Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Heading south for the day.

7:30 AM
Today we're heading down to the Everglades National Park on the bike.  It's about a 2 1/2 hour ride south on highway 27 past Miami before turning west toward to the Coe Visitors Center.  The weather will be in the 70's and sunny, so it should be a wonderful ride.  We will either return late today or possibly stay in that area for the night.  I'll try to post some pics later today either way.
Well, later today turned into tomorrow I'm afraid.   We were just a tad tired when we got back yesterday, and even though we only saw a fraction of the park, what a fraction it was.  We stopped at the Ernest Coe Visitor Center to get a map and see the displays and then headed to the Anhinga and Jumbo Limbo trails.  The Jumbo Limbo trail, named for the Jumbo Limbo trees along the trail, is a short walk through what is called a "hammock" which is a hardwood stand of trees on land that is only a couple of inches higher than the surrounding wetlands.  It was an interesting look at the various levels of flora, but the Anhinga trail topped that by a mile. 
As soon as we started walking the trail, there were birds everywhere and alligators within a few yards.  Even though the trail is less than a mile long, it took a couple of hours to walk, and we did it again after lunch. Here are just a few pictures.  I'll post more over the next day or two.

So alligators first.  Most were just sunbathing, but we saw a couple swimming right by us.  They are totally quiet as their tails push them through the water.
 One of the fascinating things we saw was the Cormorants diving under the water to fish.  They were amazing swimmers, and we saw several of them come up with fish in their mouths.  Here's a sequence I caught.  This Cormorant actually lost the Gar for a few seconds but dove under again and brought it back up.

This was a slim Gar, but we also saw them swallow a couple of flatter fish like bluegills.  That really changed the look of the bird's neck.

I also got a good close-up of this Double Crested Cormorant.  I was close enough so that I could get just his head in the shot.  No cropping needed.

I haven't identified this type of turtle yet.  It looks like an ancient creature.

And then here is what I called the candy corn bird.  It's beak looks just like a large piece of candy corn.  Perfect color.  It's actually a Common Moorhen.
And I wouldn't leave without a few more 'gators.  While we were watching these, someone dropped their lens cap off the dock.  Funny, no one was willing to climb down and get it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Donated ours. Needed another.

7:00 AM
At the recent Escapees rally, they had a silent auction of items that folks at the rally donated.  The proceeds went to Care, the organization I mentioned a couple of days ago.  We donated some copper scoops from our kitchen, some of Val's seldom used jewelry and our small Rival Crock Pot that we got as a wedding present in 1977. The Crock Pot brought $10.00 which was about 9 more than I expected.  I never realized how many cooks use them. Apparently many cooks have more than one.  We (that really means me) have wanted a new full-size slow-cooker for a few years, and now that we're retired and traveling , it makes even more sense.  We (that means me, again) can assemble all the ingredients, program it to cook and then keep the food warm so that we can explore the area during the day and come home to a great meal.  We searched for a highly rated one by checking out Cooks Illustrated and lots of consumer reviews.  We also wanted a reasonable price, and low and behold, here we go to Walmart.
So today, a good day to get some work done around the rig since storms are coming, I'm trying the first recipe in the new cooker, a Mexican dish made with country-style pork ribs and hominy.  I've never cooked with hominy (corn kernels that have the outer hull and germ removed) before, so I'll let you know later how it turns out.
7:30 PM
Wonderful.  That's how Val described the dish.  I guess it's hard to go wrong with 5 pounds of ribs slow-cooked for 9 hours.  And it's a good thing that it is wonderful.  We have about 5 quarts of leftovers.
I wish we could share it with you all...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Where's the lake?

