Welcome users, The Outside Our Bubble Journey begins…
We are off on a new journey together. A journey that is a dream we both have had for quite some time. A journey to make memories together. To enjoy life. To see life. To live life. This is our RV journey and it all started on March 28th, 2008.
Along with our German Shepperd side-kick Tasha (now passed away at 14.5 years old on 1/14/11 – she is missed), and Tory, Whisper, BK, and Angel, we head out on the road; getting out of our normal daily routine. Our normal daily life. To meet new people and see new places. To try new things. To more or less get outside our comfort zone, or as we say, getting Outside Our Bubble.
Well…it’s official. We have our home on the market.
Some people wonder why we would want to leave all this. 4 Acres of park like property. 3000+ square feet of custom contemporary splendor. Deer, turkey, geese and swans on a daily basis traipsing through the yard, swimming with our koi in our 1/3 of an acre pond.
It’s because of this…
Brenda And A Freighter Passing By
The Carriage Trail Through The State Park
David’s Quadcopter During Sunset
Here We Are At Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park In Michigan
You just can’t beat traveling. One day waking up to Saguaro Cactus, the next the ocean, the next snow capped mountains.
And we can’t wait to do it in our new Winnebago Tour (coming in June).
“Where do you want to go to today?” is our daily conversation over our morning coffee.
Why be tied down to one place when you can have all of this…
Coming soon, a new 2014 Winnebago TOUR will be ours…(We are currently looking at mid June.)
(Image is of the 2013 TOUR color rendering. We have something special planned. Stay Tuned.)
Ok, here is the scoop as to why we spent so long in Tampa Florida.
We were looking to buy a new coach from a larger dealer in Tampa as they had 6 of the 42GD’s, the floor plan we wanted, and 4 of them in the same color! So, we thought that they would really look to make a deal to move one of the 4 in the same color and same floor plan off the lot.
Quick Summary…First offer they gave us…$202,000 plus our coach. I looked at them and said, hummm…really? Second offer…$168,000.00 plus our coach. (They came down $34K!!!) I told them it did not give us a good feeling thinking that they tried that and no thank you. They then came down to $163,000, another $5K, plus our coach and said we would find no better deal as they gave us discounts and what have you from a “special account”. hummmm…..Had not heard that one before.
Well, needless to say, we walked away quickly as not only would they make a good profit from the sale…but would have then made more from our coach sale. It was not a good feeling to say the least.
Fast forward 24 hours later and I had ordered from the factory and saved another, are you ready, $15,000!!!. Yup, you read that right…$15K lower! The best part, our coach will be titled 2014 based on the build time and may have any line change that are starting to happen already for the new model year.
Where did we find such a great deal…Glad you asked…
David Taking A Video Conference Call While Stuck In Traffic
When we left St. Augustine it was time for a family visit. So we headed down I-95 southbound to Port St. Lucie and the St. Lucie West Outdoor Resort.
It should have been a straight forward drive. An easy 4 hours. However, the day turned into much more than that.
Brush fires shut down I-95 southbound and northbound. Just one exit though. It should have, in theory, been an easy off detour, then back on. What actually happened was the Florida DOT detouring people through residential back roads and more construction and detours. It was not very well planned out at all.
In all, one exit turned into a THREE HOUR delay! It was so bad that, as you can see from the above picture, David took a video conference call while waiting in traffic. Nope…he was technically not driving. You have to be moving to be considered driving. The conference call turned out to be 45 minutes long and in that time I’d say we moved a total of a quarter mile. So no, we were not “moving”.
Of course with this delay, we didn’t make it to the Outdoor Resort until after they closed at 5pm. We should have arrived at 1:30! Did I mention that I’m not a big fan of Florida and their roads?
St. Lucie West Outdoor Resort
The Outdoor Resort was nice. Beautiful sunsets and a well maintained property. My sister lives a short distance away. Even though there’s a closer rv resort to my sister, and we do usually stay there, we decided to treat ourselves to something nicer. More expensive, but nicer. It’s worth it once in a while.
My dad also lives about an hour or so away. So one day we got in our car and drove down to City Place in West Palm Beach to visit him.
City Place In West Palm Beach
Had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory and walked around City Place a little bit. If you haven’t been to City Place in West Palm Beach, it is an interesting place to visit. A great shopping area (although expensive) and lunch spot. Great people watching too.
My Dad And David Walking Along City Place
Worth an afternoon trip while in the area. There’s a BB King’s Blues Club, The Improv, theaters, dancing and many restaurants.
“Little Bellagio” In City Place
They even have a “Little Bellagio” complete with fountains. My dad tells me that on weekends they have various bands and such playing outside in the courtyard there.
Not a bad place to hang out.
