Saturday, November 28, 2015

Giving Thanks

RVentures took us to Ocala, Florida where we celebrated Thanksgiving this week with Doug's family. As we enjoyed family time on the porch, we are reminded to Give Thanks for all our blessings.

We are not in Minnesota to celebrate with our sons ... Going to miss seeing them take mounds of turkey and gravy, hearing their laughter, and watching them slip into their "turkey coma". 

Thanksgiving 2014

We are giving thanks for ......

 .... our sons' phone call and the knowledge that they are enjoying their Thanksgiving dinner together and continue to be best buds as well as brothers!

Videotaping skate board tricks - November 2002

 .... our good friends who provided a parking spot for our RV while we are with Doug's family. The Wildebeest seems very content to hang out with their horses amidst the orange and grapefruit trees, but we are not sure what the horses think of the Wildebeest. 

"That sure is a funky-looking horse trailer!"

.... bike trails and beautiful biking weather. 

Doug and I spent an afternoon biking the Withlacoochee Trail. Enjoyed the palms along the lake and just missed the giant rattlesnake that had recently crossed the trail. 

Doug is still smiling in spite of the fact that I bike way too slow ... and we found an ice cream shop instead of a brewery at the end of the trail.

.... Our niece, Emily's, willingness to help prepare and serve the Thanksgiving feast!

.... wild life of all kinds from the owl heard and photographed in the neighbor's tree,
and wild life being expertly carved by Doug.

.... new fangled electronics that allow Grandma and Great-grandma to talk face-to-face with beautiful 11 month old Noelle.

....  having warm weather and green backgrounds to capture the natural beauty of Emily!  

.... Having two wonderful men to accompany me on my daily walks around the On Top of the World (OTOW) senior community. 

So that I could enjoy Doug's (and mine) favorite dessert, Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with cranberry topping

... Magnolia blossoms in November! We are thankful for the signs of God's presence in all around us. And that includes you, our wonderful friends and family!

Until next time ... give thanks ... and enjoy all the adventures in your life!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Finally Florida! Rocky Bayou State Park

We officially crossed over with the Wildebeest into Florida. Our stay this past week at Rocky Bayou State Park is our first experience of the "Real Florida". Located in Niceville, Florida on the shore of Rocky Bayou, there is plenty of nature and wildlife to enjoy. I love how the Saw Palmetto palms blend in with the long leaf pine trees along the shoreline.

I am learning to take my binoculars and camera when we take walks along the many trails in the park. A group of about four dolphins greeted us during our first walk along the bayou shore. Despite us scurrying back to grab the binoculars and long lens camera, they were gone when we returned.

Our first order of business was to complete the Florida residency requirements. We found the DMV in Niceville to get our driver's license and license the vehicles. Doug was very happy to find out that he did not have to physically drive the Wildebeest to the DMV in order register her.

Official "Floridian"

Official business done ... time for walks in the woods which revealed all sorts of new vegetation and a reminder that we need to continue to work to protect this beauty. Doug is calling me the "bag lady" when we go on our walks, as I have started taking a plastic bag with me so that I can pick up any "unnatural" trash along the trails or beach fronts. I just hate to have anything wreck the amazing beauty that surrounds us!

One afternoon we rented a canoe to explore the bayou up close. We hoped to have the dolphins greet us, but settled for fun in the sun with the loons and pelicans.

I accepted yet another "how to steer a canoe" lesson from Doug. He has decided that my "pet the kitty" stroke is beyond help...

Since Rocky Bayou is not directly on the Gulf, we drove 10 miles to Henderson Beach State Park which has a couple of miles of sandy white beaches. Fun sightings included more pelicans, surf boarders, and dolphins (YEAH!) ...

... as well as a chapel set up for a wedding!

Humm, an "orange" wedding...who does this remind me of??

During our stay, we heard that our friends up north were getting their first snow of the season. Thought I would share this photo of the "Reindeer Moss" that covers the forest floor (it kinda looks like snow) ... and let you know that we are thinking of you!

