Hunting Island State Park Hike

Another fine day yesterday. On getting up and having coffee…Connie took a look at the weather forecast which…predictably…had changed and now Thursday was supposed to be dry and Friday rainy. So…we decided to have our Fun Stuff© day on Thursday instead. That left us with the decision to visit Hunting Island State Park on either Thursday or Saturday and our final day out at Ace Basin NWR for the other day. After a bit of discussion we decided that Hunting Island would be much more crowded on the weekend as it’s at the beach so decided to head out there Thursday.

After breakfast we packed up and headed out for the 25 mile or so drive to the location which was again fewer crow flies miles due to the swampy areas here in the low country…lots of rivers, marshes, and barely above sea level areas here and the roads have to route around them. We took along some snacks…and while we did wear shorts we also put on something long as it was cool, breezy, and damp with highs only expected to be in the upper 60s and we’re not sure it made that.

On arrival at the park we paid our 10 bucks entry fee and wandered down some pretty narrow roads to the parking lot for the Hunting Island lighthouse…we passed on the additional 2 bucks a person to visit the top and went for nice shots of the outside. We noticed that the lighthouse was made of metal instead of masonry…sort of different looking to us.

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We also got a couple of shots of the entire lighthouse which is 200 or so feet tall.

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Once we were done with the lighthouse we headed down the half mile each way nature trail which went pretty much right down the beach. Along the way we spotted a bunch of downed trees right on the beach…they must have had a storm here in the past that knocked down a lot of them down. We also spotted an Osprey sitting on it’s nest but couldn’t tell if there were eggs or not.

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After this we turned back as we were stopped by a creek flowing into the bay…we coulda gotten across as it was only 8 or 10 inches deep but there wasn’t anything on the other side that made getting our feet wet worth it. So we headed back to the car and off for our second hike of the day at the Marsh Boardwalk at the other end of the park. About the only things we saw there were a couple of Laughing Gulls and the marsh itself…but as it was low tide there wasn’t much to see other than the marsh.

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With that we decided to punt the remaining 2.5 mile hike we had originally planned on as it was another 12 miles or so away and the wind was getting cooler and windier and we decided we were just a skosh underdressed. We stopped by the electrical supply place and picked up a couple of fuses we ordered on the way home then lazed the rest of the afternoon away.

Dinner was our previously scheduled pork chop night at a local place named Filling Station. I don’t think it was ever an actual filling station like Oklahoma Joe’s in Kansas City is…but it’s on the water just across the bridge from downtown Beaufort. And we’re talking dive…unless it had been recommended to us even we would probably not have stopped in. Good thing we did though…as the food was outstanding. We sat at the bar and watched the locals play 8-ball on the pool table while we had a couple of Killians Irish Red Ale and dinner…dinner cost all of 5 bucks apiece and we got a 12 inch plate with 2 huge batter coated and deep fried pork chops, mac’n’cheese, corn and green beans. Mighty darn tasty…we had 1.25 pork chops left over from our 4 as well as enough fixins for a side dish later on. Made some mighty good pork chop sammies for lunch today and have enough for some more tomorrow. We forgot to get a shot of the outside of the place…hopefully we’ll be nearby before we leave and I’ll try to remedy that shortcoming.

Dinner tonight was what we call “under dynamic observation” until about 2 minutes before I wrote this…a place named Shrimp Shack was also recommended to us but it’s mostly shrimp which means Connie can’t eat there. They do have clams and oysters but she’s decided we’re skipping it and heading out to the 11th Street Dockside over in Port Royal followed by stopping by Lowes for a couple things.


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Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge Hike

As promised yesterday…here’s a second post that has our photos from the hike.

The destination for the day was Pinckney Island NWR…it’s about 30 miles or so from here by road…maybe 6 as the crow flies but there’s no bridge over the river and swamp areas…and is at the landward end of the bridge out to Hilton Head Island. Pinckney Island is a 4000 acre site…it’s named after Major General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney who served under George Washington during the Revolutionary War. After our stop at the electrical supply store to order fuses we drove over and once parked set out on our planned hike out to Ibis Pond and back. It’s about 3/4 of a mile out and about 1/2 mile around the pond so offered us a total hike of about 2 miles…we decided that this was a good distance as we really haven’t gotten our hiking fitness back up this spring yet. As it turned out this is a pretty popular spot as we got the last spot in the parking area. On the way out we were bemoaning the likely low number of birds we might see as there was a school tour and other folks on the hike as well…usually this means lots of noise…which usually means no birds. Luckily…our expectations were not met and this turned out to be an excellent birding day…although one wouldn’t have thought so based on what we saw on the way out to Ibis Pond.

