Tuesday, March 28, 2017

February 24, 2017 - Jacksonville, FL to Live Oak, FL

We were relieved it did not rain during the night.  We were hoping it did not because we wanted the caulking to stay dry during the night.

After breakfast Erwin went to the laundromat while I stayed behind to tidy up the Lil’ Home (LH), to catch up on the blog, to check for next campground to stay at for tonight.

We realized that we did not stay in Jacksonville long enough to be able to see a lot of friends.  We had so many medical appointments (there were 11). Next time we are back in town we will be sure to stay more than a month.
We are so ready for our epic trip
After the laundry we left Fleetwood RV Park, went to Shell Gas on Emerson Street to get diesel for the LH. We wanted to use up FuelPerks reward of 15 cents.  However, it is good for only 20 gallons and our LH takes in more than 20 gallons.  After the rewards the diesel price went down to $2.34 from $2.49.  There was a signage on the pump that in April the issuer will no longer offer FuelPerks.  

After leaving the gas station we got on I-95 N then to  I-10 West.  The construction was ongoing in some places, but the traffic moved pretty well.  We left Jacksonville, FL at 11:30 am.
The ranger at Suwannee River State Park called to let Erwin know that there is a site available for us to stay 2 nights.  It is north of Live Oak, FL.  We had never been there before, so we were anxious to try it and see if we like the campground.
We took exit from I-10 to get on US 90 West. The campground is about 5 miles from the interstate.  The sign to the park was cleary visible from the road.  After entering the state park we pulled into waiting area, walked to the ranger station to register. 
While waiting for the ranger to process the paperwork there there is a corn snake in the glass box, and it stuck its head out of its hiding place.  Why is it called a “Corn Snake”?  There is more than one possible answer, but one of them explained that since the corn snake’s diet consists mainly of rodents, the snakes would follow their prey into the corn storage and farmers would often find them when they went to retrieve the corn.  The snakes can be found throughout the Eastern United States, from New Jersey to the Florida Keys and west to Tennessee and Louisiana.
Corn Snake
We were assigned to site #23 ($12.10 per night after Seniors Discount).  We were advised to disconnect the tow vehicle from the LH before entering the campground, which we did.

Backing the LH into the site was very easy and there was plenty of room.  The area is very shady and has lots of trees.  Even though the park has a dump station each campsite has a full hookup (sewer included), which is nice.  

After lunch I went out for a drive and Erwin did not want to tag along.  I looked up the map for cemeteries in or near the state park.  There is one cemetery site near the church, which was about 7 miles away.  I took my Canon camera as well as my new IPhone.  

Mary Belle Baptist Church is at the corner of 149th Road and 76th Street.  The cemetery is inside the fenced property, left side of the church.  I was worried that the gate may be padlocked,but it was not.  I walked along each row of the cemetery, found few interesting ones.  
I looked up to see if there is another cemetery nearby and it mentioned one about 4 miles away. Off I went to check it out, but before I got there I spotted a vintage motel sign and took a picture of it.  While at the motel I saw a sign pointing to First African Baptist Church and it piqued my curiosity.
I went on the road until I came to a T dead end, did not see any church nor a sign pointing to where it is.  While scanning the road before making a turn the white building caught my eye and it may be the church I was looking for.  Yes, it is that church… 

First African Baptist Church was organized in 1898, rebuilt in 1910.  After taking pictures of the exterior I walked up the steps and expected the doors locked, but no,it was open!  I went inside and there was not a soul around. The church was lit, so I walked to the back of the pews, looked around for a while before taking a picture.  
I was on my way to visit another cemetery, but when I got to the pinned area on Google map there was NO cemetery at all.  It was starting to get little late and I began to feel tired that I hit the gas to go back to the state park.

After supper Erwin and I went biking for a while, went on Lime Rock trail, but the path became impassible for bicycles, so we did not continue.  We stopped at the boat launch area to admire the pretty colors in the sky and in the water from the sunset.
Both of us were starting to feel very tired, decided not to build a campfire tonight.  We wanted to rest as much as we can so we will feel well enough to go out sightseeing tomorrow.


Monday, March 27, 2017

February 23, 2017 - Orange Park & Jacksonville, FL

This morning I managed to get all the tax documents together, saved them to a flash drive, so I can go to Staples and make hard copies for the tax preparer.  

We had plenty of time before Erwin’s medical appointment at 10:45 am, so we went to Staples first.  The printing machine accepts USB and I was able to plug in the flash drive to retrieve the files I wanted to print.  However, for unknown reasons, the machine refused to print out a few files, but finished the others. 

From Staples we went to Income Tax office to see if Michelle, our favorite tax preparer, was available to do our tax return.  When we walked in she acknowledged our presence, reached our her hand to take documents I had.  We told her that Erwin had an appointment, and she said she will do as much as she can until we get back.
Tax preparer's office
Erwin had a follow-up appointment with Dr. Jason for his foot.  After a quick examination and fielding some questions Dr. Jason recommended another cortisone shot.  Afterwards, the assistant placed a temporary splint that had to be left on for three days.  Dr. Jason wanted Erwin to come back in 2 weeks, and when told that we will be out of town until next year he shook our hands and wished us well on our journey.
We went back to the Income Tax office, and Michelle was waiting for two more documents that I did not have hard copies for.  I saved tax documents in PDF and they were in iBooks.  So easy for Michelle to follow and copy the information.  After about 20 minutes she was all done with our tax return, had us signed the forms and e-filed the returns immediately.  

