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Up the Creek!

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Another great adventure with the Brits…

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Kayak fleet loaded, Camo-Tow on the sidelines

Terry and I slid Camo-Tow off her trailer and onto “Wheel-ber”, our aluminum, all-purpose, cart. She was allowed to rest up from her busy life as a charter fishing boat to have a sit in the sun. We stacked a couple of kayaks on the Gheenoe trailer and cradled my Tarpon T160i on the Yakima “Hully Rollers”. All gear was loaded and the beer and sandwiches were on ice… Just a short drive to nearby Franklin Lock Corp of Engineers south park and the convenient boat ramp. The weather was perfect again.

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Lucy and Terry preparing to get underway

It only took a few minutes to off-load the boats and have all the gear stowed and ready. Even though in many places the creek is only three feet deep, I always insist that our paddlers wear their PFD’s. It is much deeper in some areas. Better safe than sorry. Lucy and I of course have the finest, REED ‘Chillcheater” shorty style paddling jackets. We gave our British friends the “dorky” ones. So what?” say I. They will all keep you afloat. Proper looking and stylish fashion, is only important to Lucy and me. ;O)

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Pam and Terry in the comfy and fast Wilderness Systems “NORTHSTAR” tandem

Pam and Terry were off and away while Lucy and I finished packing the expedition food and beverage supply. Of course, they made us cary everything and serve them as well. Living with Lucy, I am used to that… There was a stiff following wind that made the downriver portion a “breeze”. It is only about a half mile to the mouth of Telegraph Creek, so we made it there in jig time. We were all anxious to complete the more boring river portion and really get “up the creek. Lots of wading birds and a few power and sail powered pleasure yachts, gave us a courteous low-speed pass as they traveled up and down the picturesque Inter-coastal waterway…

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Only the beginning

Looks as if Walt Disney designed it…

None of the many visitors we have brought on this journey have ever indicated they were disappointed by the beautiful old Florida creek. There are a few houses in the first section of the trip, but we were soon alone in the wilderness. Lots of turtles splashed noisily into the water, when we passed close by. We also aw a couple of majestic Ospreys and several other more common species of wading birds. My favorite bird sighting, was the high diving Kingfisher who provided an awesome aerial display as he dove, over and over, for a tasty catch…

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As always, Lucy’s Indian heritage showed through as she effortlessly paddled her “Venus 11” through the twisting creek

“Venus if you will” (Must be sung)

Lucy left her “Easy Rider” Dolphin behind and chose instead to paddle her “Venus 11”. She handles it like an Olympic champion. It is the perfect size for the narrow creek. She also picked our new  Lendall, carbon fiber, four piece paddle as her weapon for the adventure… Lucy commented that she loved the feel and performance of the rather high-ticket power-stroker… We wanted Pam and Terry to lead the way, because they would have the greatest opportunity for wildlife sightings, if they were the first, round-the-bend

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“Oh my gosh!” The happy couple were quite pleased and surprised when they spotted; Zebra, Llamas, Camels and Big Horn Sheep on the bank

Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my (Must be sung)

First time paddling visitors are always surprised by the exotic animal spotted along the creek. A very nice couple raises exotic animals and birds and maintains a very nice animal farm right, along the creek. I often wonder why some of them don’t just wade out into the creek and just swim away. They must be well fed and nicely treated. Why would they want to leave? ;O)

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Even in its “Winter Mode” the scenery along the creek never disappoints

Lunchtime…

We made a stop at one of our favorite lunch and swimming spots. Everybody else ate lunch, I enjoyed the cool water, then I ate.  ;O) Even with the lack of rain, there was plenty of water in the creek to afford easy passage over the numerous stumps and downed trees. There were wildflowers and flowering trees all along the banks…

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It was easy-out and easy-in for the slender, physically fit couple

The majority of the shoreline is heavily wooded so when a rather clear area is discovered it quickly becomes a “favorite spot”. The water was a little cloudy due to the absence of the normal cleansing rain. It only takes a little bit of rain to flush and clean the narrow watershed. Still easy to see the bottom, just not as free of silt as usual. We had brought along delicious submarine sandwiches, homemade dill pickles, purchased from one of the vendors at the local Green Market and plenty of healthy, tasty fresh fruit. A second cooler held a plentiful supply of ice-cold Bud. We were well fed and hydrated – as usual.  ;O)