Until next time ... whatever the weather ... enjoy the adventures in your life!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Gulf State Park ... So much to "Sea"

Gulf State Park, located along the Alabama coast of the Gulf of Mexico was our home last week. The abundant sunshine, pristine beaches, interesting wild life and safe bike paths made RVentures on the Gulf something wonderful to "sea".


The Alabama Gulf coast, devastated by hurricanes and oil spills during the last decade, has come back more beautiful than ever. Walks along the miles of sandy beach revealed the natural beauty coming back strong.

I guess blue herons don't have to follow the "rules"

As we walked on the fishing pier, we were able to come close to a blue heron as he waited patiently for the fishermen to throw him some scraps. 

Willets poked around in the sand looking for their feast.

Word of advice: while looking for interesting shells, make sure the shell doesn't have a live crab on the other side! We both scurried away quickly!

Gulf State Park is surrounded by a treasure of flat, safe bike trails and bike lanes that connect the park with the beach towns of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. In fact, one day we were able to "bike" to Florida!

The Backcountry Trail lead us past alligator habitat areas. We enjoyed watching baby alligators sun under the vegetation while mama gator kept an eye on them in the swamp.

Two baby gators hanging out 

Mama gator keeps her eyes on her babies

One afternoon we drove 40 miles north of the beach towns and found a bike path along Mobile Bay that lead us to the cute town of Fairhope ...

... and to Doug's delight, Fairhope Brewing Company! Happy Day!!

Biking back we were able to admire the huge seaside estates that line the road and enjoy a beautiful sunset over Mobile Bay!

Getting to meet some of Doug's "Alabama" family was another blessing as we travel around the country. Aunt Jackie's beautiful smile and delicious seafood dinner gave us the wonderful feeling of being "home".

 Whether we are biking on the wide flat bike lanes ...

Or digging for shells in the sand ...

Or praising God for the beauty of His creation ...

There is so much to "sea" at Gulf Shores that everyone, including the shells are smiling!

Until next time ... SMILE ... as you enjoy the adventures in your life!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

There will be days like this...

We have reached the white, sandy beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama! As calm and peaceful as this picture looks, the trip here involved a few "bumps" in the road. As I am reminded, full-time RVentures sometimes include the not-so-fun surprises. I am so thankful that I have calm and practical-thinking Doug by my side to remind me to take a DEEP breath and "not sweat the small stuff".

On Tuesday, we left our Harvest Host location a little before 9 am. We had turned on the generator earlier that morning to make coffee ... and to make sure it was working since we had not used the generator for quite some time. Running great at first, then a not so nice "noise". The generator stopped ... and didn't restart. Something new for Doug to fix, but since we shouldn't need to use the generator in the near future, no immediate problem.

All going well, until about 15 miles down the road. While looking at the rear view camera, Doug detects smoke coming from the car. He quickly pulled off the road. The driver following us confirmed what we suspected ... the tires of our car locked up on us. For some unknown reason the emergency braking system that is a part of the towing gear, put on the breaks ... while the Wildebeest continued to pull the car. As you can imagine, this can be bad news. Thanks to Doug's quick reaction, only the front two tires were affected. 

As only God could provide, there was a church parking lot next to the house where we pulled off. I'm sure that the home owners would not have appreciated having this huge RV blocking their driveway for very long! The car was still drive-able, so we disconnected the car and got it and the Wildebeest out of the small driveway and over to the church lot. While I am still having my little "oh, my gosh" moment, Doug calmly called the tow company and found a nearby Walmart for new tires.

Thankfully, our first "boon-docking" experience in Walmart's parking lot only lasted a few hours. New tires and car in tow, we arrived at Gulf State Park in time to get settled in before dark and to "rejuvenate" with a walk along the beach the next morning. 

Still need to deal with the generator and possibly the car's towing system, but for now ... just praising God for the beauty and blessings that surround us!

Until next time ... take a deep breath ... and enjoy all the sometimes challenging but always beautiful adventures in your life!