A Reflection of Another Year Passed

Hey y’all! I decided I wanted to write a reflection of another year we’ve lived as we look to the future for a new year to come. Looking back, I’ve come to realize that every new year comes with its own ups and downs, struggles and triumphs, highs and lows. This year, 2021, has been no exception.

The biggest struggle of this year was social distancing. While it really didn’t faze my husband, daughter, or myself, other members of my family did somewhat struggle with it. Many of the decisions I had to make this year weren’t met with open minds, but nonetheless, I made my decisions and accepted that others would not agree. Life moves on.

My husband and I lost friends this year. A dear friend of ours crossed over into another world very unexpectedly and not a single day goes by when he doesn’t cross our minds lovingly. We miss him, but we must also remember that he is no longer suffering from the sickness that took over his body. I want to include that his health had nothing to do with Covid, but instead other underlying issues which persisted to worsen. His husband, of course, suffered the most from the loss. Unfortunately, as the year drew on, we also lost him as our friend. I can’t say what happened exactly to cause the change in our friendship because I don’t know. We were there for him as much as we could be. The only thing I can estimate is a misunderstanding that I couldn’t change because of other things I was dealing with.

The good things that occurred this year include becoming a published author in February with my book “Y’all Didn’t Hear it From Me: A Journal of Life Stories” which is available in both paperback and eBook through Amazon.com, buying a motorhome and exploring Florida as it was the only state on the East coast I had yet to venture, planning and accomplishing a birth week scavenger hunt for my husband’s 51st birthday (which he absolutely enjoyed), receiving Bindi Irwin’s book signed by Bindi herself for my own birthday as well as a signed postcard personalized with a birthday greeting from Robert Irwin, and completing two different photoshoots with my new Nikon camera. Now, these are just to name a few because honestly, I can’t recall every little thing.

My published book available in paperback and as eBook through amazon.com.

Since we’ve been on the road exploring Florida, I wanted to also share some of the unique sites we’ve seen.

Mickey Mouse ears in Orlando, Florida. We were hoping to see Disney’s castle, but that was a no go, and we weren’t leaving the interstate to find it only to take a chance of getting caught in traffic. Maybe next time around.
A ‘Jurassic Park’ jeep in Tampa, Florida. Sorry the iconic symbol on the side is blurry. I almost had the perfect photo, but an Amazon Prime delivery vehicle photo bombed my attempt.
I thought this was a very unique paint scheme saluting our troops. The wreath hanging on the front is very festive.
A new military utility vehicle on its way to California. The truck driver was also kind enough to allow me to climb up onto the back of his truck to get a glimpse of the inside of this military vehicle. I’ll tell you the inside looks like a very tight space with a couple screens and many, many gadgets and gizmos along its dashboard.
Another unique design on the side of a tractor-trailer parked at a truck stop just outside of Orlando, Florida. Better be minding Uncle Sam y’all.

I would say we’re finishing off the year on a positive note as we make our way back into Georgia to set in what we’re calling ‘dry dock’ so we can work on a few things, improve, and set up for our next adventure. We have many plans for 2022 including our own YouTube channel, but more details to come later, after the new year starts. Until then, we wish y’all a safe and Happy New Year 2022!

Gators In Gator Country

Hey y’all!  We were stopped for a few days at the Love’s truck stop at exit 314 off interstate 75 in Florida.  In truth, this truck stop appears to be no different than any other Love’s truck stop, except maybe a classier looking women’s restroom, but otherwise, the same. 

The difference between this Love’s to any of the others we’ve been to isn’t on the inside.  It’s on the outside.  This place is quite literally surrounded, not by swamps, but by swampy areas.  We parked in the very back, farthest corner of the trucking parking lot, and right behind us was swampy turf.  To each side of us was swampy turf.  They were like swampy ditches out skirting the entire parking lot.  Closer to the actual store is a very alga caked pond that may as well be called a swamp.  The surface of it is so green, I don’t know that anything could live in it, though I did see a crane or two, peck from it. 

The entire pond looks like this caked segment.
I think the crane knew it was being photographed.

Right in the middle of the entire Love’s truck stop operation is a large pond, completely fenced in, and every few feet there are signs to warn you of dangerous alligators.  Now, these signs aren’t just there because the employees think their cool.  No.  There are actual alligators in that pond.  I don’t know exactly how many live in it, but I’m pretty sure there are at least two given what I’ve seen. 

Can you spot the alligator in the background?

