Thursday, November 19, 2020

Moving Forward... Maybe Not...


Last I wrote to you I was just ending my trip to Sanibel Island and the Everglades.  I was debating whether to downsize or cheapen my Florida living situation and travel half the year.

As usual in these tough decisions, I have gone round and round.  I was talking with a friend who is building a house.  She said once she has made a decision, she just goes with it.  But her husband loops through the decision they have already made.  He goes through the decision-making process over and over again.  Second guessing, double checking, he is like me in that regard.  

I remind myself to be grateful that I have choices.  Sometimes in life, and in so many lives less fortunate, there are few choices other than to be negative or look at the bright-side.

Before I get into some decisions I have gone through recently, I have to share this bright sunset picture with you.  Last I wrote you I had a Halloween picture and song lyrics by my Wisconsin friend, Mark Blackman.  Well this week I got this lovely sunset picture in my email.

Wow it is bright... and orange.  Mark wrote about the fire spitting dragon in the picture.  I had not seen the dragon (or dog) until I read his note.  Now I can't UN-see it.

The morning I left the last campsite at Alafia State Park, it was still dark so my van's headlights were on when I was hitching up and the bugs just swarmed and piled up at the base of a flashlight I set out and at the base of my car headlights.  The tiny dead... (Mayflies?) were still laying in front of my headlights when I arrived home.


One decision I made was to sell The George.  For those of you who just started reading my posts, you don't know what The George is unless your read my second book, The Journey Continues: Alzheimer's Trippin' with George.

The George is the tandem trike with electric assist that George and I rode as his dementia progressed.  It consists of two Greenspeed delta trikes hooked together. (Delta means: two wheels in back and one wheel in front.)

I took pictures of the trike and posted it in our Withlacoochee Bicycle Riders newsletter.  I have not gotten any nibbles, so next I will post it on Facebook marketplace.  Then I will start lowering the price.  If you are interested, let me know. 

I am selling the red trike with electric assist that I rode.  Cindy, who donated her trike to the project, is also selling her yellow trike, so if one person buys both they can hook them together like we did and make a tandem.

After I got back from my trip, we started watching Hurricane Eta.  First it blasted into Central America and then it went back into the Gulf and zig zagged.  I have never seen anything like it.  They should have called it Sue the way it couldn't decide which way it wanted to go.

At the last day it looked like it was going to go right over us as a category one hurricane.  I brought all the pots and patio furniture into the screened porch.

It ended up going north of us, we got a little rain, a little wind, but not enough to down any trees or hurt any buildings that I could see.  The storm made me glad to be in a brick building instead of a mobile home.

I moved everything back out to the patio and sprayed the lanai because there were palmetto bugs in those pots of dirt!  (Palmento bugs are called roaches in Wisconsin.)  

While I was out traveling, Jean Hawks arrived in Inverness.  If you recall I met up with her and rode with her in Mississippi both on my way north to Wisconsin in July and on my way back south this fall.  She lives in my neighborhood.  

When I told her I was thinking of selling my house and buying a cheap trailer.  Why have a big home when I was only going to be in Florida a few months each year for the next few years while I travel with my Weeroll?  Jean was ... disappointed.  She likes having a trike friend in the neighborhood.  It is nice to be liked.


Yes, well, it is nice having friends close by and I do have several in the neighborhood.

I got a call from a woman I had contacted to tell her if she thought of selling to call me.  She said she was ready to sell.  I set up a time to go see the place on the inside.  It is in a mobile-home park where I would own the trailer but pay rent on the land.  Rent is $380 per month, which is more than my HOA fee in my current home, but then I wouldn't have taxes or such big insurance.

The morning I was to go look at the trailer I walked from my house to the trail and down the trail to the lake.  Someone had recently stuck some blossoms on the bridge railing.

I thought, I wouldn't have this lovely place to walk if I moved, but maybe I would have a different pretty place to walk.

I went to look at the trailer.  I was grateful to have Cindy and Regis, Diane and MaryAnn meet me and help me look at the place.  I am so blessed!  Thank you.

The thing with trailers is - if the water flows toward the house, it isn't a big deal, because it just flows under the trailer and out the other side.  The porch entrance was at a low spot.