A Controlled Burn Along I-95
While we headed back from City Place to the Outdoor Resort in Port St. Lucie, we passed on I-95, an area they were doing a controlled burn. This brought back all sorts of bad memories of our trip down to the area and the nightmarish detour we had to endure because of the brush fire earlier in the week.
Let me just reiterate how much I dislike (putting it mildly) Florida’s traffic and roads. IMHO there are way too many people crowding the highways as well as the cities. It does not make driving fun.
Now out west, with the open roads, that I can handle.
St. Augustine, FL as you may or may not be aware of is touted as “America’s Oldest City”. Founded in 1565 by a Spanish Admiral, it served as the Capital of Spanish Florida for 200 years.
However this area was first discovered by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513. We all should remember that name from our history books growing up.
St. Augustine was intended to be a base for further colonial ventures across what is now the Southeastern United States, but such efforts were hampered due in part to the treatment of the Native Americans. In 1566 a local Chief, who was openly hostile to the Spanish, actually burned down the village. St. Augustine was then moved to its current location.
The Old Streets Of St. Augustine
Historical Park In St. Augustine
The settlement also faced attacks from European forces as well. After an attack in 1668 from an English privateer, the Spanish started building the Castillo de San Marcos.
Castillo de San Marcos In St. Augustine
Castillo de San Marcos In St. Augustine
The Castillo de San Marcos, as it stands today, is the nation’s oldest fort. Its’ construction took a quarter of a century to complete, with many later additions and modifications. It’s purpose was two fold. To protect the shores from anyone entering and conquering the area and to protect the people in the town.
The Center Courtyard Of Castillo de San Marcos In St. Augustine
If the town was under siege and being attacked, all the townspeople would go into the courtyard of the Castillo de San Marcos for protection. That a lotta people in a tiny space. The only way in was one draw bridge over the moat.
The Walls Were Made Of Sea Shells, Some Brick, Mud And Anything Else They Could Find
I found the actual walls very interesting. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you can see they were made of lots and lots of sea shells and some brick and stone. All held together with mud and anything else they could find.
The Wall Surrounding St. Augustine Was Made Of Sea Shells, Stone and Mud
The town of St. Augustine was also surrounded by a wall made of the same materials found at the fort. In the first picture above, the only way to get in and out of the village was through the gate. This is all original from the 1600′s. While walking the town you can see some original 1600′s houses and buildings too. Although I found they kind of got lost through all the tourist shops.
A Room In The Castillo de San Marcos, Looking Out Into The Courtyard
One Of The Walls Of The Castillo de San Marcos. In The Foreground Is Some Of The Courtyard.
A Display Of Original 1600′s Cannons That Were Used In The Castillo de San Marcos
History is all over this place. We did not take the walking tour of the Castillo de San Marcos. We just went off on our own. Exploring every room and every angle. Speaking of angles, the fort was designed to have every corner and every wall covering every angle in and out, whether by land or by sea. You’ll see in David’s video below the shape of the fort.
A Cannon Overlooking The Inlet
One Of The Corners Of The Fort
It was a great day to explore the fort and the town. I’m not sure if we’d go back here, as it had a very touristy vibe. That turns us off. Somehow strolling 1600′s cobbled streets and looking at the old buildings while their are t-shirt shops and fudge and ice cream shops everywhere you turn, kind of makes it lose it’s charm.
We stayed at the Stagecoach RV Park right up the road from the main historical area of St. Augustine. A nice park, lots of trees but we did get satellite. Nice people and if you are an rc flyer/hobbyist, there is a field right behind the park (owned by the owner of the park) with a small runway and everything. We’d certainly stay there again while in the area.
Anyway, while in the area, we decided to make a quick stop and visit our “other home”. By that I mean our mail forwarding company in Green Cove Springs.
Our “Block” That We Live In
St. Brendan’s Isle has been a mail forwarding company since 1988. Originally formed for cruiser’s on their yacht’s, it grew to become much more. We selected them for price, location and most importantly for us since we work on the road, scanning. They scan all the fronts of the envelopes that come into the facility so you can log into your account and see what came.
So if you are waiting for something crucial, you know when it arrives. If you need it right away they will even open it for you and scan the contents into a pdf form. Pretty nice service.
Our “House”. Not Quite The Pent House, But Close.
This is our “house”. Not quite the penthouse, but it’s close. This address can also act as our legal residence. So…do we sell our home in Rochester, NY and “move” to Florida with this being our permanent address? We’ve considered it….and still are.
Savannah National Wildlife Refuge Visitor’s Center
While in Savannah, if you’re looking for something different to do and get out of the city, I would recommend one of the several wildlife refuges in the area.
We went to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge which is located just 7 miles north of the city. However, we were staying in the Hardeeville RV Park, which I would recommend if you are visiting the area (Passport America park and nice people), just across the border in South Carolina, so the refuge was only a 5 minute drive for us.
