Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Friday, February 24, 2012
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Monday, February 20, 2012
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Friday, February 17, 2012
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Friday, February 10, 2012
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
DUNEDIN, FL – Even though it looked a bit grey and damp this morning, we decided to go ahead with our plan to go kayaking in a state park north of here. From my point of view, an overcast sky was much more appealing for a day on the water than one that would bake us to a crisp anyway.
We packed a lunch, camera, hats, sunscreen and a change of clothing. Fawn had been once before to this spot and saw a couple go overboard, so it seemed prudent. John decided not to come with us, as his back can’t take a long spell in a backless kayak seat.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is north of Dunedin along the Gulf coast, at Spring Hill. It took about an hour to get there, during which a fine rain misted the windshield. Happily, when we arrived at the kayak place, the rain had stopped, and we virtually had the place to ourselves.
In short order, we were assigned flotation devices and paddles and headed to the water where our kayaks awaited. Fawn took a single, and Val and I were in a tandem kayak. We set off on the Weeki Wachee, a winding stream of crystal clear water with a smooth, sandy bottom where small fish darted out of the way as we approached.
The stream flowed with a steady current that made paddling practically optional. It meandered through dense bush with vines, ferns and palm trees that grew right up to the shore. We passed tall trees that had waded into the water with exposed, long, finger-like roots, and reeds that grew up from the bottom with round leaves, looking like green lollipops clustered along the shore.
Several times we saw herons, egrets and cranes, wading in the shallows or swooping overhead with huge outspread wings. Around one bend, we came upon a tree where half a dozen vultures were brooding with their hunched shoulders and wrinkled, black faces and hooked beaks.
Fawn told us that on her last paddle they had seen a manatee. These walrus-like creatures have been designated as endangered, so we saw lots of signs asking that we protect them. We even saw a couple of concrete manatees on some peoples’ properties in the more populated areas we passed through, but unfortunately the real McCoy declined to show itself today. Likewise, the only alligators we spotted were plaster ones!
In the clear water schools of silvery fish with pale blue heads flitted past, as well as other smaller fish with vertical stripes. Fawn spotted a needle-nose fish and alerted us to a large box turtle swimming under us.
After paddling for a couple of hours, we decided to pull over on a sandy shore and eat the lunches we had brought along. That’s when we discovered how wet our backsides were! The kayaks were molded plastic, and floated like corks, but they were not designed to be water tight. In fact, Fawn’s kayak actually had holes in it as part of the design! We had fun getting back into them after our lunch, and launching them from the sand bars, but soon we were on our way again. The total length of the trip was five and a half miles, at which point we were met by the paddling company’s van, to take us back to our departure point.
We were glad to get on our feet again, although our butts were pretty soaked. That’s when the wisdom of having brought a change of clothes really became evident! It was nice to be in dry clothes again for the ride home. Our venture into Florida’s swamp land was delightful.
Monday, February 6, 2012
DUNEDIN, FL – The days are quickly passing when we look at our calendar and realize we’ve been away from home nearly a month now, but the sense of leisure and fine weather here, on the other hand, make time for us seem to stretch lazily like a cat about to curl up for a nap.
On Saturday, the boys went off in one vehicle and the girls in another, headed for different shopping destinations. The huge number of malls and big box stores around here are a shopper’s paradise, and when you can nab bargains of 70 per cent off, it only adds to the thrill of the chase. It’s a good thing our motorhome has very limited storage space. It keeps me from overindulging! But, since John and Fawn have a lot of things to get for their enlarged living space with the new trailer, I can satisfy my cravings vicariously, with no threat to the pocketbook or our compact lifestyle, by just tagging along.
Our plan for Sunday afternoon was to figure out the route to Tampa International Airport – by daylight, because on Thursday it will be after dark when we will be heading there for real to pick up Mum, who is coming to spend a week with us. The RV park has the Blue Moon Inn, a lovely little hotel, just two minutes’ walk away from our site, where Mum will be able to stay, so the set-up is ideal.
It was Val’s idea to do a “recce” on the airport, and a very good one at that. The general approach from here is fairly straightforward, but once you’re actually there, the roads curve around and under each other with signs pointing in all directions that you have to read before you’ve passed them, and in broad daylight that’s challenging enough, but doing it after dark would be really stressful. The airport itself is quite attractive, with nice landscaping and pools with fountains outside, and wide carpeted shopping and restaurant levels inside. We were able to figure out where to park and how to get to the baggage level so on Thursday night we’ll be calm and collected.
We got back to the RV park in time for a nice barbequed pork chop supper, and shortly after that we were regaled with a spectacular sunset – at first the sky was a pinky lavender, and it melted into great streaks of orange and purple as dusk set in. We are so close to the shore that it will be worthwhile to stroll over one evening and get the full impact of a flaming sunset against a watery horizon.
Since we were not great Super Bowl fans, Val and I decided to see a movie last night. We went to see The Artist, a black-and-white movie about the silent movie era that was very well done. We had no trouble getting tickets or finding a place to sit in the theatre, let’s put it that way.
Tonight is hot dogs and Bingo night at the rec hall, so I’ll try my luck once again at the prizes. I think the big one is $250, so that would be nice! I still get a kick out of the players with their little mascots and whistles and cute bingo dabber tote bags. Wish me luck.
