Showing posts with label Covid19. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Covid19. Show all posts

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Pensacola and Tammany - Continued


 The day after meeting with Camille in Pensacola, I decide to take a day away from touristy go-go stuff.  I decide to write, and cook, and do yoga and exercises in my campsite.

It felt good to get some writing done on book three.  The writing helps me feel grounded in some purpose.

I enjoy preparing meals outside.

At 3:00 or 4:00 I was ready to break out.  I decided to ride right from the park and take sidewalks and streets that were just outside the State Park.  All the neighborhoods were self-contained and full of dead-ends.  None of them led anywhere.  So I just decided to always turn right. 

Eventually I would find myself back on the main road again.  

There were waterfront properties that must have been destroyed during Hurricane Sally.  Only the driveway and foundation remained.  Other properties still had tarp over the roofs and siding missing.

One neighborhood had the requirement that all homes have a standard white fence.  It gave the neighborhood a Disneyland fantasy feel.
I rode into a children's park.  The playground was quite elaborate.  There were children climbing and running, it was good to see.

On May 2nd it was time to leave the Big Lagoon and head over toward New Orleans.  It is under 300 miles.  I drove on back roads and it took me all day.  At one stop I noticed that my passenger seat was beginning to look like I was a hoarder.

I arrived at Fontainbleau State Park.  It is located north of Lake Ponchartrain, which is on the northern edge of New Orleans, LA.  My picnic table and fire ring were sitting in water.   They must have gotten a lot of rain.
While I was setting up camp I got excited when I saw a woman and her dog in a truck moving into the site next to mine.  Maybe I would have a someone to have happy hour with!

After she was parked she got out of the truck and waved excitedly and said "Hello!".  I waved and responded with a greeting.  While I watched her and her dog walk quickly to the road to meet up with a friend, another woman with a dog who was walking over to her site. Dang!  She wasn't saying "hi" to me!  The dogs greeted each other with barks and tail wags and butt sniffs.

After the two women chatted a while and the second woman started heading back to her camper I asked if they were sisters.  She explained that they both are full-time RVers and they met in Washington state.  They were meeting up again for the first time and were going to travel together a couple weeks.

I talked with her a while and mentioned how I thought the big "Hello" was for me.  I was excited because I thought there would be someone I could join for happy hour.  She invited me to join them for happy hour the next evening.

She had just gotten free of a clinging tag-along camper and I think she was wary of me, but I tried to assure her I am independent.  I don't think I was pushy, but maybe a little needy.  Ha ha.

Fontainbleau is known for its ancient oak trees.  They are scattered around the park, twisted trunks and branches that reach high and some branches that reach out low along the ground.  Many of them covered in swaying Spanish moss.   These trees would have stories to tell if they could talk.  

There is a yard of these trees and a plaque says that under them were the shacks of slaves, 157 slaves at one time, many of them skilled in a variety of trades.  Children under 10 were used to push sugar cane into the mill, a dangerous job.

The park is quite impressive and on the day I arrived, a warm, sunny Sunday, it was very busy.

There is a beach and people were enjoying the water and the beaches.

I was admiring a water park where young children and their parents were playing.  A woman came up and we chatted a bit.  She said in her German accent that the water park was new.  They had built it during the COVID shut-down.

 The Tammany Trail crosses the entrance to the state park.  After I explored the beach and picnic area I took a ride a few miles down the trail.  

Tomorrow, I told myself, I would ride the trail.

And I did!  I rode my trike from the park to Sidell.  

I knew it was going to be a good ride when I pulled out early and saw five deer before I even got to the trail.

I went by a pond with waterlily were blooming.  I remembered that George and I had done this trail at the start of our "last hurrah" road trip after his dementia diagnosis.  We were here about the same time, because the lilies were blooming then too.
The Tammany is a lovely trail with tall towering pine trees that are close to the sides of the trail in places.  I loved zooming through the shaded tunnel.  I rode back to Mandeville where I wound my way to an Anytime Fitness.  This is only my second or third time at the gym since I have gotten my COVID vaccines.  I have lost some strength and I look forward to building it up again.

I side affect of those trees close to the trail is that the roots can cause bumps.  Most of the trail was smooth, and some places had brand new smooth pavement.  That is always a delight, smooth new pavement.

