Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Alabama & Heading Home

The national weather forecast was showing a huge blob of magenta and red, surrounded by yellow and green, starting to cross the USA map.  H was getting concerned.  The storm was due in 3 days and we were heading right into its path.  We hit the road early and headed for the Florida/Alabama border and straight towards
Montgomery.  Traveling north on Rt 331, we saw another ominous color in the sky ahead of us – DARK charcoal and it wasn’t in the form of a threatening heavy rain cloud.  As we approached the city limits of the small country town of Brantley, the thick smoke ahead of us billowed and rolled up and across the countryside.  Flashing emergency lights pulsed at ground level as more and more firemen and other first responders appeared on the scene.  As we slowly crept by the Brantley Recycle Center we were thankful that there were no ambulances at that scene.  We heard on the radio later that there had been no injuries and the fire had finally been gotten under control.

North of Montgomery and just outside of Wetumpka, Alabama, in the crook of the Coosa and the Tallapoosa Rivers, are the remains of Ft Toulouse and Ft Jackson, along with the adjoining sad,
Fort Toulouse
neglected campground.  History abounds in this area!  First it was the Native Americans who called this land “home”.  Then came the French who built Ft Toulouse in the early 1700’s.  After that it was the British who let the fort deteriorate.  Then came General Andrew Jackson and his American forces who built Ft Jackson near the same site as the original French Fort.  Today, Ft Toulouse is a split timber replica of the original and the earthen
Fort Jackson
walls of Ft Jackson are just the beginning of the reconstruction of the 1814 fort.

The storm threat is getting closer as we push farther north.  We’re heading to the northeast corner of the state and the Desoto State Park in Ft Payne.  In the 1930’s, the park, nestled atop beautiful Lookout Mountain, was developed in the rustic tradition of the Civilian Conservation Corp.  This 3,500-acre park has chalets, cabins, a lodge, a restaurant, a well stocked general store and an improved campground with full hookups and cable!

While the state park is within the boundaries of the Little River Canyon National Park Preserve, the fast flowing waterfalls and the nearby visitor center are ten miles from the campground.  The
eleven-mile, winding scenic road follows the edge of the canyon, which at times is 500 ft from the edge of the cliffs to the sandstone canyon below.  The 2-lane road has plenty of scenic turnouts and we made the best of all of them to view the white water rushing below us or the dogwood and honeysuckle that clung to the edges of the viewing areas or even the homes perched on the opposite side of this vast gorge.  We had to stop and marvel at the mammoth Mushroom Rock that was
standing guard in the center of the ribbon of road before us. How many millions of years has it been standing there?   In a few weeks when the trees turn green and the wildflowers bloom, this area will be even more of a sight to behold!

The storm is really close!  As we pull out early the next morning, the sky is gray but we’re hoping to still be ahead of the impending threat.  Neither one of us like traveling on Interstates when we’re
Mushroon Rock
pulling the “train”, but we’ve got miles to go this day so we slid into traffic on I 24 and pointed the truck towards Nashville.  The rain caught up to us and we drove thru the drizzling precipitation, up around that town, heading to Kentucky.  Now it’s I 65, and the downpour continued all the way to Louisville.  Rough roads and ponderous truck traffic beat at us but we made it across the mighty Ohio River and sighed with relief.  It was raining but we made it to Indiana at last.

It was still raining when we finally arrived at the Versailles State Park, one mile east of the town of the same name and on the over flowed banks of the Laughery River.  All of the rivers and fields in southern Indiana and northern Kentucky were underwater and this campground was no exception.  Luckily the parking pads were of blacktop and above the soggy, water soaked grass.

It was STILL raining the next morning as we headed for the last push to home.  Crossing from Indiana, finally to Ohio we gladly stopped in Defiance to have lunch with our dear, retired NCR friends, George and June.   The deluge was really coming down as the constant rush of monster semi trucks chased and roared past us throwing even more water at our windshield as we continued our last leg home.

