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

Friday, February 9, 2018

Ortona lock and dam

Remember - WP Franklin and now Ortona Lock and Dam are 2 of the 3 locks and dams that help adjust the water flow on the Caloosahatchee River between Lake Okeechobee and the Gulf of Mexico.  Last year, both dams were spewing water because the really shallow Lake O had way too much water and the government was trying to get the level down to protect the frail dike that surrounds it and the farms and families that live on the other side.  This year – all was fine.  Ortona is not an island and has 50 ample sized campsites – about a third of which actually face the river.  Unlike WP, you are allowed to walk the narrow passageway over the dam and over to the lock on the other side!  In years past, we’ve usually parked on the far side and then walked over the lock and dam and then walked thru the campground. SPFBS!! 

This Corp of Engineer Park is also very difficult to get into but H managed to squeeze out several days – but with 2 “shuffles” within the park itself.  Our first 2 nights were on site #48 – a very lovely site in the first loop.  From there we moved to the other loop to site
#9 – which was only available for one night. Our next move was to be to site #7 – two sites down.  Easy, right??   On our only day on site #9 I had an eye appointment in Ft Myers. Out on the highway, just out of the campground, in the turning lane TO the campground was an old “Beverly Hillbilly” kind of truck/camper that was broke down.  We knew this truck from its one night next to us back in WP!!  H and I both just KNEW this guy was going to end up on site #7 – where we were to move to the very next morning.  When we returned to camp that evening, sure enough – “Baughb” (that’s how he spells his name: BOB!) was on site #7.  He and his “RV” had been carried to his site on a flat bed trailer – but he promised to have it running before 11am – check out/move over time!  When 11am arrived we were just about all packed down and ready but the owner of the duck taped/baling wired truck was no where to be seen. Another camper had taken him to town for parts!   Once he finally got the truck started and pulled out (just after 1pm) H also pulled out and backed the “train” down to our new site!  I asked the ranger if there was going to be a new rule stating that you had to enter the campground under your own power to be able to camp there!

Our days on site #7 went fast!  Our new friends from WP, Bill & Sharon also moved to Ortona but were at the farthest end of our loop so our feet and/or bikes were put to good use!   Lots of big beautiful boats kept the waterways busy, coming and going thru the locks!  One day a fellow camper and I watched 2 otters frolic in and out of the grasses in the little creek that divided the 2 camp loops, as they swam in the sunshine towards the river.  I was up early each morning and watched the marshmallow sun rise up over the palms and scrub of the cattle fields behind us, making the mist and the fog glow a soft pink in the warming sky.   With my eye problems, we hadn’t even gotten to visit with dear Carol and Bud up in Lake Placid but we picked a day and headed north to see their new little winter home and enjoy another great Mexican lunch with our friends!

Last October, H had an episode involving a blood clot in his left leg.  Another painful one has shown up and so he spent Sunday afternoon in the EMERGENCY room in Ft Myers.  I sat in the truck in the shade  - - way too much flu going around in hospital emergency rooms down here!  On Tuesday we both spent the majority of the afternoon in our respective doctors offices - H seeing a vascular surgeon and me with the last of my visits with my Ft Myers corneal specialist!   Good news on both counts!  H’s new health aggravation is under control and the meds are working!  Awwwww- but the doctor told him to give up the cigars.  I’ve (we’ve) been to see the corneal specialist twice since being at Ortona and he feels that healing has finally begun!  The eye still has a long way to go but the ulcer is smaller.  The cause of the problem has never been discovered and he does not know which of the drugs is bringing the healing so I am to take all 4 of them still.  He seemed pleased with the new specialist that I have an appointment with in West Palm Beach! 