I would start at the visitor’s center. They have some maps of the area, a quick video about the refuge, which was interesting, and they’ll show you where to begin your journey, on the 4 mile Wildlife Drive.
Wildlife Drive is a one way road around one part of the refuge. You can drive, walk or bike it. We were in our car, so we chose to drive it. Plus, we had the quadcopter with us and we planned on shooting some footage with it, so lugging it around without the car was not an option.
While driving around, I highly recommend that you stop every so often and get out of the car and walk around. You can stop where ever and when ever you please. Plus there are a few walking trails inside the refuge that you can do. You will certainly see many other animals and hear all their calls while walking and taking your time.
We stopped our car often along the road. We were their on a fairly windy and chilly weekday, so their were not that many people there, which in my opinion, made it nicer. The less crowded it is is nicer, not the wind and the cold. Halfway through I actually had to put on gloves!
Anyway, our first stop was not that far in. We were not even at the half mile mark when we spotted an American Alligator. Once on the endangered animal list, this glorious and huge animal now thrives in wetlands, swamps and rivers.
American Alligator In Foreground
The above picture was the site we saw from the roadside. On a side note, it certainly is different to be out walking the trails here and to come across one of these huge beasts.
I had to grab our good Canon EOS camera with the 300mm image stabilizing lens, which is an awesome lens btw, to get an up close shot. I certainly wasn’t going to get much closer to this alligator without it.
American Alligator Up Close Using The 300mm Image Stabilizing Lens
Is it just me or does it look like he’s smiling?
David wanted to get the quadcopter out and see if he could get closer without disturbing him.
David Flying Over The American Alligator
We certainly don’t put the quadcopter up in the air to “taunt” the wildlife. That is just not right. He fly’s from a respectable distance just to get a different perspective on things.
What we didn’t plan on was the other wildlife in the area that we did not see. I won’t give it away, but I will say this, we did not startle the Alligator. You’ll have to watch David’s video below to see what I mean.
I’d have to say, the most prevalent wildlife they have there, at least this time of year, was the American Coot.
The American Coot, although looks like a duck, swims like a duck and has webbed feet like a duck, it is in fact not related to a duck. It’s closest relative is actually the Sandhill Crane.
They eat aquatic plants, nest in tall grasses and cattails and gather by the thousands. This refuge is a perfect place for them to gather, hence the large population here.
While driving around a corner, I looked down into the water and said, “Look, a baby!” David grabbed the camera with the long lens and took this shot while sitting in the drivers seat.
It’s super cute isn’t it? However, when we got back to the coach, I was looking up all the wildlife we saw, and came to the conclusion that this indeed is not a baby. It’s a full grown Pied-Billed Grebe. Again, not related to a duck, it is a small diving like bird. When threatened it dives underwater rather than flying away. It’s actually rare when you see one flying because they tend to only migrate at nighttime.
They are common around lakes and ponds and eat fish and crustaceans, especially liking crayfish.
David Flying Quadcopter Through Trees On One Of The Walking Trails
As I mentioned earlier, there are several walking trails in this refuge. We found one very interesting.
In the photo above, the round brick structure is an old well. You see, back in the 1700′s this whole area was used as rice fields. I could write quite a bit about the history here, but I won’t bore you too much. The diverse and long history can be found here. This well is located in an area where their used to be slave quarters. The well acted not only as their water source but also as a type of refrigerator for other foods. This well is not the only structure left standing today in this refuge. Along various areas of the impoundments (dike-enclosed pools) the park service still uses to this day, the original rice field trunks. Built by the slaves who worked these fields, these were used to divert water to different areas of the rice fields. The park rangers still use these trunks in the same way. However they are diverting the water to various areas of the refuge during different times of the year.
David had a lot of great flying time in. Even though it was windy and getting colder by the minute, he managed to get some great flights in.
Quadcopter Over Water
David and Quadcopter
David Flying Quadcopter Through Moss Covered Trees
He really scares me when he takes it around all these moss covered trees and over water. With the wind the way it was, the moss was flying everywhere. One strand in a motor and that would be it. But he had no worries. But I guess that’s how you get these awesome videos he puts together.
Oh, and by the way, you can see the road that goes through these trees? This happens along several areas of the trek. So no motorhomes down this road. Sorry.
You really can enjoy it more in a car and on foot anyway.
Not Sure What This Fella Is
Wildlife was certainly around every turn, nook and cranny. David shot this bird while in the drivers seat too. We didn’t get out of the car for him because he seemed a little skiddish. I was sadly though, not able to identify him. You would think with such a clear shot that I could easily tell what he was. But alas, I could not. So if any of you out there can tell me what type of bird he is, that would be great. I’m guessing he’s part of the Heron family?
