Thursday, 12 June 2008

05/06/2008 - 21/06/2008 Florida

05/06/2008 - 08/06/2008 - Juno Beach. Juno Beach is the Beach before Palm Beach. The park we stayed at was in a great location, walk to the Beach, walk to the shops and walk to the restaurants, it is really well maintained with a great swimming pool. So of course we headed to the Beach for a swim in the Atlantic Ocean. The water was quite warm (Simmy even you would get in - without any trouble), Dave said it was too warm but it was just right for me. Juno Beach is really dog friendly, everyone who seems to go to the beach had at least one dog. All the dogs are so well behaved, there is hardly any barking and they all seem to play really well together and of course there are plastic bag containers for poop scooping everywhere. The sea air was obviously having the right effect on Dave as he offered to take be to a Thai restaurant (or maybe it was a ploy with our weight loss regime - who knows, but I was in), as many of you would know Dave isn't a big fan of Thai.

Once again we were surrounded by some interesting animals. If either Dave or I walked outside of our motor home, the turtles from the lake behind us would come swimming over looking for a feed - so of course I had to oblige. The turtles weren't the only animals about, there was also this green large (interesting ok ugly) lizard and her baby that would hang around. I'm truly starting to love the outdoors and everything it has to offer - unfortunately still very frightened of those snakes that are also around. When I'm out doing my walking I would love to do some more of the nature trails but the fear of snakes keeps me away - unless of course the Big Fella is with me and I send him in first. Another good point about Juno was that there was a hair dresser in the shopping centre so I finally received a hair cut and colour.
08/06/2008 - 10/06/2008 - Long Key, Florida Keys. After such a wonderful couple of days at Juno Beach we headed off down to the Florida Keys. The drive from Miami to Key West is listed as one of the top drives in the USA. The route consists of a series of Keys (Sand Islands). The first major Key that we went through was Key Largo, not at all what Dave and I expected, it was quiet run down and from the highway the water was no where to be seen. (So much for the Beach Boys song...) After a while out of Key Largo the drive certainly improved and we could understand what people were talking about. The water is a beautiful greeny/bluey colour and really does look inviting. We had planned to travel all the way to Key West (the last Key), but as we were driving along the highway we noticed a State Park that had some camping right on the beach.

So after a successful U turn in Stubbie (Dave's becoming a pro at these now), we entered Long Key State Park and we were lucky enough to be able to get a site for two nights. What a fantastic location - Dave did mention once or twice while we were there that he could spend months here. The site is right on the beach, it is like 10 paces from the front of Stubbie and you are in the water. So we parked Stubbie head first, and our view from the front is just sublime, no shutting the curtains here. Each site is fairly private as well, as Dave would say it doesn't get much better than this. There is a coral reef just off the beach , but unfortunately for us we had no snorkeling gear. The only down fall (if you could call it that) was that in low tide to get into some decent (water depth) water you needed to walk out a fair way. The park reminded us a lot of Heron Island without the birds. Dave even managed to get stuck into one of his books - we are so similar I was reading a Joan Collins novel and Dave was reading a book by Alan Greenspan. I managed to get Dave to come on one of the nature walks with me and I must admit it was a bit disappointing it was just walking through mangroves and then more mangroves, so I'm not sure how many more of these I'll get the Big Fella on. Unfortunately, we knew we had to move on, this is one place that we will both remember.
10/06/2008 -12/06/2008. The Big Fella is back in the game with a couple of wins in the battle of the bulge the score to date is Lisa 5 Dave 2. I think I could be in a bit of trouble - time to buy some more chocolates. We finally made it all the way to Key West. We drove Stubbie right into downtown Key West and what a place. Narrow streets, mopeds everywhere, designer Golf carts, electric cars all roaming the street and pushbikes for rent that came with a holder for our beer. We negotiated our way out of downtown and found an RV park on the beach where we could catch public transport into town. Key West reminded us very much of Bali with people roaming from bar to bar, restaurant to restaurant and the streets lined with locals spaced out on drugs or alcohol. The Island is a real mixture of the wealthy and the extremely poor. We made our way down to the most southern point of the US which is an easy 90 mile swim to Cuba.

