A Travellerspoint blog

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storm 50 °F

It has been quite an ordeal for John and I the last few months...filled with doctors appointments and physical therapy. So going to Florida was a last minute thing that almost didn't happen. We had delayed our trip til the end of Jan since I had a total knee replacement in November and needed time to recover. Recovery was slow and it didn't help with gouty toes, ankle and sciatica issues. With the support of friends and family I got thru it one day at a time.
John had his share of mishaps. He smashed his thumb and it got infected and was in emergency room twice and follow up with our doctor 3 times. Then his back started bothering him. Then came the neck pain and headaches. Also, he's been sick since New Year's Day. With cold/flu. He needs to be healthy since he has does most of the work while camping. We figure during the trip we can always take ibuprofen as we need it, and can always go home if things gets tough.
The drive was long going down. We stopped as much as we could so my new knee would stay limber. The weather was stormy with tornadoes everywhere. However, we did miss most of it. At the Comfort Inn in Valdosta, Ga, the hotel manager mentioned 1/2 of the city is without power, so we are lucky to have power at the hotel even though no Tv signal. We ended up having dinner at a sports bar, Chedders, which happens to have the football games on. The food was inexpensive and delicious. Good evening despite all odds.
Once we got into Florida, It felt so much warmer than last year, which could mean more bugs in the evening, especially in the Everglades. Time will tell.
Instead of a daily blog, we are planning to do a weekly blog for each campground stay...hope you can follow along for another winter of our discontent.

Posted by Bananawind2016 07:56 Archived in USA Comments (1)



semi-overcast 75 °F

Here we are again at this different and special sort of place.Too bad it started in sheer panic trying to put up the new unfamiliar tent in a sudden rainstorm on a fine white sand campsite! Wet tent wet fly with a frosting of sand on everything! What a start but great to be here.Koreshen,as they call this place has a large real ghost town of a cult that lived and thrived there back in the early nineteenth hundreds.Feeling a bit sad not having my trusty kayak this time but the back and shoulders are still on the mend.this time I have my not so trusty bike which had a big loud blowout five miles into my ride. Luckily for me it was towards the end and only had to carry it a couple miles. Koreshan has its share of wild life. We drove by a land tortoise, heard shrieking sounds of raccoons, and owl plus other menacing sounds. The campsite is very private with plenty of palm trees so when the wind kicked up at night it sounded like rushing water waterfall which provides for a great long sleep!

Setting up camp for the first time during bouts of rain
Neighbor gave us 1/2 of the coconut he just cracked open
Land Turtoise stopping by camp for a short visit
Wonderful sounds coming from the bamboo forest on this windy day
Here is one of the old interesting buildings spread at the compound
"Mary's camping kitchen"

Rough day. I realized I left my crocs at the Hampton inn at Knoxville, so I went to crocs outlet store nearby to get another flip flop...lots of decisions trying on this and that. Got back and John was laying on his cot seemingly down. His bike tires blew out...he says to wait til we get to key west to get it fix. I insisted we do it right away while we can. We found trex bike in the Coconut complex in Estero...Huge shopping place, even bigger than the outlet mall. Luckily got it fixed right away, but we realized John threw my handicapped sticker away at Mcdonalds. So we went there and no luck. I have become attached to it for better or for worse. Didn't have lunch, too much going on...just split an apple and a banana. Got back to the camp ground, rest abit, took a shower. At 5:30 left to go to Fitzgeralds to meet Jan and Gary, our boat friends. Since it was happy hour, I indulged on 2 gin and tonic, John had Guinness. We sat in front of the Irish band. At times, John would play along with his tin whistle. It was a lot of fun. So glad Jan and Gary found this place. It was fun!

Great time At Fitzgerald's with Jan and Gary

Posted by Bananawind2016 07:57 Archived in USA Comments (0)



sunny 80 °F

Yep she is still there looking as menacing as ever with her evil one eye! Is it just me or is it every living thing that passes through her gate to the Everglades National Park? Last year she tried to charge more for my kayak which she failed and now she is questioning if my senior pass is mine while making faces and rolling her eyes. Mary says perhaps she ask because I don't look like a "senior". Anyway the primitive campsite is smack dab in the middle of nowhere so at night there is no human noises just owls and other nocturnal animals all night to listen to.Later in the night someone stopped outside our tent with a flashlight and informed us of a really big Diamondback Rattlesnake just outside our door and may not want to come out for awhile! That's the understatement of the week! The rest of the night I kept vigil for suspicious humps and bumps in our otherwise flat tent floor.Next day missing the adventure of paddling with my alligator and crocodile friends I'm off on my untrustworthy bike on a old closed down ten mile one way trail to an old abandoned research station.Halfway there I started to get creepy feelings about my 90 lb. skinny tires blowing up again on the stony road during late afternoon.

