Sunday, February 19, 2012

2012-4 A campfire story

Bonfire stories:

Anyone who goes camping knows that one of the most fun activities is sitting around a campfire telling stories, singing songs and maybe roasting a marshmallow or two.  Well last night was just one of those nights.  Here at 1,000 Palms they have the bonfire on the “great lawn”.  The sky has turned black with a couple of stars shining through and a planet showing pretty brightly too.  About 15 people are around the campfire.  A number of old logs stand on end for tables in between the chairs.  Dogs are laying at their masters feet or sitting in the laps or their caretakers, looking as spoiled rotten as can be.

A sip of red wine, popcorn and the evenings entertainment begins.  The campfire now roaring to life, with bright blues and greens from the old Christmas lights that were thrown in with the fire.

One camper from the Massachusetts area begins the evening with a song he wrote about the plight of the rivers and bays in the area having been polluted over many years.  His song is heartfelt and well received as he tells the story of how the rivers we finally cleaned up after locals gathered together and made a difference.   The other members of his party told of going into Boston and having a rally at Faneuil Hall and how their actions helped save the bay and rivers.

After that the guitar and banjo players began with Madeline leading the singing, everything from Oh Susanna to other old time songs.  Then I thought it was time for a good Norwegian/ Swedish story. This story followed:

One Sunday morning
One Sunday morning, the Lutheran pastor noticed Ole standing in the foyer of the church staring up at a large plaque. It was covered with names and small American flags mounted on either side of it. The old Norwegian had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside Ole, and said quietly, 'Good morning Ole.'
'Good morning Pastor,' he replied, still focused on the plaque. 'Pastor, vat is dis?' The pastor said, 'Well, it's a memorial to all the men and women who died in the service. Soberly, they just stood together, staring at the large plaque.
Finally, Ole's voice, barely audible and trembling with fear
asked, 'Vich service, da 8:30 or da 10:45? 

Someone suggested a good ole Johnny Cash tune and after doing Folsom Prison, I suggested Ring of Fire.  I told the story of how June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash were married to different partners at the time.  Their marriages were breaking up and during that time  June and Johnny started to fall in love with each other.  Even after they were divorced from their previous partners, June didn’t accept Johnny’s proposal of marriage right away, as Johnny was quite a wild guy back in those days.  But during that time, their love grew stronger and stronger.  June Carter finally wrote the Ring of Fire about that all consuming love they had for each other.  Johnny Cash of course made it into a huge hit eventually, but it was their song about their love for each other.

Tried to get them to sing "Just a bowl of butter Beans"  but no one knew the tune so we went onto other songs.

After a few more songs and more  Ole and Lena jokes were told, the gal next to me once again said we need a good ghost story.  So I told of the two ghosts that hovered around the ceiling in my bedroom when I was growing up in Northern Mich.  And how my niece had mentioned that years later when she was going to college and would occasionally stay in my parents home, that she immediately knew their were spirits in my old bedroom where she’d stay overnight.  On the other side of the campfire a guy piped up and told the story of the old farm house he had bought and how the neighbors started to ask if he’d seen the ghost in the upper window waving?  He hadn’t seen it yet, but out of curiosity, started to ask some of the previous owners if they had ever experienced such sightings.  All  said yes, including the last owner who said, “why do you think I moved!”.

A few more songs, a few more stories are told and gradually folks start heading back to their campers.  A warm gentle breeze blowing the palm fronds to and fro against the dark sky as the fire slowly fades out.

Friday, February 10, 2012

2012-3 DAY TRIPS from Inverness Fla


Listed below are some of the day trips available from the Inverness Fla area where I'm wintering this year.

1.  Crystal River Archaeological State Park.
29 miles (43 minutes)  Thursday-Monday $3.00

A National Historic Landmark, this 61-acre, pre-Columbian, Native American site has burial mounds, temple/platform mounds, a plaza area and a substantial midden. The six-mound complex is one of the longest continuously occupied sites in Florida. For 1,600 years the site served as an imposing ceremonial center for Native Americans. People traveled to the complex from great distances to bury their dead and conduct trade. It is estimated that as many as 7,500 Native Americans may have visited the complex every year. Although primarily an archaeological site, the park sits on the edge of an expansive coastal marsh. Anglers may catch saltwater and freshwater fish. As part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, the park offers bird-watchers the chance to observe a variety of birds.

Pontoon Ride:  $10.00,  (352)563-0450.  check for days, currently m/w/f

2.  Crystal River Preserve State Park.
29 miles (43 minutes)


The main trailhead is located at the intersection of North Tallahassee Road and Curtis Tool Road. Curtis Tool Road is one block south of 7 Rivers Hospital off US Hwy 19 north of Crystal River. The bicycle trail is a 9-mile loop that can be accessed either at the trailhead on Tallahassee Road or at the end of State Park Drive. This bike trail offers varied habitats from the Hardwood Hammock to Pinewoods and fringes a salt marsh. This is a trail for the experienced biker or hiker.

3.  Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park:
 24 miles (33 minutes) $13.  Groups:  $9 ea.

Visitors can see West Indian manatees every day of the year from the park's underwater observatory in the main spring. The park showcases native Florida wildlife, including manatees, black bears, bobcats, white-tailed deer, American alligators, American crocodiles, and river otters. Manatee programs are offered three times daily

4.  MK Rowlings State Historical Site:
Thursday- Sunday.  $3.00  55 miles (1 hour 2 minutes)

Visitors to this Florida homestead can walk back in time to 1930s farm life where Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings lived and worked in the tiny community of Cross Creek. Her cracker style home and farm, where she lived for 25 years and wrote her Pulitzer prize-winning novel The Yearling, has been restored and is preserved as it was when she lived here.