We have survived!   The trailer is unloaded but not yet moved to its real parking spot in the back yard – way too soggy to go there yet!    The waterbed is finally warm and so is the house!  The winter’s collection of downed branches and twigs have been picked up and burned!  My spring urge to plant is diffused with the planting of my tomato seeds in tiny greenhouses!   H’s new electric fold-up bikes have arrived and have been put together and tested!  Now he’s making plans for the next trip!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

North Florida

So, we all know that Florida has 1350 miles of coastline and that all the different sections of the coast have names - from the First Coast (St Augustine), to the Space Coast (Titusville), to the Treasure Coast ((Melbourne), to the Sun Coast (Tampa), to the Nature Coast (Crystal River), the Forgotten Coast (Keaton Beach to
Pier at Mexico Beach
Apalachicola) and lastly the Emerald Coast (Mexico Beach to Destin).  From Keaton Beach around the bend to Apalachicola (I love to say that word!) and on to Mexico Beach, tourism has not been actively promoted – until recently.  Each time we visit M.B. the rows of small condo buildings and the collection of small independent shops have multiplied and flourished.  By design, there are no chain stores and no high-rise buildings in this small beach town!  Rustic Sands Campground has stayed the same also – quiet and comfortable.  The campground is a half-mile from the Gulf and its white sandy beaches so when the cold front came howling thru, the winds in the campground were mostly just a strong breeze.

In southern Florida, when a cold front would come thru, the temps might drop a few degrees, it possibly could rain a bit, and then life would go back to normal.  This cold front in the panhandle was a real COLD front with high winds and rip tides and angry dark waves crashing to shore.   One day, as we drove out along the coast and onto the St Joe Peninsula, we watched as the waves grew in height and intensity.  The winds continued even as we moved farther west from M.B. over to Topsail State Park near Destin.

Topsail State Park was once a top notch RV Resort until the state purchased it and the surrounding area to preserve this awesome
Harbor Walk
land and keep it from being over developed like other seaside towns as Panama City, Panama City Beach and even Destin.  Each time we stay in the area we are drawn back to Destin and it’s tourist filled Harbor Walk, the white sand beach on the protective jut of land opposite it and the arched bridge that continues the highway to the west end of
the panhandle.  By the time we arrived and walked the beach and the boardwalk the winds had calmed and the beautiful blue-green waters had settled to gentle lapping waves.  The sun was shining and the tour boats were transporting guests in and out of the busy harbor. 

Topsail is a big sprawling park and the road down to the beach area is a half of a mile from the main campground loops to the dune area that line that white sandy beach.  And we had no bikes to ride!  Now that my eye was healed and not nearly as sensitive as before, it was no problem to walk down the winding blacktop road to the bottom and even out across the sturdy, albeit lengthy, wooden walkway that crossed those massive dunes. The red and purple danger flags were pulling at their sturdy masts so we didn’t walk far at the waters edge.  And we didn’t walk back UP that winding uphill road either!  We sat and waited for the free shuttle truck and
it’s two passenger wagons that obediently followed it up and down that hill all day long!  On our second trip to the beach we rode the shuttle both ways and H took his colorful kite along and finally got to fly it!  Do you know how hard it is to catch a picture of a bright colored fast flying kite that is zipping from one side of the bright blue sky to the other???

Our 3 days passed quickly but not without a drive up to DeFuniak Springs, the tiny town with a round lake/spring in the very center of it’s historic downtown.  We visited the visitor center, the museum housed in the old train depot and, of course, drove around the circle surrounding the lake!  The last time we were here was in a long ago December and the old homes were decorated for the holidays.  We also had the “All You Can Eat” Shrimp dinner that we fondly remembered at Fannin’s Family Restaurant!  It was hard to stand up and walk when we finally quit eating those scrumptious

Our next stop was north – as the crow flies only 10 miles but via H’s GPs and roads – 30 plus since we had to drive up and around the vast Choctawhatchee Bay!  Our destination for one more night was the Rocky Bayou State Park before really heading north and leaving Florida.  Oh look- a new Florida State Park bar patch for the arm of my jacket!  On a walk thru the woods that divides the
Deer Moss
camping loop and the picnic area, were large areas of pale green clumps growing along the pathway and throughout the woods.  We learned from the extremely friendly volunteers that these tiny golf ball sized clumps were called Deer Moss and is what model train folks use for trees in their panoramic displays!

Now, we’re really heading north, leaving the state of Florida and traveling up thru the state of Alabama.  We’re heading home – but we still have some new places to explore on the way! 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Florida's Nature Coast

In Florida, March means Spring Break!  Kelly Park did not empty out on Sunday because it was Spring Break.  Our new friends, Claudia and Peter left on Monday and on Tuesday we pulled out – heading west to the Gulf.

