Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Returning to Florida

We left home around 11 am to drive to Huntington. Traffic was light on the Interstate so we made good time arriving in Huntington around 1:30. We stopped at the Rt. 60 Speedway getting gas for $2.77/gallon. The Nissan Versa that we had rented was getting 42 MPG, and the car has only a 12 gallon tank.

I took the test results into HIMG and left the report for Mary Vaughn. I dropped Mary off at Gran’s to take a look at a problem with her computer, while I went to Don Jenkins' home to take the federal and state taxes that I had prepared and printed a couple of weeks ago.

We were a little early for our ushering responsibility at the Marshall Artist Series at the Keith Albee. We walked around Huntington for a while then stopped at the Gumbo Stop Cafe in Heritage Station. Mary had the pork grillade, and I went with the shrimp etouffee. We both enjoyed our meals very much.

The show at the Keith was Tedechi Trucks band, a rock and soul big band. Unlike any of the other shoes this season, this show was nearly sold out. It was good to see a well-attended performance. We watched an episode of Austin City Limits with Tedechi Trucks Band a few days ago and liked them fine. We stayed through the opening act then headed East toward Dawn's home where we spent the night. Although we would have minded staying for the show, we had a long day of driving ahead of us tomorrow.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Returning home from Florida

We woke around 5:30, did our morning German lessons then came downstairs.  Mary finished packing. We left our shorts and T-shirts, since we would be back in just a few weeks and wouldn’t be wearing those clothes in Kentucky until then. Mark and I took the dogs out for the morning walk. When we were nearly back to the house from our walk, a large opossum sauntered out into the road, saw Jade coming at her and dashed back into the palmetto as fast as possible. Jade pulled on the leash with everything in her wanting to get at the frightened animal while Mark and I laughed at the situation. Afterwards Mark and I repositioned the pull chains in the bedroom ceiling fans so the speeds can be adjusted.

We were loaded and on the road to the airport by 7 am. Traffic was bad, but we had left in time to arrive at the airport for the flight. We had checked in the night before and only had to check our large bag and go through security. Our Global Entry cards expedited our security check, and we were at the gate in the tiny Clearwater airport well before our 10:30 flight home.

The two-hour flight went quickly with both of us reading and snacking on the Corn Nuts and Chex Mix that we brought along. There was only a little turbulence, and we arrived at CVG before 1 pm. We missed our shuttle from the airport to the Hilton where we parked and had to wait for the 1:45 shuttle. We didn’t especially like going from the 80s in Florida to the 20s in Cincinnati.

We made a quick stop in Florence to pick up some groceries at Aldi and Walmart before driving the hour back to Georgetown. We stopped at the Georgetown Kroger Pharmacy to pick up an item for me then dropped a few items off for Emily, Ian and Thomas. Back at home we started unpacking and getting into our usual home routines. We were looking forward to returning to Florida on March 1.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Kayaking Rainbow River

We had a cereal breakfast then took the dogs on a long morning walk through the neighborhood.

Kayaks are loaded on the pickup

We had such a good time kayaking on Tuesday that we decided to do the same thing today. Mark & I made a trip into Tractor Supply to get an adapter for the hitch allowing the 2 inch load extender to fit into the 3 inch receiver. We also picked up some pool noodles from the Dollar Tree to pad the extender and the sharp edges on the bed. Loading the kayaks was much easier using what we learned on Tuesday, so we got everything strapped down in short order.

Steve & Mark on the Rainbow River

We drove to Dunnellon to put into the Rainbow River near Swampy’s Restaurant. There are river access points at the Rainbow Springs State Park at the river’s source and the KP Hole about a half mile downstream from the source spring. Both sites have a launch fee. No fee is charged at Blue Run of Dunnellon Park near the Rainbow River’s mouth where it runs into the Withlacoochee River. Our plan was to put in near the stream’s mouth and paddle upstream about 4 miles to the spring that is the river’s origin.

Cindy & Mark kayaking on Rainbow River

We made it to the KP Hole Park and took advantage of a place to stretch and use the bathroom. After paddling upstream for 3.5 miles our arms felt like rubber, so we decided to return downstream.

Throughout the day we couldn’t stop commenting on the clarity of the water. It was almost like there was nothing in the stream since we could see the bottom nearly as well as if looking though air. Coming from the spring at Rainbow Springs State Park, the water was cool. We felt cool places in deeper pools where additional springs added water to the stream. The day was warm and sunny with temperatures in the mid-80s, just perfect for a day on the water.

Rubber ducks near Blue Run on Rainbow River

A good deal of boat traffic was on the river, mostly kayaks of all types, but there were several powerboats including an airboat. We saw every kind of kayak one can imagine from traditional kayaks to foot powered single and tandem kayaks. There were even some racing kayaks that were very long and slender.

Basking turtles on Rainbow River

On the trip upstream we saw turtles everywhere and of all sizes. Turtles were bunched up on emerging limbs and stones in the water as well as swimming in the cool spring water. We could easily see the turtles swimming in the clear water. The treat of the day was on the downstream return when we saw five otters playing in the river and on the bank. We stopped and watched as the romped and played. After following the otters for 20 minutes or so, we continued on our way back downstream.

Wood ducks on the Rainbow River

The trip downstream took about half as long as the upstream paddle, but we were still tired by the time we had the kayaks loaded on the pickup. We had heard good things about Swampy’s Restaurant and decided to give it a try.

There was a 40-minute wait even though there appeared to be plenty of available tables. Our guess was that the restaurant was unable to get enough employees to staff the restaurant with more diners. Mary had the fried shrimp platter with fries, Cindy had the fish and chips, Mark had grilled shrimp skewers, and I had shrimp etouffee on rice. Everyone enjoyed the meal, and it made an excellent end to a great day on our last full day in Florida this month.

Otter playing along Rainbow River

We drove back to Homosassa, stopping at the Twistee Treat for a cone on the way back to the house. Mark & I took Cedar and Jade out for a quick evening walk then came back and watched a couple of episodes of The Dectorists on Acorn before turning in.