Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Outside Portable Clothes Dryer/Hanger

One of the problems with moving from a 2800 sq. ft. house to about 400 sq. ft. motorhome is having space for everything.  
The problem I had was a place to dry wet swim wear and towels. 
At most campgrounds you can't have a clothes line on your campsite.
Some people have clothes line units on the back of their TT off of the bumpers. We do not have a bumper on the back of our motorhome.
So when we stayed at Space Coast RV Park in Rockledge, Florida I saw this great idea for a portable/part time clothes hanger for swim wear & towels, and I just had to make it and have it.
This is a very easy little project to complete.
First you need to have a ladder mounted on the back of your RV. 
Start with a standardized pine board 3/4" x 4" x8' in size. 

Measure the distance between the ladder mounted on your MH.
At the end of the pine board cut a small slot in the end of the board to fit the size of the ladder. Then mark the size/distance of the ladder mounting on the board and cut the second slot.  Will look like this.

When the cutting is complete you should be able to slide the board on to the ladder and lock it in place o your MH or TT. 
Next take the board and drill holes about 6-8inches apart for the size of the cloth hangers. Only make the hole just bigger than the end of the hanger to fix thru the hole. That way the wind will not knock the hanger out of the board. 
Lastly just sand, stain, and poly the board to protect it from the weather. 
And you have a nice hanger for the back of your RV for under $15 bucks. 

The cloth hangers are the "skirt" type costing about $1.50 each. 

So the cost of the this Cloth Hanger Board with Hangers is about $29 bucks

When you are set to travel, just remove from the ladder and put it away in storage till you are at your next campsite. 
Thanks and enjoy camping. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Product Review: Mighty Mug

Just Right

Fred and I love the Behemoth but it does have a few design flaws.
We are finding workarounds.

Too sloppy.
One such annoyance is that the coffee cup holders in the beautiful oak dashboard unit don't support

Too tippy.
coffee mugs very well.
They are shallow and round with a slot carved out of one side so that you can safely rest your morning Cup of Joe in them.
Unfortunately those cup holders are not very useful as a regular mug sloshes over when we hit a slight bump in the road and our traditional travel mugs are so tall that they tip over on a turn.

Enter the Mighty Mug.
We were shopping for storage solutions in Bed Bath and Beyond about a month ago when we came upon a travel mug with an unusual design.

The mighty mug is advertised as "the mug that won't fall over". There was a video demonstration on the end cap that showed them preventing all sorts of disasters.
I was skeptical. We took 2 of the mugs out of their packaging and played with them for about 10 minutes. We found that when placed of a solid surface they resist tipping when tapped, bumped into or otherwise jostled...say when an excitable 35 pound dog runs by your TV stand.
Yet you can still easily access them for drinking by lifting the cup straight up. Mighty Mug developers call it Smartgrip Technology. I call it magic. We bought two o give them a try.
We have traveled with them in the Behemoth for 150 miles without spillage.

We chose the mighty mug solo an 11 oz mug that works well for our purposes. The mugs are double insulated and BPA free, with a locking flip lid that helps to keep the coffee warm for several hours. Although we don't utilize these features they are also dishwasher safe and built at a height to accommodate single serve coffee makers.

Mighty mug is also available in a 16 oz desk mug, and 18 oz travel mug and a 20 oz cold cup.

- Bonnie, from my iPad

Location:Ocala, Florida

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bottle Tree Garden

We found a bottle tree.

Actually we found a garden of them shining in the afternoon sun while we were driving back to Ocala from Homosassa Springs State Park.

It was one of those "turn the car around we have to take a closer look at that" moments.

The artists call it a Bottle Tree Park. When completed it will be open to the public so that family and friends can stroll among the sculptures.

We have seen bottle trees before.
We have even chuckled and poked fun at the excellent recycling of all of those wine bottles.

These blue bottles shining in the sun had us expressing ourselves differently.
No redneck lawn ornaments here. This is art.

There were bottle tree garden gates, bottle tree bicycles and framed bottle tree sculptures that reminded us of primitive paintings.

