Monday, October 31, 2016

The Hobby!

We mentioned in our last post that Nicole has developed a new hobby. 

In our previous travels she enjoyed identifying new birds, flowers, insects and fungi.  Now that we are stationary and so close to the beach her interests have turned to....

                                          SEABEANS!  a.k.a. Drift Seeds

Beans 2
               The sorting, identifying and learning about has been interesting.

        Many of these have traveled years across the ocean from far away lands.

   Not all have been identified and so they sit by the computer awaiting confirmation.

                  Larger drifters have taken up residence on the back porch.

Seeds and beans are not the only thing we have been collecting during our daily beach walks.  We also pick up large amounts of trash. The amount is especially high since Hurricane Matthew and we find a lot of items from Cuba and Haiti.  

Amongst the wrack (seaweed line) and trash we often find Flotsam.  Flotsam are by definition the wreckage of a ship or its cargo found floating on or washed up by the sea.

There are several tracking groups for specific items like the 353,264 plastic daisies or the 4.8m pieces of Legos that were 'lost at sea' in 1997. 

They are still washing up on beaches today.  Two decades later!

   Among Nicole's new seabeaning friends, Barrettes are a popular Flotsam collectible. 

It is assumed that a good number of the barrettes are from a cargo spill while others were simply lost by swimmers. 

Each year upwards of 120 million cargo containers are transported via our oceans and over 600 of them (and their contents) unintentionally end up in the ocean.  Most companies do not want to publicize their lost cargo (and they are under no obligation to do so).  Thus, the origination of all items that wash up on the beach is not always know. 

Depending on where the container goes overboard there is a certain predictability (based on known currents) as to where items will wash up. 

There is also, however, the random 'rule breaker' that finds its way to a beach it wasn't 'supposed' to land on.  Example, if we find one of the specific lego items that went overboard in 1997 on our beach here in FL it would be a record breaking trip.  So, we are on the lookout!

The above items are probably not true 'flotsam' in that they were most likely lost by children playing on a beach somewhere.  But they are sea drifters none the less and for that reason are a popular collectible amongst the beachcombing crowd.  The lucky few may even find some vintage items amongst the wrack. 

We've got a pretty good collection building and look forward to seeing what the ocean brings us tomorrow.

Well, that's an intro to the latest hobby.  There will be more when we've got it!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

2016 = FIVE YEARS!

This is a little late and we've already posted about our latest path in life but five years on the road deserves a little something.  So, here goes.

On October 1, 2011, we turned over our house keys to someone else and moved into a van.

We had no predetermined plan.  Our only goal was to 'GO'.  Somewhere.  Anywhere.  Who knows where.

And we did.  For five years we lived in our van, Annie, and we went.

What a grand adventure we have had!

2011-2016 All Travels Annie
        This is the sum total of all roads driven in our five years of living in a van.

                                     Total Miles = just under 48,000
                             Different Walmarts overnighted at = 124
                                        Volunteer Assignments = 11
                                         States Overnighted in = 41
                                              States Visited = 44
                                       Cities Overnighted in = 247
                                 Cities Visited = Too many to count!

This year, our last year on the road, was a little different for us in that we spent only about 30% of our time volunteering.  Instead of our usual time spent volunteering in the summer, we spent six weeks working our way slowly up the east coast and over to Newfoundland.

2016 Travel Map
                                        Our 2016 Travels
                       KY, FL, east coast, NL, PA, FL, GA and FL

2016 Newfoundland Travel Map
We spent a month in Newfoundland and drove 2000 miles while exploring the island.

It was a great year!  Heck, it's been a great five years!  Although we are settling down for a bit, we still anticipate travels in our future.  They'll be different in many ways but traveling is still something that we both really enjoy.

Speaking of travel, here's a shot of all of the roads we've traveled together (in the Continental U.S.).  The reds are pre-Annie. 

All Travels Roads

And, here's a map (again, just Continental U.S.) that we've put together that includes places that we've lived or visited both together and separately.

All Travels Pins 2

One of these days we'll get to North Dakota!  Not sure why we never made it there.  Guess we had to leave something for another time.

