Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Saturday, Nov 8 - Monday, November 10

On Saturday Ruth and I hit a few thrift shops and bought a few bargains.  Dinner at home was roasted  chicken and root vegetables, salad and berry pie!  Yum.
On Sunday, the took us for a drive on the "loop" - north in Ormond and then to Ormond by the Sea and back.  Beautiful!
On the loop is the Bulow Plantation Historic State Park.  Another National Gold Medal Winner for this Florida State Park.  This was a 4675 acre planation growing and processing sugar cane, cotton, rice and indigo.  It prospered from 1821 until the outbreak of the Second Seminole War when Bulowville was burned along with other nearby plantations in 1836.  This is the beautiful drive into the plantation

The remains of the coquina sugar mill.  We walked around the ruins and checked out the display showing how the plantation looked and how the cane was processed.


As we drove further on the loop road, we can upon a swampy area with hundreds of birds!  Wow!

Saw five species of birds in one place!  Large Egret, immature Little Blue Heron, Snowy Egret,Wood Stork and Whit Ibis (a new one for me)!

Great Egret and Wood Stork

And a Tricolor Heron - a new one for me!

Hard to tell how many birds there are with the wonderful reflections/  Another bystander said that the water is so muddy because he wild pigs come at night to root around for food and stir all the mud up from the bottom.

We spent about a half hour watching the birds - fascinating how they are all living together!  Watched some fish along the bottom for goodies.  Left there and proceeded to Ormond by the Sea to Betty's for late lunch!
Shrimp boat spotted in the ocean across the road from Betty's.

John, Ruth and I had the seafood cake and their famous onion rings!  I had clam chowder as one of my sides - the best I've ever eaten!  Jerry had the fabulous marinated beef tips!
Not long after arriving home from our tour.

Not long after arriving back home after our driving tour, Ruth yelled for me to come to the back yard.  The Sandhill Cranes are back from Wisconsin!  (First time seeing them up close!)  They weren't very afraid, and we were able to get very close while feeding them bread scraps.  Ruth puts food out daily for the wild turkeys and whoever else comes by.  They checked out the food stump before rooting in the ground for insects.

Beautiful eyes and feathers.

So blessed to see so many beautiful examples of birds today!  What fabulous hosts we have!

Nov 7, 2014 DeBary, DeLand, Swamp House Grill and Blue Spring State Park

Friday we set out about noon for more sightseeing.  Drove to DeBary, a small town nearby.  Ate lunch at Swamp House Grill!  A real treat.

A nice man from our next table took our picture looking out into the marina and the St. John's River.  After a great seafood lunch (John and I) Jerry and Ruth had great barbeque sandwiches, we walked around the marina and park.  There is also a campground right next to the restaurant.  Also checked it out for possible future years.

Look at the bottom of this photo - taking a siesta right next to the marina waters!

After lunch they drove us to Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, FL.  National Gold Medal Winner - Florida State Parks -"America's First Two-Time Winner."  And it is very special, indeed.  It has a lagoon, the St. John's River, 2643 acres and is a winter home to more than 200 manatees and lots of other birds, turtles and wildlife.

There is a 1/3 mile boardwalk along the lagoon with every turn bringing more beauty to your eyes.

Lots of gar fish swimming around. 

Cormorants guard the entrance to the lagoon from interlopers on the St. John's River.

And on the next turn, look what we saw!  Manatees!!!  Usually don't come in from the cooler river to the 72 degrees of the lagoon until later in November, we were very fortunate to see several!  This is probably a mother and calf.

My manatee friend along the path!

And another group of three!

Fabulous - we spent about 2 hrs just watching them!

Ruth thinks these are called Penny trees - many throughout the area - beautiful color! 

As we are driving through a small town, this lady was on the left corner....

and on the right!

Final stop of the day was at Kermit's Key West Key Lime Shoppe in DeLand, FL.  We stocked up on goodies - some great barbeque sauce, dog biscuits, key lime cookies and a free coozie!  What an awesome day!  Thank you John and Ruth!

The squirrels outside our rig aren't as big as at Little Acres, but still cute to watch.

