2011-2012 Our RV trip to Jekyll Island, Florida, and the Bahamas

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First stop Colonial Willamsburg
We left NB early on the 11th and got as far as my brother’s in Chelmsford Mass. They recently bought a RV. A 28 ft Class A and he is retrofitting it for their use. We gave a few suggestions and pointed out a few things. It is good to see that they are both keen on the RV. Hopefully they will have a good time with it.

We were up very early (about 4ish) to get on the other side of Hartford before the traffic got bad. We made good time and never got traffic until we were in New York City. We normally take the long way around NYC but this time we are trying to keep Millie (the pet name of our rig) on level ground after a long period of no usage. This is the first time she has had any miles on her since 2007 so we are expecting a few problems. We decided that we would try the Garden state parkway and deal with the traffic rather than go out into Pennsylvania hill county. Turns out we had very little traffic even in NYC we were in Perth Amboy where we normally come back into NYC by early afternoon. We continued on and made it to Lums Pond State Park and we decided to push on toward the Delmarva Pennisula. We figured we would overnight at one of the Maryland Rest areas but they are closed for overnighters. So we pushed on to Annapolis. We found a Sams Club and crashed. By the time we settled we had been on the road 12 hours. A very long day driving a rig the size of Millie.

We got up, it was rather chilly and frost was evident everywhere. Since we didn’t have heat and it was 4 a.m. We decided to get underway to get the heater working and to get on the other side of Washington before we got the “bad” traffic. We got to 50 and it was already busy with heavy traffic. Fortunately most of it split off toward Baltimore and then the remainder stayed on 50 when we slipped down onto 301. We made very good time and got to Waldorf and stopped for gas and breakfast and waited for the sunrise.

We continued on 301 and stopped at the Walmart in Gloucester. This was the same one we have used for provisioning the boat when we stored it in Deltaville. One of our favorite stories about our trips is coming out of that particular Walmart and trying to remember where we parked, or what car we had. This was about the fourth rental car in a week, all white in color, all different makes. We couldn’t remember what make of car we had or where we parked. We spent over a half an hour looking in the windows of a sea of white cars looking for our rental car. Millie was much easier to find.

We arrived at Newport News Campground. $32/night seemed a bit steep but we were in need of a couple days rest and place to get the rig de-winterized. We flushed the tanks and cleaned, and put on a bunch of water. Then we went to get a few things that we forgot in our travels.

We have had a few minor problems but so far so good. We knew the hot water tank was toast and it still isn’t working right. The fridge was acting very strange but with our outside temps being near freezing that isn’t exactly uncommon. Now that we were in a warm climate the fridge seems to be behaving, at least on AC. Now that it is working on AC the propane side will probably start working properly again.

We seemed to have sprouted a bit of an oil leak but I think we have that fixed now. We’ll see tomorrow when we go for another run.

We spent today with a little bit of a provisioning run to get groceries we had forgotten, and a few parts for patching a oil leak (we hope). Once we were done the repairs, running the engine for a few minutes didn’t produce any drips, so that’s good.

We walked around Newport News Park and the Civil War battlefields. We have done most of the walks before so other than a bit of exercise we didn’t really get to see many new things. They have the park dressed up with a two mile drive that has light displays with over a half million lights. We were walking in daylight so we could see the shape of the displays but not the lights. Our walk was about 5 miles so that was enough for us. By the time we got back it was time for anchor down and a hot shower.

Bonnie has been crashing around 7 every night so have I, but tonight I’m trying to stay up so that I don’t wake up at 3. So I’m writing this journal, trying to stay away until later. Not succeeding, Time for bed.

Colonial Williamsburg

We went up to Colonial Williamsburg and spent two full days looking at the historical buildings and talking to the interpreters. Williamsburg was a small sleepy town when Rockefeller stopped by to visit the construction of a new fraternity house at the College of William and Mary. He met with the local rector and after a couple visits, fell in love with Williamsburg and spent over $64 million building and renovating over 88 period homes and properties. He also owned a home where he and his wife spent time on their way between New York and Maine and their property in the south (Jekyll Island).

Williamsburg is mostly reconstructed to 1775 (with a few modern items hidden in them (like heat)).

