FL, GA, SC, NC - Apr 24 - May 6

We've changed speed from standing to running!

Before we recap the past couple weeks, we had an exciting surprise before we left FL.  Our friend, and musical artist Mat Perkins released a single called JAK! For those who have been following along, we met up with Mat and Patricia back in OR. A couple months later, we were fortunate to be able to meet them again in AZ.  Around the bonfire, Mat sang us the song JAK which he had written after our visit.  Now Mat has released the song and music video!

Here is a link where you can download the entire song (name your price)

And this is Mat's new website.  Watch for his next release!

This song is and will always be a most treasured part of our experience and we hope you enjoy it.


After leaving Sanibel, we headed north to see the Rankin family in Orlando.  We found a great county park called Bill Frederick at Turkey Lake.

The Rankins had a menu of exciting activities to undertake. We started by picking 12lbs of blueberries!

We hit a local splash park that overlooked one of the many, many lakes in Orlando.

Handled a few of their back yard friends at a very cool environmental education center

And as a super surprise, we spent an evening at.....!

When you visit Disney with someone who works for Disney on the technology behind the magic, it's...magical.  Before finishing 1/3 of the Toy Story ride Bo had maxed out the ride score!

After four fun days (they have the happiest baby you've ever seen!) we packed up and headed east across the state to St. Augustine.  There we met up with long time friends, the Snells.  We started by attending an evening birthday bash on the St. James river.  Magical evening again!

The next morning, Tracy took the boys out fishing.  Daddy has a top five list of fish he has never caught, and at least three are caught here this time of the year: Tarpon, Cobia, King Mackerel, Triple Tail, and Pompano.  

On the way out, JAK shouted that he saw a whale.  At first, the older, wiser men instructed young JAK that he must have seen a giant manta ray which are now migrating north.  But then.....JAK proved us wrong when the giant breached again, and again!

- video to come

We motored a couple hours south and then off shore to find a couple reefs that Tracy had heard were holding Cobia.  There wasn't bait showing up like Tracy normally finds, but he was a master with the sabiki landing a penta catch!

Soon enough, Tracy hooked into a big, big fish.

We initially thought it was a ray because it would stop and not allow him to budge it.  But after a long fight, he brought it up  - a 6-7'shark!

JAK was catching vermilain snapper, croakers, black bass, spotted pin fish, and other small fish faster than we could take them off the hook...but no cobia.  Then Tracy and Daddy hooked into another big fish on a cigar minnow - Amber Jack!!

When we were preparing to move locations, Tracy asked JAK to reel up one of the large rods. JAK began reeling when suddenly...WWWHHHAMMM!!  JAK yelled,"THERE'S A BIG FISH ON HERE!" barely able to hold onto the rod.  Tracy grabbed the rod while Daddy fitted the fighting belt onto him.  JAK fought the fish while Daddy held onto him.  We got a glimpse at the fish and determined it was another shark. JAK's arms and legs were shaking when Tracy exclaimed "It's a COBIA!!"  After a few nice runs and Daddy shouting (for his own benefit..) "Everyone, stay calm.  Stay calm. STAY CALM IT'S A COBIA!", JAK landed the most beautiful 33" cobia!!

It was an awesome day on the water.

The next day we toured St. Augustine, visiting the Basilica Cathedral, the Spanish built fort, and an up and coming popsicle shop that sells flavors like: Strawberry Habanero, Apple Pie, and Bourbon Peach.

That evening we enjoyed the Snell's home, loving family...and the most amazing fish we've every had - JAK's fresh Cobia!  It's a thick, buttery fish that was as good grilled as it was beer battered.

After a 3 nights, we said goodbye and headed north.  We made a stop in Jacksonville to see more family. It was mid week and we were grateful to be able to see them after school got out.

From there we crossed the border in GA and stayed at Skidaway Island State Park, near Savanna.  It was another beautiful state park with hiking paths and a barred owl that sat on a tree 20 yards from Big Country.

We drove into Savannah the next morning.  There are many double decker tour buses in the historic area...so we tailed one of them and saw all the sights:)

The next AM we packed up again and headed to SC to see more friends. We don't stay at many KOA's, but there was a good one north of Charleston that provides a free tour of the Oakland Plantation property.

We used the $ we saved by tailing the Savannah tour buses to take a horse carriage tour of Charleston;) Very fun and educational for all ages.

We also toured the historic Exchange Building dungeon where the "Gentleman Pirate" Stephen/Stede Bonnet was held before being executed. He was the only pirate known to have purchased the ship he used for pirating.

Long time friends, the Emge's live north of Charleston in Mount Pleasant, SC.  We were able to visit their daughter's horse stable event and had a wonderful, relaxing dinner at their home. We wished we could have stayed longer, but needed to keep moving.

We headed into NC and put about 5 hours behind the wheel. We stopped in Newport, NC at a Encore park called Goose Creek.  It was no state park and we initially were stuck behind a locked gate for some time, but we had a pond view and a short walk to the bay.

Mommy has had a burning desire to see wild horses since she learned it was possible in the Outer Banks.  One of the possibilities was the most southern isle of the Outer Banks - Shackleford Banks. We called the ferry service and they told us it was very likely, but not guaranteed we'd see them on the 9 mile island. There are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island so you have to huff it to find the horses.

We headed to the ferry in Beaufort, NC with high hopes.  Mommy must have said the right prayers, because as we pulled up car and prepared to board the ferry, on the small island across the channel ...was standing a wild horse...

But those horses were not the same horses as those who have roamed Shackleton for the past 400 years so we continued our mission.

Katie took the lead on the search for horses.  She sprinted ahead of the party.

She looked over each and every dune.

After a mile and an hour of searching...wild horses spotted!

Initially we thought they might spook so we used a sneak approach.

Little did we know, after 400 years of being photographed they have no fear.  We sat and had a picnic with 8 horses and 1 killdeer.

JAK also found a large shark tooth (he says it's a great white) and Mommy found a heart shaped "sea bean" from Costa Rica on our walk back to the ferry pickup location!

After returning to Beaufort, we drove across the bridge to Fort Macon.  There have been interesting connections and contracts between the forts located in St. Augustine, Charleston, and now Fort Macon. Fort Macon was a more "modern" fort that included a "hot shot" furnace and was the site of a successful siege by the Union during the "War between the States", as it is referenced by the southern States. 

Of course we hugged whales at the educational center

Tomorrow we will take Big Country on a 2.5 hour ferry to Ocracoke Island and spend the next week on the Outer Banks.

This was our favorite sign of the past two weeks

Quote while Daddy and Katie were sharing a McFlurry.

Katie:  "How about you take a scoop, then I take a scoop, then you. Instead of you take a scoop, you take a scoop, you take a scoop."

As for recipes, we've been making lemon baked Redfish with parmesan and panko, but that was our FL dish. We'll have to get cooking while on the outer banks.