OCALA NATIONAL FOREST, here we come


Monday morning, bright and early, I had two emails in my box from Ocala National Forest where we are hoping to volunteer this winter.  They didn’t answer before the weekend because my contact person was off duty Friday and never saw my email — so I can’t complain about response time!  If the rest of our interactions with staff there are on par with this it will be a good stay. Fingers crossed.

ocala_national_forest_signWe are making the trip to be maintenance volunteers for the Ocala National Forest from early November till mid April.  By now you know that we’ll be at Highland Ridge all summer (the summer of ’16), so this may turn out to be our least mobile year yet.  Which is ok by us.  Our goal was never to put on lots of miles; and what looks like the better part of year without a lot of movement is all for a few good reasons.

alexander-springs-bear-sign
Florida has a serious Black Bear population and the state just completed it’s annual black bear hunt — harvesting 320 bears out of an estimated population of 3500.

We are excited about this new volunteer gig.  It isn’t what we had been hoping for — the gig at Bosque del Apache, but it sounds like a good alternative, and there’s always next year for Bosque!

We have never wintered in Florida.  Have heard a lot about it.  But never done it.  Our most recent excursion into Florida was 2012, the winter after retiring.  In a short three week trip we checked out the Everglades and took a brief look at the Gulf Coast as far as Ocean Springs MS.  That was a whirlwind trip, by car, not a leisurely 5 month motorcoach stay.  I’m really looking to a very different experience. Peg’s NOT looking forward to a stay with the bear population; but hey — we’re leaning to talk to the animals and maybe we’ll have a good conversation with a black bear!

The USFS in Ocala only asks 20 hours of volunteer time per week so we’ll have plenty of time to enjoy our stay.  There are blog friends nearby so I hope to get a chance to meet up with people we feel close with even though we’ve never met face-to-face.  And the location should be good to check out other over-wintering options, namely where might we stay if we wanted to over-winter without volunteering?

This will be an interesting but different experience; different from our time in the Siuslaw NF.  We’ll be volunteering for the USFS, but the recreation area (campground, boating, facilities) is managed by a private recreation management firm; that includes the campground where we’ll be domiciled. There are two USFS campgrounds that are supposed to have volunteer hosts – but those campgrounds are primitive and so is the camp host site.  Not interested in that.  So, we’ll see how the USFS interacts with their private contractor and how that interaction affects us as volunteers.

The average temps and precipitation are in our range. With the forest being some 600 square miles we should have plenty of space to roam and explore.  And five months to do it in. FL-Ocala

I know this is going to sound silly but one of the big reasons is that I want do lose some serious weight before we return to Milwaukee in September of ’16.  When we volunteered in the past I always managed to shed pounds more easily because we had a.) some routine and b.) more exercise.  So, with a 5 month stint in Florida where we’ll be outside a good deal of the time, and 4 1/1 months in Wisconsin with the same,  I’m hopeful that I’ll be needing another meds adjustment because of lost weight. 🙂 And whenever I have to face surgery I’ll be a better anesthetic risk.

We were asked to show up by 3 November but that’s the day of our last doctor’s appointment so we put them off until the middle of the following week.  I’ll keep you posted as we travel and arrive on site.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

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11 Comments

    1. You got that right Bob!

      We’re excited. Now all we have to do is get back Tuesday’s appointments and turn our nose South… Expect to be on site by the 12th. > >

      Like

  1. Our favorite place to stay in Florida is Sunset Isle RV Park in Cedar Key. Halfway between Panama City and Tampa on the Gulf Coast. Laid back old Florida style. The park has a small cafe with great food, soft serve ice cream and homemade fudge (not great for the waistline, but oh, so good!!) There’s a potluck and bluegrass jam every Friday night and a Women’s Circle on Tuesday afternoons. Just a funky and fun place to stay. They also use work campers so you could arrange to work for your site if you wanted to.

    Have a safe trip south!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Add some magnesium to your diet. A low magnesium is linked to weight gain. I’ve been on it (plus all the other supplements I take) for a little over a year now. My tummy’s thinner and my clothes are looser. Men tend to lose weight faster than women, but I think I noticed a difference around 6 months.
    Have a safe trip and good luck talking to them bears. 🙂 I like that thought and decided to use that in one of my books. I’ll stick your comment in the ideas folder.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peg and I have been teasing each other about bears since Kathryn was a teeny tike! We haven’t ever been bothered by them but it’s funny to joke about them so long as they life threatening!

      Liked by 1 person

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