We awoke this morning to this scene out of our living room window.  It was rather magical.
Later in the morning, we hopped on the BMW and headed southeast towards Lake Okeechobee.  We traveled for quite a while beside the lake, but there were no views.  It turns out that Lake Okeechobee is so large that it has storm surges just like an ocean.  In the 1920's there was a series of hurricanes that caused storm surges that killed over 2000 people.  Hoover then had a 35 foot dike built around the lake to prevent any further deaths.  Sounds good except you cant see the lake unless you walk along the top of the dike.  We passed hundreds of homes that sat right next to Okeechobee and they look at a 35 foot hill.  No water view at all.  Very odd.
But we did find some scenic views along the biking and walking trail that goes along the top of the dike.  And the birds were plentiful which was nice since we had the binoculars.  We also came across some multi-colored flowers that we've never seen before.
One thing we noticed from above the water is that the water is so brackish it's color is almost like coffee.
And one other observation.  We heard what sounded like a squadron of planes coming toward us.  We had seen a biplane come by, and it was very quiet.
It turned out that it was two air-boats like you see in the everglades.  They were incredibly loud and caused birds that we had heard calling from the reeds and grass to take flight. The air-boats are terribly disturbing to the environment.  I've read that many localities are starting to outlaw them, and if the ones we saw are any indication, it sounds like they have a case.  Possibly a noise level law would be more appropriate than banning them outright.

Friday, March 26, 2010

hugs and hitches

This morning was the hugs and hitches part of the rally where everyone says goodbye.  It was a great 4 days, and we have contact info for a few folks so that we can keep in touch and hopefully meet up on our travels.
And then, about 4 hours later, we arrived in Moore Haven at The M Resort, a campground that is being redone by the new owners.  If the pool is any indication, it's going to be beautiful when finished. 
For the first time in our travels, we're actually parked on a large concrete pad with lots of space for our chairs under the awning.  It's very nice, and we don't have to worry about sinking into the muck if it rains (like Wauchula).  Actually, the campground is pretty sandy so that wouldn't be an issue anyway.  There aren't too many people here right now.  It's probably 25% full, so we're in a corner site with the truck parked on it's own concrete pad in the site next to us.  I imagine the truck feeling mighty proud, what with it's own site and all.
Tomorrow we'll head over to Lake Okeechobee which is only a couple of miles away.  It's the 2nd largest inland lake in the US after Lake Michigan.  It covers 730 square miles.   Pics tomorrow.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

canoes and court

Today, Val and I went for a canoe ride up the Wekiva River.  It was a warm day with an occasional breeze, and we paddled to some different areas that we couldn't see on the cruise yesterday.  Although we missed seeing the otters that others have seen playing in the water, we did see lots of birds (including an Anhinga with a snake-like neck and a white Ibis) and turtles.  We have been considering getting an inflatable canoe/kayak and I think that this helped us make the decision.  We'll be visiting lots of areas with beautiful rivers and lakes that we'd like to explore, so it makes sense.

Later in the day we enjoyed the social hour with the rally folks followed by a "low country boil" dinner.  We'd never had it before, but it was made in two huge pots over outdoor gas grills typically used for deep-frying turkeys. The broth was flavored with Old Bay, and the potatoes, sausages, corn and shrimp are all cooked together for varying times. It was wonderful, and there was plenty for everyone to have seconds and thirds.

There were several people at the rally who were appointed to be sheriffs.  Their job was to bring charges against people at the rally who broke rules, either real (like not wearing your name badges), or imagined rules that they made up on the spot.  Tonight we held "court" where the charges were presented to the judge and the guilty were fined.  It was all in good fun and the fines, usually in the 1 to 2 dollar range went to Care, a group that helps RV'ers with Alzheimer's, cancer, those recovering from operations, etc.  There were laughs all around.  What a great group of folks.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

River cruise

First, here is the pic I promised of the Artesian spring that flows at 8 million gallons per day.  The only drawback is that the water has a sulfur smell.  Years ago, people came from afar just to bath in the water due to it's healing sulfur properties.
Today we went for a cruise on the Wekiva River.  Although the resident alligators were hiding so we didn't see their babies, we did see lots of various types of turtles and birds.  I captured this pic of a Little Blue Heron before and during flight.
One interesting thing that the guide pointed out was the hemlock (redder plants in picture)growing along with the duckweed, alligator weed and calla lilies.  Val asked if they could stop so she could pick some hemlock, but they wouldn't let her.  Hmm. I'm wondering what that was all about.  Guess I'll keep her out of the kitchen for a while.

