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

Henry David Thoreau

From 26 to 82 Degrees in Florida??

Wednesday-Sunday, January 18-23, 2018                                                     Most Recent Posts:
Hillsborough River State Park                              Hiking and Biking Beside and On the Beautiful Hillsborough River
Zephyrhills, Florida                                                                                    David’s Birthday Week

IMG_9452In addition to the birds and gators in our neighborhood that I featured in my last post (link in blue above), we have some other very intersting neighbors here in Hillsborough River.

Next door this lady walks her dog around the campground in her robe and slippers every morning.  

You can tell how cold our nights have been by her hat.   It was 29 degrees here on Wednesday night and in the low 30’s several other nights.   But by early the following week it hit 82 degrees.  Better bring 4 seasons of clothing if you come to Florida these days.

And across the way we find that we have had a bear for a neighbor and didn’t know it until they were  leaving.  I guess he stayed inside all the time.  Although he did take in what little sun there was the day I got his picture.


You can imagine what fun it was when David said “look there’s a bear in the site across”.


He gets some help getting in the van.  People are so much fun to watch.  Though I suppose I shouldn’t be talking given the size of my Winnie the Pooh who travels with me.  But as you can see, he’s not THAT big.


Over the course of our ten days here, we did spend two days in Tampa doing medical appointments with David’s Myeloma doctors.  No pictures of those.  But more fun was what we did with the rest of our time at Hillsborough River.

The friends group  puts on a weekly potluck and of course David had to go.  We brought our go to vegan potluck dish of mushroom cous cous.  We bring it so that if there are left overs we’re thrilled about it.

The potluck is held in the recreation hall and on this night was pretty sparcely attended becasue of the weather.  That was a 39 degree night.


These pictures are from David’s camera which for some reason gave things a golden glow that wasn’t really there.


This is his FIRST helping.


Though there is no charge for the potluck other than bringing a dish, they have a 50/50 raffle.  5 tickets for $5 and the winner splits the take with the friends group.  There is also a table of “prizes” that those whose numbers are drawn after the winner can choose from.  With so few people the take was only $60 and we didn’t win the $30 though nearly everyone got some sort of prize and the second number drawn won two tickets to the Tampa RV show going on this week.  Wasn’t our lucky night, we didn’t win that either.   The park manager did the drawing.  That’s him at standing at the front.

Here’s proof of my low temperature claim.  Yes it’s true, at 7:26 on Thursday January 18th it was 26 degrees outside and 59 degrees inside with the heat on.   This is Florida??

David actually went out in this weather to join the friends for another of their weekly offerings.  Coffee and donuts and a chat with the rangers.   Me, I stayed in with the heater.  The coffee is held in a screened in building near the river.


They did have a fire in the fireplace and everyone was gathered around.


IMG_9628A little later in the morning after it got up to within 10 degrees of the high for the day of 55, we did go over to the Tampa RV Show. 

Outside we visited the Winnebagos and went inside all that had any sort of drapes for their front windows or overcab bunks or bunk beds.  We need to have our front window drapes replaced.  It’s a poor design that has them fastened to the rail on a strip of plastic that eventually deteriorates.  But that’s how it is and the least expensive way to deal with it is to just get new drapes that will fit the existing rails rather than try to redo the whole thing. 

We called Winnebago and they said to find a fabric we liked in a 2018 offering and give them the number and they’ll make them up for us.  We pay of course.  We did find something that will work for us.  Now to find out how much they want to gouge uhh. . charge us for them

It’s always fun to see Tampa’s St. Andrew’s Pipes and Drums.  They are here every year. They march down the main street playing and stopping at intervals to form a circle and give a short concert.  They definitely stop traffic.  Does everyone love bagpipes??



We also spend some time inside.  As you can see there were a LOT of others there.  Shopping is not my favorite thing and shopping in close quarters with so many others is even lower on my list.  We picked up the couple of things we had on our list and hit the road. 


On another day we went to visit our friends Gin and Syl at Lazy Days where they are picking up their new 5th wheel.  They’ve traded in their Class A Journey Towanda for a 44 foot Mobile Suites.   They’ve refined their full timing into Fall, Winter, Spring at their lot in Cedar Key and summers in the North Carolina Mountains.  Thus they feel they don’t drive the big diesel enough to keep it in shape.  Better it get a new home with folks who are doing more traveling.  There are as many ways to full time as there are full timers. 

