Saturday, October 6, 2018

Linda, 6; Jim, 0

In a turn of events, I out-fished Jim. (Jim usually out-fishes me!) That is not saying much, considering that my take-home of the six little bluegills I caught over two days was only two fish, but Jim didn't catch anything. (Lots of nibbles, though.)

The fishing may be good in the Chain of Lakes in Lake County, Florida, if you are out in a boat, but it certainly is nothing to brag about when fishing from a pier (which seem to be in short supply, too). We stopped at a bait store and inquired about public fishing piers. The clerk told us about three in the area; we tried two of them.

The first pier we used was probably not meant to be in use any more, since access was not immediately visible. We parked in a boat-launch parking lot, then hiked about a quarter mile, first down a sidewalk, then through a field of sandspurs. (Sandspurs are pesky stickers that really are painful when you step on them. We discovered that they not only stick to your socks, they also stick to the bottom of sneakers and then escape into carpet. Ouch!) The pier was in disrepair, with rotten boards and holes in the flooring. We took care not to trip as we walked on it. Despite all of the good worms on our hooks, we had no takers, not even a nibble. Either it was too hot, the wrong time of day, or there just weren't any fish.

The next place was in a park with a boat ramp and an outlet that went to Lake Griffin. It was there that I had my luck. The first night I caught four bluegills (two keepers), the second night two. (Jim would say 1 and 1/2, since the last one I was reeling in jumped off the line before I could get my hands on it. It was so small it was going to go back into the water anyway.) We fed the fish well those two evenings. The second night, we had to leave before dark because we ran out of bait. Oh, well.
My two little bluegills await Jim's scaling knife.
Yesterday (before going fishing) we also traveled out to Howie-in-the-Hills (yes, that is the name of a town in Lake County), where we visited a plant nursery. Jim had found the nursery on e-Bay and discovered that it was actually in a nearby town. We arranged to buy some plants directly from the grower instead of having them shipped to us.

The grower was very generous. Jim had anticipated buying plants in two-inch pots. Instead, the grower let us have huge plants, some of which will bear fruit next season! We will have a paw-paw tree, a mulberry tree,  Okinawa spinach (a purplish-colored green), three kinds of dragon fruit (pink, purple and white), a boynsenberry bush, three kinds of fig trees, a blackberry bush,  and a vick's plant (its leaves smell like menthol). The grower gave us a couple of the plants gratis. As I said, he was very generous. A few of those plants are more than four feet tall! The cost: $82.

After buying the plants, we decided to cut our camping trip a day short. Fishing was not great; we had exhausted touring points of local interest; and we wanted to watch our college football games on TVs with good reception on Saturday--at home.

So, that is where we are. We arrived home and unloaded Thor about three hours ago.

We had a great time, but there is no place like home.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Fruitless in Fruitland

We are staying at Lake Griffin State Park in Fruitland, Fl., a town that is in Lake County. The county is aptly named because of its chain of lakes--big ones and small ones. The lakes are its primary attraction.

Tuesday Jim and I went off  in search of the Lake County Visitors' Bureau. It apparently no longer exists. Perhaps the citizens of Lake County think that the lakes themselves are enough of an attraction that they no longer need to publicize other events and entertainment within the county. Or perhaps they just don't care. At any rate, after being sent to two different locations, we were told the visitors' office no longer exists.

We resorted to going to local Chambers of Commerce, generally a good source to find things to do within a community. We were out of luck, in most cases.

At one place, we were given a map, which listed a number of "attractions," ranging from the showroom of the Central Florida Segway Company to a petting farm. After looking up all of these attractions, we agreed: There is not much to do in Lake County, Fla., except activities on the lake.

I say "on" the lake, not "at" the lake, because the communities around here seem to have a dearth of public fishing areas. There are plenty of boat docks, but not fishing piers.

