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Sunday, April 17, 2011

FAREWELL FLORIDA



Miles of secluded beach at Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area
The park was named after the folk singer who drowned here 


 For several weeks we enjoyed the beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. Sebastian Inlet, Gamble Rogers at Flagler Beach and Anastasia by St. Augustine were some of the State Parks we camped in. Dick had no luck in his search for treasure. He even tried on the site where they are still salvaging treasures from the Spanish Fleet that went down during a hurricane in 1715. I don’t think he has the patience for this hobby. If he hasn’t found anything right away then he’s done. He says he’s selling the metal detector when he gets home and buying a camera instead. He’s always wanted to be a wildlife photographer. Patience is not one of his strong points so I’m not so sure he’ll have the patience for that either
While he searched the beach for treasure, I picked up trash. I had one bag for fishing line, hooks and lures, and another for other trash. I expected the State Park beaches to be clean. I was also disappointed in the recycling system in the parks. Most only recycled aluminum and glass. Which brings up another point - why don't all states have deposits on cans and bottles. Florida is one that doesn’t and it shows. But the beaches are still beautiful and we enjoyed early morning and evening walks watching all the shorebirds. I especially loved watching the pelicans fly overhead or skim along the surface of the water and dive for their dinner. My favorite shorebird. 
A Mallery Reunion in New Smyrna Beach 
A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week,
But I’m damned if I see how the helican. - Ogden Nash

We connected with several friends and family this winter. One day we received an email from friends who we had spent time with in Silver Springs. They were going to be in St. Augustine while we were there and wanted to spend a couple days with us. I called them on the day and time they said they’d be arriving and they asked, “Where are you?” I told them we were at the Anastasia State Park campground and asked them where they were, thinking they were at a condo somewhere. They said, “We’re at the campground in space 53.” This was a bit of a surprise because they were definitely not “campers” but as we hopped on our bikes and headed for space 53 we thought they probably had borrowed his dad’s camper van. In space 53 there was a a 30 foot Class A motorhome. They were so happy with their new rig. They wanted their first RV camping experience to be with us so we could answer any questions and help them figure things out. We had a great time.


There was a starving stray cat hanging around our campsite at Ft. Clinch State Park and, of course, being the softie I am, I fed it and made sure he was caught and taken to a rescue facility. He was very friendly with me but caused havoc with our two cats through the screen door. Several times throughout the next night the tent campers next to us would yell at something in their camp, "get outta here! Scram!" We all had a sleepless night but I felt good knowing it wasn't MY rescued cat causing their problems. It was either raccoons or rats but we didn't find out because the worn out campers were still sleeping when we headed north for the Georgia/Florida state line.


Lester & Lylah Mallery heading for Florida - 1956
It's a good thing we are heading home. Dick is sick of all the people and traffic. He really wanted to go west this winter again but he agreed to go to Florida for me. He refers to it as a "sea of humanity". He does admit, it's still better than shoveling snow all winter. We tried to stick to the natural areas as much as we could but it's the driving in between these places that he hates. Florida has some great state parks and they do try to preserve and protect but development is encroaching on their boundaries on all sides. Things have changed so much since his grandparents traveled with their little airstream and spent their winters in Stuart, Florida. Like Dick says, "the boomers are coming!" That includes us!
A visit with my Aunt Ellen in Vero Beach







One of the many boardwalks along the Inner Coastal Waterway
Spent the morning with John Hibbard in Jensen Beach
Formerly from Michigan. (A damn Yankee)

The travelin' cat

Looking out our window at the Spring breakers at Sebastian Inlet 






Friday, April 1, 2011

IT'S A JUNGLE DOWN HERE



Gators galore at Paynes Prairie
We left the Gulf beaches and headed for inland Florida staying at several state parks. Paynes Prairie Preserve, Rainbow Springs, Silver River and Myakka River. These are magic, quiet, beautiful jungles preserved for future generations. Places of refuge for wildlife with peaceful rivers flowing through. A birder’s paradise. We love all wildlife, even the alligators and snakes which we saw plenty of.  At Paynes Prairie there were even buffalo and wild horses and Whooping Cranes. 
Water Moccasin - watch where you're stepping!
We are enjoying our little blow-up Sea Eagle Kayak. At first I was hesitant to navigate the alligator infested waters, but we started out on the Rainbow River where there are very few and worked our way up to the Myakka where they are all along the banks sunning themselves or cooling themselves in the water. As we would approach they would slowly lower down into the water where we could only see their eyes. I would rather they stayed sunning themselves on the banks where I could keep an eye on them. We enjoyed every minute of our river trips. 
When deflated, our kayak is stored in a bag and weighs 32 lbs. It was a mile hike to the Silver River to the launching site. After one day of Dick carrying the bag over his shoulder, we found a used golf cart at a thrift store and it works great!! The Silver River is still our favorite. It is located east of Ocala where we spent our winters from 1978 until the mid-80’s when we were full-time “gypsies” before Maggie was born, and then a few winters with her. We lived in our home on wheels on the banks of the Ocklawaha River and from there we’d paddle up to the Silver River whenever we had the chance. The family who owned the property became our family. For several of those winters we worked at Ocala Breeder’s Sales Company, a thorough-bred horse auction, to save enough money to travel for the summer months. The man who managed the company invited us to meet his family who adopted us immediately. We have kept in touch with all of these people and enjoyed seeing them again on this trip. Lots of reminiscing about all the years we were together. We also connected with a few other friends in South Venice who gave us a tour of that area. 
We're now in Sebastian Inlet State Park on the ocean. We’re here for a few days to enjoy the beach and Dick is now hunting for some washed up treasure from the Spanish Fleet that went down off this coast during a hurricane in 1715. He's getting bored with his metal detector just finding small change.

The beautiful Silver River

Lots of birds, gators, turtles, fish and even monkeys!
Birdwatching on Upper Myakka Lake

Sandhill Cranes Photo by Jerome

Kayaking the Myakka River 

Sheba napping on the motorhome step



Lunch at Snook Haven with the Barkers and Jankowskis

Watching an eagle at Paynes Prairie

“What has happened to awe? Where has wonder gone? I suspect that too much has been "explained" by the ignorant to the stupid. Modern man's greatest loss of spirit may be that he has ceased to be amazed at the wonders all around him.”  - Ernest Lyons, My Florida


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