Wednesday, December 15, 2010 (Flying home to Victoria, BC!)

I hadn’t had a very good sleep....just excited about flying home, I guess. Our flight did not leave until just before noon, so we didn’t have to rush. We chose to sign up for the 9:00 a.m. shuttle ride to the airport. They only run hourly at that time in the morning and we figured the 10:00 would have been leaving it a little too late.
We were down for the free continental breakfast by 8:00 and after going back to finish packing, were back down waiting for the shuttle ride just before 9:00.

We had a long day but all flights were on time and everything went smoothly. We flew from Orlando to Washington, DC to San Francisco to Victoria...touching down a little early at about 10:15 p.m. With the 3 hour time difference, it was actually after 1:00 a.m. so we were very tired after 13 ½ hours of travel.

We will be home for 3 weeks enjoying the Holiday Season with our family and friends.

Stay tuned for the continuation of our adventures when we return to year on January 5th, 2011!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 (Wekiwa Springs State Park to Suncoast RV, Winter Garden, FL)

I was up before 6:00 this a very cold morning in Florida. Our outdoor thermometer said it was -1C (30F). I figured it was pretty cold out there because the furnace was on when I got up...and that’s in addition to 2 portable heaters we had running all night.

Steve was up at 7:00 a.m. and headed directly to the bathhouse for a shower. Hmmmm....I think I am going to forego a shower today. Steve called me a big wussie! Perhaps he is right but I figured I could go one day without’s just too cold to be going to have a shower in an unheated bathhouse.

All went smoothly as we packed up and headed to Suncoast RV. After going over the list of things we wanted them to fix, we were waiting outside with our suitcases for the taxi to arrive. We sat there for almost 30 minutes until a plain unmarked car pulled up in front of exterior signs to indicate it was a taxi and no meter inside...don’t like that. But the fellow said that he was an independent driver. Well, okay. I was very happy when I started to see signs indicating that we were nearing the least it looked like he was driving in the right direction.

We arrived safe and sound at the LaQuinta hotel. The driver had really been a nice fellow. Instead of a meter, he charges by miles had been a $47 cab ride. Well worth it though, I would hate to have driven ourselves...there are freeways all over the place going every which way!

After checking in, we relaxed in our hotel room for an hour or so before walking a short distance down the street to TGI Fridays for dinner. We had a great dinner...both choosing one of the 3-course specials they offered. After which, we waddled back to the hotel and spent the rest of the evening in stretchy pants in front of the TV.

Monday, December 13, 2010 (Wekiwa Springs State Park, FL)

It was cold out there this morning and with the wind, it was downright freezing! But the sky was blue and the sun was shining. The thermometer was supposed to dip down below freezing again tonight...definitely another cold front has arrived.
Today was a work day. After exercises, showering (yes, in the unheated bathhouse...brrr...) and breakfast we loaded all the laundry bags into the truck and headed out to find a coin laundry that we had passed the other day. We had no problem finding it as we retraced our route to Apopka.

Well, this Laundromat is the biggest I have ever, ever seen! It is huge...having different sizes of machines from regular top-loading machines to huge 80lb front-loading ones. They even have an outdoor 24 hour laundry area that people were using in the cold! We chose moderate sized front-loaders. After loading 4 machines, I wandered around while Steve settled in front of the TV to watch some game shows.

We were done and out of there relatively quickly...about an hour and a half. We found a station with a lower diesel price...$3.13/gallon, stopped at Albertson’s for a couple of things and were home just after 12:30.

After a little lunch, it was time to get working. Steve decided to wash the truck...I thought he was nuts because it was frigin’ cold out there with that wind...but he was determined. I stayed inside cleaning the trailer and packing for our trip home.

It was close to 5:00 by the time we were both finished...and relaxing in front of the fireplace. I was busy “chatting” with Chris via MSN when Terri, the Camphost, dropped by to ensure we knew the forecast was for freezing temps overnight and to leave a tap on. She was quite intrigued with our 5th wheel so Steve invited her in for a look. They are having a tough time deciding what type of RV to get...she really liked our layout. She also enquired about the truck because all of the park rangers have been talking about it.

After dinner and dishes, we settled in for our usual evening of TV...

Sunday, December 12, 2010 (Wekiwa Springs State Park, FL)

The day started off with nice clear blue skies but as the morning wore on, the wind came up and by 11:00 the sky has gotten quite dark with nasty looking clouds. If we are going to go for a walk, we had better get to it quickly. Rain was forecast for this afternoon...and another cold front was moving in tonight with the lows predicted to go down to -2. The rest of the week is supposed to be sunny but with highs only around 13 and night-time lows just below freezing. We’re flying home’s warmer there!

By the time we were ready to head out for a walk, it had gotten pretty nasty out. But we thought we would try to walk the two loops of the campground before the rain set in. We did a major power walk and arrived back just as the rain was starting in earnest. Well, we had an excuse for sitting inside and doing nothing this afternoon.

