Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

On this sunny, 80 degree day, we give our thanks for our blessings from Ocala National Forest!  We hope you have had a happy holiday with friends and family.

Yesterday, we braved grocery shopping, and as we thought, everyone else decided to do their last minute shopping as well!  Wall to wall people.  We had planned on eating Thanksgiving dinner at a local Cracker Barrel, but changed our minds and decided to eat outdoors in this beautiful spot!  We're glad we did!

Michael picked up a rotisserie chicken for himself along with stuffing that he "doctored up" with sausage. Since I don't eat any meat, I ate all the trimmings including fresh green beans, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes.  And sweet potato pie for dessert.  Eating under tall long leaf pines draped with Spanish moss, and live oaks only added to the happiness of this day!

The cooking over fire begins!  The above became this:

As the evening wore on, a few more campsites became occupied, much to our surprise.  One couple said that they camp here every Thanksgiving through the weekend, and the campground fills up as hunting season begins the day after Thanksgiving.  Our timing for camping here was perfect!

After dinner campfire!

The other night we went down to the water with our chairs and Nevelle and enjoyed the sunset hour.  I know I keep mentioning the vultures, but the sheer numbers of them is amazing.  Although we counted upwards of 70 in one kettle (group of birds circling on thermals) plus one bald eagle, the iPad lost charge before I could get a photo of that group.  But these will give you an idea:

Nevelle watching the activity!

Pretty views across Lake Eaton:

Nevelle found the tiniest little frog today that I gently moved away:

Speaking of Thanksgiving, 14 turkeys meandered by our campsite last evening.  Funny timing!:

All three kitties enjoying the outdoors!:

Nevelle continues to love being outside on his tie-out, and the kittens seem to love being in their crate, getting used to the outdoors.  We just bought two harnesses and leashes to start training them to go for walks.  First, we will put the harnesses on for a bit at a time, so they can get them used to them.  

A few nights ago, Michael cooked a great vegetarian dinner for me using the Solo gasification camp stove.  Northern white beans, raisins, and a variety of vegetables made a delicious stew!  He added canned chicken to his version.  Food tastes so great cooked over a fire!  The Solo is a double-walled stove that uses either charcoal or bio-mass (leaves, sticks, pine cones) and creates a smokeless fire.  The fire is drawn down and through the two walls to create an efficient fire.  We've had this stove since day one and it is one of our best purchases.  It is great to have when we don't want to make a campfire or don't have the means for a campfire.

We're departing the national forest Saturday morning for a two hour drive to Tampa.  This has been a great stay.  Only $4/night with a senior pass, and except for the hosts and another camper here and there, we have had the place pretty much to ourselves until tonight. Quiet and pretty - can't ask for much more than that!

We will "Walmart camp" Saturday night after a family visit on Saturday, then move over to Hillsboro State Park until Friday, December 2.  We will spend the week with family before departing on the 2nd.
We will begin to head back to the Florida panhandle and toward the west to Texas.  There's a camping gathering on north Padre Island in Texas starting the 5th of January that we are planning to go to.

This afternoon, a monarch butterfly and a cloudless sulphur butterfly went by, but never settled for a photo. Calling from above was a red-shouldered hawk...more like a cry!  As the sunset, large dragonflies flew all around us.  Love it all!