A Gifted Gelding and an Icky Inn

Fylicia Barr on Kipper the Rockstar – Photo Credit: Mark Donaldson

I’ve been friends with Lynn for decades and her enthusiasm for horses has never waned. I tagged along with her when she rode in various horse shows during our high school years. I had to keep my green-eyed-monster in check as I watched her perform; desperately wishing to be in the saddle, too. I was better suited for a hobby horse, but a girl can dream, right?

We were recently honored and delighted to join her, and her husband, in Thomson, Georgia for the Advanced-Pine-Top-Horse-Trials, in which her 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood was competing.

Kaballero (‘Kipper’ to his friends) is an exceedingly handsome horse with a white blaze, long neck, powerful hindquarters and a winning spirit. He is young, enthusiastic, vigorous and just recently began competing at the Preliminary Level. His spunkiness paid off during Cross Country and Show Jumping, where he had ample opportunity to showcase his desire to be airborne. He is a natural acrobat who prefers hurdles to ballroom dancing. His dressage score suffered a bit because of his reluctance to methodically tap dance for the judges. He sees himself as Edwin Moses, not as Fred Astaire. “I don’t want to do the Too-Slow-Two Step“, he whinnied in protestation a few too many times. It’s all a learning experience, and I have little doubt, that his very capable trainer, Fylicia Barr will have him doing a more peaceful polka in the dressage ring in no time.

Even when he is naughty, he is a noble beast.

Pine Top offered an amazing setting. It is a spacious and beautiful farm. The cross country course was huge, challenging, and well laid out. There were plentiful barns, fields and relief stations. The concession stand, run for the benefit of the local high school band, offered a few chortles of comic relief. A very nice, but exceedingly OCD supervisor was giving precise instruction for food preparation to high school volunteers. The ‘Sandwich-Czar’ made sure that each PB&J sandwich was made in the exact same way; a certain, measured amount of peanut butter on one side, spread with a particular knife, then jelly was to be spread only on the clean piece of bread, never on top of the peanut butter. Each sandwich took 10 minutes to make. It turns out that I’ve been doing it all wrong for the past half-century, but I can whip up a PB&J less than a minute. When it comes to peanut butter, it is function over form for me.

Because our RV (Big Bertha) was hooked up and level, 225 miles South of the horse trial venue, we opted to stay one night at the same pet-friendly hotel/motel at which our friends had made a reservation. They warned us, after their arrival, that it was a far cry from a 5-star hotel. In fact, they cautioned us that if we chose to proceed, we would be doing so at our own risk. We make some crazy sacrifices for our pets, and this was one of them. It was the sole establishment in the area that would allow for our furry friends. The hotel was worn and dated, and falling apart at the seams. There were cracked floors, missing lightbulbs, threadbare carpeting, a broken phone and even a water outage. Still, it takes more than a seedy motel to keep us from enjoying time spent with good friends.

Good Food!!!

“There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.”

-–Samuel Johnson

Thank goodness for Hogie Joe’s Grill. We were able to avoid our rooms and spend the evening with comfortable outdoor seating, a cold beer and a tasty meal. Good company + Good food = Good times

Next Up… Our Golf Outing… It’s not pretty.

Stay tuned…

Miles and Milestones

It seems impossible, but our faithful companion has just observed her 1st Birthday. Her celebration was held at General Coffee State Park in Nicholls, GA. After an 8-mile, morning hike, she enjoyed a doggy cupcake, a bully stick, and some tug-of-war with “Bun-Bun”, her new toy, which will inevitably be gutted by the end of the week. At her tender age, this meandering mutt has been in 25 different States and has hiked hundreds of miles. There is little doubt that Gypsy is appropriately named. She is a tried and true traveler.

There is a replica of a 19th century farm at General Coffee SP that is complete with barnyard animals, so Gypsy had many furry friends to share her birthday with.

There were goats, and mules, and roosters, and wild boar. My favorite, however, were the newborn lambs that were bleating in soft, soprano voices and joyously springing about on their brand, new legs.

Georgia State Parks offer amazing trails that wind through a myriad of habitats. I have grown to truly appreciate the swamps. Once upon a time, I thought that swampland was unattractive but now, I find such beauty in these forested wetlands.

