Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Visit to Fort Cooper State Park ~ Sunday 2/12/17

Last night is a blurr. I fell asleep on the couch fairly early (between 9 and 10, I think) with a kitten or two.  I vaguely remember Greg trying to wake me up to get me to go upstairs, but I was comfy and sleepy.  After another 30 minutes, I decided to go to bed.  This morning the "twins" woke me up at 6:18 a.m.  I used the bathroom, weighed myself while I was at it (ugh), went back to bed for another 15 minutes until their antics made me decide to just get up.  It's funny how I always try to guess who's doing what in the dark and when I turn on the light, I realize that I've been scolding the wrong kitten, lol.  Today, I was sure that Tabby Kitten had been the one on the desk trying to get behind the blinds, but he was actually quite nicely nestled in between my legs and trying to go back to sleep! Princess, who usually is the one sleeping by my feet, was the one doing all the racket.

So it's 7:40 a.m. and I've been up for an hour. I'm still in my PJs. The sun is up but the paper hasn't been delivered yet.  Greg had wanted to go walk yesterday right as I was having a bad stomachache but then decided we should go this morning. Honestly, right now?  I don't want to go (no, no, no... sorry, I have a song running in my head right now! I think it's Adam Levine?).

I started a new bag of flavored coffee this morning. It's the last of the Archer Farms ones that I had bought myself, "from Greg", for Christmas, last Fall. It's Caramel Macchiato and it smells delicious and tastes pretty good.  I like starting my day with a good-smelling pot of coffee :)

No big plans for today. I need to mostly do the dishes, plan a menu, and make some progress in my library books.  I have an e-book that's expiring in 3 days and then the 7-day physical book that's expiring... on the same day. Aaack!  I love reading but for me enjoyable reading involves eating something (and not carrot sticks!) at the same time and since I weighed myself and I put on 0.2 lbs this week (not unexpected), I need to be good.  Arrgh.  Plus I don't want another stomachache like yesterday because I really felt lousy.

Our high today will be 82F/27.7C. If you live in one of the areas suffering from all the snow blizzards, I'm so sorry. Please be safe.

  • Defrost meat for dinner DONE
  • Plan menu for the week DONE
  • Print coupons DONE
  • Upload digital coupons DONE
  • Clip coupons DONE
  • Sort coupons
  • Turn bread heels into bread crumbs
  • Earn Microsoft Rewards credits DONE
  • Input weight into WHBRHC DONE
  • Set 15 minute timer and try to accomplish as many chores as possible in that time  
  • Do the dishes (AFTER DINNER)  
  • Clean fridge - cleaned the bottom shelf
  • Sweep the downstairs bathroom
  • Vacuum the upstairs bedrooms
  • Sweep/vacuum the main stairwell
  • Make a dermatologist appointment for Youngest Son (after pediatrician apt)
  • Download all January pictures from my phone and camera to external drive
  • Back up external drive to its own external drive!
  • Start a list of the electric outlets that I want to get replaced
  • Do my foot exercises 
  • Exercise at least 35 minutes on my bike  (weekdays only)
  • Find USB drive (NOT an SD card!) and clear it so Teen librarian to put photos of Youngest Son on it
  • Read 7-day library book! in progress
  • Read e-library book in progress
  • Move missing Music files from External Drive to my Laptop 
  • Move/reinstall missing software on new laptop in progress, moved all the files to the External Drive
  • Trying syncing my phone on new laptop
  • Back-up my phone
  • Reset phone to factory settings
  • Upgrade to newer iOS
  • Wash litter box upstairs  
  • Add Osmocote plant food to rose and hibiscus bushes
  • Put away the clipped articles from Kiplinger's magazine 
  • Read new issue of Kiplinger's in progress
  • Wash kitchen windows
  • Inventory the pantry
  • Reorganize the gardening supplies area in breezeway
  • Purge file cabinet in progress (through "credit cards")
  • Take RaceTrac surveys  
  • Make lemon poppyseed muffins or/and lemon squares with the "grapefruits"!
  • Move fonts from external drive and reinstall on new laptop
  • Take my measurements
  • Sign up for Personal Capital? Eh, I'm taking this off my list. My spreadsheets are working for me.
  • Look into transplanting hyacinths in garden - Moved them outside since Explorer has started to jump on mantelpiece :(
  • Scrub patio pavers with bleach (wear old clothes and shoes, gloves and goggles)
  • Finish decluttering exercise room shelves
  • Try to hit my 1st Daily Goal on Swagbucks 
  • Call my bank to consolidate my IRA accounts
  • Enter receipts into spreadsheets
  • Schedule credit card payments
  • Balance checkbook
  • Sit down with my daughter and show her how to file her taxes
  • Check the air filters and replace if needed

  • We didn't turn on the AC last night. I opened the windows at 7:50 a.m.  It's nice and cool outside and the birds are singing throughout the neighborhood.

