Once again I've waited too long to write this next travelogue--Florida is fading fast as we have been back in Houston since the first of March. I think Facebook has made me lax about writing these missives, as I always feel everyone already knows what we are doing. Of course, not everyone is on Facebook, and that is just me rationalizing why I haven't written. The trailer court next door to the Thornton house is having their weekly Friday night party, so tonight we are being serenaded by Mexican music. It's kind of nice.
After leaving Sarasota, we visited the northern end of the Everglades--Shark Valley entrance. There is an artificial waterway beside the road as you enter and birds were everywhere along it. We took the tram tour with a park ranger as guide and enjoyed it very much. The Everglades are in a lot of trouble as they no longer receive the natural water drainage that they have historically. The dike around Lake Okeechobee and the many man-made canals are draining the water away. There are some plans to partially restore proper drainage, but I don't think they will be able to help a great deal until Floridians are willing to give up the Lake Okeechobee dike, which is not likely. The recent cold weather has also caused both fish and manatees to die. Manatees evidently can't eat when the water temperatures drop, so too many cold days and they starve to death. The lucky ones find their way to the power plant on the keys which has plenty of warm water around it. We also went in the southern entrance and camped down at the south end at Flamingo. We took a boat tour here and enjoyed it, but it wasn't as nice as the one at Wakulla Springs. We did not see any Greater Flamingoes. It's not easy to get to the spot where they hang out and there are just not many of them resident there anymore. However, there were lots of Roseate Spoonbills, so we saw plenty of pink birds!
Riley & Margie on Everglades boat tour
Brown Pelican at Flamingo Marina
We spent three nights out on the keys and made it out to Key West. Key West is much too built up for me. They are even making the island bigger by filling in a shallow cove. This just doesn't seem right to me. We enjoy the drive out though--the long bridges between each key. After the keys, we drove up the east coast visiting Merritt Island for the birds and skipping NASA, while heading for Georgia. On entering Georgia, we stopped and visited the Okefenokee Swamp--such a beautiful spot. We camped in the state park and rented a boat for navigating the Suwanee River. Riley did all the driving and I got to sit back and watch for swamp monsters, aka alligators. It was fun.
Cypress reflected in Suwanee River
Riley driving the boat
Margie looking for gators
We spent a weekend in Athens visiting nephew Aaron, his wife Burcu, and new son Atlas. They showed us around town and the university campus, as well as feeding us good Turkish food--Burcu is a wonderful cook. Atlas is a big baby and will be another tall Richardson when he grows up. He's very cute and very healthy--a good combination. Aaron arranged for us to go on a bird walk with a birder friend of his from the university. We did this at the Athens Arboretum and saw quite a few birds. His friend was very knowledgeable and it was a good time. We heard the Brown-headed Nuthatch but didn't see it until we stopped by one of the birder's home and checked out his bird feeder.
Burcu & Atlas
Atlas & Aaron
On leaving Athens, we headed back for Houston arriving on March 1st, just in time for the big birthday party at Nancy's on Mar. 2nd for my Mom (90) and for Jonny (1). The party was well attended and a great success. I'm sure Jonny didn't understood the significance but he did like his birthday cake. He got to have a second party the following Saturday at his Great Aunt Jane's.
Jonny (1) & his Great-great Grandmother (90)
Rebecca & Jonny
Five generations: Margie, Shannon, Jonny, Granny & Rebecca
Birthday boy back at RV
My brothers, Lloyd and Richard, came and stayed with us at Thornton and helped us paint the inside of the place. We could not have done it without them. Richard even came back a second time and painted woodwork! They are the greatest! Riley and I are still working. I got the floors waxed yesterday and Riley has been working on the touch-up painting and installing light fixtures and a ceiling fan that needed replacing. He also labored today on cutting back the Crepe Myrtle trees. During the winter, the power company had come through and cut back the limbs going over the fence, so that meant we had to finish the job. It's been a lot of work and we haven't finished the clean up. I would have preferred not to have had to do it. I think the power company cut off more than needed. :-( We still have a lot of outside work to do, including some work on the garage. I guess it just never ends. There is always something more to do. I do have a new renter, Annie, who was Malcolm's maid for many years. Her daughter Priscilla and Rebecca are good friends. I think she will be a good long-term renter so I'm glad the place will look good when she moves in.
Riley's town house is still not rented and he is planning to put it on the market for sale in April. He's terminated his contract with his current property management and has found someone new to take over for the sale. Until we get these properties settled, we will be here in Houston, or at least close. Hope to be on our way north before the end of April.
Love to all,
Margie & Riley