It is Monday, October 21, 2019. I am writing this from the relatively cool patio of my home in Inverness. The windows are open, the fan is going, I am in my space in my place. Tired and happy to be here.
There are no ants crawling up my leg, no fellow campers playing country music.
Last I wrote to you I was at the McDonald's in the early morning on Friday. I was tired of being hot and disappointed with my beach snorkel experience at John Pennekamp State Park. The park is known for it's reef and snorkel experience. I found the water murky and once the water got deep I could see nothing but the murk in front of me. I got scared.
I would swim back to where I could see the bottom, and then try again. Maybe it was the slant of the sun, I thought. But each time I saw nothing and the fear that something big might appear, was too scary. I gave up.
I was tired of waking up in the night with no breeze and feeling over-heated. I was debating going home.
After I left McDonald's I went back to camp and I took my shelter down. I had enough shade and the shelter doesn't provide much protection from rain. I was simplifying.
It seemed too hot to kayak. I had said I would kayak with Mary. Mary is the only other Sister on the Fly at this event that was not diving but was going to snorkel. She is real nice and I enjoy chatting with her and her mother Jean. Jean was diagnosed with Alzheimer's several years ago. She is in a research project and the disease seems to be moving so much slower, if at all, in her than it did with George. Everyone is different.
This is Jean and I.
There are many kayak paths among the mangroves in John Pennekamp. Last night one of the Sisters told me to be sure to use bug spray. The idea of kayaking in thick mangroves with bugs didn't appeal to me on this hot day.
Mary stopped at my camp and said she was heading out to kayak. She said the weather report for tomorrow, the day we had paid ahead of time to go by boat to a reef to snorkel, was predicting rain and winds.
I said I was tired of waiting in anticipation. I came here to snorkel and then it might get canceled. I just wanted to go. She felt the same way. She said she would see if we could book a snorkel trip this very afternoon.
And she did it! Thank you, Mary!
In the picture below, Mary is the tall one in the middle. Gail, on the left, organized the Sister event. Debbie, on the right, agreed to let me share her campsite because my site was only available for two nights. I will be moving to her site later this weekend.
Thanks to Mary, my day was looking brighter. We were scheduled to get on the boat at 3:00 this afternoon. I had time to go for a ride! Mary was fine going by herself in the Kayak.
I felt so much better once I started riding. The whine of the morning lifted. The breeze that I created by riding felt great, and there was plenty of shade on the trail that goes along Highway 1.
I don't know how far I rode. I don't have a speedometer on my trike anymore.
I stopped at a grocery store and bought a bag of salad to take back to camp for lunch.
I had enough time before the boat trip to work a bit on incorporating the edits to my second book: The Journey Continues.
Just as I had myself set up to work, Debbie came over. She had been on a dive this morning and she just got back and said I could move into her campsite now.
OH! It was after 2:00 and I had forgotten this was the day I was moving from my own camp site to her site.
For those of you who have not camped in Florida you may not know how booked the best campgrounds can get. Some campgrounds, especially in winter, have to be booked way in advance. In fact some fill up with reservations within hours or even minutes of opening up for reservations eleven months in advance.
I rushed to put my computer back in the car and drive my van over to her site which was only down a few sites.
I rolled my trike over to her site.
I tried carrying my tent cot by myself over to her site, but I ended up dragging it. Making a loud scraping noise until Debbie came to help me carry it.
It was time! It was time to get ready to go snorkel. I planned to ride my trike over. The dive shop was right across Highway 1 from our campground. Mary was driving her truck over.
I used a bungee cord to attach the flippers to my bike rack.
When I was pulling into the lot of the Sundiver shop, I heard a ping. I wondered if I had run over something. But it wasn't that, what had happened is somehow the bungee came loose and wrapped around my back wheel hub. It took me a while to get it untangled.
I was surprised to learn that we don't launch from this location. Fortunately Mary was there with her truck and I was able to ride with her several miles up the road to the boat launch site.
