Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Atlantic Florida to Atlantic N.C.

Wednesday April 18 to Monday April 23, 2018                                                               Most Recent Posts
Fort Clinch State Park to Oregon Inlet Campground,                                                    Sweetwater Confusion
Fernandina Beach, Florida to Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Nags Head, NC     It’s All About the Sink Filling Up

IMG_1744On Wednesday David went for an early clinic appointment so we could be checked out from the campground on time at 1:00.  

Luckily, we only had to drive 115 miles.  This is our kind of travel.  It was an easy drive up Fl-441 to FL 331 to FL 301.  All of these are nice easy roads through towns in mid state.  From 301 the rest was interstate highway.  I-10 for a short bit and then I-275 around Jacksonville to I-95 north.    The worst part of the drive actually was the 15 miles on Fl-200 between I-95 and the park.  It’s been under construction for the past two years with cones and barricades.  What a mess.

In spite of it all, we pulled into our site and ran the necessarily longer water hose and electric cord under the coach to the utilities which are set up for a back in.

This view is why we want to pull in.  We don’t have a window in the back like 5th wheels and this is for sure the view you want out of your picture window.


Just a little relaxing before heading down to the beach.  I could get really used to this. Wish we could stay longer than 3 days but I was lucky to get anything at the last minute I booked it.


Time to head down to the beach.  The boardwalk is like a lollipop stick from Cumberland Sound to the campground.    No site is very far from it.


You can tell how late in the day it is by the length of my legs!


Gentle waves on the sound usually. 


I’m surprised to see the wave marks in the sand unmarred by footprints.  Guess high tide wasn’t long ago.


These large rocks line the area where the pier was before Matthew took it out.  The mouth of the sound at the Atlantic is straight ahead.


Over on the ocean side the sea birds are congregating.


Somebody put out the word.  They are coming in droves.



Mostly various types of gulls and terns.


There are some loners as well, walking in the water rather than gathering in groups.


Plenty of shells.  I’m no longer a collector of anything but pictures.


The sun is setting behind me over the dunes.  Fort Clinch is another one of those scarce but wonderful places that I love where I can see both the sunrise and sunset without driving anywhere. 


Walking back along the sound to the campground  I have a better view.



Once the sun is down the colors rise and then fall in intensity.  I love the golden reflection in the waters of this cove on the sound.


As I turn toward the boardwalk back to the campground movement catches my eye.


The sun is down and the sliver of a crescentmoon is in the sky.  It’s just 3 days after full and has begun its waxing cycle again.  When ever I see the moon in a phase of its waxing it reminds me of one of Carrie’s favorite childhood books Wait Till the Moon is Full by Margaret Wise Brown.

It’s a nice spot indeed.


The next morning there isn’t much of a sunrise.  The clouds don’t allow it until it’s already up in the sky.  But this is what we see out our window.


I pull up a chair at my hidden ring side seat.  I wonder if she’s the local I saw last night at dusk?


She startles me by making  a dash toward the coach.


But she thinks better of it and continues with whatever sort of grazing she’s doing.  Doesn’t look like there is much to eat out there.




Finally she turns on a dime and runs off.  She must not be too frightened since she didn’t wave the white flag.


The rest of Thursday was very hot.  I was surprised at the heat in mid April.  Of course there is no shade anywhere except under your awning IF it’s facing the right direction.  We did get out on the beach around 5 for a nice walk but  most of the day was just relaxing and reading.

Friday  is our last day here and boy do we get dumped on by Mother Nature.  Can you say windy starting at 4am.  28-32 mph winds with gusts over 40.  We had to bring in the slides and put everything outside away or tied down.

Needless to say we were inside nearly all day.  I wanted to get out for some pictures of this power and could hardly push the coach door open.   The plants were bowing low.   If you’d like to see a video which shows the campground and the winds blowing the trees and grasses, click this link.  My commentary is drowned out by the winds for most of it but that’s not much of a loss.


This is the calm gentle Cumberland Sound today.


Took this selfie facing into the wind and could barely keep my eyes open.  That’s the boardwalk and campground behind me.  I can’t even imagine what Hurricane Matthew must have been like.


I pressed on around to just the edge of the ocean and zoomed in for these  pictures.  There is so much spray in the air, I can’t keep my lens clean.


I do love the fury of the sea.  We spent another night with the slides in.


Thankfully we didn’t have to drive in those gale force winds of Friday.   I must have said how grateful I was a million times.

By Saturday the winds had cut back enough  that we could leave and drive up I-95 199 miles to a Walmart in Walterboro, SC.   If you’ve never done Walmart docking here’s what you are missing.  We arrived “early” as in 3pm.  There were many many more rigs here by dark.


The next day, Sunday, after a marathon 285 miles we docked at Walmart in Rocky Mount North Carolina.   Our motto is why pay for a campsite if you are only going to pull in, sleep and pull out again.   Thanks Walmart!

