Monday, October 29, 2012

Moonlight Paddle

Manatee Spring SP
Chiefland, FL.

The park was almost full this weekend again. I thought that by now the attendance would drop off some.  The campers I have gotten a chance to speak with have expressed a great fondness for Manatee Springs SP.  Many of them are repeat campers here.  It is relaxing here.  I have also noticed more over-night campers during the week, most of which leave early the next morning.

Saturday Judy and I received our check-in and check-out list around 9:00 AM. We had five check-outs and five check-ins.  Most of the check-outs were gone by 10:30. Judy and I inspect the sites listed for check-ins to make sure they are ok for the new campers. Judy goes a little overboard on this. Most sites we check are usually ok, but the fire pit may need to be emptied. The fire pit is very important to campers. After we completed our site check we cleaned the comfort station.

I replaced some of the lights on the outside of the Cardinal I noticed had burned-out.  The roadside security light and the amber entry light above the door.  I have determined that an eight foot ladder is going to meet all my ladder needs. The bulbs required were the older automotive types not the halogen. While I was up on the ladder changing the lights Ranger Rye stopped by to drop off a package.  It was a new battery for my Toshiba Satellite laptop. The original no longer held a charge. I ordered it from Amazon and it cost $78.00. A replacement from Toshiba would have cost $149.00.
 Ranger Melissa had stopped by on Friday to ask Judy and I if we would like to go on the scheduled “moonlight paddle” Saturday night that she would be leading. Judy would have no part of it; I said I would be there. She told me she would bring me a kayak. The campers who were participating would be able to rent a canoe from local outfitter who would be at the park. The “paddle” began at 6:30 PM after a short presentation by Ranger Melissa. In all there were about 25 canoes.  I am not so sure that having my first experience in a kayak at 62 with two replaced knees in the dark on the Suwannee River was a smart idea!  I definitely questioned my judgment in the first five minutes after the launch of my kayak into Manatee Springs until I had worked out how to balance the craft in the water. I am thankful that there is no recorded evidence of those first few minutes. By the time we travelled the 300 or so yards to the river I had my technique mastered.  We turned right (north) when we reached the river. We were paddling against the current so it took a little effort.  Ranger Melissa did a great job in leading and giving facts about the river and associated wildlife and plants. As beams of light flashed along the banks of the river from canoes we could see the eyes of alligators. My job, was to be “tail end Charlie” to make sure no one got separated from the group. We returned after an hour and a half or so. Listening to the comments being made I think everyone had a good time. I also had a fun time and learned that I would not be buying me a kayak. Maybe I’ll get a “Sea Eagle” instead. Once back at the fiver I told Judy she made the right decision at least in regards to a “moonlight paddle”.

That’s all for now, thanks for stopping by.

Next Blog: Thur.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Day Trip - Waldo, FL

Thursday Judy and I took a little day trip to Waldo, FL.  Waldo is about 15 mi north of Gainesville and approx 60 miles from the park. We used the trip to check out the Dixie RV Park located there.  When we head back north from our wintering park in Avon Park, Florida we may stay at the Dixie Park overnight. Not much in Waldo aside from an antique mall which seemed to be dead and a notorious “Speed Trap”. No, I didn’t get a ticket. We had planned to have lunch at the Café Risqué but it was “out of business.  Just kidding.

After the 15 minute tour of Waldo and the Dixie RV Park we headed back to Gainesville. I took advantage of being in Gainesville to stop in at Lowes. The bedroom door on the Cardinal when fully open “hits” the curbside wall and it is a matter of time before the door knob damages the wall. Judy has been literally putting a sock or two on the knob.  I went in to Lowes and bought a door stop.

Judy and I never miss a chance to eat out so we quickly decided it was time for lunch. Being near the Univ. of Florida there were many eating establishments to choose from.  We decided on Mexican and drove over to the nearby Chuy’s Mexican restaurant.

It was our first time eating at a Chuy’s.  If you find yourself on Archer Rd in Gainesville near the Univ of Florida and you are craving Mexican food stop in Chuy’s.   The service was better than excellent. Our sever Heather, made us feel so welcome. She even gave us a personal tour.

