Wheres Ray/Wendy yr 2

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Rating Suwannee

Hi all,
 Wow, down to our last week here at Suwannee River State Park. So what do we think of our time here. For the most part it has been a good experience. On the good side it was close to Amanda's and we were able to spend some great time with her and hubby Pat. Also good was meeting other volunteers that we now call friends. Our campsite was okay- good services and tv reception. The down side on the campsite was being in the trees so much that you couldn't really sit in the sun. We felt like it was 10 degrees warmer at Amanda's out in the open. I guess the shade would be more welcome if it were a bit warmer. As for weather here it has been cool and can get really rainy at times. For the most part, pants and sweatshirts were the norm so not that bad.
 The work here has been pretty acceptable not to hard. After a brief training we were pretty much left alone to do things as best as we saw fit. We were never asked to do more and many times were left trying to find more to get our volunteer hours in.
 The one down side to the experience has been communication. We have three full time rangers and we would sometimes have to hunt them down to find out what cabins need to get done. On at least four occasions people had walked in and reserved a cabin and we were not notified that they need cleaned.
 So to sum things up on a scale of 1-10 about an 8. Would we come back? Yeah, I think so but we'll see when.
 This past weekend turned out to be a work weekend. On Friday we began a project at Amanda's of helping her redo the flower beds around the house. The wood was mostly rotted and the beds were 6 feet out from the house. We reduced them to three feet and put new timbers, weed control, and cypress mulch down. We had pulled out bulbs and other plants and reused most all so she shouldn't need to buy much more.
Rachael is such a help

 Well as there was still so much left to be done after Friday, Wendy and I just figured we would use the Saturday to help complete the job. It was a lot of work and sure looked good when we were done.
 Later we helped repackage chicken that she had bought at the plant where she worked. Periodically they run employee sales
Wendy trimmed the chicken thighs, Amanda packaged and I did the most important job of running the vacuum packer. We ended up with 30 packs of four thighs each not bad for $30.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Festivals Abound

Hi all,
 Wow, we are down to our last two weeks volunteering at Suwannee. We think we got a nice schedule with work camping for four months and then off for two. That gives us time to play retired tourist then back to work-(kind of).
 Plans for the next two months are a bit lacking. We have a reservation for the first two weeks of March near St. Augustine, time to get our beach on. Then we will head back and mooch camp by Amanda for a couple weeks before beginning a slow trek to South Dakota. Our start date there is May 8th and we do not want to get there any earlier than necessary. So we will just see where the road takes us.
 The past weekend was a busy one as we found two nearby festivals to attend. It was nice as Amanda has taken off the next two Fridays to spend with us. On Friday we took in the Olustee Battle Festival in Lake City. The main event here is a battle reenactment of the largest civil  war battle in Florida that took place in 1864. Sadly for us the battle was held on Sunday when we had to work.( We did get a chance to visit the craft sales and sample some tasty cuisine. One side feature was a show with some of the worlds best Frisbee catching dogs that was quite fun to watch.
 Saturday was the 7th annual Stienhatchee Fiddler Crab Festival. This festival took place in the busy litte fishing village of Stienhatchee. Main events here were crab races, river rides, and a Swampwater cookoff. They also had a large supply of craft and food venders. Music was also held but we thought $10. each to hear a jam session was a bit much so we just walked about getting some nice exercise.
 Seems we had got there just as they were finishing up with the Swampwater cookoff missing the chance to get samples. Just need to plan better, but we did get a tasty Jamaican wrap. We watched a crab race then saw a young ventriloquist that was surprisingly good. There was also a unicycle juggler that was previously featured on Americas Got Talent.
 Sunday after work we helped plant a couple more fruit trees by Mandi and hook up irrigation to them. She says we can't leave till the garden is all in- we'll see??
 One other thing that you don't see in Wisconsin is baling of the pine needles, they call  pine straw. They manually rake and pile up the long needles in big piles then bring in a baler to the piles. They load them in semis and take them to various stores for use as decorative mulch and such. I guess a good way to make some money while waiting to harvest the trees.
If you look really close you can see a tear in Wendy's eye as they take her basket supply. JK.)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sidetracked by Life

Hi all,
 We're back, sorry about the break in posts but as we all know life can change plans. In this case we had to make a trip that we knew was looming but none the less didn't want to see. Wendy's older brother Dave had passed away after a long battle with multiple cancers. A young man of only 62 leaving behind his wife, two kids, and four grandkids he will be greatly missed.
  Wendy has a large family with eight siblings and it had been a long time since all the siblings were together. We were able to spend some nice time with them and Wendy's parents.
Wendy's parents Never to old to share
 The trip was 750 miles to Lawrenceburg, Indiana. We took off most of the week hitting I75 for most all the trip leaving the RV behind and moteling it. Thankfully although quite cold the roads were dry and safe. On both passes through Atlanta we hit at mid day to avoid traffic and luckily succeeded.
 So to catch up prior to that we had taken a trip south to check out another of Florida's state parks.
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs State Park is very different type of park. It is a rehabilitation center for injured and orphaned West Indian Manatee. A first magnitude spring provides the perfect setting.
 Also on grounds is an assortment of  native wildlife that for various reasons can not be released back in the wild. Oh, and the one non native species an old hippo that has been given honorary citizenship. He had been there when the park was a private entity and being 6000 pounds not easy to relocate. The public also had formed a bond with this guy over the years. He is now 55 years old.


 Another highlight of the park is a floating observatory where you can get an underwater view of thousands of fish and manatee in the Homosassa Spring.
  Wendy continues to get better and better with her pine needle basketry. This is a few of her latest handiwork.