Friday, March 27, 2015

Catch Up Time & An Unwanted Passenger

On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning, we got our 10,000 steps in and even biked in the park a couple of those days.  I got caught up on the blog and some paperwork.  We also enjoyed visiting with our neighbors across the street that own beautiful lots in the park right on the river.

I had been having trouble with my Splendide washer/dryer not drying the clothes very well.  It would sometimes stop drying in the middle of a cycle and 3 of the 4 lights would start blinking.

I had downloaded the technical manual a few months ago and the manual said to call Splendide.  They called me back, email some instructions that had me filling up the wash tub of water, running a full cycle (except the dryer) and an extra rinse three times.  After doing all that, I washed and dryed a load of clothes and it seemed to be much better.

Chuck also grilled for us a couple of nights.  He grilled a steak for me and a salmon burger for him one night.  My steak was S-O-O G-O-O-D.  I'm glad I have another one in the freezer for him to grill another night!  :)  On Wednesday, he grilled chicken and zucchini, yellow squash, onions and okra.  We had marinated the veggies in olive oil, pepper and garlic salt.  They were delicious too!  We especially liked the okra.  There was nothing left but the stems!  :)

After some discussion and re-arranging of doctor appointments, we officially made the decision to join Ken and Bonnie for part of their southwest adventures beginning with San Antonio in about 3 weeks!  We are so excited and looking forward to exploring parts of this beautiful country like Big Bend and Yosemite National Parks and lots of other places along the way.  :)

We also decided to go back to Fall Creek Falls for the 2 weeks before and including the 4th of July again this year.  Fall Creek Falls is so much fun with Donald & Anna and all the gang.  So we have a lot to look forward to over the next few months!

Chuck had the motorhome washed and waxed our last day that we were at Wilderness -- something we always try to get done at least once or twice a year.

And the best highlight of our week was going to dinner with Marc and Rhea at Pronto's Pizzeria in Silver Springs Thursday night.  The food was delicious and we had so much fun!  Chuck had the spaghetti with meat sauce and I had the baked ziti.  Both came with salads and garlic knots.  Yummy!  Marc and Rhea had a pizza and each had salads and garlic knots also.  We laughed and talked and thoroughly enjoyed our meal and time together.  We're looking forward to seeing them again next year!

The week at Wilderness was great except for one uninvited guest (and now passenger).  On Tuesday, I noticed some mouse droppings in one of the plastic bowls under the sink.  We had also noticed some evidence of a mouse in the basement so Chuck set out a mouse trap Tuesday night.  On Wednesday morning, the mouse trap had gone off and looked like the mouse had just kicked it over.  

He had also eaten a big hole in some bananas we had laying out on the counter top.  Yuck!  We started looking in the basement for more evidence of the mouse and found mouse poop and pee all over the place.  And then, when we started moving the bins around, Chuck saw him.  He said: "We need a bigger trap.  It's not a mouse.  It's a rat!"  And then I saw him too.  Chuck tried to shoo him out with a broom but he just ran up into a hole where the slide-out track comes in.  Eeeek!!

Chuck went to Lowe's and bought 3 rat traps while I cleaned the basement compartment and the inside where the rat had been.  He set 2 traps in the basement and one inside Wednesday night.  On Thursday morning, there were no signs anywhere of the rat nor had any of the traps been set.  Some neighbors across the street said they had seen a rat running across the street and we hoped that maybe it was the same rat.  

On Friday morning, we checked the traps before we got ready to leave hoping either there would be no rat and no rat evidence (meaning he left) or a dead rat.  Unfortunately, we didn't get either of what we hoped for.  The rat set one trap off in the basement without getting caught and licked all the peanut butter off.  The other trap did not go off at all and he licked all the peanut butter off of it too and then started gnawing on the wood along the edges of it.

This is the kind of mouse/rat we imagine living in the basement:

After eating all the peanut butter and the trap too, Chuck says he is probably kicked back in the basement somewhere with his feet up and wearing a t-shirt that says "Life is Good -- Let's Just Go Somewhere!"