We did what all the tourists do we bought the tee shirt had the lobster, drank mango and strawberry daiquiri's whilst watching the beautiful sunsets. It was a great time however it is time to move on, so we both got into Stubbie and tried to move forward - ooops we forgot to retract the Jacks - luckily no major damage.

We have also booked our flights back to Australia for Karleigh's 21st birthday so we will be back 11 July and returning back to the US on 1 October so we look forward to catching up with everybody and I know Dave is looking forward to a game of golf or two.

12/06/2008 - 15/06/2008 - We made our way back to Miami to go to the Beach's where all the beautiful people supposedly live. Miami is not very RV friendly so we took Stubbie downtown for a look see. It is amazing where you can take a big RV.. We found an RV park out of town that had public transport at the gate so it was back to buses and trains. These turned out to be really good. Miami has toll booth after toll booth so it is very expensive to drive around. On the other hand the public transport is very cheap and they have an above ground mini train system that just does the city and that is free.

The Beach's were white (imported sand apparently) and the place looked very much like Venice beach in California. The Big Fella was once again very happy, G-Strings and topless bathers everywhere. Unfortunately, the day we went to the Beach an afternoon thunderstorm hit, luckily we had an umbrella and a lovely yellow rain coat for Dave to wear. One other thing about Miami is that the main language (around the suburbs we stayed at anyway) was definitely Spanish. There are a lot of Cubans in the Keys and in Miami - time to get those CD's out and start practicing for our Mexico Trip at Christmas time.

15/06/2008 - 17/06/2008 - We made our way across the state of Florida from East to West. We took the Alligator Alley freeway and it certainly lived up to its name. Alligators every couple of miles. Lucky for us they had fenced most of the highway so it was hard for the Alligators to get onto the roadway. Not a good place to have a flat tyre or engine trouble. Oh and I must thank Ross and Liz for some of the music that I have had to endure / enjoy, I've gone from listening to Wham (which was one of the better tracks) to listening to James Darren (I had never heard of him or his songs).

We made it across the state and onto an island called Sanibel. Oh yes another RV beach resort so it is time to kick back and enjoy a bit more sun and surf. (I use the term surf very loosely - We are in the Gulf of Mexico and there is barely a ripple on the ocean. They don't have much call for surf boards.) The weather is quite similar to that of Cairns, hot and humid with lots of on again off again rain.

17/06/2008 - 19/06/2008 - Fort De Soto is famous partly for it being having North Beach which was named no. 1 Beach USA 2005 and 2008 by a Travel Magazine. So of course that's where we headed. The park we chose to stay in is once again a State Park. The State Parks have been fantastic they are normally good size sites with some privacy, Dave struggles a bit with the roughing side of things at these parks as they normally don't have Cable TV or WIFI. After a little bit of trouble trying to get Stubbie into the right spot, I not very brightly said it would once again be nice to have Stubbie facing the water - not my best suggestion, so after a few attempts and a few misses with the trees etc. we decided that it wasn't to be - the site was definitely made for reversing in.

After checking into the park and getting our water view site, we learnt that there was no swimming in the camping grounds and we also learnt that it was approx 8 k's to the famous North Beach - so once again time to get the bikes out and reacquaint ourselves with those bike seats. The bike paths are great they are about 12 foot wide all through the Park. North Beach was really lovely and set-up extremely well for families and for gatherings. There were numerous large picnic areas all undercover and in shady spots between the trees, lot of facilities showers, toilets (oops restrooms) etc. Dave has been a bit disappointed in the fact that he hasn't been able to find anything more than a ripple so. I finally asked a local if they had any surf beaches around here and they said you really need to go to California or Hawaii.

19/06/2008 - 21/06/2008 - We are making our way across to New Orleans, Louisiana to catch up with our good friends Desrae and Steve. Desrae and Steve are going to meet us in New Orleans and spend a couple of days travelling with us (whilst Rebecca and Lisa are back in Fort Worth, Texas practising). I'm really looking forward to seeing all the Gant family and especially watching Lisa and Rebecca compete in the world championships.

One of the aspects of Florida that has really impressed us is how well environmentally preserved their water ways are. They really love their boating, swimming and fishing. When they fish they normally walk out into the water until their belly buttons are wet, from here they cast their line out.