We enjoyed out two days at Colonial Williamsburg and our lunches at the Tavern’s on site. The peanut soup is going on my list of “must try at home”s We also heard about a Renaissance Lasagna that is on the list as well (I should never listen to NPR when I travel, they have good foodie shows). We did get a Siruis Satelite radio on the way out of NB. We are enjoying being able to get our favorite CBC shows as well as BBC World News. They also have the hourly news from a variety of international services. It is interesting to listen to news from German, England, Australia, Russia, Israel, and India. We didn’t have time to install it properly and just tossed the antenna on the dash. So far it works fairly well. There have only been a few places where we haven’t been able to get the signal.

We bought our access to Williamsburg by buying the “Christmas Bounce”. The Bounce was about 20% off the regular multi-day admission to Williamsburg and they through in a one day pass at Busch Gardens. Busch for about $3 per person. It included parking which we found out was normally $18 per day for an oversized rig.

We arrived at Busch Gardens shortly after 9:00 hoping for a full day to explore. We were surprised when the gates were obviously closed up. We didn’t have any paperwork that told us when the gates opened. So we turned off the rig and Bonnie went up to the gate to see if she could find an time for it to be open. She didn’t find anything so we waited for a few minutes. Security showed up a few minutes later. One old guy in a SUV, followed by a troupe of little vehicles. He pulled up in front of us and stopped. I rolled down the window. “Doesn’t open at 9 right” was my slightly embarrassed opening line. He looked at us and shook his head. There came a panicked call on the radio from a girl in the security office. “You didn’t approach that vehicle alone did you!” She was obviously watching on a security camera. He jumped back at the call and looked at us.

I smiled and chuckled “Yeah, we’re real scary!”

He looked at us rather sheepishly and said “It’s a special Christmas program and we don’t open until 2pm. Gates open at 1. We can’t let you stay here, it’s a liability thing.”

I believe that too. We turned around and headed back to Williamsburg for a third day. We came back about 1:30 and they were still closed, but this time we were in line with a few hundred other cars. Most were from Virginia so maybe we might be less scary.
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We decided that we would continue on a more direct line to Jekyll Island. We have the idea that we will continue on and do more visiting on the return trip. Hopefully on the return trip the trees will be a little greener and the weather a little warmer. We did a long day from Portsmith Virginia driving toward New Bern. We were going to stop in New Bern at the Walmart but they were PACKED, and there was a big sign saying NO overnight parking. Most times even with the sign if we ask the manager will usually let us stay. With the parking lot absolutely packed the chances of us finding a spot big enough for us was unlikely and the chance of them letting us stay, even lower. So we continued on and as we passed Camp Lejune, we saw a church with an empty lot and it seemed to be the only empty parking lot, we pulled in and spent the night.

This morning we got up and were on the road for a short day to Huntington Beach State Park just south of Myrtle Beach SC. We’ve stayed here before on the suggestion of one of our boating friends. We enjoy walking the beach and if you are nearby, Huntington and Brookgreen Gardens (across Rt 17) are both highly recommended. We walked the beach toward Murrle’s Inlet and just as we saw the inlet coming out of the fog/mist we saw the trail back toward the park. They are doing a reclamation project and have the local university doing studies to see how the biodiversity changes as the project progresses. The markers along the trail said it was two miles back to the campground so we must have walked a couple miles to get there. It was nice to walk the beach and not be cold. Surf is pounding on the shores so I wonder how our boating friends are doing.

I brought our hand held marine VHF as a weather radio. We’ve been picking up the weather forecasts and they give a much better weather forecast here. Cold fronts heading south, this one will get to the Abacos, but not much farther south.

We suffered a set back with our Virgin Mobile Phone. It doesn’t seem to work in the US. So we picked up a cheap phone ($10) with a 60 minute phone card for it ($20) and between the two we seem to have about 140 minutes of service good until May 19, 2012. So if you NEED to call us our new phone number is 978 873 2980. It also seems that takes up to two days before you can make international phone calls on it.

We are currently looking at our schedule. We are thinking about a month in Jekyll Island then down to visit our friends in Florida for a couple weeks (we’ll spread ourselves around guys, don’t panic!) and we have an offer to visit Rick and Tsipy in the Bahamas on Odelia that we are VERY INTERESTED in. Maybe a couple weeks there and that would put us at the beginning of March which would be great for starting our return trip.