To set the stage…here’s a shot of the marshland off of gravel road we hiked out to the pond followed by a couple of shots out at the pond. It’s about 300 yards or so in diameter with a large hammock of marshy area in the middle with some trees and semi-dry land. What we hadn’t anticipated was that being further north the nesting season would be later and it turns out that it is full swing…albeit some of the species are earlier in the mating/nesting season than others as I’ll point out on some of the photos in a bit.

I should note here that whenever birds and landscapes are involved in then same blog post it’s more than likely that Neil took the birds and Connie the landscapes. When we upgraded our camera this past winter we kept the old Nikon D7000 for Connie and just got her a wide to mid length zoom lens…she didn’t want to carry anything heavier. This keeps Neil from having to continually change lenses on the Nikon D7100…he usually keeps the 50-500 Sigma Lens mounted so we’ve got the ability to reach out and get bird photos that are more than just a dot while Connie with her 18-55mm Nikor lens gets the “set the stage” shots. She’s also in charge of almost all of the flower shots.

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Ok, without further ado…on to the wildlife…identification and whatever notes seem appropriate included.

A Summer Tanager off the right side of the path…the only thing we saw before getting out to to the pond and the source of our original dismay due to the crowds.

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A Tricolored Heron…very similar to a Great Blue Heron in size and coloring.

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Better view of the Tricolored

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Breeding Little Blue Heron…you can see that this species doesn’t get the really long plumage…it’s breeding plumage is primarily the tufts of feathers that stick out from the back of the head along with the more reddish coloration of the neck. We originally thought these were Reddish Egrets due to the neck colors…but decided that they had to be Little Blues instead since the Reddish has a pinkish bill with a black tip as opposed to the pale blue dark tipped bill of the Little Blue. In addition…Reddish Egrets are pretty uncommon and we saw lots of this species around the pond.

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A Snowy Egret with it’s breeding plumage about half grown in…compare this to the Great Egret shots later and you’ll see the difference. Either this guy is a late bloomer or the mating season for Snowy’s is a bit later in the year.

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Great Egret breeding plumage…hangs down more than the Snowy above so it’s closer to mating time for it.

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Tricolored poised to take off. Note the white crest which along with the blue, brown and white gives it the name.

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Great Egret carrying some nesting material back to the nest.

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A couple of shots of the cutest little baby ‘gators. They were only about 2 feet long or so and we saw probably a half dozen different specimens. This one was on the bank about 5 feet from where we walked by.

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Great Egret (different specimen than the other two)

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Still another Great Egret specimen with more nesting material.

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Great Egret on the nest adding the material from the shot above to it’s home…I’m pretty sure it was the same specimen based on our location around the pond, the way it was flying, and the time stamps on the two shots.

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Black Crowned Night Heron…the pinkish legs indicate it’s in high breeding condition…but it does not display the two white head plumes…they’re a little further down his back and maybe the wing is hiding them from us.

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Great Egret with fully mature breeding plumage…these feathers were the cause of death for thousands of these birds back in the late 1800s/early 1900s when fashionable ladies wore extravagant hats. 

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Female Grackle we think…it’s nesting anyway as it was carrying nesting material and it’s got the wrong eyes for either a cowbird or one of the female blackbird types (female blackbirds are normally brownish…who woulda thunk it?) Peterson’s wasn’t much help on this one…and using the identification tools at didn’t help much either.

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Common Moorhen…this was quite near the baby gators.

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Another poised Tricolored.

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Another Black Crowned Night Heron…you can see one of the plumes on this specimen…it’s the long white almost stick like thing going down his back from just about where the black crown features meet the white neck feathers.

