Now in Crawfordsville, Indiana

Now in Crawfordsville, Indiana

We are now in Del Rio Texas

We are now in Del Rio Texas

Jacksonville (Round 1), Amelia Island, and St Augustine Florida

May 16 - 22, 2016:  

This Jacksonville stop was not planned from the start when we started planning last fall.  This stop came about from Patty's need to see a “special” Gastroenterologist Doctor.
That is one of the beauties of our full time lifestyle that we can just add places as we go.  Anyway, this Doctor is part of the Mayo Clinic here in Jacksonville and was recommended to us by Patty’s Doctor in Weslaco TX.  This Mayo Clinic Doctor is one of 4 Doctors who specialize in extreme cases like what Patty seems to have.  We shall see!

Patty has been having issues with her stomach/intestines for a few years now and we have had not much luck in getting it diagnosed correctly.  The issue that pushed us to the Mayo Clinic and this Doctor was the fact the Patty has had conflicting diagnoses of Pancreatitis and Diabetic Gastroparesis.  This has resulted in us now not knowing who to trust in treating her.  Patty’s Gastroenterologist in Texas that sent her to the Mayo Clinic is actually her second one in Texas.  After getting the conflicting diagnosis of pancreatitis her primary care doctor as well as the second Gastro believed she had Diabetic Gastroparesis.  Tests were done in Texas that showed her to be negative for the paresis, now everybody was stumped.  So here we are.

We saw Doctor Wallace on Monday morning the 16th.  We arrived the 2 hours early for the 10am visit and were seen right on time.  Dr. Wallace asked a lot of questions and made arrangements to get some specific past test results as well as setting up tests for the upcoming week.  We thought this was great and that all of the work would be done this week as that is the amount of time we scheduled here.  We could spend up to a month here without too much trouble. 

The first tests were scheduled for same day as our visit so we were there most of the day.  Then the next sets of tests were not scheduled until Wednesday and Thursday.  On Tuesday Patty got a call from the Mayo scheduling office and she was asked to come in this afternoon so she could be in line for an MRI as a stand by.  

Ok, so we arrived there ready to wait for the MRI that we believed she would get squeezed in for.  Not happening!  Seems that the scheduler messed up and thought she could just get squeezed in and all would be fine.  We were informed that to be on stand by for an MRI you need to sign up for a minimum of a 2 Day wait with days starting at 7am and ending at 9pm.  Also, we had 10 people ahead of us in this wait.  The next available appointment for an MRI is the 14th of June at 5:30pm!  By the way, she needs to fast all day before the MRI too!

And now for the really bad news, none of the tests she has scheduled this week can be done until she has this MRI done!  So now we are done here in Jacksonville until the 14th of June.  Now it’s back to the drawing board to work on our schedule for the next month.  The good thing is that we really do not have any hard dates we need to meet until the 25th of June.  The 25th we need to be in New Jersey, 950 miles north, to attend Patty’s own 60th Birthday Party.  

Our new travel plan has us doing most of the same things we were going to do except visiting Kitty Hawk North Carolina.  Also, we are going to add about 500 miles to our travel that we were not doing before.  Accentually, we will travel as far north as Ocean Isles Beach North Carolina and in Myrtle Beach to see friends, stopping in Jekyll Island and Savannah Georgia on the way.  Then we will visit Charleston South Carolina on the return trip back to Jacksonville.

All of the tests are scheduled to be complete on the 16th so we will head North to New Jersey on the 17th.  Our trip north to New Jersey will be quick not allowing for any sightseeing. We hope to arrive in New Jersey on the 22nd of June.

Now that we have the medical stuff out of the way we are free to tour the Jacksonville area.  First, we had not originally planned to visit here and for good reason, just not much interesting here to see.

Cool sign for the campground

Our site in Jacksonville FL

After doing some research online, we found that going north and south of the city there were things of interest to us.  We took two days to visit St. Augustine and then one to visit Amelia Island.   We also decided to visit the large flea market next to the RV Park.  Now we have a plan!

We have Thursday through Saturday to accomplish our plan. The flea market is only open on Saturday and Sunday and, since we leave on Sunday, we will visit the flea market on Saturday morning.

Thursday it rained cats and dogs so we just hunkered down and used that day to come up with this plan.  So that left all day Friday and Saturday afternoon left for touring.  So Friday we are visiting St. Augustine as it is the farthest away at 45 miles south.  Amelia Island is just 20 miles north so we can do that in the afternoon after the flea market on Saturday.

