I found myself smiling a lot the morning I prepared Lilac for travel again.
The months I spent this winter in Inverness, Florida, while my trailer stayed in one spot, have been full of a whole lot of fun with friends. It has been a flurry of activity at times, but always worth it because I was able to connect with wonderful people.
My last week in the area was no different.
I went birding with Regis and Cindy in Weeki Wachee. Cindy was writing down the birds she saw. "That is the sign of a real birder," I thought. The birds were nothing new to her, but I was thrilled because it was a beautiful day, the tree we were watching was lovely, a Silken Oak in bloom. We were watching this particular tree. We had heard it is a place for migrating birds to refuel on their journey north. We watched a flock of cedar wax wings visit a few times. Lots of little yellow birds, some I can identify but most still look alike to me. Cindy can ID the birds by their song. When she pointed out the voice of the cedar wax wings I realized I had been tuning that noise out because it was similar to the ringing that is always in my ears.
Then later that same day I got to go to Crumps Landing (a fun tiki-hut kind of place on Halls River in Homossassa). I went with Debra and Glen Alford, Beth and Jim Richardson, and Debra's daughter, Lori. Lori has started working part-time as a travel agent, specializing in unique, local experiences. We talked about our bucket lists.
Debra and Glen are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year and are planning a trip to Mexico with Lori. It sounds lovely.
I hiked with Angie. She is going to meet me for a hike to a lodge north of Atlanta in early May. As we rested on this hike she told me a bit about hiking the El Camino in Spain and France I think. Wow! She advised me to get hiking poles. I ordered some at they were waiting for me at my new mailing address in Green Cove Springs, FL.
She showed me this interesting tube-like spider web. I thought it was the root of the tree.
I went to listen to music by the Mudds with Marilyn and Dave Hable and Linda Moore at Ednas on the Green. It is in the newer part of the Villages, with an open air bar, lots of outdoor tables among old live oak trees draped with swaying Spanish moss.
I told Cindy a few weeks ago that we had not done the Silver River yet this season, and it was my favorite river to kayak. So we set a date and we went! Diane Jacobson drove. Remember I visited her in the UP of Michigan last summer? She is the one that took the picture off me sitting on a rock looking out over Lake Superior. A great picture, representing all the choices and adventures we have in front of us in life.)
We launched from Silver Springs State Park. It was a gorgeous day and we saw manatee and several gator, baby ducks and baby anhinga and cormorant still in their nests. Their feathers still fluffy white.
That afternoon we got back just in time for me to shower and get to a Good-bye Happy Hour at Marilyn's. I told her, "No presents!" After spending so much effort trimming down my belongings, the last thing I wanted was more belongings! Hurray for having one last "Hurrah" with the Windermere gang before heading north. Thank you, Marilyn and all!
I went for a walk around the neighborhood afterwards to let the wine wear off a bit before driving. I got to chat with more neighbors as I walked. I met up with Al and Bill. Bill has been talking with me about his plans to shop for the "next place" to live. He is investigating Continuing Care Communities in North Carolina. He said he is going to visit them. If he likes one and decides to buy in, he said I could rent his place while he tries it out. If it doesn't work out he will still have his place, and I can move back into Lilac and he will have his house. If he likes the CCC, then he will let me have first chance at buying his villa. Pretty cool.
I enjoy my walks and talks with Bill. He and Al are engineers in a sense. (Al was an architect, I think.) That is the way their brains work. Since I was married to an engineer for 41 years and worked with engineers for a few years, I enjoy the banter and the topics, the attention to detail.
A while back Bill sent me an email that contained his own "mock blog" about his decision to buy into Windermere. His writing was fashioned after my blog post of my decision to sell. What a delight! I got a few giggles out of that.
My last night in Inverness I went to Debra's of course. She, Glen and Cricket were all feeling a bit lost as Lori and her dog had left that morning. Cricket and Lori's dog had really gotten along well and played and played.
Debra gave me gifts. I was going to protest. "Not more stuff!" But then I saw what it was, and it was perfect.
Debra has sold her Weeroll. Sad because we had all kinds of plans to camp together. She had decorated hers so cute and efficient. But with her new dog and just life in general, she didn't get to camp in it much. It was a good choice to let someone else enjoy the trailer.
Right away I decided I would put stickers on the states as I visited them starting this year, with Florida. And I started keeping track of my camping spots, rating them and keeping notes. Thank you, Debra!
I took my time the morning of my launch. I did laundry, I went to the gym. I tried to be systematic in my packing up Lilac so I wouldn't miss anything. It had been months since we had done this.
As I worked an Oasis neighbor would stop by to wish me safe journeys. Linda that holds social time in her front yard most afternoons stopped by to give me a jar of strawberry jam she had made. "Thanks but no thanks," I told her. "I save my sugar for ice cream and cookies."
Was I being rude? I hope not, I didn't want one more thing to haul. Already I have extras, stuff that I am giving to family members.
Linda and Ike are fellow trail riders that reside in Oasis. They stopped by and I grabbed hugs.