 March also means that it is impossible to get into any state or county park unless you had your reservations made months earlier.  Passport America is a discounted camping organization that H uses when we can’t get into other campgrounds that we want.  In the PA catalog, Cedars Lake Mobile Home & RV Park sounded nice – and when we pulled into their drive it did look nice.  Our first glimpse was of the pretty swimming pool and the bright sun mural that was painted on the recreation/bath house building behind it.  It was downhill from there – campsites crammed in at all angles and dilapidated old buildings scattered thru out.  The “lake” was just a small pond with overgrown trees around it. But it’s in the town of Homosassa Springs - and just down the road from the state park that bares it’s name!  Homosassa Springs is a 1st magnitude spring that feeds both the state park zoo and the main river itself.  The animals in the park are all native to Florida – even the hippo Lu, who was officially given citizen status by the state of Florida! 

Back in January, when we were parked in Timble Park (SPFB
for Dec/Jan) we had taken a daytrip to Crystal River to find places where you could swim/kayak with the Manatees – now the weather
Hunter Park
was warmer and we were back in the area!   In Crystal River there are 5 parks where you can do both.  Hunter Springs Park is a newly renovated LOVELY park and beach where you can launch a kayak near several of the famed “springs” where manatees hang out.  We
Hunter Park
launched our little orange crafts and paddled around the large cove where the tour boats brought their new snorklers to swim and look for fish and manatees.  We even attempted to paddle out of the cove and across Kings Bay to go find the springs called Three Sisters Springs but the wind was too strong and H’s back said NO!  Back up on shore at the park, we were watching the tour boat anchored out in the bay when we spotted the manatee and her little one that was following her.  The hoard of tiny “noodled” swimmers headed for the pair but Mama Mammal headed across the line of swim buoys - right towards H who had grabbed the camera and had headed out into waist deep water!  His pictures did not come out - he must have stirred up the water just enough to make it cloudy.

Our 3 nights came and went quickly.  H struggled but got the train out of the sand that we had become wedged in and got us up on the road and pointed north up St Rt 19 to Chiefland.  Our next 3 nights were in another P A Resort.  To get there we turned on Rt 361 and wandered around and thru the really picturesque town of
Old Pavilion at low tide
Steinhatchee! We made a mental note to return and explore it!  The turnoff to Keaton Beach said “No Exit” and it did dead end at a park and beach that was a half-mile past the resort.  The Old Pavilion RV Resort had been damaged by the last hurricane and was still under repairs but
the electrical, water and sewer hookups were all new.  The “old pavilion” part must have been the bathhouse – because it’s gone and has not been replaced yet.  The old fishing pier was also gone with only crooked pylons left in its place like so many burned out trees in a forest.  In the late afternoon sun, Cormorants, Pelicans and Terns rested on the stark tops, looking over the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  The posts along the breakwall looked as tho they struggled but managed to survive the storm.  The previous park residents had decorated each post with garish looking outfits that looked like New Orleans the day after Mardi Gras.  Some were just faded but others were ripped to shreds.  To replace the fishing pier a new patio was built and was right behind our site!  A perfect place to fly a drone on a calm morning or watch the sunset in the evening!

 H sold our trusty little fold up bikes!  Within an hour of backing in, he was chatting with our new neighbors next door and BAM! - They were sold!  Now H is really excited because he can finally
Keaton Beach Park
order the new electric ones he wants!  We have no bikes to ride at Topsail!!  We didn’t even get to ride them to the little park at the end of the road!  So we took the truck and the drone and got more great shots of the Gulf at low tide! 

While out exploring this new to us area we stopped at a new looking park and the boat launch at the end of one of the many canals that feeds into the river and bay.  As the day progressed, the line up of trucks and boat trailers waiting to launch got longer and longer.  We HAD to stay to watch a bright red airboat get slid backwards into the brackish water.  It slid all right – right off the back of the trailer – about 3 to 4 ft from the (low tide!) waters
edge.  Then we really had to stay to see how he was going to rectify the situation.  He did – he just slid the shiny red boat around and pointed it towards the water and pushed it right in!!

