I’m Not Getting On No Airplane!…

 

    (well I didn’t say ‘never’) but if you want to get to Hawaii……..

Not that I hate airplanes – I just love seeing all the stuff on the ground much better.  Also, being raised in Florida – Hawaii’s tropical climate never really held a ‘draw’ for me, not on ‘my list.’

It took having a son living there, and going for a month – for me to get on one of them ‘alumium’ creatures. I figured it was like climbing one of those 100′ ladders at the Fire-Department; others have done it – so can you.

Our first move from SC was with leaving our cat at home (alone), yes we left Otis on his own for a month.  Now he did have a cat-door and run of the whole garage when needed, also someone would check on him every few days…  This cat wandered in to us a couple years back – he knows the life.

With an early flight from Atlanta our lake neighbors put us up for the night – really nice home with lots of people in that city. The next morning we left our car with them and rode MARTA (mass transport) through Atlanta to the airport; dressed for Hawaii, this was a mini adventure in itself.  Thank you so much Mark and Freda.

Atlanta to Honolulu was aboard a triple-seven for 9.5 hours – zone-loading, a few (hope this thing holds together) bumps over the mountain ranges, a ‘crowded’ feel to the seats.. I think the phrase came to mind of a “cattle-car” feel to the setting.  There were indeed nice folks serving sporadic snacks and drinks all while telling dumb jokes and smiling the whole trip – as for the passengers in my immediate vicinity – they were all civil….

The flight across the Pacific took as much time as crossing the US, 4 and a half hours (x2). The little movies on the back of the seats were helpful, even though I was more tuned into the flight-tracker..  Interesting, but I sure was happy to hear that all-clear for landing 200 miles out; Oahu, a little speck of land in the big ocean calling us in.

The change of weather was immediate; it was humid and strikingly warm on arrival – and where I felt a little out of place in my flowerdy shirt and shorts in Atlanta, it all came together on Oahu.  Gray and Hunter gave us a wonderful island welcome to Hawaii

Then drove us past five or six waterfalls on the way to his home in Kaneohe …

Gray had the penthouse room in the basement all ready for us, clean and freshly painted; it worked really perfect in keeping us out of Licia’s hair (we were there a month!) and providing us plenty of time in the mornings to sit back with a cup of coffee “feet-up” while peering into the volcanic ridges – before heading upstairs for the day…

I was looking at a place fifty million years old – young in comparison to the continental US.  Closer at hand (and just over his fence) was a much younger yet loaded avocado tree (right) that had me yearning for a salt-shaker, a spoon, and one of those large avocados the whole time we were there….. The neighbor finally gave us six of them a couple days before we left, taking several days to ripen when off the vine – I never got to eat one.. drat

The first week Gray took some time off work to drive us on as many different roads and byways as he could, maybe to confuse us but then maybe he just really had alot to show us.  We took it all in, and it was good to notice the ‘way of life’ for modern Hawaiians..

In driving through the large cemetery on Veterans day; I was truly moved to see the families spending hours sitting, even picnicking graveside with their belated loved ones. It was special to see.

And maneuvering through and around the city of Honolulu where I figured any continental driver could easily present a middle finger while driving; I saw only gestures of kindness and understanding.  The ‘shaka‘ sign of ‘hello’ and welcome was always ‘right there,’ nice.  We felt only warmth and caring from many we would never know – it was special to be a part of that culture.

As Hunter returned to school, his little sister Monroe accompanied us on our daily ventures. This day was through the Honolulu Home Depot, a couple thrift stores, the Coast Guard Base and a quick stop at a marina restaurant nearby….

One day we rode out to nearby Lanikai to walk the beach and view those two iconic islands offshore; ‘the mokes.’

One daughter Melissa had lived a block away from here for three years – I was feeling pretty guilty about this time for not making the trip when she was out here.

I guess that second or third bathing suit (or lack of) that walked by woke me from that family guilt…  The beach was beautiful, just I had seen in all of Melissa (and Jessica’s) pictures – I finally made it.  As for the bathing suits – before the end of the visit it was simply commonplace; just another ‘butt.’

There was lots of culture, tourists – from all countries but predominately Asian, and lots of stickers too, – cool.

Another day we drove the south-side of Oahu  – beautiful water, beaches, turtle lagoons and views.

