Posted: May 2, 2020 Recent Posts:
About January 2020 Early January 2020: Moving into a New Year
Myakka River & Oscar December 2019: Boo Boo and Holiday
Scherer State Parks
I leave Oscar Scherer and move 20 miles to Myakka, stay 4 days and move back. Most of the first pictures in this post are from my return to Oscar Scherer and a hike I took to Big Lake on the opposite side of the park from the campground. You’ll see the lake in the map later on. These Big Lake pictures don’t relate to the words next to them.
I’m doing things I seldom did at Oscar Scherer before David died. We were pretty much loners though friendly ones. We just didn’t seek others out much. We were content to hike, bike and kayak together. But without him, I find myself quite lonely and am glad to be at the one state park I know of with activities to rival a private park. Please don’t all hurry to make reservations here, I am having an impossible time making them for the winter of 2020 due to the park’s popularity.
Is this a mushroom?
Anyway, I go out for all the guided hikes offered every week, I attend the morning coffee socials even though I do not drink coffee (Paul and I agree-an evil brew). I attend the once a week pancake breakfasts even though these aren’t the sort of pancakes I prefer. But it does put me in position to meet others and see if there are perhaps other solo women. Unfortunately, I find no other solos male or female.
While I’m here, Jim Smith and a helper come and put two springs on the front two jacks. After they leave it becomes apparent that I should have had the extra set put on the driver’s rear rather than the passenger’s front as it is taking forever to retract. They also install the new skylight. It seems water tight. Only time will tell. I am still seriously angry with myself for potentially breaking open a here-to-fore totally ceiled roof on a 16 year old RV.
Double Crested Cormorant
The first of my two reservations at Oscar Scherer for this year ends on January 17 and I move to Myakka River State Park without incident. While there I took no pictures.
I did do my laundry, visit Nancy & Bill Mills’ new home in Sebring and check out 3 private parks for a potential longer stay next winter to avoid the more than irritating process of trying to make a reservation in Florida State Parks for January through March.
Female mallards at Big Lake
I’m now spending increasing amounts of time trying to make reservations both for summer of this year and for winter of 2020-21. It’s like playing the lottery daily and mostly losing. I long for the good old days before RVing became the hobby du jour and fulltiming the desired lifestyle. Back in those days when reservations weren’t necessary. We just drove and stopped and stayed and left at will. Well all except for the always popular National Parks in the west. I think it’s the loss of this freedom which has caused so many of our fulltiming friends to have quit or purchased a house and only travel part time.
Also while at Myakka I had lunch with Jeannie and Eldy, former full timers who now live in Sarasota but have their house on the market and are looking to go back to full timing. Good luck with reservations you two.
I took no pictures of any of these outings. Where as I used to always carry my camera, now, I almost never do unless I’m hiking.
On January 21 I’m back at Oscar Scherer. I had no trouble on the short 20 mile drive, no trouble getting the car on or off, no trouble backing into the site. Amazing!
But it was 36 degrees here near Venice Florida tonight and 29 degrees in Ocala where I’ll be in two weeks. It’s no colder than that in Virginia. What’s going on? 90’s all summer in Virginia, as hot as Florida and now 30’s in Florida in the winter, as cold as Virginia. Climate changes for sure. It’s been very interesting to me to see what the pandemic has done for our water and air quality. The before and now pictures of the skies over Los Angeles, over the Taj Mahal and at the Arc de Triumph are incredible. How quickly the Earth can recover, at least at this point, if we just stop polluting
Every morning for days I’ve been on Reserve America trying to set up for next winter here in the Florida state parks and obviously so is everyone else since I’ve been shut out at everywhere I want to be. Full Timing is getting very discouraging. Am I repeating myself?
On both of the Thursdays these last two weeks of January, I attended the park’s pancake breakfast, another thing David and I seldom did because he frankly made much better pancakes.
But it’s a chance for me to meet the others in the park.
Members of the Friends of Oscar Scherer do all the making and serving of both white flour plain and blueberry pancakes (you can guess which I have) along with sausage patties and orange juice. All the proceeds go to the many projects the Friends do for the park. They are a very active group.