So we sat with the fireplace on...Steve watching TV while I at the table with the laptop researching campgrounds for our return in January. We’d like to take a tour of the Kennedy Space Centre and I’d like to go to Disney World...Steve isn’t fussy about that but I figure that we should because who knows when we are going to be in Florida again. We also would like to see the couple, Roy and Sandra, that we met at Laura S. Walker State Park and they live in Port Orange. So I was looking for someplace on the east coast around Titusville but there are no State parks in that area...guess it’s going to have to be a private park. We belong to Passport American which is a club where participating campgrounds give a 50% discount. Unfortunately, what we are finding, though, is that the discount is only given on their “off season” and in Florida that appears to be roughly from April to November.

We were wondering if we were going to be able to have a campfire tonight...Steve checked at 4:00 and it was still drizzling out. At 4:30 it had pretty well stopped so we changed into our “campfire clothes” and headed outside. Just as we got the fire going well and had settled into our chairs, the rain started again...sheesh! It was hard enough for us to put our chairs away and to return the firewood to a dry spot under the trailer. Of course, it didn’t last long and we were soon back out sitting by the fire.

After dinner, we spoke to Rob via Skype. He is “baching” it right now because Angie is visiting her family in Winnipeg. She gets back on Wednesday...a few hours before we arrive, so Rob will be making two trips to the airport that evening.

Well, today was a nice relaxing day but we are gearing up for a busy one tomorrow. Lots to do as we get prepared to leave Tuesday to drop the 5th wheel and truck off at Suncoast RV....laundry, packing, cleaning...

Since I have no pictures to post today, I thought that I would add some that I neglected to post the day that we took the boat out on Salt Springs run...this is an airboat...very noisy...but it would be fun to take a ride on one............

Saturday, December 11, 2010 (Wekiwa Springs State Park, FL)

We really didn’t have any plans for today other than to just hang out and explore more of the trails around here. After our usual relaxing start to the day, we headed out on our bikes to find Sand Lake. It was cloudy again this morning but as we left, I noticed one small little break in the clouds...come on, blue can do it!

We found the parking area for Sand Lake, locked up our bikes (not that anyone would particular want to steal these relics) and then looked for the trail leading to the lake. By this time, the blue sky had won out and the sky was clearing quite nicely. There are trails all over the place but no signs....hmmm...okay, we’ll just head this way. It turned out to be the right trail and we soon came upon the tiny Sand Lake. The trail went all the way around the lake and had spots along the way with nice memorial benches where you can sit, rest and admire the views.

Note the "Alligator Notice" sign on the left...

We made our way around the lake and back to our bikes. As Steve was unlocking them, I noticed a sign right there...’To Sand Lake-->’....observant, aren’t we? Too funny!

The more we rode our old bikes, the more we realize how much we need new ones if we are going to ride bikes at all. We soon decided that this really wasn’t much fun and headed back to the trailer. We’d much rather hike the trail to the Springs rather than ride our bikes.

Once back at the trailer, we relaxed with a bottle of water before changing into our shorts...yay, shorts weather again! And then, with our walking shoes on, we headed out to find the trail to the Springs. With 13 miles of trails in the area, it is a great hiking area...and so close to an urban area. There were lots of people out hiking the trails on this beautiful Saturday afternoon.

It was about a 40 minute hike to the Springs...and a much nicer day for pictures today than it was yesterday. These springs don’t have the fish in them that the others have had. And the water, although really clear, does not have the turquoise-blue colour that Silver Glen Springs had. But the area is really pretty. One end is closed off for swimming and then on the other side of the bridge is for canoes and kayaks.

We took the “Wet to Dry Trail” that led into a jungle! It was a board walk the whole way and really, really cool!

Can you spot Steve in this picture?

The trail looped around back to the trail that we had come in on and we continued on back to the trailer. It had been a great walk. Obviously today was an exercise day...we did our weights/resistance training this morning...a bike ride and hike...and then another 90 minute hike.

Back at the trailer, we relaxed in our chairs in what little sunshine that we could get through the trees. Unfortunately, we were in a very shady side of the campground. Probably very nice in the heat of the summer but more sunshine would have been nice right now.

The rest of the afternoon and evening went pretty much the same as all the previous ones this week....campfire, dinner...and TV before heading to bed.

Friday, December 10, 2010 (Wekiwa Springs State Park, FL)

After 3 days of being out in the truck most of the day doing errands, we were really looking forward to just staying put and exploring around here today. But before we could do that we had to go pick up the boat motor. Mark had called late yesterday afternoon leaving a message (we were outside by the fire and the phone was inside) that the motor was ready for pickup anytime.

So after our usual morning routine, we headed to Boatwrench. I guess the weed in the Salt Springs canal and Lake George had really done a number on the motor. They had to replace the impeller and housing, gear lube and checked the thermostat. The bill was $ that had been one expensive boat ride especially since Steve had the motor serviced before we left Victoria and this was only the second time that we had used it!

Back home, we donned our bicycle helmets and headed out on a bike ride down to see the Springs. After having “test ridden” a new bike at Orange Cycles the other day, I really, really want a new bike! I think we will have to check back at Orange Cycles when we get back in January or locate another bicycle shop...there’s got to be more than one in the Orlando area! Maybe that should be our Christmas present to each other...? Good plan!

