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Florida in January with Gators


The mornings have been chilly as we start out the new year. We've seen temperatures in the high 30 degrees but nothing below freezing yet. I was told by an employee at the local Ace Hardware when I was getting one of our propane tanks filled that they had five days in a row last year in the 20"s. Still, we're in Florida and expect the weather to be relatively mild compared to the rest of the country.


Tuesday, January 2 we were off at 9 AM for Karen to get her pre-op lab work done for her upcoming surgery on February 16. I ran errands while she got her blood work and an EKG. On Wednesday, January 3 we traveled up to Jacksonville for Karen's "Joint Replacement Class". Her hip replacement surgery is now becoming a reality as we get her to the appointments for pre-op labs and physical therapy. Our biggest immediate question today was about stairs, which the fifth wheel has a few to navigate.. Karen will also have to get in and out of the truck post surgery which will be no easy task as well. The class was about 2 hours long and very comprehensive. We left realizing that we would have to make some travel changes to our scheduled tentative plans.


Instead of staying four weeks at Sumter Oaks RV Park in Bushnell, FL, we are going to shorten that stay until only February 12. This will allow us time to relocate closer to Jacksonville for Karen's surgery date and and follow-up physical therapy appointments. We cancelled our three days at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Springs, FL and informed our RVICS team leaders for the Dothan Community Church project in March we might not arrive on time. The travel schedule will depend on how quickly Karen's recovery proceeds. We will need to talk with Perry, the Lake Swan Camp Director, about returning and staying from February 12 until March 12. This would give Karen almost four weeks to recover from the surgery before leaving the area.



On Thursday, January 4, two more of the volunteer workers for our project began arriving. Dirk and Julie Small came in with their 42' Jayco Pinnacle fifth wheel from Pennsylvania. Our last couple, Kerry and Peggy Stover, arrived on Friday with their Jayco Eagle fifth wheel so we now have all our crew on the property. In addition to our team, three other couples from the SOWERS organization started arriving to share the RV facilities so we have a full house of camper volunteers..



On Friday, Karen and I drove into Gainesville to hike the La Chua Trail which is an excellent wildlife watching site, with an elevated boardwalk and lengthy dike out to an observation tower which is part of the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. It is a massive landform in North Florida visited and written about by William Bartram in 1774, with an unusual twist for a prairie. It has a drain. That drain is called Alachua Sink, and every once in a while it clogs up, turning the prairie into a lake. In times of drought, water collects at this end of the prairie, as do the alligators.



When Paynes Prairie floods, the dike portion of this hike is closed for the safety of visitors. The boardwalk remains open, providing a great perch for alligator sightings. On this visit, the dike portion was closed so we could only walk 1.7 miles of the 3 mile round-trip trail.



Hundreds of birds included Snowy White Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Hooping Cranes, vultures and hawks congregated. But the stars of the trail were the alligators. All along the banks were alligators. Too close for Karen to feel comfortable, so she keep her distance.




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Elisa Edgington
Elisa Edgington
Jan 07

I’m with Mimi about the gators!!

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