Florida Again

A family feeding the peacocks at Magnolia Park. I had heard the peacock's caterwauling as they prepare to roost for the night. But I had never heard the sound like a Volkswagen's horn they make when the children got too close.

A family feeding the peacocks at Magnolia Park. I had heard the peacock’s caterwauling as they prepare to roost for the night. But I had never heard the sound like a Volkswagen’s horn they make when the children got too close.

Our first camping this trip was at Suwannee River State Park due to its close proximity to family.

Our first camping this trip was at Suwannee River State Park due to its close proximity to family.

Mikkey usually prefers to sleep with Mom, but Mom is constantly rolling over or getting up.....

Mikkey usually prefers to sleep with Mom, but Mom is constantly rolling over or getting up…..

I had not intended to blog about Florida again because we are, as usual, spending the winter here.  The biggest treat is having time with family.

Unfortunately, I had to do a factory reset on my phone and haven’t downloaded all the photos yet.  I’m waiting for our next data cycle.  So there will be no photos to share of the lovely 80 degree Christmas celebrated in shorts at Gail’s screened porch.

So when Mom wiggles around too much, Mikkey heads for Daddy's bed.

So when Mom wiggles around too much, Mikkey heads for Daddy’s bed.

So I’ll just share my available photos taken at random, and let the captions tell the story…. which is, it’s CHILLY down here now!

BTW, our water pump went out and our toilet needs replacing.  I have them ordered and Gail and I will do the mods when we get back to her house in a week or so.

Lake Apopka is a big lake bordered by vegetation that provides a perfect habitat for many aquatic and semi-aquatic critters.

Lake Apopka is a big lake bordered by vegetation that provides a perfect habitat for many aquatic and semi-aquatic critters.

Next was O'Leno Park--because it had available sites. Then Otter Springs. The spring is a black water hole in a cypress swamp. But it gave us a place to stay till our next reservations were available.

Next was O’Leno Park–because it had available sites. Then Otter Springs. The spring is a black water hole in a cypress swamp. But it gave us a place to stay till our next reservations were available.

Otter Spring did have one nice feature... an indoor heated swimming pool.

Otter Spring did have one nice feature… an indoor heated swimming pool.

While we were at Suwannee River State Park, I found my first ever Albatrellus mushrooms. I originally identified them as sheep polypores, but discovered they do not grow this far south.  All I know is that they are both Albatrellus polypores.

While we were at Suwannee River State Park, I found my first ever Albatrellus mushrooms. I originally identified them as sheep polypores, but discovered they do not grow this far south. All I know is that they are both Albatrellus polypores.

As much fun as an Easter egg hunt!

As much fun as an Easter egg hunt!

You never know if you will be sensitive or allergic to even good mushrooms. So this was my sample. After 24 hours I knew they were okay to eat. To be honest, they were slightly bitter and not very good. But I relished my discovery anyway!

You never know if you will be sensitive or allergic to even good mushrooms. So this was my sample. After 24 hours I knew they were okay to eat. To be honest, they were slightly bitter and not very good. But I relished my discovery anyway!

So now it's winter in Central Florida, but still heavenly compared to home!

So now it’s winter in Central Florida, but still heavenly compared to home!

This pond was covered with thick, scummy duckweed last year. This year we discovered they had found an elegant solution to the problem.

This pond was covered with thick, scummy duckweed last year. This year we discovered they had found an elegant solution to the problem.

But winter in Central Florida doesn't really mean winter. :)

But winter in Central Florida doesn’t really mean winter. 🙂

Ron trying to find a spot out of the wind. Note the wind blowing the Spanish moss around.

Ron trying to find a spot out of the wind. Note the wind blowing the Spanish moss around.

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RIP Little Sunny & Updates

Best Camping Buddy ever

Best little camping buddy ever.

Little Sunny’s camping days are over.  Besides going blind and deaf, his hip sockets would give and often his legs would go straight out to the sides when he bent down to eat, drink… or sometimes for no apparent reason.  And he completely forgot his potty training.

My little ragamuffin buddy coming out of his sweater at White Tail Ridge.

My little ragamuffin buddy coming out of his sweater at White Tail Ridge.

But it was the dementia that finally defeated him.  At the last, he would wander around, bewildered, in circles.  He would get lost in a room and not know how to get out.  He would stand in corners, apparently waiting for a door to open.  He even became unable to find his food bowl, and I would have to put him in front of his food and water bowls to make sure he ate and drank.

