Showing posts with label Camping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Camping. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Cautious Hope for Post COVID

Greetings from Inverness, Florida.  

I am back home and very much enjoying springtime in Florida.  My garden is happy, the monarchs are fluttering around the milkweed and laying their eggs.  The collard greens and parsley are prolific.  

And the most amazing thing is happening...bit by bit, friends are gathering, still at a distance, but with less fear.  The COVID vaccines seem to be working to reduce hospitalization, death, and even infection rates in the United States.  Though we still have a long way to go to be back to normal, hope is blooming along with the spring flowers.

Before I get into the stories around me, I would like to share with you a podcast interview that I was part of.  It was launched on March 15, 2021.  Author Marianne Sciucco interviewed me this summer while I was camping in Rhinelander, WI, for the AlzAuthors' Podcast for caregivers.  


The last time I wrote to you I was at Hart Springs Campground which is near Chiefland, Florida and the Nature Coast Rail Trail.   I had posted from the Chiefland Library on a rainy morning because I didn't have cell or good internet at the campground.

When I left the library, the rain had slowed to a drizzle.  I headed back toward the campground. I passed a sign to the Andrews Wildlife Management Area.  I made a u-turn and went to explore.  

I was glad I did!  It was a nice walk in the woods to the Suwannee River on a gravel road.  Just after starting the walk I saw about twelve small wild pigs scrambling away from me.  Wild boar are considered a nuisance species in Florida.  They keep multiplying and digging up the undergrowth in the forests and along paths and roadways.   Originally they came from the pigs that were brought here by the Spanish, but now they are probably integrated with escaped domestic pigs.  Anyway, it was thrilling to see them.  I wasn't afraid because they were small and running away from me.  Big ones can be aggressive and dangerous.

I passed a huge bat house and I could hear the flying mammals squeaking from their perches.  Under the bat house was a mound of guano.

Some kind of insect or worm had created holes in the guano, I didn't see the critters, just saw the holes.


I followed the signs to the board walk.  A sign showed that the flood waters often covered the walk.  Well, in this instance, the river was up 22 feet and I didn't even see the roof of the shelter on the boardwalk.  Of course, I had never been there before and didn't know where to look.

 Every late-afternoon I would start to look forward to gathering around a campfire with my fellow Florida RV Women, Lynelle and Ginnie.   The wood I had bought at the campground did not burn easily.  Lynelle bought some firewood in town and we tried a new log-cabin style of stacking the wood.  That seemed to burn better than the Teepee style... at least to start.  As wood was added and walls collapsed the logs always ended up more Teepee than log style.

Lynelle had a heavy-duty knife that she used to make kindling.  She would place the blade at the edge of a log and bang the flat side, whittling off 1/2 inch thick strips of wood.  I am going to get me one of those knives.  Friends told me last summer that I need an axe if I am going to camp.  I was hesitant to buy one.  First, it is something big to pack.  Second... what if I miss and hack my leg or foot?  This knife seems like the perfect solution for me.  I will probably have to shop at a pawn shop or an Army Surplus store to find one.

Lynelle also had packets of fire-starter goop that she would break up and put bits it with the paper and kindling to help get the fire started. 

One day I went exploring on my two-wheel bike.  I took side roads south and I ended up riding on the Nature Coast Trail to the Suwannee River bridge.  

See the moth with the horizontal stripe?

On my way back I was passing two women on diamond-frame bikes who had stopped on the trail.  I slowed down and ended up stopping when I heard one say, "Look!  She has pannier's like you just got."

My panniers are waterproof and pricey for casual riders, they are more for touring.  I asked if they were going to use them touring.  

Yes they were, and when I asked where they were touring, they told me they were doing the Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal trails in September.  

"Me too!" I exclaimed.  I put their names and numbers in my phone.  We were amazed at this serendipitous encounter. 

The Withlacoochee Bicycle Group had a planned ride for the Nature Coast Trail on Monday.  I drove down to Chiefland to meet them.  When I got there I thought I would use my powered air pump that works for cars and bike tires. It plugs into the power socket in the van. While I was setting it up, Richard and Louise pulled into the parking lot.  Soon he was helping me, but instead of me standing by to see how he did it, I was distracted by all the cars and people arriving.  Each new addition was a celebration.  

"Oh! Yay, Donna and Rick are here!"

"Susan and Mike, and there is John, yay!"

"Hey, David!  It's good to see you!"

"Jean and Keith, I am so glad you came."

"There is Ann and Fred!"

We had over a dozen riders/friends.  It was a fun ride.

We rode to Trenton and hunted up spots in the sun to enjoy our picnic lunches.


