Showing posts with label Widows Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Widows Life. Show all posts

Thursday, March 30, 2023

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 only two of  (what I think) are the best.


If you have been reading these letters for over five years, you will remember this.

These pictures are of George's trike when I had it for sale in 2017. 

He won first prize at a Catrike Rally for the lovely paint job on his trike. He was active on the recumbent chats online.  His alias was Whitecat on His first Catrike was white.  But then he had this Catrike Expedition custom painted by a motorcycle painter in Tampa.

In 2017, George's dementia had progressed and George could no longer ride it.  We were getting a tandem trike to ride.  (Which is another awesome miracle/blessing story.  I wrote about that in The Journey Continues: Alzheimer's Trippin' With George.).

I sold George's trike to friends Kim and Bill.  They are Windemere neighbors and Kim is the daughter of my amazing and loving friends and biking buddies, Margaret and Zip.  

When I sold the trike, George was at a stage in his dementia where he wouldn't notice it was gone.  But still, it was heart-wrenching to part with it knowing what it meant to him at one time.  We had so many adventures on our trikes together.  That trike was part of George's identity.  

Yet it was also very heart-warming to know it was going to people I really liked that lived nearby.

Fast forward to this year.  Steve is (and still is) riding a diamond frame bike.  We are having tons of fun riding together and with our group.  We even have a couple of tours planned for this summer and fall on our two-wheel bikes. 

In January, Steve had mentioned he was wanting to try a trike like mine.  He was thinking he might get one some day and was asking other riders about their trikes.

One Thursday on our regular ride with the group, I rode a while with Zip.  Zip is the father-in-law to Bill who had bought George's trike.  Zip had just gotten a new e-assist trike.  He told me that he had given Bill his old e-assist trike.  He then said that Bill would be selling "George's trike".  

Wow!  I told him that Steve might be interested.  

I called Kim (Bill's wife) and left a message.  I told her I had heard it might be going up for sale and that Steve might be interested in trying it.  

She called back when I was in the passenger seat of Steve's car.  He was driving and I hadn't told him about this possibility yet.  I didn't know how to approach the subject.  I mean, this all might be a bit freaky for Steve.  Kim was thrilled with the idea and I set up a time for Steve to try the trike.

After I hung up I tried to explain what the call was about.  I tried to gently introduce the topic by saying I didn't know how to mention this because I didn't want him to feel any pressure from me.  "If you don't want to try this trike, that's ok."

But Steve was excited about it.  Then he asked, "But I am more concerned with how it will make you feel.  Will you be ok with me riding it?"

"I would be sooo thrilled to see you enjoying it," I told him.

So Saturday after our Withlacoochee Bicycle Riders' breakfast at the Hen House, Steve and I went to Kim and Bill's.  

As we drove up the trike was waiting for us in the drive way.

Steve went for a ride.  He came back smiling.  "It really goes," he said.  He liked it.  He wanted to buy it.

And here is the kicker...

Kim and Bill said, "It's yours, take it, it's free."   FREE!!!


Steve was prepared to pay.  They insisted, it's free.  Zip had given Bill a trike and they said they discussed it with Zip and Margaret and all four of them decided if Steve like it they were giving it back.  

They were kind of paying it forward.  OMG!

Steve's and my relationship has already seemed so blessed and miraculous.  We joke that it is our departed spouses that are manipulating things from the other side of life.  Getting us two energetic, grab-the-gusto, fun-loving, vegetable-eating, star-gazing, fit old folks together...  And now this!

We put the trike in the truck and Steve went right to the bike store to get new pedals that work with his bike shoes. He is making little fixes to it ever since, getting it ready for a multi-day tour we are planning to do in Florida next winter.  And he is loving it.

It is fun to see him riding with the trike smile.

A huge thank you to Bill and Kim and Zip and Margaret for this lovely little miracle/gift. 

We are so blessed.

