Sunday, April 28, 2013

Your Blog Has Been Removed


Wesley Chapel, Florida (high 88, low 63)


Yesterday, when I tried to pull up my blog via my cell phone, I got the dreaded message, “this blog has been removed.”  I thought it was just a fluke and tried again.  Same message.  It directed me to a site that told me the possible causes.  I was getting worried about that time and started to think what I would lose if I lost my entire blog.

I finally found out there had been suspicious activity on my blog and that I would need to verify who I was.  After I verified this info my blog miraculously reappeared! 

Suspicious activity?  What does that mean?  That’s worrisome.

I can tell you, by that time, I had really started to panic! 

So, the moral of the story is.  Back up your blog!   No, I hadn’t done that.  Yes, I remembered Rick writing something about that a while back and also the Geeks on Tour.   I will have to go back and figure out how to do it, but man, what I would have lost if the blog was gone!!

We have really enjoying our new wooded site and sitting outside a lot more.  Yesterday morning, I was out around 6:30 and saw three deer. 


There is a drainage ditch behind the site which normally has water in it, but is currently dry. It’s prettier than it sounds!  It’s full of cat tails.  Beyond that is a beautiful wooded piece of property.  That’s where the deer live.  We frequently see them along side the road leading into the campground.  It’s nice to see them in our own back yard.

We’ve put up the birdfeeders and have attracted a large family of Black Capped Chickadees.

I’ve not gotten any good pictures yet, but I’m working on it.


The feeder above hangs from a branch, so it is not squirrel proof.

The squirrel proof feeder was laying on the ground until Al got around to putting it up.  Last night a squirrel went over to the feeder, looked at it then scurried up the tree and looked at me as if to say, where is the food?


About 5 minutes later, he was in the hanging feeder.

We have a male cardinal, but so far the female hasn’t shown up. We think she’s probably sitting on a nest, so we can expect some babies soon.



We are really enjoying this beautiful site.  The two negatives are that we are close to the interstate, and that it is quite a bit shorter than our previous site.  It’s still a very large site compared so most campgrounds.


The grass is a bit dry and brown, but we’re expecting lots of rain soon, so it will green up.  Unfortunately, it will also bring out more frogs and mosquitoes.


We have a double concrete site, so we have concrete for the motor home and the vehicles.  That sure makes it nice to keep from tracking in dirt and grass.

I’ve gotten a couple requests for some pictures of the site, and I’ll post a few more once we get finished putting our stuff away and prettying it up!

We’ve seen a lot of birds flying overhead, including swallow tail kites, sandhill cranes, bluebirds, and ducks.  I need to keep my camera handy!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Moving Day


Wesley Chapel, Florida (high 88, low 63)

I am up early enjoying another cool morning.  Al was out the door by 6ish, to do some of his early commercial pest control accounts. He only has a few more months, and then he will retire completely. 

We moved to a different campsite yesterday.  We are still at Quail Run Rv Resort, which is just outside  Tampa.  Now that the snowbirds are gone or leaving soon, there are more sites available and we wanted one of the coveted sites with no sun on the patio side.

We splurged and chose a perimeter site that backs up to the woods.  It’s so much nicer with no one in our back yard.  It’s also  right at the end of one street so you just drive up the street and back straight back into our site.  There are some nice trees beside us that give some shade but aren’t too big with branches hanging over the coach.  After the little storm and tornado went through here last year, I have become more aware of large trees over me. 

There a lot of birds around, including Bluebirds, and Al has already set up the birdfeeders. It’s nice having the windows open so that I can wake up to the sounds of birds singing.

There are a lot of deer in the woods behind us, so hopefully we’ll be able to enjoy watching them from our patio.  This campground is our home base.  It’s cheaper to pay the monthly rate and have our site available when we want it.  The rates triple in the winter, so we find it doesn’t cost us anymore to just keep the site year round.  That way, we have a site if Mom should have any medical problems and we need to be here. 

April is the month I most enjoyed when we lived up in Georgia.  That’s when our beautiful wisteria would bloom along with the azaleas and dogwood.


I always remember how beautiful our place was in the spring.


We loved our beautiful piece of paradise in Georgia, but we don’t regret selling the house.

I was just reminiscing, and thought I’d share some pictures from our beautiful property in Georgia.


