Monday, January 31, 2011

Day 6 of our trip to Florida and SE

On the Road Again....Monday, Jan. 31. Happy birthday, Bev, Ellie's sister. Best wishes for many, many more!!!! After breakfast & washing the dishes we walked on the boardwalk to the Suwannee River, hoping to see more manatees. The railings were lined with turkey vultures.

10 on each side. They looked like they were sentries guarding the walkway to the river. As we approached they flew into the trees.

Huge, magnificent birds although another camper called them ugly. We saw a turtle and ducks swimming in the river & some fish swimming and even jumping out of the water. We visited with another couple from Indiana and a guy from FL. Always interesting to hear experiences of others.

Next stop: Homosassa State Wildlife Refuge.

A fantastic day.

Saw so many interesting animals and birds.

Information talks about alligators, hippos and manatees.

Look closely, see the manatee's nose & eyes. He's eating his typical diet of lettuce and cabbage.

Arrived at the Orlando Fairgrounds at 5 pm. Already met lots of fellow Roadtrekers. Sorry Chicago to tell you it was 70 degrees. Hope you don't get as much snow as predicted.

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Location:Homosassa & Orlando, FL

Day 5 of our trip to Florida and SE

On the Road........Sunday, Jan. 30..... Happy Birthday to our son, Gene. Best wishes for many many more. It was 38 degrees overnight. We left Stephen Foster State Park in the Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge at 10 am. We saw 3 snowy egrets. One must have been Mom or Dad. That one watched as the other two were soaring around in the sky and then settled in the pond. Also saw 4 young deer.

First stop: Devil's Milhopper Geological State Park. We went down the 232 steps to the bottom of the sinkhole. The hole is 117 feet deep and 500 feet across.

There is a lot of native vegetation growing and water trickling down the limestone rocks.

A native wildflower.

Driving though Trenton we saw a metal silo. This is horse country. Also saw beef cattle grazing.

Onto Manatee Springs State Park. We walked on the boardwalk out to the Suwannee River to watch a manatee swim. It is interesting to see it swim so gracefully and only come up for air every 3 to 4 minutes.

There were probably 500 turkey vultures in the trees in the area that we walked.

Temperature 69, sunny part of the day and overcast in the late afternoon.

Played Progressive card game and to bed early. Want to share a good quote from our Roadtrek newsletter: "Travelers don't know where they are going.". That's us....we have an idea, but don't know for sure where we are going, what great places will we discover be continued. (WHEN. We have Internet coverage....that's why postings are not daily.)

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Location:Manatee State Park, Chieftan, FL

Day 3 and 4 of our trip to Florida and SE

On the Road Again......Day 3. We left the Pilot truck stop about 7:20 am 39 degrees and headed to Okefenokee Swamp. Took some side roads to get there but they were nice flat roads and very little traffic. Interesting sights along the way. In Ray City a man raking Spanish Moss at the curb, fields of blueberry shrubs, tall thin pine trees planted in rows, close together. Also saw fields where they harvested the trees. Saw debris gathered into piles and when it dries out they burn the debris. Orchards of trees, maybe peach????

As we approach Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge we see blue heron in a swamp area. We register at Stephen Foster State Park. It's 62 degrees. Talked with the camp hosts, Marnie & Gary. They are full time RV'ers, originally from Bloomington IL. Once we got to our site Phil de-winterized the RV, thus we could use the water and bathroom. The site also has cable TV but we didn't use it.

Went for a short bike ride and quickly discovered that we had not ridden bikes in years but no accidents. We will continue to use the bikes to get around. We also walked a nature trail.

We saw 4 deer. One was the look out, just watching us as the other 3 munched the shrubs. We met 2 people from Florida. Earlier we met a couple from Vermont and enjoyed talking with them. Later on a campfire. There are SO MANY stars. We watched half of a movie, Rare Birds, and off to bed at 9 pm.

Day 4, Saturday Jan. 29. Michael Ellis lead us on a Nature Walk.
He explained about the Swamp, early inhabitants, cypress trees, cypress knees, other native shrubs & trees, harvesting of the cypress, moonshining, the big forest fire in 2007, Spanish Moss and so many of the native plants.
He explained about the three kinds of lichens and how the bay trees are dying because of a beetle causing disease. He said the stars seem so bright at night because there is no light pollution.

