Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Correction and More (Cross Creek, FL)

In our last post we "cleverly" spoke of the presence of Buffalo in Florida.  Who knew?  Well, after a moment of clarity (which included speaking to my father, a long time resident of Florida) and a little research we are pleased to announce that there are Buffalo in Florida.  The only problem is that the animals we were viewing at Paynes Prairie were Bison and not Buffalo (not that I've figured out the difference).  There are, however, Buffalo in Florida, raised domestically for their meat.  I also found that there is at least one privately owned hunting preserve located north of Ft. Lauderdale where you can pay to hunt Water Buffalo, if you're so inclined.  So now you've heard "the rest of the story."
So on with our life.  I left you last Wednesday.  Thursday we "worked" again.  Friday we took the camper in, believe it or not,  to have the 9 month old satellite dish replaced as directed by Winegard.  The work did not go well and the problem has not been fully corrected.  I won't bore you with the stupid details but I assure you, we're not pleased!

Saturday we embarked on another marathon trip to replace the last of the furniture in the camper we felt had to go.  This last effort is to replace the 2 fabric recliners.  Please remember our shedding dogs.  We bought 2 Hjellegjerde leather recliners, known also as "Euro" chairs.  You may be familiar.  They're made in Norway and are suppose to be extremely well made.  We are hopeful!  I had the old chairs loaded in the truck and we were on the road a little after 8am.  We then drove 2 1/2 hours to my father's house to give him the chairs.  We carried our fabric recliners into the house, had lunch, yakked a little and then we headed out to pick up the new chairs, not too far from where my father lives.  The pick up went well, except I scraped the front bumper of the truck on a  building.  I was furious with myself.  Debbie said all the right things to minimize my self-imposed anxiety.  The damage is minor but I'm feeling mighty stupid!  We then headed home and got there about 5pm.   The good news is that we love the chairs.  They fit the space very nicely and are quite comfortable.  Here's what they look like if your interested.  I've included a photo of the new lazy boy reclining loveseat we got a few weeks ago also.

Sunday was pleasant and productive.  I went to the laundromat.  You know I love doing the laundry.  Then it only got better.  We went to the SUPER Walmart.  $275 worth but we hadn't done any significant grocery shopping for several weeks.  We didn't buy too much junk, mostly meals, a little makeup, dog biscuits.... you know - only the essentials.

"In life, it's not where you go, it's who you travel with."


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Life at the Creek (Cross Creek, FL)

We've settled into our work routines and life at the Creek only gets better. Without a doubt this location is the most peaceful camping we've experienced thus far.  We have complete privacy, NO road noise, NO fellow camper noise, NO light pollution, deer roaming the woods and the fragrance of citrus blossoms filling the air!  Last week we worked Wed, Thurs and Fri.  Primarily Debbie works in the house and I work the grounds.  Friday was a little cool so Sheila, our park ranger, decided it would be a great day to fire up the wood burning stove.  With the expert assistance of Carl (one of the other camping volunteers) she cooked the crew a ham, green beans, potatoes with turnips and stewed tomatoes.  All the vegetables came from the garden that is maintained as part of the homestead.  Please know I wouldn't normally say I'm a stewed tomato and turnips sort of fellow but the entire meal was fantastic!  Plus, I've never been exposed to cooking on a wood stove.  I thought it was pretty cool the way the cook regulates the temperature by which burner is used.  Closer to the fire is hotter, further is cooler etc.  The stove had 6 burners.

Friday afternoon Debbie and I went to Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park.  It's maybe 15 miles from here.  Anyway we hit pay dirt.   The park has an impressive tower that overlooks the prairie.  Upon our arrival we found waiting for us around 10 buffalo,

a few wild horses,

8-10 deer,

an armadillo,

and a big fat turkey.

Buffalo in Florida!  Who would of thought?? All these critters were 100 - 200 yards away.  Comparatively close!  On the way home we got pizza.  Such a day!!!!!!

