Sunday, March 25, 2012

Visiting Manatee Springs State Park

Sunday we headed over to Manatee Springs State Park to visit with Sherry and David.  On the way there, we spotted a little red car with a kayak on top on the side of the road.  Could it be?  Yes, it was!  We stopped to make sure that they were okay and Sherry was hunkered down in the car updating her blog!  She couldn't get internet signal at the campground.  We went on ahead of her and visited with David until she arrived.

 After chatting for a bit and getting caught up, we headed down to the Springs.  Along the way, we saw this guy....

He was oblivious to the crowd that was gathering to watch him.  A few steps away, we came to this...
There was some sort of diver instruction going on.  This particular spring is covered with duck weed and Dan and David went to investigate further.
Great minds investigating the duck weed!
 It was then on to the spring.
Beautiful waters!
Dan, Sherry, and David....such a good group shot
Neither Dan nor I had ever had the opportunity to swim in a spring.  The water temperature is supposed to be 72 degrees year round....
So refreshing
The water was chilly at first but so so refreshing!  The current kept pushing you downstream but it sure was nice to float and relax.  We swam for a bit and chit-chatted some more.  Swimming back to the steps to get out of the spring was a bit of a challenge given the current but we all made it safe and sound.

We made it back to Sherry and David's and had a nice picnic lunch.  The rain was moving in so we moved inside and chatted some more.  All too soon, it was time to bid them safe travels and head back to Cedar Key.  We enjoyed our visit and know that we will see them again "down the road".

Thanks Sherry and David for a great time at Manatee Springs!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Surprise Visitors and loooong bike ride!

Back in April 2010 at the RV-Dreams Rally in SC, we had met Tonya and James.  Although we exchanged contact information, for whatever reason, neither of us kept in touch.  Dan and I would occassionally say "wonder what ever happened to Tonya and James and wonder where they are now".

Well.....we found out Tuesday night!  We had just finished dinner when we saw a couple approacing our site.  We looked out the door and saw Tonya and James!  They had tracked us down thru a few other bloggers and had read that we were going to be at Cedar Key RV Resort for the month of March.  They are on their way down a bit further south in FL and decided to stop by to see us.  It was a great surprise! 

We spent the evening getting caught up and introducing them to other RVers at this park.  Wednesday we paddled over to Atsena Otie again....the wind was definitely not in our favor and we did not have the trolling motor with us!  Our arms got a work out for sure!!  After we kayaked for a few hours, we talked around the waterfront.  We hung out for a bit on the pier and the dolphins gave us quite a show!  You could see the baby dolphins hanging close to their mom's and it was so neat to watch. The mullet were definitely jumping and, at one point, one of the dolphins eyed one of the mullet and jumped out of the water to catch the mullet.  It was fascinating to see!  After a covered dish dinner at the clubhouse, the four of us went to watch the sunset.  We were going to go to the Tiki Bar at the Low Key Hide-away but one of our friends had suggested going out to the airport.  We were not disappointed....

Tonya and James
Yes, this is the runway of the Cedar Key "airport"!!
Tonya and James left Thursday morning to head further south.  It was great seeing them again and we know that we will see them again..."down the road"!!

We had made plans on Thursday to pedal to Cedar Key with Mack and Mo.  We had "trained" all week and were ready to hit the pavement!!
Mo, Mack and Dan
Yep, that's Safety Dan.  We wanted to make sure that we would be "seen"!!  And yep, Mo really does ride the vintage 70s banana seat bike! 

We pedaled out of the RV Park and started heading to Cedar Key.  It's mainly flat with the exception of one small hill. We stopped a few times for some much needed water breaks.  We also pedaled by some wild hogs that you could hear grunting but they were never seen!  Along the way, we stopped at the Low Key Hideaway to check out the Tiki Bar....
Looks like a nice place to come for an evening out!
Just so you know where you are!!

I'm sure this would pertain to us after our bike ride was completed!
After about 7.5 miles, we stopped at our first destination which was the post office so I could mail a package to my daughter.    They were closed for lunch so we meandered around town checking out the new Pyrate Isle Sauce Shop and a consignment shop and, although we packed a light picnic lunch, needed additional fuel for the ride back. 
Mo and Mack outside The Big Deck
After lunch we stopped by the town hardware's one of those stores that has EVERYTHING and then stopped by the post office to mail my package.  After that, we slowly made our trek back to the campground.  All in all, we estimated that we pedaled about 18 miles or so!  A fun day, indeed!!

Enjoying Cedar Key with friends....

We've made some really good friends and have enjoyed hanging out with them these past few weeks!
We've been bike riding with Mack and Mo.....

And they snapped this picture of us!
That's our "life is grand" grins!
We took them to see the owls.....I could never get tired of watching the owls!
Snapped this picture with both adult owls!
We then pedaled down to the waterfront, got an ice cream, and headed to the pier to watch the pelicans. 

They were posing pretty for the camera!
We have shared many a meal together, too!  We've had seafood night (blackened shrimp, garlic and butter shrimp and steamed clams), a traditional St Patrick's Day feast with corned beef, cabbage, carrots,  and colcannon and Halushka which is a Polish dish with cabbage, noodles, and kielbasa!  And, this is just our little group of friends.....each week the RV park has potluck!  Good thing we continue to stay active!!

