Thursday, February 19, 2015

Birthday Times Two

Happy February 19th, everyone. This is a special day for Gary and I. It's our birthdays! I'm only 43, but Gary is a whopping 60. He's old enough to be my Daddy! Actually, there are a few people that call him that. He doesn't seem to mind. He may be old, but he hasn't lost his sense of humor. We are in the midst of a very lazy day here at O'Leno State Park. My little stuffed squirrel buddies, Squeekers and Nutkin, are the only ones that seem to be fully awake around here today. We stayed up late last night, and didn't wake up until 9AM this morning. For us, that is VERY late. I know I've posted a couple of pictures today that look almost like ones I posted last time, but now I'm 43 instead of 42. Do I look any older? As you can see in the outdoor photos of Dodge and I, it's a sunny 50 degree day here. It's the coolest day we've had all week, and we like it like this. It rained all day and night on Tuesday, was nice on Wednesday, and today is the nicest day yet. Gary and Dodge did their usual running around and antiquing on Tuesday and Wednesday, but today they are hanging out with me here at the campground. Dodge is the hardest worker of all of us, and he is definitely enjoying taking a break. It's nearly 1PM, and Gary is still lounging in his comfy looking sleep pants. We've done nothing but play on the internet and watch TV so far today, and it looks like we're going to be doing more of the same as the day goes on. Gary mentioned watching a movie or two, so we'll probably do that and then maybe take a nap. Even though I'm relatively young, I've always been able to fall asleep almost anytime or anywhere. Gary never has been as sleepyheaded as me, but the older he gets, the more he seems to enjoy a little snooze from time to time. I'll follow his lead. Whatever he wants to do is fine with me. I'm having a WONDERFUL day, and spending time with all my buddies on my birthday, especially while camping, is just as good as good can get.

Monday, February 16, 2015

O'Leno State Park: Our Third Visit

When Gary was telling me about our camping plans for the winter of 2015, there was no mention of camping anywhere in the month of February after our return from Florida Caverns. I think he was planning on staying home for the remainder of the month to get some work done around the house. Even though we still have plenty of camping left in March and April, I just didn't want for February to pass us by without going out at least once. After all, Gary and I both celebrate our birthdays in February, and what fun is it celebrating at home? I whined for awhile, and Gary finally gave in and booked a five night stay at O'Leno State Park in High Springs, FL. He didn't want to travel too far from home, and this park is only about a hundred miles away. We've been here before, but it's been almost two years since our last visit. Of the three times we've been here, our current campsite is the best one we have been in. It's spacious and partially shaded, and has a nice wooden fence around it. The restroom is directly across the street. There isn't a lot of privacy, but at least our neighbors are far enough away that we can't reach out and touch them. We weren't thrilled with this park on our first visit, but it grew on us the second time. We like it even better now. Having a good campsite makes a LOT of difference. We are in campsite #5, and we highly recommend it. This is round #7 of our 10 round camping season, and this will be the shortest time we will be away from home. We typically go to more than one park while we're out, but this is a "one and done" trip. At least Gary and I are going to spend our birthdays doing something we love. Gary seems to be happy that I talked him into this trip, and I'm going to be on my best behavior so there's no regrets. Rain or shine, we're going to have a TERRIFIC week. I just KNOW it!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Florida Caverns Revisited

The last time we were here at Florida Caverns was in December of 2011. We had a disappointing campsite then, but the one we are in this time is considerably better. It's fairly large, and has a BEAUTFUL swamp directly behind it (ha-ha-ha). It's not exactly as pretty and scenic as our previous two stops on this round of our camping season, but it serves the purpose. One of the campground hosts has a Scotty Hilander. That's a very unusual thing to see a camp host living in. Gary checked it out. It's a 1972 model like me, but it was made in Irwin Pennsylvania. I was thinking that maybe it was a long lost sister or brother of mine from the Ashburn Georgia Scotty factory, but I was wrong. As usual, Gary spent a full day antique shopping. This time, he went all the way to Dothan, Alabama. It wasn't as far away as it sounds. The main attraction here at Florida Caverns is the caverns themselves. Although Gary had gone on the tour on our last visit, he decided to go again. He was part of a large group. Somehow, he managed to avoid getting other people in most of his shots. It looks very interesting in there from the pictures, but all of those tight spaces and low ceilings would give me the creeps. Gary tells me there are tiny little bats in the caverns as well, and although I like most critters, bats would not be on my top ten of favorites. There's a nice gift shop and museum here too. I've been plenty happy just hanging out at our campsite. There's a lot of squirrels here, but I don't have any peanuts to feed them, so I've just been watching them running around. It rained the day before we got here, and our campsite was a little water saturated in places. Other campsites here faired far worse. It's been sunny ever since, and things have dried out very nicely. All things considered, this was my least favorite of the three state parks we camped at on this trip. I think Gary would agree. The other two were REALLY nice. We had that beautiful waterfront campsite at Three Rivers, and a view of the bayou at Rocky Bayou. I guess I got spoiled. The swamp isn't exactly my idea of beautiful scenery. Oh well. We head home from here, regroup, and head out again in a few days. If not before, I'll check in from wherever we end up at next time. More soon!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Emergency Surgery

