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.

 

Tall Pines RV Park, Shreveport, LA

We got to Tall Pines RV Park in Shreveport around 4:00.  What a great place to overnight!  Clean, quiet, extremely friendly office staff, and a small, well-behaved office dog.   Well behaved dogs are welcome.  They even have a fenced area where dogs can run free off leash.  Badly behaved children are not welcome.  Ahhhh!!!  Overnight heaven!  🙂

Ron said the bathrooms are spotless and smell good.  I prefer to use the little bathroom in the Aliner.

The weather here is gorgeous.  I had all the camper’s windows open catching a balmy breeze earlier.  I plan to leave one open all night for the fresh air.

The park is packed, but it is blissfully quiet.

We paid $10 less than the going rate because our rig is so small.  What a nice surprise!

It feels good to settle in for the night.  Instead of going out to eat, I just opened cans of Chunky Clam Chowder and melted cheese on Rosemary Olive Triscuit crackers.  A nutritionist’s nightmare, probably, but easy, and it leaves us a little more money to spend on fun things with Mike and Gail!

I plan to tat this evening.  Have one more Christmas gift I’m trying to finish.  Then I’ll surf a little while, get a shower, and crawl between the sheets.

It was a strange discovery to realize that a nice RV park with parallel rows of rigs a few feet apart can be much quieter and more restful overnighting than a beautiful state park–with rude campers.

Salt Springs Recreation Area, Ocala National Forest, FL

Salt Springs

Salt Springs. You can see the deeper source of the springs in the foreground.

We left Mom’s house and headed for Salt Springs.  There were no reservations available online, but they hold several sites for first-come, first-served.  Since we were arriving on Wednesday before the Labor Day weekend, we thought we stood a good chance of getting one.

There was a whole section available, so we were fortunate.  The campground has been redone, and all the sites are grassy with shade trees, with a huge common area in the center between

Walkway to the swimming area

Walkway to the swimming area

the streets.  And all sites have full hookups.

With our senior discount, we got 5 nights for $80.00.  I am so grateful for that discount.  It is the only reason we can enjoy camping so often.

Even after the campground filled up, it still seemed spacious due to the open common areas.  However, after all the weekend arrivals put up screen houses, tents for the kids, and filled their sites with bicycles, toys, firewood, etc., it started to feel pretty crowded.

Banana Island

Banana Island in the corner of the swimming area

We were fortunate to have wonderful neighbors.  A family — grandpa (Robert), his daughter (Vianna), her husband (Don), and their son (Joey) who will be going into the Air Force in November camped next to us.  They were so friendly and we had so much in common that we felt as though we were camping with family.

Vianna is a crafter and was working on an afghan for Joey’s girlfriend.

Another view of the springs

Another view of the springs

That inspired me to unpack my neglected afghan and work on it with her.  Among her crafts, she also tats.  I mentioned that I had my grandmother’s tatting shuttle, so she proceeded to try to teach me to tat.  I simply could not get “flipping the knot” even after trying late into the evening and the next morning.

Not to be discouraged, Vianna came over to our trailer right before we were leaving on Monday and showed me how to do needle tatting.  That’s a version that I can do!  I promised to send her a picture of the tatting supplies that I buy, and also a picture of my first tatting project.

Wild turkeys

Wild turkeys in spring area

Unfortunately, we did not pass a craft store that carried tatting supplies on our way back, so I will have to order them online when I get home!

Also while we were down there, my sister Ann’s friends, Linda and Marty came by and went swimming in the springs with us.  The water was COLD.  The daytime temperatures were running in the mid-nineties, so the 72 degree water felt icy at first.  But once we were in the water, it was heavenly!

interesting old tree

The inside and half of the exterior of this amazing old tree have rotted away, but it is still alive with healthy branches.

The water is so clear that you can stand in neck deep water and look down at the bottom and see the individual grains of sand.  Gorgeous!  And little bream swim around the edges, and schools of large mullet (vegetarian fish) frequent the seaweed patches.  Past the roped off swimming area, boats anchor and fish.  And we saw a man fishing for mullet with a bow and arrow.  Apparently they don’t bite on hooks well, so that’s a more efficient way to fish for them.

After we swam in the springs, Linda and Marty invited us over to their home for a wonderful vegetarian dinner.  They took us on a walk around their neighborhood pointing out the various mushrooms that grow in their area, and introduced us to a couple of their neighbors.

Marty built a houseboat that doubles as a camper when it’s on the boat trailer.  So they can camp in the national forest campgrounds, then pull their “camper” into the water and it is a houseboat.  He also showed us photos of the sailboat he built several years ago.  What an amazing couple!

Ron and Robert

Ron and Robert

Viana, Joey and Don

Vianna, Joey and Don

Viana and her dad

Vianna and her dad

Sunny

Sunny

Unfortunately, I did not think to bring my camera with me when we visited with Linda and Marty, so I don’t have any photos of them and their lovely home.   Maybe after enough such disappointments, I will get better at remembering to keep the camera with me at all times when we are out.

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