The first day we were there, we walked all the way around the fenced in pond, commenting on the signs posted literally all the way around the pond, but we didn’t know any better.  However, after making the full circle, nearing the end, near the truck stop mechanic shop, there I spotted what looked like a 4- or 5-foot alligator sunbathing on the bank.  Talk about feeling blown away because I physically spotted it, from several yards away without any direction!  The next day we took another walk around the pond, this time, on the same bank I spotted another alligator, a different one… or maybe it was the same one. I really couldn’t tell.

Even more fascinating is to see them in motion. Thank goodness it’s fenced in.

It’s fascinating to see these alligators not as residents of a zoo, but in real outdoor life.  What’s even more fascinating is all the birds we see walking around inside the fence, with these alligators.  I’ve seen them skirt the alligators, and don’t think they aren’t fearful of those alligators attacking for a quick snack.  No, these cranes may tiptoe around, at least a good foot away, but they rush their steps the rest of the way once they know they’re clear.  These alligators may be following those cranes with their eyes, but not once do they move, not even a twitch.

The Love’s truck stop celebrity.

It’s interesting because we weren’t even going to stop here at this Love’s truck stop.  Since we’ve been traveling, we’ve stopped in at several truck stops.  We’ve also stopped and stayed overnight in the back of Walmart parking lots, we stayed one night at the back of a Big Lot’s parking lot, but it was located in a strip mall, so in reality we stayed overnight in a mall parking lot, but we bought needed things from places in that strip mall.  We were aiming for the truck stops at exit 341 off interstate 75, but no sooner did we get on the road, after stopping at a Publix grocery store for food supplies, I saw the enormous billboard advertising this Love’s truck stop at exit 314.  My husband was still hesitant to stop because he wanted to get further up the road, but after a little research to find out how big it was, we decided on it, and to confirm our decision, just as we were pulling in, it began to rain.  I don’t like my husband driving the motorhome in the rain.  The motorhome is older, and I don’t trust weather-wet roads.  Given how hot and humid the weather is in Florida, the rain was invitingly refreshing.  The wind that day was quite strong, so that also had my nerves on edge, but now that we’ve discovered the alligators living in the Love’s truck stop pond, it was totally worth stopping in for a few days! 

See ya later alligator!

Fort Myers, Florida

Hey y’all!  Since we’ve spent the last two months traveling down into Florida and now back up through Florida, I wanted to take the time to tell you about our adventures in Fort Myers.  It’s a very popular town, to say the least.  We only spent about a week there, but it wasn’t without adventure. 

We traveled into Fort Myers during the first week of December and found a place to park in the back of a Pilot truck stop.  The day we pulled in, we decided to check into any RV parks that might have been in the area, and luckily, we found a very nice one barely a mile from the truck stop called Lazy J’s Mobile Home Park.  Normally I refrain from using names when writing, but in this case, the names are necessary.  Lazy J’s Mobile Home Park is run by a guy named Troy and his wife Sharon; two very hospitable people who additionally helped us out, not only did they give us a small discount for staying there, but he pointedly parked us a little closer to his place just so we could get the best Wi-Fi signal possible so we could watch the College Football SEC game between our Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama’s Crimson Tide.  Unfortunately, our Bulldogs lost, but life goes on. 

The day of the game, we pulled into the park just before noon, set up, plugged in, and preparing for game day, we drank a couple Budweiser’s.  Afterwards, hubby and I decided to take a small walk to Family Dollar, which wasn’t far; just one street over.  People were having outdoor barbeques and enjoying the hot, sunny weather.  However, the following morning, the road we had walked to get to Family Dollar was marked off with yellow crime scene tape and a sheriff’s car was blocking the way.  An interesting wake up call to say the least.  The road was blocked off for most of the day.  Why?  In the middle of the night, around 2:30am, there was a shooting… on that road.  To be more specific, the shooting took place at the house where just the day before we saw they were having a family cookout.  We didn’t stop or anything, just commented between ourselves how they were having a cookout.  Everything about the atmosphere on that street seemed so peaceful.  Well, something went wrong in the middle of the night.  Hubby was awoken by the flashing lights of cop cars; our daughter was awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of shots being fired.  I slept through the entirety of it.  In talking with the owner of the park, Troy, we learned that it’s a very rare occurrence in that area.  The last time, he said, was about four years ago. 

