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.

For Love of Mikkey

 

We are head over heels in love with little Mikkey.

Chihuahuas are not supposed to be like this.  He is almost 90% paper trained.  He gets all of his #1’s on the paper and most of the #2’s.  I had read that this breed was notoriously difficult to pottie train.  Not Mikkey.

And he was SO easy to teach not to bite.  He will mouth fingers, but no more biting!

I took him to the vet Tuesday.  He loved everyone and didn’t bark once.  He did pee when the receptionist picked him up, though.  Otherwise it was just wriggly, wagging tail greetings to everyone.  He did let out a shriek when the vet stuck him with a needle, but was friends with her again as soon as she petted him.

The only time he barks is when he is playing with his toys.  He barks, butt high in the air and head low in his play stance.   Ron stomped at him in fun yesterday and Mikkey barked 3 times at him.  Ron has agreed not to play with him that way again.  We don’t want any aggression or fear to develop.

mikkey2

He is a quiet little dog!  And so loving!  He is the world’s most wonderful lap dog — my dream come true doggie.

I still look at Sunny’s photos and love him so dearly.  And I realized that the reason I feel like Mikkey is an extension of Sunny is because it is the same love.

He is too fast to get pictures of him in motion.  He runs like lightning.  There is no way we can beat him to the door — or anything else.  He really is Mikkey Motor!

But when he snuggles, wow.  I feel such love and absolute trust in his warm, furry little body limp in my lap while he naps.  My heart just basks in his love.

We definitely got the right dog!

It’s pretty obvious we aren’t going to be able to fulltime anytime soon.  There are just too many medical tests and stuff.  I did find out that the reason I have gained 25 pounds in 2 years is due to Hashimoto’s thyroid disease (an autoimmune condition), as well as some of my meds making me prone to weight gain.  But the thyroid condition is very common and easily controlled with thyroid hormones.

The weight gain is trickier.  I look at myself in the mirror and hardly recognize myself.  It looks like I have no choice but to go back on an ultra low carb diet.  Those of you that I’ve met in person would be shocked at how I look now.

My doctor mentioned diet pills, but I declined.  Everyone I know who has ever taken them loses weight fast, then it rebounds worse than ever when they go off them.  But at least I’m willing to discuss it now.

But none of that matters when I’m snuggled up with my Mikkey.  🙂

Oh, the cataract operation on my left eye is scheduled for September 9.  I’ll be so glad to get that done.  Being able to see perfectly out of one eye and half blind in the other is annoying and causes headaches.

 

 

We Got a Cuddler

Mickey on my lap

Mikkey on my lap

Mikkey is the sweetest little cuddler you can imagine.  We are thrilled with our new baby (most of the time).

Mikkey on lapp2He bites.  I read that with a chihuahua you must train them not to bite when they are small or they can be aggressive when they become adults.  I bought him scads of bones and toys of all kinds and thought I was starting to make a little progress tonight, so I told Mikkey, “You are such a good little boy!”  He promptly bit my nose. Hard!

Also, he knew what pee pads were for, even though he only used them for #1.  But we picked up some cheaper ones that don’t contain the attractant scent that lets them know that’s where to go.  So now I have pads all over the floor, and he chooses to avoid them and use a more appealing (to him) open space.  I know I should keep him confined in his pen until he understands that he is to go on the pad.  But we do so love to see him race around.  Sometimes we call him Mikkey Motor.  The flame collar suits him.  🙂

So I’ll pick up some of the right pads tomorrow, scrub the floor with OdoBan, and see if we can start over.

His just-cleaned house before all the toys are piled back into it -- and all over the living room floor!

His just-cleaned house before all the toys are piled back into it — and all over the living room floor!

I don’t know how such an incredibly loving, submissive (he rolls over for us to scratch his belly or pick him up) can be so aggressive with the biting.

But I’m watching a lot of chihuahua videos and reading everything I can on how to train them, so I’m sure it will work.  Eventually!

I had the cataract surgery on my right eye and it is truly a miracle.  I discovered I have been seeing the world through an olive-greenish yellow filter.  Colors are stunning now.

I go inThursday to schedule the left eye.

 

I am having to postpone the eyelid surgery until next spring.  We had so much going on with the two trips to Florida, then there were other tests and procedures to schedule, so it just didn’t work out.

Camping seems like a far off, much longed for mirage at this point.  But I am still hoping we can make it down to Florida in November for the winter.

 

 

 

A New Fur Baby & Blogspot Blogs

Meet Mikkey!

Meet Mikkey!

When little Sunny passed, Ron and I realized we really NEED a dog.  I wanted a Casita-size dog and think the long coat chihuahuas are a perfect compromise between soft, silky fur and not needing visits to a groomer.

We wanted an adult so we wouldn’t have to go through the puppy stage again.  (Note the Band-Aid on Ron’s arm.  I have a few matching ones.  We forgot that little puppies’ teeth and claws are like needles.)

