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Monday, January 15, 2018

Hickory Hammock - January 2018

We're back!!! The weather started changing before we left Gulf View, becoming colder especially at night. We decided to park our trailers so we would get sun most of the day to warm up our small homes and also get the most out of our solar panel. We parked so that our front doors faced the field, away from the road. Since we were beside a bush, it was quite private and gave us a huge backyard for the dogs to play. The dogs really had a good time at this location! They had gotten used to playing together at the dog park and couldn't wait to "attack" each other and run together. Sadie got really playful even picking up sticks and running with them in hopes of getting chased. You've got to understand that Sadie doesn't play with toys normally so this was very new for her. Ally loves Sadie very much and every time she was let outside she would immediately go to Michelle's trailer to see if Sadie was coming out. Just like kids!

Staying warm was a big concern. Since we have no electricity, running the furnace depletes our battery very quickly (like within an hour) so that was not an option unless we plugged into the truck and let the truck idle which Glen did periodically to prevent the trailer from getting too cold. We had nights where the night temperature would be around four degrees Celsius. It even dipped below zero one night. We are very comfortable in bed under the duvet with Cheeka and MeMe acting as hot water bottles but sadly Ally doesn't sleep in bed with us and has to be crated at night. We worried that she would get cold. Someone had once told me to turn on the oven with the door ajar making sure to crack open a window for fresh air. We tried that and it did make quite a difference and kept us cozy enough without running the furnace and doesn't seem to use as much propane as the furnace. During the day, with the sun beating on the side of the trailer and streaming through the windows, the trailer was quite comfortable. We did sit outside anyways wearing several layers of clothing so we could chat and have the dogs out. Makes me appreciate the people who decide to winter in Canada in their RVs. If we ever did we would make quite a few modifications to keep the heat in and the cold out but, although our unit has the "Arctic Package", it is not meant to live in during the winter. If we had had a generator it would have helped but we still couldn't have run it all night long. Having a better battery (ours doesn't keep a charge very well anymore) would also help since our solar panel charges it full during the day. I would still go with solar power any day. The best would be to have two batteries. I think our 100 W panel could charge two batteries easily. How cold was it?

Michelle "enjoying" the outdoors

You do what you have to do to keep warm
The highlight of our stay was to finally see wild boars! Unfortunately, we only caught the hind end  by the time we got a camera out but to see them with little piglets trotting alongside the adults made our day! Also seeing a flock of Pelicans fly overhead in perfect formation (which we didn't catch on camera) and then coming back to entertain us with their flying patterns several times was worth the cold!

We thought these were Wood Storks until we saw the pictures.

We were also treated to beautiful sunsets which we could see right from our big picture window in the living room. Wow!

The place was fairly busy with horseback riders during the weekend and of course the hunters.
We enjoyed our stay in spite of the cold. The dogs loved it and we felt sad leaving as we knew they wouldn't have that kind of freedom for a while.

We go back to Peace River for one week once we leave here. I don't think I'll blog about it unless something extraordinary happens as we've been there many times now.

Remember to follow your dreams and not be afraid of leaving your comfort zone. You might be surprised to find a new you!


Northern Mockingbird

Are they sheep?

No. Sandhill Cranes!

The beautiful cows that reside at Hickory Hammock

Beautiful Ally 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Gulf View in Punta Gorda

Let yourself be charmed by the southern hospitality of Gulf View. As we entered the park we were greeted by a cute office building all decorated for Christmas.

There are always cookies on the table in the office building

The park has paved streets that are quite narrow which makes driving the trailer into a site (drive-through) difficult since cars and trucks are parked in front of RVs. As I drove into our site I almost hit a jeep parked on the other side of the street with the rear of our trailer as it was swinging out when the trailer was turning. Phew! I had stopped to see if I was in line with the large cement patio when I noticed that we were inches from hitting that vehicle.

The sites are large enough so we don't feel cramped. Many of the annual/seasonal sites are beautifully landscaped by their proud owners. The park is very clean. Garbage is collected right at your site three times a week and a propane truck comes by to fill tanks right at your door. Now that is service!

There is a nice pool with two very large umbrellas for shade and a hot tub. Nearby is the shuffleboard court with cute tiki-like shade structures.

But what really sold us on the place is the lounge area. The building is large with a nice veranda on the front with a double door entry. It's wheelchair accessible with its ramp just off to the side of the stairs. A lot of activities happen here! We were treated to a sing-along where cookies of all kinds were served along with tea, coffee or moose milk (eggnog). It was great fun as we sang along well-known Christmas carols. We also attended the free Christmas dinner featuring turkey, ham with all the trimmings and all kinds of delicious pies! We were so full after that I thought I wouldn't have to eat for a couple of days! Santa even visited the park on Christmas morning! A well-decorated golf cart with wooden reindeers in the front was driven by Santa and his wife. Santa even had a real white beard! The sleigh was followed by another cart full of gifts for different residents. I managed to get a candy cane.

Table is ready with goodies for the singalong

The large veranda at the back is very cozy with comfortable chairs, large fans to create a breeze on a hot day, and the view of the lazy river that separates the park from the housing development on the other side. We continuously hear and see fish jumping out of the water. It's quite entertaining and provides a sense of water movement. A fishing dock is located right beside the boat ramp. Oh! And we saw an Osprey catch a fish right in front of us!

Michelle using the free internet while Sadie watches the fish jumping in the river

There are benches here and there to just sit and enjoy the water view. Horseshoe pits can be found off the back of the lounge and on the side, there is a nice bocce ball court.

Bocce ball court

Horseshoe pits

Nice big firepit by the river

 With the large oak trees with the swaying spanish moss, it is a most relaxing place. Another bonus is that 9 minutes away is a beautiful large dog leash free park. It's been a blessing with Ally and Cheeka who both like to play and run. Cheeka thinks she runs the place! So we've been going every morning since we found out about it.

Cheeka quickly took on the job of park police

Enjoying the pool

Sadie used the pool periodically to cool off

Very clean and large fenced dog park
But the very, very best is the dog beach which is 1 hour away but well worth the drive! Bonita Beach Dog Park is hidden at the foot of a bridge. When you get there you can see all the cars parked in the small parking lot. You must have your dog leashed to walk into the leash-free area. As we followed paths between the brush, we were excited to see all the dogs playing in and out of the water. What a blast we all had! I really enjoyed seeing Cheeka being brave enough to walk into the water without hesitation (she's been reluctant to get her feet wet since we have her) and Ally just jumping into the water and running with other dogs. Ally's favorite move is to jump up with all four feet at the same time or doing a huge leap. She impressed us by her obedience, always coming back to us when called and keeping an eye on our location at all times. We saw Sadie run faster than ever, even through the shallow water. The water is fairly shallow so a lot of fun for all dogs (and kids) and with a soft sandy bottom there is no worry of injury.

Jumping right in!

This is as deep as I'll go

Smiling faces!

Ally and Cheeka playing in the water

Everyone here has been friendly and pleasant. We enjoy Gulf View so much that we would love to make it our destination for the whole winter next year.

Happy New Year from our family to yours! Take care of yourself and don't forget to smile.

Becoming great buddies