Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hard To Get Started

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 74 degrees, high 89 degrees, partly cloudy skies

In yesterday's post, I mentioned that we were going to start getting ready to take a trip up to Tennessee next week if the doctor's appointment I have then goes well. That means we need to do some preparations, such as a whole house cleaning, inside and out. Can't be going on the road with a dirty RV. Dirty, at least, in Carolyn's eyes. She likes to have everything squeaky clean when we take off. Of course, the outside cleanliness only lasts about 20 miles, before the road grime starts building up.

We had good intentions to get started this morning on the chores that need to be done to meet Carolyn's standards for leaving. Well, so much for good intentions. About all we managed to get done was a little sorting through a few cabinets, a little wipe down of cabinets and shelves, defrosted the freezer and refrigerator, and the daily vacuuming. That little bit of work seemed to wear me out, and I had to do some meditation after lunch so I could get through the afternoon. I guess that was enough for the cleaning gods for the day. I know it was for me. Being sick has kicked my rear end, and it's taking time to build myself back up.

With all the hard work today (hah!), I decided to take Carolyn out for supper. Since there's no limit to what I'll spend (what's that gasping sound I'm hearing from readers who know me?), I suggested we go to Cracker Barrel. Why would I suggest Cracker Barrel? Well, it's the closest thing to home cooking that we've found in a restaurant, and the taste is usually the same, no matter where the restaurant is.

There are two Cracker Barrel restaurants in the Ocala area. We like to go to the one south of town on county road 484 because there is less traffic and the store doesn't seem as busy as the one closer to town. When we went in, there were only three other tables that were occupied, so the service was really quick. From the time we sat down to our food being served was not more than about five minutes.

I like meat loaf, so that's what I had. Carolyn had apple glazed baked chicken, which she said was very good. As usual, we couldn't eat everything, so there's leftovers for lunch tomorrow. See how being free spending actually saves money?

Both of us agree that we need to get our act together tomorrow if we're going to be ready to leave next week. If Carolyn could relax her expectations a little..... Naw, I can't ask her to do that. She's right, and I've become used to it.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Corpus Christi: City Of Beautiful Women

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Lunch With Terrell And Kathy

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 74 degrees, high 90 degrees, partly cloudy skies, light breezes

My morning walks the last few mornings have been a little easier to handle as far as the heat and humidity. Lower temperatures help, but the breezes that have been blowing are probably doing the most to make getting out early bearable. It's been cool enough that I haven't sweated. That's saying something!

We met my brother Terrell and his wife Kathy for lunch at a restaurant that we hadn't tried before. Tommy's is a local bar-b-que restaurant located on the north side of Ocala. When we got there at 1130 hours, the parking lot was full, and most of the seating was taken. Terrell and Kathy were already there, so they had a table for us. The food wasn't bad, but in our opinion was not as good as what we can get in Texas. We're starting to get a hungry on for some good Texas food.

Over the years, we have eaten with Terrell and Kathy many times, and we always have a good time. Today was not an exception, as we stayed at the table for at least 30 minutes talking after the meal was finished. Then, we adjourned to the parking lot, where we spent another 15 minutes talking. They have moved to Tennessee, and are getting into the lifestyle up there. If my appointment with my pulmonary doctor goes well next week, we're going to go up for a few days to visit.

Yes, that's right - ROAD TRIP! We're getting stodgy and bored sitting here waiting to see doctors. It's time to take things in our own hands and go see some country. Who knows, maybe we'll see some cooler weather, or even some slight leaf changes. We're ready!

We'll be busy the next few days getting things ready to travel. If the doctor changes our minds, at least we'll have everything on the truck and RV shipshape for the first time since we arrived here. I'm disgusted with how we have allowed ourselves to vegetate since we've been here. I guess being sick is a reason, but it doesn't make me feel any better about it.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Toledo, Ohio: The Auto Parts Capital Of The World

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pictures

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 74 degrees, high 86 degrees, mostly cloudy skies

Most people probably don't think about how much they sleep, but when you have gotten as little sleep as I have for so long, you appreciate a good night's sleep. Last night was a good one for me as far as sleep, with me getting about eight hours by the time I got up at 0700 hours. Thank God I'm breathing better and can sleep!

After my morning walk, we lazed around the RV until after lunch, when we went over to Carolyn's mother's house for a visit. For some reason that I don't remember right now, the old pictures were pulled out by Carolyn's brother Billy and we spent a couple of hours looking at pictures that everyone had forgotten about. There were many comments like "Look at those clothes styles, I can't believe we wore stuff like that", and "He sure had a lot of hair back then". Looking at the pictures brought back some good memories, both of our immediate family as well as Carolyn's extended family. And, we enjoyed remembering those members of the family who have passed on. Today, at least, they were brought back to life in our memories.

Like most RVers, we take a lot of pictures. Many of them are not saved because the quality is not good enough. Having a digital camera makes it easy to point and click at something that looks interesting at the time. Then, when reviewing the pictures, if it doesn't quite work out, just erase it and move on. In the old days before digital cameras, we tended to save everything that was developed, with the result that we had thousands of pictures, with a good percentage of them being bad enough to get rid of. Of course, we never got rid of the bad ones until we were getting ready to start traveling. We knew that space would be limited, so we went through every picture and discarded those that were bad. Then, we scanned every one that we kept onto cds. As a result, we ended up with all the pictures on cds, available for viewing on the computer any time we wanted.

One thing we noticed when reviewing our old photographs was that they were beginning to fade and get torn, etc. Now, with everything on the cds and computer, the quality doesn't degrade any more. If we have a picture that we want to copy for our use or someone wants one for memories, it's just a matter of clicking a few buttons on the computer and printer to have a good quality image that we don't have to worry about damaging.

This picture is one we scanned. The girl is my sister Judy. One guess as to who the little boy is. I'm glad we were able to save this.




More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Cameron, Texas: We’re In The Heart Of Things

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Family Stuff, Day 2

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 87 degrees, mostly cloudy skies

Our day began fairly early (try 0500 hours) as it seems we've caught up on our sleep. Both of us were awake, so we decided to get up and get a leisurely start on a day that we knew would be busy. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we were getting together today with more of my family at Roger's house.

About 0700 hours, I made a trip to the WalMart Mall to pick up our contributions to the gathering. As might be expected, the Mall was not busy, so I was able to go through the store and find what I needed fairly quickly. When I went to the checkout, there was no waiting there, unlike earlier this week.

By getting an early start, I was able to go home and rest a little before going over to Roger's house. He had asked me if I would do the cooking of the meat on the grill, since he had this unfounded idea that I was an expert at cooking on a charcoal grill. I'm not sure where he got that idea from, but since I'm the big brother and big brothers know how to do anything, I said I would do the cooking.

To me, the secret of cooking on charcoal is to have a good bed of coals. Well, Roger outdid himself with the preparation of the coals. In fact, he may have overdone the coals, as we had to use a spray bottle with water to keep the fire beat down enough so the food cooked instead of burning.

After we had the fire beat back enough, the food was cooked just right: not burned, juicy, and done. In other words, everyone raved about how well it was cooked.

I told you big brothers can do anything. This was a snap.

