Perfection at Hanna Park

Tags

Wow!  I think that is the best way to start this entry.  It is a perfect Fall day at Hanna Park and we have the most fabulous view that could be imagined.  We are in site #142 which is a pull-through near the end of the park.  We are the site closest to the lake with an amazing view.

As I am writing this I am sitting outside in a “weightless” recliner, a cool breeze is blowing a perfect 75 degrees without a cloud in the sky.  I am under the awning with the music softly playing my favorite tunes while the Cobb puffs away at a chuck roast supplying an occasional waft of oak smoke.  I have a nice cool drink and am munching on some sliced apples while the dogs nap in their camping beds.  I mean really, how does it get any better than this!

While the site has an awesome view, logistically it is not the best.  It is very narrow and we had to spend some time moving the trailer as close to the utilities as we could to be able to unroll the awning.  Also, I am not sure how we will get out as when we pull out we are at the end of the road leaving us with a 180 degree turn in either direction.  We will probably have to back out which will not be easy due to the adjustments we had to make to get into the site.  With all of that said, this is still an awesome view and I am sure we can workout the options tomorrow and it will all be more than worth it.

This is one case where having the shorter wheelbase of the ML350 is a real advantage.  I was able to move the trailer over about 18 inches within a very short length, something that would be more difficult with a longer wheelbase truck.  The shorter wheelbase is considered a disadvantage for distance towing, but has not caused us any problems so far.  While I keep my eye on the pickup market for pulling the Airstream on the “Victory Lap”, I think the ML350 is perfect for us now and will serve us great should we be so fortunate to later afford an Airstream.

Checkout the new license plate on the Island Time!  We have always enjoyed the challenge of tagging our vehicles with a vanity plate, so after several months in the application process we have “ISLNDTM”.  We were hoping for a space between the words, but were not so lucky.  Oh well, we like it and it serves as a conversation topic to explain it.

I am going to wrap this up because I see there is someone flying an amphibious R/C airplane from the lake and I have to see it!  Is this fun or what!

As you can tell, we are really enjoying our entire RV adventure.  Even as I take all of this in, I am already starting to think about planning the next opportunity.  It works for us.

Thanks,

Captain Skip

PS: With great direction from Jeannie we were able to back out of the space with only one adjustment needed.  We put it perfectly in the middle of the road with one foot to spare from a neighboring campers awning (extended to the road) and one foot on the left side of the ML.  No problems!

Best view in the campground

Best view in the campground

This was the view from the front of our campsite

This was the view from the front of our campsite

New Island Time license plate

New Island Time license plate

Here is a picnic just waiting to happen

Here is a picnic just waiting to happen

Cozy but a beautiful view

Cozy but a beautiful view

Chuck Roast on the Cobb

Chuck Roast on the Cobb

Checking on the roast in the Cobb

Checking on the roast in the Cobb

Cooking S'mores over an open fire

Cooking S’mores over an open fire

Fort Wilderness with Logan

Tags

Another awesome weekend of camping was highlighted by being able to to share the adventure with our Grandson, Logan.  We had a wonderful and busy weekend punctuated by smiles, giggles and all out fits of laughter.

Jeannie and I took Friday off so that we could travel to Fort Wilderness and arrive in the daylight without any real schedule stress.  We were initially assigned a site in the 400 loop but asked if we could change to something closer to the dog walk.  We were the directed to site #718 which was perfect and just across the drive from where we stayed last visit.

A quick back-up into the site, make connections and time to spare to relax.  Jeannie had driven the golf cart to the site when we arrived so all we really needed to do was connect the Internet and relax.

The weather was a perfect 85 degrees during the day and low 70’s at night.  No rain or blustery conditions at all, although just up until the trip, both had been forecast.

Wes brought Logan to our campsite around 5:00 PM and stayed as we enjoyed burgers over a charcoal grill.  Everyone was excited and we knew we were in for a good time.

Saturday Logan awoke to Sailor and Zephyr licks and was all giggles at 7:00 AM.  We had a fine breakfast that included “Capt’n Crunch Loganberries” as we call them along with some reading and games.  After breakfast we took a golf cart ride to see the horses and tour part of Fort Wilderness.

Lunch was a special camping treat as Logan and I toasted grilled cheese sandwiches in the cast iron sandwich makers.  We prepared the bread, layered in the cheese and put the sandwich makers in the charcoal fire.  Much to our delight, the sandwiches turned out to be the best grilled cheese sandwiches ever!

Jeannie and Logan went to visit at least three playgrounds while I caught a quick nap.  On their return Logan and I went on our much anticipated nature walk.  We put on our explorer hats, took our cameras and hit the nature trail.  To be sure we had good communications we took our new “Rocky-Talkies” with us and discussed every squirrel sighting that we encountered.  We were on gator watch along the swamp but did not see any this trip.

