Saturday, March 19, 2016

Back at Salt Spring

Never did like it when we had to change the time on the clocks!  It’s not so bad in the spring – when we have more daylight in the evening so H and I can be outside longer – at HOME!  We’ve never had to change them when we were on the road until now.  And having to change clocks the night before moving day – is the worst-est!!!   After tossing and turning we finally gave in and got up and hit the road an hour earlier than usual.  The Sunday morning traffic up and around Orlando on RT 436 was not as heavy as it could have been if it were a Monday morning but it still took over an hour to leave Orlando in the rear view mirror.

It’s the last official weekend of Bike Week and the first official weekend of Spring Break in the 3 surrounding counties of Salt Springs including Marion County.  H was concerned about getting a site in our favorite park so he had made a reservation for one night.  Luckily, several folks had already left and we selected a better site with afternoon shade where we would stay for the week.  Unfortunately – the site was near the bottom of the slope in the road and as usual the TV reception was sometimes here and sometimes not.  Cell service was nonexistent but – hey – we are in the middle of a FOREST!
Salt Spring Park

Our days have passed quickly in spite of the iffy TV selection.  Some evenings we got a LOT of knitting and reading done or even went to bed early – hoping to catch up on the time change loss of sleep. (It’s almost a week later and we are still tossing and turning)   Monday was laundry day – the last time we’ll have to deposit quarters in a machine to get clean clothes back!  Tuesday we drove to Ocala and enjoyed another fun meal with D&S at our favorite Logan’s Steakhouse.  My dear sister has shingles –AGAIN.  Luckily it was caught early and is being contained to one small area.

Wednesday was skeet shooting day in Palatka!  My email to the “gang” had a delayed response back so our connection at the club was missed by a few hours.  H did get to shoot with a fella from Massachusetts tho, before the day got too hot and muggy!  Anytime we are in Palatka it is mandatory for us to have lunch at Corky Bells – Deviled Crab and Shrimp again!  SO good!  A ride thru downtown to see the new murals came next.   On the way back south to the campground, we noticed smoke in the forest. It’s the season for “prescribed burns” to control the dead undergrowth and help prevent even worse forest fires.  As we approached and were waved thru by a patrolman, fire trucks and more help were arriving.  Then the road was closed!  Right after we went thru!!  Heavy, dark, rolling clouds of thick smoke began rolling across the road.  H pulled off the side of the roadway a safe distance away and we watched the waves of choking smoke clog the land behind us.  At times you could see the bright orange fire and at other times the smoke was so dark and so thick that you could not see the flashing lights of the emergency vehicles that were blocking the intersection!

Thursday was St Pat’s Day!  Our Amaryllis sat on the BBQ grill and displayed her 3 Irish flags.  A green shamrock hung from the arm of the awning!   I wore green and even got to bake a brisket in the toaster oven on the picnic table. Drove the neighbors crazy!   Cooked it low and slow – it was SO yummy!  “Top O the Morning to yah!” was the greeting!

The springs have been peaceful all week and we’ve taken advantage of the warm weather and the cool water on several days.  Our bikes have been up and down the roads and on paths that pass under a 200 yr old sprawling live oak! The weekend is here now so the younger folks have taken over!  As Friday progressed the campsites filled in – all kinds of trailers have unloaded their bikes and grills and all shapes of tents have gone up.   Then, what we first thought was a big diesel rig that had pulled in the park after dark turned out to be the biggest, bad-est tow truck that we have ever seen!  H soon learned that a huge pickup truck camper (with a slide and full back awning) had been unloaded from its truck and one of the front jack stands had collapsed causing the camper to fall forward across the bed of the truck – trapping it underneath!  He grabbed my hand and dragged me out of our trailer and up the dark road to inspect the commotion.  As we went around the curve of our camp road – we saw THE brightest light! (Were we crossing over?)  The tow truck had backed up at an angle to the camper in distress and had a huge crane hoisted up over and several very bright lights shining on it.  There was strong sling under and around the damaged fiber glassed white box that still had 2 skinny support sticks attached to its lower backside.  When the box was slowly lifted, the truck was removed. Raised a bit higher, the truck was gently backed in under it again, however, the angle of the parking pad was too steep.  Finally, after several attempts, the air in the back tires was let out!  H was satisfied that the outcome was going to be ok then, so we headed back to our site.  It was well after the 11 o’clock news when we heard the tow truck rumble past our site on his way out

