Hello and Greetings from Blackwater River State Park,
I expected the Blackwater River in the panhandle of Florida to be dark, but it is pretty clear in the shallows as it winds leaving lots of clean sandy beaches along its banks in this area.
I don’t have WIFI here in the state park, so I am writing this in my word document and will upload it when I have have access to WIFI.
There is a dust cloud from the Sierra Desert that has blown over the ocean to here. It looks like a regular over-cast sky but it seems to be up higher than a normal overcast sky. Someone asked if it was going to rain. No, I thought, the clouds are too high.
The dust cover was nice as it provided a bit of relief from the sun on these warm and humid days. Several of us Sisters floated in the springs keeping cool and sharing stories. One of the sisters (I will call her June to protect her identity) shared her concern that her husband (who comes from a family of people who have had early-onset Alzheimer ’s disease) is showing some signs. Early-onset is when it hits before the age of 65. That type of Alzheimer’s is passed on genetically. Her husband hasn’t been diagnosed yet, she doesn’t know how she will get him in for testing.
As you may recall, George was more concerned about my memory than his own. So we both got tested. A couple years before we were talking about testing him for dementia, I had been concerned about his hearing so we both got tested. His hearing was fine, it was mine that was fading. So when we pointed to each other and said, “it is you that is having cognitive problems,” we both got tested for Dementia. Maybe this will be a good strategy for June.
I may message her on Facebook and suggest it, since everyone over 60 should do a basic cognitive test each year anyway. There is a test online that checks different areas of the brain. Take the test each year and when you start missing more than one of the questions, take it to your doctor at your annual physical and ask him/her to test you too.
While we were floating in the springs, one of the sisters I know kayaked into the spring from the Suwanee River. Grace had driven her car down to the boat ramp and put in her own kayak. She now needed a ride back to her car. I volunteered to do it.
With COVID I would be concerned about both of us being in the car, but she has been careful and has been one of the women that had been wearing a mask at our gatherings.
I said I would take a shower and then pick her up. I drove up to the showers. They are individual rooms, so I took the time to wash my clothes in the shower too.
As I was drying off, it began to rain. The sky had not warned me it was going to rain.
I finished dressing and made a dash for the car. Then it really started coming down. Florida has these rains that are real drenchers. I sat waiting, watching the puddles grow, for the rain to slow or stop.
For a short period the wind gusted through. I wondered how my Clam was holding up and then I remembered my campsite was low, in the flood zone with lots of evidence of rushing waters.
I pushed away a worry that it might wash away the dirt under the chucks and Lilac might head backward down the hill.
It finally slowed to a sprinkle and I went to pick up Grace. She came running out with a lovely flowered rain-cape. “I gotta get one of those for my Lilac!”
What Grace didn’t have, was her mask. In the storm and dashing out she had forgotten it. I didn’t want to make her run back through the rain to get it. We couldn’t roll down the windows because it was raining still. Later I remembered I had a packaged paper mask in my car I could have handed to her. Duh!
See, people in the future reading this? These are the things we think about in this COVID time. Well, some of us do. Others, not at all, as the Florida cases continue to grow big-time. Simply wearing facemasks and physically distancing will save a lot of people from getting very very sick.
When I got back to camp after dropping Grace off at her car, I saw several trailers with broken awnings. It made me glad I didn’t have one put on my Weeroll. A Clam is cheaper and easier to replace if it gets damaged.
My campsite was a muddy, leaf-littered mess.
My pretty flower sign was still up, though turned around.
I had hung out clothes inside the Clam. They were covered in sand and leaf-litter. I spent a half hour cleaning and then remembered that at 5:00 we were supposed to gather for a fundraiser for the Sister Corp.
The Sister Corp is a sub-group of Sisters on the Fly. They go to places of natural disasters, dry-camp, and help out. June was part of the Sister Corp that responded after Hurricane Michael. She had stories to tell and pictures. I need to rig Lilac up to be able to dry camp. Then I could go in and help out too, shovel mud, wash off, clean up, paint, hand out water or or just hold a hand and listen.
