Saturday, January 21, 2017

Another Hike @ Lake Louisa State Park and Another Good Surprise! ~ Saturday 1/21/17

I was so tired last night that I was yawning so much, I was crying, at just 8 p.m.!  I stayed up until 10 p.m. and then just headed up to bed and fell asleep right away. My fitness tracker shows that I slept soundly for more than half the night, when in fact I got up at least 3 times and a kitten tried to get me to get up another 2 times and it took a while to get the kitten to settle down.  So I actually felt tired when I finally gave in to another kitten crying out for breakfast at 7:15 a.m.!

I opened the windows right away as it is once again cool outside and we all (the cats and I) love to listen to the birds waking up the neighborhood.  They're predicting that the rain that is falling over California will be moving very fast across the US and be here by tomorrow afternoon, along with very strong winds, so they're expecting scattered tornadoes as well.  Great... Daughter and I have planned to go to the Antiques Extravaganza that is outdoors tomorrow, although we'll go in the morning, but I guess the weather won't be wonderful.

I decided to skip going to the sapling giveaway at Lake Hiawatha Preserve this morning since I score a free tree from Duke Energy.  Greg got up at 8:30 a.m. so I think we'll go walking shortly. He wants to go back to Lake Louisa State Park as it is pretty close to us and there are miles of trails that we haven't explored yet.  And we get to use our annual pass to get in "for free".

My 2 blooming hyacinths continue to make my living room smell so good, I wish I had bought more :)

It's the weekend so I don't expect to do much,  but I will post my To Do List to keep me inspired to work on certain things.

  • Read details of Diabetic Exchange program 
  • Do my foot exercises 2X
  • Exercise Went on a hike
  • Finish putting away Christmas decorations
  • Wipe out a USB stick for library
  • Greg and I need to assign the IRA contributions to specific funds  
  • Vacuum fridge coils
  • Replace fridge water filter
  • Declutter under window seat in Exercise Room (in progress, will finish next week)
  • Compare music libraries between the 2 laptops and finish moving what's missing to my new laptop
  • Figure out what software I still need to move/reinstall on new laptop
  • Trying syncing my phone on new laptop
  • Clean litter box upstairs 
  • Add Osmocote plant food to rose and hibiscus bushes
  • Put away the clipped articles from Kiplinger's magazine 
  • Ask Daughter to help me clip Tabby Kitty's back claws and Explorer's claws  
  • Finish putting the laundry away
  • Take Driscoll's surveys 
  • Take RaceTrac surveys 
  • Make lemon poppyseed muffins or/and lemon squares with the "grapefruits"!
  • Pick the oranges
  • Zest the oranges and freeze
  • Cook black beans in pressure cooker for tonight?  Used canned beans
  • Move fonts from old laptop and reinstall on new laptop
  • Take my measurements
  • Sign up for Personal Capital?

  • I earned the daily Microsoft Rewards credits and was able to claim a $5 Amazon gift card! Woohoo, I love free money!

  • I'm working on Swagbucks. I was able to qualify for a long but low paying (29 SB) and pretty intrusive survey but I don't care anymore, just give me the SB already.  My 1st Daily Goal is 85 SB and at 9 a.m. I'm up to 80 SB.

  • Dinner tonight will be Spicy Black Bean Soup and Ham and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. I'm capitalizing the words to impress you all with my culinary daring, hahaha.  I had planned on cooking black beans in the pressure cooker for this, but now I'm leaning more towards using canned beans, as I always do. We'll see.  Either way, it'll be an easy dinner and I'm glad I planned on cooking that, especially since there'll be leftover black bean soup for future lunches!

  • The library alerted me that the 3 travel guides that my daughter and I borrowed to help plan our trip are due in 3 days. I was going to renew them online, but then I decided to wait until the 24th, when they're actually due, so I can get the full 21 days of renewal from that date. I put a reminder on my Google Calendar so I don't forget.

  • I reached my 1st SB Daily Goal but my 2nd goal was revealed to be 140 SB so I won't even try, even though I went over that the last couple of days. But I don't intend to be on the laptop as much today.

