Our Viva!

Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area • Flagler Beach, FL • FEB 24 - 28, 2016

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We had a late start this trip because a severe storm with high winds was forecast for the afternoon and we didn't want to be on the road when it hit. Linda called the ranger station to let them know we would be arriving around 5:45 p.m., and when we got to the campground the ranger remarked that we were exactly on time. We were assigned Site 21--our favorite, as it overlooks the beach with no vegetation obstructing the view. There was supposed to be a SpaceX launch about an hour after we arrived. We would have had a front row seat, but the launch was scrubbed less than two minutes before liftoff due to technical reasons. Rick is a space buff and was disappointed. There was no more rain, but the wind rocked the Viva the rest of the night. The temperature dropped and we had to fire up the furnace. At home we record Modern Family and watch it when we have time, but we got to see it as it was broadcast.

Thursday morning was chilly and still very windy. We saw the sunrise from inside the Viva. We delayed the morning dog walk until the afternoon. At 3:00 we took the dogs to the trail across the street and explored for an hour and a half. The dogs loved it.

Friday was more of the same. Sunrise was too beautiful for photos to do it justice. It was still cool and windy, but the sky was a brilliant blue all day long. Rick took the dogs on the beach for part of their morning walk. The beach was deserted, so he was able to let them off leash (unless, of course, local authorities are reading this In that case, the dogs were on leashes the entire time). Zoe darted about on the sand, then headed full speed into the surf! She must have thought the water was cold, because she turned around in a hurry. We then left the beach and walked A1A to the Volusia County Line, which is our turnaround point. Zoe was dry again by the time we made it back to the Viva. In the afternoon the four of us again walked the trails in the new part of the campground. We brought two loads of wood with us (and checked in advance to make sure there was no fire ban—see notes from most recent trip), but it was still too windy on Friday night to build a fire. That didn't stop our next door neighbors from starting their fire, which we kept an eye on until it finally burned out.

Saturday brought another great sunrise and more blue skies. The wind subsided a bit, but it was still too cool for bike rides or for Linda to take her walk on the beach—which she loves to do, and greatly missed the first three mornings. Rick took the dogs to the trails—our new favorite place to walk—and Linda stayed in the Viva to watch the surf and all of the sea birds. We think a large school of fish is just offshore, because we've never seen such a concentration of birds in the water here. Linda joined in for the afternoon dog walk, again on the trails. Our two bags of firewood remained unburned…maybe Sunday night?

Sunday:
√ beautiful sunrise
√ two walks on the riverside paths
√ cool, windy

But the winds decreased enough for a campfire with roasted vegan marshmallows and vegan hot dogs. The SpaceX launch was again scheduled for after sunset. The skies were clear and the view would be perfect. With under two minutes to go the launch was placed on hold because a ship had strayed into the restricted area. When the countdown finally resumed, all looked good and the skies were even darker. It was going to be spectacular! 5-4-3-2-1…and a last second computer shutdown that scrubbed the launch. Sigh.

But that was our only disappointment of the day. Rick was able to watch Ohio State upset Iowa in the final home game of the season, and Linda watched the Academy Awards show.

As sunrise on the beach is the highlight of the day for Linda, Monday told us that it was time to go home. Although it was warmer and there was less wind, the sky was heavily overcast and didn't give us the beautiful sunrises we had seen every other day here. But we had another great stay at Gamble Rogers, and we're already looking forward to coming back again.

Rick is working on a book featuring some of his lyrics, poems, and short stories. As we were forced to spend more time than usual inside because of the winds and cooler temperatures, he was able to get a lot of work done on this trip.

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Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area • Flagler Beach, FL • FEB 15 - 16, 2016

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Our first camping trip of 2016, to our favorite destination, Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area. If you’re a regular reader of our travel blog the following will sound like “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” That’s because we say almost the same thing every time we camp here, and we camp here often. But here goes: we love this place. It’s right on the ocean, and it’s always so peaceful and relaxing. We stay here every chance we get.

We were here for two days and nights this trip. We were assigned site 17, which offers a great view of the ocean. It’s a great site to just sit and watch (and hear) the waves rolling in. We can do that for hours and it never gets old.

We arrived on Monday afternoon. It was probably the most efficiently we have ever leveled and hooked up the Viva. Pull in, position the leveling blocks, drive on them perfectly the first time, quickly connect the water and electric and, boom, done! Took about 5 minutes.

But, it wasn’t all perfect and smooth sailing…Linda discovered soon after arriving that she had forgotten to pack her coffee. One of her greatest pleasures in life is enjoying a good cup of coffee while watching the sunrise on the beach. They go hand in hand—coffee without sunrise on the beach is okay; sunrise on the beach without coffee is okay. But coffee and sunrise on the beach? Again, that is one of the moments in life she enjoys the most. Linda reluctantly resigned herself to having hot chocolate the next morning, but no way would she go two days in a row without her coffee on the beach.

Linda took her first walk on the beach while Rick worked on a new database program he had just purchased. The dogs got to sniff around the dog park, then we settled in for the night. We brought enough wood for one campfire, but we saved it for the second night as heavy rains were forecast for our first night—and the forecast was accurate. It poured most of the night. We were able to watch The Grammys on over-the-air TV, so we didn’t mind.

The next morning we saw just how hard it had rained—the campground had large pools of standing water up and down the drive, and under a number of rigs. Our site was wet but had no pooled water.

We took the dogs for a walk to the campground on the other side of A1A. Later, we all walked to High Tide at Snack Jack and enjoyed liquid libations (cold beer for us, cold water for Tybee and Zoe) while taking in the ocean view. That was nice, but not the primary reason we went there…which was to get coffee for Linda. She had the foresight to take a large travel cup with her to Snack Jack, which was a smart thing to do because they didn't have any to-go cups. Linda was happy—she would be able to enjoy her coffee the next morning while watching a beautiful sunrise.

The sky was clear the second night and countless stars were shining. There was virtually no wind, which is not typical for the beach. We started our fire and it was roaring within minutes. And within minutes a ranger pulled up to our campsite. He told us there was a countywide ban on open fires due to the dry conditions (and despite the monsoon the night before). We weren’t told about any campfire ban when we checked in, nor was it posted anywhere. Also, we had our firewood bundle on top of the picnic table to keep it off the wet sand, and it was clearly visible to the rangers who regularly patrol the campground. We felt incredibly guilty for a moment even though we didn't know, but the ranger was very nice. We had to put out the fire, which put a damper (pun intended) on our evening.

The sky was clear again the next morning. Linda savored her Snack Jack take-out coffee and her walk on the beach. We later took the dogs on their long walk to the part of the park that's across A1A. Linda stopped at the ranger station to once again apologize for the campfire but—surprise!—she was told the ban had been lifted the day before. So, we should have been able to have our campfire, but no one told the ranger on duty the ban was no longer in effect.

We continued on with our walk, then explored the great trails that are carved through the vegetation. The dogs loved the new scenery.

We both took final walks on the beach. Linda snapped a great photo of scores of seagulls, then later on her walk found a sand dollar in the surf. She checked to make sure it was dead, because she would have put it in deeper water if it was still alive. It wasn't, though, so she brought it back to the Viva. You can see the photo we took of it.

We met several nice people at the campground, including a couple from Florida who came to our site just as we were about to leave. They had been admiring the Viva and had quite a few questions they wanted to ask us. We're always happy to oblige when someone wants information about the Viva. They seemed pretty sold on it, so maybe there will be some new Viva owners on the road soon.

We said goodbye to Gamble Rogers, but not for long. To paraphrase Mr. Schwarzenegger, "We'll be baaaaaack!"

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