Friday, February 29, 2008

New AC for the house.

Over the past few weeks we've come to realize the 1 house air conditioner we have wasn't going to be enough cooling for us. You know Mr.P LIKES..OK..LOVES his coolness!!!
So after research we made an appointment with Camping World at Lazydays to have another unit installed in the bedroom. Last Tuesday we went over for it to be done. It went very smoothly. Afterwards we moved into Lazydays Rally Park next door. We wanted to be close by for a day while we ran the AC to make sure it ran OK. No problems...yeah!! It even rained on it and no leaks. It's all good.

On Wednesday we moved over to Hillsborough River State Park. This is a great park. 50 amp electric and water for $20.00 a night. Miles of walking trails.
Wonderful place to stay.

Weeki Wachee

On Thursday we went to Weeki Wachee Springs to see the mermaids. From their website I learned... "The Seminole Indians named the spring “Weeki Wachee,” which means “little spring” or “winding river.” The spring is so deep that the bottom has never been found. Each day, more than 117 million gallons of clear, fresh 72-degree water bubbles up out of subterranean caverns. Deep in the spring, the surge of the current is so strong that it can knock a scuba diver’s mask off. The basin of the spring is 100 feet wide with limestone sides and there, where the mermaids swim, 16 to 20 feet below the surface, the current runs a strong five miles an hour. It’s quite a feat for a mermaid to stay in one place in such a current. The Weeki Wachee River winds its way 12 miles to the Gulf of Mexico."

The mermaids have quite a history. Check out their website for the full story.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Catching up

The rest of last week in Hudson passed pretty quietly. We've decided that due to the "cheap" rate we get at the Encore parks the sites are always at the back of the park. This isn't bad as long as the back ..backs up to something besides a busy road. This one backed up to a very busy road. There was a line of trees between us and the road but this didn't do much for muffling the road noise. As long as we kept the door closed and the TV and AC on it wasn't too bad. But, open that door and we thought that NASCAR had moved in next door.

The people we met were friendly. Gary even played pool with some of the guys one day.

On Wednesday we went to the Homosassa Springs Nature Park. This park is a small park with many animals and birds on display. We enjoyed walking around and seeing everything. There were a couple of Ranger lead programs that were very interesting. And best of all, we saw manatees. These are awesome creatures. So gentle. They came right up to the Ranger and ate carrots and sweet potatoes out of her hand. They have 6 manatees in residence. They are in the park due to injuries, mostly caused by boat propellers.

The only non-native animal still in the park is Lulu their hippo. Very impressive creature!!

Check out the pictures...I'm trying something new..a slideshow. If you double-click on the picture the album will open with larger pictures. Or, just let it run.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Florida State Fair

On Saturday we went to the Florida State Fair. It was a fair..fair..smaller than the one held in North Carolina but still very similar. They charged $10.00 entrance fee but parking was free right at the gates. That was walking a mile to get to the entrance.

Rides, exhibits, fried food(Oreos, candy bars, elephant ears, cookie dough, Pepsi, Twinkies), food on a stick (even pizza), hot dogs, polish sausage with onions and peppers. Can you feel the arteries hardening? Large midway, many animal buildings and food..did I mention the food??

1 big difference we found..they sell alcohol too. Beer and hard liquor. That was a surprise to me.
Another area we found different was a Mexican food pavilion. Mexican and Columbian food and beverages were offered.

We enjoyed the Cracker Country exhibit.

Cracker Country features thirteen original buildings dating from 1870-1912. These buildings were moved to their present location from throughout the state, then restored and furnished with antiques of the period.

Demonstrations included blacksmithing, spinning, making traditional "Florida Cracker" Cow Whips, woodcarving, open fire cooking, storytelling, sewing, soap making and old tool demonstrations just as was done 100 years ago.

They also had a sugar cane mill. The mill is driven by horse power and grinds the sugar cane to extract the sap. It is cooked down into a thick syrup. A lot like we make molasses.

We also watched a band called the Sweeney Family Band. Old timey banjo, guitar and bass picking and comedy. Very funny.

At noon there was also a small parade. Several of the local high school marching bands. Folks on motorcycles. Even Elvis on a mini cycle too.

Another difference we noticed was there was not a high police presence. No highway patrol at every entrance or controlling traffic. And not many police within the grounds either.

The fair doesn't seem to be the news story that it is in NC. We have only seen 1 news story about the fair. The reporter went and tried all of the fried foods. She seemed to enjoy it very much. I also heard them talking about the number of people that attended over
the 18 days it was held. I think the final count was about 470,000..a lot less than in NC.

Overall..we enjoyed the visit.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Moving Day

We moved today to Barrington Hill RV Park in Hudson. So far the park is OK. It is right beside a busy road and our site is just behind the bushes from the road. So far, with the AC running and the TV on, we haven't noticed the noise very much. At $120.00 for a 7 nights..I'm not complaining too much. Good water, good power, good sewer connection and space to walk Miss Elli and we're set.

