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

Henry David Thoreau

Hanging around the park

Sunday January 18 & Monday January 19, 2014
E.G. Simmons Park
Ruskin, Florida







Sunday dawned cool and breezy again dashing our plans to go kayaking  But luckily our friends Bill and Nancy wanted to see the park so they came by and we hopped on our bikes for a ride. 

We took them around to all the spots including panther point, where there are no more panthers, and bobcat point, where there are seldom if ever bobcats.   We stopped by the power boat ramp and the beach.   The entire park is on Tampa Bay and all the canals and mangrove trails lead out to it.




The day had started out sunny but then the clouds rolled in and we had a short shower.  We ducked under a pavilion until that ended but the wind picked up and I don’t think it ever got over 56 degrees which with the wind chill felt more like 46.




I actually put up the hood on my hoodie to keep the wind off of my neck and ears.  Is this really just across the bay from Tampa, Florida?   The people from the frozen north coming down here in January for a beach break are sure going to be disappointed.





I had made a big pot of vegetable barley soup for dinner and invited them to stay but Nancy had also made a big pot of potato soup.  She brought us some but wouldn’t take part of ours home with her.  She claims they can’t eat even all of their own soup since most days their coach is in the bays at Lazy Days and they eat at the Crown Club.  Hmmmm……wish I’d thought to insist she take it and freeze it.  That works very well.  So for dinner we had a soup bar declared them both delicious.  

Much better than the dinners fish and trashcan dinners of these three regular park residents whom we saw today.  But I suppose they don’t think so.













Today 56 wasn’t the high it is the temperature when we go out running/walking 10,000 steps worth.  By the time we come back it was clear it will be a gorgeous day.   David has a big bowl of cereal, banana, raisins and nuts.  I have a green smoothie (kale, spinach, banana, blueberries).  We call it breakfast, get our gear and launch our kayaks right off the back of our site.  LOVE IT!






From the land.











From the water.










Down the canal





Into the waters on the edge of Tampa Bay




Just look at the clarity of the water all along the edge of the park.  It’s a beautiful day but just a tad too chilly to be in the swimming area so we figure we can paddle right through and we do.




We paddle along the edges of the park in the bay and later go into the mangroves which surround the park




Ruddy Turnstones and white ibis are along the edges.



Look Ma, one leg.DSCF3808



This is David’s picture and one of my favorites of the day.  Such clear water.  I had no idea Tampa Bay was so clean.  Just makes me smile!





We paddle all along the western end of the park and beyond where we find this compound and I think, well if I had to live near a big city, this might be just fine.   It appears to occupy an entire peninsula and other than the landscaping around the house, the rest is entirely natural and native.




At this point around the back side of the peninsula with the house, we turn around to go back and check out the mangroves.   As we are paddling along, all of a sudden there is a huge splash and a pelican lands almost close enough to David that he can touch it with his paddle.   He gets a great picture.  Lots of fishing going on among the pelicans today but we don’t see anything but a ray in these clear waters.











The shore line of the park is also totally natural.  There are little private nooks and crannies for fishermen, swimmers, families, book readers all around.





We turn into the mangroves.   Their roots reaching far down into the water always delight me.





We sit for a while and watch mergansers playing and splashing around.   A group of ducks is also in the area and again I am not sure who they are.  The sun is quite bright today and the colors my camera picks up are not great.  If you can identify them, please let me know.












It’s pretty amazing how close the birds will let us get before they panic.  We always try to swing wide around them but sometimes when I am taking their pictures, I drift much closer than I mean to.  David caught me in the act.




A quartet of Snowy Egrets.  They weren’t singing barbershop.DSCF3857





We’ve been on the water nearly 3 hours.  As we turn the corner to head back I hear a motor behind us.  Until now, we have not seen one other boat in the park area on the water.  When I turn around to look, I see another kayak between us and the motor boat.  I say “we’ve got company” and paddle on.  But when I get around the corner and move over to the side, the other boat has Howard and Linda Payne in it.  What a surprise.  We knew they would be coming back to the park from their time at the Tampa RV Show today but had no idea they would be back and in the water right away.

They are testing out their new FastTrack 385.  It looks like a great boat to us and they seem to think so too.




We gather up paddle along a bit, talking some, photographing the tri colored heron and the yellow crowned night heron who are both on the edges of the water in the mangroves.   And then…………….




night heron



And I have a picture of it……Linda Payne is paddling!! 
Remember you saw it here first and perhaps only.  Smile




It’s always great talking with them.  I learn something of importance to me every single time. They are a wealth of information.  No wonder their rallies and seminars are so popular.




Time to be heading back.  They are actually just down the channel from us about 6 sites.  Perhaps we’ll see them again tomorrow on the water.  It’s supposed to be another good temperature day although not as sunny.   We leave on Wednesday to head down to the Everglades and they leave as well but for Grand Rapids Michigan to do a show.  Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr





Back home, David whipped up a salad and some delicious wraps.   They were so pretty I had him pose with one before rolling it up.




And they taste as good as they look. 
That’s a replay for sure!  
Don’t you just love a man who likes to cook??




Then the sun set on a mighty nice day.








