Sunday, April 26, 2020

Early January 2020: Moving into a New Year

Posted: April 26, 2020                                                  Previous Posts:
About: January 2020                        December 2019: Boo Boo and Holiday
Gamble Rogers, Alafia and              December 2019: Jack and Tornado Troubles
Oscar Scherer State Parks, Florida

The new year began at Gamble Rogers with a lovely sunrise from my ocean front site.  Those seem to be the majority of the pictures I take here anymore.

Dawn on New Year’s Day 2020. Another first without David.  The tiny white light at the horizon line is a shrimp boat.


The shrimp boat - Love my zoom lens.

Here comes the sun!


                                                       Winnona watches.

Did the laundry on New Year’s day and walked up the ocean front to Snack Jack’s for lunch with my neighbors.  He’s strange, she’s nice.  No pictures.

Last night at Gamble Rogers.


Bad news when I wake up the next day and start packing up to move.  The driver’s front jack won’t go up and upon inspection I find a broken jack spring.  Another one of those things David could fix if he were here but I cannot.  Of course without the spring, the jack won’t come all the way up and I have to get out my crowbar and force it. 


Setting up winters in Florida at the state parks is a serious project and takes a lot of finagling if you don’t want to have to drive miles and miles between parks.

I’m leaving Gamble Rogers and heading across the state to another favorite park, Oscar Scherer.  BUT I was unable to get a spot there for the same day I leave Gamble.  So I’m stopping for one night at Alafia State Park on my way.  

I’ve never been there before but am thrilled that for just one night, I was able to get a pull through site and won’t have to disconnect Ruby and back in.  Some of the sites are pull offs along the campground circle road.

Thankfully the site is pretty level since I cannot put my jacks down without the spring to bring the left front up.  That means of course that I can’t put my slides out.  Thankfully Winnona’s design is such that I can manage everything I really need with the slides in.  Well done Winnebago.

First the hydraulic motor kept the slides in for days until I had it repaired and now who knows how long it will be before I can get new springs and someone to do the work.  As if I’m not missing David enough.

The drive across the state on I-4 is absolutely awful.  Terrible road, tons of traffic.  I am exhausted when I arrive but happy to find the area around the campground is lovely and there are many birds along the lake in the evening.



Here’s the view out my dinette window looking across the road to the lake. 


I take time for a morning walk at Alafia and determine that next year I will come back and spend longer here. 

The drive to Oscar Scherer isn’t long but unhappily for me it requires that I drive directly by Bay South City Center Hospital where David died and today is exactly 11 months since that happened.   What are the chances of this?   I definitely am not leading a charmed life.

IMG_2124Site 9 at Oscar was a bear to get into for me.  It had a narrow opening, a power pole on one side and palmettos on the other.  I had to go around the campground circle twice to get in position and then up and back multiple times to get far away enough from the power pole to put the slides out but not have the saw toothed palmetto branches use their saw blades on Winnona’s paint on the other side. It was a fine site once I finally got in the exact middle between the branches and the pole.   Why don’t I get a smaller rig you ask?
1.  I own Winnona, no loan.
2.  She’s a 2004 and even though she is tricked out to the hilt with solar and stabilizers and tons of other extras.  She would not sell for enough to buy anything near her quality
3.  I love her and am used to her
4. While I absolutely love this life, I’m not at all sure whether I will love it alone.

I determined the site was level enough that I would put out the slides and spent an entire day calling Winnebago, Lichtsinn Motors and Mobile RV Techs to get the parts and and an appointment.   This is one of the worst parts of RVing as a solo.

IMG_1617On Sunday I joined what is known as the Scrub Jay hike.  Oscar Scherer is a sanctuary for the endangered bird found no where but in Florida and thus known as the Florida Scrub Jay.  Their preferred habit known as scrub is being developed at a rapid rate leading to their decline.

There are perhaps 4 families of jays living in the park which is bounded on all sides by development and thus cannot expand. The birds are curious and fairly easily seen.

On the hike we also saw a red bellied woodpecker and an adult and a juvenile bald eagle in the nest on the green trail.

The other parent was keeping watch from nearby.


Talk about having eyes in the back of your head.


