Friday, 24 January 2014

Same Place, New Sights

We remain in north, central Florida discovering new trails and bike paths. We continue to extend our stay here at Sumter Oaks RV Park as it strikes a balance between peacefully scenic and opportunities for hiking-biking. With low camping fees we are able to save for our April trip to Australia. We had a fun day-trip to Orlando where we met Trish, a small animal vet and best friend of Danielle’s. Our great visit oncluded lunch and stroll through the artsy, unique town of Winter Garden.                      

    _MG_8274    _MG_8291    _MG_8300

In our front “yard” Next mission….get the pileated woodpecker to face the camera. Stay tuned.

The hiking is a bit of a challenge with many deep sand paths that grab at your feet like snow, trying with vigor, to twist an ankle. As well, there are many humps and hollows and taut vines ready to trip the unwary. The sights are worth it though like the gorgeous oaks where baby ferns sprout across their branches and gaze down upon huge elder ferns below. The sculptural forms of  cypress  knees encircle the base of their mighty parents like ancient folk dancers. The woods are filled with hawks and songbirds, deer tracks and evidence of wild pigs where leaves and sand have been excavated in search of some delectable roots. 



                                                                                     There’s a fungus amongus!

_MG_8264  _MG_8289  _MG_8258

The trails wind past rivers, ponds and lakes which Dixie hones in on and demands to go swimming. We have allowed her a quick drink or two but in Florida, any body of water may contain alligators. A local confirmed this yesterday, showing us some pictures on his phone of a mammoth gator he had shot nearby.

Sorry Dixie, your Florida swimmin’ days are over!IMG_9562

We are here for another eighteen days and then will head to the ocean somewhere. We are going to book a canoe trip next week. You never know what surprises you will see in common places.


Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Extreme Weather


We continue to savour our stay at Sumter Oaks RV Park in central Florida. We purchased new bikes and a rack for the car as our Christmas gift. We’ve been out riding  a few times and introducing Dixie to the concept of following behind. We are loving it, Dixie not so much. The donkeys continue to entertain with their antics.



                       _MG_8065    _MG_8070Peek a boo

                                   _MG_8109    _MG_8060The locals

We have checked out the local Monday Flea Market a couple of times. We went near closing time on our first visit and as we were warned, missed out on the best deals. All the fresh, hungry fleas were sold out so better luck next time. Under the tents are rows of vendors selling everything from T-shirts, jewelry, signs, tools, purses, fishing tackle, cosmetics, electronics and even live puppies (scary). Everything is cheap in price and quality. The market is loaded with interesting characters selling and shopping. Another large venue provides a delicious array of fresh fruit and vegetables. Strawberries are in season and their tempting perfume has customers lined up to purchase. Of course, the citrus is plentiful and stands are loaded with fragrant lemons and limes,  groovy grapefruit and all varieties of Navels: orange, pink and red!! There are various antique traders hawking items ranging from china, glass, coins, postcards, tools and toys to tables overflowing with yard sale rejects. On our second visit, a huge downpour flooded the market but luckily fleas can swim.



                     _MG_8251        _MG_8253

                     _MG_8250        _MG_8252

_MG_8090   _MG_8100    _MG_8088

                                                                                 An array of bulls

At the Dade Battlefield Historic State Park, we attended the 34th annual Reenactment of the Seminole Indians vs. American soldiers battle of December 23, 1835, so called Florida-Indian wars. Dade Battlefield Society members were decked out in period costume. Children played traditional games: hoop race, sack race and skillet toss to name a few. Furs, carved wooden toys, hand woven baskets and bead and feather jewelry were on sale. Demonstrations by wood carvers, blacksmiths, basket weavers revealed the skillful trades of days gone by.

 _MG_8118           _MG_8117           _MG_8116

_MG_8119            _MG_8120             _MG_8122

_MG_8121                  _MG_8115                 _MG_8126

The Battlefield had a large section of bleachers, another area for lawn chairs and additional space for those preferring to sit on the grass. Before the reenactment began, the crowd was educated about the uniforms of the soldiers and symbolic clothing of the Seminole warriors. The Seminoles were the indigenous natives who welcomed Black Slaves into their community. In a recurring story, the white settlers were gradually taking over the Natives’ land and trying to destroy their culture. From Fort Brooke in Tampa, 108 soldiers set out to reinforce Fort King (present day Ocala) Dec 23,1835. On their sixth day of marching, they were attacked by Seminole Indians and Black Seminoles. All but three American soldiers were killed. The Indian wars continued for seven years when the majority of Seminoles were eventually forced to resettle in Oklahoma.

_MG_8128             _MG_8132              _MG_8130


_MG_8149               _MG_8195              _MG_8142


The Battle was very authentic in its woodsy setting. We could imagine the days of marching in thick underbrush, through marshes, dealing with mosquitos, thirst and heat. The ear-bursting sounds of the shot guns and canon immersed the audience in the battle. Billowing smoke created an atmosphere of mystery where the Seminole appeared on horseback and on foot out of the haze. We had a visual, aural and malodorous experience. With the smoke in the woods, many of my photos look like paintings.

_MG_8139        _MG_8237        _MG_8239

_MG_8244        _MG_8131        _MG_8241The audience

The Battle….



_MG_8201   _MG_8143   _MG_8208



I titled the post with reference to the weather. Our Florida temperatures have plummeted to near freezing. Folks at the camp covered their plants against cold damage. The ice storm in Ontario was followed by snow and super cold temperatures. The northern States of America are  dealing with extreme cold and heavy snow. Schools, businesses and even casinos are closed in some states due to extreme cold. Because this weather is so unusual in these places, people do not have proper clothing and do not know how to drive on icy roads. Many are huddled in airports and even train cars waiting for travel to begin again. The intense cold here is a foil for harsh heat in Australia where temperatures have been up to forty degrees centigrade! EXTREME !