2016-03-23 St. Augustine, Grayton Beach, Suwanee River

3/23 We started off from Jacksonville heading West early towards the emerald coast. We find ourselves so anxious to “get moving” we often jump in and start driving only to realize we have no “destination” in mind… 🙂

The weather looked to be cold and cloudy, so right after getting out of Jacksonville, we did a U Turn and headed south to St. Augustine. 2016-03-23 lions bridge

St. Augustine, though very touristy, is one of my favorite towns in Florida.  The oldest city in the USA, St. Augustine dates back to the 1500’s.


Meara and I took a quick look around at Flagler College.  She has now changed her college plans from Paris, to NYU, to Flagler..2016-03-23 i flaglerToured a dug out Canoe display at the museum, had pineapple ice cream, the second best pizza in America, and picked up a few trinkets from the tourist shops..

Then headed over to Vilano Beach and realized just about 10′ off the hard pack that the Travato didn’t feel to stable in the sand.  The front wheel drive dug right in, and surely would have kept digging till the belly was laying on the sand..2016-03-23 vilano beach 1So, before getting stuck, I backed out, turned around, and backed into the soft stuff..
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Making for a pretty nice view out the back bed..

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Heading in the general direction of home, Mr. Google recomended this Fuking Chinese place as one of the best restaurants in Lake City Fl. They even sold Fuking T-shirts.. 🙂

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Arriving late to the campground (as we are making a bad habit of), it was dark, and the combination gate was closed and locked… Just as we were leaving, another Van pulled up to the electronic gate, so we pulled beside him and asked if he would be kind enough to let us follow him in, and see if we could find an empty spot to camp in. All the places were taken, and he let us share his spot as there was room for both of us as we were both in Vans. He was very excited to see another “vanner dude”, and of course he was very impressed by Tony. He had a Dodge Van, the same Vintage as our other old Van, he had done some great modifications, and was living out of it, and working as an traveling electrician.

In the morning we walked a bit and looked around the Suwanee River.

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Then headed South (on the Vanner Dudes recommendation), to Perdido Bay, which he called the “Best state Park in Florida”.  Now Florida has allot of REALLY nice state parks, and I agree this is one of them (all pan handle beaches are beautiful), but I sure wouldn’t give it “Best” status.

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Ended up camping at Grayton Beach

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and stayed at the Flint Creek Campground in the Desoto National Forest of Mississippi on the way home.

Stopped for Lunch in South eastern Arkansas at a Riceland Rice Farm… Most of Americas rice is grown in Arkansas. Followed the Mississippi up for awhile, and then across Arkansas home.  South East Arkansas Delta country is NOT real exciting..




2016-03-19 Testing the limits of a Travato

We’ve had some great weekends, and a a fantastic week long trip with just me and Jennifer in the Travato. Now It’s Spring Break, and time to test the limits of our mini-RV.  4 people, 9 days… 🙂

On Saturday, 3/19 We took off early, drove most of the day, and made it to Talladega National Park: Cheaha State Park Campground… Apparently, the tallest Mountains in Alabama..2016-03-19 alabama

I was sick most of the trip, and Jennifer did nearly all the driving. We got to Jacksonville late Sunday, and went to dinner with the crew at the “Cantina” down on Jacksonville Beach.

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Tony had some odd looking company in the parking lot..

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Chaz & Jericha seems to trade it out vehicles every time we visit.. This one looked like a comfy ride.

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You’d never guess who was first in the water..

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Mini Chaz..


Two odd birds..                                          and two Love Birds’

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The Jax Beach skyline from the Pier

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The kids slept in the house at Jerichas.  Though the Travato does sleep 4, You have to climb over one of the sleepers if you want to get in or out the sliding door, it sure was nice to get our little “bedroom” back to ourselves for a couple nights.

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Granny sunning in the front yard.


3/21 Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

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Was great.  Even though we heard several people say it was the most crowded they had ever seen it, it didn’t feel overcrowded. The animals seem to have adequate room, everything was clean, the trails were nice, and the entire place was a beautifully kept “wild” garden.

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And look at all these pretty creatures I found wandering around..

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These guys were not very entertaining. I think they needed a few more spoons of sugar in their cornflakes…



Late night Ribs:

Early Mornin Feedin:


Whos got your nose?

3/22 Hannah Park

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Too cold for this Old Man, but of course all the kids swam..