As I mentioned previously, not everything has been peaches and cream since we got here to Rocky Bayou on Monday. When Gary was putting the stabilizer jacks under me, he spotted a large crack on my door side frame rail. Thankfully, I didn't feel it break. I had no clue that anything was wrong. But once I got the news, I began to worry. Gary was worried too. Neither of us slept well on our first night here. I knew that I was going to have to have surgery the following morning to repair the break. Letting it go could lead to more damage or maybe even my death, so Gary HAD to find a place to take me to get me fixed up. Early Tuesday morning, Gary began making phone calls to try to find a doctor (welder in this case) to make the repair. He eventually found an auto body shop that was only about five miles away from the campground who said that they could take care of me. So, just like when we pack up to go from campground to campground, Gary got me ready to go. I got hitched up to Dodge, and off we went. I was SO scared. I didn't know what to expect. What if I couldn't be fixed? What if they didn't want to take care of me after they said they would? We arrived at the clinic, and the doctor (welder) took a quick look at me. He said he could fix me up right away. With all the wrecked cars and junk that was sitting around, getting me into the operating room (garage) was a bit of a problem. Gary somehow managed to back me in without hitting or running over anything. I was disconnected from Dodge, and jacked up so the welder could get to the problem area easier. He ground off all of the undercoating first, making the crack more visible. That part of the operation didn't hurt at all. Then he sealed up the crack with an EXTREMELY hot welding torch. That REALLY hurt! Where's an anesthesiologist when you need one? A bit of grinding to smooth things up was next, then a patch was welded into place to reinforce my frame. That didn't seem to hurt as much as the first round of welding, but I think I was getting used to the intense pain. Last but not least, I had some cool air blown on my wound for a minute or two (that helped ease the pain a bit), and then the entire repair area was sprayed with undercoating to keep things from rusting. That REALLY helped take the sting away. I sat there for a short time while Gary paid the bill (I don't have health insurance), then he hitched me up to Dodge and brought me back to the campground. I was sore for the rest of the day, and I slept a lot, but I feel as good as new now. Many thanks to those of you that heard about my ordeal, and took the time to call and email. Your kindness means a lot. And thanks to my buddies Gary and Dodge for watching over me while I recuperated. I am good to go now, and ready for my next adventure. As long as it doesn't involve emergency surgery, I'm going to be one happy camper!

Three Days At Rocky Bayou State Park

We had a wonderful four day stay at Three Rivers State Park, but Monday rolled around, and it was time to move on to the next stop on our schedule. We headed approximately 120 miles further west in the Florida panhandle, and wound up at Rocky Bayou State Park in Niceville, FL. This is the first time we've ever been here, and we are NOT disappointed. This is a small park, but definitely a nice one. We wouldn't hesitate to come back here anytime. Gary picked out another TERRIFIC campsite for us. It's big and shady and has a view of Rocky Bayou through the trees across the street. The immaculately clean restroom (so Gary says) is only about a hundred feet from our campsite, so he's happy about that. The campground road is paved, so it was a nice smooth ride coming in. The park has all the typical things that most parks have, like hiking trails and various picnic areas. Gary has explored them all. Since we're water adjacent, there's a boat ramp here and canoes and kayaks can be rented. TV reception is limited, but at least I've been able to catch some of my favorite shows. I LOVE the campsite. There's nobody close to us, and that's always good. Squirrels are EVERYWHERE, and I had Gary pick up a couple of bags of peanuts at Wal-Mart so I could feed them. All in all, we've had a good time here. However, it hasn't been all fun (no fault of the park), and I'll tell you all about that in my next post. Stay tuned!