our son, Allen, girlfrien Krystyna, Linda and I enjoyed the Christmas brunch at the Downtown St. Augustine Hilton. Excellent service, good and killer deserts. (We also recommend the breakfast brunch- we are not cooks, and the Hilton has a high level of quality control, even during major holidays.) After brunch, Allen gave us a tour in his pedicab. After our tour, Allen continued to pedicab and Christina, Linda and I returned to the RV and watched “Love Actually,” our favorite Christmas movie.

Friday morning I visited Faver-Dykes State Park, located 15 miles south of St. Augustine on US1. It's a nice wooded park with pine and oak trees and is on Pellicar Creek, which connects to the Intercoastal Waterway which connects to the Matanzas River. The campground is nice but NOT big rig friendly due to the narrow and twisting campground road and the short sites. High clearance will be a concern to fifth-wheelers. I will prepare a campground review page for this park.

Our granddaughter, Melia, spent Friday and Saturday with us in the RV, and she had a wonderful time learning Zentagles (a trademarked way to doodle, believe it or not) and calligraphy and other projects with Linda. We were so proud that she enjoyed the art projects and card games Linda had planned to share with her. The TV was never on. She also learned to play a crazy card Ratuki, we all yelled it out so many times during game play. Melia’s dad Allen and Krystyna also slept over. The family, Allen, Krystyna and Melia, all fit on the new queen-size Aerobed with blow-up headboard. It was very pricey, about $160, and took up the entire living room when inflated. we call it "bait," because we love family and friends to stay with us. We also bought a new large tent for guests, but these folks are pretty spoiled. Our grown children are smart enough to choose the fake fireplace with heater, and LG digital TV, indoor bathroom and frig over the "the great outdoors."

On Saturday morning, we dragged Melia out of bed to see the sunrise over the Atlantic at the St. Augustine Beach Pier. She was a bit sleepy and the sunrise was not the most spectacular, but I imagine it was the first Melia has ever seen. Afterwards, Linda and Melia went back to the comfort of the RV and I drove 25 miles south to the Flager Beach Pier and had coffee at the Funky Pelican which has a nice view overlooking the beach and the pier.

That afternoon, after more drawing and card games, we went to the art show and found some great photos taken by Glenn Martin. We ended up buying a crazy metallic alligator for our kitchen wall. Melia’s Uncle Mike, Aunt Angie, and Uncle Danny (our hopeful son-in-law to be) all came to the RV for visits. They enjoyed our festive traditional Chrismas meal, Wendy's Chili in the crockpot with disposable liner; we know how to camp. Melia went home just before dark on Saturday dragging a bag full of art supplies, books and games. We are rededicated to combing through the RV to pull out all the games and get them organized now that Melia is old enough to play cards (and beat the pants off of us!)

We packed-up and went home on Sunday morning; arriving both exhausted and refreshed.

Thursday November 19 - Sunday November 22, 2014; Trip 104

Thanksgiving came a week early for us as we met up with some fellow camping friends at Oleno State Park, between Ft. White and High Spings, FL., northwest of Gainesville and south of Lake City. Oeano is very close to our favorite Ichetuknee Family Canoe and Cabins Campground at the head of the spring run. This park and campground generates the majority of the visitors to our blog. This beautiful crystal-clear spring run is a favorite for Florida tubers in the summer, but we prefer the “off” months for kayaking and canoeing. I took a few friends who have never been on the Ichetuknee River. Clearly, you’ve not enjoyed the real “cool” Florida if you’ve never been there. Check our campground reviews for pics.

Being November, the shrubbery is a “Florida Fall Camo,” but still breath-taking. Rent kayaks for $16 at the privately owned campground at the North Entrance and they will put you in and be there 1.5 hours later to take you out. I left our own kayak at home and enjoyed the valet service and the kayak was much better than my own. The weather was predicted to be stormy, but it was mostly drizzle which didn’t last long. Linda sat this one out, preferring the fake fireplace, adjustable bed, internet and both electric and propane heat at the camper curled up with the poodle and the cat. What a wimp.

Oleano has two camping loops: Dogwood (older? Much smaller sites-impossible for a rig as big as ours) and Magnolia(newer? Better, but still call the park if you have a really big rig. The sites look larger than they are and they have added wooden fences to make the sites even smaller. Boo for wooden fences. Still the site was perfect for us. We admit we lucked out. Our extended length truck makes backing in the 38 foot camper a challenge. 38 ft truck + 22 ft truck=do the math……BTW regular length pickup truck fifth wheelers will never understand that it’s not the same rules for backing up. LOL

Oleano has a small suspended bridge and a lovely little trail around the water. The pavilion looks very inviting. On Saturday there was a Screech Owl presentation at the nature center at 10 am. At 2 pm there was a craft at the center. I’m not a crafty person, but Linda would have gone happily. Don’t miss this little jewel of a park.

Friday, October 23 - Sunday October 26, 2014; Trip 103

Linda and I went to Fort Clinch State Park for a three day weekend. This is one of our favorite parks. You can choose the River or the Ocean Campground. We prefer the River Loop after one very windy and cold night years ago. We usually see buses and big RVs there; tent campers will appreciate the River Campground and the tree cover to block the wind. Allen and Christina joined us and camped in the living room. After all these years we still haven’t found a Montana layout plan that can beat our 2005 Montana 3400.

Parker (a.k.a. “The Barker”-truly a more shrill bark has never been heard) made his second trip. Upon his first steps out of the camper door he was nose to nose with an armadillo. This confused our pup and he was very subdued the rest of the weekend. (The world is a scary place to out Bichon/poodle mix.) Windy, the cat also came and they managed to both share the glove box “seat” between the pick-up’s front seats. Driving into the park in the evening, upon their arrival, Allen and Christina spied raccoons, deer, and armadillo on the drive in. By the way, the drive inside the park must be 5 miles. A convenience store is about a block toward the beach near the park entrance. Plan ahead.

We purchased the RV in July 2005 and finally replaced the original tube TV's with digital models. Christina and Allen did the shopping and the installation. What a team. They quickly completed the project and returned to the store for….wait for it….a bigger screen! Whoopee! What a difference! Our reception at Ft. Clinch went from none to every network. Linda used her cell phone as a hotspot so that her I-pad could show Netflix shows (we’re hooked on West Wing) on the TV's. We also added Chromecast to both TVs, not really understanding how much data “casting” used. We now know that we use about 1 gig to watch 1 hr of Nexflix TV. This is pricey, but fun. You can also “cast” You-tubes to the big screen. (Don’t judge-this was all new to us and so much fun!)

I took my new Kymco scooter and used it to drive around the park, especially in the early evening when the deer were out. I carry it on a rack on the front of the truck. Due to its size (49cc with a blistering top speed of about 45), anyone with a driver's license can drive it (without a special motorcycle endorsement.)

We returned home Sunday afternoon with no camper damage!

Friday, July 26 - Sunday July 28, 2014; Trip 102

RV is finally out of the shop with a new roof and other long-needed repairs. We picked it up on a Saturday and spent one night in the nearby KOA in St. Augustine in case we needed to return it to the shop. Everything worked fine and we are back on the road.

The weather was hot and the beach was packed. I went swimming at the beach and we spent some time with our granddaughter (not pictured) who will be starting the second grade. They grow up fast. We returned home undamaged; read on, you’ll understand.

Friday, April 18 - Sunday, April 20, 2014; Trip 101

We took the RV out for the first time this year and went to KOA St Augustine, a tight but convenient campground in St. Augustine Beach. We only live about 30 miles away, but our grand-daughter Melia lives here. As you can see, we are still working on our repainting project. The white looks great from a distance. We will add color accents once the white is completed. Notice the evil tree between our RV and truck. More on this later.

The weather was perfect and people were enjoying the view from the lighthouse. This group was brave enough to climb the 229 steps to the top.

The weekend was enjoyable and uneventful until we pulled out of site and scraped the front and rear sides of the RV roof on a tree and put two holes in the side. As usual, it was the driver's fault (mine) but we broke Rule 1- that one person drives and another person stays outside the truck and watches. Linda’s leg is in a cast. A neighboring camper's car was just a smidge in my way, but I thought I could make it. Rule 2-wake up fellow campers and make them move their vehicle out of the road. The insurance company was not happy. My duct tape repair job didn't work, so we put a blue tarp on the roof and left the RV at the park until Monday when I took to the Ocean Grove RV (8oo) 635-2926. Our insurance company paid for the repairs, which included a completely new roof, but they canceled our umbrella liability policy. No more trees on any site we stay on. (Well, we'll try, anyway.)

Trip 100 Friday, November 22 - Sunday, November 24, 2013

This was our 100th trip since purchasing our RV in July 2005 and we were off to the Happiest Place on Earth. We stayed at Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground just outside the Magic Kingdom. We had a three day reservation and the staff allowed us to checkout a day early without charging us for the third night.

The RV sites are paved and offer privacy even though they are close together. There are organized activities including campfires with Chip and Dale, nightly movies and organized games and crafts, You can camp here with the kids and have a great time without visiting the theme parks. I recommend a golf cart rental if you plan to take advanatage of the campground amenities. Carts are pricey at $60 a day and need to be reserved in advance. We were pretty much "toast" after trying to keep up with Angie, my daughter (and Disney goddess) and my grand-daughter Melia. We did not partake of the campground amenities, but it sure was convenient after a long day at the park.

Friday September 13 - Sunday, September 15, 2012; Trip 99

Off to St. Augustine for a 'shake down" trip to see what works and what doesn't. The biggest problem was the fan motor in the second air conditioner unit. We have to make the decision everyone hates, repair or replace an eight year old unit. We worked this summer to manually remove the "Montana" decals which have been ruined by time and sun. We plan to repaint the RV white and add new custom decals.

Saturday night I went downtown to enjoy the free concerts and the crowds. "Jig to a Milestone", a local Irish folk band, was outstanding and played the guitar and the dulicmer. There was a large music festival with the Mumford Boys which kept most of the crowds away from downtown.

Friday morning March 29 - Sunday, March 31, 2013; Trip 98

Finally back on the road. We made a short trip to St. Augustine and stayed at the KOA so I could keep up with the NCAA basketball finals on cable. We dropped off the RV on Thursday night and returned on Friday.

It was Easter weekend and spring break for most schools in the area and things were pretty busy. Parking was a nightmare downtown and riding a Segeway, which I don't have, seemed like a good idea. Motorcycle parking wasn't too difficult. I left the truck on the east side of the river and walked over the bridge.

I walked around town and enjoyed the colorful stores and watching people. It was a family weekend. I shot a nice picture of a motel which is at the base of the Bridge of Lions.

Saturday, September 1- Sunday, September 2, 2012; Trip 97

We stayed at the KOA in St. Augustine. We took our granddaughter to Alligator Farm a favorite hangout of ours.

Wednesday July 25- Sunday July 29, 2012; Trip 96

We made our first trip to Lion Country Safari KOA in West Palm Beach.

We visited Butterfly World just off I-95 near Ft. Lauderdale. They have a large collection of live butterflies and a small collection of birds. It is reasonably priced and worth a visit. Plan for 2 hours or less.There is an adjacent public park with playground facilities. The two butterfly pictures shown here are the same butterfly. I believe it is a "Blue Morpo" but I am not positive. The underside of the wings are are a dark brown providing camouflage when resting and eating and the blue wings derive their coler from iridescence rather than pigmentation.

Thursday June 21, - Monday June 25, 2012; Trip 95

My son Michael and I went to John Pennecamp State Park in Key Largo for a father and son outdoor adventure. We had a nice lot and managed to go snorkeling the afternoon we arrived.

Unfortunately tropical storm Debbie was forming over Key Largo resulting in the cancellation of all snorkeling and fishing trips due to rough seas. Kayaking was also out due to the windy conditions. We developed a Plan B and found other things to do.

We drove through Everglades National Park and discovered it was prime mosquito season, visited the Seminole Casino west of Miami, drove through South Beach in Miami and finally ended up in Key West. We had a great time but in retrospect, we should have taken my wife's advice and cancelled the trip.

Friday, May 11- Saturday, May 12, 2012; Trip 94

Our return to Tallahassee was uneventable and we found our RV safe and sound. We attended a family wedding on Saturday and had an enjoyable time. On the way home we happended to notice that the right front tire on the RV, while not flat, was missing chunks of rubber. We changed the tire and continuted home. Interstate 10 seems to have bad tire karma.

Friday, May 4 - Sunday, May 6, 2012; Trip 93

We stayed at Tallahasse RV mainly to visit family. Due to an early spring, I missed the flower bloom at Maclay Gardens State Park. I did manage to sneak out for a drive to Natural Bridge State Historical Site, which I could have skipped, and to the Collossa River spring Head.

We were attending a family wedding the next weekend in Tallahassee so we left the RV in Tallahassee. The discounted "no occupancy" rate was almost offset by our gas savings and the trip home and back was much easier.

Saturday, March 3 - Sunday March 4, 2012 Trip 92

This was a short trip to the St. Augustine KOA to spend some time with our grand daughter. We had a great time at Tom's Shells and Souveniors, also known as Tom's Fruit and Gifts. It is located on A1A just south of the Lighthouse and the Alligator Farm. Linda and Melia had their picture taken with Tom who founded the business in the 1950's.

Friday, November 11- Saturday, November 12, 2011; Trip 91

This weekend we went to Palm Bay, FL to visit family. We arrived late, but we were welcomed to Enchanted Lakes Estates Mobile Home & RV Resort on Malibar Rd., one exit south of our destination. What a charming little park this was!

We brought "Parker the Barker," our "rescue" Bichon-poodle mix, hoping to acclimate him to the RV so he wouldn't bark constantly if we were gone. We failed and ended up taking him everywhere with us. Note to Sharon, our dog-sitter: we will be in debt to you forever. Some dogs just aren't up to being RV companions. We've probably all been in a lot next to a "Parker," and we will forever let him hang-out at All-Pro (a.k.a. Sharon's resort for dogs) when we RV. Cats make great RV companions; our cat Windy is an RVing veteran.

Kim chose Enchanted Lakes from the very few parks in the area, which seems rather surprising to us. Anyway, Goode County Park is about 4 miles from the campground and is home to Turkey Creek, an excellent place to kayak. The creek becomes smaller and more picturesque the farther up you go. There was very little current. A large variety of herons, anhingas, ospreys and turtles make themselves at home here. Kim also spent some time with a shy manatee.

We spent some enjoyable time with family and then headed home.

Note: 285 nights in the RV to date.

Saturday, November 5- Sunday, November 6, 2011; Trip 90

This was an adventure planned for a five year old grandchild. We had such a successful trip taking Melia to Silver Springs that we thought of another "simple" trip to enjoy with her.

We started our journey with another stop in Barberville to load up on yard ornaments for Melia's other grampa, Papa. Then on to an old favorite, DeLeon Springs State Park for blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes at the Sugar Mill Restaurant. Kids love to cook their own breakfast on the griddle built right into the table. The playground was a great place to wait until our name was called. We also saw a few divers in wetsuits in the spring.

A quick trip down the road led us through Deland to Orange City for our first and probably last stay at Orange City RV Resort. We usually prefer Clark's Family Campground, just a mile away, but we needed cable for the big game. As our lot shows, OCRV is not designed for the casual traveler. The staff was outstanding and fixed our incorrect cable hookup while we drove into Sanford to enjoy the Central Florida Zoo.

