Day 177 (11/24/14): Hilton Head Island, SC | St. Augustine, FL | Orlando, FL
After being without our home-on-wheels for 4 weeks, we finally get to pick our trailer up today! Our extended stay in Hilton Head Island, SC, has come to an end. As Justin was taking the trash out of our vacation rental this morning, he noticed something in a nearby golf course pond. He initially thought it was a clump of Spanish moss floating on the surface. But upon closer inspection, he realized it was an alligator!
In the nearly 3 weeks we had been staying at the vacation rental, this was the first time we saw an alligator there despite all the warning signs around the property. As we were checking out the alligator, I also noticed a snake in the grass a couple of feet from where I was standing…eeeek! Time to go!
Leaving Hilton Head was bittersweet. I have a weakness for the charm of South Carolina’s Lowcountry and will miss the oaks adorned with haunting moss. Nevertheless, we were anxious to be back on the road with our trailer in tow. After driving back through Georgia, we stopped in St. Augustine, FL, to retrieve our RV from the dealership where it had been repaired.
It’s crazy to think that if the trailer hadn’t sprung a leak, we’d already be done with the trip by now. Just a few more stops in Florida and a few more states to go before we finish our journey. Once we hooked the truck up to the trailer, we took off to Orlando to continue our tour of Florida.
Day 178 (11/25/14): Orlando, FL
We were supposed to do an airboat tour today, but nature intervened with our plan. As sheets of diagonal rain soaked the area, the weather seemed like hurricane conditions. Instead of a hurricane though, we got a tornado warning on our phones! This was the second time on our trip that we had received a warning about a tornado! Our first tornado warning was in Oklahoma City, and we also missed twin tornadoes in Nebraska by a couple of days! We had no idea Florida even got tornadoes and never expected to get a warning while we were in Orlando.
Needless to say, our airboat tour was canceled and no other tours were being offered for the entire day. The main reason we went back to Orlando was to experience an airboat ride. Since we couldn’t do it the only day we were originally planning to be there, we extended our stay for an extra day. We would have stayed through Thanksgiving, but the RV park was already booked for the holiday. Hopefully the weather will be better tomorrow since that will be our last opportunity to ride on an airboat.
With nothing else to do for the day, we drove into downtown Orlando. The metropolitan area had more personality than we had expected with a tree-lined street, potted plants and gas lamps. Unfortunately, it was still raining, which obstructed our view as we stayed dry in our truck.
Day 179 (11/26/14): Orlando, FL
Even though it was still raining today, the rainfall wasn’t as heavy and the tornado threat had dissipated. The airboat ride was a go! We were given trash bag ponchos and noise-canceling headphones to wear. The ponchos came in handy with the steady rainfall, and we were happy to have the headphones to block out the deafening sound of the surprisingly loud fan propelling the boat.
As we glided through the Florida Everglades of Lake Tohopekaliga, we nearly forgot we were on a lake. Vegetation filled the dark water, making the point where the land ended and the marsh began indistinguishable. Lily pads nearly covered the surface while tall grasses and even trees emerged from the body of water.
The plants didn’t deter our exploration of the lake though as the airboat floated right over them. I liked seeing the water roll through the grasses as the boat approached. Not knowing what lurked in the shrubs or under the water’s surface created an eerie ambiance. The area had a mysterious quality and unique beauty.
Sadly, the alligators weren’t fans of the rain and didn’t want to be out in the dismal weather. We didn’t see a single alligator! The only wildlife we witnessed was a few different types of birds. Despite the lack of gators though, the ride itself was fun. The airboat could reach some high speeds! Our favorite time of the ride was when the boat made fast turns. Flying over the water of the Everglades in an airboat was a memorable experience!