Tallahassee, FL

Hey Guys!! We spent a week in the Tallahassee area of Florida.

The whole point of this stop was to see the State Capitol Building.

The Old and the New Capitol Buildings are right next to each other in Tallahassee.

 The Old one has a very pretty dome, but the New one doesn’t even have a dome.

The Old SCB has been turned into a museum. We were able to go into both the House and Senate chambers and look around. It was pretty neat.

In the New SCB we had to peak through the windows at both the Senate and House chambers. That was kind of a bummer. Usually, the ceilings in the House and Senate chambers are totally picture worthy. We’ve seen everything from murals to huge chandeliers to stained glass domes! So, I’m always curious to see inside the House and Senate chambers.

The Old SCB had some fun picture opps!

The New SCB had an art gallery and

a 360 degree view on floor 22!

The RV Park we stayed at had some huge live oaks trees! They were amazing!

And…we even got to eat at a Whataburger! Woot, Woot!! We look forward to being back in Whataburger country all year! Yum!!

See y’all down the road!!

Categories: Capitol Building, EasternLoop2016, Florida | Leave a comment

Lake Louisa State Park

Hey Guys!! We stayed at the Lake Louisa State Park in the Orlando area for one week.

Guys…this park…

There are three lakes that make up this park. There’s a beach on one of them with a swimming area. I’m not sure I would swim there…there are gator signs around, but there’s also a great playground and picnic area.

There are docks that you can fish off of. We walked to this one often. There are stairs that lead down into the water, but again…gators.

There are some very nice sized sites at Lake Louisa State Park. We had to site hop throughout the week because the place was booked and we stayed here spur-of-the-moment. This park books up a year in advance. If you’re going to go to Disney or Universal…this is a great place to stay. At only around $30 a night it’s quite a bit cheaper than staying in a hotel.

There are tons of tangerine trees around the park. We went on a walk and passed a couple of guys who had bags full of tangerines so we thought we’d be cool and grab some tangerines for ourselves…they were the most sour…we spit them out. I couldn’t keep it in my mouth! Bleh!!! I don’t know what those two guys were doing with all of the ones they picked. Maybe they knew which ones to pick and we got ones that weren’t ready?

One of the coolest things about this park is that you can rent canoes. We took the opportunity to teach the boys how to paddle a canoe. I kept an eye out for any weird looking logs…aka…gators. I didn’t see any, but we avoided the areas we thought they would most likely be during that time.

I did take my camera out on the canoe to get a shot of the cypress trees in the water.

We found an awesome pizza place right down the road. Littlest told you all about it in his last Pizza Street post. If you missed it go check it out here.

We didn’t really do much the week we were there. Hung around the lake, had pizza, and stopped by an RV Dealer to check out what was new. We’re not in the market for a new RV, we just like to keep up on all the changes.

Seriously Guys…if you’re in the Orlando area for any reason check out Lake Louisa State Park. We will definitely stay there again!

See y’all down the road!

Categories: EasternLoop2016, Florida, Foodie Find, State Park | Leave a comment

Pizza Roundup, Flippers Pizzeria

To my fellow pizza lovers, I bring to you a post from Orlando, Fl.

Flippers is a really, really good pizza place with amazing bread sticks and pizza! The bread sticks are smothered in garlic butter and is not horrible when you dip your pizza crust in it.

The jalapenos are cut differently than others that you find and are roasted! So good!

They have more than pizza like their brick oven sandwiches and their salads.

The decor was mediocre but all in all, from bread sticks to the pizza, a definite 5 star review.

We also ate at Anthony’s which was also tasty but, however the crust was a burnt on the outside but it was still tasty so I Give Anthony’s a 4 star review.

See y’all next time on…

Pizza Street!!

Categories: Florida, Pizza Street | 2 Comments

The Keys For New Year’s Eve

We were sooo close to The Keys that we really didn’t want to miss checking them out, but we couldn’t stay long. We do have a schedule and in order to keep all of our doctoring appointments we could only spend two nights in The Keys. And…those nights happened to fall on New Year’s Eve.

