Monday, January 29, 2024

Pictures are Back Sort Of!

January 29, 2024                                                        Most Recent Posts:
Myakka River State Park                Bringing in the New Year – January 2024
Sarasota Florida                                               Days at Alafia River State Park


Nelson Kodama, who is a great  programmer, has written a JAVA script that when included in my Blogger layout as a “gadget” has fixed the pictures problem.   I thought  I’d lost all the pictures for On My Own and for the 9 years of In The Direction of Our Dreams that I did with David.  These are my memories.  I am just overjoyed.  Can never thank Nelson enough.   BUT, it appears that is only on my laptop.  Neither of my android phones using chrome will bring them up.

PLEASE do let me know if you can or cannot view these pictures and what device (phone etc) you are using and what  browser.

Back to Myakka.

IMG_0228 That last post was on my hike along the river just past the kayak put in bridge.  It also talked about the morning coffees at the pavilion.   This post is about the hike that starts at the pavilion by the outside picnic tables and goes along a different section of the Myakka River.   A later post will show both of these hikes water fronts from the water.

It’s much less concerning to see this guy on the opposite shore from where you are hiking, especially when he slides quietly into the water as you watch.   Although, one year, and I’m sure I blogged about it,  I was coming back on this hike and a fellow just like this and about this size was on my side of the river and laying across the trail.


It can be quite surprising if you are in a kayak to see them silently slip on but not as much as when they leap from the banks which they did on both my trips down the river this year.


The trail runs along the river, but through the woods so there are only some viewpoints especially as you get further along and the woods gets more dense.




I hear bird names are being reconsidered and changed.  I wonder what they will do to these two.  The Little Blue certainly does not look like a smaller version of the Great Blue.   What do you and Eric think about this Laurel?


Beautiful Live Oak Trees early on.



Well I’m not at all sure about this and need some birding help.  Pretty sure he’s a Great Blue but with black feathers??    This was not my canon.  This is what I saw.  Has anyone else ever seen this before?


I’m always amazed that birds don’t seem to be worried.




I could hear him coming from his calling as he flew in.  He landed, took a look around and

off he went.

I have seen Roseate Spoonbills here at Myakka before but always at the old Weir near the Outpost.  I was surprised to see them here across the river.

Here it is again, even closer.


There is no doubt that gator could wheel around and have the Egret for lunch.


Looks like this is the only shot I took of the denser section of the trail which is an out and back.


Myakka River State Park has a number of hiking  trails throughout the park but these two are my favorites along with the much longer one that goes to the Deep Hole. 


Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Bringing in the New Year–January 2024

January 1-2, 2024                                                 Most Recent Posts:
Myakka River State Park                                      Days at Alafia River State Park
Sarasota, Florida                                                     Flying for the Holidays

It has been over 2 weeks since my last post and I have been working on one about my two weeks at Myakka River State Park but it isn’t coming together as one post so I’m giving up and am going to post a series of posts one right after the other.  Let me know what you think of this strategy as opposed to one longer post.


New Years Day I packed up and drove just over an hour south to spend two weeks in Site 65 in the Palmetto Ridge Campground at Myakka River State Park.  Myakka has 3 campgrounds.  Big Flats is the oldest, has 24 nicely shaded campsites and is closest to the Outpost restaurant and gift shop, the upper lake, boat launch, tour boats and trams.  It is also closest to the bird walk out into the lake.

PXL_20240102_193617006.MPOld Prairie Campground is a single loop with 20 campsites also nicely shaded. It is located across the park road from the larger Palmetto Ridge campground. Both Big Flats and Palmetto Ridge are closer to the campground pavilion and ranger station than Big Flats. But much further from the Outpost etc.

Previously David and I had stayed in Big Flats but never in Old Prairie.  Old Prairie?? Why is it called that when it is a heavily wooded campground??