Aside from the unique farm display, there is also an interesting archery range. The campsites are large and wooded, and there are multiple playgrounds and picnic shelters throughout the park. General Coffee is well attended by families enjoying the great outdoors. It is springtime in this neck of the woods. The nights and early mornings are quite chilly but the morning sun warms the air quickly. Ahh, baby lambs and budding azaleas give me hope for an earth awaking from its silent slumber.

“Fishing is not an escape from life, but often a deeper immersion into it.”

– Harry Middleton.

We were blessed to happen upon this young man who was smiling from ear-to-ear after reeling in his first fish ever! His happiness was so contagious that I felt elated for him and with him. He was so proud to eagerly pose with his prized catch. These are the moments that create memories.

Hiking is not escapism; it’s realism. The people who choose to spend time outdoors are not running away from anything; we are returning to where we belong.

-Jennifer Pharr Davis

Our Birthday girl would rather be out hiking than anywhere else. It is where she belongs and I am blessed to join her on her journeys (when she is not bounding forward, trying to rip my arm off…)

Back to Reed-Bingham State Park tomorrow where we have a busy week planned. Golf, a winery excursion, and a horse show are on the agenda.

Stay tuned…

Barbarism and Billy Beer

“Once inside… men exclaimed: ‘Is this hell?’ Verily, the great masses of gaunt, unnatural-looking beings, soot-begrimed, and clad in filthy tatters, that we saw stalking about inside this pen looked, indeed, as if they might belong to a world of lost spirits.”

W.b. smith, 14th illinois infantry, oct. 9, 1864

A drive through the South Georgia countryside led us to Andersonville, an American Civil War prison site where nearly 13, 000 soldiers died. It is now a National Park that serves as a memorial dedicated to all American soldiers held captive during any war. Casualties are expected on the battlefield but why did so many perish at Andersonville?

When you walk the grounds, you can see the perimeter of the stockade. The area that had been fenced was approximately 25 acres, with a low-lying, marshy area that served as both a source of drinking water and as a latrine. Although originally intended to imprison 10,000 POWs, the number quickly expanded to 32,000. The area was a mass of lice-covered, skeletal humans who developed dysentery. Death due to the unthinkable number of microbes in the drinking water was commonplace.

Deep in the heart of the Confederacy you are bound to find reminders of a bloody war fought between brothers. There are so many relics of an era of disgust, division and disunion. While rambling about and probing our past, it is difficult to digest the reality of man’s inhumanity toward his fellow man.

In total contrast, a short drive down the road took us to Plains, GA, the home of our 39th President. Regardless of political leanings, Jimmy Carter is inarguably a stellar example of kindness and humility.

“I had this beer brewed up just for me. I think it’s the best I ever tasted. And I’ve tasted a lot. I think you’ll like it, too.”  ~ Billy Carter

Those of us who are of an age to recall the Carter Presidency, cannot forget Jimmy’s colorful brother, Billy. Billy drank beer for breakfast, and was involved in ‘Billygate’ a scandal involving becoming an agent for, and borrowing money from, Libya.

Despite the headaches and public embarrassment, when asked about Billy’s shenanigans, President Carter replied “I love him.”

Plains High School, from which both Jimmy and Roslyn Carter graduated, now serves as a National Historic Site and Museum. Although their personal home is blocked off from public view, the Carters continue to live in the same, modest, ranch-style house they built in 1961.

History lesson is over, class. Sorry to be so boring. The next post is bound to be less cerebral. I wonder if you can still find Billy Beer? It’s going to be near 80F today. I may need to grab a six-pack and a kayak….

Stay tuned….

Georgia, Georgia…. The Whole Day Through

Georgia on my Mind…

There are well over 50 songs written about Georgia. It is not surprising that lyricists and poets have been inspired to capture the emotions associated with this area. Originally founded as a penal colony, the youngest of the 13 original states, Georgia has both enormous beauty and a checkered past. I love to take long, contemplative walks but can’t seem to manage even a few steps without having thoughts of the devil going down to Georgia, rainy nights in Georgia, or midnight trains to Georgia. Basically, I cannot get Georgia off my mind.

Reed Bingham State Park is situated on the Coastal Plains near Adel, GA. It is a well used recreation area with a fishing lake, a dam, ball fields, picnic areas and some truly amazing trails. I expected sandy paths through the wiregrass but was pleasantly surprised to find miles of boardwalk that twisted through Cyprus swamp, yucca fields, live oak and pine forest. The sun has been shining through, allowing for plentiful outdoor activities on warm February days.