Monday, March 22, 2010

rain and mud and tractors

One thing about Florida weather forecasters, they are spot on with their predictions.  Having lived in VA all our lives, I have no faith in weathermen (weatherpersons?).  They claim that Virginia is one the hardest areas to predict due to the mountains and oceans and grass and trees and something about the wind...go figure.  Whatever the reason, they really are terrible at it.  But here in Florida, when I go online and see that rain is predicted 8 days away, lo and behold, it rains!  And yesterday, just like they had predicted a week ago, it rained.  And rained.  And rained some more.  So this morning we packed up, closed up, hitched up and pulled away from our site.  Well, kind of pulled away.  About 7 feet of pulling before both the truck and the RV started to sink in the mud.  I tried about ten times to work my way out, but to no avail.  Luckily a call to the ranger at Thousand Trails brought a tractor with a chain, and in about two minutes we were out.  I understand that at some places they call a wrecker that can charge $200 to do the same thing.  I would have just set there until it dried up before I did that. 
And then it was off to Lakeland to have one of our Bigfoot levelers checked.  It just started leaking some hydraulic fluid.  It was a simple gasket and then we finished our trip to Wekiva Falls Resort in Sorrento.  Quite a nice place that has been redone by the new owners.  We got here just in time to attend the Escapees social where Val and I were "adopted" by a couple (Pete and Dixie) that have attended lots of rallies.  They can share their wisdom with us during the week.
Tomorrow I'll get some pictures of the campground and the Artesian well that's in the center of the resort.  It puts out about 8 million gallons of water a day.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore"

Hello all, Val here today.  Remember the scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy steps out of her house after it's been moved by the tornado?  Her house was the same inside, but everything was different outside.  Well, I can relate (except for Mrs. Gulch riding by of course)!  No matter where we go, our little house on wheels is the same inside, but our neighborhood is constantly changing.  There are times when I wake up in the morning, before opening my eyes, I think my Woodlake neighborhood of 22 years is just outside the window.  Then other mornings, I visualize the view from my bedroom window at Amelia Family Campground where we were for 4 months.  It's quite an interesting experience to have new views from our windows, sunlight streaming in from different angles, not to mention new neighbors every few weeks!  We move on to a new "neighborhood" tomorrow in Sorrento, FL.  Wonder what the view will be?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

More pickleball

Today I was invited to play pickleball (I know. The name is terrible) today at another RV resort.  Six of us headed over to Torrey Oaks and had a lot of great games.  Having played a lot of racquetball and tennis, I'm catching on quickly.  And despite the lame name, it's not only a lot of fun, but great exercise as well.  A big plus compared to racquetball is that pickleball is almost always played outside in the fresh air.  Of course one challenge is that the ball is light, so it can be a tremendously difficult in the wind. That's the way it was today with 12-15 mph winds.  Lobs became almost impossible unless you accounted for the wind as the ball could move cross-court as much as 8 feet.  Serves were tough as well.  It really made you watch the ball.  Check out the shot by moi in the pic below.  The ball is just clearing the net and heading down toward the opponents feet.

The good news for me is that Val and I hit for a while yesterday, and then Val took part in a beginners pickleball clinic.  Afterward, she played a game of doubles and admitted that she had fun.  She's catching on quickly and will be playing with the rest of the crowd soon I'm sure.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Plans and panthers

Last night we were startled by what sounded to Val like a women screaming.  It was loud enough to catch our attention while watching American Idol.  We went outside with a flashlight and realized that it was coming from the woods on the other side of the Peace River.  Once outside, however, we knew that  it was not a human sound.  To me it sounded like a wild boar that was caught in a trap or that had been grabbed by an alligator.  It went on for at least 10 minutes.  Then this morning, Val talked to our son Matt who described hearing the same sound in the Rockies a couple of years ago. He later found out that what he heard was a mountain lion.  We believe now that it may have been a Florida Panther, an animal that is severely endangered and may number around 100.  Everything we've read says that they sound like a women screaming.  Whew.  Spooky.

