Monday, 24 March 2014

Kayaking and Truck Treatment

Just about a 1/2 mile from our resort is a boat launch into a section of Crooked Lake.  We had yet to make use of this launch and thinking that our time here is getting short we need to start doing more of these things we have talked about for months.

Yesterday morning we got up and headed down to the boat launch and headed out onto the water.  There are lots of alligators in all of the water systems in Florida and this lake is no exception.  We were not in the water more than ten minutes before something really large surfaced within a foot of the side of my kayak.  I don't know if it was an alligator or a very big fish but it scared the crap out of me.

It was fairly cloudy this morning which made paddling nice.  The sun was trying to break through as the morning wore on.  This picture shows a reflection of the sun and clouds in the water. Kind of cool.

The water was so calm making the reflections pretty impressive. Tom was cruising close to shore alligator hunting.  I saw several snouts sticking out of the water but they dove before we got too close.  I am not sure if they dove down to get away or if they were just following me looking at my elbows so close to the surface...!!

We were on the water for an hour and then headed home.  Tom wanted to get back to the chrome work on the truck.  He had more help getting the two on the front. John is on the ground working, neighbor Jim is giving advice and apparently Tom is supervising.  You can see the new chrome strips around the wheel well.  Sure brightens up the truck.  Makes it look pretty fancy.

Today Judy and I hit the walking class to put in our 3 miles and then I headed to the pool for a swim.  Tom got working on washing the 5th.  He spent several hours scrubbing the white roof, then got the outside mostly washed before the rain started.  Tomorrow he plans on finishing the washing and then giving her a good coat of wax.  So many things to do yet before we start our trip home next month.  The time has gone so fast it doesn't seem possible that we will be leaving so soon.  Has been an awesome winter!!

Until next time safe travels.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Crooked Lake Prairie Scrub

Yesterday was a beautiful bright sunny day and we decided to take advantage of that sunshine to get in a hike in the morning.  We headed down the road about 7 miles to what is called the Crooked Lake Prairie Scrub.  The route has two different trails.  The first one leads you out through some hammock and some scrub to a boardwalk near Crooked Lake.  We met a fellow on our way who advised we should watch out for the big rattler beside the path just beyond the boardwalk.  I had my camera on ready but he was gone when we got there.  Too bad.  I don't want to see one up close but would have liked to get a snap.

On the map this trail was supposed to be half mile out and you had to return the same way.  But in fact it is a loop which was nice.  You never want to walk the same trail twice.

The second trail started out in this beautiful hammock.

I just love these old oak trees with all the Spanish moss growing on them.  They look both majestic and spooky.

The trail was about 2 miles with most of it on soft sand so the work out was pretty good.  There was a stop by the lake here also.  Sorry Tom, kind of lost your face in this picture.  Just as we approached this area there was a big crash in the undergrowth.  Must have been a pig but we didn't get a look at it.

Here was the start/finish of the trails.  We did not see any wild life today.  Even though we got out fairly early it was really hot.  Anyone with half a brain was in the undergrowth keeping cool, not like us humans.  We love to walk around in 90' weather and bake our brains!!!

Tom had ordered chrome trim to go around the wheel wells on the truck.  They arrived on Thursday so he and neighbor Dwayne got to work on these.  THREE EASY STEPS!!!  They spent hours and only got the back two on.  They are supposed to have adhesive and just stick on.  Well there was no adhesive and they had to drill, screw and swear to get them on.  By the time they had two on they were ready for happy hour.  Dwayne, Marilyn, Jim and Shari all came over.  Marilyn and Shari brought goodies to add to the crab dip I had made.  John and Judy arrived home from their trip down to The Keys and joined us also.  I guess the rest of the chrome will get installed tomorrow.  I totally believe when something says Three Easy Steps that the third step is call for help or send it back!!

Until next time  - safe travels.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

A Touch of the Irish

We all have a touch of Irish in our blood on St. Patrick's Day.  I however am very proud to state that my paternal Grandad was Irish.  My great grandparents came over from County Tyronne and settling in New York state way back in the 1800's.  My Grandad and two of his brothers were adventurous and headed to settle in good old Saskatchewan.  That made me a prairie girl.  So on March 17th I got out the t-shirt.
 Judy, Deb and I decided that to celebrate we would make an Irish meal and have a Progressive Dinner.  We started at Deb and Gerard's for appetizers.  Deb made Irish Beef Brisket and Potato Scones to start us off.

 Deb made sure her Irish Eyes were Smiling!!
 From there we moved on to Judy and John's for a delicious Irish Stew and Potato Buns.
Then we scampered through the pouring rain to our house for Bailey's Bunt Cake and Irish Coffee.
We were all very full and satisfied by the time we were finished.  Our company waddled back to their homes with promises from all to start dieting again tomorrow.

It poured rain all night last night and the wind was very strong.  The trailer was rocking, the palm trees were bent over and the canopy snapped all night.  Today we got up to that beautiful Florida sunshine again.  Another perfect day in paradise.

