Sunday, December 30, 2012

Things are heating up around here…

Truth be told, thing are actually cooling down.  We recently experienced one of our coldest nights yet.  It was twenty-something.  Last winter we were boondocking in southern California / Arizona and the temps would drop in a similar fashion forcing us to don our winter garb INSIDE the van.  We’d eye the small electric heater we had decided to keep from our sticks and bricks days, rue the generator that was supposed to run it but kicked the bucket as soon as it got cold and contemplate our budget (and our actual need) for a propane based item.  Then we remembered…  we didn’t have to stay!  So, we got up and left.

Eventually we considered that we may want to stay now and then and so we purchased a small non-Buddy-brand (for you RV-familiar folk) type propane heater.  We used it a few times and discovered that it really didn’t do for us what simply moving the van to warmer weather did.  So, we returned it and went on about our travels. 

This was before we started volunteering.  When we took this Florida gig for the winter we knew there would be some cooler nights but we also knew that we could not move with the wind (or the cold) as we previously did.  That was o.k. though because we would have electricity provided for us and (for some reason despite getting rid of 95% of our possessions before beginning this journey) we had been toting around that electric heater for a year.  All was right in the world.

That was… until the coldest night so far.  That’s when our faithfully warm friend of seven years decided that she just couldn’t go on anymore.  She managed to get us through the night at a fairly comfortable 55 degrees (30 above the outside temp).  But in the morning it was clear that she was done for and would be warming us no more. 

Off to Wally-world we went and purchased a replacement about as opposite as you can find.  So opposite that this should be another Yin and Yang post.  Check it out!

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You say big, I say small.  You say black, I say white.  You say fancy, I say pants.

Anyway, old faithful on the left has been replaced by (still yet to be named) on the right.  This little guy is quite something for the size and price.  Only $20 compared to the $80 that the old one cost.  1/3 the size.  Low-tech with basic knobs and a bit more tricky to manage than our previous digital model, which we set at a specific temperature by number.  It has taken us a day or so to get acquainted with how to get it to work to our satisfaction but this is for the opposite reason that you would think. 

This thing puts out HEAT!  We’re constantly having to turn the thing down and cannot believe that something so small can pack such a wonderfully warm punch.

So, on this the coldest afternoon since we’ve been here, we sit happily in our tank tops and shorts thanks to our newest addition to the van. 

And, yes… space issues dictate that when something comes into the van, something else has to go out.  Old Faithful will be departing us but not before we break her down into parts useable for other purposes.  We’ll leave that for another post!

Stay warm out there…

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Yin and Yang in the Ocala National Forest


No, we have not adopted new names.  Although, those would be cool names.  In this case we are referring to the ever present self equalizing balance of the universe.

Our last volunteer position provided fresh, clear water and sewer but no electric.

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Our current set up in the Ocala National Forest at the OHV Workcenter provides electric (along with sewer and water). 

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Wait… that sounds like YIN YIN YIN with the three big RV desires provided for us. 

Well, we do have electricity provided to us in this position and we have been pleased with the resultant options such as running a small electric heater in the evenings (YIN).  However, the water we have been provided here is lacking in a certain level of ‘purity’ (YANG).

They like to say that is it rich in iron (which is essentially positive speak for rust).  We like to think that after a month and a half of drinking it we cured any anemic issues that we may have had and saved a ton on vitamins! 

However, despite our personal choice of a skinned down lifestyle, clean, clear water has always been a priority for us since it makes up 98% of what we drink on a daily basis (save for Darlene’s morning Joe, now and then nips of OJ and the spoils of the occasional Iced Tea).  After some inquiring with the Forest folk, it seemed the off and on clarity of our provided drinking water was going to remain off (dirty) more than on (clean).  So, we pulled out the backpacking filter we had stored away and settled a basic needs score for ourselves.

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Iron ‘rich’, Yang, (left) meet pure and clean, Yin (right).

Oh, and to add to the Yin side of things… you know that fly machine at the local gym?  Well, check out the handle on that filter system.  Placed at the right height and alternating from left to right hand every 30 or so pumps isn’t so bad for the pecs either!

Until next time… keep it pure.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dare we call ourselves spoiled?

Look whose got the Bling Bling!!

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That’s right.  ICE ICE, BABY!!

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We are in Florida.