My friends said I could take up the carpet and paint the cement underneath.

And I said I had planned on re-doing the floors and painting anyway.  But I wonder what caused the yellowing of the linoleum. 

Then I thought I would replace the fridge because it was rusted and old.

And part of the decorative wood is pulling away from the ceiling.  The man next door to the trailer is a handy-man and said to let him know what I needed to have done.  That is pretty convenient!

It appears the air conditioner is older, but still working.

The list of work that needed doing was a bit overwhelming, and there is no guarantee that the land owner might not decide to re-purpose the land to something else, and then I would be out of all the work and money I put into the home.

What was most attractive was the trailer sits on an end lot and the screened patio faces some woods.

When I got home after the tour, my place was looking pretty darn good.  I called the owner of the trailer and told her I had decided not to buy it.


I think I told you about the neighborhood in Inverness where a bunch of recumbent tricycle riders have moved in from all over the country.  They had met each other while riding over the years and just one by one chose to retire on the Withlacoochee.  

I have called them the Texas Trikers because the first few couples moved here from Texas.  But there is also couples from Main and Vermont and Minnesota and elsewhere.  I have called their neighborhood Trike City and Trike Town.

They have shirts that say Citrus Cyclepaths.  So I guess I will call them the Cyclepaths now.

I bring them up because I am pleased to be invited to join them on their rides.  Recently a few of us rode down to Floral City to see the Zebra there.  As we were winding through the neighborhoods I saw this forward and backward bicycle.  I stopped to take a picture.  The owner dashed out to talk.  He made it himself.

Malotte is a fun-loving woman (in the yellow t-shirt).  She bravely got on the back and let the owner take her for a ride around the block.  It is, I imagine, pretty scary to be pedaling forward while moving backward.  I was content to sit firmly in my trike seat and watch.  Which, I observes as I sat, was not who I was a few years ago.  Years ago I might have been that woman on the back of that bike.  Certainly I would have been engaged in the conversation and wanting to try it.

In the back of my mind was the worry about falling and broken bones.  I got my bone scan back recently and I still have Osteoporosis.  So I have to really get serious about weight-bearing exercise (which I already do), supplements (which I have done half of the time), and making an effort to build my bone density.  Osteoporosis is often the reason for broken hips in older women.  Guess what, I am now an older woman with thinning bones.

Since bicycling is not a weight-bearing exercise.  I have taken up more walking and I am going on shorter rides.  

I took a ride in the Withlacoochee State Forest this week.   Before I got out of the car, I texted Debra to let her know where I was and what I was doing.  I told her I would text her again when I was done.  Some safety when hiking by myself, especially when hiking in a new place.

I am going to try different trails until I find one with some nice rolling hills and maybe some rocks to climb.   

Bike Racks and Letting Go

One day while out riding I saw this inventive trike rack.  I had thought about modifying one of these trailer-hitch luggage racks that you can buy off the shelf.  I was stumped because I don't have metal-working equipment and I am not a welder.  

This is how you can do it if you work better with wood than with metal.

Pretty cool!

Speaking of bike racks.  One of my Diva friends moved into my neighborhood!  I helped Diane unload a pod along with a few of her other friends.  Diane and I wore masks, the other friends did not.  Hmmm.  I hope our passing in the garage isn't a spreader event.

Anyway,  piling all those boxes into her new home reminded me of how much work moving can be!  All the decisions of what to keep and what to get rid of!  All that packing, moving, unpacking, deciding where to put things.  It makes me glad (at least for today) I decided not to move into that trailer.  

But, speaking of bike racks, the former owner of Diane's home was a biker and had a nice Yamaha - roof-top carrier.  I took it, not for me, but to share with someone who needs/wants a bike rack.  I will post it in the next Withlacoochee Bicycle Riders (WBR) newsletter.  Maybe for a donation to the trail or to the Alzheimer's Family Organization.


 I started thinking about how much I have and I really don't need that much stuff to live and be happy.  George had a set of China he bought while he was in the Navy.  He told this story every time we dined on the china.  He was in Japan, bought the 12-piece serving set for only $18.  Then had to pay $32 to have it shipped home.

