Kayaking

Am I There Yet? A vintage girl’s journey across America – Day 6

I ended Day 5 at Lake Ogallala State Recreation Area.  Camping at a recreation area is very different from camping in a state or national park.  You pay admittance ($10 in this instance) and just drive to wherever you want to overnight.  Lake Ogallala is gorgeous.  I parked right on the beach under the trees and prepared for the night. After unloading my kayak, chair, cooler and other items I drove to the only restaurant in the rec area.  It was 4:00 but I  thought I would treat myself to a cocktail and a hot meal.  The sign read that the kitchen didn’t open until 5:00.  OK, I’ll sit at the bar and enjoy a glass of wine until it opens.  I ordered my wine and told the bartender I’d just sit and keep her company for an hour until I could order dinner.  She said, “Nope, that’ll be two hours”.  Well, I had crossed into another time zone and it was actually 3:00.  So, now I’m two zones away from home and I’m a little confused because I don’t know how to re-set my fit bit watch and I’ve been deducting an hour every time I glance at it.  OK, so now I’ll deduct two hours.  But I’m still hungry.  I bought a bag of Doritos and a bag of Cheetos (actually the first junk food since I began my trip – hooray for me!) and returned to the lake.

I inflated my kayak and had a wonderful paddle on Lake Ogallala.  I decided I’d do an early morning paddle so I left the kayak inflated, sat down to write, read, drink some wine (I always carry a bottle for happy hour), plan the next day’s route, munch on junk food  and watch the sun set.  Stunning.

There’s one problem with camping in a recreation area – no facilities. Well, there was a vault toilet but yuck, no.  I used my female urination device for the first time and it worked great although my sister-in-law’s method of outdoor peeing worked even better.  Thank you, Lisa. Contact me if you want her method.  I don’t mean to be offensive but these are things girls must think about when camping. I had a very comfortable night except that my eye started draining. After cleaning it with a washcloth and water, it began to feel better and by morning the pain was gone and the swelling under control.  Whew!

No kayaking in the morning.  The lake was shrouded in mist.  I sat on the dock dangling my feet in the icy water while making some phone calls. The setting was quiet and mysterious and I started thinking about Stephen King’s, “The Mist”.  I got extra spooked when I heard a splash and promptly pulled my feet out of the water and up into a lotus position but reminded myself that there are no sharks or alligators in Lake Ogallala.  It still creeped me out until I saw a large fish jump, wiggle and splash.  It was a trout or a bass maybe and would explain why I saw a bunch of people fishing yesterday.

I had a heck of a time deflating the kayak and getting it back up into the rooftop carrier.  I brought a one step stool but I still wasn’t tall enough to position it, zip the carrier and tie it down.  There was no one around to help so I just did a half-assed job and went on my merry way. I stopped at the Visitor Center to clean up, change clothes, a little makeup (hopeless since I didn’t want anything applied around my eyes), comb and style(?) my hair, etc. The hell with it.  I was anxious to find Wyoming.

The rest of Day 6 was glorious.  I entered Wyoming early and was so enthralled with the scenery I passed right through Cheyenne and Laramie without really noticing. My plan was to stop and explore some cowboy stuff but I decided I was more interested in the countryside than tourist attractions so I kept driving west on Interstate 80 until I discovered a byway through the Medicine Bow Mountains.  It took me two hours off my route but was so worth it.

 

I then got desperately lost but eventually found Rawlins, WY and decided that I would boondock for the first time at the local WalMart.  Many of the camping blogs I read recommend staying at the WalMart lots because they’re safe and convenient.  There are security cameras and lights and I was encouraged that there were at least 20 RVs, campers and trucks parked in the overnight parking area.  I know it sounds odd to boondock in a WalMart lot but if it’s good enough for the big boys with quarter million $ RVs, it’s good enough for me.  WalMart loves overnight campers because they buy their supplies from the store, buy gas, etc.  Whatever you may think about WalMart, they are cordial and supportive of their overnight campers.

I stopped for dinner at the Days Inn restaurant next door because I was exhausted and didn’t have the energy to look for any other restaurants.  I had one of the most delicious cheeseburgers I’ve ever eaten.  Perhaps I was just extremely hungry having only eaten leftover Cheetos and a couple of energy bars all day.  I parked between two huge RVs and in the morning the lot looked like a regular campground. I felt secure and had a comfortable night.  I can’t wait for Day 7 – Grand Teton National Park.