We pulled into the park on Saturday, for the SEC game, and were scheduled to stay until Monday, however, I was enjoying the serene scenery and the residents, we paid and stayed an extra day to further enjoy the area.  We would take a walk around the park in the mornings after having coffee, throughout the afternoon, and again at night after the sun went down and the temperatures cooled.  Everyone was decorating their homes with Christmas lights and inflatable Christmas figures.  Our first night there, as we were heading to bed, I noticed some major Christmas lighting through our back bedroom window.  Looking out was a magnificent sight.  There was a house literally on the edge of the water, and their holiday decorations were over the top according to my standards.  What made the scene so magnificent was how it reflected over the water. 

A spectacular sight.

The owner’s place was nicely done as well, but his had a musical accompaniment.  It was hard getting the right shot where everything was lit at once.  As we went to pay for an extra day at the office, we compliment Sharon on their Christmas lights display and found out he isn’t even finished with them!

Amazingly, he wasn’t finished with the lighting.

We met some very nice people during our stay there.  Everyone was so friendly, wishing us a good morning during our morning walks, and sharing their life stories with us if they caught us walking at night.  One guy, an older gentleman, who is now retired from the sheriff’s department following an incident in which he got hurt on the job, shared with us that him and his wife plan to travel after he has some surgery that’s required being how he got hurt.  He didn’t go into details, but he found us so interesting given how we’re traveling. 

During our time in Fort Myers, we also explored some Mexican cuisine.  First, we ordered from a small, local taco truck, called Super Taco.  We ordered some simple tacos and a super burrito.  Both were so tasty we went back the next afternoon in hopes of eating there again, but they weren’t open.  Since they’re food wasn’t available, we walked a little further up the street to what we thought was a Mexican restaurant, but it wasn’t a restaurant, it was a Mexican food market.  Inside this food market, in the back was a takeout counter like you find in the Walmart Deli section, but this was straight Mexican cuisine.  The food was absolutely fantastic!!!  My husband knows more Spanish language than I do, so he ordered for us and our daughter who stayed back at the motorhome with our cats and watched a movie.  I hate to say it, but I felt so out of place, I stuck to my husband like I was glued to him.  Additionally, I wasn’t big fan of Mexican food, but after eating from that food market, I have a changed palette!  For what we ordered, we received about the same amount as when you order from a Chinese restaurant… more than one can eat in a single sitting.  We ate that for lunch, dinner, snack, and the next day my husband finished it.  I would love to go back for more, but we don’t have the time to travel back down to Fort Myers.  My favorite part was their tortillas.  They’re nothing like the packs of flour tortillas you buy in your local grocery store, or even the flour tortillas that come with your meal at a Mexican restaurant.  These are homemade, pressed singly, and taste way better.  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat at a Mexican restaurant ever again, because the Mexican food market figuratively blew my mind, and changed it.  I love authentic Mexican food!!!  Actually, while we were walking one night after the sun went down in the park, we were walking by a house that you could literally smell their homemade tortillas.  It smelled so good, I considered knocking on the door to ask for dinner.  LOL.  Just kidding.  I would never do that, but the next day, during our morning walk, the small Hispanic lady who lives there was smiling and very friendly, wishing us a good morning and asking us how we were doing.  We smiled back, and told her we were doing good, and joked with her that we almost stopped for dinner the night before.  She must have thought it was cute because she smiled even more with us.  Needless to say, I can’t wait to try out other authentic ethnic cuisines!

Yummy food but was only open the one day.

Visiting and staying in Fort Myers was an experience I would gladly do again.  The food was divine, the Christmas decorations were festive, and the locals were welcoming. 

Another place that was festive.
A few more Christmas lights.

Three Cats… In A Camper

Hey y’all, Guess what? I’m posting again! Let’s talk cats.

When we started on the road, I wasn’t sure how our cats were going to handle such a drastic change in scenery, being used to seeing the same sites day in and day out while living stationary in a non-moving trailer in the middle of a trailer park.  I worried more about one of them slipping out the door, however, now that we’ve been on the road since October, I’m not worrying quite as much because I’ve found that one cat has no interest in being outside, one cat has decided her ‘perch place’ is as far away from the only door as possible, and one cat we keep harnessed during the day and leashed only when needed.

