Saturday, December 30, 2006

Out With The Old, 2006

The last week of the year 2006 has come…and pretty much gone. Again this week- chores. The coach must now have a year end filing system in prep for tax time and old files must make way for the files of the new year. To break up the work, we used some time to explore the area a little bit, “moseyed” on over to Cocoa Beach to see the beach and had a nice lunch on the fisherman’s pier. Did the once around at the always fun Ron Jon’s Surf Shop,dudes, then drove up the coast on A1A which is the more scenic and tourist trap lined route along the coast, winding up at Kennedy Space Center. We didn’t take the tour- a bit too late in the day when we got there and besides we really just wanted to scout the area for a decent vantage point in case we are in the vicinity next time the space shuttle either goes up or down. I’m not really sure when this happened, but it seems I have acquired a strong desire to see that bird fly before its era is over. I never had that desire before; watching on TV was always fine. Perhaps it is some parallel between my getting older and the shuttle program getting older and things around me in general getting older. And some of them signing off before I am ready for that to happen. Some form of nostalgia perhaps. Thinking that “older” things might just be better than newer, younger things, even if the distance left to run in the race is shorter than the distance already run. Don’t know, but it is what it is. And it’s good to consider.

Tomorrow night is New Year’s Eve. I like that night a lot better than I do Christmas or Thanksgiving or Halloween or Easter or St. Patrick’s Day (my birthday-mark your calendar) or just about any other holiday. And I think that is because it is for me a more personal time of reflection and thinking things through. Considering what course corrections need to be charted in the coming days, taking a pause, a deep breath, and gathering the muster to go forward and improve or build on what has been and will now become the past. Out with the old and in with the new- isn't that what they say?

The meaning of that expression has changed for me over the years. I used to think that meant throwing away old things in favor of the new. Start over from scratch. Get a new plan. Not so.

Looking back I realize that as a kid I celebrated each and every New Year’s Eve by going “out with the old.” It was one of the few times of the year that my parents ever took a night out for themselves and gathered with friends to party a little and celebrate the coming year. My sister and I always spent the night at my grandparents house in the city. I looked forward to that every year and to this day remember it as always being one of the highlights of the year. We had a tradition. In the early evening we would set up the card table, pull a box out of the old wooden chest in the living room, and work on a puzzle. I was a good “puzzle-putter-togetherer” but my grandmother was a great one! I cherished the time sitting with her, talking about whatever, and just enjoying my time at her house. Grandpa read the paper in his recliner by the floor lamp and watched a little black and white TV or listened to news on his radio which was bigger than his chair was in those days while the puzzle pieces got fitted. Long about 8 o’ clock Grandma sent us upstairs for a nap, then later woke us up in time to watch the ball come down at Times Square. Afterwards, she prepared her oyster stew while we talked to our parents on the phone and everyone wished everyone else a Happy New Year. Then off to the candle lit table for a bowl of oyster stew. To make it a “kid’s dish” she floated little crackers on the top and we each had a knife and a small bowl of butter in front of us. We took a dab of butter on the knife, placed it on the crackers like sails on a sail boat, set it adrift in the stew, and blew across the bowl to cool it, sending the little boats sailing across the mighty ocean of the soup bowl. Funny what sticks in your mind and makes unbreakable bonds between people, but this is one of those things for me. Simpler times are often better times I suppose or at least perceived to be that way in our memories.

New years later, my mother would take up the tradition of the oyster stew, and now, many years later, I will have oyster stew tomorrow night, just like I do every New Year’s Eve. I will get out my crackers and hoist up the butter sails and blow on the boats to cool the stew. I will most likely smile through a few tears remembering all the magical times I went “out with the old,” and the happy sounds in that house in the city where children were invited guests of honor and together we all sailed into the new year. Let the ball come down. My ships are ready to sail.

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Crew Back "Home"

No sooner did I make the post from dinner in Malabar, than the pic from the holiday dinner for our friends back on the Cape came into the old mailbox. Front row: Sandy and Waylon our friends from Roatan and our house-sitters, whose presence in the house makes possible our travels and adventures right now. Back row: Phoebe (Champagne Property Management owner, who took over our former Watersign Property Management), wild and crazy Rick (Bobber Boy) and Judy, and Mr Jim. Word has it the glasses are compliments of Sigrid and Larry, our long time friends and Cape Coral property owners from Germany.