Friends and family and new people we meet are always asking our plans for the year.  So here are the plans that we've made so far.  This will allow all of you interested folks to plan ahead for the dinners you'd like to fix for us or take us out for.
We can hardly wait!
We will be heading to just north of Orlando on March 22nd for an Escapees rally.  Then it's back down to Moore Haven for a week and then 3 weeks back in Clermont.  From there, on April 21st, we head north with 4 nights in Georgia, 3 nights in South Carolina, 5 more nights in North Carolina and then a week in Virginia Beach for a heavy duty truck rally.  After that we go to Gloucester, VA for three weeks which will allow us to spend some time in Richmond seeing friends and family.  We do miss you, you know.
We will probably store the RV for a month at that point and spend that time in Fenwick Island working hard to prepare the house for the renters.  I use "working hard" rather loosely here.
From Fenwick we will grab the RV and head to Redmond, Oregon where the international BMW motorcycle rally starts on July 15th.  That month of travel is pretty much open except we will stop in South Dakota to become residents.
After 3 weeks around Redmond, we will spend some time on the Washington, Oregon and California coast with a probable excursion into Canada around Vancouver.  The only other plans we have after that are an RV rally in Texas in October followed by another in Kansas right after that.
So that's it for now.  I know, I know.  I can hear what you're all thinking.  What a hard, boring existence.  Well, as you know, somebody's gotta do it...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Nice gathering.

Val and I were invited to a small gathering of fellow pickle-ballers this afternoon, so we fixed a big batch of nachos with lots of cheese and fresh jalapenos, baked it in the oven and walked down the road to the RV that was hosting.  Turns out that a lot of people play pickleball as there were at least forty people there.  And there was an amazing array of great food which was a nice surprise as we had nothing planned for dinner.  I'm talking everything from grilled hot-dogs to fresh shrimp.  One guy brought his guitar and one guy had some type of electric instrument that sounded a little like an electronic autoharp.  I'll have to find out what that was.
The best part was that we made some new friends, got some good advice about our life-style and even may be hooking up with some folks that are planning a trip to Alaska in 2011.  That's when were thinking of going ourselves, so it may work out well.
And we got to visit with this cute bunny that was hopping through the crowd.  Good thing it stayed away from the river bank as it seemed to most of us that  it would make a 'gator mighty happy.

And lest you think that we RV'ers and pickle-ballers don't  have enough fun, here's proof that we do...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lions and Tigers and Boars. Oh my.

Today's walk brought even more than we had hoped for.  Part of what made us buy in to the Thousand Trails RV network was their philosophy of "preserves' which is what each campground is called.  They try to  save a lot of their land for natural beauty and hiking trails. 

As we walked along beside the river today, I spotted a large alligator close to the bank.  This one was actually about 10 feet long and scary enough that a lady with her two dogs quickly left when we pointed it out to her.  

Then about a mile later we were startled by movement in the woods followed by squeals from two wild boar, one black and one light brown, that looked to be about 40 pounds.  As they ran off into the woods, I saw two more smaller ones closer to us.  The smallest of the two seemed surprised to be left alone, kind of like "where did everybody go", and would have been our dinner if we were the predator type.  Definitely a little slow.  Being unfamiliar with wild boar, I thought the first two that ran off were the big ones.  Duh, not quite, because as I started to take pictures of the smallest one, I heard rustling to my left and saw what was certainly the mama boar.  She was  probably 5 feet long and easily 350 to 400 pounds.  Luckily for us, she must have thought that all her piglets were accounted for because she ran away from us.  We read later that they will usually retreat unless they feel threatened or their piglets are close.  Whew.  I only managed to get a a couple of shots of the slowest piglet, but we'll keep an eye out for the family as we walk the trail again.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Blog housekeeping and a little visiting.

There have only been a couple of comments on our blog, and it seems that it isn't readily apparent how to leave one.  At the bottom of each post you'll see "0 Comments".  Just click on that and the comments page pops up.  So let us know what you think.  Please.

