December 31, 2011

Ringing In a New Year

As the year 2011 draws to a close, it is time to reflect on all that has happened to us in the last twelve months.  It has been the most amazing year.  Tim and I have been so fortunate in being able to embark on a trip like this one, and I often have to pinch myself to believe that this trip is really happening.

Early in the year we started serious preparations for this trip.  For me, the planning aspect of a trip is almost as much fun as the trip itself, and this was no exception.  But nothing could prepare me for how wonderful the actual trip would be – not past road trips, not research and not our shakedown trips.  

Seeing all of the incredible sights we’ve visited has just been amazing, but for me the best part of the trip has been spending day in and day out with Tim.  Some people wonder how you can spend twenty-four hours a day with the same person, but I never thought that would be an issue for us.  These past few months have allowed us to know each other on an even deeper level than before and to rely on one another almost exclusively.  I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.

It’s also been a joy to travel with Kitty.  When we set off on this adventure, we had no idea how she would react.  We couldn’t have asked for a better travel companion.  Kitty has adapted to everything we’ve thrown at her and seems happy just to spend her days with us.  She entertains us and continues to draw fans wherever we go.

Touring Is Tiring
It has also been great to be able to visit family and friends along the way, some of whom we hadn’t seen in many years.  Spending time with these wonderful people has been a special part of this trip.  We’ve also met some incredible people along the way and have shared stories with many of them.

Tim and I cannot believe that the trip is already one-third of the way over.  We just won’t think of it that way.  Instead, we will look forward to almost six more months on the road.  There is so much more to see and experience.

Since neither Tim nor I are into New Year’s Eve festivities, we did not look for a party-type of place to ring in the New Year.  We ended up in St. Augustine Beach, just across the bay from America’s oldest city.  A new year in an old city.  That somehow seems fitting.

A Visit to the Beach Before Leaving Jekyll Island
On the way south today, we did make a detour to Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, one of the oldest and best preserved freshwater systems in America.  Native Americans called it Okefenoka, meaning “Land of the Trembling Earth.”  Although our time was limited, we were able to take the Swamp Island Drive.  It wasn’t at all what I had expected.  The bald cypress swamp that I thought I would see is only one of the habitats here and is found more on the western side of the refuge.  The upland pine forest, which we saw, is more typical of this portion of the eastern side.  Saw palmettos line the forest floor.

Upland Pine Forest with Saw Palmettos

Did I See an Alligator in That Pond?
We also visited a “swamper” homestead and saw how families survived in such a harsh environment.  The Chesser Island Homestead was built in 1927.  The Chessers, like most swampers, were largely self-sufficient and raised, caught or hunted most of the food they ate. They were a rugged family and raised sugar cane as a cash crop.  It was not an easy life.

 A "Swamper" Homestead

Chesser Island Homestead


  1. Good Morning and Happy New Year! Hope you are planning on eating something extra special today and posting pictures! :-) LV

  2. Happy New Year to you both. A

  3. LV and A, Happy New Year to you and your families. Tim and I are going to hang out on New Year's Day, but there just may be a special food in our future. Check back. Sarah