Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Our First Week at Hillsborough Ends Finally and On a High Note

Thursday January 12, 2017                                                                           Most Recent Posts:
Hillsborough River State Park                                                                   David’s Happy Birthday
Thonotosassa, Florida                                                                     Holidays with Matthew, Carrie and Celia



It’s not that we don’t like Hillsborough River, just the opposite but our time here is often spent in less than fun ways.  We spend a week or so in the park every year since it is the closest park to David’s Florida doctors at the Moffitt Cancer Center and Florida Cancer Specialists.  We arrived last Thursday and for a week, until today, have done nothing but medical appointments and business. 

The business being trying to consolidate my 96 year old father’s banking accounts to assure that he has enough money to pay for his assisted living situation which is now costing him three times his monthly income.  It is a good thing he was so frugal earlier in his life.  I’m trying to manage it all to his advantage and not think about the grim possibilities if it doesn’t last his lifetime.



Here’s a quick run down, mostly for my records, to show why there were no posts about these days since we arrived on Thursday January 4.  Who wants to take pictures of any of this?

Jan 6 -Friday – Day one of banking
Jan 7 - Saturday – Rained all day
Jan 8 - Sunday – David’s birthday, see previous post
Jan 9 – Monday – David’s appointment at Moffitt which took from 9:30 to 2:30.  The picture on the right is David and his Myeloma Specialist Dr. Ken Shain to whom we are very grateful. 
Then a grocery stop at Whole foods

Jan 10 - Tuesday – Day two of banking and dental appointments in the afternoon.

Jan 11 - Wednesday – David’s appointment at Florida Cancer Specialists from 8:30 to 1:30. It’s been 5 years since his diagnosis and we are grateful to his diagnosing and prescribing physician Dr. David Wright. It is thanks to Dr. Wright and the Florida Cancer Specialists that we are able to travel all around Florida and receive treatment at any of their facilities.  Yes Dr. Wright is VERY tall.  6’5” I think.  

After David returned at 1:30,  I left for banking appointment #3 which lasted from 2:00 to 5:00 but finallly accomplished what needed to be done.  While I was gone in the afternoon David replaced our TAC Module (Throttle Actuator Control) which we were told on Thursday by the Chevy dealer in Wellborn after some serious rigamarole was the reason for our Check Engine Light coming on as we tried to leave Wellborn.   Has anyone else ever had to replace one of




By 5:00 on Wednesday we were both sick to death of being in the car driving to one appointment or the other and leaving this beautiful park.   The park has a campground potluck on Wednesdays and of course David never misses a pot luck if he can help it so at 6:00 we went over with our wild mushroom cous cous dish and joined the group.  

I have to say that unlike most potlucks we’ve been to, the food was pretty mediocre.  Even the desserts but the night was hardly a loss since we bought $5 worth of raffle tickets to benefit the park.  You could win some very nice gifts or you might win 50% of the pot.  They called it 50/50.  Whatever the take from the ticket sales is, the winner splits it with the park.   We bought our tickets as a donation to the park since Florida State Parks like all of the wonderful state and National parks are seriously underfunded.



So was I surprised when the first number he called for the 50/50 was mine.  All you can see in the picture are the 5 one dollar bills but our winnings for our $5 investment turned out to be $55.   Pretty fine way to end nearly a week of not much but work.

Today we got out on the river in the kayaks finally.   Beautiful day, gorgeous river. 



The Hillsborough River flows 59 miles from its source in the springs of Green Swamp north of the park to an outlet in the city of Tampa on Tampa Bay.  It is the source of drinking water for the city of Tampa.  We paddle the river from the campground put in south through the park and beyond.  The river is so pristine, we can see the fish swimming below us.  Hats off to Florida!







Along the way we come across common Florida river birds like this immature little blue heron fishing.  He flies off down the river ahead of me.






We are both amazed again at the beauty of this river and its impressive cypress trees.  The reflections in the water today are outstanding.