There is also a very weathered mini-golf course on the park grounds. You can pay $5 per person to play. Or, if you are notoriously cheap, as we are, you can pull putters and balls from your own bags, jump the fence and play.

With so much to explore, I am certainly getting my steps in. As the temperatures approach 80F later this week, I hope to explore some waterways via kayak.

In the meantime, Gypsy is convinced that all of the GO DAWGS excitement is about her. She likes it here.

Stay tuned….

Fried Okra, Food Trucks and Forest Floors

Put some South in Yo’ Mouth

Put some South in yo’ Mouth…

Well, we finally did it. We finally made it to Hook’s Bar-B-Q. Our meals were packaged in the finest quality Styrofoam, and we were awarded bonus portions of white bread and pound cake. Yes, white bread, the type with absolutely no nutritional value; the type you can roll into cohesive, little balls for use as bait or ammo. I got two slices of white bread. My husband got three. Either he looked really hungry, or the slices were all stuck together, as is the tendency of overly processed white bread.

I got the chicken, cole slaw, and fried Okra. My husband got the pulled pork, rice, and baked beans. The barbeque sauce was served on the side. It was spicy and hot and flavorful. Now, I know that there are some Okra haters out there but I actually enjoyed mine. It was not slimy or stringy. It was crisp and tasty, but as my friend John suggested, you could batter and fry a boll weevil and it would probably be palatable. The meal was savory and satisfying, and the pound cake was fresh and buttery. It was not the best barbeque I have ever had (that was at The Salt Lick near Austin, TX) but it was full-flavored and worth the wait.

Comedienne Paula Poundstone once said,” I was born in Alabama, but I only lived there for a month before I’d done everything there was to do.” I am beginning to feel Paula’s pain. We were looking for something to do and wound up driving to Panama City, Florida to check out a (dog friendly) food truck and craft beer festival.

It was good to be outside, but winter wear was essential. It was too cold to hold a craft beer without gloves, so we did not sample as many as we would have liked to. I wanted to try something from the Curry-In-A-Hurry, Indian fare food truck. I sent my husband to make a selection while I held on to Gypsy. I was envisioning spicy, Saag Paneer. Instead, we wound up with Tandoori chicken tacos, which were interesting, but not exactly my idea of Indian cuisine.

“…climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” – John Muir 

On good days we continue to hike and explore the Conecuh National Forest. There are no scenic vistas like there are farther north. There are no real elevation changes, other than a small hill or two, and yet there are switchbacks carved into the trails, which gives us great amusement.

The impressive thing about this forest is the number of biome changes within a small area. One minute you can be traipsing through a coniferous forest, lined with long leaf pine needles, and the next minute you are knee deep in Cyprus swamp, or trekking through hardwood forest, carpeted in the decaying leaves of deciduous trees.

Sadly, there have been too many inclement days during this stay. Creative thinking is required to keep the boredom at bay. At times like this I turn to the electrifying excitement of Olympic curling or cookie baking (the cheating kind, with refrigerated dough) to stay sane. I can enjoy being curled up with a good book, but Gyspy has not yet learned to read. She insists on playtime and interaction, which requires more space than we have. My rain gear has come in handy.

Like Paula Poundstone, I think I have done everything that there is to do in Opp, but clearly, I have picked the wrong month to be here. Neither the start up of the South Alabama Speedway, nor the Rattlesnake Rodeo (it’s a real thing) are scheduled until March. In fairness, we have not been to the Honky Tonk Bar or to the Wheelhouse because of Covid, and the anti-masking sentiment that prevails in the area.

We are here at beautiful Frank Jackson State Park for another three days, but I already have Georgia on my mind.

Stay tuned…

Putting a Pest on a Pedestal

Let me tell ya a story about a boll weevil

Now, some of you may not know, but a boll weevil is an insect

And he’s found mostly where cotton grows…

…But this is the way the story goes

Brook Benton, 1961 R & B Hit

We love exploring the small towns that are in the general vicinity of our campsites. Enterprise, AL is roughly 25 miles from Opp, so we decided to jump in the truck and check it out.

