Saturday, 7 April 2007

Happy Easter Weekend!

This is our site at Wayne's RV Resort, Lake City, FL

Different looking lily pads

We didn’t leave Fort Myers as early as we had hoped mainly because we had such a problem getting diesel fuel. The first station we went to had only one side of the pumps working and two people waiting. The second station said we had to give her an amount of gas we needed before she would activate the pumps (we didn’t know how much we’d need) so we went to a third station which was 299.9/gal and finally got filled up. This took 45 minutes so we didn’t leave Fort Myers Campground till 9:25 a.m.

It was sunny but cooler this morning at 58F (14C)instead of the mid to high 60’s it’s been over the last couple of weeks. Most of the trip was under sunny skies and we only reached a high on our travels of 63F (17C).

We arrived at Wayne’s RV Resort (a Passport America park) at 2:35 p.m. having traveled 306.3 miles and only stopping once. The park is okay but the bath house isn’t open so I guess showers tonight will be in our RV. We haven’t used our shower all winter! The bath houses were much more convenient and we then don’t have to move the water bottles out of the shower where we store them.

Our Easter weekend will be spent traveling. We’re hoping to get through Atlanta tomorrow so we’ll have another 300 mile day tomorrow.

After we got set up we drove around Lake City looking for lakes. We found a couple but only one that we could get access to. There were a few great Egrets and a couple of ducks so we got a few photos there.

Hope everyone has a Happy Easter weekend!

Friday, 6 April 2007

Some Thoughts on Fort Myers

As our last day in Fort Myers comes to an end, I have mixed feelings. Neither Gordon or I liked the amount of traffic they have here, the long wait at stop lights and the number of people however we had the best weather here that we’ve had all winter, the park was nice although more expensive than Texas but it was close to Lakes Regional Park, one of our favorites and also not far from Six Mile Cypress Slough another park that we enjoyed (and the shopping is good). So, I had said earlier this month that we wouldn’t be back so I’ll change that to we might be back but probably wouldn’t stay right in Fort Myers. We didn’t get to see that much of the Everglades as it was quite a drive to be able to see the area and stop and look at things and take photos. Who knows? Things change.

This morning we headed over to Fleamasters as I had a couple of things that I wanted to get, then stopped at Walmart to get some water and a few other items, then home to get my roast in the crockpot and clean out the truck. I also paid our electric bill so we can head out tomorrow hopefully fairly early. The lady in the office here at the park said they had some fires near Punta Gorda just north of us that were jumping I-75 so they had the road closed at some point today. Hope that the fire is under control and we’re able to make good time heading north. We won’t get out of Florida tomorrow but hopefully will make some good headway towards it!

Late this afternoon we dumped the tanks and cleaned up the lawn furniture and put it away so the only things we have to take down in the morning are the satellite dishes. We’re in good shape!

I didn't take any photos today so I'm borrowing Gordon's photo of the armadillo that he saw last week at Barefoot Beach Park.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Six Mile Cypress and A Tour of the Area

Two cormorants and a great egret in Gator Lake at Six Mile Cypress Slough

Sun on the ferns at Six Mile Cypress Slough

Red Bellied Woodpecker at Six Mile Cypress Slough

View of the Gulf from Pine Island

A beautiful hibiscus plant

A downtown street in Fort Myers

We started out the morning at one of our favorite places, Six Mile Cypress Slough where we spent two hours walking around and communing with nature. There seemed to be a lot of people there today with little children. When I was a child, my father taught me to be quiet in the woods and I would see more wildlife but apparently parents aren't teaching their children or maybe the parents weren't taught this themselves. We saw quite a few birds anyway and a couple of small alligators in the distance.

When we left Six Mile Cypress I thought we would be heading for home as I had some groceries to pick up and some things to get ready for our departure on Saturday however we instead ended up going to Cape Coral and then on to Pine Island. We drove the length of Pine Island. This island isn't a beach island as Sanibel and Captiva are therefore the traffic wasn't as bad. There are a lot of palm tree farms and a couple of flower farms on the island that were pretty but not a lot of things to see.