As you can see, they look very happy with their new home.


It’s big and beautiful inside and out.



We had a wonderful visit with them getting caught up and are really glad they contacted us to say they were in the area and invited us over.   Thanks you two.  It was GREAT to see you.

On our last day at Hillsborough River I went out early to hike over on the other side of the river.  David slept in.

It was just after sun up when I started out on the walk at the back of the campground by the river.  As I passed by the back of several sites I smelled a yucky but familiar smell.  At this point, on the left as the trail curved in from the river there is a swampy area and there were black vultures everywhere.  On the ground, in the trees. . .    Boy I wouldn’t want to have one of those sites.   Can you see their black forms on the tree limbs and on the ground?


They are definitely an important part of our clean up crew and I don’t know what we’d do without them.  They save us a ton of money in clean up but I wouldn’t want to live next door to their roosting area which this may be.    When I came by later on my way back home they were all gone.


Still it’s a lovely trail when you get beyond the smell range.  The smell wasn’t there either on the way back.

I just love the base of cypress trees.  Not sure what makes this one so gnarled but it’s beautiful.


I passed  on by the closed stationary bridge and went on to the suspension bridge further along the trail.

It’s great being up in the tree tops on the bridge.



The trail leading down river is lovely as it weaves its way along ever closer to the banks of the water.

At this point the river swings in and the path is right on the edge of the black water there on the left.




At the spot above I see surprise a limpkin who must have been on the water’s edge just below me.  He flies straight across the river and I spend ten minutes or more watching him.  He certainly blends in to his surroundings.   I love the ruggedness of the Suwanee Limestone that lines the river banks and underlays the park.


These are but a few of the pictures I took as he went about his day.





If you read my previous post, you may recognize this bridge as the one I took from the water just before we turned around near the end of the park.  I had no idea what a great spot this was going to turn out to be.  The river is on the left here and there is a swampy area on the right and under the bridge.

As I stepped up on the bridge,  out of the corner of my eye I saw something move in the swampy area near the end of the bridge.  I froze immediately.   It was a hawk.  He was on the ground.  He didn’t seem to have any prey.



As I watched, he looked around and looked around and suddenly and silently jumped up on this light limb where he sat for some time moving his head all around nearly 360 degrees.


At times he seemed to look right at me.   I never moved a muscle.


Isn’t he handsome?  Although I don’t see his orange shoulder bands, I do think he is a red shouldered hawk.


Next he flies up higher and even closer to me.  Do you see him here?


His new position gives him an orange cast in the light.  I watched him for at least 30 minutes never moving.  Then little by little I side stepped to the right off the bridge and continued on down the trail. 


Due to my long stops with the Limpkin and the Hawk, I ran out of time and didn’t take the trail its full circle but retraced my steps to the swinging bridge which has a nice wooden entry way from the far side.  On my return trip, the hawk was not where I’d left him.


What a great morning to close off our stay here.  Next up, Oscar Scherer State Park in Nokomis, Florida near the Gulf of Mexico.  Hope to see some Scrub Jays there and visit the Nokomis Beach Drumming Down the Sun Circle if it isn’t too cold or too windy.  This is some winter in Florida.

Hiking and Kayaking Beside and On the Beautiful Hillsborough River

January 14-18, 2017                                                                               Most Recent Posts:
Hillsborough River State Park                                                                David’s Birthday Week
Thonotosassa, Florida                                                                            Cold and Windy Start to 2018

Note:  For those who read my last post about the 500 error,
it was fixed early this morning. 
This puts me only 10 days behind.
Thanks Google.

On Sunday we leave Sebastian Inlet and move to Hillsborough River State Park in Thonotosassa Florida outside of Tampa.  We’ve been here nearly every year since it is the closest park to David’s doctors at the Moffitt Cancer Center and Florida Cancer Specialists.

I mess up the dates this year and have to take a single night in a skinny site on the front of our main reservation which means we move two days in a row.  Not fun but we like the roomy site I originally reserved.. 


Hillsborough River is an older state park and fairly rustic.  We like that our site is surrounded by trees.   Our gang likes their view.