But the only long coat adults I could find were those who were being retired from breeding, and their cost was way out of our range.  So we got a puppy.  🙂

We are both smitten with him.  He is so very sweet.  He’s on the submissive side and has been well socialized, so I think he will be a good pet to travel with.

He is charted to weigh 4.75 lbs. full grown.  So, of course, I’ll have to get a puppy purse to show him off in!

It’s odd.  I adored my little Westie Heidi until she died.  I adored my little Sunny.  Instead of taking their place, little Mikkey just seems to be an extension of them.  It’s amazing how much comfort he has brought to Ron and me.

Healthwise, I had a stress test today.  Not anything I want to do again any time soon.  My cataracts are so bad that I have trouble reading — or seeing much of anything.  So I see my doctor Thursday to schedule the surgeries.  I am so looking forward to seeing well again!

Now to all of you who have Blogspot blogs…  I have tried and tried to comment on your blogs.  For a while, everything was working well.  But now, the “I am not a robot” field flashes for a split second, and despite many, many tries, I can’t click fast enough before the field disappears.

On others, after I type my comment a gray bar appears.  Clicking on the gray bar does nothing so the comment won’t publish.

I seriously wonder if Google is doing that on purpose to influence people to get Google blogs, since my WordPress credentials will not work on them anymore.

I really hope Blogspot fixes that soon.  Because it really irks me that I can’t use my WordPress login like I used to be able to.

Anyway, do know that I still read and enjoy your blogs!

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.  🙂

Reconnecting

Same spot, another bird.

Same spot, another bird.

I took this photo in the same place I took the egret photo yesterday.  This bird was gray instead of white.  I’m awful at bird names, but maybe this was a blue heron?  He took off before I could get close enough to get a good shot.  And I was too slow to catch him in flight.

A view from the outdoor dining area.

A view from the outdoor dining area.

We met with my cousin Teresa at Castaways in Astor, about a half hour from here for lunch. I was wondering if I would even recognize her because I have only seen her once (that I remember) as a adult.  But there was no mistaking the big, welcoming wave from her as she got out of her car!  She has beautiful auburn hair, blue eyes, and creamy-looking skin.  And she gives great bear hugs!  🙂

We elected to eat outside on the floating dock.  It moved with the waves and felt like we were on a boat.

Ron and I had the blackened fish salad.  I am leery of ordering blackened fish because so few do it right — but this place had it down pat.  It was great!

Castaways is a dog friendly restaurant.  You can take your dogs in the outside eating areas.  But I knew if I had both dogs with me, I would be so preoccupied with them that I couldn’t take full advantage of visiting with Teresa.  So I left them in the car in a palm-shaded parking spot.

After we finished a long, leisurely lunch, I took her out to meet the dogs.  I opened the truck door — and Sheba bolted out of the truck like lightning and raced toward the buildings.  I couldn’t whistle, so I screamed “SHEBA!!!!!” but she ignored me.  Just as I was planning to put Sunny down and go chase Sheba, she reappeared at the truck as quickly as she had disappeared.  I told her, “Get in the truck!” and she went in like a bullet.

It dawned on me that she probably had gotten a bad case of cabin fever waiting for us in the truck and just needed to stretch her muscles.

The floating dining area.

The floating dining area.

Teresa lives in Florida now, so I hope we will do better at keeping in touch than we have in the past.  She also loves hiking and has done several of the trails in the area.

I completely forgot about taking pictures in the excitement of meeting up with her.  Then, as we were leaving, I did remember to shoot a couple of shots of the area.  But Teresa didn’t want her picture taken, and I don’t blame her.  I don’t like mine taken much either!  🙂

Back at our “Home” Campground

Sunset reflecting off the Spanish moss in our "front yard."

Sunset reflecting off the Spanish moss in our “front yard.”

We spent a wonderful week at Gail’s new house.  And Gail invited everyone over for Christmas… even though she does not have her furniture in yet.  However, we did fine by improving with camp chairs, using the van beds as sofas!

To my delight, Gail's new yard sprouted several earthstars!

To my delight, Gail’s new yard sprouted several earthstars!

And it was the happiest, most relaxed Christmas I can remember.  Mom and her new husband Jean were there.  And between a spiral ham and a smoked turkey, we really feasted!

I’m getting my days mixed up a bit.  Can’t remember if my baby sister and her husband showed up Christmas or the day after along with their granddaughter Mikala.

We are back at Ocean Pond for a week.  After that, we’ll head to O’Leno State Park.  And I’m not sure where we’ll head after that.

I was sitting in the truck while Ron went into Walmart for a few items.  I watched the crows gather on the only two red vehicles in that area of the parking lot.  It struck me odd that they preferred red to all the other colors.