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Christmas at Jekyll Island

We had a quiet Christmas here at Jekyll Island. Bonnie and I have been walking around the northern end of the island. Even as far as the historical district one day. We have bicycles on order and are scheduled to be delivered here at the campground on January 4th. Bikes will make the distances a little easier. There are no hills and there are bike paths everywhere. The historical district is about 3 miles one way. Having the bikes would also put the liquor store and the grocery store within reach. I understand the perimeter loop is around 18 miles. We are looking forward to the bikes arriving.

You have to expect odd things to happen when you have an old rig. Things just wear out. Stuff that should work easily need a little more effort. One of the things that you want to work easily are the holding tanks. Connect the hose, pull the valves, and whoosh, it is all gone. We hope. Bonnie and I have the same policy on the RV as we do on the boat. Nothing goes into the toilet unless you have eaten it. Toilet paper goes into a bag beside the toilet. Since we normally have access to either a Walmart washroom, or a campground washroom, rarely does anything but urine go into the tank. Given that there is a 3 inch line coming out of the black water tank, we kind of expect a fairly good WHOOSH when the valve gets pulled. Not a trickle. A trickle means something is plugging up the outlet. Urine doesn’t plug the 3 inch line at mid 60s temperatures. Groan, this is not a great discovery. After several minutes the trickle stops. I fill the bowl a couple times and it trickles through. Good news is that it drains, bad news is that it drains SLOWLY. I close the valve and remove the hose and look down the hose. Leaves, twigs, and would you believe what looks like a thornberry, lots worse for wear but a thornberry.

When we store the rig we take it to a dump station and flush the tank as best we can and then take it home remove the cap and open the valves and we let the tanks dry out (we have two, a gray water and a black water tank). Since it was three or four years since the last time the tanks were used they must have dried very well, well enough that our resident chipmunks or squirrels built a nest in our holding tank.

So we add about 20 bowls full of water into the holding tank and let it go, it goes, slowly. I did notice that there were a few more “chunks” seem to go through the hose, but the tank was still draining, if slowly. Off comes the hose and it has more leaves and twigs in it. I put a Walmart shopping bag under the outlet and push a stick into the hole. I drag out almost a half bag of sticks, leaves, and berries. No chipmunks or squirrels. We add 30 bowls of water into the tank and it starts as a WHOSH and then slows down. Definitely faster but there is more to clear. So off comes the hose and in goes the stick, another half bag of sticks, leaves, and berries, no chipmunks or squirrels. Another 30 bowls of water and WHOSH it all goes away like it should, it even had a few chunks go down the hose. Another 30 and it WHOSHES away. Nothing in the hose so it appears that we have gotten away without a serious issue.

So all the guys with RV tanks I suggest sticking a screen over the open hose to prevent critters from taking up residence and building a nest to choke up your plumbing. To the one particular critter that built a nest in my holding tank, I hope it enjoyed the trip to Georgia!

Jekyll Island Club

Jekyll Island Club

Bicycle path on Jekyll Island

Bicycle path on Jekyll Island

 
New year’s Brunch

Ok time to spurge a bit, it’s the beginning of the year, time to celebrate and start the year with a good feast! The Jekyll Island Club in the 1930s was a very exclusive place. It was said that over half of the world’s wealth sat down to dinner at the club when all it’s members were in attendance. Now almost anyone can get in, even Bonnie and I.

They were having a special buffet brunch for New Year’s day. We got up and rather than hang around the RV we had our coffee and then headed toward the historical district. We sauntered along the path and through the Horton House, an old house whose tabbi walls still stand from the days of the slave plantations. We were looking for one of the Island Treasures, but didn’t find any. The Island Treasures are artist renderings of the old sea floats used to float the fishing nets. We found one on our last trip to Jekyll Island. We will continue to look but our chances are slim. We walked down to the historical district taking an hour and a half, it was a beautiful morning and we while we started out with light jackets we were quickly down to short sleeved shirts.