5.  Micanopy.
57 miles (10 minutes) from Cross Creek (MK Rowlings)

As Florida's oldest inland settlement, Micanopy (pronounced Mick-can-oh'-pee) has a well-established tradition of charm and Southern hospitality. Micanopy sometimes called "the little town that time forgot" possesses warmth and charm as well as eclectic shopping.

6.  Silver Springs State Park, Ocala.
43 miles (57 minutes)

Cost:  $47 Special rate yearly, includes concerts
Cost:  $32 general admission, one day pass

 Festival of Lights December 16 – 24 & December 26 – 31
 18th Annual Ford/Mustang Roundup Car Show January 7 & 8, 2012
 Merle Haggard January 14, 2012
 REO Speedwagon January 28, 2012
 Thompson Square February 11, 2012
  James Otto February 18, 2012
 Travis Tritt February 25, 2012
 Steel Magnolia March 3, 2012
 Styx March 10, 2012
 Glen Campbell March 24, 2012
 Eddie Money

No matter what your age, there are plenty of rides and attractions at Silver Springs that will make you laugh, fill you with wonder, and provide a glimpse into what life was like here more than 10,000 years ago. Just as they did then, the springs pump out 550 million gallons of sparkling-clear water a day—enough to supply the entire city of New York.

Surrounding the springs is a marvelous diversity of animals and nature you simply won’t find anywhere else. Come and explore the stunning beauty of Florida in its natural state.

7.  Weeki-Wachee State Park
41 miles (47 minutes)

A great place to experience the old road side attractions back in the 50's.  Florida has taken over the park and has maintained it's quaint nostalgic character, right down to the swimming mermaids.

Adult:                         $13.00
Child (Ages 6 - 12):      $8.00

Current show times
The Little Mermaid
11 a.m. & 3 p.m.
Fish Tails Mermaid Show
1:30 p.m.
Animal Show
10:30 a.m., 12 p.m. & 2:15 p.m.
River Boat Cruise
First cruise departs at 10:15 a.m.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

2012-2 Inverness Florida

February.  Winter camping in Florida continues....

Florida Sunsets

Well another month has gone by and the activities at 1,000 Palms have increased a bit.  They’ve added a painting class which runs between $35-$45 a session, where you complete a painting within the 3 hour span of time.  They also continue to have the casino tours for around $39.  Neither of which I’m inclined to attend since I have painted in the past and don’t need to join a beginners class and I go to enough casinos while traveling the country to get in on any good deals they may have.

Art Class for beginners

They did have a guy who does impersonations of various music artists and performs in Branson Mo.  It was moderately entertaining.  Oh they also have a monthly jam session in the clubhouse, but it looks like mostly outsiders come to the park to support it.  Very few residences attend.  Not sure why.

I’ve started an Adventure club that took just forever to get a timeslot on the parks calendar (like two months), as it’s usually filled up with line dance classes almost daily.  We finally got a Sunday afternoon time slot.  Our first meeting went fairly well, sharing tips, campgrounds and things to do in each state we covered.

The Adventure Club I've set up
 The park overall is just on the slightly disorganized side.  It’s as if they go only so far and then just drop the ball.  As an example, they have a meet and greet every couple of weeks.  This last one was scheduled at 10am and the line dancing group was doing their thing right up until 10am… with park visitors coming in for the meet and greet wondering what was going on.  Only after the line dancing group was finished did they start setting up tables, making the large pot of coffee and setting out the (by donation) breakfast rolls and donuts.  Needless to say the meeting was delayed.

After introducing the new campers that had arrived, announcements were made for all the pay as you go activities, a few Park messages like don’t throw non-disposable things down the drain, but not a word was brought up about any of the newly formed clubs and other activities that didn’t bring in money.

The weekly caravans to go out to dinner continue, but no one knows where the group is going until the last minute.  Same with the weekly movie night which could be outside (see if you can figure out where they’ll set it up) or in the clubhouse, but they never announce what the movie will be, supposedly they’re concerned the government will swoop in and get them for showing a movie commercially or some such nonsense.

Another example is their karaoke night.  They set up the music D.J and video prompter way off in a far corner of the large room, a huge blank space (maybe for dancing if there was a crowd) and all the tables for guests are set up on the opposite side of the room up against the wall.   There’s no encouragement to bring snacks or drinks and enjoy the show.  So usually about a dozen people show up and sit and watch across the far end of the room as two or three people perform throughout the evening. The first couple nights they had karaoke they didn’t even bother to turn on the outside lights, so one didn’t even know anything was going on inside the clubhouse.

The basic comments I hear are, “the people are just wonderful here“, “I‘ve come back here because I really like the other campers“.  But after that is said, each person seems to have their own minor disappointments or gripes about how the place is run and it’s a shame because it would take very little to make things right.  But there just doesn’t seem to be the desire to do that.

The owners are rarely in sight as they are concentrating on their new summer adventure program to get more business during those hot steamy summer months.

This park has been a good lesson for me in that it is too small to really enjoy the limited activities that are sponsored or set up by the residences especially for an extended stay.  At least for me.  So basically my days are spent going for walks, swimming if the weathers nice, shopping and eating out for lunch and reading.  I’m just a tad too far away to just pop in and visit with friends or relatives from the Orlando area and they must feel the same as I’ve not had anyone visit me here at the park so far this season.

It’s not a total disaster as I do enjoy the residences here at the park, but the limited activities just have me bored, bored, bored.  In the mean time I’ll plan on my coming summer adventures, less than 60 days away.