After working out, I was mighty hungry.  I rode down to an area of restaurants down by the waterfront.  I picked the pizza place, but as I waited alone on the deck for my pizza and salad, I regretted passing up the bustling coffee shop.  There was no people to watch here.

Back at camp, around 4:00 there was a knock on my door.  It was Lynn, one of the women with the dogs.  She said they were gathering inside Susan's trailer because of the heat.  Was I ok with that?  

"Yes!  I am fully vaccinated," I told her.  She and Susan had been too.

Susan's dog was a loving leaner.  One of those dogs that just sit and lean on your leg and let you pet them forever.  Lynn's dog was a player.  Her dog had a whole big bag of toys to pull from.  The whole hour and a half that we were together, Lynn was tossing for her dog or hanging onto something while the dog pulled at the other end of it.  You never know what you are going to get when you get a dog.

Susan has been full-time in her trailer for two years.  It felt so roomy!  Even with three of us in the trailer we were all close to six feet apart.   I asked them where they have been that was the most fun or most interesting.  Lynn said Big Bend National Park in Texas on the Rio Grande.  

That is interesting.  This must have been the fifth time someone has mentioned it as a great place, a "you must go there" kind of place.  

We exchanged contact information.  I wrote down the address of this blog, but I doubt if they will come here, their lives are full with making plans for where they will be going next.


I had thought I might ride the trail to the other end on my last day in Fontainbleau, but instead I hung out and wrote and hiked.

On the hike I took some pictures of more amazingly huge old Live Oaks. 

I went for a little trike ride around the park.  I left a copy of my second book, The Journey Continues, among  a shelf of books in the laundry room.

My legs are covered in bites.  I learned that the name of the bayou here came from the native word for the area... "riddled with fleas".  Though my bites are probably mosquitos, my anti-itch cream is getting used a lot!

It is hard to get an idea of how huge a tree is from a photograph.  I put my coffee thermos in this picture to give you perspective.

In the afternoon the clouds gathered and the thunder rumbled, but no rain fell until the evening.  Then it came and came and came and the thunder boomed and rolled and rolled off into the far far distance.  I began to worry that I might have to vacate, and I didn't like the idea of packing up in the pouring rain.

I posted on Facebook asking people how they check on local weather alerts when they are traveling.  I knew there were flash flood warnings for this area, but I had no idea if I was supposed to move to higher ground.

Before this trip I bought a weather radio, but it doesn't help if I have no clue how to tune into the local alerts.  I guess I need some instructions or to play with it.

But in the morning, the rain would quit for a bit and start up again.  I managed to pack up between the drops.

While I was at Fontainbleau I decided I didn't need to stay at the next campground, instead I could go see my friend, Jean, sooner.  I could move up my reservation in Tombigbee National Forest.  And then spend an extra day at Craighead Forest in Arkansas.  Which is where I will be picking up my mail.

So leaving Fontainbleau I went off to meet up with a friend.  YAY!!!!  She lives near Jackson, Mississippi.  I am so looking forward to connecting with her.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Trippin' St. Augustine with Friends during COVID



Hey, Verizon isn’t everywhere!  I got a new phone with a hot-spot capability so that I could hook my computer up and write to you whenever and where ever.

But NOOOOOO.  Not at one of my campsites in St. Augustine and not here at Hart Springs near Cheifland, Florida.

I am going to be on a podcast for AlzAuthors coming up March 15.  I will tell you more about that and other caregiver programs later.

Today is a rain-all-day kind of day.  I am itching to write and catch up with you.  So I am writing this in word and then I will go to the library and copy and paste it and I hope the pictures will go with it. 

Do you see pictures?  Then it worked!

I know I told you before that Debra has a Weeroll too. 

We have planned several camping trips together that have always gotten canceled for one reason or another.  Usually the weather, Last fall it was a hurricane hitting the part of Florida where we were supposed to be camping.  A week before we were to go camping this time, Debra got a cute new puppy.  I was thinking that she wouldn’t be able to pull herself away, Cricket is sooooo dang cute and sweet!

