Sunday, March 5, 2017

Alafia River State Park Hike ~ Sunday 3/5/17

After dinner last night, Greg asked what we were going to watch but nothing appealed to us so we settled on watching "Seinfeld". Last year I treated myself to "Seinfeld, the Complete Series" on DVD, so we plopped the first disk in the new Blu-Ray player that Greg gave us for Christmas.  We have yet to watch a bluray disk on it!

Of course we've seen Seinfeld many times before, but we still find it funny, although those first few episodes are a bit more dull. Still, it's fun to compare how the apartment evolved from one episode to the other, for instance.  There are features on the disk that we didn't explore.  Anyhoo, I watched 3 episodes and then lied down on the couch. Fatal mistake... I fell asleep at 8:30 p.m.!  I woke up as my daughter came to tell Greg she was back from her outing, at 11:10 p.m. and went to bed.  And slept until 7:30!

Obviously I needed the sleep, but now I'm feeling kind of groggy and not very enthused to do anything. My cycle still hasn't started, although I have some faint cramps and my lower back hurts and I'm bloated. Yeah, that's the excuse I'm going to use to justify that at 5:30 a.m., when I stepped on the scale after using the bathroom, the reading was 217.8, or 1.2 lbs MORE than last Sunday! Not a surprise since I haven't done anything really healthy this week, but a sting nonetheless even if it wasn't unexpected.  So I kind of need to go hiking today, if that's what we're doing.  It's 8 a.m. and Greg is still in bed with his door closed to keep the kittens out, so I'm guessing we're not going fishing.

The weather is warmer than yesterday morning so I have the windows open and the birdies are singing. It's lovely!

  • Make a menu for the week
  • Pack a picnic lunch  DONE
  • Consult my "pack list" before we leave  DONE
  • Defrost meat for dinner  DONE
  • Give a driving lesson to my son with the stick shift 
  • Clean bathroom ceiling
  • Make my bed  DONE
  • 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 by hand, drain/dry in the dishwasher (AFTER DINNER) 
  • Vacuum Youngest Son's bedroom
  • Make a dermatologist appointment for Youngest Son
  • 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  (weekdays only) HIKED!
  • Read one of the library books in progress
  • Clean upstairs litter box 
  • Add Osmocote plant food to rose and hibiscus bushes
  • Put away the clipped articles from Kiplinger's magazine 
  • Wash kitchen windows
  • Inventory the pantry
  • Inventory the freezers
  • Purge the top drawer of the file cabinet
  • Take RaceTrac surveys 
  • Take Driscoll's surveys
  • Take my measurements
  • Scrub patio pavers with bleach (wear old clothes and shoes, gloves and goggles)
  • Finish decluttering exercise room shelves
  • Call my bank to consolidate my IRA accounts
  • Schedule an outing to P.E.A.R. Park and ask them about the trees from my backyard or look at the Audubon site that Pixel shared.
  • Write letter to my great aunt, with pictures
  • Mail letter to my great aunt
  • Go to airport to cash in my euros?!
  • Mend sliding door window screen
  • Finalize and mail letter to UPS CEO (add Amazon's comparison)
  • Plant and water the tree
  • Purge the coupon organizer
  • Make sure I get answer from the Educational Foundation director re: Daughter's scholarship after what paperwork to fill out she'll probably answer next week since they have a big event his weekend
  • Track my and Greg's IRAs for the IRS
  • Fix the brakes on my bike again
  • Download all February pictures from phone, Canon camera, and Panasonic camera to external drive
  • Trim cats' nails
  • Get the hummingbird feeders out of storage
  • Make hummingbird nectar
  • Greg rid of cardboard boxes on the front porch
  • Make sure all pictures from the Canon camera are saved to external drive and then wipe out the memory card, format it for the Panasonic camera and swap memory cards
  • Reply to blog comments in progress!
  • Clip coupons from paper  DONE
  • Print coupons  DONE
  • Upload digital coupons via apps  DONE
  • Clip printed coupons  DONE
  • Purge coupon organizer
  • Sort coupons

  • I slept 11 hours!

