Saturday, February 4, 2017

A Walk at Silver Springs State Park in Ocala ~ Saturday 2/4/17

It's the weekend and my day hasn't started on the right foot.  I had a very uncomfortable night last night, and then the kittens decided that they wanted me to get up already at 6:30a m. and manifested their displeasure with making things fall off the nightstand again. Arrgh.  I have bad cramps, can't have coffee because we're supposed to go hiking and I don't want to have to pee more than I'm already going to have to, it's now 7:30 a.m. and the sky is all gray and overcast... and I'm thinking I don't want to go hiking today :(  I mean, I want to, but I think it's going to be very uncomfortable for me. I might go wake Greg up and tell him we're not going... ugh.

  • Put chicken stock away DONE
  • Wash crockpot
  • Turn bread heels into bread crumbs
  • Set 15 minute timer and try to accomplish as many chores as possible in that time 
  • Mop or fake mop the kitchen
  • Do the dishes  
  • Clean fridge
  • Freeze lentil soup DONE
  • Defrost meat for dinner DONE
  • Make a dermatologist appointment for Youngest Son
  • Make appointment for preventative maintenance on heat pump
  • Vacuum the living room
  • 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 2X
  • Exercise at least 35 minutes on my bike - Took a 5-mile walk instead
  • Find USB drive (NOT an SD card!) and clear it so Teen librarian to put photos of Youngest Son on it
  • Read e-library book in progress
  • Make sure Greg assigns specific funds to his IRA account 
  • 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
  • Clean litter box upstairs 
  • Add Osmocote plant food to rose and hibiscus bushes
  • Put away the clipped articles from Kiplinger's magazine 
  • Finish ironing Greg's clothes
  • Take RaceTrac surveys 
  • Make lemon poppyseed muffins or/and lemon squares with the "grapefruits"!
  • Pick the oranges
  • Zest the oranges and freeze
  • Move fonts from external drive and reinstall on new laptop
  • Read the 2 library travel books? on hold, since now we're not sure of when or where we're going
  • Take my measurements
  • Sign up for Personal Capital?
  • Start French blog for my mom and sister?
  • Get soil from Lowe's, before Saturday?
  • Look into transplanting hyacinths in garden
  • Scrub patio pavers with bleach (wear old clothes and shoes, gloves and goggles)
  • Finish decluttering exercise room shelves
  • Mend at least one item from mending basket (Youngest Son's bag)
  • Try to hit my 1st Daily Goal on Swagbucks  DONE
  • Call my bank to consolidate my IRA accounts
  • Sit down with my daughter and show her how to file her taxes
  • Send my feedback to all my elected officials (city, county, state, Congress) in progress

  • I didn't wash the crockpot so I'm switching dinner plans: defrosting ground beef so we'll have cheeseburgers and chips tonight and I'll cook a crockpot meal tomorrow.

  • My 1st daily goal for SB was 80 SB. I played videos and then was finally able to qualify for a survey so I exceeded my 1st goal.

  • SavingStar credited my account for the cereal I bought on Thursday.

  • Ibotta put the $2 Truvia nectar rebate back in my line-up!  I'm out of the $1.50 coupon but I still have $1.00 coupons so I should be able to get another bottle of it and make 1 cent in the process :)

  • We didn't turn on the heat last night as the weather is finally warming up at night. As a matter of fact, I needed the fan on me last night, and not just for white noise!

  • It 8:09 a.m. and the sun is finally coming out :)

  • I'm having instant decaf coffee because I need something else than water in the morning but I can't have caffeine or I might as well have to wear a diaper for our hike.

  • I earned the daily Microsoft Rewards credits.

  • I packed a lunch for Greg and myself, along with a snack for me and we brought some filtered tap water along.

  • We dropped off the check that we're mailing to Discover Bank directly at the post office. I hope it gets there!  I usually wouldn't fret about it but it's the majority of our savings that we're talking about...  The ACH system has been hacked a couple of times this past year so I didn't feel good about doing a bank transfer either.

