Sunday, May 25, 2014

Our Tour Of Myakka River State Park

On May 2nd, we took a wonderful 4 hour “Orientation Tour” given to all Myakka River State Park volunteers!
Meet Jim Watson, our tour guide and he has been a volunteer here for years.
Jim Watson 072 Jim and his wife Lois spend several months a year as volunteers here. Lois works in the Visitor Center answering many, many, many questions by visitors!
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First critter we saw on our orientation tour was a turkey! Warning….  most of the following images were shot through the window of a bouncing 4X4 Ford Explorer!  Not much here totally in focus!
Below is Clay Gully…. a very slow moving creek
Clay Gully
Clay Gully is also a great fishing hole as evidenced by the red plastic bobber caught up in the tree!
Many deer share their world here at Myakka River State Park which is the main reason the speed limit is 25mph here. You never know when a deer will jump out in the middle of the road! We have witnessed it many tines!
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Jim and Chuck in the front seat as we all go “Uh Oh rain drops” on the windshield!
The rain stayed in the distance although we did get a few quick showers.
The Pickerelweed below is beautiful plant to look at but NOT a native plant to Florida.  It is prolific and quickly chokes out native plants and choking up our waterways!
pickerel weed
I thought I had captured an alligator in the background, but upon closer examination it was just a neat old log!
Another deer enjoying the wild side of Florida! New antlers are just beginning to show on this guy!
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One of our  stops was at the Sweetmeadow Pastures ranch site. The original pioneer family of ranching lived here, laughed here, worked here and loved here long before “here” became a state park.
Chuck and Jim Meadowsweet
Bertha Palmer was enticed by the lush wetlands and a vast grassy prairie land. In 1910 she built her 19,000 acre ranch along the banks of the Myakka River. Mrs. Palmer was innovative in her approach to ranching. Over her short 8 year tenure, she introduced Brahma bulls improving her spindly Florida herd. she also built dipping vats to combat tick fever. She also fenced in her land, all unheard of customs in her day!Meadowsweet sign
This is one of her dipping vats.  You would walk the cattle in at one end, through the dip potion and out the other end.
cow dip

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Can you even imagine walking 100’s of cattle through these vats???

I am sure you all have heard of saw palmetto, the herb to help men’s prostrate. Below is a saw palmetto and the small flowers peeking out are the medicinal part of the plant.
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Another deer watching us pass by!
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Below is known as “deep hole”.  Alligators collect themselves here.  It is just one of the mysteries of Myakka State Park.
deep hole sign
2 gators
deep hole
Below is an Osprey perched on a branch far, far, far away which my hand held 300mm tried its best to get a good image!
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If you enjoy camping, whether in your backyard  or in one of the many state or national parks that our beautiful America enjoys, you might love this recipe!
Waffle cones with marshmallows, chocolate chips, bananas, and strawberries. Wrap in tinfoil and throw on the fire. aaaaahmazing

Saying goodbye to our good camping volunteer friends Connie and Cecil.  Their time here is up and they head back to upper Michigan for the summer months and home gardens!
connie and cecil

DoogieBowser and Radar definitely love living the life of vagabond gypsy doggies!
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It seems hard to believe that in 4 short weeks our time here at Myakka River State Park will be done. KaPut! Over! UNTIL we get the opportunity to return again as volunteers!  We have really enjoyed our time here and we encourage all of you consider volunteering at one of the state parks in your area!

We are lucky here at Myakka that we have such a wonderful support group, “Friends Of Myakka” pay for our uniforms, our equipment and our immediate needs at the park. Below is the fancy swamp buggy used in helping with control burns and trimming the trees with low hanging branches just waiting to snag one of the larger RV Motorhomes!
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These tires are almost as tall as I am!
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We hope you enjoyed this tour of Myakka State Park and will one day get to visit this piece of Old Florida!
Florida, before the land grabbers and the land developers came and decided they had bigger and better ideas for “La Florida”  Land of flowers!
We hope you get the opportunity to come explore this “wild” piece of Florida soon!
Please leave a comment!  We like to read about your thoughts!
Happy Trails from the crew of the “MotherShip”  Chuck, Geri, DoogieBowser and Radar!

 spiritual teaching

Thursday, May 1, 2014


We are still in Myakka River State Park working as volunteers.
We are enjoying the late spring, days had been in the mid-70’s until this week….   now we are mid-80’s. But Spring has sprung and the trees are loaded with all kinds of air plants or bromeliads in full bloom!
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The colors are brilliant this week!  This plant had fallen from a tree and one of the workers put it behind the shed and it bloomed brighter than any other I have seen!  That is the miracle of air plants, they don’t need water or soil to survive!
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Bromeliads usually grow up high in the trees, so you have to look up high to see them.  In the top photo, only one can be clearly seen but actually there are 6 plants in the photo!
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The above photo is Cabin Road. We have to drive down this road every day to our job cleaning cabins! Beautiful jungle road! If you look closely, you can see that the trees here are loaded with air plants!
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This beautiful flower is wild ginger!
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Can you get any more beautiful than this? I love this plant! It smells just like ginger!  It is a bulb plant so I have “rescued” one and replanted it. They are not native to Florida.
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Baby grapes! We have wild grapes growing  every where! They grow up tall pine and oak trees!

I am so very happy Chuck and I decided to sell our home in NM and go full time in our RV.  We really enjoy our time as volunteers or workampers. We get a free camp site with full hook ups in trade for 20 or so hours a week working in the park.  We meet wonderful people every day!  We are near family and we are creating new friendships!  We are not rich, but we are not in debt either and not having to worry about rent or utilities frees us up to really enjoy life!
Get ready!  It was time for Chuck to get another hair cut!
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HAHAHAAHA!  A summer haircut!  I took the dog clippers to him!  Grin!  I think he cleans up pretty good!

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We spent Easter with family!  The girls went hunting eggs in their yard Easter morning and some of the eggs actually had money in them!
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After all the eggs are found, Annesley and Aubrey divvy up the candy and count the $$$$ with mom and dad!
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Prescribed burns happen often at Myakka River State Park. 
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This is one of the reasons Chuck and I volunteer! It allows the rangers to do what they were hired to do, keep Myakka River healthy! If there were no volunteers, rangers would be cleaning cabins, mowing lawns, cleaning picnic areas or spending time as camp hosts. Volunteering is essential to keeping our state  parks running smoothly!
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Most of the fire crew is male, but we have a good number of women out there working the fires as well!
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Not sure this is a job I would want to do in the summer heat. But these folks do a great job of keeping the under brush contained and providing less fuel for wild fires!
Just think, if we hadn’t decided to be volunteers, we would have missed all of this!

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Radar and DoogieBowser love to ride in the car with me, Doogie just doesn’t like sharing HIS seat!
I hope you get a chance to visit Myakka one day.  I am excited…  tomorrow we get to go on a 4 hour orientation tour of the park!  Woooo Hooooo!
Have a great week!  From the crew of The MotherShip,
Geri, Chuck, Radar and Doogie Bowser!