I only use the set when I am having a big party.  And of course it has been almost a year since I have had a big party.  And hosting big parties isn't as much fun without my partner.  George would chop the onions, clean the bathrooms, set the tables, greet the guests, and clear the tables and fill the dishwasher.  Once I had served I would just relax and chat with folks.  

We were a great team.  When he could no longer do these things, hosting became harder on me and not as much fun.  Even when I had great friends pitch in and do much of the work, it wasn't the same.  If COVID passes and we can gather in big groups again, I can always use paper or have people bring their own dishes.

This week I decided to pick a few items from the set to keep and the rest I packed up and took to the thrift shop.  It was uncomfortable.  It was letting go of a bit of George, I think.

When I told Debra I had taken the china to the thrift store she said, "Oh, that rose George is buried under is curling up and wilting."  

I told her that while I was getting into the car to drive the stuff to the thrift store I found myself arguing with George.  We can't take it with us.  It is time to let go.  I could pass it on to the kids, but they already have their houses full of their own stuff.  It is time to let go.

Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail

Yesterday I met up with the Cyclepaths again to drive up to Gainesville and ride the Gainesville trail.  It was a cool and breezy day, but we had a great time riding and chatting anyway.  Everyone had masks, but we pulled them down when riding, or for the photo taking moments.

What is neat about the Gainesville trail is it goes by the huge Payne's Prairie Preserve.  There are tons of birds, wild horses, deer, buffalo.  It is beautiful any time, but right now with the fall grasses it is especially lovely.

After the ride the group was going to one of my favorite restaurants.  Satchel's Pizza is a place to display art made from junk and to have great pizza and salad.  

I learned the group was not interested in walking into the Prairie.  I like to do that every time I am here, plus, with this many people on a cool day, it would be hard to distance at the restaurant.  I made the choice to walk into the prairie and skip the restaurant.

Every time I walk this board walk it is different.  In the drought of three or four years ago, there were LOTS of gator.  But now there is so much vegetation growing on the flooded areas that the Limpkin are able to walk on top in their search for the snails. 

There was a Limpkin sitting on the left-hand railing.  He/she was chattering away.  I didn't know this sound.  I always identified Limpkin with their haunting and loud call.  This guy was doing a guttural clacking.   He wasn't at all disturbed by my walking by, and kept aiming its eye either on the water or the sky... They look out to the side of their head, so it is hard to tell what he was looking at.

The wind was blowing quite a bit.  There were Snail Kite Hawks and Vultures swooping over the pond and riding the wind currents up and up.

I got close to a Snail Kite that was working hard to remain on a weed that was really swaying in the wind.  I was close enough to see the very sharp hook of its beak.  It's feathers ruffling in the breeze.  When it took off it showed me its white bottom end.  Flashing me with its bird moon.

I saw a couple large gator sunning themselves, but not near the numbers we saw when the water was low and they had less places to hunt and hang-out.

Traveling to Wisconsin and beyond in 2021

I am already making my reservations for my trip back to Wisconsin for the summer.  I am thrilled because Marie (who I met up with in the Everglades) is going to travel with me in her motor-home,

We are going to some areas in the Panhandle of Florida and then a couple of trails in Mississippi where Jean plans on riding with us near Hattiesburg.

Marie is going all the way to Des Moines, Iowa with me!   (Yes, Ruth, I hope you will be around to ride and show us some trails the week starting May 22, 2021.)  In fact maybe we can talk Regis and Cindy into joining in the fun. 

There is quite a network of trails around the Des Moines area and I know Ruth and Bill, Kay and Jim, Pam and a few others that might be able to ride with us.

We will ride and hike and see what we can see all along the way, right Marie?

I have news!  I just got an email from the ranger at Council Grounds State Park near Merrill, Wisconsin.  They have a campground host position for me!  I have some questions about hours and days required of me, but I am excited to have this opportunity to see what it is like to work for a free campsite.  I will be about one hour from my sister's place.  So I hope I will still be able to do a lot with her, like I did last summer.  I have requested the gig start July 12th.  We will see...

Today I skipped riding the WBR group and instead I attended a Webinar on advertising on Amazon.  In an hour I will take off and meet up with Jean and Debra for a short ride.  Then I will have time to walk and jump and build my bones with some weight-bearing exercises.