  • The weather is lovely this morning and the windows were open at 7:30ish. The cats, as always, are enjoying this very much. So am I! I really should be outside on the patio but I'm comfy on the couch for now.

  • The Sunday paper was in the driveway. My subscription ends in a couple of weekends and even though I don't want to pay to renew it and I mostly don't read the Sunday paper, I shall miss this weekly delivery and the coupons, sob.  I saved the plastic sleeve to reuse as a cat poop bag.

  • Oh, and there was a $5 off $30 Aldi coupon stuck to the front of it. Woohoo!  

  • and 3 more coupon inserts inside.  A funny observation: Walmart and Target are both in a war to regain grocery customers and today I had a Walmart insert in the paper (I very seldom get one) and THREE Target inserts.  All the same.  Target is really upping its game, don't you think?  hahaha.

  • Zinio emailed me an alert that the digital "Easter Delights" issue of Taste of Home magazine is available to check out from my library.  I might crack it open to see what new recipes they might have.  I love that I can read it for free and print whatever recipe I want.

  • Swagbucks... sigh. I earned a few SB and I'm playing videos to earn a few more. It's going to take me forever to get to 2,200 SB at this speed, even though I'm at 1,893 this morning, especially when the only search awards I've been getting recently were for 4 SB!

  • I did earn the daily Microsoft Rewards.

  • And 20 BR points for entering my weight into WGBRHC.
  • I printed coupons from Swagbucks and Redplum.

  • I uploaded digital coupons to my Publix and CVS wallets via their apps.

  • Princess helped herself to some paper clippings as I was clipping the coupons :)

  • I texted my BFF to alert her to the Aldi coupon. She doesn't get the Sunday paper but maybe she can get one from her neighbors or dance mom friends.

  • The downside of falling asleep as early as I did, is that I didn't get to save the chicken carcass. It was still too hot when we finished dinner so I was waiting for it to cool off so I could pluck the meat off it. When I walked into the kitchen this morning, there was no carcass waiting for me, but... Greg had saved the meat and put it in the fridge. My hero!  He threw away the carcass, apparently, which annoyed me mildly until I realized that I do have chicken stock in the freezer already, which is full anyway.

  • And I really had to cram the veggie freezer (the one side-by-side to the fridge) to find room for the 2 loaves of pumpkin bread (I kept one for us to snack on).  I guess no stocking up on seafood for me this week, there ain't no room at the inn!

  • Greg and I went on a hike at Alafia River State Park in Hillsborough County. We used our Annual State Parks pass to gain access.  We hiked for 7.02 miles! 

  • We first stopped by RaceTrac so I could redeem my February free fountain drink coupon to get Greg a medium Diet Dr. Pepper for the road :)

  • We brought the picnic that I had packed and also a snack for after our hike so we didn't spend any money on food.

  • However, on the way down there, I really needed to use the bathroom (it was a 90 minute trip and I had drank coffee!) so we stopped at a Circle K and I bought a bag of sour gummy worms that I'll give my son so we could use the bathroom with a clear conscience!

  • When we got home, I was going to cook but Greg really wanted a Super Big Mac, or whatever those things are called, and fries, and while I was ready to cook the burgers that I had planned on cooking, my feet were killing me so he suggested my daughter go get us dinner at McDonald's. I was still going to cook until I entered the kitchen and saw the dirty dishes on the counter (I didn't do them last night since I fell asleep) and then surrendered. I think it's going to be another early night for me tonight, I'm exhausted!

  • I put on weight :( I'm back up to 217.8.

  • Wow, the Target Coupons site no longer allows you to sort by Target coupons because, apparently, they no longer plan on offering printable Target store coupons.  I was going to send them feedback about this ill-advised move, but you can't even email them as the only way to contact them is by calling them and I hate making phone calls.  I guess I'm not going shopping at Target for groceries anymore.  I had already pretty much stopped once their Cartwheel offers were changed and we stopped getting digital coupons as well but now I'll definitely take Target off my list of possible stores to visit on my Wednesday treks.