We were ready to eat just as we planned at lunch time. Everyone dug into hamburgers, hot dogs, brats, baked beans, potato salad, chips, and all the other trimmings. After letting the lunch settle a little, we had dessert, consisting of cake, apple pie, and peanut butter pie. It was a great meal, and the thing that made it even better was having loved ones talking and remembering days from long ago. I'm getting maudlin thinking about how we used to get together when we lived here. Those were great days!

My family can't get together without taking pictures, and today was typical. Here's one of everyone except Pat's husband Dave, who was kind enough to take the picture.



Here's a picture of some of the good looking ladies, plus Terrell. Doesn't Carolyn look good in yellow? Don't tell her I put her picture on the blog.



It looks like Janie is ready for college football season to start. Check out one of her Gator shoes.



Wayne looks like he had plenty to eat, and needed a nap. I need to give him some lessons on meditating.



Now, it's time to start planning for the next get together.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Alpine, Texas: The Last Frontier

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Family Stuff

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 73 degrees, high 85 degrees, mostly cloudy skies, sprinkles

I had another good night of sleep as I continue to feel better and recover from my recent illness. Two nights in a row, I have been able to sleep for at least eight hours. That's unheard of for me, as I used to average about five hours a night when I was working. With the medical problems that I've been having the past few months, I was lucky to get two or three hours a night. Now, if I can just keep up the momentum on getting well.......

We visited Carolyn's mother this morning, and she continues to do well. It's so refreshing to visit and talk to a person who has such a positive attitude as Doris does.

Later in the day, we visited my brother Roger to plan a little family get together with the family that still lives in Florida. The impetus for the gathering is that my brother Terrell and his wife Kathy, who live in Tennessee, are in town for a visit.

While we were at Roger's house, Terrell came over to sit and talk awhile. In addition to Roger and Terrell and their wives (and Carolyn), our sister Janie and her husband Wayne will be there, as well as our cousins Faye, Barbara, and Pat with their husbands. Janie lives in Lakeland, Faye lives in Jacksonville, and Barbara lives in Pinellas Park. And, Terrell lives in Tennessee, as I mentioned earlier. So, people are making an effort to get together for a family gathering. I love it! The only thing that would make it better would be if our sister Judy and youngest brother Keith, and our daughters Terri and Lori could be here with their families. Maybe we'll be able to do that someday.

We didn't have a lot going on today, but enjoyed the family visits. Tomorrow's going to be even better.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Irmo, South Carolina: Home Of The Okra Strut

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Nine Hours

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, 87 degrees, partly cloudy to mostly cloudy skies, scattered light showers

Wahoo! I got about nine hours of sleep last night! Forgive me for celebrating, but sleep has been something that hasn't come easily for me since I've been having my medical problems. Maybe I've turned the corner on the problems, and can finally start getting better. I know that I didn't have any breathing problems last night. Now, let's see if I can do it again tonight.

By the time I was up and about and had some breakfast, it was already 0900 hours. We decided that I needed to wash the laundry while Carolyn took the opportunity to have me out of the RV to do some cleaning that she was putting off. While I was at the laundry, I had a nice conversation with another fulltime RVer from the New England area. It appears they are staying here through the winter. When he asked what we were going to do for the winter, I had to say that we haven't decided yet. A lot of the decision depends on how much I continue to improve from the problems I've been having.

After eating lunch, I had enough gumption left that I was able to clean up the inside of the truck for the first time since we've been in Florida. Boy, that water and cleaning rag was dirty when I was finished. Well, almost finished, that is. I still have to treat the seats with a leather cleaner. I thought I had some, but the bottle was empty. The last time I treated the seats, they were so slick that Carolyn complained that she was sliding around on the seat like she had ball bearings under her. I told her to tighten her seat belt and hang on.

Carolyn has been doing genealogy research for about 20 years, and has accumulated quite a lot of information on her family, with records going back to the 1600s in the New World. Her research on my family, on the other hand, is very sketchy because there is little information available that she has been able to access. She has been training me on how to do the research, but hasn't signed off on my qualifications to allow me to search without her help. Once she is reasonably sure I can do the research without losing all the hard work she's done over the years, I'll join the world of family history researchers. Do I think I'll do a better job than Carolyn has? Not hardly. But, I do have the interest in my ancestry, and it only seems fair that I should be involved more than I have. Some road trips may be on tap to run down leads. That's a good thing, as Martha would say.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Katy, Texas: Rice Capital Of The World

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Different Sonny's Bar-B-Que Restaurant

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 84 degrees, mostly cloudy skies, rain from midnight until near noon time

The rain started here last night near midnight, and continued almost non-stop until about the middle of the day. I don't know how much rain we got, but it had to be at least 3 to 4 inches. The heavy rain helped keep the temperatures lower than normal, which was fine with us.

My breathing problems are much better today, as I spent a good part of the night getting rid of the fluid that had built up in my body. I didn't realize how much fluid I had to get rid of. It's amazing what a little pill can do for me. Now, I have to make sure I don't get filled up with fluid again.

We didn't go anywhere because the weather was so bad. Instead, we did a little cleaning inside the RV, a little reading, and watched some television. Both of us are interested in the political stuff going on across the country, so we got caught up with what happened in the primary races across the country yesterday. Carolyn is usually apolitical, not paying much attention to the political doings. Over the last couple of years, she has really become interested in the political stuff. As might be expected, both of us tend to have the same political viewpoints, so we can discuss the stuff that's drawing our attention at some specific time. We are excited about the potential the country has to change direction with the general election coming up in November. You can bet we will be voting for our chosen candidates.

Once the rain stopped, I took a trip to the WalMart Mall to pick up a few groceries. The Mall was not busy at all, but the management of the store did not have enough cashiers in place to handle the business that was there. Don't you hate it when they don't open enough cash registers open? I really don't like standing in that kind of line.

We decided to go to Sonny's Bar-b-que for supper, but used a different store this time. The last time we went to Sonny's, it was to the restaurant located between Ocala and Silver Springs. We were not pleased with the quality of the meal. Today, we went to the Sonny's located on state road 200. That was a good choice, as the food was much better. Maybe we'll go there from now on.

That's about it from here today.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Monahans, Texas: Center Of The Permian Basin

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

External Hard Drive Repaired

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 78 degrees, mostly cloudy skies, light showers

Note the high temperature of 78 degrees. This is outstanding cool weather we're having, and Carolyn said it is expected to last another day or two. Bring it on!

Remember in yesterday's post that I wrote about all the police activity in Deland that kept us from exploring as we would have liked? A reader left a comment with a link that said the police were looking for a person wanted on a warrant that escaped from an officer that was trying to arrest him. He was finally arrested about six hours later.

Last night was a bad one for me, as I was only able to get about two hours of sleep. My breathing problems came back on me, and I wasn't able to breathe when I was lying down. I called the pulmonary specialist's office and made an appointment for the afternoon. The doctor checked me out, and said I was building up fluid again, even though I have been taking medicine for that. The doctor added another medicine, as well as increased the dosage of one that I was already taking. He said that I would probably be able to go to bed and sleep about midnight. I sure hope so. These long days and nights are hard on me. I was also sent for chest x-rays to see if something is going on that is related to the pneumonia I had about six weeks ago. I have to go back and see the doctor again in two weeks, unless I need to see him sooner.

