Welcome to our Adventure!

Al and I are thrilled that you have found your way to our blog. We hope you enjoy reading our journal and viewing our photographs of the natural wonder of our United States of America. Let's hit the road together!
Homer, Alaska

Monday, January 23, 2012

Thank You!

I'm finally back on. I wish to send a heart-felt thank you to all the folks who expressed their sympathies. I am still amazed that folks who have never even met you "for real" will take the time to write a short note. The RV community is wonderful, and there's nothing else to say about that!

The week before our troubles began, we had spent a few days down in Hillsborough State Park in Thonotosassa, FL. Very very nice park, and we will definitely return there again to enjoy the recreational activities available there. Our trip there had ulterior motives, however. I wanted to spend a day with my sister and her family while they were visiting Kissimmee, and we also wanted to attend the RV Supershow at the Tampa State fairgrounds.

Tuesday was our travel day down, about 2 1/2 hours from here at Otter Springs. We had made an appointment with Linda and Howard Payne of RV-Dreams.com to have our trailer weighed, so we stopped to have that done at Long View RV Superstores. Very nice folks at the dealership, beautiful facility. We plan on going back there and having an annual service done on the trailer before we leave Florida in April. After making our way to the campground, we were invited by other RV-Dreamers to join the campfire circle that night: Gin and Syl (Wandering Sylville) were our hosts, and we were also joined by Nancy and Bill (Our Road to Retirement), Sherry and David (In the Direction of Our Dreams) and Linda and Howard of RV-Dreams.com. It was a lively and entertaining night, thank you folks for making our night so much fun. Also, congrats to Gin and Syl on your new motorhome, and also to Nancy and Bill, who just contracted to sell
their house after being on the market for 19 months, and also on their new motorhome as well.

We had a lovely visit with my family, even though the weather did not co-operate for the first time since we arrived (its been a lovely winter here in Florida!), and we are all so happy that my Dad had a good visit with the grand-kids before he left us.

The house closing went off without a hitch, and we are now official Florida residents with our brand-new driver's licenses. Next up will be the title and tag transfers of our vehicles, and yes, I know how much that is down here when doing it for the first time :-)!

We have also been finally cleared to work! Background checks came in fine, and we had our drug screens done and back within a couple days, so we started last Friday. We work Friday Saturday and Sunday, for 5 hours a day. Our duties consist of mainly bath house cleaning once a day (2 bath houses with 2 showers each side), cleaning vacated sites and making sure sites are prepared for new arrivals, trash patrol throughout the park and along the hiking trails, and any other projects that may need assistance on during our shift. There are 5 workamper couples here, and everyone is so pleasant and easy-going. Otter Springs is really very nice, I like it here a lot. Its very quiet and peaceful. Since the county took over a couple of years ago, (it used to be privately owned) they have been working diligently to upgrade the facilities and make it a  really nice place. I have to say they are succeeding. The location is very pretty, but it is pretty far off of the main highways.  I think that is one thing keeping it from the snow-bird circuit. All sites have full hook-ups, they are slightly less crowded than your typical park down here ( and as they are upgrading, they are removing sites that are really making a section crowded, which is a great idea), there's a heated, indoor pool which is quite large, and its on the Suwanee River, great for kayaking or canoeing...or fishing if that's your thing. There's lots of birds here too, which I love. So if you're on the west coast of Florida heading up Hwy. 19, stop in and say hello. I'd love to see this campground become more widely known, its so nice.

Lastly on the news front, as my troubles keep going (if we have them all now, will the rest of the year be ok?), we had taken the dogs to "doggie day care" while visiting in Kissimmee and the RV Supershow. Friday, they came down with kennel cough! It's breaking my heart listening to them hack away, especially Casey. Chelsea had already been on medication (prednisone) for an ear infection, so that was subduing her symptoms somewhat, but Casey got this wet hacking cough that was terrible to listen to. We took them into the vet in Homosassa, and they are both on antibiotics now, with Casey also on Benadryl to calm the inflammation. They seem to be getting better, but Casey was a bugger, because he wouldn't eat anything and I didn't know how I was going to get the pills into him. He would finally take a puparoni treat that we stuffed the pills into, then he ate a few bits of chop meat, and now he is eating again.

