A Travellerspoint blog

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HILLSBOROUGH RIVER STATE PARK

YBOR CITY/TAMPA

sunny 80 °F

DAY 4

We woke up still to the sound of rain, but it gradually dissipated as the day went on. Every Thurs. the park does a complimentary coffee and continental breakfast, where the campers can get to know the rangers and any questions they may have. Our ranger, Brian, has a tremendous sense of humor and indulged us with lots of funny stories.
After the get together, John and I headed to Ybor City, a Miniature New Orleans and famous for it's Cuban cigar factory. First stop was the museum with information on how the cigars were made and the history of it. Though I don't smoke, it's still fascinating. Then we visited the sherif' house, where one of the officers said he would not walk ybor city at night even with a gun. Well, I'm glad we didn't come here last night. We did have lunch at an Irish Bar "James Joyce", and walked around 7th Ave, lined with cobblestone streets, restaurants and bars. This street is the heart of ybor city and is very unique. The feeling you get from all the old buildings, sidewalks and streets is moving. So many lives have come and gone with happiness and heartbreak alike. Walking down 7th Ave is to stroll into the distant past.

The campers coffee and donuts get together was a welcome relief
to an otherwise dismal rainy morning.
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Old cigar factory building being converted to condos in Ybor City
Construction was halted because the entire building was leaning.
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Very unique Irish pub in old historic Ybor City
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DAY 5
Got up early this morning with the idea πŸ’‘ to drive to Tampa area and fill our time until evening to see an Irish πŸ€ singer at a pub. As it turned out the details became as important as the singer. Historic Ybor City was so interesting with all its history and old beautiful buildings. We ate at a old Cuban restaurant then caught a real trolley to Tampa's lakefront and convention center. After all this running πŸƒ around both of us were so tired 😴 we could hardly walk, in fact I just wanted to lay down on the ground and go to sleep! Needless to say we bailed out on the planned Evening singing 🎀 engagement.

This is the bar that the well known movie was made from.
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So many beautiful buildings from another era here are but a few.
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Here we are hanging out on the early morning streets before the crowds.
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Here we are eating authentic Cuban food in a really old establishment on 7th avenue.
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Such a fun trolley ride to waterfront Tampa, all for just 2.50,what a deal!
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Waterfront and huge modern convention center
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After crashing a health fair for the runners in a big race tomorrow Mary is doing her own crashing.
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Posted by Bananawind2016 18:05 Archived in USA Comments (0)

LOCUST INFESTATION

overcast 77 °F

Weekend campers in tents ⛺️!!! They come in big groups and squeeze together in tents ⛺️ in one location with a central eating shelter thrown in for good measure.The whole campgrounds are quiet except for them and they are ALWAYS right next to us every Friday and Saturday night and God help us on Sunday on holiday weekends like the last Presidents weekend. Right now it's 7:30 am and you can hear crackling open beers 🍻,chopping wood and constantly and I mean constantly laughing πŸ˜‚ with intermittent hard coughing. Last night they had two huge spotlights lighting up half the park and sky. These type of campers are always surrounded by chairs, tables, coolers, and old food with lots of empty beer and pop cans. I'm surprised we haven't been visited by the local bear 🐻 yet! All the soda pop morning to night is to jack up the younger kids and maybe even the baby for our viewing entertainment . Right now the kids are in a argument over something insignificant. O, did I mention I'm stirring my hot coffee β˜•οΈ with my sunglasses 😎 because of a lack of utensils at this moment. Feels great to vent almost like I have control of a uncontrollable situation .So how's your morning starting out?

Posted by Bananawind2016 06:10 Archived in USA Comments (5)

HILLSBOROUGH RIVER STATE PARK

FOUR GREEN FIELDS, FL

sunny 80 °F

Our last day at HILLSBOROUGH River State Park. We did more hiking along the river, and took it easy the rest of the day. We wanted to be rested for the evening at Four Green Fields. The food was delicious, but the entertainment was canceled.

