Monthly Archives: December 2016

Settled Down at Silver Lake

FL2016-Map-Ich to Manatee to SilverLake

After two nights at Manatee Springs State Park we chose to head south to the  Withlacoochee State Forest campgrounds.

US19 is a fast 4 lane divided highway, a much more pleasant drive than I-75. It is a little slow from Crystal River to Homosassa Springs.

We stopped at a Wal-Mart there and finally caught up with my e-mail and internet.

There are 3 different campgrounds here on Silver Lake. Two have electric & water hookups for only $15 per night if you are over 65 years old.

Florida State Parks only give senior discounts to Florida residents, so it is nice getting a discount at a State Forest.SilverLake-PeggyTwins

Here is a view of Silver Lake from our campsite at Cypress Glen campground.SilverLake-Campsite47

The Silver Lake camp has 23 electric sites and Cypress Glen camp has 34 sites and is a little further from the noisy I-75.

We planned to get here mid-week so we could get a good site. We were startled at the entrance station which had signs posted that all their sites were full, or I mis-read the signs, since very few sites were occupied at either campground. We got the site I was hoping for since it is only 100 yards to the canoe launch spot, the picture above.

After we setup, a cloud came by and dropped a few drops of rain, more light showers may come on Thursday, it sure has been dry and a little warmer than normal so far on the trip.

Besides paddling, the big attraction for us is the 46 mile long Withlacoochee State Trail. It is a beautiful paved trail that is far from any busy roads with lots of wildlife. We are at MP9 right outside the campground and can ride the trail to a shopping center only 5 miles away.

 

Withlacoochee River Paddling & Bike Ride

Canoeing Withlacoochee River

We are here at Silver Lake for 12 days. The weekend crowd was non-existent. They must be all staying home this weekend since the place was packed on the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Canoeing Withlacoochee with Peggy

Silver Lake is really just a wide spot in the Withlacoochee River. On Saturday we decided to take our canoe down river for a long paddle. We paddled downstream and went around Hog Island and then paddled back upstream to our camp.

Ibis Flock WithlacoocheeWe passed 2 kayaks and then a group of 7 who were camping overnight on Hog Island. It was a long but beautiful day. It took us 3-1/2 hours to paddle the 10 miles.

 

We saw lots of birds, like Ibis, Egrets and Herons. Mostly near the island, so it was worth paddling that far downstream. If you only wanted to paddle downstream past the island to Nobleton. There is a canoe livery there where you could rent a canoe for this section or have them shuttle you and your boat back. If you have a car you could spot the car and bike back to camp. We have done this, also when our kids were little, I took the youngest and hitched a ride back to camp. Everyone stops for a little kid.

We rested Sunday and watched some football. On Monday we decided to bike on the paved Withlacoochee Trail that parallels the river but you can’t see the river from the trail. We biked all the way downstream to Townsend Park and back in two hours. It was a 16 mile round trip. Peggy didn’t want to go that far but she did fine.

Peggy Biking by a TurtleTurtle by Bike Path Besides passing a lot of bicyclists on the trail we saw several large turtles. One was digging a deep hole, I not sure if that one was a Gopher Turtle but he could dig really fast and sand was flying everywhere.

The weather has still been great. Temperatures in the low 80’s but tonight they are forecasting a little rain. But we will see, it hasn’t rained here for almost two months.

Another Nice Paddle & Another Bike Ride

Peggy with Canoe Dolly

We have been here at Cyprus Glen Campground for more than a week and the place is still fairly empty. There are lots of campers in FL but I don’t know what kind of campgrounds they are looking for.

Egret & HeronThe bridge you see in the distance is I-75.

We have large sites, electric & water and the cost for seniors is only $15/night.

Another couple arrived with a canoe, paddled one day and left.

Peggy Biking down the RoadThe top picture show the new canoe dolly I bought to take the load off my back, which I hurt last year. It is aluminum, folds flat and weighs only 5 pounds. One person can pull the canoe with ease even on soft ground.

On Wednesday we paddled upstream for about 3 1/2 miles. There were not as many birds but we finally saw one big alligator that we frightened. We paddled for 2-1/2 hrs.

On Thursday we biked south on the Withlacoochee State trail. It is a nice wide paved trail with lots of riders but first we have a 1-1/2 mi ride out of our campsite on a hard packed road to get to the trail. We biked the steep overpass over US98 and turned around about 2 miles before the trail ended.

On our way back, Peggy rested at the Ridge Manor Trailhead while I peddled down the highway for 3/4 mi to shop at the big Winn-Dixie. I have nice shopping bag pannier that can hold a lot of groceries.

There is a nice laundromat here so when we leave on Monday we will stop back here for some clothes washing.

For the first time since we got to FL, we had some overnight rain and a big cool down. It got down to 50o and tomorrow morning it may hit 40o, but at least it’s better than the big snowstorm that is hitting the Great Lakes.

Last Leg of Trip Before Christmas Holiday

ohn at Silver Lake Campsite #47On Saturday we did another canoe paddle downstream, this time just to Hog Island making it only a 2-1/2 hr trip which was more to Peggy’s liking.

