Friday, January 25, 2019

What Do You Do With Your Pictures?

The cool and rainy weather afforded us time to perform a long procrastinated task; organizing our photographs. When we were preparing for our life on the road we vowed to get rid of as much as possible. We did not know how long we were going to be on the road and did not want to pay monthly storage fees for years, maybe even decades.

The furniture was the easiest to get rid of as we did not have any family heirlooms other than a grandfather clock which is on loan at our son’s house and a gun safe at my brothers. The old personal pictures or mementoes from ours or our parents’ childhoods were the hardest. Some, like high school albums we got rid of altogether while others we passed on to our children to do with them what they wished. After all, they were going to get them at some point anyway. 
One of the hardest things to decide what to do with was the old photographs. They were too numerous and bulky to take on the road and we did not want to burden our children with storing them. So instead, we scanned them; all the photographs of our immediate family growing up as well as those passed on to us from our parents and other relatives. 
Barb's 4th Grade Class Picture circa 1968
A closer look shows a cute little Barbie on the far right.
What's that on her desk?

We scanned and stored them on various SD card and sticks in no real organization in mind. Even with that done we just could not get ourselves to throw away the originals so ended up burdening our daughter with them telling her to do with them what she wished. To this day we don’t know if she still has them and we are not going to ask. 
Me (l) and my brother Rod (r) circa 1967
It just dawned on me that I was not even in kindergarten when the above picture of Barb was taken!
So here we are with thousands of pictures covering decades and decades on storage devices, what to do with them? How do you organize them? We decided to put them into folders by years which is easy for some, much more difficult for others. It is fairly easy to guess the year on pictures with our kids in it but when it comes to old pictures of our parents, pictures of ourselves or just adults, it becomes a guessing game. Nonetheless, we went through thousands of pictures one by one placing them into what we felt was the right folder. 
Still just as cute circa 1970
It was fun to see all the old memories but also frustrating at times when we could not figure out when one was taken. 
Barb guessed the date on this picture to be 2010 based on the boots she was wearing.
Who knows what boots they wore what year?????
Even I used to get into the action but I had to totally guess at the date late 80's early 90's
We are now 90% there, feel pretty good about where we are and have them stored on several external hard drives should one fail. To Barb’s credit she has been very good about organizing our pictures since we have been on the road by year, month, and day which has made recent pictures much easier.
This is how we organize them since being on the road
On the days we could get out on the water we took full advantage of it. I got out fishing three times this week (Barb got out twice) from both on shore and on the water. The biggest fish of the week goes to...…. Me! With this 9lb channel cat.
The most fish award goes to Barb as she just slaughtered them when we went out in our kayak where Withlacoochee River dumps into the Gulf. We caught flounder, red fish, ladyfish, silver perch, and speckled  trout.
Getting ready!

Barb's first flounder!

Fish on!

Shrimp boat headed out to the gulf
Fishing out of a kayak is a little more challenging than in a boat. While Barb did most of the fishing I was trying to hold our place or keep us away from shore. We learned a lot and next time we will set things up a little differently.
Nice little Red Fish
Another day when Dan and I were fishing Barb and Jeanie went to an Accordion Club that Jeanie belongs to. Barb said it was very interesting and has even mentioned that she is going to get her dad's accordion! Here is a short video of what the club was like.....

They also stopped by the Williston Peanut Plant. The pictures are very interesting and resemble grain elevators of those in North Dakota.....

Last but not least, we received a message from a couple we met up in Alaska in '16! Mike and Liz live in nearby Citrus Springs and asked if we wanted to get together for a beer. Since they are locals they know all the good spots. We met them at Copp Brewery in Crystal River. They have excellent beer there and both Barb and I were very impressed. Then it was on to the Old Mill Tavern in Homosassa where they have 50+ chicken wing flavors...... Both were very good and it was great to get together with them again!
Overall it was a great week with a good mix of adventures and accomplishments. If you have any suggestions on how to organize pictures feel free to leave a comment. Two weeks down and two weeks left here in the Yankeetown area, who knows what kind of adventures trouble we can get into!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Another Lesson Learned