Another One I Could Not Identify
Here is yet another one I could not identify. Sometimes Google just can’t help. Seems like another type of Heron to me though.
Then we came across this magnificent guy. The “Piece d’ Resistance” (spoken in a French accent). The Great Blue Heron. He is known to be around water as his main diet is fish. He is usually found wading around ponds, rivers and lakes, standing real still, making deliberate steps, hunting for food.
We were walking on a trail when we came across him. Not one moment after I focused my long lens on him, as they are skiddish too, he took off. I was able to capture some great shots as he flew away. I’m glad they are in focus.
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron Taking Off
Great Blue Heron Flying Away
Great Blue Heron Flying Away
All in all it was a nice day. Minus the cold temperatures and wind. Even with the gloves on I couldn’t feel my hands when I got back in the car. Ah winter, I am so ready for you to leave us.
So, I would highly recommend you take this adventure out to the refuge. There is no charge to get in and I am sure any time of the year would be wonderful. If we are back in this area, we’d certainly go back to see what other wildlife we could see, depending on what time of year it was.
We ended up spending well over 2 hours just on this 4 mile drive. However, it could be done with more or less time. We took our time as David was flying the copter and I was taking pics every where I went.
Please enjoy the video below. It really turned out well.
So we spent a week in the Savannah area. Savannah, GA sits right on the Savannah River, a major river in the southeastern United States. The river separates Georgia from South Carolina and made Savannah a strategic port city for the American Revolution and Civil War days to the industrial center and important Atlantic seaport it is today.
Savannah was established in 1733 and served as the colonial capital of the Province of Georgia, one of the southern colonies in British America. It later became the first state capital of Georgia.
River Street In The Historic District Of Savannah, GA
Each year Savannah attracts millions of visitors to it’s historic district, it’s parks and squares and it’s beautiful historical homes and architecture.
Lined with old buildings from the 1700′s that were warehouses, mills and factories, they now house quaint shops, art galleries and restaurants.
Some Of The Old Buildings On River Street
Some Of The Old Buildings On River Street
Instead of shopping (which we did do a little), we enjoyed looking at the old architecture. The exposed brick and stone. The old, original cobblestone street.
River Street In Savannah, GA
It truly is beautiful. We had lunch at the Dockside Restaurant right on River Street. It was ok, nothing spectacular.
Dockside Restaurant On River Street
It is said that the building this restaurant houses is one of the oldest brick and stone buildings in Georgia. That’s it in the picture above. It also has it’s original beams and posts inside. Put it to you this way, the building was more interesting than our meals.
A Pedestrian Bridge Over The Cobblestone Street
While wandering around River Street we came across this interesting looking pedestrian bridge. We went up to get a closer look and discovered a whole new area to explore.
The Walkway Behind River Street
The backside of the buildings were just as beautiful. River Street sits below the main road, by about two stories. When you walk behind River Street and up to the main road, you see these catwalks that lead up to the buildings backsides. The area that is created below these catwalks is known as Factors Walk. It’s called this after a “Factor” which was the name given to a man that estimated the amount of cotton in a shipment.
The Back Of The Buildings On River Street
You also come across this…
Savannah Cotton Exchange
The Savannah Cotton Exchange. Built in 1817 only two floors high, this is where the cotton was stored while in port. In 1853 three more stories were added for more storage and offices for this booming industry.
The cotton exchange was the center of activity for Savannah. In it’s heyday it moved over 2 million bales of cotton a year.
Savannah also has private docks along River Street. I only mention this because we looked across the street to the river and all we saw was a huge mast. Curious, we wandered over to the dock and saw this…
The Hyperion, A Private Sailboat
The Mast Of The Hyperion, A Private Sailboat
The Hyperion. Built in 1998 for the Founder of Netscape and Silicon Graphics, it is docked here in Savannah for a month long stay.
The stats alone on this yacht are impressive. It’s 155 feet long, has a crew of 8 and it has the largest sloop (a sailboat with a single mast) ever built and the mast stands a mere 194 feet tall! To give you an idea of how huge this was, the mast on this yacht will only clear the Golden Gate Bridge by 30 feet!
It truly is to large to capture in pictures. So to solve that problem, David threw the quadcopter up in the air to get a better look.
Also on River Street the city has put together this wonderful memorial for the WWII vets. It was a really neat globe inscribed with all the names of the WWII vets from the area.
The WWII Globe Memorial
David was brave enough to fly in and around the globe from some unique perspective.
He has put together an awesome video of River Street and the area. Please check it out below. It truly did turn out well.
As far as Savannah goes, we did enjoy the city. It was beautiful. But I think we can both check this off our list and move on. There are several wildlife reserves in the area, so we’re going to check out the Savannah National Wildlife Reserve next.