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Friday, June 29, 2012

We Need a Fun Day

Wesley Chapel, Florida  (high 92, low 74)

We have been seeing way too many doctors and hospitals lately.  It’s time for some fun, but of course this is the July 4th week-end, and we hate to be out with all the crowds.

The weather has improved dramatically.  It’s been sunny, with lower humidity.   We haven’t had rain for a few days.  Yea!!

Between me, Mom, and my brother, we have spent 4 days at hospitals and doctors offices this week. 

Today, we had to run to Al’s optometrist to get his glasses fixed….so I guess it was actually 5 days at doctors this week.

While waiting for Al’s glasses to get fixed, we made a stop at Lowe’s, Walmart, and Pizza Hut.  Al was determined he was going to have a Pizza hut  lunch buffet, and there was no talking him out of it.

We were both tired, so we came home and had the best nap ever! 

Tomorrow, the county is offering a free “shredding” day.  You can drop off paperwork to a location at a local mall, and they will shred your papers  for free while you wait.  We have some old tax records we need done, so I think that will be our “fun” tomorrow.

So…..another exciting day in the life of a full time rv’er!     It’s certainly not a vacation every day, is it?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Good-Bye Debby

Wesley Chapel, Florida  (high 92, low 68)

Tuesday was a busy day, but everything went well.

The weather was fine for the most part, but we did get a few scattered showers as Tropical Storm Debby made her way towards an eventual landfall in Steinhatchee, Florida.

I got the laser iridectomy surgery done on my left eye.  It went pretty well, certainly much better than the first time.    It involves using a laser to punch a hole in the iris of the eye.   It sounds worse than it is.  The doctor used a different type of laser, after I whined and complained about how uncomfortable the the previous procedure was.  The worse part was the extreme bright light from the laser.   I have to go back next week for a check up and then hopefully I won’t have to see this doctor again anytime soon.

After we left the eye doctor (me with a big headache from the procedure), we had to pick my brother up and take him to the doctor.   He had to be checked up after the seizure he had the day before.     They really didn’t do anything more than the hospital did, and didn’t seem too concerned.

So today, the fun item of the day is to take Mom to her doctor.   I think her monthly visits might need to be extended a little and I’m going to talk to him about that. 

The  sun is shining, the humidity is down and we have no hurricanes……..

however……

there is something brewing way out in the Atlantic.       I hope this season isn’t going to be like 2004 and 2005, which were hurricane seasons from hell.

I sure would like to leave Florida.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Grrrrrrr

Wesley Chapel, Florida

We’re still watching and waiting for TS Debby to get moving and decide where she wants to go.

The track now appears to be taking her into Florida.   We’re hoping it will track far north of us.

It was windy yesterday, but rain was minimal.  It’s a good thing because some areas have gotten 15 inches of rain and are flooded.

Yesterday, we went to the grocery store and intended to go home and watch the next episode of   “24.”    

It didn’t quite work out that way.

While we were eating lunch, we got a phone call from Mom saying she had gotten a call from the EMS.  My brother had a seizure at Sam's Club and they were transporting him to the hospital.

We rushed to the hospital, not knowing what was happening.  Mom was very upset.

They ran some tests and then released him, after determining he wasn’t critical.  He was told to follow up with a doctor today.

So……now he isn’t supposed to drive. 

Today I have my appointment for the  laser eye surgery for my left eye.   After that, we’re hoping to get Steve in to see a doctor.

Another fun day in paradise. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Panties in a Wad?

Wesley Chapel, Florida

The heavy rains let up last night around bed time, and didn’t start again until around 4 am, when the weather radio alerted us to a tornado warning.  

I realize many people do not take tornado warnings seriously, but we do.  When there is a tornado in the county we’re in, it gets our attention.  If the tornado is heading our way, it really gets our attention.

I got an interesting “anonymous” comment yesterday that I was getting my “panties in a wad,” about this tropical storm, and “creating hysteria.”

Well,  Mr. Anonymous, thank you for your comment, however I disagree with some of some of what you said. 

