Thursday, March 28, 2019

There's a storm coming ..

So, here we are, in what seems to be our last week here in Malabar, that is, if all goes well .. 
With only 3 days to go you would think we were good to go, but wouldn't you know it .. another part of the truck is failing! Un-be-$%#@&-lievable !
This time it's the brake fluid pump, it's dripping slowly. Fortunately it's not that expensive, has already been ordered, arrived and is going to be installed tomorrow, which will be a quick and easy job, but still ... is this ever going to end?

Point in case, we've had a stormy couple of days and some hours of heavy rain, which caused our little screen tent to rip it's roof straight through from one end to the other.
Other than by the strong wind, it mainly ripped because long months of intense sun here in Florida deteriorated the fabric to the point that it was very thin and tore easily.
It's only a $39 expense (Walmart) but, like I said .. is this ever going to end ..?

A little Otis Reddis stress relief here:  ♪ Sittin' on the dock of the bay .. ♫
But enough of that. Let's stay positive here. We've got a trip to plan!
It looks like we'll be leaving on Sunday and we were able to make reservations for Sunday and Monday night at a campground on the south side of Lake Okeechobee, and for Tuesday through Thursday night at Homestead, a little further south.
The State campground we want to go to at Naples is full, but we still have a little time, so I'll keep checking to see if somebody cancels and otherwise we have several others we can try.

'Our' campground continues to empty out, more and more people are leaving and I think by the 1st of April, this coming Monday, most others are going too. 
This little fella is going nowhere and he'll probably be happy to have the grounds to himself again. It's a Red-bellied Woodpecker:

Not that you can see his belly, and it isn't that red anyways, so we're not missing anything here ..

Just look at the beautiful patterns on those feathers!

While relaxing at that aforementioned dock, I snapped a quick shot of this Osprey with his catch:

I've done some baking lately, although I have not much to show for since I forgot to take pictures, so you have to take my word for it that I made some cinnamon rolls, a pineapple upside-down cake, several different muffins and this apple-spice cake which came out pretty good ..

Mm, that reminds me, I better start baking some 'for-the-road' cookies!

James has diligently kept up flushing the cooling-reservoir with water and cascade to remove the last traces of oil.


He's done this every 2 days and it looks like it's almost gone now. He'll fill her up with anti-freeze on Saturday.

Today is his last work day, he'll be wrapping everything up and will pick up the tools he'd put in storage for the last 2 months, and put them back in the truck.  
We'll probably do a last grocery run on Saturday to stock up on groceries for a week (or 2) and than we'll start packing up. 
All we'll have left to do on Sunday will be disconnecting and we'll be ready to go!
It's probably going to be a while, most likely until we've reached Ponchatoula around the 13th of April, before I'll post again so let's keep our fingers crossed that all will go well and we'll have a save and uneventful trip!

See you later alligator 
(and yes, hopefully we're going to see some of those)!

This is our route:

Wednesday, March 20, 2019


Hey, it's Spring Y'all! 
And although most of Florida's flowers bloom pretty much year round, some typical spring blossoms are also popping up and the (Bumble) Bees are buzzing.
We went for a Sunday walk at the Malabar Scrub Sanctuary, just down the road from us, which protects 1,322 acres of Brevard's remaining scrubby flatwoods and mesic flatwoods habitat. 

Florida's Pine Flatwoods  are characterized by low, flat lands with sandy soil and Pine woodlands. 
Frequent fires caused by lightning or from controlled-burns are keeping the shrubs low and the forest open.

It was a cloudy day, which was nice because there is very little shade and I can imagine that it gets pretty warm in the summer. 
It's not very nice for pictures but oh well, you 'get the picture' (ha!).
As usual I'd hoped to see some wildlife, I was told the small lakes attract lots of water fowl, but unfortunately not much was stirring.

Lots of flowers though, if you care to look for them! 

Some are not even flowers, they're actually plants with colored leaves:

But halfway our 3 mile hike we finally came upon some actual wildlife; a pair of beautiful nesting Florida Sandhill Cranes!
They were perfectly still and quiet, I almost missed them ..


And a little further down the pathway this pretty Rufous-sided Eastern Towhee was singing his little heart out! Yup, 'tis Spring!


And how's this for a balancing act?


Other than that, the campground is beginning to empty out a bit, people are slowly starting to move back North again. 
Nobody is in a big hurry though, since there's still snow on the ground in most northern states.
Saint Patrick's day came and went. Some really went all out putting up their little garden flags:

This one even added green Flamingos!


I made Corned Beef in the Instant Pot, as usual. Not quite as succulent as normal because the cut was a little leaner. 
Good enough though!

And that was another exciting week in the life of the Hesse's!
The truck is still running fine, although there's still some oil showing up in the water reservoir, even after numerous flushes.
We've even added some Cascade dishwater soap to the water but we still see oil ... yeah, not too happy about it ..

Anywho, financially we're doing 'good' so it looks like we can (but will we?) be out of here in less than 2 weeks.
Now to believe it!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Wow, we're only halfway March and already daylight saving time started to take effect! 
Although I knew it was coming, and mentioned it several times this last week, I plum forgot about it on the morning itself.! 
James (who was up early for a change) came into the bedroom joking if I was sleeping in, since it was 'already' 8 o'clock, a time I'm usually up and making breakfast. Oh well ...

Our 'outing' for this week was a visit to the India fest at Wickham Park, our previous campground:


I wasn't too interested but James really wanted to go, so I went along. It turned out he mainly went for the food .. I should have known .. he's a Hess!