  • I filtered tap water for the kittens with my thrifted Brita pitcher and Target-brand Brita-style filters (bought on sale with a coupon a couple of years ago!). It's cheaper than buying spring water, which is what I used to do until 2 years ago :)

  • I used stretched milk in my morning cereal, along with a banana that had developed several brown spots. That's when they taste the best!

  • I'm defrosting a pound of ground beef in order to make burgers for dinner tonight. Again,  but it's an easy dinner that my men like and that I don't mind cooking on Sunday nights even if I'm tired.  I'll probably make baked potatoes with that. Or serve potato chips if we still have some.  I bought the ground beef on sale this past weekend for $1.39/lb and I'll get 4 burgers from it so way cheaper than eating out :)

  • I'm always happy to see the paper in the driveway on Sunday mornings, although I don't really read it. All the news are rehashed from online outlets that I've already read. I do skim the local & state and my county's sections. I look at the main section only to see if there might be an Aldi coupon to clip as I have found some in there in the past. No luck today :(  I did have 3 coupon inserts and I'll be reusing the plastic sleeve to gather the pee and poop nuggets from the upstairs litter box.  I shall miss the Sunday paper when my 1-cent subscription ends next month...

  • My 1st Swagbucks goal for today is, again, 80 SB. The videos dried up quite early on.  I took a 65 SB Peanut Labs survey, was NOT credited after the surveyor got all their info they needed from me, so I opened a ticket.  Being the weekend, there's no guarantee that I will actually be credited today (if they do credit me, but usually they're quite good about it) so I'll need to try and take more surveys later on.

  • I earned the daily Microsoft Rewards points.

  • Do you still earn Balance Rewards on Walgreens' Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices if you put on weight because you make an UNHEALTHY choice of eating a whole cake?!  The answer is yes.  I earned 20 BR points for entering my heavier weight.  Nothing about that rewards program makes sense, but hey, I'll get $5 off my purchase once I reach 5,000 BR points so I'm keeping at it :)

  • I printed coupons from both my laptops, including pet coupons that I'll donate to the South Lake Animal League thrift store.  I also uploaded digital store and manufacturer coupons via my Publix and CVS apps.

  • I clipped all the coupons and threw the paper clippings on the ground for the kittens' amusement.  They love it :)

  • Greg wants to go walking but after lunch, because he thinks I won't be talking about how hungry I am if we eat lunch first. I have news for him, I was reading for lunch at 9:30 a.m.!  I wanted to go this morning (well, I didn't want to go at all but I'd prefer to go in the morning) because it's cooler and I think we'd see more wildlife in the morning, but I guess after lunch is fine. I should do chores before we go.... sigh.

  • I started logging my food intake into MyFitnessPal again.  I haven't even had lunch yet and I only have 900 calories left! We're going to have to walk a whole bunch if I want to be able to have a burger tonight!

  • Well, I decided that I'd rather pack a lunch, drive to the park and have lunch there before walking, than eat at home and then drive, because it'd be 2 p.m. before we'd be ready to walk! So I announced to Greg at I was going to take a shower and then we'd pack lunch and we on our way and he dutifully replied "yes, honey.". I like that, in a man, that's sexy, LOL. So we did that. I packed us sandwiches in my reusable sandwich wraps, pretzels sticks, and I brought myself a Diet Coke for after the walk, an apple, and the rest of the salad that we had for dinner several nights ago, along with a bottle of dressing. We refilled our water bottles with filtered tap water from our fridge and we were on our way at about 11:15 a.m. Once again our son declined to come with us so he stayed home, folded his laundry, watched over the cats, and played on his computer since he didn't have much homework this weekend, for once.

  • The GPS wanted us to take the Florida Turnpike (toll road) to get to the park, but I insisted on us taking back roads, which was free and much more scenic, and only took us a couple more minutes anyway.  The drive was indeed pretty lovely, we enjoyed it.

  • We had a lovely picnic lunch at Fort Cooper State Park, and then walked for almost 4 miles.  We used our state park annual pass to access the park so there was no additional cost to us.

  • On the way home, Greg was really hungry so we stopped by McDonald's and he used a coupon from my McDonald's app to get a breakfast sausage burrito for just $1 and a medium Diet Coke.  He paid cash.  I declined to buy anything since I was drinking my Diet Coke that I had brought from home, and ate the peanut butter crackers that I keep in my fanny pack for just "emergencies".