Our traveling home for the wintertime
Our in the middle nowhere with my untrusty bike with my fingers crossed
Rough and lonely beauty at waters edge in Flamingo Everglades
Open water back near camp,maybe go for a quick swim......Not!

Posted by Bananawind2016 07:57 Archived in USA Comments (0)


Big Pine Key, FL

sunny 70 °F

Here we are in Bahia Honda State Park! Being in the historic old railroad bridge's shadow and seen from most points of the park invokes a feeling of history and the past. Lots of time and hard work was put in to make the keys accessible to the motor traveler. At night the sky down here is a whole different story than back home in Ohio. Here there is so many more you can see and they are so clear they jump out at you, as if you could touch them all....Had a strong North Easter early this morning with rain and cold wind which made a great sleep in morning with my warm sleeping bag. (See Mary, I told you I needed a 30 degree sleeping bag!)......"The Neighbors"..Two young girls driving in stopped me and wanted to know where the heck their campsite is and started laughing and did not quit for two nights! Their site was right next to ours and their cackling continued into the wee hours of the morning. IT DROVE ME CRAZY! Second night Mary called the rangers on them and quiet returned once again....Many of the buildings here are older but the showers are hot and that's all that matters at the end of a long day. From Bahia we took a drive to Key West to visit my cousin Bob who lives on a military base. Great place to live but a bit creepy getting past the guards. I haven't seen cousin Bob for over 35 years and was excited to see him again. When he showed up at the gate to get me in he was the same old bob. We had a very nice visit with him and "C", his wife. They served up a type of Venezuelan raw fish popular in Key West...and it was delicious!

Crazy low bridge we had to drive under to get to our campsite
note the Carrabbean art on the underside pipe.
Breathtaking sunsets framed by the historic railroad bridge every night.
View from on top of bridge with the palm trees swaying in the wind.

Today in paradise I just rode my bike and walked miles and miles of natural unspoiled beaches with no one around,just me and the energetic sandpipers and the diving pelicans. It seemed they were putting on a show of all their talents just for me ,many times I just had to stop and watch in awe. Later in the early evening "Bahia Mary and I headed out to look for "No Name Bar" on "No Name Key". After driving small roads through residential areas and dead ends we finally found it.I was a little disappointed πŸ˜” that it was not a real dive bar and no happy hour but it was different and happy fun people were there. Coming back to the park and our home we had the most beautiful sunset πŸŒ… waiting for us framed by the old railroad bridge to finish off the day.

Bike was great but it's not my kayak,should have brought it!
All the birds here seem so busy but I think they are faking it.
Unspoiled beaches just waiting to be discovered.
"No Name Bar" was really hard to find,no wonder people there drink so much.
French lady just would not get out of my picture and kept saying "Ou La La!" True story!

Posted by Bananawind2016 11:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)


Big Pine Key, FL

sunny 73 °F

Trouble in paradise! Started the day with plans to do some 🚴 riding in Key West, hit the beach then crash a fancy beachfront resort we always visit, but things took a bad turn. Getting out of our park takes a left turn on the highway ☝️ without a light! As always there was a ton of traffic going fast so I had to make a quick move and "floor it". Sadly I did not "unfloor " it soon enough and got a very pricey ticket! My well planned afternoon turned into finding the courthouse and paying the fine. Also I have to take an online four hour safety driving course later to avoid the points on my license. So πŸ™ I just wanted to quit and head 🏑 but Mary pulled me out of it and talked me into going to an Irish bar with music in Key West. Got back and once again was treated to the most spectacular starry sky and looking for the friendly octopus who I am told comes up out of the deep quarry to the shallow water on the edge where you shine the light. It would even come up to your feet and changes into many different colors. Hope this is not a joke pulled on me because it's working.