Last week, our external hard drive died on us, with the result that we couldn't access the data on the drive. I had been looking for another power supply to see if that was the problem, but had been unsuccessful until today. I finally found a new power supply which cured the problems with the drive. Whew! I'm glad we didn't lose all that stuff, especially the genealogy information that Carolyn has worked on for so many years.

Here's hoping I sleep better tonight.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Astor, Florida: The Jewel of the St. John’s River

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Deland, Florida

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 97 degrees, partly cloudy skies, light showers

This morning we had a rarity in the weather in Central Florida: there was actually a light breeze blowing when I went for my morning walk. I haven't had a nice breeze when I walk here in Florida except for today and once about two weeks ago. It makes the humidity a little easier to handle.

Since we didn't have anything planned for the day, I suggested to Carolyn that we take a ride over to the Deland area. It has been about 40 years since we were last there, so it was obvious that a lot of change would have taken place.

It may seem that we're taking long rides when we take off for a day to explore. To us, the rides are not long at all, after living in Texas for many years. Every town in Texas seems to be a long distance away, so we got used to driving what we used to think were long distances. Example: when we lived in Bay City, Houston was 80 miles away, yet we went up there almost weekly. So, we're used to driving long distances to get where we want to go. Besides, we enjoy seeing new country or the changes that have taken place over time.

Our route led us through Silver Springs driving on Florida 40, which then led us through the little crossroads of Lynne, Astor Park, Astor, Barberville, and then south on State Road 19 through De Leon Springs and finally to Deland.

Wow! What changes have taken place. I wish we had made better plans to visit Deland, because even though the town is fairly small with a population of about 25,000 people, there was plenty to see. A big problem with today's visit was that apparently some sort of law enforcement activity was ongoing. Police, sheriff, and highway patrol cars were parked on most corners near the center of town, and a helicopter was circling overhead. Officers with dogs were searching, traffic was backed up, and it just did not seem to be a good time to be fooling around downtown. We don't know what was going on, but the officers seemed to be serious with what they were doing.

Needless to say, I was unable to take any pictures, so I grabbed a few from Wikipedia. It would have been nice to get some pictures of the courthouse, but this one will have to do.



Deland was incorporated in 1882 and in 1887 was the first town in Florida to have electricity. Stetson College was founded in 1883 as Deland Academy and renamed with it's present name in 1889. Like many of the towns in Florida, the founders enticed people to settle in the area with the promise of good weather and money to be made. Not long after being settled, cold weather killed the citrus crop, and many of the people went back to the north. Remember the old saying? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The college was eventually named for John B. Stetson, a hat maker (does Stetson sound familiar to those who wear hats?), and he built a home in the area. Here's a picture of his home in Deland.



Here's a beautiful old theatre in downtown Deland. They don't make 'em like this anymore.



It's too bad we couldn't roam in Deland around as much as we would have liked. Maybe next time.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Deland, Florida: The Athens Of Florida

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Alachua

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 76 degrees, high 98 degrees, partly cloudy skies, scattered showers

Over the years, we have made many trips via I-75 by the little towns of Alachua and High Springs. Just about every time we passed through there, we would say that we needed to take the time to explore those little towns. Today, we finally took the time to find out what Alachua and High Springs are about.

Alachua is in Alachua County, and the town is named after an Indian word meaning "sink" or "sink hole". The town was incorporated in 1905, and has a population of about 7500 people. Many of the people who live there work in Gainesville, but it appeared to us that the town was starting to develop several office and industrial parks. The old historical part of town has been developed to look like it did many years ago, and draws a lot of people to the area to walk the streets and tour the little shops. Scattered throughout the town are old Victorian style houses that have been repaired and updated. Alachua looks like a quiet little town that's starting to grow, but is still a good place to call home and raise a family.

After leaving Alachua, we drove a few miles west to the smaller town of High Springs. This little town has a population of about 3600 people, and also has an older downtown area that draws people to eat and shop. The town was settled as a result of phosphate mines and the railroad, and was incorporated in 1892. There was a lot of traffic in town when we were there today, and we finally figured out that was because of the natural springs that abound in the area. I think jumping into the cold water of one of those springs would have felt good today, with the temperature being 98 degrees when we were there.

While driving around in High Springs, I discovered their old train depot. Since I couldn't find an old court house to take pictures of, the train depot took it's place.



So, today we took a closer look at some places we've been wanting to. Let's see what tomorrow brings.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Alachua, Florida: The Good Life Community

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lunch At Red Lobster

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 76 degrees, high 93 degrees, partly cloudy skies, light showers in the morning

I went to Best Buy this morning to see if I could buy another power supply for our external hard drive in an effort to retrieve the data on the component. No luck at Best Buy, as the only power supplies they had were for lap top computers. There are a couple of office supply stores in town that I'll try tomorrow for a power supply before I ask a repair shop to try to retrieve the data.

Whenever we come to Florida for a visit, we always enjoy seeing my cousins that still live in the state. Fay and her husband Ellis (we call him Cut), live in Jacksonville, Barbara Anne and her husband Bill live in Pinellas Park, and Pat and her husband Dave live here in Ocala. Pat had a birthday earlier this week, so everyone got together at Red Lobster for a birthday lunch. Pat made sure to tell the server that she wouldn't appreciate anyone making a big deal over her birthday. I like it when the staff sings happy birthday to an unsuspecting victim, uh, birthday person. Needless to say, no surprises today. Drat! Maybe next time.

We had a good meal, with a lot of laughter and talk. Why is it that food tastes better when it's eaten with family and friends you haven't seen in awhile?

After lunch, everyone moved to Pat and Dave's house to resume the get together. The ladies gathered at the dining room table while the men watched a baseball game on television. Those ladies sounded like they were having a good time, and I know the men enjoyed the game. Especially when the Yankees were looking like they were going to lose to Seattle. Dave is a Yankees fan, but he was a good sport when he was kidded about losing to the Mariners. Actually, The Yanks won the game after we left.

This was a good day for us, as we cherish the time spent with family. It's too bad we can't have everyone tagging along behind us on our travels.

Hey, Bill, check out today's town.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Cordele, Georgia: Watermelon Capital Of The World

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Crashed External Hard Drive

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 96 degrees, partly cloudy skies, light afternoon shower

The weather here is depressingly boring: hot, humid, showers, more heat, more humidity, more showers...... We're ready for some cooler weather! The weather out in west Texas around Alpine and Fort Davis seems to be much more comfortable, with lows in the 50s and highs in the 80s. In addition, that's beautiful country out there. We're glad we went there this past winter.

It seems like we need to get out and take a ride in the country every day in order to scratch our wanderlust. Today's ride took us north to the area around Anthony, Lowell, Reddick, and Sparr. We concentrated on taking roads that we hadn't been on since our time back here. As expected, the countryside is just as beautiful as what we've been seeing during our time back. Horse farms, mini ranches, pastures that look like manicured lawns, huge oak trees, moss.... The beauty keeps on and on. No wonder that this area was the fastest growing area in the country at one time. The only problem with that is that there was so much growth in a short time. Now, there are many homes sitting empty, and it will probably take a few years to use up the surplus stock of housing. That's bad for the people who make their living in construction.

