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

Henry David Thoreau

Moffitt, manatee and 10,000 steps a day

Friday January 17 & Saturday January 18, 2014
E. G. Simmons Park, Ruskin Florida








We are on the road by 9am and off to Tampa where David has an appointment with his second opinion doctor who was actually the one who first diagnosed him with Multiple Myeloma in January of 2012.  We owe a great deal to doctor David Wright of Florida Cancer Specialists who initially encouraged us not to think of the disease as “fatal” and assured us that there was treatment after which we could likely return to our lifestyle for at least a few more years. He is an upbeat, encouraging man and I would highly recommend him to anyone who needs a hematologist in the Tampa Florida area.  He’s 6’4” tall BTW.

His story was the same today, not to worry, there are lots of options.  He concurred with the probable treatment plan barring any bone damage discovered by the two tests later in the day.  The RX to Go arm of Florida Cancer Specialists is the group which provides David’s medications to him over night by UPS wherever we are in the country.   OUTSTANDING service.   I’m pretty sure that we are the only continuing full timers that either Dr. Wright or Dr. Shain, David’s Moffitt doctor, have among their patients.   We hope to be a model to bring hope to those with this incurable disease.


White Ibis flying over E. G. Simmons ParkDSCF3660


After this appointment we go across town to the all too familiar Moffitt Cancer Center where right on time at 12:45 David is wheeled into surgery for his Bone Marrow Biopsy which makes a hole in his hip about the size of an ice pick. Oh my…..  

He is sedated but not put under full anesthetic so that within 20 minutes of being out of the surgery suite he is awake again and about 30 minutes after that is on his way to Radiology for a Bone Scan.  



Fishermen at E.G. Simmons DSCF3662

The biopsy is to check the percentage of myeloma cells, to see if there are any new chromosomal abnormalities that were not there before and to do a prognostic risk status to determine how aggressive the cancer is now.  

The bone scan of all the bones in his body is to look for any evidence of myelomic activity which might include solid tumors on the bones or bones that have been hollowed out or compromised in some way by lesions.   He has now had a total of 3 biopsies and 3 scans. 





From the initial bone biopsy in 2012 we learned that he has chromosomal abnormalities and a high risk type of myeloma.  So far the bone surveys have shown no damage which is one of the main reasons that he is able to feel “normal” and have no physical limitations.







Due to the efficiency of the Moffitt folks, we are back out on the street in less than 3 hours and by 3:00 are headed home.  When we arrive, David understandably takes a nap.   I go out for a fast walk around the park to pick up the rest of my 10,000 daily steps.  






Along my way I enjoy a flock of white Ibis flying above me, see many fishermen on the edges of the mangroves, some cute raccoons hoping to get near the park’s trash cans, lots of ospreys on and off the nest and just the beauty of the natural area.

















I haven’t found a place to view the sun actually setting over the water.  The sunset tonight wasn’t as spectacular as the night we arrived but it was still lovely and the pink sky after glow was as well.











We wake up to 49 degrees and decide to have a warm breakfast before going out to do today’s 10,000 steps.  Those folks at Moffitt really are fabulous.  Despite the size of the hole in his hip, David reports no discomfort last night or this morning and has taken no pain medication.







I’m hoping tomorrow will be warm enough to go kayaking.  We have  a great put in at the rear of our site.

But today it is 49 and breezy and feels pretty cold as we set off into the wind.











After leaving the campground, one of the first things we see is a flotilla of ducks. Neither of our cameras can get a good shot at the distance but it looked like they have blue bills but no white on their faces or sides so we have tentatively ruled out ruddy ducks and lesser scaups.






The park is surrounded by mangroves.  It is a lovely natural environment.  I love the roots reaching down for the water.  











Many local people come for the day for picnics, birthday parties, launching their boats of all kinds and of course fishing.  We wonder about the birthday party being set up with balloons in a pavilion we pass by.  I hope everyone is really warmly dressed.  The high today is only going to be 55. 

E.G. Simmons is a lovely place for a bike ride, a walk around or a kayak paddle through the mangroves. And if it were warmer, the manatee might be willing to leave the Tampa Electric Company plant and swim over in these mangroves.  We have seen them here other times and even kayaked among them.   If you’d like to read about that. You can find the post here.   But today it is feeling cold and windy to me as we walk rapidly


Seeing the stacks of the power plant at Apollo Beach on our way back reminds me of the manatee viewing area there.  No doubt all the manatee are there today given the weather,  so we decide to take a short drive over to see them.




But we forgot this was a week-end day.   Does that happen to you too?  And we also forgot that it was a holiday week-end day.  We are shocked to pull up and find a line of cars waiting to get into the parking lot and cars parked all along the road.  But we are here and we know the manatee are too so we forge ahead.




The parking lot is lined with what we learn are called “Solar Trees”.  These solar panels have informative signs describing the details and benefits of TECO’s solar program.  Among the things we learn is in its first 10 years Tampa Electric’s renewable energy program generated about 41 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy offsetting more than 35,000 tons of carbon dioxide.  That’s the equivalent of planting more than 8,200 acres of trees. 