Sikh meeting cowboy ..
We split a nice sampler platter with meat and some Samosas which was all very tasty.
I was tempted to try some sugar-cane juice, but the sun was just too hot and the line too long.
It was interesting to see how they made it though:

Most of the booths were selling clothes, but they were too 'ornate' for me, really heavily embroidered and too brightly colored, others were selling typical Indian jewelry, which is also a little 'over the top' for me.
You could have your hands and arms decorated with Henna. All done freely by hand and really gorgeous!

Since we are nearing the end of the season for most RV 'snow-birds' here in Florida, most of the campground's activities are coming to an end too.
The quilters had their yearly Quilt show, where they show off all the quilts they made during the winter (about 100!).

They were all for sale and one large one was raffled off. 
The money went to the Shriner's Hospital in Tampa, as well as a lot of the small quilts that were made for the children's ward.
All of the quilts were machine-made by using these incredible computerized sewing machines!


My Mam made quite a few of them too, I actually have one of them, which I helped making some squares for, but we did it all by hand. 
It took a lot longer, but for me that's more what 'real' quilting is about. Getting together and all pitching in, while having some coffee and chatting about what is happening in our lives.
I don't see what the fun is in cranking these out as fast as you can ..
unless it's for charity maybe ..

This one was raffled off
The Bocce group had their End-of-the-season Tournament.
It was a sunny but very windy day and it was a little on the cool side, but a lot of people showed up to cheer both teams on:


 They take it serious, every inch counts!

I've talked about the abundance of Ospreys before, and it seems that these two, that are hanging out in one of the big Live Oak trees next to the campground, are starting to get serious about cleaning and renovating their 'old' nest. 
According to people who've been here before, they use the same one every year.

They fish in the river in front of the campground, and use 'our' dock to rest and dry their feathers in between catches.

I don't think there are eggs yet, or one of them would probably stay at the nest at all times, and they would take turns feeding.

Here's a few shots of some of the smaller wildlife around here. They're fast and not very visible, you only 'see' them as a blurr when they race out of your way ..

Male Brown Anole showing his pretty throat fan

They're beautiful up close though .. if you can get a decent shot .. 

 Female Red-headed Brown Anole

And that's all she wrote for this weeks folks!

The truck is still running fine (still a little oil in the water reservoir but we're not panicking .. yet) and James is still working hard to bring home the bacon .. or the dough, or the money .. whatever!

Nothing from US Engine .. yet ..

Wednesday, March 6, 2019


As I mentioned in the last post, we were waiting on the final truck-repair bill to figure out what we were going to do next. 
Well, let's just say that we got it ... and that we need to stay here for a little while longer to pay for it and to make enough money to make the trip back to Louisiana.
Yeah .. oh well ...
Since we have to stay anyways, we've decided to stay a whole month longer and save enough money to take the 'long way' back, which means we're going to see some of the south of the State, like the Everglades and the Keys. At least I'm excited about that!

James has send the bill to US Engines, the company we ordered our engine from, and we're hoping, hoping, hoping, that they might refund us some. But with our luck ... we'll see ..


In the meantime, we drove to Fellsmere for a visit to Stick Marsh, a place where people have spotted a lot of big gators.
We had a hard time finding the marsh and by the time we finally arrived it was mid-day, which is usually not the best time to spot any wildlife.
As luck would have it though, we found a few medium sized alligators ...

And than this much bigger one ...

Which I think could actually be a Crocodile! 
The south of Florida is the only place in the US where they co-exist together, but I think that's mainly in the Everglades.
Crocodiles have more of an U-shaped snout, have 5 ridges on their backs instead of 3 and are usually lighter in color. Also their 4th tooth is visible when their mouths are closed.

We did come across a whole lot of birds, several of whom were 'new to me'!
Like this Limpkin, he made a lot of noise, trying to lure us away from his nest?

And a Glossy Ibis:


There were the usual suspects, like Great Blue Herons and quite a lot of Anhingas:

And on a small Island a little further in the marsh, some Roseate Spoonbills and Great Egrets were nesting:


I think this is a cluster of Chicken Turtles, soaking up some sunshine on a downed palm-tree trunk ..

These guys had the right idea, kayaks will get you a lot closer to the water birds and their nests, but I would be a little scared for big alligators chasing me or tipping me over ...

They were paddling through a big group of Moor Hens who didn't seem to be disturbed by them at all ..

I was surprised by the high water level. 
Lots of trees were at least half under water. I didn't think we had that much rain this winter ..


(The small white flowers on the right are from Lance-leafed Arrowhead)

James was off for a couple of days last week, and we've been putt-zing around the RV a little, doing a few small repair and maintenance jobs. 
We also cleaned both the trucks, and drove Brian's (our loaner) to a place here in Melbourne where he wanted it parked. Which is nice because he moved to Smyrna Beach, and I was happy I didn't have to drive it there!
We even tried our hand at Shuffle Board on one of our evening walks!

Such style!

And since it was Fat Tuesday, I baked a King Cake, but with a little twist as you can see, I shaped it like you would make cinnamon Rolls.

Mm, Mm good!

Too bad we missed all the Mardi Gras parades in Louisiana! 
Oh well .. we might still catch some of the Crawfish by the time we get there!
So far the truck runs fine by the way, so let's hope we will get there, which will be somewhere in April, we think ..

I'm not un-crossing any fingers yet!