I bought a pair of sunglasses at Sundiver. They fit over my prescription glasses just fine.
I was hoping the water would be clear so I could see and not be terrified. When the captain slowed the boat to park I looked down and the water was aquarium clear. I could see the bottom easily from in the boat. I was thrilled!
I followed the other snorkelers and slid off the boat. Just as Gail taught me, I relaxed face-down and began the breath and stroke my way in the direction the captain had told us to go. I was floating and bobbing in the gentle waves high over the sandy bottom. It was lovely! I floated over some purple and green fern-like things waving up at me from the bottom.
I peeked up and looked for Mary. I spotted her. She asked if I saw anything.
"Just a purple thing," I said.
"I saw a purple thing and a green thing," she said.
I went back to floating and replayed that conversation in my head and started laughing. Can't do that, water will get into your snorkel. You have too keep you lips sealed over the tube. I tried not to smile, but I was soaring.
Then I heard Mary shout at me, "Sue! Over here! It's amazing!"
I moved toward her and the other snorkelers. There is was, the reef. It was like floating in an aquarium watching the fish from above... four-eyed butterfly fish, angel fish, and parrot fish.
Here is a website with some pictures of the fish I saw.
I was afraid to take my camera/phone into the water, so I don't have any pictures to show you.
I wouldn't have been able to name any of them, except that Gail had us watch a video and then quizzed us. I could hear the parrot fish as they take their beaks and chomp off bits of corral. I saw them poop out sand just like in the movie.
We had a whole hour of floating and watching the fish. I was starting to get cold and my throat (with all the mindful breathing) was getting dry. I was just ready to get back on the boat when the hour was over and I saw I was one of the last to return to the boat.
I was elated! YAY! I did it! I DID IT!
And guess what... no jellyfish, no stingrays, no sharks. I did it! And it was the best! I probably won't ever do it again, but that is OK. I am so glad we had arranged to do it a day early.
I told Mary, "I am going to shower, make a chili dip and bring it and chips and my beer over to your campsite tonight and hang out with you."
As I said it, I thought I should have phrased that as a question. But hey, we are Sisters and we are here not just to snorkel but to socialize.
I had a lovely evening hanging out with Mary and Jean. I sprayed myself with 40% Deet. I still got bit, but not more than six times.
We checked the weather again. Rain and wind predicted. I have done what I came for. Though I paid for Saturday's Dive and Dinner, I just am ready to return home. I am tired of trying to sleep in the heat.
I saw on the South Florida Recumbent Riders Facebook page that Will Byers is going to be biking with trike riders in Davie, Florida on Saturday. I look on the map. It is right on my way home. If I get going first thing in the morning I can get there in time to ride with them at 8:30 a.m.
In the dark in my tent-cot I text Gail, the event leader and let her know I am heading out first thing in the morning.
She is gracious. I feel bad about bowing out. She worked so hard on getting everything organized and so many Sisters canceled before the event. Some just not showing up. Then I get here and leave early. She was so pleased to learn that I had gotten out to snorkel and that I had a great time.
Biking in Davie, FLI couldn't sleep. Again is was very hot and there was the prediction of storms in the night. I put on the rain fly, which cut the breeze. I got up and took it off, but still it was hot. I finally got up at 3:30, showered, and packed up and left by 4:30.
It rained on and off all the way to Davie.
I arrived early at the Burger King in Davie where the South Florida Recumbent Riders were supposed to meet for the ride. I took a short nap in the drivers seat, with the windows up. With the rain and cloud-cover the car stayed comfortably cool. I wonder if I could sleep in the car on hot nights... run the air a while and then sleep in the driver's seat.
The first one to arrive was Jane Weber! I had hoped she would be joining the ride. She had told me on the ride in the Everglades that she is work-camping at the KOA near Davie.
