Thursday, March 18, 2010

Myakka River State Park

Myakka River State Park

A Florida palm forest!  So many of the original wild stands of palm trees were raided by new residents demands for palms in their yards, or torn down by need for land to build these new housing developments. It is rare to find a fully intact palm forest!

I hope you get a chance to visit here one day and visit a real palm forest.

Myakka River State Park
Where River and Prairie meet the sky.

Myakka River State Park is one of Florida's largest and most diverse natural areas. The river and the 2 shallow lakes attract many wetland creatures making birding, canoeing,fishing, and wildlife observation popular to many visitors here.

There are more than 39 miles of hiking trails here, so bring comfey shoes and lots of skeeter spray!  Here are some of the wild critters found on our walk abouts!

A good sized gator and lots of hungry vultures!

A photographer, intent on shooting a photo of the above gator, seems oblivious to being surrounded by vultures! Note the gator warning sign!

 Another alligator in another area of the park, looks like he was just cruisin' by.....

A tree full of comorants! (sp?) I have never seen so many comorants in one spot before!

Chuck went to throw away some trash he had picked up and found this family of raccoons living in the garbarge container!

We reported that the raccoons had taken up living quarters in the garbarge container
but the park rangers said it was a never ending battle to keep them out!

        Awwwww!  Aren't they cute ????

The anhinga is definately a prehistoric leftover from the past!
A bird with both feathers and fur!  There is fur mixed with the body feathers which is great while swimming (think of fur creatures like the beaver an otter!) but when this bird wants to fly, the fur is too heavy and it must dry out first before it can take flight!

River tours are available by water or by land in a huge air boat or by a tram! If you buy a combination tour, you get a good price reduction! It was so cold when Chuck and I wew there, we decided not to take the tours. Considering how many folks were keeping the boats and trams full, we must have been the wimps of the park!

Another tour we missed was exploring the treetops using Myakka/s canopy walkway! There is also a 70' tower for an awesome view of the wetlands, forest, and prairie that make Myakka River State Paark so special. There are bicycles. canoes and kayaks for rent if you so desire to spend your time this way. Well worth a few days stay here, lots to do!

One of our last trips in our Oliver and the Suburban!  We had lots of good times in both!

OK!  I am trying to catch all of you up on this, our exploration of Florida!  Next blog will be on Highlands Hammock State Park!

Happy Trails from Geri, Chuck, Scotty and Doogie Bowser

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Our new rig


Chuck and I have been talking about buying a new, larger home on wheels for several months. It was mostly daydreaming. We weren't really unhappy with our Oliver, but we are more than week end campers and just a tad less than fulltimers on the road. This journey was supposed to be just for a few weeks, it's now been almost 8 weeks since we left home base!  Seems like we aren't getting any younger either, that climb over the wife bed was getting harder and harder to accomplish! Then about 2 weeks ago, we started actually looking, walking through pull behinds mostly. Chuck didn't want a 5th wheel and of course that meant a new vehicle too and we both loved the Suburban! So the first lookandsees were all bumper pulls.  Then last Wed. we headed up to Crystal River on a heads up from a friend about a trailer they saw at the Tampa RV show a few weeks ago. It was called an Everlite by Evergreen. It is made from about 50% recycled materials and it is 100% recyclable at the end of it's lifespan.  I laughed when I found out that the pillop top of our mattress was filled with recycled water bottles!  I laughed because I could only imagine a lumpy mattress! I promise you that the mattress is one of the most comfortable mattresses we have ever slept on! We liked the bumper pull they had on display at Natures Coast RV in Crystal River, it was ok, more room than the Oliver.... but I just had to go lookng some more and ended up next door at the 5th wheel. At 30' it was only 2 feet longer than the bumper pull but it felt much bigger and much roomier! It felt HUGE!
Chuck came looking for me calling out, "Geri, where are you?" and as he came close to the door of the 5th wheel, I answered, " Honey, I'm home!" and he knew it was all over now!
He walked in and loved it as much as I did! A full sized fridge you holds more beer.... ya know ???  So....  still not convinced we asked our friends Paul and Diane to come up with us. They are on their third 5th wheel and knew more about them and what to look for than we did.
So on Thursday, we all went back and took a look! Diane loved the interior! Paul gave us a thumbs up on the construction. This trailer is put together as well as the Oliver with full length beading welds, aluminum frame construction and all! So after Paul and Diane went home, we decided to go look for a truck! We drove down to Dade City and found the perfect truck at the perfect price and we knew we were done for! We were gonna be pulling a 5th wheel! So here are some photos of our new home on wheels.
Still parked at the RV lot, Nature's Coast RV in Crystal River, Chuck looks over the Everlight.

The pantry area is huge, the fridge is huge and I now have a 3 burner gas stove and a convection/microwave oven!