Another beautiful river walk
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Four Green Fields, authentic Irish Cottage
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Posted by Bananawind2016 18:05 Archived in USA Comments (0)

SILVER SPRINGS RIVER STATE PARK

Silver Springs, FL

Well here we are at a different springs which is different in many ways. The campgrounds are very quiet day and night almost like being in a library so it's very relaxing and soothing but not sure πŸ€” if I should break the solitude with playing my whistle. In two weeks we will be going to an Irish πŸ€ festival and need to be top of my game just in case so should put in some whistle time somewhere. Here there are mostly retirees in RVs and trailers escaping ravages of winter ❄️ not large groups of locals out to party πŸŽ‰ and get drunk 😡 through the weekend with their kids running wild everywhere . So more space for privacy, modern facilities, lots of walking 🚢 and riding trails and best of all the bath houses are immaculate, and shower water so hot you have to back it off...so what's there not to like?
Separate from the campgrounds ⛺️ which you have a short drive to is the springs and it's few attractions.The Springs themselves have a huge parking lot with a closed down water park with old slides and a big wave pool. This place has quite a history and was run as a private business up to the seventies then it was taken over by the state after going bankrupt. In its heyday, many Tarzan movies were made here. It had a zoo, beautiful gardens, diving towers, many concerts at a large outside amphitheater and of course the ongoing tradition of the glass bottom boats. Going for a ride on the glass bottom boat was very relaxing and was a pleasant surprise especially seeing all the wild monkeys πŸ’ which Mary totally loved! You can also see wild life along the shore as well under the water. We saw 2 sunken boats dated 500 yrs ago, and sunken statues...pretty awesome! Walking the grounds you can't help but get the feeling of the place fading from it's glory days when admission was $60. And if you were actually looking into the past, may find a few ghosts thrown in. It gave me a sad, but warm feeling. I am so glad we put this place on our long list of places to visit.

Silver Springs Park with glass bottom boat
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Looking at Interesting sea life and sunken boats
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John looking for his mermaid
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Monkeys everywhere!
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Lots of turtles around
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Outside Concert pavilion, a grandeur from the past
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Mary relaxing after a hike
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Posted by Bananawind2016 16:07 Comments (0)

RAINBOW SPRINGS

Dunnelon, fl

sunny 87 °F

Today was scouting day for Rainbow Springs, 30 miles from where we are staying. This was one of those campgrounds on our list. The campground and the springs is 6 miles apart. It is nothing special when we went through it, but this couple whom we met earlier at Silver Springs rode their bicycles to Rainbow Springs told us the camp sites are actually really nice; that we were in the wrong area. Well, we'll pass for now...the heat is getting to us and we need to get to the main park. On this hot upper 80's degree day, the spring is a welcoming place to swim. Didn't take John long to dive in, the first this year, and I got to soak my tired ankles in the cold water. Refreshed, we walked the hilly trails leading to the different waterfalls. I wasn't sure at first if my new knee and my pesty ankle will handle the terrain, but I did okay. It was soothing hearing sounds of water downstream everywhere.

John swimming in the springs
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Rainbow Falls off the forbidden path
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Another record heat (for this time of the year) brought us back to Rainbow Springs the next day. After cooling off on the way back to Ocala, ate at El Toreo, where the special for the day was 99 cents margaritas.

Posted by Bananawind2016 16:24 Archived in USA Comments (0)

SILVER SPRINGS STATE PARK

TRAILS AND TAILS

sunny 88 °F

There are a couple of hiking trails that we love where the campground is. The Swamp trail, a 2 mi. Hike through hammocks with a long Boardwalk through the swamp. At the end of the trail, a scenic river emerges, which produces 518 gal. Of fresh spring water daily...no wonder is so clear! The River Walk is an easy 1.2 miles hike which takes you to right to the river where kayaks are launched.

Scenic Swamp Trail
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The river trail leads to kayak launch. John wishes he brought his kayak
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At the main park where all the tourist attractions are, there's a long scenic walk along the river where you see the glass bottom boats, monkeys and wildlife across the way.

Good misty day to read about the history of the park, where Tarzan, The Yearling
Creature from the Black Lagoon, Sea Hunt, and other classics are filmed here.
Also, ghosts are said to roam the grounds.
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Near our campsite, John found his love, Clare. She is a beautiful black and white Blue Healer cattle dog that looks like our beloved Patch. Clare is so lovable and appreciates attention. Her parents sold their home in Indiana and now lives in their RV year round. We were told they had wanted a rescue cattle dog, but was not allowed because they don't have a permanent home. But lucky for them, a farmer was selling Blue Healer puppies for $100. Most of the time you would have to pay $1500 for this breed.