If you or your business have solar panels installed Tampa electric will interconnect your system to the grid and install a bi-directional meter.  With net metering you can earn credit for the electricity your solar array returns to the electric grid.  I’m thinking that could possibly mean a check rather than a bill at least some times.  Wouldn’t that be sweet???







Near the top of the parking lot we find a station in the Charge Point network.  Here with a credit card, you can fill up your electric car just as you do in a gasoline station today.  But this is solar energy.   I really love this.  How I hope it is the way of the future.  The cleanest fuel we have yet to “discover”.   Haven’t you ever thought the creator must be wondering what in the world we are doing digging energy out of the ground or using chemical reactions when there is a huge energy source every single day in the sky where you really can’t miss it.








I am surprised to find that the viewing center is quite a big operation with an educational building and all sorts of indoor and outdoor games.  There is a hurricane simulation center where for $2 you can stand inside and experience really strong winds.   I guess.  When I walked by two little girls were in there and their hair was blowing all over the place.  I should have taken a picture of them.






We go out to the first viewing area but there are no manatee here. 



Looks like they are further down the discharge canal to our left.  So we head in that direction. 






But before we do, we go into the education center to warm up.  Lots of other folks have the same idea.   So how do they know what manatee breath smells like??   They have a complete manatee skeleton.  You can pick up any of the bones other than the “hands” which are encased.   The manatee “hands” inside their little flippers look very much like a human hand amazingly.







They have several games which we had a good time playing.  We did pretty well on the question and answer ones.









And then it is out to see the manatee and they are here in numbers.   It is GREAT!  They are such magnificent creatures.  Some are just HUGE.  Many show scars from boat encounters.










The water temperature gauge shows why they are here.  We’re freezing out here.  But they are warm down there.




There are a lot of things going on in addition to manatee.   There are large numbers of fish and we can see them swimming in schools which of course attracts the pelicans.  





At one point there is a flurry of activity.  Fish not just swimming but zooming by, jumping out of the water, and then we see the shark.  It is moving at a speed too fast for my camera but here’s the best picture I could get.  There are signs telling about the fish one might see here and it lists the black tipped shark as a common visitor.




I could have stayed here for hours and watched all the activity, IF it had been warmer.  But then the manatee might not be here so it’s a real catch 22. 




We definitely recommend spending an afternoon at the Manatee Viewing Center but do it during the week, not on a holiday and dress WARMLY.







  1. It sounds like David is in the best of hands for his cancer treatment, and I wish him the very best. The manatee viewing area looks like so much fun - with all the added creatures to see as well. At first I was a little surprised to think of Florida being that chilly, but I guess it is normal for a small part of the year.

  2. Sherry,
    Just missed you by a day... I was at Moffitt with my brother on Thursday ....
    Glad all went well for David on Friday ...
    Hoping for the best with the test results ... I have not been to the viewing center in a long time, it sure is a big operation now ...thanks for the photos and the information ... Take good care and thanks always for your time and effort with your blog .... Sharing is a treasure !

  3. What a terrific experience! That is going onto our bucket list. David, you are still in our prayers.

  4. How cool to see all those manatees!
    Hope david gets a good report.

  5. Glad to hear David is in the hands of an encouraging and hopeful oncologist. So glad when we have the opportunity to encounter doctors such as Dr. Wright. Sure makes a difference in our ability to keep on going and remaining focused on life and living. Ya'll make just the cutest manatees!! That is a great shot! And the manatees are incredible, huh? When Jorie and I lived down in Central Florida, here they would come up our canal and would come to our dock if we offered running water....they loved it. They are beautiful. Thanks for sharing....it is good to smile and manatees always have that effect on me. Stay warm in our chilly Florida weather.

  6. That's a LOT of manatees! We saw a dozen last week at Wakulla Springs and thought that was a lot, but it's nothing compared to the numbers you saw. The Manatee Viewing Center looks like fun -- we're putting that on our list of places to visit. Thinking of you and hoping for a good report for David. ;-)

  7. What a guy! Enjoying the Manatee Viewing Center a day after scary tests. I certainly hope all the results are good as possible.
    It is 51 degrees here on the East coast tonight and has been light jacket weather all day. Still have not needed heat in the Cabana yet.

  8. So glad Dave was sedated for his biopsy. Ken has had about a dozen and said they are not comfortable. I'm like everyone else- praying the results are the best they can be!! Glad you got to see the manatee. We went looking and saw a few near Weeki Wachee. Keep warm!

  9. Sounds like you have a great medical team! Like that palm tree shot:)

  10. Glad the testing went well. Now for the waiting...not sure which is worse. But knowing you two, you will fill the two week wait with lots of adventures!!! You are a good model to those with the disease and also to the rest of us to be sure and make the most of each and everyday:o))

  11. Glad the tests went smoothly and as Nancy said, now for the waiting. Haven't been to that viewing center, but have filed it away for future reference. We enjoy going to Blue Springs State Park to see the manatees. But it's the same story - don't go on the weekends!

