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Next, The Last Time
Written By: OC Fotoguy
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Next, The Last Time
Next, The Last Time
Next, The Last Time
Next, The Last Time
Next, The Last Time
Next, The Last Time
Next, The Last Time
Next, The Last Time
Next, The Last Time
Next, The Last Time
Next, The Last Time
Next, The Last Time
    No, when I pull out of OC this December for the warm places in our country, when it’s snowing and blowing here, will not be for the last time, but a person needs to know their limitations.  I know the day is coming when I may not be able to drive 8-9 thousands of miles in the winter, paddle my kayak so far, and walk as far or as often as I do.  There’s been a recurring problem with my truck and nest (slide-in camper in my pickup truck).  The builders of my nest did not fasten it properly in the bed of the truck.  The bolts come loose, it bounced, now they’re corroded so I can’t tighten them, and it wore out the tires.  This summer I found an HapiJak anchoring system, which will prevent that.  That’s the way it should’ve been done in the first place.  Now, the camper will be properly secured and those places that I’d placed on the Last Time List and said goodbye to, I’m going to them all again!  Here I come Terlingua Creek, Peekaboo Slot Canyon, and ToroWeap.  I’ve always wanted to go to Bull Frog, too.  Each is at the end of bone rattling, filling vibrating rough roads.  I can take it and now I know my truck will carry my nest there again, especially when I know the nest isn’t bouncing.
    The U.S. Weather Service is saying this will be an El Nino, much wetter, winter with a warning that if the moisture meets a cold front, look out for the white stuff even in Florida!  My “Plan” (yeah, I know everything is weather dependent and it will remain vague, because details and dates to be somewhere produces stress, pressure & anxiety - not my style) for my Adventure XVIII is coming together and here it is:
    I’ll be following generally the same path.  Why not?  It works.  I’ll drive a marathon probably starting in mid December from here to Savannah, Ga., where it’s much warmer than here then, overnight, and then make a bee line for south Florida, where it will be warm.  The first stint of camping will be at Long Pine Key in EverGlades National Park ( just southwest of Homestead.  I was there last February on a “discovery mission,” found some hiking trails that the throngs of tourists and yuppies don’t use, and read about a water bird rookery south of there that I may be able to kayak to. More kayaking is high on my list this Adventure.
    Then it’ll be off to Key West: Alonzo’s HH food & half$, El Sibone’s Cuban feasts - most menu items under $10, Sound Check @ the Green Parrot, Stock Island’s Hog Fish Grill, more kayaking, the dropping of wench @ midnight to start the New Year and of John LaMere’s and Kevin Poole’s music; with stops at Harriet’s in Key Largo for a Spanish Omelet, in Islamorada (MM82) at the Lor E Lei and watch the SunRises and SunSets.  As I drive down US One I’ll be watching for kayaking spots.  After the Keys I’ll be listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd and other world class bands at the EverGlades City Seafood Festival February 5-7 and then in Big Cypress 26 miles deep in the EverGlades to see the panthers; always a highlite for me.  Aftwards I’ll meander up the southwest coast of Florida stopping to see Jim Long in Heck Yeah Land of Marco Island, the Venus Water Bird Rookery, and the powdery sands of Siesta Key. I’ll be watching for kayaking spots, and I’ve heard there’s a huge Amish complex at Yoder’s Restaurant in Sarasota; I’ll be checking out that, too.  Maybe they’ll have shoofly pie, eclairs, slippery pot pie…
    Then it’s west.  First stop will be at Doc’s Oyster Bar in Gulf Shore, Ms. (hold the Old Bay, thank you, oysters don’t need it!)  There’re more seafood restaurants there per mile than any place I go.  From there I’ll be checking the long range weather forecasts to plot a course for where the weather is good.  I’ll have country wide wifi internet supplied by xfinity to help.  I usually make a circular route that takes in south Texas, New Mexico, & Arizona, then north to Las Vegas across southern Utah and angle back down to the northern parts of our southern states that are beginning summer by then, but I don’t have to go that direction.  I could go to southern Utah first if the weather says I can.  Last year it was too cold there in mid March and Texas was going to be attacked by “monsoon” rains, so I headed directly to southern Arizona’s hippy mecca in Arivaca.  I never got back to southern Texas’s Big National Park, as big as the state of Rhode Island with its own mountain range in the middle of the desert. I can kayak up into St. Elena Canyon in the wild Rio Grande and then to Port Isabel with so many Mom & Pop sized TexMex seafood restaurants - yummy - and nearby Laguna Atascosa N.W.R. where I saw a ten foot rattle snake a couple of years ago.  I missed south Texas, so this year coming or going it’s a must!  Flexibility, caused by the pursuit of good weather, is the word.  The mammoth rock formations at Monument Valley near Four Corners where New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado & Utah meet is a must, too; plus Capitol Reef N.P. with its fresh fruit pies, rugged scenery & challenging hikes, and the NoWhereLands of Escalante with a rough, nearly impassable road, which I’ve passed on several times, that goes to intriguingly remote BullFrog on Lake Powell.  All are  near the south east corner of Utah.  The north rim of the Grand Canyon is west of there and a must, too; especially ToroWeap with its 65 miles of roads that my new anchoring system is meant for, and then there’s the best view of the Grand Canyon Mother Nature presents.  Then the buffets of Las Vegas will be a resting spot whichever way I’m going with Death Valley, which I struck off my list because of too many people.  There’s a road that cuts through the northern part up over the Siera Nevada Mountains, and goes to the Great Sequoia Trees in California.  I’ve never seen them - I’m going!  
    My southern swing which ends up with me back in Ocean City will include:  camping at remote Sabine National Forest in northeast Texas (another new spot for me), I’ll definitely eat red snapper smothered in crawl fish sauce in Natchitoches. La., drive through the Smokey Mountains, hopefully it won’t rain as it always does, camp on Okcracoke Island, N.C., after a fantastic two-hour ferry ride from Cedar Island, then check out Duck at the north end of the Outer Banks and be back in Ocean City in time for SpringFest and Fager’s Island’s first Deck Party.  Of course, I’ll go places that are not on this list, things will happen that I don’t expect, and I’ll have to figure out how to deal with them; that’s what makes it an Adventure!
    Plus, here are my favorite Pics from 2015.   
Bob R  o.c.FotoGuy
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