Harbingers of Spring

The Star is still parked in Central Florida but we are both in Northern Virginia right now. Jonathan will be here for another week or so and I be here for two to three months. I’ve committed to a work project in the DC area and I will be staying with my family during this time.  We’ll be going back and forth to visit each other.

Yes, it’s cold here but it is slowly warming up. It is early March and the crocuses and daffodils are out in the yard. These flowers are harbingers of Spring!

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The year 2011 will see a lot of changes for us. So far, it has been quite busy already. Our 11th wedding anniversary is tomorrow. We will attend a friend’s wedding in Bruceton, West Virginia the following day. We will have to miss another friend’s Memorial Service that is taking place in Falls Church, VA that same day. It’s too bad we cannot be in two places at once. On the one hand  there is hope and new beginning (wedding) and on the other there is death and sadness but there is hope too. That hope is the resurrection hope of a better future to come. Maintaining a balance and the right frame of mind can be a challenge sometimes when “life happens”.

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Fun, Family and Mishap at Juniper Springs

Juniper Springs is located at Juniper Springs Wilderness and Recreation Area on the Southeastern part of the Ocala National Forest off of SR 40. It offers a full range of outdoor activities.

The springhead area offers swimming, a pleasant picnic area and a great nature trail that runs along the spring creek run. One of the highlights of this place has got to be the canoe run on Juniper Creek, Juniper Springs’ crystal clear spring run. It is 7 miles long and it takes an average of  4 hours to complete the course. Because the course runs through a National Wilderness area, you are guaranteed to see wildlife.

SpringHeadSwimArea

SpringWaterwheel

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We had visited the park once before last Spring and we had a blast! We did the canoe run and walked the nature trail.

Last week my sister and her husband were visiting his folks in Kissimmee, FL. The whole family drove up from Kissimmee to Juniper Springs last Friday to do the canoe run with us. We invited another friend of ours along as she has never been on the  canoe run before.

Ladies

NOTE: You cannot bring any food/drink in a disposable container on the canoe run (I believe it is an effort to minimize trash in the pristine wilderness area). So, put your food/drinks in a reusable container.

The canoe rental/loading process is a little lengthy. First, you check in at the gift shop. Then you walk over to the canoe rental area to load your canoe on to a cart. After that you wheel your canoe down a path to the take out point and drop it off. Now, walk back to the check in and collect your oars, life jackets and whistle and walk back to your canoe. Before you lift you canoe into the spring, there is a cooler check to make sure that you don’t have anything disposable. Finally, off you go!

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OffonRunCreek

The canoe run has a lot of challenging turns with many low hanging trees that you have to duck under. Some branches are so low, you have to lay back  completely. Since we recently has a couple storms come our way, the water level is higher than normal thus creating “rapids” in a few sections . One fork of the path had a fallen tree completely blocking the entire length of the creek.  We had to get out and lift the canoes over. There are a couple places along the run where you can take a break and stretch your legs. We decided to take a lunch break at once such spot. Jonathan had pulled the canoe half way up the bank. He got out. As our friend got off the canoe, it rocked and SPLASH!!! I was under the water! I was so certain, we would not flip that I put on Canon PowerShot SD770 in my shirt pocket! So, no more still pictures after this moment. I reverted to using the waterproof video camera.

Sometime after this episode, we converged at a point. We hear my sister making funny noises and I turned around with the video camera in hand to catch her & her husband flipping their canoe over. The look on her face and the events proceeding that were priceless! I feel so bad for them but it was so funny! No one was hurt, thank goodness! (You’ll have to wait for Jonathan to edit the video.)

The wildlife scenery is incredible. We saw lots of turtles sunning themselves with their legs spread out, a couple of alligators sunning on the bank and otters swimming around. My sister and her husband saw a snake hanging from a branch. We saw one otter playing in the “rapids”, its heading was bobbing up and down with the waves. There was a variety of birds including blue and tricolor heron. It is a wonderful thing to see animals in their natural habitats.

It took us (3 canoes) about  5 hours to get through. Last time when it was just Jonathan and I , it took us under 4 hours.

We got picked up at Juniper Wayside, located about 4.3 miles north of SR 40, on SR 19. 

The events of the day was certainly memorable:

  • Park entrance: $5 per person
  • Canoe rental: $35
  • Dinner at Lena’s Seafood:  $44
  • Camera damage: $145
  • Whole experience: PRICELESS

Yes, my handy dandy Canon PowerShot SD770 IS is toast! Every time I tried to power it on, I get “Lens error, restart camera” and the camera lens will not retract. I am saddened by my loss but I am already researching a water proof one for my next purchase.

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A Day at De Leon Springs State Park

Last month our friends from southern Maryland came to Florida to get away from the cold and visit some old friends. We were on their list too. Smile 

We spent an enjoyable afternoon at De Leon Springs State Park in De Leon Springs, FL in Volusia County.  The park covers over 600 acres and is built around a natural sulfur spring flowing at a rate of about 20 millions gallons a day. The spring water remain 72 degrees year round (the spring water is still cold even if the weather outside is lower than 72 degrees). The park offers a wide range of activities from boating to wildlife viewing.

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The park used be the site of an old plantation with a mill to grind corn and sugar. The plantation was destroyed during the Civil War but the waterwheel and building remains. The building now houses a pancake restaurant called The Old Spanish Sugar Mill. Each table in the restaurant has a griddle on the table where you make your own (all you can eat) pancakes. The table also has honey, molasses, honey and pure maple syrup for the pancakes. We came into the park around 1PM and we told the restaurant has a waiting time until 4PM. We decided to put our name down and take a boat tour in the mean time.

