Sweet Talkin’ Rangers & Other Questionable Travel Tips

I get it! I KNOW that I am not Rick Steves or anything, but after three months of blowing money “staycationing” I needed to employ some money saving strategies. By now this whole Florida excursion is starting to hit my pocketbook a bit hard. We need to be frugal and come up with some inexpensive ways to entertain ourselves…..time to get creative! So I have devised some travel strategies that you may or may not want to try!

Cheap Travel Tip #1
Definitely go fishing and save money by not getting a license! What can be more relaxing, yet exciting and stimulating at the same time! Just make sure to borrow the equipment from your brother-in-law because it’s way cheaper that way.
Okay, I won’t lie! This fisherman has no fishing license, but what ranger do you suppose will come onto our private beach to ask for a fishing license? Now, I will admit that I am pretty sure I could not sweet talk a ranger into forgiving me for not having a fishing license, but I don’t even get a chance to try. If it makes you feel any better, we practice catch and release. Let me rephrase that…for all marine-life lovers out there….catch, torture while removing hook, and release….but honestly, I don’t recommend saving money by not getting a fishing license, but seriously do borrow your relative’s gear….

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Plus if the fish looks this ugly there ain’t no way, no how that I am eating it…..it is pretty likely to be released….

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Cheap Travel Tip #2

Just R-E-L-A-X for once!

We did some pretty serious relaxing too…..this is perfectly legal, plus relaxing is cheap and you know it was an amazing thing! I was so unconcerned about making Christmas a huge shebang like I usually do…..I actually took it easy and relaxed! Wow…..well, maybe for a few minutes anyway! Whoever thought that relaxing could be such a good vacation idea!

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Cheap Travel Tip #3

Make sure no one gets sick, and if they do then make sure you have a plan for where to bring them for treatment.

As luck would have it (cause and effect for high cognitive functioning individuals), just before Christmas our Annika decides to get really sick. Fortunately for Annika her daddy is here to comfort her, because he is so much better at it than me! Don’t forget, I am a nurse, and my first instinct is always to tell my patients to suck it up….you know – the way Nurse Ratchet does! I did bring her to the Walgreen’s Minute Clinic, if you can believe that – like who goes to Walgreen’s for medical care?

Pharmacies in this country crack me up! So in the front of the store you can buy all the crap that makes you sick, like alcohol, cigarettes, high calorie junk food with zip nutritional value, chemical laced lotions and potions….and then in the back they sell you nasty medications to try to make you better. To make matters worse now they can price gouge you by having you come to the Minute Clinic for some marginal medical advice!

But I digress, Annika tested positive for Influenza A. No wonder the poor child was so sick! Now, this trip to the Minute Clinic was pricey, in the neighborhood of $400, and I hope my insurance doesn’t fail me! They had told me before I got there that my insurance would cover the whole visit, but when they tried to run my insurance card it didn’t work.

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Cheap Travel Tip #4
Get a National Parks annual pass.

Nothing beats the awesome National Parks we have in this country, especially in the western states, so as an Arizona mom I would recommend buying the annual pass for $80.
We did end up going to a couple National Parks when Emerson arrived. As it was, Annika was not the only sick kid on the day that we picked Emerson up at the airport. He was super excited to come for Christmas, but lost his enthusiasm when he discovered he was to be in a “sick house”.

Despite sick kids and all after we picked Emerson up we decided to do some marathon touring, which is not something a person would normally do two days before Christmas…..I should be marathon cleaning, cooking, baking, shopping, wrapping……bah humbug! We are going to see some sights, by golly…..gotta cross things off the Jacksonville-to-do-list. Been there, done that! Never mind that the kids are sick…..

So first up is Kingsley Plantation, where my annual National Parks pass comes in handy. You can well imagine Kingsley was a plantation that used slaves. You can see the remains of the walls of the housing structures that the slaves lived in. Seeing this really brings to light the atrocities that our brethren had to endure. Amazing to think that this actually happened in our country! What a blemish on our history!

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Cheap Travel Tip #5
Sweet talk park rangers into freebies or discounts.

What say you we take a walk on the beautiful beaches at Little Talbot Island State Park? There was a $5 fee for going to the State Park, but I managed to talk the ranger out of it by promising that we would not stay very long. It actually was true. We stayed for only 15 minutes or so. You might wonder why we were trying to save $5, but it’s because we are members of the cashless society, and they required cash to get in the park.

I find it very interesting that the beach is so vastly different just a few miles away from where we are at in South Ponte Vedra Beach. At Talbot Island the sand is fine and white, and the water is shallow and gentle! Such a serenely beautiful beach!

