Saturday, November 24, 2012

Typical Escapee Thanksgiving!

Since we are in Florida for the winter, all of our holidays will be celebrated with our Escapee Family.  Yesterday was the first--Turkey Day.  We had a great turnout of most of the park.  For these dinners people sign up by tables.  Each table  has a host who holds a meeting of the table members.  The park contributes meat and sometimes gravy.  Each person contributes $2-$3 toward the purchase price of the meat.  The table members decide on table decorations, what dishes each will bring, and whether they will supply their own dishes or buy them as part of the table decorations.  They also provide a platter for the meat and a dish for the gravy, if any.
Our host provided the table decorations, including dishes.  Ours was the best looking!

 Each table had a side table for their  carry-in dishes.

Our table counter-clockwise--managers (our current bosses) Wallace and Wanda Lewis (Green tee and next to Duane, Natalie, an Escapee who camped at our park just to join us for dinner, my place, Sharon and Fran, the other work campers, then Bea, Wanda's cousin and her husband Bennit, and Wallace's sister Elaine. 
After dinner most people table hop and visit.  This is my new friend and jigsaw puzzle buddy Karen.  We also play Rummy Kube.

and gabbing.  Duane found a fellow wood carver.
Wanda and Wallace, who have the dubious pleasure of telling us what to do.
People usually prepare way too much food for these dinners so the next day is Leftover Day.  At 6pm or so everyone brings in their leftovers to a potluck dinner.  Most of the leftovers get eaten.

Wally and Lanie  I told them to act as if they liked each other!

As ever, more gabbing and visiting.

Our Friday potluck table included Karen and Ed, and the Monats.  This room is the big common room where everyone comes to play games and watch tv.  Our jigsaw puzzle is in the lefthand far corner.  The door at the end of our table leads to a small tv room while the one on the left is the Pool (table) Room.  On the right out of the pic are the library and the craft room.  We come here to the little tv room to see our shows on CBS since we  have lousy aerial reception in this park.

I saw Wallace taking my pic so I had to put up the bunny ears, even though Karen was facing me!

This night most people went home within an hour of the end of dinner. Some stayed around for a couple of hours playing games, watching tv or chatting.  That's how holiday dinners are done the Escapee way. 

That's all that's happening now.

Louise and Duane

Friday, November 09, 2012


Last Sunday I told Duane we needed to take a ride somewhere.  He bundled me on the bike for a surprise destination.  I was very pleasantly surprised to end up here.

This is one of Florida's many springs tourist spots, but this one was very entertaining. There are two ways to enter the park.  The east entrance is right at the park itself.  The west entrance has a nice visitors' center where we caught a slow boat up the creek to the main park.  There is also tram service along this route, but the boat ride is by far the best way to enter the park.  Along the way we enjoyed viewing the native wildlife and learning about the park we were about to visit.  Seems it was originally a privately owned exotic animal park.  The creek flows around an island (on the left here) where the monkeys lived.  When the boats floated under any low-hanging branch, the monkeys would jump down, swipe anything shiny and scramble back up and out of reach.  At the end of the day, the keepers had to go out to the island and retrieve the loot and try to get it back to its owners.   When the state took over, all the exotic animals were quartered elsewhere and  the flora and fauna populations returned to only native species.


Lots of turtles out sunning.

Blue heron

The Park reintroduced wood ducks by installing nesting boxes.

Homosassa Spring's main draw are the manatees.  During the winter, manatees swim up the rivers that come from springs and empty into the ocean.  Homosassa is one of those springs.  Manatees need warm water and seek the 72df water when the ocean temps reach below that.  The Park has four manatees in their care which have some kind of injury.  While they are recuperating, they are penned in the park. When the ocean water temp gets too cold, the park manatees are kept in an enclosed pool while the open gate allows other manatees to access the warm spring waters.

We were too late to view them in the underwater viewing room, but we saw them swimming .  They look like mini submarines.

The viewing station is built on two tiers inside the bowl of the spring.  This spring is much smaller than Wicki Watchee.  This one is only 35 feet deep and slightly bigger around than the upper floor of the viewing station.

Down the stairs you can see  in a 360d view. This is one of a large school of snook that were visiting from the ocean, 9 miles from the spring down the Homosassa River.  The name means river where the little pepper grows.

View from above.

Inside the alligator enclosure.  Duh!

The enclosures were encircled by walkways set about 5 feet above them.  The only exotic not sent somewhere else is Lu, the Nile hippo.  No one wanted to feed a 6000 lb hippo, so Lu was officially made a Florida citizen and still lives in his home of almost 50 yrs.

Lu getting his afternoon snack of bananas and watermelon.

The river flows through several different enclosures.  Here the river otters--fun to watch.

This island was filled with different kinds of water birds including swans, pellicans, ibis's etc.  These pink flamingos are for Sherry Wysong and her fellow flamingo lovers.


Along the outside of the walkway were fenced in enclosures.  These are roseate spoonbills.

Pelican nesting site in the river.

Yes, bald eagles are native to Florida.

We spent the day walking around the the park, took a break for a very reasonable lunch at their cafe, listening to the talks about the residents.  We opted to take the boat back and were rewarded with this view of the inhabited osprey nest.  We were on the wrong side of the boat on the way in but could see it really well on the way back.

