Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Life at Homosassa Springs (Homosassa Springs, FL)

Life here is pretty laid back.  We're primarily here because we got a deal on the campsite, but there are some nice locations in the area to enjoy.  We're also here to visit with Pop and Marge who are about 90 minutes away.  The Sunday after we arrived we went to the Homosassa Seafood Festival in the old historic community of Homosassa.  Primarily it was crafts, vendors and food.  We stayed several hours and had a nice time.  We have cruised the area looking at some real estate, simply because they're giving houses away in this area.  We're not buying but it's fun to look.  There are lots of wildlife refuges in the area but many of them are only accessible by water.  However, there are some nice scenic areas adjacent to these refuges that can be viewed by land.

Scene from Crystal River Wildlife Refuge

It really wasn't that windy!

A storm was brewing though!

The Withlacooche State Forest covers thousands of acres in this general area.  There are several tracts, both large and small, that provide great hiking or dog walking.  Debbie and I have visited several of these tracts.  I did eight and a half miles solo the other day in less than 3 hours.  The terrain is almost entirely flat so one can cover the distance quite quickly. 

Less than five minutes up the road is the premier Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park  (HSWSP).

The primary focus of the park is protection of Manatees.  They are SUCH CUTE, HARMLESS creatures!  There are several manatees there in captivity, some that are to be released and others that are too imprinted to return to open water. 

This entire area is home to hundreds of manatees due to the warm spring water that feeds the local rivers.  Consequently, manatee protection and awareness is the salient theme here. 

The park also has a great bird habitat.

We're trying to learn to identify common Florida birds.  Our best guess on this one ... Anhinga?

Whatever he/she is ...lunch is being enjoyed!

Pretty confident this is a Great Blue Heron

White Ibis for sure

Snowy Egret?

Can't mistake the Roseate Spoonbill

Color and Bill give it away

Although it's horns aren't "up" we're pretty sure this is a Great Horned Owl 

We can tell this is a Wood Stork by the bald, black head

Loved seeing the Bald Eagles

We also saw alligators

A hippo

and a  fox.

Additional there's a brief boat ride you can take to enter the park.  The atmosphere of the park is very calm.  It's easy to just mosey, take your time and learn about Florida wildlife.  Debbie and I have already been there twice.  After our initial visit we decided to purchase an annual pass to the Florida State Parks.  We figure we'll justify the expense during the 6 months we're here in Florida.  We returned to HSWSP with Pop and Marge.

Pop and Marge at Wildlife Park
At $10 a head we've already recovered nearly half the cost of the annual pass.

The weather has been beautiful!

Eat an orange!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Departing North Carolina (Pisgah Forest, NC)

Our last day of volunteering in NC was Sunday, 7 Nov, 2010.  We look back on our 4 months in NC with great affection.  The experience was full of great events, great friendships, great moments and so many examples of kindness.  Our first volunteering experienced was nothing short of spectacular!  We even had the opportunity to experience the first snow of the season before we left.  It was a light snow and didn't last long, but fun to see nonetheless.

We drove to SC on Monday.  We stayed at the KOA in Mt. Pleasant.  It was a bit pricey but nice. We would be staying in SC until Friday morning.  Monday night shortly after our arrival we had dinner with Mike and Barbara Rucker.  Mike was my supervisor at the Brig and has become my life long friend.  Debbie and I have enjoyed several very nice outings with both Mike and Barbara.  Dinner was at Smokey Bones and was quite good.  Tuesday we joined Linda and Glenn Davis at their home on the Isle of Palms.  Not sure exactly how long we've been friends with Linda and Glenn, but it's been more then 10 years.  They are both retired from the Department of Corrections and  Debbie met Linda while working there. Debbie had a hair appointment at Linda's swank hair dresser at 3.  Glenn and I hung out, yakked, looked at his tools and had a great afternoon.  Glenn and Linda fed us steak, shrimp, the trimmings and cookies.  Too good!  Wednesday Glenn and Linda joined us at the camper. We then went to have lunch at some little hole in the wall place up the road from the campground.  That evening we joined Evelyn and Gaye for dinner at our favorite mexican place.  (Eating was a central theme to our SC stay.)  Following dinner we went to Evelyn's to play a game of Hand and Foot. Just like when they came to visit us in NC, it was mindless but great fun! Thursday we went to the dermatologist, completed some errands and then joined Donna and friends for dinner.  Donna and Debbie have been friends for 30+ years.  She and her husband, Rich live in Oklahoma City.  Donna was in Summerville visiting her friends and family.  On the way back to our camper we stopped to say goodbye to Glenn and Linda. Again we enjoyed great laughs!  Our brief, energized stay in SC was wonderful!  Unfortunately, the time went by way too fast.  There were more friends we wanted to visit but we just couldn't get it together.  Next time we're in Summerville we'll stay much longer so that we have time to see everyone.  We were so busy running around that Debbie didn't even have time to unpack her camera.  As a result not a single picture from SC!  

