Florida, Georgia, Home Away From Home, Texas

Planning, Calulating Mileage, Planning Some More

Ah, the planning of a trip. January is our travel month because we have no commitments during the month however planning a trip in January limits our destinations. Yes, we want to go to the Northeast and we yes, we want to take that long ago planned trip to South Dakota but in January – nope, not possible. After some discussion we finally decided on Texas and New Mexico traveling through Hot Springs, Arkansas for a brief stop after leaving around January 2nd or 3rd. That quickly changed when NC State was offered a bid to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida. Hot Springs is not on that route! Back to the Roadtrippers I went revamping the entire trip and guess what – we’re leaving December 28th.

We don’t generally make reservations for our January trip as we like to be flexible but I knew we had to have reservations for the first leg. My hope was Clinche State Park near Amelia Island, Ga about an hour away from the game site but there were no vacancies. I then quickly began to realize that Florida in January even as far north as Jacksonville is snow bird country and things possibly have been reserved for quite some time. Do we stay in St. Mary’s, Georgia, Jacksonville proper, St. Augustine, an hour away in the other direction? Quite the quandary. My guess – we’ll stay where we can get a reservation although $70 a night on the front of our trip is a little more than I want to spend!

I’ve pretty much routed the trip noting the various places we want to see after leaving Jacksonville on New Year’s Day. Will that be an easy day of travel with little traffic or will there be many returning home after the holidays? We’ll see!

We visited Texas a few years ago and loved it but there was just so much to see and we couldn’t possibly see it all so Jerry suggested going back. We missed Dallas, Houston and Austin but we don’t really enjoy cities so even though these cities made the original route, Dallas made the cut early. Houston and Austin are still in but we shall see.

Florida, Home Away From Home

Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach

Although we had planned to get an early start because we didn’t get in until midnight the night before we were dragging today.  Jerry asked me what our plans where – breakdown, drive 200 miles to St. Marys, Georgia, set up and take a nap and that’s what we did – at least that’s what he did.  I just read and had a lazy afternoon.  We had an easy dinner of spaghetti.  With no television it was a quiet night.  The campground doesn’t have cable, only local programming using an antenna but we were never able to get anything so it was a night of reading.   Since my “new” iPad died on the way to Orlando I couldn’t even watch TV on that!

Tuesday we headed to Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach.  After turning off Highway 95 it’s about 10-12 miles until you reach the bridge and as Jerry said it’s almost 10 miles of strip malls!    Our first stop was the Visitor’s Center where we got some printed information and some ideas of where to go. There was a trolley but it was just leaving and the next one wouldn’t be until 2:30 so that gave us time to walk around and look at the historic buildings and lots of shops!  Although I had brought crackers and bars Jerry wanted to go get lunch so we began our hunt for a restaurant.  All of the restaurants are listed in the tourist book with their address, menu type, hours of operation and cost represented by a number of $.  Jerry wanted a one $ and it seemed that there were a lot of $$$ or more.  We finally decided on Jack and Dianne’s.  On of the items on the menu was a crepe and I haven’t had one of those in a long time.  With my mouth set for that we took off to the restaurant only to discover that it is only open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  Discouraged we walked back to the car and went in search of a burger. The place we found was a renovated gas station and we decided against that.  It may have the best burgers in town but I well remember my last experience with a renovated gas station and a $5 haircut!

We went back to Centre Street, parked the car and began to walk.  By this time Jerry wasn’t feeling well at all.  We saw a restaurant, Marinier’s that offered a seafood buffet for two so we went in.  The dinner was very good but a lot heavier than what I had wanted for lunch.  By this time Jerry suggested that we just go back to the RV which we did and he slept the rest of the afternoon.  He has been a real trooper on this trip but I know it’s been hard on him.  Four days at Disney, driving and parking an RV take a toll of broken ribs!

Since we ate lunch so late we didn’t really have dinner.  I had some humus and bagel chips and Jerry had a sandwich and then went right back to sleep.  Another quiet night!

After a good night’s rest we headed out to Amelia Island again.  Since it was a cooler morning we decided to Fort Clinche first.  The entry to the state park is as pretty as the lane is covered with a canopy of trees.  It would be a great place to ride bikes and we saw several people doing just that.  There are two campgrounds at the park but they don’t offer full hookup and I knew we’d need that for our last stop so we elected not to stay there but it would have been fun.  The fort itself has a nice museum with a lot of relics plus a video talking about each section of the fort.  After visiting the museum we entered the fort and explored the various rooms. 

Fort Clinche
Fort Clinche
There is a uniformed “soldier” on site that can answer questions and Jerry asked how many were at the fort at any one time.  He said anywhere from 150-200 but never a consistent number.  It is always awesome to me to realize that I am walking on worn bricks that were laid 200 years ago and where people who fought for our country have trod.

After our tour of the fort we went to the fishing bridge which is a half mile out over the water.  There is a breakwater on one side of the pier and the water was fairly calm on that side but on the other side it was typical ocean.  We watched a military helicopter doing maneuvers over a buoy, at least that’s what we think he was doing.  It did not appear to be a search and rescue and someone told us that the military often did practice maneuvers there.

On the pier
On the pier

As we were leaving we realized we had had our one mile stroll for the day so we headed out for lunch.  I wanted to try Jack and Dianne’s again so we did.  I had a Provencal crepe with fruit and a biscuit and it was delicious.  Wish I could take some back to North Carolina.  Jerry had a very interesting sandwich, two kinds of sausage wrapped in bacon on rye bread.  He said it was quite good though small.

