Wild Mushroom Luck Strikes Again

oyster mushrooms magnolia

Ron spotted these oyster mushrooms for me when he was out walking Mikkey. They were a little past their prime, so I trimmed off everything that wasn’t fresh.

This was what I had left after trimming.

This was what I had left after trimming.

Since there wasn't enough to do much with, I added store bought criminis, onion and peppers, sautéed them together, and served them over a fajita bowl. YUMMM!

Since there wasn’t enough to do much with, I added store bought mushrooms, onion and peppers, sautéed them together, and served them over a fajita bowl.
YUMMM!

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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.  🙂

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

Newport Campground

At Newport Park

Ron talking with the sweet camp host at Newport Park. Sunny is visible in the Casita door if you look closely. 🙂

We just spent a wonderful week driveway camping at Gail’s, grilling ribs and steaks and eating way too much good food.

The front of the park facing the county road.

The front of the park facing the county road.

This evening we are at Newport Park, a sleepy little campground near Crawfordville, Florida.  This park is near the Gulf after Florida curves back in from the Panhandle.  So it’s only 90 miles from Live Oak.

The river offers fishing and boating, and there is a wildlife observation area across the road.   There are several large dogs here.  Since Sheba won’t quit barking at them, she is on restriction inside the camper.  To her, that’s a fate worse than death!

Walkway over the swamp to the river observation deck

Walkway over the swamp to the river observation deck

Replicas of the Pinta and Nina are supposed to pull into nearby St. Marks tomorrow.  I would love to go see them.  I guess we’ll put the dogs in the truck and try to find a shaded spot for them.  Since Sunny has lost part of his little mind, we can’t leave him in the trailer and go places anymore.  He yips hysterically the whole time we are gone.   So far, he will still stay in the truck with Sheba without causing a commotion.

Fish cleaning station

Fish cleaning station

This campground is way out in the boonies of the old Florida.  Oddly enough, my paternal grandmother lived in this area when she was young, but it is the first time we’ve been here.

I was afraid we’d be without a cell signal as I watched it disappear the closer we got to our campground.  But I am relieved to discover that we get 2-3 bars here, which is enough for phone calls and uploading pictures.

St. Marks River

St. Marks River

We plan to stay here a week, then head for Florida Caverns State Park.  We are still just making our itinerary up as we go along.

And loving it!

The bridge.  There are signs offering a reward for reporting a tagged striped bass.

The bridge. There are signs offering a reward for reporting a tagged striped bass.

 

 

 

At the Springs

Looking from the swimming area toward where it joins the river.

Looking from the swimming area toward where it joins the river.

We broke the rules today.  We left our dogs in the truck while we strolled around the day use area.  We decided that just because someone made a rule because someone in the past might have left their dogs in a hot car in the sun in summer, it was silly to apply that rule to dogs in a deeply shaded truck when the high was in the 60’s.

One of the deep vents where 72 degree waterboils out from the aquifer.

One of the deep vents where 72 degree water boils out from the aquifer. There is no vegetation next to the vent. That’s the reflections of overhead trees.

So that’s my excuse, officer!  😀

The water is so crystal clear here that you can look through it and see every grain of sand on the bottom.

The swimming area is shallow.  You can walk the whole area, except for where the vents are.  A few hardy souls were swimming when we got to the day use area.  Obviously they are from somewhere a lot colder than here.  We would have frozen!

Despite the name, the water does not taste salty.

We had a wonderful visit with Linda and Marty yesterday.  The day was balmy enough for us to be outside.  When we got tired of sitting, we took Sheba for a long walk.  Marty is undergoing radiation treatment so was not as chipper as usual.  But he was his usual sweet, friendly self.

We will be leaving here Wednesday.  The time has flown!  I’m looking forward to some more family time.  We’ll stay at Mom’s for a night, then head to Gail’s where we will homestead for a few days.  🙂

I had several more photos I wanted to share with you, but my signal is so poor that it is giving me http errors every time I try to upload another one. So I’ll accept the inevitable and sign off now.

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!  🙂

Salt Springs, FL

Fishing buddies

Fishing buddies

I was surprised to see an egret calmly scouting for fish next to the fisherman.  They did look like they appreciated each others company.  The egret let Sheba and I approach fairly closely, but then started getting a little agitated.  So I moved around him in a wide arc, and when I looked back, he was searching for fish again.