Notice who is watching the birds?


A curious squirrel.


Of course spring brings  bird nests. These are 4 baby bluebirds that grew up and successfully fledged their nest.  We had a bluebird house that you could open the top and peek in.  We monitored them for parasites and kept the house baffled to prevent snakes or raccoons from getting to the babies.


Daddy feeding one of the babies.

Male Bluebird feeding Young

A just fledged baby bluebird.  Notice that cute little stubby tail?  When they first fledge, their tails are pretty short, but they soon grow to normal size.

Newly fledged baby Bluebird

Okay, enough reminiscing.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Back to “Home Base”


Wesley Chapel, Florida (high 89, low 58)

We got on the road leaving Naples, Florida around 11am.  It was a fairly easy all interstate drive.

After we were on the road a while, Al started telling me about a tractor/trailer following us that had a very wide load.  He was trying to pass us when we slowed down due to traffic ahead.

Al was getting very upset because he didn’t think the wide load could pass us without hitting us.

Imagine an interstate that had only 2 northbound lanes at the time.   Then imagine a truck with a load that took up the width of about 1 1/2 lanes.  

Fortunately before the guy could get around us, traffic ahead sped up and we were able to stay in front of him for the time being.

Al kept a close eye on him, but I couldn’t see him so I had no idea how wide this rig was, until he actually did pass us a few miles later.

Fortunately, by this time the interstate had widened to three lanes and he was able to get into the left lane to go around us.


Can you imagine if he had passed us when there were only two lanes?  When he passed us, we were going 60 and he passed us very quickly, so he must have been going pretty fast.

oversized load

I don’t know if this extra wide load was legal, but in our opinion, it shouldn’t be.  The cargo looked to be some sort of concrete blocks.

I decided to call the Florida Highway Patrol to report this, since I was concerned for the public safety.  I told her exactly what mile marker he was on and the direction of traffic.  I hoped to see him pulled over at some point, but I never did.

I was curious about the legal limits for interstate travel with a wide load.

This is what I found.

Pilot car - Escort car requirements.
Over 12' wide (up to 14') needs one pilot car or escort vehicle. Over 14' wide needs two pilot cars or escort vehicles. Over 14' 6" in height needs one pilot car or escort vehicle. Over 15' in height needs two pilot cars or escort vehicles.
Lengths up to 95' only require one pilot car or escort vehicle.
Travel restrictions.
Travel is permitted 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 before sunset.  Travel permitted on Saturday and Sunday if not over 10' wide, 13' 6" in height and 55' long.  Continuous travel permitted if heavy only. Over weight travel is allowed for some constructions items as long as they are reduced (ie. blades removed from dozers, etc.). Be sure to clarify with permit office before travel.

I am guessing he was over 12’ wide since he was taking up half of the other lane.  He had no escort vehicle.


We were glad when he got around us though, so we didn’t have to keep worrying about him.

A little later this truck passed us.  Those are people in the back.  Doesn’t look very safe does it?


You see all kinds.  I worried about these pieces of furniture falling out.   The driver didn’t seem to worry as he traveled about 80 mph.


We got home, set up and visited with some neighbors.  I talked briefly to Jo Beth as she was driving by.  I saw a pretty lady walking her dog later. She had on a cute straw hat and a pretty orange dress. I thought  to myself how nice she looked.  It turned out that was Catherine, but I didn’t see her face so I didn’t recognize her.  Looking good Catherine!

The days are pretty warm here, but oh how nice and cool the nights are!  It was 64 when I got up this morning.  The air is crisp and dry, the sky is blue, and the birds are chirping.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Naples, Florida


Naples, Florida (high 88, low 65)

We didn’t leave Sunshine Key until 12:20 yesterday.  That was probably the latest start we have ever gotten.

We had to take the boat down to the storage facility and that took a little extra time.  It probably would be smarter to do that a day earlier.  Oh well.

We breathed a sigh of relief when the slides retracted, the engine started and everything appeared to be running well.

By the time we got going, there were some big patches of red showing on the radar.  We hate driving in rain, but we didn’t have much choice.  The nice thing about the weather app is that you can see where the rain is in relation to your position.   Several times, I would tell Al to slow down a little bit because it looked like the approaching storm was about to move out of our way.  No sense driving in hard rain, if you could slow down and avoid it.  It worked well and we never ran into any hard rain.