Since I’ve been on my own, I’ve stayed exclusively in Palmetto Ridge which is the largest and most recently developed campground.  It’s very open though there is foliage between sites.  It’s more easily navigated by big rigs.  David could thread Winnona through a needle so the site really didn’t matter but Palmetto has pull throughs and Full Hook Ups so it’s my choice.  The picture is of my site this year.


When I went to hook up the water it was a big surprise to find that none of the campgrounds have  drinkable water.  The ranger station was giving out gallons of water and had cases and cases of them that you could walk in and take away.   I was not happy to find out that they had no recycling for those gallon jugs which they must toss into the landfill by the hundreds every day and this has been going on since MAY with no definite end in sight.

David and I each had a cell phone with a different carrier since cell phone coverage was quite spotty and variable around the country.  At that time our carriers were Sprint and Verizon.  When he died, I kept both phones although I have been pleasantly surprised that T-Mobile did not raise the very reasonable rate Sprint charged for unlimited data while Verizon has increased their cost to the point where I would really like to give them the boot.  The problem is they have the best coverage in MOST places though not all. 

But with T mobile on the left and Verizon on the right you can see who wins here.  Thankfully, at least someone does.   I can remember clearly many years where I had to leave various RV parks to go to somewhere I could get a stronger signal in order to play the Florida State Parks lottery at 8am in the morning.


What a nice welcome the lovely sunset skies my first night visible right out my front window were.




On my walk around the campground and through Old Prairie the night I arrived,  I saw signs giving me a plan for the next morning.  I’m not a coffee drinker but they always have hot water for tea so if I bring some water of my own to cool it down, I’ll be set for as many cups of morning hot water as I want.  Plus, they have some goodies as well.  I like these little social hours in order to meet the other folks who are camping here at this moment in time.  Unlike private campgrounds, state parks don’t always have these sorts of programs.

The social hour is held in the Pavilion built by the CCC and a nice short walk from my site.


The ranger or volunteers, of which there seemed to be more in number than campers, had a nice fire going.  Unfortunately there was no angle to take a picture that did not have problems due to the very bright lights on the ceiling of this cute log cabin.



There are several trails along the Myakka River.  In order to walk off some of those brownies, donuts etc.,  I walked down the park road to the trail beyond the kayak launch and bridge.  Not sure why I didn’t walk the one which goes right off behind the Pavilion but I did that one on the following day. 

This is pretty much the typical flora – palm trees…


dense Palmettos …..


and Live Oaks often draped in Spanish Moss.


I did say this was a walk along the river.


But the trail is not RIGHT along the river.  There are  little side 30 steps trails out for the views.  This is the main trail, not one of those.


If it’s warm enough, you’ll see many alligators sunning on the banks.  I guess this guy wants both, the cool water and the warm sun.



I had not stopped back at Winnona to pick up my canon so these pictures are taken with my phone.  I don’t have as much luck with my phone cameras as many folks do.  I think it’s because an iPhone isn’t in my budget.  But I was thrilled to see this Roseate Spoonbill feeding along the opposite shore.


It’s really a beautiful river and I’m impatient for the temperatures to warm up enough and the winds to die down enough that I’m willing to go out on the water.



To prove the point, here are the inside and outside temperatures on Wednesday morning at a time I would be getting ready to take the kayak out on the water.

Why is it so cold inside you may ask.  I do have a furnace but it is propane and noisy.  Well truth be told, not that noisy but I am a very difficult sleeper and the noise keeps me awake.   I also have two small space heaters which are quiet but I hesitate to run them over night.   I do like to sleep in a cool room and 49 is fine as long as I have my electric blanket.   I can get up and turn on the heaters and then hang out reading under the blanket until it warms up inside.   That cup of hot water helps too.


This has been a colder winter than I was really hoping for but nothing like the rest of the country including other places like Virginia or Texas or Arizona that I might be.   So I’m grateful to be here.  