On Thursday we headed out to St. Augustine around 11am so we could get lunch there and then tour around the city. We set the GPS for a random restaurant in the old part of the city just to get us there.  Once we got into the old city we turned off the GPS navigation and started to look for a place to park. There were a few places on the street but the streets were very narrow and our truck is not, so we opted for a pay parking lot.  The pay parking lot wasn’t bad at just $6 for the day.

We parked just behind the Lighter Museum which had a city tour bus stop. Across the street we saw a store front advertising that they sold tickets to the tour city tram as well as other tour stuff.  So off we went to get tickets for a city tour.  

Lightner Museum grounds

Old hotel in St Augustine

The city tour trams are long rubber tired trains that you can hop off and then get back on a programmed route around the city.  The cost for the tour tram was $29 a person so we bought 2 tickets and we were on our way.

When we got to the waterfront on the Atlantic Ocean we hopped off so we could get some lunch.  Patty had done some research and found a restaurant that she thought we would like.  O.C. White's was across the street from the ocean and had outside seating so that made it a good one for us. 

Time for lunch!

This may be OC White!

As we were waiting for our food I checked the weather on my phone and saw that a large storm was barreling into us. This storm was so close that it looked like it would be on us before the food got to us.  We were sitting under a trellis with loads of plants that would not hold back very much rain so we moved to a table with an umbrella.  I didn’t think that this would be very much protection from a thunderstorm but it would be better than the trellis.

Calm before the storm

The storm finally arrived until we were in the middle of the meal and it came down fast and very hard.  We put up our umbrellas along with the large one from the restaurant to no avail, we were still getting very wet!  We made a run for it to the indoor part of the restaurant and finished the meal there. As with most Florida thunderstorms it only lasted 30 minutes or so and then the sun came out and also raised the humidity.

Horse water fountain

Oldest house in St Augustine

Oldest tree in St Augustine, over 200 years old!

Fort Castillo De San Marcos

This is where the fountain of Youth is.
We didn't go in as they wanted around $20 each to see it!

Ponce De Leon waving to us

After lunch we did a little shopping at the little shops in the old town and had some gelato for dessert.  We got back on the tour tram and finished the tour of the city.  The tour, lunch, and the shopping took us about 5 hours.  We could easily have spent twice that amount of time there as we only saw the outside of the attractions from the tram.  The 5 hours we spent was all we needed for this city though.  It’s a pretty city with a lot of history but it just wasn’t on our top list of places to see so the tour was enough for us.

Cool advertisement for a shirt!

Saturday, we walked over to the flea market which is attached to our RV Park.  We went just after the market opened (9am) so we would have enough time to finish and then drive north to Amelia Island for dinner.  The flea market wasn’t the largest we have been to but it did have a lot of stuff we liked.  That meant that we ended up purchasing a lot also!

Flea markets are weird that way, you buy stuff for just a few dollars here and there, and before you know it, you have spent all of the money in your wallet.  Anyway, that is what happen to us on this shopping trip.  The last purchase, flip flops, Patty had to claim poverty and she got a $3 discount because that was all of the cash we had.  OK, time to reload the wallet and head north to Amelia Island.

The opening from our RV park to the flea market

Good sized enclosed flea market

We had never heard of Amelia Island before and really didn’t have any expectations either good or bad about it. What we found is that this area is mainly a tourist vacation area.  The history didn’t seem all that unique; settled first by Indians and then by Europeans, not that special.  Interesting to me was that Henry Flagler lived here.  Flagler was the founder of Standard oil but he also did a lot of railroad building.  He is famous for having built the railroad to Key West which opened that up to tourists back in the 1800’s.  He also built the first Trans Florida railroad from Amelia Island to the Tampa area.  Since I am a career railroader, that was of some interest to me. 

Live entertainment inside the Palace tavern

Murals inside the Palace

Looks like the restrooms were phone booths at one time

Stank Sauce, really!!

The main part of town is chock full of small way upscale shops.  For example, I found a great pair of flip flops for sale at the measly sum of $120!  I still can’t get over how a salesperson can keep a straight face and ring up a $120 flip flop sale to a customer; “sir, would you like the matching plaid $150 shirt to go along with your new flip flops?”  How can a pair of flip flops even cost that much, really!

