I am glad I went to Jean's to help her with the paperwork. She appreciated my efforts and she paid me! There will be more work coming once I am back home.
And the frosting on the cake was that I had fun spending time with her and Keith and meeting some of her friends,
The campground that I was going to stay at rejected me because I didn't have a "certified RV" sticker on my trailer. So I plugged in and put up my portable sink in Jean's driveway. It worked out well for me, Jean and Keith were very hospitable, and, as far as I know, no neighbors complained.
I worry that my winter RV park might have some similar policy that requires the "RV Certified" thing. I don't think so, though, because my friend is staying there in a re-modeled van.
I left Jean's before the sun rose on Monday and crossed the border into Florida by late afternoon.
I saw scrub woodlands, it got hot out, I got bit by no-see-ums, and stung by fire ants. I thought back to the ancient trees I saw on my trip, the lovely mountain vistas with trees turning yellow and red, of the cool mountain air and the rushing clear water streams in Pennsylvania and Virginia and West Virginia.
And I began to wonder if Florida was the right choice for me. I was driving in an area where the trees had been damaged by hurricanes. I was not feeling any delight at being back close to where I started this trip in April. I was anxious to be done traveling, but wondering if Florida was the joyful place I used to think it was.
I began to hunt for signs of home. Wading birds... gators. I didn't see any.
I stayed in a campground near Century, FL. I had planned to stay two nights, but I decided to stay only one. I was getting anxious to get this long journey completed.
On Tuesday while driving, I was reminded on an audio book I was listening to that the way we look at things is a choice. We can choose to focus on the negative or we can choose joy. The book is titled, Remember. The author was saying that we can focus on the bad memories or we can put our attention on the good moments. And when you meet someone you can tell which way they focus by what they say. Are they happy and delighted with memories or do they tell you about all the bad stuff that happened.
I had been faintly aware that I had lost my joy focus. This message hit me in the face and reminded me to pay attention and take the time and energy to harvest happy thoughts.
I aimed the car for an Anytime Fitness in Crawfordville, FL. I needed to work out and get a break from sitting in the car.
While there, I called my Florida friend Debra. She was happy to hear from me and called me back shortly after to invite me to go out to dinner with her and some others next week.
Yay! I told myself, Florida may have fire ants, but it also provides me with wonderful friends!
I had to worry and fuss a bit about how much further I would drive. I had arranged for the water to be turned back on at my house on Wednesday. I had to make sure I didn't arrive before the water.
I found a small campground in Newport, FL which was close to Crawfordville and south of Tallahassee. When the campground host asked if I would be staying one or two nights, I said two, even though I had already made reservations at Manatee Springs further on my journey for Wednesday night.
I discovered that I was right across the street from the St Marks Wildlife Refuge. A sign said the light house was 11 miles down a road that looked bike friendly.
I texted Cindy Hampton because St. Marks is one of her favorite places to go birding. She said that maybe I will see "Pinky".
Pinky is a flamingo that was first sighted at St. Marks right after Hurricane Michael. He/She has been around alone now for three years. The refuge is 17,000 acres. I didn't think my chances of seeing Pinky were good. The campground hostess had said Pinky was last seen in the city of St. Marks. That was the other side of the river from the refuge.
Then I got a call from Frankie. She and her husband are renting my house for three months this winter. They were wondering why I was renting my house out.
Was it for the money? Why don't I just get a job?
Well, yes it is kind of for the money, but really mostly it is an experiment to see what it is like to live longer term in my little Weeroll. I am experimenting with possibilities and life choices. Why not? It is a temporary thing and who knows, I might learn something, I might love it.
I am a bit scared, but hey, I try to do something a bit scary all the time to expand my comfort zone.
Wednesday morning I was up and riding my trike into St Marks Wildlife Refuge before the sun was up.
About five miles into my ride I met a couple on bicycles coming from the other way. She said Pinky was at one of the ponds up ahead.
To re-build the economy during the Great Depression, President Roosevelt started the CCC's. It employed thousands of men building and improving parks. One of the things the CCC's did was build levees in this area to create fresh and salt-water ponds to support migrating birds. Much of the levees were built by hand, with shovels and man-power.
I pulled over at one pond where I saw a man sitting on a bench looking out over the beautiful scenery. And there was Pinky! I could see Pinky well but my camera didn't see it well. I want to get a telescope with a camera that is small and easy to carry. Does it exist?
A woman with a camera with a big lens came up and took pictures. She does a lot of birding in Circle B area near Lakeland, FL. The man was from Panama City and drives up here to look at the birds a couple times a month. He talked about the times he has seen bobcat in the refuge. And he wondered if they would introduce more flamingos so that Pinky wouldn't be so alone.
I watched Pinky and the many Grackles clacking and hoping for some crumbs from us humans.
I rode the rest of the way to the light house. I saw lots of lovely wading birds. Great Blue Herons, White Herons, Egrets, Ibis, a Night Heron and cute ducks (Grebes I think).
On the way back I decided to lock up my bike and walk one of the levees in search for gator.
And what do you know, I saw Pinky in another location. This time closer, but still no good pictures.
I even tried to take a picture through my binoculars... ha ha . It is time to get a new pair.
When I got back on the trike I used google maps to find out how far to get to the restaurant in St. Marks - Less than nine miles! I ended up drinking a beer with supper and biked very slow on the way back to camp. Ended up biking 32 miles and probably walked three or four miles.
Tomorrow I arrive home. I will stop at the Post Office and try to pick up my mail. I imagine I will have a crises or two to take care of, a couple of toll road bills to pay at least.
On Monday I move the Weeroll into its winter home at Oasis RV Park. It should be interesting. First I will take it to get the wheels greased. I probably pulled it over 6,000 miles this trip and last year 3,600 miles. We be rollin' a lot!
Now we are done rolling for a little while. I will have some work to do for Jean when I get home and lots of re-connecting to do with friends whose lives have gone on without me for too long.