A new month, in a new year has arrived. Difficult to believe that another month has passed, but so goes the time. It was a crazy month, filled with highs and lows, and also marked the arrival of the Florida citrus season. All the orange groves around us are now filled with bright orange fruit. Hardly a day goes by that I’m not seeing crews of pickers gathering the oranges, and filling up truck loads full – heading no doubt to the local orange juice production facilities. The weather has been mixed, with many nice days, but also with nights dropping down into the high 30s to low 40s. But, I’m guessing this is still a better place to be than up in the cold north.
Home Base Update
Not a lot of news to report here at the home base. A community resident stopped by a couple of weeks ago and asked if I wanted a small pile of cut up lumber that he cleaned out from underneath of his homestead. It was mostly hard wood, and was reportedly pieces that have been left behind from over a decade ago. So, it certainly would be very well dried out and ready to burn. I was thankful and appreciative of the donation to the campfire.
However, it did point out an omission in my setup. I had no place to store or keep dry ready firewood. So off to the online shopping abyss I go in search of a small sized log carrier, that also included a protective cover to keep the wood dry from the rain. I didn’t need anything too big – just enough to hold a good supply of wood. In fact, I have very little wood on hand – just a half dozen or so pieces that I was keeping in the shed. So, I got a four foot carrier that came with an adjustable cover. Perfect for what I needed. I ordered it, and had is shipped free to my local Tractor Supply store, where I picked it up about a week later. A simple assembly was all that was needed to complete the project. Now I’ve got a nearby source of firewood for when the campfire urge hits me. I’ll also soon be adding a plastic box underneath to store my ax, fire starters, and lighters. It will be nice to have everything at the ready.
Also, here’s a quick update on the banana tree. I’ve got the three bunches that have emerged, but as yet, none of them have ripened. They are all still very green and hard. I did see on some Youtube videos that at some point, you are supposed to cut the bunches away from the tree, and hang them up in a cool dry place to finish ripening. I think I’m gonna have to do some more research, or perhaps go visit an expert at a local garden shop, to figure out what and when I should be doing with these. I’m sure looking forward to trying them out!
A Month of Ups and Downs
It was a month of happiness, and a month of sadness. On a positive note, I celebrated my 62nd birthday this month. This is a very special year in a number of ways. First of all, I’m now eligible to purchase the National Parks Lifetime Senior Pass. I’ve been purchasing the annual pass these past couple of years, as I had been visiting several National Parks along my nomadic journey. Now, I get to buy one more pass, and it will be good for the rest of my life. Wahoo! Not only that, the Senior Lifetime Pass also gets me 50% off of campground fees in all national campgrounds – including those in the National Parks, and those run by the Army Core of Engineers (e.g. COE Parks). That discount is not offered to the annual pass holders, but only the Senior pass, and a few other specialized passes. So now I need to visit a local Federal Recreation Area to get my senior pass. The other big change that occurs at your 62nd birthday is you become eligible to start early Social Security Retirement distributions. There is a lots published about when you should start collecting Social Security, and certainly this blog is not intended nor suited to provide guidance on that issue. But for me, I’m ready to start collecting immediately from the fund that I had been contributing to for over 30 years. Wahoo!
Also for my birthday, I attended the show “The Odd Couple” at the local in town playhouse known as the Lake Wales Little Theater. It’s a quaint little place, seating just over 140 at capacity. But with the Covid protocols, they are only seating half that amount nowadays. It’s a great local treasure, and runs about a half dozen or so productions a year. They also feature improv comedy nights at times in between. It was a very funny show, featuring a bunch of local talent. It featured Oscar and Felix, card game friends Murry, Speed, Vinie and Roy, and of course the Pigeon sisters Cicily and Gwendolyn. I look forward to catching many more shows at this little theater in the coming months.
On a sad note, I was heartbroken to have lost my aunt and Godmother Theresa this month. Born in July 1925, she did live a good long life of 94 years. Even at this advanced age, she always lived life to the fullest. We had a nice funeral, followed by a brunch celebration. My brothers, cousins, aunts & uncles, and family friends were all in attendance. It was really nice to seen them all again. I know she is now in heaven with her husband, my Uncle Al, and all the other relatives who had gone before her. They are no doubt celebrating her arrival, and up to who knows what shenanigans up there.
Before buying and relocating here in Florida, I had last seen my aunt in Feb 2019 as I was passing through the area on my full time RV travels. Had it not been for the virus pandemic, It would likely have been several more years before I was back in this area, and otherwise would not have seen her. Fortunate for me that I was able to spend time with her recently, including hosting her and my cousin Louise here at the Home Base just a couple months ago. We had a nice lunch, took a tour of Lake Wales, then returned to the RV for what was supposed to be dinner and a campfire. The weather did not cooperate so the campfire got rained out. But we did have a nice dinner together. I’m very happy that I got to spend this extra time with her before her passing. May she rest in eternal peace.
Happy New Year
I celebrated New Year with my brothers Dave (and wife Deb), Gerry, and Don at Don’s beach house. It was a relatively quiet weekend with wonderful meals prepared by chef Don. We watched a bit of football, did some reading, took a walk, and watched the New Year parade and evening New Years show. Several of us did not make it past 10pm, so we rang in the new year the following morning (😀).
Don is fortunate to have a beach house on Hutchinson Island, and a short walk to the beach shoreline. If you look out across the road from his driveway, there is only a short walk along a quiet side street that takes you directly to the beach. And it’s a very quiet beach, with mostly locals taking part in the sand and sun. It was a great way to bring in the new Year. Thanks Don for hosting a terrific weekend.
Lastly, while I was out driving into town one day recently, I spotted a bunch of flying things in the sky. I remembered reading that the local Lake Wales airport is home to both an active sky diving club and school, as well as home to a group of paragliders. The 485 acre airport was opened in 1928. In 1943 the airport was leased by the United States Army Air Forces as an auxiliary airfield of Sarasota Army Airfield. The III Fighter Command used Lake Wales Army Airfield for fighter training of replacement personnel. The Army COE improved the facility which included the construction of the two present 4,000-foot runways. Today it is classified as a general purpose airport by the FAA, and used by local aviation as well as the glider and skydiving recreational groups. What is pictured here is what I saw flying around, and are from the PPG (Powered ParaGliding) group. I gotta admit, it looks like a lot of fun and something that I wouldn’t mind trying out myself someday!
I certainly am enjoying retirement, and most (all?) of these sentiments are true. Now that I’ll be receiving SSI, I can enjoy retirement even more! But, I do long for the return to normalcy – whatever that is/was. It’s been so long now, I’m not even sure anymore. All I know is that I would hope by the spring of 2022, I can resume my westward travels, visiting and enjoying the bounty of interesting places and things to see. I’m still hoping to spend the summer this year up in MD, but have yet to finalize those reservations. I’m hoping to do so this month. Then I can book some stops along the way there and back to round out the year. I’m still loving it here in Lake Wales – Saddlebag Lake Resort. It’s a wonderful place to live. I couldn’t have picked a better place. Now, I’ll start looking for a place up in the north to spend my summers. Something similar to here where I’ll own the RV lot, and have a similar lifestyle and collection of amenities. But unfortunately, I’m finding out that these types of places are rare up in the north. But I’ll keep looking and hope to find something eventually. I hope you all had a wonderful New Year, and until next time, be well and safe travels.