I knew we were in trouble when the water turned this amazing color of blue as we drove along the Over The Seas Highway. I knew right then that we were all going to love the area and that we weren’t going to want to leave so soon.

For anyone curious…it really is just a bridge connecting a bunch of little islands or “keys”.

For our first day there we were supposed to get there, set up, and then spend the entire afternoon in Key West. It went really well until we hit the traffic. It ended up taking us about four hours to go maybe 60 miles. It was a little insane. We did make it to Key West, but so did roughly a million other people (I may be exaggerating that number by a couple). We stood in line for 45 min to take our pic with the Southernmost Point buoy.

We tried to go to a fort, but it closed at 5pm and we were late so we headed over to the place I’d found for Key Lime Pie…but there wasn’t a free space to park…anywhere…within several miles. So, we left. We were tired and it was getting dark and I’d been warned beforehand that Key West after dark wasn’t exactly family friendly. On the way to the Key Lime Pie place we passed by the end of Highway One! We’ve been on this highway on and off all year so it was kind of neat to see mile 0!

The next day we had reservations for a snorkeling excursion! We woke up to a very cold, but pretty morning.

The water was so cloudy from the choppy water that we couldn’t see a thing. And…the water was pretty cool. Not cold, but cool enough that no one (there were 15 people on our boat) stayed in the water long. We were kind of bummed about that, but it’s hard to be in a bad mood when you’re surrounded by the beauty of The Keys.

The Captain of our boat felt really bad about the conditions, but there wasn’t anything he could do about the weather. He ended up taking us on a little sight seeing tour to make up for the snorkeling! You can see Seven Mile Bridge in the picture above.

We got to see a pod of dolphins playing around! I didn’t get the best pics of them…they didn’t jump out of the water or anything, but they would surface and play. You can see two of them near the bottom center of the picture above.

By this time in the tour it was starting to warm up to a balmy 70 and we’d all stopped shivering.

 Our snorkeling/boat tour was a great way to spend our only full day in The Keys. We were done by noon and were able to relax the rest of the day.

I did get a little video of the boat ride. What do y’all think? Do you like the videos or not? It’s all done right on my phone…I’m not a professional at all…

Our Captain took us by this place. It’s a dockside restaurant called Burdines. We ended up going there for lunch!

Everything was fresh and we had some of the best burgers we’d had in a long time!

We were able to get some Key Lime Pie…

two different ways. Regular and fried! It was soooo good! We experienced the laid back Keys vibe at Burdines while we were waiting for our food. It’s not the fastest place, but it does warn you right at the top of the menu. Everything is made fresh…it’s not fast food. You didn’t go to McD’s. Everything we had was top notch and our server was genuinely nice.

 After we got our fill of food, we moseyed over to Bahia Honda State Park and stopped by this bridge view on the way there. This is the same Seven Mile Bridge you saw in a pic earlier. You can see it better here.

We’d heard that there’s camping at Bahia Honda State Park that’s suitable for RVs and we wanted to check it out. Unfortunately, only registered campers could get to the the campground. But…we did get to stroll around the beach and do a short hike to the view above!

We hung out at the SP long enough to see the beginning of a spectacular sunset.

It was so pretty, I’m going to give you another shot of it.

We got back to our RV park just as the sun was sinking and we headed back to our little home on wheels and had a very nice, very quiet New Year’s Eve celebration. Our tradition is to have a Back To The Future marathon and some sparkling cider at midnight.

There were pretties everywhere, but I somehow only got a shot of these. They were at the park we stayed at.

We hated to leave The Keys. The small amount of time just made us hungry for more of the island life and we were already making plans for round two before we even pulled out of the RV Park.

See y’all down the road!

#easternloop2016

Categories: Destinations, EasternLoop2016, Florida, Foodie Find | 2 Comments

South Miami, FL

We spent two weeks in the South Miami Florida area. This post is going to be a big one, guys!

Our very first night in the area we decided we should try some Cuban food. Y’all know we love to try the local flavors. We found a spot called La Carreta. I kind of wish we hadn’t. Cuban food is kind of…awesome. We spent the whole two weeks there wanting more Cuban food.