  12. As with the first time around, David's in good hands ... keeping fingers crossed for no-damage results of the biopsy and scans. That's a nice program that TECO has ... we could contribute with our solar panels when we are not using them ... that's neat.

  13. I'm glad the procedure is over and that David didn't have any pain afterwards. The doctor seems to be a good one and it's great that he understands your lifestyle, and that he has options for you.

    We always love going to the Big Bend power plant. We try to go every year. I remember when it first started. If I remember correctly it started after manatees started congregating in the warm discharge water and one was sucked in and killed. I think that's when they started putting some sort of excluder to protect the manatee. It's grown and improved through the years and is a great and free way to spend some time.

    I hope the weather warms up soon so that you'll be able to do some kayaking.

  14. could one of these be your blue billed duck?

    We'll be heading to that area in March so I hope the Manatees are still around

  15. Glad that David's tests are now done, you both are an inspiration that no matter what curveball life may throw at you, you keep making the most of every day. I'm sure your example will encourage others that may be facing serious challenges to make the most of every day.

    Nice pictures of the manatees, despite the cold weather, looks like you had a great time. Hope your weather warms up, after all, you're in Florida, the Sunshine State! ;c)

  16. I'm glad that you both keep such positive attitudes. Sounds like you are in the best place with the best doctors! I've heard lots about the manatees loving the power plant water. Hope it doesn't make them glow in the dark :-)

  17. Heartfelt thoughts for strength during these days and so hopeful for positive results! Glad you are surrounded by such beautiful creatures to warm your souls!

  18. Maybe one day there will be a cure - Dad is an inspiration and he is lucky to have such great doctors at Moffitt - I really think it is amazing that the RVing lifestyle just happened to allow Dad to 'live' close enough to one of the best places for treatment for his disease. A miracle? Meant to be? Manatees are amazing - so is solar power. Looks like a fun place to go and learn. I enjoy museum games - that interaction is fun. Glad you got to see that despite the holiday weekend masses who had the same idea. And glad Dad was able to enjoy even with a hole in his hip and you got your 10,000 steps!

  19. I went to the Manatee Festival in Crystal River on Saturday along with some friends. It was chilly walking around but that's the best time to see dozens of them at Three Sister's Spring.
    Positive thoughts going your way David.

  20. Glad the testing is over and that David was spared a lot of pain during the procedure. He is a manly man!! So nice for you both that you have a lot of activity and interests in your life... reasons to push forward and enjoy living. Of course I/we are hoping the testing results are such that David will only require minimal changes to his lifestyle and/or medications. You are both always in our hearts and in our prayers. I think your Florida weather needs to warm up a bit... like perhaps the high 70s.... how's that for perfection? Enjoy the manatee... fascinating, large creatures that they are.

  21. About all I can say is 'ditto' to what everyone else has already said! :)

  22. Great to hear the tests are done and David is back to his young self. I haven't been to Apollo Beach since 05 and every time we head north it's too warm and there not there. Hate to hope for a cold front right after I leave Naples, but sure would like to see them some day...

  23. Loved seeing the manatees and those rascally raccoons! Cheers for David's good news! I hope you're able to get some kayaking in soon.

  24. It's really great that David's doctor is an optimist and has a plan in mind. This must make it somewhat more encouraging for David. The raccoons are adorable and I love the manatees and the pelican. Sorry it was cold- it is supposed to be a high of 32 tomorrow. I just made soup. Love you- xxxooo

  25. That is amazing that David has that nasty hole and needs no medication! So glad you have great medical care and doctors….

    Beautiful photography as always .. love them all … the little raccoons! and the sunsets… sigh

    and yes… alternative energy should have been an alternative eons ago.. but oil is money and money rules… do not get me started….

    oil spills and chemical spills when we have water and the sun and hamsters… just drives me insane… I said.. don't get me started.

    I want to hug a manatee… I've hugged a dolphin. hahaa… manatee breath.

    I love Carrie's comment … you both are an inspiration … you surely are...

  26. Good to hear David's tests went well with no too much pain. Sounds like he is in great care. Still praying:)

    The Power Plant is a great place to see the manatees. It was freezing two years ago when we were there.

    We have Manatee Park here in Ft. Myers where they hang when the water in the gulf is cold. You can kayak with them. But it's been too cold to think about doing that right now. But we had gun watching and listening to them.

    Hoping for good news real soon:)

  27. You two are amazing. Off to Moffitt for a challenging day and back in action having fun with hardly missing a beat.
    The power plant looks like the place to go to see the manatee. Love the photos of them and all the other critters.

  28. Once again I'm sadly behind and playing catch up. Sigh. . . .

    Dr. Wright sounds like a wonderful doctor to have on your team. The fact that he understands your lifestyle is a huge bonus.

    Love the last shot of you two!


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