So tonight, after we arrive back in Nashville, we are going to buy more rat traps and hopefully kill the dirty rat.  He is one uninvited guest we do not want on board!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Back to Wilderness

On Thursday morning, our last morning at Myakka, I got up early and sat outside enjoying a cup of coffee and the sounds of Myakka.  Hmmmm.  Very peaceful.  Listen and see for yourself:

We began getting ready to leave around 9:30 and by 11 am, we were on our way to Wilderness RV Park in Silver Springs where we have been several times before.  Up until this year, we have been able to get Passport America rates even in their peak snowbird season but that has changed.  Even so, their weekly rates are competitive and much cheaper than campgrounds that are closer to the beach.

On the Preserve side of the park, where we usually stay, the sites are all big concrete pads with full hookups and a considerable amount of room between the sites.

We had discovered on our way to Wilderness that the step cover was not working again.  Soon after we were all set up, Chuck worked on the step cover and got it to working again.  One of the little arms that pushes the step out when you hold down the switch had come off.

On Friday morning, we were up and walking by 8 am but it was very foggy.

We walked our 10,000 steps and then biked about 10 miles going up and down the streets in the park.  Later that afternoon, we went over to visit our friends from Amqui, Quebec, Marc and Rhea.  They showed us their new fifth wheel (which is very nice) and we enjoyed visiting with them for about an hour or so.

On Saturday morning, we walked our 10,000 steps around the park and it was a little foggy this morning too.

When we got back to the camper, Chuck began looking over the entire camper for any places on the walls or slide-outs that needed caulking...

...and then Saturday evening he grilled us some delicious pork steaks and asparagus.  Yummy!

On Sunday morning, we went to early services at a church in Silver Springs and then stopped by Lowes on the way home to get some more silicone for Chuck to re-caulk all the windows that needed caulking.  It took a couple of hours but I think with all of his hard work yesterday, he has now re-caulked every wall, seam and window with silicone that needed it.

The late afternoons have been so pleasant and not buggy at all.  Previously, the mosquitoes would begin feasting right before sunset and you couldn't enjoy sitting outside hardly at all.

On Sunday evening, we sat outside and talked with some of our neighbors.  For dinner, Chuck grilled us some veggies, a salmon burger for him, and a turkey burger for me -- all of which were delicious!  What a guy!  :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Another Great Day at Myakka

Ernie and Noela drove up from Harbor Lakes and met us at the Myakka office around 7:30.  Only 30 permits are issued a day to hike to the Deep Hole and we wanted to be sure we got our permits.  The Deep Hole is estimated to be about 130 feet deep and is one of the best watching spots in the park.  Park rangers have counted as many as 120 alligators in one viewing!

After getting our permits, we drove to the parking lot for the Deep Hole and were the first people there.

It was a beautiful morning for a hike and the temperature was perfect.

We were glad we started early before the sun started beating down on us.  

Most of the hike was out in the open...

...with a few trees here in and there.

As we got closer to the deep hole, we walked through this beautiful canopy of trees.

We reached a fork in the road with a sign showing the way to the Deep Hole.

But when we reached the Deep Hole (or what we thought was the Deep Hole), we were a little disappointed.

I mean it was pretty and all...

...but we were just expecting  this big hole with a lot of alligators surrounding it.  We saw one alligator in the water off in the distance, one heron, and two ducks.  

Fortunately, two other hikers came up behind us just as we were about to leave and told us the Deep Hole was way over there....

...up by those palm trees.

We followed the two hikers up to the Deep Hole...

and saw a lot more alligators (all those dark spots in the water are alligators)...

...and a Roseate Spoonbill (Ken's favorite)...finally!  

A few more hikers arrived as we were standing there including a couple of wildlife resources people.  They said the water is up higher right now so you don't see as many alligators lying around the banks.

Mature alligators only eat about once a week and they eat anything from fish to birds to other alligators.  The wildlife resources guys said the birds seem to sense when the alligators are getting hungry and typically know when to get out of the gator's way.  This Roseate must know these gators have already had their dinner for the week.  :)

We saw only one alligator out on the bank and he was HUGE!  

