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Let's Catch Up

The days keep flying by, one day running into the next, and don't get me started on the months. How can I be writing my first November post already? Seems like only yesterday it was May....

Of course, the weather has felt as if it were the start of Greater Summer rather than the early days of Lesser Summer, terms I made up for our intense Florida weather. Yes, it has still reached the 90's, and frankly, we are just plain sick and tired of it. Yesterday morning, to the best of my knowledge, was the first day we began in the high 60's, but it is a welcome start. Right about now I wonder if I will ever open my windows again....

Rather than be outdoors this last week, aside from a field trip that I will tell you about shortly, I spent a lot of time working on the camping quilt.
Moving some furniture, the area was just large enough to lay it out for pinning, my least favorite part of the process as I have to get on my hands and knees to do so, something that is not all that fun at my age. Nevertheless, it has to be done before the quilting was ongoing at the dining table which proved to be a marvelous space for the task. Gives you an idea how large it is.
In order to get it in the throat of the machine, it has to be rolled up as you see in the foreground. I nearly gave up with the cross hatching, thinking it was probably good enough. Bruce convinced me otherwise.
That's the estate state fabric above which was great for hiding any errors. Plus, I bought no new fabric for this quilt, a huge positive. The binding, well, it had to be scrappy to match the quilt.
I am now nearing the finish line, having attached the binding, as well as ironed it this morning and now for the hand stitching. Won't be too long now!

We've had some birds. Surprised? I was super delighted when this Wood Stork joined the Great Egret and Little Blue Heron for some fishing.
Rarely have I seen a Wood Stork on our lake, and although it has a pretty darn ugly head, it looks graceful while flying with their pretty black fringed wings.
I can't remember what I was texting Matt about, but as we were communicating a large flock of Ibis arrived, some brown ones in the mix. I wonder why they are brown.
In some very exciting news, I bought a new bird feeder. So what? And why did I do so? Our former feeder had some cracks near the bottom allowing moisture to spoil the seed, and although I could replace the tube portion for about $30, I decided to get a smaller one and see what happened. This new one from Droll Yankee has been hanging for some days without activity. Yesterday evening I thought I saw a few seeds on the porch--an excellent sign. WELL, this afternoon as we were eating lunch in the kitchen, one bird came, and then another, and then another!!! One bird, pictured below, is cute and fast. The picture is mediocre, taken through the bedroom window screen.
Ages ago Matt told me about a bird app called Merlin, free for the downloading. Not as tech savvy as I should be, procrastination was the name of my game, that is until Bill was over the other day and did it for me. Looks like a Black Capped Chickadee to me, however, upon checking the app I learned it is a Carolina Chickadee, undistinguishable from the former except for range and call. A cute Carolina Wren and some Titmouse joined the party. We love it!

And now for the field trip...

The baby car got some highway mileage! Because Bruce's car was still in the shop getting the new transmission (!), I drove, a big step for me. Seems as if my year long absence from behind the wheel has made me timid, something that has really surprised me as I used to travel to all sorts of places around the state alone. Anyway, the worst that could happen is that we would change seats if I got weird, but I did not, and it was fun, traveling again to Ocala in search of the perfect place to camp. Not so sure that we found it, however we did see some lovely sights. Plus, I drove at least ten miles through the heart of the forest on a mildly hilly road which was super fun in the MINI Cooper. There is a reason people say it drives like a go cart!

Our first stop was Alexander Springs where the campground was nice with reservations.
The large spring was mostly deserted when we arrived although others soon came as I mentioned it was nearly 90 degrees already. The springs lead out to the river on one end.
Unfortunately the trail into the forest around the spring was closed for repairs, the date of completion, according to one of the workers, is undetermined. What we've learned is that the management of these forest lands has been outsourced by the government, for better or worse.

Back on the road, our next stop was Silver Glen, by far the prettiest springs of our tour. Instead of paying the $12 to tour around this time, the nice worker allowed us a twenty minute pass to see what we could see.
With a huge swimming area, if you are brave enough to get in the year round constant 72 degree water, this place is wonderful. So beautiful that as it dumps into Lake George, large houseboats gather, as do Vultures.
Sadly there is no campground at this beautiful place. Back on SR 19 we drove north to Salt Springs, the only campground in the forest that has what is called, full hookups, meant mostly for RVs, if it is hot, as is so often the case, having electricity for running a fan makes the camping experience much better. But you knew that already, didn't you? We checked out both the full hook up, and primitive campsites, deeming the latter to our liking because there was such great tree cover. We will just have to go when it is cooler. From the campground we walked down to the spring.
Another huge swimming area with a handful of hearty souls enjoying the crystal clear water where you can plainly watch the swimming fish.
Not the turquoise color of Silver Glen, it lovely just the same.
For those unfamiliar with Florida landscapes, the moss hanging from the trees is ubiquitous, and fortunately harmless. So crazy to think that it was once used to stuff car seats and mattresses. And how fun was it to see a flock of wild turkeys roaming around?
Leaving Salt Springs, we took the previously mentioned awesome road straight down through the forest, seeing maybe two cars on the road for ten miles, a real feat anywhere in Florida now that we have more than 21 million people living in the state. Our destination was Juniper Springs, and another look-see at the campground. One loop we liked, one we didn't, and one we sort of did except for highway noise which is not ideal. See what I mean? The real reason we are doing these day trips is to find out this sort of thing before we actually set up our tent. We've visited before because I clearly remember the  mill,
but had no recollection of the collection of floats meant to be used on the Juniper Springs run, a seven mile float.
Yet another campground built by the CCC, there is limestone around the major spring head which I tried to photograph, clearly not that well. Super cool in person watching the water bubble up out of the ground.
Off and on for the last several weeks we've been watching the fantastic Ken Burn's documentary, The Roosevelts, which I cannot recommend enough. Clearly my knowledge was sorely lacking on the impact that both Roosevelt presidents made on America, not to mention the good work done by Eleanor Roosevelt, Teddy's niece. Thinking back to our visit to Mt. Rushmore on our way home from Canada, I am not surprised that TR was immortalized in stone.
We have him to thank for beginning the National Parks among many, many more accomplishments. They left such a legacy around our country it is hard to imagine that ever happening again. Then again, I'm an optimist so I'll choose to think positive instead! (I can hear your groans already!)

your friend,

Gail

p.s. the car was fixed Friday afternoon.

p.p.s. the trip was 175 miles round trip



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