Friday, March 26, 2010

2010-06 Orlando to Pahokee to Marathon Florida


Orlando to Marathon Fl

I headed out from my favorite campsite in Moss Park and took a new route heading to the Florida Keys.  Going south on 15A through Narcoossee and St Cloud to Holopaw and then on down south on old 441 to Lake Okeechobee.

I love driving on country back roads.  441 from Holopaw south is one of those roads.  Through cattle country.  Pastures mixed in between pine trees, old oak and sabal palms dotting the landscape.  60 mph of scenic two lane driving, no towns, few gas stations and little traffic.  My kind of driving.

I stopped in a small town called Pahokee on the shores of Lake Okeechobee.  Now keep in mind, no one can actually see the lake unless you climb up over the dike surrounding the Lake.

I stayed at a KOA (formerly the Pahokee city park).  It was the most expensive I’ve paid in years.  $42 a night.  Though they do have good monthly rates.  The campground is over the dike and rests on a narrow spit of land along the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee.  Great views of the lake and sunset, but I can imagine in the wintertime, the cool breezed coming across the lake must be pretty biting.

Oh and their football team in Pahokee is called the Muck City Football team.  As this is a thick rich muck farming area.  The sugar cane was just being planted, along with tomato plants, avocado,  melons, and even bananas.  Vast corporate farms that reached for miles all the way to the horizon.  Quite a site to see.

The next day I drove the rest of the way to Marathon Fla.  Took about 5 hours of driving as I drove all secondary roads this time around.  


Well I made it.  What a feeling being in the keys again.  I’ve been down here so many times before and I just never seem to tire of it.  It’s almost like there’s something in the air, the atmosphere, that lifts my spirits.  The aqua, blue/greens of the water, so visible as I drive over each bridge spanning the islands.  The tropical palms swaying in the breeze above the mangroves that surround each island like a skirt.

Boating with Mary Lu and Randy, dining out at outdoor tiki huts.  All over looking the blue green waters that often appear lit from the inside out.  Visiting with friends Ben and Walt on Big Pine Key.  At dinner one evening Ben pointed out a most wonderful full moon.  As we all looked behind us, we noticed there were two full moons!  What’s in the water down here or should I say libations.  Come to find out they were globe lights over at the resort next door.  To us it was still a great full moon(s).

I’ve been trying to capture some of the essence of the keys in my photo’s and hope I’ve wet your appetite for a visit to the keys.

In Marathon, I discovered Daffy Doug’s Discount store.  Well actually I didn’t discover it so much as saw the huge sign saying Daffy Doug’s on it.  Of course I had to go in the store which had the usual dollar items and lots more.  Had a blast spending a whole $5.00.  What treasures.  I may have to go back for more.

My neighbors at the Marathon Coast Guard are quite the characters.  On one side, I have a couple that are millionaires.  It was important that they let me know that and about their houses on Nantucket and Costa Rica as well as their plane.  Spent a lot of time discussing his Mercedes and not wanting to get the paint ruined by seagull poop.  Life if rough.

On the opposite side of me is a retired chief and his wife.  In an older Bounder MH and bright yellow jeep.  I was telling him how much I love life and the keys being so special to me.  And how we have to live each day to the fullest.  He confided that he was told over 11 years ago that he had only about 5 years to live.  Lung cancer.  But he’s beaten the odds so far and he and his wife are living life to the fullest.  Before he got down here his Dr. called and told him the spots on his lung have not progressed… so maybe he’ll have another 5 years.  Good people.

So while being surrounded by the Atlantic ocean on one side, the Gulf of Mexico on the other, ribbons of concrete connecting each island, palm trees swaying in the breeze, tiki huts, sunsets, life is good and I can’t wipe the smile off my face.

Till my next report, Live Life….

and don't forget, lots of pictures on my Picasa web site.  

Monday, March 15, 2010

2010-05 Moss Park, Visiting Family and Friends

Moss Park.
Visiting Friends and Family.

I’ve settled into one of my favorite parks.  The serenity of the park is overwhelming and I hate to leave it even for a short while.  But errands have to be done and I was gone for most of the day.

My friends who know my “one project a day” philosophy will howl when they find out that I did a huge load of laundry, went to the library for a couple hours and did my taxes (accomplished, thank you very much), framed a couple pictures for gifts, had a Dr’s appt.  and visited with a friend before enjoying a dinner/Birthday party for my friend Patrick.  Whew, what a full day.  All accomplished in a continual all day rain.

The dermatologist told me about a fibrous fatty tumor on my back, which he doesn’t want to remove.  Yuck.  I may end up looking like the hunch back of Notre Dame.  As the song goes, “ but will you love me when I’m 64?”….  Also having a few sun damaged spots frozen next week.  Why he couldn’t do it this week is beyond me.  It’s a simple procedure, but, yada yada, what can I do.  Also will get results on a spot that has been particularly troublesome on my face.

