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Very first fish!

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Pam said “Terry has never caught a fish on his own rod.”

When I heard this, my mission was ON. Terry would catch his first fish, on his own rod, while fishing out of “Camo-Tow”. In case some of you are first time visitors to “Five Spoke Wheel” I must explain that Pam and Terry are new friends, who have completed two years of overland travel, in a custom built Land Rover Defender camper. They are a delightful couple from Wales, whom we met on a recent Land Rover camping trip to Holder Mine. They have been staying with us for a few days, here at O.O.C.

Sanibel Causeway Island Park

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“Freddy” on the left and “Voyageur” catching some rays…

We are very fortunate to have a wonderful place to set-up a beachhead, right on the Gulf of Mexico. “Sanibel Island Causeway Park” is one of the last places where you can park right next to the water. There is ample parking, some shaded by gorgeous Southern Pines and the rest fully open to satisfy the desires of sun-worshippers. Lucy and I , always concerned about preventing skin cancer, chose the shade… Just after we finished setting up Pam told us she “Really wanted to sit in the sun.” She reminded us that the weather in Wales is frequently; cloudy, rainy and cold… We offered to relocate, but she said she was fine…

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l to r: Pam, Terry and my Lucy.

The beach was well attended, but there was still plenty of room for all. Terry’s Land Rover Defender “Freddy” attracts attention wherever he parks it. Our beachfront location was no exception. Terry answered questions for the many curious people who strolled by and posed for several photographs. The custom vehicle, equipped with right hand drive, is not only a fine rolling-home, it is a great conversation piece… “Voyageur”, our trusty Roadtrek, was quite hurt, as she got nowhere near as much attention. There was however, one jovial beach goer, who offered to swap his Honda Element for our well equipped camper – “straight up”. We declined his offer… We sat in the shade, enjoyed a few ice-cold adult beverages and planned our fishing strategy.

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Our salty little yacht “Camo-Tow” was in full “Fishing” mode

We were all ready for some hardcore fishing. A quick stop at a local bait shop and my bait bucket was brimming with two dozen, very lively shrimp. The shrimp were dying to get on the end of one of our hooks and give it all for the cause. The weather was ideal for the little Gheenoe. Comfy swivel seats, convenient rod-holders and a wide beam, combine to provide an ideal fishing-platform. There is no boat ramp at the park. No problem for our little craft. I unhitched the trailer from Voyageur and Terry and I simply rolled it into the surf for the launch. I wish we would have taken some photographs. Pulling it back out of the water required a bit more effort, but it was actually no problem for we two incredibly strong, senior citizens, Camo-Tow is equipped with a 6.6 horsepower outboard that provides a proper cruising speed while only sipping a tiny bit of petrol…

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“Then you twist it around six times and run it back through the double loop” I explained…

Terry confessed he just did not have much experience with a rod in his hand. First lesson was to demonstrate one of the proper monofilament line fishing knots – guaranteed not to pull loose. On the third try, I finally got it right. I heard a few chuckles (with a British accent) over my multiple attempts. Terry opined “It was a good idea showing me how not to tie it first.” Ha Ha Ha… We set up our fishing rigs on the beach, so we would be ready to drop our hooks immediately…

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“Terry, be sure you put plenty of sun-screen on your head!” Cautions Pam

Camo-Tow, our 15′ 4″ Gheenoe, while small in size, is huge in fishing comfort, stability and good looks.  ;O) We carried everything we needed with a “no-frills attitude”…

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A hearty “Bon Voyage” and we were off on our three hour tour

FISH ON!

