I like to think of myself as an observer of the humor in life, and as a reporter of that humor. As I travel the roads of America, one thing that I learned….Life is Funny!!
When I left Florida in late March, 2021, I was glad to be on the road again, and to leave the alligators, fire ants, snakes, bears, wild hogs and other things that can kill me!!
I drove west to east across the state, and then north on Highway 1 through the quaint cities and towns along the Atlantic Coastline. I stopped in Titusville, which is part of the “Space Coast” near Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center.
I took the self-guided tour through the Space View Park which highlights monuments, plaques, and handprints in cement of the Astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Shuttle programs.
It also has monuments to workers and astronauts that lost theirs lives in the line of duty, which number in the hundreds.
All of the NASA- launched crewed spaceflights from 1961 (Mercury) through the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011 have departed from either the Kennedy Space Center or Cape Canaveral; so Titusville is a great place to safely watch launches.
A full 50 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, St. Augustine, Florida was founded in 1565 by Spanish Admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles, who was only 46 years old. St. Augustine is the oldest continuously-inhabited European-established settlement in the contiguous United States. The tour guide told us that you have to use all those words to make the statement true.
The wooden fort at St. Augustine was continually bombarded by enemies over the next 100 years. An especially severe attack in 1668, which was perpetrated by the English privateer (Pirate) Robert Searles, who damaged the fort, destroyed most of the city, killed 60 people, and took citizens hostage to negotiate for supplies, led to the commission of a new fort. The Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. It sits on Mantanzas Bay as a formidable protector of St. Augustine. Built between 1672-1695, it is now a part of the National Park Service.
The Castillo was built from Coquina- “a type of sedimentary rock composed of almost entirely of transported, abraded, and mechanically sorted shells of mollusk, trilobites, brachiopods, or other invertebrates” dating back 60 million years. In other words, a bunch of seashells crushed together over a period of time that seems incomprehensible to to imagine.
I got lost in the weeds a bit looking up this type of stone used on the Castillo. One fact that I found interesting because I am a very practical person; the coquina stone has a softness to it that allowed the cannonballs to sink into the walls instead of shatter or puncture the walls. It was worth the trip down the rabbit hole of the pleistocene epoch just for that one little fact!
My last stop in Florida was at the Kathryn Abby Hanna State Park located in Jacksonville, Florida. I decided to stay for 3 nights because it was so AWESOME! The lush undergrowth and tall Palm Trees in the campground afforded much needed shade and privacy. A short walk down the trail led to a beautiful white sand beach that allowed dogs to frolic in the ocean. Gemini played in the waves and again was reminded how yucky salt water tastes!
I crossed the state line into Georgia to get a vaccine and visit Savannah. Even though I spent 2 months in Florida, I wasn’t able to get a vaccine due to the high demand and confusing system to sign up. It took only a few minutes on line to track down a local pharmacy in Georgia that was giving the J & J shot. As a full time traveler with a schedule to keep, I didn’t want to have to wait around for 2 weeks for a second shot. So…….I got the shot, waited 15 minutes and was released to be on my way. I was happily surprised that I had no reaction that day or any day following the shot-Nothing! Not even soreness at the injection sight.
I remembered back to a few days before when I was in the historic downtown area of St. Augustine. It was crowded with people on narrow cobblestone streets. Old fashioned Pubs, Ice Cream Shops, and restaurants beckoned the large crowds into their establishments. Most people were still wearing masks because of the crowding. Then, I heard a commotion and went to see what was happening. A group of three people wearing colonial costumes and waving the “Don’t tread on me” flag were holding signs that said, “Burn Your Mask” and “Pandemic is a Hoax” .
Life is definitely Funny!
After parking the rig at the Convention Center, I took the ferry across the Savannah River. The weather report called for temperatures in the 60’s and cloudy, so I had no concerns about leaving the animals inside. This is another concern for me as I travel in the hotter months. If I’m plugged in to the electric at a campground, no worries, I just turn on the air conditioning.
