Holidays at The Great Outdoors. The Good.
TGO is a remarkable playground for adults at Xmas time. Inflatables dawn the yards of one entire street while Christmas lights blind you on another. It is an unusually happy time of year for the old timers. They decorate their golf carts and dance around the resort.
Across the street our neighbors were enjoying a good (gas) fire. They looked so warm and happy. I had to share this with you.
Sebastian Inlet Retooled. The Great.
One of our favorite places to camp is Sebastian Inlet. The water, beaches, sky, and birds are stunning. It is a great place for fishing, boating, kayaking, walking, biking, and people watching.
This year we made a couple of day trips from Sebastian. One of them was to an ancient indigenous shell mound.
Wealthy people built upon this mound which was at least 40 feet above sea level on the Indian River. Later, an heir to the Coca Cola fortune created a fantastic mansion and grounds which were eventually sold. The site morphed into a two-year college and then a technological school. All failed. Finally locals from Jensen beach persuaded the powers-that-be to save the site. They raised funds and turned it into a splendid park. What a treat to explore the grounds. The mansion is situated right on Indian river with a sand beach, fishing pier, wooden walkway, and more. Local museums surround it.
You can read a history here:
On Jensen beach we discovered the perfect waterfront retirement homes. They start at about $169,000. No one was at home here.
Birds of a Feather. Royal Tern. The Good.
Oceans are fickeled. One day when the surf was very aggressive, we met a Royal Tern. She was facing the ocean. Nothing worried her. Waves would lap at her feet and the wind could have blown her away. She stood looking out at the ocean. Other birds ran away from the foaming surf. She stood strong. What was she looking for? Who was she waiting for?
My next life will be lived as a Pelican. The Good.
The glorious American White Pelican can stand up to five feet tall. Oddly enough, at UCM, when I was a professor, I was given the password of “Pelican” for our mainframe. White pelicans often are mistaken as white swans. With a wingspan of 9 feet, they fly at least 48 miles per hour but do not dive for their food like other pelicans.
Sebastian Inlet borders 100 year old Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge. The first of its kind. Search for white pelicans. I have seen photos of thousands of pelicans sitting together in the Refuge.
Today we were watching hundreds of birds swarming around Sebastian Inlet as the tide came in. Brown pelicans were following dolphins and feeding frenzies occurred around the dolphins. What a sight! The only time I have seen birds swarming like this for food is at the back of a cruise ship dumping garbage. (Yes, they are not supposed to do it, but they do.)
Earlier Day Trip to Flagler Beach, the Millionaire’s Beach. The Good.
Henry Flagler founded Standard Oil and built a railway system that connected all the land on the East Coast of Florida all the way to the Keys. He used slave and prison labor to build it.
His preeminent hotel “The Ponce de Leon” is now Flagler College, a gorgeous property in St. Augustine. Flagler beach is a natural wonder for all people. There are six miles of uncrowded beaches, with no houses or huge condos to block your view. You can park within ten feet of a sandy beach. No wonder it is so popular. The state RV park on Flagler beach is right on the ocean!
How to win a reservation in a State Park! The Bad.
Our goal by tripping to Flagler was to explore a possible camping spot in Florida, and we were successful. Since we are senior Florida residents, we can camp at any Florida campground for half price. That means, that we can camp on ocean front property for as little as $14 a day, providing we can make a reservation. Recently we managed to get through the Reserve America reservation system to stay at Florida’s Curry Hammack Campground between Key Largo and Key West in the Keys next November of 2021. Rules state that you can only reserve a spot 11 months ahead.
The first day we tried to make a reservation at Curry Hammack there were two campsites available. I was using my computer and Tom was using his phone. You have to get your electrode through the system by 8:00 a.m. There is a clock that shows the seconds on the site. By 8:01 you can’t book a reservation. We lost the race, no reservation. The Bad.
On the second day, there were four campsites open for the day we wanted to start camping. Each one of us hit the keys at 7:59 and 59 seconds. Tom chose the best site which was ocean front. I chose a site that was not fronting the Atlantic Ocean. I thought we might win a reservation because everyone else would go for the best site. And I was right, we won. While we won’t be on the front row, we will be only a few feet away from the water.
When we decide to book Flagler, it will be the same scenario. With our digital devices on super “dooper” high, we will hit the buttons and hope we win a spot. There are two campgrounds at Flagler, one on the Indian River (Intra-costal highway) and one on the ocean. We will try for the river.
Walmart Blues. What were you thinking girl? The Ugly and Bad.
Grocery shopping can send you to the ER. Armed with a mask and gloves, I enter chaotic space only after I find and push a heavy, rusted basket across potholes into the Walmart arena.
Get out of the way girl!
Entering Walmart space makes you shiver. Gridlock is the name of the game. Beware of the banana snatcher and an old woman with a cane. Regularly large pallets and employees working pickup– smash into your cart. People on motorized vehicles snip your toes without blinking an eye. Today three different men used their carts as weapons and pushed me out of the way.
Carts can hardly move through the sky-high stacks of groceries sitting everywhere. Shelves are often empty and choices are minimal. This might account for the frenzied behavior of people who have an East coast accent!
Get out of the way girl!
I have not seen blood on the floor, but all the same you take your life in your hands when you enter Walmart. Sometimes whole families and their ancestors block aisles that you have to avoid. Rude and self-centered customers reach over your cart to grab goods that fall on you and into your cart. Or they open a door and hit your face while you are looking at the same frozen food. Some people are polite and say “excuse me” when they push their cart right in front of you. Yuk! Even people in wheel chairs mow you down.
And yesterday, all of the cold storage displays went down. There was no meat, no frozen goods, or… What a mess! We opened our blackberries today and mold covered them. Wonder why?
Girl, you are too slow!
Self-check-out is hazardous too. Machines stop working. Customers push your cart to inform you to go faster. Usually, after I finish checking out, I realize that I have forgotten items in the blocked aisles. I never go back!
Florida’s Revenge. The Ugly.
Campers understand that hooking up to a sewer system is a necessity when you are staying at a campground for longer than four days. Florida state campgrounds do not invest in sewer systems. So, at Sebastian we were hooked up to water and electricity and the water had nowhere to go but into our holding tanks. They fill up quickly if you are taking showers and washing dishes.
So, that means that we have to pack up everything, as if we are going to leave, and dump our tanks. We have to clean the floors so the slides will not scratch the tile, and pack breakables. Then, after dumping, we return to our site to push out the slides and level the coach. Sometimes the park sites are so small that it takes 15 minutes just to back into it properly. Then, Tom has to hook up the water and electricity and we unpack the breakables. It feels like you are on a day trip to a DUMP station.
To prevent the use of water and the filling up of our grey water tank, (so we don’t have to dump) sometimes we do the laundry at the bath house. (We have a washer and dryer on board.)
While waiting for a load to finish, I kept getting bit. I figured it was only gnats. After all, I was standing on concrete. In the middle of the night, I discovered that fire ants had stung me between and on top of my toes. They even bit the bottom of my feet. I did not see the ants but apparently, they enjoyed me. The sting of a fire ant leaves pustules that itch like poison ivy. In fact, these little guys made me itch from head to toe. I had to take an antihistamine. The bite/sting lasts for weeks. Would you like to see my toes? The Bad.
The Great. Here are a couple of gorgeous moments at Sebastian Inlet.
I hope all of you are staying well and trying to avoid the lethal politics. Some days we feel as if we are out of our minds. We don’t enjoy living like hermits who have taken vows of silence. We get out but we look like masked intruders who are doing surgery. Stay well and hope for a better 2021.
As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge
Thanks to the web for a couple of the photos above.