Thursday, December 13, 2012

St Augustine, FL end of the road?

We owe all of you a big “Thank You” for your interest and support while following us as we journeyed around this remarkable country. And also for your concern…when the time between blogs became a little extended many of you reminded us that it was time for a posting or wondered if perhaps we had lost our way in the wilderness.

A little over a week ago we arrived back to our favorite place in Florida - St Augustine; we just love this town, the buzz of tourists, the beautiful beaches and surf, its numerous wonderful eating places and Flagler College. On Saturday RamblingRover goes into storage for the next six months and we will fly to the UK to have a “Dickens Christmas” complete with Plum Pudding, Brandy Butter, Mince Pies and Christmas cake with Jennifer, Karl, Hannah, Molly & Ciaran; there’s even the possibility of a Christmas snow scene.
So we have come to the end of our “yellow brick road” odyssey, over 22,000 miles in RamblingRover and at least that again in BlueBug; it has been a wonderful, interesting, informative and educational two years of - seeing sights, meeting wonderful, friendly people, learning much about the culture and history of each state we travelled through; unsung heroes and some very strong brave men and women in history. Our travels took us to places far off the highways on the byways and we found enchanting places; we visited cities that surprised us as they had great tourist attractions. In our dotage this is the journey we will talk about while passing the extra ten years doctors promise to all of us as we sit in our armchairs in an old people's home.

Fortunately, we live in an age of amazing technologies as we could not have achieved so much without; our Garmin GPS - directing us from place to place with no arguments and very few wrong turns; cell phones to stay in touch with family and friends; the Internet to research, plan and reserve our RV Park stops and places of interest to visit, many books gifts from friends which helped guide us to interesting off-the-beaten-path places, but most of all to friends whom we called on all around the USA who made us welcome in their homes and then gave us guided tours of their area - what a luxury. Both FaceTime and Skype are much used with Jennifer, Kilian and Cearull who gather our grandchildren around the computer so we can laugh, talk and stay in touch - Sunday being the busy day which we look forward to each week. We also stay in touch with siblings in Canada and Ireland and periodically connect with friends online. Most RV Parks have free Wi-Fi, coffee shops are another source and we have our own “tethering” through Tom’s phone if all else fails, so we never feel lonely or out of touch.

Probably the most frequent question we’re asked is what our favorite place visited is. Top of the list for us is, of course, Yellowstone National Park an amazing place - a wonder of the world really! Others, in no particular order are; the Rockies just magnificent, the mountains so high, the valleys so deep and mostly green and unspoiled. California’s Giant Redwoods, Kartchner Caverns, Grand, Zion and Bryce Canyons; Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills, the Great Lakes (really inland seas and are so large that they have an effect on the climate), Finger Lakes, the coast of Maine – rugged and pretty, so very like parts of Ireland and England, the Outer Banks and Carlsbad Caves…we could go on and on! Most of our journeys were in the 150 mile range which meant that we didn't miss much on the journey. We visited towns that were once full of bustle and trade that are now empty and poor; we saw towns which struggle yearly to survive but survive they do through an Annual Festival the revenue from which keeps the townspeople going from year to year. Plymouth Rock is, for us, the most over-rated tourist attraction; not much larger than a pebble, well we exaggerate but so does history. The rock is about the size of a decorative flowerbed rock so it’s not to be confused with the Rock of Gibraltar - now that’s a Rock. The many Battlefields and their adjacent graveyards with multiple graves of hundreds of unidentified fallen soldiers made us sad. We’ve seen “the biggest, the best, the tallest, the smallest, the longest, the shortest, the oldest, the highest, the fastest, the slowest, the famous and the infamous."

For each state we visited – in total - 44 of them we tried to read an informative book about a hero, a politician, the early history of the state, especially most of the southern states particularly those with Spanish or French history – surprisingly, this history is ignored in the US/Anglo history books.

Books which helped us enjoy our travels:
The 19th wife
Grace, an American women in China
A Team of Rivals (Lincoln)
Midnight in the garden of Good and Evil
The wind in the morning (about Magellan circumnavigating the world )
The Johnstown Flood
The Vicksburg Siege
Running with the Bulls by Valerie Hemmingway
1434 by Gavin Menzies
The Bears and I by Robert Franklin Leslie
Freedom by Ken Follett
The Color of Hope by Susan Madison
The Good Earth by Pearl S Bucks
Night Fall by Nelson De Mille
Cannibals of the Heart by Jack Shepard
Texas Dawn by Philip Lynch
A Voyage Long and Strange by Tony Horwitz
47 by Walter Mosley
A Family of Spies by Pete Earley
Babylon by Bus by Ray LeMoine & Jeff Neumar
Chief Joseph by Candy Moulton
Adele has a book about Fredrick Douglas on her Kindle to read next. In addition, Libraries’, Museums, the Internet and Visitor Centers leaflets helped us make places visited more interesting.
We will be back on the road again in six months’ time when we will let you know as we travel to Eastern Canada on another Adventure.

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