  • We used our Florida State Parks annual pass to gain entrance to Silver Springs State Park in Ocala. However, it didn't look like we needed to pay any admission if we just wanted to hike the trails... Hmm. We walked a total of 5.14 miles!
My pace was all over the map not because I was taking pictures, but
because I was dragging my feet so much!
  • We ate the lunch we brought but I'd been wanting real coffee and a piece of pie so we decided to stop by Bob Evans on the way home. Luckily for frugality's sake, there was a 15 minute wait that neither of us was willing to endure, so I suggested we stop by Dunkin' Donuts instead.  We treated ourselves to a medium coffee each and a heart-shaped donut each.  I'm just realizing that I had brought my coupon organizer along and that I had survey reward codes to get a free donut with each purchase, darn it!  Oh well. I paid with the credit I still had on my DD app so there was no money out of pocket today, plus the credit I had on there had been purchase via a Groupon whereby I paid $5 for $10 worth of credit, over a year ago :)

  • We decided that since our donuts had been heart-shaped, this would constitute our Valentine's Day celebration :)

  • The kids didn't want to come so they stayed home and ate lunch at home and were both doing their homework when we got home at about 2 p.m. :)

  • I opened the windows at about 2:30 p.m. to air out the house and provide the cats with some entertainment.

  • My son walked to the nearby park to get some swinging done, and my daughter took a walk with her BFF in our neighborhood.

  • I'm really really tired but committed to cooking dinner since so far it's been a No Spend Day and I don't want to endanger that. But right now it's 5:45 p.m. and I could go to sleep right now and stay down the whole night, I think. Weirdly, that Dunkin' Donuts coffee never did perk me up.

  • I cooked dinner at 6 p.m. and we all ate in our own corners. Greg and I watched a couple episodes of The Middle being broadcast on over the air TV and then a couple of episodes of Bob's Burgers on Netflix.  I wanted to fall asleep after dinner but 2 of the kittens commandeered my pillows so I ended up watching TV.  There's no one else on the other couch so I might go lie down there, lol.

  • Gas to drive to Ocala and back (an hour or so away).

  • I forgot that I had brought my coupon organizer along and that I had survey reward codes for free DD donuts with the purchase of a drink!

  • No Spend Day!

  • None but a No Spend Day is a freebie in and out of itself!

  • Fed the kittens
  • Worked on my Rewards programs
  • Put the lentil soup in the freezer
  • Fed the older cats
  • Tried to psych myself up for today's hike
  • Packed a lunch for Greg and myself
  • Drove to Silver Springs State Park
  • Hiked for 5 miles with Greg
  • Stopped for a cup of coffee and a snack
  • Drove home
  • Chatted with the kids
  • Caught up on blogs
  • Sent an email to a friend
  • Fed the kittens
  • Cooked dinner
  • Cuddled with kittens
  • Watched a few shows with Greg

  • Sleep was fitful.
  • Breakfast was a cup of Rice Krispies with a few raspberries and 1 cup of ~1% milk (I had forgotten that I had already diluted the milk so I diluted it some more!)
  • Mid morning snack was a Special K Red Berries cereal bar.
  • Lunch was a ham sandwich, a few pretzel sticks.
  • Afternoon snack was a raspberry-filled donut and a cup of coffee, some pretzel sticks and a slice of bread with a little bit of cream cheese.
  • Dinner was a hamburger, a little bit of potato salad and a few potato chips. I also had a fruit cup.
  • Water consumption was not good.
  • Exercise was a 5.14 mile walk (1 hour 42 minutes)
  • Foot exercises were performed.
  • That we somehow found the strength to walk over 5 miles today as both of us were tired!
  • For a lovely break at Dunkin' Donuts afterwards. Greg insisted on us sitting there to enjoy our donut instead of eating it in the car, and I think I appreciated it even more as I didn't rush to eat it!
  • For having assiduous kids who don't mind us leaving them alone and who actually do their homework instead of throwing a party, lol.