Yesterday we did go to one tourist attraction--Mount Dora, Fla., a quaint town that has maintained its historical heritage. The chamber provided us with a map for both a walking tour as well as a driving tour to view a number of well-kept houses, some dating back to the 19th century. We spent a nice afternoon driving and walking around, and even bought some wonderful balsamic vinegars in a shop devoted to balsamics and olive oils.

We will be going in search of a "fishing hole" (pier) and hope that some bass or crappies swim near enough to us to be tempted by our lures.

Are we bored yet? No. It is just nice to do nothing.

Until later,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Vacationing in Fruitland, Fla.

You would think that since we are retired, we don't need a vacation. The opposite is true. At home, we are busier than ever.

Jim has a long list of to-do tasks (I don't call them "honey-do" because he creates the list himself), in addition to the "normal" stuff that takes up his day. He loves tending his garden and farming his worms. (Yes, he has a small worm farm. One box is for fishing worms, and one is for worm castings, which make excellent soil enhancements.) Then, there are "extra" tasks, such as fixing things that break down. He also spends time working on arranging his workshop, so that eventually he'll have the room in the garage to do woodworking.

Me? House cleaning is not my forte, so I procrastinate until the dust accumulates so much I cannot stand it any more. I like to cook and bake. But mostly, I like to write. So I spend a lot of time on my computer.

You might notice that I haven't mentioned fishing as part of our regular life style. We go out to our pond and catch a few bass every week, but we rarely take time to go surf, pier, or boat fishing while at home. We keep promising ourselves to rectify that flow in our lives.

So, that is why we, as retired people, take vacations--to get away from it all.

Right now we are at another state park. We have grown very fond of Florida state parks. They are very affordable; this one (Lake Griffin State Park) only costs $9 a night! As seniors, we are able to camp in state parks at a 50% discount.

When we decide we want to camp, we start at the Florida state park web site and find places that meet our needs in terms of distance, activities, sites to see, fishing, as well as the number of nights we want to stay.

This week we are at Lake Griffin State Park in Fruitland, Fla., next to Leesburg, which is near The Villages in east central Florida. It is a small park, only about 500 acres, and it is convenient to shopping. Unlike others we have used, groceries and other stores are only a few minutes (and about two miles) away. This is like an oasis in the city.
Jim in front of the live oak tree in Lake Griffin State Park.
Lake Griffin State Park is home to Florida's second largest (and perhaps second-oldest) live oak tree.
This live oak tree is pretty darn big. Some of its branches have obviously been removed. The huge live oak tree in Jacksonville has some of its branches propped up, in order to preserve the tree's integrity. The live oak tree in the state park is estimated to be about 300 years old. The one in Jacksonville is about 150 years old.
We chose this park because of its proximity to the many lakes in Lake County, and presumably, its good fishing. We are hoping to find some fishing piers. The one in the park looked promising on the website. Unfortunately, the pier is full of growth and the ranger said fishing there is poor. Fishing is good, she said, about a mile away on the lake. We don't have a boat.

The park only has 40 camping sites, all of which are very private. We learned (after we had made reservations) that about 10 sites even offer sewer hookups! We are not inconvenienced by not having a sewer hookup, however. Our small RV has a tiny shower, so we actually prefer using the showers in the campground.

We haven't gone fishing yet, but we will. Yesterday we spent "touristing" around the area. Although I have lived in Florida for 20 years and Jim for most of his life, neither of us has actually driven around and visited the central Florida area.

We wanted to find the Lake County visitors' bureau to get information on what to do around here. We went to the address given on the website; it had moved. We were told where it moved; when we got there, we discovered it had been closed for several months! I guess Lake County (aptly named because of all the large lakes around here) doesn't want visitors! We will have to find our way around without maps and brochures, I guess.

Last night, we went to a local street event, geared (we discovered) toward kids and sponsored by the local police department. Food and fun, if you were 10. There were a lot of people there.

I am standing next to a "transformer" who captivated kids' attention at the local street fair in Leesburg. He actually got down on all fours and scooted via motorized wheels. 

Later today, I think we will go fishing. Or not. It just feels good to do nothing.

Until later,

Your Reluctant RoVer,