Our main focus in the area was the Everglades National Park. It took us three very full days to see what we wanted and we still didn’t see it all.

We started our Everglade exploration in Shark Valley where the main thing to do is take a tram tour. I was skeptical. The tram tour is extra. But, it was the only way to really see this part of the park unless you want to walk the 15 mile loop…with all of the gators…and the heat. Um, no thanks. Can you spot the gator in the photo above?

The tram tour is guided by one of the National Park Rangers. Our ranger braved the muck and the gators to teach us about the sawgrass prairie. She went out there bare foot. With the gators.

She brought hand fulls of the soil and the periphyton (the stuff that floats on the top) for everyone to feel.

We saw tons of birds.

Please don’t ask me to name all of the birds we saw…

our ranger named them all…but, I’ve slept since then.

And we saw plenty of gators!

These guys were laying right by the road where the people who didn’t want to do the tram tour were walking.

We took an airboat ride. This place is one of only four companies allowed to go right into the Everglades National Park!

I could put up tons of the pics I took while on the ride, but sometimes a video does the job better. So here’s a little peek into our airboat ride through the Everglades National Park.

The airboat place had a restaurant that served gator and frog legs. We had to try them. I’ll be honest, I wimped out trying the frog legs. I just couldn’t get pass the frog part. But, the gator was excellent!

We spent an entire day making our way to the Flamingo Bay part of the Everglades NP. We stopped and did some of the hikes on the way down and some on the way back. If you go…take bug spray. They were really bad during one of our first hikes. We forgot to spray down for that  first hike, but you better believe we didn’t forget on the second hike!

We saw several trees we hadn’t seen during our travels yet. The red barked tree is a gumbo limbo tree. We also saw tons of mahogany trees.

We made it all the way down to Flamingo Bay right about lunch time. We stopped by the marina there just to check it out and was rewarded with our first salt water crocodile! And he was a big one!

We also got our first look at a manatee! They kind of look like a huge floating potato.

I took this shot quickly as we were leaving the marina area. I didn’t notice the crocodile in the bottom right corner until I was looking at the shot on my computer.

We’d heard there was a campground down at Flamingo Bay so we went to check it out and scout for future trips. We found this great place for a picnic. It was pretty deserted there.

We stopped by the Royal Palm area for the last hike we wanted to do. We got there and noticed tons of these guys. Then we noticed there were tarps on most of the cars there.

Apparently, the vultures are destructive.

The NPS provided tarps and bungee cords for everyone to use while in the area.

We also made it to Biscayne NP. This NP is mostly underwater. We did get to walk the one small trail at the Visitor Center.

We had to be quick since the little spit of land the trail takes you out on was disappearing as the tide came in.

We were treated to a storm cloud and a rainbow while we were making our way off the little spit of land.

We were in the Miami area for Christmas. Our Christmas tradition is tamales. We searched high and low for Mexican tamales and came up with a big fat nothing. Nadda. But, we did find this place. El Palacio De Los Jugos. This Cuban market is awe-some!!

Our Spanish revolves around food items, but that didn’t help us here

because we weren’t familiar with everything here and there weren’t any labels. I’m pretty sure we were the only ones there who didn’t fluently speak Spanish. We got some of this and some of that. All by pointing and gesturing. We were pretty confident that we were in the right place because the line went out the door. Everything we got was excellent. We ended up with some Cuban tamales with some fixings for our Christmas dinner.

While we were looking for Mexican tamales, we asked around at the RV park we were staying in. One of the ladies in the office offered to try and find some for us and when she couldn’t she offered to bring us some that her mom was making. I should mention here she’s from Mexico. We were thrilled with the offer, but unsure if she would follow through. The day after Christmas she delivered with about a dozen homemade tamales. Guys, they were the best tamales we’ve ever had! I meant to snap a pic of them but they were devoured before I could think to stop and take a picture of them. So, you’ll just have to take our word for it. They were wonderful!

Since we’re talking about Christmas, I’ll mention here what we did on Christmas. We started our Christmas morning at Miami Beach.