The only constant is change... what comes next?



Monday, November 2, 2020

Seeking Natural Highs

 Greetings from Alafia River State Park, 

This trip is almost over and I haven't had a chance to write to you.  First I was soaking up Sanibel.  After that we were in the Everglades at Midway Campground.  We didn't have cell or WiFi service.  We were out in the boonies!

What I will tell you is the island is full of no-see-ums.  The Everglades has fire ants and mosquitos.  So spending time outside sitting especially at dawn or dusk is asking for lots of tiny bites.  I got tons on my ankles, feet, legs, and arms.  

I have used a lemon-grass oil and Off for keeping them from biting.  After being bitten I have used after-bite, Benedryl cream, and cortisone cream to keep me from scratching all the skin off my extremities.  I think the natives in the old times must have coated themselves with swamp mud to keep the bugs from driving them insane.


Last I wrote you I was in Periwinkle Campground on Sanibel Island, Florida.  

The folks I met up with (from Polk City, FL near the Van Fleet Trail) ride trikes and Will was going to lead us on a ride at 8:30.

Will has been riding trike and leading moonlight rides for 13 years!  His wife Gail was riding with him for most of those years, but she had a couple strokes and now spends her time in the motor coach creating lovely greeting cards with her one hand that still works as it should.  

I bought a few and hope to send them out soon.

 We met up with Chere who heads up the South Florida Recumbent Riders Facebook page at the gate into our campground.  We didn't get far though, before I saw that Will had a flat.

It took a while to change it and it was HOT!  Then his chain got stuck.  Even as he worked and dripped sweat, he managed to tell us a couple good stories.

We finally got rolling again.  

We didn't go far when Will and Marie thought is was too hot to go all the way to Ding Darling Nature Preserve.  Since I had never been to Sanibel, I wasn't ready to quit exploring.  Chere went with me to Ding Darling and she showed me the far end of the Island.

Will and Marie said I needed to check out the bathrooms at Ding Darling.  

They are painted with 3D objects coming out of them like you are looking at them from underwater.

Chere has lived on Sanibel for many years and was thrilled to show a newbie like me around her island.

We climbed a tower and got to see a Reddish Egret fishing.  I had never seen one before, I didn't know they existed!  They are about the size of a great blue heron but to catch their prey, they chase and dance and flap their wings in the shallows.  It is fun to watch.  It is now one of my favorite birds.

Chere took me to a beach.  I stepped into the water and was in about knee high when I saw a jelly fish next to me.  I quickly walked back out of the water.

Chere told me that the a month ago there was a Monster Tide.  The last time this happened was about 100 years ago.  I asked her what caused a Monster Tide and she didn't know.  I looked it up on Wiki and didn't find it.

Chere got two inches of water in the lower level of her house.  She took me through her neighborhood and some of the yards are still under water.  

I got a text from Marie.  They would meet me at a restaurant for dinner.  I said I wouldn't do inside seating because of COVID. The place they chose only had indoor seating.   I went to check it out.

It had very tall ceilings, the wait-staff had on masks, and the four of us (Will, his wife Gail, Marie and I) sat at a table of six.  We were the only ones in that room.  So I felt safe.  We all wore our masks until the beverages came.  Then I moved to a bar behind me to keep six feet from them yet still carry on a conversation.  This, I believe, was my first time inside a restaurant since the COVID shut-down in March.  An empty restaurant is not sustainable but it was comfortable.

I didn't tell you about Marie.  She and I have been trying to meet up to camp together.  She was going to meet me at Fort Pickens but then the Hurricane came and the park closed.  She doesn't like to do things on her own, so she was excited to meet a fellow woman camper and fellow widow.  She has a plan for her 2021 summer and wants to see if I can meet up with her on my travels.  Cool!

One morning I got up while it was still dark and I took a flashlight and walked down to the beach.


We had two more days of riding and walking the beach.  It was hot.  When I called Debra she said it was cold in Inverness.  

One late afternoon I walked around the campground where there is also a full neighborhood of manufactured homes and seasonal sites.  A couple of the birds and I exchanged many a "Hello".

