Saturday, April 22, 2017

Celebrating Earth Day with a Walk on the Van Fleet Trail ~ Saturday 4/22/17

Happy Earth Day!  It would have been a great time to go hiking or something, but I didn't feel like it today so I'm spending Earth Day on the couch.  Yep, I'm not even spending it out on the patio. I might change my mind, it's only 9 a.m.  Update: I just got an email from the Florida State Parks encouraging me to go to a state park on Earth Day and detailing all the activities going on in some of the parks today. Well, that settles it, I'm definitely not going!  Who wants to be with a bunch of people?  Not me, not today :)  Maybe Greg will want to go walk on the Van Fleet Trail later on.

The kids made a run to Walgreens last night as my daughter needed nail polish.  At 8:45 p.m. I found myself falling asleep on the couch, so I texted my son to ask if they would be coming home soon because I dislike being asleep when the kids are out and about.  Thankfully, they were in the driveway.  They came in, we chatted for a minute, and then I fell asleep!  I woke up at 10:30 p.m., said goodnight to Greg, and went to bed where I slept until 8 a.m.. pretty much.

Greg went fishing on the lake next to our home on his kayak this morning. As he said "so I probably won't catch anything!" but he enjoys being on the water and just reflecting, I guess.  This morning he did cover himself in sunscreen. He had only put it on his face last weekend and got nasty sunburns on his legs that really hurt all week so he wasn't about to repeat that.  I probably should check my stash of sunscreen to make sure I have enough for him.  So far I've only kayaked once!

Youngest Son is still in bed and so is my daughter. Her prom is tonight. It takes place at one of the Disney Resorts and starts at 7 p.m.  The theme is "Starry Night", a theme that is recycled from previous years, I think as I remember one of our older kids having the same theme.

She and her BFF are driving there together (my daughter is the one driving). The BFF's mother is a professional photographer so she'll take pictures of the girls before they leave. I hope I get a copy :)  So I'll be staying up late tonight.  I have another box of chocolate covered espresso beans to keep me company :)  Up until I typed this, I was thinking that we might go hiking tomorrow but now I'm realizing that I'll probably be a zombie again tomorrow.  I know I'll be asked again if she's excited about Prom and no, she's not. She's only going because her BFF asked her to go with her and her dad always pressures our kids to go to things like this, insisting that "they'll remember it forever!".   I think that only works if it's an event you're actually looking forward to attending, but if it's not, it's just another evening spent doing something that you didn't want to do. But maybe that's just me projecting :)   I do hope she has fun. She and her BFF have spent the last couple of years taking classes at the college and they're not close to anyone in their graduating class, nor do they especially like the people from their high school.

Youngest Son (who is a freshman in high school) just got up and I asked him if he was going to ask a girl to go to Prom when it's his time to go and he said "Nope!". LOL.  I'm be shocked if he wanted to attend Prom. Shocked. We'll see what happens.

My kitchen is full of dirty dishes that I can no longer ignore.  So that's my "project" for the day.  There was leftover salad on the table overnight because I forgot to put it away last night, and Greg reported that the salad was all over the kitchen floor this morning (good thing I never put dressing on it!): the vegetarian kittens had struck again, lol.

I had an email from my lovely SIL from Paris waiting for me in my inbox this morning so I need to reply to her, and lovely comments from many of you that I need to reply to as well.

Otherwise... I'll try to be somewhat productive today. (Hmm, re-reading this at the end of the day, I really wasn't!). I have a lot of little projects that really need my attention, like reorganizing the paperwork that spilled from its folders when Explorer jumped on the printer stand and sent everything flying to the floor... and now everything is mixed up together because Greg picked it all up and put it in a big pile, not realizing it was several different folders.  Serves me right for not putting the paperwork away, but it's yet another project that I need to work on and I figured that if I left it out in the open, I'd be nagged into finishing it. Ha!  That doesn't seem to work very often.  You know what would work?  If I lost the internet connection for a day.  I could, technically, restrict the connection to my own devices since I control the Google Wifi router. Hmmm, maybe I should schedule a day when I do that and get a bunch of projects done.  Maybe this summer, when it's too hot for me to escape to the patio?

