Wheres Ray/Wendy yr 2

Monday, January 26, 2015

Suwannee and friends

Hi all,
Wendy says our weather is like a roller coaster, getting warm and nice for a couple days and then cool and rainy then warm again. Friday was a cabin day as we got four inches of rain throughout the day. That will make the old Suwannee river rise. It still hadn't receded to normal levels from previous rains, but it at least is not flood level and the launch is open for river runners.
 The Suwannee is a amazing river originating in the swamps of the Okefenokee in Georgia. It is also one of the few large rivers that holds no dams along its 246 mile route to the gulf. There are many river camps along for the adventurous runners to do all or sections of the river.
 We did have a nice 72 degree day on Thursday, we finished work early then hopped in the truck to head to a beach. Well to explore where a beach is anyhow. We headed the nearest direction to the gulf but only found a busy little fishing village. There was a beach listed 17 miles north, so off we went. We did find a nice little beach called Keaton Beach. It was maybe 150 yards of sand and a fishing pier. The breeze off the gulf was cool and dropped the temp into the 60's. A little cool but we can say we were at a beach. It turned out to be a nice drive and a chance to see more of the area.

 We also had a nice change of pace a couple (Bill and Marilyn) from our Excel camping club in Wisconsin were passing through and stopped in for a few days. Excel is the company that our fifth wheel campers are made at. It is a small company located in Smith Center, Kansas. Not a mass producer of rvs they only produce with an order in hand. With that we don't see many and when we do we get all excited- oh look an Excel!!( yeah, weird aren't we).
 So the past few days we have played tour guide taking them to a few of the springs in the area and a visit to Stephan Foster State Folk Culture Center. We had been to the park earlier for a hike but this time we got to visit the museum and check out the carillon (bell) tower. The tower built in 1958 hold one of the largest musical instruments in the Western Hemisphere and the largest number of tubular bells. The 97 bells play some of Foster's 200 compositions and also toll bits quarterly on the hour.

Monday, January 19, 2015

This, that, and some more things

Hi all,
Holy cow, the time is just flying by here and our posting has been getting a little lax. As we are nearing the end of our stint here on March 1st we have yet to decide where we are heading after that. We don't need to be anywhere until May 8th when we report back to Custer State Park for the summer. That gives us a nice two full months to just travel and explore around. We don't want to head north to soon and we need to be aware of the spring storm season. Another dilemma at this time is dealing with spring break, where we would just like to follow our noses and go. We might end up in trouble on some of these busy weekends.
 Our weather here has been cool and we had a lot of rain last week. After what seemed like a week we finally saw the sun on Friday. Seems it doesn't matter where you are or the temp if you have sunshine you feel so much better.
 We had some fun and planted some fruit trees and blueberry bushes at Mandi's. We also worked to hook up and irrigation system for it. We attempted to use existing supplies that were used by the former owner. It was a bit trying but we got it all going. This should make the watering so much easier than continually holding a hose. This will really help Mandi because her hubby Pat will be back on the road soon. He drives semi and does tire work for Nascar and learned some changes in racing will require him away more than in the past. His first stint out is for 50 days before getting back home for a week.

She will have her hands full taking care of the doggies, kids, and farm.

 We also helped complete a patio using a big pile of pavers that was on the property. We enjoy helping on projects it gives us the old sweat equity feeling we had when we were home owners. And although we like helping we sure are not wanting to go back to that lifestyle. Hitch itch is already starting.)
 The kids got new bikes for Christmas so we found a bike trail not to far and got a good 12 mile ride in to break them in. You all know if you haven't been on your bikes lately the thing getting broke in is your butts.)

   Wendy continues her pine needle baskets. She figures she has made over 30 of them now and only has about four not given out. She continues to get better and more creative as she goes along. Mandi teases her that we will set her up in a road side stand selling them.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Itchy Nippy Dippers

 Hi all,
Seems the cold spell that is going on in the north has snuck in on us. The past two nights have been below freezing then it takes most of the day to warm up to 40 then back down again. I know we get no sympathy from our family and friends in Wisconsin, that would be a heat wave to them. Thankfully it looks like it shouldn't last to long. 
 Meanwhile back at the farm(Mandi's) we are planning on doing some tree planting soon. On Saturday we visited a garden center and came away with 5 fruit trees and some blueberry bushes.  She already had two pear trees and a couple small lime trees that are already producing fruit. It will be interesting to see how this goes and hopefully we will not need to attend any tree funerals.)
 Saturday we also did something exciting. We took part in the second annual Iche Nippy Dip at Ichetucknee Springs. Note- it is pronounced Itchy.

 This is Florida version of the polar plunge. Yeah, I know the springs are 72 degrees year round but at 10:00 am the air temp was around 60. They had about 50 people in attendance and all received a free tee shirt and hot cocoa after the dip. Well it was refreshing and didn't feel to bad after a bit. They then had a first time bath robe contest that we didn't plan for, maybe next year?
 Work has been busy through the holidays though we see a slow time coming with few reservations during the next few weeks. It also comes at a time when we have filled most all the volunteer sites. Our volunteer village is full for the first time- all four sites and another volunteer is in the main campground along with the camp host, seems like a good group of people.

We have a group fire ring in our area so another volunteer and I split some firewood for some fires to chat by. The park has nicely provided the wood and log splitter We also have discussed some pot lucks so this should all be fun.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Goodbye to the boys

Happy New Year!
 Have you all made that resolution that you're really going to keep? Good luck to you, we took a pass on that.
 We had a great holiday season being able to enjoy it with Mandi, Pat, and two of the grandsons. The boys and I got in a little kayaking and fishing. The river was very turbulent and dirty from the recent rains and made the fishing just casting practice, oh well still a good time.

Alex and Grandpa(me)

 On Saturday we took a two hour ride to Crystal River to do a glass bottom boat ride and snorkel with manatee. Mandi was trying to do this as a surprise but some questionable weather forecast forced her to let the cat out of the bag.
 The weather looked like it would hold up so off we went. Seems everyone else decided to do the same. The river was packed with kayaks, paddle boarders, and other outfitters. This seemed to aggravate the manatees as they were very scarce in the springs they normally use. We did see a few but most times the water was just to stirred up and murky to see clearly.

 Oh well, we got a nice refreshing swim in the 72 degree water and just fun spending time together.
 Sunday was the boys last day here and we got together to enjoy a great Packer victory over the Lions. We finished out the night with a bonfire. The boys then got up Monday and drove sixteen hours back to Wisconsin. We were happy the roads were clear for them as you just never know at this time of year.
 New Years eve found us at Mandi's for some cards and ringing in the new year. As we had to work on New Years day we didn't over indulge to much though once we finished work total relaxing was in order.
 The park has been busy, with most of the sites and cabins full during the holidays. They  had to close the boat launch due to high water. It is amazing to see how fast the river level comes up after the rain. 
These are a couple other shots of the fun with the boys. They made the ramp to get the goats to the second level and it worked-Sort of.)

Mandi, Alex, and Noah