 

 

Categories: Camping, Kayaking, Life, Retirement, road trip, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Do I Find the Time to Blog?

DAILY POST:  Life After Blogs ...Your life without a computer: what does it look like?

Without a computer I would have even more time for/to:

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Family

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Read

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Pay bills

 

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Chill in the pool

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Visit our cottage in the northern woods

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Quilt on my longarm machine

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Explore

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Cook

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Sew

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Travel

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Eat

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Kayak

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Hike

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Explore

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Encourage my grandchildren to be silly

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Participate in raising funds for breast cancer research

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Categories: Aging Gracefully, Daily Prompt, Family, Humor, Kayaking, Life, Retirement, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: | 2 Comments

Who is Oscar Scherer and Why Is There a State Park Named After Him?

Because it’s one of our favorite camping sites and just 30 miles from home and since we’ve spent some fun camping trips there and I’ve often wondered who Oscar Scherer was, I finally googled (that’s a verb?) “Oscar Scherer”:

In 1955, Elsa Scherer Burrows bequeathed 462 acres of land to the state of Florida for use as a park. The land was donated in memory of her father, Oscar Scherer, an inventor who developed a process for dyeing leather for shoes in 1872.

After a year of preparation, Oscar Scherer State Recreation Area was opened to the public in 1956. In 1991, an additional 922 acres were purchased as part of the P2000 initiative. This increased the parks total acreage to 1384 acres.

It appears that Elsa and Pinnochio had a lot in common, famous fathers involved in shoes.  Now we know and “knowing is half the battle” according to GI Joe.

Oscar Scherer State Park is where I often go when I need to run away from home for a couple of days.  I particularly love this park because the campsites feel private and wild although you are only 20-30 feet from your neighbors and have access to water and electric and the showers & restrooms are clean –   which is about as wild as I want to get.

My last escape from reality I was joined by my husband and we had a good time although things do tend to get a little bizarre when you have two 60-somethings escaping reality together:

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Bobcat on the Red Trail

Bobcat on the Red Trail

 

 

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Eagle nest

Eagle nest

 

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Would you go swimming?

Would you go swimming?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delightful camping site

Delightful camping site

 

 

No, I didn't hit him ... clunked himself on the trunk's hood!

No, I didn’t hit him … clunked himself on the trunk’s hood! But that’s what first aid kits are for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Camping, Family, Humor, Kayaking, Life, Retirement, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Sisters Road Trip – Last Stop Kayaking on the Rainbow River, Florida

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We decided to take the road less traveled on our way back to Florida from Memphis.  We wanted no interstates, only state and county roads meandering our way down to the west coast of Florida and south to the Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon.  The first night we ended up in Ozark, Alabama which quickly cured us of any romantic notions of fun-filled adventures on the byways of America.  I apologize in advance to anyone from Ozark but we did not have a good experience.  So what  … we were on our way to beautiful Rainbow Springs.

rainbow3  We arrived in Dunnellon in the early afternoon  and checked into a quaint little motel at the confluence of the Rainbow and Withlacoochee Rivers.  We met a friend for dinner at Swampy’s, a restaurant with outdoor seating right on the Springs. Great food but bring your own mosquito spray if you want to sit outside.  We did.

Swampy's Bar & Grill

Swampy’s Bar & Grill

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky & the temperature was in the mid-70’s.

This trip down the Rainbow River was a present of beauty to my sister.  I’d been down the River several times and had tried to describe the almost spiritual feeling of serenity and peace, but I needed to show her. She never kayaked and is not especially athletic or graceful (runs in the family), I was a little trepiditious taking her on a 2-3 hour paddle with no turning back.  But she insisted she could do it and do it she did! Her reaction was everything I wished for … an audible gasp when the shuttle dropped us off at the launch site into the River.

My sister's first time in a kayak

My sister’s first time in a kayak

Rainbow River Canoe & Kayak

Rainbow River Canoe & Kayak

We rented a tandem kayak from Rainbow River Canoe & Kayak, parked our car and were shuttled upriver five miles where the owner helped us into the kayak and headed us in the right direction – downriver.  The thing about the Rainbow River is that it is a constant 71 degrees year round and flows at the rate of one mile an hour.  So if we did nothing but flounder, we would eventually float back to our car.  Up to 500 million gallons of pure water flow from more than 100 spring vents ever day replenishing the river with crystal clear water.  I assured my sister that there were no alligators or snakes in the river due to the cold temperature and she believed me.

Beware Alligators!

Beware Alligators!