Mary: We spent our last day here at the beach, just kick back and enjoy the park. Even though it was in the 70's, it gets hot here...we found a shaded area to hang, close to the water and listen to the radio, catching up on the news. Saw a sailboat coming into the harbor...how graceful she looked!
Dinner was nothing to rave about...chicken dogs for John and Chinese noodles for me. We had to cook and eat in a hurry because the mosquitos were coming out.
As I am writing this, the sun is setting, and John is riding his bike visiting our next door neighbors from France, a couple in their 80's. Imagine that! They camp, ski, and play tennis.

Our kids having a great time at the beach today.
Nice dayfor windsurfing .

Thirty plus years I have had this slight grinding sound on my bike which gets louder with time. Thinking that it's my pedal, I would constantly oil it at no avail.Riding today I happen to stop and visit new friends Rachel and Gardner, two sites down, who happen to own an upscale bike shop on the east coast. Rachel knew the problem right away and Gardner went to work with his special tools and fixed it! It wasn't even my pedal after all and Gardner said the unit on the bike was going to come apart soon. Today is a much luckier day than yesterday.

Posted by Bananawind2016 05:44 Archived in USA Comments (0)


Everglades, FL

sunny 80 °F

Day 1

Well here we are back again in the Everglades at Long Pine Key. It is a nice reprieve from the loud traffic noise of the Keys. It is so quiet...with just owl and cricket sounds, and animal noises at night. Both the Keys and the Everglades have their positives and is nice to experience both. Eating at Rositas again at Florida city near the Everglades is a definite plus! It is perhaps the BEST Mexican food We've ever had. Just look at the picture! After dinner we went across the street and snuck into the funky Hostel we stayed at last year. At the cool courtyard next to the fountain was a group of young international adventurers whom we traded funny travel stories. Half of them were from Sweden and the other half were from England.This is what the travel lifestyle is all about! The people we meet are as important as the places we go. Time to go back to camp and turn in with a good book for it has been a long day.

Funky Hostel that we stayed at last year wish we were staying at again
but you never know who's rooming with you.
The most authentic Mexican food I've ever had!
"Mary what was that scary noise that sounded like a skunk ape?"


Sometimes I wonder if I am in heaven or in hell. John says if I'm not sure, then I must be in purgatory. Unlike last year, cold and rainy, the 2017 winter of discount tent in Florida is turning out to be hot and mosquitoey. We have to find shade to relax in the afternoon when the sun bakes our tent. Here in the Everglades, We found solace at the Welcome Center where there's wifi, air, and a big shaded porch with rocking chairs and fresh breeze overlooking the water. To avoid the pesty mosquitos, we either cook early, or eat in town. To protect myself from the sun and insect bites, especially my newly knee incision, and the fear of infection, I wear long pants and long sleeve tops, which adds to my discomfort on a hot day. And worse yet, I already lost 2 pairs of crocs during senior moments.
Remembering what it was like camping when John and I were in our 20's, setting our camp spontaneously in the Smokies; by a mountain stream with our dog, Tundra, a white Samoyan. We also had moments that weren't so pleasant, like the time Tundra got skunked, and we washed her down with tomatoes juice and she turned all pink! Back then, we fished for our meals and washed in the cool mountain streams. Such were those days!
This morning, a nice couple walked by and were talking to John while I was getting breakfast ready. The husband had a walking stick, so I assumed he had a knee replacement like myself. After they left, John says to me: would you rather be blind and walk well like that gentleman, or would you rather be you...be able to do some walking, but can see? It didn't take me long to answer "me". John says the gentleman was born with eye problems, and with each year, his sight worsens. He now sees only white during the day. His beloved wife does all the driving and they travel in their RV/Van home. Hearing all this, makes me feel melancholy about our time here on earth. All the trials and tribulations we must go through in this life before entering the next. John says there's always a reason for people and things entering our lives, no matter how brief.
Today, I feel ready for some sightseeing in the Everglades. The first stop was Royal Palm. This is where you have to cover your car with tarp before you go on the trails for fear the vultures will peck at your car. We elected to go on an easy 1 miles "Anhinga Trail" with 1/2 of it on a boardwalk over marshes. All along you see flat water turtles, different species of birds, fish, and most of all, alligators. At the end of the trail, we were rewarded with a spectacular sight of an alligator hole where some 20 alligators were out warming themselves. They look so prehistoric! It made my day to be able to walk the distance to see them all!