We arrived way too early to think about getting in for brunch they were still serving breakfast. So we walked along Jekyll Creek. The last time we went down this coast Jekyll Creek was down to less than four feet at low water. Our boat draws 5 feet officially but with all of our junk on board it was closer to 5.3 ft. So we had to wait until the tide was a couple hours on the inward cycle before we could make it through the shallow spot. This morning it was VERY low. The mud banks showed a very narrow channel that made Jekyll Creek look like a very small creek in places. It did surprise me that there was a full sized shrimper going through the creek at low tide. Either they know where the real channel is (MUCH closer to shore than the Red mark would indicate), or they have dredged the channel. When we came through the last time we stayed much closer to the red and it was a heart in your throat kind of deal the whole way from Jekyll Island wharf to the high bridge. Any time our depth sounder shows less than 6 inches of water under our keel we are going SLOW and watching the sounder very closely. Bonnie and I always remembered the Jekyll Island stretch from the high bridge to the historical district wharf as one of our tightest spots. Probably one of the worst stretches of about 400 meters in the whole 1000 miles of the ICW.

We walked along the historical district and enjoyed looking at the fancy houses. We wandered around until it was time to return to the Jekyll Island Club for brunch. We had made reservations a few days before and they sat us in the round room at the front overlooking the pool. The pool is full of water but NOONE is swimming. By the time we were seated the early crowd had already started to queue at the buffet tables. We had a very lovely southern lady named Joanna as our waitress. She looked at the queue and suggest starting with the cheese soup, something she would be getting from the kitchen. It was truly delicious and turned out to be on both of our “what would we order again” lists. By the time we were done the soup the queue’s had thinned out and we were off to savour the ridiculous amount of different items available for sampling. Joanna told us of a southern tradition “You had to have hoppin john and collard greens on New Year’s day. Hoppin John brings you luck and Collard Greens brings you money.” It turns out that Hoppin John is black eyed peas and rice. The Collard Greens ended up on our “what would you order again” list.

What made it to our “what would you order again” list? The crab stuffed lobster tails in a mushroom cranberry sauce, the collard greens, the Hoppin John, the buttermilk mashed potatoes, the prime rib, the smoked muscles, (the smoked salmon was ok, I’d pass on the smoked scollops), the southern biscuits with sausage gravy (Bonnie liked the gravy, I just had them with the maple cinnamon infused butter), the artisan savory rolls with the pesto butter were lovely, I liked the caviar but bonnie passed on it, Bonnie liked the pate but I passed on it, we both liked the crab legs, and the shrimp, the red velvet cake was good but the Chocolate Macadamia Nut cake was the winner, the chocolate raspberry mousse was truly spectacular, (I make a better keylime pie), the dark chocolate buttercream icing on the sugarless chocolate cake was better than the cake.

And there were two tables of stuff we didn’t even try and I just mentioned the stuff we liked not all the stuff we tried. They had the usual french toast, artisan breads and English Muffin stuff, the tropical fruit spread, and the chefs were surrounded by fixings and they would make omelets for you while you waited.

It seemed expensive at the time, but when you consider that it was breakfast, lunch, and supper, it probably wasn’t that bad. And to tell you the truth, the way I’m feeling right now, it might be a light breakfast tomorrow too!

The President's room includes the tower at the Jekyll Island Club

The President’s room includes the tower at the Jekyll Island Club

Moon walks and food
When you travel in an RV or a boat it is hard to judge how far west you travel when you are going south to Georgia. When we leave, we know we have to head west to get to Maine but from there we think we are pretty much, going south. That is actually not true. The coast of North America curves westward as you head south. Here we are less than a mile from the Atlantic Ocean, If we went straight north from here, Where do you think we would be?

Boston? Nope. Washington? Nope. Montreal? Nope. For our Canadian friends, we would land somewhere between Hamilton Ontario and Kitchener, for the Americans on the list, we are pretty close to Cleveland Ohio. There is a whole lot of west in that road south.

We are kind of surprised at how full the campground is. We were here in late January 2007. We remember a lot fewer campers. Almost all these people are real seniors, Bonnie will even get that title officially next month! Everything has to be well organized and busy, the Georgetown of Georgia for the RV set. One thing we have learned hanging around seniors is that the food is THE major focus of life. Every activity seems to have something to do with food, except for the golf, but they meet at the restaurant for lunch before their tee time, so…

There is a ladies lunch on Saint Simons Island on Wednesday, sign up at the community room, cars leave from there, anyone needing a ride just come to the community room! There is a special ladies lunch on Thursday at the Crane Cottage (one of the fancy places in the Jekyll Island Historic District). Bonnie wants to go to that one. She was debating about it but I said we could bike down to the Historic District and she could go to the ladies lunch and I’d go over to Latitude 31 (the bar on the pier next to the ICW), have a beer and a burger and watch the boats. We could meet back at the RV in the afternoon, for our anchor down (our afternoon wine and snack, 3ish)

One of the 125th anniversary specials at the Jekyll Island Club is a 5 course meal in the grand dining room of the Jekyll Island club for $125 per COUPLE, including a bottle of the house wine, taxes and gratuity. Bonnie and I are starting to panic, we are having a problem fitting it into our schedule, we are only here for another 11 days! We also wanted to go to the Sunday brunch too! Today’s the Chilli Cookout at the Fire Hall, a fundraiser for the United Way. Last night was the Western themed potluck dinner! The weeks are just too short to fit in all the meals!