I took the obligatory pictures along the Overseas Highway while we were driving down the road.  Despite the clouds, the water looked pretty, clear and calm.  It made it that much harder to leave!

leaving the Keys 


These pretty flowers were outside of some hotel or attraction.


Good-bye Florida Keys.  Hope to see you again in November!

We ended up missing the station where we usually fuel up after leaving the Keys.  Fortunately we had plenty of fuel, so we’re okay and could actually make it all the way to Tampa if necessary.  We prefer to not let the tank get very low, so we will stop at a truck stop in Fort Myers and fill up.

We arrived at Club Naples Rv Resort about 5pm.  It’s a Passport America park and right off interstate 75, so it’s a good overnight stop.  We had stayed here last year and liked it fine, but when we got here yesterday it was a muddy mess from the rain.  You could tell exactly where the snowbirds had parked and had their outdoor mats, because the grass was all dead and of course it was very muddy.  I wish everyone would use the type of mats we use that don’t kill the grass underneath.

We were both pretty tired, so I went to watch some Tv in bed and Al planned on watching some football draft programs in the living room.  He made the mistake of laying down on the couch, so of course that was where he spent the night.  He didn’t see any of his program either.

We got up this morning to a pleasant surprise.  Cool weather!   It’s 65 degrees, so we are able to sit here with the windows open for the first time in weeks.  Boy, does it feel nice!

We only have 187 miles to drive today, so we’re not in any hurry.  It feels nice to be able to have some coffee and computer time before we have to get moving.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Preparing to Leave


Ohio Key, Florida (high 85, low 75)

Our time here at Sunshine Key has ended for this trip.  We plan/hope to be back in November.

We have been playing so hard the past week that we had a lot to do yesterday.

Al spent most of the day outside in the 88 degree temperature, working on the boat.  He did some maintenance things preparing it for storage.

Nick, the guy we bought the boat from gave us the cover for it.  We’d never taken the cover out and looked at it, but Nick had given us some hints on how to cover it so that water didn’t pool, and would instead run right off.

We got the cover on, but there were 12 million little black straps of varying lengths.  We had no idea of what to put where and to top it off when you tightened some of these straps, they broke.    We had to go to “plan B” and use some rope we had on hand to tie it down.

Al finally got around to changing the two new fuel filters we bought for the motor home.  Our motto, is why do today what you can put off until tomorrow!   We decided to go ahead and change these filters since it looks like we will now be forced to buy biodiesel fuel.  We’ve heard the biodiesel clogs up the filters more quickly, especially when you’re just starting to use it.  They were due to be changed anyway.  

I spent most of the day inside cleaning, and doing laundry.  Boy, had we neglected things here!

By the time the day ended we were both exhausted and couldn’t get to bed soon enough.

During the middle of the night, we got some thunderstorms and a good amount of rain.  Of course, I was awake watching the radar and despite some ominous looking red patches on the radar, it wasn’t too bad.

There is a big patch of rain showing right now on the radar that is currently all the way between here and Naples, which is our destination for tonight.  I sure hope it moves off before we leave.  We hate to drive in the rain.

We have to drop the boat off at the storage lot after 10 am, so that will delay our departure.  Not that we’re moving too quickly this morning anyway. 

I’m always a little nervous that everything will work properly before we leave.   I’m hoping the incident with the slide not working will not cause another problem, but if it does, we’re in the Keys!   Maybe we’ll just stay!


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Manatee Rescue


Ohio Key, Florida (high 83, low 70)


Yesterday was to be our last day out on the boat for this trip.  Despite both of us being completely worn out, we forced ourselves to get moving early.  We launched  at Bahia Honda marina by 8:30 am.  We needed to get there early to get a parking space. This park fills up quickly.

We headed out under the old bridge.


The water was just the way we like it.  Clear and turquoise in color.

pretty turquoise water

We decided to anchor for a little while and take a short nap! There’s nothing like napping with the sloshing water hitting the bottom of the boat and gently rocking you to sleep.

Al laid down in the bow of the boat on the big cushion on the cooler and I stretched out on the big “lounge” in behind the steering wheel.