Yesterday, Val and I made it to the lowest point in Florida that either of us have ever been: Coral Springs. That's where Val's brother Bill lives with his wife Marissa and their daughter Christina.  They live in a beautiful home with two great dogs (Bailey the Scottie, and Minnie the lab/greyhound mix).  We hadn't planned on spending the night when we visited, but after having a great meal at the Big Bear Brewing Company accompanied by a wonderful micro-brewery dark Belgian dubbel beer, we crashed on their sleeper sofa.  Bill fixed a big breakfast, and then we spent some time visiting with two of their neighbors, a retired cop and his wife, a state prosecutor responsible for capital murder cases.  Talk bout a job with massive responsibility and stress.  Man...
We arrived back in Wauchula a little tired this afternoon but have already planned a week of travel later this month back in that area with a side trip to the Everglades and a boat ride down the inter-coastal waterway.  That should give Val a good chance to see some 'gators.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Heavier than I thought...

Today I found out that I've apparently gained a lot of weight since starting this life-style. Val and I took our trash out and found this wagon that we figured was for trash (see pic).  To make sure, I stood on the side lip and peered in.  Val immediately panicked and said to be careful that I didn't tip it over.  Um, gee, it probably weighs 3000 pounds.  And then a couple came up and asked if I was looking at the wagon to fix up as a new home.  I said no,  it was probably not big enough, and besides, my wife thought I might tip it over too easily.   They looked at me, looked at the trailer, looked back at me and remarked that I was obviously much, much heavier than I look.  Laughing, they walked away.
So tomorrow I guess I start cutting calories.  But as I understand it from other full-timers, an RV diet does include ice-cream and cookies each night...

And then, since it was going to be in the 80's, we took a bike trip to Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island on the Gulf coast. It was Val's first time to put her toes in Gulf waters.  I am more experienced with these waters since I spent a week on the Gulf once.  I was 12, but who's counting.  But getting back to the toes part, that was about all you wanted to put in the Gulf.  It was cold!  I'm talking Fenwick Island early June cold.  We only saw a few brave souls get in a quick swim.  We are spending a few days later this month down near Coral Springs near Val's brother, Bill, so we will probably try the waters on the Atlantic and Gulf coast.  Hopefully it's a little warmer.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tree of Faces

On one of our walks by the Peace
River, we spotted this tree, now
dead, which fascinated us for quite
a while. As you can see, it was
very old when it died as it's
diameter is more than 6 feet

As we approached I could see what seemed to me to be the face of a snarling cat.  Val saw it a little differently, seeing an alligator's head.  Hmmm (see yesterday's blog).

And then as we walked around the tree, the face of an old man was startlingly clear to Val and me.

From different angles we could see various facial incarnations including what seemed like a gargoyle.  Now before you start commenting, no, we hadn't been drinking or partaking of any illegal substances.   This tree is amazing.  I'm thinking about writing a kids story based on this tree where an epic battle of mortals and creatures takes place but is finally frozen in time by a tree god.

Okay, maybe I have been partaking a little...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Gator or not a gator

Today we arrived in an RV resort (that somehow sounds better than campground) by the Peace River in Wauchula.  And of course we had to explore, especially along the river where alligator warnings abound.  So here we are walking and searching when Val says she sees one in the river.  I don't think so, I say, but she's convinced that the head bobbing in the water is indeed a gator.  I tried to use my camera to get a closer look but didn't have a good telephoto lens with me.  But no matter what I said, Val was sure.  So finally I made a perfect toss of a 4 foot stick across the water in front of the "gator".  The stick floated right under the head of this mysterious creature and guess what.  Not a gator.  Just an old log.
The search continued.
And then some folks asked us if we had seen the alligator.  And there it was.  Motionless.  Staring at who knows what.  And since there is no reference for you to know how big it was, I can say that it was almost 12 feet long!  Would you believe 10 feet...  Alright, it was six feet of which half is tail.  But still it was an alligator not far from our RV.  Very cool.  Honey, we ain't in Virginia any more.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Moving on.