Joanne who was full-time living in her RV until health issues made her park in one spot for a while stopped by. In our conversations she has told me about her times riding motorcycle with friends. And the time she worked with other nomads for the big sugar beet harvest in Minnesota.
All the while, saying goodbyes and packing, I was smiling. I have had a great time in Inverness. And now it was time to get moving again.
I only had a little over two hours to travel to the first campground stop. I took the backroads past horse ranches and fields of blooming phlox.
I checked in and got my first passport stamps! I was giddy.
After setup and using a dryer sheet and micro rag for washing all the love bugs off the car and trailer, I had time to go for a five mile hike. I filled my backpack to train for my hike in Georgia coming up.
There is a ravine here that was cut by a spring fed stream. There are several shallow lake/ponds.
My New Address
On Monday I drove to an Anytime fitness and then to the St. Brendan's Ilse, the mail service place in Green Cove Springs.
I was giddy. And took pictures of the place which was huge, they handle mail for a LOT of people!
I had several packages waiting and mail confirming my address change. But the Post Office didn't have the box number. I couldn't remember if I had notified them of the goof, so I stopped at the Post Office to correct that. The clerk had me leave a note for the person that could deal with it. She called me later to confirm it was already corrected. Thank you!
I then went to the DMV. Excited to get my new address on my driver's license and register to vote here. As a Nomad I will be allowed to vote in the state and federal elections, but not the local ones, which makes sense.
But the lady behind the counter said I needed an appointment to get my address changed! She directed me to the website to get an appointment. The earliest one was the next day. I clicked on it, the date changed to the day I leave the area! No!
I went and talked to the clerk again. Try again, she says, watch the dates.
So I went on the site again. Now the date for the earliest appointment is AFTER I leave the area. Arg! I made the appointment. So now I will have to move camp to my new location and then drive all the way back here for my appointment the next day. Fortunately that is about 90 miles each way, not 300 miles. But it means I will miss out on the bike ride by the fields of wildflowers that is the highlight of the Suwannee Bicycle Association's Spring Pedal and Paddle event.
This put me in a sour mood. I had read about the reservations but understood it to be for those changing their residence from out of state. I beat myself up, why didn't I make an appointment anyway, knowing I was here for only a short while. Why do I do these stupid things that throw a wrench in my plans?
I drove to the address that St. Brendan's Isle told me to use for my voting address. It had a big sign saying "Keep Out!". And a police car seemed to follow me as I passed the first "No Trespassing" sign. So much for the photo opportunity in front of my new address! I turned around.
I found a pretty park, sat in the shade, and opened my mail.
"It will all work out," I told myself. "Relax".
The park was on the banks of the St. John's River. There were huge boats at the marina that is my new address. I could it see across the bay.
Back at camp I opened the package with the walking sticks and felt grumpy again. Why did I buy these? Angie and Marilyn said I needed them. But to me, it seems like something else to hang onto while walking. It is something else I have to find room for in my camper or van.
I adjusted the walking poles, filled my pack, and practiced walking with one. It seems like more work than without them. But Angie says the five miles we are hiking in Georgia is up a mountain and they will be good to have. I will continue to practice.
In the evening, a man stopped by to chat about my trailer. Mike is a tent camper with a small utility trailer that is wired for electric. He is from Leesburg, which is not far from Inverness. He camps most the time and goes back home for his volunteer duties. It was good to have company and chat with someone else thrilled about living outdoors most the time.
This morning I had planned to ride the Palatka to St. Augustine Trail.
I got up before the alarm and decided to take my coffee down the trail to a big pond where I could watch the sun rise. There were four instances of deer sightings on my walk and lots of animal foot prints in the sand.
As I was walking back to the trailer and the temperature was rising with the sun, I remembered people telling me the Palatka Trail is quite sunny. I decided to save that ride for another day.
Instead I decided to write to you. I debated about driving to a coffee shop with better cell coverage or even wifi. But I opted to stay in this lovely local.
Each picture took a long time to upload on the 2-line cell phone coverage here. So already it is past four p.m. This took all day! And it is hot out. I have the fan going, as I prefer to sweat than to close all the doors and windows to turn on the air.
Oh, I forgot to tell you, last night after a walk and a short bike ride, I took a shower and found a little tick adhered to my left ribs. Even though every inch of me was sprayed with Off. I used the Off liberally after seeing a tick by the water spigot when I was hooking up on Sunday.
I used a fancy schmancy tick remover thing I have been carrying around for a couple years on my key chain. I tried and tried and tried. No luck.
I looked on line for instructions on removing a tick. Tweezers and a steady slow pull. Don't worry if the head gets left, your body will take care of it, the CDC and some med sites told me. So I hunted down some tweezers I had in my trike first-aide kit. Then I proceeded to pull and pull. The thing is my left boob was in my line of vision, so I had to use one hand to mash it so I could see. Then I had to figure out if I could see the little tick better with or without my glasses. It's a good thing I do yoga. It was quite the contortion.
Anyway, the tick is out and the area is disinfected. No bull's eye has appeared.
This makes me wonder what I would have done if the tick was in an even harder to reach location, like between my shoulder blades! I would have had to hunt down a friendly face in the campground... "Could you help me?"