  • Greg and I went on a hike. Pictures at the end of the post.  I put the hyacinths on a very tall bookshelf where the kittens couldn't reach them, just in case.

  • We first stopped by RaceTrac to gas up the truck:
    • We charged  it to Discover for 5% back in Rewards
    • We gained a new receipt which we will get a freebie
    • I gave him my phone so he could redeem my app coupon for a free medium size fountain drink for himself
    • I spotted a bottle of Sprite in the trashcan so I grabbed it for the MCR code and recycled the bottle at home.

  • Then we drove to Lake Louisa State Park, which is about 20 minutes away from our house.  We used our new annual pass so we didn't have to pay an entrance fee.

  • So we exercised "for free" while hiking around the park.  I had brought a Special K cereal bar for my snack with me and I enjoyed it halfway through our hike.

  • My newly upgraded RunMeter app allowed me to set it so it wouldn't count our stops as "walking time" so I felt no guilt stopping to take a few pictures.

  • I failed by not being able to find the trail map that we had brought home after our last visit, but redeemed myself by picking one that had been discarded or lost at the beach parking lot, instead of taking a brand new one from the dispenser :)  I'm going to organize the maps in a binder so we can just reuse them.

  • After our hike, we have a lovely tailgate picnic as I had insisted on packing lunch so we wouldn't be tempted to stop at our favorite out-of-the-way restaurant on the way home.  Greg had a PBJ and I had an egg salad sandwich. We had pretzel sticks and then I had a fruit cup.  We drank water that we had filtered and brought from home.  

  • Our son ate leftovers at home. My daughter drove to RaceTrac to redeem a survey code for a free hot dog for herself.

  • When we first started on our walk, my camera stopped working!  The lens wouldn't retract, all of a sudden, and the camera was beeping like crazy. I tried changing the battery but it didn't solve the problem. I was upset because I love my Canon Powershot camera, although it is a few years old, and I didn't relish having to pick a new model and spending all that money!  So I took the battery out and put the camera back in my fanny pack with the lens extended.  I used my phone to take pictures the rest of the hike. However, when we got home, I set about seeing why my lens wouldn't retract, and I pushed it to one side slightly with my nail.  It suddenly started working again!  I tried it several times and it seems to be fine now... yay!

  • We were able to keep the windows opened and the AC off until about 2 p.m. when it started getting too hot.

  • I felt really tired and I felt a headache coming on so Greg suggested that I take a bubble bath, which was a great idea, because I was dirty and stinky from the hike anyway :)  So I took my  library copy of National Geographic's Guide to the National Parks and my cup of water and I went to soak for an hour and read about the National Parks that we might be able to visit on our trip this summer.  Tabby Kitten really wanted to be in the bathroom with me so I kept on hearing "rub, rub, rub", "rub, rub, rub", as he was rubbing himself against the door and poking his little nose under it.  Finally, the door sprung open just as Greg was coming up to retrieve him because he heard me telling him to leave me alone and then laughing maniacally!  That rascal!  Greg closed the door harder this time and then Tabby Kitten came back and tried his parlor trick again but this time it didn't work. So he cried behind the door but soon gave up and I was able to enjoy the rest of my bath :)

  • When I came back down, I went to talk to my daughter about the National Parks that I had read about, and then she said she and Youngest Son had something to tell me.  So, they went together to the park down the street because she wanted to play Pokemon Go and he wanted to get some swinging done.  They visited a part of the park that had a small pit near a pier, by the lake, and spotted 2 Coke bottles in the pit so my son jumped in there (she showed me a picture to prove it) and retrieved the caps for me.  Awww.  

  • But wait, that's not all!  They then found 2 more bottle caps for me, one in a trash can, which they agreed not to tell me about the provenance because I would give them grief for giving me grief when I retrieve bottles from trash cans too!  But my son told me anyway, which caused me to make fun of them, hahaha.
And no, Theresa, they're still NOT hockey pucks!
  • But wait, that's not all!  They also found 2 pennies on the ground!  They always make fun of me for picking up pennies off the ground!