JOHN: After the hikes, we went to the welcome center to avoid the hot noonday sun and "kick back". Boy, am I using that term a lot on this trip! While Mary was relaxing and on the wi-fi, l read everything on every display and I think my head was ready to explode. Lol! But really these alligators dig holes during the dry winter season or little 20 foot ponds to keep their water and also have their food delivered to them.All kinds of fish and animals come to their ponds and the gators help himself. No wonder they have that smile on their face!

Vultures are everywhere at this trailhead
Just at this trailhead you have to cover your car so the vultures don't mess with it
Alligator came up onto trail to see Mary.
Mary's alligator is very happy to see her.
Found twenty alligators just outside their water hole.
They love to warm up in the morning in the sun.
After the hikes Mary found the perfect place.
Fellow camper giving me a lesson on how to play the hammer dulcimer.

Day 3

I have always been fascinated with crows and their high intelligence, I even have a favorite whiskey glass with two crows with the inscription "See two crows good luck to thee" so this was a really big big deal! Upon leaving the parking lot at one of our excursions, 2 crows chased us on the way out so upon stopping they landed on the hood and outside mirror. This guy sat there looking at me and started tapping on the window so I opened the window a bit and told him to stop,how crazy is that? We finally figured out that this was a shake down for food and so I hand fed them Cheerios. They gently took each one not like ducks or geese which most of the time grab your fingers. Saying it was a real experience is a understatement.
Went back to camp to regroup and relax so played a bit on the whistles to get ready for "Rowdy Mick" a Irish band that plays in a pub in Stuart that I did some songs with last year. A guy from another part of the campgrounds came over with his wife and sang and played his guitar with me. Mary was thrilled we played her favorite songs and she forgot about the mosquitoes. It was great! Unfortunately by the time we made our spaghetti dinner it was total darkness so with lots of bug repellent, we ate with the famous mosquitos of the Everglades. All in all it was a special and wonderful night with Joe and Tracy from Maryland.

Morning hike to the overlook.
From overlook.
Crane looking for some lunch.
Crows on my car checking us out.
Giving them some Cheerios.
Why did the cranky snapping turtle cross the road?
Doing tunes with Joe

Posted by Bananawind2016 10:53 Archived in USA Comments (3)


Stuart, FL

sunny 80 °F

It's good to be back at Port St. Lucie. Our camp is partly shaded, next to the river with all kinds of boats passing to go through the locks. Is easy to relax here with a gentle breeze from the river which cools our tent during the day. As soon as the campsite is all setup, we headed for Shindig Irish pub, listening to Irish music, and partake in their two for one drinks during the super bowl. We ran into people we met last year and someone new from the Cleveland area, small world. All night, the bartender asked trivia football questions and gave away prizes. I won a towel and a pair of sunglasses. What fun!

Lovely campsite on the water
At Shindig, Irish pub

Most of today was spent scouting for places for John to paddle and rent a kayak. The bike had to be taken in again for service and was told won't be ready for a few days...this didn't sit well with John. Went back to camp to regroup, and for the first time I am able to rest in the tent. The cool breeze from the river makes it so delightful! I feel very comfortable and at peace, especially with the sounds of the penny whistle playing Irish melodies. For John's free birthday dinner, we pigged out at the Golden Coral. As penance, went to Gold's Gym. John worked out for a couple of hours, whereas I rode the bike for 10 minutes and was glad my new knee can bend with each rotation. Looks like this will be our nightly ritual if we keep eating out!

Got up to a typical Florida morning...lots of dew and water everywhere. I shook the tent. Mary made coffee then off we went to the next adventure on the list, "Hobie Sound" with all the multimillion dollar homes along the way to "Blowing Rocks Beach"...sounds painful! Maybe I better put on my bicycle helmet to protect my head. The beach was beautiful and very different from other places I've been to. There is a ridge of rock along the waters edge all carved out by the restless ocean. We were there at low tide so I could walk along the water just below it. At high tide it would be cool to see the waves crashing and shooting up into the air. Will have to go back again at high tide. From there we went a short distance to visit Jupiter Lighthouse, no big deal with having one in our own backyard.

