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Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Controlled Burn in the Ocala National Forest

We saw smoke in the distance.

A brush fire...
We should report this.

No need to report this.
It's a controlled burn.

We could feel the heat 
from the fire as we drove past.

This trail has been burnt over.
There is smoke in the distance.

As the underbrush burns away,
felled trees smolder.

This dead tree is still standing.
It's burning in several places.

Very small trees survive 
the controlled burn.

Off roading today was fun and educational.  I look forward to more adventures!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Off Roading in Ocala National Forest

Yesterday Eric & I stopped at
Ocklawaha Visitor Center for
information on off roading in
Ocala National Forest.

There are dozens of trails
off the 35 mile long
Pipe Line Road that
runs through the park.

Some of the curves
are banked.

The sand is soft and sometimes Eric puts the Jeep into low 4 wheel drive.

We found these very pale
green puff balls along the
side of the road.

Eric removes a tree
blocking the trail.

This section of the trail 
has lots of dead trees. 

The tree trunks
are blackened.

We think there was a
brush fire here a while ago.

Eric is enjoying the driving.  He says it's like a video game, trying to avoid the tree branches that protrude onto the trails and shifting to the appropriate gears.  I am enjoying the varieties of trees, vegetation and the wildlife.  So far we've seen a mole, two squirrels, a few birds and lots of bugs.  We're too noisy to sneak up on a bear. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Publix Grocery Stores

Here's a supermarket we haven't visited yet, Publix.  Eric's Great Aunt Beth from Gainesville says that the stores are very nice.  We've got the time, so we visited the one nearest to the Cracker Barrel in Ocala where we stayed last night.

The staff here told us that this
is a very small Publix & that
we should also visit one
of their larger stores.

I can see the Customer Service
Desk when I walk in.
There's a very nice selection 
of cards here.

This is a beautiful

Bananas near the 
milk case is a neat idea!

Selling flowers by the meat case...
Women may add a bunch
to dress up the dinner table.
Or, flowers could be the
impulse buy for the man
selecting steaks for a date.

There are furnace
filters here!

As I wandered the aisles,
staff greeted me & asked
me if I needed help with anything.

I would have never thought
to put salad bowls & cruets
next to the salad dressings.

Cake mixes and bakeware
the obvious pairing.

Detergents & laundry bags...
So obvious

These people are marketing
Baby food & bibs are perfect

They've got a
coffee bar too.

At the cash register, we were asked if we found what we were looking for.  The young man who bagged our groceries asked if we needed any help loading our groceries into our car.

We found a larger Publix and stopped in to see the store.  It's laid out differently than the first store we visited.  We received the same excellent service and I started to wonder about supermarket ratings in the area.  A quick search lead me to the 2012 Temkin Rankings.  Publix rated number one for customer experience, and I agree.  It's a great place to shop.

Traveling Slow with Weeks of Dry Camping

Eric and I have plans in the mid Florida region and we are traveling slowly.  We came to Gainesville from Tallahassee on Friday.  Why would anyone dry camp when there are campgrounds everywhere?

We want to visit cities and parking in business parking lots cuts the amount of time we spend driving to places we want to destinations.  We rely on the solar panel system we had installed at AM Solar in October 2012 to charge the house batteries.  Running the generator to do this can get costly, with the price of diesel approaching $4.30 per gallon.  We have 100 gallons of water and our grey and black water tanks are quite large.

Conserving resources is a challenge we are happy to take on.  Finding resources for potable water and dump are part of the challenge.  Bring it on!

We are dry camping in
Walmart parking lots.

At the Walmart in Gainesville
we are parking next to a pond.

On Monday evening we
settled into the parking lot  at a
Cracker Barrel in Ocala.

We are parked in a 
separate lot

in the rear

We are parked with a Class C RV,
two oversize vans, two Ryder trucks,
 three tractor trailers, a medium
 duty truck & very large speed boat.

I watched two cars stop
so the drivers could take
pictures of this boat.

Our next stop is DeLand for an RV Show.  I don't know where we're staying.  I want overnight in a Bass Pro Shop, but there isn't one in the area.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Our Visit to Post Time in Ocala, Florida

Eric's friend, Nora, is working
at Post Time Farm in Ocala.

Nora works at Dutch Manor Stable

She is at Post Time caring for
  three horses & riding in 
jumping competitions. 

Eric, Nora  and
her dog, Maggie.

I was expecting to see rows and rows of horse barns and found about fifteen extremely large blue and white roofed tents.  A company owns these tents and the stalls inside.  It moves the tents from venue to venue and rents the spaces to stables that bring horses to compete.  

The Tack Room

Rio with flared nostrils...
He just sneezed on me.

Nick O' Time was 
happy to pose for me.

Cisco was pleasant, but shy; unwilling to pose for the lady with the camera.
Nick O' Time and Cisco's owners come to Ocala compete.  Nora jumps Rio for his owner.

Horses that compete here are jumpers and hunters.  Jumpers run a timed course and they are scored on how effectively they clear barred obstacles.   Hunters are judged on their "poise" and movement as they complete their courses.  

There are horse 

and lots of horse

There are RV sites with 
water & electric hook ups.

This horse is enjoying
 shower time.

The blacksmith
is busy.

The Competition Ring

There are hurdles
and a tented area.

Jumping competitions are very popular and well attended.  There are no large purses to be won, as is the case in thoroughbred horse racing.  Competitors are here for the love of the sport and are proud of their ongoing progress in the ring.  

This trainer has
a booth on site.

Roof repair is
available too.

We had a great place
to park, next to the
Dutch Manor Stable truck.

Post Time is a little city.  There's a school for children who are working "the circuit."  Ir is in session Monday through Thursday from 8 am to 1 pm.  Feed is delivered and distributed.  There are tractors moving around hauling away lots of horse pooh; removing the trash; pumping out the RV sewer tanks and Port a Potties.  

There are amenities too. Food is available on site.  During competitions there are several food stations available where you can have staff "build" deli sandwiches, salads and pasta dishes.  Burgers and hot dogs are always available too.  Monday through Thursday there is food available, but there is less variety.

Visiting Nora included learning about the temperaments of the types of horses that compete in in jumping competitions.  The work day starts early with feeding horses, mucking out stables and exercising the horses. Some horses require training for certain aspects of their competition.. Cold nights require blanketing the horses and pulling down the tent flaps before turning in.  Five thirty am comes early and the work is never ending.  This is a labor of love.

Friday, February 22, 2013

I'm not familiar with....

Finally, a Fred's sign
with an explanation.

According to the Free Dictionary,
Phenix is the US spelling of Phoenix.

Raising Cane's....
a chicken delight

Another fred's,
I'm confused.

Dirt Cheap
Extreme Values Every Day

Relax Inn, a quiet,
little known national 
motel chain

Happy Shak, the place to
go for hippie gifts

I think they throw rolls

Florida's answer to Jiffy Lube
is Super-Lube.

There are enough regional differences in restaurants, stores and services to make out travels interesting.  I look forward to finding more businesses to investigate online.