Saturday, April 12, 2014

Settling in at Myakka River State Park



First thing I want to do is thank the company that made our wonderful MotherShip, Evergreen Recreational Vehicles !  Just before we began our job here at Myakka, our slide got stuck in the out position and would not come in !  We called Randy, our friend and owner of Nature Coast RV where we bought the Mothership! Randy called Tony Chupp of Evergreen for their assistance in repairing our Schwintek Lippaert slide system problem. Problem solved and we are now very happy campers! 

Smile

                   CLEANING CABINS

Okay, I have to be honest here!  Cabin Cleaning isn’t always fun, but there are perks!   Most folks are actually quite clean and leave the cabins like they found them!  Some folks don’t!  But all and all, Chuck and I like it here very much.

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The cabins were made by the C.C.C. in the 1930’s and built with palm logs that have turned out to be bug and rot resistant.

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The cabins come with a kitchen with a stove, microwave and fridge. Cooking utensils and plates and silverware are also supplied!

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A fireplace in each of the 5 cabins for those cool nights!

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Each cabin has a very private back yard complete with fire ring, BBQ, and picnic table and a very cool back porch looking out on the florida wilderness.




Last week was a very slow week for us, we only had to work 2 days out of the scheduled 4 because there were no scheduled check-outs! How is that for an unexpected perk???
Two extra days off of sunny yet fairly cool weather! Highs are beginning to get up into the low 80’s now but nights are great in the low 60’s!
We love all the wildlife here at this park!


                    MYAKKA WILD LIFE


Lots of alligators and vultures here for sure, but we also have baby owls!
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This baby has already left the nest and poses on a nearby limb!
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This baby is still thinking about leaving the nest….
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And Mama Owl is ready to clean house, but she keeps a watchful eye on both her babies!

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Our friend Cecil catches a nice big tilapia from the nearby lake!

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A squirrel finds the orange 1/2 I left out hoping  attract hummingbirds, to my fancy home made feeder… not squirrels!
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Squirrel friend looks down, hoping the other guy will share his orange!
We have seen a family of Bob White Quail here, a fox and several deer in the pasture out behind us. Also a Pileated Woodpecker makes regular trips to our camp, but by the time I grab my camera, he is gone!

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Yesterday, on my way to Publix Grocery I passed a Momma Sand Hill Crane and her 2 yellow babies!

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Last week, as we were headed to clean a cabin in our golf cart, I noticed a LONG yellow rat snake wound around a tree branch. Below for a close up!

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This snake was probably a good 4 to 5 feet long and very skinny, probably just woke up from hibernation.

                         FAMILY

We have also been enjoying being near our family. Chuck’s daughter Glorianne and her husband Chaz are just 30 minutes away up in Bradenton!

kyle

Last Tuesday we went to see our oldest grandson Kyle inducted into the National Honor Society.

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Kyle with his brother Ryan!

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Their two little sisters, Aubrey and Annesley! Already Diva’s! Notice the princess 
crowns ??? mmmm  These two girls are gonna keep their daddy busy!

Radar and Doogie
Radar and DoogieBowser are our two wild animals!  LOL!
Last week we drove all the way to Arcadia FL to eat some of the best Mexican food I have ever put into my mouth!

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Our friends, Jill and Bill, went with us and agreed…. GOOD EATS!
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I had Shrimp Ranchero   YUM! We all just sorta waddled out of there, full and happy!  El Pirata on highway 70 east end of Arcadia is worth a visit! We drove over 30 miles to get there! YUM !

We have had a very busy month!  We really do love being here and are beginning to think that this might be our best gig yet! We love workamping/volunteering! Volunteering at our state parks really helps keep these parks open and running smoothly! Rangers are so busy managing wildlife, and doing control burns, that they just simply don’t have the time or the resources to do all that is necessary to keep the parks open! We are also happy to have wonderful support from the Friends of Myakka State Park. They raise money and donate our trucks, our firefighting equipment and even our uniforms! Donations appreciated! Please make checks out to: Friends of Myakka River State Park and send to: 13208 State Road 72, Sarasota, FL 34241  Thanks for your generosity!

We lost a lot of our volunteers April 1st as they left to head home where hopefully the snow has melted and spring has begun! We now have some new volunteers that have arrived to fill those places. 

If you have never considered volunteering at your favorite state park or Army Corps or Engineers (COE) parks, maybe you should. Most only request a 2 month commitment and in return you get a free campsite with FHU and a fun place to explore!
We hope you enjoyed this visit to Myakka River State Park and with the MotherShip crew! We have enjoyed showing you our corner of the world!

