Monday, August 31, 2015

Tower Camp Time is Almost Here

It's almost camping/hunting time and we are more than ready to get back to the woods but at the end of every summer we have to go up there and do some cleaning and prep work before we start camping there.

The Oldest Island Boy has really been wanting to shoot some clays so we decided to go up there on Sunday, get in a couple of hours of work and then some do some shooting.

I love the ride up.

In one hour we go from our beautiful beach



To lush, green, rolling hills and spectacular woods.








We're here!!



Whoa! I don't think I've ever seen the field so overgrown.




Prepping this for winter is going to take a while.

This is what it's supposed to look like.





And this is what it looked like on Sunday.







We had several goals for the day but realized we can't do anything until we mow bush hog this field.

Which was fine with the boys. They grabbed machetes and other implements of destruction and headed down to the creek while the Island King and I wandered around a small piece of property adjoining ours and that we are hoping to purchase this year.



It's not for sale and is a small corner of the big farm across the way but we're hoping if we ask real nice (translate – offer right price) she'll sell us this 3 acres.









I don't think we're going to be living in the house though...









I've always wanted chickens but the coop will definitely need some work.



The Island King likes the idea of having a blind in his back yard so if we do get the property I don't think this structure will change much.




We will have a really cool neighbor if we do buy the land.



The Island King and I stood at the fence talking to her for a long time and then laughed about how much time we'd spent just looking at her and the expression “Y'all ain't from round here” came to mind.

We had lunch and then a little later I picked up a small tub that was under one of the tables and at least 5 very angry, very large wasps came flying straight out at me.
I'd hurt my hip a little the day before but when those wasps came after me I went to running and my foot caught a root. My hip screamed at me and I knew I should let myself fall down to keep from twisting it more but the wasps had a bead on me so I ran, completely screwing up my hip.

In hindsight, I should have let the wasps get me because that pain would be gone today whereas my hip is still really hurting.

That ended my standing or walking for the day so the Island King set me up in a chair with a table and the boys were my minions, fetching whatever I needed.


As I sat there looking around, I proclaimed myself the Queen of our Overgrown Field.

The boys had a skeet shooting match and the Oldest won. He and his Dad are always trying to beat each other and on Sunday the Oldest took home the championship – which made him very happy.



We left a little after dark and the moon was HUGE. I wanted the Island King to take a picture of it as we came to the top of a hill on the Interstate and you'd think that with him being a professional photographer that task wouldn't be too hard.

Wrong. This is what he took.



Luckily the Youngest Island Boy grabbed my phone and managed to snap off a couple of good shots.



It was a long day but we had so much fun and getting back to the woods always makes me feel good.

Monday, August 24, 2015

I Can't Take Him Anywhere

You know the expression “I can't take him anywhere?” Well, I'm pretty sure the “him” in that statement stands for the Island King.

Even a simple trip to the beach can turn into a circus in a matter of minutes.

For example...

We took the boat to the beach on Sunday and right as we were leaving the boat ramp, the Island King remembered that he'd left his visor. It was too late to turn back and I offered him my hat but he decided to tough it out.

We cruised over to bridge beach and after a bit decided to walk out to the jetties.

About halfway there he spots something in the sand, gets real excited and says “Hey look! A hat”


Umm, it used to be a hat.

We were standing in front of a pontoon boat that was anchored there and the two couples in the water were watching us.

He shook some of the sand off and plopped that thing right on his head. He was happy as a clam that he now had a replacement for his forgotten visor.



Really?

I look over and the people from the pontoon boat are cracking up. He tells them that he forgot his visor and this will work just fine causing them to laugh even harder.

I told them that all he needed to find now was a pair of flip flops and he'd be set.

They gave him a big thumbs up and off we went.



We walked a bit farther and both of us spotted a clump of something odd. He picked it up and to our amazement it's a fake beard.



OH NO!

And yes, the Oh No was warranted because he shook the sand off and put that nasty thing on his face.

He was pleased as punch about his finds and proudly walked on down the beach wearing his new hat and beard.

I wish you could have seen the look on the people at the pontoon boat's face as we walked back past them!

He stopped to show off his new beard and these people were laughing and looking at him like he was something straight out of a freak show.







Which he is. I don't know why.

He might be a little on the strange side but that's just one of the reasons I love him. Life is never dull and he makes me look normal.

Friday, August 7, 2015

After 30 Years I Put My Captain's Hat Back On

It's been a while since we've been out in the boat and yesterday I decided that had to change. It was Thursday so why not take the boat to see the fireworks?

I asked the Island King what he thought and was told that he wanted to watch the debate and wouldn't I rather do that instead?

Ummm – no. In fact I'd rather stick a fork in my eye.

So I decided to take the boat and go watch the fireworks without him.

I come from a long line of seafaring folks and before I met the Island King I owned my own boat so taking the boat to the fireworks shouldn't have been a big deal.

But...

It's been almost 30 years since I've been in a boat without the Island King and I was a little nervous but it's a lot like riding a bike and I knew I would do fine once the boat was in the water.

Driving backwards has always been particularly difficult for me and I had a feeling putting the boat in the water would be challenging but not insurmountable.

The boys didn't want to go so the Island Girl and I loaded up the boat and off we went.

