Friday, November 30, 2012

Ready for the Road

Judy and I continued our final preps for our Friday departure from Manatee Springs State Park.  Leaving is a lot of work after sitting for awhile.

Wednesday morning I took the truck over to the park shop and gave it a thorough washing after I took the “blue boy” to the dump station. Once I finished we washed the Cardinal, not an easy task.  Judy managed to back into the “king pin” housing under the fifth wheel overhang. That resulted in a thirty minute “get yourself together” break. We got the bleeding stopped and saw a small cut in her scalp. She is a real trooper.
Judy washing the RV

Comfort Station

Thursday Judy went to the laundromat and got the washing done.  I stayed at the park and cleaned the comfort station for the last time. Judy worked on travel preps inside as I got the “basement” re-stowed for travel. We had many good-bye breaks as park personnel stopped by.  By the end of the day the only thing remaining to do is to disconnect shore power and hitch up. We should be able to be rolling at first light in the morning. 
Ready to roll
Judy and I relaxed with a pizza and watched some TV for the remainder of the evening.

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Making U/W Preps

Yesterday, Monday, Judy and I took care of our “host” duties, went into Chiefland and then came back and started on our “to do” list for our Friday departure. 

One of our major items to do’s was cleaning the Cardinal roof.  Oh, today the 28th is the one year aniv. of picking up the fiver from Grand Prairie, TX. The roof was plenty dirty after almost eight months under trees. First in Blanton Creek Park and now at Manatee Springs SP.
Ready to Start


After cleaning the roof I was pretty much beat for the rest of the day.  As Judy and I were sitting in the patio area this little fellow showed up.  He came up into the site, to check things out and then headed off. All of the wildlife is very tame here at the park.

We plan to wash the Cardinal today.  If I still have any energy once we are through with that task, I plan to install my Pressure Pro TPMS. Judy will be working on her list.

That’s all for now, thanks for stopping by.
Next blog: Not sure – as time permits

Monday, November 26, 2012

Clay Landing Days

This weekend Manatee Springs State Park hosted their annual celebration “Clay Landing Days”.  Activities included; interpretive programs, wagon rides, and breakfast provided by Larry, the park manager. It was well organized and I am sure visitors to the park enjoyed the program, Judy and I did.

The park frequently has international visitors and this weekend we had visitors from Germany in the site next to us.  We found that they had flown into San Francisco and took a driving tour across the United States.  They purchased some camping gear and stayed in State or National parks. Today they will be driving to Orlando for a couple of days and then returning back to Germany.  What a great way to see America. Hopefully, they found us to be helpful host.
Visitors from Germany

A manatee for our visitors from Germany

Judy and I only have three more work days at the park.  We will be leaving Friday going to Avon Park. Our reservations aren’t until Sat. so we will probably stay at a Pass Port America park Friday night.  We will use some of our remaining time here to do some house cleaning chores on the RV and truck.

Welcome to new followers Steve and Maria. They are a military couple in the final stage of "active duty" and the full-time RV planning stage. Click here to follow their journey.

That’s all for now, thanks for stopping by.
Next Blog: Not sure

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Homosassa State Park

Last Wed Judy and I took a day trip to Homosassa State Park.  It was a short fifty mile drive south on US 98 and just south of Crystal River. It was a much nicer day than we had originally planned for the visit. It was sunny and 72 during most of our time there.

The park became a state park in the mid 80’s after being owned privately from the mid 20’s.  It was a situated on a major tourist route before the interstate system siphoned off much of its tourist traffic.  Many people would stop to see the exotic animals on display there. Walt Disney used it for the location of some of his movies. Some of my older readers may remember the TV show “Gentle Ben” which was filmed here as well as some others.

After the state took over a new mission was undertaken, it was to showcase as many mammals, reptiles, birds, and vegetation indigenous to Florida in as natural setting as possible.  Once at the visitor center you must take a tram or boat ride to the wildlife area.  I recommend the boat ride.

We took the boat to the wildlife center
Enjoying the sun
Taking an afternoon nap
Heed the sign
Lu the hippo (the only non indigenous animal in the park)
There are many more animals in the park than the ones I have shown, so stop by the park if you are in the area to see all of them.
That's all for now thanks for stopping by.
Next Blog: Monday

Friday, November 23, 2012


Having our “Thanksgiving” meal absent of our extended family is nothing new to Judy and me.  Many times we did not share the holidays together as a result of my forward deployments in the Navy. We find ourselves again absent of extended family this Thanksgiving due to our extended travel lifestyle. Although not being present with them we certainly miss being with them.

