14 November 2014

To the Sun

Well, this just might be the FIRST winter we completely escape the snow ... as true Sunbirds! 

Heather (ROVN TOAD Navigator & Co-pilot) baked us some very comfy looking LOAFin Around slippers for this trip! ... dontya think?

I've never liked using the word 'Snowbird', to describe folks travelling from snowy to sunny climates. That term should be reserved for Californians and Europeans that travel to the Canadian Rockies in the winter to ski. 'Sunbird' describes what we are heading towards, not from ... and for us, that's a more positive motive. Besides, I'm writing this post, so I can call myself whatever the heck I want to. 

Americans that live anywhere along the east coast from New York south to Florida must view this time of year as a travelling frenzy ... 1000's of Canadians and Americans (from the northern states) driving south searching for warmth and sun. Starting as early as the first week of October, the inter-state highways are dense with the various variations, configurations, shapes and sizes of RV. Some travellers are in personal vehicles heading to a rented condo for a time, others will park Class A coach's or Five'ers at a single campground for 4 to 6 months. And, some, like us will travel around to a number of different locations all over the state. 

The greatest disadvantage to spending time in Florida is that it's just so darned busy ... it's noisy, over-populated and over-developed. We come from a background of back-country wilderness camping in remote areas, so 'Car Camping' is often an uncomfortable concept for us to wrap our heads around. You won't find solitude, spiritual awakenings or pristine wilderness here, but, if you're resourceful, you can find a few locations that will provide quieter kayaking, cycling, hiking and birding opportunities ... in Florida, we rely on a truck camper instead of a canoe and tent for our mobile-camp. 

This year will be a personal best for us, travel-wise ... we'll be away 184 days in 2014, a little more than 6 months. We're on the road now and we won't return until early April. In March 2015, we'll store LOAF somewhere secure and fly to Mexico for a week in Playa del Carmen then a ferry trip across to Cozumel Island for a couple of weeks of diving & snorkelling. We'll then return to Florida, repack LOAF and work our way home as the weather allows.

Driving Updates ....... some light flurries in the air the Friday before, but the day we left was clear and cool. The current forecast predicts good weather for our whole trip south. New York state was overcast with intermittent light rain, Pennsylvania cleared and warmed and by Virginia on Day 02 the temperature hit 20C in the late afternoon ... what a difference driving south for 1045 kms makes! South Carolina provided shorts 'n sandals temperatures and really poor highways. 

We had a brief layover in Savannah, did a lot of walking, a trolley tour and a river cruise, had a nice lunch and an even better dinner.  

Wikipedia: Savannah is the oldest city in the U.S. State of Georgia and the county seat of Chatham County. Established in 1733, the city of Savannah became the British colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. A strategic port city in the American Revolution and during the American Civil War. Savannah today is an industrial center and an important Atlantic seaport. It is Georgia's fifth largest city.

 Ships coming from Britain carried 'ballast stones'. After the ships were emptied of their cargo, those stones were no longer needed and were left behind when the ships returned to Europe. Local builders in Savannah used them to pave the streets, build walls and erect many buildings.

The Savannah River divides South Carolina and Georgia

Nurse bricks ... 

 The Savannah River and seaport

Typical residence

The city features several 'Squares', all are gathering places dominated by Live Oaks, monuments, statues, plantings, benches, street people, artists, musicians ...

City Hall - 24 carat gold leaf

The existing port can handle 98% of all cargo ships in the world and current dredging will allow passage of the newest class of international ships that presently measure up to 1500 feet in length

  Police on horseback ... more personable and friendlier ... the horse breaks the barrier!



Day 06, officially in Florida and at our first camp. We travelled this route to Jacksonville in order to purchase a couple of Montague Crosstown folding bikes. 

In the past, we have travelled with our bikes dangling off the backside of truck campers and travel trailers ... we've wrapped them in tarps ... we've dragged them inside and stored them on beds and couches. I've seen others mount them on front and rear receiver hitches, haul them up on roofs, mount them on ladders and rear wall custom racks. I don't like any of these options. They all expose the bikes to road debris and weather and can cause a lot of damage ... we know, we've done it. 

The Montague Crosstown's fold-up into a neat transport bag and can be stored in the back seat of the Ford's crew cab ... compact, light, secure, full-sized frames (19 + 21 inch), road tires, good ride, all the accessories. Each weighs 27lbs and can easily be transported on an airplane as easily as in the backseat of a truck. 

These aren't todays' common $3000+ road or off-road bikes, but for a couple of olderlies that just like to travel some mild hybrid trails, maybe get on some pavement to train a bit ... they'll be just fine. 

Review to follow.

Crusty ... reporting!

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TEAM: LOAF, Crumby, Wry & Crusty