There was very little breeze, calm waters and the tide was perfect for catching… I wish I had taken some actual fishing photos, but we were too busy pulling them in… We set up to drift through the deepwater channel, normally a very productive method. In this case, 30 minutes of hardcore beer drinking and drowning shrimp, resulted in no fish. I cranked up the outboard and motored a half mile to a new location. Thirty seconds after Terry’s bait hit the water WHAM! “FISH ON!” He hooked and landed his first fish. Catching it on his brand new, open face spinning rig, made it even more special. It was a nice 1.5 pound Speckled Sea Trout. Perfect size for the skillet and one notch down on his four-fish bag limit

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Speckled Sea Trout

The scrappy little Speckled Sea Trout hit hard and fight bravely. All to no avail. Our British Buddy landed all but one. The fish is one of our favorite for a crispy Southern fish fry. In only a few minutes we had caught our “limit’ and the two dozen shrimp I had bought were gone. There was a lot of excited hollering and yelling, some in a stately Wales accent, and a good bit of Florida Crack caterwalling. It was a wonderful fishing trip with enough fish in the box, for a fantastic seafood dinner. I cleaned them on the side of the boat and left the entrails for the crabs. Terry had a wall-to-wall grin that lasted for the rest of the day. We couldn’t wait to return to the waiting women and show off our catch. They both admitted equal amounts of surprise and appreciation. “I can’t believe you caught all those fish.” Pam commented…

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Terry’s happy smile, lit up the entire beach

Good friends, Good fishing and Good fun!

These are not big fish. Each was carefully measured with my trusty fish-ruler, to make sure they were “legal” Terry did catch the two largest trout, but we didn’t get a proper photo. These little beauties produce a tender, sweet meat, with very few bones. I made a batch of “hush puppies”, a first time treat for our friends from the United Kingdom. There was nothing left on the platters when we left the table… All in all a perfect day at the beach. We hung around for most of the afternoon and then retrieved Camo-Tow and headed for O.O.C.

My mouth was already watering…

As I thought of the delicious dinner to come…

Peace and love, “Spokesman” Dave

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KERMIT was wrong…

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…It is easy “Being Green”

It was a perfect morning for a trip to one of our local “Green Markets”

Lucy and I have spoken often about making a Saturday morning pilgrimage to the Green Market, at the Fort Myers, “Alliance For The Arts”. It was not a top priority because we “Grow our own” right here at O.O.C. We continued hearing about the market from some of our friends and based on the information, we decided it would be a fun trip…

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“Voyageur” our 1998 Roadtrek is the perfect excursion vehicle

We often use our Roadtrek for “Fun” trips, as well as our frequent errands, It is wonderful having a clean bathroom, fridge full of healthy snacks and ice-cold drinks and even a very nice spot for the occasional nap. There was plenty of shaded parking spots on the beautiful campus…  Lots of folks arrive by bicycle and we even saw some backpack wearing roller-bladers. The location is happy to have well behaved pets with thoughtful owners who pick up after them…

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“Come on David. Lets go buy something.” says Lucy

The “Alliance”, as it is known locally, is a wonderful place to visit. The ever changing art exhibits are always first rate and the frequent concerts and outdoor productions are well known and well attended. There are many classes available for children and adults covering most artistic media. Some of the sculptures and ceramics we saw were truly amazing.

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The jar of cashew butter I bought, was creamy and delicious. One hundred percent natural.

Tina Johnston, owner of “Gone Nuts” was the first market vendor we visited. We sampled several of her offerings and ultimately purchased a jar of her cashew butter. No additives at all and chock full of flavor. All of Tina’s fine butters are available online. Here is a link to her Gone Nuts online store.

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Drummin up business

There is a wide variety of booths at the Green Market. I enjoyed speaking with the owners of “Gypsy Drums” and hearing some of the well played African Rhythms. The quality of the instruments was high and the prices reasonable… You will all enjoy Jeanie’s BLOG. All of her items are available online and her attitudes, knowledge of chanting and drumming and love, are freely shared, both in person and with her online community. I did not buy a drum. The drum purchase is still under review by the O.O.C. Executive staff and CFO – Lucy…

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“Super Shopper” Lucy at one of the many booths

We did actually make several purchases and we were pleased with each of them. We even bought a very special “Tea Cake” to share with Pam and Terry, our friends from Wales. They will be arriving later today for an O.O.C. overnight stay. The dill pickles she bought were crunchy and good. The seeds she bought from “The Unruly Gardener” will be a welcome addition to our vegetable garden… She even bought a very tasty jar of marinated sheep’s cheese. Yes. It is made right here in Fort Myers from sheep’s milk…