I was sitting in the truck while Ron went into Walmart for a few items. I watched the crows gather on the only two red vehicles in that area of the parking lot. It struck me odd that they preferred red to all the other colors.

I was praying that we could get an electric site here, which is tricky since you can’t make reservations.  But we scored the last one available!

We are happy and content, and after two months camping, we still don’t want to even think of going back home.

I doubt that you can see him, but a biker is standing watching the sunset, totally lost in the splendor.  He was still there when I walked back by him around 15 minutes later.

I doubt that you can see him, but a biker is standing watching the sunset, totally lost in the splendor. He was still there when I walked back by him around 15 minutes later.

Fishermen

Fishermen

Another shot of our beautiful campsite.

Another shot of our beautiful campsite.

 

Casita Christmas

Casita Christmas

Gail gave me these sweet little vases last month when we arrived at Ocean Pond.  I knew when I saw them that they would be the foundation of my little camper’s Christmas decorations.

The little wreaths and baubles are earrings.

Then we got lights and a small hanging Christmas tree for Ron’s end of the trailer so it would look Christmassy, too.

Casita Christmas2

And Gail and Mike are finally in their new house.  It’s exactly what they wanted — a small retirement home easy to heat, cool and clean.

Gails House3

Mike will have a good sized shop outside, and Gail is going to have a carport and screen porch added.  She had planned to have a contractor take out one of the interior walls to give her a large living room.  But now that she is in it, she really likes the little house just the way it is.

She has plans to completely redo the yard, though.

The previous owner left the house immaculate.  Gail remarked how nice it is to not have to clean first before moving in.

So we are camping in their driveway, and they are camping in the house — until the guys get the rest of their things moved.

It feels so good to have this house hunting saga done!  🙂

Suwannee River State Park

Spanish moss covered tree overhanging the river.  The trunk is covered with air plants and ferns.

Spanish moss covered tree overhanging the river. The trunk is covered with air plants and ferns. (The color of the water is not enhanced.)

We’re at Suwannee River State Park near Live Oak, FL.  It’s pretty chilly, but is nice if we bundle up and walk fast.  🙂

A stock pot takes up a lot of real estate in a Casita!

A stock pot takes up a lot of real estate in a Casita!

Gail was still very sick today, so she finally went to a doctor.  It’s good she did.  She was sicker than she thought.  But if all goes well with her meds, she should start feeling better in a couple of days.

I took some homemade soup to her this evening, and hope it will be the cure-all that chicken soup is reputed to be.

Looking toward the old railroad trestle.

Looking toward the old railroad trestle.

She was so funny.  She called me a little while ago and said, we need to define exactly how sick she has to be to be treated like that again.  😀

I spent most of the day working in the trailer, walking Sheba, and tending the soup pot.  Tomorrow I want to find the old cemetery again and get some good photos of it.  There are also all kinds of geological and botanical oddities here that I want to capture.

Some kind of fungus.  At first I thought it was leaves caught up in a spider web.  But it may be a feature of the mushroom.

Some kind of fungus. At first I thought it was leaves caught up in a spider web. But it’s mushrooms, and the webby stuff (that looks like mycelium) may be a feature of the mushroom.

Picnic area

Picnic area

Another old tree gracefully bedecked with Spanish moss.

Another old tree gracefully bedecked with Spanish moss.

Swings offering a perfect river view

Swings offering a perfect river view

It was a nearly impossible job to back the Casita in here without slamming the truck into the trees or the posts on the other side.  I'm ready for pull-thrus for a while!

It was a nearly impossible job to back the Casita in here without slamming the truck into the trees or the posts on the other side. I’m ready for pull-thrus for a while!

 

Another Perfect Day

sunset2

Gail and I watched the sunset together this evening. With lots of “Oh, wows!” ::)

Our high temperature today was a sunny 76 degrees.

Another sunset view

Another sunset view

It was perfect for a long walk (for me) with Sheba.  Mike had gone to Jacksonville today and Ron puttered around, leaving the afternoon for Gail and I to bask in the gorgeous weather together and in just being with each other.   That opportunity has been a long time coming.

Ron and I are heading to Eastbank COE Tuesday for a week.  Then we’ll come back here and camp with Mike and Gail for 2 days, and then we’ll both leave here and go to Suwannee River State Park for a week.

Some areas are still soggy from the rain last week.

Some areas are still soggy from the rain last week.

Then Gail and Mike close on their new house.  We’ll head South and give them a while to settle in before we head to their place for a while.

Right now our camping agenda depends solely on what campgrounds have vacancies and what we can afford.  It’s a fun way to camp.

Deep, dark, mysterious looking woods along the trail.

Deep, dark, mysterious looking woods along the trail.

Ron hasn't quite recognized that the Casita has limited space for junk food!  :D

Ron hasn’t quite recognized that the Casita has limited space for junk food! 😀