The predominant color was blue, but there were also pale green and clear bottles represented.

We also learned that bottle trees have a long and colorful history dating back to the African Congo in the 9th century A.D.

Folklore would have us believe that spirits can inhabit bottles and that once trapped inside they cannot find their way out. Empty bottles left outside the home capture spirits that are then destroyed in the daylight hours by the heat of the sun through the glass.

I'm all for getting rid of ill humors and other nasty things so a bottle tree may be in our future.

Cubby's Art Studio is home to the Bottle Tree Park.
Cubby's is a stained glass studio that also offers classes in glass fusing. When we return to this part of Florida I would love to participate in one of the Saturday fusing classes.

Cubby's Art Studio
1065 N Paul Drive
Inverness, Florida
(352) 341-0003

- Bonnie, from my iPad

Monday, April 13, 2015

Homosassa Springs State Park

Fred and I ignored the threat of Florida's afternoon thunderstorms yesterday to drive 40 miles west of Ocala to Homosassa Springs State Park.
Once a Zoo for exotic animals, since 1989 Homosassa Springs is a Florida State Park and celebrates Florida's natural inhabitants.

We parked at the Route 19 entrance and took a tram into the park.

We wanted to see the manatees first so walked over the bridge to the viewing platform. There is also and underwater viewing station in the Spring but yesterday they were happy to float in the warmer shallow waters near the bridge. They are such peaceful creatures. It was fun to see them nibbling at the vegetation and scratching their backs by rolling over and rubbing themselves on the rocks.

The Park is home to 4 resident manatees.
The spring water is so clear that you can see the manatees and fish clearly.

Turtles on the Pepper Creek
The spring at Homosassa have been a tourist attraction since the early 1900s, when trains stopped to let passengers off to walk the short trail to the first-magnitude spring.
It has been through several owners and name changes. The 1940's new it as a small tourist attraction.
1964 found it owned and operated by the Norris Development Company with an emphasis on wild animals and training them as actors for television shows and movies. Famous residents were on of the bears that played Gentle Ben and Lu the Hippopotamus that was featured in the movie and children's TV series Daktari.

Lu the Hippopotamus who likes to eat bananas with their peels still on.
Barn Owl
The park was eventually purchased by the state of Florida and all of the exotic animals except one were rehomed.  Lu is still a resident of the park.   He is so well loved by the local residents and visitors that by special decree Lu was made an honorary Florida citizen. The State has pledged to let the hippopotamus live out his days in a familiar environment.
Animal welfare is very important  at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.
Homosassa Springs is  home to 4 resident manatees. Dozens of others flock to the park in cold weather to enjoy the relatively warmer water of the 72 degree spring.

Blue Heron

A Wildlife Walk exhibits bobcats, cougars, otters, bears, turtles and hundreds of birds in a natural environment.
We enjoyed looking at the birds.  There were Flamingo, Pelican (both white and brown), Wood Stork, Swans, Anhinga, Owl, Bald Eagle and a variety of shore birds.
Great Blue Heron nested in the tall pines and noisy Sand Hill Cranes swooped overhead like Pterodactyl.

Flamingo feeding in the shallows
This curious creature was in the shorebird aviary.
The park also has a reptile house that exhibits snakes that are native to Florida.  I don't intend to run across any of them but it was helpful the learn their markings just in case.

American Alligators

Fred especially enjoyed watching the alligators.
He also spent a long time talking to the Florida Panther as it twitched it's tail and purred back at him lake a large housecat.

We returned to the parking area via a 20 minute boat ride along the Pepper Creek with a  friendly pilot named John. He pointed out a huge Osprey nest in one of the tallest trees and turtles basking on rocks and logs. We also caught a glimpse of a Pileated Woodpecker and a few colorful Wood Ducks. 

Wood Duck

John also told us stories of the old park when Gibbons ran wild on an island along the Pepper Creek and boarded the boats to steal snacks and personal items from unsuspecting tourists.   Thankfully the Gibbons were rehomed with the rest of the exotic non-native animals.
It was a pleasure to see butterfly's and dragonflies all over the park. The butterfly's seemed to particularly enjoy the Lantana that was growing everywhere.