Walking into the zoo entrance Grandma got whacked on the head with the down-coming crossing arm from the choo-choo train. The new zip-line course (awesome) had her looking up into the trees at the time. After a woosey start for Grandma, Melia had fun coloring in the bug/beautiful bathroom building and seeing all the snakes in the herpetology house. The King Cobra really must be about 18 feet long. We were fascinated. The elephant has moved on to a zoo in Miami leaving Sir Gus, the camel, as the star attraction next to the nice new playground. Although their cage looks small, you'll never get a better look at leopards up close. We were losing steam as we passed the kangaroo, ostriches and cheetahs.

It was a quick trip back to the RV to rest up before the 7:30 pm show at the Pirates Dinner Show on International Drive in Orlando. Being the off-season, there were plenty of empty seats; unfortunately we bought our tickets online and had the backside view of all the action. Our credit card was also charged twice, so mates beware. On the bright side, Melia got to participate in the show and go aboard the pirate ship for the pirate swearing-in ceremony. The food was actually good. We did not care at all for the new show with less actors, less singing, less acrobatics, less dancing and much less fun. The sound, writing, and lighting were horrific. But then again, the world's a different place when you're five. Total bill for two adults and one child - $140 plus $60 for hat, sword, tip and photo.

We returned to Orange City RV Resort just in time to catch the last half of the Alabama-LSU game. The next morning we slept late and then headed home. Although this was a short trip, we had a great time.

Saturday, October 21 - Sunday, October 22, 2011; Trip 89

We went to Wilderness RV Resort just east of Ocala on State Road 40 for an overnight stay and a visit to Silver Springs.

Saturday, September 3, 2011 – Monday, September 5, 2011; Trip 88

Labor Day is the offical end of summer, but in Florida, it is the beginning of the RV season. We returned to St. Augustine and stayed at the KOA which has reliable power, cable and sewer. It is always clean and well maintained but can be a bit pricey. This is the best RV park in St Augustine. The best "campground" in St. Augustine is Anastasia State Park. At our age, we prefer the RV park.

Friday, August 12, 2011 – Sunday August 14, 2011; Trip 87

This was our second visit to Silver River State Park near Ocala. The park is more popular during winter and spring so we had more privacy than normal. Good thing, our new acquired rescue dog has some barking issues. The sites are large and have 50 amp service.

We planned our visit for this weekend because the Ocala Astronomy Club was hosting a stargazing event on Saturday night. Rained out! These events are held at the park several times a year and are listed on the park's website

Between the heat and the rain we looked for some indoor activities and found a gem of a museum: The Appleton Museum. The Appleton's permanent collections of pre-columbian, Asian and Islamic art, primarily artifacts, was quite impressive. Mr. Appleton bought completed the collections of these which results in a spectacular display. This museum is well worth the $6 admission. No cameras allowed!

Friday, June 24, 2011 – Sunday June 26, 2011; Trip 86

This was Linda's first "Disney Trip" in many years and her first trip with our new dog Parker. We left our cat Windy at home. We managed to avoid the theme parks and instead had dinner at the Rainforest Cafe at Downtown Disney followed by an incredible show at Cirque du Soleil - La Nouba.

.We stayed at the "America's newest" KOA campground in Apoka. The owners were friendly and the park was undergoing remodeling. It's a short, easy drive (20 miles; 30 minutes) to Disney World down the 429 (toll road).

I lost all the pictures that I took on this trip so this weekend's blog has pictures stolen from the internet.

Friday, March 18 – Sunday March 20, 2011; Trip 85

With world events tumbling out of control, we went to Ichetucknee Family Canoe and Cabins near Ft. White for a quiet relaxing weekend in the country: away from the noise and craziness of the big city.

Early Sunday morning I went kayaking on the Ichetucknee River. The weather was cool and foggy. I saw an amazing amount of wildlife including seven deer, a river otter and the following bird species: Crested Kingfisher, Great White Heron, Wood Duck, American Coot, Anhinga, Red Shouldered Hawk, Osprey, Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Northern Cardinal and many others that I could not identify.

On the way back to the RV, Linda spotted what looked like a monkey. Upon closer examination, it turned out to be a large Sherman Fox Squirrel: a strange looking creature. They are uncommon and this is the second time we have spotted one near the north entrance to the state park.

We attempted to leave before noon on Sunday and discovered that we had a large bubble on one of our RV tires. The lug nuts were so tight that I sheared the end of the lug wrench. Vernis and Elaine, the campground owners, had their employee Jason help me take the tire off. He worked, I watched, the cat worried. We were safely on the road before 1 PM.

Friday February 25 - Sunday February 27, 2011; Trip 84

We went to Tallahassee to watch the Ochlockonee River Kennel Club dog show. We stayed at Tallahassee RV, our favorite Tallahassee park. The dog show was great fun and we saw almost as many varieties of people as we did dogs. When we returned to our RV from the dog show, our cat Windy was pretty miffed about our smell. She felt betrayed. After a cup of cat food, all was forgiven.

My brother Michael, a Tallahassee native, eats at Cabo's Grill "Eight Days a Week" (like the Beatles 1965 # 1 hit), and so that was our dinner destination. The highlight of our meal was Michael, not the food.

I went to Maclay Gardens State Park for the annual spring flower bloom. I was too early for the azaleas but the Japanese magnolias and camellias were in full bloom.

Thursday December 30 - Sunday January 2, 2011; Trip 83

Yes, we finally made it to Ho-Hum RV Park in Carrabelle, near Apalachicola, in Franklin County. It was one of the first places recommended to us when we started camping. It was, well, Ho-Hum. A simple park nestled between the highway and the bay. Franklin is a rural county with virtually no chain or big box stores.

Apalachicola is famous for its oysters which are still harvested the old fashion way using a small boat and an oyster rake. Oysters help remove pollutants from the water: so why do we eat them?

Ochlockonee River State Park is one of the best maintained State Parks that we have visited. They have an auto trail through the pine forest where I took this picture. (Not a great one.) If you look carefully, you can see two deer looking at our truck. Other nearby parks include St. George Island State Park, Bald Point State Park, Tate's Hell State Forest and St. Mark's National Wildlife Refuge.

Friday November 19 - Sunday November 21, 2010; Trip 82

Angie and I traveled to Fort Wilderness Campground at Walt Disney World for a father-daughter weekend. This was my first visit to Fort Wilderness and I was surprised by the amount of privacy for such a large campground. Bicycles are a must and you should consider renting a golf cart. There are many activities for children and families.

Friday night we went to Mickey's Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom. Our longest wait for an attraction was 10 minutes and we ate a ton of free cookies and drank hot chocolate. The Christmas Parade was awesome and the fireworks were fantastic. We were back to the RV and asleep by 1:30 AM.

Saturday was a theme park marathon with visits to the Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios. The Osborne Light Show (5 million lights) at Hollywood Studios was breathtaking, after a short circuit affecting about 2 million lights was fixed. Thanks to Angie, we walked for miles. I ate a ton of junk food and still managed to lose 4 pounds.

Note: 269 nights in the RV to date.

Thursday November 11 - Sunday November 14, 2010; Trip 81

We were swamp bound for a long weekend at the Stephen C. Foster State Park near Fargo, Georgia as part of our church's annual congregational campout. It was the loudest and kindest group of campers that we've ever been around.

The park is on a dead-end road 17 miles from Fargo. For the directionally challenged, it is in the middle of nowhere. If you need it, you better bring it. It has several pull-through sites, and a real treat: basic cable. All the sites are shaded and the park has boat, canoe and kayak rentals, nature trails, a playground and a museum.

Wildlife was abundant with deer visiting the park at dawn and dusk. The water was too low for motorboats, but I was able to kayak. The absence of boat motor noises and the privacy made kayaking special. At times, I could see five or six gators in the water in front of the kayak. Linda was right; this park is crawling with alligators. What a treat!

Friday October 15 - Sunday October 17, 2010; Trip 80

We made our first trip to St. Mary's Georgia and stayed at the local KOA. It was a typical KOA, clean, conveniently-located with full-hookups. The campground was shaded by pine trees. When outside, you could hear some interstate noise. We briefly visited some other nearby campgrounds and this is the best choice.

The highlight of our trip was to Captain Stan's Smoke House in Woodbine, Georgia. We stopped by before they "opened," but Captain Stan cooked us breakfast anyway and provided us with some fascinating conversation. Captain Stan was the best part of the visit; a unique character, former roller-skate professional champion, model, actor, boat captain and current BBQ chef.

We made our first visit to the historic St. Mary's riverfront which did not live up to its hype and advertisements. We much prefer nearby Fernandina Beach. After a visit to the submarine museum and a stop at a local airfield to watch sky-divers, we returned to Captain Stan's Smokehouse to enjoy dinner and the live band which played from 6 to 9 pm. (Captain Stan caters to an older crowd, with great success.)

Note: Replaced the left landing gear and leg.

Friday September 3- Monday September 6, 2010; Trip 79

We began the fall camping season with a trip to the St Augustine KOA. Temperatures were beginning to moderate, with the heat index below 100 and morning lows dipping to 79.

Saturday morning we went on the Flagler College Legacy Tour. It provided a good lesson about the life of the elite and famous in the 1890’s, and some impressive architecture, including the dining-room decorated by Tiffany. The tour was well worth the $7 each plus the $15 parking ticket (courtesy of the City of St. Augustine.)

The advent of digital TV has pretty much made the rv's antenna TV worthless. Lucky, the KOA has cable and we were able to watch the Gators putter and stumble to their first victory of the year. Hopefully, Florida State Parks will consider adding cable in the future.

We made a couple of visits to Finnegan’s Wake Pub. It is a nice, relaxing place to dine and avoid the craziness of downtown St. Augustine.

Sunday morning was on and off light rain. I kayaked on Salt Run from the Light House up to the south side of the inlet. (1 hour round trip). I hiked around the point up to the point. (1 hour round trip). Not much to see. I was afraid that I might get my good camera wet so I took the cheap point and shoot waterproof camera and got a bunch of lousy pictures. Yeah, I know, “a good mechanic doesn’t blame the tools.”

Our big Sunday adventure was a trip to Gander Sporting Goods where I bought waterproof cases for my camera and cell phone. Now I’m thinking. Later that afternoon, I went to a small creek just south of the Matanzas Inlet for some kayaking. Nada. Low tide. Bone dry.

It rained like a demon Monday morning; we discovered that our bedroom slide does indeed still leak.

Thursday July 22 - Friday July 23, 2010

My friend George invited me on a group fishing trip to Steinhatchee on the last day of snapper season. Captain Wayne of Otta Here Charters helped us catch our limit of amberjack, red snapper, and grouper. If I can catch fish, anyone can. Call Captain Wayne. WARNING: Don't play poker with Dave, he makes up the rules as he goes.

Wednesday July 14 - Sunday July 18, 2010

Linda and I flew to Chicago, obviously without the RV, for a long weekend. We stayed at the Allegro Hotel next to the Cadillac Theater in the northwest corner of the loop. We avoided most of the shopping districts, including the Magnificent Mile, but we did enjoy lunch at the Walnut Room at Macy's.

Chicago has some outstanding museums, most notable the Field Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago. My favorite painting is "A Sunday Afternoon at the Park" by Seurat. I did not realize that the painting was so large. Our visit to the Oriental Museum on the University of Chicago campus was a real treat and the Museum of Mexican Art on the southside was interesting and unusual. We found Chicago to be a much friendlier city than New York.

Cadillac Theater.
Art Institute of Chicago
Oriental Museum
Palmer Hilton
View from Hancock Tower
Mexican Museum of Art
Inside Macy's
The Loop

Friday July 2 – Monday July 5, 2010; Trip 78

We returned to Fort Clinch State Park. for our first visit in over a year. This is my favorite north Florida State Park. We backed into our lot without any damage. The camper across the street scraped his roof while backing into his lot. We loaned him our white duct tape.

We dined at three nice restaurants and one loser. One of our favorites is Pablo’s Mexican Grill and Cantina in downtown Fernandina. It has outstanding family food with festive Mexican décor. We were also pleased with the nearby Gennaro’s Italian Restaurant and the Marche Burette Gourmet Deli at Amelia Island Plantation.

I took my kayak to Fort Clinch for the first time and had several enjoyable trips. I kayaked on the Amelia River from the River Campground toward Egans Creek. I saw five manatees and a small pod of feeding dolphins. I made two trips in the St. Mary's Inlet from east of the Fort around to the River Campground. Both trips were with the current, waves and wind. The difficult part was launching the kayak. The first trip I took on water and killed my cell phone.

Thursday June 24 – Sunday June 27, 2010; Trip 77

Linda and I took the boys to Fort White for a weekend of kayaking adventures. We stayed at the Ichetucknee Family Canoe and Cabins . We kayaked the Ichetucknee River twice on Friday; early morning and mid-afternoon, and managed to miss most of the tubers.

There was a full moon on Friday night and we took our first ever night kayak trip. We paddled the Sante Fe River from the Highway 27 bridge almost to the Highway 441 bridge and back, about 4 miles in total. It was fun but a little creepy. The moon provided plenty of light to see ahead but the water was totally dark.

On Saturday, we drove to Cedar Key to go kayaking in the Gulf of Mexico. Atsena Otie Key is approximately one-half mile off shore from Cedar Key. We kayaked to the island and Michael and I attempted an exploratory hike but were driven back by a swarm of hungry mosquitoes. We went around the island and back to shore, about 3 miles in total. It was fun but a lot of work. We saw a pod of 6 to 8 dolphins. They swam directly under Allen and my kayaks.

On the way home we ate at Billy’s BBQ in Chiefland. Good food, good service. Allen used the navigation app on his i-phone to help us return to the campground using a different route. Most of his directions were, “you should have turned back there.”

The boys went home Saturday afternoon and Linda and I enjoyed a relaxing evenging. Sunday we fueled up and headed home.

Friday May 28 – Monday May 31, 2010; Trip 76

We arrived at the KOA in St. Augustine Beach just after dark and had an easy set-up in our pull-thru lot. Although Anastasia State Park is our favorite campground in this area, the KOA is the best full-service RV park.

Saturday morning I went to Washington Oaks Garden State Park. The rose garden was in bloom and most of the paths are fully shaded. Beach erosion had exposed more coquina stones on the beach than I've seen in the past. This beach is a great place for kids to explore and have fun. I don't recommend swimming here due to the underwater rocks.

After an afternoon movie (Robin Hood), we went downtown and spent time on St. George Street.

The St. Augustine Alligator Farm was our Sunday destination and the rookery was in full swing. I took over 200 pictures of nesting birds and their offspring. Linda worried that I might catch the bird flu.

We left the campground and returned to reality mid-morning on Monday.

Wednesday May 5 – Saturday May 8, 2010; Trip 75

We returned to Sunshine Travel to find our RV safe and intact.

Friday afternoon, we left Vero Beach and moved to Clark's Family Campground in Deland. This is the best campground in the area and is near downtown Deland and Stetson University. It is very clean and the staff is friendly. Nearby State Parks include Blue Springs and Hontoon Island. The campground is fully shaded and is a bird haven. I took this picture of a Great Crested Flycatcher.

Note: 250 nights in the RV to date.

Monday April 26 - Sunday May 2, 2010; Trip 74

We stayed at the Sunshine Travel RV Resort near Vero Beach. This is a seasonal campground primarily for the 65++ group migrating south for the winter. It is conveniently located just off I-95 at exit 157 and has full hookups. It is about 12 miles from Vero Beach.

The purpose of our trip was to spend time with family but I managed to slip out for a few early morning adventures. My favorite spot was Stick Marsh which is at the end of a 7 mile one-lane dirt road west of Felsmere. This area is the headwater for the St. Johns River and Stick Marsh Wildlife Preserve is 6,000 acres of farmland that has been allowed to reflood to its natural state.