You would think being on the road 5 years now we would have learned most of the lessons out there. But we learned another valuable lesson this week. This is the first time we have stayed in an RV Park for a full 30 days. Oh, we have stayed several places for 30+ days; The Farm and Pasha Lake, but this is the first time we have stayed in a park for that long and we should have done more homework.
There were two main factors when picking this location; location and rate. The location is perfect, it is on the water right in our target area less than a mile from where our friends Dan and Jeanie have their boat at a marina. And at $450/month this park one of the lowest we found in the area (this should have been a clue). Since we rarely if ever take advantage of the amenities in a park we did not care that this one was bare bones. We even went as far as going on Google Earth to check it out. We saw it was tight but most parks down in Florida are tight.
What didn’t we expect? Two rigs to our right is party central going late into the night. The rig to our left has a screen porch within 1 foot of our rig with constant cigarette smoke coming through the window. The rig behind us is about 5 feet away and they have 5, count them, 1,2,3,4,5 dogs. 5 not so quiet dogs….. did I mention they have 5 dogs? But that’s not the best part, we have to share a sewer port with them. Since I knew we only had one sewer connection for two rigs I dumped and put my hoses away until we need to dump again. But when they pulled in they hooked right up to it so when I have to dump again I need to remove their hose, hook mine up and dump hoping their valves are closed and they don’t use anything while I am dumping.
Our neighbor with a couple of their dogs
On the bright side, everyone is very nice, maybe too nice as if you are outside it is fair game to stop by and start a conversation. 
Oh well, lesson learned. Next time we will do a little more research and spend a few most dollars and upgrade. 
Despite all of this we are managing to get out and have a great time getting out on the water twice in the past week. Once to take a ride up the canal to check out the sights and once to do some fishing. This area seems to be in transition with mix of really nice homes and homes that have been abandoned with nature taking them back over. Very interesting to take the boat up that canal and see all the different homes and boats. 
View downriver 

and upriver
The name of this boat was "Dream Catcher" more like a nightmare!

This is what happens when you don't tie your boat properly
Our day of fishing was even more interesting. We went out with Dan and Jeanie on their boat and caught several varieties of fish; Red Fish, Speckled Trout, Sand Trout and some kind of saltwater perch. Both the Red Fish and trout were in the 12-14” range while the perch were much smaller.
Speckled Trout

Red Fish
One interesting note is how the pelicans here have adapted. The pelicans will sit around your boat about 50 yards out but as soon as  you set the hook on a fish and start fighting it the pelicans fly in and try and steal it off your line! You have to reel the fish in as fast as you can while the pelican tries to dive and grab your fish!
This guy hung around us all day
Looks like he got a fish!
Here is a tip for you fishing around here. If you see a boats surrounded by pelicans, they must be catching fish! Catching these fish is very similar to walleye fishing. You slowly retrieve a jig across the bottom but instead of using a jig tipped with a minnow you use shrimp. Fishing along the bottom like this, you are prone to snags and other sea creatures that have shrimp in their diet as well………
This little blue crab wanted Barb's shrimp
An oyster cluster that got snagged on Barb's jig
We plan to get out a few more times in the coming weeks so hopefully we will have a freezer full of fish when we leave the area.
Knowing the Jordan’s were just down the road in Ocala, we got together with them a couple of times. The first time at their campsite at The Santos Trailhead State Park. We were joined by Jim’s parents, Jim and Becky, who live just down the road. We grilled up some South Dakota venison steaks while Barb, Brenda and Jim did a beer tasting on the beers they have been picking up on their travels. 
Some of the beers they sampled

Two Jim's along with Becky and Brenda
We met up again a few days later at The Freezer in Homosassa. Jim and Brenda were joined by friends and fellow full-timers Matt and Sherry.  This restaurant came highly recommended and lived up to its recommendation. We will probably come here a couple more times while in the area. 

Another area we have heard a lot about but never visited was Cedar Key so we drove an hour north to visit that quaint little town. We have had several friends stay there and looks like a great place if you are looking for a nice quiet spot for a few days. Of course no visit here is complete without a stop at Tony's Seafood Restaurant for some of their famous clam chowder. This is by far the best chowder we have had. We bought a few cans to bring home with us but sadly it is gone already!

This Ibis found a snake!