  • Once we got home, our son walked to our local park so he could get some exercise :)

  • For dinner, I cooked burgers and served the rest of a bag of potato chips with them.  I also finished the potato salad that we had bought at Publix almost 2 weeks ago!

  • While dinner was cooking, I decided to be inspired by Pixel who had said I had inspired her to maybe do 15 minutes of chores tonight, and I unloaded the dishwasher in the 2 minutes that it took for my burgers to finish cooking. Wow, funny how you put off some chores because in your mind they're a long and boring chore, and then when you do them while a timer is on, it only takes you TWO MINUTES to do them!  Now I haven't reloaded it (heck, it's not Domestic Sunday, is it?!) but at least it's unloaded :)

  • Greg and I watched a few episodes of "Bob's Burgers" on Netflix after dinner.

  • I shared pictures of today's parc visit on the French blog that I keep for my family too. None of them have acknowledged that I have invited them to view it or even visited it yet, but I'll keep at it. I think my mom will appreciate seeing the pictures if she's bored with the French winter at some point!

  • And then I worked on creating a menu for the week ahead. Glad this is out of the way, although I did have to add several things to my shopping list.

  • Gas to drive to Fort Cooper State Park (about an hour away)

  • A snack for Greg at Mc Donald's.

  • He also wants me to list the electricity used by our Energy Star rated TV to play Smooth Jazz for the kittens while we were away, because I refused to turn off Pandora when we left, and he was incensed that I, a frugal blogger, would waste energy like this. Says the man who has so many electronics plugged in that draw power whether he uses them or not (mouse, keyboard, headphones, laptop charger, etc....). Ugh. But he insisted that I should disclose to you all that I left the TV one while we were away so I am :)

  • I put on weight. That was expected. It still stung! Definitely proof that you can take all the walks you want and bike for 45 minutes at night, but if you don't keep track of your calories AND eat a whole cake, you're gonna put on weight, Nathalie. Cuz you're not an 18-year old chickie anymore!

  • There was a RaceTrac next to McDonald's. I should have stopped Greg from buying a soda at McDonald's because I had a coupon for a free fountain drink in my RaceTrac app, but I forgot that I had the coupon!

  • $2.97 for a snack and drink for Greg (McDonald's)

  • None, again 

  • Fed the cats
  • Defrosted meat for dinner
  • Filtered water for kittens
  • Aired out the house
  • Retrieved the paper from the driveway (oooh, such great accomplishments!)
  • Printed coupons
  • Uploaded digital coupons
  • Clipped coupons
  • Packed a picnic lunch
  • Went on a walk at Fort Cooper State Park with Greg
  • Fed the kittens
  • Replied to blog comments
  • Cooked dinner
  • Watched a show with Greg
  • Updated my French blog
  • Made a menu for the week
  • Pulled meat out of the freezer for the week

  • Sleep was good!
  • I put on +0.2 lbs, though :(
  • Breakfast was a bowl of Rice Krispies with a banana and 1 cup of ~2% stretched milk
  • Lunch was an egg salad sandwich, a small side salad with Light Asian Sesame dressing, a few pretzel sticks, an apple
  • Afternoon snack was 4 peanut butter crackers, a Diet Coke, a few strawberries
  • Dinner was a burger with homemade zesty pickles, a few potato chips, about 1/4 cup of potato salad.
  • Water consumption was... ugh, let's not mention it.
  • Exercise was a 3.52 mile walk (1:12)
  • Foot exercises were performed.
  • For another glorious day in Central Florida
  • For a lovely walk with my husband in a very nice park
  • For the willpower to resist junk food at McDonald's!

NATURE: Fort Cooper State Park, Citrus County

When I decided on Fort Cooper State Park as our weekend's visit, I didn't expect much. I picked it because it was within an hour's drive from our house and we'd never been there. And also they spoke of a lake and that it was good for fishing.  The prospect of fishing is always more enticing for Greg to drive more than 20 minutes away from home, even though he hasn't fished lately. But they mentioned that entrance was on the honor system so I figured that if the park didn't warrant a full-time ranger, it probably wasn't a great one.

As I mentioned earlier, I didn't want to take the turnpike to go there. No only was it cheaper to take the backroads, but we went through Bushnell, and I knew that the drive there was definitely more scenic than the turnpike!  Indeed, we enjoyed a leisurely drive, saw a lot of properties we liked, houses that appealed to us, cows, a baby donkey (it was so cute!), horses, etc.  There wasn't a lot of traffic.