It is almost ‘Un-Boll-Weevible’ but in Enterprise, Alabama, there is a monument in the center square that pays homage to the boll weevil, a bug that decimated Alabama’s cotton crops in the early 1900’s. Why venerate an insect that destroyed the agricultural economy? I was perplexed. As it turns out, the beetle forced farmers to heed the advice of George Washington Carver; to diversify, plant peanuts, soy beans and sweet potatoes, which caused a marked upswing in the economy of Enterprise. Thus, the beloved bug.

Enterprise seems to be enjoying the novelty of erecting the only monument dedicated to a beetle. The stores capitalize on the uniqueness and the quaint downtown is full of fun shops, restaurants and a brewery, most of which draw attention to the idolized insect. Had it been later in the day, perhaps we would have stopped to sample a ‘Buggy’ Bourbon Barrel Stout.

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
― John Muir

Small towns are great fun to explore, but my heart lies in the forest. It is a quick, half-hour drive to the Conecuh National Forest. With 83,000 acres, there are multiple hiking opportunities within this Long Leaf Pine Ecosystem. There are natural springs, with water so clear that it is transparent.

Our 8-mile hike took us to ponds, coniferous forests, and areas still ravaged from Hurricane Sally. We had to do a little bushwhacking to circumvent some trail sections that were closed due to downed trees and washed out footpaths.

After our hike, it became even more apparent that Gypsy’s incessant pulling at the leash was ruining her collar. Plus, her collar was red and her leash was purple. The clashing color scheme had always offended my style sense, so this was an opportunity to buy her a coordinated set. However, in order to find a store that sold such luxuries as leashes, we had to drive to the neighboring town of Andalusia, which I felt compelled to further scrutinize.

Although not as vibrant as Enterprise, Andalusia IS the home of the World Championship Domino Tournament. There is also a cute, little train museum and the First National Building is wrapped up with an enormous, red bow. Most importantly, however, Andalusia has a dog park. A tired Gypsy is a good Gypsy.

Despite my inclination to always be on the go, we do have some restful days. We have days to read by the lake, to search for interesting wildlife, and to cook some Maryland-style chicken wings on the grill. The aroma of Old Bay makes me a bit hungry for home.

We have not made it to Hook’s Bar-B-Q. They are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. I guess if you work the weekends, you have to make sure that you still have two consecutive days off. I won’t stop trying until I can critique their fried Okra.

Stay tuned…

A lengthy stop in Opp

Opp, Alabama. Does that lady look like she is balancing eyeballs?

Opp, Alabama is iconic small town America. It’s the kind of place that is struggling to keep a two-block, downtown, main street in business. There are some offices, some retail, and several barbers, all of which have outside, red, white and blue poles, reminding me of Floyd from Mayberry’s shop. It’s the kind of place in which a Winn-Dixie supermarket could not survive, but the Grocery Outlet is booming, and with good reason. The prices are shockingly low. It is the kind of place where you can get discount tobacco and a cash advance or a payday loan to tide you over. Opp is not opp-ulent, nor does it pretend to be. It is a place where every day living is simple. It is a place that I will call home for the next two weeks. I plan to enjoy the small town vibe, the Southern hospitality, and a platter or two from Hook’s Bar-B-Q joint.

Gypsy is fraying her collar, her leash and my nerve endings. She is not learning the art of heeling, or loose-leash walking. I Googled ‘pet supplies near me’ and was directed to the Opp Co-op. I trekked 2.5 miles from our campground, and found the building. After the tricky walk, which included cutting through parking lots on Florala Highway, I discovered that the co-op did not have collars or leashes, only kibble. I asked if they carried Royal Canin Labrador Puppy Food, and was told “You’re not going to find anything like that in Opp.”

Opp’s mural says it is the City of Opportunity. Apparently there is plenty of opportunity to open up a pet supply shop, perhaps in one of the vacant downtown stores?

On the outskirts of Opp is Frank Jackson State Park. It was built in 1970 on Lake Jackson, and although it shows its age, the nature trails are beautifully maintained by a volunteer group who call themselves the Trail Masters. The lake is picturesque, and dotted with die-hard fishermen who are willing to face the winter weather in order to snag a few Black Crappie, Bluegill or Channel Catfish.

There are only 30 campsites in the park, but 23 of them are large, private, and directly on the lake. All sites have full hook ups and cable TV. I don’t camp to watch TV, but on cold, rainy, blustery days I am grateful to have the option.