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Shopping locally is definitely a good reflection of your spirit

Lucy and I both agree that keeping our shopping dollars in the community is a stellar concept. We enjoy supporting local farmers and artisans. We incorporate as many methods as possible to reduce our carbon footprint and our impact on the world. We are just a little to far from the market to make bicycle commuting feasible but we do carry our own bags to carry our treasures. Not only are there many obvious benefits to shopping locally, a visit to any Farmer’s is just plain FUN…

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Our purchases loaded we were ready to head to Hickory Hammock for some additional purchases from Terry, the affable owner…

Have a wonderful life,

“Spokesman” Dave

Land Rover “Lovers”

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1960 Land Rover Series and 1976 Boler travel trailer

1960 Land Rover Series and 1976 Boler travel trailer

Meeting “Tinkerbell”…

When I was a young boy, Peter Pan and Tinkerbell were two of my heroes. (I had a crush on Tink) Of course, at the time, I believed they were quite real. Having met Danielle and Drew my belief was confirmed. They are in fact – very real

Last weekend…

Lucy and I were planning a ten day, tent based trip. We decided to leave “Voyageur” our Roadtrek at O.O.C. and do the trip in one of our Land Rover Discoveries. First thing we did was to call our good friend, Aldous Cosmo Gitles and ask him to join us. Fact of the matter is, we asked him to pick the location for our rendezvous. “Cosmo”, as his friends call him, was ready willing and able to meet us for another four wheeling off-road adventure. He offered a couple of alternative locations in central Florida and we chose “Holder Mine Campground” in the Withlacoochee Forest…

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We began planing, organizing and loading our gear for an exciting adventure with some great old friends. From there, it just got better and better. Cosmo called us back a couple of times and said the group was getting larger. In fact he said we would love the new people that were meeting us and that a couple other members of the Florida Land Rover Club would also be joining us for some trail riding. Fantastic! The more the merrier. For this BLOG I am going to speak about one couple, Drew and Danielle. Lucy and I chose to call this couple “Tinkerbell and Peter Pan”. Their fun BLOG is “The Wild Rovers”

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Their kind, loving, spirit was evident from the first moment we met them…

Drew and Danielle were set-up on their campsite when Lucy and I arrived. Everything looked as “neat as a pin”. We were looking forward to meeting them, because we had viewed their blog and immediately felt a kinship with this amazing young couple. So many memories flooded my mind. I immediately thought of my Lucy as a young spouse, complete with honey-sweet voice and gently strumming guitar. Even their smiles radiated the same joyful, unassuming innocence. We as couples were alike in so many ways. I am not going to do a lot of “Splaining” (Ricky Ricardo’s voice) because they have all the details on their blog. What I want to talk about is how impressed I was by their attitude about life. Best part was, it didn’t come from books, seminars, or self-help tapes. They just “Get it”. Having graduated from college with degrees in Journalism (Danielle) and Mechanical Engineering (Drew) they were tired of the day to day constraints of excessive order, disciplined study and schedule driven academic lives. They are not running away from something they are moving closer to something. They both love and miss their homes and family in Nova Scotia. Each of them spoke of the wonderful people, scenery and energy that they left behind in their homeland. Both Drew and Danielle maintain close contact with family and friends while they are on the road. I believe they just want to make sure that what they think – Nova Scotia is the best place to live – is accurate. For the entire time we were sharing the woods with this marvelous couple, I never heard a “discouraging word”. even as they spoke of little setbacks and challenges they had encountered, they were grinning from ear-to-ear as they explained their inventive and sometimes comical solutions. The only sad part for me was the realization that none of our – now all grown up daughters – ever got to enjoy such a freeing adventure…