The other day we were out on the trail and we stopped at the bike shop.  Up rides Sharon and Dennis and as we chatted, Dennis commented on the paint job on Steve's trike and Sharon got a look on her face and turned away.  I realized she recognized the trike but didn't know what to think or say.  I then realized I had not yet shared this story here or she would have known, since she and Dennis read this blog.  

So thanks Sharon for reminding me to share this great story.  Ha ha.  Now you know the rest of the story.

The Good Laugh

I find myself laughing a lot with Steve.  

We have our spring/summer/fall travel plans.  In order to get into the nice State Parks and Campgrounds, I made reservations well in advance.  

When we decide to go to a concert, I get online and buy the tickets.  

Steve and I usually split the costs.  But I had not tallied the charges for a while. Steve asked me how much he owed.   One day I sat down at my computer with my charge card statements and tallied up the amounts in excel and divided by two.

I didn't look at the final amount before I copied my excel list and figures to an email that I sent off to Steve.

The next time I arrived at Steve's house he wrote a check for the dollars owed and then with a flourish he presented me with a half penny. 

It appears my tally divided by  two turned out to be 1204.005.

I laughed and laughed.  

"I don't want you holding a grudge cause I still owe you that half cent," he joked.

Later he told me he had fun finding the shiniest penny and carefully cutting it in half.  

I kept it, it makes me smile.

Hurricane Ian Rebuild

I told you I had signed up for helping out with the re-build efforts through Sister-Corps.  I had thought this was something that Steve and I could do together.  It would be fun and a good thing to do.

But then I learned that Sister-Corps is a women-only event.  

Since then I have been searching for somewhere that we can both work together or at least have projects for Steve and we can camp together down in Ft. Myers area.   I have tried Red Cross, United Way, some Builders union, and Habitat for Humanity.  The woman at Habitat explained it to me.  Permits are required, materials are on back order, coordination between owners and the volunteers is a process that takes time.  I was getting frustrated.

Then Linda, who we stayed with in November when we went down to Ft Myers, contacted me. She put me in touch with the lady that is finding projects for the Sister-Corp.  She has more projects than she has volunteers and would very much like to have Steve's help getting things done. YAAAY!!! 

She will send us a list and Steve can work his way through it.

So April 11th or 12th we head on down to North Ft. Myers.  We plan on staying 10 days.  I will work with Sister-Corps for six days and then help Steve on projects after that.

We are excited.  Another adventure before we start our zig-zag journey north at the end of April.  

I just hope we don't get attacked by fire ants again.  

Thanks Linda, for your help in putting Steve to good use.  We look forward to seeing you soon.

"Use me like a tool," he says.

Thoughts, Prayers, Love

Our friends Keith and Jean tested positive for Covid.  I tested myself and I tested negative.  

Today I learned that my dear friend, Margaret, mentioned above, has been diagnosed with COVID.  I know she is well known and loved along the trail and in the area.  She is an active 86 years old with a heart of gold.  

I am announcing it here so that you all can do what you do in these instances.  Send love, say a prayer, keep her and her family in your thoughts.

Someone said, “Will this ever go away?”  Only those reading this in the future will know the answer to that.


There was an Author's event.  Instead of selling the books I gave them to people who donated to The Alzheimer's Foundation.  The next day I was able to mail the Foundation $70.  Now I have a few books left over to share as I travel.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Going On 70 and Feeling 30

When I returned from the Everglades I parked my trailer at an angle so that the distance from the electric box to my trailer would be shorter and not require an extension cord.   An extension cord provides too much resistance and my air conditioner doesn't cool.

Those of you reading this from the snowy north will have a hard time imagining that sometimes we are still turning on our airconditioners here in Inverness, Florida.

I like the angle of my trailer, the screen tent can set further from the road.  It is still is in danger in this 55 and older Mobile Home and RV Park.  The flower pot I set by a tent stake to mark it, got smashed last week. I have added some reflectors on tall sticks to try to prevent others from driving into my stuff.  