When we got back home and had rested from the drive, I decided to back up the computer. Several years ago, we neglected backing our data up, with the result that when the computer crashed, we lost a lot of data. Over the past three years, we have made it a routine to back up our data with an external hard drive. Now, we have a problem with the external hard drive. I can't get the drive to respond when I want to do a backup. Bad, bad, bad.

I did all the trouble shooting that I knew to do, such as using a different USB port, changing data transfer cables, and rebooting the computer. I looked on the Internet to see what I could do to access the drive, but all I found was the cures that I had already tried. I still want to get another power supply to see if that helps, but I suspect that the hard drive has bit the dust. If the hard drive is bad, I'll take it to a computer shop that says they can recover the data for us.

I fell victim to the philosophy that if I backed up the computer, we would be safe. Now, it looks like we'll have to use two backup drives to ensure we'll be able to access our old stuff. Things like pictures, Carolyn's genealogy research, my writings, etc.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Alpine, Texas: Gateway To The Big Bend

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Good Medical Report

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 76 degrees, high 98 degrees, partly cloudy skies

We had some chores at home today which took up most of our time. Carolyn did her thing when I was out of her way, while I did what I could that didn't involve much on the outside where it was so hot. I need to clean up the truck and RV, but I can't seem to get up enough gumption to do it in this heat. Maybe the weather will cool off before the truck and RV become old and decrepit.

I had a doctor's appointment today with my pulmonary specialist as a followup to all the tests that were performed this past Tuesday. The tests were performed to see how well I recovered from my hospital stay for pneumonia, and to verify whether I had asthma or not. The news was all good, as my recovery from pneumonia has gone well. In addition, the doctor said that I don't appear to have asthma, which means I can stop taking medicine that was prescribed for that condition. Ahhh, that feels better!

So, the question that comes up now is what we will do since I don't have any medical appointments for about four months. We haven't given a lot of thought about what to do next since Carolyn is enjoying spending time visiting her mother, who is 86 years old. She has not had this much time with her mother since we left Florida many years ago. If we decide to stay a little longer, don't be surprised. Besides, there's plenty of places that we want to visit again to see how time has treated them. Like Daytona Beach, St. Augustine, Cape Kennedy.......

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Raymond, Washington: The Empire City Of Willapa Harbor

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bushnell And Webster

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 97 degrees, partly cloudy skies, light showers in the late afternoon

We went on a little road trip south of Ocala to the Webster/Bushnell area to see how things have changed down there. It had been about 27 years since we were in that area, and we thought it would be interesting to see the changes that time has made.

We took I-75 down to the Webster turnoff and then east a few miles to Webster. This little town was formed in 1855, only has about 800 residents, and is best known for their flea market which is open every Monday. They claim to have 4,000 booths, which if stretched out side by side, would be over five miles long. I'm glad they weren't open today, since it was just too hot to do any serious shopping. I think the best time to take part in this flea market would be in the winter. As might be expected in any little town of 800 people, there wasn't much to see in Webster, so we headed north to Bushnell.

Bushnell is the county seat of Sumter County, and has a population of about 2100 people. They have a nice old courthouse that I had to get a picture of. Note the turrets on the corners.



It's interesting to note that the population of the county has increased tremendously over the last few years. Most of the growth has been in the area of The Villages, located in parts of four counties, including Sumter County. Once away from The Villages, the county still retains it's slow way of life.

While we were driving around in Bushnell, we noticed several houses built like the old cracker houses that were once so prevalent in the state. One of the houses had a stained glass window that drew our attention. Look at the lighthouse in the window.



In our travels across the country, we've noticed many towns that have had shopping centers and strip shopping areas that were sitting empty. It appeared to us that Sumter County found a way to use the empty stores in Bushnell by converting them to county offices. Then that brings up another question from me. Since there were so many of these county offices, is this county government too big for a county that has a population of about 70,000 people? It seemed to me that there was a disproportionate number of government offices for a county of that size. Of course, that may just be my conservatism showing by thinking that all government needs to be smaller (and less expensive) and less intrusive in our lives.

After touring Bushnell, we headed home for some rest and meditation. Now, I've got to find another place to visit that we haven't been to for 30 years.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Oak Ridge, Tennessee: The Secret City

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Medical Tests

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 97 degrees, partly cloudy with showers late in the afternoon

I had another doctor to visit today, but the first thing on the agenda was to take care of some housekeeping around the RV. I took the laundry to the campground laundromat and washed the clothes while Carolyn was doing her thing inside the RV. As I said before, she finds it difficult to do much cleaning when she considers me to be in the way. In other words, she wants me gone at that time. So, I try to accommodate her by finding something to do outside or going to the grocery store.

My appointment at the doctor's office was at 1300 hours, and I was there a few minutes early. The nurse called my name at 1300 hours, and the tests began. The appointment today was to perform tests to determine, if possible, whether I have asthma or not. I was diagnosed with asthma by my doctor in Texas back in June, and he prescribed medication to help with the symptoms. The medicine never seemed to help, and eventually I was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia here in Ocala. Since then, I have slowly gotten better, but the pulmonary doctor here in Ocala wanted to have these tests performed today in an effort to be able to say that I do or do not have asthma. He said that it has been his experience that people my age don't normally develop asthma.

I had several different pulmonary function tests performed today, and based on what the technician who performed the tests said, I tend to think I don't have asthma. The technician didn't say that I don't have asthma, but she did say all my responses to the tests were normal. So, that's how I made the conclusion I did. I have a followup appointment with the pulmonary doctor on Thursday to review the tests. I've got my fingers crossed that everything is okay.

After leaving the doctor's office, I went to the WalMart Mall in Silver Springs to pick up a few groceries. We needed a few things, and it gave Carolyn a little more time for what she wanted to do in the RV. The shopping went fine, and even though I had a list, I still forgot one item. Drat! Oh, well. At least that's all I forgot.

Carolyn's getting good at cooking with little or no sodium. Tonight, she prepared chicken and rice, and it was really tasty. She used less than 600 milligrams of sodium for the entire meal, which also included corn on the cob and salad. The food was very good, and there's plenty for supper tomorrow. Maybe this low sodium deal is going to work out.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Somerset, Kentucky: City Of The Third Class

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Steve Martin And Bo Diddley

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 76 degrees, high 97 degrees, partly cloudy skies

I slept much better last night, not waking until just before 0700 hours this morning. I felt much better, well enough to take my normal morning walk.

We had a couple of chores to do around the RV this morning. After those little jobs were finished, we decided to take a drive up to the Gainesville area. Newberry, located about 17 miles west of Gainesville, is the model for a bedroom community. Most of the people work in and around the Gainesville area, but businesses are moving into the town as Gainesville expands closer to them. The most famous ex-resident is probably comedian Steve Martin, as the town claims that he was born there. So, as soon as I read that Steve Martin was born there, it prompted me to wonder if Newberry is a wild and crazy town? Apparently not, as Newberry is one of the few towns in Florida that is debt-free, and has the lowest tax rates in Alachua County. That sounds like a conservative place to me.