Saturday, January 12th. Happy Birthday Danielle

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As luck would have it, we got to celebrate Danielle’s 23rd birthday with her. She and Drew participated in our first off-road trail ride in their very own “Ole Yeller”. The venerable old Land Rover was shod with standard tread street tires, but managed to handle every obstacle in it’s path with a pronounced British “Stiff upper lip”. Many of the other trucks had oversize, heavily lugged, trail tires and extensive modifications. They put nothing over on the rugged, leaf sprung, Rover. Drew proved he had “Bad Ass” driving skills and Danielle maintained her stately place in the procession, regardless of the severity of the trail. If the happy occupants would have been enjoying ice-cold “GnT’s”, they wouldn’t have sloshed a drop… In celebration her special day, “Kaz”, a member of the Florida Land Rover Club, offered her the pilot-seat in his extreme, off-road monster, a huge Discovery powered by a beefed up V8,  rolling on huge, nobby tires. Never you mind it was her first time running an off-road trail truck. Seeing the tiny blonde lass piloting the massive rig was a joy to behold. They say you “Never forget your first time.” How bout that Danielle?

We thoroughly enjoyed our time with these traveling troubadours…

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Danielle and Drew share a love for music. They are a wonderfully talented duet carrying a full arsenal of stringed instruments with them, writing new songs en-route. We were gifted a copy of their first album “Honey Hill” by The Harts. D n D co-wrote the excellent songs commemorating their travels and often perform at various open-mikes and other venues along the way. Drew serenaded Daniele with a fine rendition of “Happy Birthday to You” on his newly acquired fiddle.  They voices – like their lives – are in perfect harmony…

“We’ve got all we need for where we’re going.”

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The young couple do a wonderful job of living a GIANT life in a diminutive space. Their tiny rolling home, includes everything they need for housekeeping and living comfortably, with nothing added to compromise their enjoyment of whatever space they are in. The skill they exhibit in keeping it all together extends way beyond their time in years. We could all learn a lesson about the joys of living simply. “All we need is love” the Beatles…

Well and truly missed…

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You can teach old dogs new tricks. The time Lucy and I spent with Drew and Danielle renewed our faith in the younger generation. They taught us a lot about; humility, love, contentment and the joy of appreciating every moment of life. We will never forget them. So often in the past we have been fortunate to spend time with really incredible people. These two folks will certainly occupy a niche very near the top of the list. If I got to live my life over again, I would hope I to be a lot more like Drew… Happy trails to “The Harts”.

Love to you all,

Spokesman Dave

The Only Woman… (Day one)

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The invitation said; “Family event” suitable for man, woman and child…

When I told Lucy about the “Florida Land Rover Club” get together planed for a weekend to off-road around the Citrus Recreation Area… she was all in. Turned out she had a wonderful time even though she was the ONLY woman in the woods. Needless to say, she was treated like a very attractive queen…

Lucy and I don’t like to hurry- unless we have to. In this case a sedate, leisure pace was in order. Stops to prowl around were allowed. We weren’t expected to arrive at the campground until late afternoon…

… We like to “travel light” (tongue in cheek) so we only loaded the “bare” essentials… As usual our oldie but goodie 1996 Land Rover, Discovery, was the ideal vehicle for our varied needs. The vehicle is wonderful, both traveling at seventy miles an hour on the interstate and crawling along at five miles an hour on the nastiest trails we can find…

We drove several hours before our first stop just North of Lakeland, Florida in Polk County.  Gator Creek Preserve is a clean, well maintained park with some awesome hiking/biking trails and a large covered pavilion. Perfect to enjoy a couple of Lucy’s delicious homemade sandwiches. Sierra the wonder dog was ready for a break too…

Since this was to be a four-wheel drive off road adventure we did not carry our mountain bikes or Nordic trekking poles. It was really to hot to hike anyway. I set a waypoint in our Garmin 276C GPS for a return trip to explore the entire trail system… Due to the recent rains from tropical storm Debby, everything in the park looked lush and green…We finished our midday meal, saddled up and resumed our trip. Sierra went right to sleep…

It took a few minutes to explain to “Sierra” the wonder dog that she had to ride in the back. Once she was settled back on her fluffy bed – she fell right back to her normal travel routine – SLEEP. While often taken for a Spitz or a Pekinese, Sierra is actually an American Eskimo Dog. She is the perfect size and personality for us. She has a wonderful spirit for adventure. As long as she does not lose sight of Lucy, she is a happy dog. (Sounds like me)…