  • Google Maps gave us a couple of options to get to the park, and one was 15 minutes longer but I felt that it would be more scenic as we wouldn't go on I-4.  Well, it ended up not being scenic at all plus we still had to go on I-4 for a while. Greg had just asked me, before we got on it, if I needed to use the bathroom as there were lots of businesses there, and I said no. Well, wouldn't you know that as soon as we were on I-4, I realized that I actually did need to use the bathroom pretty badly... and then we hit a traffic jam!  Thankfully, we were only 0.5 a mile away from an exit with a 0.5 mile exit only lane (so lucky!) so we took the exit... which put us on a toll road and then the GPS had us take back roads to get back to where we needed to go... so after paying a toll and taking back roads without any gas stations or fast food places, I still needed to use the bathroom pretty badly!  But thankfully we finally found a Circle K. Phew!
  • About $2 for a bag of sour worms at Circle K (so we could use the bathroom)
  • Gas for the truck at RaceTrac
  • $29.39 at McDonald's for dinner

  • A medium fountain drink for Greg, with my app coupon

  • Weighed myself
  • Fed the cats
  • Aired out the house
  • Worked on Rewards programs
  • Uploaded coupons
  • Clipped coupons
  • Texted my BFF about the Aldi coupon
  • Organized the dirty dishes
  • Froze the 2 extra loaves of pumpkin bread
  • Made my bed
  • Defrosted ground beef for dinner
  • Played with kittens
  • Packed a picnic
  • Made sure I had everything needed for the hike
  • Hiked for 7 miles!

  • For 11 hours of almost uninterrupted sleep!
  • For cute kittens who lick my forehead in the morning to greet me when they're in bed with me
  • For a lovely (if long!) hike with my darling husband
  • For kids who don't mind staying home when we hike (although we do invite them and I wish one of them would do the dishes while we're out if they don't want to come!)
  • For the kids going to McDonald's to get us dinner as neither Greg nor I could move once we sat down, LOL.

ALAFIA RIVER STATE PARK, Hillsborough County

It felt like a trek to get to that state park, only because we took the long way, made even longer because we had to get off I-4 and backtrack a little. But it was really worth it as we enjoyed the trail we hiked very much.

The State Park used to be a phosphate mine, although we didn't see traces of the mine itself, I don't think.  The park is very popular with families and mountain bikers as the picnic area was very busy, and the parking lot was almost full when we pulled in!  Most of the people there seemed to be there to bike the trails and inside of me I was groaning that we would, once again, have to share the trail with many people.

But it ended up not being so.  As directed by the ranger when I had called earlier in the week, we asked them to tell us which trails were hiking trails.  The young girl (not a ranger?) at the entrance told us to use a certain color trail since we wanted to walk the longest trail (6+ miles).

So, after we had our picnic lunch and used the bathroom, we set off to find that trail.  Only the trails on the map that she gave us and the trails on the signs throughout the park weren't exactly the same, and we think we ended up starting on a hybrid hiking/biking trail, which was very interesting and treacherous terrain, the most treacherous we had encountered so far!

After a while and us thinking that we had walked quite a ways already, we encountered some very friendly bikers who tried to help us find the trail that we were looking for, but mostly told us to stay off the "intermediate" and "hard" biking trails as the bikers very often wear earbuds and barrel down the trails very fast. Well, OK but we couldn't tell which ones were the biking trails or the hiking trails!  And there was an equestrian trail to boot so it was all pretty confusing in the beginning.

But after a while, we realized that the trail we were looking for was indeed the equestrian trail so we took that and, save for coming across one friendly group of horse riders who asked me to take their picture, we didn't see anyone after that. What a relief!  

The weather was lovely and got pretty windy at time, and I didn't get to photograph a lot of flowers, but the views were gorgeous and very varied, and we saw ospreys, ducks, an armadillo, and cows!  We love cows.

OK, so we started on the correct trail as it was for hikers and NOT for bikers.  So far, so good.