What a joy this little girl was, Monroe. She had just turned one-year old and we were able to keep an eye on her our entire visit. Not once did she complain, whine, cry, or show any sign of being embarrassed being while out with her grandparents; she was awesome… Love.

I learned that there are no snakes on the islands, I liked that, not that they really bother me – but yet one less concern.  But what there is – are cats!.  I’m ok with a cat, but I love my birds and lizards too – here I saw too many feral cats roaming around eyeing the local doves and crested cardinals.  There is such a thing as too many….

Football on TV – in the mornings! Yes, the other thing I liked about Hawaii is that with the time difference (5 or 6 hours behind) College or NFL football began at seven o’clock in the mornings! I was even able to complete the entire evening game (they came on at three)…  I liked.

One Saturday we meet up with several of Gray’s co workers to tailgate and attend a UH college game, vs UNLV.  The guys were awesome with their cooking and hospitality.  Once the game began we all sat up back behind the large replay screen – and Hawaii made a heck of a comeback. UH won in the last quarter (and I never got to see any replays). It was different, but I was able to watch the complete game (with replays) the next morning on TV….

We visited the museum and cultural center in downtown Honolulu, very interesting.  It was two or three hours of some interesting artifacts from the eastern island cultures – once again Monroe just absorbed it all with us.

We attended and watched several practices as Hunter showed an interest in learning the necessary discipline of karate.

They trusted us with preparing their child for school too, one morning Hunter comes out of his room with his backpack on so we take him to school.  Later in the afternoon when picking him up he says “hey grampa, Why did you take me to school with my pajamas on?#!”  We didn’t have a clue (but I’m sure he was the most comfortable boy in the class).

Hunter otherwise had all the energy of a five-year old ‘jumping-bean’ of a boy… Walking him a mile home from school was my way of getting some of that bounce out (I really enjoyed the walks too). Another day we returned to Lanikai, as we walked the beach Hunter ran along waist deep in water – before leaving we were all in the water with him.

The ‘Pillbox’ with WW2 history as next.  Gray knew where to park and we took off up the Kaiwa ridge trail, a well used trail that is sometimes knee deep in weeds (remember, no snakes).

It was a beautiful walk and view over the Pacific.  Many use it for exercise but the trail is well worn from a multitude of tourists too..

At home I noticed a Dad’s time-out, very proud of Gray and the father he has become.

On yet another day we found the Hawaiian Railway society.

With roots from the early 1900’s, the little train’s open cars were a very entertaining (and inexpensive) way to spend a few weekend hours. We figured it would relax the kids, but the little trip up the coast and back ended up providing an entertaining afternoon for the adults too..

“Petticoat Junction”…

So do they have Walmart in Hawaii? yes! – this gal apparently ‘shopped till she dropped.’ As for prices, I found the prices (of all but housing) to be more reasonable than I was led to believe..

Walmart kinda fit, after all – we went to Hawaii the mindset (and the ability) to see life like locals rather than tourists – and we did. A couple things that come to mind; ‘Abandoned cars; sometimes its cheaper/easier to just leave one on the island than to ship it back. Seems like a good recycling business for someone, but then some make good homes for #2 – the ‘homeless‘ – not only in Honolulu but dotting the islands shores. I suppose the weather is perfect for pushing your collected belongings around on a loaded shopping-cart. Its not something that I would know how to fix, but it is something that reminds me of how very fortunate I am to live within my own simple means.

We did manage a wonderful month on the island at reasonable expense; thanks big-time to Licia’s cooking….

Hooray! its Monday.. Mom and Dad’s gone to work, brother’s in school, and I’m ready to play!!

So we did; we also walked some local streets, visited some local stores.  Monroe was my ‘babe-magnet,’ when walking through a store these tropically dressed ladies always seemed to be drawn over to admire the babe Monroe…

There was a Christmas caroling evening with the marine band on the base and we were able to catch part of it – but walking through the commissary of the base was interesting too. Our service personnel have some much deserved perks on their bases…

Kim and I took a day to drive along the shoreline up to the ‘North shore’ of Oahu where the largest waves and all the main surfing takes place.

There were busy beaches and several others where we simply stopped and parked our butts in the sand to absorb the surroundings – for hours.

