Saturday, April 12, 2014

Coolest Camping Trip - Day 2

Sunrise is always beautiful at Tree Ring.

RetroMan likes to sleep in, so I always take a walk to see what's up at that hour.

As I left the camper, a deer scampered off.  She looked big and healthy. 

I made my way to the dry pond and noticed the spiders were busy.

At the dry pond it became obvious what the partying had been about the night before.  It was no longer dry.  We've owned Tree Ring since 2009 and there's been very little water at the dry pond - none at the end of winter.  Now there was at least 6 inches, and the summer monsoons haven't started yet.

I noticed the deer have eaten a path through the blackberry bushes.
And other sun worshipers were watching the sunrise too.

I  took off in the Polaris to see what sunrise looks like in the rest of the Preserve.

This picture does no justice to the beauty of the ferns among the water and the trees.

The mullein were flowering.

There were white flowers on some lily pads.

And yellow flowers on others.  If you looks really close you can see a frog between the twin flowers.

A woodpecker motel.

Phlox are everywhere along the roadways.

I waited while the turtle crossed the road.

Once back at Tree Ring, RetroMan and I started blazing trails through the piles of wood left after the clear cut.  At one point we got side tracked for an hour moving a 300 pound tree stump we thought would make a great bench under this tree.

Note to self:  Don't sit on a bench made out of freshly cut pine or you will get tar butt.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Coolest Camping Trip - Day 1

Turning into TRC's gate, we came upon this:

We stared at each other in stunned silence.  It seemed like a cross between a monkey, a squirrel, and a kangaroo.  Perhaps it was the skunk ape we knew was there but could never find.  It didn't move one whisker.  After a lengthy discussion, we decided our friend Ron put a toy on the post as a joke.  

And then it scampered off. 

Not like a City squirrel "oh my gosh - oh my gosh - oh my gosh - I gotta get outta here".  Nope.  He was just on his way down the hill to check on a horse.  

At first we were sure we discovered a new species, but no, it's a Fox Squirrel.  Just something City folk have never seen.  Fox Squirrels can get up to 3 pounds and I'm thinking this guy has been eating a lot of chunky monkey.  I hope he decides to stick around for a while.

We set up camp, and decided to take the Polaris for a drive around the Preserve just before sunset.   

It's hard to tell, but that's an alligator in the lower right of the picture.

I don't know what happened, but he wasn't alive.

It was overcast, but cool and beautiful.  

As we drove around, the we noticed pockets of very pronounced smells.  We've never noticed this during our daily drives, but that evening you could smell night blooming jasmine, animals, a musky smell, a swampy smell.  

Just awesome.

Then we went back to start the fire and eat some hot dogs. 

I made a double wiener stick.

Retro Man made fun of me all night for doing a selfie, but I wanted to show the super cool sweatshirt I bought at the dollar store. It's the best 15 dollars I ever spent. The weather was beautiful when we left the City, but I forgot to bring a jacket. Nights can get really cool at Tree Ring.


Shocking isn't it?  I've always been afraid of hunters not seeing me, but I don't think I have anything to worry about any more.

That night as we sat by the fire, the sound coming from the front of the property was louder than a Bucs game.  It seemed as though every animal and insect was partying at the dry pond.  Frogs croaking, birds screeching, animals grunting, cicadas humming and cicada killers buzzing.  Chuck Wills widow was singing.

All in all a wonderful day.  I'll post Day 2 later this week.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Before and After the Clear Cut

When we bought Tree Ring 5 years ago, it was an abandoned tree farm.  We worked with the County Forrester to thin the trees.  However because they were never maintained, many of the trees had succombed to pine beetles and fusarium wilt, which is common in slash pine.  We decided to clear cut most of the property and start over.

It is shocking how different the property looks now.  I have tried to find pictures to display the before and after.  While I miss the forest, the land now has amazingly beautiful vistas and shows that we have a slight roll at the front and back of the property.

The Shelter before and after:

The future cabin site before and after:

 The cabin site looking back at the entrance drive before and after:

City Girl attempting to use the dibble Retro Man got for Christmas.  Dibbles are used to pine trees by hand:

It's going to take a while to plant 17 acres :-)

Another view of the cabin site before and after:

Other pictures of the Preserve where Tree Ring is located:

Those lilly pads have beautiful yellow flowers in the summer.