I thought replacing the dust cap (Hub Cap?) on my Weeroll would be easy once I set my mind to it.  So I took measurements and pictures and went to a trailer place.  Nope!  They directed me to NAPA.  I went to NAPA.  Nope!  They told me to call the factory where I got my trailer.

I called Weeroll and I got a person right away!  She was nice and took down the information and I sent pictures.  She said she would investigate and get back to me.

It has been a week.  I will have to call again.

The Couple Status

Steve jokes that he has to check my blog to find out the status of our relationship.  First, "We are not a couple!" then "We are a couple."

Since Steve and I realized we are a "couple" after all.  We discussed our age difference.  He just turned 64, and in July I will hit the big BIG 70 bench mark!  "You gotta take care of yourself," he said to me.

After that discussion I went online to look at the actuarial statistics.  Since women live longer than men (statistically) what are the odds I will die before him.

I found a neat website where I could put in my birth date and female and his birth date and male and I got this cool chart.  Looks like the chances are good we depart this life at about the same time.  

Now our task is to fit as much living into those next 18 to 20 years as we can!

New Us

There are studies out there in the Universe about the euphoria and chemical changes that occur during the early stages of romantic love.  I believe I have read some articles about that.  

Reading about it and the experience of it are two different things.  I am giggling and giddy, I am one dang sexy old woman.  I am 30 years old until I look in the mirror.

I thought I was happy before, but this new experience with Steve has me over-the-top with excitement for future adventures and just sharing the beauty of today.  

And the best part (besides all the things I admire, enjoy, am grateful for, am amazed about, in Steve) is that I now have a play mate.  

Now get your mind out of the gutter!  That isn't what I mean... well, not what I mean here.  

What I mean  here is that he says, "You wanna go kayaking?" and I am there because I love sharing nature with him and I love kayaking the lakes and rivers around here.  

In the Everglades I waded through a puddle and Steve joined me.  And later we were aiming our bikes to ride through puddles.  Playing like kids.

I say, "Would you like to join me on this camping trip?" and he becomes just as excited as I am to go explore a place together.

Did I tell you that he wants to do the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) Trail?  We are planning on doing that the second half of September 2023.  We will carry out tents and all that crap.  I just replaced my back rack with one that is rated for 85 lbs.

We were at lunch on a Withlacoochee Bicycle Riders' ride and the couple across from us were telling us about their trip to Bonaire in the Western Carrabean.  They said the snorkling was amazing.  Steve nudged me.  

Oh my! Yes!  That too is a distinct possibility when you have a bold and venturous play mate. 

I am keeping my eyes open for when Sister Corp (a branch of the Sister's on the Fly that goes in to help months after a disaster) will be going to Fort Myers to help with the rebuild after Hurricane Ian.  Steve is very interested in doing that also.

So much of the things that I wanted to do but didn't do because I didn't want to do them alone, well now I just might do them! 

Today I canceled my commitment to volunteer to camphost again at South Trout Lake in Wisconsin.  I just don't want to tie myself down to one place for a whole month.  Even if Steve decides not to come out to Wisconsin to do a shake-down bike tour with me, I have places and people to see while I am there. 

I am making my camping plans for spring now, when I will return traveling into the northern states.  I shared with Steve a couple of the places I will be going.   (I was silently hoping that he will be interested and join me for them).  

He is interested!  He has made his reservations.  So we will be pulling our trailers north and enjoying some really great places on the way.  

A couple of the places we are going, I had really wanted to share with him.  

Hunting Beach State Park in South Carolina is the place I stayed during the Sisters on the Fly/Pledge the Pink event I attended in October on the way down to Florida.  The beach is flat and when I was there lights were not allowed on the beach because of turtle nesting season.  I don't know if it will be a good star-gazing beach in the spring, but I hope so.  I also want to visit the Gulla/Geechee museum in the area and stop at the Gulla/Geechee Artists Gallery.

Hocking Hills State Park is in Ohio. I hosted my first Sister on the Fly event there on my way down and I was impressed with the hiking trails.  It has many hiking trails, gorges, and is next to the John Glen Observatory.

