Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Merry Christmas!
Well, despite the circumstances, we actually managed to have a very merry Christmas indeed.
The nice cranberry-apple pie helped of course ...

All in all, as James likes to say "it could have been worse".
"Not by a whole lot though", I would say ..
Reason being .. the new engine is leaking water!! !@#$%&!
Can you believe it? Look, we were so close ..

But, no cigar .. when they fired up the truck for the first time after installing the new engine, it only took 10 minutes before it started to drip water!
They think the head-gasket is leaking, which should be under warranty, but we're not sure .. and because of the holidays and most mechanics are off, we probably won't know anything for sure until January!


Which also meant we had to extend our stay here, or somewhere, which was an almost impossible task, since all campgrounds around Melbourne, including the one we're staying right now, were full for the holidays.
After calling and driving around Melbourne all Saturday, we finally managed to snatch up the one and only site available at Camelot RV Park in Malabar, just a few miles south of here.


And we're very fortunate that Rob, the guy who towed us to our current spot, is willing to tow us all the way over there as well!
Also fortunate, James has work and the truck we are borrowing is ours for as long as we need it. 

So, yes, it could have been worse, but jeez .. I wouldn't call us very lucky either!
We'd hoped to be on our way by now, and had made reservations for the next 2 campgrounds we were going to stay. So we had to cancel them .. again.
It's anybodies guess how long we'll have to stay here, it could be weeks ..

Oh well .. let's move on to something nicer, shall we?
From the site we are in now we have a view of one of the small lakes, and early yesterday morning there were 4 different 'wading birds' in it!
(I couldn't get the 4th one in the shot but it was there, scouts honor. It was a Snowy Egret, btw)


Besides the more common Great Blue Heron and the Cattle Egret, I was thrilled to see this Wood Stork, a first for me!

Pretty black and white feathers, like the common stork, but a rather ugly head ...

Talking about ugly heads .. these are Black Vultures!


I've never seen them either, they're pretty impressive from up close!

Well, that's about it for now, it has been quite the week although I have not much to show for.
But .. let's hope for the best .. like everything will be under warranty, a new engine will come our way soon, or this one will be repaired, and we'll be on our way in a couple of weeks! 

Like I said, we're OK, James has work, we have a truck, we have a place to stay, Merlin is almost back to his own self (yes!) and we're actually in Florida for the winter, just like we wanted!

Life is good .. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Guess what .. we're still in Melbourne .. the truck is still not finished .. Bah Humbug!
There were a few more parts that needed to be replaced, most of them small, but also another injector .. &%!@$!

So, fortunately we found someone else to move us to our new spot on Saturday, and I guess we're continuing to wait this out ..
James has been working his butt off, working his day-job but he also did some work in the evening hours. I'm not so happy about it, I think he's exhausting himself, but we DO need the money, so I'm trying to let it go ... yeah .. right ..


In the meantime, I'm trying to enjoy this Christmas season. 
At least this park is trying to get me in the spirit, since every year from November until January, they light up part of it's grounds with Christmas lights. 
It's a loop you drive with your car, except for 2 nights when it's walk-through only.

It's pretty good and right next door, so I've walked over a couple of times to shoot some pics.
Unfortunately James has to drive it each night (very slow) if he happens to come home after 6.30. After a week it's starting to get a little old ...

I like the way this shot came out. This is actually the Hay-Wagon that you can take around the loop. Pretty cool!

I've also done some baking!
My Gingerbread Men came out pretty good again ..

And my favorites, Hungarian Butterhorns:

Horrible sticky dough but very yummy!
I'm also trying to walk a little further every day, I think I'm actually getting back in shape some!

These Live Oaks are so pretty, all gnarly, twisting ever which way

And, sitting inside, working on my back-logged blog, I suddenly heard a big thud and when I looked up, this is what I saw ...

This is actually a Merlin, and he brought down a (Mourning) Dove!
How cool is that!
He sat there for a while and than started to dig in and pluck some of the feathers ..

Eventually, a passing car scared him enough to take off, but he did take his prey with him!

Finally, passing the pond yesterday, I heard a lot of splashing, so I stopped to see what might surface:

The turtle in the front is a Common Cooter, but the creature in the back threw me a little for a loop? A baby Gator? 
A tiny Dragon? (just kidding ...)
It took me a little sleuthing, but I'm pretty sure that it's a Florida Softshell Turtle. Made for a funny shot, those 2 faces .. "hey, what's up Bro"?

PS:  I just heard that the truck 'should' be ready tomorrow evening. The plan than is to take it for a 3-4 hour ride, after James is done working. It needs that much to 'settle' everything.
Hopefully there won't be any surprises. We have to be out of here on Saturday which doesn't give us as much time as we hoped to make sure everything will be OK, but I guess it has to do ...
We're keeping our fingers crossed!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Florida Sandhill Crane
Well, another week went by. Not much has happened, of course James is still working hard and so is the truck-shop.
Now that the injectors are back from being tested, they can start to put the whole shebang together again. I sure hope they know what they're doing ...