The dinette is big enough for four or a good game of dominos! Like the Oliver, it makes into another bed. There are large storage bins under the seats.

From the back of the trailer, looking forward, you can see the kitchen to the right, dining area to the left, 32" Jensen TV and entertainment center and the steps to the bedroom! There is even storage under the steps!  Look at that jazzy light fixture over the dinette!
I even have a double sink now, to wash AND rinse my dishes in.

Chuck loves the two swivel rockers at the back and both come with great reading lamps overhead!

The couch is also a hide a bed! Will make into a double bed! All the furniture is soooooo comfey in our new home! We have one slide out which you can see here, includes the couch and dinette area.

We now have a queen bed where we can each get out on either side of the bed with no more climbing over each other. There is hangable storage closets on both sides, foldable storage above and AND the bed lifts up offering even more storage under the bed!

As you enter the bedroom area, the full sized shower is on the left with a full sized sink and medicine chest outside the shower area and on the right is the private bathroom. In the bedroom we also have a Jensen 19" tv, more counter and storage space beneath that!

Chuck and I with our new (used 2004) Ford F-450 and our new Everlite by Evergreen 5th wheel home. What was so amazing is how well the colors of the trailer matched the color of the truck!  I just wish the colors on this page really did justice to the interior and exterior of the rig! Such pretty browns and bronze tones!    We love it!

Chuck and Geri are happy campers!  Now, if you want to know all the details of the new rig, contact Chuck at  I don't know any of that technical stuff! I just know how to say, "Honey, I'm home!"

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Aubrey's second birthday

When we started this journey mid February, it was to attend our grandaughter's second birthday party and we intended to be on the road 3 weeks.  6 weeks later we are still on the road and having fun!  I just wanted to share some of Aubrey's 2nd birthday with all of you!

Aubrey and dad, Chaz, playing with Aubrey's new castle!
Aubrey and mom with new doll

A woman's home is her castle!
Two! Whoopee!

Happy birthday Aubrey!
Birthday's are so much fun! Glorianne with the birthday girl!
Annesley and her Princess crown!
Chaz and RyanGrandpa Chuck

birthday backrub ok Dad ???

Big bro Kyle tossing the football!

I love having a new family complete with grandkids! Thanks to all of you for accepting me into the family! Chuck and I are proud of all of you! 

Friday, March 5, 2010

Blue Spring State Park & Manatees!

Blue Spring State Park is located near Deland, FL. It is beautiful! The manatee come to Blue Spring to escape the cold winter waters of the St. Johns River. The campgrounds were very nice and very private. Each camp site was carved out of the scrub oaks and palmettos enough to give you lots of space along with all the privacy. We saw a wide variety of birds here also, cardinals, scrub jays, osprey, great blue heron, and many I wasn't familar with.

The tall, graceful sabal palm is all over Florida, but it is a main feature here in Blue Spring. This sign explains why it is Florida's State Tree! You can click on the photo to enlarge the photo!

As you can see, the graceful sabal palms grow to towering heights

This is a manatee in distress. It was just rescued from the river and is wearing a monitoring device attached to the tail.  If you look carefully under the bushes, you will see other manatee resting in the shadows.

This is the second manatee we saw with a monitoring device attached to it's tail. If you look in the upper middle of the photo, you will see another manatee resting.

The manatee are odd looking creatures. Very gentle, even friendly.  Their only enemy is man with his speedboats. Manatee have to surface frequently for air, speeding boat can shred the manatee with the boats propellers usually resulting in death or long rehab periods to regain health. We saw several badly scarred bodies while we were there.

This is a great Blue Heron, surveying the area for lunch and also watching the parade of manatee swim by.  The manatee leave the warmth of the spring to re-enter the St. John's River in search for food. They can stay only a short time because prolonged temperatures of 60 degrees and colder will result in the death of these gentle mammals. The Great Blue Heron is a beautiful addition to the river.

When I took the photo below, the wind was blowing hard, causing ripples to distort the images of the manatee below the surface of the water. But there is a pod there of about a dozen or more manatee.

This slit in the earth is the "boil" of Blue Spring! Here hundreds of gallons of water come out with so much force, it sometimes makes the water look like it's boiling!
Many of the manatee hang out here near the vent or boil, because this is where the warmer water enters the stream that flows into the St. John's River.  During the summer months, divers come to this park to explore the cave system down under the vent. Divers are not allowed during the winter migration of the manatee.

At Blue Spring, viewing the manatee is easy. The park has built several veiwing stations out over the river. Everyone gets a good photo to take home! On the far left, you see a mom and her calf
and one other adult heading to the river. The manatee in the lowest portion of the frame is headed back to the spring now that his/her tummy is full from feeding in the river.

Blue Spring State Park is a wonderful place to visit for the day or for a week! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! For more information google FLORIDA STATE PARKS and then search for Blue Spring!