  • But wait, that's not all... my daughter was walking around playing Pokemon Go so my son was walking with her... and they passed some bushes and my son spotted something.  So he went to retrieve it and it was....
Seriously?!?  Not cool for whoever lost that but so cool for my kid to find it!

  • After dinner, Greg, our son and I watched a couple of Bob's Burgers on Netflix. I'm not biking tonight since we hiked :)

  • Gas to drive to Lake Louisa State Park
  • Gas for my daughter to drive to RaceTrac
  • Water for my bubble bath!

  • The login page for Kellogg's Family Rewards isn't working again this morning. They really ought to fire their webmaster. I've never come across a somewhat insignificant website that is down as much as theirs is.  Can you imagine if you couldn't log in to your bank website as much as you can't log in to KFR?  Come on, people...
  • I checked my "Shop & Earn" page on Swagbucks and realized that I should have been credited with 600 SB for my Microsoft purchase from last month, yesterday!  So I submitted a ticket, asking for the credit.

  • RaceTrac: $53.45 (gas for the truck)

  • A $5 Amazon gift card from Microsoft Rewards!
  • A free 32 oz fountain drink for Greg with my RaceTrac app monthly coupon
  • A free hot dog for my daughter with a RaceTrac survey reward code
  • 5 MCR codes from caps found by myself and the kids
  • $50.02 cents found by the kids (they gave me the pennies and kept the $50, smart kids!)

  • Fed the cats
  • Worked on my Rewards programs
  • Answered blog comments
  • Packed a picnic lunch
  • Gassed up the truck
  • Went on a hike with Greg
  • Fed the kittens
  • Fixed my camera!
  • Took a bath and read about the National Parks in the Eastern and Southern U.S.
  • Listened to my kids giddily recount their findings for me
  • Fed the kittens
  • Cooked dinner
  • Enjoyed some downtime with my family

  • Sleep was apparently good but in reality unsatisfactory.

  • My left knee felt a little tender this morning so I thought maybe I shouldn't go walking today, but as I walked around the house, it started to feel better. Maybe I had my leg turned the wrong way last night?
  • Breakfast was a bowl of rice krispies with a cup of watered down milk, and a banana.  I drank coffee
  • Morning snack was a Special K Red Berries cereal bar. I drank water.
  • Lunch was an egg salad sandwich with pretzel sticks and a Dole Mixations fruit cup. I drank water.
  • Afternoon snack was a slice of blueberry oatmeal bread and the rest of this morning's coffee.
  • Dinner was a bowl of Spicy Black Bean Soup and a Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwich.
  • Water consumption was... I drank 1 cup of water before coffee this morning. I drank water the rest of the day but I lost track of how much I drank.
  • Exercise was a 4.61 mile hike (1:28 walking time).  As a result, at 8 p.m., I have walked 15,108 steps!
  • Foot exercises were completed today!
  • For a lovely breeze cooling us off as we were walking the trails of Lake Louisa State Park.
  • That my knee didn't hurt after I started walking around.
  • That my foot didn't start hurting until the very end of our walk!
  • That we did, indeed, pack a picnic lunch!
  • For friendly fellow hikers and park manager.
  • That my camera started working again!
  • For my kids finding Coke product caps and pennies for me and $50 for themselves!


  • The kittens and I observed squirrels in the front yard through our opened but screened in windows.  Those screens prevent me from taking pictures, it's annoying but the screens are necessary not only for keeping the cats in, but for keeping the bugs out!

  • I could hear a woodpecker across the street and I bet myself that it was a pileated woodpecker, not the smaller red bellied woodpeckers that we mostly see in our backyard. I was right!  After kneeling down next to the kittens and laying on my window seat to scrutinize the heavy, Spanish moss-laden, foliage of the oaks across the street, I was able to spot the pileated woodpecker.  Yay!  But I couldn't take a picture because of aforementioned screens on my windows :( 


We accessed Lake Louisa State Park from the back entrance again. The parking area is small there and the entrance is unmanned, although you have to pick up a parking pass/envelope and leave your payment in a drop box.  We were able to just write our annual pass number on the hang tag, woohoo!
Then we walked along the lake to the beach and then to the beach parking lot, where there is the trailhead for the Nature Trail.  We passed a UCF student who seemed lost and asked us questions about the trail and we did our best to answer them.  Further down, at the beach, there were several kayaks marked "UCF" so I'm guessing it was the UCF Kayaking team. 

