Spring Break in Florida. Sounds like it should be a wonderful escape. However, when the trip revolves around caring for an elderly parent things can get…complicated. Such was this past week. There were some nice escapes, and we spent lots of time with Laura’s mom.
The week started with a cold. In fact, I wasn’t even sure that I would be traveling. Over Christmas all of us were ill, including Mrs. Wright. We didn’t want a repeat of that episode. I started feeling better, but we still delayed our departure a bit.
Prosperity and Djembes
Before leaving town we made a couple of stops. The first was Guitar Center. For Christmas we had bought Amy a small djembe drum. Laura liked it so much that I got her one for Valentine’s Day. They both insisted that I have one, too. We found one with a nice wide range of tones. There was one we liked better, but it was much, much heavier. We figured this one would do nicely. It would be traveling to Florida with us.
The next stop was Prosperity. We had finally sold my parent’s home down there and most of my siblings were meeting to clean out the house. As with the Gray Court house we found lots of interesting things. These included sermon notes from my father, his naval discharge papers, and odd bits of furniture. We also found a lifetime supply of jams and jellies that my mom had stored.
Since we had a long drive we didn’t get to spent as much time in Prosperity as I might have liked. We broke up the drive with an overnight stay in Georgia and made it to Amy’s house by Sunday.
It was very windy and rainy the first part of the week, so I didn’t get much paddling in. I was still feeling the effects of my cold and wouldn’t have felt much like paddling, anyway. We did spend a good bit of time with Laura’s mom. Our routine was that we would arrive in the afternoon and stay with her until her dinnertime, making sure she was fed properly and settled for the evening. In the afternoons we might try flying kites outside, but most often I’d play my banjo while Mrs. Wright clapped along. We found that she also enjoyed “playing” the instruments in Garageband on my iPad. As we waited for for her dinner I switched from banjo to the piano in the Memory Care lounge, and would often have an audience of the other Alzheimer’s patients gather. I found that they most enjoyed very simple songs where they might be able to sing along.
One day while playing banjo out on the patio the facility’s director came by and asked if I would mind playing for the Assisted Living residents. I agreed, and followed her up to a large room. There were about 60 people gathered, with a chair set up front for me. Talk about being put on the spot! I played for about 20 minutes as they had their “Happy Hour”, which actually did include alcohol. Seems like they could have poured a glass for the musician. Oh well. Whether it was booze, senility, or poor taste, that seemed to enjoy my playing. Laura and Amy said that I could make a post-retirement career out of entertaining at these facilities.
And we didn’t neglect the drums. I had hoped to get down to the big drum circle in Stuart, but the dates didn’t work out. We made our own drum circle at Amy’s house, much to the chagrin of her neighbors. I found that I could play the djembe about as well as I can play the banjo. I’m pleased with my purchase of the larger drum, and was having fun discovering what it would do. We played along with Bob Marley, John Renbourn, and anything else that had a good beat. Martinis and Percussion became a regular evening event.
We only took the drums over to Mrs. Wright’s place once, but she enjoyed hitting one of the smaller djembes.
The weather calmed down enough for me to take several paddling trips. My routine was to paddle early in the morning so that I’d be able to help out as needed in the afternoon. The first trip out it was far too windy. I maybe…maybe made it a mile, just down the river a bit and back. I was regretting having left my sail at home.
The second trip it was still overcast and I paddled through a bit of mist. I paddled out to the spoil islands, which I ran into more kayakers than I’d seen out here. I chatted with one man who had paddled with his sons out from Queen’s Cove on North Hutchinson. Another kayaker was exploring one of my favorite islands.
I saw the usual suspects of dolphins and shore birds, but I also had a very close encounter with a manatee. I spotted a manatee head about ten feet in front of me just as another came up right under my boat. The boat lifted, then splashed back down. I was able to maintain control, but it was crazy exciting. I looked astern to see a wall of wake receding as they sped away. I couldn’t believe how fast those things could move. Of course, my GoPro had stopped working and there was no way I could reach one of my other cameras in time. I just have the memory.
Next trip out was a longer sunrise paddle. I almost overslept, but managed to get out before the sun came up. I paddled out to my favorite sand spit with a cup of coffee.
Paddling conditions were perfect. I explored the coves along North Hutchinson Island, and would have stayed out on my boat all day if I could. As it was I paddled about six and a half miles before I decided it was time to come back in.
There was more rain mid-week, so I only got in one more paddling trip Saturday before we left. Laura and Amy had already headed up to visit their mom, and I would join them later. I paddled north up past Harbor Branch Oceanographic then explored some of the coves near Round Island. It being the weekend, there were lots of large boats out and about. I spent a good bit of my time just waiting for boats to pass. This time I concentrated on paddling and didn’t do much photography.
I thought I had paddle a long way, but it wasn’t as far as my sunrise paddle. Even so, my legs were badly sunburned by the time I got done. Despite the weather and illness, I still managed to paddle nearly 17 miles this wee, bringing my total to just over 53 for the year.
We convinced Amy that she needed to get away from work and from taking care of her mom for a bit. We headed toward one of her favorite destinations, Kissimmee Prairie. I was anxious to try out my new wide angle lens with the wide open spaces of the prairie. Along the way we got distracted by a metal T-Rex on Orange Avenue.
We had a picnic in the park. A crow caught a snake and joined us for lunch in a tree just above our table.
As far as landscapes, the new lens did not disappoint.
We decided to hike along one of the trails. I switched back and forth between the wide angle and my regular lens.
We drove back out to where the main dirt roads cross and parked. Laura stayed with the car while Amy and I hiked up to a wetlands area where there were lots of birds and quite a few alligators. There hasn’t been any rain in quite awhile (despite the bit we got earlier in the week), so water levels were quite low. That meant that wildlife congregated in the few spots where there was adequate water.
We drove back across the wide open spaces of central Florida and turned north on US 441. When we reached Yeehaw Junction I decided to had to get a couple of shots of the old Desert Inn.
So, it was a busy spring break. We didn’t spend it in tropical splendor, but I did get out on the water. As we drove back on Sunday we read the reports of snow back in Greenville. At least it was (mostly) warm where we were.