If it hadn’t been our last day to go boating, we probably would have stayed home and rested.  We’re both completely worn out.

After naptime was over, Al fished a while with no luck, we headed over to what we think is “No Name Key.” 

Al was looking for some patches of coral reef to snorkel, but we didn’t have any luck.

The water was very clear and appears green due to the grassy bottom.

shallow water looks green because of the grassy bottom

He fished a while, caught a few fish and then we drove around for a while looking for nice spots to snorkel or fish. 

It was a lazy day.  We spent a little time reading, having lunch and then noticed some rain clouds further offshore.  .  We decided to get closer to the marina, in case we needed to get in quickly. When we heard thunder, we decided it was time to go in.  It was about 2:30 pm.

We pulled into the marina into one of the two openings. Once we tied the boat up,   I noticed a brown “rock” on the ramp right in front of the boat.  I hadn’t it before.  It was in about 3 feet of water.  Upon closer examination I noticed the “rock” was a manatee!   Oh NO!

It was right in front of our boat and right where we would have backed the trailer.  It couldn’t have been in a worse place, and I was very upset.  I knew we weren’t going to injure it, but I was worried about any other boats that would be coming in.

You would not be expecting to see a manatee there.

The picture isn’t very good because I didn’t even take one until after I got the attention of the park ranger and realized something was going to be done to help the manatee.  I was too upset.

manatee at Bahia Honda Marina

As soon as I realized what I was seeing, I flagged down a park ranger and told her.  She seemed to think it was pretty cool, but didn’t seem to concerned.  She reminded us the manatee have the right of way and we couldn’t disturb them.  I had been thinking the best thing was to somehow scare the manatee away from the boat ramps. 

We decided to pull the boat over to the other ramp so that we wouldn’t disturb her.  I personally thought she should be disturbed, and moved from this  location.  She was apparently sleeping and rarely came up for air.  I did see a little turd float up though.   :)  I controlled my urge to take a picture of that.

While Al was getting the trailer, another ranger came over.  He didn’t seem to be planning on doing anything either.  After realizing they had no plans to do anything,  mentioned maybe putting a buoy or something out to alert other boaters about the manatee.  He said he would do that, so I watched her while he went to get some help. 

A few minutes later the female ranger brought a car to block the ramp from people wanting to launch their boats.

manatee at Bahia Honda Marina

By this time a crowd was gathering.

The next step was to close the other end of the ramp off so that no one could take their boats out of the water. There was one other slot where boats could launch.

manatee at Bahia Honda Marina

In the meantime the manatee moved to slightly deeper water but appeared to still be napping.

We pulled the boat out, parked, and then walked over to the Earth Day celebration they were having at the park.  We missed most of it but did pick up some interesting literature, including a real nice brochure to help identify fish.

These are pictures from the beach at Bahia Honda.  What a beautiful state park this is.

Bahia Honda beach

I love this crooked palm tree.

Bahia Honda beach

We got home about 4:30, cleaned the boat and then Al drug me out for happy hour at the Sunset Grill.  No rest for the wicked!

No pictures of sunset there this time.  You’ll have to look at the ones I took last December.  The sun is not setting in the right place this time of year, and it sets way after happy hour is over!  It blinds you when it starts getting too low, so it’s not nearly as nice this time of year.  The best time to watch sunset there is in fall and early winter.

This time of year, you get your best sunset pictures bayside instead of ocean side, and Sunshine Key offers some beautiful sites to watch the sunset.

Last night, we walked along the bridge.

The “summer people” were out really enjoying the beach.  They are just arriving, so everyone is happy to be back here.  There were several groups of people with dogs, kids and beers, just enjoying the clear calm water. Those little spots are people.  The water is very shallow there.

Most of the summer residents are Cuban families, and you normally hear the salsa beats from the Latino music.  Last night, we heard rap music!  What?  I like the Latino music, the rap, not so much.

sunset from bridge overlooking Sunshine Key beach

This next picture is Sunshine Key from the bridge.  Sunshine Key Rv Resort takes up the entire island of Ohio Key.  It’s a lovely place to be.

sunset from bridge overlooking Sunshine Key

sunset from bridge overlooking Sunshine Key

As usual, I took way too many sunset pictures.