"Prioritizing Devices" also means that I can cut off the WiFi connection to a specific device... or two!

I'm running automatic videos from Swagbucks on my laptop this morning, in a desperate attempt to try and reach 2200 SB soon so I can get another $25 Walmart gc.  I met my 1st daily goal, which admittedly was low (40 SB).

Well, it's now 10:34 a.m. and I haven't done anything else than puttering on the computer.  Time to hit the shower and then do the darn dishes!

So I took a short shower. I needed to wash my hair and there was barely any shampoo left in the bottle, so I took off the cap (those bottles of VO5 are hard to uncap though!) and added water to the bottle several times to get the rest of the it.  Then I recycled it.

I kept on hearing a banging sound against the door while I was showering, so I put my glasses back on and spotted little kitten paws sticking out from under the door. Tabby Kitten doesn't like to be shut out of the bathroom but he couldn't get the door to open!  He barged into the bathtub as soon as I opened the door for him, as I was drying off. He loves jumping into the bathtub and watching the last of the water swirl down the drain, hahaha.  One day, if I do that after I've taken a bath, he'll get a nasty surprise if the tub is still full of water.

Source: Yahoo Images

After I got dressed, I managed to put the mattress cover on the mattress all by myself.  I got a waterproof, hypoallergenic mattress cover. I do hope it's waterproof. With my cycle now becoming completely erratic, I'd hate to stain my new mattress. Who wants to wear feminine pads every night?  I know I don't.  I still haven't bought a bed, I quite like having my mattress on the floor, actually. I'm getting used to getting up from the floor so it's not quite as hard, now, maybe I'm in better shape even though I'm putting on weight?

Then I decided to ride my bike to the lake to check up on Greg and possibly take some pictures of nature for Earth Day. The lake was busy, there were 3 parties fishing (it's a small lake), two of them with 2 guys on the boats, the 3rd party being Greg on his kayak. He hasn't caught anything but seems to be having a good time.  He asked if we were doing anything this afternoon so I suggested walking on the Van Fleet Trail but he didn't look too enthusiastic so perhaps we won't go.  There were kids swimming at the boat launch and birthday parties being organized on the picnic tables.  We have small skate park, basketball court and playground and all were busy so, with all this activity, there really wasn't any fauna to photograph so I just took pictures of Greg and left.

It wasn't too hot, 79F on my weather app right now at 11:15 a.m. but it's overcast and there was a small breeze. I'm thankful for the gears on my bike that allow me to not have to pedal quite as hard up the small hill back to my house!  Still, my heart was beating pretty hard when I got home, so I'm taking a short break and trying to psych myself up to go do the dishes. Sigh. It's not like they're going anywhere and that they're magically going to wash themselves so I'm just postponing the inevitable!

Source:Yahoo Images
I found the three kittens in the living room, playing with their toys.  I love them, they're so entertaining!  This morning I had all three in the bed with me when I woke up, it was lovely.  Wait until they start shedding a lot, though, and I might change my mind. I've started finding cat hair on my keyboard when I open my laptop in the mornings, which is a sign that I need to start vacuuming more often now. Sigh, sigh, sigh. One doesn't think of this downside when looking down at three newborn kittens and deciding that she's going to double her cat household population!  I should just throw all the cat hair outside in the mulch so the birds can use it for their nests.  No, seriously, I should do that! Maybe that would attract more birds to my yard!

Just a precision that the socks on the floor?  They're all there because Tabby Kitten (the one lying down at the top of the picture) is obsessed with socks. Those are the ones he brought down to the living room just last night!