Meanwhile, we are all settled into our new digs on the great peninsula of Florida.  We make daily (or twice daily) trips to the beach.  Darlene has found herself gainful employment and Nicole has taken on a new hobby (which means, she should probably take another look at her priorities and get a job too).

Here's a few parting shots of our place.  Since we had no 'stuff' we told the lady we are renting from that she could leave hers if she wanted.  Thus, less than 10% of the stuff in the photos is actually ours.  But the condo is and we're enjoying it.  All except for the part where we keep losing each-other.  Man is this place huge compared to the van!  HA HA







Sunday, October 16, 2016

Short and Sweet we're Sunshine State residents

We did it! 

And, thanks to Nicole having had a car registered in the state before, we saved over $200 on the process!

            As per our usual tradition, we each put in one screw on the new plate.

Sure, our insurance coverage literally doubled between here and S.D.  But we live three miles from the beach. 

                               We'd say that's a reasonable trade-off!

Monday, October 10, 2016

All Is Well. We're at the Beach!

We appreciate those of you who have checked in with us to make sure that we came through Hurricane Matthew alright. 

We did. 

Annie did. 

The condo did. 

We were fortunate that he did not decide to make landfall here as anticipated.  Other than some trees and power lines down, the worst of it (in our area) would have to be the thousands of turtles lost.  Unhatched eggs were scattered all over the beach when we went for our walk the other day. 

Speaking of the beach.  We LOVE LOVE LOVE ours!  Just three short miles from the condo, across the St. Lucie River and the Intracoastal Waterway sits...


                                               A look to the right...

                                              and a look to the left.

We are pretty stoked at the location of our new home and have already gotten our feet wet.

Several of you have asked for photos and we'll get there one of these days. 

Transitioning from five years of living in a van and being South Dakota residents to living in a condo, getting a job (don't faint... we haven't... yet) and becoming Florida residents, takes time.

Meanwhile, this is what we've got for ya.

                                 We are the third building on the left.

Taken from the front porch for posterity as Matthew was approaching.  Thankfully, it still looks the same!

Well, it is time to take care of some much needed business.  Just checking in to say we are a-o.k.

There is so much to explore in our new area.  More when we've got it!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Perfect Timing

Our stay in Georgia was longer than originally planned.  However, we are chalking it up to perfect timing in that we were there to support Darlene's folks through an unexpected week long hospitalization of her father. 

All is well now and he has returned home.

While we were there Nicole got a chance to spend a day working with her most trusted mechanic friend, Adam.  They took care of a few things on Annie like:

                         New front rotors and brake pads.  Oh, shiny things!

                                     New rear drums and brake shoes.

2016-07-01 Rear Brakes Drums Passenger Side (8)
We replaced this emergency brake cable that we found was only hanging on by a thread (or two) and swapped out a few tired springs and pins in the brake system, as well.

         Our transmission mount had seen better days so we put this new one in.

Then we decided that these old motor mounts just wouldn't do so we replaced those too!

Oh, and somewhere in the mix, we changed out the failing driver's side outer wheel bearing.

Throw in oil and filter change and that may be the extent of it.


                   The Eastern Bluebirds were out in great numbers in GA.

                     The Common Buckeye Caterpillars were also out in force

                                       and consuming in great quantity.

                  Fall is in the air but there were still a few pretty petals around.

                               Red Saddlebags Dragonflies were everywhere.

   The Gulf Fritillaries had already completed their metamorphosis and were feasting.

When we hit the road five years ago we put everything we owned into the van.  Everything but a few of Nicole's favorite things that just wouldn't fit.  Thanks to our upcoming plans, Nicole has now been reunited with two of her favorite things which have been high and dry in GA.

Lightwave (3)
                     Favorite thing #1

Break Away (3)
                     Favorite thing #2

Back in FLA, favorite thing #3 patiently awaits the reunion!

Islander (1)
                     Favorite thing #3!

If you haven't already guessed, we will be residing in FLA.  Living in a rented condo not Annie.  For at least six months most likely more.

Yes, after five years on the road, we have re-entered the non-full-timing world.  As of this afternoon, we are settled into our new place and...


At this time, Hurricane Matthew is slated to make landfall in our new home town late tomorrow evening or early Friday morning.   We are currently ground zero.

Again, with the perfect timing.