Thursday, October 28, 2010

On to The Sunshine State…

We decided to drive to St. Simons Island, near Jekyll Island, before we left Georgia. There we rode our bikes around before going to the Southern Soul BBQ with the intention of having a well-earned lunch. It’s another of those restaurants made famous by Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. When we got there though we discovered it had burned down in March and wasn’t re-opening until Tuesday next week. The owner advised us to go to the Mallery Street Café to try the shrimp and grits. We rode there but, when we looked over the menu, we decided to split a shrimp Po-boy and crab cakes instead - we almost always order different things and then split them in a restaurant. We both picked well - it was really good food.

We came back to camp for a dip in the pool and then watched the San Francisco Giants beat The Philly’s out of the National League Pennant. Just the result we were looking for, or, I should say, I was looking for. Janice couldn’t really give a hoot.

Today we’re heading for Florida and hoping that we might be able to time the last Space Shuttle launch, scheduled for November 1.

We crossed into Florida, stopping at the tourist booth for lunch. An hour later we were setting up camp at Anastasia State Park near St. Augustine. We spent a couple of hours at the beautiful beach there, where a local was teaching us to body surf properly - dive into, but with, the wave just before it’s about to crash. We got rolled around for awhile before having to stop to rinse the fine film of salt and sand from our skins as we left the beach. The waves here are the biggest so far and the water is the greenest yet, although there were some jellyfish.

Pictured is Anastasia Beach.

Later we took a quick tour of the campground, and to our delight, spotted Massachusetts Maureen’s motor home. She’s the retired school teacher we had met earlier at Myrtle Beach. She’s off to St. Petersburg and Desoto State Park in the morning so we hung with her for awhile and had a few drinks around the campfire.

Pictured are Maureen and Tim.

Our neighbours at Anastasia Park turned out to be a couple from just outside Toronto, Keith and Heather, who were on their way to Key West to celebrate their thirty-fourth wedding anniversary. They only had a couple of weeks to enjoy as much sunshine as they could so they had driven hard for two days to get here.
It was their inaugural trip in their new-to-them motor home though, and it wasn’t going so well.

Right after they first pulled into camp I noticed Keith with his head under the hood and went to introduce myself. It was apparently some kind of wiring problem that resulted in the electrical stuff not working in the back of the unit, and it was draining the battery. He unhooked a couple of wires that he saw had been Mickey Mouse’d and it seemed to do the trick.

The next morning they were all ready to go to the beach. They were all smiles as they climbed into the motor home, until it wouldn’t start because the fob wouldn’t unlock the ignition or steering. They were faced with having to make what seemed to be the inevitable call to AAA, probably having to have the unit towed somewhere to be fixed. The prospects were good for having their day pretty well ruined.

There was nothing we could do for them so we headed into St. Augustine, the oldest city in America. It’s a beautiful little town with a lot of Spanish influence in the architecture with many of the narrow little side streets closed to vehicular traffic. Janice and I decided to go our separate ways for an hour or so - she could kind of go by the map and check out a few shops while I wandered aimlessly.

Pictured: are the college at St. Augustine and a few other miscellaneous shots from around the town, including Janice's shot of the oldest wooden school house in America.

When we got back to our campsite I noticed all the wiring and the security box to Keith and Heather’s motor home sitting on the picnic table. After we left Keith had figured he might be able to save himself some grief by just ripping it all out. It ended up not only saving him grief but probably a lot of time and money too. It all worked fine for him after that, and for that reason, they arrived back at camp in a good mood, asking us over for a drink. We said we’d be there in a few minutes, after we showered.

When we got there, Heather had exited the shower to discover a squirrel darting across the floor. She thought she had shooed it out when it went up under the dash. She assumed that it had must have come in that way too. Then Keith noticed the hole it had chewed through the screen door to get in. We were all guffawing about the outrageous series of unfortunate incidents that had befallen them when Keith went in to get another beer. He discovered one of the blinds had also been destroyed and another hole had been chewed in a window screen on the other side of the unit, through which the desperate but dastardly little critter had made it’s escape.