Wednesday arrived and it was time to move on.  It’s a long way
from Ortona to South Bay on the southeast corner of LakeOkeechobee – maybe 50 miles anyway!!   Bill and Sharon were out to wish us well and safe travels as the 4 of us watched for the lasttime, two beautiful vessels enter and exit the lock, heading towardsthe Gulf of Mexico.  Sharon snapped this picture of us and promised to keep in touch.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Fort Myers area part 2

My eye appointment was at 10am.  I was expecting good news but got NONE.  The doctor had seen no improvement and now added ANOTHER type of compounded antibiotic to my arsenal of drops, and – he took MORE cultures – digging down deeper than the others had.  I felt the pressure and the strange feeling as he took what felt like a steak knife to my fragile eye.  No, it didn’t hurt – till the numbing agent wore off - then it hurt for 3 days!  I was so frustrated.  It’s been a month now since it has all started and this eye problem has taken over everything that we do – or now can’t do.  The truck is getting lots of miles put on his new tires but our bikes and our walking shoes are not! 

After the doctors appointment and the stop at the pharmacy, we ended up down by the harbor in downtown Ft Myers.  We’re checking off another item from our “to do” list.  The day was bright, there was a steady breeze and as always a glare on the wide Caloosahatchee River but I kept my head down and the eye closed and covered as we strolled along the waterfront past the collection of moored boats on one side and the manicured park and benches on the other.  We watched as a large Sport Fisherman craft cruised slowly under the bridge to Cape Coral – looking like it just barely missed the underside of the bridge with his tall antennae and outriggers.  As the light blue boat passed us, heading for the harbor, the wake behind it spread out wider and wider as it went.  By the time we reached the docks where it was secured, the gas pumps were already chugging gallons of diesel into its tank.  We got some ice cream and sat watching as TWO pumps kept up a steady clicking as the dollars and gallons rose!  When we finally left, the pumps were registering at well over $700 and $900 each, at $3.49 a gallon.  Inside the marina, the young lady in charge said it was going to take 4000 gallons by the time it was done!   Cha Ching$$$$

On another day trip we found the Flamingo Flea Market in Bonita Springs, which turned out to be a dud.  Bonita Springs Beach Rd led us out onto the southern end of the string of barrier islands and we drove north towards the Ft Myers Beach/ Times Square area where we normally take the trolley ride. A storm had been predicted for the afternoon and the winds and clouds had all ready arrived in front of the thunder and rain so the traffic and the amount of pedestrians was minimal!   Once over the causeway bridge we made a series of left turns to drive back UNDER the bridge to park in the shadow of that same tall bridge that we had just come over.  Did I get you dizzy with all those turns??  The seafood restaurant –
Doc Fords was also in that parking area and we stopped in for our seafood lunch – a huge delicious fish sandwich on a large soft bun. From our table by the window we even had a good view of the channel and all the multi colored commercial fishing boats beyond.  After lunch, we “had to” take a walk out on the fishing pier that extended out into the swift moving water under the causeway bridge.    Another sleek white yacht was secured at the neighboring dock.  “Terabyte” is a 113 ft vessel built in 2014 by Sunseeker in the U K.  Thanks to Google – we found out she also will hold 14,000 gallons of fuel! (at  $3.49 a gallon?)

Another road trip took us up thru Punta Gorda, over the wide Peace River, thru Port Charlotte and headed west to Englewood to see if we could find Emily and Ron’s new little winter home there.  I had been calling her and kept getting a busy.  We finally found their tiny home; their Ohio State colored golf cart and the red Corvette – also covered with Ohio State – but no one was home!  We drove thru the close quartered park model “village” and found a garage sale to stop at.  As H pulled off the left side of the road he stuck his head out the window and YELLED:  “Get out of the road Lady!”   I turned my head just in time to see Emily walking on the edge of the road toward us – going to the same garage sale!  I couldn’t get out of the truck fast enough and gave her a big “one eyed” hug!  We visited as we went thru the sale and I told her I had been calling her – then found out I had been calling her old number!  DUH!  We visited with her and Ron for a few minutes and finally got to meet their sweet fluffy dainty little white puppy – “Missy”