Every day I’m at Oscar Scherer I go on my own, or on a guided ranger or Audubon hike, along the trails most of which are seen in this map. The campground, identifiable by the brown tent signs, is located along the south side of South Creek. Big Lake, site of the earlier pictures in this post, is on the far right.
I finish out my first January alone with hikes on familiar trails. Most of these pictures are from the green trail closest to the campground as you can see from the map. Once a week the park’s manager Tony leads a hike. He’s the best of the ranger leaders. That’s him on the right in front.
Every time I go on the green trail I’m lucky enough to see at least one Scrub Jay and on some occasions, like today, a family or part of the group. Today we met up with a family of Jays.
Whether they are in the bushes or in the sugar sand, they are wonderful to watch.
There is always a “sentry” high up at the top of the bush near where the others are.
They always seem to be having such fun.
The Florida Scrub Jay really catches my eye, no matter where they are.
On my last Monday the skies were ominous but beautiful as I walked. I love the light here.
Although I can’t see the yellow rump, I think this is the female warbler
This red bellied woodpecker is busy, high up in a pine tree.
I hate picking a favorite bird for the day but if I did, this Kestrel would be it.
He’s a small falcon about the size of a Mourning Dove.
This singer has me stumped. He’s totally black, eyes, feet, beak. Beak looked too long for a red winged blackbird not to mention there is no red wing. And what’s the white on the front? Sure wish I were writing this post the day after hearing him “sing” so I could remember his song. That would probably tell me a lot about who he is. Can you help me?
On my last Wednesday, I visited the eagles.
Eagles are large majestic birds but I’m not sure how I feel about having such bullies and thieves as our national symbol. I wonder if the rest of the world would say it’s appropriate?
The Carolina Wren on the other hand is a sweet little darling. Or at least as far as I know.
The Rufous-Sided Towee is still a favorite of mine. I love his song and refuse to use his new name.
I wrap up my time at Oscar Scherer to move North to Silver Springs State Park. It’s really too early for me to go north to Ocala. It’s only the end of January. But last year reservations south of Tampa were impossible to get for February and March. And that’s proving true this year again.
I say my farewell to Oscar Scherer, its trails, its programs, its hikes and Siesta Key Beach. I might well stay here a month or two if it was allowed. Wish I could figure out how those who spend 4 and 5 separate 2 week stays here over the winter do it.
Even in the SW I'm thinking private parks are the way to go for a month at a time allowing for exploration because State & Federal Parks are full. Unless you boondock most of the time on public land. Just so different in FL. Looks like some wonderful days at Oscar Scherer. All lovely birds.ReplyDelete
It's definitely easier to do private for a month but the atmosphere is just not one I feel at home in despite all my looking. Boondock on public lands sounds great but it's way harder to do in the East and nearly impossible in Florida. Trying to follow 70 degrees around is tricky. LOL!Delete
Sherry - Have you looked into Harvest Hosts and/or Boondockers Welcome? With your nifty solar system, you should be able to take advantage of these programs to the max! They are not for long-term use, but could prove useful for a fill-in solution when you find gaps among your reservation possibilities.ReplyDelete
Thanks Judilyn. I haven't had much trouble "filling in". I just hat setting up and taking down alone so I prefer to stay as long as I can in parks. But that's tough in winter and summer with the reservation difficulties.Delete
Yea...Reservations are a pain!!! Actually, reservations at the places we want to be. Staying in a state or national park just makes for such a better experience. Staying in a commercial park would be easier reservation wise, but more difficult commuting to visit. There are trade offs to everything;-) Just happy we have winters covered for now. We'll deal with summer when we are able to travel again!!!ReplyDelete
That's it exactly - reservations at the places we want to be since it seems everyone else wants to be there too and the reason is just as you say, it makes for a better experience. Unless you are a full hookups lover. Glad you are so happy with your winter plans, really cuts down the reservation game for you.Delete
Great bird photos! Lover there you have some fabulous birds (we do too in the UK of course!). I have a blackbird living in my garden who is quite fearless and often hops through the open kitchen door to see what I'm up to.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the compliment Michele. LOVE your story of your blackbird who hops inside. That would make me laugh and definitely brighten my day. Are you guys in the UK having the same lockdown blues that we have here??Delete