The city of Savannah is beautiful beyond belief! One only has to walk a few blocks along the brick or cobblestone streets to find yet another park with its’ own unique design and theme. On my self-guided tour, I passed through 9 of the 22 parks and took time to sit for a few minutes and breathe in the fragrance of spring.
As an important seaport, the British held the city until 1782. It was also an important objective for William T. Sherman as he marched and burned his way through the South during the Civil War. Luckily, for the sake of the city, local leaders negotiated a peaceful surrender in 1864. Today, Savannah can boast a rich culture in the arts, music, and theater as well as having one of the nation’s largest historic districts. The local tourism industry thrives as over 12 million people visit per year.
In the 19th century, the Port of Savannah became one of the most active ports in America, its people being treated to some of the world’s finest goods imported by foreign merchants. Today, massive container ships travel down the Savannah River, making it the 4th largest port for shipping containers in North America.
Springtime in the Southeast U.S. is sublime. Lush vegetation that doesn’t quite go dormant in the winter and a longer growing season leads to Azaleas and Rhododendrons growing as big as trees!
It is also the best place to see spring first………….
In Asheville, North Carolina, I visited my friend Tammy, a transplant from the Chicago suburbs. She treated me to a tour of the Biltmore House, which was completed in 1895 after 6 years of construction. George Vanderbilt envisioned the 250-room French Renaissance Chateau as a country retreat for family and guests. It is trademarked as “America’s Largest Home” and at over 178,000 square feet it certainly is. Architect Richard Morris Hunt designed the home in collaboration with George Vanderbilt. Fredrick Law Olmsted designed the gardens-he also designed Central Park in New York City as well as the U.S. Capitol grounds.
The sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains are only matched by the elegance and grandeur of the house and furnishings, which include a 90-foot long room containing Flemish Tapestries dating back to the 1500’s. The library houses over 10,000 books, and has a secret second floor entrance that guests could use to sneak into the library without having to get properly dressed for downstairs. It was scandalous to be seen wearing improper attire for the hour or activity of the day-Ladies often had to change clothes as many as 7 times per day depending on the activity.
Besides the fabulous art work collections, opulent Louis XV bedroom, and 43 indoor bathrooms; there were modern appointments such as a bowling alley, a 70,000 gallon indoor pool with underwater lighting, a gymnasium and 4 kitchens containing walk-in refrigerators.
After touring a small part of this grand home and its’ 135,000 square feet of living space, I went back to my 244 square foot home on wheels, and sighed in relief at the coziness of my home.
I had a harrowing drive across the Smokey Mountains on an interstate with narrow lanes and 7% downhill grades in a misty rain. As the wind blew me around, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What the Hell am I doing?” At the end of the day, I pried my fingers off the steering wheel and pulled into a quaint old dairy farm that has been converted into a RV Park and Bluegrass Music Venue in Kodak, Tennessee. Parked high on a hill, watching the cattle grazing nearby, I relaxed and the stress of the day started to drain away. I realized that it’s worth the struggle to experience this…….
One of the nice things about traveling, is visiting friends along the way. I spent a couple days with my friend Lucy from Bloomington. She retired and now lives on top of a mountain overlooking Dale Hollow Lake in Celina, Tennessee. We cooked fish over the campfire and caught up on each others lives.
I also caught up with my friend Sally in Indiana. Sally and I have been on many camping trips together (and are still friends-lol). Her puppy, Teddy loves Gemini and Gemini loves her toys!
The months of May and June were somewhat of a blur for me. As a retired healthcare worker, I was called back into service to be of assistance post-operatively to a friend and then, my sister. All went well and nobody died on my shift. I was able to spend some quality time with both of them and help do some projects around the house- including dog walking.
I will be back on the road again in July. Stay tuned for new adventures……..
IN THE MEANTIME- STAY SAFE, WEAR A MASK (again – Grrrrrrr), AND GO WITH THE FLO!