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The same Black Crowned as the shot above about 5 seconds later…you don’t get many chance to get a flight shot of them and Neil got this one just as it took off. He got a few more of the flight sequence…but they were behind some limbs and not in great focus so I didn’t post them.

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A Cliff Swallow. We saw a lot of these flying around in one of the tree patches we passed through on the way to the pond but trying to get a shot of one on the wing is nigh on impossible as they don’t fly in a straight line more than a quarter of a second or so before changing direction. This one conveniently landed on a pine tree near where we stopped half way around the pond for a drink on a handily located bench. It isn’t the greatest shot…but it’s a small bird and was 40 or 50 yards away from us

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Another Snowy with half grown breeding plumage. The Snowy is identifiable from any of the other white waders by the black beak and the golden slippers. Snowy’s fish differently than other waders. Most waders stand still moving their legs very slowly as they walk pulling them completely out of the water to step forward and than stab down when breakfast happens by. Snowy’s on the other hand shuffle their feet along the bottom and the brightly colored yellow feet startle the prey which then tries to escape and hence becomes available on the menu.

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Another Tricolored.

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And another one…this one was on a little spit of land that sort of curled out from the bank behind a piece of the hammock.

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Another Snowy Egret.

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A shot of the Summer Tanager that Connie got on the way out.

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A pair of nesting Little Blue Herons.

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And that’s about it. All in all a really great photo day.

Once back at the car we changed out of our hiking boots and headed home. We had a stop at the Golden Arches for a fish sammy for lunch then stopped by a Levi’s outlet store to see if we could find Connie another pair of jeans as it’s not always warm enough in Alaska for shorts…no luck but we’ll keep looking. Our final stop for the day was at the Port Royal Sound Maritime Center museum…this is fairly new and we spent a few minutes wandering around their exhibits and getting a stuffed turtle for Alex…and “No Bryan, you can’t have it. Not Yours.”

After a shower and a nap…and the monthly Honda generator maintenance run for Neil…we had leftover pork, Gumbolaya and veggies for dinner along with the rest of our 1.5 liter of Pinot Noir from the other day…then TV until bedtime.

It was supposed to rain all day today (Wednesday) and Thursday…but it’s partly sunny right now and pretty warm…maybe it’s just gonna be PM thundershowers later although Neil’s iPhone Yahoo Weather app says 60-100% rain for the remainder of the day and evening. Tomorrow now only says 50% rain but Connie had some work to do today and planned for tomorrow…if she’s done and the weather cooperates we’ll go do some Fun Stuff©. More of that is scheduled for Friday and Saturday anyway then we’ll get packed up and ready for our next move on Sunday afternoon. Our new local friends we met at Fat Patties the other night suggested some drinking and dining establishments and we’re planning on using them Friday and Saturday as well…and we’ll do laundry somewhere along the line late in the week or weekend. 


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Transit to Parris Island SC

Well, we went ahead and headed out to Culhane’s Irish Pub for dinner on Sunday evening and had a great time. Connie and Neil had a pint of Murphy’s Stout then he noticed that they had Kilkenny on tap as well. This was one of our favorite beverages from our trip over to Ireland last summer…it’s an Irish Red brew but except for the color it looks, pours, and drinks just like a stout does. The bartender has to spend 90 seconds or so pulling the proper pint and it’s got that nice Guinness type head on it with the bubbles floating up to the top. You drink it and it’s got all of that creamy goodness that Guinness or Murphy’s Stout has…but it’s a red ale and has distinct red ale tastes to go along with the stout-like creaminess. Quite excellent…unfortunately we never found it outside of the Kilkenny area over across the pond and this is the first time we’ve ever seen it anywhere else.

So…we had a pint of Kilkenny to go along with our dinners…which was Crab Sliders for Connie and Guinness Marinated Sliders for Neil…except his was slices of marinated, roasted, and sliced roast instead of ground like most sliders are. It was quite tasty as well and after our dinner we headed home. We had pretty much finished up packing the outside stuff earlier in the day.