Chuy's signature sauces
Excellent service was provided by Heather
 Wall Art
Even A Memorial to the "Big E"

That’s all for now, thanks for stopping by.

Next Blog: Tue

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A couple of Chores

The weather continues to be very enjoyable here in Chiefland, perfect for sitting outside and relaxing.  That is about all Judy and I did most of the day Wednesday.

Judy took advantage of it not being a workday (if you can call what we are doing work) and went into town and had her nails done.  She said the salon was ok but not quite what she is used to.  I reminded her to enjoy the small town experience. I don’t know how she is going to handle getting her hair cut and styled the first time on the road.  Since she is going to get that done when we go home to vote in a couple of weeks, I may not have to deal with it here. I guess men just take things like haircuts in stride.  I was pleased with my $8.00 haircut I got last week.  I am just low maintenance.

I borrowed an eight ladder from the park maintenance shop so I could sweep of all my slide awnings. Ranger Mike even brought it over to the fiver on his gator. I must give a shout-out to all the park staff here because they all have been extremely helpful and have made us feel very welcome.

 I also used the day to use the ice maker for the first time. I was surprised when I picked the fiver up in TX last Nov to find it had an optional Ice Maker in the basement.  I read through the manual and completed the sanitation process before I made the first batch of ice.  It worked as advertised.  I filled it with 3.5 L of water and just waited. It produces ice cubes at a rate of every 9-15 minutes, depending on the size of the cubes.

That’s all for today, thanks for stopping by.
Next Blog: Sunday

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Great Weekend

It has been a very nice weekend here at Manatee Springs CG in Chiefland, FL.  The weather has been gorgeous and we returned to Cedar Key Saturday for the Seafood Festival. On top of that we now have TV, at least some TV – networks. Judy can barely contain herself.

The trip to Cedar Key gave us a chance to look at a lot of vendor crafts, not that we bought much. Living in a RV keeps impulse buying to a minimum. Judy did by a gift from Ranger Shirley for one of her dear friends from Virginia. Shirley had a booth with her sister selling quilts they had made.

Ranger Shirley (L) and sister

Lots of craft Vendors

The Beach
On our way back we stopped at a small family owned seafood restaurant. They use local fish supplied by Cedar Key fishermen. Very tasty.
Clam Chowder
Judy and I received a call from the Volunteer Coordinator on Thurs. about a position next fall/winter.She called to offer us a position when we leave here but we already have plans for December and January. We are going to call her Monday to let her know our schedule will work for 2013 fall/winter and get some specific info before we commit. Once we decide I’ll write about it in a future post.

That is all for now, thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Political Day

Judy and I had today off so we took a sixty mile drive to the city of Ocala. I heard on the radio yesterday that Vice Presidential candidate Congressman Paul Ryan would be having an event in Ocala Thurs. I asked Judy if she would like to go and she said it would be a great opportunity.

We got up a little earlier than we normally do because we thought we should be at the event site at least two hours early. I thought it would be best if we had breakfast on the fly, so we went to the McDonald’s drive though in Chiefland.  The drive was very easy.  We were parked by 9:30 AM less than 3 blocks from the event site. Judy and I were in the security line by 9:45.  I think we were seated by 10:15. Judy and I were very pleased with our seats. The atmosphere was very pleasant and we enjoyed talking with others seated around us.  The program started close to on- time at 12:00
Waiting in line
Best Sign

 One for FB

Vice Presidential candidate Congressman Paul Ryan

That’s all for now, thanks for stopping by
Next Blog: Sunday evening

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Death in the Park

Monday was a typical Monday at the park, only four campers on Magnolia 2 Loop.  Judy and I had our comfort station duties completed by 9:30.  Only a light cleaning was required as a result of the low number of campers. I actually went and checked out the comfort station at 7:00 AM while Judy was still in a comatose state! It is still dark at that time of the AM now. I took care of the men’s side before Judy let me know she was up. I could have finished everything but she insists on being involved. She keeps reminding me we are a team. I am sure I should be happy about that.