Sherry and I have that in common.


While we were on the bridge, Al saw a pretty big nurse shark swim under the bridge.  I took a few pictures but they didn’t turn out.  It was probably 6-7 feet long.  We think is was “Three Hole Harry.”   I told Al from now on, when we’re snorkeling, we’re not going to go visit him.  He’s grown up a lot since last year.

When we got back home, Al told me we needed to get up early and watch the sunrise.  I told him to be sure and bring my camera with him and take some nice pictures.  I was so tired, I didn’t want to even think about sunrise.

However….after a good night sleep, off we went this morning for sunrise, and yes, I went too!

Here is Sunshine key in the early morning light.

sunshine key at sunrise

It wasn’t a very pretty sunrise due to the clouds.

There were some interesting clouds ocean side though.



Today,  we will have to get the boat covered up and ready for storage.  We’ll say good bye to it for a few months.

We will start preparation for leaving tomorrow.  We sure will hate to leave our favorite place!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Al Caught a Shark


Ohio Key, Florida at Sunshine Key Rv Resort  (high 88, low 78)


It seems like summer here and it’s hard to believe some people are still dealing with snow and ice.  We’ve had a few days where it was particularly hot and muggy, but for the most part it hasn’t been too hot yet.  However, being out on the water is always much cooler than on shore.

We did decide to stay here a few days longer.  We are now planning on leaving Monday.  That gives us 28 days here, which is about 28 days too short.

We took the boat out again yesterday (what a surprise) and did a little fishing and snorkeling.  The visibility was pretty bad yesterday again, so it was more of a fishing day.  I found a book I’m enjoying, so I spent my time reading.

Al had a pretty good day fishing.  He bought some frozen squid and had good luck with that.  I hate for him to use squid because it’s messy and leaves a lot of goo on the boat.  Plus it smells very fishy.


We saw this beautiful iridescent Portuguese man o war floating on top of the water.

Portueguese man o war

Later on, Al noticed a clump of sea grass with this pretty little creature on it.   We have no idea what it was, but it seemed to be riding the currents on the sea grass.


We fished right outside the channel by the Sunshine Key Marina for part of the day, then moved around to the other side of the island.  This is another shot of some waterfront sites at the campground. 


The water was a pretty blue color, but it was murky.

On the other side of the island, there is a channel cut out with some shallow grassy areas on both sides of the channel.  We’ve snorkeled there before, so we know there is a little undercut on the grassy areas which is a good place for fish to hide.   Al decided to try his luck fishing there.

He caught his first ever shark.

bonnet head shark

It was only about 2 feet long.

bonnet head shark

It turned out to be a Bonnethead shark, and I don’t recall ever seeing one before.

bonnet head shark

It’s a member of the hammerhead family, and I have definitely seen them before….many times.  In fact one time when we were looking for a spot to dive, a large hammerhead shark came to the surface and laid on the surface of the water right next to our boat!  It was so  cool.  I stood in the boat taking picture after picture of it.  I really need to pull out some of my old diving pictures.

The Bonnethead shark likes warm waters and swims in groups of 5-15 individuals, but sometimes there can be hundreds!   Wow!  How cool would that be to see hundreds of them!   They are smaller sharks that grow to between 3 and 5 feet long and are not dangerous to man (or woman).

bonnet head shark

The thing that we both hate about fishing, is that sometimes the fish swallow the hook.  That is what happened with the shark.  Al didn’t want to risk losing a finger by trying to get the hook out, so he had to cut the line.  They say the hooks dissolve and the fish will be fine.  I sure hope so.  That’s why we prefer spearfishing.  You target the fish you want, and shoot it.  Unless it gets off the spear, you have the fish you want.

Sometime near 6pm, we reluctantly drug ourselves back to shore and loaded the boat up on the trailer.  It’s sure nice only having to trailer the boat a block home!

We were exhausted when we got home last night.  I don’t know what it is about being out in a boat or on the water, but it’s very tiring. If we weren’t leaving Monday, we would probably take the day off today and relax.