In my house now we have an older puppy, Josie.  She and I have bonded too.  She gets excited when I enter the house and I get down on the floor and give her a good rub-down.  Then sometimes, if she is high energy we play fetch with her stuffed squirrel.

Here is a picture of my winter housemate, Carolyn and her dog, Josie.

People ask me, “Are you going to get a dog?”

Some say, “You should get a dog.” 

To which I reply, “No way!” 

Though it is fun to play with them and love on them, the responsibility to feed and walk them every few hours does not fit my love of freedom to go and do.

Back to our camping trip in the Weerolls… an added incentive for us to go this time was that our friend Frankie was joining us.  Frankie was going to stay in Debra’s Weeroll with her.  They had formed their own safe COVID pod with each other, so the tight space wasn’t a problem in that way.

Anastasia State Park is a popular park.  We made our reservations 11 months in advance, before Debra had delivery of her Weeroll.  It is on the Atlantic Ocean and right outside the touristy town of St. Augustine, Florida.

I have to admit to you that during our time together I entered their COVID-safe pod.  On the day we were leaving Inverness, I hooked up my trailer and drove over to Debra’s.  We were going to caravan it.  Frankie walked toward me with open arms and I just decided then and there I was getting a hug and to hell with COVID precautions with these two friends!  Besides, they had both already had their two COVID vaccines.  I was the only one still unable to get an appointment.  I know it puts me at risk, but it has been a year and some times being so careful is tiring.  It makes me feel like an outcast among my friends or that I somehow don’t trust them.  Even after a year of distancing and masking it is awkward among close friends.

And before I go on with our trip I do have to interject here that I finally got a call from the Citrus County Health Department to set up an appointment for the vaccine.  I was excited!  We agreed on a time, then she asked me all these questions about my health and residency status..  She gave me instructions for the day of the shot, where to go, what to expect, etc.

Then to finish up she said, “Oh, I am sorry, that appointment time is no longer available.” 

Arg!!  “I will take any time that day,” I tell her.

“They are all gone,” she said.  There were no more appointments available.  How very frustrating for the both of us! 

I hope they fix that method of making appointments.  Before they started making appointments they were doing first-come first serve at a county park.  As you could imagine the line was long and the wait was sometimes five hours of sitting in your car waiting for your turn and then, they might run out before you got your turn.  Appointments are better.  Now they just need to lock in your time before they ask all those questions.

To those of you reading this in the distant future, we hit 500,000 deaths from COVID in the USA.  President Biden did a ceremony and ordered flags be flown at half-mast.

Let’s go back to our camping trip.  I led the caravan to St. Augustine staying off the interstate highways.  I missed turns twice and had to find a place to turn around.  That isn’t so easy when we were both towing trailers.   It was mostly a pretty drive once we got past the congested area of Ocala, Florida.

We stopped at Angels in Palatka for lunch.  I was thinking I could get breakfast, but it turns out they stop serving breakfast at 10:30 or 11:00.  So I got a fish sandwich that was fishy and onion rings that were so greasy we had indigestion afterward. 

I should note to you that before I left home I put an extra set of trailer keys in a hiding place and an extra car key in the trailer.  Just in case… you know how it can go sometimes.

In Anastasia we did not have spots next to each other.   The first evening we went to the beach right in the park.


On our the second day we spent the day in town doing the touristy stuff of trolley rides, walking though the old town, and dining at a restaurant.  We did the free tour with shots of mixes with gin, vodka, and rum.  It was yummy.  

Back at the park, Debra went to put her feet up and rest. Frankie and I went to the salt bay, the tide was out and the wading and diving birds were fishing.  There was a great blue heron that came within a few feet of us.  We could hear the scrape of its beak on its feathers as it groomed itself.


Frankie took the picture below.  It is amazing the difference between our two pictures!

The next morning I got a text from my friend Beth.  She had heard I didn’t have my vaccine yet.  She sounded like she pleading with me to get one, as if I didn’t want one!  I called her right away and explained that I had been trying but was super frustrated.  She said, “Keep trying, don’t give up, we want to start getting together with you again!”

Right away I went up to the Winn Dixie grocery store chain’s website to see if they were offering vaccines yet.  (In that campsite I had cell service and could access the internet.) The website said they were not taking appointments because they didn’t have any vaccine doses available.  But there was also a button that said “Make an Appointment”.