Yes, I believe our rig would be okay from tropical storm force winds.  We can take the rain and the area is in no danger of flooding.   But, we cannot handle any tornados that may be spawned from this storm.

We lived in Tampa when Hurricane Charley hit.   I remember it quite well because it was supposed to make a direct hit on the  Tampa Bay area.  We were preparing for it,  (in our concrete block house),  but it took a last minute right turn and made landfall in Port Charlotte instead of Tampa.  We were on the “good” side of the hurricane, so we didn’t get much wind or rain from it.

Hurricane Charley caused  7.5  billion dollars in damage and killed 25 people.  Yes, I realize it was a much stronger storm, than what we are experiencing now.  It made landfall as a Cat 4 storm.

You said it passed right over you and there were no rigs damaged in your campground.   I guess you were extremely lucky.  I distinctly remember many, many mobile home retirement communities that were destroyed, including one where the mother of a friend of mine lived.  

The following picture is the before picture of one of those mobile home parks.

Hurricane Charley before and after aerial photos   destoyed mobile home park just northeast of Punta Gorda.

The next picture shows the same park after Charley.

Hurricane Charley after aerial photos   destoyed mobile home park just northeast of Punta Gorda.

The fact that you took a direct hit from a Cat 4 storm and that  “no rigs were damaged in your campground”, was truly a miracle.

Remember, this storm made landfall on the west coast of Florida, went northeast  across the state causing damage all the way until it exited the state as a Cat 2 Hurricane.   Much of the damage was caused by tornados that were spawned from the hurricane.

So,  yes.  We are taking this tropical storm seriously. 

Yes, it’s currently  “going away” from us, and yes, it’s only a tropical storm.”    ……..for now………

 

I have lived in Florida long enough to know that:

1.  storms are unpredictable

2.  The weather forecasters are normally much better predicting where the storm is going than the strength at landfall.

3.  Tornados are frequently spawned from tropical storms and hurricanes.

 

So, in answer to your question.  Yes, I think our rig could sustain tropical storm force winds.  Do I want to ride out a tornado in a motor home?   No,  I do not.

I remember a very sad story about an entire family of 5, that was killed by a tornado last spring.  There were warnings days in advance that this was going to be a very bad system and that a lot of deadly tornados would form.     You are not supposed to ride out a tornado in a mobile home (or rv), but these people went to sleep in their mobile home knowing strong storms were coming their way.  The young mother, and father died right away along with two of their small children.  Their 15 month old was found alive in a field after the tornado.  She died in the hospital a few days later.   Did they take the tornado threat seriously?   I guess not.   I imagine they had time to realize their mistake before they died. 

I don’t want to be in that position.   

I’m sorry if you think I am trying to “create more hysteria.”   That is not my intention.

 

Enough said about that……

 

After our heavy rain this morning, the rain has stopped and we actually see the sun!   The storm is still here, but for now at least the feeder bands are to our east.   I hope they stay there.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Storm Update

We have had rain all day, sometimes pretty hard rain.

According to my Weather Bug phone app, the strongest gust is 24 mph…..so far.

We are in a tornado watch and the weather radio has gone off twice telling of a tornado warning.  You can bet that gets our attention!

One motor home left earlier this afternoon.  I hope they get out of Florida safely.

I got a question from a commenter named Robert.   I don’t know what happened to the comment, but he was asking what he should do.   Robert is at Gulf Shores Alabama camping in a fifth wheel.

Boy, Robert, that is a tough one.   We talked about heading north as well, but we decided it would be safer to stay put.   We are further south than you and would have to go through a lot of bad weather before we got to a better location.   It looks like you might be in a better area to evacuate.   I wish I could give you better advice, but the truth is, I just don’t know.

How is the weather right now?  Windy, rainy?   What is the forecast for your area?  

If you left now, you would end up traveling in the dark and possibly getting some storms.  It’s a tough call and I don’t know what to tell you.  

