We can never believe how quickly the winter passes by (ok, I do NOT want any reactions to that statement from my friends up north, OK?). Anyway, we are down to the last few days here in Central Florida, and then we move into the upper portion of the state for our last two state parks.
We are continuing to stay busy in this area, but we probably won't put this park onto our list of "must return" locations. For one thing, the bathrooms are absolutely horrible - probably some of the worst we've seen throughout the whole state park system. We heard a rumor that this park may be on the list of campgrounds to be closed - we've heard that Florida is in such financial straits that it has chosen seven parks (or maybe just the campground in the park???) for closure - have absolutely no idea if that's true, but it might explain the complete lack of maintenance in the campground. We can't believe they would close the whole park, because the day area is extremely popular and very, very busy. It is one of the primary manatee-viewing locations in the state. There is a herd of around 400 manatees that primarily live in the St Johns river, and they come to the springs literally by the hundreds during cold weather. People sit in lines outside the park, in their cars, waiting to get in during that time. Another neat thing is that if the manatee are not in the "spring run" (the stretch where the spring water runs into the main part of the river) then people can swim in the springs, where the water is apparently at a constant 72 degrees. In fact, this is one of the parks where scuba divers can actually dive down into the aquifier itself - like WAY down into the system of springs and underground rivers. We saw a diver rescue team from the sheriff's department yesterday, apparently doing some rescue "exercises". So, because of all the things the park offers, I tend to think the park itself is secure, but there aren't that many campsites so maybe the campground doesn't pay for itself. Who knows?
On my last blog I mentioned that we went out on the river on a narrated two-hour cruise - very nice. We enjoyed seeing a new part of the river and realized that this really nice island was just south of the park, so on Tuesday we threw the kayaks in and paddled back there on our own. We saw lots and LOTS of alligators - plus it was really pretty! And just as we were getting back we spotted another bald eagle perched way at the top of a tree close to our landing spot. We sat there for a while and just watched him - they are so regal and beautiful!
We didn't get out onto the river until a little later in the afternoon, because we had originally made different plans for the day. I came up with this bright idea that we should go to the Central Florida Fair - yep, like with ferris wheels and animals and all that good stuff. So we jumped in the car around noon on Tuesday, drove down into Orlando, found the fairgrounds, pulled into the parking lot and said "gee, there aren't any cars here - that's weird". Well, it wasn't weird at all - once we found out the fair didn't open until 4:00! SOOOO - we turned around and drove all the way back - interesting way to use up two hours of the day - and decided to go out onto the river instead. But - never say die! - we went BACK to the fair on Wednesday instead. You know....I really used to LOVE the fair! But I think maybe I've gotten a little too old for it now. We don't do the rides - they don't appeal to us, plus they are TOO DARN EXPENSIVE! We don't really do the junk food very much anymore - and when we do, we feel kind of yucky and guilty. I did get a big old order of chili fries and after I ate them I felt almost nauseous - that's just not how we eat anymore. I'm posting a picture because I need to prove that I actually ordered something so AWFUL! The only thing that really was kind of fun was the animals - we visited the sheep barn and I took some pictures of the babies and am posting them for my lovely daughter - Brenda, I KNOW you're going to like these. Plus we enjoyed talking to some of the kids who were taking care of their animals and getting them ready to show. We complain SO much about "today's kids" - so it's good to remind ourselves that not ALL kids are the same. There are still wonderful, level-headed, grounded kids who shear their sheep and carry the little lambs around in their arms. Plus, of course, it reminded me of how Brenda and her girls always did the 4-H fair back when they lived in Michigan. It made me a little nostalgic for when the girls were that age! Oh, well. One of the pictures I'm posting is of a woman holding onto a little 8-day-old lamb. She was bottle feeding it because the mother rejected it for some reason - and I could tell right away that THIS little guy isn't going to the auction block! We also watched a "wild west" show (...oh, boy!) and some acrobats (oh, boy!) and also a horse show with a bunch of little miniature ponies and stuff - and THAT was really cute. We spent a few hours there in total and I told Dave afterwards that I think I got that out of my system now and perhaps we will NOT be returning to the fair in the immediate future!
And today - I WORKED! I did TEN (yes, TEN!) hours of Kerkstra work - we just closed out the 2010 books, am trying to get January 2011 closed, and have already started working on the closing of February. Every time I do something I have to stop and remind myself which MONTH I'm working on. But I'm not complaining - I continue to be very grateful for the opportunity to do some work on the road and still have this wonderful trip - and I have only put in a couple of these long days so it's no big deal.
But tomorrow - DEFINITELY time for another AVA walk. I'm still trying to decide which one because there are SO many to do in this area and this might be my last one! What to do??? I'll let you know what I decide - on my next blog!
PS - if any of you watch the national news at night, you've probably seen the story about the HUGE wildfire buring down here - like 17,000 acres at this point. The fire is probably about 40 or 50 miles from us, and when we went to the fair you could actually see the haze in the air, and even smell the smoke. Kind of creepy!