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

Henry David Thoreau

I Win the Lottery

Sunday March 2, 2014
Blue Spring State Park
Orange City, Florida



Got your attention didn’t I? 


I didn’t win the one you were thinking of but I did win and important one for me. Those who spendDSCF8320 their winters in Florida know how difficult it has been to get sites in the state parks.  It is getting so difficult that my friend Nancy and I refer to it as “winning the lottery”.  We like to stay in State Parks for the entire 2 weeks permitted and to do that you must make reservations ELEVEN months in advance.  Yes that’s right.  Almost as bad as getting a spot at Yosemite.   And forget the Florida Keys.

So nearly every morning I have been trying to get a site at Koreshan State Historic Area in south Florida for NEXT winter.   Yes that’s February 2015.   And today was finally the day.  I ACTUALLY WON THE LOTTERY!!   I somehow managed to get the only site available for those 2 weeks.  Koreshan is a small state park and there are only 14 sites that are big enough for Winnona.





The biggest problem for me in playing the lottery is not being able to go down to see the manatee at dawn for fear of getting lost in watching them and missing the lottery.  So to celebrate this minor victory in life’s games, I hurry down to see if the few manatee still coming in to the spring run have left for breakfast yet.  I’m in luck.  Some have not.  



There is an additional bonus for me in winning the lottery.


One of the best things about winning the lottery is that I have two whole weeks off where I do not have to be at my laptop at 8am.  Of course I have no plans for us this year after April since I have no clue where we can go yet.  But I’m planned from November through mid February of next winter.   Isn’t it a hoot???

My ritual when I go to look for manatee in the morning is to go down the path from the campground which brings me into the middle of the boardwalk and then go up to the right to the spring which is the warmest place in the run.  From there I walk down the run to the mouth checking all along the way to see if they are here.  I stay a short time at any spot where I see them and take a few pictures if the light is right.   Yes I have hundreds of manatee pictures.  Once I reach the end of the boardwalk at the mouth of the run, I go back to my favorite spot and if the manatee I saw earlier are still there, I stay and watch them.   I can be gone two or three hours doing this easily.

Today, I swear I think I see a couple of my friends.  What do you think? 









Just take a look at that face and those whiskers and eyes.  Looks like a big smile to me.   I know, I know…..don’t anthropomorphize.





If you look across the mouth of the spring run below, my kayak was between the two post looking things on the floating barrier when my friends came to say Hi.





I can also always count on at least a half dozen cormorants, Florida gar, tarpon and  far too many tilapia to also be in the spring run.






It’s always fun to see who your new neighbors are going to be.


If they are tenters you are usually noisier than those in trailers or other rigs.  If they start unloading the firewood you know there will be a campfire.  If they have dogs, you know they will be out walking them.

After my manatee time, I go back to Winnona and the regular morning ensues – breakfast, clean up, straighten up.  When I glance out my window I see a new neighbor moving in across from us.   What a cutie.  She looks like one of the Sisters on the Fly.






I’m going over to talk with them when they finish setting up but the next time I look up, they are gone.   I go over and take these pictures of their darling little 1956 Shasta.








We meet the owners later and find out that she is a week-end fun project for two folks who are antiquers and like to go out and about visiting antique shops and flea markets.   They bought her partially restored and redid the floors, interior upholstery and curtains.   They found her on e-bay.  







Just for additional  fun, here’s another of our neighbors up the road.   His white toad has the same handsome moustache.  You really do see lots of interesting things in a state park campground.







After dinner I decide to go back out on the water at sunset “just in case”.  I go down to the boat dock, put my kayak in the water and paddle over to the spot where we met on Friday.

Things are a little different tonight.   There are some loud rowdy people still in the picnic area.  The park closes at 6:00 so I guess they must be from the campground.  They sure are noisy over there. 


There are boats out on the river to see the sunset I guess and they are laughing and talking. Their engines running as they putter around.   There is a fisherman at the opposite end of the floating barrier and he is casting his line over it.   Why he thinks there are any more fish three feet on the inside of the line than on this side I have no idea.  He has left his motor idling.


Initially there is no quiet.
I wait and watch.  
The sun sets.
All but the fisherman eventually drift away.
The sky is beautiful.





I see one manatee come out of the run and into the river. 
He is about 5 or 6 feet from me as he swims right by. 
Not interested tonight.





I amuse myself by taking some selfies while I wait.
The light gets dimmer and dimmer.





The manatee never do come come but I enjoy a beautiful sunset that I didn’t even notice the night they were here.




I’m not disappointed when I head back for the dock. 
I didn’t really think I could possibly duplicate the experience I had on Friday
but there’s always the possibility for a different one.  

Sunset on the St. John’s river is a mighty fine one.




  1. I of course love the Shasta. They came equipped with their own flamingo's....I'm sure I would have liked them!! You always have my attention at sunset.