Judy headed up to the laundry facilities for the volunteers to check them out and do a load if they checked out. They must have checked out because she did the laundry.
Volunteer Laundry

I rode her bike down to the main spring area to relax and watch some people swimming. The water is a constant 72 degrees and clear.  It is easy to see the fish swimming by.  Last time I was here I noticed a fish that kept leaping out of the water.  I found out it is an eastern gulf sturgeon.  The day use area is also in this area.
Manatee Springs

By the time I returned to the Fiver Judy was back.  She said she was going to read her book for awhile and then take a nap. I told her I was going to go clean-out the fire rings. At this point we were not a team.
It is a tuff job but someone has to do it

Now to the title of the blog.  After cleaning the fire rings, I noticed the couple from site 75 was out so I stopped by to chat. They had not been at the site when I came by earlier to clean the fire ring. The lady informed me that she had watched a squirrel just fall over dead. She asked me to take care of it. She said she didn’t want to dispose of it in case the park had some regulation or if a rabie's check would be done on the little feller.  I called the park office and they sent down Ranger Mike. He unceremoniously scooped up “Rocky” and placed him in a 5 gallon bucket and left the scene.

Ranger Mike - Man of the Moment

We capped the evening off by dining at Burger King and watching the debate. We returned to the CG at 11:00 PM.

That's all for now, thanks for stopping by.
Next Blog Friday

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Bit of Excitement – with a Happy Ending

The weekend has come and gone and we now have our loop mostly to ourselves.  That was not the case over the weekend though; all nineteen sites were occupied in our loop. Since being here all the campers have been very pleasant.  Many of the campers come to swim in the spring. I have pics but I am having so much difficulty getting them up-loaded.

Saturday evening Judy and I tried another of the local eateries, ABC Pizza. I know the name is a little suspect.  We went with the intention of getting a pizza but after looking at the menu we changed our minds.  I had been wanting some spaghetti for awhile so that’s what I settled on. Judy went with lasagna. When the orders reached the table we knew we were in for a treat. Judy and I both enjoyed our food.  We both agreed it was the best spaghetti and lasagna we have ever had. That is saying something because we both have eaten throughout the US and Europe. Who would have thunk it.

We were back at the Cardinal by 7:45. Judy and I got into our evening clothes and settled in with the last Harry Potter episode – The Deathly Hallows PT2. You have to do what you have to do with no TV!  Thirty minutes into the movie Judy noticed a lot of flashing blue lights outside. We paused the movie and I went out to see what was going on. There were half dozen patrol cars, fire truck and an ambulance and a lot of commotion.  I found out those two girls, eight and four were lost. It seems they went into the forest following some deer. The deer are very tame here. They had been missing a couple of hours by this time (9:00 PM). The park personnel were searching all the service roads throughout the park. They did pick up the trail near Usher boat ramp but the tracks then went back into the forest.  Judy and I turned on the park radio to keep up with the progress of the search. At 9:30 we heard that the girls had been found and were being checked over by the EMT personnel. They had quite a few ticks on them but nothing more serious. Judy and I were worried they might walk into the river. By 10:00PM things quieted down and we went back to watching Harry Potter.

That’s all for now, thanks for stopping by.
Next Blog: Thurs

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day Trip & Celebration

Judy and I made our TV trek to the Burger King to watch the VP Presidential Debate Wednesday. As an American citizen I was embarrassed as I watched the VP of the world’s only “Super Power” being so rude and boorish. No wonder the moderator had to help Joe out.  I don’t see the death and attempted cover up of four Americans including an Ambassador as a laughing matter.

Friday we celebrated our 38th anniversary with a day trip to Gainesville, FL. It was a nice easy drive from Chiefland. We took advantage of being in a larger metropolitan area with a stop at a SunTrust Bank and Target. Judy and I had planned to also take in a movie but we did not see anything we wanted to see. So, we decided   to have an early dinner at the “Bone Fish Grill”. The meal was very good. The best thing about it to me was that I had a $50.00 gift card so the out of pocket cost was a lot less!

