Winter/Spring Round Up and Summer Travel Plans

Like many RV travel bloggers who are no longer traveling full-time, I’ve struggled with the question of whether to continue blogging. House construction provided interesting post subjects for a while — at least for people who like reading about electrical outlets and bathroom fixtures — but now we are pretty well settled into a routine when we are at home on St. George Island. Living our normal lives doesn’t make for particularly compelling blog content, in my opinion. On the other hand, when I see videos on social media with 65,000 views on scintillating topics like “how to make scrambled eggs” I get suspicious that I might be totally wrong about what audiences prefer. In any case, I do know that creating activities just to have blog content is transparent and lame. Needless to say, we did not spend a month researching, planning, ordering materials, and building a fence just for blog fodder. But since we are gearing up to travel again this summer, which is really the point of this blog, it’s time to get back into the habit of blogging. So at the risk of completely boring readers with the mundane details of our daily lives, I decided to do a photo-intensive summary of the stuff we’ve been doing over the past several months.

Volunteer Stuff

We are now in our third year of doing quarterly testing as part of the Mississippi State University microplastics study. Our process for sampling and analyzing water and sediment from the Gulf of Mexico remains the same as described in my post from several years ago. This is also our third year of volunteering with sea turtle patrol through the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve (ANERR), although we only worked throughout an entire season in 2021. (Read all about it here and here.) This year we are working roughly two months and training two enthusiastic new volunteers, M and S, who will take over our section when we leave for our summer travels at the end of June. The daily grind of being up and on the beach half an hour before sunrise is a lot more manageable over the shorter time frame, and two months is plenty of time to enjoy numerous gorgeous sunrises and also do valuable work to protect endangered marine turtles. And thanks to all the time we devote to ANERR, we were invited to the annual spring volunteer appreciation dinner. That extravagant low country boil is a hit every year.



We’ve also volunteered for some single-day events as they came up. We’re still doing community-wide litter cleanups several times each year. I spent a day in January helping our local equivalent of Meals on Wheels assemble care packages for low income seniors full of household products like detergent, shampoo, and soap. I also helped staff a booth with turtle-themed kids’ activities at Estuaries Day, a family-friendly annual festival at ANERR. Together we spent one day over Memorial Day weekend volunteering with Audubon Florida helping “steward” a critical wildlife habitat owned by The Nature Conservancy. Our job was to discourage beach-goers and especially their dogs from entering the dune area where several different species of endangered shorebirds were nesting. We don’t love serving as law enforcement but it was a beautiful place to spend part of the holiday weekend.



Outdoor Stuff

Winter is really the only time to enjoy hiking in Florida, and we checked several local destinations off the list this year. We finally explored the High Bluff Coastal Trail in nearby Tate’s Hell State Forest. It’s not the most memorable hike we’ve ever done, but it does feature some classic Florida pine forest scenery and it is a loop, our preferred hiking style. We are fortunate to have two state parks in our county, Bald Point State Park and St. George Island State Park, and we hiked at both this winter. We also explored some new-to-us sections of the Apalachicola River paddle trails with our kayak.


Edible Stuff

We do not have many appealing restaurants in our very rural area, but we do have two excellent breweries. We patronize both places (Eastpoint Beer Company and Oyster City Brewing) and also spent an afternoon with friends in April at the very popular annual SGI Brewfest to benefit the local Humane Society. Speaking of friends, we were thrilled to have several chances to get together with dear friends and former neighbors Eric and Laurel, who are in the process of moving to a new home in North Carolina (read all about it on Laurel’s blog) and passed through to wrap up some local matters.

Since we can’t really get our foodie fix locally by visiting restaurants, we’ve upped our in-house culinary game. Throughout most of our time at home this winter and spring we tried to experiment with at least one new recipe each week. Winter is the perfect time to crank up the oven, and we are suckers for fresh scratch-made bread. We loved everything I made from Flavored Breads: Recipes from Mark Miller’s Coyote Cafe, an oldie-but-goodie cookbook featuring savory breads with interesting grains. Faves included the herbed focaccia and a green chili whole wheat bread that was spicier than bread has any business being. For holidays I made Croatian povitica (walnut filled bread) to keep up a family tradition. I also used recipes from family to make my first attempt at Italian pignoli cookies, which are insanely delicious and also gluten-free (though sadly far from calorie free). To make up for lack of local commercial sources, we worked on several new-to-us Asian recipes like home-made egg drop soup and Vietnamese noodle salad. Nothing can ever be as good as authentic Chinese take-out, but we’re making a valiant effort.


Art Stuff

We love art and we love to support art. So we made sure to schedule some visits to our favorite gallery in Apalachicola (Live Oak) and to attend some of the events comprising the Forgotten Coast En Plein Air Festival. We also enjoyed a lovely reception at the opening of a new art exhibit at the ANERR nature center focused on the intersection of art and science. Local artist Beth Appleton makes incredibly intricate 3-D pieces from cut paper, and her latest works are inspired by microscopic plant and animal life present in our local waters.