It was close to noontime when we left the Income Tax office and we were in mood for gyros or shwarma.  We went to Karam's on University Blvd.  We had one platter of meat shawarma with three spinach pies and three dolmades (stuffed grape leaves).  They were very good and the portion was just right for us.
From top (clockwise): Shwarma, tabouleh and dolmades
Spinach pies
I needed to pick up my new glasses that had to be re-done and it is in Orange Park.  On way there we stopped at General RV to buy 3 tubes of self-leveling caulk that we need to patch up cracks and holes.
It was not a long wait at Dr. Carvell’s office.  I decided to stick with the old RX for my glasses and the new lens will be sent back to the lab.  Ahh, no scratches and no permanent smears on the new lens.  

We stopped by to see Marilyn about the mail. “No mail”, she said.  Erwin was starting to get worried because it had been over a week.  We told Marilyn that if she gets the mail after we hit the road to send the mail to our friend in TX.

We stopped at Hala Imported store on University Blvd to get a bag of bulgur (cracked wheat). It is hard to find bulgur in #1 anywhere because most places tend to sell #2 or #3.  #1 is very fine and is perfect for kibbee and tabouleh. I also picked up a small jar of grape leaves because I will want to fix stuffed grape leaves sometimes soon.  Erwin was born with a sweet tooth and had to have something sweet. He picked up a small tray of baklava ($10.99).  I got me 5 packages of walnut mamool (pastry filled with chopped walnuts) for $1.79 each.
We shopped at Freshfield Farms again to pick up few more that we did not get yesterday.  I really love this store.  It carries lots of organic produce.  It was not crowded when we were there.
After getting back home the office assistant came over to let us know that there was no space available for this weekend.  That meant we leave for the West tomorrow morning instead of Sunday, the 26th.
Erwin went up to the rooftop to re-seal the openings, etc.  It was a good thing it did not rain when he did that. It rained briefly when we were on way back to the campground from Freshfield Farms.
I had a hard time deciding if I should go to San Marco for sunset photoshooting, but after checking the sky once in a while I decided not to go.  

Oh my! I had forgotten how delicious the walnut mamool tasted.  Just like what my parents made when I was young.  Erwin said the baklava was good, but little dry.

We went out for a walk around the RV park, checked out site #24 that was our "home" for two and half years after we moved down to Jacksonville from Maryland in 2004.


February 22, 2017 - Jacksonville, FL

It was very dreary this morning. It looked like it might rain later on during the day.  

After breakfast we walked over to the RV Park office to pay for the space.  When Erwin called Fleetwood yesterday he thought he asked to have a space good until Sunday, but the receptionist said the computer showed that we are to stay until this Friday the 24th.  Ohh…" Is there another space available we can move to after the 24th?", Erwin asked.  The lady was not too sure, but wrote down his request.  $40 a night with full hookups.  It used to be $30 a night back in 2004.  

Erwin and I used to live at Fleetwood in our 2003 Everest 5th wheel trailer for two and half years before we bought a house in the summer of 2006.

I contacted Rosalee to see if she and Clark were going to be home today.  “No plan” was Rosalee’s reply.  Great… We got the stuff ready and left to go across the bridge to the other side of the river.

It was great to see Rosalee and Clark again.  Rosalee and I knew each other from the time we were 3 years old attending hard of hearing clinic in Jacksonville, FL. We graduated from Florida Deaf School in 1963. Rosalee and I went to Gallaudet College (now University) during the summer program. Clark was in the program, too. I left Gallaudet College 4 days after admission to go back home because I was homesick. I was only 16 at the time.  However, I went back to Gallaudet in the fall of 1964, graduated a year after Rosalee and Clark graduated in 1968.
We four were talking about murals in Murray Hills area and wanted to check them out.  We found few of them on Edgewood Ave.  Some painted and some mosaic style.  

We decided to go out for lunch and I was in mood for pizza. Rosalee suggested to try Moon River Pizza. It is ranked #34 out of 1,596 restaurants in Jacksonville area.  We each decided to get a slice of pizza of our choice.  Each slice was very generous (enough for 2 not so hungry people), but each of us were hungry. Because it was during lunchtime almost all tables were taken except two.  The atmosphere was very casual and comfortable.  The prices were reasonable.
While we were inside the restaurant heavy rain came down, flooded the curbside very fast.  Many patrons had to stay inside the restaurant to wait til the rain subsided. It was a long wait.  
After lunch Clark asked if we would want to get ice cream at Dreamette.  “Of course” was my instant reply.  Dreamette has been there since Rosalee and I were kids.  An awesome place for ice cream, shakes and sundaes.  Clark and I chose kids’ dipped vanilla ice cream and Erwin got small strawberry ice cream.  Clark shared his with Rosalee.  This place does not accept credit or debit cards, only cash.  Next time if you are in Jacksonville and wanted a sweet treat try Dreamette.  It is the BEST ice cream shop in the area of Jacksonville.  It is on Post Street, but not too far from S. Edgewood Ave. 
We were planning on checking out more murals, but the rain came down hard again.  Clark just drove around the town showing us this and that. 
Back to Rosalee and Clark’s house we chatted some more and we explained to them about our upcoming trip plan.  We enjoyed spending time with them today.
Tappy, Rosalee and Clark's cat
Traffic was terrible going back to Southside from Ortega because of the rain and the rush hour.  We stopped to pick up few items at Freshfield Farms, one of our favorite local grocery stores.  It opened up about three years ago when we lived here.  Just before we started RVing full-time the store went through renovations to add more space.  Now the store is bigger and the layout is much better.  Also, more cashier lanes were added.
You have to stand right there before you are called to an available station

It was drizzling by the time we arrived back “home”.  After supper I got down to business and got tax documents together.  We hope to have the CPA do the tax return before we leave for the West.  We had been going to Michelle for several years, and she is very good and fast.