H has fixed our last breakfast at WP Franklin, our “goodbyes” have been said and the “train” is packed to move on.  Our next stay is 9 miles east of Labelle in the Ortona Lock and Dam Campground,
which is also a corp. of engineer facility on the Caloosahatchee River.  I have another eye appointment scheduled and we’ll drive the longer distance back to Ft Myers from that next campground.    Hopefully, we’ll have better news then!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Fort Myers area

Corps of Engineer campground
Between this eye situation and the pathetic behavior of our elected officials in Washington D.C., it’s very hard to write about fun stuff that we are doing while traveling the beautiful state of Florida.   Let’s deal with this eye stuff first and then some fun stuff and we’ll finish up with all the frustrations of being kicked out of our paid up campsite because it happens to be a “government” facility.

Yes, the eye is somewhat better and I have had one appointment with a corneal specialist in Ft Myers.  I have another visit this Thursday and have again refilled the potent, pricey prescription eye drops.  Everywhere we go – so goes our little brown cooler with my precious little vials inside – keeping cool.  Watching TV at night with my big sunglasses on is a must!
our island home

Now here goes another SPFB – See Previous Florida Blogs - WP Franklin Lock and Dam Campground is THE biggest item on our Florida Bucket List each year!  If you’ve been with us all these years you know it is an Army Corps of Engineer Campground on an island in the middle of the Caloosahatchee River between Lake Okeechobee and the Gulf of Mexico. That is our “train” in the bottom right of H’s drone picture.

  The next photo is what we see right outside our door – the river, the dam and the locks on the far side.  Each year folks come from all over the United States to enjoy this little piece of paradise!  We keep renewing friendships from past years and making more new friends as we go – Ana and Mike from Miami and Sharon and Bill from Maryland!

Effects of the hurricane damage are still prevalent no matter where in Florida we travel.  Blue tarps still protect roofs of houses and all along the roadways are huge live oak trees pulled out of the ground by their roots and laid over to die.  Palm trees are snapped off like match sticks. And it doesn’t matter if they are standing alone or tucked away in the middle of a thick woods- some huge dark trees are still ripped from the life supporting earth.  Here in the park is an elderly tree, which has been stripped of most of her branches and leaves.  Giant ragged wounds have been sawed clean to heal.  And healing she is!  The stumps of her limbs are sealing up and millions of new thin green branches adorned with new leaves are bursting forth!!

Our Ft Myers To Do List has been modified but we’ve still managed to get a few done.  The Flea Masters Flea Market hasn’t changed any but I did manage to find the cute rubber shoes I promised to take home for my girls!   After the last eye appointment we HAD to have lunch at the Oasis Restaurant downtown!   A trip to Cape Coral and a stroll on the short lakeside park and fishing pier was pleasant but my eye sure felt the strain of the sun, even with my big ole’ sunglasses and baseball cap on.  I’m back to looking like Maxine again!!

The trolley ride out to Bowditch Park on Ft Myers Beach was another enjoyable but glaring afternoon!   We came upon a Hindu style wedding being preformed out on the beach with its airy chiffon canopy and beautiful long colorful dresses and saris.  Further along the beach the dead and decaying seaweed that had been thrown on the shore from previous waves and wind was the playground and dining hall for batches of tiny shorebirds out flitting thru the clutter!   Closer to the fishing pier the beach got crowded with sun umbrellas and a myriad of sunbathers who, like us, were tired of being cooped up by the lousy weather.  Out on the pier itself was the resident brown pelican, keeping watch for a
tidbit of fish to be snatched from an inattentive fisherman. 

