Monday, March 28, 2016

A Big Catch...Down The Hatch!

Been spending some time bird watching in the backyard.  Lots of familiars from last time and a few new ones have moved in, as well.

Yesterday, Nicole was sitting down on a bench by the water and everyone was all a flutter.  It is breeding season and the bright colors are showing.


One particular Great Blue Heron was in the mood to show off in a different way, however. 
It began with ten minutes in a few different stealthy positions.

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                                                  Blending in...

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                                            Secretly watching...

After keeping a keen eye on the situation for a good while, Nicole decided that the Heron was simply watching the other birds across the pond.


So, she looked away for just a moment.  Less than thirty seconds later this is what she saw...

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                                         What?  Are you kidding me?!

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Nicole snapped a few quick shots as she stared in amazement.

Then she remembered her video camera!

                                             And A Drink To Wash It Down

Well, we've had a nice two weeks in South Florida but the time has come for us to journey northward.  After four years of contributing 60% of our time each year to volunteer endeavors, we have made the decision to take the rest of this year for ourselves.

It is an exciting time and we hope you enjoy following along...

Saturday, March 19, 2016


We're spending some time in Florida touring around and visiting with family.  We've revisited some familiar and previously enjoyed places.  It has all been very 'Florida'.

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                                                 Ah.... the Gulf

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                                                       Zen Gull

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Strange to imagine creatures like camels, saber toothed cats, mammoths and mastodons roaming the peninsula.  They just don't seem very 'Florida'.

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                                                 Sand in our toes.

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                                                    Laying Low

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                                                 Mud treatment

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                                             Butterfly Milkweed

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                                             Dorantes Longtail

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                   Who me?  I wasn't in your hair.

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                                       New for us... Northern Parula

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                                      and Yellow Bellied Sapsucker

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                                                  Apple Snails

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                                        Lizard Tails (the plant variety)

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                                                  Pretty Scenes

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                                                       Phaon Crescent

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                          Another new avian friend - Blue Headed Vireo

                                    Early Morning Carolina Wren Serenade

2016-03-13 Florida, Blue Cypress Lake - Scenes (1)

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

When Things Go BAM! BAM! BAM! In The Day.

We left KY and we headed south.  In an (unusual for us) manner, we had opted to take the major highway for a straight shot to our destination.  No messing around for us.

It was not to be.  A recent rockslide brought on a major closure of the major highway.  At the KY / TN border we were kicked off onto a two lane back-road. 

Oh, wait.  Something happened before this all happened.

For some reason, as soon as we got to KY, our thermostat decided to stop reaching its full operating temperature.  There was talk about ex-changing it and / or diagnosing the problem in other ways but the winter temperatures kept that idea at bay.  So, we dealt with it and the resultant lower fuel mileage for our short trips while there. 

About a week before we were due to pull out, we made our usual check of fluids and brought the tires up to their recommended level.  You'll never guess what happened next...

The thermostat started working again!


The driver's side window stopped working.

Ah, well.  It was still cold so we didn't really need the window.  But at least our gas mileage was returned to normal with the return of our thermostat functioning.

O.K.  Back to the original story...

We exited the major highway at the border of KY / TN and hopped on a two lane back-road winding up, down, around and through the hollars and hills. 

As we drove, it started raining and that was sort of exciting to us.

We both commented on how it was nice to actually use our windshield wipers.  Usually, it seems that we buy them and they sit there until they rot to a point of being useless.  Still, we replace them regularly and keep them in prime condition... just in case.

So, naturally, this excitement over the functioning of our relatively new wiper-blades brought on quite the conversation and joy.  It's the little things, after all.

Onward we drove, up, down and around, swish, swish, swish, swish, BAM!, BAM!, BAM!, BAM!, BAM!, BAM!, BAM!, BAM!, BAM!, BAM!, BAM!, BAM!, BAM!, BAM!

We were pretty sure that something important had just fallen off the bottom of the van. 

Nicole, who was driving at the time, started assessing things...

Well, I can still steer.  The brakes are working.  We're still moving.

While Darlene tried to find the hazard lights (which we're pretty sure we hadn't used before), Nicole decided she might need to look at the road and find a place to pull over.

It was at this point that she realized that she couldn't see out of the windshield (on the driver's side anyway, the passenger side was clear as day).

Um..... It's the wipers.  Those things were were just complimenting on their wonderful functionality!

Off they went and on we went to the next possible place to pull over where it was assessed that the linkage arm between the two sides had dropped off of its pin.


At nearly 28 years old, the plastic bushing between these two points of contact had finally surrendered.


Out with the old...


In with the new...

     Now that we are ready for rain again, there's a good chance we won't see any.

But at least we are once again ready.

We managed to get his little repair done in a few hours while visiting with family in GA. 

Nicole also managed a very good redneck repair job on our reverse light that had recently stopped working.

             You see the plastic piece around the contact the end of the wire?

The one on the passenger side had broken and was letting the contact slip away from the bulb. 

You can get a variety of pieces at the local auto shop to repair this issue but that would require money spent and cutting / splicing the wire. 

It just didn't seem prudent to spend even a few dollars when the universe had delivered the perfect option (a broken frisbee).  A little snip here and there and...

                                             ...that should do it.


If you are into cars and random repairs this post might have interested you.

If not, you may not even still be reading.

If you are, however, we want you to know that we entered Florida today and...

the driver's side window started working, again.

That's our girl.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

One Last Winter Blast and a Little Peek at Spring

February's cold temperatures delivered and we received yet another winter wonderland blanket.  Despite having had a greater amount in previous weeks, the five inches that fell this time painted a different picture.  It was a 'wetter' snow and it stuck to everything.  It was a completely different kind of beauty and serenity.  With that in mind, we'll stop the words and let you experience it in silence like we did.






As usual, we had the place all to ourselves.  Or so we thought.  We took a few walks through the campground and realized that we were not alone after all.  The evidence revealed that we had been keeping company with...




                                   (The fox makes a perfect little print)

  In the lead for the 'cutest prints' award is the Opossum.

                                     They look like tiny people hands.

   We tracked these larger prints off through the woods.

                      At nearly three inches, their size can be a bit daunting.

We're pretty sure they belong to a Coyote but these prints are larger than any we've seen before.

After the snow cleared, we had a beautiful weekend in the sixties and the campground filled for the first time in months.  As things quieted down again, Nicole walked up to the wetlands to check on the bullfrog eggs.  The area was alive with a croaking chorus.  Yet, as Nicole approached, only one of the songsters braved an appearance.

                                        Wood Frog... just chillin'

We are sad to report that the original two batches of eggs that we observed, did not survive.  There were, however, five new batches of a slightly smaller egg (different frog?).

It is due to warm up again for a few days so perhaps these will survive to become tadpoles.

                         That is, unless the Red-spotted Newts get to them.

                     Did you know... these cuties can live up to 15 years?  We didn't.
The Wintergreen has begun to show more as the fall-leaved ground cover disappears.

In addition to our regular avian gang (like this cute little Nuthatch), the advent of spring
has brought in a few new feathered friends including a pair of American Robins and a
pair of Eastern Bluebirds.

Well, as of this writing, we have completed our volunteer term at the Red River Gorge, have departed the Bluegrass State and are on the road for points further south.  The wind is blowing and we've taken to wandering again.