Mary is always waiting for me on trails
Rock cliffs have such unique patterns like from another world
at high tide the waves would be crashing
We need a bigger umbrella for the beach!
Oops! How that get in here!
Lighthouse that's not even white,what's with that?

Posted by Bananawind2016 13:48 Archived in USA Comments (0)



sunny 85 °F

Day 4

Started this day with a violent thunderstorm with tons of rain and wind around 4:30 am. Our tent ⛺️ held up well with just a couple of mystery drops inside. Had our morning coffee β˜•οΈ ritual then off to rent a kayak for 4 hours. My back was not sure of renting one for four hours but it was the only way to rent it so here I go! The first part was interesting homes with tropical 🌴 themes and the rest or the river was wilderness. I have been told there are wild monkeys with even some baboons. To stretch my back I stopped and visited people along the way. Out of nowhere there was a group of dirty worn sailboats ⛡️ and a guy working on his companionway steps. After a visit with him Mary and I were invited to their rough tiki bar there for a wine party. Thinking about it but I'll probably never find the dirt road that leads to this out of the way place.

Beautiful old bridge over "Lost River" which I almost did get lost!
Getting into the wilderness part of the river.
Grouping of sailboats ⛡️ in this funky club.
After the paddle it was so nice to kick back On our beautiful camp site

If it wasn't for Shannon calling to wish John a Happy Birthday, I might have forgotten. John started the morning looking for the power chord and his reading glasses. It was chaotic...feeling like what's going on here, why are we always looking for lost items! Without any luck, we decided just to head for the beach. It is a beautiful day at the ocean, and was just as nice at the camp site when we got back later in the afternoon. And somewhere in between, John found the power cord and his glasses while tidying up the camp. Feeling pretty good, and Inspired by Shannon's audio of her newly acquired tin whistle playing, john went thru his book of Irish songs, playing to the whistling of the wind on the palm trees. In the mist of all this, our boat friends, Donna and Nick called to say they purchased a 381 beneteau from Norfolk, Va, and will be docking on our dock at Battery Park. What good news! To celebrate this special day,
we ate at a very good Mexican restaurant, Casa Tiquila restaurant, recommended by the locals. With a strolling marioche band there singing happy songs, this is turning out to be a good day for the birthday boy.
On the way back to camp, John notes there is a full moon, which means "all the animals, monkeys included" will be coming out tonight to join us.

John watching his favorite crows flying by
The Marioche band

Posted by Bananawind2016 12:39 Archived in USA Comments (2)


Stuart, fl

sunny 80 °F


Another beautiful day! After eating at the fabulous Mikita Chinese buffet, we headed for the beaches at Hutchinson Island. The ocean was roaring today. We took a stroll along the water's edge...miles and miles of Sandy smooth beach, perfect massage for the feet.
Back at camp, John started to play his penny whistle to the serenity of the afternoon. A man on his bike stopped by to talk. Frank plays small pipes, large highland pipes, and aborigines pipes. As it turned out, Frank was the mystery guy playing the bagpipes who John heard the day before. And he was playing across the river so as not to disturb anyone. He wanted to bring his instruments over and play along with John. So for the next 3 hours, Frank and his wife Carol from Long Island, NY visited. The men played many Irish and Scottish tunes. I was amazed how Carol knew so many Irish songs. She said growing up every Sun. her family would gather to sing Irish music. When Frank played solo to Waltzing Matilda and America the Beautiful, the sound of his bagpipes filled the park. Everyone nearby burst out in applause. It was awesome!
We forgot dinner, and just as well since we ate enough at lunch for the entire day. It was a good evening and I am thinking about how music bring people together.

Boat going into locks
Wide flat beach whith hard wet sand and big waves coming up
perfect for beach walking!
What a great time we had with Frank playing some Irish tunes
at the campsite with his small pipes.
Frank with his big Highland pipes belting out some Scottish tunes.


