Florida

Trip Start Jun 02, 2002
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42
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Trip End Apr 01, 2003


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Flag of United States  , Florida
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Greetings from Tallahassee,

Our campsite was not actually in Tallahassee, it was at a place called Econfina on the Gulf. It was a half a mile from the Gulf of Mexico after we drove three miles down a dirt road. Cool alligators floating in the lake in the middle of the campground. Sneaky sand fleas and mosquitoes waited for us to step outside and welcomed us with thirsty mouths. On the other hand, this was the first campsite since Horse Thief Campground in South Dakota, with our good friend John, which allowed open fires. I was so excited about building a fire that I spent a good portion of the day searching for firewood. I did not forget to also pick up graham crackers, Hershey's chocolate bars, and marshmallows. For two nights in a row we sat under the stars, ate fresh s'mores, and reflected on our past ten months of nonstop adventures. And still, the memories continued.

Thursday - We drove into the state capital for a self-guided tour of the Capitol building. Inside, we saw a giant state seal of Florida in the main hall. I walked into Governor Jeb Bush's office and asked if I could speak to him, but his secretary told me he was momentary out of the office. Lucky for him I could not ask my questions about the presidential election. We made our way up to the third floor and witnessed the House and the Senate in session. We tried to see if any of them were secretly playing solitaire on their laptops, but they all appeared to be participating in today's agenda. They broke for lunch and we took the elevator up to the 22nd floor observation room. It had a nice clear view of Tallahassee and we were able to see the State Supreme Court and Florida State University. There was some sort of function going on and they had tables of food set up for the attendees. So naturally, we also got hungry and we broke for lunch.

We looked in our trusty AAA book for a place to eat and found Barnacle Bills to be a popular local place famous for its seafood. It was quiet for lunch, but it looked like it could be a packed place at night time. I noticed that every table but ours had three different types of hot sauce on them. I also noticed that the far wall next to the register held various brands of hot sauces for sale. When our food arrived I asked our waitress if she could bring me the same three hot sauces. She returned with 9 different varieties! My lunch then became a scientifically based hot sauce taste testing experiment. Once I finally decided on which one was my favorite, FYI it wasn't a Tabasco brand, I told our waitress that I wanted to purchase a bottle for myself. She came back with the bad news that they were all sold out of this particular brand, and then she tried to sell me on some other brand with the same ingredients. Well, I thanked her for looking and politely turned down her suggestion. Lunch was still fun and our stomachs were happy.

Friday - We said goodbye to Econfina on the Gulf and made our way to Jenn's grandmother's house in Debary for a few nights. She likes it when we call her Grammy. We hung out with her all night going through Jenn's massive scrap book of our trip. The pages are as interesting as it is heavy.

Saturday - We drove to Orlando to visit Alan, Jen, Shaun, and their new baby Isabelle. Shaun had a baseball game today and Alan is their coach, so we met them at the baseball field. Alan got Jenn involved and she got to hang out in the dugout surrounded by a team of baseball players. Shaun did great at third base and as pitcher. Afterwards, we went back to their house and hung out. Jenn's gigantic scrapbook was on tour and made an appearance on their coffee table. Everyone is just so impressed when they go through it.

It was getting late and we said goodbye. We then went to our friend Sarah's apartment. We previously made plans to go out for dinner and then party late into the night. Well, we were so tired after Bennigans that we became big party poopers and called it an early night. Sarah made alternate plans with her friends which made us feel a little less guilty about bailing out on her. We said goodbye, but we expected to see her again at Grammy's house for Passover.

Sunday - Marcye and George came over to Grammy's, picked us up, and we went out for breakfast. Afterwards, we hung out in our RV. They once lived in a RV trailer and this was their first time seeing our RV trailer up close. They invited us to their newly purchased North Carolina log cabin and we invited them to our big house waiting for us near Washington DC (I may not have told you about this story yet). We enjoyed hanging out with them and also looked forward to seeing them again at Grammy's on Passover.

Our next stop was Uncle Charley and Aunt Caryl's house. They own a 40 foot RV bus and we wanted to see it and compare it to our 27 foot RV. Theirs was definitely a lot bigger than ours. Their bedroom, bathroom, and closets were much larger than ours. Their RV also had a lot more room for storage than ours. However, ours has a slide out which means our living room is bigger than theirs. No offense, but we wouldn't trade our little house on the prairie for any other. We said goodbye and we were on the road again.