I have barely touched my “big” camera since we returned home last fall, but seeing all this art around us inspired me to plan one local photo shoot to capture the Milky Way during a new moon. By “local” I mean that I walked to the end of our driveway to get shots like the one at the top of the post (our pine trees illuminated by our neighbor’s porch light).


Family Stuff

Over the winter we hosted Ken’s cousin and his high-school-age son for a brief visit. They stopped by our area after making a college visit to Florida State University in Tallahassee, and I failed to take a single picture. We also had an unexpected chance to see family in May when Ken’s elderly aunt passed away. While the occasion was sad, it was lovely to reconnect with relatives at the funeral, most of whom we had not seen in years. Coincidentally, earlier this year I reignited my dormant interest in family history research; a friend here is encouraging me to join the local DAR chapter (I qualify). Not surprisingly, the passage of 20 technology-intensive years since my family’s last big research effort means that thousands of new primary resources are available online. I had already made a lot of progress on piecing together Ken’s family history (despite impenetrable Polish and Croatian spelling) when we made our unexpected funeral trip to Connecticut, and you can be sure I spent the weekend interrogating relatives to glean any information I could. Staying at a hotel located next to the cemetery also provided a handy research opportunity as well as a quiet night’s sleep.



And that concludes the blog version of a Christmas card letter. So what are we doing this summer?

Summer Plans

When we wrapped up our travels last summer, I just wasn’t feeling ready to plan another big summer RV adventure. I expected to be busy supervising fence and deck contractors this winter (you know how that turned out), and last summer we became firmly convinced that a huge truck and trailer rig is not the ideal way to travel in populated areas. Our relatively long stay at home made us interested in considering shorter quarterly trips instead of just a single months-long summer trek. Our long weekend visit to St. Augustine in January was an early test of this concept. We also realize that towing the trailer to a destination necessarily adds a lot of time to any trip, and of course hauling the trailer isn’t really an option if we want to visit Europe or Hawaii or New Zealand. So this summer we are embarking on a new type of summer adventure via AirBnB rental to dip our toes into this alternative form of travel. We are keeping it as simple as possible, with two monthly rentals in two different locations in North Carolina. We are hoping that a month near Asheville will provide us with the mountain hiking experience we’ve been missing in flat flat Florida, while a month in the moderately-sized city of Winston-Salem will give us ample time to enjoy the museums, sporting events, restaurants, breweries, and arts events that city life offers.

Will we get bored being in one place for almost an entire month at a time? Will we be comfortable in a rental space instead of our own portable house? Will we find summer in North Carolina to be just as hot and humid as Florida? Will this be outrageously expensive compared to RV travel? There’s only one way to find out. Come along with us on our summer adventures as we attempt to answer these questions…. we head out July 1.


14 thoughts on “Winter/Spring Round Up and Summer Travel Plans”

  1. Well I, for one, wish you wouldn’t stop blogging, but I do understand the “struggle.” You’re not the only one who’s been astonished at what type of content draws an audience. If I’d only known that I could’ve become insanely wealthy making videos of filling up my pantry containers! It’s amazing how much you really do have to do in Apalach, and you have definitely taken advantage of all the area has to offer, as well as giving back in so many ways. AirBnB travel sounds like a good way to try something a bit different, as long as you don’t have to clean the place like someone else we know. Either way, there’s little chance you’ll be bored. I think the answers to the money and hot/humid questions are both a resounding ‘yes,’ but I’m very happy you’ll be blogging about it, and I look forward to finding out the answers!

    • I’m actually not at all surprised that your creative pantry containers proved to be a hit. Unlike some of your other projects, the pantry organization seems attainable for mere mortals. But I think you knew people would admire it. I actually included the photo of the seafood trailer in the vein of “someone might find this really interesting.” What I think of as merely the place I pick up seafood regularly could be an exciting and exotic example of island life to someone. Then again, who knows?

      Doing a multi-month blog summary definitely highlights the variety of activities we have available, but I’m pretty sure we don’t have enough going on to sustain a weekly or biweekly blog schedule. In any case, that’s about to change as we head off to a new and exciting destination next week! I’m genuinely curious how this will all go. You’ll find out as we do….

  2. 1. Please do keep blogging. Your blog is wonderful, and only second to the one devoted to scrambled eggs.
    2. Love the photo of the night sky – truly stunning.
    3. Looking forward to hearing about your AirBnB adventures. Good luck with your summer travels!

    • I appreciate the kind words of support. I am definitely blogging through the summer – I just have trouble getting motivated to blog during the long stays at home. If we end up taking more frequent, shorter trips that problem may solve itself.

      I was really happy with the night photos myself. Thanks to the wonders of digital, I had no qualms about taking 50 photos to end up with about 5 really good ones. But I’m really itching to get some mountain photos. Stay tuned.