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Cheap Travel Tip # 6
Bring your kids sightseeing when they are sick with high fever. Why? Well, because they won’t beg for treats or items from the gift shop!

After a quick pit stop at Krispy Kreme, where the kids can only stomach one donut apiece, we went on over to Fort Caroline. While a stop at Krispy Kreme is inexpensive entertainment for the time being, there are significant potential long term costs to consider….obesity, diabetes, heart disease….wow that was a bad entertainment choice….

By now the kids are feeling really sick. No, not from the donuts. They were pretty sick with fever. You can see there was only one eager person checking out Fort Caroline, namely daddy. The kids all look as though they are pretty worn out! Incidentally, of all the forts we visited this was the least impressive. By the time we were done here one of the kids needed carried out! Luckily (good cause and effect) we had a strong man along with us to help!

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Cheap Travel Trip # 7

Go swimming if the weather permits and there is a body of water available.

What could be less expensive than donning your swimsuit and hitting the water, unless your swimsuit costs $250 like mine does!? The weather was nice for a couple days, so of course we had to do some swimming. Kristoff was reluctant at first, but before long he was in the fray!

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How is this for a beautiful father and son moment? I shall cherish this forever in my heart.

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While swimming is cheap entertainment it can quickly become expensive if you get knocked out by a wave, or a shark gets too close for comfort. Remember, we have caught a lot of sharks on our fishing hooks here.

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Cheap Travel Tip #8

Try to make sure that you have a reliable vehicle.

So there always needs to be a little rain after sunshine….you know, life can’t just be perfect all the time. Hence my car had to go back to the shop. But check out the rig they rented to me for $30 for the day! This pickup had me rethinking about trading in my car for a new truck. To be sure I wouldn’t trade this man for the life of me…..and really I don’t want to give up my diesel truck either! This pig here sucks back the gas like a hog!

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But seriously, look at my truck! Do you know of any other vehicle that could do this for you!

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Cheap Travel Tip # 9

Manipulate, manipulate and manipulate.

We had another thing or two to see as our days dwindled down, and one such site was Flagler College. This is a school where they train teachers for the deaf and blind. It’s an old hotel called Ponce de Leon, which is converted into a school. Using my superlative charm I managed to get three of us in there for free – a savings of $30. Not bad! Wow, I’m on a roll!

I can’t believe they actually had planned to tear down this beautiful building in the 1960’s! This place is fantastic!

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Here are two tall gentlemen beside a very tall and beautiful tree in the lobby of Flagler College.

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And this is the gorgeous dining hall, followed by a stunning ladies lounge.

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This onyx clock is signed by Thomas Edison, who was here to do the electrical work. Edison was Flagler’s good friend.

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I thought this was a pretty interesting piece of artwork….what do you see happening here?

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Cheap Travel Tip # 10

Cut your own hair and everyone else’s hair. In fact, offer to cut hair for anyone you meet and you can make money to help pay for your vacation!

I just recommend you don’t cut hair in the kitchen like I am doing here, unless you like hair in your food the next day. I just had serious time constraints and this spot had the best lighting in the house.

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Cheap Travel Tip # 11

Sweet talk park rangers. Oh wait, I already said that! Yes, just sweet talk rangers, I tell you!

You know, I really need to get my head out of my you-know-what! We made another and final excursion to the fort Castillo De San Marcos in St Augustine. I thought I had been thinking ahead, and so I brought my National Parks pass with me and even my drivers license for ID…..so smart of me! But lo and behold, when I get to the counter they tell me that the card I have is from last year! What? I had grabbed the wrong card. Now I had to start sweet talkin’, and if you ever tried sweet talkin’ a park ranger into anything then you know it’s not that simple! Usually park rangers live and die by the rules! By the time I am done, though, we get in for free – a $27 savings, thank you very much! If you want to know what works, it’s self deprecation. “Oh, man! I can’t believe I am so dumb! I left my new card at home!”

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Cheap Travel Tip # 12

Unteach your kids about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and birthday parties, and other such frivolities!

As we stop on the firing deck of the Castillo we saw this miraculous sight! It’s Santa sailing by in a boat! Nothing quite like a reality check! Christmas is just two days away and I have done nothing to prepare! Help! Now I have to go spend beaucoup bucks buying gifts for the kids, that will be destroyed or lost or otherwise ruined in a short period of time. I have to buy them things they don’t need, and that I don’t want, which will clutter my house and make my anxiety about the pathetic state of affairs even more acute!

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Hey, Santa! What are you bringing the kids? Don’t fail us now! How do I sweet talk Santa into bringing everything the kids want….and then some!

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