Clare remind us so much of Patch
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Right now it's 7pm just finished a workout at the gym and it's raining β˜”οΈ cats and dogs 🐢, too early to go back to the tent ⛺️ so what the heck do we do? It just happens next door to Planet Fitness is an Irish πŸ€ Tavern called "Cup O' The Irish"...how weird is that? It's in Irish name only because they have this guy in a trucker hat singing hard core country and bluegrass music 🎢.Here I sit drinking a peanut πŸ₯œ protein shake wishing for better music 🎢 what a funny night we have here. At this point I hope the rain β˜”οΈ keeps up all night because there is nothing better than a dry tent ⛺️ And a heavy rain for a great night sleep 😴.

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Posted by Bananawind2016 15:53 Archived in USA Comments (0)

ANASTASIA PARK

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL

semi-overcast 70 °F

Saint Augustine, is it really a Saint or maybe a devil in disguise? Hard call to make. Lots of things to see in old town but tons of traffic and no parking places. The allusive hidden lots are full unless it's early in the morning when nothing is open..lots of art galleries and specialty shops with enough types of museums and tour trains πŸš‚ to baffle the mind all having their own free parking for patrons "Or It Will Be Towed!" signs above each space πŸš€ in bold red letters. It feels like they are just waiting and hiding at some undisclosed hidden location to ticket and tow your car πŸš— with no exception. In the evenings the town is packed with young people walking 🚢 the sidewalks to eat, drink 🍹 and shop. I can't for the life of me understand how everyone gets there with no shuttle bus 🚌 or spaces to park. Driving in town in the evening especially on a weekend gives you the feeling of being held captive in your car πŸš— with no other choice but to leave or God help us all, park under a "Parking For Patrons Only!! " sign. Saturday afternoon we parked outside of town for the fish festival at a site for a special shuttle, which in theory is to pick up passengers every 20 minutes . We were there for almost a hour and a half with about fifty really pissed off 😑 people. It was out of character for me but I found it rather interesting and relaxing 😎 watching the scene unfold and having a reprieve from the traffic mess.
On the other side of the coin there are lots of great places to eat and not just in old town. We just ate at a huge Asian buffet today and tomorrow I will grace my tummy with an Indian buffet. There are all kinds of choices here...you just have to do some research to find them. It always seems to be windy here which keeps the bugs 🐜 away and gives us a beach 🌊 with huge waves and surfers πŸ„ to watch. Also I have to mention that to wake up in the mornings with the sound of crashing waves is special. Staying on my positive note there are many Irish πŸ€ taverns here to choose from and many with live real Irish πŸ€ music 🎢. Getting to play with two great groups here makes my trip here special with a huge Celtic festival coming up this weekend.

The natural seaside with dunes is so peaceful with very few people.
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Old Spanish quarry used for all Saint Augustine buildings and fort.
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Cold front came through. Mary all bundled up and enjoying the sound of the waves
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St. Augustine Lighthouse
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Old Spanish quarry has such sad feelings.
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These huge blocks were hand cut in a quarry by prisoners of the Spanish.The old quarry which is near our campsite has a real sad feeling.
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The best Mexican food truck on our entrance to our park.
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Good times with Ron and Sue at Hurricane Pattys
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Sue's crayfish dish at Hurricane Patty's ....yuck!
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At Meehan Irish Pub with Sue and Ron
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So much fun playing with these guys for the night
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Posted by Bananawind2016 15:47 Archived in USA Comments (0)

ANASTASIA STATE PARK, ST. AUGUSTINE

DINNER THEATRE

sunny 70 °F

We spent Monday morning when traffic is not busy to visit the Visitor's Center. With a wealth of information, we explored the downtown area and where all the parking lots are. There is also a bus that you could ride into town for $1.50 all day...so things are looking good with getting around.

Even though it has been cool here the past few days, it is a welcoming change from the unusual hot weather Florida is having this winter. We would rather be here than in the Everglades where the mosquitoes run rapid with the heat and no wind. There's much to do here including walking across the Lion Bridge which is on my bucket list. It has been especially fun having Sue and Ron here. On the first day, after setting up camp, we all went to Hurricane Patty's exchanging camping stories over cocktail hour. We all love Irish music and when we went to Meehan's Irish Pub the next night, it was a blast. Ron (being Polish) was hooting and howling after each song. I think the band appreciated the enthusiasm and that's why they gave us free CD's.