Here's a picture of the Newberry town hall. As might be expected with a town of about 3500 people, this is a laid back little town. The main business section is only about four blocks long, and the entire area is designated as a historical area.
This picture is from Wikipedia.



When I did some research on Newberry, I found that the town was formed when phosphate was found and mining began in 1889. The phosphate mining collapsed when World War 1 started, due to the fact the Germans were the primary customers for the phosphate. At that time, the people turned to agriculture and became known for the quality of the watermelons that were produced there. Now, it appears most of the growth in the town occurs because of the nearness of Gainesville.

When we left Newberry, we decided to head back to Ocala by way of Archer, a town of about 1300 people. We love these bustling towns. I think the biggest claim to fame for Archer is that Bo Diddley used to live there. Hmmmm, how do these little towns have these famous people show up there? Anyway, Bo Diddley passed away in his home in Archer in 2008.

After all that history, we decided to head back home, taking the back roads 11 miles to Williston, then US 27 on to Ocala and the RV. It may not seem like we did much, but we love these little towns across the country that seem to be the backbone of our nation.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Archer, Florida: Taking Pride In Our Community

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sleepy

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 76 degrees, high 97 degrees, partly cloudy skies

How hot was it today? It was so hot that I didn't go for a walk. That's unusual for me, since I've been known to walk in rain, snow, wind, and yes, even high temperatures like what we're having now. I've walked in temperatures up to 117 degrees, which took place in Arizona in July. That kind of temperature is out of the ordinary, but the point is that hot weather doesn't usually keep me from walking.

A few words of clarification: Even though I'm doing much better since my recent stay in the hospital, I still have an occasional night that I have problems breathing like I should. Last night was one of the worse nights since I was released from the hospital. Every time I would lay in the bed, I would have trouble breathing. As a result, I stayed up all night, using the couch and my easy chair in an attempt to sleep. At least Carolyn was able to sleep.

Eventually, I was finally able to go to sleep about 0600 hours and slept until about 0900. I'm not sure why I was finally able to sleep then, but I hope I don't go through the same thing tonight. If I do, I'm calling the pulmonary specialist tomorrow. If I (yawn) can keep my eyes open long enough. Yawn.

Even though I didn't sleep well last night, I still managed to find enough energy to get us out into the southern part of the county on a Sunday afternoon drive through more of the beautiful horse country.

After we got home and watched some of the PGA golf tournament, I went to visit my brother Roger and his wife Willa. Carolyn was in the middle of cooking supper, so she stayed at home. Roger is still working a local job, so he has enjoyed being able to be at home for an extended period of time, instead of having to travel to work. It appears he will be working near home until the middle of the fall.

Another brother Terrell and his wife Kathy expect to be visiting here in a week or two, so we going to get together at Roger's house when they are here. It will be great to have more family here to visit, at least for a short time.

I think I'll (yawn) close for now. Sleep tight.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Cheyenne, Wyoming: The Frontier City

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Out And About

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 76 degrees, high 93 degrees, partly cloudy skies

The big news for the day was no rain. Today is the first day in about a week that we haven't had rain. Anyone that knows me knows how much I dislike as much rain as we tend to get in the south. Give me about 20 inches of rain a year, and I'm happy.

Traffic at the RV park where we're staying seems to be picking up a little. The park has about 30 full time occupants, and in the last two weeks, they have averaged four overnighters a night. At the rate they are going, they will be full by October. We don't know where we'll be then, but I hope I'm not waiting for doctor appointments. I have two appointments next week, and I'm hopeful that I won't have any more for the near future.

We got out and about this morning, taking a ride north of town to ride through some of the beautiful horse farm country. With all the rain we have been getting, the countryside is as green as it ever gets. When we visited here in past years, we were under the impression that the number of horse farms had decreased. Now that we have been here as long as we have and have seen so much of the county, we realize that there are more farms here now than there were when we lived here. The difference we notice is that the number of large farms has decreased, while the number of smaller farms has increased greatly. The farms that are kept up best look like city parks, with manicured pastures, majestic moss draped oak trees, board fences, and ponds. We'll miss the beauty when we leave.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Breaux Bridge, Louisiana: Crawfish Capital Of The World

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bad Bar-B-Que

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 76 degrees, high 91 degrees, mostly cloudy skies, daylong showers

The rain kept us from doing much outside today, except for me going to take care of a couple of little chores away from the RV. Remembering that Carolyn doesn't like to do any cleaning if I'm around, I stayed away long enough that she was able to get some things done. I wonder if she wishes I would go back to work? I'm being facetious when I ask that question, because she fussed at me about working every time I went back to work.

Our mail came in today at Carolyn's mother's house, so we went over there this afternoon to pick it up. Combined with a visit, we stayed for a couple of hours. On our way home, I decided to cook supper. So, we went to Sonny's Bar-b-que, which turned out to be a mistake. At least this time. It was the worse tasting food we have gotten there. I don't know if it was a different cook, or if they have changed how they do things, or...... Anyway, badddddd. The restaurant was very busy, so that may have had something to do with the bad food. We decided that we won't go back on Friday nights. Now, we'll have to see if the food is better on another day.

When we got home, we watched part of the PGA golf championship, which is being held this weekend. Tiger Woods seems to be playing better, but he's a long way from being as good as he was last year. My, how the mighty fall, sometimes. It's a shame that someone with so much talent and ability to do good allowed his personal life to get so bad.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Marshall, Texas: Pottery Capital Of The World

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Vibration

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 90 degrees, partly cloudy skies, scattered showers

Recently, the truck has developed a vibration when driving 35 to 45 mph. The vibration felt like a tire was out of balance. The tires are Michelins which I bought at Sam's Club in Fort Worth. The purchase also included free rotation and balance of the tires as long as we have them. So, this morning I took the truck over to Sam's Club in Ocala, where the tires were rotated and balanced. Happy news - the vibration is gone!

We had rain off and on most of the day from the tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, we didn't do much except that Carolyn did a little cleaning while I was at Sam's. She says it's hard to clean the RV when I'm in the way. I guess I'll have to start finding something to get me out more when she wants to clean. Only one problem: I can't read her mind so I know when to get out.

One thing that we've noticed about all the rain here this summer: if we had this much rain on the Texas gulf coast, mosquitoes would be carrying us away. Here in Ocala, I haven't seen a single mosquito. Thank God!! I don't miss those nasty boogers at all.

When I went to Don Garlits' Museum of Drag racing earlier this week, the admission also included access to an antique car museum. After I finished touring the drag racing museum, I took a tour through the antique car museum. What a surprise!

As I said in the post about the drag racing museum, I'm not much of a fan of drag racing or car racing in general. I appreciate the engineering, mechanical, and driving skills involved. That's about it. On the other hand, I really admire old cars that were driven on the highway. In addition, like the race cars, I also admire the engineering that went into some of the old cars. The museum had a great collection that impressed me with how much care had been taken to restore these old cars. I remember many of the models being driven when I was a child. Looks like I'm dating myself a little. I've been to several antique car museums, but none better than this one.

One of the old cars in particular drew my attention. It was a 1949 ford two door sedan, with a distinctive front grill. The reason I was drawn to the car was that I had one just like it when Carolyn and I met way back yonder. We dated in the car and drove it for a long time after getting married. The worse financial mistake we made in our early married life was trading the Ford in on a 1956 Buick. That Buick was the worse car we ever owned. Anyway, seeing this 1949 Ford brought back a lot of good memories.



