Gentle Giants

They say coming back as a dog would be ideal: happy-go-lucky, loyal, every day’s a new adventure, etc. But I think coming back as a manatee, those gentle giants who float about and are in no hurry to be anywhere, would make for a nice, laid-back life.

Spent the last two days camping at Blue Spring State Park in Florida, known as a winter home to about 200 of these gentle giants and a myriad of fish, birds, and shady hardwood hammock and pine trees. Spent the first day with a small gathering of Travato-ites which is always a delight and adds to the nomadic friendships that come through this type of travel and living. Two of us were full-timers, the other two part-timers, but in this culture that doesn’t matter a bit.

My previous Florida manatee encounters consisted of seeing a hump in murky water, or the fantastic manatee tank at Mote Marine in Sarasota. So seeing these in the wild, in clear water, was a real treat. It was a poor day, however, for photography with heavy clouds and not a lot of sunlight. Still, through the magic of my raw photo editing software, was able to pull out a few decent photos to share the experience.

Photo gallery below for your enjoyment includes a rare sighting (for me at least) of a pileated woodpecker. Not a sharply focused picture, but I was a long way away from the tree where he (or she) was going about its morning ritual pecking the deadwood, high up the tree looking for a tasty breakfast morsel.

Shining Light by the Sea: St. Augustine Lighthouse

Click to view larger image.

Despite my original destination of the Castillo de San Marcos (St. Augustine, FL, fort, a national monument) being closed due to the current politico childishness, the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum more than made up for the loss.

Good thing I’d been using stairs in Findlay at Marathon all these past months since the climb to the top is a daunting 219 steps, or 14 floors (as my FitBit proudly confirmed once I’d reached the top and was still breathing). You do get to rest at multiple landings (which graphically remind you how little you’ve climbed and how much more to go), but the climb and view is worth it. Despite 20+ mph winds, the lighthouse is amazingly sturdy. Well-built in late 1800s, it’s survived many a storm and few hurricanes so not surprising it’s still standing and solid. Oh, and should you think lighthouse keeper is a cushy job, before they switched the mechanisms to electric power in the 1930s, said keepers had to carry a 20+-lb. can of lard oil periodically up those 219 steps…plus wind-up the 275-lb. weight that revolved the lens.

Nicely preserved grounds and displays, as the photo journey below shows.

Stationery for a Nomadic Year-Long Sojourn

What does a stationery fanatic and writer do to haul the necessary tools and paper for a year-long sojourn? Many have asked, so here’s the lowdown on the what and how. Granted, I can pick up things along the way, but I tried to estimate usage over a year and likely will fall short in some areas, and over in others. Photos with explanatory captions below.

 

This is where it begins. One of the linen totes holds the paper, and three of the plastic boxes hold the supplies.

 

Here’s everything spread out a bit. Pencils and office supplies in the upper left bin, center has one bottle ink bin and another cartridges, erasers, etc. Upper right is the paper bin, and spread out are the journals in use.

 

Paper tote, containing backstock of notebooks, journals, sketchbooks, etc.

 

And finally, the working crew spread out. These are not stored in the upper cabinet with the rest, but spread out in Tamasté and in my EDC bag. L-R, upper row: dream journal, self-care journal, weekly planner, monthly planner, Steno general notes, back pocket notebook. L-R, bottom row: personal journal, travel journal (will include some sketches), free writing journal, add’l planner I’m not sure what I’ll do with, and the Field Notes Dime Novel which is another personal journal that travels in my EDC bag.

Retirement: First Impressions

Officially, I’m on my fifth day of retirement. Unofficially, counting from when I vacationed out, it’s 20 days. But who’s counting?

I’m still in “vacation” mode so the full feeling of retirement hasn’t quite settled in yet, although there are glimpses that make me realize this isn’t a normal vacation, and vacation time will be over soon.

Since spending so much time leading to leaving Findlay and working on Tamasté prep, and since arriving in Florida and continuing the van prep, I haven’t had a lot of idle time to ponder the wonderment of retirement nor the somewhat freaky “what, no paycheck?” aspect. But that is about to change with tomorrow’s milestone of completing Tamasté’s prep followed by hitting the road Tuesday to begin exploring Florida.

So what’s different in retirement so far? Biggest thing is the absence of tracking what day it is. When weekends are like weekdays, and Monday could be any day of the week, those beloved guideposts on the path through working life are gone. I used to laugh at those “who cares?” clocks and now I’m living a calendar that looks quite similar.

All that’s good, since it also means each day is fully experienced and going slowly. When I do work on schedules for places and such, I’m surprised the current date is much earlier in January than I think it is. My mind must still be on work-time pacing, mentally counting the days faster than reality.

Look for the first video on the Tamasté YouTube channel soon featuring a complete tour of Tamasté. Hoping to publish one video a week, plus frequent posts here, but we’ll see. After all, not sure I can mentally track exactly what a week is, given that I can’t keep track of what day it is.

Final Preps

Down to the final week of finishing up tweaks and starting the major roof updates (remove/replace TV antenna, move one solar panel, add a third solar panel, redo the bath roof vent – to improve air movement, etc.). All stuff likely boring to most, but the final bits in place before Tamasté hits the road for the first two, real adventure trips! Lots of photos and stories ahead, so stay tuned!

Next week:  Orlando, St. Augustine, Miami, maybe Keys (still working on places to stay)
Last week (end Jan./early Feb.):  Ft. Myers, Naples, Everglades National Park

Then after a brief final stay with bro and sis, onto New Orleans and many stops in Texas.

What is That Bright Object in the Sky?

Made it in to Tampa late yesterday, despite stormy weather and apparently, three tornados in the Tampa Bay area! Missed all that fun, but greeted this morning with an unfamiliar bright light in the sky. Yes, it’s been that long since we’ve had sunshine in Findlay. Now that I’m in Florida, plenty of that will come and I’ll do my best not to get tired of sunshine, warm temperatures, etc., etc.

Today’s a Tamasté tweak day since rain’s going to occur off and on throughout the day. Next three days though are sunshine and mid-to-high 60s. Woo-hoo!

Rainy Day Time Killers

What to do on a rainy day to kill six hours before I’m able (due to high winds/rain) to head to Tampa on the final leg. How about hearty, leisurely breakfast, the ambiance of a local laundromat, and some quality library time to catch up papers and a bit of writing!

I love seeking out libraries in towns I’ve never been to, and in Valdosta, GA, was surprised to see a full-service coffee shop in the lobby! Bonus.