I was woken up to Mary getting rid of her new air mattress we got yesterday so much for that idea but still a beautiful foggy morning. Had coffee and sweetbreads with some boaters and campers at the pavilion. Its always so special to connect with fellow travelers and share experiences. Here, we all look after each other with plenty of encouragement.
After coffee we finally took our walk on the locks to the other side of the river where there are nature trails. For two days we tried; one day they were painting and another day boats were going through the locks which closes the walkway.
We lunched at a gas station serving a Lebanese buffet which was highly recommended by locals. This is a very odd place but has lots of good healthy food , "Diet Headquarter" as is advertised. It is part of Planet Ozone, which boast natural foods with the environment. If you love vegetables, you'd be in heaven. In the past my friends used to cut me up for eating at gas stations on ski trips, guess I'm still at it.

Mary: Our last day in Stuart. We wanted to make sure we visit Shindig one more time, and afterwards venture next door to Pho Deli, where the Beef noodle soup is so good, and John who is very picky with his chicken, loved the grilled chicken sub (Vietnamese style). We would have stopped at Planet Fitness to work off all the foods we ate today, but it was closed. Coming back, Frank and Carol had a roaring campfire. We said our goodbyes for we are moving on to Blue Springs State Park in the morning.

Walking across the locks before any boats come.
No more dam pictures!
Our beautiful camp site on the river.
At the gas station for brunch.
Huge selection of Lebanese food.
"Please no eating in the can goods section"
Listening to the band in dire need of me at Shindig Irish PubπŸ˜–
Delicious and healthy dinner at Pho Deli

Posted by Bananawind2016 05:12 Archived in USA Comments (2)



sunny 80 °F


Not sure πŸ€” of this town or location. I felt a negative weirdness to the place that I couldn't put my finger on as we drove in. The older part of town was scrubby and the tiny homes seemed to have more junk in the front yard than inside. This is a far cry from all the tourists culture that seems to take over many of the towns we have seen. As we drove through the very dated and worn part of town it felt like being in a episode of the old "Twilight Zone" progressing to a weird and odd ending. Driving down the road pass the hill out jumps this very odd old wood white building that has seen better days with a large wrap around porch. This odd building is called "The Heritage House" was built 150 years ago. It has American flags mounted about every ten feet around the whole place. Upon seeing it I said immediately to Mary "What The Hell Is That?"!! And then I said, you guessed it, "let's stop in and check it out to eat or stay on the way back". Coming back from a local gym we pull in under the watchful eyes πŸ‘€ of three "interesting " men who apparently live there.Trying to be positive and nice I do have to be honest this is a flop house for the down and out. Talking to the guys we find out it's a post office museum in the halls with rooms to rent. 700 dollars a month or 60 dollars a day...what a deal and free crazy ghost πŸ‘» from the years and years when it was a sanitarium for the insane. I really wanted to stay but Mary was not too keen on the living or the dead residents there.

So old and creepy!
Lots of character from a distant past.

Posted by Bananawind2016 09:04 Archived in USA Comments (1)



semi-overcast 80 °F

DAY 2-3

Unlike the Keys, Everglades, and Stuart, mosquitoes are almost nonexistent at Blue Springs State Park in Orange city. And the tent is not dripping wet in the morning either...Is really a nice change. The ranger greeted us with a pamphlet on "what to do when you see a bear". It got us really concern. We followed the directions making sure nothing scented or food in the tent and hope for the best. Though our plans was to cook dinner, we decided not to attract the bears with the smell of food. We ventured out several miles from the park and found an area with restaurants, shopping, and health clubs...a complete opposite from the old part of Orange City.

Blue Springs is a famous tourist park where the manatees come when it is cold. The water is crystal clear and you can see other aquatic life swimming about. I walked the manatee Boardwalk while John went on his bike ride thru the massive park. We met up at the Thursby House, a grand White House built in the late 1800's by Louis Thursby, where we sat on the porch and rested for the afternoon, with John playing his Irish music. Every now and then when he played something familiar like "Oh Shenandoah" or "Danny Boy", bystanders would clap. John got a lot of practice in!
We finished off the day by going to the gym. We have gained way too much weight!

One evening we heard rustling of twigs and leaves right outside our tent. John went out cautiously, to find it was just the armadillo.

The grand Thursby House built on precolumbian Indian midden
John playing on the porch of the Thursby House
Funky home of the camp host

The state park we are staying is a whole different story. One day I rode my bike 🚴 over wonderful never ending paved bike trails with bridges over railroad tracks and tunnels under roads. I must have rode over ten miles over hilly terrain without a person in sight. Whenever I got back to camp it was great to lay down for some food or a quick nap then off to the local gym. The Artesian stream here has great Boardwalks for viewing the manatees fish and an occasional alligator. Overlooking the park up on a hill is the Thursby mansion with a big wrap around porch which is perfect for my tin whistle playing for the visitors. There are kayaks for rent and a tour boat on the river so lots of stuff to do for everyone's interest. It is always a perfect day here which leads to a great sleeping night.