That is all for now, thanks for stopping by.
Next Blog: Tue

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Settled In

Judy and I have been here for almost two weeks now. Our duties at the park have become routine and we have learned our way around Chiefland. Since Chiefland is rather small learning our way around was no difficult matter.

Wednesday we dropped Judy’s Honda CRV off at Wal-Mart to have the tires rotated and balanced. It was free because we had purchased the tires at Sam’s Club. In fact it was a $32.00 savings. WE just dropped it off and left because it is not fun sitting in the lounge area waiting forever until they finish. We used the time doing other errand.

We had not done any laundry in a while so I looked up the nearest Laundromat on my smart phone and headed over there.  It was very nice and it was located just outside of the Chiefland RV Park. I did not drive in to the park. 
Wash Day - four loads

Judy catching up on her email and FB

Next we drove out to R L mobile home and RV parts. I just wanted to know exactly where it was located and what their inventory consisted of. I did order a part. The owner was very friendly and helpful.

We went back to Wally World and picked up Judy’s CRV and went back to the park. Once there I walked around our loop to see how many campers were with us.  Only five.

Judy was in a cooking mood and was craving salmon, turnips, and Mac & cheese. That always means cooking outside. There are some things Judy will not cook inside. We usually use an electric two burner hot plate. This time however I pulled my old Coleman two burner propane stove out of the basement. I had brought it with us as an afterthought. It has been at least ten years since I have used it. I checked it out and it worked perfect. The meal was delicious.

Lookin Good!

That’s all for now, thanks for stopping by.
Next blog: Sat.

NOTE: Some pics will be added later today.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rainy Monday

Most of Monday was overcast and looking like rain. In this part of Florida rain is almost a daily event. The look of rain did not keep us from our comfort station cleaning chores though.

We had six campers and their families checking out on our loop today so we waited later to clean the restroom and showers. Judy and I walked around our loop and checked the campsites of the departing campers around 11:30. All the sites were left in real good condition so we didn’t do much to them in the way of cleaning. The last of our checkouts pulled out of their site just before noon.  The site was left in perfect condition.

We headed for the comfort station to get it cleaned up. We have found if we have more than a couple of checkouts it is better to wait later. We were through by 1:15 PM. We headed back to the RV and took our showers. Judy fixed us a quick lunch- hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans and chips. I had grilled the burgers and dogs Sat.

The sky had steadily been getting darker and we could hear the rumble of thunder moving closer. Judy did not sleep well so I knew she was going to be taking a nice nap. We finished lunch and Judy went to the bedroom.  I don’t generally take real naps, I just cat nap in my recliner.  After Judy departed to the bedroom I pulled out my kindle and did some reading. I was out under the awning when the downpour reached the CG.  It poured down for a good hour and half. I just continued reading under the awning and stayed completely dry.

Rainy Monday

After it stopped raining I walked around the camping look. I had planned to visit with some of the remaining campers but they must have been out on day trips. One of the female park rangers making her rounds in a “gator” drove over to where I was to visit. She is a very nice young girl. She asked me about my previous naval career and my later career as a teacher. We ended up talking about some educational and career options for her. She hasn’t decided what her next educational degree (Masters) should be in. I gave her some suggestions based on the information she shared with me.  I always enjoy mentoring young people.

By the time I returned to the RV it was 6:30. I was an hour late on waking Judy up.  She did not seem to mind.  At 7:00 PM Judy put the forth Harry Potter – Order of the Phoenix DVD in for our nightly movie.

That’s all for now, thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Back on the Job

Friday is the beginning of our five day work week.  In the Florida State Parks System volunteer host are required to work a minimum of 20 hours per week for their site. Manatee Springs uses the minimum state standard. It is the same requirement whether it is for “single or a couple”. Technically, when Judy and I work together we are required to put in two hours each per day.  We don’t really go by the hour requirement, we work until we finish the job we are assigned to do. 

On our work days we clean the comfort station in our loop. On the weekends when there are more campers it requires more attention than it does on weekdays.  During the weekend it takes about an hour and a half. We check it after lunch and clean as necessary.