On the way through Bushnell, we saw a sign for a Historic Monument so Greg pulled in to see what it was.  It wasn't much and celebrated the battle of Wahoo Swamp, which was kind of funny because you'd expect it to be a gag on an animated series such as Bob's Burgers, but it was an actual battle during the Second Seminole War in 1836.  So we learned something and we like learning about history. Plus, there was a bathroom there and I really needed to use it.  I had to use the men's room because the ladies' was locked, but it had a regular stall and not a urinal so that was good :)

Fort Cooper State Park was a great surprise. Indeed, there was a nice ranger station at the entrance but it was unmanned and we were supposed to fill out an envelope with our annual pass number and display it on our dashboard, but the dispenser was empty and a lady in a car stopped by to let us know she had taken the last one. What to do, what to do?! I used the backside of a gum wrapper to write our annual pass number and displayed that on our dashboard so we wouldn't be ticketed.  This just reminded me to add blank paper to my fanny pack so I added a couple of pieces of scrap paper left over from clipping coupons :)

There were no maps available so we weren't sure where to go... we just followed the paved road into the park and got to a parking area that had a couple of paved walkways to "pavilions and playground" and I could see a lake or pond in the distance, through the trees, so we decided to go have our picnic there.

It was wonderful!  A beach area extended from a tree canopy under which a couple of pavilions, picnic tables, and a playground were located, overlooking a small lake that was sparkling in the sun.  The lake was pretty weedy so it looked more like a large pond, and there were a lot of American coots on it. You could hear other birds calling too and it was very peaceful. When we got there, at about noon, there was only one family there with little kids but they left soon after we got there.  So we had a very peaceful and enjoyable lunch.  

Pavilions and picnic tables

The playground has a merry-go-round!  You just don't see those anymore! I wish I had known about this park when my kids
were younger!

Another part of the playground. Youngest Son would have enjoyed the swings!

Instead of using one of the picnic tables, I suggested we sit on the one bench that was facing the lake. It was lovely!  Here are some pictures that I took from our vantage point.

The view from our picnic bench

And yes, the usual "caution: alligators" sign. We didn't see any.
American Coot. The sun was right above us so it didn't make for very nice pictures.

I have no idea what bird that was.  I thought maybe a Belted Kingfisher? It was way too small to be an anhinga.

It took off as Greg approached the lakeshore and the bottom of its wings look white to me... Yeah, I think it was a Belted Kingfisher.
Little Blue Heron
You can't bring your own boat, but you can rent canoes to use on the lake.  A family rented them both to go fishing. I asked a teenager what he fished and he said bass and that he had caught a large one there before. I wanted to ask more questions but he was chewing tobacco, which was disgusting and making him very hard to understand, so I just stopped asking questions, wished him good luck, and we moved on :)

That family, taking off in one of the canoes (on the right).  I would have liked to go on a canoe and look at the birds on the lake a little more closely. Maybe next time.
There was a map posted of the park with various trails, but none to take with us.  We decided on a circuit that we wanted to do and set off.  The park's trail that we wanted to walk was linked to the paved Withlacoochee State Trail and we started off on that. Unfortunately, both the map (I had taken a picture of it) and the signage on the trails are really inadequate compared to other parks we have visited and we ended up walking another loop. 

We wanted to walk the Sand Hill Loop Trail but we ended up walking a couple of other loops.
It was a very enjoyable walk, not because of what we saw, which wasn't much, but because it was shady almost the whole way, which made it cooler, and the trails were sandy but well packed and covered either in pine needles or leaves or grass.  And the topography was really interesting as the trails weren't as flat as the ones that we have walked before and snaked around the forest instead of being straight. 

The Withlacoochee State Trail part of it was nicely paved and winded through the trees.

There were several stations explaining historical facts about the Seminole Indians who used to live here.  The park has a fort site where a battle took place in 1836. Next month, there will be a reenactment of a skirmish at the park, and Greg wants to attend it with our son.

This panel talked about several wild fruit that the Seminole used to eat.

We didn't know the saw palmetto produced fruit, much less that it was edible!  When we were at Silver Springs State Park last week, we had spotted several scats in the middle of the woods that contained seeds that were very similar to those, but we didn't know what they were.

One thing that I liked, especially, is that there were several benches distributed along the trails.

I'm not sure what type of flowering tree that was, but it was pretty!

Parts of the trail was covered in fallen leaves... it was fun hearing them crunch as we walked
through them!

Other parts were sandy but nicely packed

The site of the fort.
 We ended up walking coming back to the beach by walking around part of the lake, and spotted a large structure in the distance, not far from the playground area, that we hadn't noticed before.

See that white tower thingie in the middle of the picture?  We were puzzled as to what it could be. We thought maybe a bird observation platform?