We weren’t really impressed with Miami Beach. There were tons of jellyfish and more trash than I like on a beach.

We got there early and pretty much had the beach to ourselves for awhile. Right about the time we were ready to go the crowds started to come out.

We stopped by a fruit stand called “Robert Is Here” one afternoon.

It’s an avocado. I sat a lemon and a key lime next to it so you could see the size difference. We bought one. We haven’t eaten it yet, so I can’t tell you if it’s good or not.

We got suckered into buying some of this fruit. I’m not sure where this guy is getting his cotton candy, but he needs to find a new place. This fruit was nothing like cotton candy. It was kind of a slimy gel texture that made me want to go brush my teeth. Mr. Man and Littlest both liked it.

We also bought one of these. It’s not ready yet, so I can’t tell you if we got suckered again. I’ll let you know.

We did find some really good Mexican food.

A good friend of mine met us at El Torro Taco! I got the plate above. It did not disappoint! So. Good! It was so fun spending time with another of my HP friends! *waves to friend and her fam* Her kiddos and my kiddos are all about the same age and into the same nerdy stuff. They all hit it off. My boys have already asked when we will see them again. It’s been fun this year meeting up with so many of my HP friends!

There are flower stands all over the place. People also sell them on the street corners.

Are you ready for some pretties? The pic above isn’t the best, but I wanted to share it anyway. The purple flowers and the bright orange/red seed pod are the same plant! Whhhaaattt…. mind…blown…

I took so many

pictures of pretties here.

I could have done a post

on just the pretties.

We love this area. We’re already trying to figure out how soon we’ll be able to come back…and spend more time.

See y’all down the road!!

#easternloop2016

Categories: EasternLoop2016, Florida, Foodie Find, National Park | 2 Comments

Harry Potter And Some Other Stuff

Hey Guys!! I have a confession to make. I pretty much planned this whole loop so we would get to Universal Studios before Christmas Break started for most of the country. So, yeah…I planned this year around Harry Potter. There…I said it…it’s out there. Now let’s move on.

I could do an entire post on the awesomeness of the Universal Studios Harry Potter sections of the park, but I won’t . I’ll try to keep my Potterhead geekiness to a respectful level. No promises though. I took hundreds of pictures…be warned.

Welcome to Harry Potterverse!

Officially known as Universal Studios.

It will always be Harry Potterverse to us though. We spent four very full days soaking in the magic of Diagon Alley and Hogsmead. We got there when they opened and didn’t leave until they closed. I might as well throw in a disclosure here…this post is not in order at all. I’ll be jumping back and forth between the two parks. The pic you see above is at the Dragon Challenge Ride on the Islands of Adventure side. Here’s a little tip…if you can find all four golden eggs on the ride, they’ll take you on a tour of the ride queue. Which for photo bugs like me is awesome because…there are no cameras or phones allowed on this ride. You go through an metal detector before you get to anything good.

 The amount of detail that went into creating Diagon Alley and Hogsmead is astounding. They’ve really thought of even the smallest details. The pic above is of the Hogsmead main street.

Speaking of details…check out the dragon. Pretty cool, right?

If you stick around Diagon Alley long enough, you’ll get to see the dragon breathe fire!

And…as impressive as it is during the day…it’s even more so at night. You know he’s gonna flame up when he starts growling. Check out all of the people in the pic above just standing there watching. That was pretty common to see through out the day. Everyone wants to see the dragon breathe fire.

One of the things I was looking forward to was trying the Butterbeer…in all it’s forms. How many ways can they make Butterbeer you ask! Well, there’s the regular cold soda, there’s the frozen (this one was my favorite), there’s the hot (this one tasted like butterscotch hot chocolate),

there’s the ice cream, there’s the fudge, and then there’s the creme de potte. Yes, we had them all! And yes, we had some of them daily. Yum!!

There are two Harry Potter themed restaurants. One in each park. You’ve got the Three Broomsticks on the Hogsmeade side and the Leaky Cauldron over on the Diagon Alley side. We ate at the Three Broomsticks first. It was good…portions were small…prices were pretty high. But, you don’t eat there for the meal…not really. You go for the experience and that didn’t disappoint at all.

