Monday, December 31, 2018

Our Third RVenturous Year on the Road

By the Numbers

Miles traveled: 5933 miles 

Miles per gallon: 7.02 MPG
Average price per gallon of diesel: $3.14

Number of Campgrounds/RV park "Homes" in 2018: 38

Gamble Rogers State Park, our last Florida State Park "home"
before we sold the Wildebeest on December 14, 2018.

Number of Habitat for Habitat Care-a-Vanner Builds: 4
Sebring, Florida January 28 - February 25 (two sessions)
North Fort Myers, Florida March 4 - 18
Davenport, Iowa September 16 - 30

Number of boon-docking nights: 5

Walmarts are OK, but nothing beats watching the horses
play when boon-docking in the backyard of friends!

Number of "Leave the RV Behind and Have Some Fun" Days: 42

Visit to Bogota and Medellin, Colombia
Sailing in the British Virgin Islands
Airbnb/hotel stays in Milwaukee and Florida
Christmas visit with parents in Ocala, Florida 

My Mother-in-law was more than happy to turn
over her kitchen to me. We all enjoyed a Christmas Feast!

Number of States Visited for the First Time: 3 

South Carolina
North Carolina

Number of States Revisited: 12


Coming or going ... Always fun to hang out in Florida!

Number of State Capitols: 1

Springfield, IL

Standing in the shadow of Abe Lincoln
as I visited one new State Capitol building
this year in Springfield, Illinois.

Number of days in the RV Repair "Spa": 3

Including a "tow" to a repair shop when the Wildebeest
sprung a leak from a hydraulic hose in Indiana.

Number of RV maintenance and improvement projects for Doug:

A lot ... but who's counting??!!
From fridge repair to plumbing projects to changing the generator oil filter,

my "handyman" rocks!

National Parks, Monuments, Parkways, and Seashores:
Everglades National Park
Blue Ridge National Parkway
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Lincoln Home National Historic Site
Hot Springs National Park
Gateway Arch National Park
Natchez Trace National Parkway
Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, St Augustine, Florida
Canaveral National Seashore, Florida

Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Museo de Oro, Bogota, Colombia
Museo de Antioquia, Medellin, Colombia
The Southernmost Point of the Continental US, Key West, Florida
The Salvador Dali Museum, St Petersburg, Florida
Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida
Charleston Walking Tour, Charleston, South Carolina
Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina
Sierra Nevada and New Belgium Brewery Tours, Asheville, North Carolina
Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield, Illinois
Charles Lindbergh Home and Museum, Little Falls, Minnesota
Field of Dreams Movie Site, Dyersville, Iowa
Ulysses S Grant Home, Galena, Illinois
National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, Tennessee
Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida


 Favorite Campground (once again): Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores, Alabama

Biking, beach walks, camping buddies, and beautiful sunsets ...
What's not to love??!!

Favorite Craft brewery: Mad Beach Brewing, Madeira Beach, Florida

Great food and unique craft beer served up
on a tropical patio not far from the Gulf ...

all the ingredients of "Beer-aritaville"!

Miscellaneous trivia fact ... Doug has now collected a total of 213 craft microbrewery coasters!

Favorite Restaurant: La Granja (The Farm), Tenjo, Colombia

Our first dining experience when we arrived in Colombia gave us
a "taste" for all the fun in store for us. The open-air restaurant
introduced us to typical Colombian food, while the
surrounding art work showed off the talents of the local people.

Favorite Natural Areas and Parks:

Blue Springs State Park, Orange City, Florida
Observing mama and baby manatee
from the boardwalk at Blue Springs State Park, Florida.

British Virgin Islands
Sailing and snorkeling lessons in the British Virgin Islands.

Parque Arvi, Medellin, Colombia
We enjoyed a walk among the natural beauty
at Parque Arvi in Colombia.

Favorite Church:
Catedral de Sal, Zipaquira, Colombia
The underground salt mine houses a magnificent Cathedral.