I saw a tiara in her car and asked about it. She had decorated a bike helmet with gems and a tiara.
Jane is one of the younger ones biking with us. She is part of Strokes on Spokes or something like that. She had a stroke at a young age. She is weak on one side, but is thrilled to have found recumbent tricycling so she can exercise and socialize.
Then Jim Mcrea arrived! I had ridden with him in the Everglades too. Then Will Byers and Marie arrived. Hale hale the gangs all here!
I met Laura who was leading the ride and Steve (below) who took our group pictures and was the sweep. That means he rode behind us all so we wouldn't get left behind if we needed to stop. Thank you Laura and Steve!
The route was on paths, roads, and sidewalks. The scenery was always changing, we went through parks, along canals lined with large homes, and across a few bridges.
We did about 20 miles. Then off we went our separate ways.
Will's group will be visiting my neck of the woods in early November. I promised to come visit them at their camp at Rainbow Springs and to join them for a ride on the Withlacoochee.
Driving HomeIt was over four hours to get home. I could easily drive all the way, but I had not gotten good sleep in a few nights and didn't want to push it.
As I drove I kept waffling back and forth.
Yes, I am going all the way home.
No, I am going to stop a treat myself to a nice night in a motel and take my time getting back on the road tomorrow.
I was wondering if I should stop and search for Bok Tower on the map. I had never been and so many that have gone there tell me I should go. The gardens are lovely, they say.
I remembered it being somewhere just north of Lake Okeechobee and I had just passed the lake with it's high levee.
I think I did stop, but then got distracted by a call or looking for a motel. I pulled into a couple of motels, but they were either over $100 for the night or too grungy to be a treat to stay there.
Then I saw a sign for Bok Tower!
There was a Root Festival going on (whatever that is). There were lots of plants for sale.
I bought a navel orange tree for my back yard.
I love this wall of air plants. They are tied up with fishing wire and the spinners used on trike flags.
I send a message to Joyce who is staying at my house and watching over things for me.
"I am coming home today."
"I have decided to get a motel. I am tired."
I have changed my mind, I am pushing through. I am one and a half hours way.
It is dark when I arrive in Inverness. My phone beeps at me. I glance over when I am at a stop sign. It is from Joyce. The combination lock on the house isn't working. Joyce and Gail are locked out.
I didn't bring the key with me. I didn't need it. I am home and I am not able to enter.
I find Joyce and Gail slapping at bugs waiting for me. The sun has gone down, the mosquitoes are biting and we can't get the door open.
"What about the back door," Joyce asks.
It is keyed to match the front door, and I don't have the key on me. The key is in the house... I look for my hidden key. I did not change it after the new lock was installed. The key doesn't work.
I use my iphone to google for a locksmith. He said it is $75 for their services. He said give him 45 minutes to arrive.
Gail, Joyce and I hide in the garage away from the bugs and we wait. He works and works on the lock. He tries the back door locks.
"They usually just pop," he says. Finally his boss checks on him and comes to help out.
Finally the door is open. I am able to unload the essentials into the house. A reasonable $122 included replacing the lock and selling me a combination box where I can keep a key just in case.
He said, "You need to change the batteries twice a year, do it around daylight savings time just like your smoke detectors."
I marked my calendar before I went to bed.
Though we got to bed past our bedtime, I slept well. I was not able to sleep late. My inner clock woke me up at 6 a.m.
Thank you ATC House Sitters!
Joyce and Gail took me to dinner at Stumpknockers on Sunday night. Thank you!
It was great to have a day at home to catch up on some stuff.
I find out from my brother that his wife is in the hospital. It would be best if I postponed my plan to fly to Arizona in November. I am tired of traveling, though her pain is not good news, being home right now feels so right.
I canceled my flight. I have a credit now that expires in July. We will see what comes up.
I planted the orange tree, visited Anytime Fitness and chatted with my sister on the phone. A great first day back.
Life is good.