Saturday, February 16, 2019

Moving... Grand Oaks; Adios, Florida! Hello, South Carolina! Parris Island; Iron Mike; Anhingas; Maui; Humpback Whales; AFLAC!!!


Okay, the last two months have been INSANELY BUSY... the home inspector gave us a pass about the wild pigs and rattlesnakes, thank goodness! (See the last blog post if that doesn't make sense...) We actually sold our home in The Villages, Florida, after spending eleven (11) years there and making so many wonderful friends. We packed up all our HHG (that's a military acronym for household goods) and put them in storage for a YEAR! But on our last day in The Villages, I went for a walk and took this picture of a pond near our house to remind us of our neighborhood...









During our last week in FL, we were living in the coach at Grand Oaks RV Resort near Weirsdale; it's an equestrian hideaway that few RVers even know about. There is even a carriage museum, and trails, barns and arenas where carriage driving competitions are held. The horses are beautiful...









Sunrises and the grand live oaks were also pretty amazing...





































I walked the grounds of Grand Oaks every day, and saw this horse rubbing his butt on a tree; I thought, well, why not?














After 10 days and taking too many candid pictures of the horses, the RV Resort asked us to leave, so we drove our trusty coach up to South Carolina...













... and here we are pulling our coach into our new development...


















Our lot still has twenty-some odd  trees on it, many of which will have to be removed to put a house in; but we are saving as many as possible. They are mainly a mix of live oak and laurel oak, with a few pines, palms and magnolias. 











We set up camp in a waterside RV park a few miles from our lot... here is My Lovely Bride enjoying a cold January sunset on the pier. The water's a bit too cold to swim, unfortunately (but a libation of wine helps keep the cold out).
















"Walking the docks" is a popular pastime, particularly during cocktail hour, when sailors are known to "splice the mainbrace". In ages past, this meant having a tot of rum; today we have a glass of wine (or two)... which can lead to some funny (and even more "not-so-funny") escapades and photos... (and no, Lynette, I didn't fall into the water...)








After getting settled in, we went for a bike ride at nearby Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit depot, where our Susan went through Marine boot camp many years ago. It was one of the proudest days of my life, seeing Susan graduate from a very tough introduction to one of the most elite fighting forces in the world.



















As the sign says, Parris Island "Makes Marines"!














The "Iron Mike" World War I Memorial to Parris Island Marines who lost their lives in The Great War (1914-1918) was erected in 1924, preceding the Iwo Jima Memorial by 28 years. The statue was paid for by subscriptions, mostly from Marines who had fought in WW I at  the Marne, Chateau Thierry, the Meuse-Argonne, and Belleau Wood, to name some of the garden spots where Marines fought the Boche.


















South Carolina in winter is a birder's paradise, and as we all know, "Birds of a feather flock together...." this shot of a raft of 56 flocking Anhingas (Anhinga anhinga) was taken at Jarvis Creek Park on Hilton Head Island. Anhingas, like cormorants, do not have waterproof feathers. When they dive to chase fish, their feathers get soaked, and they have to sit on a branch or the shore and dry their feathers. The name anhinga comes from the Brazilian Tupi language, and it means snake bird or devil bird. Because they swim partially submerged, they are often mistaken for snakes.




Even though South Carolina is several hundred miles north of The Villages, there are still some nasty residents that we want to avoid...












Late January found us enjoying one of our first real vacations in years, a week in Maui with Tony and Irene Vouvalides, old friends and new neighbors. We went whale watching, and the view of Maui from the boat was impressive... we are near Lahaina, a famous and historic whaling port on Maui's west coast, the leeward (hence dry, compared to the windward, or wet, side).










Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are common here, as they spend the winter in the warm Hawaiian waters mating and breeding. They go for months without eating, since their primary feeding grounds are in Alaska during the summer. Suzanne was very excited when she captured this gal on film (well, on her iPhone, anyway). Humpbacks grow to 40-50 feet in length, and weigh in at around 28-33 tons. They dine on krill and small schooling fish (salmon, herring and capelin, typically).






Irene and Suzanne were having a blast on the boat trip!























Tony and Irene are old hands in Hawaii, having visited on multiple occasions. The beaches were beautiful, and the tourists happy to be there. 












This was our first vacation together in Hawaii together, and it was appropriate that we got lei'ed here.





We had some rain during our visit, but most of our time in Maui was sunny and breezy, with occasional light showers moving down from the mountains and creating beautiful rainbows. 















There are many small bays indenting Maui's coast; a charter catamaran found this small protected anchorage. We were staying in a house, though, and didn't have to get up at oh-dark-thirty to check the anchor in rough weather.













While we were gone, our pups Rudy and Gretchen were being taken care of by a friend; JeanMarie even brought them squeaky toy ducks that emit three famous "AFLAC" cries... Rudy and Gretchen love them... (JeanMarie, we have to talk... they are driving me crazy!!!).