It’s such a fun day.   Gotta go, the weather radio is bleeping again!   This sucks

The Hurricane Weather Center still doesn’t  know where landfall will be, but it’s now looking more like Florida, probably the Panhandle or north Florida.

Tropical Storm Debby

Wesley Chapel, Florida

We are still watching the spaghetti models and tracking this storm. 

This has been an unusual storm and the forecasters still aren’t exactly sure where it will end up.  The spaghetti models still vary widely.    The biggest change is that it’s now become a tropical storm, which means it’s strengthened.

Hurricanes are categorized by the wind speed.

Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale   Wikipedia  the free encyclopedia

It became a tropical storm yesterday, which means the winds are up to between 39 and 73 mph. 

A Cat One hurricane will have winds between 75-95 mph.

Our weather yesterday was fine.   It was cloudy, but we only got a few very light sprinkles, and no wind.

Last night all that changed and it started raining in the middle of the night.  I don’t think it’s going to quit for a few days.  Debby has arrived.

I wish we were out of Florida, but I fear we have lost our window of opportunity.  Yesterday, the storm track was too uncertain to know  where we should go.  Today, it may be too late unless we want to travel in a tropical storm.    Maybe we should.  I don’t know.

It’s raining fairly hard right not and the winds are finally starting to pick up a little.  Up until now, we haven’t had any wind.  

We are on the “bad” side of the storm, which is the right side.  No matter which way it turns, it looks like we will be on the right side. Annoyed

I’m concerned, since we live in a box with holes in it (slides).   Blowing rain can cause more leaks than just a normal rain.  We have had an odd leak coming in from the top corner of the door.  We can’t figure out why, but it appears to be coming in around the rubber door gasket.  Al put some caulk in and around it yesterday, but we still have the leak.

He got up on the roof yesterday,  and checked all the seals and openings.   You may recall several months ago, he applied Eternabond to some of the openings in the roof.

Here are the before and after pictures of the skylight.

Skylight before Eternabond

Skylight after Eternabond

We will never have to worry about leaks around the skylight.  I wish we could say the same about all the openings on the roof.

Unfortunately, he never completed the project.  It’s hard work (for an old man) and he intended to finish up a few days later after his body recovered.

Well…..he still hasn’t finished.   He still has a few other places that need Eternabond.

We  learned from experience with the old coach that the Dicor sealant doesn’t last too long in the Florida weather.  The tiniest pin hole will bring water inside.  Our old motor home had fabric ceilings so any and every small leak showed up on the white fabric ceiling. 

This coach has vinyl ceilings, so you’d probably have to have a really bad leak before you would know.   We don’t want to wait that long, so up Al  went yesterday and re-caulked any areas where he  could see problems.   Hopefully we will be okay there,  and as soon as we can, we’ll be finishing up the Eternabond. 

So for now, we are okay.  I’m trying to stay calm, but I get extremely nervous during storms.  I am not one of those people who love to hear the rain falling on the roof!  

We picked up the remaining Dvd’s of  “24”.   That show certainly can take your mind off the weather!

We got some groceries yesterday, so we’ll eat well, but we just realized we’re getting low on kitty food. We may have to make a run to Petsmart.   Baxter would not be happy if we ran out of kitty food.   Fortunately there is a Petsmart very close by.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Spaghetti Models

Wesley Chapel, Florida  (high 84, low 73)

Well, it’s Saturday morning. It’s cooler due to the clouds, but not raining.  Yet.

It rained off and on all yesterday afternoon and evening.  More of the same is expected today.

We are keeping our eyes on the weather, because we may have a hurricane, or tropical storm heading our way. 

There is some sort of low pressure system forming in the Gulf of Mexico.  It will likely develop into at least a tropical storm, and possibly a hurricane, depending on where it goes. 

It’s possible it could come ashore in our area, but it’s also possible it will head west towards Texas. 

They haven’t been able to send the hurricane hunters into the storm yet because they haven’t found the center of development yet. 

Right now, all we have are the “spaghetti models.”