NATURE: Silver Springs State Park, Ocala, FL

Neither Greg nor I had been to Silver Springs. I remember taking the kids to their water park several years ago but that's now closed. Silver Springs was actually a privately-owned Florida attraction up until 2013, renowned for its very clear spring water and glass bottom boat rides.  I think each of my kids went there on a school field trip, through the years. Another reason why it's renowned is that at some point in the 1940s, one of the glass boat operators established a rhesus monkey colony on an island by the springs, hoping to draw in more of an audience for his "Jungle Island" tours, but didn't realize that the monkeys could swim and they escaped the island. To this day, apparently, there are wild monkeys at Silver Springs and there are warning signs about them.  Neither Greg nor I are fond of monkeys, but we thought it'd be interesting to spot one.  Alas, we didn't see any.

Back in 2013, I guess the park went bankrupt so the state took it over and entrusted it to the Park Service so it would be protected from development.  So it's a state park that looks like an abandoned attraction, really. It's odd and a little creepy.

The weather was odd today. It was in the 60s in Ocala and it was very cloudy and the clouds were low. This weather always saps my energy and that, combined with a bad sleep and the lack of energy from being at the beginning of my cycle, made me feel very listless. Greg was also tired. 

The drive to Ocala isn't a pretty one. We're on the turnpike and then on I-75 and then SR40 (I think), which really isn't a pretty drive as it goes on for over 9 miles through restaurants and vaping stores and very old motels.  Then Greg turned into a HUGE entrance that was clearly marked "Silver Springs" and there even was a "Silver Springs State Park Entrance" official sign, but I wasn't sure that it was the entrance because Google Maps told us the entrance was another 3/4 of a mile further down. So we pulled into the parking lot, and went right back out to try to find the "entrance" and then, of course, found out that Google Maps was wrong and that indeed had been the entrance. Thanks, Google Maps, good thing this wasn't a snowed-in mountain road that you sent us down!

Anyhoo, we got there and the weather was all grey and ominous (I had to increase the saturation in some of the pictures to make them look a little nicer!) and the only people there were old people milling around in their winter jackets, when I had my exercise tank top  and my walking capris!  The wind started blowing as we passed the entrance so I went back to get my light jacket but I mostly wore it around my waist.

As far as we can tell, Silver Springs itself is the area where the boat launch for the glass bottom boat tours is, and there is a restaurant, an ice-cream parlor, and the place where you book the boat tour and can rent canoes/kayaks to paddle down the spring. Otherwise, it has a small trail that probably snaked through manicured gardens at some point, but now everything is pretty much allowed to go back to a more natural state. There are many picnic tables (I think a lot of school tours come) and benches along the bassin where the boats launch from and a little further down the spring.  The water is very very clear, as is true of any Florida spring and since it is not permitted to fish there, there were fish of all sizes, including some BIG ones, and they were jumping in and out of the water too, seemingly putting on a show for poor frustrated fisherman Greg, lol.

There were actually quite a lot of people kayaking down the spring today.

The glass-bottom boats and their launch area

The water is so clear!

Fish!  I should have made our son come with us!

A gar, waiting in the grass....

An anhinga (also known as snakebird), all puffed up. 

Walking along the spring for a short while.

Anhingas everywhere!

And a little blue heron?!
We walked the short "Creek Trail" that probably features a creek at some point but now the creek doesn't exist anymore.



Hmm, nice shot, there, Nathalie!

Some weird moss? fern? that kind of looked like parsley.

A tree that was attacked by woodpeckers (on left) and huge vegetation that made it look like we were walking through a Jurassic forest!

Little white flowers growing out of the water. I should look them up but I'm too tired!

I thought this was an American Coot but now I'm not so sure?! He was walking on the grasses floating on the spring.

Wondering how this cypress tree grew so crooked and what's keeping it from falling over!

After that., we walked a couple of other tracks that seem to be outside of the "state park" itself.

