Day 46: Visit with Michael Valentine

Sunday, May 19: What a restless night’s sleep. The outdoor temperature had cooled off nicely last night so we opened up the windows hoping it would cool us off inside. Nope. It was hot and muggy and noisy. Between the airplane take-offs and freeway noise, it was rough. We should have just given in and turned the AC back on. At least the loud AC would’ve muffled the outside noise. I don’t know why we didn’t.

Fred got up around 6 am and tried to parakeet me, but I was already pretty awake and the airplane noise really started to pick up. We got up together and started to have breakfast but Fred didn’t feel well. He took few bites of oatmeal and then went back to bed until about 10am. He told me later that he hadn’t felt well all night. I scolded him for not telling me sooner. He is so dang stubborn!

I tucked Fred into bed and cleaned up the kitchen. I stayed busy until Michael arrived around 9am. Mike had to get up at 4am to make the drive out to see us. So we are super grateful Mike was willing to make the drive so early so we could have the whole day together. Thanks Mike!

I met him outside so we didn’t wake Fred. We chatted for a bit just catching up since his last visit in February. Mike has been a great resource for me since then. He has a tremendous amount of life experience and seems to know just what I’m thinking. Also… He is a certified massage therapist, so he understands how stress wrecks your body and spirit. He is an overall comforting presence and great guy.

Mike stretched his legs and went for a walk while I went up front to grab a quick shower. I was worried about Fred so it was a quick shower.

The bathroom was clean and modern looking. This was by far the best water pressure we’ve ever seen on the road. It was even better than what I have at my house!

When I got back to the RV, I was surprised that Fred had gotten up and had taken his own shower. The man is always surprising me.

We sat and chatted with Mike for a bit. Fred had a PB&J for his second breakfast. We decided to go out to Amelia Island today. It’s just east of Jacksonville. You can drive on the beach there with the daily $5 beach pass.

We headed out towards the island and found the one convenience store where you could buy the pass. I saw this Seminole Indians baseball cap in the convenience store. It reminded me of one I bought when I was 12 years old in a little convenience store just like this while visiting Florida. I wore that hat forever.

We had been looking around for a place to eat lunch. Just a few stores down from the convenience store was this really awesome restaurant called The Surf Restaurant / Bar / Beach Motel.

The food was really fresh and the ambiance was very playful and beachy. We played musical chairs at the table because the hostess had seated us at a table that was half inside and half outside. The half outside was in the direct sun. Michael was worried I was going to get sunburned. (Which I did anyhow). After about 5 minutes, he volunteered to switch seats with me.

Our waiter was super buff and tan, almost Jersey Shore tan. He reminded me of my little brother, except for the tan part.

Fred and I both had the chicken plate with steamed veggies, rice and black beans. It was so good. It reminded me of the way Fred cooks for us at home, super clean and juicy. The restaurant is apparently known for their great, locally caught shrimp. So that’s what Michael had.

The restaurant also had great map booklets of the local beaches. So of course I took one of those. I like the ones that look hand-drawn in cartoonish.

We hit Peter’s Point Beach first. You’re only allowed to drive on the beach from one posted sign to another posted sign, which was maybe 3/4’s of a mile. Beaches that still allow you to drive upon them are very popular but rare these days. So this place was very busy.

Everybody was parked along the beach enjoying the water. We backed into a spot after we drove the length of the allotted beach. We walk down to the water to stick our toes in the ocean.

We saw some incredible Jeeps down there. “Jeep Beach,” a Florida Jeep Festival, just ended a few days ago and these must be the stragglers that don’t want to go home yet. One guy had a roof-top tent with the residential air conditioner sticking out of it. You got to love the South for their redneck ingenuity!

When we walked out into the water, I was wearing pants, so I rolled them up. But it never fails… I always walk out two steps farther than I should and end up getting my pants wet anyhow.

We sat and watched the paddle boarders for a few minutes and enjoyed the pelicans flying by. I would love to try paddle boarding a wave. It looks so efficient and fast, but somehow easier than regular surfing.

We drove to the 2nd of the 3 beaches you’re allowed to drive upon, Scott Road Beach. This beach was pretty funny because the posted signs you’re permitted to drive between we’re seriously 200 feet apart. It was more of a turn-around and a parking lot. This is because the tortoises are nesting in the area.

We saw a few tortoises as we drove on to the beach. They move a whole lot faster than I thought they did. In fact they are not slow at all, so I don’t know where that stereotype came from. Michael picked one up to show it to me up close. We spent more time with the turtle than we did driving on the beach! Don’t worry, Mike put him back where we found him.

After we left that beach, Fred’s energy stores were running low. So we decided to head back to the RV for a rest. It was about a 30-minute drive from the beach to the RV. The drive around the island was so beautiful. There’s lots of canopied roadways and hanging moss trees that look like they’re hundreds of years old. And some parts that just look like straight-up jungle.

We had a pretty amazing day at the beach I would say. And the best part was, it wasn’t hot at all near the water. It was perfect.

Mike was telling us about the “love bugs” in Florida. They are genetically engineered insects that were supposed to eradicate mosquitoes. But the love bugs are a highly acidic creatures and when they stick to your windshield they release their acid and do a lot of damage to the window and the paint on your car. They are so incredibly over populated because they have no natural predators due to their high level of acid. They form these thick films on vehicles because the bugs somehow get stuck together as they fly. They have become quite notorious in the area.

Mike came with cleaning products because he knew the RV would be covered in them. We had quite a few, but not as many as in the example photo I have posted above.

He used hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle to clean them off. And then he washed and waxed the RV and Fred’s Jeep! It is absolutely an amazing gesture of love and friendship for Mike to wash Fred’s cars. Fred loves a clean car more than most and actually feels bad when they get dirty.

Mike did a tremendous amount of work in the afternoon heat! It took him nearly 3 hours! We really can’t thank him enough!

I washed and folded 2 loads of laundry while he worked outside. The laundry facilities at RV places are super busy and you really have to jump on the open machines when they become available. Plus, I’m always worried someone’s going to steal our clothes or take my wet clothes out of the dryer and put theirs in during the cycle.

They had about five each of the washers and dryers. And, unexpected bonus, they had credit card readers on the machines so I didn’t have to mess with $10 worth of quarters.

Fred got up from his siesta and helped Mike finish up outside. Fred loves washing his cars. Even if he is exhausted, he just can’t help himself.

After they packed up the washing supplies, Fred video chatted wih Martha Braddock. Fred, Mike, and Martha go way back.

I took advantage of the downtime to pre-scout some RV parks for that are half-way between here and Destin, FL. I made reservations this morning for an RV park on Destin Beach. We’ll stay there while we visit my brother. His neighborhood has a nasty HOA that won’t permit RV’s. … Bummer! So although driving back and forth every day will suck up family time, staying on the beach will be fun. đŸ˜‹

We wrapped up the evening with some leftovers from our lunch today and some cold pizza. We watched a little basketball. It was truly a great, busy day.

Mike took us up on our offer for him to spend the night in the RV. It will be fun to spend some more time with him tomorrow.

And, P. S. We are running the A/C tonight!!

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