And yes, that is an alligator warning sign.  This is Florida.

And yes, those are people by the water despite the alligator warning.  You can't seem the 2 little kids they're watching, wading in the water in front of them. This is where I took my kids when they were little too :) We had a great time on this beach!
You can also rent canoes and kayaks there, we'll need to go in through the front entrance one day so we can pay for a canoe/kayak rental at the Ranger Station.

This is at this point that my camera stopped working so the rest of my pictures were taken with my phone, often in bright sunlight so I couldn't see what I was photographing on my screen. Some of the pictures may be blurry because of that.

The weather was sunny and hotter than the last time we visited, but there was a nice breeze blowing, a precursor of the strong winds we're supposed to get tomorrow. 

I wore my hiking boots, which made it much easier to walk on the (at times very) sandy equestrian trail for part of our hike, but I was still pooped by the time we were done!  We walked a much longer circuit this time than the last time. For the most part the trails are very well marked, but the map itself isn't very accurate and we got confused a couple of times, despite being veteran orienteers! Once, we were consulting the map by the side of the access road when the Park Manager stopped by in his truck and asked if we needed help. Of course Greg replied "No!" and I said "Yes!" and asked him to show us where we were on the map; between you and me, his answer ended up being wrong but we said "OK" and waited until he was gone to continue the way we decided was the right way. And we were right. Ha!  Later on, we passed another couple of hikers, older than us, and the gentleman jokingly said "Are we still in Georgia?! It feels like we've been walking forever!" so we laughed. We exchanged some pleasantries and soon we were all on our own ways.  Aside from that, we didn't see anyone else, until the Equestrian area where someone was camping with their horses.  We like the solitude!  It was nice, though, to see the park being used as there were families at the beach, along with the UCF athletes, and a bus of what seemed to be foreign students also let them out by the beach as we were starting our hike.  Shortly after that, we saw families biking, probably coming from the main camping area.

Greg testing one of the exercise stations alongside one of the trails.

Sandy trails, in spots, made it hard to walk, but it was easier with hiking boots than with my walking shoes!

Walking through a forest of saw palmettos that regrew after a prescriptive fire burn.

Nifty foot bridge over a creek

The actual creek

At the 3 mile mark, there was an area with a bench and also picnic tables, so I asked Greg to take a break and had my snack. I probably shouldn't have stopped because it was hard to get started again!  My butt really wanted to remain on that bench :)

This part was easy because of all the pine needles...

This is what I call "Hell Hill". You can't see it but it actually goes uphill a little and it's at the end of
the hike, when I'm tired, and the sand is very deep. Ah, it's really hard.  It's actually an equestrian trail.

For a park "teaming" with wildlife, we once again barely observed any and none that I could capture with my phone. I did see a green anole, which is unusual since the native anoles have been overtaken by the brown anoles, an invasive species.  I also spotted a small bird and some vultures. Oooh, how exciting! (Sarcasm).  Greg spotted deer and raccoon tracks and we saw a couple of gopher tortoise lairs, albeit sans gopher tortoises.

So no animal sightings, really, but we did spot some flowers.

Carolina Jessamine

I think this is Roundleaf Bluet.

Erect Dayflower

I couldn't find this one in my reference books... Some kind of a thistle?
Update on 2/26/17: this is a "Tread Softly".  It "lives up to its name by delivering a painful burning sensation to any individual unlucky enough to brush against it. While the intense pain typically subsides after a few minutes, it can result in a skin rash that may last for days. Sensitive individuals may have more severe reactions," (source: Wildflowers of Florida Field Guide, p 207)

Ah shoot, I know I've researched and found the name of these before but I couldn't find it
tonight and I'm too tired to keep looking, sorry!