And now these 3 nights have come and gone.  It’s time to head from the Nature Coast of Florida, up and around the bend to the Emerald Shores of the Panhandle.   Mexico Beach is our next stop!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Kelly Park

The GPS wanted H to take Rt 50 across from Titusville to Orlando and then turn north on Rt 441 (the Orange Blossom Trail) to Apopka.  NO WAY – not gonna pull this “train” thru all that Orlando traffic and stop light after stoplight!   A MUCH better way was up Rt 1 to RT 46 to Sanford and west, then a drop down to Kelly Park Rd!!  Sometimes 2 lanes, sometimes 4, the road crossed the cattle fields and swamps surrounding the St Johns River.  We passed thru orange cone-d areas of new road building that will add to the maze of traffic trying to get in and out of Orlando.
Kelly Park
Check in time at Kelly Park Campground was at 2pm.  Crap!  It’s just after noon – again!  And again – we were not allowed in the campground.  Kelly Park is one of 5 Orange County Campgrounds – as is Trimble Park and Moss Park.  Kelly Park is one of the oldest and is in the most need of some upgrading.  The drives in the park proper are narrow, winding and bordered with curbs.  We were allowed to park in the picnic area till the time we could enter the campground - - but from the check in parking lot to get to the picnic parking lot – we had to exit the park, make a left turn onto the roadway, back up and drive back into the park to navigate the narrow drive to the designated lot.  Sheesh!  Then to make matters worse – to get from the picnic parking area (where we could see our empty campsite) to the campground area, we had to - - drive out of the park, make a left turn onto the roadway, back up and drive back in.  The “roads” in the park were way too narrow for the “train” to make those tight right turns.
Kelly Park

But our site is our favorite!  Site 13 is at the end of the loop next to the wooded area that divides the campground from the picnic area and the walk to the spring area. The view out our big back window is of pine and live oak trees and a rustic
rail fence where the big tom turkey and his harem parade on their way to the other side of the park.  Our picnic table is on a cement pad and is the perfect place for my sewing machine!  The trees are home to a plethora of songbirds and woodpeckers! – And squirrels!

H took advantage of a cool (cold!) quiet morning and we headed for the springs area to try out his drone!  While he flew his whirly camera I also caught a few good shots of the mist rising off of the still warm waters.  What do you think??  Be sure to notice the tall round top palm tree in all 3 pictures!

Of course we also went to my – hopefully - LAST eye specialist appointment!  This doctor was the last doctor that I had seen when we were in Trimble Park so he knew how bad the ulcer had been at the beginning.  He delivered the wonderful news that H and I had been waiting for – HEALED!!  I have a scar on the cornea but it will not affect my vision!  The clear contact lens was removed and I was free to go!  No more drugs in my poor eye – just the rejection drop that I had been using since my original surgery!  That great news was shared with Dick and Sharon who met us for lunch after my doctor visit!  More yummy seafood!
Kelly Park parking lot

On our way back to camp, we noticed a bunch of OLD cars out and about. The next day – they were all coming into the picnic parking area – and parking!  There was over a hundred Model T’s of all colors and models – coupes, racecars, trucks and convertibles.  There was even a fire truck and a farmers produce truck!  They were from as far away as California, Ohio and Michigan. They were all in a club and this was their Florida trip and rally!  After they finished their picnic lunches in the park – off they went as quietly as they arrived!
Lakr Eola
H had the idea to go find the park and lake in downtown Orlando that is always featured on the local TV stations.  Lake Eola is actually a 23 ft  deep sinkhole.  The lake takes up 23 acres of downtown and is surrounded by the park which also has the Walt Disney multicolored Amphitheater, the red Chinese Pagoda, multiple playgrounds and almost a mile of cement walkways and people watching seating.  The lake is home to throngs of swans – Black, Trumpeter and Mute!  All kinds of birds claim the small island as their roost!  Restaurants, small shops, parking garages and tall apartment buildings, surround the park.  There’s even a grocery store on the first floor of one tall shiny building!  On our way out of the downtown area we passed the Amway Center - home of the Orlando Magic Basketball AND the Orlando Solar Bears Hockey Teams, and the new Camping World Soccer Stadium where the Orlando Lions now play!
Kelly Park on the weekend
Kelly Park is quiet during the week but now it is the weekend so the place is full of tents and kids and bikes!  Families that are all having fun!   Even the group camp area is crowded again, which really puts a burden on the small bathroom facility!  H and I know what time to go for our showers and what time NOT too!!   Sunday afternoon will see the park empty out and peace will be restored!  Then it’ll be time for us to move on - again!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Lake Worth Titusville

