Friday, November 28, 2014

A Safari in Florida?


A Safari in Florida? You betcha this is!
One of Rick’s jobs during our adventure of firsts is to seek out RV Parks along our route, and he found this unique KOA located in Loxahatchee, Florida. This one is actually part of a 245 acre wildlife preserve called Lion Country Safari. It is home to over 800 animals from all over the world, and they roam free; albeit with the exception of a very large fence that separates them from us of course!
For those of you that have ever been to the African Lion Safari in Ontario Canada, it is exactly the same concept; that being you drive through the park in your car.
The animals have the right of way of course as they frequently cross the roadway stopping your vehicle. You are provided with a CD that narrates your journey as you drive along, and is very educational to say the least.
Staying here was definitely a unique experience to say the least. It was as if we were camping in Africa at times. For example as you settle down for the evening or wake in the early morning you can literally hear the sounds of Africa at your doorstep. Lions roaring, cranes calling and gibbons whooping most certainly provided a surreal experience. Even Toby’s ears were tuned into these very foreign sounds.
If you stay here you are also provided free and/or discounted tickets into the reserve itself. It was our luck that at this time of the year we were given free entrance.


Taking in some rays at our site 

Loxahatchee is about 35 miles from Delray Beach. While we were here we had the opportunity to visit with some of Rick’s friends.
Chris New, a lifelong friend of Rick’s and her fiancĂ© Sean just so happened to be vacationing at an amazing oceanfront condo. So we stopped in for lunch and major gab session one day. It was a very warm and extremely windy day as you can tell by this picture above.  Too much for a beach day so we all took shelter on the not so windy side of their 800 square foot wrap around balcony enjoyed a pizza, and proceeded to enjoy this awesome view for most of the day!
The next day we visited with another one of Rick’s friends, one who he hasn’t seen for 22 years.
Marco Knoop and his family actually live in Delray Beach, and we had the opportunity to spend time with him and his great family at their beautiful home. We had a wonderful day full of reminiscing, good wine and good food.
Below are some pictures of their beautiful home.

Rick being creative with the lens…
Real turtles???
Thank you for making our adventure more meaningful everyone!
On our third day in Loxahatchee we took advantage of our free admission to the Lion Country Safari. Below are a few photos taken during our visit …

Putting faces to the voice so to speak…

We will be heading toward Sarasota tomorrow making another pit-stop near Sorrento. Rick has us booked into Wekiva Falls RV Resort. We will be spending 5 days there, which will pretty much have you caught up to our exact location.
While we here we will have the opportunity to enjoy our first American Thanksgiving.   
We hope you’re enjoying our adventure as much as we are, so stay tuned for more to come.
Vicariously Yours,
Rick, Sandra, Toby and Wee Shaemus

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A visit to America's first Colony St. Augustine...

In keeping with the theme of our adventure of “firsts” what a perfect place to visit, St. Augustine Florida, America’s first successful colony and oldest city.
In 1565, Spanish explorer Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles arrived with 800 colonists to settle the New World in the name of Spain. It was an ambitious attempt indeed, and on September 8th, St. Augustine was founded.

We picked another nearby KOA to park Chillax’n at for a couple of days. St. Augustine Beach KOA is located about 3 miles from downtown, and has public transit available just steps from the front entrance. Sorry Rick forgot to snap a photo of our campsite however, we did manage to take a few pictures of the resident wildlife.


This cool bird above could be seen on his perch for most of each and every day, with the exception of course when Mr. Hawk arrived below!

This colourful fellow and his entourage regularly paid our site a visit in the hope that we would feed them, which of course we did not. I’m sure many people do though because they were unbelievably tame and not afraid of humans. Toby enjoyed rolling in their poop too if you didn’t keep a watchful eye UGH!
Of course there will always be these little critters around when there is an abundance of live oak trees.
The name "live" oak comes from the fact that evergreen oaks remain green and "live" throughout winter, when other oaks are dormant.
When the term live oak is used in a specific rather than general sense, it most commonly refers to the southern live oak, the first species so named, and an icon of the Old South.

We spent a beautiful warm sunny afternoon walking around the downtown core where there is so much to see and do understandably. There was everything to do from sports and recreation, sightseeing and walking ghost tours, both fun and historic attractions, shopping galore, art galleries, and lastly an abundance of bars and restaurants.

                    The first Spanish Military Hospital now a Museum


Scarlett O'Hara's Pub
When you’re in need of a good restaurant and/or pub who better to ask than the local constabulary...

Sangrias Tapas & Wine Bar where 1 beer + 1 glass of wine + tip equalled 20 bucks!

Of course Wee Shaemus tagged along with us!

Just to enlighten you a little - prior to entering this place we had enjoyed a fantastic dinner out at an Italtian restaurant called the Chianti Room.
Several glasses of wine, and we're not telling you just how many + 2 Caesar Salads + 1 Lasagna and 1 Veal Parm dinner equalled $49 less the tip.
What is up with that ??? 

Oh well, at least this little musical duo was worth the coin!

But after a fantastic belated Birthday dinner / date night we waited for our taxi in front of Tini Martini Bar all decked out in it's Christmas bling. A little over the top perhaps?