One thing that Sister Corp does each year at Christmas is have suit-case parties. Each Sister attending brings a suitcase (new or used) full of items that a woman running from her home would need. Suggested items are clothes, pajamas, underwear, cosmetics, soap, feminine products. These are donated to women’s shelters. Isn’t that a cool idea?
I had donated a whole box of stuff to auction off at this fundraiser. Of course I included a couple of my books.
Alzheimer's Trippin' with George Large Print version is a popular version of the first book in the Trippin' Series.
The gathering was nice, but I had a hard time keeping physical distance from others. I sat on a picnic table and pretty soon someone came and sat right next to me. I moved to a chair, and pretty soon someone was standing at my shoulder. I stood outside the circle and people would come to talk and I would step back and soon they would step forward.
I take comfort in knowing that unless someone coughs or sneezes or yells in your face, you have to spend at least 15 minutes in close proximity with them. At least that is when you are more likely to contract the illness. That is what they are learning. Of course they are still learning. And they don't know what the long-term implications are for this virus. As you know herpes is a virus and keeps coming back. Chicken Pox is a virus and may return as shingles in your old age.
Joan (who I met up with the next day) said that it is because we (she and I) live alone that we are aware of the space. People who live with a spouse or others are used to being close to others and forget about the six-feet rule to prevent the spread of COVID.
She may be right. I find I am often stepping back from people.
I finally left the party early. I had so much work cut out for me to clean and get ready to leave the next day. I spent another hour trying to get the clothes and the Clam rinsed off. Tired, I went to bed, the air-conditioner running nicely and providing nice white noise.
Sunday - Travel Into Florida's Panhandle
It took me three hours to clean up and pack up. One of the sisters, camped just one spot over from me took this picture while the storm was raging.
I promised Debra I would let her know of all the things I WISH I had brought to deal with a muddy, sandy, storm. I have also included the items I was glad I had.
- I am glad I brought a little hand broom and dust pan. I used it to sweep off the crap I inevitably tracked into the trailer. I also swept off the outdoor rugs and the Clam.
- I would like to add a charge-able hand vacuum.
- Huge garbage bags to put wet items into.
- A hose with a spigot! I am so grateful to have my outdoor sink!
- I am glad to have the tool box on the front of my trailer to put the muddy chucks and leveling Legos.
- A clothes line in the back of the van for hanging wet items.
- A small tarp! My neighbor gave me a tarp she had brought for just such an occasion. She said as she handed it to me, “Buy one and give it to someone else when they might need it.” I placed it on the floor inside the Weeroll to put my bike and the folded sink station on. I just couldn’t get all the sand and leaf-litter off them.
- Clothes enough that if your clothes that you had hanging to dry don’t dry, you have a clean set to put on. I did pack enough myself because you never know when you might get soaking wet. Especially when I often have the urge to spontaneously enter a lake or stream I come upon without changing into my swimsuit. I also don’t mind walking in the rain.
- I have an outdoor rug that is like plastic astro-turf and I have an indoor rug that is more fabric with a pattern to hide the bits that come off my feet when I step on it. Those both were helpful in keeping down the amount of sand and leaf-litter I tracked into the trailer.
There are other things I am glad I have with me that aren’t related to the rain storm. I am glad I brought my coffee pot. I am glad I set up a little water dispenser and sink inside Lilac.
I am grateful for my spray bottle with alcohol. It came in handy when my soaked shoes started to stink. I wiped them out, sprayed them down, and the next day they didn’t stink… which reminds me… slip on-slip off shoes are very helpful.
And here is a picture of my bathroom tools. More on that in a future blog.
Before I left camp, I went around and said goodbye to some Sisters and I took my first book, Alzheimer’s Trippin’ with George and found June. We would have hugged if we could. I wanted to take a picture but decided against it to protect her privacy.
Once I was pulling out, I was worried about the musty moldy smells coming from the back of the van. I cranked up the air and set Googlemaps to direct me to Blackwater River State Park and avoid the Freeways please.