Again, the details and thought put into each building…each sign…it was pretty cool. Everyday I noticed something different.

We ended up eating at the Leaky Cauldron twice. We liked the selection better there. The pics not the best, but it was dark outside which made it even darker than usual inside.

This was the bangers and mash at the Leaky Cauldron. Pretty good portion and really tasty! Not your usual park fare food. Out of everything I ate there, my favorite was the Fisherman’s Pie. The Dude and I both got one our last night there and we were both pleasantly surprised by how good it was!

This is the Leaky Cauldron’s menu. Pretty nice selection. I didn’t get a shot of the Three Broomstick’s menu. The two places offered different things.

 And to wash it all down with, why don’t you try a Dragon Scale or perhaps…

 a Fishy Green Ale! Any guesses as to what it is?

We waited for the end of our first day to go to Ollivander’s to get our wands. If you’re lucky enough, Olivander will pick you to go through the choosing ceremony where your wand picks you…just like in the movie. Littlest was lucky. He was beyond thrilled!

Let’s talk wands. When you go to buy your wand you have two choices in mechanics…interactive or not. The interactive wands allow you to do spells at special locations throughout both Hogsmead and Diagon Alley.  If you get an interactive wand you also get a nifty little map that tells you where all of the spells are located throughout the two Harry Potter sections. Or does it? There might be a couple of hidden spells… **insert evil laugh here*  Sorry. Ok, so besides the mechanics you’ve got tons of choices in style. There are character wands and then there are Ollivander’s specials. Good luck picking one out. It actually took me all four days to decide. I didn’t get my wand until the very last day right before we left. I ended up with a non-interactive wand. I felt like it was more solid. Any guesses as to which wand belongs to which nomad?

We made wand holsters so the boys wouldn’t have to keep holding on to their wands and their maps. It worked wonderfully.

You can probably guess what we did first on our second day.

Magic was of the highest priority.

And we weren’t the only ones trying to do it. We stood in line longer to do magic than we did for most rides.

 The Hogwarts Express. If you get the park to park pass, you get to ride the Hogwarts Express in between the parks. This was kind of a must for me. I would suggest getting the park to park pass  we found ourselves jumping between the two parks several times a day.

Each train depot was different. Of course, there was platform 9¾  over on the Diagon Alley side

where you can watch people walk right into the wall between platforms 9 and 10.

Once you’re on the train you get to sit in a train compartment that looks pretty much like one from the movie. I loved the little extras as you went from park to park. I won’t ruin it for those of you who haven’t been yet.

The Gringotts Bank was super impressive. It really looked like they sucked it right out of the movie and plopped it down in the middle of Universal Studios.

They even had animatronic goblins.

There was a candy store in each park. Honeydukes over in Hogsmeade and then Sugarplums in Diagon Alley. You can get pretty much any candy you saw in the movie.

They even had chocolate cauldrons and pumpkin pastys!

But, if you want Nosebleed Nouguts, Puking Pastilles, or Fever Fudge you have to head over to Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.

The Knight Bus was pretty cool. You can visit with Stan Shunpike and Dre Head near the front of the bus, but if you walk around to the back you can stick your head in and see the inside of the bus.

We did go to the other parts of the parks. I promise. We rode every ride…more than once.

The dinos over in the Jurassic area weren’t really impressed with our magic or our wands.

The Transformers ride was one of our favorites. It’s one that we would all ride. We rode this one each day we were there…some days we rode it more than once. We were impressed with how well it was put together and how seamlessly the 3D aspects of it flowed together.

The Men In Black ride was also one of our favorites. You know any time you get to shoot laser guns on a ride it’s going to be good!

This was my favorite coaster. The Hulk spits you out of that little tube over on the left of the picture going a million miles an hour (don’t quote me on that speed) then continues to take you through loops, and twists, and rolls. It’s so freaking awesome!

The whole park was all decked out for the holidays. We had the absolute best time and we’ve all been going through Harry Potter withdrawal.

Here are a few video snippets from our time at Potterverse and NASA.