Afterward we walked around the historical Centre Street.  Trent had asked me to get a t-shirt for Amelia and Jerry had added that if I got one for Amelia I also needed to get one for Eva and Britt so I texted Caroline for their sizes and went in and out of stores to find what I thought they’d like.  I ended up going back to the first store I went in just as I often do.

The guide at the Visitor’s Center had suggested the fudge shop for good ice cream so we went in and got cones and then sat outside at their tables and  enjoyed them.  I remarked that he was just a quiet, peaceful day and Jerry said he was thinking the same thing.  The hot weather had broken so it was not so intolerably hot.

Tabby Sugar Works
Tabby Sugar Works
Jerry had wanted to go to the museum but he changed his mind and suggested we return to the campground.  He wanted to put the car on the dolly so leaving tomorrow would be easier and quicker.  On the way back we stopped at a Publix and he got him some soup for dinner and I again had humus and bagel chips. As we were approaching the campground we passed the ruins of Tabby Sugar Works so we stopped and wandered around at bit.  Parts of the walls were reminiscent of the walls of some of the buildings at Jekyll Island as they appeared to be built with oyster shells.

There is so much more of Amelia Island to see and hopefully we will get back one day.  Fernandina Beach is a lovely area and although one would think it’s a tourist trap I didn’t see that at all.  Some of the shops had some rather expensive items in them but others were quite reasonable.  Also, I didn’t see the typical tourist junk that sometimes overtakes a location.  Unfortunately I forgot to get my usual magnet for Amelia Island although I did get a small one at Fort Clinche.  I think we’ve seen all of Florida and Georgia we need to see for a while.  There’s just so much more of our country to see.  Although we are scheduled to return to Bradenton, Florida in October I’m pretty sure we’ll cancel that trip.  We need to just be home for a while!


Florida, Home Away From Home

Our Trip to Disney

Well, we got the car on the dolly!  It wasn’t as difficult as we imagined but it was not easy.  I got down on the ground and helped with attaching everything but I just didn’t have the strength to tighten the straps securely. I couldn’t even do it by standing on the ratchet but Jerry finally got it tight enough.

He had a doctor’s appointment Tuesday morning so although I stayed busy trying to get everything done before departure I still was not ready when he got home.  I put pork chops, potatoes, cheese, etc. in the crock pot so we’d have a good dinner when we got to a stopping place, probably somewhere at a Walmart in Georgia.  We finally got on the road about 11:00 and Jerry had no trouble driving.  Occasionally I offered to drive but he said he was fine.  I had bought the Walmart app from AllStays and it is worth the money.  When Jerry began to get tired I began to look for viable places to stay.  We finally stopped at a Walmart in Georgia and although there was already another RV in the parking lot we went in and asked permission to stay.  With that granted we did a bit of shopping getting some broccoli to go along with the pork chops.

The next morning we were on our way to Disney.  Driving a motor home south through Jacksonville, Florida is very intimidating and quite scary.  I could never have done it!  In fact I found that a perfect time to read!

We made it to Fort Wilderness with no problem and check in was so easy.  You don’t even have to get out of our rig.  Shortly after entering the park there is an “unhitching” area so we stopped, took the car off of the dolly and  then headed to our site.   Initially we missed the turn into our section and ended up circling the entire park but it kind of gave us a layout of the land.  (I would suggest that an added perk would be having someone direct you to your site.)  Getting backed into the site proved to be too much for Jerry but with the help of two gentlemen and my directions he finally got it backed in.  Unfortunately I think it set his healing back a few days.

The Beginning!  Both sets of grandparents with Emma, Eli and Olivia.
The Beginning! Both sets of grandparents with Emma, Eli and Olivia.
Disney was …  fun, exhausting, and HOT, HOT, HOT.  We picked up our son David, his wife Jane and the three children, Emma, Eli and Olivia on Thursday and had a whirlwind four days of seeing and doing all we could.  We returned to the coach each night hot and sweaty and too tired to even eat dinner.  How many people go to Disney and lose weight?  I did!  The heat index on Saturday was 101!  Since our return home I’ve often made the statement that if I ever return to Disney (and I will) it will not be in September.  Jerry finally told me that I was making an untrue statement.  With a puzzled look on my face I asked him what in the world he was talking about.  He told me if any of the grands asked us to go again in September I’d be packing my clothes – and he’s right but I’m hoping they choose a cooler month!

Since David and his family were not staying at Disney we went to their hotel each morning and picked them up and then took them back each evening.  Why did no one think of Uber?  Finally on Saturday night at my suggestion we gave them our car and we rode the bus back to the campground.  Once we got back to the drop off site we had no idea what to do.  Since we had not anticipated doing that we had not read the directions about how to proceed and of course they were in the car!  We ended up walking back to the coach and it was nearly a mile but it was a good walk.

Sunday morning we took the boat over to the Magic Kingdom and by the time David and family had arrived we had already done three things!

Two of our little pirates at the Magic Kingdom
Two of our little pirates at the Magic Kingdom
Sunday night we all stayed for the Halloween party.  Lines to the rides were shorter and we quickly rode anything we wanted to.  Unfortunately a lot of the rides and movies were closed.  The parade, though short, was quite good and we eagerly awaited the highlight of the evening – the fireworks scheduled to begin at 10:15.  Well just before then God displayed His fireworks along with a lot of heavy rain.  Needless to say the fireworks were eventually canceled, at least I guess they were.  We left around 11:15 and it was still raining so I guess it’s safe to say there were no fireworks that night.

We finally got back to the park around midnight with no plans for an early start on Monday!