Saturday was another great day.  We drove to the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center (state park) in White Springs, about 90 minutes from us.  We'd been invited to a volunteer appreciation picnic hosted by Florida State Parks.  The park highlights the music of American composer Stephen Foster who you might remember wrote such songs as "Way Down Upon the Suwannee River", "Camptown Races" and "Beautiful Dreamer".  I may not have been all that familiar with these tunes, but Debbie remembers them from her childhood piano lessons. The park is adjacent to the Suwannee River.  It has a collection of impressive buildings including a museum featuring exhibits about many of Stephen Foster's most well known songs.

and a 97 bell carillon tower.

It's just a very pretty setting.

The BBQ lunch we were provided was catered and very tasty.   A fine day!

Sunday and Monday we took relaxing to a whole new level.  We did very little and enjoyed it a great deal!  The weather was perfect, we ate well, puttered around, watched the tube and continued to marvel at this concept we call retirement.

Tuesday we were back at "work."  It's never difficult.  Surprisingly, we took a nap on Tuesday afternoon.  That NEVER happens!  Wednesday I found myself in an unexpected project.  The park had a broken outdoor faucet and a broken pipe connected to a well head.  I fixed them both. I enjoyed having a project to sink my teeth into.  Plus it was satisfying to provide an appreciated service.  In the afternoon we took the dogs to a dog park.  They loved it, we loved it and they shared many thank yous!!!!!!

Wishing you the best!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Welcome To Cross Creek (Cross Creek, FL)

We are now volunteering again.  We arrived at the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park in Cross Creek about 3pm last Monday, 28 Feb. 

We are the second of two volunteer couples that camp here.  The other couple, Carl and Nancy are delightful folks.  They have been here since Jan and they worked here last winter.  They'll depart the end of this month.  The campsites are great!  We are nestled into our own portion of the woods far behind the Marjorie Rawlings homestead.

The area is very private, VERY quiet and I'm talking way da da dark!  The only problem with the site, which was built about 18 months ago, is that ours is backwards.   The utility hookups are on the door side of the camper and the grilling/"patio" area is on the opposite side.  Not a big deal, just unfortunate for the state to have paid to have it built wrong.  We spent Monday getting settled.  There's a fair amount of tree cover so we weren't surprised that we didn't get satellite reception (although the control box said it had locked onto the three satellites.)

Tuesday we revisited the satellite subject.  It seemed odd that we were not getting TV reception when the control box said we should.  We called Directv.  They blew us off quickly, told us they thought the satellite dish needed to be replaced and suggested that we return to where we bought the dish (SC).  I'm thinking, "not a chance."  We called Winegard (our satellite is a Winegard Traveler).  They are always so helpful and so pleasant.  After an hour or so and many gyrations to include running a cable from the dish directly to the back of the receiver, they concluded the dish needed to be replaced!!!!!!!   I said respectfully, "please tell me you're certain that this is the only remedy."  They said respectfully, "yes."  The replacement parts have already arrived at an RV place in Ocala and it appears we'll have to pay nothing as the dish is under a year old.  We'll see?  Of course we have to break camp and blah blah blah.  Debbie and I agree that, without exception, the greatest aggravation thus far in our full-timing experience has been the whole TV subject.  We say, whether or not we mean it, that we wish we had just stuck with the standard antenna.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we "trained" to serve as volunteers.   We may do tours so we observed a variety of folks giving tours.  There are some part-time employees and some of local volunteers that come in to do tours.  I'm more likely to give tours than Debbie but we both need to be prepared. In  preparation for this task we have read a great deal about  Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (MKR) to include several of her books.  Additionally, the park ranger had sent us material to study.  Oh so briefly, MKR's greatest claim to fame is writing The Yearling in 1938 which won a Pulitzer prize. Today, her more popular book may be Cross Creek.  Her biographical sketch is far more comprehensive than just a couple of books but I guess you'll have to come for a tour to get the whole scoop. I believe we're both ready to do tours should we be asked.  But the truth is that we are far more likely to perform tasks other than giving tours.  Knowing the info just prepares us to better serve visitors.  The park ranger has already asked Debbie to work on creating some sort of computerized inventory program.  She'll also work on keeping the house clean and other projects as needed.  I will most likely spend the great majority of my time working the grounds.  There's trees to trim, dirt to be moved, wooded areas to be cleared, grass to cut, weeding eating etc.  We're already pleased with how the duties are evolving.  We'll likely work 3 days a week, 8 - 12. The original homestead was 74 acres but the park now includes something less.  I don't know how much less but I'll let you know in the future.  Currently, there's a "lot" of land,