Tomorrow we move a little further south to just below Wauchula, FL.  The stay here in Clermont was our first experience with the Thousand Trails/Naco campground network that we joined last November.  We have been pleasantly surprised.  The sites are fine and most importantly, the people have been helpful and friendly.  We've made some new friends that we will definitely see again in our travels, and that helps make full-timing a great way of life.  We did have one employee stare at us rather oddly yesterday as we brought one of our large propane tanks up the hill from our site to get filled.  We had it on a small wheeled cart which we thought was rather clever as they weigh a lot after you fill them.  He remarked that he has never seen anyone else ever bring just the tank.  Apparently everyone just drives their RV up to the refilling station.  But that would mean unhooking your lines and hitching up and then reversing all that when you're finished.  Perhaps they only do it when they arrive or leave.  Either way, it worked for us and probably gave the guy something to talk about later.
Later, as we started to do some preliminary packing, we drew quite a crowd when we decided to load the bike onto the truck to save time tomorrow morning.  One guy started offering some opinions on how to tie the bike down, but stopped when he realized that we knew what we were doing (fooled him...).  Everyone kept a good distance, probably not wanting to risk the motorcycle falling and crushing them, but seemed genuinely happy when all went well.  Only when the bike was tied down on the truck did several people approach and see how it all worked. 
And if anybody is wondering, yes, we completed the seal installation.  And it took about an hour. 
That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

My brother was right.

Back in the day when we did some renovation on a couple of houses, and even before that when I was a carpenter, and even before that when I was part of Smith and Propert Contractors, I learned that things take longer than you would expect, especially when fixing things.When my brother, Franklin, and I worked together on our houses on Vine St. in Richmond, I figured that you could count on a project taking about twice the amount of time that you estimated.  But Franklin disagreed, and over the years, I think his way of estimating work time is spot on.  He figured that I was partly right.  You have to double the amount of time that you first estimated.  But the important part is that you then have to square it.
Case in point.  Today we received the new gasket that goes on the top of our living room slide.  The old one got loose so it needed to be replaced.  No biggie.  It's just a piece of rubber with little metal teeth that hold it in place.  You open the slide a little, push the gasket up onto the flange, cut off the ends and voila, new seal.  I figured, oh, maybe 45  minutes with a nice break.  Nope, 3 hours later, with bruises on our ribs from lying on the RV roof and half the skin scraped off my knuckles from trying to pry the gasket onto the flange, IT"S STILL NOT DONE!  So tomorrow, assuming my hands have recovered some strength, we'll go back up on the roof and try to finish it.  I'm really looking forward to that.
I'm estimating just another hour...

Friday, March 5, 2010

RV'ing issues: Mail and shipping

We now have a permanent mailing address which I will put here in case you want to send us a letter or bonds or cash or something. 
3700 S. Westport Ave. #1765
Sioux Falls, SD 57106
The way it works is the mail goes to our forwarding service and we tell them once a week where to send it.  It's worked well so far.  There's just a few days delay in getting it.
But getting something shipped seemed particularly hard today when a company refused to send a package to us at a campground where we will be for the next two weeks in Wauchula, FL.  After three calls to them, we realized that they were a little set in their ways (or small brained) and we had to come up with an alternative solution.  And that was to have the package shipped to Val's brother, Bill, in Coral Springs.  We were planning on driving down to see him anyway, so it all worked out.  I think in the future we'll not admit that our address is a campground.  We'll just say we're at a gated community with an office that accepts packages.  All true.  Maybe the "small brains" will accept that. 
Obviously we have a lot to learn.  This was a good lesson today.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Val's birthday