Favorite Biking: Along the beach of Jekyll Island, Georgia

Taking advantage of low tide and the wind at our backs,
we enjoyed biking along the beach at Jekyll Island, Georgia

Honorable mention

Watching out for the "speed bumps" of the live alligator type
(on right side of the trail)
as we biked the James Van Fleet Trail in Florida.

Favorite Tourist Attraction:
McLeod Plantation operated by James Island County Parks

An exceptionally well done tour that focused not just on
the lavish lifestyles of antebellum plantations, but more importantly,
told the story of the high human cost of slave labor.

Honorable mention:
The Biltmore Estate

An admission ticket to tour the Biltmore and its gardens ... $70
Being able to wander at my own pace because Doug wanted to stay home

... Priceless!

As we end our third year on the road, we are thankful for the
Everyday Blessings
that surround us.

The blessing of friends in so many places,

and the blessing of smiles on sweet young faces.

The blessing of friends getting into gear,

and the blessing of sons sharing some cheer ...
along with a beer.

The blessing of special moments
wherever we roam.

and the blessing of family who welcome us home.

What's in store for 2019?

An idea was planted when we visited Colombia in January of this year and continued to grow throughout the year. That idea ... downsizing to a smaller RV in order to be more "nimble" in our travels ... is coming closer to fruition as we sold the Wildebeest and prepare for an extended visit to Medellin, Colombia.

While visions of "cafe delicioso" dance through our heads, so do some apprehensions. Change is hard, and in some ways this past year has been one of our most challenging so far. But as my ever-calm and ever-confident husband reassures me ... changes in 2019 will bring even more amazing RVentures!

Until next time ... Embrace the Changes in the New Year ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!

Happy New Year
and thanks for following along!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Home For The Holidays

Christmas Greetings

We are "On Top Of The World" and filled with gratitude as we send out our 2018 Christmas Greetings! During the past year, as we have found our "home" continually changing, we appreciate the smiles and support of dear family and friends who welcome us "home" wherever RVentures take us!

Some of our special experiences of "home" this year ...

A January visit to the beautiful
"home" country of friends Luis and Piedad
in Colombia, South America.

An opportunity to meet up again and build
a "home" in Sebring, Florida with our
Habitat friends, Tim and Cindy in February.

The fortuity of trying out a "home" on water
as we sailed around the British Virgin Islands
with friends Dan and Barb in March.

The fun of showing son Adam and Shannon
our "home" state of Florida in April.

The gift of discovering the beauty of
nature near our campground "homes" in
Jekyll Island GA, Charleston SC, Asheville NC,
Nashville TN, Springfield IL, and Madison WI
as we made our way north in May. 

Sharing laughs and feeling right at
"home" with dear friends in Rochester
during our visit in June.

Summer graduations and celebrations
in my "home"town with my siblings.

Having sons Kevin and Adam drop by
after work for a family dinner in our "home"
at Baker Park near Minneapolis in July.

Hanging out with the "neigh-bors" as we
made ourselves at "home" boon-docking
on the farm of friends Lisa and Tom
near Little Falls MN in August.

Reunions and reminiscing with cousin Kevin
and siblings as a September Habitat build
brought us close to his "home" in 
Davenport, Iowa. 

October explorations of new "homes"
in St Louis MO, Memphis TN and Natchez MS
with friends Joanne and Gary.

November beach walks as we
returned to one of our favorite autumn
"homes" in Gulf Shores, AL.

Our last meal in our beloved Wildebeest
"home" at Flagler Beach FL
just before we sold her in December.

Dreaming, planning, and searching
for our next "home" as we look forward
to wherever RVentures take us in 2019!

So while we are currently "home"less, we are blessed to be

Home For the Holidays

as we enjoy this Christmas with Doug's parents "On Top Of The World" in Ocala, Florida. 

This beautiful Christmas carol reassures us that our Christmas "home" is found where the love light gleams ... in the kind words and smiles and hospitality of family and friends like you! Thanks for all the ways you have welcomed us "home" this year.