So we “shopped” a little, very little, and then stopped in for a drink at what is billed as the oldest bar in Florida, the Palace. The Palace is really pretty cool and anyone in the area should check it out.  The saloon was started around 1900 with Adolphus Bush (founder of Anheuser-Bush) overseeing the design of the place. We had just one drink and then found a place for dinner.  Surprisingly the dinner was great and was reasonably priced!  We are at the Marina Seafood restaurant that was at the end of the main shopping street in town close to the water.  

Time for dinner!

Nice view!

All in all we had a nice time here on Amelia Island.  I wouldn’t go out of my way to come here but if I was close by I would come here for a drink and dinner for sure!

So that ends our round one adventure in the Jacksonville Florida area.  We will be back here on the 13th of June for Patty’s 3 days of Mayo Clinic tests/procedures for Jacksonville round 2.  

We are now on our way to Jekyll Island Georgia for 5 days.

Stay tuned!

Stopover in Daytona Beach

May 14 - 15, 2016

This was just a 2-night stopover on our way to Jacksonville Florida.  Patty had not been here and I was just  here for a few hours 30 years ago.  I was here just long enough to drive on the sand and put my feet in the water before heading back to Disney in the 80s.  Since we are only here 2 nights this is a short post.

We stayed at the Daytona Speedway KOA.  Like the name says, we were parked within walking distance to the NASCAR Daytona International Speedway.  Nothing was going on at this time so it was quiet.  This place must be a huge party during a race though!

Daytona Speedway KOA

Our site at the KOA

The RV Park is next door to a large flea market which was open while we were there.  On Saturday morning we went to the flea market to spend a few hours looking around.  Well, this place was huge!  We probably saw maybe a quarter of the place before deciding we had enough.  We purchased a couple small golf items and some fresh vegetables.  We really could spend a full day in this place.

Right next door to the KOA

Lots of people at the flea market!

About a mile from the KOA

This is where we should have driven but, no, we went right!

After the flea market we headed to Daytona Beach to just relax for a bit.  We really didn’t know where to go so we just headed east knowing we would hit water eventually, which we did.  We actually, without knowing what we were doing, ended up at the entrance to the beach!  However, since we didn’t know this was the entrance and we saw people turning around at the beach, we went elsewhere to park.

We found a place on the street a block from a beach access walkway.  We got our chair backpacks on and headed to the beach.  As soon as we got on the beach we saw that everyone was parked on the beach and sitting around their cars!  Damn!  We later found out that the cost is $10 to enter and park all day.  Also, the entrance was where we initially entered the area!  Seems the cars we saw turning around didn’t want to pay the $10!!  They probably didn’t want to pay because it was already 2 in the afternoon by that time.

We got there as the tide was at its peak high so we had beach front property!  The water temperature was around 80 so it felt refreshing but very easy to get in.  The beach at Daytona is hard pack type sand and has a very long shallow entrance. This shallow entrance allows you walk quite a ways into the water. We found a place right at the water’s edge with the waves lapping up on to us every few minutes.  It was a really nice time on the beach.

We were there just a couple of hours and decided to call it a day.  I was already starting to burn!  I had sunscreen on my face but didn’t have any on the rest of me.  I thought I had enough tolerance from my time in the sun most of the winter.  I guess not!

We got back to the RV and made dinner with a NY strip and some fresh brussel sprouts we got at the flea market this morning.  We added a baked potato and that made a nice meal.  So ends our one full day at Daytona Beach, Florida!

On Sunday we had just 80 miles to go to our stop in Jacksonville.  80 miles will only take us a couple hours if that. Well, it took us about 3 hours as there was an accident in Orlando that delayed us close to 2 hours!  That was the longest we have ever been delayed since we have been in the RV in 2012.  

Anyway, we managed to arrive at our, thought to be, campsite at around 1pm.  This place was a DUMP!  No management there either.  We walked around looking for an available site which there was only one that we could see. The rest of the sites were made up of permanent residents. Mostly they looked like Walmart rejects.

Patty talked to a few people and was told that we should just take the open site. The site was a back in with very little room to back in with our rig.  So we turned around in a nearby field so we could be in a better position to back in.  This site was on the end of a row but had rigs on the other side of the road. 

We managed to get into the site and partially hooked up when Patty got a call and was told that we did not have a reservation at this campground!  Crap, we had already been there for over an hour how and it was pushing 2:30 pm.

