Sunday, February 27, 2011

Final Days at Blue Springs and A Return to Alafia River State Park (Orange City and Lithia, FL)

On the Sunday before we left Blue Spring Debbie and I enjoyed a first.  We returned to the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge to participate in an organized bird walk.

It was great!  The guy leading the event was good but one of the fellow birders was off the scale.  He told us that recently he was asked to complete a survey about birding and on the survey he indicated that he birds at least 250 or more days a year!  He was a wealth of info and very helpful.  The walk lasted about 3 hours.  We saw all the usual wildlife and birds, but our fellow birders were particularly excited about identifying this Caspian Tern, which we were told are rare to uncommon.    He was pretty far away so the picture isn't the greatest, but we were able to get a good look at him through the leader's spotting scope.

Monday we returned to Alafia River State Park.  We were scheduled to go to Paynes Prairie State Park but we needed to return to the Tampa area to get our camper warranty work completed. Thus far it's been quite the fiasco but we did get the work done on Friday (more about that day later).  We've been way busy since we've been here.  Most of our days begin nice and slow.  Debbie normally gets up before me and does the coffee routine.  We sit and read a while then I walk dogs and Debbie gets in gear.  Debbie and I are trying to do a better job of working some exercise into our daily routine.  For some time now Debbie begins each day with about 75 minutes of a DVD walking program.  I walk the dogs alot but I'm trying to ensure that most days I do something substantive that will contribute to some form of fitness. So after we settled in on Monday I went for a 6 mile outing with an equal split of walking and running.

After we got rolling on Tuesday I started washing vehicles.  We travel with the truck, Montana and a Toyota Highlander. They ALL NEEDED a bath.  Now please know I hate washing cars.  For the past 20 years, Debbie has done most all of the car washing. Now it's my turn.  So I cleaned the junk out of the car and truck. Vacuumed everything.  Washed and washed and washed.  I even broke out the tire shine stuff!   They look good.  Debbie was pleased.  We then went to Walmart, excuse me, SuperWalmart.  On the way home we hit KFC.  Great day! I'll wash the camper this weekend.

Wednesday I broke all expectations.  We have a Montana Maintenance Checklist.  We've had it for months.  Debbie has "suggested" several times that I need to complete the checklist.  Wednesday was the day.  I'm checking roof seams, squirting grease into zert fittings, tightening fan blade screws, testing CO2 detectors, oiling steps etc!!!!!!!!!  Before the day was done I also removed EVERYTHING from the basement, VACUUMED the basement and returned everything in an orderly manner.  Tell me I'm not cool.

The energy continued on Thursday.  We did our morning routine then went to Parkesdale Strawberry Farm in Plant City.  It's a produce/plant place.  But they also sell all things strawberry. We learned of the place after having a pleasant conversation with some full-timing folks here at the SP.  They are John and Judy and they have a blog:  We read about the place in their most recent entry.  Upon our arrival at Parkesdale we find a line wrapped around the building.

Everybody is waiting for strawberry shortcake, a shake or a bowl of strawberries.

The line moves quickly and prices are very reasonable.

We "settle" for the jumbo strawberry shortcake with ice cream!!!! 

Gee, I wonder why we need some exercise?   The dining room was called the Garden of "Eatin."  It was quite unique, filled with beautiful plants and strawberry stuff galore.

After returning to the SP I hit the mountain bike trails.   I've got to say with all humility that I attacked the challenge.  Granted, I was only on the easy and intermediate trails but I worked it.  I'm getting air, standing and pumping the pedals, laying into the turns and hanging on for dear life.  What a hoot!!!  As I was leaving the trails I came upon a Gopher Tortoise.  He was about the size of an extra large pizza.  Too cool!!

