Greensboro, NC

From Wilmington we headed west to Greensboro and more wonderful family.

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Had a beautiful hike around Lake Brandt – the O’Kelley’s back yard.  Wendy, Brian and the kids (Hannah and Patrick) were wonderful hosts and shared lots of their precious time with us.  We were honored the share the time and amazed at the pace of life with two teenagers.  Much different than our lives even when we were working and “oh so busy.”  Parents amaze me to no end, and Wendy and Brian especially since they have such amazing kids, and I’m not the least bit biased.

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Again I neglected to use my camera to capture the wonderful memories with this part of our family.  Guess the good times will just have to live in our memories.

Millie gave us the grand tour of the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park.  The battle that occurred here was the largest and most hotly contested battle of the Revolutionary War.  The British, commanded by Lord Cornwallis, were greatly outnumbered 4,500 to 1,900 by the American Militia commanded by Major Greene.   The Americans were tactically overpowered and after a bloody 2.5 hour battle retreated in defeat.   Although victorious, the British lost over 25% of their troops in this battle and about seven months later surrendered in Yorktown ending the revolutionary war.

Statue of Major General Nathanael Greene

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Wonderful visit in Greensboro, but even better family visit!!!  Peace and Love

Wilmington, NC

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We took a big jump from Jacksonville, FL (area) to Wilmington, NC our previous residence.  Only stayed a week this visit but will plan to spend more time in Nov before we head west again.  What a wonderful visit we had, great family and friends are probably the thing we miss most on the road.

We were there for a couple of days enjoying life and living before I remembered to take any pictures (my thing you know) so to all who are not represented we still really enjoyed the time we spent together.  Dinner at Joseph’s in Oak Island, Hailey treated us to a ferry ride and great company on our way to dinner with Billie and Carolyn.  Anne and Ron were gracious enough to host a dinner with all the family trimmings the Yohes (Rhonda, Rodney, and Ella – Mason was not feeling well), Rich, Jimmy and Hailey.  With both dinners the food was wonderful, but the company was what really made them special.  Thank you.

I also neglected to photo Randy and Ricky working hard on the coach.  Our awnings are now secure with new flex lock and our refrigerator is working (YEAH), you guys are amazingly awesome.  Love you both

Greg and Teresa were also kind enough to have us over for dinner.  So glad we shared a meal, lots of laughs and played with Arianna and Nellie in the woods.  Love you guys!!!

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Hailey, Michael, Bobbie Sue and I took a great boat ride over to Masonboro Island for a walk.  Bobbie Sues first boat ride and run since becoming “blond” (blind) and she did great.  A little cool and cloudy to begin with but ended up being great, thanks Hailey and enjoy the new/used boat!!!  Even found some sand dollars – great day.

Rich, Leah and Regan gave us, Hailey and Jimmy the grand tour of their new house in Kure Beach.  Looks like a great place, but does not have a RV garage??  Rich…

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Larry and Louisa joined the band and hosted us for dinner.  Dinner, music and gardening (with help from Nellie) – what more could we ask.  Looking forward to some musical collaboration??  And how did you make those fabulous ribs, I’d love the recipe.

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Whirl wind visit but much fun and love.  Peace and love to all!!!!

 

 

Shooting a Cannon – Ft Caroline

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Another perk of our volunteer stint at Timucuan Preserve with Ranger Prettyman was shooting a cannon.  He had been mentioning it all week and I thought that we would be able to see the cannon shot, like we would be spectators.  Did not realize that we would be the ones shooting.   You know how much we love guns (sarcasm) but cannons are different.

We had to put on all natural fiber clothes as a safety precaution and they were period costumes for effect.  We did it all even wrapped our own gun powder charge!!

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Susie our leader is a well trained in historic armory and the appropriate way to use the cannons.  The one we shot was civil war replica that took a four-man team to operate.  Susie was number 1 calling commands, Deborah 2 loading the cannon, Randy 3 cleaning and plunging the barrel before and after shots and Lewis 4 placing the flint and pulling the trigger.   During war they were able to shoot this cannon every 30 seconds, but even after practice and choreographing our parts it took us 2 minutes.  Great team!!!

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Wow just wow!!!  what a really great experience, thanks Ranger Prettyman.  Peace and Love!!!  Cannon shooting for Peace…

The Infamous Cannon Carriage

Reporting for duty Sir.

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Not so sure what we were getting into “building a cannon carriage,” Lewis told us this would be our volunteer project.  Shoot we didn’t know what a “cannon carriage” was.  Well it is obviously a carriage that carries a cannon, but…..  Upon our arrival Lewis gave us a tour of the grounds and showed us a carriage that we would be modeling ours after.  Looks pretty simple right.

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It was really interesting and fun making it up as we went along.  There was a basic plan, but we had to figure out the best way to create the end result, adhering to safety regulations needed for a NPS exhibit, plans are for kids to enjoy seeing and playing on it for years.  From measuring and cutting the long — boards, plaining for smoothness, gluing and bolting for stability, shaving the axels to fit the tires, stencil painting the tires and bolts black for pop, it is a well-built carriage that should last for decades.  It was an enlightening experience for me, within the first couple of hours it was stacked together almost done right.

