Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Part 2; The Feast

Mark & Gina hosted ten people for Thanksgiving dinner and everyone did an awesome job. Ed's day started at 9AM as he prepared the traditional turkey. Gina was a fabulous hostess, as always, making sure everyone was comfortable and had what they needed.

Mark bought a new smoker recently and his turkey came out exceptionally tender and flavorful, not too smokey, just right. Nice color on it too!

The dogs were not helpful during dinner preparations. But aren't Duncan & Lassy too cute?

Finally, time to serve, buffet style.

I don't where we found room for my pumpkin pie and Mark & Tara's cheesecakes. They made pecan pie cheesecake and pumpkin cheesecake. There was enough to share with two begging dogs. Oh my, we have spoiled them!

And Nilla was not about to be left out. Notice Duncan, checking to see if Uncle Mark will share with him too. (He did!)

We had originally planned to leave Orange City RV Resort today and move closer to Winter Haven in preparation for the closing on the house, which we hope will be on December 5. Instead, we decided to stay here through the weekend and will be moving to Theme World RV Park in Davenport on Monday.

Thanksgiving Day Part 1; Visiting Dan at the firehouse

Our nephew, Dan, had to work at the firehouse on Thanksgiving Day. So, prior to our own dinner, we brought turkey breast, side dishes, and pumpkin pie so he and his lieutenant and commander could have a real meal. Dan recently completed his schooling to become a firefighter and paramedic and will soon take the state exam. I'm sure he will pass with flying colors!

Dan gave me, Ed, and Mark a tour of the firehouse.

The firehouse is adjacent to the St. John's River so they need a boat for Fire/Rescue also.

The fire engines were all polished up.

The firefighters work twenty-four hour shifts so they need sleeping quarters.

Staying in shape is part of the job. See the photo on the mirror? The goal is to look like him. It is actor Matthew McConaughey. Good choice, guys!

Only after the work is done do the guys get to lounge around.

Dan, Uncle Ed & I are proud of you and grateful to you and your fellow fire fighters for your public service!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Night launch of Shuttle Endeavor

The night launch of the space shuttle Endeavor went off without a hitch last night at 7:55PM. We watched it from across the Intracoastal Waterway in Titusville, about 15 miles away. The moon was full and you can see the comparison of the two lights in the video. It was so bright that the sky lit up as if it were a rising sun. We heard the "boom" a couple of minutes after liftoff...sounded like distant thunder. I shot this video, starting from the 10 sec. countdown chanted by the kids in the crowd, through the jettison of the solid rocket boosters a couple of minutes later. Back at home, watching the 11PM news, we learned that this may well be the last night launch of the space shuttle as the program winds down. This was a fantastic experience, one more checked off the "Bucket List".

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fisherman Ed and his "helpers"

We have spent the last few days relaxing, furniture shopping, and, in Ed's case, fishing. Our second campsite at Long point Park is right on the river and Ed could fish without leaving home! No license is required to fish from shore. The storks, ibis,and egrets that freely wander the campground are quite anxious to "help" catch fish!

Yesterday we went beachside, just a three minute drive, 1/2 mile north of the park off A1A. Here Ed had different "helpers", aka two Shelties who had a blast running on the beach, chasing sticks and shadows.

I loved this beach because it was nearly deserted. There were a few surfers, a few treasure hunters with metal detectors, and another couple who were fishing their little dog. The temperature was about 85 degrees, a light breeze was blowing, and the water was a perfect temperature for wading.

Ed caught about five fish altogether. We're not familiar with ocean fish but this one had yellow fins. A baby yellow-fin tuna maybe?

After eight glorious days here, we are leaving later this morning for the KOA in Titusville. We hope to see the night launch of the space shuttle, scheduled for 7:55PM this evening.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

McLarty Treasure Museum; Vero Beach, Florida

Heading south on Rt.A1A from our park towards Sebastian Inlet, we passed the McLarty Treasure Museum. Noting that there is a geocache hidden on the grounds, we decided to visit.

The museum is part of Sebastian Inlet State Park and is a National Historical Landmark. The Survivor's and Salvaging Camp was located here after the 1715 hurricane that sank the Spanish Plate Fleet. The fleet consisted of a dozen Spanish galleons, loaded with the gold, silver and other treasure, including the Queen's dowry. Less than half of the treasure was salvaged at the time and the rest was forgotten until another hurricane rearranged the coastline in the 1950's. The famed Mel Fisher has been involved in treasure hunting the area during recent years and he has his own museum (which we haven't seen) located in the town of Sebastian. Not all the ships have been found so undoubtedly more treasure still lies on the ocean floor. After storms, amateur treasure hunters armed with metal detectors still comb the shore and unearth gold rings, etc.

The museum displays this cannon, with a hand-made replica of it's wooden mount.

Spanish coins, called "Pieces of Eight", are often found bunched together encased in coral. Each was roughly equivalent to a dollar coin in today's money.

I was amazed to see of piece of English creamware among the recovered items. My sister has some pieces of Leeds creamware that used to belong to our Mom.

Out the back door of the museum, a wooden walkway leads to the observation deck built to resemble the bow of a ship. The ocean was relatively calm today, fortunately, no hurricanes in sight!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Exploring Long Point Park

Long Point Park sits on a small island in the Indian River, not far from Sebastian Inlet which allows access to the Atlantic Ocean. Our campground filled in on Friday and Saturday with families, mostly boaters and fishermen. Ed & I took Duncan and Lassy and did some geocaching in the park, which allowed us to explore. We crossed a small footbridge that took us to Scout Island with tenting only campsites.