Monarch Butterfly
 There were also many small lizard type creatures. Black ones and green ones were common. We especially enjoyed this red headed guy that we saw under a honeysuckle bush near the boat dock.
Broad Headed Skink

Homosassa Springs State Park was delightful. It is very family oriented and easily accessible to those using wheeled carriers for transportation.  There are Wildlife Encounter Programs and a Children's Education Center in addition to the Nature Walk that we enjoyed. To see more photos of this adventure visit our Flickr Photo Stream

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
4150 South Suncoast Blvd.
Homosassa, Florida
(352) 628-5343

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Paynes Praire State Park

Fred looking out over the wetlands
There is a Savannah in Central Florida.It's name is Paynes. Prairie.
It is a Florida State park, part of the real Florida.
The 22,000 acre preserve includes a pine forest, fallow fields, ponds, scrub growth, wet prairie, open water and marsh.
Great Blue Heron


Glossy Ibis
You can see large expanses of the Prairie while driving on Route 75 between Gainesville and Ocala.  It is an unusual landscape for Florida and made us want to investigate the area.

Fred and I drove to Micanopy yesterday and hiked two of its trails.
We walked the Wacahoota Trail from the Visitors Center.
The Wacahoota winds through a forest of pine and live oak draped with Spanish moss. There were many small birds, Blue Tailed Skink rustling in the fallen leaves and a Pileated Woodpecker that we could here but not spot as it was above the canopy.
The trail ended at a 3 story observation platform that allowed us to look out over the Savannah.

Paynes Prairie is home to 3 large species. There are small herds of Bison, Spanish horses and small cows called Cracker Cattle.
We were lucky enough to spot some of the horses from the Observation Deck.

A short drive out Route 441 took us to the Ecopassage Observation Boardwalk, an observation platform over the wetlands. This was a beautiful spot but in the middle of the day we only saw frogs, fish and turtles. I would love to go back at sunset to watch the change of colors over that sea of grasses.

We then drove into Gainesville to access the La Chua Trail a 3 mile round trip walk to the Alchua Sink at the center of the prairie marsh. The trailhead was a short distance from the parking lot. We crossed the Gainesville-Hawthorne bike trail, passed a sign warning us to keep our distance from the wild animals, walked under an old railroad bridge and across a cattle guard to gain access.

Wild Spanish Horses on Paynes Prairie
We hadn't walked very far when we began to hear the rumbling bellows of alligators. The marsh was full of them, swimming, sunning themselves warm on the banks, and lying very still almost hidden in water plants.   There was even one multitasking by sunbathing in the mud with a camouflage of Water Hyacinth decorating his back.

American Alligator on Alachua Sink
The La Chua Trail also gave us glimpses of many water birds such as Great Blue Heron, Glossy Ibis, Cormorant, American Coot, Moorhen and Snowy Egret.

American Alligator sunbathing
An old Railroad bridge leads to the trail
There were other people on the trail Monday, but voices were kept soft in respect for the beautiful environment and sounds of abundant animal life.

We didn't spot any large mammals on the La Chua, a pile of Bison poo was as close as we got to seeing them in the wild, but it was a great day.

To see more photos of Paynes Prairie visit our Flickr Photo Album.

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
100 Savannah Blvd
Micanopy, Florida
(352) 466-3397

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Farmer's market: Market of Marion

There were Hibiscus in pink, red, orange and yellow
The Market of Marion is a combination Flea Market and Farmers Market held every Friday-Sunday in Belleview, Florida. it is a short drive from Ocala.
Fred and I have been visiting it for fresh fruits and vegetables every weekend since we have been here.
The market has several nurseries that participate as vendors and this weekend I explored them all.
It was so joyful to walk among the blossoms and greenery.

I was reminded of all of the Easter flowers that I have gifted and received over the years. There were orchids in every color, beautiful hibiscus, sweet smelling gardenias as well as palms and ferns in many varieties.  I particularly liked the Bottle Brush and Mimosa trees.

Happy Easter  friends and family members these are my virtual floral gifts to you.