We arrive at our destination on Monday, Oregon Inlet Campground in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, after a 149 mile trip.  More my style.  Still we seldom drive 3 days in a row and were pretty sick of driving by the time we got here.

We set up but without the awning.  Not sure we’ll be able to put it out at all with the winds that seem to be a permanent part of the forecast on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

I think we can handle this for a while.



Nice living room views.

And pretty fine scenery out the bedroom window as well.


From Corolla on the North near the Virginia State Line to Ocracoke Island on the south, which though it is an island is still considered part of the Outer Banks, it is a total of 124  long skinny miles.  Lots of things to see and do here. 

In our previous life we came down at least once a year and stayed in a cottage so I’m pretty familiar with the historic sites all around including Lighhouses, the Wright Brothers Memorial, The Lost Colony.  This is the first time we’ve “camped” on the Outer Banks so I’m sure there are new things like the Native American Museum which weren’t here those many years ago.  So if you know of something we absolutely must not miss, do let me know.

Sweetwater Confusion

Saturday April 14-Tuesday April 17, 2018                                           Most Recent Posts
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park                                                     It’s All About the Sink Filling Up
Miconopy, Florida                                                                                Many Trails  in Paynes Prairie

In the morning I’m out hiking on the Lake Trail which I’ve done many times before and posted about.   I hear a shuffling.  It’s not a loud movement so I assume it’s a squirrel but look around anyway.  I notice this guy.  These are phone pictures from my Samsung S5 so don’t expect much.   It’s a a “true fact and not fake news” that if you don’t take your good camera you are bound to see something you want a picture of and if you do take it you well may not.


I stopped immediately when I saw him but he must have heard me and his eyes aren’t so good.  I know lots of folks don’t think armadillos are cute but I think he’s darling with his little ears looking around and sniffing to see what’s going on.



I guess he’s satisfied when I don’t move and he goes on about his business, most likely looking for yummy things to eat like insects, beatles, grubs and worms.


A rare shot of an armadillo with his nose pointing straight ahead.


mapOk so enough Armadillo.  Later that same morning we drove back to the northern side of the Prairie to visit Sweetwater Preserve.  I’d picked up a brochure for it in the Visitor Center the night of the Yoga class.  There are supposed to be two trails, the west 1.75 miles and the east 1.2 miles.

On the map of our drive, all the green is Paynes Prairie Preserve which continues off the left, right and bottom edges of the map.  The campground is off the map at the bottom.  It’s 9 miles to Sweetwater.  Looks easy.  Go up 441, turn right on 331 and it’s on the right.

We do just that.  We see the sign for Sweetwater and don’t notice that it says Sweetwater Wetlands not Sweetwater Preserve.  We wonder why it doesn’t seem anything like what I’d read but it has water and birds so we just continue.  Later we figure it out.  At the end of our hike, we drive further down the road and find Sweetwater Preserve less than 2 miles away  but have no time left to see it today and rain predicted for the next 3 days until we are scheduled to leave.  Guess the Sweetwater Preserve will have to wait until next time.

Sweetwater wetlands mapThe Preserve is an “Alachua County Forever” site while the Sweetwater Wetlands is a Gainesville City park.  We learn that the wetlands were actually built or probably more  likely restored to remove nutrients, sediment and trash from Sweetwater Creek.  The water flows through 125 acres of treatment wetlands and then into Paynes Prairie and the acquifer at the Sink I described in my last post (blue link at the top).   Their brochure says, No bikes, no drones, no fishing, no pets.

The reason we didn’t have time to go on to Sweetwater Preserve is not becasue we got a late start but because, despite how relative short the total mileage is on these boardwalk and dike trails, there is a lot of wildlife here.


Among the Wildlife are these baby Common Moorhens.  Too cute!

They are on the left of the boardwalk.  One the right we see a Limpkin mother and two chicks.


I didn’t hear him but I guess he’s practicing that obnoxious call.


Chick #2


The little blue heron has on his breeding colors.

The little moorhens find mom and follow after her.

Further on we spot gator eyes.  No feathered friends are nearby.



The anhinga must have been fishing since she is drying her wings on this island.


The female has the velvety brown neck.  The male is all black.


A field of greenery on the ground.  A field of clouds over head.


I spend quite a bit of time being entertained by the efforts of this beautiful Purple Gallinule to strip the grasses  of their seeds.  It was a serious balancing act.



Those are amazing feet.  I wonder how he uses them to swim.


The shading of the feathers on this bird are really a work of art.


You may have to adjust your eyes to see this American Bittern.  David spotted her and it took me a while get my eyes to see her in the grasses.


They are always very shy birds but normally they attempt to hide standing straight up with bill in the air immitating a reed.  It’s amazing and hard to spot.  I was actually looking for a bittern here but I wasn’t expecting to see oe hunkered down.