Kim enjoying her surroundings (I found shade) – then off to Ted’s Bakery, this is a must stop to eat if in the area..

We also some time at Pearl Harbor and the Arizona memorial, this was definitely on our ‘list.’

The memorial itself was under repair – some disappointment with that part, but the boat-ride and information provided at shipside was worth the visit.

Stopping later to watch a game at Hooters; there were folks receiving an Hawaiian hula welcome as they boarded the dinner cruise immediately beside us..

On our last day Gray found time to take us on another short hike which Kim could enjoy

– before visiting the Bydo-In Temple nearby. This was a beautiful temple modeled after an eleventh-century temple in Japan.  The setting was reverent and tranquil.

Hunter fed the birds by hand,

and they both fed the huge goldfish (carp) that were in the moat..

The plane ride back was pretty cool too, stopping at LAX before returning to Atlanta.

There sure is alot of light-bulbs on in LA at night; looking out the planes window I also saw those burning in Albuquerque and Memphis too as we passed over. Earlier in the month I had noticed on social media a few clips of pilots working through some pretty hairy crosswinds on landing; and those before Atlanta received my real-time attention


Woooo coming in, touch-down.

With just a little effort, we found our car and drove 2.5 hours back to the lakehouse where Otis welcomed us home.

Monroe at One year old

Hunter about the same age.

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We really loved and appreciated our visit with family in Hawaii, thanks for making it a very special time. Proud of you each Gray and Licia – proud of your family and your accomplishments.  You done good, and thank-you. 

 

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Almost A ‘Snowbird’

‘Snowbird’ (snou-burd); An old person who migrates to Florida for the cold winter months – (being a native Floridian; this is the kindest definition).

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Florida in February…

Milson Inc.

“Back in the day”….I drove a semi hauling produce to the Northeast and Midwest – spent most of the seventies pretty much living in the truck; it was easy.  I had my bed, my picture window (windshield), and stuff going on all around me. I had all that I needed.  As the crops moved northward – so did I. Florida Tomatoes; South Georgia watermelons;  Carolina cucumbers; Ohio radishes; Wisconsin cucumbers – then back again the following year..  Following, loading, hauling, and returning.

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I suppose what I’m getting at is that I’m pretty comfortable sleeping on a river bank or somewhere down a highway – it’s not a big deal…

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Fargo, Ga – after dropping out of the Carolina mountains, we stopped in a pretty much abandoned park along highway 441, at the top of the Suwannee river.  I love to hear the trains too, they are a part of my family and seemingly a part of everywhere I want to sleep – trains and/or owls…..

As a boy I was privy to a ‘railroad conversation; a story between two Uncles on how the rails could ‘sing’ long before a train would actually arrive.  Over the years and many railroads later; I had never experienced it. In Fargo this night, sleeping practically beside the railroad tracks and through the long silence stretches of that southern Georgia night, I slept.  Better yet, I learned exactly what my Uncles were talking about..  zzzzz….

Many miles away the faded horn of a train rippled through the silence of the night – it was nearing; closer and closer..  The nearby rails hummed then hit a higher octave as the train got really near – then they whined, almost to a ring as the train thundered pass.  A railroad man could easily describe the vibrations as ‘singing.’  The rails sang before the train arrived and faded as the train distanced into the night, anyway – I’ve heard the rails ‘sing.’

There were at least six trains that night, two were freight – the rest because of their speed I felt were passenger; a busy North to South night – all pretty neat in its own subconscious way.

Such is the mental compost of this nomadic ‘snowbird.’

I laugh too when I tell folks that since having an RV I can now make the same 12-hour trip that I once made in a car – in two or three days…. “Life at 60.

Top of the Suwannee to you….

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A ‘why-not’ stop at the local cemetery in Newberry, Fl – to visit a few of those from my Mom’s past – the Hilliard clan, mostly railroad folks.  I guess it was a migration of folks that in some way we can all associate with; the one we know.  In the 1800’s her folks were part of settling Waycross, Ga and Hilliard, Fla laying track southward and migrating even further into to the untamed territory of Florida..

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Lakeland, Fl

Those of the railroad within the Hilliard family were track-laying crew ‘Captains,’ conductors and firemen of the Atlantic Coast Line railroad – it was a family thing of that era.