At least I’m having it all done before heading down into the keys next week.

Patrick’s B-day party was at a swank Winter Park restaurant called Brio.  Gorgeous 20 ft high curtains, pillars, gorgeous woods, modern lighting, swags of white linen fabrics across the ceiling.  Just a darn classy place.  Expensive was the word for it.  My portion of the bill alone was over $70 with tip.  Outdoors on all the large trees on the boulevard were these most unique lights that appeared to drip light.  A stunning effect to say the least.

I’ve gone out to lunch and dinner with fellow workers and visited with my Nieces Kim and Kelly and their families.  What I found interesting was that over time, I no longer relate to many of my former co-workers.  The various lunches and dinners could not have been more opposite ends of the spectrum unless someone had planned it.  At one, the co-workers were almost too quiet.  Everyone waiting for their lunch and (eager) to get back to work. Yet at another dinner with fellow workers, we discussed everything from the new fuel cell by Bloom Energy, travel, future plans, the economy and so much more.

Visiting with my nieces and their families was such a joy.  Seeing them interact with their kids and each other in such fun and loving ways was most heart warming.  And they get so much packed into one day, whew, I’m exhausted just watching them.

More photo's on my Picasa web site as usual.  Have a super great day. 

Sunday, March 7, 2010

2010-05 Back in Orlando Florida

Orlando Fl, Moss Park

Moss Park.  A county campground.  $17 senior rate.  Elect and water.  35 over the air TV stations.  Campsites are large and can accommodate any size rig.  Restrooms are large and spotless (they cost one million dollars each).

My impressions driving across the country are much different than in the past.  With the faster pace of driving to Florida, I’m seeing everything with broad brush strokes.

The palm trees planted along businesses fronting I-10 through eastern Texas and Louisiana are all brown.  Frozen in this years heavy freezes.  Much of the south has finally recovered from past droughts.  The full rivers, bayous and land are well soaked.

When I hit the Florida boarder, things started to green up and the palm trees have survived beautifully.  Perhaps because I’m seeing many that are native to the area.

I rested a few days in the Panhandle and had planned on stopping in St Joe for a couple of days, but after being stopped by a detour (a bridge was torn down), I became a bit frustrated with the campground I had planned to stay at.  You see, when I had called a few days earlier to verify they had room for me, they didn’t bother to mention the detour or provide information regarding the detour.

I ended up driving down the road a bit further than planned and stayed in a state park, Ochlocknee State park.  I’ve stayed here before and it’s surrounded by the “Real Florida”.  Tall Pine trees and winding twisting oaks.  The water is black as can be from all the tannin in the water.  While at the park, a camper came in after dark, something I would never do as I hate to try and back into a site in the dark.  The camper was obviously a newbie,  as he was attempting to back a 40 ft 5th wheel into a site that could barely hold a 30 ft camper and it was directly across from my site.  Another clue was that the entire left side of his camper was torn up.   Yikkees, hope he doesn’t hit my truck.

He tried and tried, finally pulling out and coming in from the opposite direction.  That didn’t pan out either.  After driving around, he was finally able to get into a site further on around the loop.

As I headed down my favorite route into Florida, along hwy 19, it’s a rural county road with little traffic and the four lane road is divided by a grassy median, I enjoyed seeing the quite side of the state.  Before one hits all the big cities.
I stopped over in Chiefland Fla. A true old Florida cracker town.  Found two great places to eat.  Billy’s BBQ and The Black Diamond.  At the Black Diamond I had a wonderful Fla. Shrimp and baby scallops.  And Chiefland is close to a number of famous springs, like, Manatee and Fanning Springs.

As I drove south along hwy 19, I crossed the start of the original Florida barge canal.  One of those very bad ideas that fortunately got stopped before it went all the way across the state.  Could have destroyed many of the natural springs and aquifer in the state.

I hopped onto the Florida turnpike and was back in the world of heavy traffic.  As I got closer to Orlando, the highway construction added to the congestion.  They’re building huge concrete walls to block out all the road traffic, as Orlando continues to fill in every last space of green with cookie cutter houses in tight subdivisions.  

I arrived at my favorite campground in the area, Moss Park, and was instantly enveloped in a scene of southern country charm.  Moss park has two lakes, huge stately oak trees and tall pines.  Two squawking sand hill cranes greeted me on my arrival and were in no hurry to get off the dirt road leading to my campsite.

While setting up, I was greeted by more sand hill cranes along with their two baby cranes.  How cool.  Black masked squirrels, an armadillo, raccoon and three deer all came to visit throughout the day.

I have limited internet coverage and no phone service from my campsite, but I’m as happy as can be.  I’ll be visiting friends and family in the area over the next two weeks and will then head down into the keys.