Nov. 1-6, 2014 St. Marys, GA, Jacksonville, Ormond Beach

Saturday, Nov 1 we were scheduled to travel from St. Marys, GA to Jacksonville, FL, but it was SO windy with large gusts that we were able to stay another day at the submarine base next to Nan & Lou. 
On Sunday, Nov 2 we struck out for Jacksonville, FL.  Arrived about 1 pm at the Elks in Orange Grove and set up.  Went into the lodge to register.  I was filling out the paperwork while Jerry was helping someone lift a package over the bar to the bartender.  Suddenly as he stood up to help, his foot slipped off the rung of the stool and he hit his ribs on the bar!  He saw stars and sat down very rapidly!  After a half hour in the rig catching his breath, I determined we should have him checked out at the local ER.  It was only about 10 minutes away and after a very short stay there, they determined he had fractured two ribs.  Bummer!  Gave him a prescription for pain killers.  We had to wait for the prescription so went to a local pizza place called Brewers!  After a great local brew and a pizza (individual sized deep dish pizza called a smacker) we picked up the prescription and went back to the rig. 
Monday, Nov 3, bright and early I did all the packing up and we took off for our alignment appointment at ABS about 20 minutes away.  (Jerry had repaired a broken leaf spring at the base while parked there and had spotted an alignment problem with severe wearing on two tires.)
They made us wait an hour + while they finished up two jobs in progress.  Then after diagnosis said all three axles needed replacing.  Egads!  It was hard to believe that, but...   after much discussion, J and I said ok...it would be 3-5 days there while we waited for them to be shipped and we could stay there.  So we got all set up to stay, asked for electricity and wifi.  They said they had no wifi - both the father and the daughter who own the shop kidded around about it that they operated in the dark ages.  However, in looking at our wifi finder, we found 3 separate setups in their name, so when Jerry challenged them on it, they said, oh, well we can't just let any Tom, Dick & Harry use our signal.  And Jerry said, well I'm not just any TDandH, I'm a $2500 customer.  So they gave him the wifi code.  He came back to me with the info and I was absolutely furious and disgusted that they would lie to us!  I said to J if they lied about that, how can we trust anything they have said.  We we told them to give us a bill for the diagnostics and we'd go elsewhere for service.
Left there about 11:30 and pulled into a vacant motel parking lot.  Jerry made some calls and found an independent alignment contractor who works for several RV dealers in the area.  He was working nearby and came to our RV in about 30 min.  Preliminary exam said we didn't need new axles!  Yes!  And he could align it tomorrow.  He said we could go ahead and move our rig to Ormond Beach to our cousin's home as he was going to be working in Ormond on Tuesday at a dealer's there.  Perfect!
So we arrived at John & Ruth Vinall's about 3 pm and got set up.  Ruth had a nice meal for us and we crashed early.
On Tuesday, the alignment guy called about noon and Jerry drove the rig to a Lowe's parking lot nearby where the manager had given him permission to do the work.  A couple of hours and only $350 and we were all set!  Wow, thank heavens we listened to our gut feeling and rejected ABS!
On Wednesday, Nov 5 our cousin Bonnie Vinall Nantkes (who we met for the first time at the Vinall Cousin's Reunion in Davenport in Sept( came over from her home in Eustis, FL (about 45 minutes away)  We had happy hour out in the Florida room and then a nice dinner that Ruth and I had fixed.  Fun!
On Thursday, we took of about 11 am for Daytona's 38th annual Greek Festival held at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church.  They had lots of white tents set up as well as areas in their church building to hold vendors selling food and drink and some crafts.  We checked it all out and then selected our food and took it out to the pier to eat. 
Jerry and I had gyros and Ruth and John shared Dalmdes (stuffed grape leaves.)  We all tasted each other's food...yummy!

View of the Halifax River which is also part of the Intercoastal in this area.

Looking towards the church and tents

Live music in one of the tents

Our dessert - a Baklava sunday!  OMG

Our take home desserts:  Thiple on top (rolled up pastry dough with honey inbetween the layers.  On the left - baklava and on the right, Kataifi - similar to baklava except has string coconut around it.  Very rich but yummy!  We took about 3 days to savor these goodies at home!

 After lunch, John took us on a tour of some of the Daytona areas.  We drove by the Drive in Christian Church!

 Then down to the Ponce Inlet...at the lowest end of the barrier island between the Halifax River an the Atlantic Ocean.
We parked and walked out to the end of the pier.  Amazing.

Lots of birds were fishing and sunning themselves.  These are Dunlions
 Lots of birds were fishing and sunning themselves.  These are dunlins. 

This is an immature little blue heron.  Fascinating to watch!  This and the dunlin were additions to my birding life list.

Fisher people make their way back from the end of the pier.

Overhead photo of the Ponce Deleon Inlet and the pier we walked out onto

After walking back to the car we went to a different section and drove on the beach to see more birds and the surfers.

After viewing more areas of Daytona, it was happy hour time, so we stopped at Carribbean Jack's.  It is right on the Halifax River/intercoastal.

Our waiter, Shawn, took this picture of us.  What fun as the whole table and bench setup is a swing, so we could rock back and forth (gently so as not to spill the drinks.)  Very unique.

Perfect ending to a fabulous day...a full moon coming up across the river!