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In 1966 (that’s Kristi my sister) I rode free with my Uncles from SW Florida to Atlanta, 24-hours on the train, neat stuff.  In the 1970’s my Uncles retired..

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but onward down the road to Hub-cap hill..

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A stop in the wide open mid-Florida pines to visit a schoolmate of years past and walk his place.  FMHS70, Danny’s doing well and was mighty proud of his fresh new shop.

I would be too – Awesome, I know what its like to not have a garage – I didn’t have one for thirty years, now I have a couple.  It does a man good to go piddle in his own garage…. a fine place to be..

Dan’s done well; his old-friend Jim had stopped by too – a three down chopper survivor and POW of the Vietnam era; great guy and Sa-lute!  Thank’s Jim, job well done..  We had a great burger and a beer nearby at Willards – before moving on down the road…  good stuff, thanks Dan, and Jim

Dunnellon, Fl – and a coffee-stop with Cousin Butch and Ollie – I kidded Butch that I had seen enough Hilliard tombstones and wanted to see a live ‘one,’ visits with cousins are always special – and Butch, (Uncles Lester’s son) was always a character.

Moving south towards our goal of Arcadia, Pioneer Park in Zolfo Springs came as a surprise. Running early, I had hoped to just pull in and ‘waste a day’ and night near the boat ramp of the Peace river – simply looking for some of that ‘ramp’ entertainment.

The park had turned more commercial than on my last visit.. There was a large flock of snowbirds (northern RV’ers) on the hill out in the open and well, that just just doesn’t fit my migration pattern yet.  As I pulled away to leave the park I found a ranger and learned that I could park anywhere along the water that I wanted.

Not needing hookups for a night we found a neat place by the water and ‘spread out.’…

It was a relaxing evening by the water; really close bird and gator watching from a chair with a beverage… and I never thought that Zolfo Springs had anything to offer.

Super bowl Sunday, Beef O Brady’s Arcadia, Fl.  Because of the anthem protests I hadn’t watched the NFL all 2017 season, so I was ready to watch A game.  Had a fine time too – and for me, because Kim didn’t feel up to watching it (stayed in the RV) – everything was ‘half-price!’

It was fun falling off my bar-stool with the chicken-wing and beer crowd of Arcadia (I sprang to my feet“dilly-dilly!”)  Can’t lean too far back or forward on one of those things…. but I fit in…. didn’t really matter which way the game went and on this night – The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots…

Fisheating Creek – Palmdale, Fla

A week tucked into one little corner of the world; just close enough to my hometown of Ft Myers to feel the same weather – far enough away not to hear the sounds of my memories drowned in today’s reality (but a train’s ok, go figure).

As Al, Ava, Kim and I sat in our quiet corner of the park another couple began backing their camper into the site beside us – “Why?” do they have to stop here?, “Why can’t they go to the other quiet area of the park?” leave us in peace… these were all quiet little tones creeping through each of our minds and thoughts – a natural inclination I hope.

We maintained ‘polite’ and watched the ‘circus’ of another parking (much like the activity at the boat-ramp).  In reality there is little choice to who parks near or beside you in a campground.. it’s just a part of it.

Well doggone if it didn’t turn out to be a couple more friends from “back in the day” – we hadn’t seen Bill and Betty in 37 years!

Kim took the picture which by chance neared an older image of 1981….

So it was “all good” and we spent the day watching the local Owl while laughing about all the snarly tidbits that we had shared as these ‘strangers’ pulled in beside us.  Fun, plus it sure was good to catch up on some lost years while visiting with folks that make up the fabric of many memories from years past.  Maybe it’s a test of sorts…

On the second day Bill and Betty moved on to Disney-world with their Grand-kids. Then with a little coffee Ava  got into the breakfast groove.  We had several mornings to refine a ‘camp-mix’ breakfast thing; I think we came up with something….

While Ava ran some errands Kim and Otis watched the shade move.