This looks like one of the old Bonnie and Clyde cars.



Check out this old roadster.



Here's another good one. These things look like they would be fun to drive.



The phrase "Built like a tank" comes to mind when I look at this one.



This one drew my attention, since I'm a pickup truck kind of guy.



Here's the ultimate beach going car.



That's just a small sample of what I saw in the antique car museum. If anyone is ever in the area, the museum would be a good way to pass the afternoon. I enjoyed it.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Ocala, Florida: Kingdom Of The Sun

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Rosewood, Florida

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 73 degrees, high 91 degrees, partly to mostly cloudy skies, showers

There is a tropical depression fooling around in the Gulf of Mexico which has given us some cooler weather for the past couple of days. This morning was really nice, as I felt like the weather was the best for walking that I've seen since we've been here. Here's one of the thunderheads that built up due to the little storm in the gulf.



I had another doctor's visit today with the cardiac care specialist. He told me to keep doing what I'm doing, but didn't give me any relief on the sodium issue. So, I guess we'll keep looking for low sodium foods and menus. After leaving the doctor's office, I came home and gave Carolyn the news. Obviously, she's happy that I'm doing well, but not so happy about the sodium.

After lunch, we had to go to the WalMart Mall for a few groceries. Carolyn was able to go with me, which I was glad to see. It's perplexing that she can take our little road trips where we don't get involved with a lot of people or traffic and not have nearly as many problems with her vertigo. But, if we go to the Mall or any place with a lot of motion and visual stimulation, her vertigo will start showing itself. It happened again today, so we had to limit our time at the mall. Of course, that's not all bad, but it would be nice if she could start doing more.

When we went to Cedar Key yesterday, we passed through the little settlement of Rosewood, where one of the worse instances of racial wrongdoing occurred in our history. I had read about the incident years ago, but never realized exactly where it occurred.

According to Wikipedia..... The Rosewood massacre was a violent, racially motivated conflict that took place during the first week of January 1923 in rural Levy County, Florida, United States. At least six blacks and two whites were killed, and the town of Rosewood was abandoned and destroyed during what was characterized as a race riot. Racial disturbances were common during the early 20th century in the United States, reflecting the nation's rapid social changes. Florida had an especially high number of lynchings in the years before the massacre, including a well-publicized incident in December 1922.

Rosewood was a quiet, primarily black, self-sufficient whistle stop on the Seaboard Air Line Railway. Spurred by unsupported accusations that a white woman in nearby Sumner had been beaten and possibly raped by a black drifter, white men from nearby towns lynched a Rosewood resident. When black citizens defended themselves against further attack, several hundred whites combed the countryside hunting for black people, and burned almost every structure in Rosewood. Survivors hid for several days in nearby swamps and were evacuated by train and car to larger towns. Although state and local authorities were aware of the violence, they made no arrests for the activities in Rosewood. The town was abandoned by black residents during the attacks. None ever returned.

Although the rioting was widely reported around the country, few official records documented the event. Survivors, their descendants, and the perpetrators remained silent about Rosewood for decades. Sixty years after the rioting, the story of Rosewood was revived in major media when several journalists covered it in the early 1980s. Survivors and their descendants organized to sue the state for having failed to protect them. In 1993, the Florida Legislature commissioned a report on the events. As a result of the findings, Florida became the first U.S. state to compensate survivors and their descendants for damages incurred because of racial violence. The massacre was the subject of a 1997 film directed by John Singleton. In 2004, the state designated the site of Rosewood as a Florida Heritage Landmark.


The state has erected a sign outside the little town to commemorate the event. As I was standing and reading the sign, it occurred to me to look around at the surrounding woods and swamp. Can you imagine how terrifying it must have been to be trying to hide in the woods, fearing for your family's lives and knowing that there was no one to turn to for help? Eventually, the survivors were helped by whites that disagreed with the mob mentality.

As people who love our country, we are aware that events occurred during the nation's history that we're not always proud of. I think it's safe to say that this is one of those events.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Boston, Massachusetts: Beantown

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cedar Key

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 92 degrees, partly cloudy skies, scattered showers

We had some little housekeeping items to take care of today (check batteries, etc.) Once those chores were finished, we decided we would take a trip over to Cedar Key to see what kind of change had taken place in the 35 plus years since we were last there.

Cedar Key is one of those isolated little places that you have to really want to go to in order to get there. The little town is located on the west coast of Florida, near where the coastline begins a gradual bend back to the west and up to the panhandle. Only one road leads to the town (Florida 24), and it is a two lane road running across the flat land to the coast. Cedar Key is located on Way Key, the largest of the Cedar Keys, a string of islands that runs into the Gulf of Mexico.



Over the years since Cedar Key was occupied by the white man, hurricanes have demolished it several times, killing many people in the process. In addition, the products that once drew people there to work, such as the red cedar used for pencils, are no longer needed, so the little town has evolved into a fishing and tourist town. Here's a picture of the business district. As you can see, there's not much here.



The town has many bed and breakfast establishments, as well as some small motels and RV parks. There are some small restaurants, as well as a few larger eating places that didn't appear to be open today. In fact, it was quiet in town today, with little traffic. We did see some people fishing, so it looks as though the oil spill in the gulf has not affected the fishing in the area. The population of the town is about 1,000 people. It appears that most people visit the town on the weekend. Most of the town's economy at this time is based on tourism and fishing, as well as clam based aquaculture.


This is a picture of restaurant row, located on Dock Street, which faces the gulf.



A little town like Cedar Key doesn't take much time to go through, so once we finished exploring town, we stopped at a little restaurant on the edge of town to see what we could find for lunch. We decided that we would try the Cuban sandwiches, which we hadn't eaten since we left Florida 30 years ago. The sandwiches were excellent, even though they tasted a little salty to my mouth, which hasn't had much salt for about six weeks. The last time we had a Cuban sandwich, it was made with a hard roll that was cold. Today's sandwich was flattened and baked and as I said, excellent. They were a far cry from what we had 30 years ago, and in our opinion, much better.

On our way to and from Cedar Key, we passed the little settlement of Rosewood, infamous as the site of a racial confrontation in 1923. More on that tomorrow.

We had not been to Cedar key for many years, so it was good to see that some of the Florida that we remember from so many years ago is still around. We recommend a trip to the little town to all.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Cedar Key, Florida: USDA Rural Community Of 2009

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Don Garlit's Hot Rod Museum

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 90 degrees, partly cloudy skies, scattered showers

In last yesterday's post, I said I was going to try to get out today and do something. By something, I meant different from yesterday, when we were more or less trapped at home because it was so rainy. So, did I get out and do something? I would say so.

I needed to be downtown today, and I happened to see this impressionistic horse in front of city hall. I don't know about everybody else, but some of these statues don't do much for me.



Over the years, we have passed the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing many times. The museum is located south of Ocala at the intersection of I-75 and county road 484. I never went to tour the museum because I knew that it was something that Carolyn probably wouldn't care to do. Today, I decided to go to the museum by myself.

