Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Beaches and wildlife

I am sat with my laptop, listening to the sounds of seagulls, and the sea lapping up against the shore. I’m at the kitchen table in the RV, where we are parked on a beach in the Daytona Beach area of Florida. The time is 5pm right now, and the bigger kids have gone for their second swim in the cold ocean. I can hear their screams from here, and am keeping an eye of them out of the RV door. I still cant quite believe that our new home is actually parked on a beach in Florida. This is just too perfect. The sun will be setting soon and it will be time for us to head back to the RV park, all sandy and worn out from the fresh air and exercise. Barney and Daddy spent a happy few hours building sand castles whilst I lay in the sunshine. We flew our Irish and British flags from the top of some sandcastles, when a kind man stopped his car and came over to give us his American flag to add to the collection. His family were originally from Liverpool he said. I’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness of the American people so far. Everyone seems to truly love their country, and they are so pleased to see visitors coming to admire their land. Everyone stops and chats to us.

Before I write about the past few days here are some photos from Daytona Beach...

There is something wrong with my laptop and I can’t get connected to the internet. Its blooming frustrating. I’m writing my blog posts and just posting them when I can get access to a computer. So forgive me if a load of days blogs all appear and once and then you get nothing for a few days.

Now, to be totally honest, I wasn’t at all fussed about visiting Florida and would happily have missed it out had our flight been to somewhere else. I had envisioned it as a place of theme parks, big dirty cities, and too many tourists. But I have been totally surprised and inspired by this beautiful place. It is so completely different from home. The trees, nature, wildlife, are all so tropical. (Right at this moment I can see Jimmie and Annabelle in the sea, through the left side of the RV, and Dan & Barney making sand angels in the soft sand, through the widow on my right.) So, yes, Florida is a beautiful tropical friendly place to visit, if you keep away from the theme parks.

We have had an amazing few days since my last blog post. On Sunday we decided to head for a beach, and Jim suggested that the Cape Canaveral shoreline would be a good place to go (before it closes for Thursdays rocket launch - which we hope to watch). So, being the truly amazingly kind people that they are, Pat & Jim leant us their satellite navigation system, a cell phone, binoculars, a beach umbrella, beach mat, and two boogie boards (if that is what they are called). The satellite navigation (named Estella) took us anywhere we wanted to go, and refused to let us get lost. We fell in love with her and have since purchased one of our own as we feel it will just make this trip so much easier. The road to the beach was very scenic, through Old Titusville, over the Indian River and into the Canaveral shoreline area. Dan felt far more comfortable driving the RV this time so we all relaxed and enjoyed the scenery.

The kids had the best day on the beach. The waves were awesome for surfing, the sun was hot, but there was a nice gentle breeze. Barney fell face first into the sea, and then decided to keep well away from it. But Annabelle and Jimmie spent about 3 hours in it, learning how to surf on their bellies, until they came out shivering from head to toe. Even Dan and I had a go at the boogie boarding, and man was it fun! I caught some real big waves and found it truly exhilarating. Dan caught some too and almost drowned at one point. (He insists he almost drowned but actually he was only under the water for about 4 seconds!)

The great thing about the RV is that your home is right with you. So we just had our lunch in the RV (her name is Thelma) and then headed back to the beach. Actually, after parking the RV at the Canaveral beach, I opened a bottle of root beer for the kids and it exploded all over me! I was covered from head to toe in sticky fizzy pop! Of course everyone thought it was hilarious. But the fab thing was that we had Thelma, so I just popped right into the shower, parked on the beach car park.

Well, I could have spent weeks sitting on that beach but after a few hours Barney got a bit overtired and tearful. So we thought it was time to take a drive. As we came out of the beach grounds we spotted a huge alligator on the grassy verge of the road. He was just sitting there in the sun. We decided to turn Thelma round and go back for a second look. By the time we got the camera out he had crawled down into the swampy verge, but we still got some good photos of him. Pat told me that an alligator that size must be at least 200 hundred years old. I cant tell you how exciting it was to see a wild alligator like that. Not in a zoo, not in a wildlife sanctuary, but just wandering wild.

From here we took a drive where we ended up at a wildlife sanctuary. We took a short walk around it as it was soon going to close. It was a beautiful place, full of birds, turtles, butterflies and the most amazing trees - inlcuding an orange tree (see photo in post below). At the wildlife sanctuary we learnt about a wildlife drive that we could take. It was a one way 7 mile drive with various stop off points to stop for scenery. I decided it was about time I braved the RV driving, so I took to the wheel rather nervously, headed out of the car park, and then just felt totally fine about driving a large vehicle on the wrong side of the road. I actually quite enjoyed it. The wildlife drive was absolutely breath taking. We saw heaps of wildlife, and drove round at just 10 mph to take everything in, taking many stops along the way to get out and explore. We saw pelicans (one actually flew past us with a huge fish hanging from its mouth), pink flamingoes, herons, fire ants, hawks and osprey. We watched the sun go down at the end of the drive, which was lovely. Here are a few photos from the wildlife drive (I think it was called Black Point Ridge - or something along those lines)

Click on the photos to see them larger....

That evening when we returned to the RV park, it was such a lovely clear warm night, that Dan and I took our sleeping bags outside and lay under the stars for a while once the kids were in bed. It was awesome to see the stars through the canopy of palm trees.


Anonymous said...

Wow Florida sounds absolutely amazing. I always thought it was just theme parks and rubbish towns too! Maybe we should go after all.

Sorry to burst Pat's bubble, but the oldest recorded age for an alligator is 72! You can generally recognise the really old ones because they need a zimmer frame to get around.

Excellent blog posts!


D. Colby Rumback said...

Nice post. I enjoyed your thoughts on RV'ing with the family. Colby