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Posts Tagged ‘recreation’


Florida sunset!

Florida sunset! (Photo credit: Odalaigh)

It’s hard to believe that 6 weeks has come and almost gone drawing our south-east bus trip to a close.  It’s felt long and momentary in its own paradoxical way.  Funny how hindsight has that affect on you.  On the one hand I feel like we’ve been gone forever, putting a hold on the scheduled routine of my life and its openings for spontaneity.  Yet now as I reflect on where we’ve been and what we’ve done, it feels like just yesterday that we took off.  What an odd phenomenon.

It’s been a while since my last post though it’s not for lack of trying.  Twice I wrote pieces regarding my impressions about the snow birds who flock to Florida and the Disney utopian town of Celebration, and twice Word Press deleted the copy as I was trying to add pictures, moments later automatically saving the blank page as my draft.  It irritated me enough to bite my nose to spite my face, say f*** it and go on with my evening without an entry.  Now I’m “saving” along the way until they get that glitch (I assume it was “they”) resolved.  I’m not a terribly patient person by nature.  Can you tell?

Key West

Key West (Photo credit: GarySlinger)

We spent the bulk of our time in Florida – down the East coast and back up the Gulf side so I’ve had my fill of ocean and beach for now.  I admit to enjoying the Gulf side more because of its greater feeling of space and residential sensibility.  Plus there seems to be more than just palm trees to look at.  I did love exploring the Everglades which wasn’t a surprise since National Parks rank high on my list of must sees.

The Keys were also fun – it’s a great past-time to bike the streets all over Key West – and frankly, all of Florida due to the flat terrain, though it’s the hills and forests that I love so much about the northern southeast of the country (is that an oxymoron?  Northern Southeast?)  Anyway – I’m referring to Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas.

My greatest impression of Florida is that it’s loaded with seniors, especially snow birds this time of year.  License plates from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Wisconsin, Michigan and other states flood the campgrounds where these older citizens live out the winter months.  One of the “RV resorts” in Venice was mostly a mobile home park which doubled as winter camp for its part-time residents.  And their calendars get filled with activities like bingo, shuffle board, pot luck suppers and dance, coffee and pastry get togethers while they toodle around the place on adult tricycles and golf carts.  It’s a sight for the un-itiated like me.  Our campground in the Everglades was the setting for a wedding between two snowbirds celebrating their second anniversary wintering there together.  The whole place was invited so I went too; it was a charming diversion while waiting for my laundry to finish drying!  Here’s a taste of the wedding.

the groom waiting for his bride to arrive by golf cart

here she is!

The Orlando area was a surprise, very much like Pigeon Forge in my neck of the woods with its bumper to bumper traffic and kitschy stores trumpeting all sorts of cheap trinkets for tourists.  The highlight for us was touring Celebration, Disney’s vision of a utopian residential village built around a town center.  When I read about its development years ago I pictured row after row of colorful pseudo cheerful houses with picket fences, each looking exactly like its neighbor.  Shame on me for not assuming they’d commission famed architects Michael Graves, Philip Johnson and Robert A.M. Stern among others to design key elements of this town.  It was charming and I can appreciate its appeal.

town center

residential street in Celebration

Lighthouse in Tybee Island, Georgia, USA.

Image via Wikipedia

But my favorite place wasn’t in Florida at all.  It was Tybee Island in Georgia, just 16 miles east of Savannah on a wild piece of land resplendent with the natural growth of the region.  I love its earthiness and understated homes and especially its zoning law of a maximum three-story structure.

Sea Oats on Tybee Island Beach.

Image via Wikipedia

That substantially limits hotels and keeps tourists at a minimum offering a lifestyle the residents can really enjoy.  I’ll definitely be going back, may even check real estate prices.

Right now we sit in our wooded campsite at Stone Mountain Campground, about three hours from home.  These two days will cap our winter adventure for the season.  Tomorrow I’ll hike and bike and we’ll celebrate our last bus dinner with hot dogs and baked beans!

I‘m looking forward to going home just as I look forward to going away.  I need  both in my life.  Both feed my soul.

