Sunday, June 4, 2017

Space A Trip to USA, Spring 2017, Part 1

It's that time again to leave home and try a military space-A trip again.
We drove to Ramstein on a cold Sunday morning in March. Checked into our hotel room in Landstuhl and checked the flights in the terminal. There is one flight to Dover DE but has only three seats. We decided not to go for this one but wait till the next day as there were three planes to Dover, Charleston and BWI (Baltimore). Hopefully we can get on the Charleston flight which is a 2 hour drive from the family. We got into a conversation with James Poe at the terminal. He is the owner of WABG Radio Station in Greenwood MS in the middle of cotton fields in the deep South . They play Mississippi Delta Blues, Classic Rock and more "Stuff". He interviewed us about our so different backgrounds while growing up.

Next day we got up at 5 am and drove to the terminal. The Charleston flight had now 0 seats firm. Well no luck on that one, then we try the Dover  one which had 73 seats. And yes, we made it on that flight. It was a C5 so we did have regular airplane seats above the cargo area. 38 hopped along. 

After a nine hours flight we arrived in Dover DE where we stayed in lodging for the night. Next day we drove to SC with a rental car. 

Since 2 years we don't stay with the family but in a nearby hotel in Hartsville. After we tried Airbnb last year we love this way of staying (besides tent camping) while traveling. 
We stayed a week in Sumter as the Airbnb's in Hartsville were occupied due to a conference. 

After a week it was time to hit the road. Our destination: Florida. 
5 nights airbnb in New Port Richey with Deborah.
Our morning view:
 Deborah recommended that we should go to Key Vista Nature Park, where she always walks her dog.  Not big but good for a walk on the few trails and boardwalk, see wildlife and a view over the Gulf of Mexico. It was here that I spotted this Bald Eagle.


In this park I learned about rock hunting. I found two painted rocks 

but left it there because I didn't know what to do with them, until I saw kids and grown-ups looking for rocks. I had to know more about this and asked a man with his two sons, who were also looking for rocks. 
 People paint rocks in bright colors or with short messages on them and hide them, preferably in plain sight, so that people find them. The person who finds the rock can take a photo of it or a selfie with the rock and post it to one of the Facebook pages which is written on the back of the rock. Then they can replace the rock with one they’ve painted or re-hide the rock they found. I thought that was fun. I found this rock at the "Little Library" at the entrance of the park.
 I'm positive the man we talked to had put it there for me because I had told him, that if I find a rock, I would hide it in The Netherlands.  He told me to check this place as many do hide rocks there, he said.......

Another park we visited was downtown New Port Richey, Simms Park, where we seen this beautiful
white Ibis wandering around.
And where I found more rocks:
New Port Richey has quite some murals. Just a few I liked:

Another day we visited Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park with the intention to hike the trails. This is a big wilderness area and as we started we didn't see signs but had to make choices in different directions. Where to go???
After a few minutes we stopped and returned to the car. We met a man and he told us to always bring your gps when hiking in this park as the trails are not marked well. There is a paved bike trail. We decided to do our hike there but no shade and lots of sunshine. We also returned from this hike. The visitor center was closed, couldn't ask information. A little disappointing.
But not all was disappointing. We saw this turtle wandering about and wild turkey's.

And........I found another rock..
Time for another area to explore. We drove to Tallahassee and stayed in Audrey's airbnb for 4 nights. Also here a wonderful stay with a super host.
Audrey and Abe
She knew we like the outdoors and told us a few places to see and hike.
First place we went to was Alfred B. Maclay Gardens
In 1923 Alfred B. and his wife purchased property in Tallahassee for their winter home.  Over the years they made this one of the most beautiful ornamental gardens in Florida.  After his death in 1953 his wife and children donated the gardens to the State of Florida.  
Their home.
View from the walled garden to the reflection pool and lake.
 Blooming season is from January 1-April 30 with the floral peak in mid-to-late March. It was late March but almost no flowers to see. We were told that the spring season had started early this year so the floral peak had already passed but we did see the Mountain Laurel bloom.
The park land surrounding the Gardens offers wooded trails for hiking. We did the Lake Overstreet trail. A loop of 3 miles around the lake. With “watch for alligators” signs, I was on my guard and walked pretty fast those three miles. 
This was such a serene place
 All by ourselves, haven't seen no other hikers.
Tree trunk with mushrooms.
The next trip on the list was Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park. It is one of the world’s largest and deepest freshwater spring and has an abundance of wildlife. We did the riverboat tour.


An Anhinga - also called a snake bird, for its habit of swimming with just its long head and neck sticking out of the water - is sunning himself 
We saw plenty of alligators, this was the biggest one .
An egret looking for food.
After the boat ride we did a short hike on one of the trails. 
One of the many sink holes in the park.  This is Barry Sink, to honor park staff member Barry Shepard who passed away in 2002.
Ever heard of Sopchoppy, Florida? I didn't but Audrey's partner Zack comes from this little town. It is famous of the annual Worm Gruntin' Festival. But what is worm gruntin'?  I didn't know either. It is vibrating the soil so it encourage the worms to the surface. A wooden stake, "stob", is driven into the ground and a "rooping iron" is used to rub the stob. Like this:
  click
 There was a kids competition which was fun to watch. 
 Somebody dropped the worm on his hand.The look on this kid's face.
My turn to try
A worm popping up out the ground.
 I got worms!!! 

Afterwards dinner at Tropical Trader Shrimp

 Where I found these three rocks.......

To be continued......

*PS  photos are best seen when clicked on, this is for every photo on my blog* 

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