Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Travel Day | Monument Lake, Everglades, FL to Bonita Springs, FL

ODOMETER: 80,806 | TODAY’S MILES: 71 | MILES TRAVELED: 2,861

 

by Grant

It’s another beautiful morning in the Everglades. The sun’s shining, birds abound and the insects have abated with the sunrise.

We have our usual early morning coffee and catch up on some ‘housekeeping’ for work and projects. Jana and I take the dogs for a leisurely stroll and meet some young guys, Jake and James, who are traveling in a Prius and camping in tents. We chat a bit about their trip and ours. Us on a 40’ RV with four humans and three dogs. Them in a Prius with two pup tents, their fishing rods and bikes.

We also bumped into Chris and Debra, the campground hosts, and had a couple of chats as they did their ritual circuits around the campground. They try to get in six laps of the campground across the AM and the PM, for a total of 3 miles. They’re lovely people and love this spot. It is a great, quiet, and picturesque campground and we have really enjoyed it (sans the biting insects). 

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The next leg of our trip is only a short one so we take our time getting mobile. Usually we try to travel 4-5 hours on each travel day, but we want to visit Naples and Sanibel Island so we’re heading up to Bonita Springs which is a short hop from the Big Cypress Preserve.

Jack cracked out the drone to get some footage of “Thelma and Louise” in motion as we headed out onto 41 West. We then turn onto 29 North (not to be confused with Charlottesville’s 29 North) and across to Bonita Springs and the Sanctuary RV Resort.

Bonita Springs is north of Naples and south of Fort Myers. Sanibel Island is WNW of Bonita Springs. So we’re essentially smack dab in the middle of all the places we’d like to see, but maybe not in the optimal spot persey.

We get set up and head over to Bonita Beach. On the way there, we stop for some takeout sushi at Tako in Bonita Springs. This is in a little strip mall, but they did a great job with fresh, beautifully presented sushi, poke bowls, Boba Teas and more. 

When we get to the beach, there is a strong scent in the air. Turns out there’s a red tide and a lot of small fish dead on the beachfront adding to the pungent odor. We’ve heard about these algal blooms, but to experience the acrid odor and the fish kill resulting from this byproduct of global warming is compelling.

The blooms are dangerous to fish life and crustaceans, and they can be harmful to humans as well. There is a number of organizations tracking and working on this issue, but it really needs a more global approach to the overall problem. Locally, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission track blooms and provides local warnings. Sadly, the undersea populations are not connected to the internet, so they’re flying blind. 

We hang out for a little bit as the sun’s dipping over the ocean in the West, but the air quality is not great. The beach is nice though and has lots of seashells and as it nears sunset the light is lovely and we’re happy to be near the ocean again. 

We all are a little bit tired, so we decide to pack it up and head back to the RV park. Jana and I need to do a big laundry and a grocery run. Jack and Ellie need to do some catching up on school work as it’s a snow day from Virginia. Seems strange, a snow day in Florida! Another byproduct of virtual school.

4 loads of laundry and an overflowing shopping cart later, we’re ready to reset for the next 10-day stint on the West Coast of Florida.

Jana and I have started watching “The Crown” , so we settle in for an episode before crashing. Jack and Ellie have the night shift with the dogs, which seems to suit them. We offered them the early morning shift but they turned us down. ?

 

When we get to the beach, there is a strong scent in the air. Turns out there’s a red tide and a lot of small fish dead on the beachfront adding to the pungent odor.

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Reflections

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After one year and ten days, we were finally reunited with our puppies, 10-year-old Labradoodles, Mackie and Paigie, and 4-year-old Great Dane, Phoebe.

In the summer of 2020, as COVID was raging through the world, we decided to sell our home in Virginia, move into a 40-foot motorhome named "Thelma," hitch our Jeep "Louise" to her and hit the road.

We had no idea where we were going or how long we'd be traveling. Our kids, Jack, then 16, and Ellie, then 14, were doing school virtually and us parents were working remotely. Mackie, Paigie, and Phoebe had lived their whole lives on our property and we had no idea how they would fare in a "tiny house on wheels" living situation.

We traveled 10,000 miles through 21 states, visited 11 National Parks and spent 3 months over the winter living on the beach in Mexico. It was a trip of a lifetime and we loved it.

In June 2021, we sold Thelma and Louise and bought Hanavave, a 38-foot 2002 Fountaine Pajot catamaran in Tahiti. We decided to relocate our family to Australia, but at the time the only way to get there was by boat.

The puppies had to stay in Washington State and begin the long and cumbersome importation process into Australia. The minimum period is 6 months since the first test and since we had begun the process two months before, we figured that we were saying goodbye for a maximum of four months. It was a very difficult decision, but their caretaker, Colleen, is an amazing lady and we knew that she would take wonderful care of them. Saying goodbye to the puppies was one of the hardest things our family has ever had to do.

Little did we know that it would be a year and ten days before we'd see them again.

Our sailing trip was complicated by the fact that as soon as we arrived in Tahiti, all ports in the South Pacific closed due to the quickly-spreading Delta variant of COVID. This meant that instead of island hopping, we had to make long passages to Australia and there was a lot to be done on Hanavave to prepare her for that journey. We made it to Brisbane in mid-October, but it would take another 8 long months to get the puppies to Australia.

They arrived on June 1, a year to the day we left them.
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We are currently sailing the South Pacific to Australia.

 

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