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…


See Ya’ Later Alligator

There are an estimated 1.25 million alligators in Florida and I met three of them on our walk through the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge. They were long, lazy and luckily lackadaisical. These remarkable reptiles were more than content to ignore us while they bathed in the warmth of the sun. The marsh trail was overflowing with feathered friends. Egret, heron, stork, ibis, snail kite and cormorant were abundant. There were lizard and snakes and all kinds of creepy-crawly things hiding in the sawgrass and Cyprus. Gypsy was with us, and I was overly concerned that she might look tasty to some of these creatures, but apparently Labrador is not high on the list of Everglade edibles.

Does anyone else find it amusing that Nudity is prohibited at Ten Thousand Islands? I mean, this had to have been a problem if it was necessary to post this restriction, right? I am easily amused, and keep thinking, what would inspire someone to run through a mosquito filled marsh, with their “dangly bits” swinging around like bait???  It does take all kinds to make a world, I suppose. As for me, I will do my marsh meandering clothed.

If you manage to evade the reptiles, there are also mammals that could pose a potential threat. Our recent campsites have all posted information about the elevated activity of black bear. Although Big Bertha has given us multiple headaches, I am thankful for the protective armor of an RV. I don’t think I could comfortably sleep in a tent with bear, gators, rattlers, and panthers roaming about.

We are blessed to have friends that reside in Bonita Springs. They were kind (and brave) enough to take us offshore, into the Gulf of Mexico, for a fishing excursion. Although I had done some fishing with my dad in my early years, this was NOTHING like fishing on the muddy banks of the Conestoga Creek. This fishing was done on open water that sparkled like sea glass. Our friends are experienced at deep sea fishing and they gave clear and concise instruction. In no time, we were participating, and actually reeling-in fish. There is a WHOLE LOT I do not know about fish, like which are edible, and which are not; which have toxins in their pectoral spines, and which do not. Left to our own devices, my husband and I would be eating bait and pulling venomous dorsal barbs out of our hands. We did catch some “keepers”, a few blue fish, a snapper and a permit. Our knowledgeable and patient host taught me how to filet the fish. The fresh catch was then prepared by our gracious friends. We enjoyed an outstanding dinner of blackened fish and a delicious, lemony fish piccata.  What a thoroughly enjoyable day.

A grandchild fills a space in your heart that you never knew was empty ~ Unknown

I am loving the warm air and all the outdoor activities. It’s January. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s winter. Although I love my shorts and tank tops, there are Maryland moments that I am missing. I would love to build a snowman with my grandchildren. I would love to make them hot chocolate and snuggle with them in front of the fireplace.

At least, for the time being, I can call them regularly, and hear tales of their icy adventures.

Ahhh….. <sigh>

But back to sun and fun…

Stay tuned….

Learning to Live with Less

After leaving Savannah and Christmas Day behind, we headed to Faver-Dykes State Park, near St. Augustine, Florida. Despite my resolution to look forward with optimism, I was still feeling a bit sad and nostalgic about holidays past. I subscribe to convention, and nothing could have been further from long-established traditions this year.

No home, leaving my loved ones, and the reality that all of my belongings were in storage kind of hit me between the eyes as were were rolling Southward. Yet, my mood seemed to improve as the temperature crept upwards. I prefer flip-flops to snow boots.

Faver-Dykes is a gem of a State Park. The campground is small but the individual sites are well laid out and very private. The trails are wide, and well-marked. The atmosphere is subtropical, with large, live oak, and an abundance of both Spanish Moss and Saw Palmetto providing ambiance. The ground was covered in fine sand. Gypsy likes to roll in fine sand. Fine sand likes to find its way into every tread on the bottom of our shoes. Sweeping the RV became an hourly task, and even that was no match for the relentless dirt.

Our kids gave us multiple board games for Christmas this year. We chose to test-drive them at Faver-Dykes. Although it is perfectly acceptable to play 365 games of Scrabble per year without needing intervention, the kids were obviously concerned about our apparent addiction to the game. Introducing new games is their attempt to keep us from requiring a Scrabble-12-step-program. Although we have not tossed Scrabble aside, we thoroughly enjoy playing A Little Wordy, Sequence, Blokus and Word on The Street.

Saint Augustine Beach was wildly crowded when we ventured into town. With Covid still looming large, we opted to skip some of the congested areas. This meant we would have to cross a busy street to escape the throngs of beachgoers. The crosswalks are equipped with orange flags, intended to alert motorists to pedestrians. We noted that, even with orange flags flapping, not all motorists are conscientious. Still, we managed to cross and enjoy a cold beer and a tasty lunch at the dog-friendly Café 11 before returning to our house on wheels.

Next stop:  Collier-Seminole State Park near Naples, Florida. Immediately after setting up, we discovered that our neighbors were old acquaintances from our marina days in Baltimore. Small world! We took advantage of their campfire and caught up a bit. We were enjoying our social time, but it was my husband’s birthday, so we retreated to our site, grilled a couple of steaks and enjoyed a quiet birthday dinner.

The campsites at Collier Seminole are “tight” but there was adequate room at the rear of the motorhome to erect a screen room, which is necessary. The bugs are brutal at dawn and dusk. The park offers trails, boat ramps, and bike paths. The rangers are extremely knowledgeable and kind. We took advantage of a guided hike on New Years morning. Henry, our guide, did an amazing job of introducing us to the flora and fauna in the area. It was somewhat unsettling to be hiking through areas that are inhabited by bear, bobcats, panthers, alligators and rattle snakes but Henry assured us, that (aside from rattle snakes) we were unlikely to encounter these creatures.

Cousin Eddie??

What’s worse than snakes and panthers and bears? Learning how to use the portable, sewage tote tank, that’s what!

Marco Island is a hop, skip and a jump down the road. It is a beautiful place. We were fortunate to be able to meet up with friends to enjoy an afternoon of fun and frivolity, 1st at Stan’s Idle Hour for lunch, then to 2-Shea’s Salty Dog to watch the Raven’s go down in defeat. It was an ugly season. Hoping for a great pick in the draft and a healthy team in 2022.

Plenty more to do near Naples since this is a 2-week stop, and a fishing trip is in the planning stages. Not much opportunity to blog, since WiFi is virtually non-existent in the area….

BUT, Stay tuned…