"It is in the wild places, where the edge of the earth meets the corners of the sky, the human spirit is fed." Art Wolf

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Hardee Lake's GTG January 2017

January 2 saw both Liz and I heading down to Hardee Lakes County Park for a WomenRV, Get Together. The county park consists of four lakes and miles and miles of hiking trails and roads.

The hiking paths are generally deserted and allowed opportunities for some off leash romp time for Remi.  Too many possible distractions for the Audrey girl to be trusted.   Armadillos, squirrels, birds and deer in abundance.

...and an occasional tortoise.....

Most of us were parked in the woods a bit away from the water front.  It cut down on the wind chill coming off the lake on the windy cold days but Anita had the lake view and took advantage of the pelican flock entertainment option.

Liz visiting with Anita on her front lawn.....

Watching the sun finally burn through the morning fog.

L to R: Soos, Liz, Nan, Carol, Anita

Carol and Anita.  

Liz conferring with a young man about his fishing recommendations. Liz's grandson and a friend were coming over later that day to try their hands at catching dinner.

.....Roads diverging around the lake. Pick one.

Soos and I headed down the road in her truck to pick through the scrap pile for some lumber to burn.
I narrowly missed an attack of fire ants from the hill I seemed to have disturbed.  That was fine because I apparently attracted enough chigger bites to make up for what ever pain I missed out on from the ants.

Nan and Donna working on connecting up Donna's rig.

Donna and  Phebe.

Sweet Dinah

Small Alligator off on the middle of the lake.

Margie with PheeBee and Annie.

Vickie (of Vicki and Dave) was responsible to picking the dates and the location of this GTG.  Since they also belong to a Dutch Oven Group (DOG) that was scheduled for a GTG  dinner that last Sunday we were all invited to participate in the pot luck.  We were not expected to cook in Dutch Ovens.  The pictures below are representative of a DOG potluck.  Looks a little different from the normal carry-ins doesn't it?

Main course, breads or desserts......it all came to the table as a result of cooking in a cast iron skillet.

After a relaxing week of walking miles and over eating too many desserts Liz and I drove back to our spots in McIntosh.   The next day the rig had an appointment at Tri-Am RV Dealer for a solar check up and some much needed repair work on the aging electric cord connecting the rig to the tow vehicle.  

Audrey and Remi and I settled down in the waiting area; I with my computer, Audrey with her blanket and Remi with a new friend that he just met.

The beginning of Winter Travels 2016-2017

We headed out before Christmas this year.  Going to the Cleveland Classic Dog Shows in the snow and ice was enough winter for me.  After making a quick trip to Columbus so that the young and up and coming Josef could spend his winter months with is first momma, breeder and co-owner Cindy the rest of us loaded up and ready to escaped the Ohio driveway.    Our first stop was north of Knoxville, TN, at the Escapees Raccoon Valley RV park for a chilly 18 degree over night before heading off to Charlotte and Kate's and Lucas' flat driveway be Friday evening.  (Because everyone knows not to try to visit a teacher during the week!)   

Their hospitality was up to their usual standards and I love that they introduce me to different dinning experiences in and around town.   Saturday we made sure to stop be the local REI store for some shopping.  Kate is also good an introducing me to quality socks and other camping items and encouraging me t try them. Darn the young woman is usually right and then those cheap socks are just not good enough any more.  Exception for the Alpaca socks......which are excellent and not cheap.  From Charlotte the dogs and I headed off to visit Huntington Beach State Park just south a bit from Myrtle Beach.  Much much quieter and easier access to the beach.   It was still a bit chilly but made for great deserted beach walking.  Plenty of camp sites available in late December before the Canadians all flock south.

Sunset and moonrise. 

Wetlands in the park.  If it was warmer it would have made kayaking a possibility.  As it was it was just a long walk for the dog and me.

This is how Remi breaks the rules on deserted beaches.....  

After Remi's turn for freedom it was time for him to go back on his leash and Audrey practiced being a beach dog.

Once again I was reminded how happy I was that she had finished her GCH title in November and that I wasn't having to worry about Josef's show coat in the salt.....

One of the large ponds that you drive over to reach the campground.

And dogs just want to have fun.  And as opposed to dear Stuart who would happily try to swim in any body of water these two don't seem interested in getting all that wet.  I always worried that Stuart would jump in and before he realized it would get caught in a rip tide.  Remi in his enthusiasm accidentally when too far just as a wave ran in but did a reverse quick enough...... but then tried to pretend he did it on purpose.  