Even the cormorant thinks it is getting a little warm as it edges up to 80 degrees.



We pass several gators and hear others launch themselves into the water with huge splashes both ahead and behind us.  They often look like logs on the bank so it’s best not to paddle to close to the sunny side of the river where they will be.

Of course they might just choose to slip quietly into the water and you’ll never even hear them.




See that log on the bank?



Take a closer look.






The river is slow and lazy just what we need to relax from too much busyness so far this week.  We are going with the flow but it won’t be a problem paddling back up either.  It’s almost like being in another world.


The cormorant drying his wings isn’t worried about us probably becasue he doesn’t see our paddles flashing especially David’s white ones.  If you buy paddles and want to get near the wildlife, don’t buy white or screaming yellow or orange.



Sun is out and so are the gators.  I just love their smiling faces.






Not sure if this is the same immature blue that flew off in front of me earlier but I caught him in mid lunch.   Unfortunately I only got to see a few of his antics trying to get the fish down his throat as I had no way to stop and stay.  Though slowly, the river is always moving.




By now we have paddled for nearly 2 hours and are beyond the park boundary signs.  I don’t know who owns the land on both sides of the river now but it is just as wild and free and quiet as has been our entire trip.  The quietness really stands out.

We turned around and are paddling back up when I spy this female anhinga drying her wings but apparently not her tail as it is still in the water.  Can you see the difference in the cormorant above and the anhinga?  Many people have trouble telling them apart.




At some points the reflections make it hard to tell what’s up and what’s down.



I saw this turn out on the way down and decide to go in on our way back.  It’s one of those narrow tributaries I just love.  But we can’t go very far since it doesn’t take much of a tree to blow down  across such a narrow waterway and block our path.






Do you spot him?  For non gator lovers, this is the last one although we saw several more.





The sun is out and David is in his relaxed paddling mode.  Pant legs rolled up, sleeves rolled up and feet up on the top.




This tree is just beyond the campground kayak put in.  We’ve decided to paddle on up to the rapids and see if we can cross the smaller one as we were able to do in previous years.  Notice the bird in the tree overhead.




I wonder if he’s waiting for us to fall out of the kayaks attempting to go upstream at the rapids?




I have to say that the black vulture is much better looking than the red faced turkey vulture.  No feathers on his face for obvious reasons.



We’ve been known to stop and do some river clean up on our paddles and today when I move over toward the bank to pick up a stray fishing lure, I guess this spider dropped out of the tree onto my boat.  His body is almost metalic looking.  I think he’s some sort of orbweaver but I couldn’t find him in Florida spiders.  I didn’t want to dump him in the water in case he came out of a tree and isn’t a swimmer so he rode with me all the way up to the rapids and back to the dock.



We pass under the first bridge from our hike on David’s birthday.  The suspension bridge is between the two rapids so we may not get a picture of it from the water.






Speaking of rapids, when we arrive, I can see this is not going to work as well as last time.  I think the water must have been much deeper then.   This is apparently good fishing territory for the little blue heron though.







Before he starts out on his up rapids quest, he stops for some pictures of the little blue heron.



After scoping out the situation, I’ve decided I’m not going so I pull over and watch David’s attempts. I’ve got some hilarious video of him trying not once, not twice, but 3 times to no avail. It’s just not deep enough and you can’t get your paddle dug in against the water.

The suspension bridge is just ahead.  Any folks crossing over must have enjoyed this show.  I know I did.




You have to admit he’s pretty cavalier about this.  He doesn’t even put his feet back in the boat to give himself more height and leverage.






He finally gives in and goes over to the other shore to see if there is another way.  At this point he gets himself stuck on that rock in front of him in this picture.  I get some video of him trying to get out but then I turn the camera off to paddle up to try to help him.  So much for our Lewis and Clark imitation.



There isn’t much I can do to help but after a while he manages to get himself free much to the amusement I’m sure of the little blue heron who doesn’t seem to be bothered at all by this guy and his flailing white paddles.