We are also going to Hungry Mother State Park  This park was recommended by a Sister on the Fly, Susan J.  I emailed her and Dee to see if they wanted to join me there for some kayaking and hiking.  Dee responded with a resounding "YES!".  I haven't heard from Susan yet.  I may have to break down and call her.   It is funny how making a call is the last way I try to contact someone.

If you have been reading these letters all year, you may recall that on my way North I met up with Susan and Dee to do the Virginia Creeper Trail in Virginia.  We really enjoy each other and they like to hike and eat pizza like me.

In Delaware, Steve will branch off and head for his home in New York.  He has a house and family there that will need his attention.  I am still un-encumbered by house maintenance.  I am liking that a bunch, really.  

I will visit trails in Pensylvania and then the Finger Lakes Region of New York. In my plans are Vermont and across the border into Canada where I will spend the week of the 4th of July with my good friends, Louise and Richard.  

My next travel season is really taking great shape and I have anticipating another awsome summer.

What's Been Going On

A couple villas have come up for sale in Windermere (my former neighborhood).  The prices are still high, and I have time to wait, so I will wait and continue to be house-free.

Or will I?  Read on.

I visited my storage area and was bummed by all the stuff I have there.  I am now thinking maybe I should just buy a cheap mobile home to store the stuff and at least enjoy some of it sometimes.  It is frustrating to not have a home base to invite friends for dinners and gatherings.

I am paying $168/mo to store artwork and furniture and paperwork and tools in airconditioning.  

Is that foolish?  To buy a trailer to stay in and store my stuff?  Investigating some more, running some numbers.  Second guessing my impluses.  This afternoon I looked at a small one bedroom old mobile home for under $21,000.  Hmmmm. 

Other than that, I have been going on the Withlacoochee Tuesday and Thursday rides.  Steve races down to our starting point (about seven miles) to get his vigorous workout before riding with the group.

The other day there was a special ride.  Steve drove us and our bikes down to Townsen park about 16 miles south of Inverness.  The ride was well attended.  Below is Jean, Dave and Steve.  

Jean is my friend that I did work for last year.  She has hired me again to do billing for her therapy practice!  Thank you, Jean!  I look forward to helping her serve her clients.

Good things just seem to fall in my path all the time!

Linda and Linda (below) also live in my RV park.  They are fun and on the ride we ended up trying to sing songs and howl like wolves while we were riding.  John had his video recorder going a  lot and put together a neat video of the ride and some of our childish antics on Facebook.

We rode into Brooksville and after a great lunch at the Bistro we went exploring and found this tree fountain.

And in front of the courthouse, this twisted oak.  I thought someone had trained it when it was a sapling, but Steve pointed out the  branches also showed some twist and it was probably something genetic.  Pretty cool.

Steve and I dropped in too late on the last day of the Art Festival in downtown Inverness.  The artists were packing up and it was raining.   We did get to see some of the bicycle-artworks that are scattered about town.  This one was done by my friend Linda Reiland.

This one by fellow Cyclopath (triker) Camille.

There is a lot of talented artists along the Withlacoochee Trail.  After the quick stop at the Art Fest we met up with Debra and Glen at music event in my old neighborhood, Windermere.  A band, the Mudds, was playing.  We sat at a table with Debra and Glen and Jean and Keith.  Steve talked music with Keith and I danced and danced in circles and groups of women and men. Fun!  Thanks to Marilyn for arranging this event!

This past Tuesday was cool and cloudy.  It was great for biking.  I announced on the Impromptu Withlacoochee Cyclers Facebook Group that I wanted to go all the way to Dunnellon and dine at Swampy's.  It is a bar and grill right on the crystal clear Rainbow River.

I love it when I announce something and people show up!  We ended up with 11 people around a big table.  Steve and I sat together and did a new-to-us couples thing, we shared a salad.    


Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving Day was really, really wonderful.  Steve drove down to my camper from his house and we started our ride here.  The group was starting their ride about three miles south of here in Floral City.  We had 22 riders for the tradtional Thanksgiving Day Ride!   Yay!  

We road some very low traffic roads (did we see more than one car?) past lots of horse pastures.  We enjoyed watching prancing young colts with their tails held high, bearded goats with big horns, and shaggy coated mules.

Steve and I had been invited to Debra's for Thanksgiving.  I was really looking forward to that.  The rest of the riders went on to see the Zebra while Steve and I headed to Debras for the holiday gathering at noon.

Of course we ate too much and wanted to just keep eating more because everything was SOOOOO GOOOD!  Thanks again, Debra and Glen.  Such good good friends!

I had written up a non-denominational prayer of thanksgiving and Debra had me read it as grace.

"Thankyou God, Thankyou Universe, Thankyou Gia, Thankyou Sun, Earth and Rain, Thankyou all the mysterious powers that created and grew this food.  Thank you farmers and laborers and truckers and grocers.  Thank you for our hands and minds that we are able to prepare and enjoy this food...."
Friends Beth and Jim were there.  They have a cute black and white pit bull.  In 2020 I went over for a visit and we were sitting out  by the pool, me facing Jim and Beth.  Bear, the pit bull was quiet at their feet.  Jim asked me if I carry a gun, or how do I defend myself.  I stood up quickly and punched the air toward Jim, like I do in fitness class.  Bam bam b... Quick as lightening, Bear was standing too with his big paws on my chest barking, his muzzle inches from my face.  I screamed.  Bear quickly obeyed when Jim called him off.  

So since then, I am nervous around Bear.  I have been to her house, but cautious.

Beth says to me, "He is such a sweet dog, you really need to give him another chance."  And she said she wanted to have me and Debra and some other gal friends over.  It will be my chance to make friends with Bear, Lol.

I will keep my fists down, and repeat to myself, "Feel the fear and do it anyway."

I was and am so grateful for my good friends, to be included, for the laughter, the smiles and the hugs.  

I am grateful to all of you who read and comment, who send me emails to let me know what is going on in your lives.  It is a way to stay connected with so many, so in that I am grateful.  And I am grateful for this creative outlet.  I sometimes find I sit down to write a few minutes and hours later...

An attitude of gratitude (the inspirational speakers will tell you) is the pathway to happiness.  I have found this to be so true in my life.  It turns my mind toward the good things happening and away from negativity like what is in the news or seeing the glass half empty.

After our gathering at Debra's, Steve and I went for a walk along the lake by his house.  It was out-of-this-world lovely.  The water smooth, the clouds taking on tints from the setting sun behind us.  Incredible.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Wild Rides and Hurricane Cleanup

Greetings From Inverness, Florida.

You may be wondering about Steve.  I mean, it seems like we are spending a lot of time and sharing some great adventures together.

For example, remember when I tried to create a team called Grinners and Spinners to help with some of the work needed in North Fort Myers where hurricane Ian devastated the barrier islands and a large swath inland?

Steve volunteered right away when I told him what I wanted to do.  But that was it, I could not recruit anymore volunteers. Steve was a good sport about it and excited to help out.  Our team of two was going to head south in our campers and help a fellow Sister on the Fly, Linda Shay.  We would clear fallen and damaged trees from her property.  Then I had also signed us up to help the American Legion for a couple days with whatever they had going on.

I met Linda in Hayward, Wisconsin in June during a Sisters on the Fly camping event.  She had invited me to park on her Florida acreage several times.  She had hook-ups. 

She reported the house was fine but there were many trees down.  I was glad to have Steve on the team because he used to be a lineman for the telephone company and knew how to safely cut trees.  He was also bringing two chain saws, gasoline, and tools. 