The resident Muscovy ducks wander thru the grounds each day.  There were 3 that hung out together.  One day, the duck with the white head and neck showed up with an additional entourage – 7 tiny ducklings – each pecking their way along obediently behind their mother, their tiny voices squeaking incessantly!  They had to be brand new since they each still had the little hook on the tip of their bill that had aided in escaping from their shells.   As the day wore on, the bravery of one grew more than he did!  While his siblings stayed close to mom, this little adventurer wandered farther and farther from the security of the group.  None of them were afraid of humans!  We saw these tiny creatures for one day and then they were gone.  My heart was sad because it reminded me of the brand new baby sandhill cranes we used to see at Moss Park.  They too were there one day and gone the next.
Start of Tesla in space

Saturday was sunny and grew hotter as the day grew longer.  B&C were coming the next day to see the 24TH Lake Worth Street Painting Festival in downtown Lake Worth.  We found the shuttle parking lot at the nearby Palm County College and climbed aboard the
almost completed Tesla in space 3D
air-conditioned bus for the mile or so ride to the festival area so we could scope out the restaurants and also check on the emerging art masterpieces.   These featured artists came from all over the United States as far as California and Utah!  There were the professional artists, the local ones and even children got in on creating their own small masterpieces!  The festival encompassed an area 5 blocks long by 3 blocks wide where traffic was barricaded off so pedestrians and artists could reign supreme for 2 days!   There were bands, other entertainment and food vendors galore!   The artwork - all in chalk - was unbelievable!    On Saturday, a lot of the larger sections of roadway were still in the white chalk outline on large black squares stage, while some had sections full of bright colors and amazing details. Even on day one, the professionals had their special viewers set up on tripods so visitors could see the artistry in 3-D!

There was the tiniest beginning of the Spaceman in the red Tesla; the main characters in the new movie “Black Panther”, Steve McQueen, Mr. Rogers, Dorothy from Oz, Elf, Captain America and even a pastel sea turtle.  One  started “painting” was just a purple flower and two very green eyes surrounded by white outlines.

On Sunday, Bud & Carol met us at the college parking lot and since we knew the crowds would be overwhelming on this second and final day of the festival, we headed for the professional area first and stood amazed at how much each chalk art creation had progressed.   Strolling from one great painting to another, thankful for a small breeze and sporadic cooling shade, we tried to take in
each and every amazing piece of colorful art expression.  Sadly, the festival would come to an end at 6pm and the downtown streets once again opened to traffic.  And then, what if it rained?  All that fantastic talent washed down the (storm) drain. 

And my eye?  My final appointment with doctor #4 was a mixed bag of news.  While the previous diagnosis was that the ulcer was healing – this report was that it was not yet totally healed and should have been.  His last effort was to place a thin patch of placenta over the unhealed wound area and then cover it with a clear contact lens.  It is a clear lens – so – NO – I do not have one blue and one brown eye!  The first 2 days were uncomfortable but then the vision improved and the patch and lens could not be felt.  My next appointment is back at Mt Dora at the office of doctor #1 – we’ll see what he says.

Moving day arrived and we headed north to Titusville and Manatee Hammock, a Brevard County Campground and Park - right on the Indian River and directly across from the launch sites at Cape Canaveral.    Manatee Hammock used to be a quiet, older campground but since the last hurricane and the amount of damage it endured, rules have been tightened and changed. Even tho the storm was last fall, orange snow fence was still outlining several areas in the park that must have sustained damage. Anyone caught going over that fence was to be kicked out of the park.  Oops!   We arrived at a little after noon but were not allowed to move onto the empty site because “check in time was at 3pm”. We walked the park and did not get caught stepping over the orange fence! We wasted more time at McD’s and then pulled back in and parked on the unkempt, unmowed corner site.

Tuesday, Lois & Dave drove up from Cocoa Beach and the 4 of us drove to a seafood restaurant that H had wanted to go try.  New York New York is a neighborhood place at the end of a dead-end road and right on the river.  The food was good but H could have used a bit more blackening on his flounder!
Port Canaveral
Wednesday, it was our turn to drive to Port Canaveral and meet Ron & Nancy for lunch at Rusty’s Seafood Grill.  Rusty’s is our fun “go to” place for seafood because dining is right on the protected dock on the river that is busy with boats and cruise ship activity.  A ride down and back on A1A thru Cocoa Beach finished up our daytrip.  It was time to pack and move again on Thursday. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Lake Worth -- Palm Beach