Sunny waiting for Mom at Cotton Hill COE

Sunny waiting for Mom at Cotton Hill COE

He still loved his Mom, but his life just got too hard for him.  So we had him put down last week.  Sunny loved having his neck rubbed more than anything, so I was doing that when the vet gave him the shot.

Although I miss the little guy more than I can say, I am so relieved that his life is no longer a bewildering maze of the unknown.

June was a tough month.  My favorite aunt died, so we went down to Florida to the funeral.  We stayed and visited family several days, got back home, and got a call that my uncle had died, too.  So we went back and attended his funeral 2 weeks to the day after my aunt’s.

Sunny at the Casita window at Ft. Pickens

Sunny at the Casita window at Ft. Pickens

But it was so precious to get to see our cousins that we hadn’t seen for many, many years.  It felt like getting a new crop of sisters.  🙂

I had a couple of major emphysema flareups, but I’m doing great now — except for the weight that my meds keep packing onto me. Two of my sisters are laughing at my concern.  Their advice — I’m old now.  Eat strawberry cheesecake and don’t worry about it.  😀

Sunny camping in the Aliner before we got the Casita.

Sunny camping in the Aliner before we got the Casita.

Ron and I have started going through our things and sorting them into trash, donate, sell and keep piles.

We plan to camp this winter in Florida, and hopefully sell our place sometime soon.  We’d like to fulltime for a while.

But eventually we want to move near my sisters — if this place sells, of course.  If not, we’ll still spend our winters in Florida.

Being able to spend time with my family is more important to me than great adventure out West.  So we’ll probably stick pretty close to the Southeast.

I have felt pretty “blogged out”  lately.  Hope that changes when we get back on the road again.  🙂

Leisurely Progress

Vegan hopping john

Vegan hopping john and brown rice

The first order of business when we got back home was to catch up on medical appointments. My doctor informed me that my cholesterol was sky high. Since my body has zero tolerance for statins or livilo, that means my only options are diet, supplements and exercise.

So, I am planning three vegan days per week, and cutting back on meat and cheese the other 4 days.

Fortunately, Ron loves my vegan meals as long as I promise him a steak and a pork chop once a week. So tonight we had hopping john and brown rice. Ron went back for seconds, which assured me he wasn’t feeling deprived with the meatless meal. 🙂

I also found a highly recommended handyman who charges very reasonable prices to do the projects on the house that I can’t do. Needless to say, he is backed up, but should be here next week to put in the new back door and give me an estimate on the utility closet. So we are slowly on our way to getting the place ready to put on the market.

Ron is having cataract surgery Wednesday. The following Thursday I go in for a preop consultation about eyelid surgery. My drooping eyelids interfere with my vision enough that Medicare will pay to have that fixed. Then Ron will go in for the other cataract surgery, then this fall it will be my turn.

At least we should have all that done in time to head to Florida again next winter.

Between repair jobs this summer, we plan to schedule week-long getaways whenever we can work them in.

lbmWe have had tons of rain, so I know the mushrooms are going crazy out in the woods. I haven’t made time to check them out, so maybe I can squeeze a mushroom hunting expedition in tomorrow.

I did find a LBM (little brown mushroom) in one of the campgrounds we were in. I’m not sure which one. I didn’t try to identify it because it’s a tedious process for me and I didn’t have the inclination to spend that much time on it. At first I thought it was a deadly gallerina, but the gills are wrong for that. Anyway, it is definitely not one I was tempted to eat!

We have found the solution for Sunny’s incontinence problems.  It’s a belly band with a sanitary napkin inside.  It’s not very glamorous, but it works.  I thought he would hate wearing one, but he is so used to me putting sweaters and jackets on him that this is just another thing that Mom makes him wear.  🙂

Spring!

Spring is following us north.

Spring is following us north.

I was seriously tempted to take some of the redbud flowers to make pancakes with, but decided I didn’t want to have to explain to a ranger why I was eating his trees!

Field garlic

Field garlic

So I settled for using a little field garlic in our dinner omelets this evening.

It’s fun watching spring start all over again after experiencing it in Florida.

Dandelions.  My favorite spring flowers.  Seriously!

Dandelions. My favorite spring flowers. Seriously!

We have had to take turns walking since Sunny can’t be left alone now. We went shopping in Valley yesterday, but had to take turns shopping, too. It was too hot to leave Sunny in the truck without air conditioning.