This view from the bridge captured some boaters returning to the dock.


This area would be awesome to go kayaking too. I'd love to see more of the dolphins and pelicans that we've been able to catch sight of from shore.

Today, Sunday, the park emptied out. It's so peaceful that we've decided to stay another four days. Tomorrow, we've arranged to move to a direct waterfront site. We'll be here until Friday, when we are scheduled to move to Titusville to catch a space shuttle launch.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Storks and ibis at Long Point Park

Wood storks and white ibis at Long Point Park

Our park is situated on the Indian River Lagoon, part of the Intracoastal Waterway. Melbourne Beach is on a barrier island, home to many species of wading birds. This morning, these two wood storks and three white ibis wandered over to within about three campsites away from us. The storks range between 3'-4' tall. The ibis are exceptional looking because of their red legs and long red beaks. We've also seen many pelicans, flying low, skimming the surface of the water in search of the next meal. Dolphins were feeding just off shore of our campsite as well.

Today was like summer weather, although it's November. We're back in shorts and sandals - hooray! We drove a few miles up and down Rt. A1A, scoping out Sebastian Inlet State Park and a couple of other options for beachgoing on Sunday. Tonight, lots of families came in for the weekend. We had a campfire and it reminded me of when we started camping with our pop up back in 1999. How we loved it! Looking forward to moving into our new house is making me and Ed a bit nostalgic already, I guess.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Long Point Park; Melbourne Beach, FL

We left Orange City today and headed over to Melbourne Beach, on the Atlantic Ocean south of Cape Canaveral. We are spending four nights at Long Point Park, a county park offering waterfront camping with water and electric hook ups. We were last here about six years ago on Great Adventure, and, as we remembered, the park is home to many beautiful birds, such as storks and egrets. Tonight we enjoyed this sunset from our site.

We hope to relax, hit the beach, and Ed hopes to get in some fishing over the next few days.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

We're buying a house!

We're buying a house in FL! I know, I know... no one who knows us would have seen that coming. We have been full time RVers for six years now. And we still love it and have no intention of giving it up. But, with the buyer's market for real estate in Florida right now, we came down with the intention of "stealing" a house. And steal a house we did! The house pictured above was built new in 2006, sold originally in April of 2007, and was foreclosed on this year. We are buying it for less than half of what it sold for just eighteen months ago.

This house is located in a small town just outside of Winter Haven, about halfway between Orlando and Tampa off I-4. It will be our winter home base and has enough room for my Dad to come spend all or part of the winter with us. That was important. With a split bedroom floor plan, everyone can maintain their privacy. It's a contemporary - open, spacious and light-filled. But we'll still come up to CT in the summers in our RV. Our travels will be shorter but it's is just time for a new season in our lives.

If you're a glutton for punishment and want to see more pictures of the house, visit Be forewarned - there are 92 photos of the exterior, surrounding houses in the neighborhood, and the interior. Of course, we have an inspection contingency, yadda, yadda, yadda. But our offer was accepted and we plan to sign the contract tomorrow and give a deposit.

And if you or someone you know is in the market for a home in central Florida, call Michael Payne at Realty Executives Orlando. His number is 407-694-0123. He really fought with the bank on our behalf to make the deal.

Before we go to closing, we plan to take some trips around Florida. This coming weekend we'll be in Melbourne Beach at a county park right on the water. The following weekend, we'll be staying at the Titusville KOA in hopes of catching a night launch of the space shuttle. Hopefully we'll get some new photos for blog "fodder" so stay tuned!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Fort Clinch; Fernandina Beach, Florida

Although Ed & I have camped at Fort Clinch State Park before, we had never toured the fort itself. So since the weather was a bit chilly for the beach, we decided to visit it with Chuck and Peggy. We started with the museum to learn about the history.

In 1842, the government decided to build a fort at the northern end of Amelia Island at the Florida-Georgia border to protect the mouth of the St. Mary's River, protect coastal and interior shipping, and defend the deep water port of Fernandina, Florida. Construction began in 1847 on Fort Clinch, named in honor of General Duncan Lamont Clinch, a respected officer who fought bravely in the Second Seminole War.

Fort Clinch is considered a Third System of Fortifications, after earthenworks (the First) and masonry (the Second.) The ultimate fort consisted of two walls, brick and earth. Work on Fort Clinch progressed slowly. Bt 1860, only two bastions and one third of the brick wall was completed.

The ramparts were in place, the guardhouse and prison were finished.

The lumber sheds, storehouse, and kitchens were in various stages of completion.

Not a single cannon had been placed in position.

In this unfinished state in 1861, along came the Civil War. Confederate militia quietly took control until Union troops arrived in early 1862. Units of the 1st New York Volunteer Engineers quickly began a push to complete the fort. It is this era to which the fort has been partially restored. Today we can see the storehouse...

and even the latrine!

Civil War encampments are staged the first weekend of each month at Fort Clinch. The brick ovens are still used to bake bread.

In 1935, the state of Florida bought the fort and property surrounding it for preservation and outdoor recreation. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) developed the property into Fort Clinch State Park. Today, Fort Clinch is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.