Dinner with Family

Christmas day we tried to wrap up our project of re-organizing the basement of the coach. But just like the last time I tried this project, I got rained out. The storm that stifled us didn't do much damage here but was reportedly a tornado just north of us near Daytona. We may not have met the goal for the day, but we did work up one heck of an appetite, so the pot luck at the dining/activity hall was just what we needed. Met some interesting new people and had a wonderful meal.
The buffet was ample and varied- some holiday classics and some local favorites and some house specialties. Everything I tried was great . Yes, there were seconds! Ham, turkey, a couple types of stuffings and a couple potato dishes and everything else you could ask for was on the table.
Dessert anyone? Oh yeah! That's Marilyn's dessert- "Stop Your Heart Chocolate Cake" (from scratch) lower left in the pic. The plate came home empty!
We estimated the crowd at about a hundred, plus or minus a couple. This fun loving, high energy crew cooked up the basics with exceptional flare and organized the entire event. If I understand it correctly they are all pretty much full time park residents who do this out of love with the funds that they raise from other dinner events and some bingo nights, although this entire spread for Christmas was compliments of the crew. The meal was really superb. And the atmosphere was delightfully family-like for us. This is our first holiday meal out on the road and we could not have asked for a nicer experience. For all your care and hard work, we say many thanks and...
Bravo! Kitchen Crew...

Chritmas Kisses

Merry Christmas 2006!
A big kiss and a few good licks for all our family and friends!

(Click on photo to enlarge. Back arrow to return to blog)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

'Twas the Day Before...

"Twas the night before Christmas. The Day before Christmas. Christmas Eve Day. Followed by Christmas Eve. Whatever you like to call it- tomorrow is Christmas. We made our family calls tonight from the coach. We reached most but I guess some are on the road or whatever and to them- sorry we missed you. At least we tried.
We had an incredibly exciting day today. Started off with a drive from Malabar to Melbourne, the closest location of a Bed, Bath, and Beyond Store. There we purchased "space bags" which we took back to the coach and shrink wrapped all the clothes and bedding and such that we are not using right now. Presto-chango: lots more room in the closets. What! You think that isn't exciting! By coach standards our closets and storage spaces are enormous, but by all other standards they are downright inadequate. Not to worry; organization conquers most problems caused in part by the lack of same. Whilst I worked on the closets Marilyn soaked corn husks and whipped up a steamer full of tamales which we enjoyed as our Christmas eve dinner. Our Christmas dinner will be a pot luck with the other campers here at Camelot RV in Malabar on the Indian River. The campground will provide turkeys and hams and the campers will bring the rest. It should be a great experience. We'll let you know.
A word about this morning. The sun rose over the river sometime after 7:oo. An osprey sat on the pole in front of the coach. Rafts of ducks bobbed up and down in the light swells of the river and a pod of dolphins jumped and chased fish and just generally played around for a half hour or so. For me, days don't ever start any better than that. We wrapped up our outside activities for the day just at dusk. Abby put on her Santa hat (well, OK, I put it on her, but she really does love it) and we took a walk by the river and then back through the campground. Lots of people have told Abby they love her hat! One guy even asked if he could take her picture wearing the hat. He did. She decided that was the perfect time to relieve herself of "excess weight", so I hope that shot doesn't find its way onto the internet. Still, a dog's gotta do what a dog's gotta do and sometimes that's a do do!
We did all our Christmas shopping this year at the grocery store. So we will either eat or drink all our presents this year. We did each buy a lotto ticket but that turned out to be nothing more than a charitable contribution to whomever did win it,'cause we didn't.
This will be our first Christmas away from home, but also in our home. Like most of our experiences in the coach, this will be another first. We both feel very content about things for now. What is new is seldom old; but things old can be made new.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Short Christmas Story On The Road...

