A Mini Post

It's been a while since I've seen an old fire tower.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen an old fire tower.

…A mini post as far as content today.

We didn’t see the ships today.  Ron was sick and spent most of the day in bed.  I am not feeling great, either.  It didn’t help that it was really cold today.

Another wonderful old tree.

Another wonderful old tree.

So I just walked Sheba around the park, and that was the extent of our adventures.  Except for the price shock of the little country grocery store we stocked up at this evening.  WOW!

But the refrigerator and freezer are packed, so we are good for a week or so.

Tomorrow is supposed to be up in the 60’s and sunny.  Probably it would be a good day for visiting the Pinta and Nina.  But we have decided to wait until the weekend crowd is over.  The ships will be here until the 23rd.  So we’ll wait for a warm, sunny day during the week.

I love rock scaping!

I love rock scaping!

I was thrilled to see two kinds of tiny wild violets blooming all over the campground today.

Also tomorrow is laundry day.  I have a new laundry system that I tried out at Gail’s house, and it’s a perfect solution to being where laundromats are not available or are not clean.

It’s a Wonder Wash and a spin dryer that gets the clothes damp dry.  (I also have a Wonder Wash at home for power outages and love it.) And I have a wooden rack I’ll secure to the trailer as unobtrusively as possible to dry them on.  I’ll show you how it works out tomorrow.  🙂

 

I’ll close with some sweet little violet pictures:

violet3

violet2

violet4

 

Newport Campground

At Newport Park

Ron talking with the sweet camp host at Newport Park. Sunny is visible in the Casita door if you look closely. 🙂

We just spent a wonderful week driveway camping at Gail’s, grilling ribs and steaks and eating way too much good food.

The front of the park facing the county road.

The front of the park facing the county road.

This evening we are at Newport Park, a sleepy little campground near Crawfordville, Florida.  This park is near the Gulf after Florida curves back in from the Panhandle.  So it’s only 90 miles from Live Oak.

The river offers fishing and boating, and there is a wildlife observation area across the road.   There are several large dogs here.  Since Sheba won’t quit barking at them, she is on restriction inside the camper.  To her, that’s a fate worse than death!

Walkway over the swamp to the river observation deck

Walkway over the swamp to the river observation deck

Replicas of the Pinta and Nina are supposed to pull into nearby St. Marks tomorrow.  I would love to go see them.  I guess we’ll put the dogs in the truck and try to find a shaded spot for them.  Since Sunny has lost part of his little mind, we can’t leave him in the trailer and go places anymore.  He yips hysterically the whole time we are gone.   So far, he will still stay in the truck with Sheba without causing a commotion.

Fish cleaning station

Fish cleaning station

This campground is way out in the boonies of the old Florida.  Oddly enough, my paternal grandmother lived in this area when she was young, but it is the first time we’ve been here.

I was afraid we’d be without a cell signal as I watched it disappear the closer we got to our campground.  But I am relieved to discover that we get 2-3 bars here, which is enough for phone calls and uploading pictures.

St. Marks River

St. Marks River

We plan to stay here a week, then head for Florida Caverns State Park.  We are still just making our itinerary up as we go along.

And loving it!

The bridge.  There are signs offering a reward for reporting a tagged striped bass.

The bridge. There are signs offering a reward for reporting a tagged striped bass.

 

 

 

Salt Springs, FL

Fishing buddies

Fishing buddies

I was surprised to see an egret calmly scouting for fish next to the fisherman.  They did look like they appreciated each others company.  The egret let Sheba and I approach fairly closely, but then started getting a little agitated.  So I moved around him in a wide arc, and when I looked back, he was searching for fish again.

This man and his wife are camping with a cat, dog, and 22 year old bird.

This man and his wife are camping with a cat, dog, and 22 year old bird.

We have camped at Salt Springs 3 or 4 times before, but when we drove into the park this time its beauty really struck me.  I had forgotten how pretty it is.