So, today we head back to Homosassa

We did go to Cedar Key a couple of weeks ago for the day, and had a fun jaunt around the town, and did a hike in the Scrub Preserve. I'll leave you with a few pictures of that day, and see you soon.

We found an outdoor deck serving lunch that we could bring the dogs out to. This was our view as we ate.

Casey was ready for lunch!

Coconuts Restaurant and Bar, our table was under the green umbrella at the end of the deck

Beautiful day!

Hike through the scrub preserve, looking for scrub jays...don't think I saw any!

This building was in rough shape!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

An Unexpected Loss

This will be my first post. You know the day is not starting well when the phone is ringing before you get out of bed. I get to the phone and see that it is Karen's mom. I answer and she tells me that Karen's dad has been having flu like symptoms for the past couple of days and woke up feeling worse and weak. So she called an ambulance to take him to the hospital and seeing that she doesn't drive wondered if we could come and take her to the hospital. Of course we would, so we got dressed and took off to my mom's house so that we could drop of the dogs. When we got there my sister volunteered to go to the hospital with Karen so that I could stay back and do the walk through of the house that we are buying and closing on tomorrow. Seemed like a good idea. They left and I got ready for the walk through. About 30 minutes goes by and the phone is ringing and it is Karen. This can't be good. Well, her dad went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. They were able to get him back but arrested again in the ER just before their arrival. Got him back once again and the nurse was explaining all of this to them when he started to code again. They got to see him just before he went again and when he did they exercised his DNR and let him pass. So a difficult day to say the least. We will still close on the house tomorrow, Karen's brother Bill and sister Amy flew down tonight and there will be a memorial get together on Thursday and of course helping her mom with everything in between. Karen and her mom are doing as well as can be expected. Hope to make the next post a happier one. Until next time.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Busy Week

Its been a busy week, and time just flies by, doesn't it? Thanks so much for all the wonderful comments, and I'll try to get them answered.
Judy, thanks for the correction on the bird..I have a terrible time trying to decide who is who, even when looking in the guide! It is something I am trying to get better at.
Teri, yes, we are working at Chalk Creek Campground in Nathrop, CO. We are quite excited about spending the summer out in the Rockies!
Sherry, we haven't had a chance to take the kayaks out yet, so as soon as we do, there will be pictures! And we'll see you in Hillsborough, we are arriving Tuesday as well...site 67.
Catherine and Jo Beth, Otter Springs is nice. Its not very busy right now, but its off the beaten path, and seems like mainly the local citizens visit here. I like a quiet spot, myself! Once we start working, I'll feel better...I don't like sitting around doing nothing for too long, I get very antsy.
Stuyvie, how wonderful to hear from you! I'm so happy you are following along my blog, and will give you a call when we come back down to Sugarmill for the closing.
And finally, welcome to my new follower Ron...I hope you find me interesting :-).

We haven't started working here at Otter Springs yet. Its run by the county, so they now require background checks and drug screens. We are still waiting for the background check to come through, and we can't take the drug screen until they receive the check. And the drug screen will take 5-7 days to return as well. Things can never be easy at any level of government, can they? It's kind of frustrating though, as I do like to keep busy. And I find if we have too much time on our hands, we tend to spend too much money "doing things"!

New Year's Day we went for a field trip to the two closest state parks, Manatee Springs and Fanning Springs. I saw online that there is a daily entrance fee, but we decided to spring for the family annual pass, which allows up to 8 people to visit any park any day for one year. There's so many state parks to visit, and we'll be here for 3 1/2 months, and then Al's mom and sister can use it as well. I think we'll get our money's worth out of it, and the money helps support the parks. Manatee Springs is about 20 minutes from Otter Springs, so after packing a lunch, off we went.

Manatee Springs is very nice. It has the headsprings area, where we were hoping to see some manatees (no luck with that), with a boardwalk along the river, picnic areas, swimming and diving, playgrounds, and a concession stand (that wasn't open). You may also launch watercraft here, except from Dec. 1 through March 30 when the manatees are in the area. The springs go all the way out to the Suwanee River, and there's a boardwalk that goes down to the river's edge.

This beautiful red-shouldered hawk greeted us as we walked towards the headsprings.

The water is so clear...not as much as the Rainbow Springs, but still pretty awesome.

I believe these are American Coot.