We sat around laughing a lot about their bad luck, and all of our good luck, drinking too much before finally eating some burgers about ten o’clock. Despite Keith having many physical maladies, some of which are quite debilitating, he is cavalier about it all and they are both easy and funny to be around. Wendy is just downright easy going. They were booked into Tomoka State Park near Daytona beach for the next day, just an hour or so down the road, so we decided we’d join them there.

Pictured are Keith and Heather.

On the way Janice and I stopped for lunch at Beverly Beach, pictured below.

After getting set up at The Park we gave Keith and Heather a ride to the beach, which was about three miles away from camp. We paid the $3 entrance fee so that we could drive onto and along the beach for about ten miles. That arrangement is nice because there’s hardly any parking on the streets and you get to have all your gear with you - the truck even providing some shade and shelter from the wind. We all took a stroll down the beach before Janice and I got wet in the big waves. The water was too shallow where the waves were too big and. because we didn’t want to get pounded too severely, it was more of a dunk than anything else.

Pictured are Keith, Heather and I at Tomoka Beach, part of the same stretch as Daytona Beach.

It being Janice’s birthday, her and I had planned to go out for dinner. We invited our new friends to join us and that’s when we found out that Keith doesn’t like a lot of different foods. He doesn’t like any kind of seafood. He doesn’t like stew, or anything else mixed together. If you mention Sheppard’s Pie, for example, his face curls up like and old shoe and you can actually see the gag reflex. Of course we learned to have fun with that in a hurry. We knew he would have been stuck for anything he’d like at a restaurant of our choosing so we set out alone to cruise the strip.

We settled on Pho Saigon, a Vietnamese joint just off the strip. The food was excellent and the menu offered some items that we’d never tried before so, before we were done, Janice had wrangled the recipe for Banh Xeo from the waiter. No doubt she’ll be trying it on some unsuspecting souls in the future - you know who you are.

Pictured is Janice at the restaurant on her 52nd birthday. Or, as she likes to say, “Twenty-six, on both sides.”

Keith and Heather decided to motel in Daytona Beach for the next day so that they could return to one of their favourite old haunts, Crabby Jack’s, on the pier. We agreed to meet them there the next day.

In the morning I unintentionally ran over a monstrous snake on the paved road about ten minutes from our campsite. The speed limit was 45 mph and the road was mottled with shade so I was on the thing before I knew what it was. It had still been alive when I thump-thumped it because I saw it wriggle in the rearview mirror. Later I described it to The Ranger as being at least six feet long and light-ish in colour. He said that, because it’s been dry here for so long, it would definitely be a rattle snake looking for water. It creep’d me out all day - the thing was so big, and I had run over it..

We met Keith and Heather at Crabby Jack’s on the pier at Daytona Beach as agreed. It’s a no-frills bar that occupies what has to be one of the most desirable locations anywhere. It’s so rustic that, if you were to drop your credit card on the floor, it could easily slip between the cracks to the ocean thirty feet below. Pitchers of beer were only $6.50 and the pound of spicy garlic shrimp was also cheap and delicious. Of course, Keith never had any shrimp.

Pictured are: Crabby Jack’s and the view of Daytona Beach from Crabby Jack’s.

Today is the 28th. We’re headed for Blue Springs near Warren, an hour or so inland, where the water is supposed to be crystal clear, offering excellent swimming and snorkeling. If we’re lucky we may get to see some Manatees - you know, those big gentle, gelatinous, limbless, giants of the sea.

We’re also booked into a park near Cape Canaveral for November 1. It would be very cool to see that last shuttle launch.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, you are really moving along. When you were describing the Manatee I thought you were describing your cousin ljc. How great for you to be meeting and making all these new friends. Keep safe. hugs, cuz.