Thursday, December 29, 2011

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Our sweet little Christmas tree is decorated with its glittered seashells, blue shiny ornaments, a real starfish, several small birds and blue and silver garlands. It stands proudly on the dinette in front of that big window. From the outside it looks way bigger than it is! The back picture window is dressed in blue and white lights with white poinsettias in each corner of the cornice boards. The bathroom vanity even has red poinsettias! H is thrilled. Not really. But he does like Christmas lights as you can tell from some of the past blog pictures!

Ocala Sun RV Resort on Hwy 484 is in the Passport America discount book and was our plug in to wifi and cable for three nights. As in a lot of RV resorts, the transients get relegated to an open field and are parked wall to wall. Even though we now have a “condo” we were still the smallest unit in the entire park! The folks were very hospitable and made us feel welcomed at their Christmas potluck dinner.

Dick and Sharon live in a gated community just 8 miles down the road from Ocala Sun and we knocked on their door more than once in those 3 days! My sister and I had a lot of catching up to do! The 4 of us shared some great eating times and as always, each Christmas season, S invites some of her good friends in for an evening of good food and great chatter! R&N, T &CJ, E&R- Thanks for including us! Neal’s mom sat in on the party this year! Neither H nor I have ever met someone who is 105!!

Christmas Day we joined D&S at the Maranantha Baptist Church and then back to their gorgeous home for the afternoon. Dick’s kids ( SPFB!) - son Rick, daughter Terri - the JUDGE and son in law John kept the afternoon in stitches, telling stories on their dad and on each other! Siblings! For a change – Sharon and I behaved! The dinner was scrumptious and we all ate wayyyyyyyyyyyy too much!

Our hope and prayer is that all our friends and family have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas Season this year and for your futures – peace and health!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Spring Time in the Forest

Spring Time in the Forest

It’s “Spring” time in the Ocala National Forest! This was a kickback, take it easy week so we’ve only seen this spring here at Salt Springs Recreation Area in this - one of favorite forests. The view as you come over the crest of the hill – the sparkling, forever dancing blue water that races out of the deep crevices and the tannic flavored river that lays beyond, still is a thrill after all these years. We, and everyone else except the engineers who designed this unnatural retaining wall, feel the ambiance of the natural spring has been compromised. In years past, mothers and little ones could just walk down into the shallow water at the far side of the spring and not worry about their small charges. Even us older grandmothers with their silly looking wet suits on, felt way more comfortable entering the water at a slower speed! SPFB to see me returning out of that spring! Now entry is confined to one slippery set of steps leading down into a much deeper colder amount of water that is definitely NOT suitable for little ones. And old ladies and slippery don’t mix well either! The spring itself is 72 degrees as it gushes up out of the rocks but when the air is cool, it doesn’t stay warm for very long as it passes from the spring area out into the pond and then the run to the river beyond. The weather has been very nice this week but it has reached mid 70’s during the day and then cools back down quickly as the sun starts to set. We missed the dip in the spring on Monday because it turned gray and cool early.

I’ve started walking a mile each morning and each afternoon we go for a bike ride around the park or out to investigate the mobile home park or the RV resort across the road to see how many homes and park spots are empty or for sale this year. H is positive that the number of signs is growing more each year. The grocery store is just down from the park as is the Sunoco gas station that houses the local Subway. We’ve made several trips to both! Milk is $4.29 a gallon if you need to know. A half-gallon is $2.99.

We’ve met some nice folks, too! Judy and Tommy, a retired Roadway driver, live in Burlington Kentucky. Since they’ve lived several places during his truck-driving career, he’s also driven to Toledo and remembers a friend of mine who also retired from Roadway! He and H got along just fine since they both have Ford trucks and tools and boats and . . . . . .

This past Monday, we actually managed to dig the kayaks out of their secure nest in the back of the truck. Here in the campground, all was peaceful and calm but once we got to the river’s edge – we felt the brisk cool wind and H had second thoughts about struggling with the tiny orange oblong buckets we call kayaks. Once out on the water and bouncing along with the choppy little waves we noticed a lot of areas that were all stirred up as if boats had just dug into the mucky bottom. MANATEES!! At least a half dozen of the big bulbous nosed creatures were pulling seaweed up from the river bottom and leisurely trying to enjoy lunch. Seemingly not sure of the bobbing orange shapes that resembled their own shapes, minus the huge mudflap tails, they came over to investigate! Can you only imagine the thrill of being captive in a very small 8 foot plastic bucket and having a 9-foot manatee nudge it with her nose?!! Like a small whale, one would come up out of the water and either rolled or dove again, flipping their broad tail up and out of the water.

Manatees are not the only neat creatures that we’ve been fortunate to see. One day while off exploring the back roads in the forest we encountered a magnificent bald eagle that flew in a zigzag manor up the sand road ahead of us and then perched in a tree across a field. As we crested one small hill, H exclaimed there was a bear ahead just over the next small hill! Sure enough – a rather LARGE black bear was lumbering across the road. Neither the eagle nor the bear wanted his picture taken and each moved just fast enough and stayed just out of good picture range. In the top of the tree next to our campspot, a Red Breasted Woodpecker was hammering out his nesting hole in a dead limb. As he ratcheted out the chips from his growing cavity, he splayed the mess down onto the neighbor’s awning and patio rug. We got the great view and they got to clean up his mess each day!

And folks here in Salt Springs campground have gotten into the holiday spirit, too! Some have their lampposts decorated; some have lights strung along their awnings. We have our tree sparkling atop our “dining room table” and from the outside looks like a full sized tree. One of the campground hosts has his entire motor home outlined in lights and has twinkle lights surrounding each wheel, making it look like the wheels are going round!

It’s been over a week now since we’ve parked in the forest and it’s time to move on to Ocala. Christmas is coming!