Please feel free to leave a comment!  We love hearing from you!

Geri, Chuck, DoogieBowser and Radar!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

We are working as volunteers at Myakka River State Park near Sarasota Florida!


We arrived March 1st to begin our 4 months as volunteers at Myakka River State Park.

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Many of you may not know how interesting it can be to live in your RV fulltime, or maybe even part time, and volunteer some of your time at a state park!  You provide valuable muscle to a resource that protects and yet showcases Americas wild beauty and wildlife! What a way to retire!!! We have several people working in this park escaping the harsh winter up north. Connie and Cecil leave their small farm in Michigan and volunteer those cold winter months in warmer, sunny Florida at the wonderful state parks here. A volunteer is requested to work 2 to 4 months and be required to work 10 to 20 hours a week and in return get a campsite with full hook-up.  This is a win-win for you and for the State Park Service!  Every state has state parks and every state has volunteers. This is the link if you are interested in volunteering.

http://www.floridastateparks.org/getinvolved/volunteer.cfm

  Here, at Myakka River, Chuck and I are cleaning cabins.  There are 5 cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The cabins are snuggled in with the beautiful oaks and tall palm trees.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myakka_River_State_Park

We were asked to arrive on Saturday March 1st.  We got here about 3pm and they brought us to the best site possible for us! We love it here!  Most of the volunteers are down near the office actually in the park. Still other volunteers are over in the STOP camp across the highway. We lucked out and are the only volunteers here, sharing our space with the park rangers.

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We have a lovely space with no real close neighbors and plenty of room to walk with the dogs. One of the trails from the park run right behind us!

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I found an old long handled fishing net propped up against a tree.  The net was long gone. Didn’t take me long to re-purpose it! I had a hummingbird feeder, but no good branches to hang it from.  I took the net frame, turned it upside down and had Chuck bungee cord it to a post and hung the feeder! YaY!  No Hummingbirds yet… but I am sure as soon as they discover it…..

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On Sunday, the volunteers all gather at the STOP camp for a yummy covered dish dinner! Seems this is a Sunday tradition. It is a good way to meet other volunteers and share experiences. All the home cooked food was wonderful!  I made my green chili chicken enchilada casserole, the dish was scraped clean! This is where we have covered dish on Sunday and volunteer meetings.

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Monday we pulled out our camp chairs and decorations and settled down to enjoy our Kindles. Work begins on Tuesday.  Tuesday was more of an orientation than actual work day.

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Shirley and her husband Ed are also volunteers working the cabins. She came in to show us how to read the ticket for what cabins needed cleaning and how to bundle the sheets and towels needed for each cabin.

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Wednesday Phil came to take us to cabin 5 and taught us how cleaning should be done and what was expected of us. Thursday we had another day of learning from Mike. Thursday was an awful day! Not because of the cabins but because of the rain! It rained and thundered the whole 4 hours we worked! We dragged in more mud and dirt into the cabins than what was in there to begin with making more work for ourselves!  Mike was more detail oriented than Phil so we learned a bit more that day.
Almost as soon as we got off work, the rain stopped!  Chuck and I were soaked clear through! As soon as we got in the door we shucked off the wet clothes and put on dry warmer clothes! I didn’t feel like cooking so we took off exploring and landed at a Chili’s restaurant off Bee Ridge Road. We had a bubbly waitress named Kylie who was fun and a good waitress. She had never heard of workamping or of volunteering and the benefits so we enlightened her.  Of course she has several decades ahead of her before she retires!

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The wild iris is beginning to bloom in the park! So beautiful! We enjoy working as volunteers. We have worked as volunteers in Utah at Spring Hollow campground near Logan Utah,  and Zion River Resort near Zion National Park, in Mimbres NM near the Gila Cliff Dwellings. Although we enjoyed working at those places, our favorite gig was in Truth or Consequences NM at the River Bend Hot Springs! Loved working there and we loved our boss Jake and all the folks we worked with that summer but most of all we enjoyed soaking in the hot springs there and tubing down the Rio Grand River!
Life is what you make of it!  We like traveling and seeing life in different places and spaces. Workamping allows you to intimately get to know a place, with 3 or 4 days off you can explore and hike and try all new restaurants!  You might want to consider this life style one day. Chuck and I are able to live off of our SS every month and volunteering keeps us busy and happy!
Here are some links to explore. Most private campgrounds want a commitment of 6 months. Most State Parks ask for 2-4 months commitment.