We hitched back up and parked in the dirt road that led up to this place so Patty could look for another place to go.  After talking to a few with very high rates, she settled on one with just slightly less high rates.  We are now in the Pecan Park RV Resort just off of I95 North but still in Jacksonville.  This is the most we have paid for a site in a long time at $42 a night and that is the discount for the week!  

This is where Patty sees the Gastro Specialist at the Mayo Clinic. He was referred to her by her Gastro in Texas. He gave her the 4 best in the field; 1 in Chicago, 1 in Orlando, 1 in Jacksonville and 1 in Montreal. Patty was fortunate to get an appointment one month out, so we were able to travel accordingly. 

We are all set up and ready for our adventures here in Jacksonville in the coming week. More on Jacksonville Florida in the next post!

Stay tuned!

Sarasota Florida: Friends and Family Tour

May 2 - 13, 2016 

What a great week we had here in Florida!  We did so much while here!  The weather was probably the best we have ever had for Florida, too.  We had low humidity with temps around the mid to high 80s and most days, no clouds.  

We left New Orleans and headed west on a local road, Route 90.  90 mostly parallels Route 10 running East & West, but goes through the smaller towns and through the countryside.  It is a slower ride but it’s so much more enjoyable.  We stayed on 90 for about 100 miles before getting back on 10 for the remainder of the trip to Holt Florida.  Holt was our first stop on our way to Sarasota.  

Back in Florida after a 3-year absence!

Getting on Route 90

We set our sights on finding shrimp for sale along the roadside and we did just a couple of hours from New Orleans near Biloxi Mississippi.  Can you believe it, just $4.00 a pound for huge shrimp?  The shrimp were the 16/pound size although they still needed to be peeled and deveined as well as deheaded.  As I found out, that was a lot of work. Glad I only bought 2 pounds!

Had to stop for the fresh shrimp!

This is where we found a spot to pull over so I could walk back to get the shrimp.  It was about 2 blocks.

Our first stop was at the River's Edge Campground in Holt Florida.  We stayed 2 nights before heading on to our next stop near Madison Florida.  We stayed at the River's Edge during our first year as full-timers back in 2012.  We recommend this campground to all who pass this way.  It’s a Passport America place so we paid just $20 for the 2 nights. You can’t beat that!

I think we had the best site in the park!

Spelling lesson is needed (damges)!

Love the sun shade!

This was a very expensive unit years back.  We were told it has been here unused for the past 10 years!  The roof is leaking and is now destroyed!  What a shame.

Steps that come out of the under belly!

Very cool herb garden!

Our next stop was at the Yogi Bear Jellystone Park.  We also stayed here back in 2012 on our way to Florida for the winter. It makes sense that we have stayed in the same places as back in 2012 as we are still traveling the same way.  We travel a maximum of around 200 miles a day and these places meet that criterion.  We stayed just one night at Yogi Bear’s place and then headed on to Ocala Florida.


Our site at Yogi's place!

Sun set at Yogi's place!

Finally, we are staying at a first time place for us, the Ocala Sun Resort.  Too bad it was just for one night again.  We wanted to be in Sarasota by Friday the 6th of May so we had time to get set up for a party on the 7th at our friends' house, Tony and Connie.  It was about 280 miles from Yogi Bear’s place to Sarasota which was too far for us in one day so we divided it up and now only have 130 miles to travel on Friday to our place in Sarasota.

Getting some rays around the pool

Ocala Sun had great trails to walk/run.

Patty found this place in Sarasota that was perfect for us. We stayed at the Windward Isle Resort just off of 75 on Clark Street in Sarasota.  This resort is just 5 miles to Siesta Key Beach and just 3 miles to our friends Tony and Connie’s house.  Also, they accept Passport America so it cost us just $112 for 7 nights!  What a deal!  Windward Isle is a 55+ resort and is mainly a snowbird place and most everyone has left already for the summer.  They only have 8 sites for transients; people like us. 

Very nice murals on the property fence at Windward Isles.

We got settled in and headed over to Tony and Connie’s place for a visit and to see their house here in Florida for the first time.  They have now been down her for almost 2 years. Tony retired from his legal practice 2 years ago while Connie has a great job where she can work from home.  They have a very nice ranch house where they have put in a lap pool with the typical Florida screen enclosure.  Their backyard is now perfect for entertaining.

Tony and Connie's lap pool

Tony's baby's, his orchids.