Until next time - safe travels.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Birthdays and Kayaking

Last Friday was Judy's birthday and we celebrated in style.  Deb and Gerard hosted our gathering tonight for which Deb baked a great lasagne dinner.  I baked a chocolate cake for Judy to finish off the evening.
 John thought he would check out Judy's birthday tiara.  A great new look John but I would ditch the cap.
Today was going to be a big day for lots of reasons.  We had planned on getting up at 4:30 am to watch the launch of a supply rocket from Cape Canaveral.  The rocket was to take supplies to the space center and return with a load of trash.  Due to some type of contamination the flight was delayed.  So we got to sleep in a bit longer this morning,

Today was the 21st birthday of our beautiful Granddaughter Taylor.  Happy Birthday sweetie.  We love you tons.
So since we got to sleep in it was 7:00 am today when we all hit the road for the Weeki Wachee River.  We rented three tandem kayaks for the day.  Seemed easier than dragging our kayaks up there especially when we would have to pay just as much to launch and have them return them up river for us as we would to use their equipment.  It was a 2 1/2 hour drive with a quick stop at McDonald's for breakfast on the way.  We hit the river shortly after 10:00 am.  WOW.  The water is so clear and the current on this spring fed river took us downstream at about 2 miles per hour.  We didn't have to work very hard at all just keeping it going around the corners.
 You can see the fish on the bottom on the river

 Beautiful turquoise water.  We had hoped to see manatee today but it looks like they have all moved back into the gulf.  We only saw one big fellow swim past us during the day.  After about 3 hours of floating, paddling and having lunch on the water we arrived at the take out point.  The nice thing about renting the equipment is someone else gets to take them out of the water, load them and worry about them.  We just hopped into a van and got a ride back to the park.   An ice cream cone was in order before we went to watch the mermaids show.

 It was quite a performance enjoyed by young and old alike.  The worked under water for nearly an hour using the breathing tubes you see above in the second picture.  No masks, no nose plugs. Interesting.
 There were some very colorful peacocks wandering around the grounds.

If you get the chance to visit the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park be sure to do so.  It is well worth the drive.  
We stopped in Lakeland for dinner at a delightful Italian Restaurant.  Home, tired but what a fabulous day.  
Until next time - safe travels.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Birthdays and Oranges

Yesterday was my birthday and it turned out to be a great day.  Our friends Dave and Helen stayed to visit until mid afternoon before they headed over to Sarasota to visit other friends.  It was really great that they came our way and spent a couple of days with us.  We then headed over to join Judy, John, Deb and Gerard to partake in Judy's great chili dinner.  Judy had purchased a bowed psaltery at the Strawberry Festival last week.  She has been practicing!!!  This is what a bowed psaltery looks like:

It is a pretty neat instrument for sure.  Her and Deb surprised me with their rendition of "Happy Birthday".  Awesome - thanks ladies!!

Tom surprised me with a birthday cake.  
Another year older and hopefully smarter as well.

Today we got ready to head out for another adventure.  John and Judy saddled up while Deb and Gerard hopped in the truck with us to go over to Haines City to Ridge Island Grove. 
 This is a small, family operated orchard and market.  They grow many different types of fruit and vegetables.  They offer tours of their facilities to see how they wash and wax the oranges.  Here they are rolling through the machine that waxes them before going into a dryer. 
 Here they roll down this conveyor belt to be sorted by size.
 They took us out into the orchard and let us pick a small bag full of oranges off their trees.  This made Tom really happy as he has been very tempted to hop out of the truck and pick an orange along the side of the highway.  

 They squeeze oranges for juice that they also sell in their market.  The mash from the oranges is fed to their cows.
 They grow hydroponic vegetables for sale also.
 After the tour we drove back into Haines City to have lunch at this Mexican restaurant before heading for home.

Happy hour with neighbors before dinner finished off another perfect day in paradise.  Until next time - safe travels.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Cowboy Up!!

Our friends Dave and Helen were in Orlando for a week taking in Disney World with their daughter and grandson.  When they were completely played out by Mickey Mouse they came over to Frostproof yesterday.  We had happy hour at our house with the whole gang including our neighbors Jim and Shari.

This morning we were up early to head over to Arcadia.  Today was the 86th annual Arcadia Rodeo and was on our bucket list of things to do here in Florida this winter.  Here is the gang enjoying the activities.

Judy, John, Deb and Gerard

Helen, Tom and David

This rodeo had a full slate of events.  There were about 8,000 people in the stands including a whole lot of Canadians.  Two of the young fellows taking part were from Canada and they received extra cheers from the crowd.

Bareback Riding

Steer Wrestling

Quadrille - Square Dancing on Horseback

Team Roping

Saddle Bronc

Clowning Around - He wanted a horse!!

This little cowpoke got to take the little pony home

Calf Roping

Barrel Racing

Catch that Bull
 I didn't manage to get any pictures of the bull riding or the down roping that turned out very good.  But you get the idea.  They put on a great show and for $20 per ticket you could not ask for better entertainment.