Friday we drove to Florida.  It took about 8+ hours but was uneventful.  We are currently staying in a campground in Homosassa Springs.  Its a mixture of overnighters, seasonal folks and a few permanent residents.  Most of it is pleasant enough.  Some sites are little scary but the place was a deal.  We'll be here until the end of November.  The great thing about this move to FL is that it begins our life of moving from place to place because we chose a change of scenery and weather.  Too cool!  Now we play and travel throughout Florida until 28 February 2011.  1 March 2011 we begin another volunteering job at the Marjorie Rawlings State Part in Cross Creek, Fl.  We'll be there until 30 April.

Now that we're "settled in" for a few weeks I'm sure Debbie will get the camera back out and perhaps the blog will be slightly more interesting.

Until then....


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Time Flies (Pisgah Forest, NC)

OMG!  Where has the time gone?  We've been terrifically busy since I last blogged.  We have worked far more than usual for reasons not worth explaining.  In between we haven't had any huge events but lots of pleasing smaller events.  So lets get started.

Oct. 21 we went to Asheville.  We started the day with breakfast at a well reviewed little organic place.  It was unique but the food was not as good as Debbie had hoped.  None the less, it was a pleasant outing.  We then went to the Asheville Farmers Market.  Produce and fruit everywhere....what did I expect?  Really the market had lots of interesting products.  Debbie bought a few do-dads.  Then we went to the WNC Craft Show.  Lots and lots of high dollar crafts.  Nice to see but, no, we didn't buy anything.

Oct. 24 our new friends for life, Bart and Donna completed their volunteering stint and departed.  It was an emotional parting.  We will see them again!

Bart and Donna volunteered in maintenance
Oct. 25 we went to visit "Summerville Donna" and Rich at Charlie's house in Sapphire Valley.

Rich and Donna (Debbie's friend for more than 30 years)
They were visiting from Oklahoma.  Charlie was removing a homemade apple pie from the oven as we arrived.  What a nice way to start a visit.

Charlie with his delicious apple pie
We yakked, had a nice lunch at a nearby golf course restaurant with a fantastic view, yakked some more and departed.  We will see Donna and Rich again on our way out west.
Oct. 27 Debbie and I spent some of the day walking around Brevard.  It's a cute, artsy town.  Pleasant.

Oct.28 we attended our volunteer appreciation dinner.  It was held here in the Discovery Center.  It was a very nice event.  The food was good and the camaraderie was genuine.  There were several gestures of impressive kindness and generosity.  It was the prelude to the beginnings of our goodbyes.

Duane was pleasantly surprised by the fudge he received from Jean and Bud

Jean passed out handmade dish cloths she crocheted.  So nice! 

Oct. 30 our team leaders Dr. Charles and Sue departed.  We never felt like we were working for them, we always felt like we were simply working with them.  They couldn't have done anything more to make our first volunteering effort so enjoyable.

Dr. Charles and Sue Cottingham, our team leaders
Dick and Sue Smith also departed.  We told Sue that no one had ever been more generous nor shown us more kindness in such a short period of time and we meant it! 

Sue and Dick with Cody (a great young fellow who works the fee gate and who we all "adopted")

Debbie and Sue Smith with the afghan Sue helped Debbie make
Prize winning people! We will work hard at seeing these friends in the future.

Later that afternoon Debbie and I  went to see some great little waterfalls.  Their location is not marked by a sign and we had some trouble finding them but they are actually right off the road.  A 3 minute walk took us to a place of serenity.

Looking back, I must conclude that the last couple of weeks have been quite emotional.  It's all good.  We love our life and we're greatful for new and old friends.