We stopped on the Suwannee Bridge and then went just a bit further to admire the 500-700 year-old oak trees, before we turned around to return to Chiefland.  We had a great 42-mile bike ride.

 I decided to cancel the last portion of my camping trip.  I was supposed to head down to Hillsborough River State Park to meet up with the Florida RV Women's group.  The pictures coming out of the event on Facebook showed that 95% of those women were not masked and were not distancing.  I knew if I went I would have a good time but feel a bit isolated.  Plus, Debra had canceled because she wanted to be home with her new puppy.  I had gone five days without good cell and internet.  I was feeling like my to-do list was getting too long.  It was time to head home.

I wasn't quite ready, I added one more day to my Hart Springs stay.  I went exploring.  The water had gone down, probably a foot since I had arrived.  The road was now dry at Hart Springs.  I walked around the barrier at the entrance to Hart Springs to get a closer look.  The campground is separate from where the springs are located.  There is a hill that goes down from the road to a cement wall around the springs, and a few feet below the wall is the level of the springs.  Well it was that way the last time I was there, but as you can see from this picture, we can't see the cement wall around the springs.

Back at my trailer I wrote for a couple hours and then it was time to go exploring.


First I went to Trenton and after looking around, I entered a Mexican Restaurant that only had one other customer.  I got a table on the opposite side of the room.  As I sat there waiting for my food the restaurant began to fill up, and no one was wearing a mask.  I put my mask back up and asked for my food to-go.  Then I had to wait, what seemed like, a long ass time to pay the bill.  It was getting crowded and I was getting worried.  I finally got to pay and as I was leaving I passed a man who was coughing a fake cough while smirking at his lady friend.  Was he making fun of me and my mask?

I then set out to find Rosewood, FL.  This is the site that I had learned about where there was once a prosperous middle-class town.  But it was burned down and the people terrorized and driven away in 1923.

Rosewood is near Cedar Key, Florida, and near where the Suwannee River meets the Gulf of Mexico.

I read that a group was trying to raise funds in 2018 to turn the only remaining house in Rosewood into a museum.  I did not see it, but I did find the memorial, covered in beads, stones and flowers.  There were also few COVID facial masks hanging on the adjacent fence.

I explored the Shell Mound area near Cedar Key and recognized the place when I arrived.  George and I had biked here with our friends, Louise and Richard, Bill and Christine a few years ago.

I hiked a trail and just about when I was done I heard wild boar rustling and grunting.  They seemed to be only 15-20 feet away on the other side of some palms.  I pulled my camera out, but didn't see them, at it was just as well.


I was glad to be back home.  I had a few more reservations to make for my Summer trip.  Plus, now I had to plan a trip back to St. Augustine to get my second COVID shot.  People are reporting that the body responds to the second shot with aches, fever, tiredness, and diarrhea.   I thought I needed to camp several days after the shot to recover before I drove home.

I told you about Joan who had visited me and we expressed a desire to go to Alaska.  She called me and told me she was going on a mini self-supported tour just to see if she was still up to traveling that way.  She was only going to go about 30 miles a day to keep it fun and allow time for exploring.   She said that if it went well, then she would plan on doing the Allegheny Passage Trail with me.  If it went lousy, it was a no-go.

A week later she called me again.  It went well!  We are on for the Allegheny, starting September 24th!  I am excited.  I think of all I need to do to prepare, but I have months.  "Relax", I tell myself.  "Learn, investigate, and prepare..."

Marie was supposed to travel with me this summer in her own RV, heading north as far as Iowa with me.  She had fallen and hurt her shoulder and it we didn't know if she would be able to do the trip.  But we talked and she is in still!  Yay!  She was worried that I would feel burdened because she wouldn't be up to my activity level.  I told her I was just happy to have someone to share stories with over a campfire most nights.  It will be good as long as she didn't expect me to baby her and she didn't feel she needed to follow me around.  We were in a agreement and I am anticipating a super trip.

I can't believe this, I have my reservations and plan all the way through September.  I like to fly by the seat of my pants, be spontaneous, but with campgrounds filling up these days with baby-boomer retirees and families able to work virtually, I am glad I have my spots reserved.  I am also glad because now I can reach out to others and invite them to join me.  Already I have a meetup set in Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and then either Maryland or Ohio.


One of items on my to-do list was taxes.  I worked my way through Turbo Tax and the result doesn't seem right, so I will probably have to go through it again, or just push send and keep my fingers crossed.

The other night I invited six people to my patio for happy hour.  With Carolyn and I that was eight folks.  We didn't wear masks though we kept a good separation.  It felt so much more relaxed.  Everyone had had their first COVID vaccine.  Four of them had received their second vaccine.  