The Honeysuckle Trail crosses a bridge that takes you to Memorial Island, a small isle in the middle of the lake. I have noted, in past posts, that Florida is for the birds. Well, Memorial Island is for the bird houses. I’m sure there is a story behind the strange number of manmade homes for our feathered friends, I just don’t know what it is.

I love having the lake right outside the door. The views are amazing from Big Bertha’s numerous windows. I would love to be outside, but a cold front is blowing through, and even in Southern Alabama, we are expecting temperatures in the 20’s the next couple of nights. I am sure that in the next two weeks we will have ample opportunity to sit at a campfire by the lake.

Undoubtedly, you’ll all be relieved to hear that we managed to retrieve MOST of the kitchen utensils, and to (at least temporarily) repair the drawer with screws and gorilla tape. Necessity is the mother of invention.

However, this morning the Dometic 7600 vacuum toilet did not flush. No whoosh. No vacuum sound. No flushing. Gross. We read the troubleshooting instructions, replaced a fuse, said a prayer, then called the RV manufacturer. They told us to take it to a repair shop. Right. An RV repair shop in Opp? We called RV Urgent Care, a mobile repair service. A very knowledgeable and helpful Billy Harris was able to assist us but would not be able to get here until Sunday. Billy was in Florida, repairing RVs. If you are an RV tech, you are NEVER without work. Billy, did, however, give us a few pointers to consider in the meantime. Because I had no plans of running to the bathhouse in frigid temperatures if nature called in the middle of the night, I was sorting through my plastic bowls to see if one would be suitable for use as a chamber pot. When, Eureka! My hubby discovered that he had not initially replaced the correct fuse. He (and Billy) are now my heroes, and my Tupperware is safe to use for its intended purposes.

Going to get cold tonight. Stay safe and warm if you are facing the impending Nor’easter.

I’ll let you know how Hooks Bar-B-Q is. Stay tuned.

Sweet Home Alabama

Sweet Home Alabama, where the skies are so blue..

“Big wheels keep on turnin’. Carry me home to see my kin”

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Eventually these wheels will be carrying us back to our kin but in the meantime we are keeping in touch via phone calls and text messages while we enjoy an opportunity to explore the Gulf Coast.

It was hard to say goodbye to Florida’s Emerald Coast. The little towns along highway 30A are each unique and all boast the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. Blue Mountain Beach is the highest spot, at a whopping 65 feet above sea level. It’s all relative.

It’s been cold, cold enough to wear ski jackets and an assortment of North Face gear. Yet, it has been sunny enough to enjoy long walks along the beach and some quality time outside with my vagabond pup. Gypsy enjoys the outdoors almost as much as I do. I love the solitude of winter walks. I stroll along contemplating the universe and she strolls alongside me, contemplating her next meal.

Prayer of the woods.

“… the wood of your cradle and the shell of your coffin…”

This beautiful prayer was posted in a cave formed by live oak, on a trail that was passageway through dunes thriving with vegetation. It was the perfect spot for meditating and giving thanks for the grandeur of our amazing world. I could not pass this sign without reading aloud.

Where the skies are so blue?????

Today sweet home Alabama has grey skies and is spewing copious amounts of rain. These are the days that make me question the wisdom of living in an RV with a Labrador pup. I am not a fan of wet weather or wet, smelly dog fur; or wet puppy paws. It’s all part of the package, so I have to suck it up, regularly wipe down the wet pet, and pray for sunny days ahead.

Thankfully, we had a sunny, cool day to explore Gulf State Park yesterday. I managed an early morning run during an extremely brisk dawning of a new day. Only the heartiest souls and disgruntled dog walkers were out in the chill of the morning air. We then, took a 10-mile walk along the perimeter of the park. The path was paved and fairly well used by hikers, bikers and joggers. There is such magnificence that goes missed when you don’t explore on foot.

We loved this place SO much, and our stay here is so brief, that we booked a 2-week stay for next winter.

Tomorrow is off to Opp, AL. Have you ever heard of it? Neither have I.

Stay tuned.

It’s not all fun and games…

There is no doubt that life on the road has its perks. There are many changes of scenery and ample time to explore new places. It is not, however, an endless vacation. It is still life, and is filled with dirty laundry, dirty floors, unplanned changes, inclement weather and broken stuff. The propane issue is fixed but when we finally turned on the heat, it sounded like a percussion section was warming up under one of the cabinets. It seems that the drawer filled with kitchen utensils fell apart and was allowing various items to slip behind it, into the great abyss. We retrieved spoons and spatulas and skewers but will have to dismantle the cabinet to retrieve everything.

