Sunday, December 20, 2015

Ocala National Forest

"Back in the forest again!”  Sounds like a Gene Autry song.

 Most things are the same - kayaking with the manatees, swimming and snorkeling in the beautiful spring with the always moving school of silver-sided mullet, riding our bikes and walking up to the office to borrow wifi.  The campground area is still dotted with long needled pine and live oak draped w/long strands of web like Spanish moss.  There are still bears in the neighborhood but we haven’t seen any no matter what sandy forest road we explore.  The park is getting fuller with a plethora of motorhomes, oversized vans, 5th wheels and trailers - with the usual population swelling on the weekends and empty spots opening up once more on Sunday afternoon.  The closer we get to Christmas - more of the rigs are beginning to stay.  Folks from Ontario, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Connecticut!  Even Montana and South Dakota!  What’s changed is that the local grocery store is closed so there are no more tasty hot chicken livers for us to get our fill of!

In our wanderings we’ve headed north to Palatka for H to shoot skeet at the Palatka Skeet Club.  On our first venture, H shot with a trio of new shooters, one of which was a BRAND new shooter.  H stepped in to coach her on her unsure stance and awkward handling of the gun. By the time both rounds were over, she was doing much better and even hit some of the bright orange disks as they flew across in front of her!  On the next Wednesday, he joined in with a fun foursome of seniors whose group name was –“Blind, Deaf, Infirmed Skeet Club”.  Their official uniforms were black tees w/HOT pink printing!  They must have felt that H qualified for those 3 requirements, because they made him an honorary member!  To make it really official we were also invited to join several of them for lunch at our new favorite restaurant- Corky Bell’s. 

On our 1st trip to Corky Bell’s, we enjoyed our deviled crab & shrimp lunch out on the large terraced deck so we could take in the expanse of the St Johns River.  A bonus thrill was when an eagle flew over and landed on the dock next door!  We also noticed a new addition to the deck area - a large PVC pipe that extended from above the railing to down under the water level far below.  We learned that when bass tournaments were held there, the live captured fish were released back into the water via that long tube.

One day of exploration led us to an RV Show that was listed as being huge and free – and was at the Daytona International Speedway.  Obviously we don’t need a new RV but it was at the SPEEDWAY and neither of us has ever been to the speedway!  There were a lot of rigs at the show but they were all from one dealership and the show was in the parking lot and not inside the racetrack as we had hoped.  Those grandstands are HUGH! 
As long as we were in Daytona we made our way to the beach to walk the boardwalk and shop a few tee shirt shops!  No driving on the beach this time tho – the entrance gates were staffed and fees were being collected.

On yet another day out on the road we ended up in Sanford – SE of the forest.  As usual we checked out the marina area and even got in some Christmas window shopping at the brightly decorated, busy, sprawling mall.  On the way home we finally stopped to see the landing area for the Juniper Springs Canoe and Kayak Run.  We had been invited to kayak the run with a group of neighbors in the park but the trip was going to be 6 hours of narrow, very shallow congested paddling.  They were going to transport us and our kayaks along with theirs and then we all would paddle back down to the landing where the truck would be parked.   However, 6 hours is a very long time for us to be captive in the kayaks so H graciously declined their friendly offer.  The landing was very well staged and had an appropriately placed slot to slide a kayak into for easy disembarking.  Also included in the landscape was a well placed sign warning about the presence of alligators!!

Our two weeks of warm sunny weather has been interrupted by a night full of rain pounding on the curved roof of the trailer followed by 2 days of cool weather and another night of cold temps.  This “cold front” has now passed and we will again see sunny days and temps in the high 70’s and low to mid 80’s.   The weatherman is forecasting 80 degrees by the first day of winter and 85 degrees by Christmas day!  Really rough, eh?

Christmas is fast approaching.  It’s time to move to Ocala.