Last night we went on a “Moon walk”. There is and organized walk around the marsh on (or near) the night of the full moon if it is clear enough. Last night it was overcast but the clouds cleared just as we were coming out of the Pot luck. So
we dealt with our leftovers and came back to the community room to go for the walk. Bonnie and I were at the back of the pack and when the leader said “Lets go” they all turned and guess what, we were at the front. So ok we started walking. We started at our normal pace and then Mahlon (a guy from Friendship Maine) ran ahead so that he could get a picture of the group, first we thought that he just wanted to pick up the pace a little so we did. We stopped at the end of Clam Creek Road and let a car pass down ahead of us and then continued on. We were not walking fast but looking behind us the group had spread out a long way. We stopped at the picnic area and waited while the stragglers and photographers caught up. A group of about six or eight “Very Seniors” caught up and one of the jokesters of the group complained “What is there, a bunch of sixty year olds setting the pace!” Bonnie stuck her hand up “That would be me!” We slowed our pace and the group strung out again. About ¾ of the way through the return path in the marsh is a small bridge, we figured that it would be better if we let the group pass us and let them set the pace. We stopped to let the group pass us, it stopped and looked around but it didn’t move again. One of the other guys slid up beside me. “If you walk, they’ll follow.” he chuckled. Sure enough we were leading again. We got to the split where you have to choose the route to the beach or the route back. I asked Bonnie if she wanted to go to the beach and about three people around us thought that was a great idea. So we turned toward the beach. Most of the rest went back to the campground but about ten of us headed to the beach. It was spectacular. Full moon on the sand and the grey of the driftwood beach was pretty.

I took a few pictures but one of the things that we left on the table at home was the small adapter for moving the pictures from the SD card in the camera to the computer. So I have to limit myself to 1400 photos or buy myself another SD card. or another adapter.

Well I have to go get and get cleaned up. The chilli cookout awaits!

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Preparing to leave Jekyll Island
We are approaching the end of our time on Jekyll Island. This I really the first time that we have ever spent a long time in one spot when traveling in our RV. We have passed Jekyll Island many times with our boat, it was a favorite fuel stop, right on the ICW. It was a short distance to many anchorages and there is even an anchorage right in front of the fuel dock. We did actually stop a couple of times. We did tours, borrowed bicycles, and toured around. We even stopped here a couple of times with the RV we even have a “Island Treasure” to prove it.

We haven’t found an Island Treasure this time unfortunately, probably a function of spending too much time having coffee and leaving the rig late in the morning rather than a lack of miles spent searching. The little odometer on my bike is showing 177 miles and that was reset to once and we didn’t get it for a week after we got our bikes. So it is safe to say we have over 200 miles on our bikes looking for “Island Treasures” to no avail. My luck with tires is holding (both front and rear tires on my bike are now patched), I’ve never owned a bike that was able to have tires that held air.

We have had a few spectacular rides on the bikes. A few were very long. Yesterday’s will go into the record books as one of our best. We left here shortly after our breakfast coffee was done (about 10), we do more than just have a coffee, email, Sudoku, read the paper, … We went up to Calm Creek at the extreme north end of the island. The tide was down so we decided to take the bikes out on the beach and ride them down toward Driftwood Beach. But when we got to Driftwood the tide was still well below the rip rap used to protect the shoreline, but it makes the beach impassible during large portions of the high tide. We started biking down along the rip rap and watched a couple dolphins fishing and swimming beside us for a couple miles. The trip down the island was awesome. We peddled all the way to the southern extreme of the island to Saint Andrews Beach. We then came back on the river side and did an almost perfect circumference of the island (as close as the bike paths and roads will allow) a little over 19 miles.