This evening I went to watch one of the DVDs and couldn’t get the player to work.  Another thing David would have known how to fix.  I checked what I could and then gave up in frustration.  It was just working last week.  SIGH…..

It’s almost getting laughable.  The next day Monday, I turned on my Sprint phone which is the only one that works at the farm – Verizon doesn’t work in the mountains of Virginia as I have found out.   I turn it on and have nothing but horizontal lines.  I bought the phone in the spring to use for the many months I was unable to travel this last year but haven’t used it much the last 3 months.  So I took it in to the local Sprint store where they told me that since I didn’t buy their separate coverage for it, even though the phone is under warranty I will have to contact LG, the phone’s maker.   The repairs of life are becoming over whelming.
The hydraulic motor, the jack spring, the DVD player and now the phone.  Sure am glad I have two phones.  Don’t much like paying for two phones.

That’s enough bad news for one day.  I take a hike on the Red Trail to the second eagle’s nest.  On the way I find a little blue heron.  It’s pretty amazing how different they can look depending on their stance.

I love what the light does to his feathers.


On both the green trail, on the campground side and the red trail on the other side of the park, the trails are blocked off at a distance from the “eagle tree”.  In order to see the birds you really need either binoculars, a scope and a very good zoom camera lens.

I’m lucky that someone is at home when I arrive.  Eagle’s are BIG birds and their nests are HUGE.  Once they build one, the usually return year after year.




On Tuesday I take Ruby in for an oil change.  I bring her back and go up on the roof to wash the salt off of Winnona.  I’ve done this many times in the last few years since I did not want David up on the roof.   But this time I was paying more attention to the hose than where I was going and stepped on the bathroom skylight and of course cracked it.   Let’s see that’s repair #5 or is it 6??  I spend the rest of the day researching how to get this repaired starting with tape to keep the rain out until I can get the parts and someone to install them.

I wonder if the universe is trying to tell me something.  I’m apparently not listening.

IMG_1731Wednesday would have been David’s 73rd birthday.  I do part of what I’m sure he would have wanted to do which is go out for dinner and attend the drum circle at Siesta Key Beach.  I don’t have any desire for dinner alone. I do attend the drum circle.  But it just isn’t the same without him.

Drummers make up the top of the circle.


The head man is all decked out. 


Right down to his fingers

People are dancing.



Even little people have jungle skirts and are dancing.


The center alter has been prepared and people are dancing around it.



The jester heads around the circle.


This was the dancer of the day in my opinion.





The music starts to pick up and the birds to gather as the sun heads for the horizon.




On Thursday the Venice Audubon Society leads a hike on the Green Trail where we see a juvenile eagle on one side near the beginning of the trail and an adult on the nest near the end of the trail.

IMG_2024I don’t usually take every hike the park offers but I do this visit.  On thing that is very nice about Oscar Scherer, if you are alone, is that there are so many activities.  Most state parks do not have the wide variety that the Friends of Oscar Scherer provide. 

I am grateful and  on Friday I’m out again for a ranger hike which went under the railroad beside the Legacy Trail, a wonderful bike trail that goes from Sarasota to Venice and the Gulf Beach.  There is an entrance from the park.  I wish I’d bought another bike.


The highlight of the hike was 4 scrub jays on the trail.  Such fun to see them hopping along on the ground as well as seeing their beautiful colors in the trees with the sky as their background.  Of course I could not get them all in one picture but I did manage to get two of them together.



IMG_2062The Ranger also mentioned 2 honey bee hives in the campground.  I asked for the site numbers and went by them after the hike.  One was a huge long hive attached to a branch.   I hope you can tell how large the hive is hanging down there and how high up.  Look closely in the second picture and you can see the bees covering the comb in the bottom of the picture.


IMG_2068aThe other hive is inside the tree but visible from the campground road.  Neither was any threat to campsites and both were interesting to watch as the bees were coming and going.

The hive is in the split in the trunk on the left hand arm of the tree.  Red arrow points to it.

If you look closely, you can see a couple of bees against the darkness.



Definitely busy bees. 


This is my best picture of the comb.  Sure would like to have some of that honey but unlike Winnie the Pooh, I’m not sticking my paw in there.