including Marjorie's rambling old "cracker" style house,

tenant house,




and lots of surrounding woods.  There is a county park adjacent to MKR's place (it formerly was her cow pasture) with some spectacular Live Oak trees.

Saturday, my brother Danny and his wife Lorraine visited us! They live in Ohio so we don't get to see them anywhere near as much as we'd like. I enjoy sharing with people that they've been married 40 years!!!!   We of course knew they were coming and we enjoyed a marvelous day together.  I think that when you're on the road it's particularly nice to have visitors.  We love you both and thank you for coming to see us!!!!!!!

Sunday we chilled enormously.  We got up at our leisure and spent the day until about 3:00 reading and probably eating.  We then went to do our laundry.  I think going to the laundromat is relaxing and satisfying.  Tell me I'm not a fun guy!  Afterwards we drove around a bit checking out the local area.

Monday we had the pleasure of driving to Crystal River, Fl to have lunch with our friends Charley and Sherry, and Jeff and Barbie.  These are friendships we have developed through other RV lunches and blogging.   After lunch we followed them back to Rock Crusher Caynon, the campground where both couples are staying.  They both had given the place great reviews and we were anxious to check it out.  It was very nice and we certainly will consider staying there for a month or so next winter.  While there we toured both couple's rigs, yakked and played with dogs.  Charlie and Sherry have the cutest Dachshund, Cheyenne.  Barbie and Jeff just adopted an angelic mutt named Kozmo.  It doesn't get any better..... friends, food and dogs!!!  On the way home we shopped at Goodwill.  I needed to gather some clothing for my MKR "costume".  When working, we are required to be in "period" dress.  The MKR folks provided Debbie with a couple of dresses (pictures will definitely follow).  I had to come up with some old plaid shirts and khakis.  I may also wear a bandanna and/or a straw hat.   It's all part of the routine and we're quite comfortable with their requirements.

Tuesday we just piddled around.  We did a few light chores at the camper.  Debbie did some Rowe admin stuff and  we spent a little time with the park ranger at the house.  For dinner we went to the Cross Creek Volunteer Fire Department fund raising dinner!

It included real mash potatoes, open face turkey sandwich, green beans and dessert.  All for $6.00/plate. The whole event was just very nice.  The food was excellent and we enjoyed socializing with some of the locals. The meal concluded with a raffle for a few food items.  There were maybe 20 tickets in a basket.  One was mine.  We won a pound cake that was 16-18 long!  We split it with a wonderfully pleasant woman from MKR, Judy, who had hemmed some shirt sleeves for me for my MKR wardrobe.

Today we began our more routine chores.  We worked 8 - 12.  Debbie spent the morning cleaning the kitchen floor.   It's  made of rough cut pine.  She scrubbed it with bleach followed by repeated mopping to get up the dirt.  I did some litter patrol along the road in front of the house.  I then fired up a new gasoline hedge clipper, grabbed my limb loppers and attacked the perimeter growth.  We took the pound cake to share with our coworkers and left the balance with our park ranger supervisor.   We then went home, had lunch and cruised some beautiful horse country to look at a couple of RV parks.  What can I say?   Another great day!