So we walked along the lake's edge. Uh oh, thick sand! My nemesis. My butt and hips got a good
workout!  It was much hotter in the full sun.

Carolina Jessamine vine, growing on the sand

There was a small trail in that area so we took it, hoping to get close to the structure, but we didn't. We ended at what was called "Coot Marsh", which was a shallow marsh choked with vegetation. I saw an egret fishing in it (but didn't get a picture of it), which made sense because we could hear so many frogs! I would have liked to walk alongside it more, but we came across very fresh tracks of wild boars and decided that perhaps we should be on our way.

Wild boar tracts, identified by Greg

and confirmed by this pocket guide that I had photographed!

More Carolina Jessamine. It smelled soooooo good!
 The sound of frogs singing in the Coot Marsh.

And more benches :)

A cardinal, in the distance.
 Once back at the beach again, we walked along the lake to the large structure that we had spotted and it ended up being....

... a very large bat house!  It was built by an Eagle Scout a few years back and it was spectacular! I had never seen such a large bat house!  When you listened, you could hear bats in it but we didn't get to see any, they were too far inside of it.  The house perimeter was fenced off and for good reason: there was a thick layer of guano under it!  Oh, guano is supposed to be sooooo good for your garden, I wanted to take some home!  But of course we didn't.  We talked about coming back later in the day so we could be there at sundown when the bats leave their house, but the park itself closes at sundown so I'm not sure that we would see anything at all.
Under side of the bat house.  I filmed it for a while so you could hear them too, but the wind
was blowing, I guess, and the movie only picked up the sound of the wind against the microphone :(

Guano under the bat house.

So all in all we loved that park. I want to go back and bike the paved Withlacoochee State Trail and we want to walk the trail that we ended up not walking!  On our way out, we did find a small trailhead area that did have maps to take, but the map is even worse than the ones that are posted throughout the park! Still, I put it in my State Parks binder for future reference.

Instead of driving home the same way, we drove straight down SR 41 to Brooksville, and then took SR 50 back to the Clermont area.  I'm glad we did this as we passed a couple of places that we will want to go back to visit, off SR 41, between Brooksville and Inverness: a bird trail and nature viewing area, and then also a trailhead for some nature park.  I didn't get the details as we were driving by too fast. I think one of them was the McKethan Lake Nature Trail in Hernando County.

How was your Sunday?  Do you have a favorite state park that you might have visited in Florida or another state?


  1. I like seeing the parks where you take your wals. We used to do a lot more of that and maybe we can get started again when it gets warmer. That's some bat box. The Eagle Scout part was interesting to me because my son built bat boxes and bluebird boxes for part of his Eagle project.

    1. Is it an Eagle Scout suggested project? Because I think that all the bat boxes that I have ever seen have been Eagle Scout projects, although NONE have ever been has huge as this one! That guy must have gone on to become an architect or structural engineer, I think!

      I hope you'll take us along if you resume your walks as well! I love seeing other parts of the country through bloggers' eyes!

    2. Bat boxes are not suggested projects. I guess it just a coincidence. My son worked with a home for troubled youth who were getting an organic vegetable garden going. He built bat boxes and bluebird houses to help with natural insect control. It was very rewarding to see the birds and bats move in immediately.

  2. That place looks so beautiful!

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it too! I think Bubbie would enjoy that playground, don't you?!

  3. Love all the pictures of the walk! When I feel better, I must try to go for a walk in one of our parks and take some pictures! Bless (who's taking a lunch break)

    1. Hello, Incognito Bless :)

      I'm glad you enjoyed it. Yes, you should but not in a deserted cemetery, please (smile). Enjoy your break :)

    2. Actually, you know, I wanted to take some pictures of the cemetery and that's when I realized I had left my cell phone in my purse, which was locked up in the trunk! And I thought that wasn't very smart of me! By the way, I like the name "Incognito Bless". :)

  4. Love that you took us all along on your walk to Fort Cooper State Park!

    Your "clean fridge" entry on your to-do list reminds me that I decided I was never going to clean the fridge again. It's just too...inconvenient. So now I clean one shelf every Saturday morning after I put the breakfast dishes away. Move a few items to another shelf, quick wipe and swipe, move the items back to the now clean shelf. Done.

    1. I remember you telling me you did this a few months back. A few years ago I actually created a
      "Decluttering and Cleaning" google calendar where I input several chores for various weeks with email reminders to be sent and I made the tasks recurring (annually, monthly, etc.). So I had made it so that I would clean one shelf of the fridge every couple of days, a couple of times a year. Well, despite all the reminders, I have never done it that way! I really should, though, as you said it takes almost no time compared to cleaning the whole fridge all at once.


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