We left the park at 4:30 PM to go to Beef O’ Brady’s to watch the baseball wildcard game.  The game came on at 5:07.  We enjoyed the “lemon pepper” wings more than the game.  When the Braves were down 6 to 2 Judy went into a deep depression and we returned back to the park just before 8:00 PM. We put on the second Harry Potter – Chamber of Secrets” DVD.  We found out later about the 18 minute game delay and the fans behaving badly.
Watching the '12 MLB NL Wildcard game at Beef O'Brady's

Chipper, It wasn't to be

That’s all for now, thanks for stopping by.
Next Blog: Mon. evening

Friday, October 5, 2012

Dump Day

I have noticed that since being here at Manatee Springs State Park I am sleeping a little later. I am getting up at 6:00AM instead of 5:00 AM. I still get to have my coffee and enjoy a little my time before Judy rolls out of bed around 8:00.  Once Judy got up and dressed we went to Hardees’s for breakfast.  We also made a stop at Wally World and Ace Hardware.
Judy has settled on sitting on the couch when at home on the RV instead of one of the Lazy Boy recliners. She usually folds her legs sort of beneath her but said she would like to “prop” them up sometimes so she thought an ottoman would work.  While we were at Wal-Mart she bought one that also had storage space inside of it. She also picked out a bike. I hope she uses it more than the treadmill at home.
Bike Shopping

Judy settled on the purple one

Once back home I changed into my work clothes because I had a “crappy job” to do.  I wanted to empty our tanks before we start our work week on Friday. The dump station is about a half a mile away.  The Thetford “caddy” worked as designed.  Other than being a little, well maybe a lot inconvenient I think it is going to work for our situation. The caddy is well designed and easy to operate. It has 35 gal. capacity. It was a little difficult rolling/dragging it the 20 feet to my truck because of the sandy soil. The tongue of the caddy has an opening that fits over a standard ball hitch so it can be towed to the dump station.  Most of the trip to the station is on a hard surface road. It was much easier to move around on the paved dump station. The rest of the process was straight forward. I’ll spare you the details.

NOTE: Having trouble uploading PICS - Will add later
The rest of the day was much like yesterday, living the simple life.

That’s all for now, thanks for stopping by.
Next Post: Sunday

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day Off!

Wed was one of our two scheduled days off so we took it. It rained most of the day but it did not keep us down.  Judy and I took a short drive to Cedar Key, FL.  Cedar Key is a fishing destination. There are many local fishermen and many charter boats work from there. Since it was raining we drove through the tourist area and did a drive by tour of the area. We will be going back.

Cedar Key, FL.

Judy and I spent some time doing light cleaning in the RV, reading and taking a nap. Our main event of the day was going to be watching the Presidential Debate at 9:00 PM., not because we don’t know who we will be voting for. We have already made our choice. It is easy to decide when the two candidates have such different visions for the country and one already has a four year record.   We also stopped by the local library early in the day so Judy could check out some books. 

 Chiefland, FL. Library

I mentioned in my last entry we were going to watch the debate at a local sports bar. That did not work out.  As we drove to the bar about 8:15 PM I called enroute to make sure the bar would be open throughout the debate. I found out that the bar was closing at 9:00PM. We decided we would just listen in the car. Judy seemed ok with that. We had planned to get something to eat at the bar. I told Judy instead, we could pick up fast food.  To our surprise, the Burger King had a TV playing on CNN NEWS.  Judy asked the girl what time they closed, she said 11:00PM. She told Judy we could stay. Judy asked if she would mind putting the TV on FOX NEWS. The girl punched 360 (direct TV) into the remote and we were in business. Judy and I enjoyed our “Whoppers” and the debate.  Many
incoming diners kept their attention focused on the TV. Some made comments directly at the TV. Judy and I never make political views known in public. It was a great date night.

