Saturday, March 8, 2014
We arrived March 1st to begin our 4 months as volunteers at Myakka River State Park.
Many of you may not know how interesting it can be to live in your RV fulltime, or maybe even part time, and volunteer some of your time at a state park! You provide valuable muscle to a resource that protects and yet showcases Americas wild beauty and wildlife! What a way to retire!!! We have several people working in this park escaping the harsh winter up north. Connie and Cecil leave their small farm in Michigan and volunteer those cold winter months in warmer, sunny Florida at the wonderful state parks here. A volunteer is requested to work 2 to 4 months and be required to work 10 to 20 hours a week and in return get a campsite with full hook-up. This is a win-win for you and for the State Park Service! Every state has state parks and every state has volunteers. This is the link if you are interested in volunteering.
Here, at Myakka River, Chuck and I are cleaning cabins. There are 5 cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The cabins are snuggled in with the beautiful oaks and tall palm trees.
We were asked to arrive on Saturday March 1st. We got here about 3pm and they brought us to the best site possible for us! We love it here! Most of the volunteers are down near the office actually in the park. Still other volunteers are over in the STOP camp across the highway. We lucked out and are the only volunteers here, sharing our space with the park rangers.
We have a lovely space with no real close neighbors and plenty of room to walk with the dogs. One of the trails from the park run right behind us!
I found an old long handled fishing net propped up against a tree. The net was long gone. Didn’t take me long to re-purpose it! I had a hummingbird feeder, but no good branches to hang it from. I took the net frame, turned it upside down and had Chuck bungee cord it to a post and hung the feeder! YaY! No Hummingbirds yet… but I am sure as soon as they discover it…..
On Sunday, the volunteers all gather at the STOP camp for a yummy covered dish dinner! Seems this is a Sunday tradition. It is a good way to meet other volunteers and share experiences. All the home cooked food was wonderful! I made my green chili chicken enchilada casserole, the dish was scraped clean! This is where we have covered dish on Sunday and volunteer meetings.
Monday we pulled out our camp chairs and decorations and settled down to enjoy our Kindles. Work begins on Tuesday. Tuesday was more of an orientation than actual work day.
Shirley and her husband Ed are also volunteers working the cabins. She came in to show us how to read the ticket for what cabins needed cleaning and how to bundle the sheets and towels needed for each cabin.
Wednesday Phil came to take us to cabin 5 and taught us how cleaning should be done and what was expected of us. Thursday we had another day of learning from Mike. Thursday was an awful day! Not because of the cabins but because of the rain! It rained and thundered the whole 4 hours we worked! We dragged in more mud and dirt into the cabins than what was in there to begin with making more work for ourselves! Mike was more detail oriented than Phil so we learned a bit more that day.
Almost as soon as we got off work, the rain stopped! Chuck and I were soaked clear through! As soon as we got in the door we shucked off the wet clothes and put on dry warmer clothes! I didn’t feel like cooking so we took off exploring and landed at a Chili’s restaurant off Bee Ridge Road. We had a bubbly waitress named Kylie who was fun and a good waitress. She had never heard of workamping or of volunteering and the benefits so we enlightened her. Of course she has several decades ahead of her before she retires!
The wild iris is beginning to bloom in the park! So beautiful! We enjoy working as volunteers. We have worked as volunteers in Utah at Spring Hollow campground near Logan Utah, and Zion River Resort near Zion National Park, in Mimbres NM near the Gila Cliff Dwellings. Although we enjoyed working at those places, our favorite gig was in Truth or Consequences NM at the River Bend Hot Springs! Loved working there and we loved our boss Jake and all the folks we worked with that summer but most of all we enjoyed soaking in the hot springs there and tubing down the Rio Grand River!
Life is what you make of it! We like traveling and seeing life in different places and spaces. Workamping allows you to intimately get to know a place, with 3 or 4 days off you can explore and hike and try all new restaurants! You might want to consider this life style one day. Chuck and I are able to live off of our SS every month and volunteering keeps us busy and happy!
Here are some links to explore. Most private campgrounds want a commitment of 6 months. Most State Parks ask for 2-4 months commitment.
Hope you enjoyed finding out more about volunteering as a way of travelling. It’s free rent and it’s where ever you want to be! What a way to retire!
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Chuck and I have been camping for several days at Blue Spring State Park near Deland Florida, just off Interstate 4 north of Orlando. We had cloudy days and rain our first 3 days here so yesterday was our first day to walk along the water and watch the gentle giants of Florida, the Manatee!
I need to apologize for no recent posts. Christmas holidays, visiting family and friends and a bad cold kept me away from the computer! I will catch up! But I want you to know where we are now. Blue Spring has a very nice campground nestled in the scrub oaks and palmettos giving lots of privacy between sites. The MotherShip is 32’ long and with our room extended we are 12’ wide. We fit…. but it was a narrow entrance!
Folks come here to see the manatee in their natural habitat. 4 miles of riverfront within the 2,483 acre park, 8 mile hiking trail, boat ramp/dock, 6cabins and a 51 site campground all with water and electric.
Blue Spring is one of three Florida State Parks where you might be lucky enough to see manatee! Yesterday there were plenty of them! The weather was predicted to get cold overnight and they were all leaving the freezing waters of the St. Johns River to refuge in the Blue Spring run where the water stays a stable 72 degrees! The best time to visit the park to see the manatee is from November through March.
Here, the manatee are entering the Blue Spring run from the St. John’s River. There are close to a dozen here, some hiding in the shadows of the oaks draped with Spanish moss.
