Monday, July 22, 2013

The Education of Nicole and Darlene Continues…


A fourth round (we think… lost count) of things we’ve learned along the way.

1.  Darlene is a chronic-tweaker.  Have no fear.  She has not taken up illicit drugs. But she has finally discovered the proper label for herself with regard to her crochet and knitting habits.

2.  Jeans, there’s more than one way to sit on them!

2012-12-30 Ocala
In this case, Darlene’s chair gave out so Nicole took an old pair of jeans, needle and thread and remedied the situation.

3.  The universe has a funny way of revealing some really cool stuff on the day you forget to bring your camera.

4.  Hunters in Florida spend a lot more time on the side of the road than in the woods.  We’re guessing they are waiting for the deer to walk across the road so they can shoot it.  That’s all we have to say about that one. 

5.  In the event that an Asian Beetle flies into your mouth, perhaps it is wise to just let him have a look around.  He may get bored and fly out.  Certainly worth a shot when considering the alternative.

6.  If you are really hungry, eating soup outside on a windy day may not be a good idea.

7.  Carburetors are sort of like people.  If you choke them, they can’t breathe.  If they can’t breathe, they won’t run correctly.

8.  Not everything is like riding a bicycle.  Take a water hose for example and the sprayer thingy on the end.  Sure, the water comes out every time you push it but the bicycle theory failed in this case for Nicole (who hasn’t used one in a year or more).  As her mind was otherwise occupied with the action of wrestling the hose from its holder, she kept squeezing the handle.  She may have needed a shower but that was not how it was meant to happen.  Nor was it meant to happen that many times!

9.  If your are in Florida and it looks like an orange, smells like and orange and hangs in a tree like an orange and you aren’t in an actual orange grove… before your greedy little hands dig in take note that there is probably a reason the animals aren’t eating it!  (Although, for the record, Darlene swears that those wild growing sour oranges that made us pucker real good would make some killer marmalade). 

10.  Our van gets almost 2 mpg more on average if we fill it up at 1/2 tank or higher.  It’s new math.

11.  When living on a small strip of land surrounded by alligators no longer phases you, it may be time to move on to new adventures.

12.  A page cannot truly be called blank if the words ‘This page intentionally left blank’ are written on it.

13.  Without the management plan under which they were conceived, our ‘Public Lands’ would not be the National Treasures that they have become.  Do your research.  Be thankful for what you have by respecting the hundreds of years of experience, research and development that have gone into the ability for you to enjoy these areas in whatever manner the governing bodies see fit.  Recognize that everything changes and evolves.  Be open to whatever it takes to maintain and preserve our protected areas.  Educate yourself.  Be a part of the solution.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Birds Of A Feather…

It seems we’re into noticing birds lately.  Perhaps it is all of the time we have on our hands or the fact that as soon as the sun comes up (or more accurately, just before) these birds start to make their presence known.

For the last two months each morning we could count on two things:  1. The songs of a large variety of birds all being sung at once and 2. One of us saying, “Welcome to Seattle!” 

The second one comes about because we’ve had a lot of rain… a LOT of rain.  This tends to draw out the happiness in the birds since lots of rain makes for lots of easy worm finding.  Which brings us back to the constant serenades.  Alas, we have come full circle in this mini-story.

You would think that all of the rain we’ve had would make us crabby.

      Yes, we know it is not actually a crab.  Just go with it.

But, the rain hasn’t been a terrible thing because it has helped to keep the warmer temperatures at bay.  Up until a few weeks ago we were still using our heater to take the chill off at night… in June!  Even now (it’s July as this is typed) we manage quite pleasant evening temperatures with just the windows open and a fan circulating the air.

Back to the birds…  The birds have been a welcome addition to our new home.  We enjoy watching them and listening to them and have taken to trying to photograph and identify them.  Neither the photographing nor the identifying is terribly accurate but it’s a fun new hobby.

Here’s a few of our latest observations.  We’ve also added a clip from one of our two bird books to help you out.

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                      Yellow Warbler

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  Gray Catbird - which actually ‘mews’ like a kitten
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  Barn Swallows - So cute.  They look like they are wearing tuxedos.

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                   American Goldfinch

And this one we saw the other day during rounds (no camera with us)

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              Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Seen a lot of variety of these lately too.  Perhaps we need a book for butterflies…

It started feeling like Georgia the other day when the Tulip Poplars began to bloom.
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This week the Rhododendrons finally made their appearance.
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We were happy to see them. Our section of the campground gets a lot of shade and we weren’t so sure they were going to make a showing.

Speaking of shade… WE’VE MOVED!
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Although we enjoyed our creek-side campsite for the last month, being right in the midst of so many campfires on a regular basis was taking a toll on our sinuses.  So, we opted to move to an alternate volunteer site here at our campground which not only gets us away from the campfires but also provides us with full tree cover, all day shade (summer heat is reportedly on its way) and a more private location with our own driveway.  We are blissfully happy with yet another ‘new’ home.

Due to the recent rains, the lake is still quite high.
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The swim beach has disappeared in the opposite way that it usually does by this time.  Reportedly, the lake starts to recede by now and our beach becomes more of a wide open desert-walk as the cove empties and the boat ramps become unusable.  We were actually quite excited for the lake to start receding because is presents us with the possibility to see an old bridge, road and the foundations of buildings from the town that was flooded when the dam was built.  Not sure if that will happen this year though.

Besides the cooler weather, with the rain comes beautiful drives…

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The kind where the sky is an eerie black, buckets of water are falling from the sky and yet you are still wearing your sunglasses because it is blindingly bright.  The kind where you get that rare opportunity to see a complete double rainbow.

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We first spotted this one in Uniontown.  It stayed with us all the way back to our campground (30 miles away).

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                        The road into our campground.
                  Talk about a ‘Welcome Home’ banner!

Speaking of raining, it isn’t doing that right now.  So, we should probably take advantage and get outside for a bit.

Until next time… enjoy this picture that our new friend, Kenzie, drew for us.  Kenzie saw us picking up trash the other day and requested to help us.  She is six and will be starting the first grade this year.  She said that she wanted to help us pick up trash because she ‘loves the chipmunks and squirrels and wants to keep them safe’.  While helping us, Kenzie also collected various items that she could use to make crafts with because she likes to ‘recycle stuff’.  We really liked her attitude about animals and the environment and appreciated her help!