Luckily, there weren't many people at the boat ramp so I pulled in, lined the truck up with the launch I wanted to use and started backing.

This way and that way and every way but straight.

After a few minutes I got frustrated, pulled completely out of the boat ramp parking lot, pulled back in and started over.

It took about 15 minutes to get the boat in the water but finally I got the trailer into the water and floated the boat.

The Island Girl parked the truck, hopped into the boat and we were off.




We got about 100 yards away from the dock and the motor died. We've had trouble with the idle on this motor since we bought it so I wasn't surprised and didn't let it shake my confidence.

We floated around for a minute and I finally got the motor running. It does this often and once it was running again we headed out into the Bay.

It was really windy and there was about a 3 foot chop – which isn't a big deal but I was wishing that I'd chosen a calm day for my first time running a boat in 30 years.

It took a few minutes to adjust to the waves and boat traffic but then my captaining skills came flooding back and we made it over to the beach with no problem.

The Island Girl and I ate sushi and watermelon for dinner





 soaked in the water, talked to the tourists walking by and enjoyed every minute of the fireworks.



The fireworks ended and we sat there for a while, letting all of the other boats get gone before we headed for home.

She pulled the anchor and I idled back under the bridge and into the channel. The Bay was even choppier so my plan was to secure everything and then just run the waves home.

Except, the boat wouldn't plane. No matter what I tried I couldn't get the bow out of the air and the motor was not sounding good.

It was running a little rough and all I could do was a slow crawl which meant that about every third wave washed over the transom.

I had the Island Girl move everything to the front of the boat hoping to get some weight out of the stern but that didn't help. The boat still wouldn't plane and I was still taking the occasional wave over the back.

The 5 minute ride from the point to the bayou took 20 LONG minutes.

We got into the bayou and out of the waves and I breathed a huge sigh of relief – we were almost home.

I pulled up to the dock at the boat ramp and waited while the Island Girl went to get the truck. The motor still didn't sound good so I turned it off while I waited.

Watching her back the trailer was hysterical. Bless her heart she takes after her mother.

She finally got the trailer into the water but when she opened the truck door and stepped out onto the slick ramp she slipped and went down hard.

Poor kid. All she wanted to do was trailer the boat and GO HOME but when I tried to crank the boat to put it on the trailer it wouldn't crank.

Seriously?

We walked the boat to the trailer but then we were standing on the slippery ramp and could not get that boat more than about halfway on the trailer.

Between backing the truck and pulling the boat we finally got it far enough on the trailer that I was able to hook up the winch and muscle the boat the rest of the way onto the trailer.

We both heaved a huge sigh of relief and drove home – where I had one more big test to pass.

The Island King was still at his Mom's and I had to back the boat into the driveway.

Lord have mercy what a fiasco!

I hit two mailboxes, drove my truck ALL the way up into the yard across the street and after 20 minutes of going back and forth my goal changed from putting the boat where it lives to just getting it and the truck out of the road.

I wish you could have seen the look on the Island King's face when he got home and saw this.




He put the boat back where it lives


And I told him about our adventure.


Once the motor is fixed I know I will be confident enough to take the boat out without him again. Thirty years is a long time but it didn't take long to feel comfortable as captain.

But I'm seriously going to have to work on my backing skills - there has to be a better way than taking a half hour to launch the boat and hitting the neighbor's mailbox every time I come home.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Green Beetles Rolling Bear Poop Around

I was out geocaching the other afternoon and one of the caches I was after was just off a main road between Niceville and Mossy Head. I pulled off the highway onto a gravel road leading into the woods and stopped the truck.

The GPS said the cache was close so I turned the truck off was getting my pen when I looked out the window and saw a ball of something rolling across the gravel.

It was a little smaller than a golf ball and black and it would roll this way for a minute and then back the other way and then off in another direction. Never really getting anywhere but definitely moving around.

What is that? There was no wind blowing anything around so I got out to see what was happening.

I walked past a pile of bear poop and over to the rolling ball only to discover beetles rolling a ball of bear poop all around the gravel road.

I've never seen beetles moving a ball of poop around and the first thing that came to mind was Dung Beetles.

Do we have dung beetles in Florida? I'm seriously uneducated when it comes to bugs but dung beetles sound like something that would live in an Indiana Jones type place.

There were 4 beetles pushing the poop ball around but they didn't seem to be going anywhere in particular – just sort of here and there.

A 5th beetle was all by himself in the middle of the bear poop, busy doing something with those creepy little pincers of his.

When I got home I learned that these are probably Green June Beetles and even though they aren't called dung beetles they eat dung.

I also found out that the reason the poop ball was moving back and forth was that the beetles were actually fighting over it and each was trying to push it in the direction they wanted to go.

I did notice in the video I took that when just one had control the ball moved in a straight line.

And the lone beetle in the pile of poop? I really wish I'd have paid more attention to him because apparently he was making his own poop ball.

As I was reading about beetles I learned that there are some who navigate by climbing on top of their poop ball and use the Milky Way to guide them.

This was proven when scientist studied them and put little beetlehats on them so they couldn't see the sky and they all got lost.

Making little hats for bugs is not something they told us about at career day in high school.

I really don't like bugs of any kind but bright green beetles rolling a ball of bear poop caught my attention.

Watch the video and you'll see what I mean.