Just down the road from the park is the town of Homosassas and the H-D store.  We don't buy anything at these stores, just take a pic and browse.  They are mostly the same, but have different designs for their store's tees.

After our day of touring we headed back home and arrived in time for the ice cream social.  Duane timed it that way!  Next week we hope to fit in another day tour.  Stay tuned!

Louise and Duane

Thursday, November 08, 2012


On our first day at Key West we walked west.  The next day after another yummy breakfast at the b&b we walked east and south.  This is the only thing here, at the southernmost point of the continental USA.  People lined up and waited their turn.  As with everywhere in Key West, everyone was relaxed and friendly, often offering to take pics of the people following them in line.

Next on our list of things we must see was the lighthouse.   Why, you may ask, is the lighthouse in the middle of town?  The answer is that originally the lighthouse was in the water.  Key West is the only place that I know of where the ocean didn't erode the shore but the shore built up into the ocean!

The lighthouse and keepers house were surrounded by large gardens.  These are Banyon trees, native to Africa and brought here by travelers.  They grow roots from the branches, the roots turning into trunks so that one tree may have hundreds of trunks.

Inside the lighthouse looking up.

View of the town. 
The lighthouse is small inside so the keeper kept his equipment in the little shed attached to it.

The keeper's house is across from the lighthouse.  Only one family lived here at a time.  As usual, when the keeper was unable to do the work, his wife stepped up and kept the light lit.   The widow of  the first keeper, a staunch Southerner, was ousted from her job when the Yankees blockaded the ports during the Civil War.  They thought she would use the lighthouse to warn the Rebels.

Note fact 7.

After visiting the lighthouse we walked east and came upon this beautiful mural.

We stopped for a cola at a little neighborhood store across the street from the mural, then walked west and south to here.

Click on the pic to enlarge it to read.  It explaines a lot.

The park consists of the fort, a nice restroom with vending machines outside, the beach and this blacksmith shop.  The shop was not original to the area.  Someone found the equipment and built it to display it.

View of parade ground.  We entred from the lower right corner, but the sally port, the main and only original entrance is located about where the guy in orange is walking.  To the right and left of the port were two jail cells.  The rest of the wall was mess halls with dorm rooms on the two floors above.  The one facing was two upper tiers of cannon and latrines and kitchens on the ground floor.  The two on the left (there is one just out of the pic in the lower lefthand corner) were built later of concrete filled in with all the bricks and outdated ordanance from the original walls.

One of the large mess halls

Between two of the messes was this tiny chapel.

A work camper volunteer lead us around the fort and answered all our questions.  He apologised many times for not being able to show us all the fort, the kitchens etc being set for their Halloween program.  View of the port.

From the top a view of the parade grounds and one of the added walls.

The fort, like the lighthouse, was originally built out at sea.  Bad weather delayed the building of the fort.  At one point the bay was dredged and used to fill the space between the fort and the mainland.

View of some of the outdated cannon used as fill in the new(er) walls.

After our morning of touring we were warm and tired and hungry, but I just had to stick my feet in the Atlantic.  We cut across to the beach.  Very nice with warm sun and cool breeze.   The water temp  was in the seventies but people were swimming.    Inland from the beach was a nice shaded picnic area. (The water is actually a beautiful sea green.)


Ok, no more messing around. We were hungry so we headed back to Duval St. and stopped at Jimmy Buffetts Margaritaville Restaurant for some seafood mac-n-cheese.  The cheese was white, sweet and creamy.  Yum!

With our bellies full we went back to our room for a rest.  About 5pm we headed west again but turned north to visit the old wharf district.  There were lots of little shops and large restaurants.  I decided we had to eat seafood since we were here  so that's what we did.  We walked around looking at the shops and boats, then picked a restaurant and chowed down on lobster tail, scallops, and shrimp.

Here and there we saw people in costume.  We passed two ladies dressed as dance hall girls, but thought maybe they might have been in a show.  While we were eating, our hostess was dressed in a ball gown.  Finally it dawned on me that it was Oct. 31, Halloween.  I don't know why we didn't take any pix.

More boats in the Gulf.

After another beautiful sunset, we walked down Duval St. enjoying the revelers.  About a quarter of the people were in some kind of costume--just a mask or head to toe.  Too dark by this time for photos, we went in search of Key Lime Pie.  We found it at Fogarty's, sitting at the table I pointed out in day 1.  Duane drank coffee, I had iced tea and we both had some very delicious pie while watching the parade on Duval St.

Next day, with all our touring behind us we headed home, back across the 7 Mile Bridge.

More of the original Flagler rr bed.

Clouds moving in.  All during our long ride home (we did it in 1 day), we alternated overcast, clear skies, partly cloudy.  We rode sr 1 to sr 27 past miles of pastures and citrus trees interrupted by towns of varying sizes.

I liked this sign.

Except for stops for meals, gas and leg stretches, we kept on rolling, determined to make it home before dark.  Our last sunset, but not Key West, but still pretty.

Dramatic clouds opposite the sunset.

We stopped once more for gas and made it home just a few minutes after dark.  The whole trip was wonderful.  We were both very pleased with it and it will live long in our happy memories.

Next up, touring closer to home.

Louise and Duane