Our oldest, Merlyn, has no interest in being outside.  She’s nearly 10 years old and we’ve had her since she was 8 weeks old.  She doesn’t even seem to care about looking out the windows.  She’ll make herself comfortable almost anywhere she can plant her butt.  She gets comfortable sitting on the dash right in front of the steering wheel, laying out on top of the dirty laundry pile, at times she even claims our daughter’s open backpacks as her own, and then there’s the top of the back of the passenger’s seat, right beside the only door.  We can literally have the door open. She looks out, but she has the Jeff Dunham’s ‘Walter’ attitude… “I don’t give a damn.”  I’m not surprised being where she has been with us; Maine, Massachusetts airport, Georgia, and now Florida where we’re currently visiting. 

Merlyn says she will make herself comfortable anywhere she pleases.

Our second oldest, Carlee, has a slightly different attitude about traveling.  She’s nearly 8 years old and we’ve had her since she was 8 weeks old as well.  We’ve found her favorite place to perch are right on top of our printer in our bedroom, or on the back of the booth next to their food and water dishes.  She won’t go near the door, which  I’m very thankful for because she spooks so easily, thanks in part to my godfather.  When she was a kitten, after we first got her, he visited from Maryland and simply would not leave her alone.  She has become the kind of cat that comes to you if she wants attention, otherwise, leave her alone or she runs.  If she were to get out, she’d run, and that would be the end of her; an image that makes me sick to my stomach to even think of. 

When we first started out traveling in our motorhome, we spent the first weekend at a place called Beaver Run, in Metter, Georgia.  We left her and the others harnessed and leashed while we took a family walk around the spring-fed lake.  We were only gone for about a half hour, maybe 45 minutes.  When we returned, I found her harness still attached to the leash, but she was nowhere in sight.  I didn’t start panicking until we literally searched every possible place in our 24-footer and couldn’t find her in any of them.  Frantic, I didn’t know what to think.  Hubby finally found her when he decided to run his hands up under the dashboard, over the engine hump (because our camper is an ‘87’ and does need some work) and that’s where he found her.  She was simply hiding from our youngest cat which isn’t surprising.  I of course, cried tears of relief, on the verge of the possibility that she was gone forever. 

Carlee preferes to stay towards the back of the camper.

Now, the youngest of the three, Maleficent, has quite a different personality.  She just turned a year old this past November.  We found her at Kitty City Cat Rescue in Macon, Georgia and adopted her for our teenage daughter, also making a $60 donation to the rescue in our daughter’s name.  We call her the ‘puma’ because she is fiercely playful and doesn’t seem to have a fear of anything.  We have to keep her harnessed throughout the day and leashed, but only when necessary, otherwise I fear it could be a ‘curiosity killed the cat’ kind of situation.  Not a single day goes by that she doesn’t live up to her name.  We’ve given her several nicknames since the day I brought her home from the cat rescue.  There’s ‘puma’ because when she plays, she growls like she’s a big scary puma in a small, indoor domesticated cat’s body.  We call her ‘Belles’ like ‘Belle’ in “The Beauty and the Beast” because of the bell on her collar which allows us to easily keep tabs on her regardless of the time of day, or night.  She makes a really good early morning alarm clock.  Scratch-jingle, scratch-jingle, scratch-jingle… time to fill the food bowl! 

Maleficent likes getting herself into trouble.

Now that we’ve been traveling for a couple months, I’m not worrying quite as much, but I won’t lie, my worry is still evident, just lessened.  They’re all proving we’ve done well in training them, with the exception of Merlyn’s ‘her majesty’ attitude.  We spoil all our cats, but Merlyn, she’s just… too spoiled for her own good, and she knows it.  Hubby is putting a wager on that Merlyn will become a ‘dash cat’ within a year.  If he proves to be right, she’ll be the only one in the three cats we have, and that’s only because she’s his cat, or he’s her human.

Not pictured- Merlyn, because she walked away when I set up to take the photo.

Well, I think that does it for today’s post. Thanks again for reading and for following y’all. Check in tomorrow for another new post as I fill y’all in on our experiences in Fort Myers, Florida!

Punta Gorda, Florida

Good afternoon y’all!  As we have continued further into our traveling endeavors, we’ve certainly experienced many things.  For instance, the town of Punta Gorda, Florida.  The weather was nice and hot throughout the days and cooling at night.  For the most part, Punta Gorda is a quiet town, but there really isn’t much to do.   We watched airplanes of various sizes fly in and out, but that’s about it. 

One of the many planes we saw flying into land at an airport nearby.
Another plane we saw flying in.