On Wednesday we drove to Ding Darling to ride through the preserve and then that end of the island.  As we started out I was divided between keeping up to chat or hanging back to search for wildlife.

I decided to hang back on my own.  I texted them to let them know what I was doing. 

There is a boardwalk with educational displays of wildlife scat (poop).  On the boardwalk also was a lot of wildlife poop.  I am guessing racoon.  What is your guess?

Moon Over the Everglades

After talking with my friend Debra about the cool front in Inverness, I was hoping it would come to us when we got to the Everglades.


It was hot.

Super Woman Linda Tolly was meeting up with us in the Everglades.  

I met Linda in Ohio in 2019 when I was camping in my tent cot at the Fairgrounds in Zenia.  She is part of the Ohio Impromptu Trike Riders group.  She is a hoot!   Positive and kind, her retirement job is driving a semi.  

Just this year she has led several trike rides, she solo rode the Allegheny Passage Trail, rode from Erie to Cincinnati, Ohio, camping along the way, attended with her motorcycle the big motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota.  Then in the midst of all that, she surprised me and bought a camper!  

I knew she would have a hard time with all this heat and sun.  So I stopped and got some squirt guns on my way to the Everglades.

She was parked right next to my spot at Midway Campground in the Everglades. 

I had filled the water guns in preparation.  As soon as I landed I tossed her one and began firing.  Will came over to introduce himself and we soaked him too.  He didn't mind.  As I said, it was hot! 

This trip is like her second or third trip in her trailer.  She is still learning so much.  She has done a lot of fixes and repairs herself.  She has a Lil' Guy Max.  It is like the NuCamps that I lust after.  Small and efficient.

 I was surprised to learn that this amazing woman doesn't like doing trips on her own, she'd much rather meet up with folks.  So we vowed to set some dates to meet up and camp, ride, and hike in the summer and fall of 2021.

Our campsites didn't have water, so I set up a water jug I bought for such occasions.


After we had fun with the squirt guns and finished setting up camp, It started to rain.  Everyone disappeared inside their campers, but I grabbed my umbrella and walked and stomped in the puddles.

The first morning we were meeting to ride at about 8:30 or 9:00.  I was anxious to get to the trail and see if I could see any wildlife.  So I left early.  Our campground is about 11 miles from The Shark Valley Trail.

I wasn't disappointed.  Early on I saw a gator in the ditch next to the trail.
And later I saw one laying on the trail.  When I approached it got up and walked until it could slide into the water.
The early morning sun threw my shadow across the gator.  It looks like I am close, but it is the long morning shadow that is close.
The trail was flooded at the tower end. 

 I climbed the tower and there was a group of bicycle racers there called Wynnwood.  I took their picture and then they took a picture of me.  They gave me their blog address, but when I enter it doesn't come up.  They said something about being on Instagram.  I don't know how to do Instagram on my PC.  I think it only works on Apple?  Anyway, if you find a link, send it to me.

I then headed back to meet up with Will, Linda, and Marie.

While we were getting ready to go up the tower, a guy on a riding mower came by, his mower running as he went through the water.

The Everglades is the river of grass, a very shallow stream of water.  The part we were in is over a million acres, and there is another part north of Hwy 41 that is another million.  But it really starts north of Lake Okechobee.  Most of that has been made into land for housing and canals and dams and agriculture.

Later in the day we returned to the Shark Valley Trail to ride to the tower to watch the sun set and the moon ride.  It was Halloween and I had planned on wearing orange and black.  My neighbor had loaned me some tights with spider webs printed on them.  But it was soooo hot and I was soooo sweaty.  I didn't change for the event.

I passed a gator and turned around and the rest of the riders were huddled behind it getting their cameras ready I guess.


Marie doesn't like her picture taken.  Talk to the hand, she says.


Linda humored me and gave me a big smile.

We didn't get to see the moonrise this year.  Too many clouds in the East.  In fact it rained on us on our way back.  That was ok, it was cooling.  We rode slow because there were these red shiney lights next to the trail that were gators' eyes.  Once we saw the red light moving across the trail as a gator crossed in front of our trikes.