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Relaxing and stretching our sea-legs, following our yummy shore lunch

The paddle back to the launch was uneventful. Only problem was the wind. Behind us on the way downriver and in our face on the way back. No matter. we all made it back just fine and agreed the trip provided just the right amount of exercise…

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“Yummy to my tummy” Lucy’s delicious homemade spaghetti

Once back at O.O.C. with kayaks back in storage mode, gear washed and put away, Lucy treated us all to a delicious dinner. She prepared her famous homemade spaghetti with meat sauce, spicy cole-slaw and hot, buttery, garlic bread. We bought Terry and Pam a “Calamondin Tea Cake” on our earlier visit to the Alliance for The Arts, “Green Market”. She shared a small piece with each of us and it made the perfect dessert. We topped off the evening with a spirited game of “Chicken Foot” and then all adjourned to our sleeping spaces and enjoyed happy dreams of our next day together…

Cheers to you all, “Spokesman Dave”

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Very first fish!

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Pam said “Terry has never caught a fish on his own rod.”

When I heard this, my mission was ON. Terry would catch his first fish, on his own rod, while fishing out of “Camo-Tow”. In case some of you are first time visitors to “Five Spoke Wheel” I must explain that Pam and Terry are new friends, who have completed two years of overland travel, in a custom built Land Rover Defender camper. They are a delightful couple from Wales, whom we met on a recent Land Rover camping trip to Holder Mine. They have been staying with us for a few days, here at O.O.C.

Sanibel Causeway Island Park

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“Freddy” on the left and “Voyageur” catching some rays…

We are very fortunate to have a wonderful place to set-up a beachhead, right on the Gulf of Mexico. “Sanibel Island Causeway Park” is one of the last places where you can park right next to the water. There is ample parking, some shaded by gorgeous Southern Pines and the rest fully open to satisfy the desires of sun-worshippers. Lucy and I , always concerned about preventing skin cancer, chose the shade… Just after we finished setting up Pam told us she “Really wanted to sit in the sun.” She reminded us that the weather in Wales is frequently; cloudy, rainy and cold… We offered to relocate, but she said she was fine…

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l to r: Pam, Terry and my Lucy.

The beach was well attended, but there was still plenty of room for all. Terry’s Land Rover Defender “Freddy” attracts attention wherever he parks it. Our beachfront location was no exception. Terry answered questions for the many curious people who strolled by and posed for several photographs. The custom vehicle, equipped with right hand drive, is not only a fine rolling-home, it is a great conversation piece… “Voyageur”, our trusty Roadtrek, was quite hurt, as she got nowhere near as much attention. There was however, one jovial beach goer, who offered to swap his Honda Element for our well equipped camper – “straight up”. We declined his offer… We sat in the shade, enjoyed a few ice-cold adult beverages and planned our fishing strategy.

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Our salty little yacht “Camo-Tow” was in full “Fishing” mode

We were all ready for some hardcore fishing. A quick stop at a local bait shop and my bait bucket was brimming with two dozen, very lively shrimp. The shrimp were dying to get on the end of one of our hooks and give it all for the cause. The weather was ideal for the little Gheenoe. Comfy swivel seats, convenient rod-holders and a wide beam, combine to provide an ideal fishing-platform. There is no boat ramp at the park. No problem for our little craft. I unhitched the trailer from Voyageur and Terry and I simply rolled it into the surf for the launch. I wish we would have taken some photographs. Pulling it back out of the water required a bit more effort, but it was actually no problem for we two incredibly strong, senior citizens, Camo-Tow is equipped with a 6.6 horsepower outboard that provides a proper cruising speed while only sipping a tiny bit of petrol…

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“Then you twist it around six times and run it back through the double loop” I explained…

Terry confessed he just did not have much experience with a rod in his hand. First lesson was to demonstrate one of the proper monofilament line fishing knots – guaranteed not to pull loose. On the third try, I finally got it right. I heard a few chuckles (with a British accent) over my multiple attempts. Terry opined “It was a good idea showing me how not to tie it first.” Ha Ha Ha… We set up our fishing rigs on the beach, so we would be ready to drop our hooks immediately…

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“Terry, be sure you put plenty of sun-screen on your head!” Cautions Pam

Camo-Tow, our 15′ 4″ Gheenoe, while small in size, is huge in fishing comfort, stability and good looks.  ;O) We carried everything we needed with a “no-frills attitude”…

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A hearty “Bon Voyage” and we were off on our three hour tour

FISH ON!