We also made it to the Kenney Space Center for a day of space nerdiness. You can see by what the boys are wearing in the picture we were still in the Harry Potter mood.

We took the bus tour where they drive you by the launch pads and tell you a little about each.

We watched the shows and perused the museums. It was all done very well.

My favorite part was seeing the actual Atlantis Shuttle though.

I think I stood gawking at Atlantis for a good five to ten minutes. And then you can walk downstairs and check out the bottom of it and see all of the burns and marks it’s gotten from reentering Earth’s atmosphere.

There were some great interactive computer simulations. All of the boys took turns checking them out.

NASA was all decorated for the season too. Very pretty at night! We only spent one very long, very full day here, but it would have been better broken up into two days. We missed a couple of the shows because we ran out of time.

We took the next week to relax and catch up on school, work, and cleaning. Oh, and we enjoyed not going anywhere or doing anything. Five very long, very exciting days wore all of us out!!

See y’all down the road!

#easternloop2016

Categories: EasternLoop2016, Florida | 2 Comments

Top Memories For 2016

Hey Guys! It’s 2017!! Happy New Year!! We thought it would be fun to look back on some of our favorite memories of 2016 with y’all. These are in chronological order and not in rank order. We couldn’t all agree on what order they should be in.

We started 2016 off at White Sands National Park. This is still one of our favorite National Parks! We had the best time sledding down the sand dunes!

Big Bend National Park had to make the list. The diversity of the landscape here was amazing and beautiful. The vast open expanses of land made us feel so small. We left so much unexplored.

We can’t think of Big Bend NP and not think of our border crossing into Boquillas, Mexico! The boys still talk about riding the burros. It was definitely an experience none of us will forget.

We enjoyed New York more than we thought we would. Old Fort Niagara is on our list of our favorite Forts.

Niagara Falls is awe inspiring. The sheer force of the water as it goes over the falls is breathtaking.

The lobster in Lubec, ME was a favorite for everyone. Being able to go right down to the fishing boat that caught the lobster…that day and pick out the lobsters we wanted was so cool.

Acadia National Park has so much to offer. The views were spectacular!

The Cape Cod National Seashore was everything we’d heard it would be. Beautiful beaches and tons of people. We would like to go back during their off season.

We were all surprised by how much we enjoyed the NewPort Mansions in Rhode Island. The personal stories and history really made it all come alive.

Some people call Littlest, Panda Boy. He loves pandas and had been looking forward to seeing one in person at the National Zoo ever since I told him we would be going. I think he asked me every week when exactly we would be going to the National Zoo.

We loved all of the Monuments and Memorials in Washington DC.

Kitty Hawk, NC was another surprise for us. We thoroughly enjoyed this area and hated to leave it.

The Biltmore was a bonus this year. We didn’t plan on going to see it, but Mother Nature threw a monkey wrench in our plans and sent Hurricane Mathew up the East Coast. We had to flee Kitty Hawk and head inland so we headed to Ashville and the Biltmore.

Boone Plantation was something I’d been looking forward to for awhile. We really enjoyed the Gullah Geechee aspect of it.

Driftwood Beach in Georgia is still the most unique beach we’ve been to. It was so fun to walk up and down the beach and play around on all of the driftwood.

We saw quite a few Forts in 2016. Fort Castillo de San Marcos in the St. Augustine area of Florida made it to our top five.

And…of course, Universal Studios made it on to our list of 2016 favorites. #potterheadsrule

Everglades National Park left an impression on all of us. We loved the diversity of animals and ecosystems we found here.

We’ve had quite a year! It was really hard for us to pick our favorites.

I hope y’all had a wonderful 2016 and will have an even better 2017!

See y’all down the road!

#easternloop2016

Categories: Destinations, Historic Landmark, National Park, Post Cards From The Road | Leave a comment

St. Augustine, FL

 Hey Guys! We spent one week in the St. Augustine area of Florida.

This was our fist stop in the state! Bring on the warm weather!