Pitcher plants to catch those pesky flies

Cascading purple blossoms

Shrimp plant
These scent of beautiful gardenias reminded me of Mom's Pensacola garden

These red tipped white beauty's remind me of bleeding heart

Today is our 5th and final day of black and white photographs. This picture of wildflowers was taken in May of 2013 in Robert Whele State Park in Henderson new York, on lake Ontario. It seemed appropriate to share it with today's floral post.
 I have run out of bloggers who want to be nominated to share a black and white photo each day for 5 days and to challenge another to do the same, so this is an open invitation for anyone to participate. Let us know if you decide to play so that we can check out your beautiful pix.

Wildflowers in Upstate New York

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park

Fred and I had a great adventure on Thursday.
We visited another Florida State park, Devil's Millhopper in Gainesville.

I would have gone just because of the name, but camping neighbors Bill and Sue Holt also recommended it.

Devil's Millhopper is a Florida sinkhole.
It's documented exploration began in the  late 1800's and it has been designated a National Natural Landmark since 1976.
Geologists have learned a great deal about Florida's natural history by exploring it's depth, which holds fossil sharks teeth, sea shells and the fossilized remains of extinct animals.

The park around it is typical Central Florida landscape, tall pines and palmettos draped with Spanish moss and sandy paths for walking. There is a short trail (.6 mile) around the rim of the sinkhole that allows you to enjoy the scenery before descending into the sink.

The Devil's Millhopper is 120 feet deep and 500 feet across. Access to the bottom is by a series of stairs and viewing platforms that lead you into the sink while preserving the fragile surrounding environment.

Walking down the 232 steps we began to hear water trickling.
Ferns and lush green moss began to line the walls of the sinkhole, and the trees were now live oaks and needle palms.

We discovered many small waterfalls that appeared in the sides of the sinkhole. Little streams gathered from them and disappeared into a mist covered pool at the bottom. We spotted orchids among the air plants in the trees and tiny lizards running on the stairs.

The bottom of the sinkhole has it's own micro-climate, lush, moist and green. We are told that even in the relentless heat of Central Florida Summers, it remains the same.

The 232 steps back to the top took a little longer to climb, and required one rest stop but we made it.

Florida Fun Facts:

 Devil's Millhopper was named by early pioneers. The shape of the sinkhole remaindered them of a mill hopper, the funnel shaped device that feeds grain to a gristmill.  When they discovered bones and teeth in it's depths they believed that it was an entrance to Hell and occupied by the Devil.

Native American legend states that the Devil's Millhopper was formed when the Devil fell in love with an beautiful woman. She refused his proposal and when he flung open the door to hell she was devoured.

To visit this park, that is marketed as "Welcome to the Real Florida":

Devils Millhopper Geological State Park
4732 Millhopper Road
Gainesville, Florida 32653

(352) 955-2008

Today's black and white photo is of a Queen Conch on the beach of Conch Key, near Marathon. Taken in February 2014.  I have run out of bloggers who want to be nominated to share a black and white photo each day for 5 days and to challenge another to do the same, so this is an open invitation for anyone to participate. Let us know if you decide to play so that we can check out your beautiful pix.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Grilled Bread

Naan on the grill
 One of the things that I wanted to do while we are traveling is to get back to baking our bread.

We packed the bread recipes, the Kitchenaid Mixer and purchased yeast and an assortment of flours.

Then drove South where daily temperatures have been in the 80's.

Turns out it really overheats the motor coach to bake bread it it's tiny and inefficient gas oven.

Then yesterday when sorting recipes I found a receipt for Naan bread that we hadn't made in several years.

We tried it  and it was delicious.
2 hours to mix and rise.
5 minutes to cook.

Look at those grill marks.
Naan is close to the top of the list for our favorite camping recipes.

Todays photograph for the 5 day black and white photo challenge is a shot from the Central Florida Zoo where Fred developed an interesting relationship with a resident Llama.

We nominate Van and Cherie Howk of Howk Making Memories to participate by posting a black and white photo each day along with an invitation to another blogger.