Tomorrow we will be moving further south to the West Palm and Delray Beach areas so we can enjoy another couple of firsts. We also have a couple of friends to hook up with there, both who are friends of Rick’s from his pre-Sandra days.
If you ever get the chance to visit St. Augustine please don’t hesitate and let the opportunity pass you by. St. Augustine is most certainly a compelling narrative of exploration, innovation and let’s not forget its enduring human spirit.
It is marked by so many milestones such as being the first permanent European and African settlement; the site of the first Christian mass in the Americas; the first port to develop into a centre of trans-Atlantic trade and commerce; the site of the first hospital; the first tavern just to mention a few.
Legacies such as these will be celebrated next year during the 450th Commemoration of what is known as the first colony.
Our visit definitely was a first on so many levels!
Thanks for hanging out with us, and don't forget to catch up with Chillax'n after our adventure of first continues on to West Palm and Delray Beach Florida.
See you all on the flip side….
Rick, Sandra, Toby and Wee Shaemus

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hello from Charleston, South Carolina

We’re happy to report that we had an uneventful trip down to Historic Charleston South Carolina.
It was a beautiful sunny day and we stayed at the Mount Pleasant area KOA. This particular KOA just so happens to be on the grounds of a real Antebellum Plantation, and there's no mistaking you're in Carolina low country when you camp here. Azaleas, oaks and loblolly pines give this campground a signature touch to its charm.
Sandra and Toby attempted the 1.5 mile nature trail, but after reading the sign warning to stay on the trail or take your chances with alligators, poisonous snakes and/or vegetation they opted out, simply coining the phrase “let’s not and say we did”.
On site is a 30-acre private lake where you can simply relax rent a boat, or fish (catch and release only). We deciding to lay low on our arrival day and simply enjoyed the front row view that Chillax’n had of the lake.
The next day we headed into Historic downtown Charleston where horse-drawn carriages clip-clop along the historic harbor and beautiful cobble stoned streets and gas lit alleys. It was one of our hit and miss very warm days. However it was extremely windy, which made walking around somewhat difficult and not so fun.
There was also the threat of severe thunderstorms and a tornado watch in effect. So as we watched our beautiful skies turn gloomy around noon, decided to for-go the carriage ride and take some pictures of the gorgeous 18th century homes and buildings, architecture and  harbor as quickly as possible.
Here are a few photos to try and entice you to visit this enchanting beautifully preserved city so rich in history...

On our way back to the campground we took a quick detour to Patriots Point so we could see the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, the tenth aircraft carrier to serve in the United States Navy. It is out of commission now, but you can walk in the footsteps of YORKTOWN's sailors and officers as you tour the Flight Deck all the way down to the massive engine rooms that powered this great ship.

We made it back to Chillax’n just in time before the skies opened up and technically “rained on our parade”. So with that we will leave you will this gorgeous photo of the night sky as it appeared out the front window after the storm had passed.
We will be heading out in the morning to make our way down to St. Augustine Florida. The weatherman is forecasting another cold front to make its way as far as Georgia, so we've decided to by-pass Savannah and head to where we won’t have freezing temps.
So stay tuned for our next post from there.
Rick, Sandra, Toby and Wee Shameus  

Friday, November 21, 2014

An adventure of firsts...

Given the fact that this blog primarily started out as a way to maintain contact with our families and friends, both at home and abroad, we have now found that it can also serve as a portal for those who may want to live vicariously through us. So it is our hope to share the travel and life experiences we encounter along the way with others; the good, the bad and the ugly.
For what it's worth comments are both encouraged and welcomed.
As the title of this post indicates, it is our hope to explore places that neither one of us on board Chillax'n have ever been to before. So South Carolina beckoned us as it does millions of people each year, and it wasn’t long before we realized why so many people come here once we arrived.
We parked Chillax’n for one week at the Myrtle Beach Travel Park which is located geographically half way between North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach or the Grand Strand as it is locally referred to. We chose this location for a couple of reasons, one of which was to meet up with Sandra’s Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Paul who are both avid golfers, and vacation in North Myrtle Beach each year during the month of November.  
That comes as no surprise because South Carolina is well known for its many golf courses, some of which are on the championship level.
The first full day we were here Rick managed to golf with them, and has since referred to Paul as the best golfer he has ever golfed with. Sylvia apparently was no slouch either!
With brand new clubs, Paul shot 74 on a par 72 course, Sylvia shot 112, and Rick all decked out in his new golf shoes shot 111. Let it also be known that Rick shot a birdie on hole 4, a par 5 to boot! Congrats to all who participated!
The other reason we stayed in this area was because it was close to the North Carolina border where our dear friend Mary lives. Unfortunately our surprise visit with her turned out to be all too brief. Seems our friend recently had had one of her knees replaced which in turn restricted our visit to seeing her at a Wilmington Rehabilitation facility.  However brief it was it still turned out to be a surprise, and it was great to reconnect with her after many years. Mary, if you’re reading this post please know that we enjoyed every single moment we spent with you, and we will be back again one day so we can have that cocktail with you in your pink house!

Our RV site

 Our RV Park was located right on the oceanfront where the only thing separating us from the ocean was huge sand berms and a broad stretch of walkable shoreline.  At this time of the year even your dogs are allowed to walk along the beach with you, just as long as you abide by the poop and scoop rule of course!

A shell collectors haven

Needless to say Toby had a blast each and every day taking advantage of this first for him!

Of course Wee Shaemus had to make his appearance too!

The weather was a combination of seasonably warm to unseasonably cold while we hung out in the Carolinas. Shorts and sandals one day and boots and long pants the next. Seems that Artic front that is affecting most of Canada and the United States had travelled as far as us.
Looking at the weather forecast and knowing that another cold front was on its heels we decided to start heading a little further south to Charleston where we had heard it wasn't going to be anywhere near the freezing mark at night, lets not forget we still don't have a working furnace.

We'll catch up with you soon...