Life on the Open Road

Life on the Open Road

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Tech Break

It's been quiet though not because I haven't got things to share and more will be coming soon enough. I would like to focus my attention in deliberate ways and I'd like to take a tech break during this time. Rather than say nothing until I'm back (figuring about a week or so), I want to give a heads up. 

I will be checking email once a day. I am intending to have a week off from social media and posting on my site though. So, I'm still within reach, I'm still in Florida, and I will be back. 

Thanks for following along! 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Beach Love and Living Like It's My Last Day

So much of my first year traveling involved being in nature like preserves and the swamp that the contrast to being so ocean drawn has been interesting, though not really surprising, to me. I walked solo with such confidence in the swamp, in the very wild nature. I realized how I was able to walk the beach with a similar confidence and appreciate knowing and recognizing that. There were sharp shells and jellyfish and sharks and a gator and all sorts of potentials, yet I intuitively knew where to step, ignoring and also avoiding any supposed dangers. Recognizing the feelings I like to feel in various and diverse places is awesome. It's confirmation I'm in control of my experiences. It cool to be aware of and see it play out. 

I spent around a month in the St. Augustine Beach area with a short revisit to Jacksonville Beach as well. There were times when leaving briefly crossed my mind, however, I’d be quick to recall that I liked being there. I knew the desire to go elsewhere would come yet it was easy to let go of any resistance to staying until then. I began a series of Instagram pics with the hashtag DailyBeach. Here are some photos from beach walking that I’m pretty sure were not included there, followed by a note I wrote during my stay. 

Living Like It's My Last Day

I don't mean in some life threatened kind of way. I've been hanging around the coast and going to the beach daily because I know I love being around water. As much as I can and will enjoy traveling inland again, I keep prioritizing and each day, the beach is where I choose to be. 

So what would you choose if it were your last day? Not in the dramatic afraid-of-dying-so-I'll-do-things-to-cling-on kind of way. What thrills you about being alive? What evokes joy, grows a smile on your face, and makes your heart sing? Are you doing it? Often? Everyday? 

I'm living like it's my last day lately. I'm choosing what I want to do, what I love to do, where I love to be and it's peaceful and good. 

The best way to fall asleep is feeling satisfied and the best way to wake up is feeling eager and excited for more. 

This will change. I will go elsewhere and do other things. The peace and joy and clarity and inspiration I'm experiencing from this along with the ease I feel within myself, I want to keep with me. I want to fuel that fire. In this respect, I will happily choose to live each day like it's my last so I pick the best most feel good choices in any given moment and allow the path of least resistance to carry me to the perfect time and place rendezvous I so love. Being alive feels good. Being here feels good. I like where I'm at and I'm looking forward for more.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach for New Year 2017

After Jacksonville Beach, I headed south. I’ve been to St. Augustine multiple times at this point. I learned of the Festival of Lights and decided to drive around the downtown at night to view them. It was pretty. I was glad I drove since it was packed. They smartly keep the lights up through the end of January so going around the holiday break isn’t necessary and I ended up back through another night which was much less crowded. Since I was driving, the crowds didn’t bother me though. They gave me a slower ride and therefore more time to look around. These pictures are all from through my cab windows!

Next I discovered St. Augustine Beach. This was the start of a few weeks stay in one place and a fulfilling time beach walking nearly every single day. Remember, I left New England wanting warm, sunny weather. I got my fill and walked happily up and down the water. I also learned of the New Year celebration and fireworks. I got an awesome parking spot at the beach by the water, not far from the lot full of festivities and the most blow up jumping stations I’ve ever seen in one place. What are they called, bounce houses? Lots and lots of them! Lots of food, live music, fireworks in the evening, and, of course, more beach. 

Elvis was here.
The '80s rock cover band was good. I don't think this was them, but the band before them. The crowd filled in a lot as the night went on.

I’m pretty sure I was asleep before midnight. Holidays like this are mostly simply another day for me. Standing with my feet in the sand, looking up at the fireworks to end and start a new year though? Nice.
I took these photos - what was in front of me and then what was in front of me once I turned around. It wasn't really "behind me" anymore then, of course.
Somewhere between Christmas and New Year's I also continued my personal tradition of buying discounted chocolates! I got a sample box to guess and taste. Fun stuff. I seem to love caramel chocolates the best and wondered if it might be best to just get ones I like next time. We shall see. Part of the fun is trying new things.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach, Florida

After my stay at Talbot Island State Park, I headed into Jacksonville once again, this time paying a visit to the Intercoastal Salt Marsh. This is a neat little spot. There’s a bit of history, a dock, and a trail. What I loved about this trail was how it had prints painted on it for various creatures one may encounter there. You follow the wood stork prints, for example, and find a board with information about it, then follow another set of prints to the next and so on. I thought that was really fun and also a great way to learn them. I have seen many gator prints yet not fully realized that the line through the foot prints is from the tail! While this sounds familiar, I guess I’d often have thought it was from a snake or biker. Seeing it like this, I'm pretty sure I'll now remember it's all gator.