We planned to return later in the week so we left the RV behind and returned home Sunday afternoon.

Friday April 16 – Sunday April 18, 2010; Trip 73

We returned to Tampa for another stay at Rally Park.

Hillsborough River State Park has some outstanding hiking trails. The park includes rare Florida rapids and two bridges which cross the river to some scenic hiking trails. The park trails are heavily shaded and feature hardwood forests, swamps and pine forests.

Our afternoon adventure was a trip to the St. Petersburg bayfront and the Salvador Dali Museum. I remember his famous painting, "The Persistence of Memory" (pictured) but we were disappointed in the museum. It was smaller than we expected and many of the paintings revealed his twisted nature. It is not worth the $17 admission price.

Sunday was a lazy day with nothing exciting to report.

Saturday April 3 – Monday April 5, 2010; Trip 72

Our first trip of 2010 was a mini spring break trip to Tampa. We arrived about noon on Saturday and stayed at the Rally Park at Lazy Days RV, just off I-4 at exit 10.

Our visit adventure was an indoor hike at the IKEA store in Ybor City. You literally follow a winding pathway through the store. We spent $6. Been there. Done that.

Sunday morning we canoed on the Hillsborough River from Sargeant Park to Morris Bridge. The nice folks at Canoe Escape provided our equipment and drop off and pick-up service ($44 plus tax). The water levels were higher than normal which provided some interesting obstacles just below the surface.

Monday morning, I visited Alafia River State Park south of Plant City. The park was previously used for phosphate mining and was abandoned before there were laws requiring reclaimation. As a result, the terrain left behind offers some radical elevation changes and now has many towering trees. This is one of the best off-road biking spots in Florida.

After lunch, we went to the DaVinci exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. It featured his inventions including drawings and models. He was a pretty clever fella.

Friday January 8, 2010

The 2010 camping season began with a fizzle. We cancelled our camping and canoe trip to Rainbow Springs State Park due to the forecast of near record low temperatures. Being from Florida, this is our vision of canoeing with highs in the 40's. (I didn't take this picture.)

Friday December 18 - Sunday December 20, 2009 Trip 71

Our last trip of the year was to Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine. The weather was uncooperative: chilly temps and a nasty northeasterly wind. We arrived Friday morning and managed to set-up before the first band of rain showers came through.

I was amazed at the number of birds at the Vilano Beach side of the St. Augustine Inlet. There were literally hundreds of black skimmers and terns.

It was extremely windy and even the birds seem to be "hunkering down". Operating the settings on my camera with gloves on was a bit of a challenge. On the bright side, the beach wasn't crowded.

While not a perfect trip, it still beats staying home.

Wednesday November 25 – Friday November 27, 2009 Trip 70

We went to Tallahassee to spend Thanksgiving with family and stayed at the Tallahassee RV Park. The park is first class and is conveniently located on US 90 just off of I-10.

I managed to slip away for some bird watching at the Alford Greenway, a park with 874 acres and 17 miles of trails. We avoided the Black Friday shopping spree hysteria and chose to visit the tiny town of Havana, Fl. - a mecca for antique and boutique shoppers.

We returned home late Friday in time to enjoy a relaxing weekend at home.

Friday November 13 – Sunday November 15, 2009 Trip 69

Without fear, we went to Ichetucknee Family Canoe and Cabins for the Friday the Thirteenth weekend. We enjoyed perfect fall weather with low’s in the upper 40s and high’s in the mid-70s. We planned on to do some stargazing but decided against it. I'm not sure whether we were more afraid of Freddie Krueger or a crazed hunter with camo and face paint.

On Saturday, Linda and I went canoeing on the Ichetucknee River and were joined by Dr. Pepper and Brother John, both in kayaks. We had a near death experience in the canoe (death being defined as flipping over into the ice cold water) but managed to recover. We saw two otters and two people in inner tubes. The tubers were either from Alaska or they ride the short bus.

After rafting, we all went to lunch at the GTO (acronym for “Great Take Out”) Restaurant in Fort White. It's probably the best place to eat in Fort White although we have not tried the Hungry Howie’s inside the Bee Stop gas station.

That afternoon we watched the Gators beat South Carolina. The signal was so weak that if you turned on both televisions the pictures froze. It seems that digital TV is another unwelcomed governmental intrusion.

Sunday morning I went to Oleno State Park to take pictures of the morning fog on the Santa Fe River. It was in the mid-forties when I arrived. Where was Linda? Back in the RV with the heater on. Wimp! For lunch, we went to the Great Outdoors Restaurant in High Springs. Nice place.

On the way home, I looked in my rearview mirror and noticed that another part of the RV was falling off. We pulled over and made the necessary repairs which were more complicated than usual. I had to use zip ties instead of duct tape.

Thursday October 15 – Monday October 19, 2009 Trip 68

We headed to the mountains of western North Carolina for a fall get-away. After a brief overnight stay in Savannah, we arrived at the KOA just west of Asheville on Friday. The weather forecast called for cold weather, cloudy skies and rain. We give this campground 5 stars for beauty, location and service.

We visited the Lake Powhatan Recreational Area of the Pisgah National Forest. We drove through the camping area and noticed tractors and covered wagons. It turns out the group has been meeting here each fall for the last 50 years. They expected over 35 campers and were planning on driving through the forest, wagon train style, to another campground on Saturday.

Our big first adventure was a trip to Cataloochee Valley to see the Elk. The steep and winding gravel road, the occasional oncoming traffic, and the fog made the drive from the highway to the park quite an adventure. We arrived about an hour before sunset and the young elk were grazing and frolicking and the mature male elk were looking studly. It's mating season.

Saturday, we took a scenic drive north of Asheville through Mars Hill. We went up onto the Blue Ridge Parkway and headed north towards Craggy Gardens. The temperature continued to drop as we went higher. The ranger had just closed the parkway when we arrived at Craggy Knob. We drove into the picnic area and we were very surprised when it started to snow. The ground and trees were all covered with snow. It was surreal.

Sunday morning we headed south along Highway 215 from Canton toward Brevard. Once again, we were pleasantly surprised by the snow covered landscape. The snow disappeared as soon as we passed the crest of the mountains and headed down the eastern side.

We had a safe trip home and we passed the time by watching Season One of the Big Bang Theory on the portable DVD player. We highly recommend it!

Note: 231 nights in the RV to date.

Friday October 2 – Sunday October 4, 2009 Trip 67

We returned to Paynes Prairie State Park near Gainesville for a weekend visit. We made our mandatory outing to Blue Highway Pizza in Micanopy which has the best pizza in the county. (It's the only decent restaurant we've found within ten miles of the park.)

On Saturday, we visited some of Gainesville parks including Alfred Ring which borders Hogtown Creek: Broken Arrow Bluff which highlights a sinkhole with limerock outcroppings: and Morningside Nature Center which has a living history farm and a butterfly garden.

That's all folks.

Friday September 4 – Monday September 7, 2009 Trip 66

We began the Fall camping season with a Labor Day weekend trip to Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine. Fall was in the air; college football season began and afternoon high temperatures dipped into the mid-80's.

Our Saturday adventures began with a behind the scenes tour at Rick's Muffler Shop. Our tour, lead by Al the infamous computer guy, included a viewing of the sink that may be the original source of swine flu. Later, as a loving husband, I went to the movie "Julie and Julia" with Linda. She fell asleep and I got wife points. The excitement continued to build with a nap at the RV and a take-out dinner from Mango Mangos.(Excellent!)

Saturday night I watched the much awaited Alabama-Virgina Tech game. As a Florida fan, I rooted for the SEC team Alabama. The score was 17-16 in the fourth quarter when I fell asleep in my recliner. The game was over when I woke up. It was Monday before I was able to find out that Alabama won.

Sunday we went into the city (St. Augustine) and found a great parking space, which is hard to do with a 22 foot long dually pick-up truck. . We toured several fine art galleries and Linda bought a pair of blue smiley face earrings at a gift shop. I made my first visit ever to the Potter's Wax Museum. We saw a bunch of wax figures and one child pretending to be wax. The museum was worth the admission price with a half-price coupon. We had dinner at Finnegan's Wake Restaurant. The nachos were a +10 and the waitress was a -10.

I made two visits to Matanzas Inlet on Sunday to photograph the differences between high and low tides. These pictures of the beach south of the inlet illustrate the large difference between high tide at 9:30 AM (above) and low tide at 4:00 PM (below).

On Monday, I went to Marineland for the first time in many years. Its entirely different than it was when I visited as a child in the early 60's. It is now a Dolphin Conservation Center with no other marine life and no formal shows. You can enjoy watching the dolphins for the $8 admission price or you can pay an additional amount to "touch and feed" or even more money to swim with the dolphins.

Note: Replaced slide toppers & repacked wheel bearings in August.

Friday July 10 – Tuesday July 14, 2009 Trip 65

We arrived at Anastasia State Park before dark, set-up the RV in record time and went out for a bite and some drinks while the AC cooled down the camper. For the first time in a long while, we stayed out until last call. Of course this is St. Augustine and last call was at 9:15 PM.

Saturday morning I watched a local amateur surfing contest near the pier. The waves were unusually large for St. Augustine Beach and the surfers, young and old, seem to be having a great time.

I visited a protected colony of about 50 pair of Least Terns which were nesting on Matanzas Inlet beach. They are small birds, only about 5 inches tall. One of them didn’t seem to like me and kept trying to scare me off by flying directly at me. It worked. Brave little guy! A local birdwatcher told me that the best time to see the chicks is early evening.

We went to Fort Matanzas on Saturday. The best part of the visit is the boat ride to the fort and back. We have visited the fort many times but this was our first visit when they had soldiers in period attire. They even fired a cannon.

Monday I used my water-proof camera to take pictures of the waves breaking on the rocks at Washington Oak Gardens. While standing between the surf and the rocks I got soaked by a couple of large waves. The camera and I had great fun; however, my cell phone committed suicide.

We tried a couple of new restaurants. American Graffitti Bar and Grill was a loser. We nicknamed it, “Home of the World’s Thinnest Milkshake”. Finnegans Wake Grill and Pub on A1A South near Crescent Beach was a winner. It's a nice neighborhood family restaurant with good food and fair prices.

We left early Tuesday morning and were home by 9 AM.

Wednesday, June 17 – Sunday June 21, 2009: Trip 64

Robert, Allen and I arrived at Tallulah Gorge State Park at about 10 AM on Thursday after a short overnight stay at the KOA in Forsyth, Georgia. The park is located in the northeast corner of Georgia, just a stone's throw from North and South Carolina. Our campsite was a shaded pull-thru lot with 50 amp power. We set-up quickly, went on a short hike and then headed to the Dillsboro Smokehouse for a great BBQ lunch.

After lunch, we went rafting on the Nantahala River in single person duckies. The river was covered in a layer of fog and at times looked surreal. Robert fell out of his raft at Nantahala Falls and scraped his ankle, our first "bleeder" of the trip.

Friday morning’s adventure was a hike into the Tallulah Gorge and down to Bridal Veil Falls (Georgia's version not to be confused with the more famous one in North Carolina). The falls has a great rock slide. During the hike I lost count of the number of times I slipped or fell. I broke my watch and by the time I climbed the 553 stairs out of the gorge my legs were on fire. It was great fun!

To ensure maximum soreness, that afternoon we went horse back riding near Franklin, NC. Rob from Chucky Gal Stables (named after a mountain, not a person) took us on some great trails in the Nantahala National Forest. My horse’s nickname was “Gasman” and his turbo kept kicking in. The trails were shaded and the temperature was at least ten degrees cooler than in the valley.

On Saturday we limped into Wildwater Outfitters for a rafting trip on section IV of the Chattooga River. Robert fell out at Seven Foot Falls. The boy can’t seem to stay in a raft, although there is still a debate about whether Allen bumped him out. The photos were indecisive. Jenn and Trent were our raft mates and we had a great time. Our guide Jamie took great care of us.

Our next adventure was trout fishing in Wildcat Creek near Moccasin Creek State Park. Robert fished for three hours and caught the same amount of fish that Allen did after 5 minutes. None. I had a great time taking pictures.

Saturday night we ate dinner for the second time at Mamma G’s, the best restaurant in Clayton.

Sunday’s drive home was safe and uneventful. Thank goodness for satellite radio

Saturday May 23 - Monday May 25, 2009: Trip 63

We went to Ichetucknee Family Campground for Memorial Day weekend, the official opening of the summer tubing season. Due to the rain, we skipped traveling Friday night and drove over on Saturday morning. It rained most of Saturday and Sunday and cleared up when we left on Monday. The North entrance of the Ichetucknee usually reaches tubing capacity by 9 AM but however, due to the weather, didn't reach capacity all weekend.

Saturday was like monsoon season and, since we only got one public station on the TV, Linda decided that she wanted a novel to read. We drove to Lake City in the pouring rain only to discover that the only store that sells "chapter books" is super Wal-Mart.

I spent a lot of time on Sunday and Monday driving around enjoying the country. The cows above seemed to have more fun watching me than I had watching them. I saw a dog guarding a herd of goats and wondered if herd dogs start with goats and get promoted to sheep or vise versa. Maybe he was a sheepdog that got demoted.

Monday morning I went to Ichetucknee Spring for a swim to test my new bottom of the line digital camera which is waterproof up to a depth of 9 feet. It seems as the older I get, the colder the water becomes. Linda stayed at the campground and talked with David and Rose Ann who have spent the last 35 or so Memorial Days at the campground.

We returned home after a wet, but enjoyable, weekend.

Tuesday April 28 - Wednesday April 29, 2009: Trip 62

I went to Savannah after work to retrieve the truck and the RV. On the way up, I went bird watching at the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge. There were hundreds of nesting herons, egrets and wood storks and a wide variety of songbirds. This was the first time I spent the night in the RV alone. No wife, no kids and no cat. Strange.

I returned home Wednesday morning after safely navigating miles of road construction and those annoying orange barricades, most of which I missed.

Friday April 24 - Sunday April 26, 2009: Trip 61

We headed north to Savannah, Georgia for a weekend visit and stayed at the KOA in Richmond Hill. It's a convenient location with shaded lots and a lake. We arrived after dark, but had no problems with our pull-thru lot.

We began our Saturday with a planned trip to Fort McCallister State Park, but encountered major truck problems. She died. We managed to revive her long enough to limp into a small (microscopic) Chevy dealership. Of course, the service department was closed on weekends. We got a rental from Enterprise and proceeded to enjoy our weekend at a significantly higher cost.

Then we took a quick car tour of Fort McAllister State Park, Wormsloe Plantation and Skidaway Island State Park. Both state parks have nice camping sites and I would rate Skidaway the best. Skidaway had the best birds, including painted buntings, and Fort McAllister had the biggest mosquitoes.

We chose to visit Savannah this weekend to see the annual sidewalk art show sponsored by the Savannah School of Art and Design in Forsyth Park. It is amazing what talented people can do with chalk. Pictures ranged from the serious to the whimsical. There were hundreds of entries.

Sunday we had a late breakfast at the Breakfast Club Diner on Tybee Island. It was a beautiful spring day and the beaches were crowded. After lunch, we loaded up the rental car, left the RV behind and headed home.

Friday March 27 - Tuesday March 31, 2009: Trip 60

Linda and I went to Wekiwa Springs State Park near Orlando for a mini spring break. We stayed in lot 45 which was large and private but almost impossible to back into, especially in the dark.

We forgot our cat Windy’s dry food so Linda gave her some chow mein noodles. Windy obviously does not have any Siamese in her family tree because she refused to eat them.

