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by Lloyd Treichel
Dateline: November 28, 2004 -- Wauchula, Florida
Future travel plans... My explorations will continue in Florida until after Christmas when I will head west in the general direction of California.
Jacksonville, Florida ... was the next stop after Charleston. Actually, the first stop was in the mud at the Orange Park Elks Lodge in Jacksonville. $150 tow job and I was on the pad which I should have backed into.
While in Jacksonville, my first journey was to Mayport Naval Station to retrieve a bottle of Crown Royal as consulting fees. During Jim Bohen's design of his New Horizons home, we exchanged a few emails which Jim construed as consulting. However, who am I to question a bottle of Crown Royal.
That one hour drive on freeways convinced me that exploring Jacksonville ocean sites was going to be too much time on the freeways. With fuel prices at $2.20 to $2.40 a gallon, it was a good idea to find exploring closer to my home base. So off to...
St. Augustine, Florida ... It is located south of Jacksonville just a few miles down the road right on the coast. The Elks lodge was my choice once again -- no mud this time. There I stayed for a week as I explored. This was the first of many weeklong stops while in Florida. In the past three months, I have been moving far too often and not exploring an area in depth.
The Elks Lodge was home while I explored. The Lodge was a mile long bike ride to the beach at Anastasia State Park where I traveled several times to chat with the fishermen and walk the beach to get some necessary exercise. As I chatted with the fishermen, the egrets and other water birds were waiting for handouts. After a fisherman had filleted a fish, a heron managed to swallow the remaining meaty skeleton. Looked like more roughage than meat.
St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied city in the United States. Settled originally by the Spanish in 1565, it predates the next permanent settlement of Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1607.
In 1513, Ponce de Leon was the first European to set foot on Florida in search of the Fountain of Youth as well as conquer lands for Spain. He named the new land "Pascua de Florida" (feast of flowers). Since this was a private concession for Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth, I was a skeptical of the authenticity in spite of the relics that were found there. Putting disbelief aside, I drank some of the waters. The highly sulfurous and mineral laden water did not go down easily. At my advanced age I wonder how many years that water added to my life.
The Spanish Quarter... is a historic village (can't resist these) recreation in St. Augustine with period dress and skills. After the school tours were complete for the day, the interpreters can sit back and relax a bit. I had come late in the day and ended up chatting with the master carpenter of the village who also carved powder horns. It seemed an interesting hobby for me as he described the history of powder horns, the preparing and carving process, and his custom carvings. Before long, he had me convinced that I could do this. As I left I had the horn of a long dead steer in my hand. Perhaps I expressed too much interest.
Before leaving the St. Augustine area, I found myself thinking that this would be a great place to stop when I needed to hang up the wheels.
Bushnell, Florida Escapees Park ... was the next stop. This was the home base for several explores in the area.
Homosassa Wildlife Park was about a 30 mile drive to the Gulf side of Florida. This was where I saw and learned about the endangered Manatee. These animals migrate north to waters along the East Coast as far north as Virginia. However, when the waters start to cool, they head south -- like the RVing Snow Birds -- to the warmer waters off the coast of Florida.
There were also alligators in the Park. I learned that alligators do not eat when the outside temperature is too cold. In fact, the alligators at this park would not eat again until next March. When the air temperature exceeds water temperature, they come out of the water and bask in the sunshine. That also sounds like the RVing Snow Birds.
Busch Gardens ... in nearby Tampa was the destination one day. I was surprised to find that it wasn't really gardens, but an amusement park. The next surprise was the price of admission. Since there was no reduced fare for not taking any "amusement" rides, I forked over the 40 plus dollars. I had already paid seven to park Silver Slug. My priorities may be different, but how can a family of four or five pay for a visit here and then complain about fees at National Parks. Fortunately, the "gardens" included some very good wild animal exhibits including this lioness.
Wauchula, Florida ... was the next stop at the Escapees park. Here is where hurricane Charlie inflicted considerable damage in August. There was extensive sign damage, numerous felled trees, buildings under reconstruction or demolition. Much had already been cleaned up or was waiting for hauling to the land fill. The damage at the Escapees park was still noticeable, although all the debris and trees have been removed.
Hiking... It would be called walking in Florida. The highest point in Florida is only 354 feet and that is located on the Alabama border north of Tallahassee. Since I was no where near that lofty spot, my exercise was to walk beaches when I was near one. Other times the exercise was walking around in circles within the confines of the RV park where I was parked.
When I was parked at Bushnell, a 46 mile long paved bike path was nearby. That gave me a chance to get on the bicycle for some extended exercise.
Wondering... Why elect a "supervisor of elections"? Here in Florida, I noted several signs asking for an individual to be elected to that role. This sounds like something that should not have partisanship attached to it.
Cinnamon Roll Search ... It's been a long time since I had one I could recommend. This one was found at Herb and Peg's Bakery & Deli in Bushnell. The roll was a little large, but the balance of flavors and textures worked well. Since I did not eat all of it the first day, I found that it was just as good on day two.
Vanity License Plates ....
DUZ ART ---
IPULL1 on the RV towing a car with IPUSH1
American Pie written by Pascale Draoulec. When moving from the west coast to the east coast, this restaurant reviewer made a road trip looking for the perfect pie. Her book includes the journey, the people, the "dumpster pies" and the pie recipes she found along the way. For those who like pie and the making of pie, this would be a must read.
The biography, Woodrow Wilson, written by August Heckscher provided some knowledge about the man with a focus on his years as President of the US. An easy read without getting too academic, this covers the US history during the turbulent period of World War I -- the war to end all wars. This is also the retelling of Woodrow Wilson's attempt to found the League of Nations. Considering that during WWI, this was the US's first foray into global "policing", this historic material is all the more relevant in today's world.
Walking to Canterbury by Jerry Ellis was a spiritual walking adventure -- or is it. Filled with historic material about Thomas Beckett, Medieval Europe and quotes from Chaucer, the book is quite informative. However, some of the situations seem contrived (fiction?) so the author could relate the historic material. This included long quotes of Chaucer -- which I could have done without. As I read the book there were times when events of his hike seemed unbelievable. When he goes up the Cathedral steps on his knees, it really stretches credibility.
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