Wekiwa Springs is beautiful, but I bet it would have been much more so had the sky been clear and the sun shining. Today was a rare cloudy day...unfortunately, it had not cleared up like it had the other day. I took a whole bunch of pictures but on our ride back, my camera fell out of my pocket...OH NO! I had forgotten to put it back in its case. Once back at the trailer, I checked it out and found that all the pictures in the memory were no longer there. I had recently downloaded all of the pictures so the only ones that were lost were the ones that I had just taken at the Springs. I took a couple of pictures and all seemed okay...whew! So, I guess we’ll have to ride to the Springs again so I can take more pictures...hopefully we’ll have a sunny day soon.

We were pretty lazy the rest of the afternoon. I managed to finish up some banking on the laptop and chat to Chris a bit via MSN, while Steve watched TV. Before we knew it, it was time to go out and get a campfire going.

We met our neighbours, Jimmy and Sandra, and their little dog, Molly. They are from Brunswick, Georgia...near Jekyll Island. They were quite intrigued with our truck and wanted to see inside. After chatting for a few minutes, they carried on walking Molly and we returned to the campfire. It was Friday night and a lot of campers were arriving. We were particularly entertained as we watched a couple of big motorhomes manoeuvre their way the dark.

We sat enjoying the campfire for a while longer, then decided it was time to go inside and get dinner going. Steve barbequed pork chops while I prepared veggies/salad and perogies...yum!

Thursday, December 9, 2010 (Wekiwa Springs State Park, FL)

It was cloudy out for a change when we got up this morning. But it eventually cleared up and we had another sunny afternoon...and it was warmer than it has been. Still not shorts and sandals weather but warmer.

We were up and out at a relatively decent hour this morning. Steve had located a company that would service the boat motor so that was where we were heading first thing. We located the address in Longwood (another suburb of Orlando) without any problems...thanks, Serena. Mark at Boatwrench would call us when they found out what the problem was.

Our next stop was the Altamonte Mall...yes, to the mall again! When Steve bought his shoes yesterday, he chose to wear them so the clerk put his old shoes in the box. Well, he had tried on two different sizes so there had been two boxes out and she put the box with the other size in the bag instead of the box with Steve’s old shoes in it. Yes, Steve basically had two pairs of new shoes when he got home but being the honest fellow he is, he decided to take them back....well actually...he wanted his old shoes back to wear as “grubby” shoes. The sales clerk knew exactly who we were when we walked into the store and I think she was very relieved thanking Steve for his honesty in returning them.

We decided to check out Suncoast RV where we are dropping the 5th wheel off for the warranty work next week. When Steve had made the arrangements early last month, they had said we could leave the 5th wheel and truck there for 3 weeks while we were home for Christmas. But the fellow Steve had been talking with seemed rather nonchalant in his response so we wanted to just confirm all the arrangements. Yes, they had it noted that we would be leaving the rig there until January 6th. Good, that made us feel better...I’d hate to have arrived there Tuesday and have them know nothing about us wanting to leave both the 5th wheel and the truck there for 3 weeks.

While we were at the RV place, we decided to go take a look at some of the Montana 5th wheels they had on their lot. Although they did not have the same model as ours, we determined that we got a very good deal when we purchased ours.

Our final stop was Cycle Sports Center to pick up my ATV...but as we were getting back into the truck, I said to Steve that I could really go for soup, salad and bread sticks at The Olive Garden. Steve had also been thinking that a visit to The Olive Garden would be a good idea...but we hadn’t seen any in the area at all. So I checked with Serena and sure enough there is an Olive Garden only 5 miles from where we were and it was also on the way to Cycle Sports. Perfect!

I love The Olive Garden restaurant. The decor is really nice, the servers very attentive and the food is excellent! Mind you, I really haven’t been very often...just a couple of times for lunch and I have always had their all you can eat soup, salad and breadsticks (pretty reasonable at $6.95). We did go to one in Winnipeg for dinner with Angie’s parents and as I recall, the food had been excellent. Anyway, I pigged out on the warm, fresh breadsticks...they are to die for!...leaving little room for the soup and salad. Steve had soup and seafood fettuccine. We were both absolutely stuffed when we left.

We made our way to Cycle Sports Center and picked up my quad. Apparently they could find nothing wrong with it other than on our last service they over filled the rear differential. The vent tube leaking the fluid runs from the differential all the way to the front of the quad. We found that very strange because we have done over 600 km of riding since we had them serviced in Kelowna back in July with no leaking. They also found that the air filter had been over oiled and the air box was full of oil. Steve had the differential overfill thing happen to him once before with our first quad on one of his moose hunting trips. The thing is you can’t see the vent just know you have a leak. You would think that a professional tech would be able to do something as non technical as a fluid fill to its proper level!

While we were at Cycle Sports, Mark from Boatwrench called. It turns out that the motor does need about $295 worth of work done on it...Well, it is what it is.  It should be ready to be picked up tomorrow.