On Monday we went to the Morris Museum which has the largest Tiffiany art collection, anywhere. For the $3 entry fee, it's a real bargin. Later, we went to Lakeland and had dinner with Elin and Mark.

Sunday was rainy and we drove to Lake Louisa State Park for a reconnaissance trip to see if we would like to camp there. NOT. Unfortunately, it is a large park but the camping sites are huddled together with little privacy and no shade.

We planned to visit Leu Gardens on Monday but it was jam packed. We went to Denny’s instead. Big day. I went hiking in the park several times and have still not seen any bears.

Tuesday morning we returned to Leu Gardens in Winter Park and found out that it is free on Mondays. That explains yesterday’s crowds. We paid our $7 each and had a relaxed visit.

Friday March 13 - Sunday March 15, 2009: Trip 59

Long Point Park on the Indian River, just north of Sebastian Inlet, was the destination for our first trip of 2009. We arrived in total darkness and the next morning we realized that we had a view of the river and a large campsite. I took some great wildlife pictures including this raccoon.

While hiking on Scout Island with my camera and zoom lens, I almost walked into a large bevy of brownie scout campers. I could picture the news: “Accountant arrested for stalking, film at 11”. I made a quick u-turn and exited.

Linda and I met my family at Marsh Landing Restaurant in Fellsmere for lunch on Saturday. The building housed the Fellsmere Estates Corporation during the real estate boom in the 1920’s. It was decorated with historic pictures, newspaper articles and stuffed dead animals. They have an interesting menu, my brother had fried oysters, my dad the liver and onions and I had the Critter Platter that included alligator, catfish and frog legs. Linda had a cheeseburger and tried not to look at anyone else’s plate.

Sunday morning I went kayaking for about a hour and a half. I saw ospreys, pelicans and this nesting Great Blue Heron.

On the way home on Sunday we stopped at a gas station and got stuck between the gas pumps and a Hess Gas delivery truck. . The truck driver was upset because he had to move his truck; I was happy because I didn’t actually hit anything and nothing blew-up.

Note: 208 nights in the RV to date.

Friday January 16, 2009

I cancelled our planned trip to Laura Walker State Park near Waycross Georgia due to cold weather. I had planned to attend a Nature Photography Workshop at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge but taking sunrise pictures in 17 degree weather is not my idea of fun.

Friday December 19 - Friday December 26, 2008: Trip 58

We spent our fourth consecutive Christmas holiday at Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine. We enjoyed the warm and mostly sunny Florida weather with an occasional foggy morning.

St. Augustine was decorated with Christmas lights. The most inspiring view was of the Memorial Presbyterian Church and its magnificent dome. I took this picture of the church at night; unfortunately the walls in the picture curve inward.

Our neighbor, Benny, made his own teardrop trailer. It has a four by eight foot plywood floor and cost $2,300 to build. It sleeps two and has an air conditioner. I was amazed that he built it from scratch.

We went to Camping World and purchased a new sewer hose (see trip 57). I got the Deluxe EZ Coupler with accessories, a real beauty. Merry Christmas to me.

Thursday November 27 - Sunday November 30, 2008: Trip 57

Our Thanksgiving Holiday was spent at Fort Clinch State Park. We arrived at the park on Thanksgiving morning and avoided all crazy holiday traffic. We enjoyed a relaxing weekend and perfect weather.

I hiked about three miles on the Egan Creek Greenway. The terrain varies from coastal marsh to hardwoods, from total shade to full sun, and from mowed grass to sand.

On the return drive home we lost the sewer hose (a twenty footer), somewhere on I-95. I checked Monday's paper and was relieved that no wrecks were reported in the area.

Friday, September 12 - Sunday, September 14, 2008: Trip 56

Linda and I began our pilgrimage to the Holy Land with a stay at Wekiwa Springs State Park. We arrived after dark and safely backed-in on our first attempt. Our last visit to this park was in December 2006.

Saturday morning we arrived at the Holy Land Experience theme park in Orlando. It was an interesting place and worth a visit. We made a quick trip to Kelly Park in the afternoon.

I still can’t figure out why we receive a clear picture on channel 9 (ABC) but no sound on the living room TV. The sound works in the bedroom. This happens at this park but no where else. Bizarre!

On Sunday morning I hiked the main trail from the north parking lot. I saw 8 deer including several bucks with antlers and about a million spider webs. After walking about 30 minutes, the trail became swampy and I had to turn around.

We left mid-morning and got home in time to watch football and take a nap.

Tuesday, July 22 - Sunday, July 27, 2008: Trip 55

Michael and I headed to the Florida Keys on a men only trip. Linda doesn't like the ocean, sand, fish, hot weather or mosquitoes, so she opted out. After a layover Tuesday night in Mims, Fl., we arrived at Bahia Honda State Park around 3 PM. The park, located 35 miles from Key West, encompasses the entire key and has miles of beaches, camping facilities and a marina.

We saw some unusual wildlife on our first day.There was a very large iguana that lived on the old Bahia Honda Bridge. Michael and I went for a short hike in the Key Deer National Refuge on Big Pine Key and spotted a Key Deer.

Late Wednesday afternoon, we went to Key West to view historic architecture, weirdos and bars. We had dinner at Sloppy Joe's.

Thursday morning, we took the park's dive trip Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary, about a 45 minute boat ride. The reefs and sea life were OK but did not live up to their glowing reputation. There were large shoals of fish and a giant barracuda under our boat. We had fun.

We ate lunch at Porky's BBQ and Seafood Tiki Bar. It was a neat little place. The couch fritters, catfish and shrimp were tasty but the place won't win any awards for service or hygiene.

We left the RV around 5:30 PM to go night fishing on the Marathon Lady. Through experimentation we learned that if you take the straps off the kayaks they will fly off the roof of the truck at approximately 42 miles per hour. Luckily no was injured and the kayaks, although scratched up, are still sea worthy.

The night fishing was great and we caught eight snappers big enough to keep plus a dozen or so smaller ones. We caught most of the fish in about 200 feet of water. The boat provided all the bait and tackle and the crew helped us "beginners".

After a good four hours of sleep, we drove to Key West and went to Ft. Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas National Park aboard the Yankee Freedom II, a 2 1/2 hour ride. The snorkeling was excellent and we saw a wide variety of sea life including barracudas, tarpon, one large nurse shark, scuttle fish (squid-like thingies) and colorful reef fish. The fort, which covered most of the island, was built in the early 1800's and consists of more than 16 million bricks. (We lost count at 537.) This trip is a must do.

Our dinner at the Conch Republic Seafood Company at the historic Key West harbor was probably the best seafood meal I have ever eaten. We ate fried conch, jumbo shrimp over lobster tortellini and fried key lime pie.

Saturday morning we kayaked to the north end of the park. The beaches were busier than during the week. We had lunch at Fish Tales Fish Market and Eatery who cooked our snappers for $8.95, including fries and slaw. We had the fish fried, broiled and blackened and they were delicious. For dinner, we made our second visit to the Island Fish Company in Marathon.

We headed home on Sunday morning and got fleeced for $30 in tolls on the Florida turnpike. We arrived home safely with 50 pounds of dirty laundry and were greeted by a broken washing machine.

Note: 192 nights in the RV to date.

Thursday, July 3 - Sunday, July 13, 2008: Trip 54

We spent the Fourth of July holiday at Anastasia State Park in St Augustine.

On July 4th, we enjoyed grilled chicken courtesy of Longhorn Steakhouse. (It was too hot to grill outdoors.) We watched the fireworks from lawnchairs on the side of A1A, on the park side of the bridge, but left one minute early to avoid traffic. (It's a small town.)

Malcompra County Park is about 2 miles south of Washington Oak Garden State Park and has cool tidal pools at low tide. While there, I saw dolphins swimming offshore. On the way back to the camper, I stopped at the Marineland boardwalk and took pictures of the local resident rats.

The excitement never ends as we visit the Flea Market and Dairy Queen in the same day. We bought fresh fruit and vegetables and some counterfeit Uno cards for a buck. There were kaaroke singers at the flea market with more talent than the tone deaf blues singer at an unnamed restaurant in St Augustine.

On Thursday, the RV had a nasty sewer smell which Linda immediately blamed on me. I denied responsibility and blamed the cat. The cat neither admitted or denied guilt. After some holding tank maintenance, things improved.

We visited Princess Place Preserve, located on the southern side of Pellicer Creek and west of the Matanzas River.The entrance to the park is off of US-1, just south of I-95. Princess Place was built in the mid 1800's and was later the home of an exiled Russian prince, whose wife lived there until the 1950's, hence the name. The park has equestrian trails, and what we would call "primitive" camping, with some sites right on the creek. We were able to drive the loop road and enjoyed seeing a deer run by. The palace is actually a very large home and tours are given at 2:00pm on Saturday and Sunday. We missed the tour, but we had a pretty good view peeking through the windows.

I had a good time taking photos. I went to Washington Oaks to look for butterflies but I had to settle for dragonflies. I did get a nice picture of a white egret in flight and a juvenile yellow crested night-heron. Thank goodness for digital photography because I also got a couple hundred pictures that weren't so good.

We found a great new restaurant that features a "tropical" menu. On our first visit we had nachos, terriyaki chicken kabobs and key lime pie. We returned the next night for nachos, sweet corn cakes and key lime pie.

Tuesday night we drove around in the southern part of historic St. Augustine and found some interesting places we had not seen before, including a military cemetery and site called Villa Rosa that was undergoing restoration. The site included two houses built in the mid 1800s. fountains and lion statues. Wednesday morning we packed up and headed home. Overall, we had a roaring good time.

Friday, June 13 - Friday June 20, 2008: Trip 53

Friday, June 13

We began our trip to Tennessee after work on Friday. We drove about 250 miles and spent the night at the Cordele Georgia KOA.

Saturday, June 14

With the help of Windy, our trusted co-pilot, we arrived at Fall Creek Falls State Park around 3 PM.

This park is a real jewel and, unlike Florida, the Tennessee State Park System keeps the grass mowed and grounds maintained. (Florida goes for the natural, untouched look).

Sunday, June 15

Michael and I went whitewater rafting on the upper and middle sections of the Ocoee River. The rafting outpost was 75 miles from our campground but the ride took over two hours on a mountainous road with heavy fog.

The Ocoee River is dam controlled so rapids are guaranteed . It's kind of like a theme park. Water on at 9 AM; off at 8 PM. On the bus ride to the launch site, we passed parts of the river that were almost dry and would later be covered by the water flow. Michael fell out of the raft on the third ledge of Roach Motel Rapids. A fellow rafter pulled him back in the boat.

Monday, June 16

Michael and I went caving with a small group led by a park guide. I saw my first cave cricket. Michael slipped and fell about twenty times. His shoes got stuck in the mud and came off his feet twice. He wore his cool skate shoes with the laces that don't actually tie. Not practical but really cool. The family that went with us was a fun group. Every time we had to back-up, they would all beep.

After hiking, we took Linda to McMinnville to see Falcon Rest, a historic home. Our tour guide led us through the 45 minute tour in 22 minutes, 45 seconds. Quite enough history. We braved Wal-Mart without a guide and got lost once between groceries and outdoor items.

We visited Rock Island State Park and I took some great pictures of the Caney Fork River Gorge and Twin Falls. The Falls originate from caves on the side of the gorge. The falls were an unexpected result of the daming of the Caney Fork and Collins Rivers. We arrived at the Park too late in the day to hike into the main section of the gorge. I would like to return and spend more time here.

Tuesday, June 17

Michael and I had planned on going hang gliding near Lookout Mountain. Linda wanted no part of hang gliding but she did ride in the little green towtruck. Unfortunately, the winds picked-up and our flight was put on hold. I was a little nervous anyway because our flight instructor couldn't find an extension cord so we could watch the saftey video. Hoping that the weather would improve, we stayed in Chattanooga and saw the movie; "You Don't Mess with the Zohan." The windy weather continued so we scrubbed our mission and went back to the campground.

Wednesday, June 18

It was 51 degrees on Wednesday morning when Michael and I hiked the Cable Trail into Canes Creek Gorge. The terrain is extremely steep and you really need to hold onto the cable. After we returned to the top, Michael noticed a sign that said 90% of all search and rescue operations are conducted on this trail. Maybe we should read the warnings before we hike.

We all hiked the trail from the Nature Center to Fall Creek Falls. Michael learned to identify various trees such as red oak, white oak and red maple. Linda is our tree expect but we think that sometimes she makes things up.

We packed up and moved to High Falls State Park near Forsyth, Georgia.

Thursday, June 19

We went to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta to see the whale sharks.They were awesome. The tank also had giant groupers, sharks and other miscellaneous fish. We had lunch at the cafe and Michael was disappointed to learn that they didn't have fish sticks. Go figure. Michael enjoyed the touch tanks and washed his hands more times at the aquarium than the entire rest of the trip. Michael got a tattoo of a grouper on his ankel (non-permanent).

We then went next door to the World of Coke and paid $15 each to watch Coca Cola advertisements. We tasted Coke products from around the world. Beverly from Italy was the nastiest and Bibo from South Africa was our favorite.

We had dinner, curbside, at the Varsity, the world's largest drive-in restaurant, per their website. Our car hop provided excellent service and I had the famous Frosted Orange Shake.

After returning to the campground, Linda and I hiked to High Falls. It was an interesting series of falls but the local drought had taken away a lot of its beauty and power. We were out of firewood so Linda made smores in the mircrowave.Caution: Marshmallows will blow up if microwaved for more than 25 seconds.

Friday, June 20

We packed up and began our trek home. You could feel the temperature rise as we approached Floirda. It was great to be back home without any major RV damage or personal injuries.

Note: We replaced both camper batteries on June 13, 2008.

Friday, May 9 - Sunday May 11, 2008: Trip 52

We made the short trip to St. Augustine and stayed at the KOA (Anasatasia State Park was full). It was our first stay at this campground. Amenties included full hook-ups, cable and a small lake complete with ducks. At $58 per night, the park is pricey and I would rather stay at nearby Anastasia State Park for $21 per night and skip the cable and sewer hook-ups.

On Saturday, we had a pre-Mother's Day gathering at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. Allen took over 400 pictures with my camera while Linda and I enjoyed being with our granddaughter. The weather was perfect and the rookery was in full swing. The first group of wood storks and white egrets had already hatched; the snowny egrets were building nests and the tri-colored herons were tending their eggs.

We woke up Sunday morning to windy weather and a prediction for strong late morning thunderstorms. I made a quick trip to Washington Oak Gardens State Park but there was little to photograph. It seems like most of the animals and insects saw the same weather forcast and were not out and about. I did see a water snake and an osprey. We checked out early and headed home to avoid the bad weather. NOTE: No rain on Sunday.

Friday, April 18- Monday, April 21, 2008: Trip 51

We left for Pensacola after work on Friday and spent the night at the East Tallahassee KOA. Our first stop on Saturday was at Falling Waters State Park near Chipley. The park's main attraction is a waterfall that pluges 90 feet to the bottom of a sinkhole. It's an easy walk for the parking area and worth seeing. Our next stop was site 31 in Big Lagoon State Park in Pensacola.

We ate dinner at McGuire's Irish Pub, a local favorite. The food was very good and the bread pudding with whiskey sauce was killer. The restaurant was decorated with one dollar bills signed by customers, currently more than 500,000 and counting. The sign on the women's rest room said "Men's Room" in large letters with an arrow pointing to the adjacent door. I didn't understand the sign and three young ladies in the women's restroom got a real laugh from the confused look on this old man's face.