On the night before we were to leave he invited me over for homemade pizza at his house about six miles north of Inverness.  He showed me how to tie a couple knots we would be using to pull on trees and branches in Fort Myers.  He has one of those chin-up bars in a doorway like I used to have when I had a house.  He said he has to pay a toll of  chinups each time he enters that room.  Later when I needed to use the bathroom beyond that chinup bar I did one!  I have been trying to do a nice chin up or two for several years!  I was mighty proud.  A little happy dance.

On the morning we were to leave, Steve texted me to tell me his bike (that he had packed in the back of his pickup truck the night before) had been stolen.   He would be delayed because of the police report.  What a bummer for him.  It was a very nice road bike.

We planned to meet up at a park just before entering what I estimated to be the disaster area.  I messed up and the park was closed due to hurricane damage.  I drove around looking for another place that would accommodate two trucks and two trailers.  We ate our packed lunches on a curb in a parking lot.

Later as I was leading us down I-75, I got a call from Steve.  Someone had motioned to him that he had tire damage on his trailer. He was going to pull over and fix it.  I began to worry.  What if he gets defeated or the tire causes damage to his trailer and he must return home?   How would I be of much help to Linda with my measly loppers?

I was happy to see him pull up into a gas station.  He told me the warning to pull over was a kids prank.  The tire was fine.  Better that than the alternative, we agreed.

We saw piles of rubble lining the streets and many blue tarps as we headed into Linda’s neighborhood.  Her road was quite the roller coaster.  The sign on it made me smile.

Linda actually had water and electric hookups for two trailers.  She and her husband David had already cleared the drive and our camping spots. We got set up and then went to work.

Linda showed me how to operate the gator.  What a blast!  That became my job.

They kept a big fire going for days as we worked. Steve would cut and I would load and haul dead branches and vegetation to the fire.

We tied a rope to the gator and used it to pull down broken and stuck branches.  Learning the knots was a big help.  We were tieing and untieing a lot of knots.

Before I learned about the four-wheel drive feature, I dug a pretty good hole into the ground one time.

Steve took a picture of me before we cut this little tree down.

And I took pictures of him at work.  We were smiling a lot, working outside brings a special joy.

David was using the back hoe too and pushing downed debris into the fire.  I was worried he would blow a tire as he would often roll right on top of the pile of ashes and burning debris.

After the second day of work, we realized we were making a lot of progress.  The place was looking very nice!  Steve suggested we get cleaned up and go exploring, maybe find a place to watch the sunset.

We drove around and ended up further North than we expected.  We lucked out and found a nice waterfront walkway that had been cleaned of debris.  We saw sinking and broken boats.  And walked through a replica of the Vietnam Memorial.

We got back in the truck and headed back southward when we came to a Ponce de Leon Park, right on the water at Sunset!  How lucky was that!  We sat on the cement sea wall and watched fish jump and the colors change.

It was getting hungry out!  Linda had told us about Boat House Tiki Bar near her place.  It has a salt water pool and live music! We put that in the GPS.

Wow, what a full day for a couple of people in their sixties, don't you think? 

Two other Sisters on the Fly drove down to Linda's from Minnesota and Wisconsin to help.  I had met them in Hayward too!

Karyn is a real jokster and I think she tricked us all with fake poop.  But all the way to our last day, she insisted she put it in a baggie and "it is in the trash, you can go see for yourself it is real."  I regret not checking the waste basket, because we could not imagine an animal big enough for that size doodoo being on top of that tire.

Terry texted me from Tennessee and asked if I was going to watch the Lunar Eclipse.  I didn't even know about it!  Thanks Terry!

I googled and found out it was happening between four and six in the morning.  Steve and I set alarms and sat out on the deck watching the moon pass through our shadow.  Steve took this picture, we gave up trying to capture it with cameras and just watched.

I took this of Karyn in the early morning when we were up before most everyone else.  Daylight savings time shifted while we were at Linda's.

We had a challenging limb to drag down.  It was a riot.  Vishelle and I and Linda were cackling like hens in the background.  Barking out suggestions that were ignored and worries that were sometimes heeded.  