We had a ton of things on our to do list, but for some reason we had an off week. We only made it to two of those things and both of them were National Park Forts. The first one we made it to was Fort Matanzas National Monument. You can see it in the photo above. That’s about as close as we got to it. The Visitor Center was open and we were able to go through some of the Ranger Talks, but the dock over at the actual fort was damaged during Hurricane Mathew. So, that part of the Monument was closed.

The boys were able to work on the Junior Ranger badge and learned some handy knot tying skills.

There was also a musket demonstration.

The other Fort we went to was Castillo de San Marcos. This is probably in the second spot on our list of best forts.

Several of the rooms were decorated with things that would have been in them during the time the fort was being used.

There were secret rooms…

and some pretty cool doorways. Interesting shape, right? Makes you wonder what they were bringing in and out of that room that required a door in that shape.

Fort Castillo de San Marcos was a free roaming fort. We were allowed to look in all the nooks and crannies and take our time. It was wonderful.

We got there later in the afternoon and it was early evening by the time we were leaving. We could have stayed longer, but they were closing for a special ticketed event that night.

We stayed in a cute little RV Park while we were there. They did a wonderful job of decorating for Christmas. I loved the lights at night!

The RV Park also had wonderful view. This wasn’t too far from our front door for the week.

We were so bummed that we didn’t get to experience any more that St. Augustine had to offer. I’m sure we will go back sometime and hit all the neat things we missed.

See y’all down the road!

#easternloop2016

Categories: EasternLoop2016, Florida, National Park | Leave a comment

Brunswick, GA

The Brunswick area consists of a bunch of little islands all hooked together. I’d been looking forward to this stop for awhile.

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One of the main reasons I scheduled this stop was to see the sea turtles. We went during the off season, but we found the Georgia Sea Turtle Center where we could learn all about sea turtles and even get to see some of them. The main focus of the GSTC is to rehabilitate the turtles and get them back into their natural habitat. They also take in any straggler hatchlings and keep them until they’re big enough to head out to sea the next year.

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You can go in and look at the tanks with their patients. There are charts for each patient that tells why they’re there and the steps being taken to help them. We got there right before their last tour and got to see them feed the turtles!

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We found another fort to mosey through. This one is Fort Frederica National Monument.

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It was worth the trip just to see all of the old oaks and Spanish moss. The fort itself is mostly gone, but they’ve got a few foundations they’ve found and there are records that tell them where everything was and who owned what. We enjoyed walking through the grounds. I would definitely recommend it!

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The Junior Ranger program here was one of the boys’ favorites so far. In the pic above you can see them with the bag that’s given out with the Junior Ranger booklets.

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The bag contained various items and instruments used to complete the booklet.

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We also got to play some pub games that would’ve been found during the 1700s. We’ve decided we need to make one of these.

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The boys earned four badges and one patch. I somehow missed getting one of the badges in the picture. Of course, it was the coolest one…because it was a little different. I’ll try to get a picture of them together again and post it up on our Instagram.

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We also went to Tidelands Nature Center where we got to touch an alligator.

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The boys were impressed the set of chompers on this guy.

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We also got to see this little stingray up close!

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We found two very cool beaches! The first one is Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island. It was so fun to climb around on all of the driftwood. It was also a great picture place. We got some good family shots at this beach.

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The other beach also happened to be on Jekyll Island, but for the life of me…I can’t remember the name of it. It was a great beach…not too many people there.

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So…it doesn’t look like much. It’s called Brunswick Stew. I’ve seen it since Maine, but didn’t try it until North Carolina and I’ve been hooked ever since. I thought it only fitting that I had a bowl of Brunswick stew while in Brunswick. It starts with smoked meat. I’ve had chicken, pork, and beef…any and all combinations of the three. It always has corn and usually lima beans. From there it varies. The best I’ve had was from High Cotton in Kitty Hawk, NC. Hands down the best. I’m going to have to try to make my own version of Brunswick stew!

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We stayed at a great little park called Blythe Island Regional Park. It was awesome! Nice big spot, pull through, full hookups…they even offered cable at no extra cost! We would totally stay there again. This park also had a healthy community of squirrels. And boy howdy…those squirrels loved to tease our cats!! It was extremely entertaining!