Yes we are. I think we started just before you. We are allowed out to go to work if you are a key worker, go for an hours exercise each day and go to get groceries or to the pharmacy. Vulnerable people are not allowed out full stop. However, I live in a small village tucked away in the countryside and our area has hardly been touched by the virus. It is very easy to forget about it. We have a village shop for our groceries and beautiful countryside to walk in. I have lovely neighbours and we all get together along the street for a cup of tea and a natter every now and then. We have a clapping session for the NHS every week and we're currently planning a street tea party to celebrate VE Day. It almost doesn't feel like lockdown. I know I am very lucky and so many people are suffering so I count my blessings. If you would like to see some photographs of the kind of countryside around me, have a look for Stogursey Vintage on Instagram, I posted some photos yesterday, although they are nothing like yours! Stay safe.Delete
The scrub jays look like they are wearing little gray capes. I love the little kestrel- so cute! The Rufus Sided Towee is a handsome bird. The eagles just look like they're annoyed. xxxoooReplyDelete
Great observations Pam. Eagles do always look angry or grumpy. The other three are among my favorite eastern birds. I am so happy to be able to see the Florida Scrub Jay since his territory is becoming so limited. Hurrah for this park doing everything it can to encourage them.Delete
I miss the birds I loved in North Carolina, especially the chickadees. Around here I see mostly jays, although with worsening eyesight I don't see many birds of any kind!Delete
Great bird pictures.ReplyDelete
Thanks Tom. How are the birds in your neighborhood?Delete
Don't beat yourself up over breaking the skylight. I did the same thing on my Adventurer MH (before the Journey). Things happen and I'm glad you found some guys to replace it for you. Now the challenge is to not do it again. Remember experience is directly related to equipment ruined. I have a lot of experience. :cDReplyDelete
Lucky Marti not to have to find some guys to fix things for her. You are a jewel Paul and I don't believe a deprecating word you say.Delete
We're so thankful we got into some of the FL state park when we traveled there in early 2019. These days with our summers in IL we have that covered, between our lot in TX for some winters, if needed there's lots of boondocking in AZ for our winters there. 7 couples we know have come off the road in the last year, getting reservations played into some of their decisions.ReplyDelete
I think about you in Illinois and wonder if it is as how there as in Ohio which in my childhood was absolutely miserable in the summer. Good plan to have the worst seasons for reservations covered. IF this lockdown ends by next spring, I MAY try to go west and would love some AZ boondocking ideas perhaps for the winter of 21-22.Delete
Really need to proofread my comments. I'm wondering if it is as HOT not as how.Delete
I make a mean blueberry French toast, and do know my way around RVs. Unfortunately, I don’t kayak, hike, or go birding - all those activities you’d like to share with someone. 🙁ReplyDelete
I’ll drop by and see ya when you’re north and nearer. ❤️
WOW, here you are again. Impressive. Better cross your fingers on that when I'm north. Not sure how long it's going to be before anyone can really go anywhere and not worry about things closing down again.Delete
Nice pictures today. We have been basicly house bound since we returned from a rally in mid march.ReplyDelete
Thanks you two. I think we've all been housebound which is allowing me to at least try to get caught up on the blog after nearly a year of not posting.Delete
Love seeing all the bird pictures, although I must admit I don't know as many species as I could. Our backyard has hummingbirds, robins, chickadees and sparrows for the most part. Glad you were able to get your repairs taken care of while you were there. Great that you met up with Jeannie and Eldy. We met them early on in our RVing life.ReplyDelete
When we were at the farm, we had a birdfeeder and it was great to see the various birds that came in the different seasons. Thanks for commenting Laurie.ReplyDelete
Beautiful birds. I love Oscar Scherer. It is frustrating that full-timing is so, so much more popular than when you started. Love that long shadow picture. You look so tall!ReplyDelete
Yes more frustrating for sure. The shadow is the only way I'll get to be tall in this lifetime unfortunately.Delete
That kestrel is beautiful. I don't remember seeing a picture of that bird before. Gorgeous boy! Thank you for sharing.ReplyDelete