The neighborhood where Marie and Will and Gail live has several couples that camp in big RV's and ride trikes. 

Will took this picture of me and posted it on Facebook.

When we got back to camp we had ice cream and then we did a couple of line dances until the bugs drove us inside our campers.  With COVID there is no going into someone's trailer to chat or play cards.

I retired early and was up well before the sun.  The moon was still up.  I sprayed myself well with off and set out my yoga mat.  I did one round of our HIIT program (no wifi here, so I had to go on memory and just count out 30 of each) and some yoga.  It was lovely and the bugs didn't bother me.

When Linda got up we walked around the little pond a couple times.

November 1st and we were meeting some of Will's friends from just North of Miami to ride the trail one more time.

Linda and I bought Trolley Tour tickets.  We returned in the evening under a sky of clouds threatening rain and offering welcome relief from the heat.  I learned that the gator come out when it gets cooler to catch some sun.  We saw about 10 gator on the tour.

I also learned:

The ibis and anhinga and comerant nest where gators hang out because they keep the tree-climbing predators away.  

The high water is higher than the tour guide has ever seen it in his eight years of providing tours.

The everglades is on sandstone.  The higher waves of sandstone is where you will see oak and other dry ground trees.  The lower valleys of sandstone is where you will see cypress clusters.  The water and mud are deeper there.  The dirt layer is only about one inch deep.

Linda took the picture below of the back of my head. 

We wore masks, every other seat was empty, the US got 100,000 cases of COVID in one day.

Bye bye Everglades.  

Linda was going on to Sanibel and then in a couple days will be camping near the Withlacoochee.  We will hook up again soon.

Marie was heading back to her home.  I will see her and WIll in February when they camp at Silver Lake Campground and rides the Withlacoochee.  Me too, me too!

Alafia River State Park

This park is really nice with roomy sites that have vegetative buffers.  They have horse trails and wowsy dirt-bike trails.  I walked a couple short hiking trails.  A biker told me about some nice trails about 18 miles north of here.  So I may hit that in the morning.


Today at a stop my car would not turn over.  I had the same problem in Inverness last month and my mechanic came and got it started so I could take it in to the shop to get the starter replaced.  Well he replaced the starter but the same problem just occurred again.  

I remembered him saying that once we got it going he couldn't get it to fail until he had tried to start it 21 times.  So I thought maybe I could get it started if I just kept trying.  It only took eight times.  Phew!

I called my mechanic.  He asked me to bring it back in when I get home.

Another problem I ran into today was a big steady headwind.  Even though the terrain was flat flat flat, my car was shifting.  It makes me think that maybe I should bite the bullet and get a vehicle with room for two bikes and more power. 

Today at a stop I saw two hawks screeching and chasing an owl.  And in the field next to where I parked were big black bulls fighting.  One was clearly the older one with a much thicker neck and shoulders.  But he kept backing up, and he finally just left the fight after bellowing and blowing snot out his nose.

The other bulls that were watching also started to bellow and kick up dust.   Since I didn't grow up around a lot of  bulls, I found it fascinating.

As I drive I think.  

It would be nice to stay longer at a place... unless it is too hot hot hot or too buggy buggy buggy. 

If I sell the house I could get something cheap to live in Florida for 6 months and one day for residency and then travel the rest of the time.

Do I want a bigger trailer or to learn to have so much less? 

Do I get a storage unit, if so, then where and how much?

I will leave you with this wonderful Halloween picture and lyrics written by my friend Mark Blackman.  As I have told you he has been sending out a picture a day since the COVID shut down.  This time he added a poem/lyrics.

Hope it makes you smile as it did me.


Daisy, Daisy
I gave you all this control
I thought you'd use it well
Upon this bicycle built for two.

Daisy, Daisy
If only you would have stopped the boozing
We would not have been losing
our life of two
upon this road
that you crashed us into

Daisy, Daisy
We are in death for two
and there won’t be any stylish marriage
because you steered us into the carriage
but you’ll still look sweet
up on the crypt
of a burial plot for two.


A Miracle and a Good Laugh

 Greetings from Inverness, Florida. I have sooo many stories to tell.  So much fun to share.  But I will save you from yawns by telling you ...