As luck (and our GPS) would have it, we were routed right past Lucy’s favorite hot-dog restaurant “Coney Island Drive Inn“. This wonderful eatery is located in Brooksville Florida on Highway 41. Lucy lived in Brooksville with her parent and spent her senior year of high school at Hernando High. Lucy and I married in 1968 and our first trip to Coney Island for a delicious foot-long Coney Dog was in 1968 – go figure. Nice people, and a dog friendly patio. Sierra even got her own bowl of ICE water…

Since we didn’t encounter any more – must stop – food joints… we finally arrived at Holder Mine. Trip organizer Aldous Cosmo Gitles was already set-up in a prime campsite and we settled in right next door. Beer was on ice and the huge Oak trees made setting up in their stately shade quire pleasant… “Cosmo” as his numerous Land Rover friends call him, is always the perfect host…

Turned out old friend “Jeep Jockey” Don and his sweet little dog “Maggie” were set up nearby. Don recently bought his new Heartland Edge and a gorgeous fire engine red Jeep to tow it with. Don is a commercial crabber from Largo, Florida and he surprised with some hot, fresh, just out of the fryer soft shell crabs. Deeeeeeelicious. Thanks again “Donmeister”…

Since Lucy was the “Only Woman” I had plenty of assistance setting up camp. Lets just say she never had to ask for anything more than once… The “Guys” made her feel right at home and much “loved”.

Everyone was anxious to hit the trail. Soon as our “City” was built and gear was stowed… Cosmo yelled out “LINE EM UP!” and we were off in a cloud of dust…

It only took a few minutes and a few miles, before Alex stuck his Rover. Then the real fun began. It’s why we all came. ;O)  Tree straps ready, winch grinding and he was quickly and efficiently underway again. A fantastic bunch of guys driving some incredible British Iron and some of the best trails in the state. It’s on………..

The rains had the trails in excellent condition. Dust was minimal. Another great, FLRC trail-run complete, we returned to camp to prepare our evening meals. Great food and big a big fireside planning session for our next full day of off-road adventure…

Our campsite was fantastic. A constant breeze and tons of shade. The night time temperatures were so cool we actually slept under our covers. The moon was bright, the fire flies were abundant and the stories around the campfire went on and on… Another great day and—– I got to sleep with “The Only Woman”

Spokesman, Dave

To be continued:

$12.50 a can!

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One little tip I would offer about camping anywhere – don’t shop at the concession

Even though we packed very, very, carefully we did overlook two critical items; marshmallows and MOZZIE SPRAY. “No worries” I thought “I’ll just cycle over to the little campground store and buy some.” Well… they had no marshmallows, but the did have repellent. Twelve fifty a can seemed quite pricey, but I think the park had made a deal with the mozzies. “You keep biting the campers and we will split the profit on the spray.”… I bet I won’t forget that item on future trips…

We had a great nights sleep – no mosquito bites – and we arose early, for coffee, breakfast and a bike ride to the springs. The temperature was unusually cool, but her “Majesty” still enjoyed our thrift store fan….

During our four decades of camping, we have tried many, many, different ways of producing our morning brew. We tried all of the “tips” for making simple “Cowboy Coffee” and it sucked. We went from fancy – Coleman stove top drip coffee maker to a paper cone sitting on top of our mug. Nothing we have previously tried makes better coffee or is easier to store and clean-up than our  Aerobie, “Aero Press” coffee maker. This light weight little brewer just never fails to please… I might nickname it “Lucy”.

Since I unfortunately suffer from the “Big 3”; Type II Diabetes, chronic kidney disease and ultra high Triglycerides we eat very healthy meals. I enjoy the “new vs old” combination of cooking gear. On the one hand our Primus “EtaPower” stove is the latest and best in fuel saving efficiency, but we choose to cook our vittles in our, 50 year old, “Wagner”, cast-iron skillet… Everything seems to taste better when prepared and consumed outdoors…