Don Garlits is probably considered the father of drag racing, and he has built a museum that displays not only what he accomplished during his career, but the accomplishments of many other great drag racers. He was the first drag racer to officially go faster than 170, 180, 200, 240, 250, 260, and 270 miles per hour in the quarter mile.

The drag racing museum is chock full of drag racers and memorabilia from Garlits' career, as well as other famous racers. Here's a few examples of the drag racers on exhibit at the museum.











As can be seen, there are all kinds of drag racers here in the museum, including this one that looks more like an old wrecker than a drag racer.



In addition to being nicknamed Big Daddy, Don Garlits was also known as The Swamp Rat because of being from Florida. Several of his drag racers used variations of The Swamp Rat as their names. Like many people who are good at what they do and like it, Don has retired several times, only to come back to competition. His last race was last year when he drove a 2009 Dodge Challenger in the stock eliminator class at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. Not bad for someone that is 78 years old.

I'm not much of a fan of racing, but I do appreciate the achievements that these great racers of the past were able to do. Going to the museum was worth the time and effort.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - East Fishkill, New York: A Great Place To Live

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Rainy Day

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 89 degrees, mostly cloudy skies, showers

This was the type of day that was good for someone wanting to rest, watch television, read, and sleep: cloudy, cooler, and showers all day long. So that's about all we did, except for a visit with Carolyn's mother Doris and some of her brothers and a sister.

I read so much today that my eyes feel weak. I'm tired from sitting and laying around all day. As far as watching television, can you believe how little there is to watch that's actually worth watching? I hope tomorrow's weather will be better for getting out and doing something different.

One good thing came out of the day. Carolyn decided she wanted some fried chicken wings for supper, so she fixed us enough wings for supper tonight and lunch tomorrow. The wings were very good, even though she prepared them with lower sodium content. It's been a struggle, but we're beginning to find some things I can eat that are not so high in sodium. When the doctors here first told me to eat less sodium (even though I've never been one to eat much of it), I thought it wouldn't be too hard to change my diet. Hah! Not so! I never dreamed that salt gave so much flavor to food.

Now that I've been on the low sodium diet for about six weeks, it's not as difficult to eat as it was to start. There are still some things that taste awful without salt, including grits. I don't eat many grits, but they are good with eggs. Now, I eat even less grits than I did.

I have a doctor's appointment on Wednesday. I'm hopeful that he'll relax the restrictions a little.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Abilene, Texas: A Whole Lotta Texas Going On

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Book Sale

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 92 degrees, mostly cloudy skies with light showers

We went to the Ocala Public Library at 1000 hours this morning to take advantage of their book sale. It was a good thing we were there early, because the place was covered up with people that were thinking the same way we were. The library had arranged two large rooms with tables in rows and books covered the tables. We went up one row of tables and back down another row, and had 20 books. Most of the people were getting with the program, treating the rows of tables as though they were one way, but you always have some people who think they are going to do things their own way. Those people insisted on going against the flow, and some of them actually became belligerent because people wouldn't get out of their way.

Both of us agreed that we would have liked to look for more books, but with the big crowd and the rudeness of some of the people, we decided to leave after about 20 minutes. It was a good buying trip, and we've got enough books for a few days. Just kidding. Actually, these should last a couple of months.

We have been to book sales at different libraries over the years, but this one was the busiest one we have seen. At the rate books were being bought, I could see them being sold out by the time they closed this afternoon. That's a good thing!

When we left the library, we decided to have a cheap hamburger from McDonald's for lunch. Today was the first time we had been there since before I was in the hospital in June. We looked at their nutrition information on their menu to see what we could get with lower sodium content. We found that if we bought the McDouble, and left the cheese and pickle off, the sodium content would be low enough that it wouldn't hurt me. Now, that might cause some to say that we took all the flavor off the sandwich, but it has been so long since we had a fast food meal that we thought it was good. Little things mean a lot!

After lunch, we took a drive down to Oklawaha, a little town on Lake Weir. We spent many family outings there back in the day, picnicking and swimming in Lake Weir. Like most places we have visited here since we've been visiting, there has been a lot of change, yet many of the same sights that we remember are still here.

By the time we arrived back at home, we had made a big circle from Ocala to Oklawaha over to Moss Bluff and then back to the RV via Silver Springs. That might seem like a long way, but it was only about 40 miles. After living in Texas as long as we have, 40 miles is nothing.

Remember the blog post about the panhandlers that seem so prevalent here? Well, it seems that they are not so cooperative about sharing the intersections. This past week, two panhandlers operating at the intersection of state road 200 and county road 484 were arrested for impeding traffic and making threats to other panhandlers. In addition, they were charged with assault and aggravated assault for threatening two deputy sheriffs. We have wondered why the county and city allows these people to make such a nuisance of themselves. Maybe this incident will cause changes to be made.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Crowley, Louisiana: Where Life Is Rice And Easy

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Villages

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 94 degrees, partly cloudy skies

When we took a ride down to Wildwood earlier this week, we came back through The Villages on our way home. What is The Villages? Well, it is a master planned community located about 20 miles south of Ocala on US highways 27 and 441. It's thousands of acres covers parts of Lake, Marion, and Sumter counties. The community is age-restricted, meaning that at least one member of a household must be at least 55 years old. Do you think the streets are rolled up early at night?

The most recognizable landmark in the community is the golf bridge crossing US 27/441.



The community has 37 golf courses, with 28 of them being executive courses. There are approximately 38,000 golf carts in use in the community, and may of the residents use for their transportation in the community. 38,000 golf carts? I wonder if they require some of those folks to take driver's tests?

In the census of 2000, there was a population of about 8300 people in The Villages. In late 2007, the population had increased to more than 75,000 people. Wow! That's a lot of people moving in to an area that I remember as pasture and open fields. I'm sure the new census will show even more increase.

The community has all the shopping a person could want, with several shopping areas set aside. Many of the major retailers have stores there, and there are movie theatres as well as hotels. Restaurants galore are spread across the area.

IF a person is retired or expecting to retire any time soon, this would be an area for them to consider if they are looking for a place to settle. Good weather, low taxes, plenty of recreation opportunities, good medical facilities...... It's all right here.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - The Villages, Florida: Florida’s Friendliest Hometown

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Visit To The Library

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 73 degrees, high 97 degrees, partly cloudy skies

We visited Carolyn's mother this morning after not seeing her for almost a week. Here we are in Ocala, and it seems like we're either busy doing something or trying to stay cool in the hot weather. We're going to have to go see Doris more often, since we'll probably be leaving here after my doctors visits are finished in a couple of weeks.

Doris is doing well, and I noticed that her rocking chair had changed. She has a bad knee, requiring her to use a walker to get around. A rocking chair seems to help her knee stay at the right orientation, resulting in less pain. She's doing pretty good, considering that she's 86 years old.

After the visit, we went home and had lunch, then enjoyed a short session of meditation. When the meditation was finished, I invited Carolyn to go to the library with me, but she declined. I hadn't been to the library for several weeks, so it was time to replenish our reading stock. (Note to Lori: We've saving some good ones for you!)

Ocala has a nice library, located in the old J M Fields store on Silver Springs Boulevard. Every time I go there, the parking lot is almost full of customers.