Judy and I decided that we would have our “thanksgiving” meal at the nearest Cracker Barrel restaurant which happened to be just off I75 in Gainesville, FL.  We arrived there at 11:30 AM and found about 250 other folks with the same plan! After a short thirty minutes wait we were seated.  The meal was pretty close to the traditional Thanksgiving Day fair – Ham, Turkey, Dressing, Sweet Potato SoufflĂ©, Bread, Cranberry Sauce, Sweet Tea, and a slice of Pumpkin Pie and only $8.99. It was very good. No, it wasn’t as good as mamma fixed it (God Bless her sole) or even Judy’s but very good none the less.
Thanksgiving at the Cracker Barrel

After we left the Cracker Barrel we went in search of a movie theatre where we could go to phase two of our holiday tradition, going to see a movie. Judy and I wanted to go see “Lincoln” "Trailer". Jason, our son, out in Portland reminded us that this would be the second time Lincoln would be killed in a theatre, the first time by John Wilkes Booth and this time by “Breaking Dawn pt2” the vampire franchise. Our GPS got us to the nearest movie in no time.  Judy and I both enjoyed the movie. I am sure there will be an “Oscar” nomination or two for it.
Once back at the park we observed many family celebrations in full swing. I was surprised at how many families meet camping to observe the holiday. One group had at least six families. They were certainly having some good quality time. They did karaoke at night, played games, and enjoyed park activities.

Judy and I did go to Homosassa State Park Wed. and had a great time. I will write about it soon.

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

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Last Day trip

Judy and I will be going on our last “Day Trip” this morning.  That means we will be leaving Manatee Springs soon. In fact we will be leaving here in eight days.  I plan to write a complete entry on our volunteer experience here just after we leave.

Today we are driving sixty miles south to Homosassa, to the state park wild life preserve. We had planned to go last week but the weather was too dreary.  I’ll write an entry about the trip Thursday or Friday.

Since Judy and I have no family in the area we will be going to the “Cracker Barrel” in Gainesville near I75 for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. No reason for Judy to prepare a large meal for the two of us. We will miss having dinner with family though.  We will also go see a movie on Thanksgiving Day as part of our holiday tradition.  Judy and I wish all our family and blog readers a happy Thanksgiving.

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

Sunday, November 18, 2012

"The Birds"

Saturday morning Judy and I got up earlier than we normally do, actually I get up early every morning. After a quick breakfast we decided to walk down to the park “waterfront” and then walked the wooden board walk out to the Suwannee River. It is about a 250 yard walk through the cypress swamp alongside the spring. We thought we would see a few manatees.

As we were approaching the end of the boardwalk we saw a scene right out of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”.  There were hundreds of buzzards sitting on the rails of the walkway, under the covered viewing area, on the roof, and atop of the tall pilings. We have seen them roasting in the trees along the river but not on the boardwalk. I guess we had never been down at the river this early before. Judy and I found the buzzards to be very comfortable with the presence of humans. They just kept sitting until we walked within six feet of them before they flew. I had an errie feeling as I approached them. To top it off we did not see any manatee.
 Reminds me of "The Birds"

Later in the day fellow “Host” Rob and Annie stopped by to introduce themselves to us. They are the host in the Magnolia 1 loop and have been here a couple of weeks. Rob and Annie are repeat volunteers here at the park. They will be staying here throughout the winter.
Judy and I finished the day with a visit to “Beef O’ Brady’s sports bar. We like to stop by and watch college football and have a little treat.
That’s all for now, thanks for stopping by.
Next blog: Wed

Friday, November 16, 2012

Visitors and a Movie

Wed afternoon my friend Peter and his wife Rebecca arrived at Manatee Springs Park for an overnight stay.  They are going further south to operate a Christmas tree lot.  I met Peter on through the Workamper Forum last year. It turned out that his home base is in Eatonton, Ga. only a few miles from where our home base is located.  We began meeting at a local “Huddle House” once a week when were home.  After they got their motor home parked they came over to our fiver and we visited some until we went out to dinner. It was nice to meet Rebecca.  After a very nice meal at the ABC Italian/Greek Restaurant we went back to our place where Judy served coffee and a cheese cake she had made. Peter and Rebecca left about 8:30 AM Thurs.  I am sure our paths will cross again before we leave Fl in Feb.