I'm having my 3rd cup of coffee to give myself courage and energy! Oh yeah, 3rd cup because I had a cup left over from the pot I brewed yesterday afternoon and then I re-brewed a whole pot (which is 2 cups' worth as I have a small coffee maker). I'm finding that I like cold coffee slightly more than hot coffee.

Good news, I hope: the weather app now shows some thunderstorms possible tomorrow and also next weekend. I hope they keep the thunder and lightning (we're having a severe drought and are under burning bans and severe fire risk) but that we get some rain, darn it.

Before I left for the lake, I saw that the impatiens that I had transplanted a couple of days ago looked very bad. Oh no!  I suddenly remembered that my past impatiens had been kept in the shade and had done very well, but those are in full sun, pretty much.  I watered them with a jug of rainwater, hopefully they can be revived, and I might need to try to move the planter back in its old partly sunny spot.

Both Greg and my son finished a box of cereal this morning so I recycled them but I first clipped the Boxtops for Education label and set it aside to donate to our former elementary school in the Fall.  I saved the inner bags to possibly reuse them as freezer bags, but truth be told I have a big stash of them right now so I might end up throwing those new ones away after all.

Alright, I've procrastinated enough and now it's time to go do the dishes. I'll watch some "Forensic Files" on the Kindle Fire as I do them, it'll help.

It's now 1 p.m.  Greg came home while I was doing the dishes. He didn't catch a fish, but found a red cup and a plastic worm. Freebies!  I watched two episodes of Forensic Files while doing the dishes, woohoo!

Afterwards, I chatted with my daughter for a little bit, and jokingly offered to do her make-up for Prom. I don't wear make-up and she'd end up looking like a clown if I did it so we both laughed.  I inquired as to when she might be home tonight. Prom ends at 11 p.m. (and, come to find out, it's a junior/senior Prom) but she doubts they'll stay that long. I offered to buy them dinner (with my Discover card, which she carries) and told her to buy whatever they wanted, even if it was to eat at Disney. She was excited about that and they're planning on bringing a change of clothes so they won't show up at a restaurant in their prom outfit (it's just not their style!).  We agreed that she or her BFF would text me with an ETA.

Not my daughter :)
For lunch, I had chicken nuggets with Thai sweet chili sauce again. I was going to eat the 2nd half of the papaya, but since I had lowered the temperature in the fridge, the papaya is now halfway frozen!  Oh no!  I put the fridge temperature back on the previous setting.

After lunch, Greg asked if I still wanted to go walking, so we headed to the General Van Fleet Trail, which is 15 minutes away from our home.  Greg's foot was bothering him a little so we didn't take a long walk. We were on the trail for only an hour but walked slowly and stopped to take lots of pictures. I'm not sure how far we walked because I had absolutely no signal on my cell phone so my RunMeter app didn't register the walk at all :(  I think maybe we walked 2 miles, tops.

When we started, it was very cloudy so I've had to enhance some of the pictures so they don't look washed out, but as we were finishing our walk at 2:45 p.m., the sun came out.  The upside of the cloudiness is that it wasn't blazing hot at all.  Strangely, even though it was Earth Day, we didn't encounter anybody on the trail at all. No walkers, no bikers, no one.  I hope this means they were all participating in the March for Science. I did my part by observing nature :)

Everything is so dry!

This dry patch of grass is actually the bottom of a large pond. I'm standing on the bridge that straddles it, looking down.  There is NO water.  

But there are still some aquatic plants (Pickerelweed). I wonder how long before they die...
There are ditches that run on each side of the trail and are usually full of water but when we started today, even the little ponds under the bridge near the trailhead were completely dry!  I told Greg "Well, I guess we're not going to see any gators today!".

Then we took a few more steps. There was a tiny pond and I spotted a turtle and then this small gator and pointed them out to Greg.

And then I looked to the left and saw this.  How many gators can you spot in this picture?

Here, I made a key for you.

Number 1 totally looked like a root, didn't it?
Here is a close-up of that particular one.

 and some of its siblings...