The town of Hudson is pretty small split by state road 19. FL 19 runs for miles up and down the west coast. On the coast side the original village is small and it appeared that most of the homes were built many years ago. We saw that the beach has been closed by the Health Department. Yipes...we won't be visiting it.
On the east side of 19, there are several retirement communities. Overall, the town looks like it could use an economic boost. No building going on and many closed businesses. Sad.

So far we folks we've met have been friendly. Our back door neighbor came right up and welcomed us to the park. There are a lot of planned activities. We probably won't participate in them, but I'm sure the seasonal residents enjoy them.

Tomorrow we're going to the Florida State Fair in Tampa. We're interested in seeing how it compares to the NC Fair. I'll let you know.

Hope you all have a good night. Love, Deb

Valentine's Day

Yesterday started out a bit slow..Gary took a tumble while walking Elli. No immediate injuries..just pretty sore..more so as the day went on. And, as usual he is more sore today but hopefully it will start improving soon.

Thankfully..the day got better after that. We drove over to Solomon's Castle.
This castle was built many years ago by an artist named Howard Solomon and his family. It is out in the middle of the Florida countryside. It is quite a sight to see. At first we thought it was covered with aluminum foil. But upon closer inspection decided he had used sheet metal to cover the outside. Interesting. Most of the windows were made with stained glass. They were pretty nice. It was good to walk around and look at it all on a sunny but cool day with the person I love. :)
While there we eat lunch at the "Boat in a Moat" restaurant.. Yes, the boat is really in a moat. All though the water in the moat is about dried up due to the drought. The food served was excellent. I had pot roast with real mashed potatoes and spinach casserole. Gary had chicken pot pie. All of their food is home made on site. A very good meal for a pretty reasonable price.

We talked to a couple of other TT members that were there and learned there was a Lippizan stallion farm nearby. They gave us directions and we went looking. On the way, we realized there was a pretty big fire nearby. So, being a bit nosy we decided to drive over and check it out. We drove and drove and I swear that fire kept moving further away from us. Finally we turned on the last road and there it was. Running down the side of the road for about a mile. We talked to a fire person/emergency person that came along while we sat on the side of the road. (You know I had to take pictures). He was checking out the fire and thought it had been deliberately set as a "controlled" burn. Huh!! It didn't look very controlled to me. Thankfully the smoke was blowing away from the road and it wasn't causing any problems for the traffic. There was a fire brake(his term) running down the side of the fire between the fence and the fire. I guess that is supposed to keep the fire "contained" within the fence. I don't think that always works but it appeared to be working today.

After much picture taking..we went back to looking for the Lippizan stallion farm. Thanks to our handy GPS we got back on track and located it without any problem. When we arrived we learned we were just in time for a demonstration by the stallions. These exquisitely beautiful Lipizzaner stallions were being exhibited during a training demonstration.

The stallions are descended from the original surviving Lipizzans rescued at the end of WWII by General George Patton. They trace their ancestry back to Austria and are descended from Andalusian bloodstock. From the program we bought and their website, I learned that Sir Ottomar Herrmann of the Original Royal Lipizzan Stallions of Austria was loved and admired by millions all over the world. Most knew him as Col. Herrmann. He was a world renowned equestrian and humanitarian.

Col. Herrmann passed away on the last leg of an east coast tour in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. His daughter Gabriella Herrmann and her family are honoring his greatest wish for people to see the miracle of the White Stallions. Gabriella Herrmann and her family plan to continue to present the rare white stallions for the world with performances on the Ranch and tours throughout the country.
While waiting for the show to begin we were allowed to tour through one of their barns. We also got to see their newest Mom and her foal. The foal was only 2 days old. Mom didn't seem to mind us being nearby and the foal was just taking a nap in the straw.

The show lasted about an hour and a half. It was very good. The stallions used were young..from the kindergarten class on up to about 5 years of training. They also showed a couple of stallions that were well trained and had been performing for years. Overall, a great way to spend the rest of the afternoon. Even Elli seemed to enjoy as she was allowed to sit with us while we watched the show. And as usual, she got her share of attention by other spectators. Lots of pats and rubbing of the ears. She was smiling.

All in all..not a bad way to spend a Valentines Day. I hope you all had a wonderful day with your loved one(s).

Love to you all and good night. Deb

Solomon's Castle and the Boat in the Moat...creature in the yard too.

Fire in the county..