Charlie getting ready for our St Patrick's Day feast!
Ty working on the Colcannon
Some of the gang enjoying a meal!
  During our St Patrick's Day feast, this rainbow appeared....
Luck of the Irish!!
This past Sunday, Ron and Lena invited us to go out on there boat with them.  Charlie and Dot were going too.  It was a great day with good weather and good friends!
Charlie, Captain Ron, and Dan
Me, Dot and Lena
We went exploring the different Keys that are part of the Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge.
Deadman's Key

Gorgeous white pelicans on the sandbar
We motored over to North Key where we enjoyed our picnic lunch.  You are allowed to dock at the beach and enjoy the beachfront but you are not allowed to go inland on the island.  After lunch, we walked the shoreline to see what we could find.....

Hermit Crab!

Tons of horseshoe crabs!
We did see two Bald Eagles in flight but did not get a picture of them.  The day was gorgeous and we enjoyed exploring the different keys with friends.

Charlie and Dot

Lena and Ron
Dan and I with the big whopping shell we found! 
All too soon it was time to meander our way back to Cedar Key but not before we went by Seahorse Key.
Lighthouse in the distance
Seahorse Key is closed to the public for a few months starting Mar 1 as it is a nesting site for various birds. 

We had a great day on the water!  Life is good! 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

"Birds" of all kinds - Cedar Key, FL

Wednesday, we packed up the bikes on the back of the truck and headed to "downtown" Cedar Key.  It's only about a 6 mile drive but we wanted to save our energy so that we could pedal for hours!  Good thing we did as we needed it!
The day was one of those perfect Spring skies, white puffy clouds, and a warm breeze.  And, as long as you kept moving, those pesky no-see-ums left you alone.  (Everyone in the campground looks like they have the measles because of the no-see-ums.) 

We were scoping out places to watch the sunset and think we have found one!
Waterfront access for sunset watching!

I looked for sand dollars but didn't see any!

Cedar Key is such a sleepy little town and we just pedaled and pedaled.  Quite a number of people use bikes or golf carts as their mode of transportation.

We headed over to the airport but first pedaled over to a residential neighborhood close to the runway.
We found this waterfront lot for sale....

This would make an awesome RV site!  
And we figured that it was an good omen when we saw the realty sign....

Some of us call ourselves "pelicans" because we are kind of lolly-gagging around and not too graceful!  It's not a negative thing, though!  Just funny!  We found this sign on the street (yep - the one street of the residential neighborhood we were checking out) and thought it was funny as there really aren't too many kids nearby that we could see!  But, since I feel we are big kids, it was time for a picture!

The Cedar Key airport is really a cool place to visit but the word "airport" may be a bit of a stretch. 
Pretty cool landing! Our "first" bird of the day!
We talked to this pilot (a female!) for a bit.  There are quite a few pilots that are trying to prove the value of the airport to the town of Cedar Key.  It's in a bit of need for some repairs and apparantly the town does not want to put too much money in it.   Based on a survey that she is doing, pilots come from all over the world to land at Cedar Key (who knew??!) and they bring in an estimated $1.5m of revenue to this sleepy town.  That's a lot of dough!  She had also told us that if we ever get the chance to see a Black Hawk helicopter land, take advantage of it as the pilots love showing off if they have an audience. 

It was time for us to continue our pedal and we stopped a bit down the road to take a look at some osprey.
Wow - look at that beak!
And some more Osprey......

These two were guarding their nest!

Second sighting of birds today!  We pedaled back over the bridge and started going back to town but first I had to get a picture of a pelican!

Our third sighting of a bird!
As we pedaled, I heard a "thump thump thump thump"....could it be?  Yes, it was!  I hollered out to Dan.... "the helicopter is coming".  You would have thought we were pedaling for our lives.  Our little legs were pedaling as fast as they could to get back to the airport before the helicopter landed.  We made it just in the nick of time....

Not sure if this is a Black Hawk, an Apache or another kind of helicopter but it sure was neat!  We saw the pilot land once and then he zipped back around, did a loop and came in for a second landing.  The wind was picking up pretty swiftly and, as hard as he (or she!) tried, they could never get it to touch down the second time.  It was very cool to see, well worth the speedy pedal and this was our fourth sighting of a "bird".

Back to our pedaling, we stopped to take a few pictures of the structures along a canal and the water tower...

Our next stop was the Cedar Key Cemetery as I really really wanted to find the owls.  I looked at just about every tree top in the cemetery and was getting a bit frustrated that I wasn't having any luck.  I parked my bike and decided to walk into the woods that were between the cemetery and the sound.  Finally, I had my reward!

The nest was HUGE and, at first look, I saw one little owlet!  He was so cute.  I looked a bit harder...
and saw two babies!
Dan and I just stood there and watched and watched.  It was AMAZING!  We walked to the other side of the next and low and behold, saw this....

Great Horned Owl
and then this.....

I was wondering why the babies seem to be at different stages. According to some information I found on the web, there are usually 2 eggs per clutch, with a clutch ranging in size from 1 to 5 eggs (5 is very rare). The incubation period ranges from 30 to 37 days, averaging 33 days. Brooding is almost continuous until the offspring are about 2 weeks old, after which it decreases.  I guess that's why there seems to be two different aged babies in the nest!!??!!

Too cute!
We were there about 45 minutes or so just watching them.  Another couple came up and they had binoculars and a scope.  They let us look thru the scope to get a better view of the parents and the babies.  It was such a cool sight to see.  This was the last of our "bird" sighting for the day and I couldn't have been more pleased with how it ended! 

Ain't life grand?!!!!