We have been unable to go to the day use area and springs this time.  When we were here before, we could leave the dogs in the truck in the shaded parking lot while we explored.  But now, in addition to rules against leaving pets unattended, and no pets in the day use area, there is a new one forbidding leaving them in vehicles.   Maybe Ron and I will take turns pet sitting  so we can enjoy it one at a time.

Our site

Our site

Nevertheless, we are loving being here.  We had a couple of chilly days, but now it’s up in the mid 60’s again.  Wonderful walking weather!

We are planning to have lunch with my cousin tomorrow, then friends from Silver Springs are coming to visit us Sunday.  I’m looking forward to both visits!

Bird prints in sand

Bird prints in sand

There are 6 camp hosts here.  The others have big rigs.  One has this little not-quite-restored vintage trailer.  :)

There are 6 camp hosts here. The others have big rigs. One has this little not-quite-restored vintage trailer. 🙂

This is as close as we can get to the spring area with our dogs.

This is as close as we can get to the spring area with our dogs.

One more picture of Sunny sleeping on his "binky."

One more picture of Sunny sleeping on his “binky.”

There are still things blooming -- even in January!

There are still things blooming — even in January! I’m not sure what the red things are.

 

Cell service is almost non-existent here.  Sometimes we can’t get on the net at all.  Sometimes we can send text emails.  And once in a while we get two bars and can upload photos.  Apparently there is wifi available at the office because I saw 4 campers working on laptops when we checked in.

 

So Very Happy!

at magnolia park

I can’t remember when I have been so happy and felt so contented.  It’s so beautiful here at Magnolia Park.  It’s been in the 70’s, but a cold front is moving in so it will be in the 60’s for a while.

One of several large fire pits for youth groups.

One of several large fire pits for youth groups.

I checked the weather at Salt Springs (where we will be heading Monday) and today it’s the same temperature as here.  It is feeling like a perfect, endless spring to me.

No exciting news.  We shop.  We do laundry.  Walk the dogs.  Eat.  Sleep.  And I’ve been catching up on hand sewing in the evenings.  I had to hem the shower curtain yesterday because it dragged the bathroom floor a little — just enough to bother me.  And I’ve hemmed two pairs of Ron’s new jeans with only one more to go.

So peaceful!

So peaceful!

I was talking to Mom this morning about the miracle of Ron and I being in a 17′ trailer with two dogs for going on three months — and still liking each other.  🙂

Sunny has made a dramatic improvement. I am astounded.  If we take him out to go to the bathroom after 10:30 p.m. he is making it through till morning without accidents.  He has only had a couple of mild anxiety attacks.  I was really shocked when I took him to the vet to get more eye medicine and he trotted into the vet’s office without a qualm.  Then on the way home in the truck, instead of hyperventilating and shaking, he fell asleep on the truck’s floor.

Sunny asleep on the truck floor.

Sunny asleep on the truck floor.

He can even enjoy short walks again with us.

I think camping is very good for him.

Sheba is okay, but being tied up while we are not walking her is not something she enjoys.  But she seems to be tolerating it pretty well.

One more cool thing — I found the cutest mini colander for the Casita.  It’s just 6″ in diameter and it will come in handy for so many things.  I can also put it in a larger pot to make a steamer.

But the main reason I bought it was simply that it is so cute!  🙂

The cute little mini colander

The cute little mini colander

 

 

 

 

Gnarly Old Trees

palmetto growing in tree fork

This is the first time I have seen a palmetto growing in a tree fork.

 

The trees here at Magnolia Park fascinate me.  Such noble old great-grandfather trees with fantastic stories to tell if only we could understand tree language.  These trees are so individualistic.  It’s almost like they ought to have names — like Joseph, Methusela, Luther and Eugene.  Oh, and Harold!  😀

This tree is a gigantic flower pot for ferns.

This tree is a gigantic flower pot for ferns.

The day use park and campground were full of little children today.  They are so cute and so much fun to watch.  It is especially sweet to see a shy little girl trying to scrunch up her courage to pet Sheba.  Sheba bounces, but rarely actually jumps up on them now.  The kids are always amazed at her soft, silky fur.