This man and his wife are camping with a cat, dog, and 22 year old bird.

This man and his wife are camping with a cat, dog, and 22 year old bird.

We have camped at Salt Springs 3 or 4 times before, but when we drove into the park this time its beauty really struck me.  I had forgotten how pretty it is.

We have been unable to go to the day use area and springs this time.  When we were here before, we could leave the dogs in the truck in the shaded parking lot while we explored.  But now, in addition to rules against leaving pets unattended, and no pets in the day use area, there is a new one forbidding leaving them in vehicles.   Maybe Ron and I will take turns pet sitting  so we can enjoy it one at a time.

Our site

Our site

Nevertheless, we are loving being here.  We had a couple of chilly days, but now it’s up in the mid 60’s again.  Wonderful walking weather!

We are planning to have lunch with my cousin tomorrow, then friends from Silver Springs are coming to visit us Sunday.  I’m looking forward to both visits!

Bird prints in sand

Bird prints in sand

There are 6 camp hosts here.  The others have big rigs.  One has this little not-quite-restored vintage trailer.  :)

There are 6 camp hosts here. The others have big rigs. One has this little not-quite-restored vintage trailer. 🙂

This is as close as we can get to the spring area with our dogs.

This is as close as we can get to the spring area with our dogs.

One more picture of Sunny sleeping on his "binky."

One more picture of Sunny sleeping on his “binky.”

There are still things blooming -- even in January!

There are still things blooming — even in January! I’m not sure what the red things are.

 

Cell service is almost non-existent here.  Sometimes we can’t get on the net at all.  Sometimes we can send text emails.  And once in a while we get two bars and can upload photos.  Apparently there is wifi available at the office because I saw 4 campers working on laptops when we checked in.

 

So Very Happy!

at magnolia park

I can’t remember when I have been so happy and felt so contented.  It’s so beautiful here at Magnolia Park.  It’s been in the 70’s, but a cold front is moving in so it will be in the 60’s for a while.

One of several large fire pits for youth groups.

One of several large fire pits for youth groups.

I checked the weather at Salt Springs (where we will be heading Monday) and today it’s the same temperature as here.  It is feeling like a perfect, endless spring to me.

No exciting news.  We shop.  We do laundry.  Walk the dogs.  Eat.  Sleep.  And I’ve been catching up on hand sewing in the evenings.  I had to hem the shower curtain yesterday because it dragged the bathroom floor a little — just enough to bother me.  And I’ve hemmed two pairs of Ron’s new jeans with only one more to go.

So peaceful!

So peaceful!

I was talking to Mom this morning about the miracle of Ron and I being in a 17′ trailer with two dogs for going on three months — and still liking each other.  🙂

Sunny has made a dramatic improvement. I am astounded.  If we take him out to go to the bathroom after 10:30 p.m. he is making it through till morning without accidents.  He has only had a couple of mild anxiety attacks.  I was really shocked when I took him to the vet to get more eye medicine and he trotted into the vet’s office without a qualm.  Then on the way home in the truck, instead of hyperventilating and shaking, he fell asleep on the truck’s floor.

Sunny asleep on the truck floor.

Sunny asleep on the truck floor.

He can even enjoy short walks again with us.

I think camping is very good for him.

Sheba is okay, but being tied up while we are not walking her is not something she enjoys.  But she seems to be tolerating it pretty well.

One more cool thing — I found the cutest mini colander for the Casita.  It’s just 6″ in diameter and it will come in handy for so many things.  I can also put it in a larger pot to make a steamer.

But the main reason I bought it was simply that it is so cute!  🙂

The cute little mini colander

The cute little mini colander

 

 

 

 

Wintering in Florida

Azaleas blooming in January

Azaleas blooming in January

I am still in a bit of shock that we are really spending the whole winter down here.  I used to think that was only for well-to-do snowbirds from way up north — never me!

There was a group of 4 peacocks today, but I couldn't catch them close enough together to get them all in one picture.

There was a group of 4 peacocks today, but I couldn’t catch them close enough together to get them all in one picture.

The affordableness of it is what staggers me!   Just by making it a top priority, the finances just kind of fall into place.