Spaghetti models are possible tracks of the storm that are generated from the many different weather computers.   For now, none of the models agree on the future path of the storm.

 Hurricane Spaghetti Models   Weather   Tampa Bay  St. Petersburg  Clearwater and Sarasota   WTSP.com 10 News

We certainly don’t want to be here if we get a hurricane, and  we’re not thrilled to be here during a tropical storm either.  They can get pretty ugly and bring tons of rain and wind.  

Since our home has wheels, we could leave, but where do we go?  If we head north and the storm heads to the panhandle, we may be putting ourselves right in the middle of it.   Going to the other coast won’t help if it becomes a hurricane. 

So for right now, we’re keeping a close eye on the spaghetti models.  You can see they are all over the place as to where the storm will head.  As they get more information, they will start to come together for a more accurate track.

We’ve learned over the years that the forecasters are pretty good at predicting where the storm will go, but not too accurate on the intensity.   The problem with this storm is that it’s forming close to home, so if it comes our way, we won’t get much warning.

More than likely if it heads our way, it won’t get too strong because it won’t have too much time to strengthen.

So……that’s what we’re doing this week-end.  Watching the weather.

So while we watch it rain, I guess we’ll continue watching “24”.   It’s such an exciting series and very addictive.

Al got most of his pest control accounts done this week, so we’ll have some time to do something fun….if the weather starts cooperating.

For now, it’s  “24”  and spaghetti models!   Smile

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Our First Year as Fulltimers

Wesley Chapel, Florida  (high 89, low 73)

I have been wanting to do this post for a few weeks.

We have a milestone.

On June 2, 2011,  we closed the sale of our house in Georgia and became official “houseless” full-timers.

We’ve talked about our first year of full-timing a lot during the past few weeks.   Even though we haven’t yet left Florida, it’s been a wonderful year .  We have had some amazing adventures and seen some beautiful things. 

I think if you have to be “stuck” in any state, Florida is one of the best.  (except during hurricane season)

This post is mostly for us to remember our first year of full-timing, and to document certain important dates.   I hope it’s not too boring.  It will be full of photos, so I apologize in advance if it loads too slow.  I could make this into two separate posts, but I decided I wanted to keep it together, for me.  Sorry.

So…..after the house closed, we stayed two days on the property to complete the sale of the mower, and golf cart.

We headed south and stopped just over the Florida Border in a little town called White Springs.  We needed a few days to chill out.

Next stop was Ocala, where we visited John Travolta.  Unfortunately he wasn’t home. 

We arrived back in Tampa and started motorhome shopping.  We decided we needed something a little larger than our 32 foot class A.   We found our motorhome at Lazy Days.  It’s a 41 foot  2003 Monaco Windsor diesel pusher.

Boy was it shiny.   This picture made me realize it’s time to get out the “Solution” and shine it back up.  It still has prairie dust on it!

monaco Motor home

I have a lot of counter space as motor homes go.

monaco Motor home kitchen

monaco Motor home bedroom

Between the looking for the motorhome and getting all the problems resolved, we ended up staying at Lazy Days until August 12.  It was a bit of a hassle, but we were “camping” free, and we ended up with a new refrigerator, batteries, tires, power cord, slide awning, awning seals, toilet,  and all the little things repaired.  They fixed all the small things, as well as the big ones.  (like the refrigerator)    We worked hard at finding any and every problem, and got them fixed before we left.    We were extremely happy with how we were treated at Lazy Days and would never buy anywhere else. 

Our first year was not all wonderful.  Towards the end of August, we finally lost the battle and lost our beloved kitty, Squeaky.  I still can’t think or talk about her without crying (guess what I’m doing right now).   I still shed tears for her on a regular basis, but at least it’s  not every single day anymore.   We loved her dearly and she was the best cat ever.  She loved me so much too. 

Since we no longer had to stay close to our veterinarian, we finally left Tampa and got some beach time in Vero Beach, Florida.  It was much needed.

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We actually got to see a rocket launch from Cape Canaveral while we were kayaking!  How cool was that?

