Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Summer 2018

Perry's Peace Monument
Harry intends on getting lots of use out of the spiffy new electric fold up bikes that replaced the little fold up bikes he sold down in Florida.   We folded them and packed them into the cavernous back area of the minivan and headed east to the shores of Lake Erie and the passenger ferry that hauls people and cars from the mainland out to the popular tourist island of South Bass Island where the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Monument anchors the center of the 3 mile long island.

The 325 ft tall monument honors the battle of 1812 in Lake Erie.  It has just been refurbished and is now back open to visitors on the
View from the TOP!
bustling weekend tourist town of Put In Bay!   We left our bikes at the base of the towering granite column and climbed the allowed portion and then safely finished the trip to the observation deck at the top via the air-conditioned elevator!   The views in each direction were stunning in the calm noonday sun!  Since it was still early in the season the harbor was almost void of pleasure boats that would soon be moored off of each other in their quest to reach the land and local eateries and bars.  Put In Bay is known for it’s partying crowds on the weekend!  The streets will be full of bikes and rental golf carts!  Now, from high atop the monument – the quiet scene below looked almost serene.   

Up and around the rolling hills and back roads, our trusty steeds carried us along – sometimes under our own power and sometimes not!   A stop to check out the island’s state park campground and launch area gave us a cool spot to soak in the rocky cliffs that
View from South Bass State Park
encircle this historic island.  Our last stop was to visit the South Bass Island Lighthouse that was built in 1893 and is on the southern tip of the island.  It is the only lighthouse owned by a university!  Yes – the Ohio State University.   Our return ferry ride was shared with a group of zealous and tired school kids but our new bikes
1893 South Bass Lighthouse
passed them up as we cranked the throttle and sped quickly up the steep drive and headed for the van once the ferry was back to the mainland!

The gardens are well and the grass is mowed.   The boat has been in several lakes and several fish are now in the freezer.  H’s doctor appointments are behind him and our next trip is in front!  

As our usual summer trip planning goes, the direction dial is ALWAYS set to due north!  The “train” has 4 new, AMERICAN made, 10 ply tires (instead of 8 ply), new brakes and new equalizer bars on both axles.  My beloved 12 yr old Chrysler Town & Country minivan has been replaced with a 2019 Jeep Cherokee Latitude PLUS!  This cute little granite colored vehicle will do most everything except the dishes!  It has a huge front to back sunroof (for me!) and the 4x4 tow package (obviously for him!).  The back-up camera and braking system is taking a bit to get used to.  Ask H how much fun it was to try and back the Jeep up to hook up the boat trailer!  It wouldn’t let him!  And how fun it was trying to back that trailer into the garage - - with the parking assist turned on! This frustrated little car didn’t want H to back into the trailer - that was attached to its own back bumper!!  Thankfully H found the button on the dash that turns that off!   So now we are ready to go north!

SPMB - See Previous Michigan Blogs!  Our trip to the North Country is normally up Rt 52, breakfast in Chelsea or Owosso and a jaunt over to Rt 127.  Breakfast was in Chelsea but this time we headed straight north out of Owosso –staying on Rt 52.  H is pulling the “train” and me ‘n the little Jeep, pulling the Tracker fishing boat - are following behind.  Our own little parade!   About 4 miles north of town, smoke begins to billow out from the right
rear corner of the train.  Grabbing the walkie-talkie, I yell into it to pull over NOW – there’s smoke!  Scenes of a similar incident with the Rockwood Trailer, on top of a mountain in North Carolina, filled my mind!  The blowout on the new tire was caught in time to avoid further damage to the heavy trailer that it was supporting!   I’ll now give a plug to the emergency road service of Safeco Insurance Company since they quickly found a serviceman who came to our rescue.  He got us back on the road soon after the spare tire was secured in place of the damaged tire - that had a
chunk of metal gouged into its tread.  Our trip was further hindered by road closures and bad back road detours but our first nights rest was in the lovely St Louis Church of God Campground, just east of the tiny town by the same name!  Up and out early Sunday morning, we cruised up Rt 127 and then melted into traffic on always busy I 75! 