Monday we got up early, had breakfast and coffee then started to get ready to leave about 0800. We finished up packing, hitching, and utilities and were on the road about 0945 or so for the 190 mile jaunt up I-95 to Parris Island Marine Recruit Training Center which is between Charleston SC and Hilton Head SC. We got here and backed into site 7 about 1400 and were setup by about 1630. We noticed the last couple of weeks that both our gray and black tank indicators weren’t indicating properly. Last week on the move to Jacksonville we put about 30 gallons in the gray tank and added 2 gallons of white vinegar and a cup of degreasing dish detergent. Let all that slosh around during the move and on arrival in Jax dumped and flushed and seemed to have solved the gray tank problem. So…we got another 3 gallons of vinegar and did the gray and black tanks the same way again and after flushing on arrival here in SC the black is now also indicating correctly. So…we’ll just make this a quarterly maintenance item to keep the problem from happening again…it’s just the residue of grease/soap getting stuck on the sides of the tanks that causes the problem.

Here’s a shot of our setup in site 7.

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Here are a couple of shots that illustrate why you always trust but verify what the GPS tells you. The first one was taken after the shot above by Neil turing about 90 degrees to his left and looking back down toward the main road that comes into the campground. Down there on the right side of the road you can see the campground sign…the intersecting main road is just beyond there and we came in from the left and turned right onto this road…but only because we ignored what the GPS tried to tell us to do.

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What the GPS wanted us to do was turn right about a quarter mile earlier and follow that road around to where it comes out immediately past the fire plug you can see on the left side of this picture. On looking at the entrance the GPS wanted us to take…we said to ourselves “No way.” Since we could see the rigs in the campground we just came ahead another couple hundred yards and turned right onto the road you can see above. Here’s a shot looking down the road where the fire plug is.

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As you can see…it’s cracked and narrow and it gets even better. Just for grins we took this road back out to the main road when we left on our hike this morning…the rig is behind and to the left of where Neil was standing for this shot so we turned left here then down by the trees in the distance curved to the right then out to the main road. The trees on this road haven’t been trimmed in years and even in the car we had to jog around two low hanging branches so we’re very glad we didn’t come in this way. 

Just goes to show you…you can’t always trust the box; you gotta verify that what she’s tellin’ ya is really what you wanna do. As it was…we had a little adventure getting into the base…there’s a roundabout right inside the entrance station that is currently being rebuilt into a new roundabout in a slightly different location with an inspection station. Long story short…we turned the wrong way and ended up down in a maintenance building area but found a place where Neil pulled in then backed out to get the rig turned around. Once that was down we went left instead of right were we made the mistake and shortly came to the road we were looking for…which was conveniently marked with signage to the RV park.

We had left over pork tenderloin and Gumbolaya but Connie didn’t feel like having that for dinner…so we went over to Fat Patties for dinner instead. We each had 2 pints of Newcastle Scotch Ale which was again mighty tasty. They have about 30 beers on draft and we sampled 3 of them before deciding that our first choice was the best choice. To go along with it we had burgers…Connie had a Beef/Bacon combo burger (ground bacon mixed in with the beef for some fat/juice) with cheddar and caramelized onions. Neil had the same burger but with more bacon, smoked cheddar, and caramelized onions. After that we headed home and watched TV until bedtime.

This morning we got up and after breakfast and coffee hit the road about 0930 for our hike. We were stopping by a local electrical supply place to get a fuse we need for the solar controller…it’s a spare for the ground fault detection circuit which we have disabled anyway as I discussed a couple blog posts back as our controller was originally designed for home use and not RV which has an ungrounded electrical system. Still though…good to have a spare for it in case we ever need it turned back on. They didn’t have one in stock but ordered 2 of them for him and will have them in on Thursday…plus the place is only a couple miles from the park so it’s an easy pickup later in the week. After that we headed off to the Pickney Island National Wildlife Refuge for some bird shots…I’ll have to do another post tomorrow with them as they aren’t done importing into Lightroom yet…but take my word for it…we got some great shots today. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow though.

Dinner was the leftovers from Sunday that we skipped last night along with a roll Neil baked for himself and some corn with cheese sauce. We kept the steak he inadvertently took out for today to have tomorrow.


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Slow Week and Hike at Guana River Wildlife Management Area

Well, the post title pretty much says it all. The highlight of the week excitement-wise was the move from site 29 over to the waterfront site 1 that I posted a photo of last time.