After loading my ATV into the truck and securing it down, we headed home. Steve puttered around outside for a bit and then chopped wood for a fire while I was inside trying to do some banking. I was finding it a little frustrating...the internet connection was very inconsistent. It would be fairly strong and download quickly and then the next moment it was very slow to non-existent.

After about an hour, I was very frustrated and decided to close it all down. Steve had a fire was time to go out and relax with a glass of wine by the campfire.

After such a huge lunch, we decided to just roast hot dogs over the fire for dinner...yum! So we sat chatting about our plans once we returned in January. I’m going to look into taking a tour of Cape Canaveral...that would be very cool. Of course, it would even be cooler to actually watch a space launch!

Eventually, we retreated inside to watch TV...CSI was on tonight! In other words, we had our usual evening inside in front of the fireplace watching TV.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010 (Wekiwa Springs State Park, FL)

There is something wrong with seeing people walking around the campground all bundled up with toques and Florida!! Too funny! But the temperature this morning was 0 Celsius! It’s warmer back home than it is here! Mind you, it has been clear with lots of sunshine and it has warmed up quite a bit by mid-afternoon.

We were very slow getting going this the time we had showered, done our exercises, had breakfast and cleaned up, it was close to noon by the time we headed out in the truck. I had researched a bicycle store to take Steve’s bicycle to have the flat tires fixed. We were off to Orange Cycles in Orlando. We found the bike store in a cool area with lots of shops and restaurants. As Steve pulled the truck into the back parking lot, he caused quite a stir (as usual) with all the fellows working in the shop. One fellow asked if he could take a picture.

We really wanted new bikes so we decided to check out what they had. The fellow helping us was really good and you should have seen his face light up when we said that we were from Victoria. He had been to Victoria for a bike race 2 years ago and loved it! Unfortunately, they didn’t have the bike style we wanted in a medium frame for Steve. We also decided that we shouldn’t buy anything before checking our bike rack to ensure it could hold the different style of bike. So, Steve had two new tires put on his bike and we were off. The $57.00 repair is more than we could ever get for our hardly used 20 year old bikes!

Our next stop was the Altamonte Mall...yes, I got to go to a mall!!! I told Steve that the only thing that could make it better would be having the whole afternoon...and being by myself! But we had a shoes for Steve and a new (bigger) suitcase for our trip home. Our mission complete it was time to head back to the truck.

Driving along I-4 to the mall we had noticed a place called Parker Boats that Steve thought might service boat motors so we set that as our next destination. We got a little mad at Serena because the route she was taking us on was on the wrong side of the freeway but we soon realized that she had it right because we took a road that went under the freeway (I guess she took us that route because there was no exit off the freeway at that particular spot). Anyway we found Parker Boats, Steve went in only to find that they do not service Johnson boat motors. They did give him a name of a company that does but when I tried putting the address into Serena, there were no matches....hmmmm....fine...we’ll just head back to the campground then!

Back at the trailer Steve discovered that the shoe box that should have contained his old shoes had the new shoes he exchanged. Great....back to the mall tomorrow!

Steve got a campfire going while I made spaghetti sauce for dinner. Once that was done, I left it to simmer and joined Steve at the campfire. It was not nearly as cold out this evening as it had been the night before. We sat enjoying a great fire until it was time to go inside and have dinner.

We had our usual was Survivor night!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010 (Wekiwa Springs State Park, FL)

I was up bright and early as usual this morning. It had been a chilly night out addition to the two electric heaters we had plugged in, the furnace also kicked in numerous times throughout the night.

Instead of writing yesterday’s entry in our travel journal as I would normally do first thing in the morning, I decided to go on-line and get the blog up-to-date. It took awhile but on the whole, the pictures uploaded pretty fast. With so many pictures, the hard part is choosing which ones to add to the blog. When I have a fairly good internet connect where the pictures load quickly, I tend to add more.

After that was all done, it was time for a shower...right...we have to go outside in the cold and walk up to the bathhouse. That in itself wouldn’t be too bad if the bathhouses were heated so you could undress and shower in relative warmth. But no, they aren’ you can imagine how cold they were with the temperatures dipping so low overnight. But the water was hot and the showers just meant that as soon as you turned the water off, you have to be really quick drying off and getting dressed!

Today we were in search of two dealers—one for my ATV and one for the boat motor. Steve had researched dealers on-line and had written down a number of them and we were now off.

Well, that proved to be a challenge! The first address that we tried...well...there wasn’t anything there. The street Serena told us to turn onto wasn’t there. We even went around the block to double check. Okay, let’s try the second address on the list. We arrived at that an empty building! Well okay then! But all was not lost...we had noticed a Yamaha dealer while stopped at a traffic light earlier but just hadn’t been able to turn around. So we retraced our Cycle Sports Centre. We off-loaded my quad and left it with them to check it out. They will call us later with their findings.