If everything goes well, they'll be done by Thursday or Friday, which would be good, since we have to move to another site on Saturday. Let's keep our fingers crossed!

By the way, this is the truck that Brian, one of our neighbors in the park, loaned us for as long as we need. 
It certainly has been a Godsend .. without it James couldn't have worked.

Most of my time this week was spend by taking care of our sweet boy Merlin who get really, really sick after his cat fight last week ...

He got exceedingly lethargic, stopped eating, developed a fever and a swelling on top of his head. He was soooo sick, I thought we were going to loose him ..
We ended up bringing him to the vet (and as usual this happened on Saturday evening, when you have to go to the emergency clinic and pay their high prices!), where they lanced and flushed what turned out to be a big abscess on the top of his head!

Of course they shaved his head .. 

It took 3 days for the antibiotics to kick in, and repeatedly flushing and draining the wound, before he 'turned the corner' yesterday and started eating all by himself! Yes!
Up until than I had force-feed him with a syringe, which is so hard to do and keep up, and very messy too.
He's still a little 'wobbly' and lost 2 pounds, but he started grooming again, is alert and even has gone for a few (supervised) walks!
I'm sooooo happy !!!

I tried to keep up my walks in between all the worrying and nursing, as it is always helps to clear my mind ..

I found this beautiful pair of Sandhill Cranes at the lake:

They're such gorgeous, graceful birds!
These Florida Sandhill Crane, aka the Florida Ostrich, are a year-round sighting in the Sunshine but this specific Crane is actually threatened, with only some 5,000 individuals remaining.

They did have to share the lake with all the bathing Osprey ..


I sure love the walking trails around here:

It feels very 'coastal' with the great smelling pines and the white sandy paths ..

There's so much to do here, from walking, running and bicycling or following the work-out trail, there's an archery range, an equestrian center, a horse-shoe club, and a large dog park ...

Everything is heavily used also, it's always busy with people!
Scattered around the grounds are several pavilions. 
They're reserved almost every weekend for birthdays or other celebrations.

Because of Merl, I couldn't quite get into the Christmas spirit yet, I was just too worried, but now I can relax again, and I'm finally enjoying our cute Christmas tree that went up, and the decorations that were hung ...

I might even start baking today, it's high time for some Christmas cookies!
Life is good! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Yes, it arrived! Our new (refurbished) engine!

We also got news that the injectors have been tested, on their way back, and should arrive this Friday.
Unfortunately one of them was bad and had to be replaced and, even worse, the pump was kaput so we had to get a new one!
Oh well, it never rains but it pours, doesn't it ...?

In the meantime, I baked my dutch cookies for Sinterklaasavond:


I'm working on this crazy puzzle by Jan van Haasteren, a dutch artist. It's so much fun to make! Look at the state of that kitchen!
Mine looked practically 'sterile' compared to that ..

And tonight is St. Nicolas's busiest night of the year! 
We don't really celebrate this anymore, but it's a good excuse for hot chocolate and speculaas (not that you necessarily need one of course).

And although in Holland you're supposed to wait with your Christmas decorations until after the 5th of December, I cheated, and put up the outside lights already!
Hey, this is America! I'm actually late, compared to most, who started decorating the day after Thanksgiving.

The weather is quite nice at the moment, temperatures, and the humidity, are down for the moment, so I enjoy my walks in the park.
When passing one of the two lakes the other day, this pretty Heron was busy fishing along the shore:

I think it's a Tri-colored Heron, but it's colors are a little off, so I'm not quite sure. But than, nature doesn't always obey by the rules, does she?

Also Osprey are literary all over this place. I've seen as many as four or five of them at the same time flying around the lakes.
They fish and even bathe in them:


Beautiful birds!
This park has a whole bunch of these interesting interpretive signs scattered throughout:


What a great idea!  I think I've almost read my way around the park by now ...

Here's for a little more bad news. Yeah, just what we need ...
Poor Merl has been attacked by 'something' the other day, just around dusk. 
We're not sure if it was another (feral) cat or maybe a Raccoon because we never saw the culprit, but we heard a fight going on outside and Merl came running in, bleeding quite profusely from a wound on his head.

It took me a while putting pressure on his head to stop it, but than, head wounds always bleed like crazy.
He also had a puncture wound in his left cheek and one on his back. He was quite shook up, and so were we!

We're a week further now, and despite the fact that has wounds are healing and are not looking infected, and his temperature and even his blood-sugars are OK, he still doesn't want to eat, lost 1 1/2 pounds, looks to be nauseous and in pain and has been very lethargic. 
We think the attack has triggered another bout of Pancreatitis, trauma can do this, so I've started force-feeding him once again.
I sure hope we can get him through this, he's getting to old for this crap!

Well, with that I'm all out of topics, it's a somewhat short one for this week. 

I'll end with a sunset. They're very intense here!