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Of course a big thing that happened last year was getting little Baxter.

 

Kitten

We had been so sad  and poor Al felt so bad watching me cry all the time.  He thought a kitten would help.

It did.   We brought him home on September 14.  He was 7 weeks old.  I finally had something to look forward to coming home to.  Although we had other cats, its was just not the same.  Baxter really helped.

October brought us back to the Atlantic coast, to Flagler Beach.

We got to see the Blue Angels at the Jacksonville Air show.

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We enjoyed some beautiful sunrises over the ocean.

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Lots of exploring all along the coast, including Daytona Beach and St Augustine.

November brought us to Blue Springs State Park for some kayaking and manatee viewing.

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Another trip back to Tampa for a few weeks, and then the end of November found us on the Gulf Coast, in Fort Myers.

Lots of exploring and kayaking.

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We found some Burrowing Owls.

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In the meantime, Baxter is growing up.  He has officially wormed his way into both of our hearts.  

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We spent Christmas in Tampa, but left for the Florida Keys on December 27th.

What a beautiful drive.

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We had an exceptionally warm winter so we got in a lot of kayaking.

kayaking from bridge at sunshine key

We enjoyed our two weeks in the Keys so much, we made plans to come back for a longer stay.

 

We went back to Tampa the middle of January.  We stayed there until the end of March.  We got some things done to the motor home, like Eternabond on the roof, tire covers, dash cover, and replacing the carpet with Allure.

We spent some time with Mom and tried to get some of her health issues resolved.  We finally discovered one source of her problems was an extremely low thyroid.

We did have some fun while we were back in the Tampa area.  We had a wonderful day in Crystal River at the Three Sisters Spring.  There were a LOT of manatee.

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A day kayaking at Weeki Wachee springs.

This was the first (and only) time we had seen deer swimming.

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All the while, Baxter is growing like a weed.   His love of sitting in bowls causes us to buy him larger and larger bowls.

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I had a Laser Iridectomy surgery done on my right eye on February 23.  Wow, that wasn’t fun. 

We headed back to the Keys on March 21st.   We spent a night in the Everglades then headed to Sunshine Key Rv Resort.  We were there almost 5 weeks.   We had a wonderful time and decided it is where we would like to winter.  

We visited with Margie and Roger who were also staying at Sunshine Key.

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Once the winds died down, we had some amazing days out on the Atlantic ocean kayaking and snorkeling.

kayaking around sunshine key

kayaking around sunshine key, snorkeling

We explored Key West and went for the evening sunset celebration.  That was a lot of fun.

Mallory square, Key West

We spent May back in Tampa.  Campground rates are so much cheaper by the month, so we decided to hang around for a while, visit with Mom and get some chores done.

We ended up spending our 39th anniversary, my birthday, and the anniversary of us becoming official full timers…..on the Kissimmee prairie.      There was no place we would rather have been for those two wonderful weeks.

 

rain on prairie

I have a hard time believing that it’s been a year since we sold the house.  It has passed so quickly.  We feel very lucky to be “living our dream.”  Of course we very much want to head north, or west.  

We are currently in the planning process for our next adventure.  We are hoping to actually leave Florida!

This month, is doctor appointments for me, so we’re back in Tampa until July 22.  Of course if any of these tropical systems send a hurricane our way, we may be leaving sooner!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Back to the Big City

We survived our two weeks on the prairie without sewer connections and spotty internet.   We loved seeing all the wildlife and being away from it all. 

However, now that we’re back in civilization,  it’s nice not to have to drive 30 miles for a gallon of milk, and we have pizza delivery!

We’re staying at Quail Run Rv Resort in Wesley Chapel, Florida.  It just north of Tampa and about 20 miles from my Mom’s house.    This is one of the few privately owned rv parks that we’ve run across. 

I’ll take some pictures and post them in a few days.

This is an old Rv park,  but they have recently built a new section of  “supersites.”  The older section is nice but the sites are gravel,  smaller,  and not real level.  There are a lot of beautiful Live Oak trees in that section with wonderful shade.  We would have liked  to have had a shady site, but we were afraid we wouldn’t be able to get a signal for our Directv.  