On Saturday afternoon we met up with Patty’s cousin Lee Griffin and his wife Aimee for lunch.  Lee has been here in Florida for many years and works for the local NBC affiliate station.  The last time we got together with him was in 2013. Since then, he got married, bought a house, and has a new baby named Adilynn.  All of this he has accomplished in just the past year!  He has had a very eventful year, to say the least! 

Patty holding Adilynn, she is just 3 weeks old!

Saturday evening, Tony and Connie hosted a party with their naturist club for us while were there.  How great was that! We met a lot of very cool people and had a great time.  We even made some new friends!  Tony and Connie did a fantastic job and have great friends here in Florida.

Sunday Tony and I played golf in the morning.  I did my usual and scored a 103 and Tony beat me with a 101.  Then we all went to Siesta Beach for Sunset and the drum circle.  If anyone is in the area on a Sunday you need to go to Siesta Beach for the sunset and the drum circle, what a blast that was!  To end a perfect day, we had drinks and dinner at a Tiki bar in Siesta Key.

Alligator came up to watch us play golf!

Tony, Patty, and Connie on the beach

Connie and Patty dancing in the drum circle.

A few of the "acts" in the drum circle.

Sunset over Siesta Beach.  Almost gone!

and gone....

After beach drinks and snacks at the tiki bar

Monday was a recoup day for us.  We got some laundry done and we picked up a new RV vent cover for our RV.  The weirdest thing happened; the original vent cover blew off on our way to Sarasota on Friday.  I know it was Friday as I have pictures of it being on in Ocala.  To make it even weirder, it came off from the vent flange and took all of the hardware with it while we were in motion.   I can’t imagine how that happened!  Anyway, I got a new one for $35.

We have 2 vents with covers like this one.

Now this one is missing!!??

This trip has had some really weird things happen to the RV.  First was the vent cover blowing off, and then we had the vanes from our electronic wind gage blow off too.  The wind vanes have been on the RV for over a year and have never blown off!  Then lastly, we somehow managed to have a large gouge appear in the driver’s side front tire.  The gouge went all the way into the side wall of the tire.  I think this happened when I parked at Patty’s cousin’s house.  I parallel parked the truck on the driver’s side next to the curb. The front tire was pushed into the curb at an angle.  When we left, I pulled forward while turning the front wheels and I think I damaged the tire doing this.  I’m still not sure this is how it happened but it is all I can come up with.  I had the tire replaced at a Ford dealer close by for $371, what a deal!

Tuesday Patty and I took a kayak tour of the Mangroves in the Lido Beach area.  This was something different to do and was a first for us.  The tour lasted about 2 hours winding through the Mangroves.  Mangroves are natural shore bushes that grow along the shores of Florida.  Within the Mangroves there is what is called “caves”.  The caves are actually pathways within the bushes.  We were told that the caves are part natural and part man made.  It is a challenge to get the kayaks through the caves without tipping over or getting your face smashed by low limbs.  Neither of these did we do!  We did see a couple of Manatees and a bottle nosed dolphin though.  

Patty getting in the kayak.  I didn't get the one where she flipped out in to the water.

Looking back to where we got into the water.


Our guide Will.

Lining up to enter the Mangroves.

Another selfie

Some of the limbs are quite low!

Wednesday I got the tire replaced in the morning and then we went out for dinner with Tony and Connie again.  This was our last night with them as they are flying out to New Jersey for their son’s graduation from Rutgers.  Pretty cool that President Obama is giving the address to the graduates!  After dinner of Tex-Mex food we had some Ice Cream before calling it a night.

Tex-Mex at the grasshopper

Ice cream after dinner

Lunch at Lido Beach Marina.

Thursday we had lunch with a high school friend of Patty's who lives in the Bradenton area. We met at Marina Jack, where Gary suggested he and his girlfriend, Patti, meet us. It is a very nice waterfront with outdoor dining and a roof. Gary and Patti had already picked a perfect table. It was a brief 2 hours, but they head up to NJ in 2 days where Patti has a place in Belmar. In the evening we headed back to Siesta Key to Curt's Seafood and Tiki Bar so Patty could sing Karaoke there. Patty managed to get in 2 songs for the night.  There were some really good singers here!

Friday we closed up the RV and headed out toward our new adventure to Daytona Beach.  Daytona Beach is just 130 miles away so it was short drive in distance.  The drive time was long though as we drove into an accident in Orlando. We sat in traffic for an hour, 20 minutes! We think that was the longest we have ever sat in traffic since we have been RVing!

More on Daytona in the next post!

Stay tuned!