Part 6: Nocatee, FL to New London, CT


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The Trip

We visited friends in West and Central Florida and then headed north toward Nocatee, FL south of Jacksonville.  We stayed with Faith and John and had a great time.  Nocatee is a "new" development and has many amenities including a large number of bike and golf cart paths for getting around the area without going on the highways.  These paths were perfect for the electric unicycles.

The photos below are what we saw.  Note: these photos came from my iPhone so the quality of the images is not fully up to my standards.

One of our excursions on the EUCs led us south of the housing area to a lake with a picnic area.  We were perhaps 5 miles from our start at this point.

The pathways were wide and smooth and went completely around the lake.

Back at Faith's, Kathleen and Faith decided to make croissants from scratch.  This turned out to be a lengthy effort.

The results were great and looked like they were from a professional bakery except that they did not rise as much as desired.  That said, they were still very tasty.  Thanks to Faith and John for hosting us and good luck on your new home construction!

We said our goodbyes and headed north along I-95.  Around "quitting time" we were at the border of North/South Carolina and elected to stay at a tourist trap called "Pedro's South of the Border".  The RV area was large and clean and the facility was next to a large reptile zoo.  Kathleen, being partial to turtles, demanded that we visit.  We did find turtles, but the focus of the facility was alligators and crocodiles.  They had many species of each, some being critically endangered.  Sad to say, but I had no idea that there were that many species of these creatures.  With only one exception, these animals were rare.

The park has a breeding program and as can be seen in the photo above, is doing quite well, at least for the common American alligator.

I failed to note the exact species for most of these creatures.  This one is from Asia.

Some had short snouts, some had long snouts, but all were gnarly.  The facility was climate controlled and was tropical hot/humid inside.  I assume that the open mouth is used as a temperature control mechanism by the crocodile.

There were a number of smaller species and some enclosures had babies as well.  At the time of our arrival (early morning), the animals were active and were checking us out.  Note the translucent teeth.

This species had a very short snout.

This lizard is from Mexico and looks like a Gila Monster, but it is a separate species.  Like the Monster, it has a venomous bite and a beaded hide.  Note the huge front claws that are used for digging burrows.

The museum had a number of species of turtles, but far fewer than Kathleen had hoped.

This photo was taken through the glass wall of the enclosure.  The turtle is a common Snapping Turtle; note the can-opener beak.

This is a King Cobra and totally unexpected.  I did not think that venomous species were allowed in the U.S. but it turns out it is a state law rather than a federal law.  South Carolina has no restrictions on ownership of venomous species so the owner has a number of "interesting" snakes.  This fellow was in constant motion and was very aware of our presence.  The blue in the upper right of the photo above is an iPhone artifact.

The Cobra finally focused on us and came directly in front of me.

The open mouth is not a snarl, but rather a yawn, although they both look the same.

The shovel-shaped head of this snake indicates danger.  This is a rattlesnake of some variety.

This rattler was really thick.

Another large rattlesnake.  Note the number of buttons on the rattle -- this is a pretty old snake.

A Green Mamba, very dangerous and highly venomous.

Another venomous snake with a wide head.

Some kind of very thick viper.

Another dangerous snake from south Asia.

We continued traveling north to New Jersey and visited one of Kathleen's childhood friends.  From there, we continued north and had to cross a number of rivers.  Sadly, the rain made viewing the local infrastructure hard and the driving on slick roads scary.

We continued north and eventually stopped at a KOA outside Philadelphia but on the other side of the Delaware river.  We literally got the last site available at the campground.  It seemed odd that they were so full until we discovered that there was a Taylor Swift concert in Philly just across the river.

More large infrastructure with impaired visibility.  This bridge, I believe, spans the Delaware River.

From New Jersey we continued north along I-95 to the New York City area where we got our first view of the large buildings in downtown Manhattan.  Above is a view of Freedom Tower.

Prior to crossing the George Washington Bridge we got a view of the uptown skyline.  Note the Empire State Building's distinctive profile on the right of the photo above.  A nice view of the Manhattan skyline even if the sky was overcast.  As a side note, the toll cost of our passage over the GW bridge was $40 for a one-way crossing!

We crossed the Hudson River and then continued on to Long Island for a visit with Kathleen's mother.  We stayed for about a week and then took the Cross Sound Ferry to New London, CT to visit our friends Mike and Barb.  Above is Thor on the ferry.

My favorite sight from the Cross Sound Ferry is the Plum Island Animal Disease Research facility.  This facility was used for biological weapons development after WW2 and was responsible for Lyme Disease being released when deer escaped from the island and swam across Long Island Sound to the mainland.  The disease was named after the city where it was "discovered" (Lyme, CT) which is where the deer put ashore.

As the ferry docks in New London we could see the Electric Boat submarine fabrication facility across the river.

Thanks to Barb and Mike for hosting us at their home.  They are gracious hosts.  Next: travel west into Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

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