Sunday, March 29, 2020

November 2019: Blue Springs and Thanksgiving

Published: March 29, 2020                                        Previous Posts:
About: Late November 2019        November 2019: Fort Clinch and Gamble Rogers
                                                                October 2019:  Winding Down in Virginia

I’ve been trying to get caught up to the present Convid-19 Quarantine by covering a month at a time of my first year after David’s death.  It appears I’m not quite able to do it.  This post might have been part of the last one but it seemed like too much.  It covers my 8 days at Blue Springs State Park where I moved on November 24.

One of the reasons I was not posting in real time for that year was that I could not make Open Live Writer work and I did not have the energy or desire to switch platforms.  I also just don’t think I was up to it.   Back to Blue Springs.


This was my first backing into a relatively narrow for me space with branches sticking out wanting to scrape  Winnona. 

Without a spotter, it was get in position, back up, get out and look – look up, look along the ground for number stakes, rocks etc - get in and move back – get out and look – get in and move.  ..repeat.  The mirrors alone just do not make me feel secure without a spotter.  I felt very sorry for the person in the car waiting for me.  Mirrors are fine but I’m not skilled with them and they don’t tell me what’s down by my tires or over my head.   Ultimately I managed. 

Lots of folks have suggested I get a smaller RV.  Yes, probably it would be easier but Winnona, while obviously bigger than I need,  is set up perfectly with solar and MCD shades and steering stabilizers and more.  But for all that, she is nearly 16 years old and the money I could sell her for would not allow me to get anything as good frankly as she is.  I do not want any debt at this point in my life with my decreased income and would not trust anything built in the past 5 years since the total craze of RVing and especially full time RVing began and in my opinion manufacturers started pushing out much lower quality rigs requiring their owners to spend months going back and forth to the shop.  Under warranty yes, but it still doesn’t speak well for the quality and is still not what you want to be doing.   So for now, she and I will carry on until she isn’t willing anymore and at that point I’ll probably quit.

My view here is very serene but not the ocean front I just came from.  Still the 4 of us, Moby, Handy, Pooh & I like it.


In the 8 days I spent here before returning to Gamble Rogers, I walked this path from the campground down to the boardwalk along the spring run to see the manatee every morning.


I come down to the boardwalk early in the morning, just after sunrise and before the park opens.  I’m amazed that it is so cold here in late November.  Or at least cold for Florida.  46 degrees my first day and 44 my second.  But this does bring the manatee into the spring run and I can walk all along the boardwalk and look for them.


A wonderful thing about  Blue Springs is that each morning is different.  Usually there is fog on the water which is warmer than the air so the pictures are a bit ethereal.  As the sun comes out to burn off the fog it makes shimmers on the water.   You have to be a better photographer than I to know how to deal with these conditions.  This appears to be a family of manatee or rather Mom and two kids.



This female anhinga is also enjoying the spring run.


Manatee are very large and very docile.  I’d judge this one to be about the size of my kayak or longer.

It’s actually easier for me to see them from the boardwalk than from in the kayak on the water.  Often when I’m paddling I only know where they are when they come up to breath and take what sound like big gasps.

In addition to the anhinga, the turtles are making their way up onto the logs for sunning.

The cormorant is another common bird on the spring run and river.  His blue eyes are striking, his feather design beautiful.

Nose to nose.

The spring run is really beautiful but kayaking is always prohibited.  In the winter because of it is a manatee refuge and later in the year because it is open to swimming.

I can’t tell if this Great Blue Heron is molting or getting his breeding plumage.  He looks a bit ratty today.

On my way back for breakfast I stop to visit with the mosaic manatee in one of the viewpoints.  Isn’t she something!  So much work went into all the sculpting and all those tiny mosaic pieces.  What a treasure!

I go down to see the manatee every morning I am at Blue Springs.  The temperatures at that time are in the low 40’s.  The number of manatee between 250 and 300 according to the rangers taking count from the boardwalk and the canoe that paddles each morning from the mouth of the spring run to the spring head.   Amazing.


Look at how many.