These 3 are headed to the river. Manatee stay in Blue Spring at night for warmth and venture out into the river during the day, when the sun warms the water, to feed. Unfortunately this is a dangerous time for them. The only enemy the gentle manatee has is the speeding motorboat. Manatee surface often for air, making them susceptible to boat propellers that often wound them and even killing them. The white stripe you see on the top manatee is such a scar.
The scars on the mature mother manatee show clearly in the top 3 photos and the one below. There is a cage made to fit around the boat propellers but boaters refuse to use it.
The manatee must surface for air. This is a dangerous time for them.
It was quite breezy yesterday, causing a lot of ripples in the water and making it hard to get good manatee photographs to show you. I have been to this park at least a dozen times to visit the manatee, I have never seen as many in the spring run as I saw yesterday! It just wasn’t a good photo op day because of the rippling waters!
Chuck and I were here in 2010 and got some great manatee photos. You can see them on our blog from that visit by clicking this link:
The park had built several very good viewing areas out over the water so you get a good up close and personal look at the manatee. It was a bit crowded yesterday, but remember… this is prime manatee viewing weather and months! We weren’t disappointed!
Chuck meets a veteran of the Korean War and a conversation starts up! Chuck is a Viet Nam vet!
Back at the campground… ( see how nice our site is?) Chuck grills burgers. DoogieBowser and Radar wait patiently in the background hoping for a taste!
Beans with Publix made blue cheese burgers! YUM!
DoogieBowser sits up nicely, hoping we notice a will reward him. Both Radar and Doogie get to lick the empty plates!
Chuck bought himself a Christmas present this year! A folding papasan (?) chair from Camping World. As we get older, most of those sagging camp chairs get harder and harder to climb out of. This one one is very comfortable and folds up much smaller than you would think!
Please take a closer look at Blue Spring State Park as a possible Florida destination. We love it here. We will be here 2 more days and then we head to Kissimmee State Park near Lake Wales FL, we could only book a few days there so from there we head back down to Highlands Hammock State Park for another visit and possibly some job training!
As a treat for you, I found a live web cam for viewing the manatee at Blue Spring! Follow this link:
Here is a link to tell you more about the park:
Hope you enjoyed the visit to Blue Spring! We sure hope you get a chance to visit here is person someday! This is a very special park!
We love you all! From the MotherShip we are Geri, Chuck and DoogieBowser and Radar!
Monday, December 16, 2013
Chuck quickly backed into our beautiful, canopied campsite at the Big Flats campground at Myakka River State Park, east of Sarasota Florida. Huge old oaks, towering pines and drapery of spanish moss welcomed us!
With the camo color of The MotherShip, we blend right into the background!
Looking out our back window, all we see are more palms and the wide open Florida prairie where the deer and the wild pigs entertain daily!
DoogieBowser makes himself comfey! Later, Radar grabs Doogie’s perch!
Camped near us was this cool RV with an even cooler car tag “R RDTRIP”
And even cooler was their towed car and the car tag it wears!
Early morning starts gently at our campground, slivers of sunshine invading the wild woods.
Wild towering palms and draperies of spanish moss catching the sun!
Canopied roads, ancient oak trees reaching out across the road ways to touch it’s neighbor on the opposite side providing shade for all.
Our first day there, Chuck saw this bald eagle. Of course I had my wide angle lens on and had to crop like crazy to get any sort of photo at all….
Great Blue Heron looking for lunch. Myakka River State Park is teeming with wildlife. Grab your camera and your longest lens and you will not be disappointed!
Alligator swimming towards a Roseate Spoonbill, a Snowy Egret and a couple of Cormorants. Below, the spoonbill decides to leave the alligator and heads to the resting area of several wood stork.
Kayaking is popular here as well as canoeing.
Not sure, but the heron above is probably a Little Blue or maybe a Tri-colored.
Just another Gator peeking up out of the water……
The trees at Myakka are loaded with air plants! Everything from Resurrection Fern to Bromeliads thrive here!
Airboat tours are available and these ladies have a front row seat!
Vultures! Lots and lots of vultures! Tis the mating season and they gather in warm sunny Florida to find their love life high in the skies…. and next to some not so prudent tent campers who left their snacks out on their picnic table , below.
More vultures and alligators! Look at that big boy’s tooth…..
This is the beginning of the Canopy Trail. It will take you back to the tall tower below and a suspension bridge taking you from one tower to another.
Since I do not do stairs well, and these towers meant a lot of stairs, I handed Chuck the camera and up he went.
At the top of the tower, you get a full 360 degree view of Myakka River State Park.
Two views of the suspension bridge .
Anhinga, also known as the “snakebird” because it swims below the water with only its head and long slender neck above water.
Great Blue Heron
Osprey sitting in a pine. Just moments before, I saw this bird in the sky and purposely bumping into a vulture making it tumble a bit. After the hit, the osprey gave a loud victory call, bragging to the world!
Wood storks resting by the waters edge.
Fishing is good from the bridge! These folks are using cast nets to catch tilapia.
Tilapia are non-native and considered an invasive species of fish. Myakka will allow you to keep all the non-native fish, but you must return all native fish to the water!
Another deer taking a break in the shade.
The end to another wonderful day at Myakka River State Park! Chuck and I love Florida State Parks so much, we have decided we would like to volunteer here. We got a contact name and number and called and left a phone message expressing our interest in becoming volunteers at Myakka. That was Friday afternoon, and by golly, this morning we got a return phone call and seems like we may have a very good chance of working here this spring for a few months! YaY! Keep your fingers crossed for us!
From the crew of the MotherShip, Chuck, Geri and our furkids DoogieBowser and Radar, we hope you enjoyed seeing this wonderful Florida park with us!
We are now camped at Highlands Hammock State Park near Sebring FL. Another jewel in the Florida State Parks Crown!