Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Our 2013 Summer Adventure Begins


We got going on Wednesday April 24. There  is always many details to attend to when closing the house for an extended period. We pull out of the yard at 10:30 but had to fuel,  get a bite of brunch and connect up the CR-V before leaving Okeechobee at 11:30.

The ride through Yeehaw Junction to get on the Florida Turnpike was thought provoking, “What did we forget?”. The Willie Nelson song On The Rode Again always runs through my mind as we start an adventure in the motor home.

We crossed the Florida/Georgia border looking for a place to stay. As we had vouchers to stay at KOAs on our way to California to work as  KOA workampers, we stayed at Valdosta Lake Park KOA. It turned out to be a very worthwhile stay.

Lou struck up a conversation with a dog owner about his look like a Dane dog. Steve was a certified RV technician. He ended up solving a several problems we had and showed me a number of things that I was unaware of about RVs.

The next night we reached into Tennessee and Raccoon Mountain Campground. It was nestled in the hills and we heard no noise from the rest of the world, peaceful.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights we were parked in Lois Wagner's driveway in the suburbs of St. Louis. The weather was cold and rainy but we had a very nice visit with Lois and toured some of the very many highlights of the area. (Lois is a member of our church in Okeechobee. Over breakfast at the Masonic Lodge one morning she invited us to stop. We did !)

Friday morning started at the Soular Farm Market. Like the Westside Market in Cleveland only larger. They even had live turkeys and other fowl in cages for sale. Lou was busy taking in the sights and taking pictures with her new smart phone camera. (Clicking photos give enlargement, back arrow to return.)

Tom in Mrkt

On the way to the next stop, Lou spotted the Oyster Bar with patio eating.

Oyster Bar

The next stop was, of course…



We toured and tasted their wares. Interesting but too hurried. The guides spoke so fast that I missed some of the info. I do recall that one of the large tanks, and there are over 300, holds enough beer you could drink a six pack a day for 130 years. That is a lot of suds. (The tanks did not photograph well.

Lou was busy with her camera phone again and almost got left behind.

Lou running

We really came to see the Clydesdales. There were four housed at the factory. The others were at Grant’s Farm. It was property of Ulysses S Grant. We made that tour the next day while the weather started to clear.

Leaving the parking lot we crossed a small creek. There were animals from all over the world running free as we road a tram through the grounds. The eagles had been injured and could not fly. They are beautiful large birds.

Grants Farm CreekBison

EagleLou with AB Wagon

The attraction was sponsored by the Busch family. At least one of the family live in the mansion on the property. There are many influences of the family’s money throughout St. Louis. They are very generous.

Our next and last adventure on this stop was to visit the Arch. The Gateway Arch is the nation’s tallest monument at 630 feet. The Gateway Arch commemorates Thomas Jefferson and St. Louis’ role in the westward expansion of the United States. This photo is from the Internet.

After passing through airport style security you enter an underground area housing three movie viewing rooms and and large museum. The Museum of Westward Expansion has an awesome set of murals covering the walls as well as artifacts and life size dioramas of the period.

This wall covering carving shows the relative height of the Arch.

Under Ground Arch

In the Arch

View 1View 2

The right hand picture includes the stadium and a St. Louis Cardinal’s baseball game underway. (I never did find out who won. We passed next to the south gate as fans were leaving. They did not seem over joyed. The team has a very large fan base. Cardinals’ red was visible everywhere.)

The mighty Mississippi was flooding and still rising. Attractions like the chopper rides and ferry trips were cancelled as the bases of operation were far from dry land. The River Walk was under water as well.

Chopper baseFerry boats

Looking down you could see ants milling about. (I bet there even a few uncles in the crowd.)


As Porky Pig would say “Tttttthat’s all Folks.”

Friday, April 5, 2013

Pole Sitters revisited


Since Lou’s sighting of the owl on the nest in March, we have been excited every trip to town as we have seen signs of the two owlets maturing. They are very aware of us although we are about 30 or 40 yards away on the other side of state route 70. State route 70 is a busy east/west highway across Florida.

From 70

The field behind the telephone/power pole that the nest is on is a working sod farm. There are people and machinery there daily. A large pump to spray irrigate the acreage is noisy and runs frequently yet the owls seem content with their aerie.

A closer look and you can clearly see the youngsters. The adults are not home often as they are busy providing meals for the hungry and growing pair. I imagine that they roam farther from home on each foray as food becomes harder to find.

Owlet pair 1

It won’t be long before the first will fledge. As you can see they are exercising their wings and building muscles preparing for that glorious day of first flight!

Owlet testing

“Hey you with the camera! Are you taking our picture again?” At least have us pose and say ‘CHEESE”.”

Are you watching us



We will try to capture the new owls on wing as they start off in the world.

Quick stop along county road 721 aka 9 mile grade


We occasionally drive to Sebring which is about 35 or 40 miles northeast of our home. We choose to travel a good part of it on “back roads”.  They are not only shorter but also you get to see a great deal more. Five or six miles into the journey we pass a small pond that tends to dry down a great deal this time of year. It is always a treat to stop and see what is there.


We have seen spoon bills, wood stork, egrets of all types, many water birds. Today was no exception. (Remember to click on the pictures for a closer view.)

Black necked stilt

This black and white beauty is a black-necked stilt. It is easy to see where it gets the name. The plumage is black on top and white below. When it flies the wings show black underneath with the long red legs trailing out behind the white tail. It is quite a sight. Although not rare in our area, it is uncommon in most of Florida.

Another sighting in this small wet area, it may not be deep enough to classify as a pond, was a sandhill crane. She is very busy as you can see.

Sandhill crane on nest

These are very large birds. They stand 36 to 40 inches tall and have a wing span of 80 inches. To see one gliding toward you reminds you of a small Piper Cub. The adults are all over gray with a bare red cap. They tend to be talkative when disturbed or as they fly over. They have a low and loud musical rattle. You would not mistake the sound with ant other creature.

Not on the trip but this morning we had a visit from four wild peacocks. There seem to be at least two flocks that move around at will. This is the smaller grouping. They are excitement for the neighbors visiting grandchildren.

Peacocks in yard

I hope that you enjoy these pictures. Again, Lou was the photographer of choice as her snaps of the stilt and sandhill crane were superior to mine.