We had passed a Super Walmart on our way, so we decided to stop there and pick up a few groceries needed to get us through the week. After that we were in search of a Johnson boat motor dealer. Again, Serena took us to an address where there was no sign of a was basically out on a deserted country road. Well...that’s enough for today...we’ll head home now.

On the way home, we passed some firewood for sale so instead of paying the usual horrific price at the campground (usually $6 for 6 pieces), we stopped and bought some...a much better deal at $10 for 30 pieces—we bought 2 loads. Unfortunately, once home when Steve tried to get the fire started, he found that the wood could have been seasoned better. He had a heck of a time getting a fire going because the wood was quite wet. But eventually, with lots of fanning...we had it going.

While we were sitting in front of the fire, a fellow came by (I think he was the camp host) letting all the campers know that the temps were going to dip below freezing tonight and asked us to leave a tap running. He suggested rather than have one run inside that would fill our holding tank that we leave the outside shower dripping. we are in Florida...with our water-hose insulated against the freezing temperatures! Sheesh!!

We sat out enjoying the fire for awhile and then decided to head inside. After dinner and dishes, we had our usual evening in front of the fireplace watching TV. Tomorrow we had more errands...the tires on Steve’s bicycle needed to be fixed and we had some more shopping to do.

Monday, December 6, 2010 (Travel from Salt Springs, FL to Wekiwa Springs State Park, FL)

It was another cold clear morning...lots of blue sky, but very chilly! It was a travel day today, but it was only about an hour and a half drive so we decided not to rush. Instead, after breakfast and dishes, we decided to go for a walk on Bear Swamp Trail. Today we were bundled up as we walked the trail...hard to believe that 6 days ago we went for the same walk and were in our shorts and T-shirts and “complaining” on how hot and humid it was!

After our walk, we stopped in at “The Barn” which is basically the activity/social centre. There is a huge beautiful fireplace and on these cold mornings, there is a fire going and coffee on. They have all sorts of activities set up for those who want to partake...woodworking, quilting, jigsaw puzzles, book exchange, etc. They have all sorts of social functions...potlucks, music, etc...

Once back, we started with our pack up. Steve was interrupted for a few minutes by the fellow across the street in a Class A Motor home from California. We had noticed kids there and were wondering (to ourselves) why they weren’t in school. As it turns out, the kids are being home-schooled and they are travelling the country.

It was 12:40 p.m. as we pulled out of Salt Springs Campground and onto highway 19 heading south. It was a fairly straight route south until we got closer to our destination, and then Serena had us taking all sorts of turns onto different highways and roads but we made it, arriving at about 2:15. I’m glad we have a GPS because it is such a maze of highways on the map going every which way as you get closer to Orlando. Wekiwa Springs State Park is just outside (north) of Orlando. Our plan is to stay here until December 14th when we will drop our rig off at Suncoast RV so they can do the warranty work on the 5th wheel while we fly home for Christmas.

As we checked in at the office, they seemed rather sceptical about being able to get our rig into our assigned campsite (#2)...hmmm...let’s keep our fingers crossed. The actual campground is about a mile from the front gate. It was a bit challenging getting backed in our site. It wasn’t so much because of the size of the site; but rather being able to manoeuvre the truck due to a post marking the campsite across the road. But we managed to get backed in and once unhitched, the truck fit in the site as well.

This campground doesn’t really have any “it” factor but it’s not bad. We have water and electrical hook-ups (at $27/night) but no sewer...okay, we have “free-flowing” water but our holding tanks can only hold so much, so that means we have to watch how much water we use...sheesh. But we are close to the bathhouse...via a cement sidewalk right from the back of our site. The trees are too close to put out the awning fully and our picnic table has to be set up sideways under least that way the barbeque can be kept out of the rain...should it rain.

After getting all set up, the next order of business was to see if we had an internet connection...yay...we do! The only problem with the Rogers Rocket Stick that I am having now is keeping it on...there appears to be some kind of short in the connection. I have to put some weight on it to keep it on. I will definitely be getting that checked out when we are home at Christmas time!

The next thing now, was the satellite dish. I looked up the satellite coordinates on the “dish finder” website and after much perseverance; Steve managed to get the dish pointed in the right direction and...voila...we had TV! We have internet and satellite is good!

We spent the rest of the evening inside with the fireplace going and the heater on. It was going to be a cold night...there is a ‘freeze-warning’. I feel sorry for our neighbours in a tent!

Sunday, December 5, 2010 (Salt Springs, FL)

I woke at 6:00 a.m. to the sound of pitter-patter on the roof. The rain was very light and didn’t last long but I thought that it was setting the stage for the rest of the day. I was actually cleared up and ended up being a very nice day.

Today was laundry day for me so after exercises, breakfast and a shower, we loaded 2 big bags of laundry into the truck and I headed up to Salt Springs Square where the Laundromat is. I also took my laptop in the hopes that I would be able to catch a WiFi signal...but was not to be! I keep trying and hoping, though. We are leaving tomorrow so as we get closer to Orlando I am hoping that my Rogers Rocket Stick will be able to pick up a signal.