I have almost floated through the day… so happy for the gift of being here!  Other than being happy and grilling yummy pork chops tonight, it’s a slow news day!

This tree needs to have a tire swing hung from it.

This tree needs to have a tire swing hung from it.

A see-through tree

A see-through tree

Sextuplets.  5 still living.  :)

Sextuplets. 5 still living. 🙂

A long, skinny split

A long, skinny split

Quintuplets

Quintuplets

This tree has had extensive surgery.

This tree has had extensive surgery.

Only the palms are straight.

Only the palms are straight.

 

 

Wintering in Florida

Azaleas blooming in January

Azaleas blooming in January

I am still in a bit of shock that we are really spending the whole winter down here.  I used to think that was only for well-to-do snowbirds from way up north — never me!

There was a group of 4 peacocks today, but I couldn't catch them close enough together to get them all in one picture.

There was a group of 4 peacocks today, but I couldn’t catch them close enough together to get them all in one picture.

The affordableness of it is what staggers me!   Just by making it a top priority, the finances just kind of fall into place.

We had both dogs groomed yesterday — a full grooming for Sunny, and a mini groom for Sheba.  Sunny looked so bad, I was ashamed for anyone to see him.  I kept putting the grooming off for him due to his anxiety attacks.  But finally there was no putting it off any more.

Another leaning tree (besides the one I photographed yesterday).

Another leaning tree (besides the one I photographed yesterday).

Also I wanted to get Sheba a sanitary trim so she would be easier to keep clean (and smell better).

While we were in Ocoee doing laundry yesterday, we noticed a dog groomer in the same shopping center.  I asked if they accepted walk-ins and they did.  So I got Sunny and Sheba off the truck and left them at the groomer.

Sunny was already having an anxiety attack from the truck ride.  I give him a Benedryl when he is really out of control and it does calm him down — a little.  But it didn’t do much for him yesterday.

Base of the leaning tree.  Looks like it's not going to be able to support itself too much longer.

Base of the leaning tree. Looks like it’s not going to be able to support itself too much longer.

Sunny apparently was yipping, pacing and shaking during the entire grooming… and got so upset that he wet on the table.  The groomer said he really went ballistic when she tried to trim his face.  This is so unlike the little dog who used to stand statue still for grooming.  Everyone always told me what a good boy he was.  But he even does that now when I try to brush his ears or tail or wash his face.  And he gets aggressive if I keep trying.

Resurrection ferns on the leaning tree.

Resurrection ferns on the leaning tree.

So I think that might have been his last grooming.  I will try to keep his hair from getting too bad myself.

Sheba, on the other hand had ticks that I had missed in her thick fur.  So the groomer hand picked them off and gave her a dip.  She also got a haircut and it is amazing how much neater and cleaner she looks (and smells).

So the bill for having my two difficult dogs groomed was $115 plus tip! But it was worth every penny to us.

Sunny's haircut

Sunny’s haircut

There is another couple in a Casita here.  They parked next to us for a couple of days, but had to move today as another person had a reservation for the site they were in.  So they moved across the loop from us.

Ron has spoken to the man, but I haven’t had a chance to speak to his wife except for a few words.  They are constantly going and doing.  They did ask Ron if he would close their windows (from the outside) if it rained today.  But we lucked out with no rain.

Sheba

Sheba

We are an odd sort of snowbird, I guess.  We aren’t much for going and sightseeing.  Instead we love to choose beautiful places to camp, then spend our time there observing the marvelous details of nature around us.

What matters is that Ron and I are content and are loving our lives as they happen day by day.

Sheba showing off her haircut

Sheba showing off her haircut

 

A Dump — or Just Rustic?

Suspension bridge.  The original one was built by the CCC in the 30's.

Suspension bridge. The original one was built by the CCC in the 30’s.

campground road

Campground road

After I saw the dirt campground road with the sandy dirt sites, and the 90 degree back-in between two trees, I understood why O’Leno State Park had reservations available.  🙂

rustic

It’s rustic. Hope it doesn’t rain.