IMG_2090In the late afternoon I go back to Nokomis Beach where they are having a “Food Truck” gathering at the pier. I spend some time at the beach where the skies are dark and gloomy.  The sun isn’t warming things up but folks are in the water in January.  They must be from Canada I think.


I then head down to the pier.   The trucks have quite a variety of foods.  Everyone iss in pairs or families.   I am alone and really feeling it.  I only stay long enough to eat dinner.   I know no one and am feeling lonely.  Little do I know how much worse that is going to get in about 2 more months.

Smokin’ Mama Lora’s BBQ had a line as did the Ribeye Wagon



I was amazed that the ice cream truck only had one patron though perhaps it was too early yet for dessert.


I had some Mexican food from Ceyer’s Taqueria, the orange truck in the background here where I asked permission to take a picture of this great t-shirt.  I’m sorry I didn’t take two as it’s not very flattering to its wearer.  But, it’s the shirt that counts.  His family hadn’t caught up with him yet.


Oscar Scherer had their annual Scrub Jay Festival over this week-end.  Lots of hikes, tram rides, games, presentations, speakers, food vendors and music.   It was wonderful to be able to go back and forth from the activities to Winnona so easily.


Music (1)

There were a number of local environmental organizations with tables of information.  These very interesting ladies were from North Port. 

North Port Nancy blonde & Debbie

One of the big highlights of the festival ro4 m3 was this Maine food truck where I was able to buy LOBSTER, my absolutely favorite food in the form of a Maine lobster roll.   In Florida!  WOW!  and YUM!! 

Reservations at this park are very hard to come by.  I sure hope I can manage one for next winter at this same time to have another delicious lobster roll smothered in butter.


IMG_2129On Monday I spend the afternoon at Nokomis Beach.  It is a lovely day.  The closeness of this Gulf of Mexico beach is one of the things I love about Oscar Scherer.

While the water is warmer at the gulf, the waves aren’t as much fun or as interesting as on the east coast Atlantic Ocean.

Still pelicans are among my favorite birds and I enjoy watching them and trying to get decent pictures of them.  Luckily they are on both sides of the Florida coast.

IMG_2127I am always curious about what books others are reading on the beach.  Often I’m too far away to see the titles clearly.  My zoom lens helps.   Unfortunately for me, I don’t often find things I am interested in.   I have always been a voracious reader, often over 100 books a year but I am also a picky reader.  I prefer classics, literary fiction such as All The Light We Cannot See,  Environmental Fiction such as Barbara Kingsolver, Annie Dillard, Edward Abbey.  Such books are becoming harder and harder find – ones I haven’t already read.  I’m not a reader of romance, crime, thriller, science fiction or fantasy. 

IMG_2134Although with the coronavirus quarentine, having closed all the libraries, put multiple holds on all the kindle books and  apparently affected my ability to concentrate, I’ve found myself reading cozy mysteries.  So if you have any of my preferred books or cozy series to recommend, please please do.  As you can see from what is being read on the beach today, I’m not getting any recommendations.

One my request for help.  I obviously need some selfie taking lessons.  Can anyone advise how to take those kind where everyone always looks attractive and happy?


On Wednesday I drove up to Tampa for the big RV show.  Not sure why.  I don’t want anything but I guess it has become a habit.  And it was something to do.  I got a late start as I stopped at the ranger station on the way out to check and see if the springs and skylight I’d ordered had come on so I can schedule someone to do the work.  They had.  So I took them back to Winnona and that put me 30 minutes behind time and led to a much longer drive and nearly an hour line just to get in when I arrived about 11am.   I was able to meet  Nancy and Bill Mills there and went to see the new RV they are trading their Winnebago for.  Now that they have a home in Sebring Florida they will be more part timers with no need for the size of a full time rig.  I took not one picture and was totally exhausted after a traffic tied up delayed my arriving home.

I guess I’ll blame all the time I have on my hands now for the excessive length of this post and the ridiculous number of pictures. I do apologize and hope the time it took to read this won’t dissuade you from leaving a comment.   Please let me know how you are and any book recommendations or selfie suggestions you might have.

January 2020 part 2 is coming up on my way to being able to post about real time.