I was back just before 12:30 and after I put all the clean laundry away, Steve did some hot dogs up on the barbeque for lunch. We relaxed a bit and then thought we would go check out Silver Glen Springs which is a few miles south of here. We had been told that it is a very pretty spot and worth seeing.

Other than a motorcycle, the parking lot was empty when we arrived...not a very busy place this time of year. We paid $5.50 each day-use fee to access the Springs and the fellow in the store suggested a couple of trails that are worth seeing...and away we went. Silver Glen Springs and Salt Springs are just two out of around 600 springs in the State of Florida....more than anywhere else on earth. We had no idea that Florida had so many.

The Springs are just beautiful...the colour of the water is a gorgeous turquoise blue and there are tons of huge fish jumping clear out of the water...very cool!

We continued onto the first trail, Springs Boils Trail, a fairly short trail that went to a viewing area where the water is bubbling out of the sand. It looks very similar to the boiling mud pots in Yellowstone Park.

We returned and then carried onto the other side of the Springs towards the trail that led to Lake George. On the way we came across some huge black birds that were sunning themselves on the beach turns out they were Buzzards and not particularly welcome.

The trail to Lake George is 1-mile each way and was a great walk. We saw lots of deer scurrying away as we approached and at one point as we turned a corner, we startled a bunch of wild turkeys. There were likely bear in the area as well as alligators but we didn’t see any. It was a beautiful trail and very cool!

These are "cedar knees...a sea of cedar knees..."

Very cool trees along the trail....

We had a great walk on a beautiful afternoon...a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours. We have heard that a cold front is coming in this week. The highs in the Orlando area are going to be in the 13 to 16 Celsius range and the lows down to minus 1....geez...and we’re in Florida for the warmth! So it looks like a chilly week for us until next Friday when the temps are predicted to rise back into the 20s. And then we fly home back to those chilly temps again.

We were back at the trailer at about 4:30. Steve was going to do a little maintenance on the toilet...good luck with that, honey...I’m going over to use the pay phone to make reservations at our next destination...Wekiwa Springs State Park, just outside of Orlando. We plan on staying there until December 14th when we will drop the 5th wheel off at a Keystone dealer, Suncoast RV, for some warranty work while we fly back home for 3 weeks. They said we could also leave the truck there as well.

Once finished our “chores” we decided to sit outside for a bit. It wasn’t long before the friendly little squirrels came by wanting a peanut. There is one “mommy” that comes right up to Steve to get her peanut...but is not quite comfortable taking it from his hand. Then there is the “mean” one that comes along and chases her away. We sat being entertained by them until it got kinda cool out so we headed inside.

The rest of our evening was pretty well a repeat of the last couple of nights. It’s hard to believe another week has gone by...we are looking forward to moving on tomorrow....

Saturday, December 4, 2010 (Salt Springs, FL)

Like most mornings lately, I was up at 6:00 a.m...amazing how easy it is to get up that early when you don’t have to go to work. While I was waiting for the coffee to brew, I tried to get onto the internet again. I knew I wouldn’t have any luck, but I always keeping trying! I hate not having internet!!! We leave here on Monday and our next stop had better have a good internet connection because I have some catching up to do!!

We decided to do the Salt Springs run, we’re not entering a marathon! The Salt Springs run is basically a 5-mile river that runs from the Springs to Lake George and is supposed to be very scenic. I hope we see a manatee! After paying the $5 parking fee at the marina, we unloaded the boat and motor. We hadn’t had the motor out since last August when we had been in northern Manitoba. After adding the oars, life jackets, etc. into the boat, we wheeled it down into the water. 
Now it was time for Steve to try starting the boat motor. After numerous tries, it finally sputtered to life giving off a big cloud of smoke. We let it run for a bit before shoving off.

Because of the cooler weather a few Manatees had moved into the area for the constant 72F spring water that’s located next to the marina. They usually just stick their nostrils out of the water so from a distance there’s not much to look at.

As we left the marina, the water was fairly shallow and very weedy. You must go dead slow (or as their signs say...Idle Speed) for the first mile. The run was very its own way. Lots of different birds and it was another clear sunny day which always makes a difference. The sun was actually quite warm as we motored along...we never even thought about taking suntan lotion with us.

About a mile before you reach Lake George, you must go “idle speed” again and as we were passing some people camped on the shore, our boat motor stopped. Hmmm...that’s odd but Steve let it sit for a few minutes and it fired right back up again. A few more bends in the run and we arrived at Lake George.

Lake George is a huge lake...the second largest in Florida. We had also been warned about how quickly it can get really rough. Apparently it is a fairly shallow lake and once the wind comes up, it gets pretty nasty. Steve wanted to give the motor a good run and also use up the gas that was in the tank so away we went zooming out onto the huge lake. He decided to head towards a point jutting out and as we neared it, we noticed it was very weedy again, so we quickly headed out further way from shore.

So...we’re bombing along in our little 12 foot aluminum boat on this huge lake, quite a ways from shore and guess what happens? The motor quits....doesn’t slow down and sputter or give any warning stops so fast that it kicked forward out of the water! Because it was smoking and had a burning smell Steve thought it had totally seized, never to start again. Okay, let’s not panic...grabbing the oars, Steve started rowing us towards shore the best he could. Of course, the wind had come up, it was getting very rough and he was rowing against the wind and waves!