To be fair, when I chose this site online I didn’t know that it was the hardest one to get into in the park.  There were others that would have been a breeze to back into.

But, by the time I got the Casita situated, I would have left immediately and gone somewhere else — if there had been somewhere else to go.

I had read that there are some really interesting history and features of nature here, though.  So Ron, Sheba and I took off to find some.

no jumping

The sign says “No jumping off bridge.” Just in case you were tempted to. 😀

The nature center and little museum closed at 3:00, so we missed them.  But the little we did see whetted our appetite for more.

I’m especially curious about where the river disappears into a sinkhole and resurfaces again 3 miles farther on.  I read that the places where the river disappears and reemerges are not accessible to vehicles — and I doubt very seriously my arthritic hips could stand a 6 mile round trip hike, but hopefully I can at least see where it disappears.

The town that was on this site, settled in the 1860’s, was originally named Keno.  However “due to ecclesiastical and commercial pressures” the name was changed to Leno in 1876.  O’Leno is from Old Leno.  The town was a bustling commercial success until it was bypassed by the railroad and deteriorated into a ghost town.

1930's CCC work

1930’s CCC work

Tonight my floor feels like a beach.  We leashed Sheba to the trailer steps so she could lie on the mat and not get too dirty.  She promptly decided she preferred to  lie in the sand underneath the trailer.  So much for trying to keep the trailer clean while we are here.  Sheba is a giant sand powder puff.

But after I came to terms with all the dirt, I am glad we came.  The area is beautiful and there is lots to see.

Even though the site is dirt and sand, we do have a nice private front yard.

Even though the site is dirt and sand, we do have a nice private front yard.

I took this picture simply because it is the biggest ugliest tree gall I have ever seen!

I took this picture simply because it is the biggest ugliest tree gall I have ever seen!

 

 

The Little Things – Good and Bad

Beach weather  :)

Beach weather 🙂

It’s raining now and we are under a tornado watch until 6:00 pm.  Before the rain it was muggy and in the high 70’s.  But a beautiful stiff breeze made it comfortable — and fun — to be out in.

In spite of the windy weather, this morning a yellow butterfly’s random, seemingly chaotic flutter wowed me.  I tried to get a photo, but he was too fast and moving too erratically.

Dandy Lion :)

Dandy Lion 🙂

I was almost as thrilled to see a sweet little dandelion blooming, along with some other little yellow flower.  The wind bounced the flowers around so much that their photo is blurry.  But I’m posting it because yellow flowers and butterflies in January are a miraculous sight to me.

Our water heater died today.  I checked the Casita Forum’s fix for the problem.  I found the exact same situation we have, and very confidently attempted the repair that worked on the board.

What a beautiful assortment of plant life -- in January!

What a beautiful assortment of plant life — in January!

It did not work on my water heater.  So we’ll have it looked at sometime soon.  In the meantime, it’s campground showers for me instead of using my sweet little trailer’s bathroom.

We were caught unprepared for all of the fully booked campgrounds.  We’ve been down here for almost this long before and could always find someplace.  This time there simply are no vacancies in  any of the state parks we are interested in until late March and early April.  So now I’m trying to find PA campgrounds for after we leave O’Leno State Park on January 12.  Some of them do offer the discount all year, but I’m not sure it will be a lot of fun to stay there.

We could stay in the Forest Service campgrounds, but since we can’t count on solar power when it rains, we hate the idea of not having hookups to power our electronic toys to help pass the long winter evenings.

A primitive site in the now-empty primitive section.

A primitive site in the now-empty primitive section.

So we’ll have to be better organized next trip.

I have totally broken my cardinal rule of not cooking in the Casita.  If the weather is bad, I usually just fix sandwiches or a salad.  But that gets old, so I just bite the bullet and cook inside when I have to, and figure I’ll worry about cleaning the carpet of any lingering smells later.

I REALLY wish I had washable walls and ceiling!

We are really looking forward to staying at a park we haven’t visited before.  And tomorrow’s the day we leave here and head there!

 

Contentment

Evening coming on.

Evening coming on.