You can't make this stuff up! It' a true story. It's also a very short story. A few days back in another campground, I was sitting outside the coach "potsing" around as they say. Actually, I had purchased a new fishing vest and was deep into the process of reorganizing the tackle from the box and working it into the vest in order that I could fish from the kayak, or while wading, without needing to drag around a tackle box. I guess it's basically a fly fishing thing, but for life in a coach and a kayak you make each thing you have do at least double duty, maybe more. There were a few new fishing plugs and I picked up a new small rod and reel combo for Marilyn who doesn't necessarily like fishing, but LOVES casting and can't wait to get out there. And so I rigged her rod, stuck a plug (lure) on the end and sat at the picnic table and made several casts out onto the street and retrieved them by reeling the plug back in. A guy from a coach parked nearby, an older gentleman, walked up to me at the table and, with a big grin on his face, told me the following:
"Son, I don't know where you're from. But 'round these parts, we usually throw them plugs into the water somewhere. Gives us a much better chance of actually catchin' somethin'. But you sure do look like you're havin' fun anyway."
We both had a good laugh and a nice conversation followed. Even got some hot spot tips from the locals. But it was that quote that I thought was the noteworthy part of our little chat.
I liked it at the time and I still enjoy thinking back to the moment. Makes me smile.
Now it's getting close to Christmas and the end of another year. I had reason to correspond with our long time client and now good friend, Joan K. Our work for her will end when the year does, but in our correspondence I thanked her for allowing us to work for her and she thanked us for the work we had done. And then she added a comment that made the metaphorical connection for me between what the old angler had said and what is going on in my life.
"You worked hard to get where you are and it's nice to see dedication rewarded! This is not to say I don't miss you both but, hey, you are out there thoroughly soaking up the best of all the experiences!"
My line IS in the water. We be fishin'!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

ABBY: Drinking and Driving!

Sure, we put a bowl down for Abby, but that's NOT the cool way to catch some refreshment when you're "trukin". So after seeing us drink from cups and water bottles day after day, she learned that if she was fast enough to the mark, she could get a lick at the bottle before the water was poured into he soft sided travel bowl. That was fun! But what she really wanted was to drink from the bottle, which she now does pretty handily...and the bowl catches whatever she misses for "later". Yes! She has her own bottle. At least I think so. Either that or Marilyn is letting her drink from mine. We use the coach RO to refill the water bottles. Very practical and economical.

New to the blog? You can click on most of the photos to enlarge them and "clear them up."

Thousand Trails, Orlando

Our first week at Thousand Trails, Orlando was not all that eventful. We felt like kicking back a bit and spend some not-so-on-the-go time. And there were plenty of chores to do anyway. We did have a wonderful day at Bok Tower. We've been meaning to get there for some time and it just never worked out. Saw the sights. Had a nice lunch and listened to the bell tower concert. We did do some scouting of the Orlando and Kissimmee ares, which should come in handy when we are back there in two weeks for a two week stay. We didn't do any of the Mickey Mouse stuff but maybe we'll pick a park or two to visit when we go back.

For the next two weeks we are in Malabar, Florida on the East coast. We have an absolutely awesome site right on the Indian River. Nothing between us and the water for all intents and purposes. We didn't ask for this spot but for sure it's the best in the park, and the whole park is excellent. The fishing pier is right in front of the coach. The river is extremely wide here so it may not translate well in my pics when I start taking them, but the in-person panorama can't be beat. The owner has already given us some good spots to do some kayaking and a few other things to see in the area. We are near the space center and maybe, just maybe, we will get lucky and will be able to see the Space Shuttle come down on Friday. Time will tell. Cocoa Beach is just across the bridge to the barrier islands and I'm thinking a visit to Ron Jon's Surf Shop will be in order. Happy to be here!

This will be our "home" for Christmas. Looks on the face of it like we have lucked out with a great place to spend the holidays.

Thousand Trails Orlando Album

The water was low and the fishing was slow at Hancock Lake at the Thousand Trails Orlando campground- but it sure was a pretty spot. We'll try the action again in two weeks when we go back there for a two week stay.

Oh, You better not shout! You better not cry! You better not pout. I'm telling you why....Rudolph has been shot and mounted and is selling sporting goods at Bass Pro Shops in Orlando. Yeah, I know, that's not how the song goes, especially this close to Christmas.

Orlando Ostriches??? Nope. Sand Hill Cranes. Noisey little buggers. Actually, not so little. Darn near big enough to ride. Have the run of the whole preserve at TT.
Window on the Pond. The pond observation station at Bok Towers.
Bok Towers. The highest spot on peninsular Florida and a beautiful botanical garden to boot.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Not To Be Outdone...

Not wanting to be out-classed by the super antennas of their new friends, Jim and Chris Guld (, Greg and Marilyn "stole" into Port St. Lucie, Florida on the night of December 12, and headed off to the Orlando Thousand Trails the next morning with the best "antenna" they could find in that town mounted on their new coach. Reception is reported to be outstanding, but underpass clearance has now become something of an issue. Some people will do anything to keep their coaches connected!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Jellies and 'Cudas and Sharks, Oh My!