I think this is Camphorweed,


Ooops, my finger got on the lens! Rosary Pea (abrus precatorius) seeds were everywhere again... very deadly if ingested, but very eye-catching!

Too blurry to identify properly, but I was glad to see a mauve flower!
When we finally left the park, we spotted animals within seconds!  A couple was stopped by the side of the road with a bunny in a cage, there were several turtles sunning themselves on a log in the middle of a creek, we saw several sandhill cranes and many heads of cattle.  It was funny since we had just made fun of the park's "teaming wildlife" :)

How was your Saturday? Any cool Sunday plans?


  1. Sounds like everyone had a good day! Woo-hoo to finding $50! My BIL found a fifty in Port Arkansas, TX 10 years ago. It was a few months after my mother passed and around the time of his birthday. Mother always gave out fifty dollar bills for birthdays so we said it was a sign from her that she was still thinking of us. 🙂 thanks!

    1. I love finding free money and yet at this stage of my life, I start worrying about the person who lost $50. So it was exciting and I also felt guilty about being so excited!

      And I worry about alligators more than I did when I was in my 20s or even 30s, that's for sure!

  2. Replies
    1. I think the best part was the way the kids decided to tell me the story. Afterwards, they were laughing (at me!) at how excited I had been that they had picked 4 Coke bottle products off the floor and then at the 2 pennies, and them laughing in their beards, knowing that they had yet to tell me about the $50 :) You know what, though? From now on I KNOW that they'll start scanning the ground every time they go somewhere, just like I do. And they might even start entering MCR codes themselves so that they can earn free Amazon gift cards when MCR offers that reward. So, in a way, it's the "gift" that keeps on giving :)

  3. Well done, Youngest Son and Daughter! What a great find! They were being rewarded for stopping to pick up the Coke bottle caps and pennies for their mom!

    Glad you were able to go on another nature hike. I am intrigued by that plant with the thistle-like leaves and the white flowers, as the flowers don't look anything like those on thistles!

    Hope you are having a lovely Sunday, as well. It's raining, over here!

    1. It's about to start raining here too and the wind has really picked up. Daughter and I just got back from our day trip to the Antiques Extravaganza and downtown Mount Dora shopping and the wind was really blowing on our way home so I'm glad we made it back before the big storms start. The temps are supposed to drop to the 40s tonight but right now the AC is still kicking on!

      I'm also intrigued by that plant, I couldn't find the same plant in either of my FLorida wildflower books. I did see pictures of a white thistle but the flowers didn't look like that at all. I'll have to dig deeper...

      Have a lovely afternoon, Bless!

  4. Lol, Nathalie, hockey pucks😊.

    Awesome that your son found $50. Who knew playing Pokémon Go could be so lucrative.

    1. Well it wasn't... you see, his sister was busy playing Pokemon Go so she was looking at her phone. He despises Pokemon Go so he was looking around and found the $50 bill, lol.

  5. Yeay on finding $50! How are they planning on spending the money?

    And wow - a 4.61-mile walk! What a distance!

    My husband has some sort of weather updates on the TV. I see there are tornado warnings and watches all over Florida right now. I hope you are all safe!

    1. We're under tornado warning right now, so far the storms have been slightly to our West and going NW to Tavares, Eustis, Mount Dora. I just changed the batteries in the Red Cross weather crank-up weather alarm, flashlights in our "safe" spots and instructed the kids to RUN to them if they hear me yell "RUN" without worrying about the cats. My kitties! I don't want to put them in the carriers for no reason but maybe I should? Ugh.

      Youngest Son is a saver so I expect that he will keep that $50 bill in his wallet for a while. He didn't share with his sister since he's the one who spotted it and insisted on going to investigate under the bush while his sister was playing Pokemon Go on her phone, lol.

      I hope you stay safe too! It's going to be a busy night. I'm supposed to be cooking now but maybe we'll just have sandwiches because I don't want to get caught with a power failure in the middle of cooking!


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