Lush clover.

Lush clover.

I thought I would always have a dog. But after being so constrained by Sunny and Sheba this trip, I think that when Sunny passes on, I may wait a while and see how I do without one.

Nature's lace.

Nature’s lace.

Another beauty.  Can anyone tell me what it is?

Another beauty.

Another cute COE safety sign.

Another cute COE safety sign.

Joy!

View from our site

View from our site. Can you see the small tree on the point? I bet it will be beautiful once it gets its leafy summer dress. 🙂

This morning as we were getting ready to hit the road I was flooded with happy anticipation, which changed to sheer joy once we were underway.

As I’ve said before, I am happier than I have ever been. Ron and I are both talking about “when” we fulltime — not if.

Yesterday, at Pine Island, I sat outside observing the activity around me. Coots bobbed up and down on the sparkling waves. An osprey flew overhead and landed on the sandy beach, picked up a long stick in its beak that looked too big for it to carry, then flew heavily to its treetop nest on the mid-lake island.

Our Casita at R. Schafer Heard campground.

Our Casita at R. Shaefer Heard campground.

Later that evening, as the sunset faded, I watched dozens of small, maybe 3 or 4 inch long fish jumping out of the shimmering, liquid copper colored surface of the water. They fully cleared the water with each jump and it looked like they were trying to fly.

On our previous visit to that lake 2 years ago, a fisherman told me they were carp when I asked him what kind of fish were jumping out of the water then.

Another view from our site.

Another view from our site.

I deliberately did not have my camera with me because I feel and observe so much more when I’m not distracted with trying to photograph my surroundings. I think I need to devote one day a week (at least) to doing that. When I do, the sights, sounds and scents are more deeply embedded in my memory.

So tonight we are at West Point Lake in the R. Shaefer Heard campground. This is another of our old favorites, and is only a little over an hour from home.

We plan to stay here 7 days, then this fantastic journey will end.

We did discover anotther swamp at our last campground.  Fortunate the area was hilly and the campground wasn't swampy at all.

We did discover another swamp at our last campground. Fortunately the area was hilly and the campground wasn’t swampy at all.

Real Life in a Casita

 

A storm moving in over the lake

A storm moving in over the lake

As our trip is winding down, Ron and I are in agreement that we are happier living in our Casita than we have ever been before in the 23 years that we’ve been married.

We love living on gorgeous lakes, in landscaped flower gardens with peacocks, and in quiet woods. We love the idea of leaving cold winters and hot summers in the rear view mirror. And we love the friendly people we meet in campgrounds.

In sad need of defrosting

In sad need of defrosting

I could be happy fulltiming in the Casita. But Ron feels that we would need a bigger rig.

At least we are beginning to look toward making it happen. First, our place needs a lot of work before we could think of selling it. We are hoping to get most of that done this summer.

And if we change our minds, the house would be nicer for us to live in after the repairs and improvements.

Anyway, it’s something fun to dream about at this point.

I had no idea the refrigerator fins were so iced.  I keep lunch meat in front and never bent down low enough to see this!

I had no idea the refrigerator fins were so iced. I keep lunch meat in front and never bent down low enough to see this!

As far as life in the real world, 4-1/2 months in humid Florida meant that we couldn’t wait until we get home to defrost our freezer. (Ron holding the door open while he tries to decide what he wants probably had something to do with it, too. 🙂 ) It also was a great opportunuty to deep clean the refrigerator.

So I got it cleaned and cooled down. Then we headed to Eufaula to restock.

Good as new -- almost.

Good as new — almost.

I was surprised at how the refrigerator warmed up after putting refrigerated meat in the freezer and lots of fresh veggies in the refrigerator. For a while it got up to 60 degrees. It’s still in the mid 40’s now but should be at 40 soon. So tomorrow I’ll probably get rid of more foods I’m not confident will be safe.

Little Sunny is doing so much better than he was as far as his anxiety attacks. We left him in the truck while we grocery shopped. He was pacing when we got back, but exhibiting none of the hysterical yipping that I was afraid of.

No pretty photos today. It’s been overcast and raining.

Last of the Spooky Photos

Ron walking Sheba

Ron walking Sheba

I like this campground and love the campers we’ve met.  But I have had all the swamp I want to see for a while.  For that reason, I’ll be glad when we leave Thursday and head back to Gail’s  house for a few days.