After dinner we went to the Pensacola Beach Pier and planned to go to Fort Picken at the tip of Santa Rosa Island. As it turned out, this part of the Gulf Island National Seashore is still closed because the roads were washed out in the 2004 hurricanes and have not been rebuilt.

Early Sunday morning, I went to Tarklin Bayou State Park and attempted to safely approach and photograph a carnivorous pitcher plant. It feeds primarily on insects, but you never know. The park had a 1.2 mile handicapped accessible hiking trail from the parking area to the bayou and back.

I then drove to Perdido Key State Park for a view of the Gulf. I took a short ride down the coast to Alabama where I encountered a strong urge to buy a six pack of Budweiser and go huntin'.

Linda and I went to Blackwater River State Park which is one of the best canoeing rivers in Florida. We toured the area and thought that Coldwater Creek looked best for kayaking. On the way back to Big Lagoon, we returned to McGuire's for burgers, beer and bread pudding.

During our weekend visit, we saw the Blue Angles fly over our campground, a nesting bald eagle, one deer, two red-headed woodpeckers, some beautiful butterflies and a rat. We had a safe and uneventful, although boring, trip home on I-10.

Friday March 28- Sunday, March 30, 2008: Trip 50

For our 50th trip in our Montana, we visited Ichetucknee Family Canoe and Cabin Campground. Our neighbors, Fred & Pat, a nice couple of snowbirds returning to Ohio, also had a Montana. We taught them how to play Rummikub and they won 3 out of 4 games. (beginner's luck!).

On Saturday, we saw four deer, several large Pileated Woodpeckers, some wild turkeys, and about 50 old-timers on a Harley charity ride. The river levels were higher than normal. Troy springs was closed because the boardwalks were underwater due to the Suwannee River being 14 feet above normal levels.

Due to the high water, I was able to kayak on the Santa Fe River from the I-75 bridge to O'leno State Park. That part of the river is scenic with cypress trees. I have hiked on parts of the river bed in this area before. There was an Old Time Dance meeting at one of the O'leno pavillons and we enjoyed watching the square dancing. Everyone seemed to being having fun and getting a lot of exercise.

I kayaked the Ichetucknee River on Sunday morning. It was very peaceful without tubers. I saw several owls and an otter. Before lunch, Linda and I attempted to play badminton. We left for home after lunch. It was a great relaxing get-away weekend.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Linda, Michael and I had planned on camping at Long Point Park on the Indian River so that we could visit family. It is a nice time of year and none of our loved ones were in jail or on the lam. The weather turned nasty on Friday with high winds and hail so Michael and I turned our planned weekend adventure into a day trip on Saturday without the RV.

We visited St Lucie Inlet State Park on Saturday morning. It is a small park with limited facilities and no camping. Sebastian Inlet State Park, about 30 miles north, is much nicer. We also made brief visits to Jack Island Park (pictured), Avalon State Park and the Navy Seal Museum.

We had lunch at my Dad's house and he took us to visit a local hog farm. The farmer had some turkeys and cows, but his prize possessions were his hogs. (My shoes still stink). Later we bought some fruit at a packing house.

We enjoyed our visit and on the way home we stopped at Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach. I got a t-shirt. Life is good!

Friday January 25- Sunday, January 27, 2008: Trip 49

Linda, Michael, the cat and I headed to Paynes Prairie State Preserve for our first camping trip of the year. It has been five weeks since our last outing.

Michael and I went hiking on Saturday morning in a chilly rain. We saw a flock of more 100 Sandhill Cranes together on the prairie. We tried to sneak up on them but before we got within camera range they flew the coop. You could tell that it was winter because of the bleak brown colors.

Later, we found a four-point deer antler. We put it on the kitchen counter in the RV but Linda made us put it outside. Her rules are: no bait in the refrigerator, no biologicals on the counter.

The main purpose of our trip was the Stargazing Event sponsored by the local astrology club on Saturday night. No Go. It was completely overcast with on and off light rain. We stayed in the RV and watched a video.

Just before sunset on Saturday, Michael and I went hiking on the La Chula trail and saw several very large alligators and Sunday morning we went for a short hike and saw deer and wild turkeys. We checked-out before noon and headed home.

Note: We dropped RV off at Suncoast on January 2 for repairs to siding damaged by flat tire on trip 32. Picked up on January 17, ready to go.

Note: 164 nights in the RV to date.

Saturday - Tuesday, December 22 - 26, 2007: Trip 48

photo of anastasia state park campgroundWe stayed at Anastasia State Park for our third consecutive Christmas holiday. We arrived on Saturday morning and had the rare pleasure of backing into our site during daylight. We had dinner at our favorite local mexican restaurant.

photo of st augstine lighthouseOn Sunday, we went home to enjoy a holiday dinner with our family. We returned to the campground after dark and saw the moon rising above the lighthouse.

photo of yellow-crested night heronOn Monday, I went to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm to take wildlife pictures. There were a large number of yellow-crowned night herons in the aviary area and some rosette spoonbills.

Monday night we watched the moonrise at the St. Augustine Pier. It was the winter solstice, when the moon is at is most northern point and the sun at its most southern.

Christmas day was cool and overcast. We walked around St. Augustine and enjoyed the historical architecture without the crowds. After our walk, we had the breakfast buffet at the Hilton. That afternoon, I saw a osprey catch a fish at the lagoon. Linda made us a nice dinner.

We returned home on Wednesday.

Friday - Sunday, November 30 - December 2, 2007: Trip 47

We stayed at Ichetucknee Family Canoe and Cabins and enjoyed the fall weather and, since tubing season was over, the quiet and relaxing pace.

On Saturday, we went shopping for a small piece of land that we could use for a weekend get-away. The prices on cleared land and pine highlands were much lower than the hardwood type properties that we wanted. We found a perfect 3 acre lot with gorgeous oak trees for $80,000. We decided that it was a lot cheaper and more sensible to stay at the campground for $42 a weekend.

On Sunday morning, we went to the Mayo Cafe for lunch (in beautiful downtown Mayo). We had a healthy country buffet with lots of vegetables. I had green beans cooked with bacon and extra salt, turnips cooked with bacon and extra salt and black-eyed peas cooked with bacon and extra salt and fried chicken. After lunch we went to Koon Lake which was completely dry. On my last visit, the lake was probably fifty acres and surrounded by towering cypress trees. Our next stop was Mallory Swamp WMA which was swampless.

During our return to the campground, we saw several wild hogs with piglets. We left for home in the late afternoon.

Wednesday – Sunday, November 21 - 25, 2007: Trip 46

We returned to Fort Clinch State Park for the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend and our first stay in the Beach Campground. The campground's few palm trees provided little shade and no wind break. However, television reception was great and we were surprised that our site had 50 amp service.

Thanksgiving evening we ate dinner at Barbara Jean's. The food and service were excellent. We asked the manager if we could buy bottle of mustard, as we were out and the stores were closed. He gave us a free bottle of Grey Poupon. Life is good!

On Friday, I hiked at the Bluffs at Little Talbot Island State Park. The beach has a large amount of driftwood similar to Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island. That evening, I watched the sunset from under the A1A bridge over the intracoastal. I took a lot of pictures with unique and unusual layouts. The concepts were much better than the products.

The weather turned worse on Saturday with a constant wind from the northeast, with gusts over 20 MPH. The inlet was as rough as I have ever seen it and the waves washed right up to the dunes, covering the beach which is usually at least 40 feet wide. Later that afternoon, we watched the Gators trounce FSU, 45-12.

Sunday morning we awoke to more dismal weather and decided to leave early. It was a miracle that we returned home with all the parts still attached to the RV. All things considered, it was still an enjoyable, long weekend.

Note: 154 nights in the RV to date.

Friday, November 10 – Monday, November 12, 2007: Trip 45

We stayed in site 53 in the River Campground at Fort Clinch State Park for the three day holiday weekend. During our stay, I replaced the TV antenna, but broke a roof vent cover, which I promptly repaired with duct tape.

On Saturday, we toured the Amelia Island Museum of History. It was small but very well done. That evening, we went to the Fort and watched the History of the American Soldier in honor of Veterans Day. They had volunteers in period soldier attire from Revolutionary times to current. Each soldier fired his rifle (some didn't work). It was a very interesting and fun history lesson.

Throughout the weekend, I made several trips to the beach to take photos and look for shells. There were large groups of seabirds, including black skimmers, terns and gulls. The recent nor'easters had washed up a nice variety of shells.

Sunday morning, Linda and I went to the Art Festival in Fernandina Beach. She got some beading ideas and I got some photography tips. I hiked on the Egan's Creek greenway and saw a water mocassin and a large alligator.

We checked-out on Monday afternoon. While leaving the park, we saw three racoons and an armadillo that all seem to know that the weekend was over and it was safe to come out during daylight.

Friday, October 26 – Sunday, October 28, 2007: Trip 44

We stayed in site 35 at Paynes Prairie State Park. The weather was overcast with occasional rain, but the temperatures were in the 60's and 70's. The park was displaying its fall colors which included large patches of yellow flowers, evergreens, and purple sages.

On Saturday, I kayaked the perimeter of Lake Wauburg. There were anhinga (est. 40) and turkey vultures (est. 25) roosting in the trees at the northern part of the lake. I saw several alligators and a bald eagle. We watched part of the Florida-Georgia football game in Micanopy at the Pearl County Store and BBQ (as we still have no tv antenna.)

On Sunday morning I hiked the Cone's Dike trail (almost six miles roundtrip) and saw 4 wild turkeys, 14 deer including one buck and a water mocassin. After lunch, I hiked the La Chula trail (3 miles roundtrip) and saw 16 alligators in the first pond and a bunch more in Alachua sink. The trail from Alachua sink to the observation tower was dryer than normal and I did not see much wildlife.

Friday, September 28 – Sunday, September 30, 2007: Trip 43

After a four week hiatus, we were back on the road again. We diverted from our originally planned destination of Jeykll Island due to a red tide outbreak and related fish kill, and headed inland to the Suwannee River Valley Campground near White Springs.

Friday night we had dinner at B-B Ann's near the Interstate. It seemed to be the only local restuarant open after 7 PM. More importantly, they had satellite TV.

Saturday morning I went hiking to Little Shoals on the Suwannee. Later, I hiked the two mile round trip to Big Shoals. This part of the Suwannee is not navigatable and you must portage your canoe or kayak around the shoals. The water had so much tannic acid that the waves looked brown.

Saturday afternoon, we continued my quest to visit all the Florida County seats with a short trip to Jasper, county seat of Hamilton County (47 of 67). After dinner on Saturday, I took Linda to Diary Queen near Jasper for a butterscotch dipped cone. They were out so we drove to DQ in Live Oak. They were out too. After settling on our second choices, we went to Jai Alai and watched a couple of games.

On Sunday we visited Suwuannee River State Park and I hiked the Lime Sink Trail. This was probably the most scenic state park trail that I have ever hiked. I was impressed by the size and number of cypress trees along the trail and the elevation changes along the trail. I also saw "balanced rock" on the bank of the Suwannee. The campground was under renovation and was projected to open in November.

We visited the Holton Creek Canoe Camp on the Suwannee.

There was a large flowering plant at the campground whose flowers changed from white in the morning to pink in the evening. I sent pictures of the flowers, leaves and bark to a professor of biology and to a state park biologist. Neither could positively identify the plant. Grandma Mary identified it as a Confederate Rose or cotton rosemallow (hibiscus mutabilis). So much for higher education.

We forgot to lower the TV antenna and destroyed it on some low hanging trees near the storage lot. That's our first one, not bad.

Friday, August 31 – Monday, September 5, 2007: Trip 42

We ventured into south Florida for a three night stay in lot 9 of the Grove campground at Johnathan Dickinson State Park. We arrived late and promptly blew out the power when we turned on both air conditioners. Luckily, I found a master panel box and was able to power up.

We awoke the next morning to one of the bleakest campgrounds we have ever seen. According to the park rangers, the trees in this area of the park have been hammered by two hurricanes, a fire and pine beetles. By the looks of things, the pine beetles have long since starved to death. The park has 42,000 acres so I don't understand why they put the grove campground 200 yards from US Highway 1 and 4.9 miles from the park's main attraction, the Loxahatchee River.

Our Saturday adventures began with a trip to Blowing Rock Preserve. The beach is lined with large outcroppings of coquina. Holes in the rock allow the waves to shoot into the air.

We then went to the Elliot Museum which I last visted during a fourth grade field trip. Later, I went snorkeling at Bathtub Reef. Linda wanted no part of the ocean and stayed back at the pavillion. We met my sister-in-law and my older brother for dinner at 5:20, in time for the early bird special. (He's in the AARP crowd.) Note: This picture is the museum, not by brother.

Sunday morning we went to John MacArthur State Park in Juno Beach. It's a nice oceanfront park with a lagoon. I went snorkeling in the ocean and saw a wide varity of fish including the nurse shark pictured here.

We visited the Breakers in Palm Beach (pictured). It can be best described as a study in opulence. We debated having their Sunday brunch, which looked awesome, but decided to leave and find a restaurant with a drive-thru. After lunch, we toured the Henry Flagler Museum which is near the Breakers. The museum is a mansion used by Flager for 6 to 7 weeks a year. We then left opulence and headed back to bleakness.

I went kayaking on the Loxahatchee around sunset. It took about an hour and a half to go from the boat dock to Kitchen Creek and back. I saw two buzzards. How appropriate.

We returned home on Monday.

Friday, August 17 – August 20, 2007:

We cancelled our planned trip to High Falls State Park in central Georgia due to the heat wave.

Friday, August 3 – Sunday, August 5, 2007: Trip 41

We stayed at the Ichetucknee Family Canoe and Campground and arrived just before dark. We backed in and setup without any problems dispite Linda's bizzare hand signals. We didn't bother to level the RV so we were listing from right to left and front to back.

Saturday morning, Linda and I kakayed on the Sante Fe River from the boat ramp up to the Highway 441 Bridge; at distance of at least 250 yards. This was a major improvement over her last try at kayaking (see Trip 38). Afterwards, I kayaked 3 miles to the Highway 27 bridge where Linda picked me up. I had to get out and drag the kayak over 3 dry areas. After lunch, we went to the Butterfly Rainforest at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

On Sunday morning, with great apprehension, I took Linda kayaking on the Itchetucknee River. She made it all the way to Dampier's Landing (2 miles). It was her kind of river: cool temperature, clear water, shade and a steady current. She did great!

Note:The picture to the left is not Linda and not the Itchetucknee.

Friday, July 20 – Sunday, July 22, 2007: Trip 40

We stayed at the Deland-Orange City KOA because of its proximity to Blue Springs, Hontoon Island and DeLeon Springs State Parks and to the Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge. The campground was adequate but not outstanding. TV reception was the pits.

On Saturday morning, we hiked in the Woodruff Refuge. It was hot and buggy and the main attraction was a large group of buzzards. Later, at Deleon Springs, we cooked our own pancake breakfast at the Old Mill Restaurant. Because the parking lots were full, Blue Springs was closed when we arrived there around 11 AM. Then we went to Hontoon Island State Park. After a short ferry ride, we went on a brief hike but left to avoid the incoming thunderstorm.

Sunday morning we hiked on the trail at DeLeon Springs. It was very scenic but the wrong time of year to hike there. (Hot and buggy). We visited Blue Springs and then had a non-memorable lunch at Gran's Kitchen in Orange City. It tasted like Gran traded her oven for a microwave. While we were packing up to leave, I almost stepped on a black snake. I did get a couple of pictures of it.