Another view of the clear spring!
I took very few pictures because there really wasn't anything to see save for the spring itself!  The only wildlife we encountered were some birds, including a woodpecker that Greg spotted but I couldn't be bothered to dig out my camera because it would have disappeared by the time I was ready to shot. We saw some deer tracks and scat but didn't spot any monkeys, lizards, or even squirrels!  The woods were mostly still and quiet but you could hear traffic noises a lot since the park is almost encircled by major roads and I didn't like that part at all.  Especially on the "Creek Trail", the noise is so loud that I felt like we were walking on the side of an interstate.

The trails themselves were easy to walk, though, for the most part. Sandy, but the sand was compacted and then covered in leaves or pine needles, so that was nice.  I wasn't impressed at all and would only consider going back if we rented a couple of kayaks to go down the spring and I might do that with the kids.  But Greg said, in the end, that he had liked it. Probably because I didn't spot every 5 seconds to take a picture :)

We were too cheap to spend $11 per person to take the glass bottom boat tour, but I might suggest we do that if we return. Honestly, I'd like to visit other state parks before we return to that one.

A final thought
If you've read my blog for a while, you might have read some comments that Susan from Retirement Fun(ds) posted in the past.  She's a blogger herself and we've been following each other's blogs for a couple of years now.  I consider her a friend.  Her husband had been suffering from various serious health problems for a while and had been in the hospital for several weeks. Very sadly, she announced today that "Mr. Sweetie", as I liked to call him, passed away this past week.  She is taking a break from blogging and hasn't reopened the comments on her own blog.  However, if you would like to leave her a message in the comments for this post, please feel free to do so, as she said she would continue reading blogs to try to maintain some normalcy to balance the chaos that her life has been thrown in.   Susan, please accept all our heartfelt condolences.


  1. You did get some beautiful photos, even if Silver Springs didn't turn out to be your favorite park. I've not been there but it's been on my list. Good to know that kayaking is probably the better option. And those heart shaped donuts look really yummy! Thank you, too, for setting up space to share condolences.

    Susan -- You have been on my mind this week and now especially today. I am so sorry for your loss; from your blog posts I have been able to get a picture of the close relationship you shared with your husband, which I very much admired. While grief can be terrible and erratic, I hope that the memories you created with your husband sustain you in the tough and not-so-tough times. <3 Laura

    1. Thanks, Laura. Kayaking certainly seems to be the way to go. They rent them there or you can bring your own but there's a $4 per person launch fee, I believe. It's probably very nice when it's sunny.

  2. Alligators?🐊 The day at the park looked nice.
    I got to stay home and clean. 😕 Everyone else was doing something fun...husband=golf, oldest son=seeing a friend at Venice Beach, youngest son=weekend in San Francisco.
    I always did hate cramps...hope you feel better soon.

    1. Ooh, I love your little emojis! No, no alligators yesterday also they're certainly present and there were warning signs. I told you, water in Florida = alligators!

      It's not fair that everyone else got to do something fun and you were stuck doing the cleaning! I can relate as no one ever cleans anything if I don't, witness the 2 days of dishes piled up in the sink and countertop that I'm going to have to wrangle today :( I hope you have a more relaxing day today, Judy.

  3. Lovely photos, Nathalie; I enjoyed seeing the scenery. That was a long walk! I've never seen heart shaped doughnuts, before! They look very yummy! Thank you, too, for allowing us to share condolences on your blog.

    Susan, I was so sorry to read your blog post today. My deepest sympathies to you and to your family. May you find comfort in knowing your husband is no longer in pain. (((HUGS)))

    1. I was hoping that the donut would have less calories because of the dimple of the heart, but that wasn't the case :( Also, I don't like the fact that they post the number of calories next to each donut. Well, I do but I don't, know what I mean?! That darn donut was 320 calories, but I had misread it for 220. It was delicious, though. Raspberry-filled. Yum.