Well, the trail promises to be interesting already!  It might not look like much to you if you're not from Florida, but most of
Florida is desperately flat. Tiny hills excite us, you see. A few steps? Well, it's an adventure!

And then... whoa, is that me looking down on Greg?  Yep. This went straight down! So glad we didn't hike this after a good rain as the floor was covered in dead oak leaves. It would have been very slippery.

Guess what I found?! I wonder if I can still enter it and get the MCR points, I forget when the deadline is...

This was the bike trail. It looks like so much fun, I wished I had a mountain bike!  There were lots of bikers today but I didn't take their picture.

There were lots of lakes and ponds in this state park, but at first, most of them were entirely covered in algae, including this one.

The terrain, at this point, was very treacherous with lots to changes in elevation, roots in the way of the narrow trail and side trails that weren't marked and we weren't sure where they went.

Greg prancing down a hill :)

Yeah, I'm not climbing that!  There were lots of those side trails here and there that people seemed to have taken before us. We played it safer and remained on what we guessed what the main trail.  

Another algae-covered pond. At that point, I despaired that we were going to be able to see any interesting wildlife...

This is where we got "lost" as we came across this trail that wasn't on our map, but there didn't seem to be another trail for
us to hike on and we'd been told to follow the "green trail" until it merged into the blue trail that was the perimeter trail.  But this one ended up being a biking trail!  A lot of bikers passed us, which was hard because the trail was very narrow, and finally a group stopped and asked if we were lost since we were consulting our map.  They were young men who must have thought we were old foggies, and as nice as they were to us and even over-solicitous, we were happy to leave them behind when we finally found our trail :)  They seemed to be having a lot of fun, though. I think my boys would have loved doing the same when they were younger.


This is still the biking trail.

Not too exciting of a picture but I wanted to be able to show something else than Greg's backside as he walked ahead of me!I think this is Virginia Buttonweed.

Florida Tasselflower

We seem to always see beautyberries  (as indeed I saw some as soon as we started our hike!) and a northern cardinal!  Obviously the cardinals are really easy to spot. For all I know there were tons of other birds but they were all brown and myopic me couldn't see them :)

By then we were on the equestrian trail and the terrain continued to be interesting... we had to jump/cross a couple of those little creeks that crossed the trail. I didn't want to get my feet wet because that would have caused blisters, but I didn't want to drop my camera while jumping and possibly slipping in the mud either! Greg jumped first and then I handed him my camera and walked across a broken log that you can't see in the picture. It wasn't too big of a deal, but not something we had come across before.

Right after that, the trail turned into a nice grassy path. Aaah much better than mud or sand!

I had to zoom to photograph this pair of  ducks and then enlarge the picture to be able to show it on the blog, but I'm really excited because I don't think I had ever seen Wood Ducks in the wild before.  And that may be a large turtle behind him, I'm not sure.  At first, I had thought there were Mallard ducks, but the white markings on the male definitely makes him a Wood Duck.

The terrain kept changing, which made this 7-mile hike all the more interesting!  Now we were back walking in a forest.

When we got out, we found ourselves under high voltage power towers, each of them with an osprey nest atop it, and there were ospreys flying around. Once again I had to zoom and then enlarge. They were flying against the sun so the pictures didn't turn out as well as they could have otherwise.

Still, I was super happy to see them.  I love ospreys!

We both said, when we saw this map: "we're only here?!" it felt like we had walked for many miles already. In fact, at this point, we had walked about 1.5 miles. We had a looooong way to go!

At this point, we could have taken the straight trail that went west from where we went, but it longed the power lines and didn't look very "scenic". Plus we wanted to walk farther than that. So we kept on the perimeter trail.

Greg, patiently waiting for me to take pictures!

At this point, we came across this group of horse riders, who saw me take their picture with my "nice camera" and asked me to take a group picture of them with one of their phone, a Samsung Galaxy Edge.  Ohh, I really liked it. The screen was large and clear even in the sun, and the picture looked like it was going to turn out really nicely. I have phone envy, now!

Lanceleaf Ratlebox

American Coots

Back in the forest!