We are planning on taking the boat out today and launching at Bahia Honda.  They are having some sort of nature festival today, so we need to get there early before there are no more parking spaces.    Boy, do I wish I could lounge around a little this morning, but Al is nagging at me to get moving!!!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Snorkeling, Fishing and Spearfishing in the Keys


Ohio Key, Florida (Sunshine Key Rv Resort)  high 86, low 78


We took the little boat out yesterday, for what was supposed to the last time for this trip.

As the day progressed and we started thinking about packing up and leaving, we started talking about extending our trip….just a little longer.  We may extend our stay 2 more days.    Al still has a few pest control customers and they are due, which is the only reason we’re not staying through May.     Very soon, those customers will be gone and we won’t be on such a tight schedule.  Very soon.

Anyway, we had a good day, despite strong winds, currents and murky water.  For some reason the past two days the normally clear water has gotten very murky.

We paid our $12 and launched at the marina at Sunshine Key.  They keep a chain across the ramp to prevent people from launching without paying.  We explained we would probably return late and confirmed they would not lock the gate on us.  We were assured the chain wouldn’t be locked.   (It was)

We headed out of the marina into the channel and noticed it was choppy and windy, so we didn’t go too far. As long as we can get out of the wind and into some calm water, we’re happy.

There are some mangroves around and we’d seen fish in that area.  Al had his mind set on catching a mangrove snapper for dinner, so that is where we anchored.


He fished a while and got no bites, so he decided to snorkel a while and see what was down there.

He found a nice spot while snorkeling and saw a bunch of mangrove snapper, lobsters, lion fish, anemone, parrotfish, mutton snapper, angel fish, lettuce slugs, and much more.

I always send Al out as the scout.  If he finds a good spot, then I go in.   After he came back and told me all that he saw, I decided to snorkel it as well.  We decided to have lunch first, and by the time we finished lunch, the tide had changed and the visibility was gone.  I have done a lot of diving in low vis, but the older I get, the more particular I get, so I didn’t get in.   We were hoping for the visibility to improve as the tide started coming back in.  It didn’t.

We moved the boat a few times, he snorkeled several times and fished in between the snorkeling.  

He caught another little yellow fish with a black spot.  We’re not sure what kind of fish it is.  It wasn’t a keeper.

Al's spotted yellow fish..stripes with black spot

While he was fishing and snorkeling, I spent my time reading and photographing the wildlife.

This cormorant spent a good 5 minutes splashing around taking a bath.  I don’t understand why they need baths when they live in the ocean!

cormorant bathing

This yacht came by with his “toad.”

boat with toad

This guy spent the afternoon kite boarding on the other side of the bridge. 


This is Al snorkeling looking for the “honey hole.”


Leaning pelicans

leaning pelicans


three pelicans


4 pelicans one cormorant



After moving the boat closer to where he had seen all the fish, and still not catching anything, he decided to take matters into his own hands and go spear fishing. 

The black thing he is holding is a spear gun for all of you non-divers.

Al the spearfisherman

Al has spear fished using a scuba tank, but I don’t remember him ever doing it while snorkeling.   When you are underwater, you’re not bothered as much by current, the choppy water or winds.

Spear fishing while snorkeling proved a lot more difficult than he expected. While he was aiming the gun, he would be drifting away. 

Needless to say, he came back empty handed and we had frozen pizza for dinner….instead of snapper.

Sometime after 5pm, we decided to call it a day.

The chain was across the launch ramp and fortunately Dewey (employee of the campground) was there with a key. 

Dewey told us a sad story.   Wednesday night, there was a fatal accident on the Seven Mile bridge.  It’s the longest bridge in the Keys and the last bridge before arriving here at Sunshine Key.  It turns it the fatality was a 79 year old man that had been a winter resident here.  His wife was seriously injured as well.  It really hit home, when we realized they were our neighbors.   This couple obviously was enjoying a nice life and wintered here for the past few years.   Very sad.

After cleaning the boat and showering, we took a walk around the park for some sunset photos.

These are two of the brand new rental trailers that are on the waterfront.  They are real nice and brand new. The two bedroom ones can be rented for $220 a night (plus taxes), $1320 a week or $3960 a week.

Life in paradise ain’t cheap!

Sunset at Sunshine Key Rv Resort rental trailers  

But, oh what a view!

Sunset at Sunshine Key Rv Resort

Sunset at Sunshine Key Rv Resort

Sunshine Key sunset