We slept, but it was really, hot. The fan we bought at the truck stop after the trip to West Virginia is loud, and Louise thought that it was the neighbor’s VERY loud generator going all night. Fortunately, she is a kind and gentle soul and did not storm over to the next site and demand, unlike her not so shy husband, that the offending source of noise be quieted. It was 81 when we got up, and just got hotter as the day progressed. We had breakfast outdoors, cleaned up very little, and took off walking.
On the way, we met Walt and Kathy, fellow RV’ers who were using a RV built on a Mercedes chassis, but by a different manufacturer. We had a nice time chatting, they are from the Woodbridge area of New Jersey and great Eagles fans. They gave us a tour of their RV, very nice. It was enlightening to see the differences between manufacturers and models. The underlying fun thing is that everyone loves their unit best, as it should be.
We took off to Eco pond, where there were reports of roseate spoonbills nesting. We found the path, took the turn to the left and finally, at the end of the walk around the pond, were a group of nine roseate spoonbills hanging out. Eco pond has a large island in its middle and the pond is about 6” of water over marl (limestone mud – gooey, slippery and light grey, very fine grained) and smelled worse than our backwater tank on the RV. The pond smelled like baked fermented urine.
I’m not sure if they were nesting, but they were hanging out, and occasionally flapping. Looked like a bunch of guys hanging out at the local watering hole looking for someone new to spice things up. Got some great pictures, including some of an osprey chowing down on a huge fish. We walked down the road, and it turned from dang hot to %^$# hot.
When we left we discussed the birds. I expected to see a rookery. It was not a rookery. I expected to see hundreds of birds like on the National Geographic specials. I saw less than a dozen spoonbills and perhaps four dozen of various egrets. Considering the number of ospreys in the area, I would have expected hundreds of herbivores. Something is going on with the birds and small mammals, because there aren’t many birds, and no small mammals. In travelling almost 100 miles of roadway in the park, I saw one small something on the road, and the vultures were at it. There was nothing like New Jersey, where there are loads of birds, chipmunks, squirrels, groundhogs, raccoons, and deer that met their end as road kill. Granted, more cars in New Jersey, but . . Pythons can both swim and climb trees.
Along the road, I began to think about the great people we’ve met, after a couple passed on their bikes. I suppose it was something about the joy they exhibited as they passed, but I was somehow reminded of being a kid again. Being a child provides us with the euphoria of living and reveling in life. As we get older there always is the balance between responsibility for ourselves, our families, and providing for the future. We become sophisticated, refined and many times, tend to lose that unadulterated appreciation for the really good things in life. Louise pointed out that the difference between men and boys is the cost of their toys, but I think that during this trip we have blessed in seeing and meeting people who for, whatever reason, are enjoying a second childhood, unfettered, at least at the time we’ve met them, by the burdens of adult life.
I have stickers on the rear of our RV from that place we’ve visited. If I sell this vehicle, will I have to remove them, probably. Am I actin like a 12 year old kid in looking for them, putting them on the RV, and then staring at them later? Yes. Am or should I be apologetic? No. Is there much of a difference in comparing RV’s sharing tips on what works, or where we’ve been, or what cool gee gaw we have on our thing, and showing off a cool stone we found or a hard to get baseball card back in the day? No, and in today’s world we should embrace it, celebrate it, and enjoy every second. I know I’m having the best time of my like since I was in elementary school. Life is good today, and I know it.
We took a shortcut through some woods south of the road and were treated to the sight of a red shouldered hawk. I had some fun shooting some very close close ups of the hawk before he took off. We wandered across the parking lot admiring the mahogany trees that provide shade to the parking lot, and headed towards the marina where I bought a hat, the baseball cap wasn’t cutting it, and a gallon of water. Louise and I chugged through ¾ of the gallon, and in the process met a very nice German national, attending college in the United States.
Her friends were off canoeing and she was writing a paper. How could you not help a student? The assignment was about contrasting and comparing the immigration of the 1920’s against the current immigration, set against a reading assignment “Ragtime” about an immigrant who became the American dream by using his artistic talent in music to escape the path in manufacturing that would ordinarily lead to a middle class life. I miss teaching, and it was a pleasure to provide some suggestion, and affirmation on the assignment. I told the story of Mr. Chung, who escaped China during the Cultural revolution, swam to Hong Kong, and archived the American Dream, to the point that his daughter attended Harvard, and then she returned to China to do business, completing a circle.
We purchased tickets to take a boat ride into Coot Bay and Whitewater Bay. It was a spur of the moment thing, not inexpensive, tickets were $32 each, but we were planning to rent a canoe and take a ride looking for crocodiles along the canal. We didn’t see anything that we hadn’t seen before, we saw some country that we certainly would not have seen if I had been paddling Louise around, but we weren’t eaten by bugs, I didn’t have to put on long pants and shirt and I could sit and take pictures at leisure. Would I recommend it to someone? No. Was it fun, entertaining and the crew very pleasant? Yes.
After the ride we walked back to the visitor’s center, and found a path that led along the water on the way back to the tent camping area. We were walking along, and suddenly there was the very loud cry of an osprey. Very loud and very close. I was surprised, looked around, and there, eight feet over my head was an adult osprey yelling at me, because we were under its nest. By the time I got my camera ready, it was gone. Exciting and disappointing all at the same time.
I stopped in the shower house, used the facilities and stripped down to the waist and sprayed myself in the shower. Very refreshing. Drip drying in this part of Florida at this time of year is a good thing. There were two groups and the independents at the tent camping site. A mixed group of what appeared to be city, youth group nonprofit/church affiliated people, and the kayak fishermen who were having a tournament. The first group appeared to be having more fun, the latter appeared more relaxed, and the independents were doing their own thing.
It was still warm, and I hit the remaining water in the gallon jug like it was distilled and prohibition was around the corner. We had planned, during the walk, to take the RV over to the showers, run the generator, take long hot, languid showers, using all the water we could stand, when we saw Walt and Kathy enjoying an evening sundowner. They asked us to stop, offered us a drink. We accepted, and found out that Walt is a retired IT guy who led the Philadelphia Enquirer from 1930’s technology with hot lead typesetters to modern electronic publishing.
Along the way, he assisted in supplying services for a number (about 19) of other newspapers. Electronic morgues, printing and newspaper services. A very funny and entertaining guy, but very quiet about what he did. I was familiar with the change in Newspapers over the last 35 years and he was there for it. It’s nice to meet one of the pioneers, even though he really had very little to say about it. He did light up physically, as he hit the high points, and we both are really enjoying life. We are also of the opinion that life is uncertain, live it while you can.
After drinks, they took a look at our View, and Kathy gave the best compliment ever “ I think I like your unit more”. I’m sure that she was being nice, but I loved it. A very sweet thing to say; a very nice lady. It was late, I ran the generator as long as I could to charge the batteries, as we had run them down the night before. Running the AC, seemed to have no effect on the voltage going to the batteries, so we had dinner in a pleasant coolness. Dinner was a very New Jersey sausage pepper and onions on an Italian roll ( a real, NJ Italian roll) with red sauce and cheese. It was great.