Lippizan Stallions..and Miss Elli..taking a nap while we watched.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Rain and more rain

If you've seen the news for Florida in the last day or saw that much of the state has been getting hammered by rain and thunderstorms. Fort Myers (where we were last week) got over 3" of rain. Sanibel Island got over 5". Up here in Wauchula we didn't get as much but it still poured down off and on all night and this morning. We were under a tornado watch for most of the night but as far as I know no tornado's were sighted. It still made for a very UNrestful night!!! I had all my "personal stuff" next to the door in case we had to leave in a hurry.
It is starting to clear up now so hopefully this storm system is moving on out to the east. Florida needs the rain, but I don't like thunderstorms..they weren't as scary when we lived in a brick house. Living in an aluminum/fiberglass box is a little more "hairy"..
Anyway..all is Ok and I'm looking for a ray of sunshine to pop out soon.

Yesterday while we traveled over to Osteen and came back in the rain..we had a hitchhiker riding with us...A lizard..He moved into the truck when we were at Fort Myer and we can't catch him. He moves so fast and is now hiding inside of the windshield side post cover. We're worried he is going to die from thirst or hungry. :(

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Peace River Preserve Wauchula Florida

On Sunday we moved back to Peace River Preserve. One of the best "benefits" we've gained from making our rig purchase at Lazydays has been the membership with Thousand Trails. This membership usually runs for thousands of $$$ to join. Lazydays has a contract with TT that allows us to try out the parks(they call them Preserves) for 3 months. Then, if we wish to keep the membership we just pay the annual membership dues. No buy in cost. This membership gives us access to 26 parks in the eastern US and Texas. We also can "upgrade" to the national membership for some additional $$$. This would give us more than 50 locations in the US. We've talked to TT about this and may decide to upgrade later. That would give us access to a lot of parks on the west coast. So far, we used the preserves at Orlando and Peace River. We've loved them both. Very nice parks with lots of activities and great folks. We're booked to go back to Orlando next week then return to Peace River in March. As the weather warms up a bit more we hope to go along the gulf coast and try out the preserves in Alabama and Texas.

Monday was a kick around the park day. I worked for most of the day while Gary waxed on the house. In the afternoon I took a break and we walked about a mile through the nature trails. That was a welcome break. I've been working on a special project for the Associate Director of my department and it is "kicking my butt"!!!. I'm having to drag up some old Microsoft Excel and Access skills that I haven't used in a while.

Today we're making a run over to Osteen to pick up our mail. Three weeks worth!! Yipes..hopefully nothing too important has been sitting there waiting for us.

While we're here we're going to go over to the Wal Mart in New Smyrna Beach to pick up a prescription we have waiting. And go by Flapjacks and More for lunch..Hi Bubba and Anna..see you shortly.

Talk to you all soon. Love, Deb

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Our week at Fort Myers Beach RV Resort

On Sunday we moved about about 85 miles from Peace River Preserve in Wauchula to Fort Myers Beach RV Resort. When we arrived we found the office closed. A note was posted on the door with our name and a site number on it. Suzanne and Gary had arrived before us and following instructions from the Encore management picked out what appeared to be the best 2 sites that were together. Facing each other..Great!!!

We moved on in. Set up and moved all the outdoor furniture out. Super Bowl night!!!.. Gary was cheering the Giants on and it was great they won. I actually worked while he watched the game. Gary T and Suzanne wandered in and out doing their own thing. They aren't football fans. Gary T watched a little bit. We enjoyed the evening and slept pretty good that night.

On Monday morning Gary T and I went up to the park office to check us in. When we told them what site numbers we had, the office lady told us we were going to have to move. :(

We were NOT happy campers. The roads and sites in this park are very narrow. ..Did I say they were narrow?? Yes, they were narrow...narrow..narrow.. We felt lucky to have moved in on Sunday without mishap. Anyway..turns out the sites we were parked on were leased to 2 other campers for 3 months. Evidently they both had left on Sunday morning to go somewhere else. So the sites were vacant and not posted as reserved...we had no idea they were "taken".

Anyone have $5.00 to give these folks for a couple of reserved signs?? Sure would have been nice if the sites had been marked.

We asked the park if they could call the folks to see what their plans were..maybe they weren't planning to return this week..nope..wouldn't do it. So, it meant we had to move
(and guess what.. they did not return to their sites all week).

So we first they wanted to separate us by about 4 rows..and the site for Gary and Suzanne was just not possible for their rig. It is 35' long with a 3' bike rack on the back. Finally, the staff decided they could move to the site beside us (back to back)..Yuck we lost our joined patio area. Oh well..we moved..didn't hit anything..and didn't damage anything. Other than losing time on Monday for all of has worked out fine.

On Monday afternoon we drove across the bridge ($6.00 to cross) to Sanibel and Captiva Island. After stopping at the Visitors Center we drove around the islands and just looked. This appears to be an expensive place to play. $2.00 an hour to park in any lot. We checked on a dolphin tour but decided not to spend the money. $20.00 each for about an hour's ride. Lots of very nice homes. We did find a coconut on the ground and brought it back as a souvenir. Nice place to visit, but we won't spend much time here. There doesn't appear to be much to do except the beaches. Which are beautiful and known for having good shells.
Oh yes..there was shopping...lots of shopping.