  2. Cute little trailer ... two weeks off from planning sounds good to me.

  3. Yay for you! Scoring state parks is always a good feeling. I was so happy when I had scored five days at Pennekamp on Key Largo and then had to give it up. Haven't scored anything in the Keys since. Actually I was thrilled to death that a couple weeks ago I heard from friends back in Ny that they would be in Jupiter FL next week, and I took a shot at Jonathen Dickinson SP for 2 nights, and they had one spot big enough for the two nights I wanted. Yes, I took it!

  4. Glad to hear you got the park you wanted for next winter. I understand from many how difficult it is to get into the state parks. You seem to really enjoy FL:) Your sunset paddle looked like so much fun. Sorry your little manatee friend didn't return. But like you said, it would be hard to duplicate that experience you had.

  5. That Shasta reminds me of when we first camped. We had a huge tent and coveted the little Shastas and tiny Airstreams.

  6. The Shasta is so cute, as is the mustache! I have to chuckle about your description of the tenters. My 3 CA kids and families and I often get together for camping in the summer, but I'm a little surprised at how many groups are noisier than we are. On my solo trip last year I was feeling irritated by a noisy group nearby, and then I had the thought, "That's just like my family!" The parks should do a better job of separating RV's and trailers from the tenters, I think.

  7. Nice reflection in the water there with those evening shots. --Dave

  8. Congratulations on the big score! Now good luck having enough patience to wait for a whole year before you can pull in.

    I'm jealous of that MH's great moustache. I'm a failure in the moustache growing department. Wish the hair that grows in my ears would migrate to my upper lip! (TMI?) :cD

  9. Excellent pics, love that Sunset. Have not located any other bloggers yet, still looking. Perhaps we will meet again next winter at Manatee land. Take care.

  10. Well, You made me look!!...I check on you folks every few days and I'm glad you have no "bugs" and are having a great time. I don't think I'll ever make it to Florida from the "Great Northwest" but it's fun to see how the other half lives...(hope you get it)

  11. Those are beautiful pictures and I am SURE that manatee is smiling at you!!! Remembers you from before and know you are not a threat!!

  12. Beautiful pictures! Love the trailers and the pre-sunset pics. Congrats on your reservation!

  13. In the Great Florida Campsite Lottery there are winners and there are losers....Congrats on being a winner from a still trying loser;o(( It really is a prize to land one of the south florida sites in January, February or March!!!

  14. I knew when I read it that your "lottery" wasn't related to Florida's money thing....it was either more manatee's or a score in a park. Both were right! Now we know how to get a spot....just keep trying...just keep trying. Hope Carol Herr reads this because she was wanting to go around and ask everyone how they got their state park sites. So tickled for you, Sherry. I miss the springs and rivers already.....sigh....and new friends as well.

  15. Congrats on the lottery win...that is huge! Loved the Shasta. My parents had one (not sure the year) which we camped in throughout my childhood. It sat in their backyard for years after my sister and I grew up and they finally sold it for next to nothing. We have kicked ourselves a million times for not grabbing it and fixing it up. But that was back during our high flying corporate days and we never paid any attention at all. I never even knew when they sold it. Oh, how I wish I'd had the foresight!

  16. Congrats on the win, patience and perseverance pays off. I think one of the things keeping us from FL is all the people there and how much advance planning it requires, for now TX will do just fine.

  17. a fabulous victory. . .and two weeks off from planning. . .SCORE!

    love, love, love the manatee pics. . .want to get back there someday to see them in the wild. ..that must be a treat!

  18. I celebrate your lottery win with you because if you did not play, we would not have any place to stay next year. I just wish it wasn't so difficult, time consuming and with such low odds at winning. Great bunch of friends you have in the run. Wonder if that 3rd picture (the one of the manatee nose) is a baby or juvenile. Looks like a big nose for a small body. Glad you went back for another sunset at the mouth of the spring run. Even though it did not match the first experience, you were rewarded with a beautiful sunset.

  19. Oh I want that little Shasta! It's even turquoise! I would have loved to see the inside of it. Sunset is amazing!

  20. Gorgeous Sunset!! Cute Shasta!! Big manatee!! Nice day you had. I knew you hadn't won the real lottery. You don't play and if you had won, you would've put an exclamation point at the end of your title :) So glad that's taken care of so you can have your mornings free!! Does feel good to plan so far in advance! I will have to start planning for my next trip to see you :)

  21. I'm amazed at the number of titles you come up with! That was a good one. It seems rather daunting to think about the amount of planning needed to be a "full timer"

  22. You won the lottery on all accounts..cute trailer..cute mustache..nice sunset..and a home for next winter!

  23. Glad your perseverance paid off! Koreshan has great kayaking plus the nearby beach.

    We haven't seen many manatees this winter. You seem to have hit the motherlode on the St. Johns.

    Love those gorgeous skies.

  24. Wow, 11 months in advance is worse than the Grand Canyon. I just don't know how you can plan so far ahead. But we too had to make reservations for the end of the month at Kalahari. I'm never happy about noisy camper neighbors. But do love that Shasta. And the sunset is spectacular, even without the manatees.

  25. Congratulations on your lottery win, Sherry -- I know how challenging it is to play the game! I especially love your last manatee photo in this post. Anthropomorphizing -- who cares -- those manatee look to be gentle and curious creatures. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.


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