Dorothy never saw so many critters on the yellow brick road as we have seen kayaking the flats and the mangrove creeks here in the middle Keys. We ran across 4 sharks- two nurses and two "sandies"- lots of barracuda, horse shoe crabs, all kinds of jelly fish including a "wash up" on the windward shores of the very beautiful, but dangerous Portuguese Man of War. A good size sting ray surely delivers a thrill when it swooshes under your kayak in about a foot of water in close quarters, especially in light of the recent news where one "jumped" into a boat and stung the guy in the heart. That smarts! There were mangrove snappers and "bait balls" of juvenile fish. The pelicans were hammering them close by much of the day. I spotted two giant sponges, the size that are seldom found in the Keys anymore because of "overfishing" for them. There were hawks and shorebirds and ospreys. All this and with less than cooperating weather. It stayed windy and cloudy most of our stay here at Curry, but I think we would both say that this locale exceeded our expectations in so many ways. It's nice when that happens. The older I get, the more I think I know what to expect around each turn of the bend. Look at the situation. Size it up. Deal with it and move on. But there are always surprises. Just when you think there can't be, there are. And isn't that what makes the day. Pleasant surprises. Downright unpleasant surprises. But on this stay only the former and not the latter, which was the best surprise of all.
We launched on the beach right in front of the coach. We had to "share our space" with the hang gliders (behind the kayaks). It was great watching the kids do their thing when we weren't doing ours. It made for a very colorful day at the beach.

To keep out of the worst of the wind, we paddled the bays and the mangrove creeks.

At the end of our last day at Curry, the wind blew a lot of Portuguese Man-o-Wars onto the beach. They are dangerous. I always worry about kids who play on the beach without knowing what they are as they are often "disguised" as pretty blue and red balloons. NOT!

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Baby, It's Cold Outside...

It was a bone chilling 68 degrees F. The wind ahead of the cold front whipped across the gulf side of the Keys and battered the Marathon fishing fleet to the point where they dared not venture forth from dockside. The clouds were dark and threatening and as the disgruntled captain walked passed my car in the parking lot he looked over and mumbled, "It will snow tonight for sure."
"I'm gonna walk around the dock, Marilyn, take a few pictures; wanna come along?"
"No, I think I'll sit in the car and look at these brochures."
"Wait! You're gonna sit in the car and read the brochures about the place you're at???"
With that answer, we both cracked up with laughter and it was the beginning of another great day. Only moments before we had gone to the chamber of commerce welcome center for brochures of what to see in Marathon Key. First stop on the itinerary was the fishing fleet dock. Now it was windy and it was chilly, but the irony of going to the Keys, going to the dock, then sitting in the car reading the brochures on the fishing fleet without wanting to get out of the car because it was a tad chilly was just too funny. We DID see the boats on the dock and that was that. We decided to drive a bit further south on route 1 and before we realized it we were crossing the 7 Mile Bridge and on our way to Key West for a lunch date at one of our favorite Key West haunts. We had oysters at Turtle Kraals, drove the car by the Southernmost point of the U.S., saw a few sights of Key West and headed back to Marathon.
Back at Marathon, we were staying at Curry Hammock State Park, the newest of all the Florida State Parks - and quite possibly the best as far as we are concerned. Ever read an RV magazine? Ever seen the ads for rv-ing in any magazine that show a big beautiful coach parked right at the water's edge, nothing to block it's view, no hundreds of other coaches and campers parked close by? We had always been pretty sure that magnificant spot didn't exist. But then we pulled in to Curry. Big paved roads. Big gravelled and level parking pads. Easy in. Easy out. And only a total of 28 pads or so- all with great facilities, including spotless showers and bath houses and rest rooms that actually compost whatever wastes are generated. And that view! Well, if you've seen the ad, you know what I'm talking about- nothing but the sea!
A couple more days to explore here. Maybe the weather will break a bit and that will be good. But it really doesn't matter. We're at a good spot at a good time and baby, it's not really all that cold out anyhow!

Keys Photo Album

The view out the front of the coach "parked" at Curry Hammock State Park. Great campground, great site, incredible vista...
Our site at Curry Hammock State Park:
A "hooded shoreline birdie" walks the beach on a chilly day at Curry...
Beach bird-watcher peeks out from behind a mangrove branch...

Lunch date at Turtle Kraals, Key West

"I am a line man for the county?" They fix things here a bit differently than elsewhere...