There was very little breeze, calm waters and the tide was perfect for catching… I wish I had taken some actual fishing photos, but we were too busy pulling them in… We set up to drift through the deepwater channel, normally a very productive method. In this case, 30 minutes of hardcore beer drinking and drowning shrimp, resulted in no fish. I cranked up the outboard and motored a half mile to a new location. Thirty seconds after Terry’s bait hit the water WHAM! “FISH ON!” He hooked and landed his first fish. Catching it on his brand new, open face spinning rig, made it even more special. It was a nice 1.5 pound Speckled Sea Trout. Perfect size for the skillet and one notch down on his four-fish bag limit

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Speckled Sea Trout

The scrappy little Speckled Sea Trout hit hard and fight bravely. All to no avail. Our British Buddy landed all but one. The fish is one of our favorite for a crispy Southern fish fry. In only a few minutes we had caught our “limit’ and the two dozen shrimp I had bought were gone. There was a lot of excited hollering and yelling, some in a stately Wales accent, and a good bit of Florida Crack caterwalling. It was a wonderful fishing trip with enough fish in the box, for a fantastic seafood dinner. I cleaned them on the side of the boat and left the entrails for the crabs. Terry had a wall-to-wall grin that lasted for the rest of the day. We couldn’t wait to return to the waiting women and show off our catch. They both admitted equal amounts of surprise and appreciation. “I can’t believe you caught all those fish.” Pam commented…

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Terry’s happy smile, lit up the entire beach

Good friends, Good fishing and Good fun!

These are not big fish. Each was carefully measured with my trusty fish-ruler, to make sure they were “legal” Terry did catch the two largest trout, but we didn’t get a proper photo. These little beauties produce a tender, sweet meat, with very few bones. I made a batch of “hush puppies”, a first time treat for our friends from the United Kingdom. There was nothing left on the platters when we left the table… All in all a perfect day at the beach. We hung around for most of the afternoon and then retrieved Camo-Tow and headed for O.O.C.

My mouth was already watering…

As I thought of the delicious dinner to come…

Peace and love, “Spokesman” Dave

KERMIT was wrong…

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…It is easy “Being Green”

It was a perfect morning for a trip to one of our local “Green Markets”

Lucy and I have spoken often about making a Saturday morning pilgrimage to the Green Market, at the Fort Myers, “Alliance For The Arts”. It was not a top priority because we “Grow our own” right here at O.O.C. We continued hearing about the market from some of our friends and based on the information, we decided it would be a fun trip…

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“Voyageur” our 1998 Roadtrek is the perfect excursion vehicle

We often use our Roadtrek for “Fun” trips, as well as our frequent errands, It is wonderful having a clean bathroom, fridge full of healthy snacks and ice-cold drinks and even a very nice spot for the occasional nap. There was plenty of shaded parking spots on the beautiful campus…  Lots of folks arrive by bicycle and we even saw some backpack wearing roller-bladers. The location is happy to have well behaved pets with thoughtful owners who pick up after them…

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“Come on David. Lets go buy something.” says Lucy

The “Alliance”, as it is known locally, is a wonderful place to visit. The ever changing art exhibits are always first rate and the frequent concerts and outdoor productions are well known and well attended. There are many classes available for children and adults covering most artistic media. Some of the sculptures and ceramics we saw were truly amazing.

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The jar of cashew butter I bought, was creamy and delicious. One hundred percent natural.

Tina Johnston, owner of “Gone Nuts” was the first market vendor we visited. We sampled several of her offerings and ultimately purchased a jar of her cashew butter. No additives at all and chock full of flavor. All of Tina’s fine butters are available online. Here is a link to her Gone Nuts online store.