http://www.workampingjobs.com/

 http://www.workamper.com/

http://www.workamper.com/membertype/

Hope you enjoyed finding out more about volunteering as a way of travelling. It’s free rent and it’s where ever you want to be! What a way to retire!

be who you are

Thursday, January 16, 2014

BLUE SPRING STATE PARK! WINTER HOME TO THE MANATEE

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Chuck and I have been camping for several days at Blue Spring State Park near Deland Florida, just off Interstate 4 north of Orlando. We had cloudy days and rain our first 3 days here so yesterday was our first day to walk along the water and watch the gentle giants of Florida, the Manatee!
I need to apologize for no recent posts. Christmas holidays, visiting family and friends and a bad cold kept me away from the computer!  I will catch up! But I want you to know where we are now. Blue Spring has a very nice campground nestled in the scrub oaks and palmettos giving lots of privacy between sites. The MotherShip is 32’ long and with our room extended we are 12’ wide. We fit….   but it was a narrow entrance!
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Folks come here to see the manatee in their natural habitat. 4 miles of riverfront within the 2,483 acre park, 8 mile hiking trail, boat ramp/dock, 6cabins and a 51 site campground all with water and electric.
Blue Spring is one of three Florida State Parks where you might be lucky enough to see manatee! Yesterday there were plenty of them! The weather was predicted to get cold overnight and they were all leaving the freezing waters of the St. Johns River to refuge in the Blue Spring run where the water stays a stable 72 degrees! The best time to visit the park to see the manatee is from November through March.
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Here, the manatee are entering the Blue Spring run from the St. John’s River. There are close to a dozen here, some hiding in the shadows of the oaks draped with Spanish moss.
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These 3 are headed to the river. Manatee stay in Blue Spring at night for warmth and venture out into the river during the day, when the sun warms the water, to feed. Unfortunately this is a dangerous time for them. The only enemy the gentle manatee has is the speeding motorboat. Manatee surface often for air, making them susceptible to boat propellers that often wound them and even killing them. The white stripe you see on the top manatee is such a scar.
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The scars on the mature mother manatee show clearly in the top 3 photos and the one below. There is a cage made to fit around the boat propellers but boaters refuse to use it.
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The manatee must surface for air. This is a dangerous time for them.
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It was quite breezy yesterday, causing a lot of ripples in the water and making it hard to get good manatee photographs to show you. I have been to this park at least a dozen times to visit the manatee, I have never seen as many in the spring run as I saw yesterday! It just wasn’t a good photo op day because of the rippling waters!
Chuck and I were here in 2010 and got some great manatee photos. You can see them on our blog from that visit by clicking this link:
http://phunnyfarm.blogspot.com/2010/03/blue-spring-state-park-manatees.html
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The park had built several very good viewing areas out over the water so you get a good up close and personal look at the manatee. It was a bit crowded yesterday, but remember… this is prime manatee viewing weather and months! We weren’t   disappointed!
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Chuck meets a veteran of the Korean War and a conversation starts up! Chuck is a Viet Nam vet!
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Back at the campground… ( see how nice our site is?) Chuck grills burgers.  DoogieBowser and Radar wait patiently in the background hoping for a taste!
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Beans with Publix made blue cheese burgers!  YUM!
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DoogieBowser sits up nicely, hoping we notice  a will reward him. Both Radar and Doogie get to lick the empty plates!
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Chuck bought himself a Christmas present this year! A folding papasan (?) chair from Camping  World. As we get older, most of those sagging camp chairs get harder and harder to climb out of. This one one is very comfortable and folds up much smaller than you would think!
Please take a closer look at Blue Spring State Park as a possible Florida destination. We love it here. We will be here 2 more days and then we head to Kissimmee State Park near Lake Wales FL, we could only book a few days there so from there we head back down to Highlands Hammock State Park for another visit and possibly some job training!
As a treat for you, I found a live web cam for viewing the manatee at Blue Spring!  Follow this link:
http://www.savethemanatee.org/savethemanateecam.html

http://www.savethemanatee.org/cam_videos_8.html#Anchor-7


Here is a link to tell you more about the park:
http://www.floridastateparks.org/bluespring/

Hope you enjoyed the visit to Blue Spring! We sure hope you get a chance to visit here is person someday! This is a very special park!
We love you all!   From the MotherShip we are Geri, Chuck and DoogieBowser and Radar!
GOOD side effects!