Saturday evening was filled with cooking our steaks over the charcoal fire and then going to the Disney Campfire.  We successfully toasted marshmallows and made S’mores getting nice and messy in the process.  It was a blast!

Bath-time and Netflix led to a good nights sleep followed by another awakening by dog lick.  Breakfast and pickup by Wes brought the visit to a much too quick of an ending.  It all went by so fast and was so much fun for all of us.  I know we really enjoyed the time together and I believe Logan did as well.

Now not to say that we are not tired.  Keeping a four-year-old engaged is a full time job.  Logan is a fine boy and it is a joy to be able to spend some quality time with him and further our relationship.

We enjoy our outings to Fort Wilderness as it gives us about three hours on the road in each direction.  Just like in our sailing days, we can pretend that even though we are traveling a familiar route, we could be going anywhere.  Someday if everything continues as hoped, we look forward to ditching the schedule and roaming the country to see what we have missed.  We take these opportunities to imagine what it will be like.

Anyway, another weekend has drawn to an end and the Island Time has another adventure in the books, with great memories attached.  The more we do this the more we like it and I am not sure how that is possible.  Our memories are now filling with family adventures and relaxing time with the Island Time.  Without a doubt we are making a great investment.

Thanks,

Captain Skip

Camping at Fort Wilderness

Camping at Fort Wilderness

Island Time at site 718

Island Time at site 718

Sitting in the bleachers awaiting the Campfire

Sitting in the bleachers awaiting the Campfire

Logan and Jeannie playing games at the picnic table

Logan and Jeannie playing games at the picnic table

Toasting grilled cheese sandwiches

Toasting grilled cheese sandwiches

Playing with the ball of magnets at the table

Playing with the ball of magnets at the table

Logan on the exploring trail

Logan on the exploring trail

Quiet Time at Hanna Park

Tags

This weekend finds us at Hanna Park in Jacksonville, FL.  This park is a hidden gem that is run by the City of Jacksonville.  This city park is in the northeast corner of the city and only about a 30 minute drive from our house.  The park has some of the best true camping sites, allowing open fires in the grills provided, in a fully natural setting.  The park includes a campground, fishing lake, picnic grounds with playground and full access to a wonderful beach.  It is a favorite with the locals and reportedly a favorite surfing location as well.

We are staying in Site #12 this trip.  It is a unique pull-through that is not really very deep, but very wide, providing a fantastic view out the dinette window.  The site is anything but level or convenient.  To unhook the trailer the ML is half-way into the road and we needed to place two sets of boards under the wheels to get level.  However, once settled in, this site is fantastic.  Having the extra room on the side of the lot really gives an “in the woods” type of feel to the site.

Not many people are here this weekend.  It was really strange as we took our evening walk yesterday to walk down loops that did not have a single camper in any site.  In the past we have always enjoyed the feeling of family busy-ness as we take in the sounds of the area.  This week, with the exception a church youth group that was having a blast at the pavilion across from the campground entrance, it has been completely quite.  It is a really relaxing weekend.

My project for this weekend is to upgrade my wi-fi router setup, after our experience at North Beach where I could not make a connection across the campground.  I found a used LinkSys router that is dd-wrt capable with removable antennas.  I installed the dd-wrt software and after a little struggle, managed to get it configured to repeat the hotspot on my iPhone.  This will allow us to either repeat a campground wi-fi or configure for repeating the LTE cellular on the iPhone without having to change any settings on any other device.

I also procured an 8db gain antenna with 25 feet of low-loss coax and intend to find a way to provide a portable mast to get it 15+ feet into the air.  This should make a significant difference.  My next project for this setup is to make a water resistant enclosure to keep the router dry.  Normally I just stick it in the wheel well of the trailer and it seems to work.  I think I need to do something better than that for the long term.

The Cobb is busy cooking a 4 – 1/2 lb. boneless rib roast!  Expecting company, I purchased a larger roast than it turns out we really need.  Oh well, the leftovers will hopefully be good.  This is truly “Glamping” at its finest when we have prime rib at the campsite!

The Butcher at Publix went out of his way to give me a great roast to work with this weekend.  4 – 1/2 pounds all nicely tied together and trimmed ready to go.  I have set the Cobb up for roasting and have seasoned it with our secret beef rub along with filling the moat with wine flavoring and adding applewood for smoke.  It smells fantastic as it is cooking.  It has been on for about an hour and probably has two more hours to go.  I am really looking forward to seeing how it comes out.

Well anyway, Jeannie and I are both remarking that we are really enjoying this weekend.  The weeks are so busy and stressful that we need the chance to get away sometimes.  The weather is perfect, 84 degrees in the shade, the grill is going, the music is playing and all seems right with the world.  I think we are on to something here.