We cleaned up and put on nice clothes (me in a suit) and headed slowly down to the Jekyll Island Club Grand Dining Room (it appears in the movie “The Legend of Bager Vance”) and had our $125 5-course meal. Those that know us, know that we turned that into a ten course meal by each ordering different courses and sharing them.

Appetizers were: Tasso and Oyster Stuffed Shrimp with Gruyere Cheese and Choron Sauce
Baked Escargot (Achatina Fulica baked in Maderia Garlic Butter and Foccacia Crostinis

The Baked Escargot was the second best I’ve ever had in my life. Either one was extremely good.

Soup Course Cream of Cauliflower and Camembert with Champagne Crab and Shrimp Soup du Jour (A roasted Chicken Vegetable soup)

The roasted Chicken Vegetable soup was actually tastier than the Cream of Cauliflower and Camembert, both were awesome

The Salad Course: Smoked Duck Salad ( House Smoked Duck Bread over a wedge of Bibb Lettuce with Orange Supremes, Red Onions, and Candied Pecans. Cherry-DiJon Vinaigrette. Crab Louis Salad (Season Lump Crab in a Bibb Bowl with Spicy Louie Sauce, Roma tomato, Sliced Egg, Poached Asparagus and Cucumber)

The Entree was: The Chef’s special (a Swordfish with Mandarin Salsa, Chefs Vegetables served on Jasmine Rice)
Truffled Lobster and Crab Pot Pie (Tender Lobster and Sweet Blue Crab with Fresh Herbs, Leeks, Roasted Corn, and Diced Sweet Potatoes. Baked in a truffle scented Mornay and Topped with Puff Pastry.

Dessert Course was a Macadamia Nut Caramel pie and a Chocolate mouse served in a Chocolate Loggerhead Turtle. The presentation of the turtle dessert was so cute that Bonnie made me take a picture of it.

We had coffee with our meal and decided to take our bottle of Merlot home with us. Since we didn’t get out until well after dark it was probably a good thing we didn’t add a bottle of wine to our meal. The meal will rank!
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We peddled slowly home, we were well past full leaving the Jekyll Island Club. The service was excellent and it was a night to remember.

All together with our trip around the island and our ride to dinner and back we biked a little over 26 miles, not enough to make up for that meal!

Breakfast this morning was a cup of coffee. Lunch was a piece of toast!

We spent today looking for Island Treasures on Driftwood Beach and then down the bike path to the Historic District. We went to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center (just in behind the Jekyll Island Club, no we were not interested in lunch!) ( http://www.georgiaseaturtlecenter.org/ )

Tomorrow morning we are up EARLY, the Winter residents in the campground are having a fundraiser breakfast and we are going, by the sound of it LOTS of food!

After that Bonnie is doing the laundry and I’m getting the rig ready to move, after a month of exploring Jekyll, I’m happy that we stayed here and we would stay again.

But I’m also ready to move again. I’m not sure I can keep up with the amount of food the seniors around here can eat.

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Visiting friends in Florida
We are now in Florida and visiting with John and Shirley Sullivan, their son Collyn and an exchange student Beatrice, called Be-a. We broke down four more times on the way to their house and we took her to a garage to get a diagnosis. They naturally couldn’t make her break but did diagnose that the fuel pump in the tank was screaming bloody blue murder and that could be what was causing the issue. The estimate was high enough that Bonnie and I had a serious discussion about calling the “We buy junk cars” number. In the end we decided to get the fuel pump replaced and see if that actually fixes the problem.

It has also been several days getting repaired. So life has been STRESSFUL.

We had a great afternoon with John and Shirley (and kids) out on the Gulf Coast ICW. They don’t have much water over here either.

We have decided to fly over to the Bahamas and visit with friends so don’t be surprised if you have a problem getting us on the phone.
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We are back in the US and visiting with friends in St Pete. I’m up a little early and catching up on my email and thought I should at least do an attempt at a quick email to bring the list up to speed. We left the US and flew to the Bahamas February 2 and arrived on Odelia without a hitch. Rick’s web site is much better than our’s at keeping up with what is going on. He even has nice pictures to look at so if you are interested in them check out http://www.odelia.net

We had 19 days of the best weather we have ever had in the Bahamas. We had two fronts pass while we were there and both were pretty benign. We had a chance to say hi to Roger and Jacquie Cox as well as friends from our previous trips: “Wings of the morning” who now own a place on Long Island and are still cruising. And One Eye Parrotts who are still cruising and having a good time in Georgetown

We spent a while in Georgetown and then went to Long Island for a little over a week and then were back to Georgetown for our flight home.