  1. Great Bird pics, I guess I need to get a boat.

  2. Hi Sherry, I'm glad you got to enjoy the water, but sorry it was so cold for you Your pictures are beautiful, as usual. :) I love those birds

  3. OK David! Share your recipe!

    Sherry, the trip on the water looks so inviting. The everglades sound nice right now with cooler weather about to hit us tomorrow. At least we were able to work outside today preparing the car and motorhome for travel a bit further south to Gulf Shores! Whoot ..... hoot, we are out of here either tomorrow or Wednesday

  4. Sherry, is it very hard to find a spot to camp there if you come in on a Monday or Tuesday? We are needing to get back out in the motorhome in a couple of weeks. Have fun down south. --Dave

    1. Hi Dave, Campsites are first come but we have never found a problem during the week in the winter any of the 3 or 4 times we've been here.

  5. I haven't been to Tampa Bay for a long time and I don't think it was that clear back then. Beautiful pictures and so many birds!

  6. Great time on the water, great lunch and a great sunset! Perfect.

  7. Looks like fun and so glad you have finally gotten some decent weather days.

  8. Thanks for the "Cool" tour of the park. Glad the weather cleared and you were able to get out on the water. Enjoy the everglades and I'll be looking forward to photos from Echo Pond!!!

  9. Glad to see you got a nice day for a paddle. I love seeing how clear the water in the bay is. Tampa Bay used to be pretty dirty but they have been working on it for years and it appears their work has paid off.

    WHAT? Linda paddles? Who knew?

    I'm glad they like their new Fast Tracks. I thought they would. We sure like ours, although ours are the older style.

  10. Looks like it was a great day for a paddle even if it was a bit cool. One of these days we'll get to one of the RV Dream rallies, they are such a fountain of information and so great about sharing so much, it really helped when we were trying to figure things out early on.

  11. Nice paddle day ... all the more so because you've been waiting for it for a while.

  12. That looks like a lovely park. Quite an impressive sunset, too. I guess sunsets are so fascinating because they're so short lived and easy to miss if you're not looking.

  13. Makes me happy too to see such beautiful, clear water... and the birds and the sun and I can hear the quiet time on the water ... sigh

  14. Beautiful country & the water! Next winter...
    I do have a question, well maybe two. In the 16th (or so) photo down you see the bow of the orange kayak and there is a tube attached to a carabiner right under the sun screen. Is the tube just to keep the ID & such dry?
    Do you worry about getting your camera wet out on the boat?

    Great photos! Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Great question Rob you are really looking closely at the pictures. The carabiner is attached to David's stainless steel water bottle. As for cameras, those who have been with us for a while know that David has indeed dropped THREE cameras in the water getting in and out of his boat. We both keep our cameras in a case around our necks which of course would do us no good were we to be swamped or tipped. We are flat water kayakers and mostly swamps, mangroves, lakes, rivers. We avoid strong winds and waves. But we do have dry bags for the cameras should we be surprised mid paddle. Thanks SO much for your comments.

  15. Wow what a nice day on the water! Love the pelican shot that David got and the cute little duck splashing. Love the herons- they are so pretty. The water does look nice but it looks shallow. I guess it isn't or you would've gotten stuck. Dinner looked yummy- so colorful. I am happy because it is snowing! Yesterday they predicted either 1/10 of an inch OR 3-5 inches and then they predicted a winter storm with as much as 8 inches. I was hoping for a decent snow or too. I'll send you a picture later. It's beautiful! xxxooo

  16. What a serendipitous moment to run into H&L. Can't believe how clear the Tampa Bay is! Looks like a spring :) We use a dry bag for our camera & cell phones. It's a pain pulling out lenses at times, but better safe than sorry!

  17. Yes, a man who can cook is priceless ;) Well done Pops - that looks scrumptious! I enjoy the mangroves in Florida - kayaking them is unlike most other things. Lovely clear water - can't ask for much more than that! And meeting friends in the water - how fun! And you can see the birds so up close - exciting! And a good sunset - what a day! It is cold here in MD - 56 feeling 46 sounds warm. Haha! But, that is NOT a beach day - glad it warmed for kayaking :)

  18. Sounds like a perfect day! We have the same kayak that Linda and Howard just got. As a matter of fact, we got it through them. We really enjoy ours. The weather isn't very cooperative, though. Glad you were able to get out and enjoy the sun.

    Linda paddling...definitely a first...haha!

    Dinner looks yummy:)

  19. Oh, that looks like a wonderful day! We just arrived at O'Leno State Park and with sunny weather forecast, we're looking forward to lots of kayaking here, too. Eric says your mystery ducks are female scaups. ;-)

  20. I can't believe Linda was actually paddling! For a few seconds, I thought I was going to have a heart attack!!!

    How funny to meet H & L on the water, that's got to be a first of a kind RVer's meet up. :c)

  21. Robinkwalton@gmail.comJanuary 22, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    What a beautiful day! Love the pictures,as always the sunsets are incredible ! I do love the birds,one one with his feathers flowing out and he looks so grand. David can cook a mean meal and pies and,and,and...that says it all. Can't wait to sit down and paint some of your photo's!Working on a friends portrait with her dog. THEN have to CHOOSE which one to start with. Keeep flashing. Love you two.


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