Through one Saturday there was apparently an ATV or motorbike race of some sort going on not far from where we were parked that made the area sound like Talladega in April.  As the day drew on and the sun set, the noise grew louder to the point that when we went to bed, you would have thought they were racing the roads outside our camper.  The noise wasn’t bad, but our cats were acting crazier than they normally do.  They were acting out so badly, they were being absolutely annoying.  The youngest one exclusively.  I don’t know what her issue was.  Between using the kitty box, running rampant throughout the camper, and bathing herself rather loudly, it was like she was thinking, ‘How can I annoy the humans to the absolute max?’  Being the youngest, she still wears a bell on her collar because it’s easier to keep tabs on her at any given time.  Unfortunately, she loves sleeping on my pillow at night, so when she gets an itch she must scratch, and it’s like an alarm going off sporadically throughout the remainder of the night. 

Parking in the back lot, dirt lot of a Pilot truck stop, we met a homeless musician living out of his SUV, waiting for his next gig.  He seemed like a decent guy; he simply experienced a rough turn of events when a previous gig fell through which caused him to lose his place when he couldn’t pay his rent. 

While parked, we got to watch a few truck drivers practice their parking.  The main driver seemed to have an African or possibly Jamaican dialect.  He was the one giving instruction, so for several hours, in the basking heat of the afternoon, we watched each of them take their turns pulling up and backing into a course of traffic cones set up by the main guy giving all the instructions.

Later into that day, we watched another guy, driving a white SUV, turn off the main road into the dirt lot, only to do a single doughnut burnout which of course stirred up a massive cloud of dirt, and then drive off.  What his purpose was for doing that, we don’t know, but I will say we were not impressed.  Sure, a doughnut well done, buy why?  As soon as he did this, we jumped to close our camper windows, or the dirt cloud would have completely permeated the entire camper. 

After the sun went down for the night, we were relaxing, watching some television when we heard what sounded like a vehicle dragging something heavy down the main road.  Then we literally heard that heavy something detach itself from said vehicle.  Afterwards, within 30 minutes of hearing the obvious scrapping thunk, we heard at least three other vehicles hit that heavy something.  Not good.  We didn’t like the sound of it as it sounded dangerous, so hubby and I went to check it out.  Turns out the driver lost their bumper.  Walking in the dark with my phone in hand for the flashlight, we found a twisted, mangled heap of a bumper that could have very easily caused serious damage to any vehicle unable to avoid it.  I moved this mangled bumper into a ditch off the road so others wouldn’t accidently hit it.  I don’t even want to imagine the damage it would have caused otherwise.  While we don’t know what kind of vehicle dropped the bumper, we’re estimating it wasn’t in good condition to begin with. 

During our last couple days in Punta Gorda, we met a couple of people performing a search and rescue for a lost cellphone.  What happened was the lady who lost her cellphone had accidently left it on the roof of her car while she was driving.  She was making a turn off one road onto another, unfortunately causing the cellphone to slide off into the middle of the opposing lane.  More unfortunate is she had the type of cellphone which has a compartment on the back where she kept her credit cards, bank card, and her driver’s license.  These items were later recovered by a passerby walking her dog and discovered the cards laying in the grass.  With the help of Facebook, she was able to return them to their owner.  The cellphone on the other hand wasn’t recovered; not until much later.  We were all estimating that another passerby found the cellphone, tossed the cards aside and went about their own way.  Thankfully, this was not the case.  It was the next day, as we were leaving out, stopping in at the Walmart located just across the street from the Pilot truck stop, the guy we had met and tried to help in finding the lost cellphone, recognized our camper and stopped to give us the update.  Thankfully, the cellphone was also recovered after unfortunately being run over and therefore cracked and broken by another vehicle, which is why the cards were found strewn about as they were in the grass and turned in at the local Wawa.  Though the phone was now broken, we were glad to hear it was recovered and returned as the owner was more upset, not about the loss of her phone, but about the photos she had in her phone.  Luckily, she should be able to take her broken cellphone to her service provider and the representative should be able to recover all her photos.  A happier ending than what could have been. 

So, that’s Punta Gorda, Florida.  I’m sure there is way more to the town than we witnessed and experienced, but when funds are limited, you make your own of it.  We’re still thankful for all that we were able to experience.  Helping others is what we enjoy doing and we did that as much as we could.

Until next time, thank you y’all for reading and thank you even more for following my blog.  In the meantime, we’re moving on, on down the road, and into the next town of our choice… Fort Myers, Florida!

The clouds were really fluffy looking.
One of the many unique recreational vehicles we’ve seen since traveling.