Fair and Balanced

That’s all for now, thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Getting Acclimated

Monday Judy and I met most of the park rangers as they dropped by our site to introduce themselves to us.  “Shirley” came down to Magnolia 2 to clean the comfort station and sites of campers leaving the park.  Judy and I told her we would assist her so we could get the routine down.
Shirley was glad we volunteered because a large number of campers (10) would be leaving. Usually most campers leave on Sunday.  She informed us that a lesbian group had their annual camping weekend this weekend.  The group had taken all the sites in “Hickory Loop” and the ones in Magnolia were over flow. 

She went over the procedure for cleaning the comfort station and we had it cleaned in about 45 min. The comfort station is the newest one and the smallest. It has 2 stalls, 2 showers and a double sink vanity on each side.  I was surprised that it didn’t have any urinals on the men’s side, it must have been designed by a woman.

Shirley was called away so Judy and I did all the sites as the campers left. We remove any trash in the fire ring and shovel out excess ashes. If it is hot we skip it until it is cold.  On the site we look for trash or fallen limbs and remove them. The last thing we do is rake around the table and camper use areas. We did not find any “trashed” sites so it was mostly a matter of checking each site. The last step is calling in on our radio and reporting that the site is “cleared and clean”.  Pretty simple.

Low Tech

Jolene, the “volunteer coordinator” stopped by to meet us on Tue. She had been my point of contact. She was surprised that we went straight to work. Jolene said most volunteers like to take a few days to recover from travel and to explore the area. She went over responsibilities and gave us our schedule. Wed. and Thur. will be our days off.  She gave us our “Volunteer Hats” to make it official.
Jolene - Vol. Coord. 

It is official (see sign)

We are still learning the area and the park. Judy is still bummed out about not having TV but we are working on that. We found a sports bar “Beef O’Grady” where we can watch the “Braves”. When we went to check it out we found it has only been open a couple of months. The owner, Mark and Stacy, stopped by to speak with us. I told them we would be coming in to watch the Braves. I also told them I had a special request. I asked them if they had a TV that we could watch the Presidential Debate. They told that they could handle that request. So we will be eating “wings” on Wed. night.

That’s all for now, Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Manatee Springs SP – Host

Judy and I didn’t get on the road Saturday as early as we planned to.  I wanted to be on the road by 9:00 AM but it was nearly 11:00 AM before we started rolling.  I learned from the experience though.  Next time we depart we will do a number of things the night before that will speed up the process.

Ready to leave Blanton Creek headed for Chiefland FL.

The drive was an easy one.  I followed the advice of my Garmin GPS and arrived at Manatee Springs State Park at 5:20 PM. The roads were fine and traffic was nonexistent most of the way.  We did not drive on any interstate HWS .  The park is located six miles west of Chiefland, FL.  Judy drove the CRV behind me and we used our walkie talkies to communicate. It sure made lane changes easy.  The distance to the park was 292 miles. 

The ranger on duty at the gate gave us directions to our assigned site and also informed us that we already had mail. I had contacted our mail forwarding service, “My RV Mail” on-line a couple of days before and instructed that our mail be forwarded.  We left the truck and five at the ranger office and drove the CRV to check out the site, it was not going to work.  The ranger told me that #56 was available. We checked that out and thought it would work.  It did.  Judy spotted for me and I backed the Cardinal smoothly into the site. I checked the side to side levelness and found it to be perfect.  That was a welcome surprise. Judy read the “unhitching” checklist off and we were unhitched in short order. She went inside and put the slides out and I took care of the water and electric connections.  The site does not have a sewer so we will have to use the dump station.
Manatee Springs SP Site # 56

The cell phone service at the park is poor to very poor so we will have to work around it. The more serious problem is no Satellite signal for Direct TV.  Our roof mounted Winegard Travler could not lock on.  Like most state parks, trees block the signal. Judy is in full panic mode over this. It isn’t that we are addicted to TV but the Braves are in the post season action.  We would also like to see the Presidential Debates.  I am surprised that I can use my Verizon MIFI to connect to the internet even though it shows no bars.

That’s all for now.  Thanks for stopping by.

(1.)Fellow bloggers George and Laurie (Owens On the Road) begin their travel adventure today, visit their blog and wish them well.