Tuesday Connie worked in the morning and Neil went on a bike ride around the base and nearby waterfront areas. After that we lazed around in the recliners outside under the awning and watched the world go by. We didn’t see many Navy ships go in or out this week but did catch a cruise liner going out , a bunch of car carriers and container carriers, and the continual coming and going of the dredge barge. The basin at the base here is getting dredged to go along with a new pier being constructed on the northwest side of the basin…the new pier is carrier sized but I don’t know whether it’s just a new pier or whether there’s a plan to homeport a carrier here. I would have thought the basin was deep enough for a carrier but perhaps not…in any case the dredge barge keeps getting pumped full of sand then they move it down to the mouth of the river and pump out the sand onto the beach south of the river entrance to replenish where it’s been eroded over the years. The barge makes the round trip of maybe 2 miles 3 or 4 times per 24 hour period and the dredging operation looks to be going on around the clock.

Wednesday we again sat outside and watched the world go by…looks like that’s starting to become a pattern. Thursday we had a planned hike over at the Guana Rive Wildlife Management Area where we had hoped to see some wildlife. Well…the good news is that we had a nice walk in the woods of about 4.6 miles. The bad news is that had gotten into the middle of the day and we saw pretty much nuttin. The worse news is that we chose poorly and failed to either bring our lunch along on the hike or any emergency food and by the time we turned around out at the lake overview we had pretty much bonked…out…of…gas…I’m tellin’ ya. It was pretty much a struggle all the way back…it had gotten hot by that time so we were walking a couple of hundred yards, stopping in the intermittent shady spots for 30 seconds or so then going another couple of hundred yards. 

Other than the heat and lack of energy the hike itself was pretty nice…mostly along a graded road once we gave up on the shortcut. Our original plan was to take this shortcut path over to the lake and we failed to see the sign at the branch that said “Trail may be wet in high water conditions”…we made it a quarter mile or so down the trail and around the first two lakes before getting completely shut out and surrounded by water. None of it was deep but we couldn’t see a way that the path continued along the other side so we backtracked and said…”Now we see the sign about high water” and took the long way around on the mostly graded road. Here are a few shots from the hike…Neil forgot to get one while we were on the swamp march portion of the hike so unfortunately you don’t get to see the lakes we tromped through.

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Although this isn’t the wet path we originally tried…it isn’t much wetter than it was where we changed our mind and turned back to the main path.

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This was literally the only wildlife we saw…we did hear a couple of taunty birds up in the trees and a hawk of some sort off in the distance. We also saw a coot or moorhen or some small dark duck like bird out in the lake…but it was 3 or 4 hundred yards away and even with binoculars was pretty much a little black dot so we didn’t bother with a photo.

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Our original plan was to ride down another 15 miles or so to the dam for another shorter hike but we were done in and decided that we had done enough exercise for the day…so we headed home instead with a couple of stops to get some fuses and a cold drink for the ride home.

Friday we did laundry…the machines here at Pelican Roost are free so we did sheets and also the 2 new sets of towels we bought as our old ones are pretty worn out after almost 3 years on the road. Over the weekend we again didn’t do much…Connie fished some and we went up to the 75 cents a scoop ice cream social in the evening after dinner.

Eats for the week:

Wings and brews at the Chief’s Club on Tuesday and went there again on Thursday for tacos. Friday night we went just outside the base and had grilled shrimp and scallops at Singleton’s Seafood Shack…a little dive sorta place over on the water. It was a little overpriced we thought…but I guess it’s location, location, location. Good food and cold beers. The only days we cooked in were Wednesday when Neil made some cream soup out of leftover wings from Tuesday night and Saturday night. Wednesday he added an onion and some half and half along with a can of green chilis and some habanero hot sauce and it made mighty good soup. Saturday we had a roasted pork tenderloin along with what Neil calls Gumbolaya…it’s sort of like Jambalaya as a rice dish made with Andouille sausage, onions, green chilis and V8 but he adds some file powder. File powder is finely ground sassafras leaves and is the spice that gives gumbo the distinctive gumbo flavor…it goes really good with this combination. Jambalaya is essentially the same as gumbo except the rice is mixed into the sauce and it’s got less protein in it than gumbo does…the latter has chicken or shrimp or whatever in addition to the Andouille. It was mighty good and we’ve got leftover pork and leftover rice for dinner after our travel day tomorrow.