Today is Val's birthday.  So in honor of that I post a picture of a scene that she sees each time she walks to the lake to read.  Of course she refuses to let everyone know how old she is, so I won't tell.  But it rhymes with fifty four.  Wait, it is fifty four. Oops....  Sorry Val.  My bad.  Happy Birthday!
We actually celebrated a day early.  Our good friend Dave (formerly RPD computer trainer) came down to Orlando with one of his staff (Takeasha) at SoftChalk, and we went to the Boston Lobster Feast.  And what a feast it was.  All you can eat seafood including lobster and crab legs.  Man it was good.  Even little ol' me ate two lobsters and a plate of crab legs along with shrimp and, well, you get the picture.  I didn't even try the prime rib or fillet Mignon.  It was definitely a good time and it was great to see Dave. 
On the way there we drove by Wonder Works which is an upside down  building.  Here's a link to a good picture. 
Speaking of pictures, we still haven't found the Crane colts again.  But this morning we found about ten White Ibis's.  We can put a check mark in our National Geographic bird book by that one.
Tomorrow it's back to the BMW dealer to have the cruise control switch replaced.  It's gotten a little finicky and I want to have it replaced while under warranty.
Until then...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bad time for a bad camera

We were out for our walk today and came across two Sandhill Cranes and their two colts.  The colts were only about 8 inches tall, all reddish brown and fuzzy.  Supposedly the babies are called colts because of their long legs and love of running.  And as you can tell from the title, Val didn't have her camera because it's been sent back for repair (it has a large piece of lint or something on the sensor or inside the lens).  So we came back to the RV and got my Canon SLR.  But of course when we went looking for them, they were gone.  We think we spotted them again way off by the lake across a pasture, but couldn't see the colts.  So tomorrow we will search again and hopefully get some pics. It will be worth the time.
In the afternoon, we took a motorcycle ride, spotted a movie theater and saw John Travolta's new flick called From Paris With Love.  He really was great in it with lots of action and humor.  You could wait for the DVD, but it's good on the big screen.
I would like to write more, but Val says it's time to pour the wine.  Bye.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Slowing down

So here's a little something we've learned while staying here at the Thousand Trails Orlando preserve.  Slooowww dooowwwnnnn... (That's supposed to be a really slow "slow down")   There is really no need to be in a hurry.  And that's a switch for Val and me.  Actually, it's a huge switch for me.  Just ask Val.  We've been walking the 3+ miles around the campground each day and then I play some Pickle-ball while Val sits outside by the lake or a pond and reads.  After playing, it was about noon, and we decided to head back home for some lunch.  It's only about a five minute walk, but along the way we saw a buddy (Roy) that I play Pickle-ball with and he showed us his beautiful custom trailer that he hauls behind his motor-home.  This thing is 27 feet long and almost 13 feet tall.  He carries a full-size car, two Harley's, bicycles and other assorted useful toys and tools.  It was completely finished inside with racks and cabinets.  Very cool.  Then as we left, another friend (Paul) we've met struck up a conversation when I asked about his "Patriots Welcome" banner on his RV.  Turned out it was not the New England Patriots he was referring to.  I like that guy...

Then as we arrived home, our neighbors next to us (Ray and Gerie) had just taken his trike out of his trailer and wanted to show it to us.  It's very impressive to see up close.  Unlike some other trikes that we've seen here that are made from bikes like the Honda Goldwing or Harley Ultra-Glide, this is custom-made. And the engine?  You car fans might have recognized it (I didn't) as a 400 hp Corvette engine.  It's fully automatic, and he says it's a blast to drive. I asked about the danger of pulling the front wheel off the ground, but he assured me that having the engine so far forward prevents that.  He's insisted that I take it for a spin, so maybe in the next few days I'll get a chance.
So back to my point, by the time we got some lunch after leaving the Pickle-ball court, it was 90 minutes later than we planned.  We had slowed down, learned some things, reinforced some new friendships and had some fun.  And what a nice change it was.   

P. S.
I noticed while writing this blog that Val was working on her computer, rapidly typing away.  I assumed it was an email, but when I showed her this post, she laughed and showed me what she had been writing.  It was surprisingly close to what I'd written including talking about slowing down and mentioning all the people I wrote about.  So tomorrow may be a more thoughts on this change in our lifestyle.  That's assuming I get around to posting it.....