Thursday, April 27, 2023

April in Virginia

March 27 – April 23, 2023                                Most Recent Posts:
Greenfield Mountain Farm              Kayaking the Beautiful Ichtucknee River
and                                                          Santa Fe River Sink and River Rise

Traveling North

PXL_20230327_211245450I don’t really like to travel on week-ends if I can avoid it.  Too much traffic and difficult to find RV help if you need it.  So I spent Monday night, my first night headed north, at the St Mary’s Georgia Walmart where I found a group of Canadians from Quebec who are the reason so many Walmarts are closing their parking lots to RVers.   I went over and talked to them about it.  They spoke perfect English, pretty much said they didn’t care  and laughed as you can see.  So I took their picture as an example of “setting up camp” with slides and chairs.  What NOT to do in the parking lot.  This makes me furious. 

PXL_20230327_194101994But inside Walmart was something darling.  I couldn’t believe it.  Certainly I have never seen a goat in a shopping cart wearing a diaper.  I always save up a list of things I need the week before I’m heading back so I can buy something from each Walmart kind enough to allow me to park there.  What a fun treat it was to see these two.

AND something else new, another treat.  I had no idea Walmart’s Subway is now selling pizza so I had one for dinner. Onions, spinach and mushrooms.  Actually decent, especially when you are as hungry and tired as I was.


On Tuesday night I stayed with the VERY kind the folks at Walterboro Walmart. Their side parking lot had 30 or more RVs in it.  I couldn’t get them all in one picture.  Most were practicing good parking lot etiquette though  not all as you can see.  I hope the large numbers don’t concern the management.


Arrived at the Farm

After 800 miles, I arrived back at the farm to greet early spring.    The fields haven’t completely greened up yet.  That comes later but you can see the flowering trees in bloom as I stop to take Ruby off and drive Winnona into the barnyard.


March 30 (1)

Parked in her Virginia spot with a 30 amp hook up. 

March 30 (5)

So glad I got to see the daffodils.

March 31 (3)

March 31 (4)

and the tulips




This picture of the Iris on the bank in front of the house was taken a week or so later when they opened and other flowers had begun to fade.


Botanical Fare in Charlottesville

Charlottesville has opened a new Vegan restaurant on the downtown mall.  My friend Pam and I were very excited to try it out.  The food was fantastic and I remembered to take a picture of it but not of the two of us.  Hope we’ll get to come again while I’m in Virginia so I can get a  picture of us enjoying it.   The restaurant is called Botanical Fare.

I’ve forgotten what the delicious sandwich was but on the right is the VERY BEST vegan mac & cheese I’ve ever had.

Botanical Fare 4Botanical Fare5

Farm Hikes

Hiking near one of the steams I found a nice stand of May Apple.  They bloom on twin leaves and had not opened just yet.



Fiddleheads were up but just raising their heads.


And Toothwort was almost ready to bloom.


A week or so later Winnona has an apple tree for shade during part of the day.


Surprise Mail

If you are like me, you seldom get any mail you really care about.  So what a surprise to find a letter in my mailbox with this sweet “address” on the back of the envelope.  

Celia will be 7 in mid May and her mother, Carrie, told me she had no idea what was in the envelope that Celia wanted to send to me.  It was just sent.

Definitely the best piece of mail I’ve gotten in ages and ages.  I can’t think of a Pen Pal I’d love better than my darling granddaughter.  How can she have grown so quickly?


What a terrific sentiment – HAPPY EVERYTHING!   Carrie and her family  are what I miss the most when on the road and I can’t wait to see them soon.


Woods in Bloom


My daily walks are in the woods and the fields leading to them.  The streams are lovely but shallow as the springs from which they begin are on my property so they don’t have a chance to gain much water other than rainfall as they wind toward the Rockfish River.

Not much rain lately.


On this later hike, I found the May Apple in bloom and the fiddle heads standing taller.



There were sweet violets.



Breakfast in Town


In town running errands one day I stopped at the post office to mail,  to members of David’s family,  some pictures, cards and letters he’d kept.  It was later morning and I hadn’t had breakfast.   From  somewhere came the distinct ‘need’ for pancakes so I walked over to First Watch and had two HUGE and excellent multi-grain blueberry pancakes with Sue Miller for company.


Neighbors Stop By

Of course at the farm there are always neighbors dropping by.  Not only these, but deer, bluebirds, woodpeckers and……..Whether I have my camera ready is not a certainty.


As you can see, farm life is slow and easy.  Not a lot to blog about.  When returning from a 5 month absence there is unfortunately lots of cleaning.  No  pictures of that or mowing the grass or sweeping up all the asian lady beetles and stick bugs who meet their doom inside over the winter.   Lots of hiking, planning, reading and some puzzles.


The highlight of April is a visit from Carrie, Celia and Colin.   Next Post and at that point I will be caught up to the present.  WOW!  Finally!