We drove to Daytona Beach, Jenn's old stomping ground, and arrived at her Dad and Lisa's beachfront apartment. We brought a change of clothes and spent the night there. Lisa is an amazing chef and we ate a very delicious dinner. We hung out talking until late into the night and loved every minute of it, even when they planted seeds of having children before we get too old.

Monday - We had to say an early goodbye because we had to get back to Grammy's house as soon as possible to help her prepare the upcoming Passover dinner. Jenn helped Grammy as she learned the recipes she passed down to her. In the end, they cooked enough knedalach, (matzoh balls) chicken soup, and latkahs (potato pancakes) for the 19 people expected to arrive. Meanwhile, I picked up leaves in the backyard and assisted with her tax return.

Jeff and Lisa came over later for a St. Patrick's Day dinner of corned beef and cabbage.

Wednesday - We spent the day at Disney's newest theme park, Animal Kingdom. It was like a zoo, but it had Disney's magic everywhere. Besides all of the animals we saw such as hippos, bats, elephants, zebras, lions, giraffes, and gorillas; we watched a show called Tarzan Rocks which was complete with singers, dancers, trapeze artists, and acrobatic ramp jumping rollerbladers. On one of the rides, they snapped a picture of us just as the mean Tyrannosaurus Rex leaned over and tried to eat us alive. It was funny to see the horror displayed on Jenn's and some of the other passengers' faces. The 3-D movie about a bug's life was filled with unbelievable surprises that had us jumping and ducking out of the way throughout the entire show. It was a magically fun time.

Thursday - We drove the whole way down I-95 to Pompano Beach for a one day stopover before heading to Key West.

Friday - We woke up early and made our way south through the Florida Keys to mile marker 10 and arrived at the Geiger Key Marina and RV Park. We could see mangrove trees and the Atlantic Ocean right outside our window. I was so thrilled to have Key West as our official last stop. There is something magical about the Keys that I do not think Disney could recreate. We went down to Mallory Square to watch the sunset, but it was a little too overcast to be memorable. However, the local street performers kept us entertained with music, comedy, and a juggling act on top of a high unicycle.

We walked around checking Duvall Street and stumbled into a place that had a sign advertising its Key Lime pie. We could not resist and our free sample tasted so good that we ended up buying an entire pie. The guy we met behind the counter told us his story of moving to Key West to follow his dream and that within a year or two his dream will be fully realized. He was inspired with our trip and we were inspired by the fact that he also has taken the steps to make his dream a reality.

Saturday - We threw our bikes in the back of the truck and headed back to Key West. We rode our bikes up and down and all over Duvall Street. We had our picture taken at the Southern Most Point. We biked our way north along the beaches and found our way into the cemetery where everyone is buried above ground. We biked for miles and we loved the warm Key West sunshine in our faces and the cool ocean breezes in our hair. I have fallen in love with this place.

At 4PM we met up with our Key West tour guide. However, this was not like any other tour we have taken. I was in front behind the controls, Jenn sat down in the seat behind me, she threw her arms tightly around me, and I fully opened up the throttle on our wave runner to start our tour around the island. We could not believe how much fun these wave runners were. When we made our way to the Atlantic side of the island, I hit wave after wave which threw us up in the air repeatedly. When it was Jenn's turn to drive, she swished the handlebars back and forth as fast as she could as she also jumped the waves. She almost threw me off. I have to admit that this was more fun than four wheel ATV's or snowmobiles.

We purposely became the last ones in line on the return trip back so we could slow up and then speed up to catch up with the group. The people in front of us somehow lost the group in front of them and got themselves stuck out of sight in the shallows. We followed them so, we also ended up getting stuck, but we were able to get ourselves out into the open so we could be seen when the tour guide came back to find us. Getting stuck turned out to be a blessing, because as we sat there waiting to be rescued the sun began to stratify into different shades of red and orange as it made its way down into the horizon. Our bad luck turned into great luck and we enjoyed every minute of being stuck together, on a wave runner, in the ocean, at Key West, during a beautiful sunset, thank you.

Sunday - We spent most of the day relaxing at the beach in Key West. Time moves extra slow down there and the sun felt so good and soothing on our bodies.

Monday - Before we left, we went back to Duvall Street so Jenn could get a Henna tattoo. She picked out a cool looking sun and the girl placed it around her tan belly button.

It felt bitter sweet to leave Key West. It meant that our amazing trip had ended. On the other hand, it also meant that we accomplished what we set out to do. Life does not stop just because this adventure did. It's now time for us to turn the page and begin living out our next adventure. This will also not be the last travelogue. There will be one more as a final recap and then the show will be over.

Acknowledge the magic,
Love Dave & Jenn
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