The spoiled brats called politicians in Washington DC have shown their inability to get along and so our “government was shut down.  Even tho this campground is run by volunteers, is occupied by paid in full campers – the message was sent out that we had to evacuate our sites.  At first it was set for Friday at 11am, then Saturday at 11am and finally Monday at 11am.  Then noon!  WINK TV – Channel 11 in Ft Myers was out on Sunday and did a segment for their evening news.  As we were all packing up and preparing to evacuate on Monday, a delightful young reporter and her extremely steady (and cute!) cameraman came out to interview and video the mass exodus of all the angry and frustrated senior citizens.  H and I both vented and the camera was turned on us!!  A snippet of the video collection was seen on all the evening news segments!  H and I were featured on the 4pm and 7pm news!! Yep – me in my big dark sunglasses and white baseball cap!!  We were the next to the last RV unit to leave the island!   It was a strange and sad sight to turn around and see EVERY site empty and no one around except the TV reporter, her cameraman, the 2 camp volunteer couples and the ranger.  Luckily we found an overnight spot in the overflow area of a RV park in Labelle.  We heard that President Trump
signed the bill and we were allowed to move back in by noon on Tuesday.  As each of our neighbors backed their rigs back into their site that they had just pulled out of 24 hours before, we welcomed them back home!! 

Time for more eye drops, then a shower, then another pretty sunset!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tampa Area

Here’s the problem.  New Years weekend I woke up with some eye discomfort in my left eye – Yes – the one I just had corneal surgery on this past August at the Kellogg Eye Institute in Ann Arbor!   I thought I had come down with a cold in it. Of course it was the holiday weekend and we were miles from home.  Tuesday we called and right away got into the Mid Florida Eye Center in Mt Dora.  I was diagnosed with an injury to the outer layer of my cornea, prescribed a pricey eye drop and referred to one of their corneal specialists.  I have seen that corneal doctor 2 times - at 2 different branch offices and a third specialist at yet another of their offices!  The “injury” has been given the name Corneal Ulcer. Within the first 3 days of the New Year, I already met my Medicare deductible AND have even more costly, stronger eye drops with names that we can’t pronounce and had to be compounded at a real pharmacy!  No Wal-Mart this time! 

Lithia Spring  in the morning

We moved from Trimble Park down towards Brandon and parked at one of the 3 Hillsborough county parks – Lithia Springs.    SPFB!!  Check out this picture of the springs from H’s up high drone camera!  The weather was cold and gray but the spring was still clear as it bubbled up and then flowed around the point and out to the river.  The campground sites are still cozy, carved out niches in the live oak woods.  Our favorite site was surprisingly available and without hesitation we chose it!  It’s also the biggest and most open – and a pull thru!
With only 5 days here and with my eye situation, our “list” has been curtailed - significantly!   We did bundle up (I covered my eye) and wandered thru the Big Red Barn Flea Market and had our annual lunch at Anna Marie’s Oyster Bar!   A visit with hometown/ high-school friends at their new home in Sun City Center was a must!   And no matter what – we cannot leave the area without revisiting the Apollo Beach Power Station and the Manatee Observation Park!  Sunday broke breezy and cool but with bright sunshine so we headed out – with my days supply of eye drops in our trusty little cooler!   Everyone else in the county had the same idea – they were all tired of the cold and gray and wanted to be outside!  We had NEVER seen so many people out on those wonderfully strong looking observation walkways!   But – just how much could those beams endure???  YES – the manatee were there in abundance, trying to stay warm – hovering just below the surface of the steaming discharge water of the power plant.

And then there was the run to Brandon to visit yet another corneal specialist!   Dr Fouraker wedged me in on his busy Friday schedule and was very personable and VERY thorough!  He also changed one of the compounded eye drops for an even more powerful one!  I explained how H and I move around the state and that we were moving down to Ft Myers on Monday morning.  Not only did he schedule me at 7AM Monday – he checked for a new doctor in Ft Myers!   He also knows “my” Doctor Sugar up in Ann Arbor!  Oh – I wish I could bring this doctor with us!

H has been patient throughout this ordeal of spending most of the last week waiting for me to do my eye drops or chasing to this eye doctors office or to another.  But now it’s getting old.    And it’s time to move to WP Franklin Lock and Dam Campground  – and to call the new corneal specialist for an appointment!

