We left our friends behind in Florida and began our long slow migration north. In previous years we have taken 4-5 weeks to get home and our plans was to do the same. Our first step was therefore only a short distance away at Falling Waters State Park. The park was badly damaged by Hurricane Michael and had only just reopened after months of clean up. As we expected the park still showed a lot of damage from the hurricane. While the campsite itself was mostly clear, there were a lot of places still piled high with windblown debris. Several stretches of the hiking trails had major detours and one large boardwalk trail was still closed. However the main attraction, the creek flowing down and falling 72 feet into a large sinkhole, was open. It was running fairly quickly that first visit on our arrival day.
We stayed two nights and very much enjoyed ourselves. The campground is very busy and the sites are highly variable in quality. I strongly recommend reservations. Ours was a tight fit and we had to unhitch. It was beside an area still uncleared from the hurricane so we had to deal with things like mounds of overhanging and tangled vines with big spikes. The washrooms were in clean and excellent shape and the hosts were wonderful. There is a small artificial lake and swimming hole with a sandy beach that would have been very attractive except for the alligator dangers signs. We didn’t go swimming.
The second day we spent walking the trails that were open. Many of the trails were long boardwalks and they had lots of sections with brand new wood. There were also crews busy repairing and cleaning so all day long we heard the sound of small tractors and chainsaws. Even so it was really lovely The spring flowers were all in bloom. There were many beautiful ferns and mosses. It had rained a lot overnight and so the creek leading to the waterfall was running vigorously and we got really lovely display.
Overall it was well worth the stop and I’m glad we visited the highest point in Florida and saw Florida’s biggest waterfall. Next stop on our long migration home for 2019 was Isaac Creek, Alabama.
When I was a little girl, the Canada Goose was in danger of extinction. I explicitly recall a great event when I was perhaps four or five years old. There was an uproar in the neighbourhood and my father grabbed me to run outside and see something wonderful. All up and down the street were neighbours pointing at the sky and hold up their children in great excitement. My mother clapped her hands and shouted “Spring is coming at last!”
As we all watched a flock of about fifty Canada geese flew over honking and calling, me on my father’s board shoulders. I remember thinking it was pretty neat. I had never seen such a bird before.
My father then went on to tell me the great birds had once filled the skies but they were now in danger of going extinct because of the greed and stupidity of humanity who had over hunted the glorious bird. I was really sad that the day might come that these majestic birds with their haunting call might vanish from the earth. If things don’t change, my father said, my children would not get to see a migrating goose. I was sad. It was the start of my interest in being an environmentalist.
Flash forward five decades (okay five decades plus a few years) and not only has that Canada Goose not gone extinct, it has become a right bloody nuisance. There is currently a Canada Goose hiding out in a Winnipeg car wash trying to survive the winter in the cold. It is far too canny for anyone to catch. The reason geese are thriving is because they have adapted to us and like our golf courses, suburbs and even our car washes. All I can say (after a muttered curse when I have goose poop on my shoes again) is I wish every species in danger of going extinct could have such a resurgence. On the other hand, I should be careful what I wish for.
Update” That silly goose was finally rescued.
We left Fort Kearney and it was freezing cold. As the day progressed and we moved south it got warmer. Our original plan was to try to get to a KOA just north of Oklahoma City. It was a long trip. Dick checked our KOA campground book and discovered there was another year round KOA near Wellington Kansas about twenty miles (32 km) or so from the border with Oklahoma. That shaved some two hours of driving so we diverted there. We settled into the Wellington KOA and signed up for two days.
We had been driving in above zero weather for about four hours and temperature was a balmy (compared to what we had been dealing with) 7C (45F). To my great relief, as soon as we hooked up to the sewer and I pulled the valves, they opened easily and the trailer drained. More important, they closed perfectly afterward. Letting your plumbing freeze up is a bad thing to do. When it freezes you can damage things. This time we got lucky.
There were a few things we really needed to do. Most important, we both needed a good hot shower. We had a big pile of laundry to do the next day. We also had tracked mud all over the trailer and it was in sore need of a good cleaning and there was a lot of stuff to sort and put away. This is why we like to check into a “proper” campground every so often. KOAs are rarely beautiful on lakesides with gorgeous views although that can happen. They are almost uniformly solid and reliable when it comes to whether the WIFI works, the cable connects, and full hookups with water and sewer are available. They are also pretty uniformly clean and well run. We have rarely been disappointed. The Wellington KOA was a better run KOA with a cheerful fellow who greeted us nicely. We settled in for a day of cleaning and catch up. The weather was lovely and we took a long walk the second afternoon. We found some neat things like a windmill and lots and lots of hedge apples and glorious junipers taller the us and magnificent cedars.