  4. Good for you for getting up and out when you didn't feel like it and taking a nice long walk. The park may not have been your favorite, but I enjoyed your pictures from it.

    So sorry for your loss, Susan. Just know that you are surrounded by positive thoughts and prayers from Blogland.

    1. I'm glad you liked the pictures. I think the park might have felt more interesting if it'd been sunny and I wasn't feeling so out of energy! Before we peeked at my RunMeter app to see how far we'd walked, I had guessed 2.5 miles and Greg had guessed 4. Turns out we were both wrong and I couldn't believe that I had walked that far in the condition that I was. I felt like a walking zombie most of the time! I'm glad I didn't look at the number of miles walked until the end because I certainly wouldn't have walked as much :)

  5. I enjoyed telling my DH about Silver Springs in Ocala. I will share it with my sister too. A no. Spend day is fantastic!

    Susan, I am very sorry for your loss. I will keep you in my thoughts.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! It would have been fun to have a picture of a monkey in the "wild", oh well!

  6. Hi Nathalie,
    Just checking in ... I lost the 5 lbs.. but it wasn't until 2/2... I almost made it. Shooting for 4 lbs. this month. Should we continue to encourage each other on this challenge? You are doing better than me ( : My goal is to lose 20-25 lbs. before we go on a family vacation at the very end of May! Have a good day!

    1. 1/31, 2/2, let's not quabble, I think you made it! Woohoo, Bonnie! Yes, we should challenge each other again this month, because I have lost some of my mojo. I only lost 0.2 lbs this week but hey, I thought I was going to gain some so I'm actually happy :) I'm shooting for another 5 lbs in February, which might be a tad ambitious, but all the more important that I get back on track! You're closer to your end goal, although mine isn't until 11/30 (50 lbs). I hope we both make it! Heck, LET'S MAKE IT!

    2. We're on !!! Let's have a good week ( :

  7. Hi, Nathalie, I used to read your blog regularly, I'm just catching up. Glad you're still here! I spent almost a year concentrating on de-cluttering and trying to get back on top of things in our house. But I've got to get back on track with money and food things, so I'm back to reading my frugal ladies. :) It's always nice to see posts where you're showing springy scenes when it's still winter up here in NJ. We have some snowdrops that are trying to come up, but they haven't gotten very far.

    Susan, I think I found your blog through Nathalie's. I like reading what other retirees are doing because I'm still getting adjusted to it myself. ((Hugs)) I'm so sorry about the loss of your Sweetie. Take good care of yourself.

    1. Hi Erica, it's nice to hear from you again! I hope you had a successful year decluttering your house. I need to do that too! I'll be checking out your blog to catch you with you too. Boy, if it's winter in NJ, it's already Spring down here. We took a walk today and the trees are covered in buds and there so many flowers blooming when last weekend there was nothing! It's usually cold here in February so it's a little weird but we're enjoying it :)

  8. Most importantly, I am so sorry to hear about your friend's husband. I know when my daddy passed, my Mama was devastated! I can't imagine losing my DH, although he is a pain. ;) I say that is jest! He's a good guy.

    Also, I went to Silver Springs yearsssss ago (I am 40 now, I was around 15-16). The glass-bottomed boats were cool! We did see monkeys as well! I also went to Weeki Wachee Springs which was FUN as well!

    1. I told Greg, when we left Silver Springs, that we needed to go to Weeki Wachee next since neither of us has ever been, LOL!

      So you did see the monkeys... I thought maybe it was a marketing ploy to attract the tourists :)

  9. I've never been to Silver Springs State Park, but my sister-in-law who lives near Ocala frequently goes there to kayak. It's always been on my list to visit "some day" (but we know how that sometimes goes).

    I don't know Susan, but still wanted to express my condolences. The loss of a spouse is incredibly difficult. We just got a call this morning that my husband's mother passed away...sadness everywhere.

    1. Oh no! I'm so sorry, Pixel. Condolences to your husband, yourself and your kids and grandkids. ((HUGS))


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