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and Al and I went up the creek….

with a paddle.  The area was hit hard during the 2017 Hurricane IRMA, but the campground has returned and seems to be in great working order.  The creek itself is unchanged and remains a fine place for a short canoe or kayak trip. This year the water was a little low, the water was condensed and there were some healthy gators lining its shores…

When I was young the lack of gators became a concern – so hunting was very limited if any.  With that protection the gators have made a comeback and in some places you might try some real ‘gator tail,’ if properly cooked its some good eating….

another fine week had passed. Great to visit with Al and Ava and other friends from the past – great to be able to share such amicable visits with long time friends

Somewhere in the morning I trimmed my whiskers; then ‘Locke’ and Patsy came through, really special effort – it all made our trip almost complete. There’s a few more yet I’d like to see yet….

It brings to mind a story that a neighbor told me of my late Dad.  On a trip back to his hometown in Georgia, Dad went to visit a boyhood friend that he hadn’t seen in many, many, years – unannounced. He found his friend, I’m sure Dad called him by name and could imagine them coming face to face.  Two men in their eighties looked long and hard into each other faces when my Dad’s friend finally asked “should I know you?” Dad mentioned who he was; and through those same eyes their friendship from long past returned – once boys, now old men – and they cried. (true story)

Now I don’t look to hug and cry, but I know probably like my father had learned – that we only have a few cherished opportunities to visit people and places of our past…do it. (a.k.a. ‘little circles’)

Mulberry Fl

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a few hours with Kim’s sister Barb – and Duane

Wekiwa Springs State Park –

Three days and two nights at Wekiwa Springs, near Apopka and an old family favorite Kelly Park.  This Park being so close to civilization has scared me away, but it was the path of our next destination and we had the time.

It was also a good opportunity to size-up things for a return trip to paddle that stretch of rock springs run.

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Lake Harney – 151 acres of wetland.

This is something that my father left on his passing, my sisters and I share interest in it and we needed to make a yearly visit to clear some paths.

It actually has some perks; its a great place to stop and put your ‘feet-up’ while enjoying some of the finest inland marsh along Lake Harney and the St Johns river.  Native wildlife is abundant, it is eagle habitat, and there are many other critters moving about – it’s native, like real Floridians remember!

Our critter Otis came with us, he did awesome. It was questionable whether he would make the trip – as he did two years ago.  I told Kim before we left that if he ‘took off,’ I was only going to go look for him a limited time; Otis must’ve overheard us because he did excellent and stayed close…

We almost left here a day early, but after a trip down to the Jolly Gator bar and restaurant we decided to stay another night – best decision yet!

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A change of beverage, a peaceful scene

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– and a small fire.

Thus began one of the better nights of sky-watching that Kim and I could remember enjoying together –

It was the best way to end this fledgling ‘snowbird’ lap of Florida.

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Just another part of the journey; Life at 60 (mph)

 

 

Woodrow ‘Lee’ Coleman 1953 – 2017

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 Lee Coleman;  1953 – 2017

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It has to start with the Hiram Hilliard clan from the Winston/Kathleen area (Lakeland) of Fl. This was a railroad family, Lee’s mom and my own were two of eight – a family full of character; lots of good food, hard love and heartfelt laughs; kinda like M&M’s, hard on the outside but really soft and good on the inside.

The families met almost every year for at least one holiday – when packs of kids would run through our grandparents home continually slamming the screen door (drove Hiram nuts) while shattering all the peace and quiet they had been so enjoying.  For us; they are the most wonderful memories in the best of a families time.

Being an air-force brat Lee’s family traveled alot – we envied them for their travels, so when they did make the reunions – running through the orange groves while tricking other cousins into connecting with a nearby electric fence was more than a lot of fun for our bunch.

Through the years Lee and I lost close contact, yet having many things in common and parents to keep us informed; we kept up with each others whereabouts.

Unfortunately through the years; funerals of those wonderful Aunts and Uncles added up; Lee was always there

In the year 2000 Lee visited with wife Sandy and his immediate family, we had so much in common.  We spent a few days catching up on the years, his extended family, and then out of kindness he left me a really nice leather jacket – he cared.  After that and from time to time, Lee would surprise me with a call, “happy birthday Tom” – I loved it.

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Facebook arrived providing an easier avenue for us to reconnect even visit with Lee several times over the past ten years; he shared his life with me.  While visiting,  we walked a mile or so to the beach at Jupiter stopping at the local thrift-store along the way.  Lee shared stories of that extended family (other children) increasing the admiration that I hold for Sandy. We joked about the past while skipping through the many interests and traits that we shared.