After getting out beach fix we drove down to revisit Charleston.  It has been about 15 years and several novels read since visiting last.  Daughter Kate recommended the James Island County Campground. It was more money than most my stops but was worth it for the convenience of being close to the city.  And added unexpected treat was the Christmas Light show was set up through out the entire park.   As campers we all had a free pass to drive through as often as we wanted.   Other than that it was recommended that you stayed put in the campground in the evenings.  

Christmas time in a campground.

During the day I drove into the city in the Honda and drove down narrow King Street and glimpsed the fancy store fronts.  I continued south of Broad with echoes of Pat Conroy in my imagination.  Drove both directions along the battery and stopped to watch the surfers as they watched for the just right wave.

After driving around I drove back to the market area thinking I would hire a peddle cab so that someone else would peddle me around while I took pictures.  Instead I settled on a carriage ride.

I found the carriages, the horses and the tours interesting.  Many of the horses and the mules come from Indiana and Ohio. They come down to Charleston on a retirement plan after working for the Amish and other farmers.  The hours of work, care and handling are carefully monitored and protected.  They are vetted frequently during the day.   Better conditions than they had in their earlier lives.

The Charleston Historic District is divided into three areas since it is so vast...south of Broad.  There is a city employee whose job it is to send each carriage out to one of the three areas on a rotating lottery basis since there are sometimes 30-40 carriages working.  Each carriage has to swing past the post on the square, identify their carriage by number and horse and receive their assignment for that trip out.  In order to be hired as a carriage tour guide they have to study the tour information for all three areas and pass a test.  I am thinking that they have to pass carriage driving too.

And while most of us have seen the sling that is hook up behind the horses to catch the manure it was interesting to learn about the "Green" clean up industry built up around the carriage industry in Charleston.   It was demonstrated when we pulled over to hear another interesting Charleston historic story and our horse "Lucy" decided she needed to relieve herself.  As soon has she was finished peeing, our guide picked up a small sandbag tired in a ribbon and dropped along the side of the street to help mark the area.   He then took his walky-talky and called in a "spill" and gave the address.   He said that the clean up unit is on call all day for all the carriages so that they can come rinse and suck up the spill and steam clean the pavement.   Definitely not one of those jobs/careers that folks think of when they are job hunting.

An example of a churches that believes in "dust to dust" and that over grown plots remind them that their earthly bodies just aren't that important.

Even when they put in new sidewalks and or repave streets the original mounting blocks/stones are removed briefly and returned to in front of the fine houses...and they all have numbers....

From Charleston I headed south on I-95 to find my friend's (Lori and Ernie) new digs in southern Georgia.  They got permission from their friends who own the property to allow me to park with them a couple of days.  Made for a nice visit and a quiet Christmas celebration back in the woods with the wandering armadillos and free range kitties.  The dogs loved it because we were far enough down the lane from the road that they could romp off leash with supervision  and a few reminders.   All this and 30 amp, too!

And did I mention that Ernie is a wonderful cook and knows his wines and what to recommend....Ernie and Lori also took me on a scenic tour of a couple of the small towns and residential areas along the salt marshes.  Helped me understand why some folks choose south Georgia for their retirement and to escape the colder north.  Not everyone is hunting for the golf courses on Hilton Head.

The dogs and I made it to McIntosh, FL, by December 26 and settled in with the help of Liz who had already spoken to the front office to let them know that the electric at both our pre assigned sites was inadequate.   By the time I arrived the manager had already relocated our assign sites to two that did have adequate electric.  Both Liz and I will spend part of the remainder of our stay here wondering if the "Pipeline" workers who have settled in all around us in their rigs have noticed. They are gone off to work most everyday so maybe not!

Besides getting caught up with laundry, kayaking was one of the first activities pursued. That and a First of the Year Hike. It appears that some efforts have been made to open up some of the channels around the lake, connect some of the open water  and make it easier for fisherman and kayakers to move around.


The Fish Camp just down the lake from us has several boats in their dock including this large canoe suitable for camping expeditions.  I am thinking that our Hornbecks are easier to load on cars and paddle around the puddles.

One plus of paddling the smaller channels, little or no wind to bother the calm waters.

Sharp eyed Liz found the eagle at the top of the tree. Both of us had been told over the years that eagles nested one one of the small islands.  With some of the channels open this is the closest I've been to a couple of the island areas.

After relaxing for a week both Liz and I drove our rigs down to Hardee Lakes County Park for a WomenRV Get Together (GTG).   Pictures to follow in next blog.