Sinkhole

Sinkhole

I don’t know how I missed that the little Scotty trailer belongs to a camp host.  I talked with her today.  I asked what year model the trailer is.  She said 1962 is stamped on the tongue of the trailer, but her title says 1965.  It has always been in her family.  She bought it from her mother “15 or 20 years ago” for $800.  She said everything in it is original — even the cushions.  They were apparently made of extremely good foam because she says they are still springy and are not deteriorating.  I’m guessing it’s latex, based on that — although I would not expect even latex to last 50 years.

Another picture of the little Scotty -- with the clearly visible Camp Host sign that I missed before.  :)

Another picture of the little Scotty — with the clearly visible Camp Host sign that I missed before. 🙂

As for the surroundings here — swamps, sinkholes, and more swamps.  The nearby town, Marianna, is beautifully clean and well maintained, though.

I did feel a little spooked when we went to Walmart and saw several Middle Eastern men — and they were not smiling.  One had his wife (I guess) in a hijab with him.  (Or is it burqua?  It was all black, full body covering.)

Since I had never seen anyone actually wearing one, I took a long look at all I could see of her — her beautiful, expressive eyes.  Later I wished I had smiled into her eyes instead of curiously gawking.

Swamp 1

Swamp 1

 

Swamp 2

Swamp 2

Swamp 3

Swamp 3

The Star Party that Wasn’t, a Park Liner & Long Gray Hair!

Looks primeval, doesn't it?

Looks primeval, doesn’t it?

We heard about a star party at the visitor’s center around 6:30 this evening and were really looking forward to going.  But, due to overcast skies, it was canceled.  I hope they schedule another one while we are here.

Letting my hair grow.  I usually wear it up.

This is for Kim and Judie who know I am letting my gray hair grow long. I’m really loving it after decades of ultra short cuts.

Today was a leisurely day of chatting with other campers and meandering walks.  While we were out, we met a nice couple from Pennsylvania, Tina and Sam, camping in a 15′ Park Liner.  Park Liner is the latest manufacturer that I am aware of to build molded fiberglass trailers.

I was so excited when I saw the Park Liner that I asked Tina if I could take photos.  She graciously consented.  I apologize that my camera didn’t do it justice.  It doesn’t do well in low light conditions and gave the pictures an odd color cast.  But you can still see the layout.

The Park Liner exterior.  I love the wood, residential style screen door.

The Park Liner exterior. I love the wood, residential style screen door.

I have found (and sampled) all kinds of good edible plants and trail nibbles here.  But since I haven’t stayed intensively committed to it, I have forgotten many of the plants’ names.

I’ve decided to start brushing on on both the edible plants and mushroom skills.  Especially while we are essentially living in the Casita  (temporarily, of course), it helps to have an absorbing hobby to focus on.  It keeps life new and exciting.

Large comfortable bed in the Park Liner, which can become another dinette.  I apologize for the color cast my camera gave it.

Large comfortable bed in the Park Liner, which can become another dinette. I apologize for the color cast my camera gave it.

I am surprised at the number of families with young children that are camping here in tents and popups, considering the cold nights we are having.  I love to see them enjoying campfires and outdoor pursuits.  Those are memories that will last!

Another view of the Park Liner interior.

Another view of the Park Liner interior.

A tiny 13' Scamp is camped next to the Park Liner.

A tiny 13′ Scamp is camped next to the Park Liner.

Nightfall in the campground.

Nightfall in the campground.

These little flowers are blooming all over the place, unfazed by the below freezing weather the  night before last.

These little flowers are blooming all over the place, unfazed by the below freezing weather the night before last.

Swamp Swimming?

This was the free daily jigsaw puzzle in my puzzle app last night.  It describes the weather here perfectly!

This was the free daily jigsaw puzzle in my puzzle app last night. It describes the weather here perfectly!

 

Our Casita at Florida Caverns State Park

Our casita at Florida Caverns State Park

Last night was the first night in Florida that we seriously worried about our water freezing.  I ran the propane furnace instead of the AC’s heat strip.  I pulled out all of our underbed storage and opened all the lower cupboard doors so the heat could reach the water pipes.  I also left the bathroom door open so heat could keep the pipes behind the shower pan from freezing.  It worked!  Thank heavens that no more temperatures that cold are predicted!