They're not as cuddly as kittens.
 So yeah. Good thing I was lamenting that we wouldn't see any gators. Usually, when there is much more water, we're lucky to see one or two. But they're usually also much larger. Which begs the question: where were the parents?! I'm happy to report that we never did find out :)

First bottlebrush sighting of the year!

And then a little further down, another tiny pond and two more gators!
Those look a little more vicious. Especially the one on the right.

And a turtle hiding its head in the sand, I guess.

Looks how low the water is. Usually that whole brown area in under several feet of water! It's frightening.

Notice how Greg is wearing a different shirt for once?  When I put the laundry away this week, I hid his favorite hiking shirt in a different drawer. My trick worked and I finally have a picture that doesn't look like I've photoshopped him in it!


Ah, that mystery plant that I have yet to identify!

Large Gopher Tortoise

Bulls or cows

Each of them are paired with a cattle egret, that was following its cow wherever it walked. But no egrets jumped on top of any cows, Pixel, you'll be happy to hear :)

Imagine that!  A squirrel, in the middle of the forest!  We actually saw more squirrels on our walk
today than we've ever seen in all our walks on this trail.

Peruvian Primrosewillow

We were the only ones on the trail. Or I should say, the only humans.

We wondered if this tree had been hit by lightning.

It was carbonated at the top, but part of the bark was intact at the bottom. A new vine was starting to climb all over it.

This flowering airplant seemed to be growing straight out of the ground, which was perplexing as I usually see them growing on tree trunks. Perhaps it was growing on a root hidden under the leaves.

Most of the vegetation was brown, but there were lots of green ferns growing there.

Another Pickerelweed lent a splash of  color to an otherwise drab background.

Look at those plump pods!

A tree was covered in those flowers, and it smelled pretty darn good too. No butterflies though. Maybe it just wasn't sunny enough?

A thistle about to bloom

It wouldn't be a walk with me if I didn't show you a picture of a cardinal!
 As we walked back to the truck, we passed the first small pond with the 4 gators again.  Only this time, we counted... twelve of them. TWELVE. I must have had a camera mishap because I know that I took two pictures of two groups of 6, but when I got home, I only had 1 picture of one group of 6.  Curious... but Greg was there with me and counted them with me and we both got to 12.
OK so this means that in a few weeks, there will be at least 12 LARGE gators in the area, looking for water.  There is a house not too far from there, with an above the ground pool.  There were kids splashing in it this afternoon. Part of me wanted to go find the entrance to that house so I could go warn the homeowners to make sure to check their pool before the kids jumped in there.  I hope they're aware of that. If you've lived in Florida for a while, I think you know. But wow. TWELVE.  Plus at least the other 2 that we had spotted in the other pond.

5 on the shore and there's one in the water to the far right.  That's twice the amount of cats that we have. I'd rather have 12 cats than 12 gators.

I noticed that one section of the bridge had been replaced since we last walked here.

I guess that explains the homemade "NO VEHICLE" sign that has been posted suddenly!

The sun came out as we approached the trailhead.

We got in the truck and Greg said "You know what I could go for right now?!" and I said "ice cream!" at the same time as he said "A shake!" so we drove to McDonald's and we got shakes for him and the kids. I gave him my phone so he could get my app scanned, which earned us a free shake since I needed only 1 more "punch".  Only I didn't read the print first which said "ANY size shake" so we only got mediums. Darn it we could have gotten a free LARGE shake!  Oh well.

As for me, I don't like shakes, so I got a Strawberry and Cream pie.  I had  never had one. It was like a warm Poptart, only less crunchy.

So we relaxed by watching some more "Forensic Files". I'm becoming such an expert at analyzing evidence, you guys!  My daughter texted me from her room to ask me to help her zip up her dress so I obliged.  She was beautiful!  She was ready to go pick up her BFF, actually, but I took some pictures of her on the patio and then on the front porch, and texted them to her dad.