Windy day walk on Lion's Bridge
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One of our favorite things to do every evening before we retire for the night is to walk on the Boardwalk to the beach. The sea is dark except for the white breaking waves as it crashes to shore. As you inhale the salt air, you feel so small in such a vast ocean. The beach looks like snow with sage brush. In the distance, you could see the lighthouse shining it's light onto the water. It looks so lonely. There's supposed to be a little girl who fell to her death from the top of the stairs. Her spirit was captured by the ghost hunters in a TV series.

The Boardwalk going to the beach
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Signs everywhere asking people not to trample on the sand dunes
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We did miss our nightly walk on the Boardwalk to the beach on Tuesday. We were invited over to Sue and Ron's camp for a cook out. I introduced them to Mary's camp 101 spaghetti dinner, which is cooked spaghetti with a jar of Prego poured over it. Sue did the salad and garlic bread. For $10 we were able to feed 4 people vs. $100 spent eating out. After dinner, Ron made a camp fire for us. Sue entertained us with her rendition of John's last entry of our blog about the St. Augustine traffic. We laughed so hard that it hurt. While eating dinner, we could hear Willie Nelson and Dwight Yokum performing at a concert in the outside amphitheater next to our park. So John and I decided to try to sneak over to the concert after leaving the party. We went on a sandy service road to get closer to the music, and strangely found quite a few people sitting in the dark enjoying the music even though you couldn't see anything but vegetation ahead. Some even had their dogs with them, but strangely enough they did not bark. Like their master, they seemed to be enjoying the music as well. It was surreal! John suggested if I can walk the Old Spanish Quarry path, we could get to the back of the amphitheater and at least see something. So, with our flashlight, we ventured into this creepy dark path about a mile long, not thinking what may jump out at us. When we got to the end, a security guard was waiting for us. He knew what we were up to and shook his head. Darn it! Just around the corner we would have been right next to the stage! So close and yet so far. But what an adventure it was! Well, tomorrow we will resume our nightly walk at the beach unless something else distracts us.

Nice camp fire
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Sue and Ron's trailer
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Let me add "JOHN'S STILTED VIEW"..During the spaghetti 🍝 extravaganza the girls kept talking about sneaking into the concert with Mary even wanting me to drive the truck down some forbidden 🚫 service road for rangers use only. To every objection I put out there Mary would say "No Guts, No Glory" like a parrot with one ☝️ too many cups of coffee β˜•οΈ. Being the great πŸ‘ guy I am, off we went down the service road to end up closer but no cigar. Then it dawned on me to try the creepy "Old Spanish Quarry" trail ( cue the scary music 🎢) O.K. I'm not crazy 😜 about either performer but a ghost πŸ‘» walk in a Spanish quarry from the sixteenth century which had lots of death πŸ’€ and suffering in the dead of night is just the ticket for me tonight! Well it was dark alright but the mood was just not there with Willie's "You Were On My Mind" and "Momma Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys" bouncing off the quarry walls everywhere. No ghost πŸ‘» or ghouls to be found just a security 🚨 guard at the end of a dark trail... which is o.k. because we had "guts but no glory". A great end to a wonderful day.

Posted by Bananawind2016 05:52 Archived in USA Comments (0)

ST AUGUSTINE

sunny 78 °F

Today I rode my bicycle 🚴 with my sister Sue to the historic and haunted Saint Augustine Lighthouse while Ron went on a long road trip to visit an old friend from his work. We found out it was much more than just a lighthouse but also a huge two story keeper's house 🏑 which was open for viewing from basement to top floor. Also on the grounds was a traditional boat 🚣🏼 building group displaying old style catboats sailing ⛡️ vessels that they built by hand. It's a real art form with what they are doing and creating. My only regret was not playing some music 🎢 on my whistle in the upstairs keeper's house which had a great echo for it. While up there I came across a display of really old stuff and in the middle was a very old Irish πŸ€ beat up wood whistle from the family long ago. I should of played my tin whistle out of respect to those long gone.