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Drummin up business

There is a wide variety of booths at the Green Market. I enjoyed speaking with the owners of “Gypsy Drums” and hearing some of the well played African Rhythms. The quality of the instruments was high and the prices reasonable… You will all enjoy Jeanie’s BLOG. All of her items are available online and her attitudes, knowledge of chanting and drumming and love, are freely shared, both in person and with her online community. I did not buy a drum. The drum purchase is still under review by the O.O.C. Executive staff and CFO – Lucy…

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“Super Shopper” Lucy at one of the many booths

We did actually make several purchases and we were pleased with each of them. We even bought a very special “Tea Cake” to share with Pam and Terry, our friends from Wales. They will be arriving later today for an O.O.C. overnight stay. The dill pickles she bought were crunchy and good. The seeds she bought from “The Unruly Gardener” will be a welcome addition to our vegetable garden… She even bought a very tasty jar of marinated sheep’s cheese. Yes. It is made right here in Fort Myers from sheep’s milk…

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Shopping locally is definitely a good reflection of your spirit

Lucy and I both agree that keeping our shopping dollars in the community is a stellar concept. We enjoy supporting local farmers and artisans. We incorporate as many methods as possible to reduce our carbon footprint and our impact on the world. We are just a little to far from the market to make bicycle commuting feasible but we do carry our own bags to carry our treasures. Not only are there many obvious benefits to shopping locally, a visit to any Farmer’s is just plain FUN…

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Our purchases loaded we were ready to head to Hickory Hammock for some additional purchases from Terry, the affable owner…

Have a wonderful life,

“Spokesman” Dave

The British are coming, and we are glad…

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You meet the most interesting people in a Land Rover

Lucy and I had a marvelous time, tent-camping, with a group of Land Rover owners, at “Holder Mine Campground” in Citrus County, Florida. One of the high points of all of our off-road adventures, is the people we meet. In this case, an amazing couple, Pam and Terry who left their home in Wales, in their fully self-contained Land Rover Defender 130, for a two year tour of the Americas. We absolutely fell in love with this couple…

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The Brown’s travel in style. Their Defender is a fully self-contained camper

The first hint of their eminent arrival was the distant clatter of a big diesel V8. (It was actually a 2.5 Turbo-diesel but it sure sounded like a BIG V8. Thanks Theo) We all loved the sound and waited anxiously for them to pull into view. For me it was love at first sight. Of all the vehicles I have; seen, driven, owned or imagined “Freddy” is by far the one I covet most. It is an absolutely amazing vehicle…

Pam and Terry both arrived with huge smiles.

Pam and Terry both arrived with huge smiles.

We all wanted to have a giant gab fest but the first order of the day was to make camp. We would have plenty of time to visit later…

"Drive in, turn off ignition, pop the top and open a beer." That is how Terry described setting "Freddy" up for camping.

“Drive in, turn off ignition, pop the top and open a beer.” That is how Terry described setting “Freddy” up for camping.

This well-traveled couple had their cozy home on wheels ready for living within minutes. They have already driven from the southern tip of South America to the Northern tip of Alaska. They are definitely a well-oiled camping machine. After two years on the road they really have their preparations perfected. It was fun sitting in my folding chair watching them work. They have everything they need and nothing they don’t…

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“Freddy” making friends with the Disco Queen…

Their custom “Camper” is well equipped. Full galley, five batteries, solar panels to keep them all at full charge and a convenient casette-toilet when a bush just won’t do. The living quarters are well insulated as is the cab. A Webasto diesel-fired furnace provides adequate for any weather. The somewhat utilitarian stock Land Rover seats have been replaced with premium Recaro style seating to insure comfort regardless of trail conditions…

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Pam in the blue T-shirt

We had an absolutely wonderful time with Terry and Pam. They were the ideal campmates. Sitting around our campfire, hearing about their amazing trip, was a very pleasant way to spend an evening. We are very happy to announce they will be here with us at O.O.C. for a couple of days, as they wind down to the end of their journey. I will have a nice post on their visit. You can check out their BLOG by clicking here.

Keep on trucking,

Spokesman Dave

Eterna® Full Size (11X45): Brunton – Binoculars

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I just want to do a shout out for some excellent customer service. I enjoyed my original BRUNTON “Eterna” binoculars for many years. I contacted them about repairing an issue that developed in the fine BRUNTON optics…

They sell their products with a “Lifetime Guarantee”. When they finished their inspection they informed me my original binocs were not repairable. They went a step further and told me they were mailing me a BRAND NEW pair at no cost.