Camp Petosega is now our home for the next 2 weeks!  Site #62 is mostly shaded and only a short walk thru the woods to the always clean bathhouse!  The weekenders have now gone to their respective homes and jobs and we are left with the peaceful beautiful scenery and the music of the many birds that sing us (ME) awake each morning!  The boat has been in 3 lakes so far – Pickerel, Crooked and Burt Lakes. No fish have been injured in any of these ventures as of yet.  Darn.  Soon tho!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Chicago Spring 2018

We left the gorges and waterfalls of the Illinois River Valley and headed back towards the northeast and the other river that connects the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers to Lake Michigan - the Chicago River.  Traffic on I 80 was bad and got worse the closer we got to Joliet and eventually South Chicago and the Indiana state line.  Off the expressway to save on H’s nerves – we ended up in backed up traffic in Gary Indiana.  Oh well, Rt 12 led us to the Indiana Dunes National Seashore and the state park right next door!   In the past we’ve always camped at the National Park Campground but there is no electricity in that park and the weather was to be pretty cool at night. (Here it is: See Previous Summer Blogs!)
The state park still has buildings from the CCC era but the campgrounds and other park areas have been nicely updated.  The parking pads are wide and long with lots of new small trees are planted between the sites. 

The Southshore Rail line still runs on schedule to downtown Chicago and the train stop is right down the entrance road to the park with plenty of free parking.  Even tho the price for seniors to
ride has gone up – from $3.75 to $4.50, the fast electric train still speeds along and still glides to a smooth stop at each posted station with the final stop in the dark caverns of the train station at Millennium Park.  Once back up in the sunlight, our eyes adjusted to the bright light in the “canyon” formed by the towering
skyscrapers on Michigan Avenue.  We dodged other pedestrians and tried not to stumble as we (ME) craned our necks skyward to gaze at the tall spires above us.  Our mission for the day was to find and explore the Riverwalk along the Chicago River that had not been there on our last visit!  As we walked, we could see the massive monuments that have guarded the Michigan Ave Bridge for years.   Each roadway that parallel Michigan Ave has its very own dark colored, double decked, counterweighted drawbridge that keeps traffic moving across to the other side.  Down on the river, the taxi and tour boats were zigging and zagging their watery ways up and down the river.  Loudspeakers blared explanations of what the
gawking tourists were to be looking at.   Gazing down from the main street level, the cement valley that followed the river was lined with trees, restaurants, boat docks and ample sitting areas for downtown workers and tourist alike to sit and relax and watch the world go by.  Some folks were strolling along, enjoying the sunshine, some were jogging and some were walking their well-behaved dogs.  

Climbing up out of the valley we found ourselves in an amazing park created especially for children!  The sprawling Maggie Daley Park had wide curving walkways dividing different areas built for fun – climbing walls, skating areas and age appropriate playgrounds.  A shiny stainless steel bridge swirled up and around like an escaping snake before crossing over the busy road beneath it. The downward path on the other side took us to the backside of the huge green swath of grass that lay before the super modern
metal amphitheater.  We were told that all kinds of entertainment are put on there and folks bring their blankets or lawn chair to enjoy summer concerts and programs.  A must see in Millennium Park is the famous stainless steel Chicago Cloud Gate Sculpture!    Affectionately named “The Bean” because of its shape, it is 33x66x42ft and the archway underneath is 12 ft tall.

We wandered farther south of the “Bean” looking for ice cream but instead saw groups of families curiously watching a 50 ft tall tower with an animated face taking up the entire side of it.  The face was moving and we both scanned the crowd looking for the child who was making the faces being mirrored on the wall.  Turning around, we saw an identical tower with a man’s face on it.  Water was spitting out of the man’s mouth!   There was no such
man in front of that tower!  These glass-bricked, dual LED lit water towers were using digital photos of local residents to mesmerize all of us!

We were both getting tired and ice cream was on our minds!  Across busy Michigan Ave was the Shake Shack located in the bottom corner of a wonderfully restored old hotel with high, gold like ceilings, marble floor tiles and wide marble stair casings!   YES - the shakes were delicious!   

We came! We saw!  We were now VERY tired and decided it was time to find the train station and find our seats for the ride back to Indiana and the state park.   We slept well that night and in the morning we slid in the slides and pulled up stakes and followed Rt 12 into southern Michigan and headed home!  We’ll travel again - - soon, no doubt!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

North Central Illinois

Spring has sprung in southeast Michigan.  H is restless.  He spun the direction dial and West won.  We pulled out and followed Rt 20 around the tall stately monument in the center of Angola Indiana.  Just past Lagrange, the Shipshewanna Flea Market was open and parking was still free till after Memorial Day so we got our walking exercise in and even did a little shopping.  Our first night’s destination was Potato Creek State Park, 15 miles south of South Bend.  It hasn’t changed any since the last time we stopped on another adventure, 10 years ago! 
Illinois River
We stayed just one night in Potato Creek because they were full for the upcoming weekend.  H thought wisely and called Starved Rock State Park in Ottawa Illinois to make sure they had a place for us to park for the duration of our trip.  Nope - they were booked solid, and it wasn’t even the holiday!   Illini State Park, west of Joliet and about 20 miles east of Starved Rock, still had a few “walk in” sites available – so we headed there, via the Lincoln Highway (Rt 30) and then Interstate 80.

