February 2024

We started February parked at Thousand Trails Orlando and walked around the large RV resort several times. Our spot was near a lot of park models – some are owned by residents; others are rented out by the resort.

…another Linda & Jim couple!

Sandhill Cranes wander all over the park!

The wooded area is probably the oldest section of the RV park

A cormorant – a “fishing bird” – spreads its wings to dry after diving for a fish.

A lot of folks have at least one dog – some have several and they seem to like to look out the window of their RVs. These dogs are in the cab of a Super C.

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We played Mini golf on the fun 18-hole course.

We rode our bikes about 12 miles on the Van Fleet Trail a couple of times. The trail runs through the Green Swamp and provides some wildlife viewing along the way.

This big gator seems to like to hang out by the bridge we ride over. We don’t see it every time we go, but it was there on one ride!

These birds were hanging out in the trees – an anhinga and a great egret

These smaller gators were further down the trail, piled on a log enjoying the sun .

We often see Gopher Tortoises when we ride. They do not swim – they dig burrows and eat the vegetation along the trail.

 Sometimes we see other turtles in the water.

 Linda’s brother Rob drove up for an overnight stay and brought his cruiser! We rode 14.29 miles on the South Lake Trail in Minneola/Clermont.                

Last March, just before we headed back to Tennessee, we were riding on this trail and saw a new mural being added to the walls of an overpass.

We had stopped to chat briefly with the artist and she showed us a rendering of what she was painting – a cormorant!

So, it was fun to pass by and see Bethany’s finished work!

If you are interested, you can read about the art work here!

After our ride, we visited the Suncreek Brewery in Clermont, and enjoyed a dinner with sliders at Clermont Brewing,

Betty & Greg invited us over for dinner on the 4th. Greg had smoked a pork butt all day. We enjoyed meeting the other couple they had invited and had a wonderful evening but took no photos, except for Skeeter their cat!

On Feb 10 we moved to Mt Olive Shores North for 2 nights. We enjoyed a happy hour visit at the Mousers the evening we arrived. They had arranged for us to stay in the guest parking. Jim had helped Ron with some issues he had with the radio in their American Coach last year. He mentioned that they had a place we could park if we ever had the need.  Linda’s allergies had her down by the next morning; it had been sunny and warm and things were beginning to bloom. We had hoped to go to church with Ron and Julia but stayed home and worshipped via YouTube with our home church, Stephens Valley Church in Nashville. Jim went on a solo ride on the Van Fleet Trail since we were parked very close to the southern end of the trail. Linda took it easy and we soaked in the hot tub later. No alligators in that section!

We moved back to Southern Palms RV Resort in Eustis on February 12. This resort has a “Happy Hour” on Wednesdays. Each person is given 2 drink tickets (for beer, wine, soft drink or water), a “food” ticket (a small serving of something with meat in it) and 2 door prize tickets – all at no charge! We met up with Betty and Greg again and stayed in the rec hall to play Mexican Train afterwards. Jim was the big winner!

On Valentines Day we visited Blue Springs State Park to see the manatees. We had seen posts about there being over 100 seen at the park – they said 54 had been spotted the day we visited. There was a mosaic manatee statue.

We saw our first manatees (also known as “sea cows”)!

Information signs along the way helped us learn more about these unusual creatures.

This photo below is from the Blue Springs State Park website.

There was a nice paved walkway along the St. John’s River where you could view the manatees and other wildlife.

Little Blue Heron – or Egretta.

The “boil” is where the underground spring comes to the surface.

The opening looked like an elongated oval.

This diagram of the spring is a bit hard to see since it was such a sunny day!

We sure enjoyed the day at this state park!

We met up with Russ and Adele in The Villages on the 16th and had a tasty dinner at McGrady’s Pub and visited at their place afterwards. Alas – no photos. 🙁

We went to Gainesville to visit the REI store on the 17th. They were having a sale on some things we needed. While we were in Linda’s “old stomping grounds” we had lunch at Leonardo’s Pizza!

We drove up toward Ocala on the 20th to the Santos Trail Head for the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway.

We had hoped to ride our bikes on this hilly trail as we passed under the Landbridge when we headed south on I-75 on December 30th.

The 20th turned out to be a perfect day to go for a ride; just 66° and 39% humidity. As we started out, Linda’s rear brake was messed up yet again; over the time we had not been out, the brake cable rusted solid inside the housing again, after Jim had replaced the whole braking system last month. So, we walked about 3 miles on the trail instead.

New Smyrna Beach was our destination on the 22nd – to say hello to the Atlantic Ocean before we left Florida. At 68° it was a bit too chilly to go for a swim!

We saw several of these dead jellyfish along the shore.

The hard packed sand allows for driving along the beach if you want to pay $20 for the day.

We walked about 4 miles along the beach and enjoyed the view over lunch!

Rob had recommended we put hydraulic disc brakes on Linda’s bike, so Jim installed another new rear brake system on her bike; what a difference! On the 24th we rode 12.6 miles on the West Orange Trail near Winter Garden. There seemed to be big doings in Winter Garden, so we rode toward the South Lake Trail.  To the left of the power pole, there is an old mile marker for the railroad that used to run here. 801 miles to Richmond?  

On February 26, we returned to TT Orlando; we left Southern Palms with 126,781 miles on Thor (our Jeep toad) and 99,976.3 miles on Acey. As we drove, Acey rolled 100,000 miles! The next day, we rode again on the Van Fleet Trail, logging another 14.3 miles. Oddly, there was also a mile 801 marker on this rail-trail!

We stopped to look for gators in the swamp.

We saw some wildlife that we had not seen before on this trail; a Green Heron…

…and an otter was rolling in the grass and then ran across the trail!

There was Leap Day this year and we recalled one of our schoolmates was a “leap year baby,” so he would finally have his 17th birthday! We drove up toward Ocala again to the Santos Trail Head and rode 20 miles on this beautiful trail. We finally got to the Landbridge over I-75! It allows animals to safely cross over the interstate.

We stopped in Leesburg to pick up our ceiling fans at Dan’s Fan City on our way back to Orlando. We wanted to do that before we head back to Tennessee on Monday. It was a fun day to finish out the month!


7 thoughts on “February 2024”

    1. Its been great to take a break – but its time to get back to work! Hope we see you this year – sorry the April plans fell through..

  1. Good morning from Crystal River, Florida where we are visiting family. And manatees- and lots of wildlife like you have mentioned. This is a fantastic place to visit- love your blog with all the pictures and descriptions of sights and history!

  2. Always lovely to see your emails about your travels. I always enjoy them Linda JOY and Jim.


    Theresa JOY.

  3. Looks like fun, as always. Anxious to see how the house looks. Looking forward to the next update. Love to all the Mags….Jim too.

  4. Feburary was short but you accomplished alot! Glad you got a rest from building. I am sure you are ready
    and excited to come back. Glad you are ZOOMING church. Jim has been so good!
    Love the pictures and glad Rob gave you a remedy for your bike.

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