Yes – after almost 3 very uncomfortable weeks, 3 specialists, and 3 changes in eye drop prescriptions – the eye is finally STARTING to heal.  Thanks to our Great Healer, the wisdom He gave to these specialists, the amazing knowledge behind those powerful drugs prescribed and the hard work of all my prayer warriors – healing is on the horizon!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Mt Dora Area

It’s so hard to write when it’s SO cold outside!  When we arrived in our favorite Trimble Park it was shirt-sleeve weather.  The resident hawks were screeching at each other from one side of this peaceful wooded peninsula to the other.  We heard the owl!   The petite little white egrets busied themselves with hunting for lunch and the little blue heron took her time scouring the shallow water by the shoreline for a
tidbit to eat!   The woodpeckers, the little brown birds with their great big songs and even Mr. & Mrs. Cardinal were all there!   Our new neighbors were indeed “NEW”. Gary and Chris hadn’t even had their “new to them” conversion van for more than a month.  H was a great help to them with advice about camping and the workings of their van!

We had heard about the Artic Clipper - the next huge storm that was to cross the nation so we needed to get busy working on our Trimble Park/Mt Dora list!  Downtown Mt Dora and the marina’s Christmas lights - check!  A drive thru the Nature Preserve on the north side of Lake Apopka – check!  I didn’t think we’d see much wildlife since the weather was starting to cool down, but even on a chilly 60-degree day there were at least 10 gators of various sizes trying to keep/get warm in the sunshine.  And when you have
He could have been gator lunch
gators – you have STUPID tourists who insist on aggravating the creatures, trying to get as close as they can for a good picture.  The man in this photo had just disturbed this gator and we thought for a moment there would be trouble.  The gator snapped at him but then turned back and tried to just ignore him.   We know this jerk got too close to another gator also, but thankfully, the rest of the gators were snoozing on the opposite side of the ponds and levees.   A trip thru Magnolia Campground was next - to take “attendance” and to see if the resident peacocks were out and about.  And if you’re going that far around Lake Apopka – then Winter Garden at the southern end is a must.  SPFB!!   The historic downtown had plenty of walkers and folks on bicycles buzzing up and down the center boulevards.  At the end of the Christmas display this year was a grouping of vibrant red poinsettias formed into 2 trees with benches in front for picture taking!  The dancing fountains were still dancing but no little ones jumping thru them!  Way too cold!

The forecasted storm was getting closer and the weather was starting to turn. H made the decision that we should go on a day trip anyway and we ended up in Crystal River - on the gulf side of the state. We’d been to Homosassa State Park and had camped in that area but had not really investigated “Crystal River”.  We found the Archaeological State Park and watched their free movie but chose not to wander their grounds.  Instead we followed back streets looking for the  “ park where you can swim with the manatees” – we found out that there are 7 springs that are out in the different basins of the river and that you need to take tour boats out to see and swim with the manatees.  We didn’t see manatees from the shore but there was a pod of dolphins jumping and splashing!  For us – it counted!   To get back home we had to drive thru the towns of Leesburg and Tavares on the opposite side of the cluster of lakes by Mt Dora.  The sun had set when we came thru downtown Tavares and their streets were lit up with the glow of their Christmas lights!  H drove thru town twice for me but it was cold and my hands were shaking with the window down so my pictures are blurry.  The streets are lined with stately palms and they were wrapped with white lights and topped with red at the top where the fronds are!  A circular government building was crisscrossed in red and white lights to make it look like a giant toy drum!  The traffic circle was lit up and the American flag was flying proudly!   Of course the waterfront park was also gaily decorated with trees wrapped in white and big colorful ornaments hung from the huge branches.

