They Drive By Tybee Island

The Traveling Chefs’ DRIVE BY Tybee Island

Going north from Amelia Island, Florida, The Traveling Chefs have initially thought of going to Asheville, North Carolina. They planned of getting there by way of Savannah, Georgia. They drove by Tybee Island first.

Before they reached Savannah though, they saw a sign to Tybee Island. Without a moment’s notice, they decided to drop by there. Chef Pedro has heard of its famous lighthouse, just one of the seven remaining lighthouses built during the colonial era.

They were not disappointed when they got there. Standing 144 ft tall, the lighthouse was first built in 1736 in the mouth of the Savannah river in the northeastern part of Georgia.

THE TRAVELING CHEFS MEET NEW FRIENDS Tybee Island

While enjoying the scene, The Traveling Chefs met a couple who are also residents of Florida. The couple told them they also love to travel and they own a trailer RV. Their new friend (the woman) took the above photo.

Whenever Floridians meet and their conversations become longer, sooner or later, they will talk about hurricanes. The couple mentioned whenever there is an approaching hurricane, they skip the state. Their trailer RV enables them to do so. Their revelation boosted The Traveling Chefs’ desire to buy one.

While there, The Traveling Chefs enjoyed a hearty lunch at Fannies On The Beach, a beachfront restaurant. They had quite a selection of seafoods in their menu. They can’t remember what they ordered for main dish but they’re pretty sure they had coconut shrimps for appetizer.

THE PIER IS PICTURE PERFECT

The early afternoon sun shone fiercely and the long sandy walk deterred Chef Alicia from going with Chef Pedro to take photos of the beautiful pier. He has previously seen photos taken by others in this very spot. Deprived of his constant model (Chef Alicia), he patiently waited for a stranger to pass by. Finally, a woman stopped at the spot he wished someone would.

Unknown Woman In Tybee Island Pier by Peter Nunez Photography

There it is. Picture perfect! A beautiful moment of an unknown woman framed for eternity. Now, the Traveling Chefs can leave for Savannah.

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To Catch A Sunrise At Fernandina Beach

WAKING UP TO CATCH A SUNRISE AT FERNANDINA BEACH

Have you waken up at 4:30 am to catch a sunrise? What if you’re going to wait for the sun to rise at Fernandina Beach, where they say you can view one of the best sunrises in the Sunshine State?

Fernandina Beach, the northernmost city of Florida on the Atlantic side is a little over three hours by car from Orlando. To get a good parking spot close to the beach, the Traveling Chefs have to be there by 4:30 am. This requires them to wake up at 1:30 AM.

That’s not going to happen Chef Pedro thought. “Why don’t we spend the night there?”, Chef Pedro asked Chef Alicia. “Okay,” she said, as long as they could save some money on lodging.

RETROFITTING THE EXPEDITION

The Traveling Chefs have been following some travelers on YouTube converting their vans into houses on wheels. So they had thought of doing the same to their Ford Expedition. They removed the 2nd row seats, folded the 3rd row as well as the driver and passenger seats, and voila, they have a bed!

Chef Alicia was initially against it. She thought the folded seats would be uncomfortable. “And where shall we park our car?”, she worried. “At Walmart parking lot,” Chef Pedro answered.

They’ve researched on how to make their converted bed comfortable and decided on buying sleeping bags which turned out to be a smart idea. The ones they bought are very soft and comfortable. And to shield the windows from inquiring eyes, they used the Thermal Shield Film from Home Depot. Builders use this to insulate houses. They cut it with scissors into the shapes of their SUV’s windows.

Earlier, he had verified with the store manager they can park there. They just have to park on the lots away from the entrance.

FINDING A PLACE TO SLEEP AT NIGHT

There were three other cars parked farthest from Walmart’s entrance when they arrived at 10 PM. One of the cars has its windows covered similar to theirs. They parked close to them in a lot under the lamppost. It will be safer there, they thought.