St, Augustine Lighthouse
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Old time boat builder showing his creations to us.
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Later in the evening Mary and I decided to go to old town and to my surprise we found a parking place right away so disregard my past rant on parking here πŸ˜‚. Walking 🚢 down the old cobblestone narrow streets with all the wonderful aromas of all kinds of food, I hear a faint sound of a penny whistle floating in the air. It was so slight you could barely figure out the direction the sound was coming from. After wandering around we finally found its source, an older unkept homeless man playing a recorder at a distant street corner. He had all his worldly possessions around him in two shopping carts with one having a tip jar. After adding to his jar, I just had to talk to him about his music 🎢. During our conversation he kept telling me that an Irish πŸ€ whistle cannot hit all the notes in a song and "just get rid of it and get a recorder". On and on our argument went with Mary even leaving me to fend for myself. Uncharacteristic of me, I left my instruments 🎸 in the truck five blocks away which I had to run πŸƒ back to get so that I could show him before he moves on. Pulling one out of its case his eyes πŸ‘€ opened wide and when I played a tune for him they got wider and he wanted to know immediately where and how to get one. After we played a few songs together I mentioned how different we are but yet the same with music as our connection. A crowd started forming around us standing back at first then slowly creeping up to listen, it was so much fun for everyone. At this point Mary and I had to leave because the Bridge Of Lions was closing that night due to repairs. While rushing away I looked back and to my surprise the people around him were putting money in his tip jar. So happy 😊 for him but ask Mary why my tip jar was always empty whenever I play. To this she stated, "Because you do not need it and that poor man does". That says it all. Sometimes life have a way of working for us and helping in the end. Next year, I will bring a penny whistle like mine to give him.

Strolling through historic St.Augustine
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"Get to work,boss is here!
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Posted by Bananawind2016 06:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

ST. AUGUSTINE

PERFECT DAY AND PERFECT NIGHT

sunny 78 °F

This was the most beautiful day ever! Sunny in the upper 70's with just a soft breeze, perfect day to spent an afternoon at the beach. It was Sue and Ron's last day in St. Augustine and they invited John to walk the shoreline from Anastasia to St. Augustine Beach. Since I could not walk the distance, I stayed back to soak up the sun, and meander nearby. It was so relaxing!

nice day at the beach
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St. Augustine Beach Pier
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On Thursday evenings, local musicians gather at Barley Republic Irish pub to play Irish music with the likes of Guinness and Harp for $3. John met the friendly musicians and decided to join them. There were some 14 players with every imaginable instruments and each took turns to lead with their favorite. When prodded to do so, John chose "Come to the Hills" because I love this song (my favorite rendition of this is by Celtic Thunder on YouTube). Since He was given a mike to play to, John's tin whistle echoed thru the pub crystal clear. It was beautiful and with full of emotion. The night was very entertaining with various types of instruments and songs. Sue says it reminds her of some of the pubs she visited in Ireland. Needless to say, I think the entire evening with a romantic Spanish dinner and good Irish music was a good send off for Sue and Ron. For John, his only regret was not playing "The Last Rose of Summer", a song about a rose garden with only one rose left, and it will not be long before it will join the others. It brings back memories of how much his mother loved Irish music and always wanted him to play for her. Back then, John was always busy, never had the time to learn his tin whistle. It wasn't until his mother passed did he picked up the whistle and played at her funeral, knowing she would finally hear him. He wasn't very good that day, but he has evolved to be a very good penny whistle player. Because of his mother, he has found joy with his music. And now, Shannon, who I always thought is also gifted with music, is starting to play the penny whistle and loving it.

John playing with Irish musicians
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Sue and Ron celebrating their last day in St. Augustine
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Even though it was too late to walk the boardwalk when we got back, from our tent, you could hear the sound of the ocean waves crashing in the still of the night...makes for a good night sleep.

Posted by Bananawind2016 16:43 Archived in USA Comments (0)

DEPARTURE

THE LAST FAREWELL

sunny 70 °F

You just know when it's time to come home. 🏑 They say if you grudgingly come home from a trip then it was not long enough. This being our last day we made it a slow relaxing 😎 day with just getting a morning workout at the local gym followed by a great πŸ‘ Mexican lunch 🍴 at a very popular local place. In the afternoon we went to the beach 🌊 to sit and watch the surfers πŸ„ and all the other people having fun in the warm sun. β˜€οΈ We planned to visit old town in the evening and maybe play some music 🎢 someplace or even play with my homeless friend but at this time I'm played out and need a break from the whole gig. With a strong πŸ’ͺ northeaster setting in early Sunday morning we decided to leave a day earlier to avoid the four days of heavy wind, rain β˜”οΈ and cold. At this point, Mary and I are looking forward to get home 🏑 to our wonderful house. Like they say in the over played movie πŸŽ₯ "There's no place like home" especially after living in a tent ⛺️ and wearing flip flops for two months.

We made our last walk to the beach at night with the moon's light shining on the crest of the waves, a Winslow Homer painting. So beautiful! One last hurrah.

Posted by Bananawind2016 17:32 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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