Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reflections on the Voyage of Vagus V - The Book

In a previous life we took off in a sailboat and journeyed from Lake Ontario, down the US East coast, through the Bahamas to the Virgin Islands, and eventually spent several years cruising the Caribbean Windward Islands. I managed to get the first part of our trip - from Lake Ontario to the Bahamas - down on paper and into a book. If you are interested in joining us on this part of the adventure, you can follow the link here - https://www.createspace.com/3346336 - or in the links column (The Voyage of Vagus V Book Link) to where you can obtain the book. This is not a how to book, but more of a book about what it was like to leave home and hearth and, over a period of 5 months, to travel over 2000miles in a sailboat. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Back Home

We had a good trip home. Uneventful, just the way we like it. Our main problem was finding convenient internet spots so the blog, unfortunately, suffered. I just posted some updates that I had prepared but never posted. We will have to figure out some way of better connecting that doesn't cost a gazillion dollars before our next trip. This will be the final entry for now - we will resume when next we hitch up - so we hope that you enjoyed the blogs and have a good, safe summer.

Hunting Island S.P., S.C. - April 16, 2008

We lucked out with another nice camping spot on Hunting Island. The site was huge and across the road from the beach so we were out of the blowing sand.

Of course our first stop was the beach where Karen immediately started looking for shells. Up the beach, about a half a mile, there was a large collection of shells near a river outlet. Many of the shells were broken but Karen managed to get a few for future projects.

I did manage to make her stop long enough to get this picture. Should I tell her about the incoming wave – I wonder?

Doug and Tina joined us for the day to explore the island. This was the first time we used the camera timer to get a group shot. And I should mention that there were a few no-see-ums nibbling away while this picture was being taken.

We took a walk with Doug and Tina down the beach toward a lighthouse near the south end of the island. Along the way you could see signs of erosion.

We could only make this walk at low tide. This part was submerged at high tide – hopefully we would get back in time.

Finally we reached the lighthouse. This lighthouse was designed to be taken apart so it could be moved if it had to be relocated. It was built as a series of rings and had already been moved once.


Doug and I climbed the steps to the observation deck – 132 ½ feet high. We were feeling quite proud of ourselves until we were passed by two young teenagers who had just climbed the tower 10 times in a row. They stopped at 13. We were, however, greeted by a nice wave from Karen and Tina down below. Unfortunately we were only able to book a couple of nights at the park so we had to move on – next stop Edisto Beach State Park.

Edisto Beach S.P., S.C. - April 18, 2008

Yes, that was our truck and trailer in amongst the huge oak tree. We managed to get a prime site, right by the beach for three days over the weekend. The reservation system said that this was a 50 foot site. It was, but the drive to get to it was a little anxious – as in Karen was outside making sure we had clearance as we snaked through the trees. I guess I should have paid more attention to the “Low Clearance” sign at the entrance. Oh well, missing by an inch is as good as a mile.
You can see our trailer tightly nestly, or maybe intertwined with the oak. The site was supposed to be a drive through site but we had to back out to leave.

So as soon as we were settled, guess what Karen did. The bag was for shells by the way.

We had to include a shot of a pelican returning from the daily seafood fest. They ride right up the beach on the thermals off the sand dune by our campsite.

After three days, we had to move to the Live Oak campsite area a few miles from the beach.

This site was near some great bike paths. One wound over board walks to a well done nature centre. It was well worth the ride.

We did try to stay on the boardwalks – off to the side was a bubbling mud flat. Not something that you would want to play in.

Along the way was an ancient shell missen. Missen is just a fancy name for an ancient garbage dump. I can't imagine a cross section of one of our garbage dumps attracting tourists in the future - but who knows. The missen was originally 20 feet tall and that was a heck of a lot of shells.

From here we took a day tour to see the original Charles Towne Landing – a park set up around the original landing site of the first settlers. The history was not very pleasant as the site was chosen specifically to grow labour intensive cash crops – the labour being slaves. The original laws of the land stated that an owner had complete authority over a slave – not a pleasant life if you happened to be one.

You wonder what history this old oak has seen.

I just had to include this shot taken by a pond on the grounds. Note the number of turtles lying around the alligator. Now alligators apparently love turtles – and not as friends. More as a treat - sort of crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. So how do all these turtles know that this particular alligator was having a turtle moratorium? Although maybe the alligator was busy digesting their buddy old Fred and they were gathered for a wake?

Hilton Head S.C. - April 10, 2008

Our next stop was a nice RV park near Hardeeville, South Carolina. Where is that you ask? Hardeeville is near the border between Georgia and South Carolina, about 20 miles north of Savannah, Georgia. We stopped at Hardeeville to visit our friends, Doug and Tina, who were staying at a condo on Hilton Head Island.