Lee worked with aircraft interiors and he was good at it – I suppose some of that hard shell of the Hilliards and Colemans had made him really good at what he did; quality control.  On one visit I rode along to Miami to inspect some aircraft seats for a customer – he was really tough on those guys finding things that I would have never spotted.  Lee was direct and “picky” for others to meet expectations, great for his employer.

We were tough on our kids too.  Our fathers were are part of the ‘tough-love’ generation; instilling within us not to be “cry baby’s,” observe before speaking, do as told – without question, and to be diligent workers – for we would have to work our entire life.  We were expected to exceed.

Well, we did the best we could with those; as grandparents we learned that ‘tough-love’ was easier to receive than to give; grandchildren easily became the soft-spot in our lives.

Lee came home early from his 6-month “project” in Texas, with cancer.  There’s no easier way to say it – no way around it.  Over the past year we communicated through text and private messages; his battle was real.  Lee; a “dreadful disease that I wouldn’t wish on anyone” (5/10/2017)

Lee lost that battle a month after turning 64, – he took it like a man.

One day I’m going to cry me a river, and its going to flow like the Mississippi.  A lifelong buddy and cousin, Lee Coleman; will be a large part of that current. 

Tough-love sucks.

The gathering was simple, and where Lee and I had once sat discussing family and extended family.  His family mingled, they were remarkable.

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Above are some of the original Hilliard links, Lees immediate family had multiple links – and it was really great to meet those that we hadn’t before – family from afar.

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I understand why Lee was so proud of each…..

I didn’t take alot of pictures; I think I was somewhat in a daze with how fast the past year had come – and gone, taking that special cousin.

If your wondering where Lee went afterward; well, I think that he rode home with each of us.

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He, Kim, and I took a lackadaisical ride up A1A, stopping along the way to watch some guy put-in for a day of fishing with his spaniel

stopped to loot a thrift store or two

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and even returned to the Castillo de San Marcos fort in St Augustine…….

60 St Augistine

I think Lee’s presence reminded me that it’s not only years that pass along the way – make time for those of your past. In Savannah we stopped and visited with a friend I hadn’t seen in 42 years, great visit – it helped.

Lees presence made it home with me too, where I took him straight to the garage to see Dad’s old pickup

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and even though it was a Ford I think there was common ground to be found;

Last May Lee also told me “I’m going to fix up a van to travel… would love to see the lake house.

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Yep, I think that its the worst part of growing up.

Otis Takes An R-U-V Vacation

Otis takes a  ride.

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Yeah, I know – a cat.  This past fall ‘Otis’ wandered up  and after spending the $ to have him ‘fixed;’ we’re giving him every opportunity to ‘fit-in,’ so far he has passed all his exams.  Anyway, –

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a cat wandered up…. other than that it’s been a quiet winter in the foothills of South Carolina.  More often than not it was comfortable weather, the frigid weather held back until the first part of January – then we got a dash of it!

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Within it all I have nothing to complain about – i didn’t have to pull out my ‘jong-johns,’ the pipes didn’t freeze, and nothing broke.  Another month, another set of bills – seasons’ pass, and another sunset hits the mountains; ‘Life’ is good.

In this rotation is February – a time to trade any sense of ‘cabin-fever’ for another snowbird ‘loop’ through Florida – my homestate.  It’s ironic growing up hating tourists because of their impact on our little town, and now having an “R-U-V!” But at at this time also (life at 60 ) it fits, so well, why not?

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btw; one of the GK’s (James) calls our RV an R-‘U’-V, James is a pretty smart guy, so with this our ‘Little Bessie‘ is now considered a first class “R-U-V!”.

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On last year’s ‘loop’ I wanted to ride the backroads of W Georgia to Florida; long story short – it didn’t happen (‘fluid’ decisions). We stay off of the interstates as much as possible; this year in the direction of South Georgia and Plains, Ga – home of Former President Jimmy Carter.  I always liked this guy – still do, he’s a good man.  So we spent the day ‘lolly-gagging’ around the town stores and finding out first-hand just how much he is thought of as ‘a friend’ and neighbor.  He has a lot of friends.