The rust colored is the flower of "Spanish Moss". The seeds of the flower attaches to certain trees. Does not attach and grow on pines.

After lunch we took a 2 hour canoe trip out into Billy's Lake, the deepest lake of the swamp.

We saw an alligator, herons, anhingas, turkey vultures, a turtle and ducks. It was so awesome, sunny, calm and quiet.

Look closely, a heron is flying across in front of Phil.

After supper and our campfire we watched the second half of the movie and off to bed by 9 pm.
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Location:Okefenokee Swamp

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day two of our trip to Florida and the SE

On the Road Again....Thursday, Jan. 27 at 6:40 AM. Since we went to sleep early, like 9 pm, we were ready to get going before the sun was up. We saw a beautiful sun rise, big, bright orange!

It was 21 degrees overnight but we were toasty warm under our down comforter and Phil put the furnace on. As we drove it got to 17 degrees.

There was beautiful hoarfrost on the trees and bushes and fog coming up in the white snow covered fields south of Paducah.

We drove past Fort Campbell, where Phil did his Basic Training for the National Guards in 1967.

We reached an elevation of 1920 feet. It was interesting to see the hard black rock walls along the highway. Could that be coal? From WI and IL we are used to cream colored limestones. I read TN's products are: coal, limestone, marble, clay and zinc.

We were blessed with good traffic all day. As we left Paducah there was a traffic jam going north, but none going south. The same was true as we went through Nashville and around Atlanta.

When we stopped at Jackson, GA to get fuel I saw the first native flowers on this trip.

It was also interesting at a rest area north of Atlanta to see so many holly shrubs. In the Midwest we have yews and spireas.

We were going to stop at Pinehurst, GA to stay overnight but decided to go farther. We made it to a great Travel Center....Pilot! We traveled 558 miles. Did not plan on that many but the traveling was good! 21.29 mpg. Great sun filled day, really warmed the RV and us.

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Location:KY, TN and GA

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day one of our trip to Florida & SE (plus Dec. Trips)

On the road again December 11 through 19. Well, not exactly on the road. But rather going to our neighbors' to dog sit. Dave and Kristen went on a cruise with her parents and sister. We are happy to take care of their boxers, Ajax and Emma.

Then it was Christmas!!!! Our son, Gene, his wife, Yvonne and their teenagers, Jason and Nicole came for dinner on Christmas Eve. Always good to spend time with family.

On Christmas Day, it was "On the Road Again" as we went to Madison, WI to spend the day with two of Ellie's sisters and their families. Again, we say it is good to spend time with family.

Thursday Dec. 30, Gene and Yvonne went to Jamaica. We "house sat" and "dog sat.". Nicole and Jason were home some time, you maybe know how it is with teenagers. We have "dog sat" for Maggie other times but this is the first time for Max. After Gene and Yvonne were back and we no longer had dogs staring at us as we seemed strange.

On the Road Again......Jan. 26 heading to Florida. We got on the road at. 11 am. 22 degrees, a little snow on top of our Roadtrek and overcast.

Our backyard will be green when we return.

As we traveled we saw a plumbing supply distribution center, M. Cooper. Made us think of our grandson, Cooper. Traveling by harvested cornfields saw lots of geese. They were seemed to be scavengering in the field for corn. Anyway, made Ellie think of her Dad.....who was a dairy farmer all his life. Can take the girl out of the farm, but can't take the farm out of the girl.

Near Effingham we saw a huge white cross. A sign said www.crossorg. Learned it was erected to serve as a beacon of hope for the 50,000 people who pass by every day.

Still seeing snow at the rest stops and this sign.

At the next rest area the snow was gone, temp. was 30. Getting warmer. There was a beautiful sunset.

Since it was already dark, we didn't stop at Metropolis to see the giant Superman statue.

We reached Paducah, KY at 6:15 pm Ahhhhhh!!!!!!! Our first day on the road again..TIS great!!!!! 412.5 miles. 20.87 mpg.

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Location:Paducah, KY