Eight people is more than I have had here for a long time.  It was a blast!  I felt hopeful and joyful.  Maybe life will start getting back to normal now.

We are probably relaxing too early.  

 The CDC says that once our family or circle of friends is fully vaccinated we can get together and even get some hugs.

The problem with me is that I have many bubbles.  I don't have blood family in my area but I have several friends that are close like family.  A bubble is the people you are close to that you can hug and let down your guard.  Maybe not your face guard in close proximity, dang! 

We are so anxious to be back with each other again.  I have stopped forcing people that enter my home to do repairs to wear a mask.  I have stopped forcing people to mask up when they walk through my home to the back patio for social time.  I wear one in their vicinity.  I think this is a sign of COVID burn-out.  I am tired of being the one that requests the mask and stands on the outside of the circle.  I am tired of the precautions and hopeful the vaccine is protecting my friends. 

But then I read in the paper that a 54 year-old mother of a boy living with Autism has died from COVID, and I realize the numbers are still too high.  

My second COVID vaccine appointment is April 2nd in St. Augustine.  I was planning on camping and just being there in my trailer to weather out any hours of symptoms that may come up.  But I was having a hard time finding an open camp site.  

Then Jean offered to go with me and spend one night in a motel.  She has points so it will be low-cost. She hasn't been to St. Augustine and would like to get a quick feel for it, plus go on a mini-adventure together.  Fun!  Let's try it.


Yesterday while riding with the group, Louise and I were riding side by side.  It was a lovely day, not too hot.  In Florida in spring, the oak leaves fall as the oak trees start to bud.  The leaves are a hazard for bikers if they pile up.  They slide over each other and a pile can become slick like ice.  I have experienced this myself once on my two-wheel.  I was going very slow, getting ready to turn a corner and there was a dip in the pavement where the leaves had collected.  I went down so very fast.

Fortunately a volunteer blows off the whole trail once a week.  But there are parts of the trail...


As we turned a corner and ascended a ramp, Louise's bike slipped on the leaves and she fell.  Immediately she knew it wasn't good.  We surrounded her and sat with her while we decided what to do and then waited for the ambulance.  Her situation was complicated because she is Canadian, but she does have insurance for this time in Florida.

It turns out she has broken her lower leg (3 bones) and they are not simple breaks.  This afternoon she will undergo surgery.  We are all wishing her well.  Debra is gathering up assistance devices for her to use during her recovery.

Life can change in an instant.  

Go out and enjoy this day as best you can with what you have.  In just a bit I plan to go to the neighborhood pool and float and socialize.  Life is good in this moment.


This week I move into my friends house in my old neighborhood for a few days.  I am going to be taking care of her three pets while she is out traveling.  It will be good to reconnect with neighbors, and it happens to be the neighborhood where Louise and Richard live so I will be there to help out or run errands if they need anything.  Hear that Richard and Louise???  

Richard and Louise have done so many things for me, and Richard always says, "Let me be of service to you.  We want to help, it makes us feel good and useful."   

So I am going to remind them to let me be of service.  



Sunday, December 20, 2020

Locked Out or Unhinged?

 Sunday, December 20, 2020


I did it again.  Some days my mind is just not in the moment and somehow I lose track of important stuff.

I was looking forward to this trip.  I was traveling just two or three hours to the coast east of Orlando, FL.  I was excited because I would be spending my holiday with some up-beat and active friends.  We were to be camping in an area where there is water for kayaking, lots of nature for birding, and a trail for biking.

 But this morning as I was packing I was in a foul mood.  My neighbor, Mari, commented, "Sue, you are frowning!  You should be smiling, aren't you excited?"  

I hadn't even been aware I was in a foul mood, but then I realized that the thrill of going just wasn't in me.  I felt frayed... is that a feeling?  I felt like my brain was a bit scattered.  It wasn't working as sharp as normal and I was having to work extra hard to concentrate and make sure I didn't forget anything.  Mari reminded me I had a packing list for trips.  But I had not used it.

Instead I had spent some of my morning signing up for another camping trip.  This one is in January with the Sisters on the Fly Sister Corp.  The trip will be a working trip, helping someone on the coast of Louisiana rebuild or clean up after the area was hit by two hurricanes this summer and fall.  

And as I ran upstairs to turn the thermostat down to save on energy while I am gone, I remembered that in a week or two Carolyn will be arriving to rent a room from me and share my home with me.  Wow!  Time is moving so fast.

Maybe I was scattered because I was watching the neighbors' Labrador.  I walked it before I started packing up.  

 I finished packing and I hooked the trailer up to the van.  I did my walk around to check that everything was ok.