I don’t try to count them but this is a lot of manatee all keeping warm in the constant 72 degrees of the spring.

I am at the spring head and it is deep enough that if there are manatee, I cannot see them.  It’s a very lovely spot none the less.


Many mornings the run is extremely foggy due to the warm water and cool air. It’s difficult to see until the fog lifts.

It’s eerily beautiful.

Not a manatee.  A giant gar fish.  Well over 3 feet long.

Sorry for so many pictures.  I love manatee and am always thrilled with how many there are here.

I’m out before the park opens and so is this camper.  Some outfit.  She tells me she’s a tenter.  In 40 degree weather perhaps these are her pajamas.  I didn’t ask.  Love the tail.

Manatee  are mammals and come up for air.

Are these arms?  Probably flippers.

They are so cute.

Manatee are playful with each other and alone.  They roll.


One day after my morning with the manatee I go over to the Lyonia Preserve to see the scrub jay.  I’ve been here each time we’ve come to Blue Springs and each time I’ve seen the jay.

If you put scrub jay or Lyonia into the search bar at the top left of this page you might find pictures of Jays sitting on my hat, on David’s.  But today there are no jays out.  Perhaps it’s because the warmer afternoon is not the time to see them.  I don’t remember what time of day we came in years past.

It was a nice walk in any case.



But I did see these flyers and crawlers.


Thursday is my first Thanksgiving alone.  In the morning,  I take the kayak out on the water in an effort to feel thankful.

Despite the dark beautiful waters and the open blue skies, it’s very hard to feel anything but sad.



Eventually the rhythmic paddling, the beauty and the water birds lift my spirits.

Great egret

Snowy Egret

It’s not a terribly a warm day but this cormorant is “fluttering” to promote heat loss.

I have headed down Snake Creek which has been a favorite paddling spot for us each time we’ve been here.  Formerly it has come up along the back of Hontoon Island.  I am sorry to see that it is now so clogged with hydrilla, duckweed and water lettuce, all invasive plants, that no one can paddle through it.  I do wish the Florida Department of Environmental Protection would undertake to remove these exotic invasives.  But like most environmental programs and the state parks as well, they are seriously underfunded.

I’m forced to turn around. 
White Ibis fly in in flocks and land in the trees. 

The Little Blue Heron is much more focused than I ever seem to be these days.

Another hunter though not of fish.

Back at Winnona, I make a Thanksgiving meal.  I’m not sure why.  Just because I suppose.  It’s hard to celebrate with no one to share it with.   It’s not much, scalloped oysters, sweet potatoes, green beans with almonds and cranberry sauce.  I’m disappointed to see that in my fog I picked up jellied rather the whole cranberries I prefer.  Oh well.

I  try to be thankful for my health, for my freedom, for my daughter and her family, my friends who keep me in their hearts.  It’s all still very hard.  There is a huge hole in my thankfulness.

Also hard was putting a smile on my face for this selfie.  But we always smile in pictures, don’t we? No matter how we really feel.   Does it look as half hearted to you as it does to me? Alone on Thanksgiving is very lonely.


In the evening, I work on my latest puzzle.  I like it very much.  It keeps me occupied


On my last day at Blue Springs I was on the water for the final time and saw this artistic alligator pose.  Doesn’t he look fine!



and these people clearly violating the law by their interaction with the manatee.


I admit, they are hard to resist.  But like all wild animals.  Too many harmful things can happen to them if they learn to approach humans.


I didn’t try to pet him but this manatee on the right of my boat followed me a fair distance out into the St. John’s river.  I was grateful for his companionship.


I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day.


I spent the afternoon cleaning the dirt off of Winnona.  I really really need someone to deal with the chalky fiberglass and simply don’t know how to find such a person or company.  Clearly the last 18 months when neither David nor I could do this maintenance has taken its toll.   It makes me sad to see it.


Back to Gamble Rogers tomorrow.  I made these repeated reservations for David who was able to get to the beach when it was so close.  I am sad that he’s not here to enjoy them.   Sad seems to be my middle name.