We had a great visit, discussing old times, walking the beach in front of their condo and riding some of the bike paths around Hilton Head. Hilton Head is a beautiful spot but you need to stay there to enjoy it.

We took a day trip with Doug Tina to explore Savannah, Georgia. Doug had gathered all the necessary information so we could just follow along and enjoy. We first took a narrated bus tour of the city visiting many of the 21 city squares – or was it one square 21 times?

We saw many beautifully maintained and restored buildings, had lunch in the downtown section and walked the waterfront,

home to paddlewheelers

and huge container ships. It was a great visit but time to move on. We managed to get a booking at a state park on Hunting Island, about 20 miles North, so we were off.

Anastasia SP - April 5, 2008

We definitely came north too soon. The temperature dropped as we motored North along the I95. But we booked these parks last August and the seasonally adjusted temperatures said it would be warm – so much for averages. We managed to arrive at our site and got everything set up just as the first rain drops hit. And did it rain!

In spite of the weather, our site was excellent, large with plenty of privacy. We met one of the camp hosts, also a fellow Canadian, who filled us in on the area. He mentioned that Sarnia just had snow so even though it was cool weather here, Canada was colder. When we got a break in the rain, we got out our bikes and put up our gazebo – mainly to keep the bikes dry. We were within a nice biking distance to the beach. Anastasia is not only a lovely state park – it has WiFi at the park restaurant near the beach. We drove down one day and were able to catch up on our e-mails while sitting in the parking lot. We find it difficult to be without internet access as we really miss being in touch by e-mail. As well, the internet is useful to check out state parks and make bookings. So far we have had to take our computer to local libraries to connect – doable but not really convenient.

During the wet weather, we managed to do some touring of St. Augustine. One spot that we had not seen before was the Lightner Museum. The museum was a treat and had an incredibly eclectic collection of stuff – from button collections, to Louis XIV`s writing desk, crystal glassware to cigar band art. It was a fun afternoon visit. St. Augustine also has a Camping World store. Camping World is a toy store for RV'ers. Everything that you wanted for an RV but were afraid to ask usually can be found there at pretty good prices – at least the prices were a heck of a lot less than buying boat stuff. We only had a few things to buy but had a good wander around the store.

As our time was short at Anastasia, we tried to focus on exploring the park. So of course, we did a lot of beach walking. Anastasia has a white, sandy beach that you can walk till you drop. When the weather cooperated, we parked our bikes at the beach boardwalk and walked.

We came across a flock of grounded royal terns all correctly aligned into the wind. I guess they were going to wait out the approaching storm clouds.

At an inlet by the park, rented Kayaks for the first time on a sunny, but windy day. We had great fun paddling about although we did not see any dolphins. Dolphins apparently do come into the inlet to play. Everywhere we have gone in Florida, we have met kayakers and seen neat places to explore by kayak. So we wanted to try them out in a place where we did not have to worry about amorous alligators (we are approaching alligator mating season). After our first venture paddling about, we were hooked. But our time here had drawn to a close. We were unable to extend our stay as the park was fully booked for the weekend. We had to continue our journey North – brrr!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Highland Hammock

Highland Hammock State Park is just outside of Sebring in central Florida. Hammock is a Native American word for forest, in case you were wondering. Our campsite was in a forest under a big oak tree with plenty of acorns and resident squirrels. Our site was large, although relatively open.

The park has a great car/bike route through the forest with many trails going through different parts of the forest.

Our first stop was this magnificent, 1000 year old oak tree. Its circumference is 36 feet. What tales it could tell!

Next we walked along a boardwalk through a Cypress forest. The walkway was more stable than it looked. However we did watch our steps.

The cypress trees were everywhere. Those are high water mark on the trees.

The pond was also an alligator nursery. This little guy was about 1 ½ feet long. Alligators grow about a foot a year for the first three years so this guy was a little over a year old. We were told that mother – a 7 foot alligator – was nearby, but missed seeing her.

We tried another walk through an old growth hammock forest. About halfway along the trail, we came across this guy enjoying the morning sun, stretched out across the pathway. And he was not going to move. Karen tried stomping the ground to announce our presence. He then slowly moved a bit to the side, waited awhile, then turned around and started to come towards her. Karen then decided to let him enjoy the sun on the path all to himself, reversed direction on the trail and tried to catch up with me. Our best guess is that this was a 4-5 foot water moccasin, one of the 4 poisonous snakes in Florida.

We carried on and tried another trail through an area heavily populated with ferns. There we were treated to a view of this incredible butterfly – we think it is a tiger swallowtail and it must have had a 5 inch wing span. The butterfly was feeding on a flower right beside the path and allowed Karen to get off several great shots.

Our time in the Southern half of Florida has drawn to a close. Our next booking is 200 km North in St. Augustine – on the Florida East coast near the Florida/Georgia border.