We stopped at Chili's in Sebring for dinner on the way home.  A great day for being a cowgirl or cowboy.  Dave and Helen had never attended a rodeo before so now they can also say "This is not my first rodeo!!".  Until next time - safe travels.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Nice Visit

Great to have friends drop in to see you when you are 1500 miles from home!!  We had Laura and Alex stop in last Saturday for a visit.  Alex and Tom used to work together at Carevest.  We had not seen them for some time and it was great that they were able to come our way during their travels.

They had been down at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and were on their way to Clearwater before heading home to Ontario.  Coming our way was definitely out of their way.  A much faster trip would have been on the Tamiami Highway.  But they put in a long day of driving to arrive in time for happy hour with a big package of steaks in hand!!  We had a great bbq and a great visit.  They spent the night on our blow-up sofa and declared it to be very comfortable.    Sunday morning after breakfast they said goodbye and continued their travels before we headed out for our kayak trip to Crystal River.

Like I said, it is sure nice when friends make the effort to find us way down here in the Sun Shine State.

More friends are now down visiting in the park.  Old friends of John & Judy's - Debbie and Gerard - arrived Monday afternoon to spend a couple of weeks here in Rainbow.  Great to see them again.  Gerard has joined Tom and John for the early morning walks and Deb has joined Judy and I.  Nice to have more company while we blast around the park getting our daily exercise.  Welcome you two.  Glad you had a safe trip down.

Had a great Facetime with Granddaughter, Taylor today.  She is an EMR working in the oilfields in Alberta.  Today she is working at a pipe line construction site.  She is really pleased that this site has a heated cook trailer and a heated port-a-pottie!!  Her last job site had neither.  Kind of difficult to trudge through 6 feet of snow to go behind a tree!!  This morning when we were chatting it was -27'.  That is pretty cool but warmer than the -35' they had last weekend.

Because she is the only Emergency Medical Responder on site she has to stay there as long as the men are working.  Usually from about 8:00 to 5:00.  Makes for a long day when rarely there is a situation requiring her attention. But she has to be on the spot just in case of a medical emergency.  Long hours but she loves the job.  That's my girl!!

Until next time - safe travels.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Incredible Kayaking

Yesterday we packed up the kayaks and headed to Crystal River to paddle in what we have been told is the most beautiful spot to kayak in Florida. The river was called  such due to the crystal clear water.  Here we were launching and getting ready to head out.
 Tom, John and Judy are getting into the water.
 Check out the cool boat we saw as we paddled along the river.
 The "Three Sisters Springs" is an area where only kayaks and swimmers are able to access.  The water in this area is crystal clear.  This is the spot where the manatees like to hang out as the water from the springs is warm.  We did see some manatees but due to it being Sunday there were so many people in the area that the manatee moved back out into the river.

We moved back into the river but there were a lot of people, a lot of motor boats and a lot of kayaks.  This meant that the water was churned up and murky. We were actually very disappointed in the Crystal River experience but would not write it off.  If we were to try it again it would be on a weekday when hopefully there would be less people  This area was just far too crowded for my liking.  We did spent a few hours on the water and then packed up and headed to the Holiday Inn Express where we had a suite for the night.  Dinner at Chilli's,  Nascar and the Oscars on tv.  A great day and we were ready to head to another kayaking spot this morning

We headed out this morning to the Chassahowitzka River Campground.  Now this was a find!!  No motor boats, no noise, no crowds.  Only a few kayaks on the water   The water was so clear that you could see to the bottom.  Hundreds of fish swimming around, many of them jumping out of the water.

 There are many streams that feed into the river.  During the winter many manatee inhabit the streams but we were told that they have been moving back into the gulf.  The first stream  we entered was inhabited by a manatee that let us float all around her and she didn't move.  Look at the size of her in relation to Tom's kayak.

 The next stream we entered was fabulous.
 Look at this incredible blue water

  We came across this family of turtles.  Four turtles, four different sizes.  Look at the tiny baby at the head of the group.

Birds along the shore just sat and watched us.  In other places they would fly away before we got too close.  These birds let us get within feet of them and didn't move.  This Anhinga never moved while I moved within a couple of feet to get this snap before I moved away from it again.  Its partner was fishing.  It caught a fish that was about six inches long.  Before I could snap a picture it was down its throat in one piece.
 This Great White Egret was busy fishing but didn't move away as I approached within a few feet.
 This palm tree looks pretty neat growing straight out from shore making it look like it is growing out of the water

 This is a Green Heron.  This is one bird I have never seen before.  It flew out of the bush, squawking at me.  Then it just sat there watching as I tried to get a good picture.  I googled it when I got home to find out what it was.  

 The picture below is from the internet which gives you a better view than the picture I snapped above  What a beautiful bird!!
 Below is a Moscovy Duck.  I have never seen one of these before either.  It was swimming near a boat dock.  Kind of an ugly bird really.

We must have paddled for hours.  It was absolutely beautiful.  Here we are heading into the launch to finish our paddle for the day.  
How fortunate we are to have been able to spend a day in this unspoilt treasure we found today.
Until next time - safe travels.