We cruise by the marker for the southern most point in the U.S. of A. You just can't go to Key West without passing the marker...
We stopped at the fish market on the harbor walk and picked up some Stone Crab legs, some gigantic sea scallops and enough fresh conch to make a chowder back at the coach- YUM!

In the Keys, everyone and everything does cocktails to wrap up the day. Some have a little more style than others, but, heck, it's the ritual that matters. How does an aristocratic Key West kitty cat belly up to the bar ?

And how does a common "furriner" kick back with a marrow bone hors d'oeuvres and some ice cubes back at the campground?

Friday, December 8, 2006

Get A Life!

Get a life! An expression we here a lot these days as more and more people get caught up in the hubbub of there own busy lives. We use it to tell someone else to "get real", "get going", change an attitude. We tell ourselves we've got to "get a life", meaning we need to stop working all the time, take some time for ourselves, see things we've not seen before, go places we haven't been before, do things we haven't done before. So why would a thought like this pop into the head of someone out on the road, supposedly doing all the things involved in "getting a life!"
Because we only had 4 days here in Key Largo. Had a great trip getting here. Couldn't wait to get here. Had lots of things planned to do and see- and then, for the most part, didn't do any of those things. Needed a repair on this thing and a part for that thing, and some supplies that could not be obtained in the Keys so had to drive back onto the "mainland" which pretty much shot another day. There was mail to get out, and bills to pay, and correspondence to handle and, well, you get the idea. And for a moment or two I thought about telling myself to "get a life." Stop with all the necessary chores of my day to day life and just go out and see Key Largo.
But in truth, I already "have a life". And it's a pretty darn good one at that. It's not like I'm on vacation out here- I'm not. That takes some realizing. I'm just doing things a little differently than I used to do them. I AM seeing Key Largo- but not like the people on vacation- like a guy who lives here and has a job to do, a life to live. And so I go see what I can see that is special in the time I have after I have done what I must do. That will always need to come first. There should be plenty of time for the other things- fishing, swimming, sight seeing, kayaking- the things you want to do the most , but not the things that are the most important.
So I have seen Key Largo for a few days. I had a life here. But I will need to come back . We will need to come back. Because in the Keys, there a lot of things to see while you are living your life. And if you can't understand that---well, Get a Life!

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Key Largo Photo Album

Perhaps no other campground or state park anywhere has its very own aquarium! Key Largo does. There is a 30,000 gallon main tank and a number of smaller specialty tanks displaying what you might see if you snorkel or dive the Pennykamp reef. It's a terrific facility.

A note about my photos: You can now click on them to enlarge the view! This should clear them up if they are looking "fuzzy" in their thumb nail form. Use your "back arrow" to return to the blog from the enlarged view.

Can you find the spiny lobster?
The beaches (there are quite a few different ones) are all beautiful and clean: Lagoon. Mangrove Tidal Creek. Ocean with Waves. Classic tropical beaches- all.
The marina offers snorkelling trips, rental equipment of all types, glass bottom boat, catamaran sails, dive excursions, kayaks and canoes- anything you could want.
A picture of chickens may not seem terribly special until you realize that in the Keys, the chickens are free range, and this trio was apparently going to the post office to take care of some holiday mail.

We had our very own little courtyard set up...
where Abby could enjoy munching on a bone...and keeping an eye on the "locals."
The mangrove trail opens to a tidal creek and I took this picture from the observation tower there.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Headed For Key Largo