MenuSignTourSign2BoatTour

We saw lots of wildlife! Some that I could remember included: American alligators, turtles, otters, great blue herons, American white ibis, egrets, limpkins, tricolor heron, hawks and vultures. We saw manatees playing in front of the springs. Manatees are cool! Scenery was beautiful too.

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After the boat tour, we went to check on our waiting status. As it turned out, they were ready for us! The three men and myself ordered pancakes. I can speak for myself, I ate too many pancakes but it was good!

Pancakes

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After this meal, I felt I wasn’t going to be able to eat until the next day. I was stuffed. We were invited to Eustis/Mount Dora for an authentic home cooked Peruvian lomo saltado dinner. It was delicious! Our hostess prepared this delicious meal for eight people (I was so caught up in the moment and conversation that I forgot to take pictures!). Needless to say, we had a wonderful day! Good friends and good food make for a good time any day!

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Our Screen Door

Attached are pictures of our screen door.

It consists of three parts. The top part is meshed screen. The middle part is the glass slide out for access to the door knob/handle. The bottom part consists of a metal diamond shaped design on the inside and meshed screen on the outside. I guess this would be a  great door if you have pets that like to lean against the door; they could lean all they want and the meshed screen would still remain intact.

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Parked For the Winter

We have been at Whispering Pines RV Park in Silver Springs, FL for about a month now. We will be here for the winter season.  It is a quiet and friendly park. Juerg & Germaine Mueller bought this park in 2003 and they have done a great job in turning this RV Park around (we heard what it was like before). This park has few frills but it is clean, quiet and friendly.  We like it.

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We are reasonably close to our congregation,  our family/friends and the city of Ocala. It’s good to be back to familiar places and friendly faces. As much as I like visiting new places and meeting new people, there is no feeling like being back “home”.  Right now, home is Florida.

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Out With the Old, In With the New

Jonathan replaced the existing convection/microwave oven a with new GE Profile 1,000 watt convection/microwave oven. . We have been using a semi working Sharp Carousel 850 watts convection/microwave oven for the past six months (the oven is almost ten years old!). When using the microwave, the turn table stopped turning. When using the convection oven, you need to turn your food around to get an even browning. There were some other minor irritants but its  better days were behind it.

Our old oven and new oven side by side.

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We were hoping we can use the existing mounts for the new oven but that wasn’t the case. Jonathan had to completely remove the existing bracket and wood backing. The existing bracket did not fit the new oven and the new bracket needed a bigger wood backing. So, more work for Jonathan! His to-do list is getting smaller but he’s not done yet. Confused smile

Here he is working hard:

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Our new oven again!

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Floor Remodeling: Project Completed

Here are some pictures of the finished product of our hard work. Whew!!! We are happy with the new floor. 

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FinishedMiddle

FinishedFront Steps

Bare floor is colder on bare feet than carpet (we have carpet in the bedroom and under the sofa). That problem can be easily rectified with an area rug or wearing socks/slippers. We choose not to put a rug in the main area because we like the bare floor. We also like the visual continuity of the floor.

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Floor Remodeling: Day 9 (Laminate flooring is down!)

Yes! We finally completed the main area! We aren’t complete with the project as a whole as we still need to finish up with quarter round in some areas, put furniture back and finish up the steps. However, the challenging parts are done!

FrontView 

BackView

I may do another post or two regarding this project when we are “done” but our experiences thus far should (hopefully) provide some helpful insights to those contemplating any RV flooring remodeling project.

On Day 9 we did the following:

  • completed laying down laminate
  • added additional nails to the trim piece under the slide out steel plate
  • sunk the nails down (and remove screws)
  • made two trips to the hardware store

Here is a rough break down of our costs:

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Floor Remodeling: Day 7 and Day 8 (Almost there!)

We made progress on Day 7 and Day 8! But we are not done. We lay most of the laminate and set up support for the main slide out area (more on this later). Here are some shots of our progress.

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The slide out area is a touchy area. If you do it wrong, you are in deep doo doo. Each slide out works a little differently depending on the make/model of the unit. Sometimes you don’t know how the slide out works until you do it.

Our main slide out has five rollers and each roller rides on five steel plates that ramp up/down as the slide out comes in/goes out. The old carpet went under those steel plates. Since the laminate did not have the correct slope, we bought a general sloped wood trim that is about the same height as the laminate and put it under the  steel plates. First, we had to pry the steel plates up so that the trim would go under it. Then we sawed off excess trim so that it is flushed against the edge of the carpet. We then glued and screwed the trim under the steel plates. 

LiftingSildePlate SlopedTrimUnderSlidePlate

So, Day 7 and Day 8 we did the following:

  • laid laminate in bathroom area
  • laid laminate around the pedals and steering wheel
  • laid down about 90% of the laminate 
  • made two trips to the hardware store

Here is to an uneventful day tomorrow! We don’t like drama! Sleepy smile

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Floor Remodeling: Day 6 (“Are we done yet?”)

Are we done yet? No. Are we quick? No. Are we efficient? No!  Did you count how many trips we made to the hardware store each day?!?

Are we going to do a good job? We hope so! Will we be happy when this is done? YES!!

We are more than one third of the way with laying down the laminate. We are probably closer to half way done. We got the laminate under the galley counter. It took muscle and lots of cutting but it looks good! That makes me happy! Open-mouthed smile I’ll take slow & done right over sloppy & quick any day!

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On Day 6 we did the following:

  • laid down over one third of the laminate 
  • made two trips to the hardware store

We will be visiting friends in Jacksonville tomorrow, so we will not be working on the floor at all. We will not be posting about the floor remodeling until it is completed. I look forward to that day! Smile 

It may take us another work day or two to complete this project. 

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