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And, the blue sky afternoon temps have routinely been in the 70’s.

And, we are hooked up to Government Electricity.

What’s a girl to do with all of this wintery goodness?

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Pull out the Mr. Coffee…

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and make some iced tea, of course.


Monday, December 24, 2012

1 out of 3 ain’t bad…

We’ve been exercising lately.  Taking walks and Geocaching.  We started Geocaching in 2006 but are rather random with our participation.  Having heard that there were many hundreds of caches all throughout the forest we thought we’d jump back into it for a bit.

As of late we have attempted to locate three caches that are within a few miles of our current homestead.

Nicole, GPS in hand and on the trail of one named EZ.  Not sure we would agree as we couldn’t find it but had a nice long walk in the forest while trying.

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Darlene holds the results of our only ‘Smiley’ this time around. 

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We opened the ammo can, signed the log, took a jumping bean and left a hot wheels truck.  For those unaware, the larger caches hold trinkets and such that you can exchange and move from cache to cache.  Everything you do is logged on the internet so others can see where their items are traveling to.

So far our return to caching has bagged us two DNF’s (did not find) and one Smiley (Found!).  Despite a dud on our third attempt we did manage to spot this Wolf Spider peeking out of his hole.


So, all was not lost as we found something new and got some exercise in the process!

Friday, December 21, 2012

We’re Lichen the Fungis in Ocala

Tales from the seedy…
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of life…
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in The Ocala.
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After a super cool intro like that you’re probably expecting some really awesome blogging.  Put on your disappointment face.  We’ve got nothing much to say other than here’s some photos of the fungis we’ve been lichen lately.  Enjoy… ?!

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IMG_4287  IMG_4288
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There’s more but we wouldn’t want to overwhelm you.  Until next time…

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Going, Seeing, Doing… The FT

Our Supervisor Kyle invited us on a hike the other day with him and (we quote) “The cutest dog in the world.”  We were to explore a few miles of the Florida Trail (there are about 1000 miles all together) while on a photography expedition.  Here’s a few highlights.

Bailey spent most of the day showing us her ‘not so cute’ side as she led the way.
Osprey nest at the Rodman Dam / Reservoir near the start of this section of trail.
Water-birds of all types hang out in the area looking cool.  2012-10-21 Ocala (16)
The trail itself revealed more in the reptile, insect and arachnid families.
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The transition from super cute (above) to ‘Dang, we should have worn proper footwear.’ (below) bounced around all day.
That’s another pygmy rattler, by the way.  Smaller than the last but still
proudly waiving that tail around.

A few more shots from our walk.  Kyle’s got a fancy pants camera and he let Nicole play with it. 

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Until next time… Go, See, Do. 

Going, Seeing, Doing… Part 3

So, apparently you can teach old dogs new tricks.  Or at the least you can set them loose in the middle of the forest after you try and tell them to find their way home without getting into trouble!

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Introducing… THE RAKE.  The latest in our trail maintenance bag of tricks. 2012-12-3 Ocala (2)
The goal is to rake out the whoops so the trail gives a nice smooth ride.
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There is a bit of multi-tasking involved.  Not only do you drive / control the ATV but you also operate the hydraulics on the rake via a remote control box on the handle bars.  We were told that at some point we’ll be able to know how to control the rake just by feeling how our ATV is riding.  Current status:  We have not reached that point but we did make it home without incident to us or the rake.

And on to yet another adventure.  We drove down to Davenport Landing one day to collect trash along the Ocklawaha River. 

Kiosk Fact:  This landing and many others like it, were important to the steamboats which traveled these early watery highways.  The steamboats needed great supplies of wood, and many of Florida's early settlers made a living selling firewood to the steamboats.  Davenport Landing was especially important as the last high bluff before reaching the St. John's River.  That meant buy wood here or risk being stranded!

We were greeted in the parking area by some very well behaved (aligned) trees.  Wonder if this was an early reforestation attempt.2012-12-4 Ocala
Down by the water things were a bit more relaxed.
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This guy was sunning himself all splayed out and casually balanced on a log.
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The leaves have already fallen off of the trees here.  Would have been in full color a few weeks ago.
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It was still pretty, peaceful and quiet. We met a few kayakers and took in the calm.2012-12-4 Ocala (6)
The reflections on the water were spectacular.
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On that note… it’s time to reflect on what’s for dinner.