The park has several nice hiking trails on each side of the Hillsborough River.  Early in our stay,  we take a relatively easy hike of 5 miles up to the rapids and beyond.  The stationary bridge looks lovely reflected in the water.



We don’t intend to go across today but we’re surprised to find it closed.  The sign says bridge damage.  We sure don’t see any from this side.   Over the week end I take the longer hike on the other side and I don’t see any there either.


There are actually two sets of rapids.  The first is just beyond the stationary bridge.  How strong they are depends on the level of the water but we’ve never been able to kayak over them in all our paddling on the river.  Probably with at least the first set it was becasue we didn’t want to work that hard.



Along the way we see this red bellied woodpecker working on the palm trees.

An immature ibis is working the river bed.  I suspect he’s a teenager since he’s beginning to turn white.  As an adult he’ll be completely white.  No sign of his juvenile coloring.

The main rapids are the end of the heavily used trail although you can hike on faintly used trails all the way up to Route 301.


Pretty sure you’d have to portage these rapids.  With all their rocks I don’t think anyone could kayak beyond them although the river is lovely and calm on the other side.  It is flowing to the park from the Green Swamp.  Beyond the park you can kayak all the way to Tampa and beyond if you have the time to kayak camp.



IMG_0002We don’t go all the way to Tampa but on another day we do go out on the dark Hillsborough.  There are 3 places in the park to put in your kayak.  One seems to be rather reserved for the rental canoes from the concessionaire who runs the very large pool, snack bar and store.   The other is in the day use area and the third is the one we use in the campground.   It has a new ramp this year which I think works better for canoes than for kayaks.  A bit of a sharp turn there.   I’m pushing myself off of the bank.

It’s a beautiful blue sky day and the reflections are outstanding.   But, they can sometimes make it difficult to see those gray things with teeth on the logs in the river.


Good thing you have to paddle around this fallen tree or you might not see the gator.



Cypress trees have the most beautiful bases.  Twice as beautiful in reflection.

Here’s the adult ibis.  No coloration now.


We pass under the stationary bridge and still can’t find any evidence of damage.  Guess you have to be a structural engineer.


See what I mean about reflections?



We pass this gator and come to the first rapids where David says we have to turn around.


Why do they always look like they are smiling?


I’m amazed I got this shot.  He was only there for a second.  Phoebe?


Great Blue Heron trying unsuccessfully to look like part of the brush.



Someone else hiding in a similar camouflage further along the river.


Such an absolutely beautiful day for floating along with a slow lazy river.


At one point we look ahead and see what appears to be a huge turtle on a log.


I swear he still  looks like a turtle even this close up but he’s actually an amazing piece of Suwanee Limestone.  The beautiful outcroppings of Suwanee Limestone were one of the reasons for the creation of Hillsborough State Park.  Everything I could find on line about it was far too advanced for me.  Maybe Sue Malone will be able to shed some easy to understand light.


I do know it’s some of the most interesting limestone I’ve seen and it’s all along in the river along its sides.    How about this piece?


This young explorer looks rather casual floating by the gator on the bank behind the water plants.  Of course he knows gators aren’t interested in something as large as he and his kayak unless they are provoked.



Those are some spiffy gloves you’ve got there Mister.


Along with the gators and limestone turtle, we saw lots of other turtles.  So for the turtle lovers, here they are.

Heads up!


Pretty dried out in the sun.


Look Ma no hands or feet.  Great balance!


How far back can you throw your head?


Somebody’s sneaking up on us.



And speaking of sneaky.  Can you see him?


It’s a log right?  Or a piece of debris?


But then again.


I think the gator likes Florida because he can immitate a palm tree that’s fallen into the river.


Along with wonderful birds, interesting geology and plenty of reptiles, we found Mother Nature had provided many fantstic works of art for us on this paddle.



When we see this bridge we know we are nearing the end of the park boundary.  This is a trail on the other side from the campground which I hike later in the week and have a marvelous encounter but that’s in the next post. 


Though we could just keep paddling all the way to Tampa, we do have to get back so we turn around and paddle up stream.  On a slow river like this, that’s not much effort and lucky us we get to go back the same way we came and have all this fun all over again.


Next up are some off site excursions and social fun in the park.