I personally think he should be called the red billed whistling duck but he’s actually called the Black Bellied Whistling Duck.  First we saw one and then later we saw dozens.



Red Winged Black Birds are singing their little hearts out.  I like this shot of him in full song with both his red and yellow patches visible.

Along the dikes, gators were resting and sunning.  Apparently they weren’t hungry since there was lots of lunch nearby.  Of course the lunch can fly.


We spy two black necked stilts.


I guess he’s called black necked because the back of his neck is black which you can’t see in this photo.  His pink legs are always what I notice.  The Pink Legged Stilt?  Guess the namers didn’t like that idea.

We wonder what this photographer is all set up with his tripod to photograph when a Limpkin comes strutting from the marsh up to the road, stops on the side and begins giving us all the screaching routing.



If you’d  like to hear what we heard, check out my Limpkin video at this link.   Be sure to have your sound turned up.  The wind gets in the way toward the end.  she was actually much louder than my microphone could record and she kept  it up for a LONG time before walking away.



The Limpkin crosses the road to get to the other side yelling all the way.


How about those toes?  They must be 5 or 6” long


Some people get the anhinga and this Double Crested Cormorant mixed up though they really don’t look anything alike.  They do both dip and dive in the water and dry their wings by spreading them out while perched. 


Can you see that sneaky gator head just poking out mid picture at the bottom of the bank?


Look back and see if you can spot this.   Not sure what his coat of green is but apparently it’s what’s on top of the water.


Here’s another one soaking up the sun with a bit of greenery on top.


We saw this Wood Stork standing on one leg.  They have faces that are about as attractive as a vulture.  Surely this can’t be the baby bringer.


We had wanted to take this path down the middle but given the location of the gate keeper, we thought better of it.   So did some other folks who came up after we took the long way around.


We don’t much worry about gators in the water but this close to the road is another story.  they can run really fast at first burst of speed.  Who knows if he would take offense at our walking by him?


By going the long way around we ran across an entire flock of Ibis both young (brown) and adult (white).  There were a couple of egrets mixed in as well.


Not sure what they were after but there were easily over 50 birds and they seldom put their heads up.


A covered viewing area overlooks the actual Sweetwater Creek as it flows through the Wetlands.


I see one lone kildeer.


This fellow was sunning along the edge of the water as many people strolled by.  When we got there he decided either he’d had enough of all of us or he was warm enough and like sunbathers on a hot summer day it was time for a tip. 


He didn’t jump off the bank and into the water as they often do.  He just stood up on his legs and sauntered in.


And then he slide easily into the water.


And disappeared.


As we head back toward the entrance, we pass by flocks of Black Bellied Whistling Ducks.  Easily 5 or 6 times the number in this picture.


I have to add this picture that  just mad me actually laugh out loud.  David didn’t see it so I took this picture after they had passed by.  Clearly all kinds of “walking shoes” are at Sweetwater today.


While we didn’t intend to visit Sweetwater Wetlands, it was one of the fortunate mistakes.   We’ll check out Sweetwater Preserve next time.


Sweetwater is really the  last of the hiking we were able to do here as the next days were filled with rain.

On Sunady the promised rain arrives right on schedule and we have a plan – at least for this day..   The weather guessers have pushed the rain back to the afternoon so in the morning David takes off both Hullivator pieces and makes adjustments to the Yakima Bars to stop a whistling noise that’s been getting increasingly worse as we ride in Ruby with or without the kayaks on top.  Of course he fixes it right up after some aggrevation and we find the noise is gone as we drive to our second plan of the day.


Carrie’s In laws, Bob and Joan Iwanowski have a home in the Villages.  We’re about as far north of Ocala as they are south so we plan to meet in Ocala for a late lunch at 2pm so we can both be back by the time the predicted high winds start.

Joan chooses Brooklyn’s Backyard and the food is excellent.  Not as good as the company though.  We always enjoy spending time with them and never have a moment’s trouble finding things to talk about.  They also have a home on the Outer Banks where they will be in May so we’re hoping to see them there as well.

Thanks so much Bob and Joan for coming out on a rainy day to meet up with us.

Even though we were both absolutely stuffed, we could not be just a block away from Bruster’s Ice Cream and not stop by.  They didn’t have JMC unfortunately but we managed to find two other flavors that we were willing to stand in the rain for.  Ice Cream lovers let nothing stand in their way.


It doesn’t just rain on Sunday night, it pours.  The thunder is powerful enough to rock the coach.  The winds are howling.  We bring in the slides and play the birding game.  David wins.  He says it’s the first time he’s ever beaten me.  He does it the last play when he picks up a $3 sponsor and gets both the bird and the bonus point.  Way to go!!


That concludes our time at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park.  After David’s clinic visit on Wednesday morning we begin our trip North.  Stop #1,  Fort Clinch State Park in Fernandina Beach.  Back to the Atlantic.  HOORAY!!