Friday, February 3, 2012
Thursday and Friday, February 2 and 3, 2012
DUNEDIN, FL – When the ice cream plopped into a soft heap in the bowl the other day, we knew something was fishy with our freezer. At first we thought it was because we had stopped for lunch after doing groceries, and the heat caused the ice cream to melt. But even if it had, it should have refrozen in the freezer after a while. So to test the unit further, Val filled the tiny ice cube tray with water and put it in to see what would happen. It took two days to turn into ice cubes.
So, yesterday morning we had a little visit from the RV repair van that frequents the park. Ed the repairman exposed the back of the fridge and immediately realized he was working with something he hadn’t seen before. He was right up to date with the 2011 fridge technology, but our unit is a 2012 model. After craning his neck with flashlights and prodding here and there, he decided it would be best to request the new material by e-mail and download it back at the office. So it will be a couple of days before we see Ed again. Meanwhile, the frozen stuff is frozen, so we’re not in any dire straits. We just want things to work right! Fortunately it’s all on warranty still.
It was a nice afternoon, so we decided to do some exploring north of Dunedin. We drove to the next town, Tarpon Springs, which has two claims to fame – its strong Greek heritage and its history as a sponge diving capital. We could see lots of Greek names on businesses and signs as we entered the small town. Then we turned onto Dodecanese Boulevard, where the sponge docks were located, and a sleepy little village was transformed into a seaside tourist haven, lined with little shops and boutiques where the wares spilled out onto the sidewalks and people milled about.
On the north side of the street dozens of fishing boats were moored at the docks, some festooned with sponges to attract the tourists, and others stripped down and worn from many a working voyage out to sea. The sponges are harvested at the bottom of the ocean by divers who remain at sea for several days at a time gathering them.
At several store fronts, figures of divers with heavy suits and bell-shaped headgear demonstrated the historic garb of some harvesters. The industry was founded here in 1905, according to a beautiful tiled mural we passed. Huge bins of beige and yellow sponges, ranging from grapefruit size to basketball size and even bigger, were displayed for sale at roadside stands – as well as fine, egg-sized sponges for applying makeup. We picked up a nice one from a tanned Greek saleslady, who explained how it would swell when immersed in water, and how gently it would clean our car.
At the end of the street is a popular restaurant called Rusty Bellies Waterfront Grill, which we will visit in the days to come when we have more time. We were due back at the park to go to Peggy O’Neill’s pub for supper with John and Fawn.
The pub was hopping when we got there – another couple joined us from the park, and we recognized several others, also from Dunedin RV Resort. Young waitresses in tiny kilts served us baskets lined with paper and loaded with fish and chips. The saucy message at the bottom of the back of their T-shirts read “Caught You Looking!” It was two-for-one night, and the bill for six of us (not including drinks) came to $43 and change!
Today was overcast and breezy. We stayed close to home in case Ed the repairman was going to visit. He called at lunchtime to say it wouldn’t be till tomorrow or Monday. No problem. Meanwhile, we finally have a chance to try out our new gas BBQ, with a juicy sirloin steak. Life is good.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
DUNEDIN, FL – The whole neighbourhood was out to see John and Fawn’s new trailer being delivered yesterday morning. The driver who towed it here from Lazydays in Tampa must have wished he’d sold tickets for all the audience he had. John gave him careful directions to position the trailer properly on their lot.
Once the great big Montana fifth wheel was installed, we could start to move the contents of the old trailer into it. Since the two were separated by a couple of streets, we set up a shuttle with John’s truck and our little car. Fawn had loaded dozens of bags with sheets and towels, pots and pans, and all the kitchen stuff. I unloaded the pantry and fridge while she toted out bags to the truck and car. Then we were off to the new trailer, where Val and John were fine-tuning the exterior set-up of stabilizers, power cords and hoses. We trotted in the bags and emptied them, and then headed back for more.
Algarve the dog was excited to see us whenever we came back to the old trailer, where he was housed while we made the move. After a couple of visits, though, his big brown eyes took on a perplexed expression as he tried to figure out what was going on! When it was finally time for him to go over, he trotted happily up the steps and into his new home. He was clearly thrilled as he galloped around inside and rolled on the carpet. John and Fawn gave him enough time to express himself before they reined him in and he settled down.
Val and I left the two of them to sort their way through the chaos we created for them, free of charge, and headed back to our postage-stamp-sized castle for an afternoon nap. Later on, we invited them to join us here for supper, and we watched as our two visitors began to sag visibly after their meal! They were pooped!
On the agenda this morning was the final step – moving the now empty RV into the storage lot. I headed off to get some groceries while Val helped them accomplish that chore.
The afternoon activity, for Fawn and me, was a Valentine-making craft class in the recreation hall. I can’t remember the last time I did something like this, but it felt like summer camp! We had four pre-designed cards to make, and we each got four little kits with all the bits to put together. Glue sticks, punch tools, rubber stamps, ribbon and scissors flew as we assembled our creations. It was fun to see the imaginative touches each person made to their own work.
In the same hall, Kelly was serving her weekly soup-n-sandwich meal, available from noon till five. Her invention for this week was pizza soup. We asked for take-out to eat at home later on. It was a good decision. When supper time rolled around, we joined John and Fawn in their spacious new home for pizza soup and sandwiches. It was delicious! Thick noodles, mixed with mushrooms, meatballs, pepperoni, peppers and a tasty tomato broth. With a generous shake of Parmesan cheese, the soup alone would have made a good meal, but we ate the sandwiches as well anyway. Yum!