Friday, June 29 – Sunday, July 8, 2007: Trip 39

Friday We arrived for a ten night stay at Anastasia Park (Site 66) and managed to setup without any damage. We started the AC to cool off the camper and then went to dinner at Beef O'Brady's. The camper was properly chilled when we returned. I planned to commute to work during the week.

Saturday We were up and out early so we could run errands and get back to the camper before my brother and sister-in-law arrived from south Florida. We expected them around 11 AM and they arrived promptly at 2:30 PM. During our wait, Linda and I had breakfast at Cafe Eleven and then I went for a walk on the Beach. Later, we all went to the San Sebastian Winery for free wine tasting. We spent Saturday night at our house.

Sunday We all went to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. The aviary was in full swing with nesting birds including Snowy Egrets, Green Herons and White Egrets. You could see small chicks and unhatched eggs. We had lunch at Mama Fu's and then Chris and Anne left for home. It rained most of the remainder of the day and we chilled out in the camper.

Monday The sunrise and sunset were obscured by clouds and it was overall a lousy day for taking pictures. I did see two gopher turtles in the park.

Tuesday We awoke to a rainy morning. It seems like the best way to end a drought is for us to go camping. For reasons unknown, the hot water stopped coming out of the spout so I took a cold shower. On the way to work, I saw a Roseate Spoonbill in the lagoon. We returned to the camper after work and found that the electrical outlets in the living room and kitchen didn't work and that the refrigerator would only run on gas. It seems to be the week repairs.

Wednesday, July 4th I went to the Alligator Farm at 8 AM to take pictures in the rookery. I have a photographer's pass that lets me in before the crowds. In the afternoon, I went kayaking in salt run. The winds were gusting off the ocean at 20-25 and the ride was wet and a lot of work. That night we watched the fireworks from the beach parking lot at the campground. The view was good but we were so far away that there was no explosion noises and the only smoke was from the chain-smoking rednecks.

Thursday This was not a real exciting day. I planned to get up early and take pictures of the sunrise. Not. We did manage to replace a safety outlet and restore power to refrigerator and outlets.

Friday Linda reserved us a spot at McKnight's Irish Pub to see an Elvis impersonator. You figure. His name was Peter Alden and we had a blast.

Saturday I spent most of the day out taking pictures. There were a wide variety of flowers blooming at Washing Oak State Gardens. We fixed the hot water heater and were able to avoid the bathhouse.

Sunday We packed up and headed home.

NOTES: We replaced the steps which were damaged when I hit a rock on trip 9 and that fell apart on trip 38. 132 nights in the camper to date.

Wednesday, June 6 – Saturday, June 16, 2007: Trip 38

Day 0: We left Jacksonville around 5 PM and made a short trip to Savannah, arriving before dark. The most difficult part of any trip is loading up and getting out of town.

Day 1: We left Savannah around 8 AM and arrived at Moccasin Creek State Park near Clayton, Georgia around 2. The park is on Lake Burton and our lot shaded by large pine and redbud trees. Our neighbors, Sheryll and Harriet, were from Lake City, Fl.

After we set up, went drove 8 miles down Wildcat Creek Road, an isolated gravel road in the Chattahoochee National Forest. The road dead-ended within a mile of the Appalachian Trail. The road followed the creek most of the way and the scenery was awesome.

Day 2: We went to Tallulah Gorge State Park. Michael and I hiked the path to the bottom of the gorge. The path has 530 steps and a suspension bridge. At the bottom of the gorge we forged the river and took some pictures of the waterfall. The trip back to the top was a killer. Meanwhile, Linda hiked the ramps and stairs in the three story interpretation center (12 trips in the air conditioning). After our hikes we all had a great Lunch at Mama G's Italian Restaurant in Clayton.

After lunch, we drove to South Carolina and visted Stumphouse Tunnel (with our headlamps) and Isagueena Falls. The railroad tunnel was started around 1850 and never finished. It is in solid granite and the workers progressed about 20 feet per month. We hiked to the bottom of the waterfall and took some great photos.

Day 3: Linda dropped Michael and me off at Nantahala Outdoor Center for our whitewater rafting trip on the Chattooga River. I thought I was probably the oldest person on the trip. Michael and Linda disagreed. They said I was definitely the oldest.

Our trip was on Section IV, made famous by the movie Deliverance. Our first major rapid was Seven Foot Falls. (pictured right: Michael and I are on the left side of photo). We stopped and hiked a short distance to Long Creek Falls and walked underneath the freezing cold waterfall. During our lunch break Michael swam from Georgia to South Carolina and back. (100 feet). After lunch, we went through a series of five class five rapids. The river ended in Lake Tugaloo where we were met by a motorboat that towed our group of rafts the last three miles to the take-out.

Day 4: Every morning we were awakened by the sounds of birds chirping. By the third morning, I was ready to get a gun and start blasting. Our first trip of the day was to Minnehaha Falls, a well known but hard to find waterfall. After a quarter of a mile hike, you stand directly in front of the waterfall for a breathtaking view.

After a picnic lunch at Warwoman Dell in a pavilion built by the CCC back in the 1930's, we visited Black Rock Mountain State Park and noted that the campsites were too small for large RV's. Linda wanted to visit Foxfire Museum, a historical mountain village reconstructed by a bunch of hippies in the 70's. Lucky for Michael and me, it was closed on Sundays.

Day 5: Linda and I went to Unicoi State Park and hiked the one-half mile trail to Anna Ruby Falls. The falls are actually two separate creeks converging into a single stream below. On our return, we stopped at the Mark of the Potter, a highly advertised and over-rated collection of junk. Been there, done that.

Onward to the Smokey Mountains. We stayed at the Cherokee KOA and our campsite overlooked the Raven Fork River. The neighbors on both sides of us were from Florida (Venice and Boyton Beach).

After we set-up, I decided to have Michael drive me a couple of miles up river so that I could kayak back to the camper. This trip was later named the Poseidon Adventure. About halfway back, the kayak got pinned against a log and filled up with water. I had a hell of a time trying to turn it over and drain out the water.

After dinner, we went for a drive in the National Park and saw two elk.

Day 6: Linda and I hiked the trail to Mingo Falls, which is a ten on everyone's waterfall list. The hike is about one-half mile each way and has 164 steps.

We all went ruby mining in Franklin and Mike found a one and a half carat ruby. We left the ruby at Linda's favorite rock shop to be cut and polished and mailed to us. We toured the Gem and Mineral Museum in Franklin and had lunch at the Motor Grill. After we ate we found out that the Grill was cash only so I had to walk through a nearby drive-thru ATM to get some cash.

Day 7: Wednesday morning we went shopping for indian trinkets and t-shirts for our loved ones back home. Linda bought some jewelry for herself and Michael and I bought subs at Subway. There seemed to be more Harley stuff than native items.

Michael and I went kayaking in "ducks" on the Nantahala River. This is a dam-controlled river so the rapids are consistent but the water is around 52 degrees. Our pre-trip technical whitewater training consisted of the following facts: 1) a series of waves indicates deep water, good. 2) single white wave indicates submerged rock, not good. 3) brown or gray object above water indicates rock, bad. Once trained, we were issued wetsuits that were at least one size too small. During the trip my feet turned purple. I am not sure if it was because of the cold water or from putting my big extra large butt in a large wetsuit.

During our trip, a fellow ducker hit his head on a tree limb and required professional help. Unfortunately, there was not an attorney in our group so the guide wrapped his head in gauze. Near the end of our trip, the guy with the head wound and no lawyer fell out of his duck going over Nantahala Falls. He made the last part of the trip in the guide's boat.

After our rafting trip, Michael and I had a $20 pizza at the Pizza on the River place. Although pricey, the pizza was humongous and delicious.

Day 8: Today's big scheduled event was a trip to Pigeon Forge to visit Dollywood. On most trips, I avoid theme parks like the plague. Dollywood is an easy going place without the crowds like at Disney. Mike had a great time here but, in retrospect, I could have skipped Dollyhell and gone hiking or rafting. The drive there and back crossed Newfoundland Gap which has some awesome views of the Smokeys. The temperature in the mountains was about 25 degrees cooler than in Pigeon Forge.

Day 9: It rained several inches on Thursday so I decided that the higher water would make kayaking the stream that ran by the camper easier. WRONG! Michael and I kayaked about three miles. Pure torture. The current was very fast and tended to flip the kayaks when we got stuck on the rocks. We tied at 4 sinks each. It turned out to be a real endurance challenge.

We went back to Cherokee for another shopping attempt. Many of the souvenirs were for non-native things such as moose (instead of elk) and Kokopelli, an indian fertility god from the Southwest. It appears that all the Cherokee craftsman relocated to China. I did get two t-shirts, including one with the saying "You don't stop exploring because you get old; you get old because you stop exploring."

After shopping we went to Mingus Mill, a working grist mill that makes corn meal and wheat flour. It was constructed in the 1850's and served the entire valley. We then drove to Deep Creek, just north of Bryson City and hiked to Juney Whank Falls.

Linda made us a nice dinner and then, after a week of taking showers, we went to the campground jacuzzi for the closest thing available to a bath.

Day 10: We read a guide book that said that Chimney trail was an easy .8 mile loop with some of the best views in the Smokeys. Linda and I decided to let Mike sleep in and go for one last hike before we left for home. We arrived at our destination after a 45 minute drive through the Smokeys and Newfoundland Gap and discovered that we had confused the Chimney Trial with the Chimney Tops Trail. Instead of an easy hike, we were looking at a strenuous 4 mile round trip with a 1,700 elevation change. We hiked the first 200 yards and back.

We packed up and left Cherokee at noon for home. The cat didn't stop meowing until South Carolina. We made the 516 mile trip in 10 hrs 46 minutes, averaging a blistering 48 miles per hour. Home safe!

Friday, May 25 – Monday May 20, 2007: Trip 37

We spent Memorial Day weekend at the Ichetucknee Canoe and Family Campground in Lot 3. (Dave and Rose Ann Hudson from Valdosta have life-time first dibs on premier lot 4.) We met Vic and Katrina from Callahan who also have a Montana 5th wheel.

On Saturday, we visited the Dudley Farm Historic State Park located between Gainesville and Newberry. The Park has historic buildings from the late 1800's and volunteers in period clothing. This is an interesting place worth a short visit. Based on a friend's advice, we then went to a used bookstore and cafe in Gainesville called Books, Inc. The Cafe was nice, however, she forgot to tell me it was vegetarian only.

We drove to Cedar Key on Sunday to kayak to Arsena Otie Key. I originally planned to go with Michael but in his absence, Linda volunteered as a substitute. Our trip can be summarized as follows: Drive to Cedar Key, 2 hours; Unload and setup kayaks, 30 minutes; kayak 150 feet out into the Gulf, TURN AROUND AND RETURN TO SHORE, 9 minutes; look of total terror on Linda's face, priceless.

Monday, we went canoeing on the Ichetucknee River. Linda and Rose Ann shared a canoe and I kayaked. We had to weave our way around tubers and swimmers. The wildlife was scarce but the scenery was awesome.

Friday, May 18 – Sunday May 20, 2007: Trip 36

Linda and I made our first trip to Jekyll Island and stayed in lot B-13 at the Jekyll Island Campground. The campground is on the north end of the island near the Clam Creek Picnic area and fishing pier. The weather was unseasonably cool, with highs in the upper 70’s, lows around 60 and plenty of sun.

I went hiking Saturday morning around 7:30. I hiked from the campground to the pier and then to Driftwood Beach, the most fascinating feature of the island. I saw several deer and a fawn from the beach. The round trip took about 2 hours.

Linda and I went to the historic area at the Jekyll Island Club. The Club was formed in the late 1800's and had 53 original members including Kodak, Pulitzer and JP Morgan. We walked the grounds and viewed the cottages which were actually summer homes for the very wealthy. The smaller buildings have been turned into shops. We had lunch at the Cafe at the Club. The sandwiches and deserts were excellent and reasonably priced.

We met Jim and Maureen from Milledgeville, Ga. They gave us some Georgia camping tips and let Linda ride Jim's tricycle. She liked the comfortable seat and the fact that you could stop and look around without falling over.

Saturday evening I hiked the bike path along the southern edge of the salt marsh from the pier to Beachview Road. It was around 8:00 PM and I was hoping to get some picture of the sun setting over the marsh. The sunset pictures were a flop, but I did see several deer including a doe nursing her fawn, a raccoon and some rabbits.

Sunday morning I went out at 7:30 hoping to again see the doe and her fawn. I had hiked a lot on Saturday so I drove the electric scooter. No doe, but I saw a flock of over 80 white Ibis in the marsh. There were adult and immature birds (which are white and brown). I've never seen this many at one time. They were feeding and moving along as a group.

We decided to skip our brunch reservations at the Jekyll Island Club and save some bucks. We drove around the island and visited the 4-H Tidelands Center. It was a neat little exhibit and worth the dollar admission price. We left for home around 2:00 and had a safe and uneventful return trip.

Friday May 4 – Sunday May 6, 2007; Trip 35

Linda and I stayed at the Ichetucknee Family Canoe and Campground, lot 4. While we were setting up, Linda noticed that our site had large ants, so she got out the bug spray and coated the tires and RV feet to keep the ants from getting in the camper. She also sprayed the 50 amp power cord (with flammable aerosol spray) and the fresh water intake hose (with insecticide). We survived, the ants didn't.

Saturday morning, I went hiking at O’Leno State Park and saw five deer: two on the entrance road, two on the 1.5 mile River Trail and one on the .6 mile Limestone Trail. The upper Santa Fe River was as low as I have ever seen it and some sections were completely dry. (This is above the area where it sinks into the ground and rises later with a real flow.)

Saturday after lunch I kayaked on the Santa Fe River from Rum Island to the Highway 47 bridge. The original plan was for Linda to pick me up at Ginnie Springs. However, when she got there she was too cheap to pay the $12 entry fee and she decided go shopping and pick me up later at the bridge. I waited for a while at Ginnie Springs and the called Linda on a borrowed cell phone and was told of the updated pickup point. It took about 2 hours to reach the Hwy 47 bridge from Ginnie Springs. The most difficult part was navigating through the groups of drunken tubers. I got a good photo of a yellow-crowned night-heron. (pretty rare).

While I was kayaking, Linda went shopping in High Springs and walked through the "Sinkhole De Mayo" Festival. The main attraction was a lady selling trees and plants with the name tags all mixed up.

Saturday night we ate a country dinner at Mary Jane's and around sunset went to the sinkhole at the rear of the farm. I wasn't sure whether it felt like an enchanted forest or something from a scarry movie. Magically creepy.

I kayaked on the Ichetucknee River Sunday morning around 8:30 and saw a black-crowned night-heron in the grassy flats area of the river. It’s an unusual bird to see. The river was peaceful and I did not see another human during the entire trip. We returned home early Sunday afternoon.

Saturday April 21 - Sunday April 22, 2007, Trip 34

We stayed Saturday night at Fort Clinch State Park, one of my favorite parks. The weather was windy but otherwise perfect. Cool evenings with highs around 80 and no mosquitoes.

Saturday afternoon I walked out on the jetties past the end of the fishing pier and then I took pictures of some sandpipers, royal terns and laughing gulls. Linda cooked homemade pizza for dinner. Later, I took pictures of the sunset over the Amelia River.

Sunday morning I hiked on the Willow Pond trail in search of the elusive Willow Tree. A tree identification book would have been helpful. I saw an alligator, a blue Ibis and a Kingfisher just before another hiker arrived with a small child and a dog and scared off all the wildlife within ten miles. After that, I went to the jetties to take more bird pictures.