But after much perseverance and some major rowing, we made it closer into shore and away from the open lake. Now, we just had a couple of miles of rowing to make it back to mouth of the run. It was marked by boats fishing there. Oh, why are there never any boats close by when you need them?! All I could think of was how glad I was that it wasn’t late least we weren’t battling daylight too!

I relieved Steve after 20 minutes rowing. After a while, he thought that he would try starting the motor. We both didn’t think he’d have much luck but thankfully, it did sputter to life....YES! Unfortunately, it wasn’t pumping water to cool the engine down. Steve thinks it got plugged with all the weeds that we went through and overheated. Giving it a bit more of a break, he tried it again. It was pumping now and we sped away trying to get as close to the mouth of the run as we could before it stopped pumping again....and it did stop. So we limped along, with some rowing between periods of the motor running properly. I was very relieved to finally make it back to the run. At least once there, if we had no motor at all, there were plenty of boaters in the area fishing. 

I tell you, that 5 mile run back up to the Springs seemed to take forever! But we finally made it back to the marina....whew! That was an adventure that I would not like to experience again! And we didn’t even see any manatees.

So, we now have a boat motor that will need some servicing as well as a quad...great! Oh is what it is!

After loading the boat, motor and everything back into the truck, we headed home. But before actually going to the campground part of the park, we went to the Springs just to see if by chance a manatee or two had come in. There were some people was a nice warm afternoon, after all (we learned later that it was 70 degrees and that was in the shade). So no manatees were present.

It was just before 3:00 when we arrived back at the trailer. We changed into some lighter clothing, found a spot of sunshine coming through the trees and sat in our chairs relaxing...ahhhhh...that had been just too stressful a day!

We decided to go for a walk before happy hour today so we put on our walking shoes and walked the whole campground...not just the perimeter but back and forth on all the roads too. we will sit down with our bevies and enjoy what is left of a warm afternoon. After being entertained by a couple of squirrels and then chatting with a neighbour for a bit, we decided to head inside.

We had dinner and then settled in front of the fireplace watching TV...well, Steve did more watching than me...I made the mistake of lying down on the couch....say no more....

Friday, December 3, 2010 (Salt Springs, FL)

We woke to another cold, clear morning. The thermometer said it was 37 degrees out there again this morning. Looks like we are going to have another chilly ride today.

Steve met the owner of the wooden travel trailer (Charlie) on his way to the barn for a coffee. His hobby is wood working and he said if you haven’t been to the barn before they have coffee every morning and they also do wood working. Charlie had noticed that our parking area had a wet spot and asked if we had a leak. Steve told him that we were using our backup hose that has a leaky connection because our good one sprung a few leaks the other day. He said it was probably the squirrels and not a defective hose. Apparently it is quite common here that they will chew on your hose leaving pin holes so they can have a drink. Sorry for the bad rap the other day Camping World.

We left just after 9:30 deciding to stop at the Visitor’s Centre...hopefully it will be open. It was and after being greeted by the fellow manning the place...he was outside having a smoke...we went inside. This older fellow had a rather distinctive that I’ve been seeing more of lately...nothing like a balding man with a long ponytail! We took a look at the big map they have and noticing that the trailhead that we first thought we would go to is actually on a gravel road, quite a distance from the highway; we decided on the Delancy Trailhead which is right off the highway 19 about 6 miles from here. After talking to the fellow about other things to see and do in the area, we were on our way.

This trailhead was similar to the one we were at yesterday...lots of room for many vehicles to come in and off-load their ATV’s. Today we were the only truck in the huge lot. We have our off-loading routine down pat and in no time we were ready to hit the trails. It was 10:40 as we headed onto the “purple” marked trail called the Delancy Loops. Our plan was to connect with the yellow trail and follow it until we could connect with the red trail. We were going to do the red trail and then finish off with the rest of the purple trail on our way back to the truck.

The purple trail is similar to the trails we rode yesterday...narrow, windy but not at all difficult. They are all sand, which is fairly deep in some areas and it’s really quite cool because a lot of the corners are banked. One part of the trail that had a lot of banked corners going from side to side reminded me of a waterslide that has a lot of curves in it and how they bank from side to side as you go down it.

We were sticking to the outside loop when we came across a downed tree that was blocking the was up to high to go over and not high enough to go under, so we had to turn around and take another loop that would also get us to the yellow trail. We stopped for a break once we hit the yellow trail and this is when Steve noticed that my quad was leaking fluid. It wasn’t oil from the engine which was looked like it was coming out of the right front shock. Hmmm...should we continue on? It didn’t look too bad so we decided to just keep an eye on it and carry on.

We found today’s ride to be much warmer than yesterday’s. I had put on an extra “undershirt” and was plenty warm without the rain jacket as a wind break. Steve had pulled out his heavy hunting jacket and was wearing that with his fleece liner wasn’t long before he ditched the fleece liner.