An egret was under one dock and we had some entertaining back and forth because it would fly out suddenly as I passed over it and then cautiously walk back. I was walking to different parts and so it kept repeating this each time I walked over, flying out one side or the other, then sneaking back. I found this very amusing. I saw a red fox while here, too. It was around sundown when I began walking the loop. As I walked to one dock, I saw the fox sitting up, as if newly awakened, looking at me. I noticed and kept walking. On my way back, it was still there and I stopped, knelt down, and looked at it again. That was apparently enough. It ran away.

I also discovered Jacksonville Beach. Prior to this, I had heard of Jax Beaches and not known that represents, let's call it, a collections of beach towns, and that Jacksonville Beach itself is a town. I thought it was simply the beach in Jacksonville. This was soon to be a trend as I later discovered the same with St. Augustine Beach. Let’s not get head of ourselves here though.

In Jacksonville Beach, I had some great satisfaction with beach walking. I saw a lot of surfers and, being that it was just after Christmas, I was still able to see the Deck the Chairs lights in the downtown. I didn't know about this, which makes it extra exciting. It was small, yet very fun and enjoyable. Check out my Instagram for a short video clip of the light show to music, if you like.

Next I visited the Beaches Museum and history Park which is quite close to the beach and lights. When I visited, it was free and included a short film, exhibits and a local artists' gallery inside, and a tour of some old historic buildings on the property. I enjoyed it. It was cool to learn more about the area but also to make connections with so many other places in Florida I have visited before. From a painting depicting the Mckee Botanical Garden in Vero Beach (where I’ve lived before) to “the beaches” area history to Tarpon Springs - oh my, did you know that I did not realize that town was named for a fish?! I visited in December 2015 (and spent Christmas there, actually!) and what a hoot as I stood in this museum looking up at a tarpon. :)

I didn't take many pictures during the tour at all so here are just the few. If you're in the area, it's worth the stop. All in all, a pleasant few days exploring a new place.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Talbot Island State Park

Taking the easiest route at the time, I pulled into Talbot Island State Park just south of Amelia Island and inquired about any openings. This was the holiday weekend at Christmas and my online check suggested many places were booked. Since I stayed at Fort Clinch last time, I decided to try this one this time. Well there were two non-reservable sites left and I had my choice of the two. I drove around and opted for one away from the tents, nicely secluded by nature yet close enough to some neighbors. It was a nice size, too!  

I had a feeling I'd stay more than one night in a row and the ranger said to let them know by 1pm the latest. I appreciated the electricity and the showers. The water here, however, is well water and they treat it so that I can't fully recommend a stay here. After showering the first night, my skin was burning and I smelled like chemicals. I inquired and was told the water is tested daily and safe for drinking. I did not want to fill my fresh tank with it though and, as a fulltimer, this is important. It would have been like sanitizing the tanks and then continuing to have bleach in them. Actually, it was way stronger than the half cup or so it takes to do so. It's still a really nice spot so the shortcomings are not enough for me to say I wouldn't recommend it. I did learn to ask prior to staying elsewhere. This is the second time I've encountered highly treated water at a campground. If it's city water, you're not likely to have such strong treatments to have issues. 

Anyway the campground is across the street from the state park where you have access to the beach. I would love to see them put a crosswalk to get from one to the other. I unhooked and drove over. You can rent bikes for a great rate at the ranger station. There is a trail to walk or ride on and plenty of space to enjoy them. The campground itself is a nice size and allows for a max of 30' RV. The road in it is a bit narrow and the sites, at least near where I stayed, have nice natural privacy and are somewhat canopied. There is a fishing area, comfort stations, and I'm forgetting if there is a playground... 

The beach was nice. Lots of parking options. The bathrooms haven't got lights, just natural lighting which was really neat. While I was walking, I saw a gator on the beach. A ranger was circling the area with his truck and then walking around so I stopped over to inquire. He said it was hissy, sunning to warm up, and had been swimming in the ocean the other day. It probably came over during a recent storm and would wander back to fresh water on its own. I was also told there were a lot of sharks out now. All different kinds and if I went in the water, there'd likely be one within 100 yards of me. I'm a beach walker so this is mostly not a concern for me, however, I have seen two sharks right on the beach lately (both caught by someone fishing- I'll be sharing more later) so a rendezvous can still happen. I have been pleasantly amazed at the confidence of those folks encountering them. Again, more on that later. I saw jellyfish, too. This particular location had the most to look out for than any other for me. 

I did end up staying more than one night. A first for me, since I have largely preferred dry camping, and what I call urban boondocking. This marked a bit if a shift for me and how I travel. In general I have sensed some changes in my feelings, desires, and approach. More on that later, too. 

This was a nice way to spend the holiday, a quiet place with hook ups(water, electric- the dump station is on the way out), and enjoy the beach. 

Despite the treated water, I would stay again. Fort Clinch has better water, less privacy at the sites, and nicer bathrooms. I'd stay there again, too but I'd want to at a quieter time because when that place was busy, it was less enjoyable all around. Talbot Island was pretty full yet still pleasant.