Peter and Rebecca

Judy and I had planned to visit Homosassa State Park and wildlife preserve Thur. but the weather was cool and dreary so we decided to trash that plan for the time being.  We decided to have a movie day instead.  Chiefland doesn’t have a movie so we traveled to Ocala. We went to the new James Bond movie – Sky Fall.(TrailerJudy and I were surprised when we paid for our refreshments, two large cokes and large popcorn for $10.00.  At home it cost almost $15.00 for one large drink and a medium pop corn.  I would rate the movie as “OK”.  I considered it to be a transitional movie. It is worth going to see though.

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rowdy Weekend

Judy and I have settled back into the slow pace of the park although, there were a couple of WTH moments over the weekend.  Six sites in our loop were occupied by approx 40 “frat Bros”. They came into the park after hours so I was not aware of  their presence until Sat. AM.

Each morning I make an early trip to the comfort station to check that adequate supplies are on hand and to do an initial light clean if needed.  Sat. morning when I did this survey I found a Mess in the men’s side.  The morons had puked all over the floor and stopped up one of the toilets.  I immediately closed the men’s side.  A couple two sites over came over and told me which site had caused the problem and also told me the group was raising hell until about 3:00 AM.

Needless to say I was a tad irritated.  I do not suffer fools lightly, maybe as a result of being a Master Chief in the Navy.  I radioed the Ranger Station and ask that a staff person be sent to the comfort station. Once the staff person I showed them the mess and suggested that they go over and have a talk with the group. I also indicated that I would not clean up another mess like this from the group.  I hosed out the comfort station and bleached mopped the deck and sanitized all the sinks and toilets. I was a little surprised that  two hours passed and another report of inappropriate activity before an authority figure was sent to talk with the group. I know at least two campers left early.  For the most part, other than being loud they didn’t cause any more problems.

Once the group left Sunday things got back to normal. I love tranquility! 

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

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Back at Chiefland

Judy and I were back on Hwy –US 441 driving south at 8:30 Friday morning returning to Manatee Springs.  The traffic was sparse and the sun shone brightly making for a nice travel day.  My gps and Rand McNally trip maker always routes us down I75 but I circumvent their recommendation to drive roads less traveled whenever possible. We took a couple of “pit stops” along the way and arrived back at the park at 3:30 PM.

We returned to M’Ville for two main reasons, (a.) to vote and (b.) to get our annual medical exams.  

The election is over and I for one am glad but bewildered. As a nation we have collectively said that we desire to be a nation of “entitled”.  I have lived in Western Europe and seen the socialist model up close and personal. There was no part of it that I liked especially national health care. That’s all I have to say about that.

Judy and I got our physicals Wed.  Even though our appointments were scheduled for 1:00 PM and 1:30 respectively we went in at 8:30 AM to have our lab work done. By doing that we could go ahead and eat breakfast.  Judy and I did a little shopping in Macon to kill time until our appointments.  It was Judy’s first visit to my doctor.  She told me she was very impressed with the entire operation. We both got our flu shots also.

After finishing with the appointments we met her sister, nephew, and brother for lunch.  It was nice seeing them. We always try to visit with them when we come into Macon. Judy and I didn’t get back to our house until 7PM. It had been a long day.

Thursday, Judy visited her old branch and visited with “her girls”.  She had lunch with the Bonnie, the branch manager of the other Sun Trust. She said they had a great lunch and she got caught up on all the banking news (gossip). I got a haircut and went to the coffee shop and read my kindle and just relaxed.

That evening we met with my sister Faye and my brother in-law Bill for dinner at Applebee’s.  We had a good visit and meal.  As we were leaving, I heard a young voice say “hey Mr. Mad-dox. I knew it had to be one of my former middle school students.  I walked over to the table and found out it was Bermishia.  She is now a senior, how time flies. After we visited and I began to walk away I heard her say “bye bird brain” and a small smile appeared on my face and I had a warm feeling in my heart. It made me happy to see the “little girl” I called the “little old lady” when she was my 7th grade student five years before. “Bird Brain” was one of my terms of endearment.