The Suwanee River

This is Catfish Hole. Its a sinkhole that is part of the cave system supplying water to Manatee Springs. Sinkholes form when slightly acidic rainfall dissolves limestone as it slowly sinks downwards from the surface.
Catfish Hole is named for its abundance of catfish found on the bottom, 90 feet down. I was amazed to think this little "pond" was 90 feet deep! There's 3 scuba divers down there now...we had followed them to see where they were going, which is how we found this sinkhole :-).

We then got out our picnic lunch, and enjoyed the sunny afternoon on the picnic grounds. I had thought the concession would be open, so hadn't brought any drinks with us. There were vending machines, but all I had on me were those lousy dollar coins that we used at Amazon, and they didn't work :-). I have to learn to carry some cash with me! After lunch, we stopped back at the ranger station to pick up a hiking map for our next trip, and also drove through the campground. Its nice, but would be tight pulling a big rig through. Electric and water hookups, with a dump station on the way out.

We also stopped at Fanning Springs, which is about a 5 minute drive from Otter Springs. Its a much smaller park, and again, no manatees were in that day.

Fanning Springs, headsprings, the swimming/snorkeling area is in front, and you can see the springs heading down towards the Suwanee River. There's a short, mile long hiking trail which we walked before heading back.

Monday was chore day for us at the trailer. Paperwork, budgets, and I started cleaning out cabinets inside, and doing some re-arranging. Al worked outside, doing some minor repairs and re-packing the basement. We've also decided to leave one recliner and two of the dining chairs stored at his mom's, as we don't use them and it would give us some extra space, as well as lightening the load. 

Tuesday we headed back down to Sugarmill. The house inspection was Wednesday morning, and baby, was it cold! 19 degrees when we got up! A neighbor had left their sprinklers on, and their side yard was a sheet of ice, with icicles hanging from a palm tree. At 8Am the home ispector Joe showed up, and went over the house thoroughly. There were a few items that needed to be fixed or attended to, and he called and spoke to the realtor about them. She called the seller, and I couldn't believe it, but before we even left there were people coming to fix what needed to be done. That doesn't happen in New York :-). Anyway, the seller agreed to have all items on the list attended to before closing, which is scheduled for Tuesday January 17.

Thursday morning Al went to look at another house for a friend of ours who is offering to buy it, and then in the afternoon we went for a drive, looking for hiking spots. I stopped at Homosassa Springs State Park, and the wonderful lady in the office gave me the info we were looking for. Citrus County puts out a great Birding Trail book, for free, that lists all of the hiking trails for birding in the county, as well as several kayaking bird trails. Guess whats on our list of activities :-)? Anyway, we chose the Crystal River Preserve State Park Eco-Walk, a 2.2 mile walk. It was really nice, but no pictures as I didn't have my camera...but we'll be doing it again!

Thursday afternoon we drove back up to Otter Springs, but still no word on the background checks :-(. Kadie, our manager, is a bit aggravated, but she's such a sweetheart! So Friday I got to work on deep-cleaning. I had a condensation issue in Kentucky, while it was so cold out, and I wanted to wipe all the surfaces down with a beach solution so that we don't end up with any mold or mildew issues. I'm also clearing out clothes...I had really pared the wardrobe down, but still found I brought twice as much as we actually needed. So a bunch will be staying here in Florida. 

Today, now that the sun has cleared the fog out (its been dense fog here in the mornings), we think we're going to go explore Cedar Key. I've heard much about it, and sounds like an interesting day trip...its about an hour from here. Tuesday we are leaving the park again, and going to Hillsborough State Park In Thonotosassa. My sister and her family are in Kissimmee for the week, so we will go visit them on Wednesday, and then go to the Tampa RV Show on Thursday...no buying, just looking! I hear through the RV grapevine a few RV Dreamers will be there, and hope to catch up with a few of them during our stay. 

That's all the scoops for now. Enjoy your weekend, wherever you are!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Best Wishes for the New Year

It was a wonderful Christmas with family members, once we made it to Florida. We arrived late Christmas afternoon, settling in at Rainbow Springs State Park. This is a wonderful state park in Dunnellon, FL, with fabulously large sites, full hook-ups, and brand-new bath house facilities. Roads are paved, and easy to slip into any site. It's easily one of our favorite places to stay so far. And yes, after patiently waiting so long, our black holding tank is replaced and we have a working toilet again...its the little things, you know :-).