See you at home.

How is your winter going?

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Exploring the places no one visits is what I like best about RV life.  Campgrounds tend to be tucked away in rural settings where there’s room for acreage at reasonable prices.  It’s unusual to find a site inside a populated city so, for example, in Jacksonville, FL we’re staying in Yulee, FL.  Huh?  you say?  Exactly.  We actually could have gotten closer in to city limits but Yulee happens to also be where there’s a Yamaha dealership to get new tires for the motor scooter, so Yulee is where we dropped our power line.  And Yulee is where I went exploring on my bike.

We’re not in a fancy campground, to put it mildly.  This place has just 60 sites, the majority of which are occupied full-time by people who the ad calls “retired.”  My guess is they’re unemployed – either on disability or for some other reason.  And this particular campground is a cheap place to call home.  I wave to them on my jaunts with Pogo and stopped by for a visit with Gail whose small bus is parked across from ours.

Knuckles, a McCaw from Brazil

Knuckles and Hanna were the draw for my visit.  They were climbing all over Gail’s doorway enjoying the cool breezy morning.  Neither would let me pet a back or head, which is a real

Knuckles let me get closer

Hanna, the grey cheek parrot hanging upside down in the door jam

now she's closer and right side up

disappointment when you’re a pet lover who has to pet.  Gail, herself, is a weathered looking woman whom I guess to be 5 – 10 years older than me.  She doesn’t work either although she looks quite able-bodied to me.  She was cautiously friendly, at least enough to tell me about her beautiful McCaw and grey cheek parrot.  She’s lived here 18 years but just bought her very used bus a few months ago.  Before that she says she’d stayed with someone.  I left it at that.  Since our visit we wave as we both go about our independent business.  That seems to be the way of this campground.  It’s a neighborhood, of sorts, where everybody just minds their own business.  As I walk around I imagine the individual lives that take place inside their small fiberglass or tin confines and I realize that everybody has a story.  (I think that’s a good subject for a book or a documentary).

The nearby neighborhood also has a lot of character populated with folks who wear their lives on their homes.  Take a look and see what I mean.

This guy's yard was crammed with treasures

more treasures

This fellow had a chicken coop in the back, ducks running around the yard, vegetable gardens surrounding and bird houses everywhere! Seems to me he's self-sustaining.

miniature dogs everywhere, some of whom loved my loving!

This house was right across the street from...

this house! Go figure...

And THIS house had a GIANT ocean toy on its side yard

These houses are not destination sites for the typical tourist, but for me they offer much fodder for imaginings.  What do these people do?  How do they spend their lives?  Do they socialize with their neighbors?  Why the overwhelming trend for miniature dogs? How often, if ever, do they make it into the city since we’re 16 miles from Jacksonville’s northern city limits?  Endlessly fascinating questions for me.  Rick calls them my talk show questions.

Everywhere we go there’s an opportunity to visit sights on nobody’s destination list offering a taste of how some locals live and usually not the wealthy ones.  The areas farther away we visit in the car – like this community near a large State Park and the Amelia Island beaches.

gorgeous live oaks border the street with homes tucked away in the back

trees with moss dripping from branches

And of course no ocean side community is complete without a walk on the beach and long connections with the ocean.

say hello to Rick

and me

wish I'd seen said turtles

ocean front lot for $275k right on Amelia Island beach! Any takers?

The whole package offers a rich experience that journeying in an RV can provide.  We pack up, hit the road and drive for 3, 4, 5 hours with no destination in mind except a general direction and a plan to stop when Rick’s tired of driving.  And wherever we land, people live there.

What sparks your imaginings?

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It wasn’t the best start for an extended trip, but then every adventure in the bus includes some kind of mishap.  My husband’s always telling me that we’re driving a house down the road and things are bound to go wrong.  Luckily he can fix most anything, or get the right people who can.  So I may be inconvenienced a bit, but never have to fix the problem.

Today we discovered (I say “we” but really mean “he” since I never drive) that the battery for Mr Bus was “low.”  That translated into meaning the steps into the coach wouldn’t lower and the stabilizers wouldn’t level.  But both were over-ridden when we turned on the generator to power up everything.  Ok.  No problem.