Thanks,

Captain Skip

Hanna Park Site #12 - Lots of room in the woods!

Hanna Park Site #12 – Lots of room in the woods!

The Island Time at Hanna Park

The Island Time at Hanna Park

Jeannie relaxing in her favorite camping chair

Jeannie relaxing in her favorite camping chair

Zephyr hiding in his fort - Poodles and pillows

Zephyr hiding in his fort – Poodles and pillows

Working on my new WiFi setup

Working on my new WiFi setup

Here is the 4-1/2 pound Rib Eye Roast ready to cook on the Cobb!

Here is the 4-1/2 pound Rib Eye Roast ready to cook on the Cobb!

Fully seasoned and ready to start the 4 hour cook

Fully seasoned and ready to start the 4 hour cook

...and here it is, ready to carve (and it was fantastic!)

…and here it is, ready to carve (and it was fantastic!)

Island Time at North Beach

Tags

Labor Day weekend at the Beach! This weekend finds us enjoying an extra day at one of our favorite campgrounds, North Beach Campground in St. Augustine. We were last here a little over a year ago. At the time it was only our second outing with The Island Time. We realize as we visit this time how much we have learned since the original visit.

North Beach Campground is unique because nestled back in the Florida natural woods is a campground with the Atlantic Ocean on one end and the Intracoastal on the other end. We are in campsite #95 which is only about 100 yards from the entrance and the Atlantic side. Going the other way about the same distance is the Intracoastal with a fishing dock and beach.

Our campsite is a back-in (which with perfect direction from Jeannie) we backed into perfectly on the first time. The site is a little small length-wise but the width is just right. There is barely room to get the ML out of the road, but it is all working out great.

It is so nice to have the extra day this weekend. While it is not really a problem to setup and break camp, the reality of being able to sleep-in and just enjoy the setting for two days in a row is a real treat.

This weekend is the debut of our new cooker; the Cobb. While browsing my favorite Airstream blogs and bemoaning not being able to cook on the Big Green Egg, I cam across a posting for the Cobb cooker. The Cobb appeared to be the perfect blend of flexible cooker and portability. Needless to say, after a little research I put that Amazon Prime membership to use and we received the Cobb on Friday, just in time to pack for the weekend.

My first learning experience with the Cobb was to cook some mahi mahi in a foil pouch. The fish came out great in about 25 minutes. I learned a great deal about temperature control while cooking the fish and am now ready for something more involved.

Sunday evening I am planning on cooking some country style ribs “low and slow” on the cooker. I am planning on using nine briquettes for this cook, which should take about 2 hours to complete. I am going to cook them dry, with a dry rub, but beer in the lower tray to help keep them moist. I hope they are good! I think it will be so cool to be able to put a roast or ribs or other large cut on the grill and slow cook it for several hours without having to give constant attention to the cook. We will see how it goes.

Somewhat of a concern this weekend is that Sailor seems to have developed an anxiety about being here, much like he gets from gun shots or fireworks. We have given him a small amount of Benadryl to help calm him down, but it does not seem to be helping much. Hopefully, he will work his way out of it.

I have been having fun with my camping technology. I could not get my router/repeater to connect here. The park admits that they do not have great wi-fi coverage. However, there is an access point next to our campsite, but it is cycling on and off every nine seconds. Unfortunately, I can not reach any of the other access points so we are having to rely on our cellular data. Cellular coverage here is not that great in this area so I guess we are really “roughing it” this weekend. iPads and iPhones are getting through when outside. I am also playing Ham Radio this weekend. I have the Yaesu FT857d on VHF and seem to be able to raise the local repeaters, but not much traffic.

That just leaves me with the blog. We are having a great and relaxing time. It is much needed as our lives seem overly stressful at the moment for some reason. Perhaps this will give us just the time we need to regain our perspective and enjoy the journey. We are having fun.

Thanks,

Captain Skip

Welcome to North Beach!

Welcome to North Beach!

North Beach Office

North Beach Office

Site #95 is where The Island Time was parked

Site #95 is where The Island Time was parked

Relaxing on The Island TIme at North Beach

Relaxing on The Island Time at North Beach

A cool afternoon at the Atlantic Ocean at North Beach

A cool afternoon at the Atlantic Ocean at North Beach

How about a little fishing on the Intracoastal side of the resort!

How about a little fishing on the Intracoastal side of the resort!

How about a nice dip in the Intracoastal at the beach!

How about a nice dip in the Intracoastal at the beach!

A brand new Cobb waiting its first cooking adventure

A brand new Cobb waiting its first cooking adventure

Someone said a watched Cobb never cooks (too long)!

Someone said a watched Cobb never cooks (too long)!

Ahhh...Mahi Mahi straight from the Cobb

Ahhh…Mahi Mahi straight from the Cobb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.