  3. “To blog or not to blog,” that is the question I ask myself nearly every day. It’s not an easy one – for the reasons you mentioned as well as others that apply to our particular situation. But I like your posts from home because you guys always stay busy with interesting things, and with your upcoming travel, it will be fun to follow you as you explore new places as well as new styles of travel.

    Speaking of which, if I were you, I would just find the Air BnB’s that Laurel stayed at and book those. You know she already did all the research, made sure they were reasonably priced, AND actually cleaned them. What more could you ask for???? 🙂

    I’d also like to know if anyone does this type of short stay travel through Alaska. Is that a thing? I’ve heard of people renting RVs, but I’ve never heard of anyone renting a car and driving around while staying at rental homes. That could be a fun summer project, no?

    But you should come visit us in Europe before you do anything.

    • With our upcoming summer travel, I have the chance to postpone any blog decisions – I know I’m going to plenty to say about the places we’re visiting and the new style of travel. I have already discovered one thing Ken really likes about AirBnBs — no visits to laundromats this summer!

      I do like your suggestion of shamelessly copying Laurel’s travel itinerary. I already did that with the RV, why not extend it to AirBnBs? Your idea about Alaska is also an interesting one. We’ve debated whether we’d prefer to visit Alaska with our own trailer (and the giant mileage that entails) or fly in and rent an RV, but haven’t really explored other options. You’ll be pleased to know that Alaska is not super high on our list of future travels; the AirBnB test is intended in part to be a trial run for Europe (but that would likely not be before 2025). Plans within plans!

  4. I loved your blog version of a Christmas card letter! Your blogs are always interesting, and your photos are great. So I really hope you’ll keep posting. Reading about all of your activities in Franklin County makes me realize just how much there is to do there, and how much you two have contributed to the community. And honestly, it makes me homesick. There is so much to love about that area, warts and all.

    I suspect you are going to be very happy to be in Asheville for part of the summer. Although the temps can get into the 80s here, the evening temps drop into the low 60s, which makes all the difference! I know you are going to love the hiking in North Carolina and the myriad opportunities for cultural activities and good food that you don’t have to cook yourself. (Although I seriously doubt that you could get a better meal anywhere than your shrimp and grits masterpiece.)

    I’m looking forward to reading all about your summer travels and how you like Airbnb travel. Most of all, we can’t wait to see you guys!! Please write a blog about what you’re packing for your travel adventures via Airbnb, because we’re still trying to figure that out. We have not made a graceful adjustment to our new style of travel, haha.

    • If you’re feeling nostalgic about living here I’ll be happy to send you some photos of the Pig to cure you quickly. 🙂 That 1.25 hour drive to Publix in Crawfordville is surprisingly appealing. In any case, we are definitely looking forward to enjoying the amenities of more populated areas this summer, along with cooler nighttime temperatures and, of course, seeing you guys!

      We are only just beginning to pack for the summer, and right now I am very optimistic. We’ll see how I feel the day before we leave. I will say that using luggage instead of just putting clothes in the many cabinets in our trailer definitely puts the brakes on how many things we are bringing, so maybe that’s the trick.

  5. Well, you’re never boring, so you can cross that off your list. Of course you knew that already. I’ll miss your blog if you do give it up.

    I was glad to be reminded of the WS part of your summer plans. We’re looking forward to seeing you then.

    • We’re really excited about our trip to NC, and very much looking forward to seeing friends like you. I am particularly eager to enjoy Winston-Salem as a tourist. Despite all the visits I make, I never have time to just enjoy the amenities of the city.

  6. We live in Waynesville, North Carolina which is about 30 miles west of Asheville. We certainly hope that you have a planned excursion to visit Waynesville, that includes visiting Pat and me. There is ready access to the Blue Ridge Parkway, breweries, restaurants, small town shopping, etc.
    It will be wonderful to see you and have the opportunity to chat.

    • Sure, we’d love to make a visit while we are in the area. I will be in touch to get something arranged once we get settled into the area. You are fortunate to live in a beautiful part of the country!

  7. You know that I am a fan. Even if you only blog occasionally I am always inspired by the places you explore and the things you both do for the community. It gives us lots of ideas for how we might spend our own retirement.
    It was good to see you both up in CT, even if it was under sad circumstances. We really appreciated you taking the time to come. Have fun with the genealogy. It makes a love of history all the more interesting when you can connect it to family.

    Enjoy your summer travels!

    • It really was great to see you and Craig and the rest of the family, and to share important family memories. I completely agree that history really comes alive when it’s connected to the personal experiences of relatives, even distant ones. I’ve been working on Stella’s family (Ken and Craig’s grandmother) and I will be the first to say that life in rural Poland in the 19th century does not seem appealing. No wonder so many people were willing to hop on steam ships and traverse an ocean on the chance of finding better opportunities.

      We were also really happy to hear about your upcoming retirement plans, and can’t wait to hear what new challenges you’ll take on when you have the time.


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