Tonight we’re headed off to Culhane’s Irish Pub for some Guinness or Murphy’s stout and whatever seems interesting to eat.

We also upgraded all of our iOS devices to the latest software as it came out this week and we had pretty decent wifi in the campground building. Neil also got the latest laptop OS update but has only installed it on his laptop so far…it worked fine so he’ll do the file server and Connie’s laptop this week.

We got word that the next New Horizons Owners Group (NHOG) rally will be held next May in Chattanooga TN in mid May. We originally thought that it would be both later and further south in FL and were planning on skipping it as we are planning on a trip to the Canadian Maritimes in summer of 2016 and it leaves from Saint Andrews, New Brunswick right over the border from the end of I-95 in Maine on June 20. However…with the location and schedule we think it will work out just fine for us. We’ll just tool around the southeast from when we leave on April 1 for arrival up in TN in early May. After the rally we’ll stop by Midlothian to see the human kids and grandkid then head up through the middle of PA so as to bypass the traffic in NJ and NYC and I think we’ll likely stop by Boston for another week as well in that area before heading up to Saint Andrews.    

We head out from here in Jacksonville tomorrow…next stop is about 190 miles up the road at the USMC Recruit Training Center at Parris Island SC. It’s located in Beaufort which is in between Charleston and Hilton head with Savannah also being within 40 miles or so. Connie again has a hike or two planned I think and we’ll check out the saloons in Beaufort before deciding whether to head off to one of those 3 larger cities. Connie wants to go over to Robert Irvine’s restaurant here (he’s the British guy on Food Network that does Restaurant Impossible)…but Neil isn’t much interested in paying inflated Hilton Head prices for a mediocre meal that won’t even be cooked by the guy whose name’s over the door…so I’m guessing we’ll pass on that unless there’s nothing at all in Beaufort. We likely will not be making another trip to one of our former best places to eat…Bowens Island Restaurant. As I recounted last spring the original small place had burned down and was rebuilt into a tourist monstrosity. The food wasn’t as good, neither was the service, and all of the dive ambiance that gave the place it’s charm is just gone in the new building. I guess the owners are making a bunch more money with more tables to turn…but it ruined what used to be a really quaint place to eat.


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On The Road Again…

Or as we would have called it back on the USS Guitarro…Back in the Saddle Again…the old Gene Autry song was our theme song whenever we got underway.

We got up Monday morning and after coffee and breakfast started getting ready to go right about 0800. With our preps the day before we were packed, hitched, and on the road a little after 0900 for the 304 mile trip to Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville FL. The first couple of hours were pretty decent up US31 and 17 until we got on I-4 a little west of Orlando. From there…the next 70 miles really sucked as we were in stop and go traffic repeatedly…once near Disneyworld and Universal Studios, once near downtown, and about 20 miles east of Orlando until we got to I-95. Once we got clear of the traffic we cruised along nicely and pulled in about 1600 to the navy base.

About halfway up we got a call from Pelican Roost RV Park on the base and it turned out that the computer had double booked a site and our planned waterfront site at $21/night would not be available until Tuesday…Sheila told us she had an overflow site available at no charge to us for the night and we could move over to the waterfront site Tuesday morning. We readily agreed and on arrival at the park she sent us over to site 29 for the evening. Since we would be moving the next morning…we only hooked up power…decided we had enough water in the tank to make it until the next day. The site was nice and level so we didn’t unhitch either…put down the forward jacks on the rig and ran out the slides then called it a day.

After that we walked over to the All Hands Club hunting dinner…they had no food and most of the other stuff on the base is closed on Monday. So…we had a pitcher of beer then came home to the rig. Dinner was leftover pork roast from Easter…we made it in the crock pot with some German seasoning and it was really tender, juicy and delicious. Along with it we had some roasted potatoes with bacon and Parmesan and some Blueberry Crisp for dessert. Sunday after dinner we shredded the remaining pork and mixed it with the leftover sauce and taters…that warmed up nicely Monday evening for dinner.