H has never been to Webster’s Famous HUGE Flea Market so even tho it was cold and raining – on Monday January 1st we headed cross-country to find the flea market and check off one more ‘to do” from the “list”.  I think it was last years blog that I mentioned we made the trek but on the wrong day!  We wisely checked and they were open – no matter that is was the first day of the year or that it was cold and raining.  Less than half the vendor tables were occupied but there was still a plethora of shoppers out looking for a bargain.  H found his and spent all of a $1 to get it.  There were some folks dressed like it was mid winter (us!!) and carrying umbrellas and some silly ones in tees and flip-flops!
Cold rainy day at Webster

Christmas and New Years has come and gone.  The cold has really set in. Grey windy days and the temps are falling. Not like up in Michigan tho!  I emailed our friends up in Soo Sault Marie and asked if they had any degrees.  The reply was that someone had stolen them all and they were in the minus!  Our friends in Gaylord said minus 18 and 91 inches of snow so far this winter.  Not as bad in our own neighborhood but that news didn’t help much.  We’re running out of warm winter clothes!!  Freeze warnings every night.  There was even snow in Tallahassee and Jacksonville!

The weather has now eased and the temps are finally climbing slowly back up the thermometer scale!  Our fingers and toes are toes are thawing!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas 2017

What a WONDERFUL DAY in the neighborhood!!   The sun is shining and the air is warm!  The neighbors are great!   The new ones AND the others from years past!  Fred and Barbara are English!  Deb and Bill from Indiana, Earl and Laura from Arkansas, and Ron and Katie from Pittsburgh, Pa! They have all aided in completing part of our Forest Bucket List – a campfire with roasted marshmallows!  The firewood was provided by a big dead limb that hung over our driveway AND the bright blue truck!  The storm last week brought down part of it and after that H began parking his truck in the empty drive next door.  The forestry truck finally arrived one day to finish the job and the downed limb was just enough to afford a very nice fire!

Part of the Annual Bucket List ALWAYS includes hunting for a bear or deer. Both have been accomplished!  Kayaking with the manatees has been checked off as well.  We were out sharing the experience with two young ladies, one on a paddleboard and one in a kayak but we left the water before they did.  As I looked back out over the fairly calm scene, I saw a large dark body skim the top of the water and then saw the ensuing splash as the young lady on her stand up paddle board lost her balance in the excitement of having a manatee surface that close. When she resurfaced the laughter ricocheted out over the surface of the once quiet water!!  Of course, after her struggle to regain the flat top of her board, and subdue the amount of embarrassed laughter – I added to her situation by loudly clapping and cheering from on shore!  Always glad to help!

Last week we checked off St Augustine and this week we checked off Daytona Beach. H squeezed the truck into a parking spot right by the fishing pier and boardwalk.  We took our annual stroll up and back on the wide boardwalk.  The sun was warm and inviting and lots of families were taking advantage of it!  H noticed the bungee jump had been moved to the other side of the waterfront park and we went to see what the newest ride that was with it. A huge wind generator type blade with a 2-seat bucket on each end began rotating and it was impossible to not hear the screams from the passengers being swung up and over – and over – and over. When that ride was over the bungee ride sent 2 other brave folks soaring way up high and bouncing way low – over and over!  Enough!  My stomach was queasy just watching! 

The “neighborhood” is filling up!  The nights are now lit up with lots of sparkling Christmas lights at most of the campsites.  Part of the added population is because it’s a beautiful weekend and some are just more “snowbirds” arriving!  Needless to say there was a good turnout at the Christmas Party Potluck that American Land & Leisure Company put on for the campers this afternoon!  AL&L run the office and are the maintenance folks for the Ocala National Forest Campgrounds.  Bob, the elf with the big striped slippers, has been here since the 1960’s!   Aren’t they all cute?
  I think Santa needs to put back on some weight tho!  There was plenty of delicious food and we all left with full tummies and empty dishes.  My pot of Sweet and Sour Green Beans was well received!  The only thing left in the bottom of the pot was a dibble of sweet & sour juice!

Christmas is coming!  Our afternoon is going to be enjoyed at Dick & Sharon’s always lovely home in Ocala.  It’ll be great to see Rick and Terry and John again! Our pretty little Christmas tree will be packed down, and the outdoor lights tucked away for the move down to our next stop in our winter venture.

Until our next blog conversation, please have a blessed and wonderful Christmas Holiday.  Without Jesus’ birth – there would be no reason for this or any other season!