Now that I had the trailer packed gave Ellie the dog one last walk around the block.  It started to rain.  

In the van I began the drive east in the rain.  After a picnic stop, the rain stopped and the temperature rose to the high 70's.  

It was 2:30 when I checked into Manatee Hammock campground and backed into my site.  It is a roomy site with trees, I can walk to the inter-coastal, it's all good.

I go to unhitch and I reach in my pocket for the trailer keys.  

No keys.  I pat myself down, no keys.  I search all the jackets, the back pack, the purse, the console, under the seats, the floor, between the seats.  

I paused and tried to calm myself and think.  

Can I do this week of camping without my trailer keys?

1) I can't unhitch the trailer because the hitch is locked.

2) I can't plug in my fridge/trailer because I don't have access to my cord which is in the toolbox that is locked.  My water hose is there too.

3) I can't get in the trailer because the trailer door is locked. 

I walk back to the campground office to see if I dropped the keys there.  Nope.  

I told the campground host I would have to drive all the way back home to get the other set of keys.  He said call "Pop-a-lock".

I walked back to my car and trailer and I called my insurance because I have road-side assistance.  But I couldn't get through.  They were busy, the recording said, and short-staffed due to COVID-19.

Then I called Pop-a-lock nearby.  The woman that answered said the locksmith was working on a job right now and would call me after he was done.  "It will be about an hour," she said.

I waited two hours.

As I was waiting I remembered that the back of the trailer has a padlock on the door.  I could enter in the back!   I started working to get the trailer set up to use

My friends came over and visited a while.  They said they heard the no-see-ums are bad here.  They helped me set up my CLAM screen tent.


They left and I called my sister to chat.  While I was on the phone, my friend Regis returned with his keys to see if any of them would work on my hitch or tool box.  None did.

I then told him if I couldn't get into my tool box I would need to hitch a ride from him to a store to get an extension cord and a hose.  That is the stuff I need from my tool box.

Regis left and returned again with an extension cord and a hose!



I called Pop-a-lock after waiting two hours.  This time the person that answered the phone said the locksmith in my area doesn't work on Sunday's and he will call me the next day.  Sigh.

Cindy has plans to ride the trail tomorrow and maybe visit the nature preserve to look for birds.  I would love to join them but that means I would have to haul my trailer.

Traveling with the trailer means I would have to strap stuff down again and move everything back to the floor so it won't fall and cause damage.   Another adventure, another lesson.

Regis gave me these words of wisdom: "Keep a spare set of keys hidden somewhere." 

That means not at home (which is where my spare set of keys is sitting).

It is raining again.  It is dark.  I have shelter, I have light, I have my computer, I have my bed, my fridge is plugged in and I can make coffee in the morning.  I am having a mini celebration.

We will see what tomorrow brings.


I am listening to Untamed.  My sister had mentioned she was reading the book and was really pulled into it.  I love it.  It is real, it is poetry, it is inspiration and motivation.  

It makes my own simple writing style look... simple.  I shouldn't compare myself, but you know how we humans can be.

She said today as I was listening on the drive here that grieving is a kind of metamorphosis.  You snuggle down, feel the pain, get through it, and on the other side you are transformed.  Your old life doesn't fit anymore because you have changed.

I thought, oh!  I am searching for what fits now.  I am no longer George and Sue, I am just... Sue... and seeking a life that fits the new me, the changed me.  

I want a life with lots of moments when I know that I am where I am supposed to be and doing what I am supposed to be doing.  Those are moments of content.  The pants fit.

One thing I know that fits is this writing I do.  Because I just can't stop.  I think about just giving up and going a different direction, and I just don't want to do that.

The good news is that I am selling more audio books!  A friend let me know they were listening to both books just this week.  I told him others had told me the books made them laugh.

When he finished listening to them he contacted me again and said he didn't laugh so much as cringe.  Ha ha.  Yes, there was some of that too, mostly in The Journey Continues, the second book with the tandem trike on the cover.

 Speaking of The George tandem trikes.  They are sold and shipped to a man in Huntsville, Texas who is caring for his wife who has...  drum roll please... Alzheimer's Disease.

May you both get miles and miles of smiles from the rides on The George tandem.

Christmas 2020

Many families are still getting together for this holiday.  The numbers of Covid cases continue to rise and hospitals in California are running out of ICU beds.   The first vaccines have been given.  It is expected that it will take a year or longer to reach all those who will take it.  Can we then gather again in groups, put our heads together as we whisper, shout at each other over the loud music in a bar?

What do you miss most?  

Hope your holidays are enjoyable even with the safety precautions for COVID.    May your 2021 be full of peace and hugs.


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.


Cautious Hope for Post COVID

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