The good news was that at the club we were talking about not getting wings for dinner the day before and another patron suggested we head over to the CPO (Chief Petty Officer) on Tuesday evening for wings. They let officers in this particular CPO club so that became the plan for Tuesday night. We also got a couple of restaurant recommendations while we were there.

Tuesday we got up and Connie headed over to fish about 0830…as you can see from the pictures below it is only a hundred yards or so over to the seawall along the riverfront. She didn’t catch anything though and wandered home around 1030. Meanwhile…Neil noticed that the folks in site 1 over on the waterfront sites had departed. When she got home we wandered over and decided that site 1 had the best view of the water of any of the waterfront sites so we headed over and got checked in for the remaining 6 nights of our stay. Once that was done we pulled in the the slides, moved about 50 yards to the new site and finished setting up.

Here’s a shot of our setup in site 1…followed by a pano shot of the waterfront view we have…both shots were taken with Neil standing in the same and just turning around.

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Pretty nice view, eh?

After that we had some lunch then sat out in the Zero Gravity Recliners for a couple hours until it was time to head over to the CPO Club for dinner. It’s about a 5 or 6 minute walk over there and when we walked in…lo and behold Neil spied a Guinness tap behind the bar.

Taking that as an encouraging sign…he had a pint while Connie had a Yuengling instead. They had an order of wings and fried mushrooms and saved 6 of the wings for wing soup tomorrow. We had never heard of hot wing soup until we stopped in this Irish pub somewhere…they had wing soup on the menu and on quizzing the bartender it turned out that any leftover wings became soup the next day…a little wings, a little cream, a little cheese and…voila…it becomes a pretty great soup. We’ve been meaning to try it so the leftover wings will go nicely with it.

Tomorrow Connie has to work and Neil has a couple things he wants to re-stow in the basement as well as repositioning our ladder on the bike hitch so it’s higher off the road when we’re moving. After that he’ll probably have a bike ride around the base and then we’ll walk over to beach for a bit to sit in the sun and bake for a bit…it’s supposed to be another great day.

It’s good to be back on the road again…while we all like being parked in Fort Myers for the winter and were ready to be there when we arrived last November…we’re ready to be back on the road and doing what we do.

We’ve got a hike at a NWR planned for later in the week as well…along with eating at a couple of the restaurants that were recommended to us the other night. You’re going to be reading a bit more in the blog from now on about the name and location of the restaurants we eat at along with what we had…not so much that most of our readers care about those particular details but for a more practical reason. We’ve had more than one conversation the past couple of years where we clearly remember the restaurant and what we had that was really good…but then draw a complete blank on what it was named and where it was. To prevent this…we’re going to try and put in a little more detail in the blog that we can easily search later.


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And Our Work Here Is Finished

Today (Easter) marks our last day in sunny and hot southwest Florida for this year…we head out from Seminole Campground tomorrow morning.

Yesterday he figured out the problem with our solar (it hasn’t been working the past couple of weeks) installation and added a ground wire to our solar controller and reconfigured it to disable the ground fault circuit…this particular controller is designed for household installations first which have a real ground and hence you need to have the ground fault circuit. An RV doesn’t have a real ground except for through the power cable…as far as the power company is concerned the whole RV is essentially a single extension cord…so you have to disable the circuit to clear the fault indication and restore charging. We’re not sure why it ever worked since the circuit is enabled by default but something must have changed in the campground electrical system recently. no worries…it’s fixed now. 

After Mass this morning we came home and had a ham and egg sandwich for brunch then changed clothes and started our day before moving routine. Connie put away all the inside stuff and vacuumed the floor to make sure we don’t have any gravel that got tracked in as that would scratch the floor when the slides come in. Meanwhile…Neil put away the rope lights, our sign, the flag, and all the other basement stuff and checked the oil and such in the Mazda for the trip. After that he dumped and flushed our black and gray tanks…our sensor in the gray isn’t operating correctly right now. The grease and soap that you put into the tank from the dishes causes this Crisco looking white gunk to build up on the sides and hose up the indicator. The solution is to put some vinegar and grease dissolving dish liquid in along with a few gallons of water while you move and let the agitation wash it off. We’ll travel tomorrow with just 20 gallons or so in the tank to clean the lower sides and with 50 or so gallons next week to get the upper sides.

