Monday, May 29, 2023

Hilton Head Island, SC

 Tonight we're in a North Carolina KOA on our way to Beluga's appointment at Freightliner (F!) Service Center in Gaffney, NC.     No's a KOA.....

We left our sweet spot at the Hilton Head Motorcoach Resort this morning under sunny skies.    The past few days were cloudy, windy and rainy but we didn't mind.    This trip isn't about seeing new things and exploring new areas, it's about enjoying familiar favorites and enjoying ourselves, no pressure.    Naps were taken, races were watched (NASCAR, Indy 500), pizza and wine were consumed, and some laundry was done.    ho hum

During our weeks stay we managed to get plenty of beach time on a slightly less desirable (think less crowded) Fish Haul Beach.    We poked around little sea creatures beached at low tide, laughed at the antics of sea birds plying their trade, loved the sound of waves hitting the sand and watched the planes taking off (and landing)  from the very nearby Hilton Head Island Airport.      This may be a negative to some, but a positive for us!

Fish Haul Rd

every shell we picked up was occupied!

who lives here?

he cocks......

he misses......

he finally scores!

We pick this beach because it's far away from the hotels at the center of the island, it's off a sand road, plenty of free parking and there is a fair amount of sea grass washed up on the beach.    Not enough to keep us from finding plenty of white sand to explore and set up our chairs, but not as aesthetically pleasing to the other paradise seeking tourists.    It's often windy but we don't mind.

Once again, food, familiar and fabulous food, is high on our list.    Last time I showed you Charlie's L'Etoile Verte.     We also revisited Michael Angelo, Hudsons on the Bay, and tried a couple new to us.   They are now on "the list".

Alfred's Potato Crusted Halibut - groan.....

Tagliatelli Bolognese at Michael Anthonys

what happened to my cannoli?

lunch at Hudson's on the Bay

We sat outside right beside the boats that brought in fish that morning.....

our lunchtime entertainment was watching the net repair

waiting for a handout?

waiting.....just in case

All in all we enjoyed our relaxed and delicious stop on Hilton Head Island.    The weather could have been better, we missed walking on Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Audubon Newhall Preserve because of high winds and threatening rain.     

Soon we'll begin the "Friends" part of our Friends, Family and Food (and Familiar Favorites) Tour.   Flat Rock, NC will bring us close to Raven and Chickadee, we can't wait!

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Crooked River State Park

 We arrived at the Hilton Head Island Motorcoach Resort yesterday afternoon, set up and proceeded to one of our favorite spots, Charlie's L'Etoile Verte for dinner.   It's just around the corner after all.....

site 360

Normally we don't leave Beluga upon arrival,  after moving from one location to another. Breaking camp, hooking up the Jeep, going through "the check list", driving (especially on windy days!) finding our next park and site, settling in and hooking up is tiring for us.     We made an exception last night.    Charlies offers half price on their extensive wine list on Mondays.....a bargain too good to pass up!

The food is exceptional as well.....interesting preparations using super fresh seafood (probably other things as well, but we never look further!) .....we've never had a bad or even mediocre meal there.

fresh Swordfish with wild mushroom sauce.   Mmm

Crooked River State Park, near St. Mary's, Georgia.     I picked this State Park (a favorite from the past) because I couldn't get a spot at Ft. Clinch State Park near Fernandina Beach, Florida - our real destination.

Crooked River was only about 30 miles from Fernandina Beach, not too far to drive for another good meal.     This IS the FOOD, friends, family and familiar favorites tour after all.   (friends and family coming soon, I promise)   Our first choice restaurant, pretty little Le Clos, closed suddenly due to "unforeseen circumstances".      We were both very sad to see the cheerful yellow cottage shuttered indefinitely .    Sigh.      The town of Fernandina Beach is a small, quaint waterfront spot with lots of shops (tourist and otherwise) and nice restaurants.     We strolled the streets while we waited for our next choice restaurant to open.     We discovered a bakery selling Venetians and Kouign Amann.   Of course we had to buy some, you know, so we could A/B with the ones from Vilano Beach.    (note:  I liked Vilano Beach's version better, Dave chose Fernandina Beach)


 Espana Restaurant and Tapas more than made up for the loss of Le Clos.    We'd been there years before and hoped that it's quality and choices hadn't changed.     They haven't....choices galore.     One of our favorites was Patatas Bravas.    I took no other pictures of the table laden with our tapas selections.   We may have eaten more than we needed to....ah well.

The weather at Crooked River was on and off.    High humidity and temperature was definitely ON....Precipitation was on and off, mostly ON.  

We got out in between rain drops and thunder to explore a few of the riverside trails.


We saw quite a number of large Gopher Tortoises around our site, walking briskly down the campground roads and nestling down in the pine straw next to us.  

  On one of our walks, however, we spied a large one, blocking it's burrow with a baby next to it!     They are one of the oldest living species on the planet and can live to 60 years old in the wild.   They burrow into the soft sandy soil in the park and are native to the southern states, although now classified as "threatened".  

I read that these tortoises exhibit no maternal care of their eggs or young,  so we wondered about this little one.   

 Was this one of those bratty little kids that won't take "NO" for an answer?    Was it trying to claim this burrow for itself.    Was it lost?      Why was the big one blocking the burrow's opening?    Hmmmmm.

Some things you're not meant to know I guess.

So, that's a glimpse at our weekend at Crooked River State Park......Oh, and one more picture.   Sweet old Sam walking himself past our window, wagging his big plumy tail.    awwww


Friday, May 19, 2023

Vilano Beach, Florida

 Tonight we're settled in a pretty back in, full hook up site at Crooked River State Park, St. Marys, Georgia.       We'll  just be here for the weekend.   The Airstream across from us has two beautiful Golden Retrievers, we've already met silly and very needy Sadie and beautiful, regal, 14 year old Sam.    He walks himself around,  leash held lightly in his mouth......big smile on his face.

It was a short and easy drive north (yes, we've officially made the turn north!) from Vilano Beach just north of St. Augustine.   Most of the places we've stayed at (and will stay at) have been familiar favorites.  I've been calling this summer's trip the Food, Friends, and Family tour but perhaps it should more correctly be called  "Food, Friends, Family and Familiar Favorites"!    Yes, that's what I'll call it.

Vilano Beach is one of our favorite places on the east coast.   We've stayed at North Beach Camp Resort many many times.   It's a private rv park but feels more like a State Park, without the State Park prices......The sites are large and very private, nestled into intensely dense greenery and a canopy of trees overhead.     At one end of the park is the ocean beach (dog friendly) and at the other is the Tolomato River beach with good restaurants both places.    A large, familiar Publix grocery store is right down the street  Who needs more?

Tolomato River

So, we just beached it and ate......since it wasn't the first, or second or third time we'd been there we didn't feel the need to explore quaint but commercial St. Augustine.    It's enjoyable, but we've been there, done that.     Tour buses, school buses, brightly colored trolleys weaving in and out, cars jockeying for a $20 parking spot, etc.      Walking the beach, reading on the beach, eating delicious meals on the beach sounded best to us.

low country boil for Dave


Aunt Kates on the River

Beluga's view

taking a token drive into St. Augustine

Menorcan stew

oh my

taking a little beach walk after a big meal

Yummy Venetians.   
We may have gone back to the bakery for more, a number of times.....

King Fish Grill at the Marina

outside the window at blotted out the sun!

he made eye contact as he strolled slowly by me......

she sat and waited for him to return.....

so beautiful but so noisy

beautiful, until he turned around and showed his his chicken legs.....

close up of the tabby wall

beautiful flowers in our site

Hmmmmm, I guess it's time to leave the beach.......