As lovely as Ocean Pond is, I think it is the mix of people here that make it so special to me.  It’s a mix of all ages, but everyone I speak to is friendly and laid back.  No Type A’s here that I can tell!  🙂

I just fell in love with a little guy around 4 or 5 years old today.  He walked up to Sheba while we were out for a walk and started petting here.  He said, “I know this dog, and she won’t hurt me.”  Sheba was as calm as I’ve ever seen her, instead of her usual rambunctious inclination to jump on people who pay her attention.

I asked him his name and he said, “Zayton.”  “I’m Mrs. Sharon,” I replied.  He solemnly stuck out his little left hand and said, “It’s good to meet you.”  I was stunned at his poise and good manners.  And very, very impressed with him. Someone is doing an amazing job of parenting him.

One of the things I love best here is taking a walk a while before sunset.  Then on the way back, I get to walk toward the sunset and see all the people finishing their bike rides and walks before dark… and I usually find several campers with their backs to the road, just lost in the splendor of the unfailingly gorgeous sunsets over the lake.

Serenity

Serenity

One of our neighbors is a couple we met at Eastbank.  They are the ones with the self-built motor home.  Sheba is crazy about them because they always have a dog biscuit in their pockets for her.  What a sweet, fun way to make friends with dogs and their owners, too!

So we don’t have any exciting news, but we are so happy and content.  Next week it’s supposed to be chilly when we are at O’Leno State Park.  So I hope we can find available sites farther south after that.

I have had to cancel two sets of reservations on this trip due to our changing our plans.  We really hate to tie ourselves down to being at a certain place at a certain time.  As a result, we do miss out on some of the places we’d like to stay when they are booked solid.

There are still a few wildflowers blooming.

There are still a few wildflowers blooming.

I’ve noticed something about availability in state parks during winter in Florida.  Central and East Florida are usually booked solid.  However, sites on Florida’s west coast usually have sites available (except for the most popular parks).  I don’t understand why that is because the west coast is a lot more beautiful to me than the east.  But they also are usually more expensive, which might explain some of it.  Also there are stretches that don’t have any big cities, which makes a difference for people looking for attractions to visit.

Anyway, all of the places I wanted to see there are out of our budget, so we’ll just go where and when we can find spots.

 

Back at our “Home” Campground

Sunset reflecting off the Spanish moss in our "front yard."

Sunset reflecting off the Spanish moss in our “front yard.”

We spent a wonderful week at Gail’s new house.  And Gail invited everyone over for Christmas… even though she does not have her furniture in yet.  However, we did fine by improving with camp chairs, using the van beds as sofas!

To my delight, Gail's new yard sprouted several earthstars!

To my delight, Gail’s new yard sprouted several earthstars!

And it was the happiest, most relaxed Christmas I can remember.  Mom and her new husband Jean were there.  And between a spiral ham and a smoked turkey, we really feasted!

I’m getting my days mixed up a bit.  Can’t remember if my baby sister and her husband showed up Christmas or the day after along with their granddaughter Mikala.

We are back at Ocean Pond for a week.  After that, we’ll head to O’Leno State Park.  And I’m not sure where we’ll head after that.

I was sitting in the truck while Ron went into Walmart for a few items.  I watched the crows gather on the only two red vehicles in that area of the parking lot.  It struck me odd that they preferred red to all the other colors.

I was sitting in the truck while Ron went into Walmart for a few items. I watched the crows gather on the only two red vehicles in that area of the parking lot. It struck me odd that they preferred red to all the other colors.

I was praying that we could get an electric site here, which is tricky since you can’t make reservations.  But we scored the last one available!

We are happy and content, and after two months camping, we still don’t want to even think of going back home.

I doubt that you can see him, but a biker is standing watching the sunset, totally lost in the splendor.  He was still there when I walked back by him around 15 minutes later.

I doubt that you can see him, but a biker is standing watching the sunset, totally lost in the splendor. He was still there when I walked back by him around 15 minutes later.

Fishermen

Fishermen

Another shot of our beautiful campsite.

Another shot of our beautiful campsite.

 

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