Paddling a kayak for 3 hours is thirsty work so after we returned our kayak we headed back to Swampy’s looking and smelling like swamp rats.

memphis15And that was the finale to our Sisters Road Trip 2014 … central Florida to Atlanta, to Nashville, to Memphis, to Dunnellon.  Not only was it a chance for my sister and me to re-connect and visit some of our family, but it was an opportunity to share with her my philosophy of going, doing and exploring when the spirit moves you. We’re retired, our children are grown and there are no constraints, no boundaries, no schedules.  It’s our turn to have fun and we did.

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Sisters Road Trip – Third Stop, Memphis!

Dawn in Thompsons Station, TN

Left Thompsons Station (Nashville) TN headed to Memphis

We drove 212 miles southwest from Nashville to Memphis along I-40.  The leaves were changing at Nashville’s elevation of 600 feet but the trees were mostly still green at Memphis’ lower elevation of 300 feet.  Coming from southern Florida where we’re only 4 feet above sea level I’m surprised we didn’t get altitude sickness.  Only kidding … I had altitude sickness when I visited Machu Picchu in Peru at 15,000 feet and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

Why is it that you’re always hungry on a car trip?  My sister and I can’t seem to drive for more than an hour without wanting to nosh.  So when we passed a sign for Loretta Lynn’s Kitchen, we had to stop.

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We had a wonderful breakfast at a very reasonable price.  The sausage and bacon came from her farm about 8 miles up the road in Hurricane Mills, TN.  About an hour after breakfast we kind of kicked ourselves for not driving out to her farm to say “howdy”! Sure.

I’ve always been drawn to the old west and I’ve decorated my 17-foot Casita travel trailer in 1950s retro cowboy style – my best childhood memories are of Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, Sky King, Bonanza, et al.  I was a tomboy and wanted to grow up to be a cowboy – not a cowgirl, they were too, well, “girlie”.  Loretta has a great little gift shop and I had to buy this plaque for my baby Casita.

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My 17-foot Casita Spirit

So, we got to my niece/nephew’s gorgeous home in Memphis and went to dinner at a really fun place called Sliders Inn then spent the rest of our visit walking in a nearby park and enjoying the wonderful weather and great company.

Greeted by my niece with apple caramel martinis

Greeted by my niece with apple caramel martinis

Went for a stroll to work off those apple caramel martinis!

Went for a stroll to work off those apple caramel martinis!

We made our famous Chicken Almond Stew for Mike & Jenny & Josh for dinner so they would have plenty of left-overs to remind them of our visit.  Then left for the last leg of our journey … kayaking on Rainbow Springs!

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Eating, Drinking, Kayaking on Long Key

My first full day on Long Key began with a glorious sunrise right outside my window.

I took my book, coffee, banana & hard-boiled egg outside to plan my day. Sometimes I get so excited I feel like a squirrel in the middle of the road – I don’t know which way to run or what to do first.  There were a lot of kayaks at campsites when I took a walk along the shore last night.  I get a vicarious thrill seeing how experienced campers set up their sites and all the nifty gadgets they use. Kurt told me that staring at other campsites is not good camping etiquette but I can’t resist.  They don’t seem to mind when I stop to ask them what they’re doing or the purpose of something interesting looking.  One guy explained the mechanics of his pooper-scooper – I thought it was a metal detector.   I stopped to talk to one elderly gent who was trying to open a coconut with a screwdriver and asked when he’d be serving pina coladas.  He invited me back for a drink in 2-3 days when he got the coconut open!

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I always think that people who own (vs renting) kayaks know what they’re doing – although we own a kayak proving that theory wrong. When I noticed  loads of kayakers out on the water, I figured I better get out there too because they most likely understand low and high tides and other boating stuff that is probably important.  So I drove up to the ranger station & rented a cute little kayak & paddled & paddled & paddled following the other kayakers until I noticed that I was about 500 yards … a football field… away from shore.  I started to panic (remembering the great white shark that recently took a bite out of a kayak with two girls in it) until I saw a guy step out of his kayak into knee deep water.  I figured a great white would have to be crawling on its hands & knees to get to my kayak so I relaxed and enjoyed.  I paddled to the end of the park and then back to my campsite where I stopped for a salad with cold chicken and a Blue Moon beer with orange slice, then jumped back in the kayak and returned it with five minutes to spare.  What fun!  I challenge anyone to feel stressed and upset after paddling for two hours in the ocean.  Unless they meet the great white.

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Categories: Kayaking | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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