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.
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. 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.
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.
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!
After a very sleepless night (I should have known better than to eat the Crème Brule) some of it spent on the sofa because I didn’t want to wake Jerry I climbed back in bed for about 30 minutes and finally got up around 6:30. The coach was cool so we turned on the fireplace and the quartz heater. They very quickly warmed everything up. We had an appointment with Susan Krystal at Lazy Days at 9:00 so we had to hustle to get everything packed up and loaded, e.g. car. We pulled out of Tampa East about 8:50 knowing we were probably going to be late and wouldn’t you know there was an accident ahead that caused a slowdown. I think it was about 9:10 when we arrived. When entering Lazy Days you have to go through a manned gate and they gave us an exit pass. I guess that’s to prevent anyone driving off with one of their rigs. We met Susan shortly and went to her office where we discussed what was available within our budget. Then we got on a golf cart and she took us on a tour of the grounds, 123 acres and then began to show us Tiffin Phaetons. I told her we were open to other brands but because of my pretty specific wish list especially the washer and dryer Tiffin was our best bet. After showing us several coaches, some 40′ and some 42″ and one really smelly one, we went back to her office and discussed particulars, e.g. deposit, time, etc. She actually said that she might have something for us in a couple of weeks. Wow – fast! Guess we have some quick thinking and praying to do! (A little caveat here – we never heard from her again.)
We got some nuts to snack on when we left about 11:30 and headed to Cedar Key. Wouldn’t you know the sun has finally come out? It is a beautiful day, sunny and perhaps a bit warmer. Actually I’d rather travel in overcast skies because there is no glare and you can read electronics easier. Right now we’re traveling on a toll highway and have already paid $3.75. Here we are thinking about buying a new coach, a diesel at that and we are quibbling about $3.75. Go figure. Three tolls on Sun Coast Highway.
Stopped in Homosassa FL at a Walmart and did a little grocery shopping and then ate ham sandwiches in the coach. Now on the road again, about 75 miles from Cedar Key. Asked Jerry what he thought about buying a “new to us” diesel. I think he’s a little shell shocked about the possible rapidity of it happening. We both think we need to call Robbie and let him know what’s going on and give him a chance. They don’t sell Tiffins so doubt he can help us.
We got to Sunset Isles RV a little after 3:00 and upon arriving it looked, well a mess. They are doing construction on the motel rooms connected to the main office. I think the office is also part of a short order restaurant and it looked like they had delicious fudge. Despite my “aversion” to sugar I’m going to have to try some of that. Since we pre-paid and had given them all of the information early check-in was a breeze. I don’t think I was in there 3 minutes! We’re on site 7 right on the water. Our pier is – well, broken! It looks like most sites have small piers and I think you can walk on any of them. It doesn’t have to be on your site. Sunset is supposed to be beautiful. In fact when I made the reservation the lady said we’d be right where we could watch the sunset.
We drove around to the back and there are lots of rigs back here and while the spaces aren’t large they’re ok. I think we could let out the awning and set up the chairs if we wanted to. Jerry got us backed in and I set the jacks. Then as I was letting out the dining room slide I heard a pretty loud pop. Another piece of the wire had snapped. Do we go home, keep on and not let out that slide or what? Jerry called Robbie who told him we were members of Priority RV Network so we need to download the app and find the nearest dealer and they should repair it. The nearest dealer is in St. Augustine, Dick Gore’s RV so Jerry called them. Of course it was right at 5:00 by that time so the service department was closed. He’ll call back in the morning. We may be going back to St. Augustine.
We hopped in the car and rode into Cedar Key and Susan Krystal was correct. It is a quaint little town. We didn’t see a single grocery store though and I understand the nearest one is about 45 minutes away. Kind of reminds me of being at PB. It looks like a neat town to wander around in except it is cold!
We got back and walked around the park and saw the neatest old trailer. Hopefully I can get a pic of it tomorrow. It is OLD! We noticed that someone was building a fire so we walked over and he invited us to the potluck dinner and country music tonight in the meeting room. He said residents just got together and played and sang. Sounds like fun.
We came on back to the RV (we forgot to watch the sunset 😦 and I began to investigate Passport campgrounds in the St. Augustine area on the off chance we go back there. Jerry read for a while and then went to sleep. We decided not to go to the potluck dinner since we had nothing to contribute. Tonight was left over night – burgers from Wednesday night and anything else left in the fridge.
We walked over to the meeting room about 8:00 and it was already packed and the music was playing. They had a couple of guitars, a bass, a banjo, a steel guitar (I think), and a couple of other stringed instruments and they were jamming! It was great. Apparently they do this each night on the week-ends. Hope they do it Saturday night. We’ll get there earlier and get a better seat.
Back in around 9:30 and then to bed. I left the shade in the back window up hoping I’ll be awaken by the sun in the morning – that is if the sun shines! After my previous sleepless night I’m sure I’ll have no problem going to sleep. I could feel the cold coming in through the window since the shade was up so I put an extra blanket on the bed. It’s supposed to get down to 44 tonight. Sunny, warm Florida!