We were making good time – heading east from Belle Glade - heading towards Lake Worth when several police cars with red and blue flashing lights, pulled out in front of us blocking the double lanes of eastbound traffic. Two more squad cars were holding back the westbound traffic further down the road.  Slowly, the biggest
tow vehicle we have ever seen, struggled to get the biggest, longest conglomeration of bright orange steel and trailers crept out from a side road and onto the roadway in front of us.  There were 8 axles on each supporting trailer and each axle had 8 wheels – making it 128 tires on the ground!  There was a man on the front trailer and another on the back trailer, each assisting with guiding the monster around each corner.  Of course there was a guide vehicle in front and another behind with lights flashing.  The blue and red flashing beacons on the top of each squad car brought up the rear as we obediently got in line behind them and progressed along the highway at a whopping 5 mph.  The Bexel Brothers Co. has been moving extremely large objects across America’s roadways since the early 1900’s.  Their website shows them moving the Space Shuttle on another one of their long low trailers!

NOW! This is a picture window

John Prince Park & Campground covers as many square miles as Lake Okeechobee but 300 of those acres encompass the long narrow waters of Lake Osborne.  The sites for the transient campers line the western shore so our big picture window faced the usually calm view of the lake.  There are the usual herons, cormorants, Muscovy ducks, egrets and gulls but H enjoys the skydiving pelicans the most!  From way up high, they tuck their wings back along their sides and dive head first into the lake with a huge white splash, momentarily disappearing but resurfacing with a fish in their pouch.    On our last stay here we were on the site next to this one and we took pictures of a big
Iguana on the large tree by the shoreline. This year we saw an even more impressive creature crawling up the very same tree that was now a mere 10 feet from the window by H’s recliner.  As if it felt threatened, it threw back its head and shook the large flap of skin below its chin.  Too bad, each time the camera snapped – the timing was off and I missed the shot.  Finally, it had enough and up the tree it scampered.  One of the staff ladies said there were at least 100 Iguanas here in the park and that they were very invasive.  There have been 4 of them in various sizes and colors – ranging from bright green (young ones) to darker shades of black/brown and orange, right here in our “yard” at the same time!

Lake Worth is just south of West Palm Beach and it’s even pricier neighbor of Palm Beach.  See why these cities are called PALM Beach?  After my eye appointment we followed the palm-lined road to downtown and then over the wide causeway to the REAL Palm Beach where that downtown is defined by Worth Ave and it’s small upscale boutiques.  The narrow winding road along the coast seemed even narrower with the towering 10 ft tall immaculately groomed hedges that obscured the mansions behind them from all of our prying eyes. We even passed by the Trump estate – Mar a Largo.  He was coming to town soon and the signs were already up – reminding the residents of the impending road closures because of his visit.

North of Palm Beach we found the Loggerhead Turtle Rescue.  A visit to the facility proved interesting with the large blue 3 ft tall “swimming pool” type containments for each rescued endangered turtle.  Each pool had a viewing window and signs explaining when and where the creature was rescued and why.  A protective barrier in the form of a long curved brightly colored mural divided the play area/garden from the sunshaded containers of healing turtles.  All that are able are returned to the sea when healed and healthy.

After almost 2 months of dealing with this corneal ulcer and the amount of strong drugs that I have put into the eye daily, this new specialist has given us the wonderful news that my eye is definitely better!  The wound is finally healing over!  It will leave a scar but it will not affect my vision, which is already returning to its pre-ulcer level.  It is still super sensitive tho to the wind, the cold and the bright sunlight.  The doctor has backed off the drugs down to twice a day, has added back the steroid drops I had been taking for rejection and has added a soothing moisturizing drop to the line up.  What great news!  Thank you Lord – and all my prayer warriors!

Our stay here is just about over.  Some of our list of things to do have been done – the bikes have finally been ridden on the miles of bike trails here in the park.  The sandy beaches of the ocean have been found, including the jetty at the Boynton Inlet.  We’ve even struggled thru a few really bad flea markets!   This weekend is the Chalk Art Festival in downtown Lake Worth.  Bud and Carol are coming for it also!   Our next stop is Manatee Hammock up in Titusville.  Too bad there is no space launch scheduled – the view from that park would have been awesome!