Thank you Pam. I've had pictures of the kestrel on the previous blog but not in a while.Delete
Finding an acceptable Florida private park in a area you like can be a little work too, they do fill up, but no where near as fast as the state parks do. Good luck!ReplyDelete
Thanks Rob. I am looking for a private park but haven't found one I like.Delete
I was wondering if the Canadian snowbirds would be returning next winter. It looks like they have made their reservations already.ReplyDelete
If they haven't made their reservations for next winter, they won't be coming back since if you don't do it at 8am ELEVEN MONTHS before you want the reservation it's impossible in Florida.Delete
The full time RV life has certainly shifted over the last decade, almost to the point of becoming unrecognizable. The freedom of the old days seems long gone. Even part time RVing has lost that wondrous sense of freedom that so many of us had being able to pick up and go at our leisure, to camp spontaneously in a lovely place for as long as we needed, to enjoy the weather and follow the good temperatures. Our last few years have been fun, but lots of planning and reservations have made it possible. I miss our wild boondocking desert days but I don't enjoy getting out there with all the crowded parks any more and even the open spaces are full of full timers and part timers, lots of them young and working on the road. I guess all things must shift eventually. I hope you find a happy place one way or another, Sherry. Thinking of you.ReplyDelete
You have put my feelings so well Sue. The loss of the sense of freedom and the crowds now. Too much advertising of the life style and too many "let me teach you how to full time" books, web sites and programs/trainings. It may only get worse now that nearly everyone is able to telecommute. When we first started people had no idea what we were saying when we said we were full time RVers. Now they say "me too".Delete
Glad you have found people to fix your RV problems because stuff just happens..... it's the nature of things....Hope you find some suitable places for wintering. We had a very mild winter in Texas but it's May and guess what...summer is here! Your bird pictures are awesome as always. You should check out Amy's Facebook page where she's been posting scads of bird pictures from Javelina Hideout. Because of the quarantine, no AirBnB bookings so they've been staying there....ReplyDelete
Finding good people to work on the RV is my toughest problem. I never had to worry when David was here. He could do it and do it right. I'm not a facebooker but I'll check Amy out. Thanks.Delete
So many pretty birds, and I agree the Kestral is my favorite! It seems like everywhere we've been there have been at least one solo woman at our stops. Maybe not, but I know there are a lot out there. Before the pandemic we had already decided to stay at the house for the summer. There were a couple reasons but one was the insane increase in park fees! I was able to find openings, but many of them were twice or more what we paid in 2018-19! I suppose if they can get it they can charge it, but it can't be that their costs have gone up that much :-( We've seen 21 different species of bird from our front and back yards and are enjoying learning who they are!ReplyDelete
I wish it were me meeting up with all these solo women. Not sure I've met more than one. Yes not only is there no freedom and hours spent making reservations and crowds of people but the increase in fees is nothing short of amazing. That's an amazing number of birds you have seen from your yard. Wow. Had no idea the dry places had so many. Would love for you to do a blog post called our 20 birds and put pictures of them all.Delete
I love your photos and all of the time you spend with our feathered friends. The kestrel is indeed beautiful. Like you, one of my favorites is always the Carolina Wren. They are such happy little birds, with such a bright and LOUD song. It always amazes me what a big voice such a little bird has. And I love your Florida Scrub Jay encounters!ReplyDelete
I'm glad you are encouraging yourself to get out and socialize on your own. I can imagine that it's hard to do, but I'm still glad you're doing it. Step by step, my friend.
Oscar Scherer was the first place we ever saw Florida Scrub Jays. We love them and recently got to see more at Jonathan Dickinson State Park. I know what you mean about getting reservations in Fl. We stayed in the Keys on our lot a few months but then spent some time at some state parks. We hope to be able to do that again, if we can get some reservations. It was definitely cooler than normal in Fl this year, even as far down as Key West, but actually, I think it was more like what we used to experience. I remember some really cold winters in Tampa back in the 80's and 90's.ReplyDelete