We also picked up some clams for a clam/pasta dish that Barb whipped up! Gotta love the seafood in this area.  We have been here just over a week and we have had shrimp 3 times, crab twice, several bowls of clam chowder and thanks to Dan and Jeanie, some fresh caught fish!
Clam and pasta coming up!
This weekend was the Manatee Festival in nearby Crystal River so we tagged along with Dan and Jeanie and checked it out. There were tons of people along with hundreds of tent vendors. It was $5 to get in but with that you can use the shuttles they have from the nearby mall and also get into the Crystal River Three Sisters Springs National Wildlife Refuge.
Street after street was filled with vendors and tourists

Dan and Jeanie on one of our shuttle rides

Crab Traps 
The highlight of the event was our visit to Three Sisters and seeing the manatees. There were dozen of them gathered in the springs. The water is so clear here it is amazing.

Two adults and a baby
The weather has been on the cool side with some rain, it looks like more of the same for this week but hopefully it will warm up so we can get back out of the water!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Kayaking Among the Manatees on Silver Springs

Our first stop in Florida was at Santos Trailhead State Park outside of Ocala. The Jordan’s turned us onto this spot while they were researching places to stay and this was one of few areas that had a site with multiple days together so we took advantage of it!

The highlight of this area for us was Silver Springs where we did some kayaking. This was the first test of the repair job I did since the mice got into our Sea Eagle and I am happy to report the patch held and we did not sink!
You can launch right in Silver Springs State Park. The river meanders through some very picturesque landscapes. In fact, this is where they filmed several of the Tarzan movies and many of the movie structures are still there. 

As cool as those were, we were not there to see the structures. We were hoping to get a glimpse of the ever elusive Florida Manatee that are said to reside in the larger Silver River! As we wound our way through Silver Springs we saw quite a bit of wildlife including turtles, various birds and gators. We were hoping that the gators did not know the difference between an inflatable and hard sided kayak! We were told that decedents of the monkeys used during filming are still swinging from the trees but we did not see any. 

We eventually made our way to the Silver River and were paddling along when Barb saw the hump of a manatee surface in front of her. We quietly made our way over to where we last saw them. They must have been as curious as we were as they surfaced within inches of our kayak! My camera somehow got on B&W for a few pictures......
Manatee fin ahead!

Peeking up to see what we are up to

They were right underneath us!

Hope the other one does not surface under us!
After 3 hours of paddling we went back to our campsite. We spent 3 days in site #20 at Santos Trailhead SP ($22/night W/E) which for us was probably the best site in the park. It was long enough that we were able to fit the entire rig into, it was one of the few sites that we could get satellite reception from and it had a large grassy area across the street for the dogs to run and play. 
Site #20 Santos Trailhead SP
We would take the dogs over to the grassy area and throw the frisbee and Dakota would go get it, on and on. One time Barb comes back and says "I got the frisbee stuck in a tree and need the broom". The thought crossed my mind to say something smart like "What are you going to do, fly up and get it?" Well, apparently as I was thinking it those words came out of my mouth and I got wacked with said broom!
When she could not reach it with the broom, she actually climbed the tree and eventually got it down. 
Maybe she is going to fly up there!

Up she goes!

If you look closely you can see Barb poking at the frisbee with a broom
She eventually got it down and life was good again. After spending 3 nights there it was time to move over to B's Marina and Campground in Yankeetown. It was only an hours drive down a 2 lane country road so we took our time. At one point there was a truck and 5th wheel approaching us from the other way and I commented to Barb that it looked like Jim and Brenda Jordan's rig (our neighbors from South Dakota). Sure enough as we passed they were waving at us. What are the odds of that?!?! Later that day they sent us this picture from their dash cam.

We arrived at B's and found out the site we reserved was not going to be available for a few days so we pulled into one of the other two open spots. Things are pretty tight here and we have to park our truck away from the rig but overall it is a quiet campground.

Two days later we moved to our reserved spot. 
We now have enough room to put our awnings out!

You can see our truck and rig on the right center

Again, our rig is on the right side in the center
Really nice catamaran 
This will be our home for the next month. Good friends Dan and Jeanie have a house in nearby Dunnellon so we have plans to get together with them often and do some sightseeing and fishing. In addition, we hope to get back over to Ocala and see Jim and Brenda as well as a few other friends who will be in the area in the next few weeks!