Turns out to be quite an adventure at the end of a delightful lazy and QUIET paddle day on the wonderful Hillsborough River.



  1. The spider *kind of* looks like a female orchard webweaver to me. Hard to tell though!

  2. What a hard week for you both!I hope David's results turn out well. You deserve a nice dinner and drinks. I don't see how you can be in the same river as those Gators. That just freaks me out. And what's worse you have a spider on your boat for more than one second! Yikes...You are much braver than me!

  3. Crazy week! I fully understand not blogging. Glad David is feeling better after all his appointments, his doctors look so nice! You guys both deserved time on the river. Great score winning the 50/50!

  4. What a beautiful river and a beautiful paddle. Such a wonderful way to end all those days of appointments. I had to laugh out loud envisioning David trying to get up that rapid. Mo and I have some similar hilarious attempts at going up over some very small rapids. Impossible in our lake type kayaks, but sure made for a lot of laughs.

  5. Not the most fun week for sure but coming out $50 ahead ain't bad. I always thought David is tall so glad you mentioned Dr. Wright's height. Sure glad you got to paddle into this gorgeous stress reducing nature. The water is so clear and calm you caught some wonderful reflections.

  6. Sherry,
    A little 2x Rustoeum paint on those paddle blades of David's will get rid of the white, When I bough my paddles some years ago, the good ones only came in bright orange, so that's what I have, but I just put a black or green coat of paint on them occasionally. The new 2x paint sticks to plastic fairly well, but a touch up once in a while will renew them.
    Nice place to yak. There always seems like there are a lot of things to take pictures of from a boat.
    Have fun,

  7. Tough week, but nice way to end with that 50/50 win:o)) So good to see you out on the river...much nicer than last couple years. Sure hope the weather holds and we all get to enjoy more paddling and hiking. Also hoping for good news from the Doctors!!!

  8. I am so glad you were able to squeeze in a little time for paddling! That was very gracious of you to give the spider a lift. I, unfortunately, would not have been so nice; sink or swim buddy! Yay on the raffle win and how like you and David to give it back. Love the pictures. Praying for good news from the doctors.

  9. I do love seeing those gators. Magnificent animals!

  10. How much did you charge that spider for its ride on your Uber kayak? ;c)

  11. That is such a beautiful area, and your photos are spectacular. I'd get spooked by all the gators though.

  12. So glad I gave you the raffle tickets since my luck seems to have run out. Hopefully this is the start of a lucky streak for you! The river paddle really has been the high point of our stay though in my opinion - so quiet & such beauty, ad very relaxing.

  13. Sometimes life gets in the way of our vacation life:) Glad you got all the appointments out of the way and had time for this beautiful paddle. Sure was a great float:) Love all the gators!!

  14. Despite those hectic times, you are fortunate that you can paddle quietly and enjoy the moment with nature soothing your soul under the watchful eyes of those gators.

  15. What a wonderful way to relax and end a busy time with doctors. Oh how I understand that!!
    I really enjoyed reading your adventure down the river and all the lovely pictures. Do the gators make you nervous at all??

  16. Looks like great fun. Love the birds.

  17. All those appointments (especially on the road) aren't fun. But that paddle was glorious! What a gorgeous river, and so much wildlife. I never thought about the colors of the paddles making a difference in how close we're able to get to birds without spooking them, but it makes sense. Our paddles are wood and black, pretty inconspicuous. Of course, there's our bright yellow kayak....I want a purple one. :-))

  18. David and the first doctor look like brothers :-) Glad you got in a lovely paddle before moving on. Quiet is the best view!! I definitely struggle with the different between the two birds, Anhingas being my very favorite. Love all the gators after seeing just the one in the swamps. Guess we'll have to venture back to Florida in the future :-)))

  19. Busy week! But, winning the 50/50 and that lovely paddle really made for a nice end to it! Beautiful pictures of a beautiful place!


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