  1. I always love your Blue Springs posts, but am particularly thankful for the manatee pictures now. This post does remind me of David and makes me miss him. Seeing the beautiful manatees helps for some reason. I am sorry you spent Thanksgiving alone, but want you to know that I am thankful for this blog and for you. Take care.

    1. Thank you Pam for the sensitive comment and for your friendship.

  2. Love your 'gator near the end. I'm a sucker for an "S" curve in photography!!!

    My heart is with yours, Sherry.

    Virtual hugs,


    1. Thanks Judy. I really like that picture too. I know that you understand better than anyone what living with a multiple myeloma patient is like. I hope it's many many years before you are in my spot.

  3. Only you can know what is best for you. Winnona is home...I get it. You have learned to handle her always, I'm amazed!!!

    If I learned anything while full-timing it is NATURE HEALS!!! You and David were a big part of that education for which I will always be grateful. Your visits to the springs were many manatees, birds and gators. Again, you remind me to just stop and enjoy nature. Thank you!!!!

    1. You flatter me Nancy thank you for the compliments. Nature is where we loved to be. Unfortunately what may be best for me is not always what I can do.

  4. I too, love the Blue Springs posts, for many reasons, but one of them is that I shared that boardwalk with you and took photos of the manatees and the mosaic manatee with you as well. So many Manatees!! Wow. Made me very sad to see that Snake Creek is no longer kayakable. Hmm. maybe that isn't a word. Still, very sad. One of my most favorite kayak memories. Love to you, Sherry. Thanksgiving alone must have been no fun at all. I hope you don't have to spend many more that way.

    1. Thank you for your understanding Sue and your love. I wish there were something I could do about Snake Creek I really do think they should keep it clear.

  5. I had forgotten about the mosaic manatee, thanks for sharing! When you mentioned the Jay, I did remember the picture of one on your hat from years ago. Glad to see so many manatee in the spring.

    1. I was very glad too Laurie to see the mosaic Manatee and the real ones. I'm glad you enjoyed them again.

  6. As usual, your pictures of nature are amazing and inspiring. I've never seen a manatee in the wild, but it is on my bucket list. I did see a 15+ foot great white shark once during my CG days as it swam right past my 13 foot boat I was in. Sort of makes you appreciate how insignificant man is sometimes. ;c)

    If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I want to come back as a manatee. Seems to be a peaceful way to live.

    1. You can be sure to see them Paul if you go to Blue Spring State Park in the winter when it's cold. They are gentle creatures very badly hurt by our power boats. Wow a 15 ft shark from a 13 ft boat. Sounds scary. Man is very insignificant he just doesn't recognize it maybe not even in the throws of this tiny virus taking over our lives.

  7. I cried reading this one. Happy to see so many manatee. But, I felt your Thanksgiving loneliness. Wish we'd been together. I miss him too. Beautiful pictures, as always. Well done maneuvering Winnona! That alligator! Great shot!

    1. Oh I'm sorry sweetheart. I didn't mean to make you cry. It was a lonely Thanksgiving but it was my choice to continue on and not to return to Virginia immediately. The maneuvering is definitely work. I hope I'm getting better but it's always a little bit scary. I'm glad you liked the pictures. I love you!

  8. So many beautiful photographs!And so many manatee! Maybe one day I'll see them too. The thing about Winona is that she is your home, not just something to be discarded. Also, our planet would be in a much better state if we all made the decision that you have and didn't just swap something which is absolutely fine for something that is new.

  9. Thank you Michele for understanding my feelings about Winonna. I hope one day you will see the manatee in person. They are amazing. Come to Blue Springs and you can almost be guaranteed on cold winter days.

  10. Oh how I know that game of backing without a spotter. Get lots of exercise getting in and out, but also learn to do it better each time. I love those foggy shots and am so jealous about seeing so many manatees. I love when you go kayaking and can only imagine the peacefulness. Awesome alligator shot. I think you were doing great all things considered. I hope you are more whole every day. Hugs.

    1. Thank you Gaelyn. You having been a solo for so many years give me inspiration. I wish you could go kayaking with me and visit the manatee and alligators. But you'd have to come East.