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Kayaking the Beautiful Ichtucknee River

March 23, 2023                                               Most Recent Posts:
O’Leno State Park                                           Santa Fe River Sink and River Rise
Site 19                                                                Two Weeks at O’Leno State Park
High Springs, Florida

20230323_085115One month ago today exactly I was kayaking on the Ichtucknee River.  I was out early to miss the crowds and the sun was blinding as I set out from the dock.  I launched from the farthest put in possible in the state park and paddled up the river.  Against the current became very tiring as I neared the top put in where many tubers and kayakers launch and take a shuttle back up. 

The lighting was much better once I was in the shade of the trees that line some sections of the river.


There were several lovely stands of Spider Lilies along the bank.  I liked these in particular with the large cypress as a back drop.

It was difficult to get pictures as I was paddling up against the current, I couldn’t set my paddle down,  so I was particularly lucky to get this kingfisher though it’s not the best shot.  I love their zipping flight and chattering call.


Yes that’s a manatee in ahead on the right.  We passed each other but I wasn’t able to let go of the paddles long enough to get another shot.


First time I’ve ever caught a wood duck calling.

This group was piled up in the center of the river on my way up.  I saw them again on my way back  and assume it was the same group despite the fact that the up and back took three and a half hours.



This was one of the highlights of the morning.  This is how far I am from the egret.  Happily I was able to get myself stopped to watch this breakfast endeavor and my zoom lens allowed me to get the following shots.


Here’s the series that I took of him as he attempted to get the fish in just the right position. According to the times on my pictures, only 30 seconds as I snapped away.



Second highlight was the otters.  How long they are always amazes me.



If the group of turtles in the middle of the river was the pile up then I guess this is a  line up.


The Limpkin has the perfect camouflage in this spot.

The Green Heron is among my favorites of the birds I see in Florida.

And boy was I surprised to see the Wood Stork.  The only place I travel in Florida where I reliably see him is Myakka River and I did not go there this year.  So this was a treat.  Surprised he was all alone.

The Ichtucknee flows into the Santa Fe and if you remember my River Sink/River Rise post (link at the top of this post)  you will remember that this is a limestone karst landscape with lots of sinkholes, caves, fissures and other openings.  The banks of the Ichtucknee are particularly interesting.

I did reach the headspring area or at least as far up as they will allow you to kayak.  I couldn’t get any closer to look around and see if it was the head spring since people were  putting in for the easier trip down stream.  I was very happy to turn around and have a more leisurely look at my surroundings.


No way to take a picture of this low hanging limb paddling up  but I did manage this one before I had to duck to get under.  Not sure what really tall people do here.  But it doesn’t seem to stop anyone.


Most waters are not clear enough and turtles not near the surface enough for me to get pictures of them in the water.  I’ve tried and failed numerous times.  This was stroke of great luck.  I just looked down and saw him and was able to get the camera in time.


An even bigger line up.


At points the Ichtucknee is not narrow and tree shaded.


My egret friend was still fishing as I floated and paddled back.


I have always found Wood Ducks to be quite skittish when I am on rivers or lakes in all states, especially the female.  But this year they were quite willing to ignore me.

On my return the manatee were hanging out by this sign and its reflection really ruined my pictures.  This time the problem was that I went by too quickly to investigate another angle.


The fish near the smaller manatee were not as clear in the water as the turtle, but there were a group of them.

I was able on the return trip to get better pictures of the Wood Stork.  My friend Pam, who actually thinks vultures are cute, should like him.   I find his head prehistoric looking.  He has gorgeous black tipped wings which he unfortunately wasn’t showing to me.

He looks like he’s asking me “What are YOU staring at?”


How about those orange feet and long toes?

I think I just missed a Limpkin bath here.

I saw almost no one on my paddle up but the people on the river increased on my paddle down.  I was mostly floating but lots of folks were actually paddling and over taking me from the put in.   From this shot you can see how shallow the river is.  It seemed the group stopped so this guy could get out and get wet to cool off.


The river water is so beautifully clear.


I felt like it was one of Nature’s blessings after another for me today when  I spotted this Red Shouldered Hawk in a tree above my head.  Then to top that off,  he flew down and gave me a fantastic show of his wings.

The karst landscape along the river looks like caves here.

As I neared the last  take out where I’d come in,  the river narrowed and became more tree covered which I really love.  Earlier as I paddled up against the current I had thought,  “I don’t think I’ll do this again”.  It’s difficult for one person to do the put in and take out here but it was such a wonderful morning on this river that it’s hard not to want to come back.


After such a fantastic paddle, I ended the day with more basketball heaven.  Two games at once.  AMAZING on the road.  But my bracket, Carrie’s and Matthew’s also, was totally busted very early on.  So the greatest excitement was in the upsets in the early rounds.   No number one or two seeds made it to the Final 4 where it became  pretty clear who was going to win it all. 


And that leads me to let you know, that those those of you who are tired of my 5 months of hiking and kayaking in Florida will be pleased to know that I start my run up the east coast to spend spring in Virginia with my next post.   No more mention of basketball.  It won’t take me long to catch up to current then.