Friday, February 14, 2014

Moss Park Orlando, Fl

What is it ?
Remember - when we move, we ALWAYS stop for breakfast on the way.  This day’s journey was 100 miles so breakfast was a MUST!  Steak and Shake on the corner of I 95 and Fl Rt 60 fit the bill.  We had just ordered and were beginning to enjoy our first cup of coffee when H looked up towards the door and saw an apparition!  He thought he saw his Aunt Ruth’s dear neighbor from down in Del Ray Beach!   It was!  We were not anywhere near Del Ray Beach and Aunt R has been gone for at least a half dozen years.  But it was Sherrie!  What a hoot!  She and her friend ended up in the booth next to us and we spent the next chunk of time reminiscing and telling stories on each other!  I remember eating my breakfast and it was good but I was too busy chatting to tell you what I had.

It was 69 degrees at 8 00am when we left Phipps Park in Stuart - sunny and bright!   By the time we reached the edge of SE Orlando the sky was gray and the temps had dropped to 59 degrees.   A sign of things to come?  Yes!  More rain that night and next day and a heavy downpour and thunderstorm clamored across the area later in the week.   Between storms however, the week was GORGEOUS!   The little boat came off of its pedestal on the top of the truck and we soaked up some sun and enjoyed the calm waters of Lake Hart and then Lake Mary Jane!  The gentle breeze was so light that the ripples on the lake were no more than goosebumps on ones arm.  We crossed to the far side of Lake Hart and around the edge for a bit, enthralled with the size of the new “castles” being erected on that shoreline, before crossing back over and gliding thru the tall grass lined canal that fed into the lake from Moss Park.  The small river/canal that divides the two lakes and cuts thru Moss Park is still lined with the always present, droopy armed, moss ladened live oaks.  The boat launch docks shone in the bright sun while the rest of the canal resembled a jungle!  Lake Mary Jane, on the other end, is the lake we see at the back of our campsite and from the long fishing pier/dock that stretches way over the swamp grass where the Sand Hill Cranes make their nests and hatch their adorable chicks! 

One day, we rode our bikes up to the front of the campground.  I was mailing Raegan’s birthday card and H was heading off with his metal detector to look for more “toys and trucks”.   I noticed a white motorhome that looked kind of familiar, parked by the gatehouse.  A petite lady exited the gatehouse and entered the rig.  Now, I KNOW my eyes were foggy but it sure looked like Bobbie – our dear friend whom we had met, along with her husband Gene, in Moss Park – YEARS ago!   Gene has since gone on to be with his Lord, but we were to be meeting Bobbie for lunch when she was to be down visiting family.  Instead of going to her daughter’s home – she had chosen to come camp next to us!   Had we ridden our bikes 5 minutes earlier or 5 minutes later – we would not have seen her then, and she may not have found us later!  The 3 of us then called George, our other dear friend who used to be the resident campground host and wildlife photographer of Moss Park.   He is now wintering at another camp, so we all met for lunch at our favorite, Catfish Place.    B then picked up her sweet granddaughter, Rachel and we 3 ladies got to spend some great “girl time” together – knitting, playing cards, walking, collecting firewood and making s’mores over a great campfire that H had built!   On our last day together, H found the most remarkable vertical spider web and the weirdest spider that we have ever seen!  This strange little creature was black and spotted on his front and legs but his broad half inch white back had red spikes and looked like it had a black face painted on it.  If George were here, he would know what it was!

It’s now Friday afternoon.  Blooms number 7 & 8 on the Amaryllis are faded and gone.  Fake flowers are now planted around her base.   B & R have hooked up their little Honda to the motorhome and have pulled out.  The weekenders are already beginning to pull in and fill up our weeks full of peaceful, empty spaces.   And it’s a four-day weekend – we gotta get out of here!    We’re going to Melbourne to see what’s new at Wickham Park.

Check it out ,one little spider

Sunday, February 9, 2014

St. Lucie canal

This next leg of our winter journey took us cross-county past cattle pastures to Stuart.   Florida St Rt 714 had a tunnel of trees that reminded both of us of the tunnel of trees in Cross Village Michigan.  The live oaks and cypress trees crossed their Spanish moss draped fingers over us for several miles.

Luckily H got us a spot in the St Lucie Lock campground, but it was only for one night.   Do I need to say “SPFB”?   Out of the 9 campsites there, folks from Michigan occupied 4 of them.   It was a friendly group that spent “Happy Hour“ together that day and we even kept in touch after we moved around the corner to the Phipps County Park for the rest of the week.  In Phipps Park our site backed right up to the St Lucie Canal and as always the view of all the passing vessels was neat to see.   If they had to wait for the lock to open, they would hover right in front of us!   With all the rain that Florida has had in the last few months, there is concern about Lake Okeechobee getting to high – after all, it is 13 feet above sea level  - and rising.  15 feet and the authorities really get panicky we were told!  For several days the TV news was full of the controversy over releasing too much of the water from the lake into the canal and causing another green algae bloom and killing the fish, like what happened last year.  There were protesters at the lock at 7am one morning and 2 TV crews were out broadcasting each day.  We could see them from our campsite on the down side of the lock and dam!  On the our side of the lock and dam is salt water and the folks on this side are saying that the algae is caused from the pollution from the ”fresh” water that drains south into the lake from the orange groves, cattle ranches and dairy farms further north in Florida.  Of course the sugar cane farmers on the south end of the river don’t want more water released in their direction and neither do the folks on the Ft Myers end of the lake!   What a dilemma!

High humidity and heat were the buzzwords for the week – a big difference from the cold damp rain from weeks gone by!  H is always saying that I’m in a fog and this week it was true!  The extreme humidity was giving my old eyes a fit!   Besides that, it was too hot to even think of putting the boat together.   By noon the windows got closed and the air came on and we were out exploring!   Restaurants with good fish on their menus were on the agenda for a few days!
  On one venture we ended up in Ft Pierce and back out on the long fishing jetty that protrudes into the Atlantic.   Fishermen dotted the length of the jetty and the pelicans were at their post, guarding the fish cleaning station.   We watched several boats venture out to the end of the protective jetty and then slowly turn back, not willing to fight with the rough choppy waves beyond.  To the east, the sky was as blue as can be and the expanse of salt water below was a beautiful aqua.   The sun was shining brightly.   To the west was another matter!   Heavy clouds were beginning to intrude on the peaceful scene and you could see the dark vertical ribbons, which meant rain was successfully escaping the overloaded clouds.  We made it off the jetty and out of the park but did not make it off the island and back to the security of the “condo” before the deluge began.   

  On another day, downtown Stuart was explored again and Hutchinson Island was revisited also!  Last year the tide was way out and folks were sitting in the sand in the alcoves created by the huge jagged boulders.  Not so this year!  The large white crashing waves were exploding over the very tops of those craggy rough rocks!   Just south of the Refuge and rocks, Bathtub Bay was now open but mammoth dunes of white sand now edged the soggy cramped parking lot.   The beach that had been damaged by previous storms was cleared but the sand under the two neighboring 2 story houses was missing.    Supports under the houses were exposed; doors were missing and windows were broken.  “No Trespassing” signs were posted.  We wondered how long they would be allowed to stay that way.  We’ll have to check, next year!

Our winter trip is half over and we must head north – but not too far and not too fast!   Melbourne and one of H’s favorite, Wickham Park was to be next but they said they were booked for the coming week.  Moss Park, near Orlando, is now next and THEN Wickham!    I’ve been saving a hug for R&N and they are already there!