Monday, February 19, 2018

South Lake Okeechobee

After 10 years of retirement and 9 of them wintering all over Florida, there are LOTS of places that are: Been there – Done that.  Salt Springs, Trimble Park, WP Franklin, Ortona and South Bay and Torry Island are all on our SeePreviousFloridaBlog list.  

South Bay RV Park & Campground is a Palm Beach County Park on the very southeast bay of Lake O.  As we left the cattle fields near Labelle and Ortona, and headed east, the terrain became more and more divided into neat patches of agriculture – mostly sugar cane and sweet corn, growing in coal black dirt called “muck” and surrounded by miles of irrigation ditches.  In the sky, thick clouds of yellow/gray smoke
from the burning sugar cane fields  rose to meet the white puffy clouds above.  We were nestled down behind the 35 ft tall Herbert Hoover Dike that separates South Bay Campground from the canal and the sawgrass islands that line the lake.  Even the setting sun had to fight to shine thru the overpowering mass of smoke to share its last ray with the world.  While doing laundry in the little sheltered block building there was the ever-present whiff of burning and the dusting of ash.
South Bay campground

H chose a calm morning to launch his drone to capture a few pictures of the park from a different angle than my camera could afford.  Look closely – can you find us? Squint and look for the bright blue truck!  You can see the tiny drive as it climbs the earthen dike to the top.  Even with my bad eye I could still beat H at least half way up the steep path!!  We both were huffing and puffing as we pushed our little bikes to the top.  Around the lake is a bike trail that would normally stretch around the 700 plus acre lake but in the last several years, reconstruction has chopped up the trail for repairs so we were not able to ride all the way to Belle Glades Torry Island Campground.  6 miles was enough for that day!  Just on the other side of the dike is one of the many boat launches and docks available to the public. On the left side of the photo is St Rt 27/80 which goes from Ft Myers, east to Lake O, around the bottom edge and over to the Atlantic side of the state!

One more night was needed to keep us from being homeless before our move to John Prince Park in Lake Worth.  The staff in the front office was obviously not attentive to the note on the computer screen saying that H was first in line for the next available site. On Friday afternoon, he walked into the office AGAIN to see if any thing had opened up – just as another gentleman was giving money on a site that had just been canceled and now open.  Oh well, we’ll just move up around the lake to Torry Island where we had stayed 2 years ago.
Torry Island campground
Torry Island Campground has an area of RV’s that enjoy the full hookups and nicer newer facilities.  The outer edges are way more “rustic” and the old block bathhouses are just adequate.  But our friends from our last stay were there and still parked in their snug corner of the long fingered peninsula - across from the hectic boat launch for all the early morning fishermen and airboat aficionados.  Debi and Jeff are full timers in their turquoise and crème colored fifth wheel and Janie and Bob are in the dark motorhome.  Of course you can see H’s bright blue
Torry Island campground
truck slid in on the opposite corner!  Across the canal from us is one of the dams that hold back the water from the lake.  The large crane is just one of many that is working to fortify the dike.  When at South Bay – we were able to ride JUST up to that area and had to turn around.

In the second photo, you can see the airboat that is also in the previous picture.  Across the canal is the bike path at the top of the dike. In the distance is South Bay - by bike trail it is 2 miles away – by road, pulling a trailer it is more like 8 to 10 miles! 

On Monday morning, the 6 of us went out to breakfast together and the Black & Gold Grill was decided upon.  D&J arrived 1st and chose a table for all of us.  The place was almost empty and the servers must have gone out also!  At first we didn’t notice or didn’t care since we all were chatting away but finally our orders were taken and drinks were delivered.  D reminded our server that we needed silverware.  And we waited.  A very large take-out order was picked up.  And we waited.  Someone came out from the kitchen to advise us that they had run out of eggs and had sent someone for more.  We waited.  D went up for coffee refills and reminded the staff that we still needed silverware.  Finally 2 orders were brought out and J flipped his stiff omelet over to find the bottom was burnt.  Janie’s oatmeal must have been made yesterday out of just water.  D went up to get silverware and the server snipped – I WAS going to bring them.  My plate was handed to me from across the table. My potatoes were COLD and my eggs were barely luke warm.  D couldn’t take it anymore and got up to storm out and we all followed.   Janie grabbed some of my cold potatoes and handed them to the woman in charge.   McDonald’s was just down the way and H was 1st in line  - but still had to wait for it to be brought out!  Yeh, but he was NUMBER 1!

Enough!   Let’s hit the road and head to Lake Worth and John !Prince Park