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Little did I realize the steps from there to finish.  I’m sure Randy and Lewis had a clue, but for me, I was really impressed by the thought and decisions required to complete the project.

Anyway below are step by step instructions for building a bad-ass cannon carriage – just in case you need one someday.

  1.  Cut

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2.  Drill

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Bolt

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Drill some more

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Wheels and brackets

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Shaping axle

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Painting

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Cannon

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Yeah carriage is complete just have to put the cannon in.

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Sadly we were unable to see the completed project because we had to get busy and shoot a real cannon.  We are 99% done, but will share a picture of the 100% complete later.  Basically they only need to put the cannon in place.  This was fun and great to spend time with an old friend, and we now have a NPS Volunteer resume.

Peace and Love

 

 

Ft. Caroline – Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve- NPS

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On our way from New Smyrna to NC we had the privilege of volunteering at Timucuan’s Fort Caroline Memorial with good friend Lewis Greg Prettyman our friendly park ranger.   They allowed us to use a full hook-up concrete pad in their beautiful woods in exchange for building the most bad ass cannon carriage ever made.    We got a couple of other perks which will be discussed in later posts, but the most special was the Prettyman’s hospitality having us over to dinner, letting the dogs play and meeting the family again – 5 years later.  But enough of that, lets talk about the fort.

The actual location of Ft Caroline is unknown, but it was somewhere near the mouth of the May River (currently St. Johns River).  The National Park Service has a location with-in the Timucuan Preserve to memorialize the forts history.  The site has docks and overlooks on the St. Johns River, nice nature trails and a replica fort complete with cannons.  Apparently they have more cannons than carriages for the cannons to ride on so —–  we are building a cannon carriage.

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Ft Caroline was the French’s attempt at establishing a settlement in Florida a mostly Spanish territory.  An exploratory voyage lead by Jean Ribault to find a suitable location for inhabitance left France in Feb 1562.   By 1654 they had a permanent settlement of 200 soldiers and artisans, just a couple of miles north of the Spanish settlement of St. Augustine.  Long story short, the Spanish got wind of the French settlement and did not like the idea.

So, the Spanish crept north to eliminate the French invasion.  The logistics get complicated, but the Spanish prepared to attacked, the French got reinforcements, the Spanish did attack, the Spanish were merciless and killed most, but some French fled, some got caught in a hurricane moving south, and some went back to France.  But by the end the Spanish had killed all except some Catholics and a few musicians, maybe a couple of women and children were spared for goodwill??

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Either way the Spanish won this battle and the French abandoned the colony.

Peace and Love.

 

River Shrimping

One final note from Oak Hill, one night while walking Nellie around 9pm in the campground I started to notice the oddest thing.  There were lots of boats anchored in the river with lights shining down into the water.  I thought they may be gigging fish or something but upon closer look, they had nets not gigs.  Something i had never seen, but they are netting shrimp.  Per Jimmy with the lights they find a sandy bottom near sea grass and wait for the shrimp to emerge and they scoop the up with the nets.  Illegal in some places, not sure about here, the fishermen will bait the sandy spots with corn meal??  That is funny to me since I would bread shrimp for frying with corn meal and they like it??

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Not a great picture, but imagine this times 20 looking up and down the river…  Peace and Love.

St Augustine, FL

St Augustine is only about 1.5 hours north of Oak Hill.  Great people and great friends Lori and Jan live in SA so we drove up for a Saturday lunch and walking tour of SA.  I always heard the Sainte Augustine was the oldest city in the US, but to be clear it is the oldest continuously occupied European established settlement within the border of the continental United States, just to be clear.  It was “discovered” by Spanish conquistador, Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1565 and has been continuously occupied ever since.

Local knowledge is key to any town or city.  Lori and Jan had the foresight to park on the Island side of the Lions bridge and walk into the city.  The central building in downtown is the former Ponce de Leon Hotel build in 1888, a luxury hotel built by Henry Flagler the oil and railroad tycoon.  Currently it is the home of Flagler College.  I believe the old hotel rooms serve as dormitories for the college.  Nice location for a college dorm?  Notice the dragon is a gutter down spout, spiffy huh.

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You may have seen my prior post about the Oak Trees growing around the Palm, well this is another take on the same thing.  This one does not look like it was trained to grow around the palm like in NSB, it just looks like it grew thru the middle, but who knows. Its called the “Love Tree” in Saint Augustine.

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There is of course a Spanish Fort in St. Augustine we did not visit so I know little about it except we really enjoyed our visit with Lori and Jan.

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We returned to Oak Hill via A1A most of the drive.  Everything from 6,000 sq ft mansions to 500 sq ft cottages.  The areas vary in wealth and protection from the ocean.  It does not look like this road will be accessible for much longer, but with modern technology who knows.

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Great day, great folks.  Peace and love.

