Saturday, November 30, 2013

A ride to New Smyrna Beach

Pittman Visitors Center
Altoona, FL

This morning was a bit chilly, but it warmed up to the mid 70's.
George and I decided to take a drive to the Atlantic ocean.

New Smyrna Beach is a little over an hour's drive from here.
I was in the mood to see some water!
It was a nice drive along SR42 & SR44 to get there.
George drove over the causeway and found a place to park,
and we walked over to check out the waves.


We walked along the main street,
there were a lot of cool shops to see.
There was a great place to have lunch,
right on the Halifax River.

They seated us outside, 
with a great view of the drawbridge.

We both got salads, and they were terrific!

After sitting there and enjoying the view,
we walked down the other side of the street,
and back down to the ocean.

The waves were pretty rough..

One of George's former co-workers, Ray, lives in this town,
so we gave him a call.
It was perfect timing, he had just gotten off work.
We met him at his house, and he took us for a short tour of the area.

He drove us to Smyrna Dunes Park, where we took a quick walk on the boardwalk.

 We could see the Ponce inlet lighthouse in the distance..

The boardwalk goes through some protected dunes,
where there are breeding grounds for turtles..

Ray then drove us into Daytona.
His son, Ray Jr. wanted to show us his favorite restaurant.
What a great place!
It is out at the end of a pier..

..and the dining tables are on the pier deck,
so that the ocean is right below your feet!

The waves were crashing against the pilings, making the whole pier shake..

It was great to meet Ray and Ray, Jr.
George and he got caught up..

We'll definitely be back to visit, 
and go to some other great places with he and his wife.
Looking forward to it!

Friday, November 29, 2013

A bit of a feast

Pittman Visitors Center
Altoona, FL

We had a great Thanksgiving feast yesterday.
One of the forest centers volunteer groups
hosted a potluck Thanksgiving dinner up in their area -
the OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) site.
Those volunteers get to ride ATVs and maintain the trails 
for the OHVs that run through the forest.

They had a signup sheet for all traditional foods,
and they provided the turkey & ham.
We rode up with Bob & Rosemary,
and got there to watch preparations..

Soon, the rest of the volunteers arrived..
and some of the men talked about the government,
and working for same :-)

 Finally it was time to eat!

 Oh yeah, I brought the rolls...

The food was great, the company even better!
The day warmed up, so we all sat outside for awhile.
Rosemary and I took a short walk around the complex.

Soon everything wrapped up, and we got home to snooze a bit!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pittman Visitor Center
Altoona, FL

We woke up this morning to frost on the ground here in central Florida.
Never thought we'd have to run the heat here!

George and I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

We both give thanks to God for
our families
each other
our life!

Today we are sharing Thanksgiving dinner with some of the other volunteers
here in the Ocala National Forest.
I am glad that we have someone to share this time with.

Hope everyone has a great holiday!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A visit to Salt Springs

Pittman Visitors Center
Altoona, FL

Saturday afternoon we took a drive north on SR-19 to Salt Springs.
We have heard (and read!) other bloggers accounts of this lovely area.
We went through the gate, and tried to cut a deal :-)
George wore his volunteer hat, but that didn't work.
We were able to get in for $5.50 which was half off the normal price of $5.50/person!
He just showed his 'old-fogey' pass which is good for cardholder only.
The springs are run by concessionaires - American Land & Leisure,
so they control the fee, not the Forest Service :-(

We parked and took a walk to the spring pool to take a look.

There were a lot of these Mullet fish in the clear water..

A Cormorant was sitting sunning himself..

It is such a lovely place!
We weren't here this time to get in the water,
but we'll bring the Sea Eagle back and go in another time.

Our purpose today was to do a little hike.
We drove south a mile or so from the springs to the Salt Springs trailhead..

It is a 2 mile roundtrip hike to an observation platform on the springs.

The trail was nice in parts, but we could tell that the volunteer position that takes care
of trail maintenance has not been filled :-(
It was blocked in places by fallen trees and overgrown brush.

There were some cool fungus, however!

 We finally got to the boardwalk,
and it was a mess!
It was covered in wet leaves & moss, so was very slippery.
Farther on, there was a tree that had fallen over 
the walkway, but we could squeeze by it.

There were some nice views from the platform, 
even if it was a bit overgrown!

Even though we didn't see any birds or gators, or the like,
we had a great hike!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fun times!

Pittman Visitors Center
Altoona, FL

When we took this job, we thought we would be isolated,
sitting by ourselves behind this visitors center.
Little did we know that there would be another couple on a pad next to us.
Jim & Carol have been volunteers here for over 5 years,
wintering here and spending summers in Illinois.
It's nice to have someone to socialize a bit with, 
without feeling we have to do something with them everyday.

They have introduced us to two other couples as well.
One of the couples, Bob & Rosemary, workamp at the Helibase.
Their duties are to keep track of fire equipment so when there
is a fire on the forest requiring an influx of other fire companies,
they issue equipment for them.
They too, winter here, and have a home in Missouri for the summer.
Ron & Julie workamp at an RV park, Old Mill Stream.
These couples have gotten to know each other through the years of repeat gigs.

Last night the 8 of us met here at the VC. We then drove to have dinner
at a great little place called Gator Joe's.

It sets right on Lake Weir, and the views of the lake are terrific.
The food was ok, lots of fried fish, etc, and Gator tail :-)
Nobody ordered any!

 Afterwards, we made our way over to the

This is a great local venue in Weirsdale.
It attracts country star legends such as Mel Tillis, Lorrie Morgan,
Ray Price, and the like.
Some nights they have the house band playing, 
which is what we saw last night.
They were great!
All of the group sings, and do country classics from
George Strait, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, etc.
I wasn't able to get pictures as they have a strict policy :-(
There are lots of pics on the website if you are interested.

Today is looking like it's going to be beautiful.
We are headed up to Salt Springs to check it out!