Once we were done with our chores Neil had a shower then a discussion about campground wifi and submarines with Doug who does the wifi here in Seminole Campground…Doug finally figured out the problem with the slowdown of the wifi…it was a DNS issue with the router but I won’t bore you with any more of the details.

While that was happening…our dinner was cooking. We browned a pork roast after brunch and put it in the crock pot with some German spices and wine…it’s done now and tastes mighty good. We’re making roasted potato with onion, bacon, and Parmesan cheese to go along with them and Neil made one of his famous Blueberry Crisps for dessert. That…along with the rest of the wine and maybe some corn (Connie and Neil are still negotiating on that one) will make a mighty tasty Easter dinner.

Neil ran across this photo the other day on his Twitter feed from EarthPics…it’s the paw of an 8 foot long black bear…notice the size of it compared to the hands of the guy who’s holding it. Connie is 100% sure that she doesn’t want to see anything like that on our upcoming trip. Neil keeps telling her that by and large the bears aren’t really interested in humans unless you scare them or get between a sow and her cubs…we make lots of noise talking to the bears when we’re hiking in the woods so neither of those is very likely. Still…they’re big and wild so it pays to keep yer wits about ye when in the bush. Neil’s guess is that we aren’t going to be nearly far enough out in the bush to really have much of a bear problem…that’s his story and he’s sticking to it he says.

Bear Paw

Here’s a shot  of Alex…he’s getting bigger and we will be glad to see him again in a month or so. Holding his head up quite nicely for being just 3 months old.

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Connie says he’s cute and adorable.

I’ll post some more probably Tuesday after our move…unless something blog-worthy happens across our path tomorrow.


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We Finally Figured Out Our Problem

Well, it’s the start of our final week here at the “Winter Home of Neil and Connie Laubenthal”. After 2 weeks of really brutally hot weather…almost like mid summer…it’s cooled off a bit with nights in the 50s and days in the 70s to lower 80s. At least until Wednesday when the highs are going to start to get into the 80s to near 90 by the weekend.

We’ve about finished up our maintenance and other stuff we needed to get done…it’s been  reduced to a checklist of things to do this week day by day so we don’t forget anything. Filed our taxes and coordinated with our financial folks up in Virginia on some of that stuff and Neil at least is starting to get hitch itch after 5 months of sitting still.

We happened across a note on the web earlier in the weekend and figured out what our problem has been all of these years. We’ve got Chionophobia…you can read all about it here. Chionophobia is the fear of snow. Speaking of snow…the snowbird migration north is in full force now…the park is clearing out with 5-10 rigs leaving daily…this is good because it definitely improves the wifi speed. Neil went down to Costco on Friday to get some more meat as we were out and in the 9 miles south on I-75 to the store and the 9 miles back saw at least a dozen fully loaded RVs heading north with plates from places like Ohio, Wisconsin, and Canada. Our friend Jeff headed back to Tennessee on Saturday and tweeted Connie Saturday evening that he had to disconnect his water supply when he stopped overnight in southern Georgia because the forecast was for an overnight freeze while we were still pretty warm down here…although it has cooled off some from the upper 80s to 90s the past couple of weeks and for the weekend and the next couple of days it’s lows in the 50s and highs in the 70s to lower 80s. It’s back to hot by Thursday though…although the long range forecast for next week in Jacksonville (our first stop when we leave on Monday after Easter) is for highs in the 70s.

Here’s a few images Neil borrowed from the web…no decent photos to be published today as we’ve been pretty busy on chores and such.

Saw this gold Mercedes over in Miami when we were visiting our friend Pad a few weeks back.

Gold Mercedes

This is a photo of a Wild African Duwalley…he’s the meanest animal in the jungle except this one has been domesticated What makes him so mean you ask? Well, as the old description of the species goes…he’s got a head on one end and a head on the other end. To the inevitable question of “If he’s got a head on one end and a head on the other end, how does it poop?” the answer is “He don’t…that what makes him so mean.”


Wild African Duwalley

Here’s an Ibex out for lunch…it’s about a thousand feet down where he’s standing.


And some bad parking karma.

24 Bad Parkers Who Got A Swift Visit From Karma Wildmmo 16


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