Friday we headed out to get the warranty work done.  But first let me confuse the story.  We travel with our two dogs.  They are WONDERFUL dogs and WONDERFUL travelers.  They also both have WONDERFULLY long hair.  One fellow is pure white and the other is jet black.  At times they shed impressively!  The furniture that came with the camper is cloth.  The two recliners are chocolate brown.  Both fabrics are magnets for hair.  Consequently, we decided to buy new leather furniture. (easy to clean, won't collect or show the hair etc.)   We've ordered two "Euro" recliners that have not yet arrived.  We also bought a Lazy Boy reclining, wall hugger loveseat.  The love seat arrived at the warehouse in Lakeland late Thursday afternoon.  So, trying to make the most of the day, we decide to pick up the love seat on Friday while we're waiting for the warranty work to be completed.  This is where it gets complicated.  Debbie and I can't remove the sofa hide-a-bed from the camper.  Debbie's tough but there's a limit to what she can lift and move.  So I'm hoping I can get someone at the RV place to help me. Oh yes, we also had to change to a different campsite at Alafia on Friday.  So here's how Friday progressed.   Our day started painfully early.  We figured we needed  to get up by 5am so we could break camp and be at Longview RV by 8.  Debbie, fueled with anxiety about what all we needed to accomplish was up at about 2:30am.  I spoke to the folks in the site we were moving onto the day before and found out they were leaving at 5am.  Perfect!  I was up by 4:30. I begin by moving the Highlander, bikes, grill, plants, bird feeder and other yard stuff to the other site which is about 50 yards away.  It seemed to make more sense to move the stuff than pack it just to ride it around all day. Fortunately the sites at Alafia are quite far apart, but we still needed to be quiet.  Plus I have to remove everything we normally carry in the  bed of the truck so I can haul furniture!   I walk dogs (they of course are coming with us).  I make sandwiches for lunch, grab dog food, bowls  and water for all of us. We do everything needed to be done to break camp plus Debbie feels compelled to vacuum the sofa that we are giving away to get rid of any last dog hairs.  Finally we're ready to go dump and then we're on the road to Longview.  We arrive at Longview about 8:15.  I go in and explain all that needs to happen while we're there.  I pull the camper into the service area, disconnect and remove the hitch (gotta make room for furniture).  The service writer fellow finds a guy named Ham to help me with the sofa.   It  proves to be a beast.   Lets remember the door opening is about 28 by 70 (we have a step down right at the door that results in a smaller than normal opening for a sofa that doesn't bend in the middle like me).  The sofa is about 74 inches long.  After a couple approaches and a great deal of forcing, we finally get the sofa out the door.  I force $20 on Ham, he's a good fellow!  We load the sofa, cover it, tie it down and we're gone.  We're giving the sofa to my father.  He lives in Palm Harbor about an hour away.  We arrive there about 10:30.  We have to move a sofa out of the sun room before ours can go in.  My father is 82 so I respectfully insist that he not help with the furniture moving.  Debbie and I and my father's wife Marge (she's 15 years younger)  get one sofa moved out and the other one moved in.  That goes quite smoothly.  We have lunch, chat a bit, walk the dogs and head for Lakeland.  That's about an hour and a half drive.  We load the loveseat, cover it etc and arrive  back at Longview at around 3pm.  The warranty work is complete.  That appears to have gone well.  The backs of the love seat comes off (one of the deciding factors when making the purchase) so, with Ham helping again, it easily fits into the camper.  I put the hitch back in the truck.  We see light at the end of the tunnel.  We drive back to Alafia.  We set up camp again.  We are way pooped!!  We order pizza.  Yes I did eat an entire medium.  Hey, it wasn't a large!  Debbie displayed far greater control.   I also ate half a box of Girl Scout cookies.  It's my reward for a mighty full day. Looking back we were pleased with the day.  Logistically, there was a lot happening.  Lots of things could have gone wrong but nothing does!!!!!!!!!! We fall asleep repeatedly watching tv and finally go to bed. 

Saturday we took it easy.  Debbie did do her DVD program ( I joined in a little).  I also hit the mountain bike trails for about 90 minutes.  Gnarly Dude!

The next time we speak Debbie and I will be at our volunteer job at the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings State Park in Cross Creek, Fl (between Ocala and Gainesville).

If you made it to the end of this, thank you so much for listening!!!!!!!!!!



  1. Geez, you guys need a vacation after all that was done Friday and all that work on the vehicles!I got tired reading about all that was done.

  2. I'm worn out just reading this! Y'all work too damn hard!!!

  3. Wow!! You were quiet... we didn't hear a thing!

    Glad you enjoyed Parksdale.. it's a unique place isn't it!!

  4. Like Charley, I was exhausted after reading about all you did in the one day!! And we know how it is to fall asleep repeatedly while waiting to go to bed!! We do that all the time!