We had both dogs groomed yesterday — a full grooming for Sunny, and a mini groom for Sheba.  Sunny looked so bad, I was ashamed for anyone to see him.  I kept putting the grooming off for him due to his anxiety attacks.  But finally there was no putting it off any more.

Another leaning tree (besides the one I photographed yesterday).

Another leaning tree (besides the one I photographed yesterday).

Also I wanted to get Sheba a sanitary trim so she would be easier to keep clean (and smell better).

While we were in Ocoee doing laundry yesterday, we noticed a dog groomer in the same shopping center.  I asked if they accepted walk-ins and they did.  So I got Sunny and Sheba off the truck and left them at the groomer.

Sunny was already having an anxiety attack from the truck ride.  I give him a Benedryl when he is really out of control and it does calm him down — a little.  But it didn’t do much for him yesterday.

Base of the leaning tree.  Looks like it's not going to be able to support itself too much longer.

Base of the leaning tree. Looks like it’s not going to be able to support itself too much longer.

Sunny apparently was yipping, pacing and shaking during the entire grooming… and got so upset that he wet on the table.  The groomer said he really went ballistic when she tried to trim his face.  This is so unlike the little dog who used to stand statue still for grooming.  Everyone always told me what a good boy he was.  But he even does that now when I try to brush his ears or tail or wash his face.  And he gets aggressive if I keep trying.

Resurrection ferns on the leaning tree.

Resurrection ferns on the leaning tree.

So I think that might have been his last grooming.  I will try to keep his hair from getting too bad myself.

Sheba, on the other hand had ticks that I had missed in her thick fur.  So the groomer hand picked them off and gave her a dip.  She also got a haircut and it is amazing how much neater and cleaner she looks (and smells).

So the bill for having my two difficult dogs groomed was $115 plus tip! But it was worth every penny to us.

Sunny's haircut

Sunny’s haircut

There is another couple in a Casita here.  They parked next to us for a couple of days, but had to move today as another person had a reservation for the site they were in.  So they moved across the loop from us.

Ron has spoken to the man, but I haven’t had a chance to speak to his wife except for a few words.  They are constantly going and doing.  They did ask Ron if he would close their windows (from the outside) if it rained today.  But we lucked out with no rain.

Sheba

Sheba

We are an odd sort of snowbird, I guess.  We aren’t much for going and sightseeing.  Instead we love to choose beautiful places to camp, then spend our time there observing the marvelous details of nature around us.

What matters is that Ron and I are content and are loving our lives as they happen day by day.

Sheba showing off her haircut

Sheba showing off her haircut

 

Flowers and Peacocks

Flowers in January!

Flowers in January!

Our site

Our site

We drove over 3 hours yesterday through heavy fog and driving rain on what was supposed to be a 2 hour trip.  Today is mostly cloudy, but sunshine is on the way.

More flowers blooming!

More flowers blooming!

Today’s high is 74 and the low tonight 58.  But it’s going to get down into the 60’s for a few days.  With the humidity today it felt steamy to me, but Ron was comfortable.  The mosquitos seem to be targeting only me!

But I’ll take muggy and buggy in return for all the beauty around us!

We are at Magnolia Park in Apopka, Florida.  I hesitated about booking a site here because Apopka is not a town you

But wait!  There's more!  :)

But wait! There’s more! 🙂

want to be out in after dark.  But the park has locked gates and video surveillance, and it had reservations available.  It feels safe to me now.  When we need to go out after dark, we’ll go to nearby Ocoee.  It’s beautiful and (relatively) safe.

The park has several peacocks wandering around the day use area.  Sheba would love to play with one!  Only her leash keeps her out of trouble.  🙂

A camp road

A camp road

We went ahead and booked two weeks here.  After we leave, we have reservations at Salt Springs until February 4.  Then we’ll driveway camp with family… and see where else we can score reservations.

I am steadfastly refusing to think about going home.  But our bank debit and credit cards expire in March, so that will present its own deadline.

Lake Apopka, the boat launch and more picnic areas are across the street from us.

Lake Apopka, the boat launch and more picnic areas are across the street from us.

Rear entrance to camp bathrooms on common area side.

Rear entrance to camp bathrooms on common area side.

Playground

Playground

One of the peacocks

One of the peacocks

Leaning tree and Ron

Leaning tree and Ron

Walking from campground to day use area

Walking from campground to day use area