Christmas dinner was on Monday, a huge turkey dinner with all the trimmings put on by Al's mom and sister at the rental house in Sugar Mill Woods, Homosassa. We were joined by my mom and dad as well, and we all had a lovely time. Even the dogs had a good time, immediately jumping in the pool when we arrived...they do love swimming :-). Plenty of phone calls also occurred, with family and friends checking in for holiday wishes.

Tuesday was supposed to be a rainy and stormy day, so we planned on staying near the campground, doing some cleaning and restocking at WalMart. Its funny how a couple of 60-hour work weeks can throw a wrench into your schedules ;-). It weather wasn't nearly as bad as forecast however, and we were able to do all our chores without getting wet. I was also able to snap a couple of quick photos of two new bird species for me:

Red-headed woodpecker

Brown Thrasher

The bird life is wonderful here, with so many song birds in the area. I put my feeders out, even though it was only a few days, and had yellow warblers, tufted titmouse, cardinals, chipping sparrows, catbirds, towhees, a pair of common ground doves, and others I couldn't catch a good glimpse of. Beautiful hawks would float through the air, screaming all the time. The campground is right on the Rainbow River (no sites on the water though), and its a perfect spot to launch kayaks from for a gentle ride down the the headsprings. The Headsprings is a separate area of the park, and is a beautifully landscaped park to stroll. Its handicapped-accessible as well, and there's a swimming area in such clear water that you almost can't stand it. We went over there Tuesday night after seeing a sign that it was decorated with Christmas lights. For a small donation of $1.00 each, you can stroll through the gardens all lit up by Christmas lights. It was very pretty, and we enjoyed it very much.

Wednesday we headed back to Sugar Mill Woods for an overnight stay...we had several bits of business to take care of. We had previously arranged to buy a pair of gently used kayaks from Nick and Terry Russell, from the Gypsy Journal. Great folks, with tons of information on the full-timer lifestyle ( they've been doing it for 13 years). We met them at their camp at the Escapee's park Sumter Oaks over in Bushnell, FL., and they gave us a great tutorial on using the kayaks, and getting them fastened to the vehicle securely so that they don't go flying off the first time you come to a stop :-)...that would be bad! I'd really like to attend one of their rallies one day, they are full of information and have a great time as well...what could be better? So now we have kayaks to explore the "Nature Coast" of Florida for those times when we don't have the dogs with us...sshh, don't let them hear that!

Thursday we had a full afternoon of house viewings. Yes, we are full-timing, but we are home-basing in Florida. A house in Sugar Mill will be home for Al's mom and sister, as well as a good "exit plan" for when the time comes to go off-road. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am always planning, and I feel better when we have options. No-one knows what will happen in the future, and whereas everything is going well, there may come a time that out of necessity we need a place to fall back to. Hopefully, that won't be for a long, long time!

And, to make a long story short, we did make an offer on one, and it was accepted. We have contracts signed, the inspections are next week, and the closing is January 16. How's that for getting things done :-)? We should have plenty of time to get them moved in and settled before we leave for Colorado after Easter.

Friday we moved up to Trenton, to Otter Springs Park and Campground, where we are camphosting for the next three months. Its a volunteer job for a county campground, with us working 15 hours a week and getting our campsite for working there. We haven't started yet, as we need to have background checks and drug screens done (its a county job, so these are required. Its very nice here, quiet this weekend.

Here's our campsite, Site 40. Its a nice site, with some sun and shaded by a beautiful oak tree.

There's  three walking trails here. This one is 1 1/2 miles long and leads down the the Suwanee River and Little Otter Springs. The main springs are right here in the park, but we didn't walk down there this afternoon as there was a wedding taking place.

The bride's limo..how funny is this?? There's a few stilt houses and cabins for rent in the park, and it appeared that the wedding party was using them. There's also a lodge here at the park for larger events, and that is where the reception was being held.

Little Otter Springs

The Suwanee River...looks like another boating opportunity :-).

And of course, the wonderful draping moss is everywhere. 

Homosassa for a couple of days. House inspection Wednesday, and we'll see what else we can get up to. 

Happy New Year to everyone, I think 2012 is going to be a wonderful year!