Friday, August 12, 2011

Endless suburbia

Endless Sprawl With Clouds

We are parked at the Elks Lodge in the Orange Park neighborhood of Jacksonville, Florida (map). Having already made the decision to head towards the middle of Florida's east coast, Jacksonville is a natural stop, and this lodge has 50-amp power for $15 per night. We also have an affiliate club in Jacksonville, and we needed a stop in suburbia after two weeks on the Georgia coast, devoid of big-box stores.

And suburbia it is, an endless array of the aforementioned big-box stores, chain restaurants, strip malls, real malls, and the like all the way from here to downtown Jacksonville a dozen or so miles away. All things considered, a single night here would have been fine to get our errands done before moving back to the coast where it is more scenic, and a tad cooler.

Now that we are in Florida, this is no longer high season -- that's winter time here. So many state parks, for example, have plenty of vacancy. The coast is the exception, though, with oceanfront parks filling to capacity on weekends as locals try to beat the heat. So we will be in Elks lodges at least until Sunday, and this one was as good as any for a few nights, especially with the new 50-amp pedestals (our guide listed it as only 30).

As it turns out, we have a reader who has a private 50-amp site in Cocoa Beach, right on the strip and just yards from the water, and he has offered us parking starting Sunday. It's a very generous offer and we are looking forward to spending a few days in this vibrant beach town, taking in some of the local dining and cooling off in the ocean. Between here and there is one more Elks lodge with power, in St. Augustine, and we'll spend tomorrow night there, thus making this one a three-night stay.

As long as we were here, Louise found us a nice massage school a few miles north with $30 massages (one hour), and yesterday we rode up there mid-day. It was in the 90s when we left, but in the 100s when we returned. The massages were wonderful, but after the hot ride we did not want to again ride nearly 20 miles (the scooter route) into downtown for dinner, so we will do that this evening instead.

Being here in the land of chain restaurants, we took the opportunity to use up some of our discounted restaurant gift cards, and we rode to Carrabba's on Wednesday and Olive Garden last night. We've been buying these at 20% off using Discover Card points, so they are a great deal, and we always know it is only a matter of time before one of these restaurants is a convenient option.

In the meantime, tropical waves have been spinning off the coast of Africa in rapid-fire succession, and we've been keeping an eye on the weather charts. At this writing, only Investigation Area 93L seems to have a chance of reaching the U.S., but not before the end of next week. A lot can happen in that time, and we intend to carry on with our loosely organized plan.

Right now I am trying to line up appointments to look at boats in Vero Beach and Stuart, and those appointments will dictate when we move along from Cocoa Beach. I would guess sometime around Thursday.

Photo by Bob Jagendorf, used under a Creative Commons license.

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