These anhingas were drying their wings in a nearby tree.

The most alligators we counted at one time while we were standing there was 15 but none of them were very close or else we would not have been standing there!  :)

We were so glad those two hikers walked up behind us and showed us where the Deep Hole was.  It was a pretty neat thing to see...even with only 15 alligators.  :)

We turned around and began our hike back to the car stopping for a few minutes to see the Lower Myakka Lake which was just north of the Deep Hole.  We saw one alligator here way off in the distance.

We began our 2 1/2 mile hike back to the car and were enjoying talking with Ernie and Noela and learning more about their home in Quebec when I almost stepped on this huge turtle.

He (or she?) wasn't just any ol' turtle.  He was a Florida soft-shelled turtle.  

He had a huge head with penetrating eyes and a little snout for a nose.  

Florida's soft-shelled turtle is the largest soft-shell turtle in North America.  What is surprising is that from what I read the turtle is almost entirely aquatic.  But this guy (or gal) was crawling right along the hiking trail.  The below movie shows how he (or she) moves fairly quickly for a big turtle and can really stretch his head out.  

Well, that was cool!  We walked on a little further and the guys looked down and saw this little snake that Noela and I had just stepped over.  

Before we knew it, we had made it back to the parking lot and then rode back to our campsite and rested for a few minutes.  Then we loaded up our picnic lunches on our bikes and headed into the park for a bike ride.  We were all pretty hungry after our 5 mile hike so we stopped first at the picnic area near the Myakka Outpost and ate our lunch.  

Then we rode all the way to the north end of the park and rode out to the Clay Gully area.  

We could see some fish in the water that were kind of wallowing near the surface like a carp sometimes does.  

Then, we rode out to the front entrance where Ernie and Chuck ran several experiments to determine what would open the gate.  They weren't sure if it was weight or metal that caused the gate to open because both a bike and a car would open the gate.  Standing or jumping up and down on the sensors would not open the gate and neither would the metal from keys as Chuck found out.  Noela and I just stood there and laughed as we watched our scientists hard at work.  :)  

I think they determined that there was just enough metal in a bike to make the gates open.  Another mystery solved!  :)

We stopped back by the Myakka Outpost and had some ice cream.  We could not believe how crowded the park was.  I asked the clerk in the Outpost what was going on for it to be so crowded and she said it is this way every day during snowbird season and until right after spring break.  

By the time we got back to our campsite, we had ridden about 14 miles.  Wow!  Hiked 5 miles and biked 14 miles.  But the day was not over yet!  We decided to finish off our fantastic day with dinner at Sweet Tomatos!  

We had another sunglasses incident today.  Before going on our bike ride, Noela couldn't find her sunglasses.  We looked everywhere but Noela thought she may have dropped them at the Deep Hole parking lot when she was taking her hat off.  On the way to the restaurant, we stopped at the parking lot for the Deep Hole to see if we could find them but no luck.  After we said our good-byes to Ernie and Noela at the restaurant and returned to the campground, Chuck and I noticed that the Myakka office was still open. I went inside to see if anyone had turned in a pair of sunglasses.  And guess what!  There was Noela's sunglasses.

Bonnie, Noela and I have all had issues with losing our glasses this winter.  First, Bonnie dropped hers in Six Mile Cypress only to be retrieved by Chuck.  Then, I dropped mine on the pier at Matlacha only to later find them resting on the bench on the pier.  And then today, Noela lost and then we found her sunglasses.  Unbelievable!  Oh yeah, Chuck just reminded me that Bonnie had almost lost her sunglasses a second time at Great Licks ice cream shop in Matlacha but Ken picked them up to see if she noticed that she left them on the table.  :)

What a super fantastic day!  Ernie and Noela, thanks for driving up and joining us for the day!  And like Noela said, now that we found her sunglasses, we have to meet again!  :)  Safe travels back to Canada and we look forward to seeing you again!