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With Eight people in and out of the Van at the beach we found good use for the rear shower.  Had us sum foot washins’…

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Hannah Park was fun; Beach, Park, Large Campgrounds, picnic areas, playgrounds, and all just a few minutes from Jacksonville.

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Took the scenic route “home”, and Tony got his first boat ride.

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There were Dolphins jumping in and out of the water in front of this ship.  You can’t see them in this picture, so you’ll just have to use your imagination….  ooo   ahhh   … look at the beautiful dolphins…

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Last Dinner at Kickbacks and Chaz started welding on a swing away trailer hitch for the bike rack for Tony..






2016-03-04 Springfield Art Walk, McIlroy Madison WMA, Wagonshed Painting, Steel Creek

As usual, we took off with plans of Jello

(the best part about owning a small Class B Van).

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Our first destination was the First Friday Art Walk in Springfield Mo. Springfield is a funky little city (3rd largest in MO) with an energetic art community. They seem to have been working on rehabilitating “Downtown” for a decade or two. We packed up some groceries and headed up the highway a couple hours North. Though we arrived a little late, we quickly slid into a normal city street parking spot and began wandering the streets somewhat aimlessly trying to find galleries and participants of the Art Walk.  Street Musicians were on nearly every block, and “people watching” was the highlight of the evening.  The local residents, rednecks, punk, goth, Rock N Rollers, clean cut college kids, 50 something tourists, farmers, business owners, art and wine connoisseurs, and many “blends” of the above, seemed to have turned out on this pleasant March Evening. I was having too much fun to think about snapping any photos. Jennifer and I shared some Soup & Veal/Portobello Mushroom Raviolli at Brunnos, a great little Italian restaurant recommended by our friend, Joe Golden. 🙂

Enough of the City. We headed South and found a great free (out of season) COE Campground called Cape Fair Marina.  As Jennifer slept off her Zuppa, late into the night, I was having a ball listening to the stereo, following Siris instructions on the GPS, and driving through the darkness over the twisty hilly roads in the Ozarks down to the lake. …and we camped in Style; Lakeside, Free, Again 😀

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In the morning, we started out early looking for something to paint from a list of “attractions” another friend had recommended… The first “must see” item was a shabby place called the Golden Museum… It was closed…  2016-0305 17


Next, was the “Little Golden Gate” Beaver Bridge.. ehh…




Then we stopped by “Roaring River State 2016-0305 15Park” and Fishery, only to discover it was the first week of trout season, and the place was packed with THOUSANDS of fisherman (literally -Thousands- spaced every 10 or 20′ along the river for 2 miles fishing) It was a ridiculous sight, and so disappointing we didn’t think to photograph that either… They did have a cool spring there though, and we got in a quick steep hike; up, over and around this canyon.

So, that was enough of planning. We just decided to “drive” after that… Got out the good old fashioned DeLorme Arkansas paper atlas, and went to check out Withrow Springs State Park in Arkansas, which was nice. A modern state Park with new, well maintained facilities (and a $32.00 Big Rig RV camping price to match).  I really don’t like paying that sort of money just to park and “camp” alongside a bunch of others in big R.V.s. so, another look at the atlas showed a much larger Wildlife management area, just a few miles up the road, where there was Free “Primitive” Camping. 🙂

A few miles down a lovely rough gravel road and BINGO! A perfect little spot, right beside a creek, and a cave just across the field!

heh heh heh… Life IS Good.
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And This was in our backyard… About 20′ away from the Van 🙂

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Finally, something inspiring…


So, I went to work; slaving away in the hot sun…

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while the “Queen” did what she does best….




She did warm up some of her Homemade Chicken Soup (which she made for me last week when I was feeling a little ill), and we hiked around a bit to check out our new place..

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That is NOT the road we drove in on… But it wasn’t much different.

It dropped down below freezing Saturday Night but we didn’t know it, because we were cuddled up sleeping with our silent furnace in our toasty little Travato. In the morning, I got up early and turned the cab in to my own little personal painting Studio..

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Jennifer made us Eggs on the “fire” and we painted and read some more, and went to check out a Spring and Cave nearby..

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We hung around awhile, and then headed towards home.  On the way, we rolled down to Steel Creek, and took a stroll down the River..

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Tried to get these folks to flip there Canoe for a more interesting picture, but they just wouldn’t bite..

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There’s just no place like Newton County..

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Got a start on a new painting,

and shared another great weekend with the one I love.

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