For those of you sick of Winter, Spring is definitely on its way:

I will post the videos of the clear cut operation another time.  It took the crew 7 days to clear cut 17 acres.  It was an amazing operation.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

In Case You Didn't Know

For many years before City Girl decided that hanging around your parents was equivalent to death, the three of us would go to Fort Desoto beach.  We avoided the paved parking lots and crowds in favor of parking on the grass along the road and walking a short distance to a mostly deserted beach.

One day when City Girl was around three, as we were driving in I saw a sign that said 'Naturalist Society' with an arrow pointing to the path we always took to get to the beach.  How cool, I thought, nature lovers have discovered our beautiful spot.  Maybe they'll tell us the name of some of the birds we always see.

We put our blanket down at our usual spot.  I noticed a group of people off in the distance and figured that was the Society.  We headed towards them, picking up the pretty shells that were littered around the beach.  As we got closer, City Girl was intently filling her bag as I looked up and saw about 15 people sitting buck naked in their beach chairs.  

People we aren't talking about looking up and seeing Shemar Moore or Matthew McConaughey.

With wry grins on their faces obviously enjoying the predicament I was in, they quietly waited to find out what I was going to do now.  With a slight panicked feeling I said gently, Sweetheart let's turn around and go back so we can empty our bags and get some more shells.

And bless her, City Girl said ok Mom and happily turned around without looking up.

Back to the future, City Girl now thinks hanging around your parents is only a little like death, and we have a lot of fun together.  Last night she suggested that we go to the beach to watch the sunset and we headed to our favorite spot.

We didn't let this log get in our way as we made our way to the beach.

As usual it was deserted, except for a man sitting next to his bicycle off in the distance.

We watched the beautiful sunset.

Turning to head back, I sadly observed that sign pollution and ropes have now infested our favorite beach.

In case you didn't know. 

As I recounted the buck naked beach story to City Girl, bicycle man hurriedly put on his swim trunks as we approached.  I am not kidding.  

I say all signs should be banned in favor of periodic public announcements in all languages recounting all of the things that we're not supposed to do, because there are people arriving all day long and many of them are blind or can't read signs written in English. Are you with me?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Thinking about the Barn

On the schedule for this winter is to clear cut the back 10 acres of Tree Ring and thin the front 13.  The clear cut will extend from our neighbor's 40 acre pasture to the clearing where the shelter is.

Once the clear is complete, we will begin the site plan for a barn and cabin.  We will build the barn first.

The barn we would like to build is reminiscent of Majorie Kinnan Rawlings' barn.  One of my favorite books is Rawlings' Cross Creek which tells the story of her move to Florida in the 20s and what life was like back then.  Her homestead is now a Florida State Park and we went to see it a few years ago.  We both fell in love with her barn.  Though it was reconstructed in the 90s due to the original barn burning down, we loved the look and design.  

Since we really aren't farmers, it's all about the look right?

Here is a photo of the barn taken in 1965:

Here is a photo of the reconstructed barn from the Florida State Parks web site:

We switched the sides and our barn will be smaller:

The door will open to a workshop that will have a bathroom at the back.  

Since Retro Man will be constructing it by himself, he wanted to build a model first to plan how all of the pieces will go together:

The model is constructed 1 inch = 12 inches, or 1:12 scale.  We purchased a doll that is also 1:12 so we could understand the scale better.

We call him Little Man.

Unfortunately I gave away City Girl's Bulldozer, which might have given us an idea about how much space a tractor would take up, so now I'm on the lookout for a 1:12 scale tractor.

I would like to have the site plan complete and water/electric put in by the time summer sets in.  That way, we can come to Tree Ring in the summer and be able to shower if we want and even use the air conditioner in the popup.  We would build the barn next winter.

Speaking of the popup, even Retro Man is admitting it is getting a little long in the tooth.  We think it is nearly 40 years old.  Once the barn is in, we may replace it with something a little more substantial for a few years while we plan the cabin construction.