Long Island is a island around 70 miles long and not more than a few wide. Where we normally go in Salt Pond the island is less than a mile wide. And the beaches on the Atlantic side are spectacular. We rented a car and drove around the island and found Dean’s Blue Hole. The deepest blue hole in the world. Blue Holes get their name from their dark blue color. The water around the edge of Dean’s blue hole is typical of shallow water in the Bahamas. Clear and clean, going slightly blue as the water gets deeper and then it goes DARK Blue as the depth plunges to 626 feet. A cliff straight down. I went snorkeling around, across, and about the Blue Hole and it is an interesting place. The world free diving championships are held here and the day after we were at the hole there was a film crew there to film the process. Very cool. From the Blue Hole we went to Clarencetown and back up the island to check out the Stella Maris Marina and Stella Maris. I got the impression that it was much bigger than it actually is. We did enjoy the tour around.

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We saw another road on the map across Long Island and decided to walk across the island there. It was just down the Queens Highway from Fox Auto where you rent cars. We walked across and hit a LONG white sand beach. It must be several miles long, beautiful thick white sand lots of shells and unfortunately plastic. Bonnie found a few treasures (sea beans, shells and a strap off of a shoe?). We had a nice walk and then headed back toward the boat. We had our Valentine dinner at the Long Island Breeze resort. There was a dance there that night but the music was so loud that it was literally painful. We could still hear the base beat in our cabin long into the morning, on the boat close to a mile away. The meal was good!

We met a number of new people and had a great time visiting with new and old friends. We had a chance to see old places, found a new beach to add to our list of favorites. We were sad to see that one of our places on Long Island that we had gone to before had recently gone under. I didn’t think it would survive as a business but it would make a great place for a “Clod”, and if I can’t convince bonnie to do the boat thing it might make a great alternative.

We flew back from the Bahamas and after a long day of very short flights (13 minutes, 23 minutes, 43 minutes and 42 minutes) with several hour delays between each one. We left Odelia at 6 am and called the park and fly place at 9 30 pm

The park and fly where we had our rig stored had gone bankrupt and our rig was moved to a new one while we were away. GREAT way to start the trip back. We did find it safe and sound and none the worse for wear. Stressful though. We made it back to Apollo beach to say hi to our friends and do a bit of computer work we needed to do.

I connected with a couple of Masonic Brothers and we were able to make it from Apollo Beach to St Petes in time to go to a lodge with Don Grouchy and see the Master Mason Degree given to two candidates. I even got pulled in to be one of the “helpers” They do things a little different about 80% was the same as home but there are subtle differences. Interesting.

We are going to visit with Bob and Geneva for another day and then start heading north tomorrow. Jekyll Island for a few days. Just as a place to get our feet under us and figure out what we are going to do.

We are back in the us. We stopped and visited with friends in FL for a few days and then made the run to Jekyll Is where we are now.

While in Florida we stopped at Bob and Geneva Hurst’s place in St Pete’s. It is a great little spot and they were great hosts who showed us around the area. I got a chance to see a Master Mason Degree given to a couple of candidates at the Gulf Shore’s Lodge with Don Grouchy which was very interesting, considering they needed some extra able bodies for one VERY large candidate, I even got to step in and help. The degree work is not 100% the same but very similar. It was a great night and very interesting. Bob and Geneva took Bonnie and I to the Florida Masonic Home. http://masonichomeofflorida.org/ We were given a great tour and we talked with an administrator afterward about getting help with starting our own version of the home. If I could get our lodge to tour the facility getting our village off of the ground would be a lot easier. The home makes you proud to be a Mason.

We deliberately drove the whole run from Tampa to Jekyll in one day so we could test our breakdown problem, even running in the rain as a harder test, and we seemed to have passed the test. We made it all the way with no breakdowns, so that seems to be fixed. We have sketched out our trip home and figure that it is about a 10 day trip. We aren’t planning any campground stays so we may not have much in the way of internet service until we get back.

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We aren’t going to make it to our friends place in the Virginia hill country. Not sure I trust Millie to make it up and down the hills. Sorry to miss you John

At home just a few weeks too early.

At home just a few weeks too early.


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