This weekend the campground got pretty full but by 11 am Sunday everyone was gone again. We also started to get ready to leave here on Monday morning to eventually get to the Orlando Airport to fly home for the Holidays but first we will stop at Wekiva Springs State Park for three nights.

FL2016-Map-Silver Lake to Wekiva Springs & KOAIf we drove directly to the Orlando Airport from here it’s only a 2-1/2 hour drive. Last year we spent a few days at Wekiva Springs and paddled the 8-1/2 mi Rock Springs Run into the Wekiva River. It is an amazing wilderness area just north of Orlando and for those without a canoe or kayak there is a outfitter, King’s Landing, that rents boats and does the shuttle. A warning, it is very popular  on weekends in warmer weather due to the fact it is in the middle of millions of people and visitors.

We will take our time getting to the campground. We need to do laundry, grocery shop and fill our propane tank along the way.

Rock Creek Run

Peggy on Rock Creek

After our short drive from Silver Lake to Wekiva State Park we decided that Tuesday would be a nice day to spend on Rock Creek Run. It is a 8-1/2 mile paddle down a beautiful river with lots of wildlife. Rock Creek GatorWe  saw 6 small gators, many big turtles, an otter that kept swimming in front of the canoe and lots of birds. It was a mostly sunny day in the low 80’s.

John at Ottercampsite

PeggyOtterCampsite

We stopped for lunch at Otter Camp the third campsite we saw along the river.

We needed to kill some time since the shuttle pickup is at 4 pm, which was 5 hours from when we put in.  WPeggy and the GreatHerone still got to the take-out by 3 PM and had a nice rest under their covered picnic area. King’s Island personnel were great and helped me unload and load the canoe onto our motorhome.

They said in the summer they put over 100 boats a day on this section. Today they had two other private kayakers besides us. There were a couple of other boats paddling this section but we were really by ourselves the entire day.

Peggy saw this very tame Egret or Heron standing there watching us load up.

We leave here tomorrow afternoon to put our RV in storage for a few weeks at a KOA near the Orlando Airport. We will fly back from the beautiful 80oF sunny FL weather to the freezing snow covered Cleveland, OH area. But, we will spend Christmas with our 4 married children, their spouses and our 16 grandchildren. By this time in our trip we always miss the family, so we love going home, but we will continue our FL  trip right after the new year.

Home for the Holidays

 We flew back home from Orlando on 12/15. It was 75oF when we left and only 15oF when we landed in Cleveland, what a shock. Luckily there was not much snow.

If you haven’t read our FL 2016 blog yet, you can read it and see all the pictures here: Chronological Trip Blog

HomeSnow_sm

A big thanks to our son-law Brian and his two boys, Jake & John who shoveled the drive to make sure we could get into the garage and to Pam. Sam & Mandy for raking the leaves before they got buried in the snow.

John80_Kids_sm

Jeff, Pam, me, Joan and Meg

On Saturday our daughter Joan had a big surprise birthday party for me with the help of her siblings, along with our annual holiday party. My 80th birthday is not for a month but we will be back in FL by then, so they wanted to make sure I had a good celebration.

It was great, all my Grandkids also made it.  Jeffrey lives in Washington DC, Devan in Barberton, OH and Erika lives in Columbus, OH, so it was really nice that they took the time to help me celebrate my birthday.

GrandKids2016_sm

Mandy, John, Jake, Leah, Macy, Sierra, Jeffrey, Elena, Devan, Erika, Jett, Eve

They are the best grandkids you could ever wish for.

Pirate_JohnI got a big book of pictures with letters from all my friends & relatives, relating different stories about me. It sure brought lots of smiles and also brought a tear to my eye.

Now for all my Kayaking friends, get ready for the “80 pirate paddle” on the Upper Yough river in MD. I will supply eye patches for everyone so we are are on equal footing.

Of course I need to wait until the river flow is less than 1000 CFS, which I hope occurs on Memorial Day weekend.

Don’t forget if you haven’t followed our FL blog you can catch up here:

Chronological Trip Blog

Our New Year Plans

FL2016-Map3c

We had a nice Christmas with our kids and their families.

But now I’ve started to think about getting back to our FL trip.

We hope to fly back to Orlando early on January 4th.

Our RV was been on  storage lot at a KOA campground only 5 miles from the airport. It’s only a  short $13 Uber ride to get to the airport. They now pickup at the airport with an extra service charge. We will have to see how that works.

See the map # for our  Jan. plans.

Date   #   Campground
1/5  3 Hillsborough Rv
1/8    4  Fort DeSoto
1/11   5  Lithia Springs
1/15  6  WP Franklin <
1/29 7  Collier Seminole
2/5  7a Koreshan
2/8   8  Lithia Springs

Last Tuesday night we had a 93rd birthday party for our long time NASA friend Harry Bloomer. His two children Jeff & Buffy along with our other NASA friends all celebrated at Pier W.

NASA Club Cocktails

Peggy, Dessey, Fran, Shirley, Harry, Jeff, Art, and Al waiting for our cocktails

Harrys93rdBD

Jeff, Buffy, Dessey, Shirley, Al, Peggy, Fran, Art and Harry getting ready to serve the birthday cake after dinner.

We will be celebrating New Year’s Eve this year with my son Jeff and his family.