The park offers free cable and fast wifi. 

We chose a site in the new “supersite” section.  We are on a huge double concrete pad that is completely level!   

They are doing a lot of renovations, to include new pool, laundry room and clubhouse.  The owners really are working to make this a great place to stay.

We are happy here.   The summer rates are cheap,  Our site cost $320 a month, plus tax and electricity.  There are some huge perimeter sites that cost $380, and boy are they nice!!  The rates go up in October.

So, while we’re here, Al will be doing some pest control.  I will be visiting doctors for myself and my Mom.

I got a physical and pap test done yesterday.  I still need to schedule a mammogram and colonoscopy.  I have an appointment next week to get the laser eye surgery done on my left eye.  So…..fun stuff the next few weeks.

We hope to leave here July 22nd and we’re planning on going to South Carolina.  We have a campground picked out that will put us close to both Savannah and Charleston.  There is a lot to do and it’s a beautiful area.     Of course we make our plans in jello, so that may change. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Final Night on the Prairie

Wesley Chapel, Florida  (high 92, low 67

Our two weeks at Kissimmee Prairie ended yesterday and we are back in civilization. 

We’re staying just north of Tampa in an  Rv park we had never stayed at before.  We have a perfectly level double concrete pad.  That is a nice change from the sandy site at the prairie.   I’m going to have to work on removing all the sand and dirt from the motor home this week.  Not to mention bugs.  It seems like we picked up some small black  bugs, but I am not a bit worried about them, because  Baxter is taking care of them for us.  He absolutely loves to catch bugs.   I’m just hoping we didn’t bring home any mice.  After hearing about a mouse chewing a hole in Judy’s Sea Eagle Kayaks, I’m a bit nervous about that.

Christine and Stan left Saturday.  We sure enjoyed meeting them, and we learned a lot from them.  Thanks guys!   These were people we would never have met if not for this blog.

Stan and Christina

It was odd going on our Saturday evening and Sunday morning drive and not seeing them.   They live in the Tampa Bay area so we may see them again.  It turns out Stan is a charter boat captain, so we may go out fishing with him some day.

Our last evening drive along the prairie roads was a little dull.  We didn’t see much.  Maybe the critters knew Chris and Stan had left.

There are some cattle least properties along the park roads.  Black Angus anyone?

black angus

I had second thoughts about eating beef after seeing them peeing in their water pond while they were having a drink.   Surprised smile

 

We did see what Al thinks is a baby Water Moccasin.   Again, this was taken from the safety of the truck.

baby water mocassin

We got  some beautiful sunset photos.

sunset on prairie

 

sunset on prairie

Friday night we saw a large Owl sitting on a fence post.  It was pitch dark by then so I didn’t get a photo.  Al was determined to see the owl again and for me to get a picture.  I told him, no,  it was impossible, it was just too dark.

Al was  determined that I get this picture though, so he brought along a spot light the next night.

Yeah, right Al, this owl is going to be in the exact same spot he was in last night and sit there long enough for you to shine a spotlight on him…..and for me to take a picture.  Not hardly!

 

Well, guess what?

Meet Mr. Barred Owl.   He is a big guy.

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Boy, did I have to eat my words!

That owl was not on the exact same fence post, but it was just right across the street, and he did sit there long enough for Al to shine the spot light on him and for me to snap 4 pictures.  This is the best of the pictures.  It’s a little blurry, but under the circumstances, I was happy.

Okay, Al, you were right.  I was wrong!

( you had better enjoy those words…they might not come again soon)

We certainly enjoyed our stay at Kissimmee Prairie.  We are already planning a trip back in October during the fall bird migration.  We had thought about doing some volunteer work for them, but it doesn’t appear they are in need of anybody right now.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Uh oh, Where’s the Key

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park

Internet connection problems. I tried  post this blog yesterday two tries didn’t go through.  Hopefully the third time is the charm.