On Tuesday we went to Lover's Key State Park. $5.00 to enter the park and stay all day. No additional parking fees. Suzanne had been told this was a good place to go. Good park with a beautiful beach. Only negative.. the beach was quite a ways from the parking lot. However, a tram driven by a very friendly driver took us and all of our gear out. We stayed for about 5 hours. It was great. Gorgeous white sand and clear clear water. A bit "brisk" in temp..but can you believe we went in ..swimming in the ocean in February!!! Wow!!

Thank goodness Gary T and Suzanne had a wonderful beach umbrella. The sun would have cooked us otherwise. As it was, Suzanne got a bit too much sun. Gary and I did OK. I used sun screen and wore my sundress part of the time. Suzanne and I walked the beach and found many nice shells. Good exercise..Walk....bend..stoop..stand up..Walk....bend..stoop..stand up..over and over again. I enjoyed it very much. We finally called it a day about 4:30 and headed back to the house. After showers and dinner in..I worked for the rest of the evening.

Wednesday morning, we went to the Thomas Edison, Henry Ford Estates. Many years ago, Thomas Edison purchased a "farm" on the river for a winter home. Some time later his friend Henry Ford purchased the home next door. Edison spent much of his time while there researching ways to extract rubber from plants. Many varieties of trees and plants were brought in and are growing on the grounds. For $20.00 ($19.00 w/ AAA discount) we toured the houses, grounds, museum and Edison's lab. It was very interesting. I learned a lot about Edison. He still holds the record for the most patents for his inventions ever awarded to anyone. We can thank him for many many things we still use today.
We also saw the largest banyan tree in the continental US. Quite impressive. I still think the one at Cypress gardens is more attractive. Maybe just the setting..don't know just looked better. But this one is definitely impressive. There were also very large and impressive fig trees. And one of the largest bougainvillea plants I've ever seen. It was blooming and was quite beautiful.

On Thursday Gary and Suzanne went to visit a cousin of Gary's. She will soon be 100 years old. Wow ..may we all live so long and be so healthy.

After I worked on Thursday morning, Gary and I took Ellie to the Bonita Springs dog beach. This beach was great fun for her. She was allowed off her leash and got to play with over 20 dogs. She ran and jumped. We could see the smile on her face.

On Friday, I worked again in the morning. After a yummy lunch at McDonald's, we all went down to the Big Cypress Seminole Indian reservation. We stopped at Billie Swamp Safari and went on an air boat ride. VERY COOL!!! We saw multitudes of alligators, birds, wild boars, buffalo (I know..who'd have thought you'd see these in Florida..imported from the wild west I guess)..a couple of ostrich, a few raccoons, and more birds..then when we got back we went through a zoo area they had. Beautiful macaws, slithery snakes and more alligators. Pretty good place to visit.

While on the air boat ride..we stopped near the shore and the driver put out dog food in the water. Well..the wild boars, birds and alligators had a feast..on the dog food..not on each other..which we thought the boars would have made a tasty meal for the alligators..but they weren't interested in them at all..just wanted the dog was quite a sight.. pretty close to the boat too.. they didn't pay much attention to the boat..except to come closer and closer to get the dog food...big teeth..We were reminded to keep our extremities inside of the boat..

Saturday was a work around the house day (getting ready to move again)..and I worked for UNC too..then we treated Gary and Suzanne to their first meal at CiCi's Pizza. This is a pretty good place to eat all the pizza, pasta and salad you want for a very reasonable price. To walk all of that off we went next door to the Northern Tool and Equipment store.
Can you say "Boys and their big boy tools" ?? It is actually an interesting store to wander around in. and more tools..

Once we got back to the house we walked Miss Elli and sat down for our last card game. Gary and Suzanne have taught us how to play Euchre. This is a pretty fun game with a couple of tricky rules. The first time we played Suzanne and I cleaned up. But this time Gary and Gary came out on top. We played a last game to break the tie and Gary/Gary won that one too. :(

This morning..we got up to see Gary and Suzanne off. They are continuing on their journey west. We packed up and moved back to Peace River. We're going to stay here until at least Friday. Not sure where we'll go after that..

Good Night to you all..Love, Deb

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Thomas Edison and his Banyan tree

Lover's Key Beach

77*...just a little bit cool!!!

My favorite spot on the beach...a chair..a drink and a you need anything more?

Our Home at Fort Myers RV Resort

Gary T found this shell on the Causeway to Sanibel Island. It's owner was still in residence so we returned it to the sea.

I "think" these are White Ibis birds

Red Shouldered Hawk

An Anhinga having lunch..also called a Snake Bird..can you tell why??