  11. You are very brave to be out on your own and doing all the driving, maneuvering, exploring, etc. I think it will get easier for you in time, if you want to continue the traveling lifestyle. I didn't last long as an RVer because of loneliness and having to do all the maintenance, driving, etc. I admire your positive attitude.

    1. I hope you are right that it will get easier with time. I love being on the road but do need to figure out how to deal with the loneliness.

  12. We spent a few nights at Blue Springs on our FL adventures last winter. What a beautiful park, thanks to your posts.
    I applaud your decision to keep Winonna, you know how well the upkeep on her has been and the quality is there. I imagine you see David everywhere in her. If you can handle her you might as well keep her. I admire the fortitude and grace you've displayed during these dark days, and yes it did look like a forced smile but you smiled. Thanks for commenting on my blog so I know you're somewhere safe to ride out the craziness of the world right now.

    1. Thanks for your support Faye and thank you too for the comments. They all make me feel less alone.

  13. Such a cute photo of you and the mosaic manatee! We have reservations for a week next winter at Blue Springs, and are looking forward to seeing herds of manatee. I'm sorry we won't be able to kayak Snake Creek, though.
    It makes me sad reading about your Thanksgiving and David always celebrated every occasion with such joy. I'm glad you made scalloped oysters for yourself, which if I recall correctly, is your favorite part of the meal. Hugs to you.

    1. Yes the loss of Snake Creek is sad and I do think they should do something about it. You recall correctly-I love scalloped oysters and don't need the turkey at all. Thanks for your comment.

  14. Great job parking...I'm sure it will become easier with practice but never as easy as having someone to help. Pictures of the manatee and the birds are, as always, beautiful. Never knew so many were in the waterways. So sorry you were alone at Thanksgiving - that is always such a nice family time. Cheers...

    1. It's a new life for me in all those ways. I appreciate your support Roger. You were a very good brother to David.

  15. I am sad we missed the manatees. Boy you got the jackpot.

    1. Hope you'll come during cold weather and get to see the manatee. They are always at Blue Spring and the colder the more there are. This was a pretty cold November and December. Usually they are plentiful in January and February.

  16. I'm fascinated by manatees. My favorite picture of them was the one after the "look at how many" text. It looks magical- all those colors and the light- just beautiful. That alligator was in an interesting position. The 2 ibis posed nicely for you. The cormorant looks prehistoric. I always love just the water- great pictures! xxxooo

    1. I'm fascinated by them too. So big, so gentle. I'm glad you liked the pictures. There were probably too many but I have a terrible time choosing.

  17. Congrats on getting into the tight spaces. Always much harder than it looks but once you figure it out and practice, it will come easier and easier. It's amazing what you can do when you push yourself. You will find other folks coming around and commenting on how well you did that and be surprised that anyone was watching because you won't have seen them.
    Love the photos, it looked as if the 'gator was waiting for you to make him famous.
    Holidays are hardest and I'm not sure they get any easier, they just get different somehow. I know that's not very comforting but for me at least, it's true. Even surrounded by others, the holidays aren't the same. I've tried being surrounded by new people, thinking that would change the feelings, no connection to the past. Didn't work, I was just alone in a crowd of folks I didn't know well. Being surround by loved ones is nice but there is still a spot that is empty and for me, it'll always be empty. Hopefully you find a way to enjoy the holidays that makes them easier for you in time. Stay safe and healthy Sherry! Deb

  18. Seems like I'll never figure it out since every space is different and I don't seem to be able to see everything I need to see with just the side mirrors and back up cameras. I'm thinking you are right about holidays don't get easier just different. I so appreciate your observations and experience. Thank you so much for your comments.

  19. Seeing the manatees is still on my list so I enjoy seeing yours very much! They're wonderful and all your pics bring them right to me. I love your owl puzzle, I really need to pull ours out to spend some quiet time. Your TG dinner sounds yummy, but I think the holidays are always tough when newly solo.


Your comments help me in more ways than you can know. Thanks in advance.