From Pine Island we headed back toward Fort Myers stopping in the downtown area to take some photos of the bridges over the Caloosahatchee River and some of the buildings downtown. On to Publix market where I finally got groceries getting home at around 5:30 p.m.

It was another bright sunny and hot day however the forecast for Saturday is cooler temperatures here with a high of 71F (22C) so will be about 15 degrees cooler than it has been for the past month. I'm looking forward to temperatures being a bit cooler but I think by the time we hit Ohio they will be a lot cooler and much closer to freezing!

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Housework and Lakes Park

My favorite bird - this blue heron just stood there and posed for me

A grove of palms in the park

All the white dots are birds roosting for the night

The weather here over the past week or so has been warmer not necessarily temperature wise but with less breeze it feels warmer. We’ll be happy to start heading north come Saturday.

I noticed when we got home last night that I got quite a bit of sun yesterday. Since I was wearing a sleeveless T-shirt my shoulders and arms got quite tanned especially since I had the window open for most of the day.

Today Gordon had an appointment to take the truck in for service. This was an expensive service as the rear synthetic oil had to be changed so $700+ and four hours later he got home. I spent the time doing the laundry, vacuuming, washing floors and cleaning the bathroom.

We still have quite a few places we want to go before we leave on Saturday and I also need to pick up some groceries and make either a stew or roast beef in the crockpot so it’s ready or is easily ready when we stop for the night.

Tonight after dinner we took the bikes over to Lakes Regional Park and biked around the park. I hadn’t seen all of it and we covered more area on the bikes than we would walking but you see more when you’re walking. We did see the birds coming in to roost in one area of trees for the night and lots of great blue herons and a bald eagle as well as the usual anhingas and all kinds of smaller birds but no alligators!

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Our Trip to Big Cypress and Everglades

The Strangler Fig is a vine-like tree that begins as an epiphyte, an air plant, when the seed is deposited in the upper part of a host tree. After the seed sprouts, it sends down roots that entwine or strangle and often kill the host tree. When the roots reach the ground, the tree changes to a terrestrial plant. This native fig can reach heights of 60 feet.

A coconut palm - these are becoming obsolete. No one is allowed to plant them anymore due to coconuts falling or becoming missiles during hurricanes.

This is where we had our picnic today

One of the larger alligators we saw at Oasis Visitor Center

This morning we headed south on I-75 – destination Everglades. We got off I-75 just south of Naples and took Hwy 41 to Everglades City and then continued on to Chokoloskee Island where we had a picnic lunch that I had packed.

We then continued east on Hwy 41 towards the Everglades stopping now and then to take pictures, one of our stops was Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk. We did the walk and Gordon got a photo of a Bald Eagle. It was too far away for my camera unfortunately.

Probably our greatest find was at the Oasis Visitor Center where they had a boardwalk and lots and lots of alligators in the water beside the boardwalk, some VERY large. We are not concerned now about not seeing alligators in the wild. We continued east and saw lots of alligators in the water along the road. We also saw quite a few birds. We took a short detour onto a road called Loop Road for about 8 miles and saw more alligators and birds. Most of what we saw was in Big Cypress National Preserve. We only got a short way into Everglades National Park. It’s a long drive even from Fort Myers!

We turned around and came home, only stopping to pick up Gordon’s computer so he could download his photos and then went for dinner at the local Perkins. So now we’re home and very tired!

Since our arrival in Fort Myers nearly four weeks ago, diesel fuel has increased in price by 15 cents as we found out this morning when we went to get fueled up for our trip.

Monday, 2 April 2007

On Our Own

This little alligator was in Myakka River State Park yesterday and very close to the bridge that we were standing on.

After over three weeks of having Betty and Garth around to do things with and then spending the weekend with Bill and Mary, we are, again, on our own at least until we reach Ohio in about 1 1/2 weeks.