Illini State Park is named after an Indian tribe who once called the area home.  It sits on the Illinois River across a high bridge from Marseilles (Mar – sales).  It’s French and they too lived in the area for a while!  Our first glimpse of the long winding river, broken up by a plethora of locks and dams, was of a laden barge being pushed up the river past a pleasant little park with a statue of its namesake proudly keeping watch.   Illini has 2 camping loops – one is right next to the river, across from one set of locks and has clean, but older facilities.  The other loop has no facilities other than a not yet smelly pit toilet building and electricity.  The beautiful wooded surroundings totally made up for it and it was not difficult to jump in the truck and drive to the other loop for a good, hot (almost scalding!) shower.

In Florida, two years ago we met John and Anne who were from NE Illinois.  John came to visit us at the campground!  He and H played with the drones and rode our NEW electric fold-up bikes! (Remember – H sold our old fold-up bikes down in Florida!)  I was saddened because sweet Anne was not feeling well and could not make the trip to enjoy the conversation and the great lunch out at the Marseilles Family Diner.  Get Well, dear Friend!
On top of Starved Rock

Starved Rock State Park and the surrounding area is not the flat boring expanse of farmland that make up most of the state.  The Illinois River Valley was carved by melting glaciers surging thru sandstone rock.  During early spring, after the winter thaw and frequent rains, Starved Rock brags about her 18 canyons and waterfalls with vertical walls of moss-covered stone that create settings of geologic beauty.   The parks namesake is a real rock!  Pontiac, chief of the Ottawa tribe was slain by the Illiniwek tribe and the battles began.  A band of the Illiniwek sought refuge on top of the 125-foot sandstone butte.  The Ottawa tribe surrounded the bluff until the hapless tribe at the top died of starvation.  On our first visit to the park we did climb the steps AND the hill – and THEN up the 65 wooden steps to the top of the famed rock to gaze out over the river and dam below and the “Lovers Leap” on the neighboring sandstone cliff.   Walking along the top edge, looking out over the available 3 sides of awesome viewing was well worth the huffing and puffing to get to that point!
water fall at St Louis Canyon

Our day for hiking to a waterfall was on a Saturday.  All the state parks were full of groups of families out for a nice day.  The overflow parking lots were definitely all overflowing!!  We took our second choice of falls to go find because its location was at the outer edge of the park with its own parking area.  However, the parking area was blocked off so we ended up parking near the highway and walking down the pockmarked deteriorating blacktop just to get to the sign directing us to the St Louis Canyon.  The .3- mile hike from there was also not handicap accessible – a narrow sand path on the edge of deep ruts of babbling water.  Then it was up steps and then down more steps. The sand path continued downward, with roots creeping across them as they attempted to hold the sand from sliding into the
stream of water below.  As we rounded a curve and over another small bridge, the view opened up to the huge half circle bowl and the steady stream of water that splashed to the pool at the bottom from what seemed like the highway heights above.  By the time we returned to the parked truck, we were both hurting and out of breath!
path to the canyon

Of course, the nearby towns were explored – Marseilles, Ottawa, Utica and Streator.  Streator’s claim to fame is their “Walldogs” artists and their Festival of Murals each June/July.  While driving their main
downtown Streator Ill.
street area we saw what we thought was a restored old block of town.  As we approached we realized we were looking at a 3 dimensional mural that took up the entire side of a building!  Ottawa has its history with Abraham Lincoln’s first debate in 1858 and the nearby Buffalo Rock State Park.  This park has a collection of outdoor earthen sculptures, inspired by Native American burial grounds.  The images were wasted as the grass had not yet been mowed and the best viewing needed to be from above.  Buffalo Rock is also home to 2 American Bison who were oblivious to me wanting to get their photo thru the 2 fences of their enclosure.

I’ve got more of our adventure to show and tell you about, but I’ve run out of time and space!   I’ll continue soon and tell you about Chicago!

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!