Before they slept, they made sure they knew where they kept their car keys. They also have their pepper sprays and their hunting knife ready for emergency. Shortly thereafter, he heard her snoring. Look at this lady, he thought to himself. Initially terrified of this whole idea, she is now asleep like a log.

At 4 AM, he nudged her to get ready to leave for the beach. On the way there, they spotted Starbucks and bought two cups of hot coffee. There were three other customers inside, two of them were police officers. This time, all his fears vanished. They took turns going to the restrooms to wash their faces and to brush their teeth.

READY TO CATCH THE PERFECT SUNRISE

Their red Expedition was the first car on the beach parking lot under the palm tree. They left their windows covered with the makeshift film which worked well to their amazement.

As the sun began to rise slowly above the water, he aimed his camera at it. Some people gathered close to the water. He decided to stay beside Alicia farther back.

He stood in awe. She glanced at his wife. She remained seated motionless on her chair.

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Don Pedro Island – Wild, Unspoiled Paradise

HOW THE TRAVELING CHEFS DISCOVERED DON PEDRO ISLAND, A WILD UNSPOILED PARADISE

The Traveling Chefs visited with their family Don Pedro Island, a wild, unspoiled paradise.  Unknown to many, it is one of Florida’s hidden gems. Not only were they with the people they  love the most, they  also experienced many exciting things some of which they did for the first time. 

Very few people know about Don Pedro Island, even many Floridians themselves. Ken, our niece Kimberly’s husband has been visiting the island since he was young because his family used to own a house nearby.

Adding to the obscurity of Don Pedro is its lack of accessibility. One can get to the Island only by boat or kayak; the latter will take one to get there in hours.

We rented a boat for a week, and everyday that week (except when it rained) we rode to the Island from Manasota Key where we rented a condominium. No one can stay overnight in Don Pedro. This helps in making Don Pedro as pristine as it’s always been: wild, rugged, beautiful, breathtaking, fun.

KEN LED US TO DON PEDRO ISLAND AND TAUGHT US TO STEER  A BOAT

Ken is a good boatman. He showed Stephen and I how to steer the boat. It was exhilarating for us to do it the first time. It was also our first time to be in a private boat, albeit only for a week, which was actually shortened by a storm which failed to diminish our fun.

Every single day on the way to Don Pedro we saw dolphins swimming. On two occasions, one of them swam so close to our boat which made us yell in excitement. Those weren’t our best encounters with a dolphin there, though.

The highlight happened on our last day of boat ing. A dolphin, whom we nicknamed “Noodle” swam side by side with our boat for over twenty minutes! What an awesome experience!

None of the many dolphin sightseeings we had in the past can ever compare to this one and those were for a fee. This one was free. We saw Noodle rose and dipped in clear water so many times. We were able to film this rare encounter in full.

ANCIENT SHARKS TEETH PICKING AT DON PEDRO ISLAND. 

We arrived at Don Pedro early everyday because we wanted to have the chance to pick up newly-washed up sharks’ teeth. There are hundreds of them in the sand. They belong to ancient sharks who lived millions of years ago. When we get tired of soaking ourselves in this unspoiled beach, we also dove for sun dollars. Ken collected the most perhaps because he’s taller than all of us, so he can see better deeper in the water where these can be found.

Both Don Pedro and Manasota Key provided ample opportunities for photographs. Their beaches, birds, turtle nests, vegetation, trails, fish were magnets for our lens. In the group, I am the most avid photographer. I combed the shorelines of both and took hundreds of photographs and scores of videos. I was lost in the trails of both islands looking for the perfect shot.

FAMILY BOARD GAMES AT NIGHT

After dinner we hang out together over board games. Ken and Kimberly are into these games and they brought with them many different ones. My favorite is “Cards Against Humanity.” We laughed at each other’s hilariously horrible comments.

There was a couple of nights when we missed these board games. We dined out. There were two restaurants in the area which Ken and Kimberly suggested. They were both great. One had a live band and the guests can dance. From our table, I was the only one who danced.

As in some of The Traveling Chefs’ travels, saying goodbye to an island paradise isn’t easy.  That’s the only part of this adventure that wasn’t fun.

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