Today Gordon went out to make an appointment to get the oil changed on the truck before we start our trek north. We are about 1000 km under but he wanted to get it done before we start towing that distance and also so we don't have to worry about it on our way. So tomorrow the plan is to go to the Everglades and that will reduce the 1000 km a bit.

When he got back, I went out shopping returning to the Tanger Outlet where I bought a pair of sandals that hopefully will be okay for my back. They have a rubber sole higher in the back and have some bounce like running shoes do so I'm hoping this will do the trick. They aren't pretty but neither are running shoes and down here running shoes are very hot! I stopped at another mall but only bought a few small household items at Odd Lots and then on to Walmart for groceries.

After reading for a while I took a bike ride around the park to photograph some of the flowers which are now out in full bloom and so pretty and also to photograph some of the empty sites in the park. Lots of people left this weekend including our neighbors that have a park model right beside us. They headed for Wisconsin yesterday morning about 4:00 a.m. It's looking pretty bare right now.

Here are some of the flowers:

Here are some of the empty spots in the park that are near us:

Here's our neighbor's park model all battened down:

Sunday, 1 April 2007

A Great Weekend!

Mary and Bill at Rotten Ralph's

The four of us in Bill and Mary's lanai with the help of Mr. Tripod

Three alligators

Wild pig and babies and a great egret

Betty and Garth were leaving to head back to Toronto today so we left them on their own and headed north on I-75 stopping at the Venice Rookery as had been suggested by friends of Gordon’s that we met up with in Louisiana. There were a lot of birds in the rookery but too far away for my camera. We drove through Venice and took some photos then got back on I-75. We arrived on Anna Maria Island mid afternoon and were greeted by Gordon’s former employer and long time friend, Bill and his significant other, Mary. We had a nice afternoon chatting, then Bill took us for a drive around the islands and then out for dinner at a restaurant called Rotten Ralphs. We all had grouper – Mary and Bill had it fried, I had it blackened and Gordon had it grilled. It was all very good.

This morning Bill again took us out for breakfast at a little restaurant close to him called Minnie’s Beach Café. He also told us that there is no Minnie involved, neither is the café on the beach. It’s a very busy little place and we were lucky we got there when we did as people started to line up just after we arrived.

After we got back to their place, the guys wanted to talk techie stuff so Mary and I walked over to a little flea market they were having very close to the house. One lady had a lot of furniture painted with the one-stroke painting method (which I do but am not very good at). She had some really nice pieces – card tables, little vanities, telephone tables and all sorts of items at really reasonable prices. No room!

We left Bill and Mary shortly before noon and as we were going south on I-75 decided to stop at the Myakka River State Park. I know RVer friends, Linda and Howard of stayed there last year and seemed to enjoy it. There are two campgrounds but a lot of trees. There were very few sites that we could get into let alone see the satellites. As far as wildlife, we saw lots of alligators, most of them quite far away, thank goodness. We also saw lots of birds, again mostly far away and a wild pig with three babies. I also saw a water snake of some kind – YUK! After spending about three hours at the park we headed home arriving around 5:00 p.m.

Below are our expenses for March. Overall we did quite well since campgrounds and fuel are more expensive in Florida than in Texas. Since I was with my sister for three weeks the Misc total is rather high as we did some shopping. We’ve also been to quite a few parks and eaten out a bit so our entertainment is probably higher than usual. All in all I’m quite happy with our total for this month.

March Expenses

Campground including electric - $772.35

Groceries/Wine/Spritis - $454.79

Laundry - $15.75

Entertainment/Parking/Restaurants - $143.51

Truck Fuel - $370.02

Propane - $0.00

Repairs RV/Truck - $18.14 (getting RV tire fixed)

Internet/TV/Cell/Insurance (Fixed Expenses) - $372.55

Medical/Dental - $0.00

Gifts - $0.00

Misc - $327.56

Total $2474.67