And now back in a meadow!

More lantana

There was a lake to our left, obscured by the trees

And then suddenly, Greg spotted an armadillo, right off the trail, who was busy digging around for some food.

No matter what I did, though, either something was in the way and I couldn't get the camera to focus on it...

Or it presented me its butt.  Such an interesting animal!  However, don't handle them as they carry leprosy.

He finally heard us and started running towards the trees, and then we lost it.

Open field, it was lovely to be there all by ourselves!

To our right, rolling hills. It sure didn't feel like we were in Florida!

Another shot of Greg's backside. And yes, that is the same T-shirt that he wears on every hike.  I asked him about it today and he said he likes it.  It actually used to be mine, as my daughter's middle school FFA instructor had given it to me for volunteering to drive their team to a land judging competition. Somehow it became Greg's T-shirt.

We scared this black vulture upon approaching a mass of dead bushes in which he had been gnawing on something. But instead of flying away, he just perched himself on a branch, daring us to take his prize away, whatever that was. I just snapped his picture and we were on our way.

Finally, a pond that was free of algae. I spotted something in the distance and zoomed in to take this picture. A blue heron had just flown away from this very spot but my reflexes aren't very good and I wasn't able to take its picture. I was thinking
that perhaps this mass was its mate, hiding in the grasses, but...

It was just a large turtle!  Soon after I took the picture, it swam away and eventually dove under water.

Carolina Jessamine

White egret

Walking along the northern part of the trail, we were longing several private properties, one of which had a large bonfire ready to go, with chairs and this funny statue of a frog, holding a glass of champagne and possible a golf club!

Back into the woods!  We were walking alongside a large cow pasture.

Doesn't this oak tree look like it's sitting there like a lady with her legs crossed?

Greg spotted this osprey feather on the ground (the osprey itself was calling loudly from a nearby tree) and pocketed it to give to the cats at home. They really enjoyed it!

Look at those huge pinecones! I asked Greg to stand next to them to get a scale.

This poor cow looked very sickly. All the other cows looked very well taken care of, but this one was just skin and bones, Also, it looked that Jar Jar Binks, with those big floppy ears.

This little calf was very interested in us!  Isn't it lovely?! Like a cow kitten, kind of.  I compare everything to kittens, these days!

I think this might be Small Fruited Beggarticks

I spotted this egret hunting in the grasses on the far side of yet another pond...

It ducked and then got up again and when I zoomed in on the picture when I got home...

It had a little fish in its beak!  It's not as clear as the pictures taken by Cat and Turtle, but I was very
excited to have finally photographed a bird catching something. That hadn't happened to me since I had gotten a movie of a blue heron eating a snake and ospreys eating the fishes they had caught at the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive last year.

I took this picture just for those of you wondering if there were gators in those ponds... I guess there were, but we didn't see any.

Common Moorhen

Water lettuce

The last portion of the perimeter trail had us walking alongside SR39.  Across the road, a tree full of small birds that were making quite a racket.  Even when I enlarged the picture, they still looked like little blackbirds, too small to be robins, really. So I don't know what they were or if they were really black (the sun was shining right in front of me) or brown.

We saw lots of tufts of Atamasco Lilies! Again, these are listed as "threatened" in Florida and all parts are poisonous, according to my Wildflowers of Florida field guide.

Walking alongside SR 39. The white specks on the right side of the trail are some of the tufts of Atamasco lilies.

Then we turned back eastward on the multi-use trail to get back to our parking lot. I was so tired, my right leg had shooting pains from one of my nerves and my feet hurt so badly, and Greg had offered to carry my camera, but I kept on taking it back from him to take more pictures!  We spotted this bird of prey atop one of the power towers and wondered, for a moment, if it was a bald eagle because of its white head and dark body...

But when I enlarged the picture at home, it was clearly another osprey, waiting for its mate to return from the hunt.

This is the circuit we ended up walking. If you had told me, this morning, that I
would take a 7-mile hike in the afternoon, I would have scoffed! I warned Greg
that we are NOT going to try to beat this anytime soon, lol.