The library has several murals painted on the facade of the building, including this very good representation of the old library. It was located on Silver Springs Boulevard near the center of town.



This mural represents the horse industry in the county.



There are about twelve murals on the facade of the building at this time, and it appears that many more could be added when a sponsor appears.



This impressionistic example of a horse is another indication of how important the horse industry is to the area. These statues can be found in the most unexpected places, such as the lobby of the public library.



Most places we have been have allowed me to have a library card so I could use the resources. This library is the only one that I tried to get a card that wouldn't allow me to have it because we don't have an address here. So, I have been making good use of the library's store, buying paperback books for $.50 each. That's a good deal for us, since we like to read so much. I found four new ones today in less than five minutes. The library is having a sale this Saturday, and the paperback books will be reduced to $.25 each. That seems like an extra good deal, so I'll be there when they open.

It's time to get a shower and settle in with one of those new books.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Nashville, Tennessee: City Of Rocks

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wildwood

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 76 degrees, high 95 degrees, mostly clear skies

We took a short ride down US 301 to the little town of Wildwood today. The town was not known for much when we lived here, and it looks like nothing has changed. In fact, the population decreased by about 500 people between 2000 and 2005. That's a strange fact, since most places in Central Florida increased in population over that period of time.

Wildwood was an Amtrak train stop until 2004, and the old train station is now used for a CSX maintenance yard. We saw few signs of change in town other than that the main street through town has become a four lane road. The town does have a new city hall, which tends to stand out in a small town like this.



Many people pass through Wildwood every day without actually seeing the town. I-75 passes through the west side of town on it's way north and south. The town receives some economic activity from the interstate highway, primarily from service stations and convenience stores. Florida's Turnpike has it's northern start a couple of miles south of town.

The thing I remember most about Wildwood was that when we lived in Ocala, Wildwood had a high school football team that was just about the best in the state for their classification of school. They would go anywhere and play anyone, even schools that had higher enrollments. They won many more games than they lost. They played against Ocala High School when Ocala had one of the best teams in the state, and they almost won the game. I think an indication of the respect that Ocala had for them was the fact that Ocala said they would play Wildwood, but only if the game was held in Ocala.

The more interesting part of the trip was how things have changed between Belleview and Wildwood. Some of the road is now four lane, and most of the rest of it is being changed to a four lane. There are many more houses along the road now, and signs are plentiful of the impact that The Villages, a huge planned community, has had on the area. We used to go to Summerfield to buy vegetables, but saw little sign of that kind of farming going on now.

Just another day of remembering the past, and seeing how things have changed.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Wildwood, Florida: The Crossroads Of Florida

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Micanopy, Florida

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 94 degrees, partly to mostly cloudy skies

Carolyn felt well enough today that she suggested that we take a drive up to Micanopy to see how that little town has fared over the years. It's a rare day that Carolyn feels good enough to suggest a day trip, so I was ready to go as soon as the words were out of her mouth.

Here's a couple of pictures that sum up the commercial district of the town.





Micanopy was settled in 1821, the first town settled in Florida after the US took ownership of the new territory from Spain. The town settled on the former site of Cuscowilla, a Seminole Indian village. Fort Defiance and Fort Micanopy were headquartered here during the Seminole War. The town has served as a location for several movies, including "Cross Creek" and "Doc Hollywood", and has been mentioned in songs by several singers, including Tom Petty, John Anderson, and James Taylor.

The town has some nice old houses that represent what the old cracker houses used to look like. Keep in mind that when these houses were built, air conditioning was a thing of the future, so the houses were built to take advantage of shade and air movement through the house.









At one time, the town was developing an artist's colony that seems to have faded away. They still have a large art festival every year that brings in artists from near and far.

The population of the town is only about 650 people, which seems to be just the right size for us.

We saw many examples of the old oak trees that we admire so much.



Another trip to the past today that brought back some great memories.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Micanopy, Florida: Florida’s Oldest Inland City

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Ocala Boat Basin

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 98 degrees, partly cloudy to mostly cloudy skies

We thought Carolyn was over her stomach ailment from yesterday, but she wasn't. So, she stayed at home all day, while I made a trip to the WalMart Mall to pick up a few groceries.

On my way to the Mall, I made a little detour to a place that we used to have picnics in. Before we left Ocala, the Ocala Boat Basin, located east of Silver Springs on State Road 40, was popular with families having picnics and people fishing from the bank of the canal leading from the boat basin. Boaters putting their boats in could go down a canal to the Silver River, and from there could go left to the Oklawaha River or right and up the Silver River to the headwaters at Silver Springs. The Silver River was not open for fishing, but that didn't stop some people from fishing the river. It was loaded with fish, including big bass and catfish, and they would strike just about anything that hit the water.

The boat basin has been fixed up compared to when we were living here, but it isn't as attractive to me now. Why is it not as attractive? Well, the county in their infinite wisdom, has decided to start charging admission to the basin, including people who want to just sit at the picnic tables. It's not worth $5.00 to me to go into something that used to be free, since the few improvements don't do that much for me. It's a shame, since I would have liked to walk down the canal to the Silver River, where we used to see monkeys swinging from branch to branch in the trees. The monkeys escaped when the old Tarzan movies were being filmed at Silver Springs.

My stop at the Mall didn't take long, as the store was not crowded. Maybe I've found a new day to buy groceries.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Montgomery, Alabama: Gumptown

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Fort McCoy

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 95 degrees, mostly cloudy skies, light showers in the afternoon

Remember yesterday's post where I talked about having a stomach problem most of the day? Well, Carolyn experienced the same problem today. Like me with my problem yesterday, she started feeling better in the middle of the afternoon. As I write this post tonight, she's feeling better. This was a strange illness we went through. The sick feeling lasted about 12 hours. It was almost like we caught a weak stomach virus.

Since Carolyn was feeling better in the afternoon, we decided to take a drive to the Fort McCoy area to see how that little cross roads has changed since the last time we were there about 35 years ago. Fort McCoy was originally developed as a fort during the Seminole Wars back in the 1840s. Did anyone know that the Seminoles were the only Indian tribe that never signed a peace treaty with the US?

We found that the countryside on the way has changed quite a lot, with several horse farms being there now, as well as many houses. Back in the day, there were hardly any people living on that road, which is County Road 316.

Driving into Fort McCoy from the west, we were stopped by a four way stop sign. No traffic lights in town, so that should give an idea of how busy the place is. The town has a small grocery store, a convenience store with gas pumps, and a sign of progress, a Dollar General store that looks fairly new.

At one time, there was a small school in town that has now become a public library. Back when we lived here, the school was so small that about the only organized sports that they participated in was boys basketball. They didn't have a gymnasium to play in, but played outside on a concrete court. Can you imagine how difficult it must have been for visiting teams to come play there? I can remember that they even played outside when the weather was cold.

It took us all of about five minutes to see the changes that have been made, and that was moving at a crawl.

On our way home, we took County Road 315 back toward Silver Springs, and took a side road across country to Anthony and back to the RV. We saw nothing earthshaking, but did continue to find some of the old Florida that we remember with nostalgia. If you know where to look, the old Florida can still be found. We're having a good time finding it.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Frostproof, Florida: The Friendly City

Not all who wander are lost.