What a lovely route! No big cities to navigate, I think there were probably three or four stoplights the whole trip! If you are curious it was highways 27, 98, 20 and 90. There could have been another highway number in there. Lovely lovely. In Blountstone I saw some of the damage from the Hurricane that devastated Mexico Beach and much of the area. It is quite a distance inland from Port St. Joes.
I stopped at a gas station with Hunts Brothers Pizza and ordered a couple slices of pizza. I paid and told them I would wait outside. The cashier came out and said, “You can wait inside.” I had to explain to them that because of COVID I feel better waiting outside. I waited until I reached my camp destination to eat the pizza. I had forgotten to tell them, “No olives, please!”
Blackwater River State Park is within a managed forest, there are lots of tall pines. I was very impressed with the place right away. The camping spots are all gravel. It looked so clean and neat compared to all the sand, mud, and leaf-litter we experienced at Suwannee River Rendezvous Resort.
The site was so flat, I didn’t need to do any leveling. I even left the trailer hitched to my van. Happy, happy!
I pitched the Clam to dry and finish cleaning and brought out the other wet things to dry. I texted my friend Joan I was here and she came out right away to visit with me. She even packed herself a dinner so she could dine with me! It was great!
Joan has done a lot of bike touring and low-budget travel and camping and she has a lot of stories to tell. Her favorite tour was in Alaska where she went on guided hikes and kayak tours.
Later she took me on a short walk down to the river. The water was cool and clear running over sandbanks at each bend in the river.
When she left for the evening I did a few more things around camp. I swept down the Clam and it was dry enough to take down. Now I was warm and sweaty.
I was looking forward to turning the air on in the Weeroll.
I turned on the air conditioner and the condenser would run, but the fan wouldn’t. So there was no air coming out of the unit! I tried several things and checked to make sure the fridge was still on. Yes it was, so the electricity was still on, of course it was, otherwise the condenser on the air conditioner wouldn’t be humming away.
Fortunately the River was nearby and the water was cool. After rinsing off the sweat and lowering my body temperature, I opened up the doors and windows of the trailer and aimed the fan at the bed. It was pleasant. I slept well. Yay! I hope there are ways to cool down at my next few stops on the trip north.
Joan came over at 8:00 for a short ride before it got to hot. We were going out and back in two different directions. We went out and back and were checking out a boat ramp when it started to thunder. Then lightening very quickly followed by a big bang that made us jump. Joan’s eyes got big. We went back to camp, but didn’t make it in time before it started dumping on us big time.
I rushed into my trailer while Joan hunkered under a tree. She didn’t want to share indoor air with me in case either one of us had COVID and didn’t know it.
Neither one of us was thinking clearly because:
- I had an umbrella in Lilac and she had an umbrella in her car. Neither of us thought of it until she was totally drenched;
- I opened the door and yelled out at her to come in and we could both wear masks. But the sound of the pouring rain drowned out my voice. She later told me she would not have come in anyway;
- We could have ridden to a shelter just a few campsites away and had our bikes and ourselves out of the rain together;
- She could have gotten into her car and waited out the storm instead of standing under a tree that only protects in a short rain.
Ha ha, the brains just don’t function like they used to.
After the rain slowed, Joan left with a promise to return for another evening of talk and picnic.
The sun came out. I went for a walk.
There is a Juniper Loop trail. It is probably less than ½ a mile. The thing about a circle is that it doesn’t have a beginning or an end. Once you start walking, if you don’t pay attention you can loop around three times. Just sayin’.
Later it was down to cool off in the river in my clothes because my body was too damp to struggle with putting on my swim suit. After that I rinsed off with a cold shower in my clothes. I am dripping wet, so I go for a little ride to dry off a bit.
Lilac now is mostly in the shade. The fan is blowing on my back as I write this. It is really quite pleasant and I have company to look forward to. So far so good!
Tomorrow I pack up and head north into Mississippi where a trike ride with friends awaits.
So glad to hear that you are enjoying yourself despite the AC and rain issues. I’ve made my note on what else I should get before I head out. Keep on having fun!ReplyDelete