As soon as she left, I realized that I had forgotten to give her some cash, in case she wanted to use the Valet parking at the Coronado Springs resort.  She was wearing heels and she's not used to walking in heels, so I figured the less she walked, the better :)  So I called her and we agreed she and her BFF would stop by on their way to the resort.  So I got to see her BFF too. They were both gorgeous, naturally :)

I was thinking that I would start reading the Madeleine Albright book and then got sidetracked by Wikipedia because I started to wonder if she was still alive so I looked her up.  I read the article about her, and then got really annoyed because it reminded me that she was the one who had said, during the past election, "there is a special place in hell for women who don't vote for other women" or something along those lines. My vote for Hillary Clinton was more a vote against Trump than a vote for Hillary, who I can't stand either (albeit not on the same scale) and I hated the fact that I was told I should vote for a woman solely based on her sex, as I strongly feel that merit is more important than sex, so I got all steamed up about that again and then decided that it probably wasn't the right time for me to read her book.  I know, I'm weird. Anyhoo...

Hear, hear!
I got busy replying to blog comments and then my alarm rang to signify that it was time to cook dinner. Only I made puppy kitty eyes at Greg, who suggested we go eat at the Mexican restaurant. But I couldn't go because I had to wait for my daughter to come get the cash (hmm, I could have just left it on the kitchen table, I didn't even think of that!) but she called me at the same time to say they were coming over then. Since her BFF's house is just two blocks over, she was here a couple of minutes later!  So I gave them the money and they were on their way, at about 6:45 p.m.

Greg and I got changed, and Youngest Son and we drove to the restaurant. One of these days we'll walk there. It's half a mile from the house!

It was busy but we got a table right away, although the food took a while to get there. It was good and we had a good time. I didn't take a picture, sorry, Bless!  I had shrimp fajitas, yum.  The waiter asked us if we wanted drinks to go before we left, and I had a large cup of Diet Coke to finish so I asked for a To Go cup. I'm glad he asked about that because I wouldn't have thought to ask.  I did pack the 2 flour tortillas that I hadn't eaten so I could bring them home.

Back home, I spent more time replying to comments!  I felt so popular, lol. Thanks so much for all the kind comments :)

My daughter texted me to say they had gotten to the resort safely.  I'm a helicopter parent when it comes to having her text me when she arrives places and when she leaves places to come home (well, not when she drives locally, but when she drives longer distances).  It was about 7:45 p.m.  At about 9:15 p.m. I had just told Greg "Well, I guess they're spending more time at Prom than they had thought they would..." when I got a text from her saying that they were leaving Prom!  They danced to 5 songs but she said most of the music they were playing was stuff they didn't even know.  I had told them I'd buy them dinner if they wanted to grab something to eat afterwards so she asked it it was OK to go to the Cheesecake Factory.  I was hoping they would go to the one that used to be at DisneyQuest but I guess that one closed down, so she said they'd go to the one near Mall of Millenia.  Woah. Wait a minute.  I didn't like that idea at all, as that area isn't safe at night for 2 young girls, in my opinion.  So I agreed for them to drive all the way to Winter Park (north of Orlando, Disney is South of Orlando) instead. It was a 40 minute drive on I-4 on a Saturday night, but I was less worried about that than about them being at Mall of Millenia on a Saturday night. Crazy?  Maybe. Overprotective? Surely.  Earth-friendly on Earth Day?  Totally not.  Oh well.

So they drove there and she texted me that they arrived safely at 10 p.m. I guess they'll be home around midnight or a little later. Good thing I got that extra Diet Coke from the restaurant to keep me awake :)

Well, that's about it for today, then. It's 11 p.m. now and I'm wide awake. Yay!  I told Greg earlier that I wanted to go kayaking with him tomorrow morning. He was planning on going kayaking on the Palatlakaha River again, I hope I can keep up with him!


  1. I have been a complete couch potato today. I did finish one more school project, so that list is finally dwindling. This has felt like the longest semester ever!