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I even found a few pretties! Love these pink flowers with the Spanish moss and the oaks!

That’s all we had time to do. We could have spent at least another week just exploring all the different beaches and forts in the area!

See y’all down the road!

#easternloop2016

Categories: EasternLoop2016, Georgia, National Park | Leave a comment

Savannah, GA

We spent a week in the Savannah area. When I planned our loop this year I was dismayed that there weren’t a lot of hiking opportunities. We’ve spent most of our time during this loop exploring cities (big and small). Cities aren’t really our thing. We prefer the wilds. But, when you’re trying to see all fifty states…well, there are states known for their great hiking and there are states known for their history. I’ve come to realize that most of our loop for this year has been spent on learning history and going to cities because we felt we should see them. Savannah is one of those cities I felt we needed to see.

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Savannah is known for it’s beautiful parks (all 22 of them) and its cobblestoned historic district.

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We only went to two of the parks. They were both shaded with oak trees covered with Spanish moss. We, along with many other locals and tourists, enjoyed walking though them. Savannah is smaller than I’d thought it would be. It had that small town, homey feel where time seems to slow down and suddenly every one is addressed as “honey” or “sweetie” and no one’s a stranger.

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We found the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. It was beautiful inside and out. One of the big touristy things to do in Savannah is take a carriage ride. We opted against it. I’m sure the history and info given during the tour is worth the price but we like to go at our own pace. I can’t be rushed when I’m taking pictures or we find something interesting we want to investigate.

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We took a stroll down by the river where all of the shops are. I’d looked ahead of time and had two places I wanted to visit. Now, one of the questions we get asked all the time is about souvenirs. Do we get them? What do we get? Where do we keep them? How do we decide when to get one? We get a lot of questions about souvenirs. We don’t really get many. We simply don’t have room. And honestly, I’m more interested in food anyway. If I get something it’s more than likely going to be something I can eat. We do get a shot glass from each state and I pick up postcards from various places we go.

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It may come as no surprise to y’all that one of the souvenirs I’d already decided I was going to get from Savannah was some pralines. They were soooo good! I’ll be making my own over the holiday season sometime. Jerl got something called a gopher. It reminded me of a Texas millionaire. It must have been good…his eyes kind of slid up to the back of his head and glazed over during his first bite. I, quite happily, stuck with my pralines.

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We also hit up the Peanut Shop where we sampled all of the various flavors (there were soooo many flavors!) of peanuts before making our decision on which to buy. And we definitely bought some.

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The best thing we did there was visit Fort Pulaski National Monument. The boys snagged another Junior Ranger badge here.

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Fort Pulaski was damaged during hurricane Mathew so we couldn’t just wander around it. We had to stick with a guided tour. Y’all know how I feel about having to hurry up. I was at the end of the line trying my hardest to take my sweet little time without holding everyone else up. Fort Pulaski was great! Seriously, if you have the chance to go…do it. It’s been set up to represent what it would have looked like while it was occupied so there are several rooms with furnishings.

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During one of the times the fort was in the hands of the Union, some of the soldiers decided to leave a little…graffiti. It’s still there.

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While most of the fort has been reconstructed and restored, some of it is has been left in ruins.

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The wall was left to show the damage a cannon could do. We would have liked to spend more time poking around, but we had to stick with the tour and the tour had to be out before the next one could go in.

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Let’s talk food. I’d initially planned on eating at Lady & Sons…because…well…Paula Deen is the queen of southern comfort food, right?  But, when I looked up the reviews and then the price. If I’m going to pay that much to eat, the reviews had better be outstanding and not just mediocre. So, we drove by it and waved at all the people inside eating what we can only assume to be an overpriced, ok meal designed to bring in all of the tourists. Sorry Paula.

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We ended up going to a place the locals go.  Sandfly BBQ. Everything we had was great and the price was very reasonable. Now, I will tell you, the meat was fantastic…the sides were super sweet and very salty. But the meat was spot on!

We enjoyed our time in Savannah!

See y’all down the road!

#easternloop2016

Categories: EasternLoop2016, Georgia, National Park | Leave a comment