We enjoyed our visit to Okeechobee and the interior of Florida very much. But once we were all packed up and headed for "The Keys" we found our very spirits elevated beyong the norm. We laughed when, headed away from the lake, we passed the sign that read, "Florida Black Bear Crossing." I can report that we saw exactly as many black bears crossing the road outside of Moorehaven as we see panthers when we go to Fort Myers International Airport and ride past the "Panther Crossing" signs there. It's just like the "Lobster Crossing" signs you can buy at any gift shop in Maine- you aint'a gonna see it, but ya jus might! And it makes for "wicked good" advertising.
But we were headed for the keys. Get there fast and take it slow- that's where I wanna go. Crystal clear turquoise water. Island rhythms. Cocktails at sunset. Tourist traps. Steel drums if you're lucky. And the country's only true reef- John Pennekamp Reef at Key Largo, the uppermost of the Florida Keys. We cranked the Sirius Satelite radio to channel Margaritaville and it was almost as good as if we had come across Jimmy Buffet (or more to my liking, Chuck Kruger) hitchhiking, and given him a ride down to the keys, strumming the old guitar and singing our hearts out the whole way. It was joyous ride. We felt like we were headed back to a place where we are more comfortable. To a place we know more about. To a place where the people, however crazy they may get from time to time, are more in tune with us. We pulled into Pennekamp State Park mid afternoon. The ranger greeted us and gave us a map to our site. WOW! What a view!
The park is gorgeous, and at 25 bucks or so a night- a real bargain compared to a lot of the places out there. Beautiful, well maintained and "scaped" grounds. A marina setting that is perfectly nestled into the trees and the clear water of the mangrove harbor. It is the first ever state park to be awarded the "Best State Park" twice running - and it was instantly easy to see why that would be the case. And evidently it is popular with everyone- as Outward Bound has a couple of their program boats here and ready to go and Homeland Security has a motor coach here as well (what's that about?)
We will be here four nights- that's all we could book at this late date. Quite a bit of our time here must be spent in "supplying"- buying things for the extended trip that we could not procure earlier like wet suits, reef runners and booties, a new dive mask. The selection and pricing is better by a mile here than anywhere else because it is what everyone here DOES. It's like buying pretzels in Pennsylvania and lobster in Maine and dungeness crab in Washington- it's the right thing to do! Besides, it's fun. We didn't need a lot, just a few things but boy did we find some great stores to shop around in...
The weather is not the greatest- a few rain storms blowing through the area, but, still, we couldn't be at a better or happier place right now, so we'll batten down the hatches tonight and see what the morning brings.
One thing to mention. We always knew Abby was a smart dog, but apparently since we have been doing all this traveling she has learned to read some if not all roadside signs. How, you ask, would I know this. Well, in our evening walk of this day, she stopped at the "dump station" sign---and did just that. Not to worry; I did NOT have the camera at the time....

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Okeechobee Photo Album

There's a bird for every tree! The dead Mallaluka trees make great roosts and fishing perches for birds of all types. We saw vultures, hawks, anhingas and ospreys and lots of smaller birds as well. The trees, an invasive non-native exotic, are killed by the state with an herbicide which kills them and nothing else. They were carried here by people who wanted to use them to drain the swamps- which now are being restored with this program.

Night fishing at the camp's marina pier. Marilyn catches an exotic of her own- a sailfin catfish. Once a common aquarium "pet", they have proliferated heavily in the waterway. At the bait shop we saw a color poster of the exotics that now live in the lake system- there are dozens of them! Tilapia, Killifish, walking catfish, clown knife fish and on and on- some of them are a nuisance at this point but some have already become prized "protein" species. That's the way with a lot of things. When I was a young guy and went fishing on party boats, the captains often killed what they called "undesireable species" by clubbing them and throwing them overboard. Many of those species are now prized for flesh and sport- like sharks. The picture that follows is me with an alligator gar.

The weather was warm enough, but windy and overcast, and since our time here was limited, we decided to put the "yaks" in and paddle around with the gators. It's a bit unnerving when you get too close, as I did a time or two trying to get a picture, but it surely is something not everyone gets to do and we sure had a great time in the water. Suffice it to say that my "best shots" of gators close up did not make the album. It seems that they "jumped" about the same time I did and the shot was partly or mostly missed. Shooting a digital camera through a dry bag in bright light is difficult to begin with, and darn near impossible when you try to do it fast enough so as not to become gatorbait! Look closely at the shoreline opposite where we launched.
We paddled past the entry gate to the lock for entering the Caloosahatchee River from Lake Okeechobee. It's one big gate! Very impressive.
December in Florida and the water lillies are in bloom. No ice storms here like elsewhere in the country on this day...
The army corps of engineers, who built and owns the lock put in a river walk park which is very nice. They lease back the land in the area of the development to the state for parks, the campground operator for camping, and the like. Some aspects and operations were wonderful and nicely maintained. Regrettably some were not.

The spillway to the Caloosahatchee, one of a series of spillways to other outlets, is used to control the water levels in the lake and the locks.
Why did the turtle cross the road? What? Are you kidding? To visit the chicken, of course.
You may know the name but no recognize this as one: weedeater. Powered by a paddlewheel, this canal monster patrols the waterways of the lake and cuts and removes excess vegetation like water lettuce and hyacynthe plants.
There is a small five footer or so gator on the bank here. Not big enough to scare me but evidently big enough not to be scared of me. There were gators to 14 feet all over the place. They all look pretty big when you are sitting eye to eye with them "in" the water on top of a kayak.