Vishelle handed Steve a cut log that he used as a projectile with a rope tied to it.  First try it went over the fork where we women were directing him to throw it.  Of course it was our female directions and not his experience that got it where it needed to go.  Ha ha.

Vishelle, Steve, David, and the big branch.

But the rope and gator were not strong enough.  Dave pulled out a very big rope and his truck to finally get it down.  Cheers!

At the same time we were cleaning up after Hurricane Ian the news was reporting that Hurricane Nicole was coming to Florida.  The trajectory pretty much covered all but the southern tip of Florida.  We didn't know where it was going to go or how bad it would be.  I saw on the weather map that the storm would not reach the Everglades by the Shark Valley Trail.  

Steve had never ridden that trail and I thought it would be fun to show him the area and escape the flying debris of the hurricane.  We each made our reservations at Midway.

When we were at Linda's Steve had his 64th birthday.  That morning I dashed out early and found him a chair that lays back.  As he likes to watch the stars at night I thought this would work well for him.  There were two, so I bought myself one too.  He and Terry had both got me into star gazing.   

For Steve's birthday, Linda baked a cake!  And one evening she took all of us out to the Boat House Tiki Bar for dinner and drinks.  She was soooo appreciative.  Thanks Linda!  It was a real blast!

Linda and David were happy to have all the help.

Me, Linda, Karyn, and Vishelle

One evening after working we cleaned up and went in search of a bike for Steve.  

I found my dream bike right away.  Ha ha.  Boy that thing was heavy!

We felt very lucky.  The first store we went to had the bike that Steve was wanting.  He put a rack on it, he hopes to do some touring in the future.

Two mornings we went to the site to volunteer for the American Legion.  Both mornings no one showed up to instruct us or tell us where to go.  Via email I inquired and the next day came appologies saying the volunteer organizer had COVID.  

The second time we went to volunteer for the American Legion, we had hooked up the trailers to head down to the Everglades afterwards.  I was wandering around and when I looked back, there was Steve up on my truck cleaning my windsheild!   Oh my!  Ha ha, be still my heart!

Highway 41 cuts across Florida from Naples to Miami right through the Everglades National Forest.  Midway Campground is a National Park and therefore we got the Senior Discount when we made our reservations.  We were close when we encountered a road block.  The officer said they were repairing power lines and it would be an hour.

I remembered what Terry Fund taught me.  It can be fun just to set out your chairs in a parking lot and have lunch.

As we were sitting eating lunch, a crow came nearby begging.   We got a really good close look at it.  Steve began to explain the different layers of feathers.  He does wood carvings of birds.  He brought several down from New York for his Florida home.  They are very impressive.

After we got into camp and set up, the wind started to blow, but the weather had said only 20-30 mph winds in the area.  I asked Steve if he had ever biked in a Hurricane.  He grinned, "Not yet."

We put both bikes in my truck and we went over to the Shark Valley Trail, about 17 miles from the campground.  The trail is about 14-16 miles long and makes a loop so you end up where you started.  We  parked outside the gate because we would be on the trail after the park closed.

Whoops, we forgot extra lights in case we are out past dark.  Oh well, let's just go.  Ya, I know.  I don't watch movies about swamp monsters, so I was ok with that.

We started seeing a lot of great blue heron.  They were used to people being on the trail and many did not take flight when we passed.  We counted well over 30 on our ride.

At one point we had a rainbow on our left and the sunset on our right.  The Everglades is called the river of grass.  It actually is a shallow wide wide river (50 miles?) that flows from Lake Okechobee to the southern tip of Florida.

Before the loop turns the corner, there is a wonderful look-out tower.

The second half of the loop trail, the wind was in our face.  Parts of the trail were covered in water.  As it got darker and darker, the tar they use to repair cracks began to look like snakes and gators, gators and snakes.  We pushed on.

I only screamed twice.  

Once there was a dead Great Blue Heron on the trail and I thought it was a gator and Steve was heading right toward it.   The second scream was when something mid-sized splashed into the water right next to me.