 

Gibson and Lydia – NSB

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We enjoyed a wonderful long weekend with Gibson and Lydia in New Smyrna Beach.  They came down for their annual Florida weekend escaping the cold and blustery north of Roanoke VA.  VA and the rest of the east coast had a rough winter this year, VA had several snows in March, and New England had snowy nor-easters one after the other.    No wonder FL is so popular in the winter.

Haulover Canal is a man made canal north of Merritt Island that connects the Mosquito Lagoon and the Indian River Lagoon.  This spot was used by native Americans, explorers and earlier settlers as a place to drag or haul their canoes or small boats between the two bodies of water therefore the name Haulover.  In 1852 the first canal was dug by slave labors.  The Inter-coastal Waterway utilized this canal and it is now maintained by the Army Corp of Engineers and is a popular fishing and manatee viewing spot.

The painting below “Moma’s Bliss” was painted by our family “Rembrandt” uncle Ron  and is from a photograph taken of Mom paddling around Bird Island.  The likeness is remarkable…

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Bird Island is a federally protected rookery in the Indian River Lagoon several hundred yards (?) off the Haulover Canal.  This was a favorite spot for Mom; and Gibby, Lydia, Randy and I had a wonderful time paddling it at dusk during their visit.  The birds are amazing and plentiful – gulls, pelicans, egrets, herons, cormorants and our favorite the spoonbill (pink ones).   Of course dawn and dusk are the best birding times either going home or out for the day.

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We also enjoyed a bike ride to the north end of NSB.  The north end is dog friendly and has a raised board walk circling natural park land with several beach accesses and a fishing pier on the back side of the island. It was a great day for a ride and the tide was low enough to ride back down the strand.

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A strange sight that I have only seen in this NSB are Oak Trees growing around Palm Trees.  They appear to have been trained to grow this way, but I am not sure.  If you know anything about these occurrences, let me know below in a comment.

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Great visit with great folks.  Peace and Love.

Oak Hill – New Smyrna Beach, FL

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New Smyrna Beach was definitely our next stop to visit Jimmy.  We have stayed here before and there are two large parks that we were sure would have space.  But no, it was again a challenge to find a spot near by and ended up in Oak Hill about 20-25 minutes south of NSB.  Of course, we did not realize we were looking for a spot with our time starting right before bike week in Daytona…  Riverwood RV Park is nice and right on the Indian River/ICW and Mosquito Lagoon.  They don’t publicize the Mosquito part very much and they were not a problem until the last week.  Guess that is part of the reason everyone leaves FL the first of April.

This has been a very therapeutic visit for us.  It has been very hard coming to terms with Mom’s death, but, spending time with Jimmy in places she loved and sharing stories with him has been helpful for us.  The stories are to numerous to share, but we can share a couple of the places.

I can’t believe I didn’t get a picture, but Pappas Drive In was their favorite breakfast spot and we enjoyed breakfast there most every day.   Mom and Jimmy used to ride their bikes to breakfast at Pappas every morning during their winter visits.   Every waitress knows them by name and the food is really good.  They also still operate as a drive in with curb service and everything!!!

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Another favorite spot is Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge on the largest barrier island on the Florida coast.  It also houses the Nasa Kennedy Space Center which could explain the pristine condition of the island, it has been protected for a long time.   Bird watching, manatee sighting and alligator counting are favorite activities.

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Daytona was also a nice drive after breakfast, sorry I didn’t get pics of all the motorcycles during bike week, we avoided the busiest days, but got the gist.  It is amazing how little beach is left at Daytona,  they started the Daytona races on the beach before there was a track.  So, they could at least make a circle on the strand.  Picture below is at low tide, high tide the water is up to the sea walls.  A lot of high rises with very little beach to share or protect.  They did just have a hurricane so I might be overreacting, hope the beach has a great recovery.

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The very south end of Daytona is the Ponce Inlet which separates it from New Smyrna Beach (Coronado Island).  There are jetties on both side of the inlet.  This is the inlet that feeds the mosquito lagoon and the northeast side of Merritt Island, southwest of that is the Indian River Lagoon and the next inlet south is around Coco Beach so the ICW and Lagoon waters travel quite a way from the ocean.

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Driving on NSB strand is always part of the ritual.  I really like the driving on the beach idea.  Freeman park on Carolina Beach is much the same, but not as organized.  Guess with Daytona and history in general they have learned some lessons Carolina Beach might want to look at.

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One of Moms favorite activities was kayaking and we had the opportunity to kayak right at the campground with Jimmy, Diane and Ray.  It was a nice paddle and even a manatee visited at the dock before paddling, mom checking up on Jimmy and us.

Our kayaking partners are very dear friend of Mom and Jimmy.  Ray and Joni; and George and Diane have been wonderful years past and this year especially.   We really enjoyed not just meeting them but getting to know them on this visit and we are eternally grateful for their love of Mom and Jimmy.

We are very fortunate to have had this time.  The flexibility of retirement is amazing and very welcome.  After spending so many years chasing the almighty buck, it is very refreshing chasing our horizons!!!  Peace and Love!!!