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

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

Sunday was a big checkout day as usual. Judy and I decided to delay cleaning the comfort station for two reasons, 1. We try not to close the comfort station on Sunday before 1PM so the campers will have access until check-out time, and 2. We wanted to clean the station later because we were leaving very early Mon. to return to GA to vote.  We cleaned it at 4:00 PM. By that time only four sites were occupied and three were RV’s.  We told the office we would make sure the comfort site was clean before we left early Mon. When I checked before we got on the road at 5 AM it appeared that the comfort station had not been used since we had last cleaned them.

This weekend about 200 law enforcement members stayed at the park attending “divers” training. In fact a few divers were attending from CA.  Manatee Springs has over eight miles of underwater caves. Many of the visitors that come to the park come to scuba dive.
LEO Diver Training

Judy and I both voted this morning as soon as our assigned polling site opened. It was about 42’ and raining lightly.  Judy will be planted in front from 7PM until the election results are in. I think this is the most important election I have ever voted in.  It was certainly an election with two clearly opposite choices.


We will be getting our annual physicals tomorrow.  Judy will be seeing my doctor as her doctor for the first time. I hope that made since. We believe it is easier to schedule appts if we have the same Dr.

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

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Manatees are Here

Seasonable weather has returned and I am glad. The two nights with lows in the mid 30’s caused me to question our location.  I even retrieved the Lasko ceramic heater out of the basement.  We even used the heat pump a little.

One of park rangers stopped by at 8:30 and told us that a large group of manatee was down by the walkway at the river.  We got dressed and headed on down to see them.  We counted 14 manatees hanging out.
Manatee swimming below us

After we returned to the fiver I told Judy I wanted to go drive the dually into Chiefland and get at least a half a tank of diesel since I had not topped off the tank when we arrived here at the end of Sep. I plan to finish filling the tank just before we head further south on Dec. first. We seldom drive the truck since we have the CRV with us. I decided that it would be a good idea to have the tires rotated also.  Judy followed me into town in the CRV so I could leave the truck and not have to sit around waiting.

Once back at the park we cleaned the comfort station at 2:30 PM.  I had checked it before we had gone into town.  By 4PM our loop was getting full with campers. It is the weekend!  I received a call from Chiefland Tire Service letting me know that I could pick up the truck.  As Judy and I headed back to town in the CRV the wrench symbol illuminated prompting Judy to ask “What’s the problem. She was worried because we are going to be driving the CRV to M’ville (280 miles) Monday.  I checked the display and saw that the “oil life” was indicating 15% - time for an oil change.  When I went in to pay for the tire rotation on the truck I ask if they could change the oil on the CRV. The clerk said they could, so we also had the oil changed .   

On the way back to the park, Judy stopped by wal-mart and picked up a frozen pizza and a movie from “Red Box”.  I stopped by the Murphy gas center and put $75.00 worth of diesel in the truck. 

At dusk I made a fire in the fire ring and Judy put the pizza in the oven.  Twenty minutes later Judy and I were enjoying a slice of pizza, a cold beer and a nice campfire!

Welcome to new followers Nan and John.  That’s all for now, thanks for stopping by.
Next Blog: Tue evening

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dudley Farm State Park

Judy and I got on the road at 8:30 to drive the 34 miles to Newberry, Fl.  Dudley Farm State Historical site is located there.  It is only about 9 miles west of Gainesville.  We did make a small stop in Chiefland at the local Hardees for a quick breakfast.

I lifted the below description from the park web site.  If you are ever in the area it would be a good daytrip.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this park demonstrates the evolution of Florida farming from the 1850s to the mid-1940s-through three generations of the Dudley family. An authentic working farm, the homestead consists of 18 buildings, including the family farmhouse with original furnishings, a 1880s kitchen outbuilding, a general store and post office, and a functional cane syrup complex. Park staff in period clothing perform daily chores, raise crops and tend to livestock. The farm features seasonal cane grindings, corn shucking and heritage varieties of livestock and plants. Deer, wild turkeys, gopher tortoises and bluebirds are still seen in the fields. The park has a visitor center, picnic area and nature trail.
 The Dudley Farmhouse (front)
Backyard w/garden
Volunteer Re-enactor

 Thats all for now, Thanks for stopping by.