We have thoroughly enjoyed it, but are finally ready to leave.  It will be nice to have full hook ups and  and I won’t miss battling all the sand.  I will miss looking out my windows and seeing wild turkeys, deer and rabbits.

Yesterday we decided to head into  town and explore around the  Lake Okeechobee area.    Lake Okeechobee is the 7th largest freshwater lake in the United States and the size of Rhode Island.  It’s only about 9 feet deep.  Apparently the fishing is good.

We heard there were now a lot of campgrounds around the lake.  The last time we were there, there was nothing but lake, sugar cane and gators.

This is not our favorite area of Florida, but evidently a lot of snowbirds are spending their winters here.  The weather would be nice.

The lake is hard to photograph because you look up to see the lake from the highway.  In the picture below, the lake is to the left.  Not very scenic is it?

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There are a lot of marinas and scenic overlooks, but nothing that impressed us much.   To be fair, we don’t care that much for lakes.  We much prefer ocean and rivers. 

Lake Okeechobee

We did find some Roseatte Spoonbills that posed for a few pictures.

Roseatte Spoonbills

We drove down to Moore Haven Locks.  We wanted to check out their campground. 

It was a dump….literally.

How would you like this guy for a campground neighbor?

Moore Haven campground...dumpy

The picture actually looked much better than it did in person.

No…we won’t be going there, despite 50% discount camping.  I don’t think we have any interest in staying around the lake either.

On the way down we passed many fields of sugar cane.   A crop duster was out spraying the fields. 

sugar cane field

 

Al spotted this rookery with hundreds and hundreds of birds.   What a lot of noise all those birds were making.  It was incredible to listen to them.

All those white specs are birds.  All kinds of birds and their young.  There were some gators in the water below the tree.  I understand they like gators as neighbors because the gators keep the raccoons and other predators away from the nests.  Anybody that happens to fall into the water is in deep trouble though.

massive bird roost

Here are a few close ups.  I was having trouble getting the shots since they were a good distance away and fire ants were biting my feet while I was trying to hold the camera still enough.

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Look close to see the babies.

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massive bird roost

 

We did all the exploring we cared to do,  so we picked up some groceries then headed back to the campground.  We always find lots of interesting subjects along the main road into the campground. 

Here is some Crested Caracara love.  They really looked like they loved each other.  They kept putting their faces together.

Crested Caracara

Crested Caracara

 

We made our evening drive around the park roads. 

Sunsets are always beautiful on the prairie.

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Last night we saw a large owl, but couldn’t quite  get a picture.

We also saw two Corn Snakes.  I took these pictures from the comfort of the truck.   I was zoomed in quite a bit.  I was not that close to the snake.

 

corn snake

This is one of the very rare times where I used my camera flash.  I thought it was interesting how the snakes eye caught the light.

corn snake

 

This morning we didn’t get out until after the sun had risen.  We hiked one of the prairie trails and it turned out to be pretty interesting.

Lots of animal tracks. 

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Lots of deer, of course.

buck deer

 

The bird below is a Towhee.

Towhee

We were hoping to see the endangered Florida Grasshopper Sparrow. 

We thought this bird might be it,  but after getting home and looking at the bird book, we decided this was probably a Bachman's Sparrow.

Bachmans Sparrow

He was really singing.

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This little trail was full of interesting things.

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It doesn’t look like much, but it was amazing how much wild life we saw in a short two mile walk.

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It was starting to get warm,  so we headed back towards the truck.  The prairie breezes started to pick up, so we could probably have gone further, but it’s a good thing we didn’t.  When we got back to the truck, Al discovered he had grabbed the wrong key and locked us out of the truck.  

All I can say, is it’s a good darn thing we didn’t choose the trail Al had wanted to hike.  It was a long way from the campground!  As it was, we had to walk over a mile back to the motor home to get the spare truck key.  The motorhome has a key less entry so we didn’t need a key to get inside….thank goodness!   It could have been worse if we had been further from the campground.   Surprised smile