We enjoyed our coffee and breakfast of turkey bacon and O.O.C. eggs and then we loaded up the bikes for a leisurely ride to the cooling Wekiwa Spring. Of course, we cleaned up and organized our campsite, before we departed. The ride is basically a two mile nature trail. Tons of birds, squirrels and even a couple of browsing deer. We arrived early and had no problem scoring a ringside seat on one of the many comfortable benches, located around the perimeter of the crystal clear spring. The entire park was spotless and free of any type of litter. As many of the novel writers say.. “The water was gin clear”…

Lucy was anxious to get in the water, but she found it a little colder than she anticipated. “I can’t feel my body.” she yelled “I am numb all over.” Bad news for me. The springs is large enough to accommodate a large number of people and never felt crowded. People of all ages and many nationalities were enjoying Mother Nature’s swimming pool…

My Pentax “Optio WG2” underwater camera, had no problem capturing Lucy’s floating image. We can’t wait to return to this pristine place with our grandchildren…

The “Swimmin Hole” is huge. Definitely room for everyone. Shady parts for people like us and lots of sun exposure for the “thong clad” sun worshipers.

Do not leave your bikes at home. Two-wheel travel is the best way to get around on the smooth pavement of the park roads. Traffic is light and motorists were careful. There are nine miles of off-road trails for those wishing to explore the natural world – off the beaten path…

To be continued on day three.

All the best from,

Spokesman Dave

Kayak Delivery and tenting at Wekiwa Springs

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When we recently sold “Stillwater” our twenty foot long, three cockpit kayak the owner said “Will you deliver it to my grandfather’s house, if I pay for your gas?”… Thought for a minute and replied “Heck yes.” I just figured Lucy and I would make it a fun road-trip with a couple of stops along the way…

Packing complete the night before… we were up with the morning sun…

Set the Garmin GPS on “Back Roads” and with full cups of coffee we were on our way.

Road conditions were perfect and traffic was nonexistent. We drove for a while on the “Florida Cracker Trail”. The recent rains had everything looking like the “Emerald City”. We love the low and slow byways that take us through quaint towns and offer constantly changing points of interest. I find the Interstate Highway a path of last resort. Lower speeds equate to less fuel consumed and less stress on our brains…

I thought Sierra – our cute little American Eskimo Dog – was growling in the backseat. I listened carefully and heard it again several times and then realized it was not Sierra. Turned out it was Lucy’s stomach. “Are you hungry?” I inquired… Receiving a positive response we started looking for an appropriate lunch spot. Just over the next hill the perfect spot appeared. A shady parking spot for the Land Rover and a cool, shady, outside deck that was dog friendly…

Food was delicious and our waitress made me feel right at home…

The Butcher Shop – right across the street made us think about our daughter Aimee. She and her Fiance’ have opened “Heaps Meat Processing” in Hartsell, Alabama. They are already very busy providing meat cutting services to the local populace…

Bellies full we resumed our trip to drop off the boat as Sierra snored in her crate. The scenery just kept getting better and better. We both love central Florida…

In only a little longer we safely delivered our cargo. The Land Rover seemed happy to be free of the one hundred pound load on it’s roof rack. I know the new Owners will have many wonderful waterborne adventures in their new craft… Mission One accomplished we resumed our travels toward our reserved campsite at Wekiwa Springs State Park. We were really looking forward to setting up our brand new tent and heading for a swim in the seventy two degree, crystal clear spring…

Oops. One more stop on the way…

Lucy was hungry AGAIN sooooooo… another pit stop. This time for a large, chocolate malt milkshake. She made me get one too…

Finally…

New Kelty Green River Four all set up and gear stowed. Time for a bike ride to the spring. I was very happy to be finished driving. Seven hours behind the windshield…

“Mee Mee” Lucy spotted the wheelchair assist, for getting into the cool water and immediately thought of our incredible granddaughter, Alexis Jade Spencer. Alexis is wheelchair mobile due to cerebral palsy. She loves to swim and this convenient lift will be fun for her to try… Once in the water she swims like a Mermaid…

Even though the waters of the spring were beckoning, we were both so tired we decided to return to camp to prepare a healthy supper and enjoy our polar plunge first thing in the morning… We were lulled to sleep by a gentle rain falling on the roof of our tent and enjoyed the best nights sleep we had had in months… To be continued.

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