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The old brick elementary school he attended has been preserved by the National Park System, really nice – and a place where the halls can easily remind one of where real ‘friendships’ begin.  The above picture was on the wall – I liked the character and took a picture of it.

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Sometime in the night Otis came out of his nest, looked around – then curled up and went back to sleep. Kims done a good job training him..  His eating/cat activities were normal with no messes.  When morning came we continued southward on Ga Highway 19  into Florida with a stop at Fanning Springs.

The Suwannee river at Fanning Springs

The Suwannee river at Fanning Springs

Fanning Springs is a clear spring along the Suwannee River that I’ve paddled through several times – and it was a good time to show Kim where’d I been the past several years.

Manatees

Manatees

I was really hoping for Kim to see some Manatees, and surprisingly we found 6 or seven ‘lazing-around’ just below the clear spring waters in the thin February sunshine.

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Next stop along the way was to see an old friend, Dan Goddard (FMHS 70).  I’m a ‘drop-in’ kinda guy, and Dan is always good with it.  A schoolmate, we chatted as we walked through his back-yard (‘bone-yard‘) of old-cars and rusty projects – I’m into that stuff too; just don’t have a pace to put it – so I enjoy others stuff.  Old-friends are good; and after a mmmmeaty burger and a beer at nearby Willards with Dan – Kim and I were off to Rainbow Springs.

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We had five days and four nights at Rainbow Springs State Park waiting. Long enough to get comfortable, and a good place to get Kim in a kayak – on the water.  The North Carolina Carr’s gave us a tandem-kayak for use at the lake, and when Kim said she would get out in it; I threw it on the trailer (along with my solo) and took them both with us.

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The Rainbow river

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If I ever have another home; along the Rainbow river would be the place.

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The place worked well for getting her introduced to a kayak, and I think she liked the clear water.  The Rainbow Springs ‘head’ is about a mile upstream, an easy paddle so we worked our way up river – then with our ‘feet-up,’ completed a very mellow hour-long trip back to the campground ramp.

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I was wondering if I could get her back in (kinda hoping not so I could solo) but I blew it when I mentioned there was beverage at the other end.  The following day we paddled (lightly) with the current a few hours down the Rainbow river to the Withlacoochee.  A little further from there was the Blue Gator tiki bar – and next door was a shuttle (at our convenience) back to the Park.

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– it is true, at the end of the Rainbow – was a cold little cup of gold.

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Oh yeah, and Otis – he figured right in to this park-life stuff.

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After a week at Rainbow, we hit the bacroads once again – down the road stopping to visit a cousin, Ellen (Lakeland/Kathleen is family land, Mom’s side).

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Ellen’s got a neat little place off Scrotum rd (Socrum rd) with just the right amount of livestock – and a little gator in her pond.  Julie, her daughter is the only female gator-trapper for the area and drops one off on occasion. Good to see Ellen and her other daughter Ginger whom was enjoying a birthday.

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To “Creek Week”

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Fisheating Creek

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and some paddlin time…

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The goal for the past year was this ‘week at the Creek’ – with friends.

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Al and Ava (FMHS 71) came in for a few days, and ‘pitched’ in – right beside us.

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It was a time to enjoy what a place and folks have in common…..

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(now Ava, was that mouse really that big??)

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and there was plenty of ez time within the weekday peace to take a paddle….

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gator watch

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maybe even reflect,

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or share a laugh

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Life can be, a tire swing – if you let it.

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Kim paddled the waters too

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even got some gator watchin time in

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Of course there were a few other stories floating around the camp too…

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another good thing about old friends

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It was a simple time, with the best of friends

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Kim and I remained through the weekend, as the crowds came – weekend at the creek changed, it was like a festival without the band.

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Full of people and their activities – all the canoes and kayaks were rented out, the campsites were full – even had a ‘Joe Dirt’ wedding taking place. I was impressed how the staff kept up with everything.  We just rode the bikes around and watched it all in amusement, kinda like hanging around a boat ramp – cheap entertainment.

Sunday was the best though; we watched as the crowds departed…..

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Monday the peace and tranquility of the creek was back; later that day we headed North

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Otis’s first ride in the RUV was a positive; he operated at the same pace as everyone else and fit in just fine.

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 “….can’t we all just get along?”

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link; Tom Haynie