Michael, Angie, Mark, Francesca, Robert and Angee all came up for the afternoon. We had hamburgers on the grill which were not very good. Luckily, Angee brought potato salad and her famous Angelberry Lemon Cake. Francesca got her clothes wet at the river and had to use one of my t-shirts as a dress. We went fishing on the pier later that afternoon and, as usual, caught nothing.

Injuries on this trip were minor. I fell on the rocks at the jetties but luckily, did not hurt the camera. Robert somehow managed to hit himself in the face with the cast net. Angee avoided injury even though she wore high heel flip-flop sandals.

Friday, March 30 - Sunday, April 1, 2007, Trip 33

We experienced an uneventful drive to Tallahassee and stayed in Lot 5 at the Tallahassee RV Park on US 90, just of I-10. The park is small but has all the necessities including cable and wi-fi. Publix is almost across the street.

On Saturday, we went to Thomasville to see the historic houses and then to the Pebble Hill Plantation. This is one of about 71 plantations in the Tallahassee/Thomasville area. It includes a 40 room mansion with the original furnishings. The history and tour focuses on life at this Plantation from the period after the end of the civil war when it was purchased by rich northerners until about 1980 when it became a museum. We spent several hours on the house tour and walking the grounds.

The main purpose of our trip was to visit McClay Gardens State Park in full spring bloom. We were about 2 weeks late but it was still pretty. The historic home at the Park was not open for tours but, after the Plantation, we were toured out.

We drove to Monticello as part of my quest to visit the County Seats of all 67 Florida counties. (Note: due to the price of gas, my quest has been changed from visiting all 50 states.) Not a real exciting place. Interestingly, Jefferson County is the only Florida County to be bordered by both the Gulf of Mexico and Georgia.

Saturday night we watched the NCAA Final Four tournament and UF’s big win over UCLA. It was great to be a Gator even though we were in Seminole territory.

On Sunday, we met my brother and sister-in-law for brunch at Cabos Grille. We got lost trying to find the place but the food was great. The folks who designed Tallahassee’s roads obviously never heard of a grid system.

We returned home safely on Sunday afternoon having avoided the I-10 curse.

NOTE: 112 nights in the camper to date.

Saturday, March 17 - Monday, March 19, 2007, Trip 32

Our trip to the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park north of Live Oak started out bad and went worse. While hooking up the RV, I got stung by wasps. Linda was thrilled because she finally got to use her anti-sting medicine. On the way to the Park, we stopped at a friend's home and snagged their basketball hoop on our RV and dragged it down the street. We were all concerned that bad things come in 3's.

Later on I-10, we thought that a car passing us was admiring our RV. Michael jokingly said we probably had a door open. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw parts flying off. We had a trailer tire blow completely apart and damage our siding and undercarriage. We changed the tire and proceeded onward.

We discussed whether the tire was our third of three. I thought that the wasp stings on my head counted as one of three. No one else did.

The canoe was strapped to the roof of the truck and one of the straps came loose and was flopping in the wind. We decided to stop at the next exit and check the tie downs. After we exited, the truck ran over the loose tie-down and pulled the canoe off the roof of the truck. The front canoe rack was ruined and the canoe was toast. We left the canoe at a truck stop dumpster, got milkshakes to smooth our nerves and proceeded toward the Park.

We finally arrived at the Park around 3:30, having completed our 100 mile trip in just over 5 1/2 hours. Our campsite was the size of a postage stamp and was wedged between two permanent campers. Linda made a quick stressed-out hormonal RV wife type cell call to the Park office and we were instantly upgraded to a nicer lot.

On Saturday, Michael and I kayaked on the Withlacoochee River. Linda dropped us off at the Highway 6 Bridge and planned to pick us up at the Suwannee River State Park. I estimated that the trip was 8 miles and should take three hours. A more careful estimate would have been 13 miles and six hours. I think “Withlacoochee” is Indian for “river without end”.

The Park was having a bluegrass festival and the campground had groups of campers playing music. Some were quite good. The campers next to us were from Tallahassee and were very nice.

On Monday, Michael and I went kayaking on the Suwannee for about an hour and a half and then we had an uneventful drive home.

Friday, March 2 - Sunday, March 4, 2007, Trip 31

We stayed in Lot 68 at Jetty Park Campground at Port Canaveral. Michael slept in his pup tent and park security was after us for the additional $10 per night tent fee.

On Saturday, Michael and I went to the Merrit Island National Wildlife Refuge and drove on the six mile Black Point Wildlife Drive. We saw some unusual wildlife including nesting bald eagles, kingfishers, rosey spoonbills and a wide variety of migatory ducks. We also went to the Cape Canaveral National Seashore and got some great pictures of the space shuttle on the launch pad.

Around five o'clock we all went to the jetties and watched the cruise ships leave the port. At sunset Michael and I went back to the jetties to watch the lunar eclipse but only saw rain clouds.

The weather was better on Sunday and we all went to the wildlife refuge and then returned so we could check-out by noon. The Tent Police spotted us and we paid the tent fee, under protest.

Friday, February 16 - Sunday, February 18, 2007

I had to cancel our planned trip to Fort Clinch due to complaints from the family. It seems they did not want to spend time at the beach and kayaking when the lows temps are in the upper 20's and highs in the 40's with gusty winds. Wimps!

Friday, February 2 - Sunday, February 4, 2007, Trip 30

We returned to the Campground and found are RV safe and sound. It was nice not to have to park and set-up. It was a cool weekend with lows in the 30's and highs in the 50's. I went kayaking on Saturday and saw some unusual birds including an American Bittern, but no otters. We mostly rested and chilled out.

Friday, January 26 - Sunday, January 28, 2007, Trip 29

We stayed in Lot 4 at the Ichetucknee Family Canoe and Campground near Fort White. We arrived on Friday night around 9 PM and the temperature was already in the upper 30's. Saturday was beautiful with highs in the 60's. Michael and I kayaked the Ichetucknee River around lunchtime on Saturday and Linda and I canoed down the river in mid-afternoon. On the way back from the river, we saw a flock of wild turkeys and a group of deer.

I went kayaking by myself on Sunday morning and saw several otters. Very cool. Later, Linda and Michael kayaked from Daimpers Landing to the South end. It was Linda's first, and probably last, kayak trip. She prefers the canoe. We left the RV at the campground and returned home.

NOTE: 104 nights in the camper to date.

Thursday December 21 – Saturday December 30, 2006, Trip 28

We stayed in Lot 65 at Anatasia State Park in St. Augustine. The weather was not cooperative and it rained during much of our stay. I commuted to work during the week.

Friday: I went hiking on the beach. I saw a dead juvenile leatherback sea turtle. The ranger said it was about six feet long and weighed about 300 pounds. It was killed by a boat. Very sad.

We left the camper at the campground and went home on Saturday afternoon and returned Sunday night.

Monday: We drove around in the morning trying to take pictures for our website. It started to rain around lunchtime so we returned to the camper for naps.

Tuesday, December 26: This was our 100th night in our Montana.

Wednesday: I kakayed in Salt Run and went north to take pictures of the lighthouse during sunset. It was further than I thought and I arrived a little late.

Thurday: I went kayaking in Salt Run and saw some Hooded Mercanser ducks. Very beautiful. The tide was going out and the oysters were spitting out water. Very wierd.

Friday: We went to Fort Matanzas National Monument but didn't take the ferry to the fort, and to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum but didn't climb to the top. Hey, we're on vacation!

Saturday. We checked out early due to heavy rain in the forecast.

NOTE: 95 nights in the camper to date.

Friday December 1 – Sunday December 3, 2006, Trip 27

Linda and I stayed in Lot 40 at Wekiwa Springs State Park. We drove down after work on Friday. It was a lot easier to pack-up and go since the RV was already set-up at the Park. We had a potty stop at the Daytona Harley Davidson Store. It was awesome. (The store, not the bathroom.)

Overnight on Friday, the campsites near us had bears that got into their coolers and ripped a small hole in one of their tents. On Saturday morning, I went kayaking on a 4 mile roundtrip on the Wekiva River. I took Linda to the bead show in Maitland and then to the Audubon Birds of Prey Center. In the afternoon we watched football as the weather was overcast with a drizzle. We received a clear picture on channel 9 (ABC) but no sound on the living room TV. The sound worked in the bedroom. Bizarre.

On Sunday, we went to see Wekiva Falls Campground off Highway 46. It was a sad looking place that was probably the place to go in the 70’s. We found a small county park near Hwy 46 that had a canoe launch. After exploring, we went back to the Bead show.

Wednesday, November 21 – Sunday November 24, 2006, Trip 26

We spent the Thanksgiving Holidays at River Ranch Resort on the Kissimmee River in Central Florida. We stayed in site 284 that had a wooden deck with a fire pit and two wooden swings. Linda’s Mom went with us and stayed at the hotel near the campground. The resort is on Route 60 about 25 miles west of the Florida Turnpike and US 441.

Wednesday: We left around 2:30 PM and traffic was very congested and we averaged about 40 MPH on the interstate. The diesel pump at our first gas stop pumped a little less than a gallon a minute. I gave up after 13 gallons.

Thursday: I went for a two hour hike on the Florida Trail and saw five deer, two armadillos, wild turkeys and a brahma bull. Linda cooked a turkey in our rotisserie oven and we had a great meal. Our TV would not receive cable so we tried to diagnose the problem. Result: No cable, no TV and No DVD.

Friday: I went for another hike on the Florida Trail while Linda and Mom made a emergency trip to Wal-Mart for cable TV parts. In the afternoon, I kayaked on the old Kissimmee River. To reach it, I went across the new Kissimmee River and pulled the kayak for about 100 yards across a cow pasture. That night, we went to a BBQ buffet and to the Rodeo. We also watched line-dancing at the Saloon which, due to the large Holiday crowd, stayed open until 9:00.

Saturday: I went kayaking on Lake Kissimmee. Dad and Sally came over for a visit. We watched football on cable and ate Linda’s famous chili.

Sunday: I went kayaking on Walk-in-the-Water Creek from Route 60 towards Lake Rosaline. I paddled downstream about 30 minutes but I did not reach the Lake. Afterwards, we all went to the petting zoo and then packed up and left around noon. We dropped the RV off at Wekiva Springs State Park and returned home.

Thursday, November 9 – Sunday November 12, 2006. Trip 25

Linda, Michael, Windy and I stayed in Lot 4 at the Ichetucknee Family Campground. We arrived after dark and backed into the electric box. No damage. More seriously, we left our underwear and my medications at home.

On Friday, Michael and I went kayaking on the Sante Fe River while Linda chilled at the RV. We went up river from Rum Island (about 1.5 hours) to Poe Springs. The current was very strong in places and at one point I got out of my kayak and pulled it along the bank. Return trip was about 45 minutes. Later, we put in just below the highway 47 bridge and paddled upstream about 45 minutes. We went to dinner in Alachua at the Conestoga Steak House. Safety tip: Don’t order the marinated steak.

On Saturday, we met my brother Michael and Nikki at Wakulla Springs State Park for lunch and a boat ride. The trees were very colorful and, as always, there was a lot of wildlife. Later, we went canoeing on the Wakulla. It was not very pretty and there was almost no wildlife. We went by Econfina State Park on the way back and saw a flock of wild turkeys. The parks only facility was a boat ramp.

On Sunday, Michael and I each went kayaking on the Ichetucknee River. Michael went first and I went on the second trip. Michael saw three otters. The weather was chilly but the trips were great. After much discussion, we secured the kayak to the ladder on the back of the Montana.

Friday, October 27 – Sunday October 29, 2006 Trip 24

We stayed in Lot 4 at the Ichetucknee Family Campground (Vernis’s place). Wendy went with us and stayed at Mary Jane’s. We were the only RV in the campground. On Saturday, Linda and I had breakfast at the Goose Nest and then we hiked the 1.5 mile river trail at Oleno State Park.

Mark and Grace came over and we all watched the Florida/Georgia game at Mary Jane’s. Linda made us a football feast. On Sunday, Linda and I went canoeing on the Ichetucknee. We saw a deer and a raccoon but no beavers or otters. The weather was wonderful with highs in the low 70’s. Good cell phone service if you’re next to the sink! Forget TV. We watched 4 episodes of Northern Exposure on DVD.

Note: I bought a one person Old Town otter kayak for $319 at Sports Authority. This is our third boat.

Friday, October 20 – Sunday October 22. Trip 23

We stayed in Lot 35 at Paynes Prairie State Park near Gainesville. The temperature and humidity were both unseasonably high. Wildlife, flowers and butterflies were abundant and I hiked the entire La Chua trail (3 miles round trip) which is on the north end of the park. I lost my hat. This trail is only accessible when the water levels are low. I rode the scooter from the parking area about 1.25 miles to the trailhead. I spotted 11 alligators sunning themselves together on the bank of a pond. Linda and I also saw deer and a wild horse. No buffalo. (Note: good cell phone service, ABC good, Fox ok, CBS poor.)

NOTE: Serviced at Camper World in St Augustine the week of October 2, 2006. Repack wheels and replace all wheel bearings. The quoted us $100 for a new set of four bearings but didn’t tell us that each wheel takes two. Fix brake wiring. Looked at new RV’s, Still like ours best.

Friday, September 22 – Sunday, September 24, 2006. Trip 22

Linda and I stayed in Lot 49 at Silver River State Park in Ocala. The park has 50 amp service and large pull-thrus. Sites 8-10 had more shade. On Saturday morning around 8:30, we went canoeing up the Silver River from the park to Silver Springs. We used the motor and the trip took about 2 hours. We had to cart the canoe about ½ mile to the canoe launch. The river was beautiful with abundant wildlife. Sunday morning we canoed up the Silver River from Ray Park. The current was very strong and we had to run the motor at “4” to may any progress. We canoed for about 1.5 hours. The park has an excellent museum.

Friday, September 8 – Sunday September 10, 2006, Trip 21

Linda and I stayed in Lot 5 at Gamble Rogers State Park in Flagler Beach. We had a great view of the ocean from the back picture window. We were surprised that the site had 50 amp service. I took pictures of the sunrise. We saw the space shuttle launch on Saturday morning. It was awesome. We took a nice scenic drive and had lunch out.

In the late afternoon, I went to Flagship Harbor Preserve which has a great boardwalk. I saw a snake, several gopher turtles and a raccoon swimming in a creek. Saturday night we watched a ballgame on ABC. The sound only worked on the bedroom TV. Weird. Sunday we had a nice breakfast at the Pier Restaurant around noon. We never noticed the earthquake that occurred at 10:58 AM.

Friday, September 1 – Monday, September 4, 2006, Trip 20

photo of keaton beach hot dog standLinda and I stayed in site 3 at the Ichnetucknee Family Campground. We arrived late and the humidity was unbearable. On Saturday we took a drive to Stienhatchee and then up the Gulf Coast. We stopped at the famous Hot Dog Stand at Keaton Beach. Then back to the campground through Perry.

On Sunday, we visited Blue Springs, a private campground on the Sante Fe River, which looked like a nice place for a day trip. We then visited the county park at Poe Springs and rode the scooters. We visited Mary Jane in the late afternoon. That night we rode the scooters to the Jug Bar for a beer. On the way back, one scooter went dead. I rode the other one back to the campground and came back for Linda with the truck. On Monday, we visited Jim Hollis’s River Rendevous. It has new owners and was in a sad state of repair.