Friday, January 5, 2024

Days at Alafia River State Park

December 18-21 & 29-Jan 1, 2023                 Most Recent Posts:
Alafia River State Park Site 5                           Flying for the Holiday
Lithia, Florida                           Gamble Rogers: Sunrises, Sunsets, Rain and Wind

IMG_0171Now that the holiday is over I’ll go back to what I did both before and after flying to Maryland for a bad airline experience and a fun holiday time.

I left Gamble Rogers on Monday December 18th for the 3 hour drive to Alafia River State Park in Lithia Florida.  I’m gone from the coast and headed west and inland.


Alafia was chosen a few years ago for its proximity to the Tampa Airport since I spend about half my 14 day reservation time flying to and being in Maryland for the holiday.

Alafia River is reknown for its exceptional mountain biking trails created from this reclaimed phosphate mining area.  The trails range from Easy to expert.  They are well marked and not for hikers.  There are also 20 miles of equestrian trails and hiking trails through a mostly mixed hardwood forest and pine flatwoods.  Most of the 30 total sites in the two relatively small campground loops are pull through with water and electric.  There is a dump station as well.

When you first pull into the campground area there are three sites for what they call Comfy Camping – Glamping Rentals.  I’ve shown them before but this time there were many more people camping in them so I was lucky to get these pictures unblocked by their cars and trucks .

They are quite nice with solar panels,  a BBQ grille and picnic table, rocking chairs around the fire pit, bean bag toss game or whatever it is called and more.   The first three pictures were taken from the front of the site.  The last one was taken from the trail behind the sites to which they have a connector path for hiking.

Most mornings I walked this trail behind the Glamping as I call it to and around Lonesome Lake



These Common Moorhens were the only water birds I saw on my hikes.




PXL_20231219_124253027.MPThere is a boat launch just outside the park where you can kayak the south prong of the Alafia river which flows through the park but the only time it was really warm enough to do that was while I was gone unfortunately.  It felt planned.  This is what the temperatures were in the morning rising only into the 50’s or at best low 60’s until the day I left and it was in the 70’s every day I was gone including the day I returned just before dark.   Then back to atypically cold for Florida in December.

Saw this fellow one day on the trail.  I find them so strange looking that they are endearing like possums.  But Armadillos are related to anteaters and sloths and found only in the “new world”.  While Opossums are marsupials like kangaroos.

Heard this Red Bellied Woodpecker before I saw him.

There wasn’t much of a view toward the sunset or sunrise but I went out often just looking for the color.



I showed this bridge in an earlier picture.  One morning a family surprised me.  We stood and looked at each other for some time before they decided to wander away.  I was very close to them but by the time I got to the bridge they had disappeared into the woods without a sound or trace.  Sure wish I could move as quietly on my two feet as they do on 4 or in this case 20.


The lake always had something wonderful to see.  There were days of puffy clouds.


And Florida’s version of Fall color.


20231230_171649I got back from Maryland late on Thursday and that Saturday Shayne and Bev, whom I met at Fort Clinch a year or who knows how many ago, drove an hour to come down and see me.

I wanted to take them out for lunch but had to pull rank and age in order to get Shayne to agree.

20231230_143916The closest restaurants to Alafia are in Lithia and there isn’t much.   Three pizza places, McDonalds, Outback,  Taco Bell and Beef O’Gradys.  We ended up the latter whose walls were totally covered with BIG TV’s.  Amazingly  Dawn Staley’s South Carolina Women’s Basketball team was beating the sox off of East Carolina.  Eventually 73-36.   I do LOVE ACC basketball.

BUT, the company actually was more enticing than the game.   Aren’t they darling??

I hiked out the old year.


The park has wonderful mowed trails, plenty wide, no racing mountain bikes.



Those often lead to gorgeous wooded trails


On New Year’s Day I began 2024 by moving to Myakka River State Park outside of Sarasota Florida where I hope the weather will warm up enough to kayak which for me means in the 70’s and under 10mph winds.

A very Happy New Year to you all and thanks so much for keeping in touch.