What did you do today?


  1. Oh, wow, Nathalie, that was quite a hike you did! 7 miles! No wonder you felt exhausted! Thank you for sharing all the photos - I felt like I went along on the hike with you! Loved seeing the scenery and the wildlife. Compared to you, I was a total lazybones, today! I took a nap on the sofa! I did do a load of dishes, though, but that was the only productive thing I did!

    1. No, no, you weren't lazy, you were resting, which is what you're supposed to do when recuperating from an illness and it's Sunday to boot. However, I am going to be a total lazybones, as you said, today, because I'm still sore and I didn't sleep well. Unless I get a gust of energy this afternoon, I'm planning on having a Domestic Tuesday this week.

      7 miles was a little too much. I really enjoyed it, but I could barely put one foot in front of the next by the time we got to the parking lot and was worried that I wouldn't be able to get up from the toilet seat, hahaha. Obviously, I mustered the energy, but you should have heard my moaning as soon as we got home and I had to walk from Greg's truck to the front door. It wasn't very dignified!

  2. It rained here today (!) so I did my chores and took a nap! You have some interesting and varied parks to visit where you live. It always looks like a fun time. Fresh air and exercise...always a win-win.

    1. Ooh, a nap on a rainy Sunday sounds so relaxing! I'm glad you were able to enjoy that.

      We do have a lot of interesting parks, nature trails and wildlife preserves down here. I can't believe it took me this long (30 years!) to realize it! We did have an annual pass to the state parks several years ago but I only used it to take the kids swimming at Lake Louisa State Park, 20 minutes away. It was very shortsighted, in hindsight!

  3. Oh wow- love your hike. As for me, I went to church, bought 2 tops from Beall's but no swimsuit, I cleaned the pool, dropped 2 checks by my daughter's house for a fund raiser and our NYC trip and did a little paperwork. That was it besides washing a load of laundry and cooking dinner. I steamed some shrimp and it was not very good. I'm only going to buy it from the seafood shop from now on.

    1. You were very productive! I guess no Sunday rest for you, eh? I'm sorry your shrimp didn't turn out good. I don't think we have a seafood shop here, we're stuck with supermarkets and their mostly frozen shrimp. Now you have been craving a shrimp boil!

      We passed a store yesterday down in Hillsborough County that advertised "custom meats" and I think next time we'll stop to see what exactly "custom meats" is. We were joking that perhaps we could order a mix of raccoon and armadillo ground beef as our custom meat :) I suspect they meant "custom-cut meats", though. Greg will be disappointed if that's the case, he always likes weird stuff.

  4. Is there a deadline for entering my coke rewards?

  5. March 22. I had posted a screenshot of the notice they had sent me in this post (under "Failures")

  6. I'm so impressed by your hike -- and the photos make me really want to visit this one, in particular. Hills!! So exciting! :)

    1. I knew you'd get a kick out of it too, Laura, hahaha. If you ever make it to the Tampa area, do try to visit that park, it really was great.

  7. I can't even begin to tell you how impressed I am with your 7-mile hike. Sometimes I manage a 4-mile walk/run (way more walk than run) after work around Lake Hollingsworth. On weekends, it's usually a 2 to 2 1/2 mile walk with my husband (he tends to give out if it's more than that).

    We probably crossed paths that day - you must have crossed Rt. 60 at some point. We took Rt. 60 to go to Brandon that day (to the Apple store). It's a long story, but my iPhone had to be replaced that day.

    1. I don't know that I'll ever be able to duplicate a 7-mile walk, much less try to beat that, to be honest! I think we even drove on Rt. 60 for a while, after we got off I-4. We drove by the regional airport and then I can't really remember but 60 sounds right. So funny if we passed one another! I had to pee so badly when we left I-4, I even told Greg "maybe we should just go to Lakeland and find Lake Hollingsworth and walk around there, my friend Pixel always walks there and it's quite a long walk!".

      Sorry you had to replace your iPhone. I hope you got a nice one!


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