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.

Sanibel

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.

Nope.

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, 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.




 







3 comments:

  1. Great blog as usual. Mark’s poem is cute.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It’s always fun to read your blog you are a woman on the road. Mark’s poem is cute.

    ReplyDelete
  3. We’re glad you finally got to Sanibel and the Ding Darling Park. We were there a couple of years ago with our birdwatching friends and saw lots of different bird species. Shark Valley is fun, too, but I’m glad we were there in winter. Biting bugs just love Fred.

    ReplyDelete

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