Then in the middle of a busy I75 heading south the side view mirror flew off.  Oops – now you can see the cars in the right lane, now you can’t.  Meanwhile, we’re a 36′ long bus, close to 30,000 pounds, towing a car;  it’s kind of important to see who might be in the right lane before moving over.  Luckily the top half of the mirror was still intact, so hubby “just” needed to lean far over the steering wheel to see, best he could, who might be in his blind spot.  OK then, no biggy, for me that is.  Now that we’re in for the night he’s off in search of an RV supplies store to buy a battery and a side view mirror.  This is day one of our multi-week trip.

All that said I love our Mr. Bus.  He’s not fancy by today’s standards and he’s a 12-year-old diesel pusher.  But he’s roomy and comfy and loaded up with the works:  frig/freezer, microwave, convection oven, coffee maker, toaster oven, 2 TVs and full bathroom.  Usually, everything works just fine.  And we get to travel around and taste slices of life from spots we decide to call home for however long we feel like staying.  It’s the best.

Tonight we’re south of Atlanta.  Tomorrow we’re headed to Savannah.  Why not?  It’s a very cool city and I hear the ocean calling my name.  After that?  Don’t know yet.  Visit and find out!

So for the next 6 weeks my blog will be about our travels.  Can’t wait.  Hope you stay with me and enjoy!

What are your thoughts about RV travel?

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just relax. take it all in. and live life unti...

Image by Casey David via Flick

“just relax. take it all in. and live life until you burst at the seams.”  Casey Taylor

Life’s perspective changes on a bicycle, especially after age 50 as I rediscover the joys of pedaling. It used to be my transportation as a kid, a way to  see girlfriends who lived near by, or to the dreaded piano lessons (after a quick stop at the grocery to snatch the Tastykake 3 pack of chocolate cupcakes.  They were my favorite and eased the pain of an hour of scales at Mrs. Heston’s house).  I also rode my bike to the community pool down the street to see if the cute boy I adored was there that day.

A typical Mobil gas station. This one is locat...

Image via Wikipedia

But all that seemed to stop when I got my license because then I could drive to all those places (except the pool, now the cute boy I adored worked at the gas station a couple miles away).

These days I experience freedom on my bike and I feel youthful and vibrant. The rides are no longer destination oriented, they’re experiential and offer a slice of life in the slower lane.  There’s plenty to see by moving more slowly; just like the freedom of the road offered by RV travel (which we also do) pedaling along greenways and through parks is like entering a world on the other side of a key hole.  Just step through the door, out of the to-do list mode and into the to-be-here mode instead.

There are wildflowers growing, creatures scurrying and children playing, each to their individual rhythms.

It’s a world that exists whether I ride by or not. And that’s what’s so magical about discovering it by bike.  Pedaling through the keyhole and landing here makes me realize there are hosts of other worlds just waiting to be explored. They’re invisible to cars and to planes.  But when life slows down they pop into view.

I started riding a bike, regularly, a little more than a year ago when I borrowed my sister-in-law’s up in Boston last summer.  It’s the perfect town; all thruways accommodate cyclists.  There are bike lanes on all the roads and a pathway that stretches along the Charles River on both the Boston and Cambridge sides. Because the area is flat just about everywhere, it’s a rider’s paradise.  Taking my bike out was as easy as going out the back door and down the Mass Ave bridge ramp onto the esplanade.  I was hooked.

A summer day on the Charles River Esplanade, B...

Image via Wikipedia

In Tennessee I hook the bike to the back of my car and then take off to a number of greenways nearby.  And those I discovered because I had to find places to ride, away from the roads and steep hills in my neighborhood.  It offers a wonderful form of exercise and opportunities to be with friends.  Knoxville looks like a completely different city from the seat of a bicycle.

But the best part of all?

All of it.  Riding my bike makes me happy.  Seeing people and creatures live life reminds me what living is all about.  That we all have a finite number of years in this human form, and  one shot at it.  I don’t want to “wish I had.”  I want to do.

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