Getting ready for the inevitable
Many miles to go
The Boardwalk for viewing....................................................................... Artesian stream

Posted by Bananawind2016 04:59 Archived in USA Comments (0)



sunny 72 °F


Another place another blog entry. Initial reaction is all I have at this point I am sure much more later. As we drove deeper and deeper into the Ocala National Forest there were more and more bear 🐻 signs of every type. If you feed them you go to jail, if you come across one don't run, (easy for them to say) don't play dead (why play if you're dead) don't climb trees 🌲 and get this, act big and be firm but don't yell....what the hell does that mean? ? campsites all have bear 🐻 boxes to put stuff in (how about myself) and chain link fences around shelter houses and around some trees! I also had to sign a release form on bear 🐻 information and if anything happens to me or my possessions. This is serious stuff! Late afternoon we were about to cook up some chicken dogs but first I had to ask other campers if it was o.k. and not bring a herd of bears for a human buffet starring me. Lol. The other campers are hard core and very friendly in fact we got a late start setting up camp because of "Preacher Dave" stopping over and according to him "save my soul". It was so so funny I told him he better pack a lunch. Went out for dinner tonight and had to drive 20 miles to the nearest restaurant. Tomorrow lots of stuff planned so it will be a good day if I don't get eaten by a bear 🐻 tonight. It's going to be 38 tonight, far cry from the warm nights down in the Everglades.

On the way to Juniper Springs came across this place selling big cool stuff!
John and Mary very happy 😊 after a great meal at Pineapple Pams restaurant.When Mary is happy everyone is happy.

Posted by Bananawind2016 12:15 Archived in USA Comments (0)



sunny 75 °F

Last night was cold and long! It did get down to the upper 30's and damp.Sleeping on a cot has it's drawbacks and the main one is you get cold from the bottom. I know you always use a pad for cots but it's complicated and leave it there. Most of the night consisted of either warm and can't breathe or breathe and cold. None of this transfers to the beautiful day to come AFTER a couple of cups of strong coffee β˜•οΈ then off we go to check out Alexander Springs nearby. Rented a kayak and paddled the beautiful stream for a couple of hours. This worked out better than doing the same at Juniper Springs where our camp is at. At Juniper the stream flows faster and you have to go seven miles or four hours to a pick up point which I'm not sure I can do with a healing bad back. Writing this at the Castaway Bar in the town named Astor which seems to be a cow and horse community with lots of friendly people. This place has a real airplane in front crashing with Christmas lights all over it I guess that's why it's call Castaway, everyone in the bar is from the plane ✈️. So many funny things in life if you look hard enough.

The head or boil of Juniper Springs, crystal clear, 72 degrees and swimable.
Beautiful old watermill built during the depression by the work corp.
Old fairy bridge.
This time I put sunscreen on my feet, learned the hard way.
Field of green on the water.
Beach at Alexander Springs. At the boil it's thirty feet deep and great for diving.
Great onion soup at Castaway
Sally, the service dog, was served the "doggie burger"at Castaway

Posted by Bananawind2016 17:54 Archived in USA Comments (2)


Ocala National Park

sunny 80 °F


The worse is over. Last night was not as cold as the night before. Rather than trying to cook breakfast while is still frost in the morning, we went back to Pineapple Pam's for their superb breakfast. Today we were going to check out Salt Springs State Park for camping next year. We found just a field of camp sites, not at all the kind of place we want to stay. We appreciate Juniper Springs so much better, noise and all. Trying to get John to swim at the springs here is useless. It's funny he can talk about doing that all year, but when he actually can, he chickens out. But today, he found a mermaid, a very striking orange hair heavy set young lady with her mermaid suit and fins. I think if he had known she was going to be there, he would have gotten his bathing suit and do synchronizing swimming with her. LOL!