I clicked that button, it gave me a time and date, I accepted, and I was in!  Just like that!  I didn’t trust it.  I would wait and see if it actually happened.  The vaccine was scheduled for 8:30, in St. Augustine on the 5th.  I was leaving on the 4th.

The ranger station at Anastasia helped me out by giving me a different site where I could stay an extra night.  The catch was that I had to move right away.  It was pouring rain. As you can imagine it was a sandy, muddy, messy move, but I did it!

The new site was very pretty.  However it had two low-hanging oak tree limbs I had to fit between and a greater than 90 degree angle I had to back into off a narrow road.  It took me many many tries, I had to pull out and go around the campground each time the traffic backed up because I was blocking the road.

Debra and Frankie left and I had a day by myself.  It was strange.  I missed sharing the experiences with someone.  I texted pictures to them.  

I rode around a bit, and drove around a bit.  I saw some great stuff.  I saw some places that George and I had visited when we had biked up to St. Augustine from Inverness in 2015. I think it was 2015.  I knew he had dementia, but it wasn’t bad yet.

Oh!  And there was another Weeroll in the campground.  I never saw the person, but I mentioned it in the Weeroller Facebook group and the person responded!  They left before we got to meet.

On my bike ride I meandered neighborhoods.  There was a sculpture garden, the other side of the pier we could see from the Anastasia beach, and a memorial for the 1960's wade-in they had to try to integrate the beaches.

On my bike ride I pulled into a nursery and bought some purple flowering plants to decorate the front of Lilac.

Thanks to my neighbor, Scott, that put some new pedals with a heel strap on my trike.  I no longer am tied into wearing my bike shoes with clips.  Now I can wear whatever shoe or boot I want, without the worry that my foot will fall off and I will run into my leg with my trike.

It happened!

I got my vaccine!   The first, I got the Maderna which requires two shots.

I packed up and hitched up my trailer and drove to the Winn Dixie, arriving a whole hour early.  The night before I had driven to the Winn Dixie to make sure I knew where it was.  

While I waited I walked across to Fort Mose Historic Park.  

I learned something!


St. Augustine was held by the Spanish at the time and there was a mission to help the native American's there who were struggling.  Then the mission became a place to shelter escaped slaves from the Georgia and the Carolinas.

I asked while getting the shot if I could arrange to get my second dose closer to home.  The answer was a firm no.  So April 2nd I will return to the St. Augustine area for another shot in the arm.

On the same day, March 5th,   I drove to my next camping spot, at Hart Springs.  The area hiking trails and springs are flooded due to melting snow from Georgia.  We are near the Suwannee River which is at about 20 feet higher than normal.

I scheduled for the bike group to ride on Monday, when the weather turns Sunny.

At Hart Springs I met up with a women from the Facebook Group, RV Women in Florida.  Lynnelle is from St. Pete and brought her friend Jeanie with her and their two dogs.  We had a nice happy hour last night.


Caregiver Programs

Last time I wrote I had been interviewed by Linda Burhans on her radio program Connecting Caregivers Radio.  She sent me a link to the program on Youtube.

 Then Marianne Suicco a fellow AlzAuthors had interviewed me for her podcast a while back.  The program is airing on March 15th.  Here is the run-down of this season's programs.  Mark your calendar if you want to hear our discussion, as it won't be posted until March 15, 2021.

And then the 7th Annual Caregivers Conference where I discussed journaling with two other authors is only available on Facebook.  So if you aren't on Facebook you can't see it.  Journal Writing 101.  For all the different sessions you can go to this link and scroll down, as each morning or afternoon session presenters are listed and then a link to their presentation.

Now it is time for me to go to that library in Chiefland and see I if I can upload this before the library closes.

Rainy day all day today.  Besides posting this blog I am sending out a little update to the Withlacoochee Bicycle Riders.  Some of them are coming up to Chiefland to ride the Nature Coast Trail on Monday!

Oh, and I just checked the sales on Amazon for the books and people are buying the second book this week.  Thank you!  

Exploring NE Arkansas

Sometimes as we travel we come upon things that delight us and remind us why we leave the comfort of our homes.  That, I am happy to say, is...