Friday, August 18 – Sunday August 20, 2006, Trip 19

Linda and I stayed in site 45 at Fort Clinch State Park. It a nice site but difficult to back into. The weather was overcast and it rained on and off. We took the scooters out at night to look for animals. We saw possums, raccoons and three deer. We had lunch Sunday afternoon on the deck at The Surf.

Friday July 7– Sunday July 16, 2006, Trip 18

We stayed at Lot 65 in Anatasia State Park in St. Augustine.

Day 1, Friday, July 7: We arrived at the park after work. Linda brought her car.

Day 2, Saturday, July 8: Robert, Michael, Allen and I took windsurfing lessons for 2 hours. It was great fun. Angie came for awhile to watch. Allen and Robert rode the scooters without the seats. Mini-choppers.

Day 3: Sunday, July 9: We went to downtown St. Augustine and went through the shops. Mike did not complain but was bored to death. We had lunch at the Milltop restaurant.

Day 4: Monday, July 10: I dropped Michael off at football camp at Nease at before 7 AM. I got to work on time.

Day 5: Tuesday, July 11: I went to work. That evening we had dinner at the Milltop.

Day 6: Wednesday, July 12: After work, I picked up Momma and we had dinner with Allen, Melissa and her parents and grandparents.

Day 7: Thursday, July 13: I went to work and Linda went to the bead store with Melissa and Elaine.

Day 8: Friday July 14: We chilled out and bought chili at Wendy’s for our hot dogs.

Day 9: Saturday, July 15: I went to Matanza’s inlet for a photo trip and found a pigmy rattler on the beach. We had lunch at the world famous Oasis bar and grill. Grace and Mark came over for dinner and rode the scooters. (Snake turned out to be a young black racer)

Day 10: Sunday July 16: We went “podding” to look for camp sites at fish camps along the east side of the St. Johns south of Palatka. Nada. We then looped by the bead store near Daytona.

Thursday June 29 – Wednesday July 5, 2006, Trip 17

We stayed at Whitey’s Fish Camp in Orange Park for the Holiday weekend. We brought the gheenoe and both cars. I went to work on Friday and Monday. We had full hook-ups and a concrete pad.

Day 1, Thursday June 29: We took the RV to the park during my lunch time and Billy gave us a good spot. The night, we went to the restaurant and watched the guys check in from the bass tournament.

Day 2, Friday, June 30: I took the boat out in the morning before I went to work. That evening, Linda and I took the boat out and she cooked her new hot dog recipe for dinner.

Day 3: Saturday, July1: We took the boat out in the north fork of Black Creek. During the afternoon we went to see the Devil Wears Prada and clothes shopping at the mall. We had dinner at the restaurant at the fish camp.

Day 4: Sunday July 2: We took the boat out in the south fork of Black Creek. We had dinner at Whitey’s.

Day 5: Monday, July 3: I went to work. That evening we ate at Whitey’s.

Day 6: Tuesday, July 4: We sleep in, then cleaned the carpets. We took the boat out in the late afternoon. We left the following afternoon.

May 31-June 18, 2006, Trip 16

Day 0: Thursday, May 31: Drove to Milton, Fl (approx 325 miles) and stayed at a KOA. Easy I-10 on/off.

Day 1: Friday, June 1: We drove out I-10 through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and into Texas. We stayed at the Schulenburg RV Park in Schulenburg, TX, about one hour west of Houston, arriving late and leaving early.

Day 2: Saturday, June 2: We spent most of the day driving through west Texas and arrived Carlsbad, NM around 3PM. Stayed at Carlsbad KOA. We went to Carlsbad Caverns National Park and watched the bats (400,000) come out of the bat cave at sunset. We returned to the KOA campground which was infested with rabbits. Michael and I went out after dark to find wild animals. We saw lots of animal droppings and then Michael figured out that we were in the dog walk area.

Day 3: Sunday, June 3: Went to Carlsbad Caverns. Michael and I went in through the “natural entrance” and met Linda at the bottom. We toured the caverns. Later, we went to the Living Desert Museum and then back to the campground for a swim. We left the campground around 4 PM and drove to Albuquerque, NM. We stopped along the way for authentic Mexican tomales.

Day 4, Monday, June 4: We drove from Albuquerque to Flagstaff, Az and stopped at the painted desert/petrified forest national park and meteor crater. We had a minor traffic accident in Flagstaff when a truck pulling a boat cut us off and hit the right front of the truck. We would have been killed except for the daring performance by our big rig driver. We lost a hubcap.

Day 5: Tuesday, June 5: We made a day trip to Sedona down scenic highway 89A. The canyons were beautiful. Michael and I went on a 2 hour horseback ride while Linda went beading.

Day 6: Tuesday, June 6: We made a day trip to the Wupatki and Sunset Crater National Monuments. We also went to Snowball Mountain and took the ski lift up to 10,500 feet. We arrived at the peak about the same time as a lightening storm.

Day 7: Wednesday June 7: We drove to the Grand Canyon south entrance. We took our time and stopped at most of the overlooks. We then went on a helicopter ride over the canyon and the north rim. What a trip! Afterwards, we went to Angel Falls Lodge for the best view of the day. We saw condors and ate dinner.

Day 8: Thursday, June 8: We drove from Flagstaff to Bryce Canyon which was the most scenic of our drives. We went through Marble Canyon and up into the mountains. The temperature dropped from about 90 to 55 in an hour or so. There was hail on the ground in the mountains.

About 20 miles from our campground, we encountered a sign that said tunnel ahead, clearance 13 feet 6 inches. Our rig is 13 feet 4 inches. We stopped and measured and we had enough clearance if we stayed in the center. We arrived at Ruby’s Campground before dark.

Day 9: Friday, June 9: Michael and I rented ATV’s. It was a blast. We all then went into Bryce Canyon National Park. It was gorgeous. Later, Michael and I went to Red Canyon and climbed up some of the hills and rocks. At night, Michael went to the pool on his scooter while Linda and I chilled.

Day 10: Saturday, June 10: We drove about 160 miles to Zion National Park. We took the tram and Michael and I hiked up the “Narrows” until the water was over Michael’s head. We then went to the northern part of Zion and took the scenic way back to Bryce through Cedar Breaks National Park. We saw snow on the ground. We stopped at Panquitch to fill a prescription at a drug store that sold lassoes (in various colors) and horseshoes.

Day 11: Sunday June 11: Linda stayed at the RV for R&R. Michael and I drove up scenic highway Utah 12 to Kodachrome State Park and then drove 13 miles down an unimproved road to Governors Arch. The road was gravel and very steep in places. We had to drive across a small stream. Later, we drove about 10 miles down a similar road to Devils Garden which had some unusual rock formations.

Day 12: Monday June 12: We drove from Bryce Canyon to Moab, Ut. One stretch of I-70 went for 108 miles without a gas station or services of any kind. We arrived in early afternoon. Michael and I drove to Dead Horse Canyon State Park and Canyonlands National Park (Eye in the Sky). It was like a smaller version of the Grand Canyon. We then went on a scenic ride up into the mountains and back along the Colorado River.

Day13: Tuesday, June 13: Michael and I went on a half day cayoneering trip. The hike was much more strenuous than I thought. We repelled off two cliffs. The first was 60 feet, the second was 110. Later in the day we all went to Arches National Park. In the evening, we had great dinner and took the “Canyonlands by Night” boat trip.

Day 14: Wednesday, June 14: Michael and I went rafting on the Colorado River through Westwater Canyon. The whitewater portion of the trip was about 1 hour, the bus ride about 4, and flat water about 7 hours. We then left Moab and drove to Cortez, Co.

Day 15: Thursday, June 15: We went to Mesa Verde National Park. The temperature was cooler than we expected. We toured the main cliff dwelling and got to watch Linda climb up and down a bunch of ladders. We left the campground about 3 PM and arrived in Amarillo, TX about 3 a.m.

Day 16: Friday, June 16: We drove from Amarillo, Texas to a remote section of Louisiana, about one hour south of Alexandria. It took forever to get through Houston due to an error by our navigator who was doing algebra problems instead of watching for road signs.

Day 17: Saturday, June 17: We drove to Milton, Fl and stopped in New Orleans. We went to the French quarter and had beignets at Café DuMond, toured a voodoo museum and had a drink at the Cat’s Meow karaoke bar on Bourbon Street. Michael got carded and kicked out. Angie saw us all on the internet.

Day 18: Sunday, June 18: We arrived back home, safe and sound. What a great trip!

May 19-21, 2006, Trip 15

Linda, Michael and I stayed in Lot 53 at Fort Clinch State Park. It is a large lot and easy to back in and out of. We drove the truck on the beach and got stuck. We had to call a 4 wheel drive tow truck. Cost $120. We hit a small limb leaving the campground and cracked a hole in the water closet vent cover (Accident # 4). After that, a surfboard blew out of the back of a pick-up truck and we ran it over. Since no damage was done, this is not considered an accident.

April 28-30, 2006, Trip 14

Linda and I stayed in Lot 4 at the Ichetucknee Family Campground. We rented a canoe and went down the Ichetucknee from the North entrance. We also drove to Williston to see Devils Cave which is spring located in a cave. There is an opening above the spring with hanging ferns, plants and roots. Cool to look at but not really worth the trip. It is mainly a place for scuba divers.

April 18-25, 2006

Camper at Suncoast for warranty work.

March 31-April 2, Trip 13

Linda and I stayed in lot 35 at Paynes Prairie State Park. On Saturday morning I rode my bike to the Prairie and saw a bald eagle, deer and other wildlife, but no buffalo. Later, I saw a group of baby alligators near the observation deck off of 441. Linda went to the bead store. Buffalo spotted on Sunday. I got some great photos.


March 24, 2006. The tire had a hole in the sidewall and had to be replaced. I bought a comparable Toyo and had it mounted on the spare tire rim and put the spare Tomoka tire on the mag wheel. Per Keystone, they no longer have or carry the Tomoka brand tire.

March 17-21, 2006, Trip 12

Linda and I went to Holiday RV Park in Cortez about one mile east of Bradenton Beach. It is a private park with full hook-ups, cable and wi-fi. Our camper was unlevel and listing like a sinking ship.

On Sunday, we took a day trip to Ft. Meyers to see Edison’s winter home and lab (very cool). His estate also has one of the largest banyan trees in the world. Later, we went to Sanibel and Captiva Islands and Ding Darling State Preserve to view wildlife. The area is overdeveloped and the Preserve had extensive hurricane damage and the lack of trees limited the wildlife.

We really enjoyed the Bradenton Beach area. It is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico on the West and Sarasota Bay on the east./ It had the feel of an old fashion beach resort without condos and shopping centers. Several evenings we watched the sunset over the Gulf.

We also visited nearby Myakka River State Park, home of the world's largest airboat. This is a large park and features the Myakka River and extensive hiking trails including a treetop boardwalk.

We left for home on Tuesday and stopped at Ft. Desoto Park (county park) in St Pete. This is an excellent park with waterfront campsites and a world famous beach. While there we had to change the back right RV tire which appeared very low.

March 3-5, 2006, Trip 11

Linda and I went to Wekiva Springs State Park. We arrived late and someone had crashed our campsite. We had to wait for the camp host to boot them out before we could set-up. We went to the Bead Show and I went to Blue Spring State Park to take pictures.

February 24-26, 2006; Trip 10

Linda and I went to Ellie Ray’s River Landing on the Santa Fe River, near Branford. The campground had no cell service or TV reception. The water was pumped from the river and was, in our opinion, not suitable for drinking or bathing.

Linda went to a Delta Kappa Gamma meeting on Saturday and I explored the area with Mark Wilhelm. We went canoeing up the Santa Fe from the campground, almost to the Ichetucknee. We stayed in Lot 3, which was close to the bar/lounge that had live music until 2 AM. We had electrical problems and fried a 15 amp dc fuse. We drove approximately 475 miles and used 39 gallons of diesel. (Round trip distance to the campground was only 200 miles.)

February 17-19, 2006; Trip 9

Linda, Michael and I stayed at Encore – Crystal River RV Resort.

Michael and I went canoeing on the Chassahowitzka River. The river is fed by several large springs and is very scenic. That evening, we all went to Forst Island Gulf Beach Park (a county park) and watch the sunset. It is a nice park for fishing and relaxing. The beaches in this part of the state do not have white sand.

On Sunday, we went to Homoassa Springs Wildlife State Park to see the manatee which are there year-round. The park also has a large variety of Florida wildlife and a hippopotamus leftover from when it was a private zoo.

As we were leaving the park and heading home, I cut a corner too sharp and hit a large rock, damaging the steps. (Accident # 3).

December 23-27, 2005; Trip 8

Linda and I spent Christmas at Anastasia State Park (Lot ??). The kids (Angie, Michael, Mark and Francesca) stayed overnight with us on Dec 23. Allen visited but did not stay. We used our sewer rat for the first time.

December 8-22, 2005

Camper at Suncoast to replace front driver’s side landing gear. We found out that our camper had two left feet!

November 18-20, 2005; Trip 7

Linda and I stayed Payne’s Prairie State Park (Lot ??). We visited the bead shops in Gainesville and drove through Cross Creek.

October 21-27, 2005; Trip 6

Linda and I stayed at Ft. Clinch State Park (lot ??) and commuted to work, Monday through Thursday.

October 7-9, 2005; Trip 5

Linda, Michael and I went to Wekiwa Springs State Park (Lot ??). Michael and I went kayaking on the Wekiva River and up Rock Springs Run. We also went tubing in Rock Springs County Park.

Sept 9 – Oct. 5, 2005

Camper at Suncoast to replace roof.

September 2 – 5, 2005; Trip 4

Linda and I went to Camp Mack on the Kissimmee River, just east of Lake Wales off off State Road 60. We went for an airboat ride with Captain Fred, (I got to drive) and watched a bass tournament weigh-in. It was alligator season (Sept – mid Oct) and the airboats were going all night.

We went to Bok Tower and went on the historical mansion tour from hell with a long-winded tour guide. We also discovered that we ripped the roof, probably when we came in after dark on the first night (Accident 2). We drove about 625 miles and used 60 gallons of gas.

August 19 – 21, 2005; Trip 3

Linda, Angie, Michael and I went to Sebastian Inlet State Park. We stayed in lot 13, which had a good view of the river. We were almost arrested by the local cops. Linda thinks it was because Michael and I were riding on the truck tailgate. Michael and I think she was speeding. On Saturday, Chris and family, my brother Michael and my Dad (13 people!) met at the camper for Dad’s 83rd (approximate) birthday. It was nice to have everyone together. Angie spent most of the time on her cell phone.

July 29 – 31, 2005: Trip 2

Linda and I went to Salt Springs campground for our first trip with 50 amps and sewer. A kid was practicing casting his fishing pole and hit the side of the camper with a large weight, resulting in a ugly dent on the large slide. We meet some nice neighbors who helped us back-in. Tara and Adam stopped by for a visit. We also went to nearby Silver Glenn Springs (pictured).

July 23 – 25, 2005; Trip 1

For our first trip, Linda and I went to Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine. It took a while to back the camper into our space, but it was accomplished without major damage. The second night we moved to a new site. Allen and Melissa came for a short visit.

July 23, 2005

We picked up the “Monty” from Suncoast RV, dropped off the Zepplin, and transferred our stuff from one to the other. It seemed like we were trading the family camper for a retirement camper. We drove the camper home to show Mom and to pick-up something special she had for Linda. Disaster struck as I cut the corner turning off Philips onto Sunbeam and hit the curb. (Accident # 1) The front right tire of the camper was ruined. We had to wait for a tow truck to change the tire. (Mom gave Linda some special medicine for joint pain she ordered from the TV. Total cost of linament, $350.)