Fantastic! I love it when a gear provider makes good and I want to recommend BRUNTON highly.

Brunton 11x45 Eterna Full Size Binoculars - Black Binoculars

Eterna® Full Size (11X45): Brunton – Lanterns, Solar Power, Headlamps, Binoculars, Scopes, Compasses.

Spokesman Dave

How to benefit from inflation…

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Not everyone is negatively affected by “Inflation…

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Marianne assembles the paddles – last items out of the van – and heads to the put-in

Marianne and Randy “Boondockerswelcome.com” asked if there were any paddling destinations near O.O.C. We told them “Yes indeed, Telegraph Creek is a wonderful place to visit by kayak.” Seeing no kayak on top of, or behind their Roadtrek, we offered them the use of two of ours. We also offered to transport the kayaks to the launch. “No worries” replied Marianne “We have our own.” “HUH? Where is it?” Marianne explained that after a good bit of research they had purchased a 380X Sea Eagle inflatable kayak. “Well I’ll be darned.” I responded…

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Lucy on her Salsa MUKLUK, heading to the launch

Lucy and I were very intrigued by the ability of carrying a kayak inside our little RV. We just had to see this Sea Eagle in action. We jumped on our trusty pedal powered steeds and headed to nearby Franklin Lock to watch them assemble, inflate and launch the inflatable boat. (I was somewhat skeptical)…

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Three small bags contain the entire Sea Eagle 380X

… In only a few minutes the busy couple had carried the various parts to the waters edge. Randy made short work of inflating the 12’6″ kayak. The seats were installed after the hulls were fully inflated. They explained that the cushy inflatable seats – complete with backrests – could be removed from the boat and used as camp or beach chairs. Marianne also explained that she often reverses her seat – while on the water – when they stop and enjoy their floating picnic linch. Very cool…

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“You need to Pump-it-up.” Instructs Lucy

“Looky Lucy” sat on one of the wooden benches and made sure they did it right…

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With a 650 pound carrying capacity, we barely made her settle on her lines.

It was a pleasant surprise when Randy turned to us and said “Why don’t you guys take it for a ride and see how you like it. It handled much better than I expected. Lucy fell in love with the cushy seats and decided we need to add one of the Sea Eagles to our O.O.C. Navy fleet…

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Always wear your PFD. Off they went…

In a matter of minutes the happy couple had paddled out of sight on their way to Telegraph Creek. When they returned ot O.O.C. that evening they both agreed it was one of the nicest water-based trips they had ever done…

You will find a link to purchase your own Sea Eagle on Marianne’s award winning website: http://www.frugal-rv-travel.com/Inflatable-boat.html

We thoroughly enjoyed having Randy and Marianne as our guests and our test ride in the Sea Eagle…

Paddle strong, Spokesman Dave

Land Rover “Lovers”

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1960 Land Rover Series and 1976 Boler travel trailer

1960 Land Rover Series and 1976 Boler travel trailer

Meeting “Tinkerbell”…

When I was a young boy, Peter Pan and Tinkerbell were two of my heroes. (I had a crush on Tink) Of course, at the time, I believed they were quite real. Having met Danielle and Drew my belief was confirmed. They are in fact – very real

Last weekend…

Lucy and I were planning a ten day, tent based trip. We decided to leave “Voyageur” our Roadtrek at O.O.C. and do the trip in one of our Land Rover Discoveries. First thing we did was to call our good friend, Aldous Cosmo Gitles and ask him to join us. Fact of the matter is, we asked him to pick the location for our rendezvous. “Cosmo”, as his friends call him, was ready willing and able to meet us for another four wheeling off-road adventure. He offered a couple of alternative locations in central Florida and we chose “Holder Mine Campground” in the Withlacoochee Forest…

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We began planing, organizing and loading our gear for an exciting adventure with some great old friends. From there, it just got better and better. Cosmo called us back a couple of times and said the group was getting larger. In fact he said we would love the new people that were meeting us and that a couple other members of the Florida Land Rover Club would also be joining us for some trail riding. Fantastic! The more the merrier. For this BLOG I am going to speak about one couple, Drew and Danielle. Lucy and I chose to call this couple “Tinkerbell and Peter Pan”. Their fun BLOG is “The Wild Rovers”