The weather had cooled and has gotten “damp”.  Spring has been in Florida for the last few weeks but the calendar is officially announcing it in the morning.  It’s time for us to move farther north.  Ocean Pond in the Osceola National Forest is next.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Orlando Area

Camping at Moss Park is like having one big scavenger hunt!   Deer? Check!   Turkey? Check!  Sherman Squirrels? Check!  Armadillo? Check! Big Black Snake? Check!  Songbirds? Check!  Sandhill Cranes? Check!  Sandhill Babies?  CHECK!!   Last year the babies arrived as scheduled but sadly, they only made it thru that first night.  This year the parents brought their new chicks by as soon as we were parked for us to admire and take too many pictures.   Both chicks peeped and eagerly accepted food delivered to them by the long powerful beaks of both parents.  The two babies survived life in the park for almost a full week – until one morning Mom and a very disheveled Dad showed up for their morning stroll with only one child.   In its one week of life the oversized golden chick grew to twice its original size.  It’s neck and legs also doubled in length, which now made it look more like a Sandhill.

We don’t normally “move” on a Friday and when we arrived, the campground was filling up.  We managed to secure the last site on the outside of the campground loop.   Moss Park is on a lake but most campsites are in fairly dense cover and the lake is hard to see thru the trees.  Each sunset, the deer crept across the back of our site on their evening search for food. 
Every day there were myriads of songbirds flitting from branch to branch as they sang their sweet songs.  H was reclining in his chair with his book in hand when one even landed on his extended foot before hopping down to explore the rug for some tiny, tasty morsel.
And we finally got to see the launch of the SpaceX rocket!  We rode our bikes down to the long fishing pier that stretches out into Lake Mary Jane just a few minutes before the launch was to take place.  At first it was just a bright ball of light that rose above the tree lined shoreline to the east, but as it went up across the rose colored sunset sky you could easily see the jet trails extending back to earth.   Then the satellite and rocket separated and you could see each go it’s own way.   As the darkness seeped in, we rode our trusty little bikes back to our site and reminisced about the NASA Space Shuttle launch we had seen at this same park when we were still camping in the pick up truck camper!!   Now, that was a long time ago!

The only thing our Moss Park scavenger hunt was missing was George – our dear friend from upstate NY who used to be the campground host/wildlife photographer here in Moss Park.  He retired and had moved to another campground.  He endured a massive heart attack while up in NY last summer.  We drove to our favorite St Cloud restaurant, The Catfish Place, and met him for lunch.  His recovery is coming along a little at a time but as it is with most men – slowly is frustrating.

There is always something new in Orlando to go find and explore.   Last year we found the Orlando Eye – the 400 ft tall Ferris wheel.  This year it is open and the large passenger capsules were going up and around very, VERY slowly to afford the best views of Orlando and surrounding landscape.  Also open were the Wax Museum and Orlando Aquarium.  The sides and the back of the main building were covered with oversized murals of various Disney characters including Shriek and Fiona!  Besides the mandatory fast food restaurants and sweet shops there were bright flower gardens and tall dancing fountains.

The main reason for our venture out that day was to find the “new” Disney Spring.   From the Orlando Eye location, the GPS led us south and we ended up at the “old” Downtown Disney!   Go figure!   A massive new multi leveled parking garage came complete with LED lights that directed us to available parking spots. The lights turned from green to red once we were securely parked!   This new and improved shopping and dining complex had greatly increased the space of the old Disney Downtown!  Besides new bridges that crossed over the small lake, one high-end restaurant called The Boathouse even had a dockside bar with a dozen or so beautifully restored Chris Craft boats and other exotic 1940 runabouts sitting in individual lifts along side the docks.  Nearby, there was even a new “boat” ride, which featured at least 6 restored 1961 to 1968 Triumph Amphicars!   These brightly colored fun vehicles were lined up behind each other as they were driven up out of the water.  As needed, the “captain” would fetch the next vehicle and drive it up the ramp to a big cement turntable.   Once turned around and facing the ramp that led back to the water, the “captain” would allow his life jacketed passengers to enter the open topped car and they would proceed down the ramp and into the water, where it became a boat!  A trip around the lake and the procedure would be repeated again with new passengers.

Now it is Saturday night.  The awning is rolled up and the rug is folded up!   Sunday morning is once again time to move.   Our next site where we’ll put the jacks down is back in our favorite Salt Springs!   YES!   Our clocks have                                                                                already been changed –                                                                                  SpringUp!