We made it onto the red trail and decided to stop to check my quad and have lunch. I had noticed that we had been going on a bit of an incline as we made our way to the red trail and I guess it was just high enough that my cell actually had a signal. I realized this because as we stopped, I heard my phone (which was in my cargo box) give off the familiar “bleep bleep” notification. When I checked it, I had two text from Chris and one from Rob....both wishing me a Happy Birthday! That’s when I noticed that I actually had cell service so I decided to call them right back. And I thought I was going to have to use the pay phone tonight to call them. I had a great conversation with each of them...although the connection started to weaken towards the end of my chat with Rob. It was so good talking to them! Steve’s brother Dave, son Jonathan and girlfriend Kerry are in Victoria for a visit. Rob said they were coming over for dinner with steaks and Kerry will be making her famous Long Island Ice Tea. Watch out guys...her ice teas sneak up on you!!

After lunch, Steve decided to pull out the manual to see if he could find anything that would shed some light on what the leaking fluid could be. He noticed that the fluid was not coming from the shock but appeared to be coming from a module above. The manual pictured this component but doesn’t say what it is. After removing the access hood Steve thinks it may be an ignition module. There were no warning lights coming on and it seemed just fine while I was riding it. Not being able to figure out exactly what is was, we decided it would probably be a good idea not to push our luck so we headed back.

After one wrong turn on the purple trail which took us onto a really cool windy trail, we turned around, found the right trail, and were soon back at the trailhead. It was going on to 2:00...not as long of a ride as we had had the past couple of days but it had been good....other than getting a sick quad, that is. Steve even saw four deer on the trail.

But before loading the quads back into the truck, Steve had to play on the youth practice circuit that was there...of course, he hadn’t noticed the sign stating you had to be under 15 years old to go on the track. Oh well, there was nobody else around and he had fun on it.

We were back home just after 3:00...plenty of time to “do” my hair, shower and get ready to go out for dinner tonight. There will just be the two of us tonight...usually there are four because I share my birthday with a very good friend, Rob Cawsey, so he and Nancy always join us. But not this Happy Birthday from Florida, Rob!

The restaurant, Bass Champions, was not at all what we were expecting. Since it was only open for dinner, we expected a little more “evening ambiance”. was basically a bright, busy diner. Obviously the emphasize is on good food and not so much on decor. But we both had huge, very good meals. Their specials tonight were 14 oz. prime rib...Steve was in his glory...and “all you can eat ribs and draft”—that’s what I had. Unfortunately, they were beef ribs...I would have preferred pork ribs...but very tasty anyway. We both had our choice of 2 sides...Steve chose salad and fries; I chose baked potato and zucchini...and dinner also included your choice of clam chowder or chilli. Holy Cats...that’s a lot of food! After we had finished our meal, the servers all came by the table, sang and presented me with a special dessert. I can’t recall what she called it, but it was strips of deep fried tortilla drizzled with apple syrup and sprinkled with icing sugar and cinnamon. That and a cup of coffee finished off dinner. We were both stuffed...I don’t even want to think of the number of calories I consumed at that one meal!

The bill was a very reasonable $36 (which included 3 draft for me and 1 for my driver) and after paying it and leaving a good-sized tip, we headed home to get into our stretchy clothes! I had had a great birthday!

Thursday, December 2, 2010 (Salt Springs, FL)

Holy Cats it’s cold! It’s only 37 degrees out there! That’s only like 4 degrees Celsius. Hey...I thought we were in Florida, for heaven’s sake! A cold front has moved in for the last couple of days—I wonder how long it is planning on staying! One nice thing, though, is that the skies are clear blue and that’s nice.

We found the trailhead we were looking for on highway 316 and pulled in. The parking area is well thought out, giving riders plenty of room to park their vehicles and unload their ATV’s. There are also nice restrooms...they are pit toilets but are clean and housed in a nice cement building.

It was 10:30 as we headed out on the trails...we were early today. Steve had been unable to get his GPS to track our route yesterday, but after much fiddling around with it last night, today he got it working. The trails are well marked but it is still nice to have that reassurance that you are going to get back from where you started.

We started out on the brown trail, went over to the blue trail, did a tiny bit of the red and looped back around on the blue and brown. There were a lot of deer and bear tracks on the trail today. We both really enjoyed these trails better than yesterday’s. They were narrower and windier...not at all steep hill climbs...actually, no hill climbs period—steep or not. But we had a great time! It was chilly, though. Who would have thought that I’d be wearing 4 layers of clothing in Florida?! I even had to put on my rain coat to act as a wind-break...and at one point, I wish I had my long-johns on!!

We arrived back at the trailhead and the truck at 3:00...that had been a fast, fun day! As usual, we gassed up the quads before loading them back in the truck. Once we got everything put away, we headed home.

We sat outside (yes, it was chilly) with a drink and talked about our next stop before we have to be in Orlando (a week this Tuesday). We may check out the trails in the southern part of the Ocala National Forest. Decisions....decisions...