Until next time ...Wishing you a Merry Christmas filled with "home sweet home" moments ... as you enjoy the adventures in your life!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Gilchrist Blue Springs: Florida's Newest State Park

Our original plan in early December was to stay in the Panhandle of Florida a while longer, but Hurricane Michael caused a lot of damage and forced the closure of many of the campgrounds in the area. We saw first hand the path of destruction depicted in the images below as we drove east on Interstate 10 towards Tallahassee. Crews were still working to clear piles of fallen trees on the side of the interstate two months after the storm. 

Looking for an alternate "home", Doug discovered a state park near Gainesville that had some openings ... a rare occurrence among state parks in Florida. Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park was purchased by the state and just opened this past summer as Florida's 175th State Park. It is so new to the camping scene, that there was not much information or reviews on the campground. But needing to be closer to central Florida as we work on selling our RV, we decided to try it out. Our experiences with Florida State Parks has always been very positive.

When we turned on to the road leading to Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park, we knew this was a little different than our past experiences. The loose sand on the road and numerous potholes presented a more challenging terrain than Doug normally likes to guide the Wildebeest through.

Our site was equally sandy and quite unlevel, requiring a more "creative" parking position than we are usually accustomed to. Getting settled in, we found that our cell reception was quite weak ... not good if we wanted to be in contact with people who might be interested in looking at our RV that we are trying to sell. 

Like this guy, Doug had purchased
a cell phone booster for just an
"emergency" like this ... success!

But there was one challenge that he could not resolve ... our refrigerator decided to give up the ghost a day before our arrival. Diagnosing it as a failed cooling system, Doug informed me that this was not going to be an easy nor inexpensive fix.

While I had started to empty our freezer a few weeks ago in preparation for us selling the RV, I needed to get serious about using up the Gulf shrimp and a few other delectables that were left in the freezer. On a positive note ... Christmas cookies are always great for breakfast! I thought that I could put a few "basics" in our small cooler, but alas, there was no ice for sale in the campground. Time to take a deep breath and work on de-stressing.  We took a walk and discovered the crown jewel of this off-the-beaten-path state park ... the Blue Spring!

The crystal clear turquoise water bubbled out of the spring and flowed into the nearby Santa Fe River. A diving platform invited us to jump right in to the waters that stay a comfortable 72 degrees year round. Probably more inviting on a warmer day than this, so we decided to check out the nearby nature trail instead. A canopy of trees lead us into peaceful Florida forest and swamp land that surround the spring.

Huge cypress trees and the short stubby "thumbs" that pop up around them gave us the gift of natural Florida beauty to recharge our spirits.

While the park didn't sell ice, there were canoes to rent, so we were able to explore the river and surrounding area as well.

Gainesville, Florida is located thirty miles from the park, so we took a couple of trips to explore the city ... and try out a local brewery or two.

The Florida Museum of Natural History, located on the campus the the University of Florida Gainesville, provided an interesting (and free) look into the natural history of Florida ... and gave us the impression that we were walking in the midst of the ancient mammoths.

Blackadder Brewing Company had chess table tops as well as tasty craft beer. Doug talked me into a game after he promised to go "easy" on me. After a few initial "hints", he left me on my own.

 "Check Mate!" A legit win for me!

Back at our RV and resupplied with ice to keep our minimal food supply cold, things were looking up. Doug was getting more interest in our RV ad when he dropped the price slightly due to the broken fridge. A phone call with one interested party raised my hopes enough to start the packing process.

We proceeded with cautious optimism to our next stop at Flagler Beach as the prospective buyer said that he wanted to meet us there. Our friend Dave was also meeting up with us there, so we were looking forward to some "beach time" also.

This RV selling process is quite stressful (sounds like a topic for a future blog) ... but it helps to stay focused on the blessings that surround us ... and the natural beauty of Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park was one of those blessings.

Until next time ... Is your refrigerator running?? Well then you better go catch it!! ... enjoy a little humor in your life!