Labradors shed a lot, drool a lot, and love playing in mud. Gypsy can turn a relatively clean RV into a grime covered home at warp speed. I have channeled my inner-Pippy Longstockings and am now skating around on Swiffer, wet jet pads in order to keep the dirt to a tolerable level. I clean often, but to be fair, there is not a whole lot to clean. With three Clorox wipes I can scour and disinfect the entire place in ten minutes.

Have I mentioned that it has been bloody cold for Florida? I have to don my winter hat, gloves and down coat to take Princess Gypsy for her morning constitutional. We have not had ice or snow to contend with but I’m glad I packed fleece jackets and warm, woolen mittens! These inclement days are good for completing puzzles or playing Scrabble in a ski vest. So, fun and games manage to remain a small part of the equation.

Our campsite at Grayton Beach State Park is large and private. A good many quaint and eccentric areas are within walking distance. On the warmer days we have managed a few muddy hikes and have explored some fun, quirky places on the panhandle’s Emerald Coast. We stopped for lunch at the Red Bar, which was featured in Jim Carry’s 1998 movie THE TRUMAN SHOW. Rumor is that it is frequented by Reece Witherspoon, Peyton & Eli Manning, and a number of celebrities that I do not know because, let’s face it, I’m old and not up to speed on current pop culture.

Florida is for the birds. I was so impressed by the display of birds that I saw while in the Everglades, but the Gulf is littered with some magnificent winged creatures as well.

A short bike ride took us to the hamlet of Watercolor. The properties there are pristine, pastel colored and overlook the open gulf. There is a small spattering of upscale dining and high-end boutiques interwoven with a caravan of food trucks. I just love the unconventional vibe of the whole area.

Cold rain is in the forecast for today and tomorrow. I see muddy paw prints in my future. Better break out the Swiffer pads….

Stay tuned…

The Problem with Propane & Bear Bait

When there is a recall on your motorhome that has to do with a propane line, you turn the gas off until you can have the required service work done. It’s a no-brainer. Propane is flammable, and with just the right leakage factor, potentially explosive.

Do you know how long it takes to get a service appointment when you are bopping around Florida State Parks in a rolling combustion coach? Too long. No propane means no heat, no range top burners, no hot water. I can wash dishes in cold water, but a cold shower is out of the question.

Maybe it’s the shower thing. Maybe that is why I smell like bear bait.

I have had two close encounters with Florida Black Bear in the past week. In the first near-brush with Yogi, I was jogging down a path that ran along the Tamiami trail. A car stopped, rolled down the window and was yelling something about “blah-blah-blah, behind you.” I thought he was telling me that he would soon be jogging behind me. Not so. He waited for me at the end of the trail to inform me that he had been trying to tell me that there was a bear behind me. It was not my lightening speed that kept the bear from catching me. He just lost interest. Mauling me took too much effort.

Later in the week, while walking Gypsy through the Ross Prairie Trailhead, I met a nice man who was walking his dog. Well, he was kind of running with his dog. The look on his face told me that he was not out for a recreational run with his canine companion. It seems that he was in full retreat. Yep, another bear, but this one was ahead of me.

Thank goodness we managed to get that service work done, and I can FINALLY take a nice, hot shower in my own RV. No more smelling like bear bait for me.

To set the record straight, I DID shower. Thankfully we were in Southwest Florida for the few weeks without heat or hot water. A nice, warm bathhouse was close by, and although the mornings and evenings were chilly, the temperature was tolerable.

Yes, we had to confront cold water and a couple of bear, but all was not lost. We also had the pleasure of meeting up with old friends from our Baltimore boating days and sharing a bucket (or two) of cold beer! How wonderful to find some friendly faces. It makes us feel a little more connected to home during this crazy voyage.

The Ross Prairie Trailhead is a beautiful spot, near Ocala. We had planned to be here a bit longer, to explore the parks and eat some gator bites, but it was not to be. There is a cold front sweeping across the Gulf, and torrential rains and high winds are in the forecast. We hightailed it to Grayton Beach State Park (on the Redneck Riviera) a day early to avoid traveling in adverse conditions.

We have just settled in for a night of stormy weather and some NFL action on TV…

Stay tuned…