The loop back seemed a lot longer than the ride out for sure.  I was panting as we worked against the wind slowly slowly slowly.  But we were still smiling.  Thanks for being game to ride in the storm, Steve!  What a memory and story we created!

The next day we took Big Blue again and drove around to the visitor centers and board walks.  

Over lunch I told Steve that people were wondering about us.  Pretty nervous, I said, "And so am I."  I think I caught him off guard, but then after a bit he looked happy and said, "me too."

I had been telling people, "We are not a couple!"  Perceptive Debra had told me, "Oh yes you are!" even before we left on this trip.  

I thought I didn't want any man in my life.  I thought I was quite happy on my own.  But Steve is exceptional. Barrier one, our denial (or was it fear?), came crashing down.  

After lunch, we decided to bike a gravel loop road.  

We and our bikes got pretty sandy and gritty, but we saw some very nice places, a few gator, turtles, and birds.

Steve's daughter is a teacher and he often sends pictures of wildlife to her to share with her classroom.  He said the kids get so excited, the gorrier the better. There was a dead gator on the side of the road.  We got some good shots.

That evening we escaped the bugs by eating in Steve's trailer and playing a game that my sister had given me in celebration when I bought LILAC.  Though there were great open dark skies, the bugs kept us from looking at the stars for long.  Tiny little insects seemed to get in the trailer and gather by the lights even with the door shut.  Fortunately they were not biting insects and seemed to die off quickly.

Our last day in the Everglades we rode the Shark Valley trail again.  This time in the daylight without the big wind.

During the week I had been contacted by my boss when I volunteered as camp host at South Trout Lake in Boulder Junction, WI this summer.  She wanted to know my availability and interest in doing the same this year.  Since I have plans to go to New York state and Vermont and into Canada, I told her I could only do August.  So there, I am, committed to a month at the same no-power campground I was in this summer.  It was lovely and not too far to visit my sister.

Steve asked me if I would do the GAP trail with him next year.  "Yes!" 

I will be busy this winter planning for that and all the other travel for next spring, summer, and fall.

I woke early on the last day and started packing up LILAC for the trip back to Inverness.  When I pulled out before 6:30 a.m. in the dark, the fog was thick.  

I stopped in Naples and spent an hour or two at Anytime Fitness.  I took advantage of the good cell service to call my sister and read emails and messages.  

It was mid to late afternoon by the time I got home and got all set up again. I texted Steve to let him know I arrived ok and inquired about him.  He had made it home but that tire problem that he thought was pranksters was actually a tire problem that was hidden when the tire wasn't rotating.  When it was rotating other drivers could see something was wrong.  

Another person flagged him and managed to let him know what was going on.  Steve had to change the tire on the side of I-75.  Just as our many many many fire ant bites were finally on the mend, he found a nest on the side of I-75.  

Me Time

I told Steve that if we become a "couple" that I really need to maintain lots of space for me-time.  Like four days a week even, when we aren't traveling together.  He was glad to hear that, my independence is one of the qualitites he likes about me, he says.  And that, dear friends, is a dam good thing, don't you think?

Though I am looking forward to sharing lots of travel adventures with him.

And speaking of "Me Time".  Caregivers don't get a lot of "Me Time".  (How is that for a transition?)

If you know of someone caring for someone, think about how you might beable to relieve them, visit with them or their loved one or help them pay for respite care.  I was very fortunate to have good people around me that helped me when I was caring for George.   Be that person for just a few hours this month.

And who do you know that would enjoy escaping into a good story, or appreciate some good information.  AlzAuthors is holding a Caregiver's Appreciation Book Sale this week... only two more days! There are a variety of books in the AlzAuthor's book list.  Including Alzheimer's Trippin' with George.

Till next time, find something that makes you wanna do a happy dance.  

And speaking of happy dance, we just had a mid-term election and it is making me feel like doing the happy dance.  Jean and I and Steve are going to the Drum Circle on the beach tonight.  A good opportunity to go wild.

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 ...