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Their kind, loving, spirit was evident from the first moment we met them…

Drew and Danielle were set-up on their campsite when Lucy and I arrived. Everything looked as “neat as a pin”. We were looking forward to meeting them, because we had viewed their blog and immediately felt a kinship with this amazing young couple. So many memories flooded my mind. I immediately thought of my Lucy as a young spouse, complete with honey-sweet voice and gently strumming guitar. Even their smiles radiated the same joyful, unassuming innocence. We as couples were alike in so many ways. I am not going to do a lot of “Splaining” (Ricky Ricardo’s voice) because they have all the details on their blog. What I want to talk about is how impressed I was by their attitude about life. Best part was, it didn’t come from books, seminars, or self-help tapes. They just “Get it”. Having graduated from college with degrees in Journalism (Danielle) and Mechanical Engineering (Drew) they were tired of the day to day constraints of excessive order, disciplined study and schedule driven academic lives. They are not running away from something they are moving closer to something. They both love and miss their homes and family in Nova Scotia. Each of them spoke of the wonderful people, scenery and energy that they left behind in their homeland. Both Drew and Danielle maintain close contact with family and friends while they are on the road. I believe they just want to make sure that what they think – Nova Scotia is the best place to live – is accurate. For the entire time we were sharing the woods with this marvelous couple, I never heard a “discouraging word”. even as they spoke of little setbacks and challenges they had encountered, they were grinning from ear-to-ear as they explained their inventive and sometimes comical solutions. The only sad part for me was the realization that none of our – now all grown up daughters – ever got to enjoy such a freeing adventure…

Saturday, January 12th. Happy Birthday Danielle

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As luck would have it, we got to celebrate Danielle’s 23rd birthday with her. She and Drew participated in our first off-road trail ride in their very own “Ole Yeller”. The venerable old Land Rover was shod with standard tread street tires, but managed to handle every obstacle in it’s path with a pronounced British “Stiff upper lip”. Many of the other trucks had oversize, heavily lugged, trail tires and extensive modifications. They put nothing over on the rugged, leaf sprung, Rover. Drew proved he had “Bad Ass” driving skills and Danielle maintained her stately place in the procession, regardless of the severity of the trail. If the happy occupants would have been enjoying ice-cold “GnT’s”, they wouldn’t have sloshed a drop… In celebration her special day, “Kaz”, a member of the Florida Land Rover Club, offered her the pilot-seat in his extreme, off-road monster, a huge Discovery powered by a beefed up V8,  rolling on huge, nobby tires. Never you mind it was her first time running an off-road trail truck. Seeing the tiny blonde lass piloting the massive rig was a joy to behold. They say you “Never forget your first time.” How bout that Danielle?

We thoroughly enjoyed our time with these traveling troubadours…

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Danielle and Drew share a love for music. They are a wonderfully talented duet carrying a full arsenal of stringed instruments with them, writing new songs en-route. We were gifted a copy of their first album “Honey Hill” by The Harts. D n D co-wrote the excellent songs commemorating their travels and often perform at various open-mikes and other venues along the way. Drew serenaded Daniele with a fine rendition of “Happy Birthday to You” on his newly acquired fiddle.  They voices – like their lives – are in perfect harmony…

“We’ve got all we need for where we’re going.”

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The young couple do a wonderful job of living a GIANT life in a diminutive space. Their tiny rolling home, includes everything they need for housekeeping and living comfortably, with nothing added to compromise their enjoyment of whatever space they are in. The skill they exhibit in keeping it all together extends way beyond their time in years. We could all learn a lesson about the joys of living simply. “All we need is love” the Beatles…

Well and truly missed…

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You can teach old dogs new tricks. The time Lucy and I spent with Drew and Danielle renewed our faith in the younger generation. They taught us a lot about; humility, love, contentment and the joy of appreciating every moment of life. We will never forget them. So often in the past we have been fortunate to spend time with really incredible people. These two folks will certainly occupy a niche very near the top of the list. If I got to live my life over again, I would hope I to be a lot more like Drew… Happy trails to “The Harts”.

Love to you all,

Spokesman Dave

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