Entrance to swimming area

Entrance to swimming area

Ron and I have decided not to do the cave tour.  Many years ago I toured some huge caves (maybe Luray — can’t remember.  It was the one with the rock formation in it that looks like two poached eggs), but they were huge and felt more like cathedrals than caves.

These caves are a lot smaller.  I was told there is some crouching down required in some places.  Just the thought of it triggers claustrophobia.  So we’ll just enjoy the above-ground sights — which is mainly a lot of eerily beautiful swampland.  So glad it’s not mosquito weather!

Another shot of the swimming area

Another shot of the swimming area

A nice thing about this park is that it is near stores and fast food places.

Also, important to me, they do allow clotheslines.  In fact they have clothesline poles at each site — to keep people from using trees.  So if I decided to use my laundry drying rack behind the trailer, it shouldn’t cause problems.  I probably won’t, though, because they have laundry facilities here.

Swimming area.  You can tell I was boggled at the swampy swimming!

Swimming area. You can tell I was boggled at the swampy swimming!

Sheba is embarrassing me!  There are several other people here with large dogs.  They are all so sweet and friendly.  And they don’t bark at other dogs.  Sheba still has to sound the alarm and try to intimidate any other dog she sees.  It makes me feel inadequate as a doggie mom!

This place is not big rig friendly, so there are lots of tiny campers, along with several medium sized rigs.  Next to us and across the street are two matching teardrops.  Ron said they are two single women, each with their own teardrop, traveling together.  I said hi to one of them and she didn’t answer, so I’ll have to take Ron’s word for that.

Final swimming area photo

Final swimming area photo

About the swimming area….  I don’t think I’d want to swim in a cypress swamp.  Even if the weather permitted!  But it’s gorgeous viewing.

And, as at Newport Park, the ground is covered with little violets.

A little Scotty trailer

A little Scotty trailer

One of the twin teardrops

One of the twin teardrops

This photo is the last one I took at Newport Park.  I liked it enough to insert it here.  :)

This photo is the last one I took at Newport Park. I liked it enough to insert it here. 🙂

I found a place to store my drying rack.  :)

I found a place to store my drying rack. 🙂

Little violets

Little violets

Bridge built around trees

Bridge built around trees

 

 

 

 

The Pinta and the Nina

The Pinta's rigging

The Pinta’s rigging

I love boats and ships.  In fact, the white noise that I use to help me fall asleep most night is an app that has a boat sounds selection.  The creaking of the ropes and the lapping of the water against the hull make me feel like I am being rocked to sleep.

Entrance to the Nina's Captain's cabin

Entrance to the Nina’s Captain’s cabin

So I was really looking forward to touring replicas of the Nina and the Pinta.  (Drives me crazy not having the proper key for the Spanish character in Nina).  🙂

But the crowds were too large and moved too fast for me to get the feel of life aboard the ships.  I learned how the crew hoisted the heavy anchor.  I learned how they steered without a wheel.  And I learned that, with the available instruments in the 1490’s, they could determine longitude but not latitude.  Their time pieces weren’t accurate enough.  For instance, if the sand in your hour glass got damp and started clumping, you were out of luck.

View through the grate covering the Nina's cargo hold.

View through the grate covering the Nina’s cargo hold.

But I couldn’t go down into the cargo hold and see where horses (must have been small Spanish horses) were hoisted down into and kept with slings around their bellies for support so they wouldn’t break their legs on one of the Nina’s voyages.  I couldn’t go into the captain’s cabin with a 4′ high ceiling and no ventilation except the grate over the entrance.  And although they told us where the crews slept, I don’t remember because I didn’t experience the spaces.

Provisions cask

Provisions cask

So I’m glad I went.  I saw both ships, but I still don’t know them.

There was a sign saying they needed crew members.  Ron told me I should sign on as ship’s cook.  If I were younger and healthier, I would probably do just that.  At least I would KNOW how Columbus and his crews felt on their long voyages into the unknown.

Well, I wouldn’t know the unknown part, but I would know the ships!

The tiller attached to the rudder was used to steer the ship.

The tiller attached to the rudder was used to steer the ship.

BTW, the smaller Nina was my favorite of the two ships.  It was Columbus’s favorite, too.

Rope that was too worn to use for rigging was used to make bumpers.

Rope that was too worn to use for rigging was used to make bumpers.

Model showing the ships' structure.

Model showing the ships’ structure.

Here's your chance, wannabe sailors!

Here’s your chance, wannabe sailors!