    Anyway, I love all your nature photos, as usual and can't believe how many gators you saw. We rarely see gators up here, partly because it's just that much cooler and then I think that some of the places where they really are we tend not to go since we aren't boaters or kayakers.

    1. Being a couch potato on Earth Day is good! You saved resources!

      I've been thinking about gators when kayaking and even water snakes as our kayaks are "self-bailing" so that means they have holes in the bottom so water comes in and goes out all the time. Maybe this has to do with the fact that I've only used my kayak once since we bought them, hahaha.

      I do wonder where the gators will go once all the water is gone. And I'm glad we don't have a pool in our backyard as we do live near 2 lakes.

  2. Sounds like you had a great day, Nathalie and Woo Hoo, you did the dishes! I've got them piling up, too, as I want to run the dishwasher (been told to run it at least once a week and it's been about 2 weeks since I last ran it!) and I need enough to make a load, so I feel it's worth while to run the dish washer. I am sure your daughter looked lovely in her prom dress and hope she had a good time. I was reading about your wildfires; hope the situation gets better, soon. Wow, that's a lot of little alligators! What happens if the ponds all dry up? Will the park service fill them up to preserve the wildlife?

    1. I also wonder what will happen when the ponds dry up. No, I don't think the park service will do anything. If there is no water... there is no water! The trail is actually in the Green Swamp, which makes the situation even dire. The Green Swamp is really important to our water supply so it getting dry (meaning that underground water is drying up too) is terrible. I wouldn't be surprised if we get many more sinkhole problems too.

  3. Your story of the kittens and the salad reminded me of my cats when they were little. I would keep a bowl of baby carrots on the counter to encourage healthful snacking. The kittens used to get up on the counter, of course when no one was looking, and grab a carrot to take down and bat around the house. We would find dried up carrots all over the place.

    1. We would find dried up carrots all over the place. LOL!

  4. You always find the best graphics to use in your posts. Love that face with the makeup, and those kitty eyes, and the "Special Place in Hell" poster. Haha.

    Your walk on the trail was a real eye opener this afternoon. You have been talking about the drought for weeks now, but today's photos really struck home. To see the creek beds completely dried up and the lowered water levels in the ponds points out how devastating this must be on the wildlife. Add to that all the wildfires burning around the state, and you can see how their habitat is shrinking even more. The air quality cannot be very good for animals and humans. California suffered for five or six years straight. I hope you're not in for a long haul.

  5. California suffered for five or six years straight. I hope you're not in for a long haul.
    That was my first thought this morning as well! I hope we'll have a wet summer but who knows? We sure didn't last year. We do have a lot of lakes in our county so I'm hoping the animals will be able to get water from somewhere, but our water supply problems, which are already abundant and increasing with the crazy money-hungry politicians approving developments all over the place, are bound to get even worse. We have a water bottling plant in our little city that opened a few years ago, I'm so pissed about that. They get the water from our aquifer and sell it all over the country. The excuse that was given is that it would bring much needed jobs to our area. But at what cost?! Now, as a PR measure, that company just gave $100K to our elementary school to build new playgrounds. Everyone is fawning over that and I'm just disgusted. It's a bribe by another name, is what it is. Also, we didn't have playgrounds at my elementary schools when I was growing up. We had a courtyard and sometimes we were able to play soccer. We did hopscotch, ran around (well, I mostly sat and read!), etc. And we also had more recess than kids ever get here. So I really don't think $100K for playgrounds when the teachers have to buy supplies for the kids (and the parents are asked to provide paper towels, tissues, hand sanitizer, printing paper, etc.) was necessary. But that's another issue.

  6. If I lost the internet connection for a day... I would be very upset, but I have to be honest - stuff would get done.

    LOL at that "Special Place in Hell" poster. Agree with all of it.

    1. Stuff might get done here only if I also got the TV and blu ray players taken away...


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