I was lucky enough to capture the image of the allusive Juniper Springs mermaid
not really just a overweight crazy lady doing her thing.
One of two guitar players I met on my walk. We played some tune together.
Scared the crap πŸ’© out of him cutting through the bush to get to his campsite.
Crashing airplane in front of the Castaway Bar And Grill.


Last day at Juniper Springs turned out to be quite interesting. Took off this morning after a nice rainy night and morning, nothing like a hard rain and a dry tent for a good nights sleep. We stoped at Pineapple Pams for another wonderful breakfast on the way to check out Silver Springs State Park. The reason for this excursion is that we will be coming back from Hillsboro and will be staying there for a weeks and definitely want power in case it gets cold again. As it turns out, it is a great place and there's a gym and fine restaurants near by, not out in the middle of nowhere like where we are now. Feeling great about our decision we came back to Juniper Springs and went for a walk. On this walk Mary and I came upon one of the guitar players I met earlier so we joined him and found out he is one of the New Christy Minstrels . What a wonderful surprise and he even played some of his new music from his upcoming cd. Mary's night was complete when he sang "Today" to her. Greg O'Haver is his name and he is on a solo tour all around Florida so we hope to cross tacks with him later. Lots of stories about Barry McGuire (Eve Of Destruction), John Denver, Randy Sparks and Steve Martin. We were not particularly fond of this campground, but meeting Greg O'Haver made it all worthwhile. I wish I got his picture but at the time it just didn't seem appropriate.

Greg O'Haver from The New Christy Minstrels graciously shared some of his music and stories with us.

Land Tortoise, Wild Turkey and Alligator in the park near our campsite
wonder what's out there that I don't see.
"China Lee" was Mary's handle on our C.B. radio so we just had to eat
at this restaurant in Silver Springs.

Posted by Bananawind2016 17:26 Archived in USA Comments (0)


Thonotosassa, fl

sunny 80 °F


It was somewhat a non-eventful drive from Juniper Springs to HILLSBOROUGH River State Park. But once we got to Our destination, the work begins with setting up the tent. When the work is finally done, we sat and cool off with a beer. John started playing his penny whistle, and within minutes we were joined by a guitarist, saxophone, and flutist. They said nothing was going on until we got there. I guess that's a compliment. We had a great time and a good start to a new place.

Instantaneous gathering of fellow camping ⛺️ musicians
It's nice to come across so many nice interesting fellow travelers throughout our trip.


After having coffee and hot cereal at camp, we were ready to do some hiking. We chose a 1.2 miles scenic river rapid trail. It is a beautiful trail along the river with zen like trees and rocks. We got lost so the excursion was more like 2 1/2 miles. I felt pretty good that my legs didn't give out on me. I haven't walked that long for years.

Hiking the "Rapid River Trail" which should be called "Rapid Confusion Trail"

John: It seems this year's winter ❄️ trip I'm always getting lost, even at a outlet mall so getting lost with Mary this time made it ok, it's not just me losing my mind. Rested for the afternoon and headed for Planet Fitness. Glad there's a gym we can go to in the evening.


"Listen to the music 🎢 of the falling rain β˜”οΈ Telling me what a fool I've been" The yen and yang of camping ⛺️.Good sunny β˜€οΈ weather, sometimes hot and wet rainy weather, sometimes cold and damp.Like on a sailing ⛡️ excursion you simply have to take what Mother Nature gives you and deal with it and enjoy 😊 the moment the best you can. We are presently on down time the last hour waiting to go to the potluck camping party πŸŽ‰ . Got our veggie and dip platter ready to go. If no one or very few show up because of the hard rain β˜”οΈ falling right now we're off to Tampa to hear a singer πŸ‘¨β€πŸŽ€ at James Joyce Irish πŸ€ Pub, can't lose either way. Right now I want to run πŸƒ out to the truck for some pumpkin πŸŽƒ beer but it may be raining β˜”οΈ too hard and almost time to go.

Food and people were great at the party πŸŽ‰ BUT..we were told by the ranger and others that the pub we were to go to is in historic Ybor City which is a dangerous area after dark with a lot of crime. We've been to a lot of dive bars but this sounds like a good warning ⚠️ and need to just stay back until tomorrow afternoon then go. So tonight is reading πŸ“– and radio πŸ“» night for us then a good sleep 😴.

Posted by Bananawind2016 10:56 Archived in USA Comments (1)

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