The weather reports were turning ominous though. Our area was supposed to be hit by severe weather Friday night. We did what we usually did. We changed our path to go a bit west out of the yellow hatched danger zone on the NOAA map. There was a promising state park near Enid, out of the danger zone. It was called the Great Salt Plains State Park. The drive was only 72 miles (116km) an easy hop skip and jump, so we decided to take it. We slept in, we said goodbye to the Kansas, and the very nice KOA just before check out, and by 2:00pm we were comfortably settled in a wonderful spot on the river in full view of a beautiful spillway that looked like a big two tier waterfall. Lovely!
We are in preparation mode as we get ready to head south again. It’s cold in Manitoba and the snow is here to stay. We had some friends over for supper last night and they left with hugs and wishes for safe travels. I fell asleep considering what lies ahead.
We had replied to an invitation to visit West Texas but our potential host meanwhile went on her own trip during this time frame, so we have no specific destination and no specific plans. Last year we returned to Panacea, Florida by following the coastline and we stopped at several lovely seashore campgrounds along the panhandle. We had tentatively decided to do that again but many of our favourite spots were horrifically damaged by Hurricane Michael and won’t be open. Our special favourite St Joseph Peninsula State Park is just plain gone. The camping spot we enjoyed so much is now part of an island. Falling Waters State Park was on our to do list but you can’t get to the waterfall so we’ll wait. I’m not sure I want to take that coast road and see the region I loved so much in its mortally wounded state. All our plans are up in the air, except of course Gulf Specimen Marine Lab which was injured but was back up and running in a week having gotten only the edge of Michael.
This trip represents our nineth trip south. Some of our best experiences have been found by just winging it as we travel wandering about with no special plans. Part of me is delighted with the prospect. Another part of me is looking forward to going back to some of our favourite discoveries from past trips and another part of me wants to go looking for new wonders. Last year we finally got to Utah and it was as wonderful as I expected it would be. I kind of have a hankering to finally get to the Corpus Cristi area which is the winter home of so many snowbirds. There are a couple of iconic places like San Padre Island I would like to see. I loved Galveston and I kind of want to go back there. On our trip to visit a colleague in Beaumont we passed a few intriguing looking campground in a barren area cleared by Hurricane Ike that are tempting. Then again, there are all those lovely Army Corps of Engineer campgrounds across the middle of Alabama and Mississippi the we loved so much and would love to camp in again.
Right now our only firm plans are to get to the year round Sioux City North KOA in South Dakota, the first place we can hit with full hookups. Unless of course we decide to go south via Minot which might happen yet. Which way go will depend on the weather, what strikes our fancy, and what calls to us. We’ll see.
My life has been quiet in our little town. I haven’t had much to share. However I did have one experience that I think deserves sharing. A few days ago I was rototilling my garden in preparation for winter. I was pulling some large dead parsley plants up and I got a nasty sliver in my thumb. It hurt. I pulled it out but it kept on hurting.
I had three days of pain and misery that interfered with my sleep and the spot fussed and wept and pussed. I couldn’t see anything. I soaked the wound in salt water and I tried peroxide. Nothing helped but pain killers. I decided after the third night that if it wasn’t better by morning I would have to make a trip to a clinic and get a doctor to help. I couldn’t see anything but maybe I had an infection.
Just before I took a pain killer and went to bed, I tried a search on line and found a reference to using baking soda to remove slivers. The instructions are simple. Make a thick paste of the baking soda and water. Place this on the site of the sliver. Bandage loosely. Leave overnight.
The next morning I carefully removed the bandage and checked it. Nothing. I looked at the wound and saw something sticking up about 1.5mm (about 1/10th inch) from the wound. I used a tweezer to pull and to my astonishment a sliver nearly one centimetre long came out of the wound. The sliver was stuck in at 90 degrees to the skin and must have gone in to hit bone. It was also stiff and hard, almost as hard as wood. Because of the colour, I couldn’t see it in my skin. Because of the angle it went in, only the end was visible but it was far too deep to grab before the baking soda treatment. After I pulled the sliver out, I could see a hole in my thumb. No wonder it hurt!
The pain immediately eased up. Within a few hours the hole was closed. Now, two days later, the wound is almost healed. Anyway, that sliver was a very small thing on the scale of things we suffer with in life, but I think it worth sharing. The baking soda trick worked for me.