Nov 212009

Can you believe Christmas is coming up in just over a month? Where does the time go? One minute you’re toasting the New Year and singing Auld Lang Syne, a week or two later you’re watching fireworks on Independence Day, and the next thing you know, they’re ringing bells in front of WalMart and you’re listening to Christmas carols on the radio.

I want time to slow down! I’m getting older and starting to realize that someday I’ll probably have to grow up too, but I’m in no hurry to get there!

Even the individual days seem to fly by. Yesterday we met Walter Cannon, executive director of the Recreational Vehicle Safety Education Foundation (RVSEF), and his lovely wife Amy for lunch at a nice little restaurant called Caffe Chocolat in Titusville. We had a nice lunch and chatted for a while, and before I knew it, three hours had passed!

We have known Walter for a long time, but it was nice to have the opportunity to just sit and visit away from all of the activity of an RV rally or show. We had never met Amy before, and she is a delightful woman whom Miss Terry really hit it off with.

Last year RVSEF tried to hold an RV education conference similar to the old Life on Wheels program, but downturns in the RV industry kept it from happening. I was sorry it was cancelled, because it is something that the RV world really needs. Long before we became instructors for Life on Wheels, Terry and I went there as students in our first year on the road, and it really helped us transition to the RV lifestyle.

Walter is a persistent guy, and he truly believes in the need for an educational program for RVers, so he regrouped and now plans to hold an RV Lifestyle, Education and Safety Conference in Bowling Green, Kentucky June 3-6, 2010. If you are a new or wannabe RVer, or even a seasoned road warrior, I really urge you to attend. It is a great investment in your RVing lifestyle.

Fort Christmas Blockhouse 2 webWhen we left the restaurant, we drove a few miles west of town on State Route 50 to Christmas, Florida to check out Fort Christmas Historical Park, which includes a replica of a Seminole War fort and several old Cracker style houses.

Unfortunately, time had gotten away from us (do you see a common Cracker shack webthread here?) and the buildings were already closed for the day. But we strolled around under the live oak trees, with their cloaks of Spanish moss draping their leaves, and just enjoyed the solitude. We hope to get back for a better look at the place while we’re in this area.

Among the things left to do on my bucket list is to see an alligator in the wild, and there are a lot of the critters here in Florida, so that shouldn’t be all that hard to accomplish. But in several trips through the Sunshine state, I have yet to see one.

A park ranger at Fort Christmas suggested we stop at a boat launch about halfway between the park and The Great Outdoors, where we are staying. He said it was not uncommon to see ’gators in the water or sunning on the banks there. We stopped to check it out, but there was an airboat firing up, and several trailers for other boats, and not an alligator to be seen. Terry said with all the noise and activity there, any alligator who might have been around had moved to quieter territory. Hopefully I’ll get to see one before we leave the South this year.

Thought For The Day – There will never be a time when life is simple.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  16 Responses to “Where Does The Time Go?”

  1. Sorry to hear you never saw a “gator” in the wild. If you take up the game of golf here in FL you will get to see plenty. Last year we had a large gator (at least 13 feet laziley walk across a driving range) and when we are playing and any other time we say “if it is a pool of water and you can’t see the bottom it has a gator in it.”
    We are on a 100 acre lake this winter and it has some gators, just don’t go swimming in the lake.

  2. Nick if you want to see a Gator drive Highway 41/90 in south florida across the everglades. It is a great highway and there are thousands of gators lining the ditch banks along the road. Go Visit Everglades National Park and you will see a large variety of animals including gators. Have fun in warm sunny Florida!!

  3. Or tour the Atchafalaya Swamp in Louisiana!

  4. Hey Nick, if y’all saunter westwardly to winter in Texas, notice the long bridges on I-10 over massive distances of swamp. Down below are thousands of gators. When you get to Texas, go past Houston and spend some time at Brazos Bend State Park. In fact, the way to get to Brazos Bend is off of SH 59, south of Houston, on the way down to Rockport.

    Some lakes at Brazos Bend have nice walking trails around them, and in the lakes are beaucoup numbers of gators. You can get up-close-and-personal with gators quite easily there.

    It’s good you don’t have dogs, too, since a number of them have become snacks for the gators there.
    “Activities include camping, picnicking, hiking, biking, equestrian, and fishing. Six lakes are easily accessible to fishermen, with piers located at 40-Acre, Elm and Hale Lakes. Visitors are cautioned to pay due respect to alligators, which are numerous in some areas of the park…The Nature Center is open Monday – Friday from 11 a.m – 3 p.m. and Sat & Sunday from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. It’s “Habitats and Niches” display offers an unusual “hands-on” alligator discovery area, a tactile model of the park, freshwater aquarium, live native snake species, a touch table and an open-captioned orientation video for all visitors including those with hearing impairments. The George Observatory is located in the park and is open Saturdays from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. For information on stargazing programs/passes and other programs, call the Observatory at 979/553-3400 or at 281/242-3055 (as a satellite of the Houston Museum of Natural Science) or visit the George Observatory web site. ”

    I bet you can’t wait to get to the hands-on gator discovery area, huh? But the George Observatory is pretty cool if you can time your visit to partake of that opportunity.

  5. If you make it over to the Tampa area, there’s great canoeing and kayaking on the Hillsborough River where you would definitely see alligators, turtles and birds. We also did some geocaching along the way if you’re into that. Here’s some photos of the wildlife we saw.

  6. Nick,
    I’d think that if you went kayaking in the Everglades you would see at least one gator, depending on how fast you can paddle.

  7. If you’re looking for alligators near Titusville without taking the airboat road on the St. John’s River (highly recommended by the way), try going over the Intercoastal in downtown Titusville to Blackwater Wildlife Drive. This is part of a conservation area which we thoroughly enjoyed driving thru — including seeing our first alligators in the wild during our first RV stay in Florida. Unfortunately if I remember correctly, this area may soon be developed if NASA has its way into the next spaceport, so see it while you can.

  8. Nick,
    Hope you have better luck with the gators than we had with the moose and bears. We drove to Alaska and spent the whole Summer there and saw one moose in downtown Anchorage and a small bear cub hung around out 5th wheel for about 30 minutes one day and that was it all Summer. If you see one, don’t get TOO close. We’d miss your writing!!!

  9. Check out Merritt Island Refuge Center. Nearby is an area for viewing manatees.

  10. I’ve been to Florida many times since 1968 and have never failed to see at least one gator. Some hot spots for gators are a boat ride on the Dora Canal (Eustis/Tavares) area; the road leading into Port Canaveral; and anypace there is so much as a few inches of water, there is likely to be a gator. Best time to see them is late Feb./early Mar as it is breeding season and they are very noisy and active while hunting down their prospective mate! In Texas we have seen many gators in Aransas Pass while out walking the nature trails.

  11. We’ve seen lots of gators in AP, TX. Surprised you didn’t:) Especially kayaking in shallow water:) For sure they are around at the AP Wildlife Refuge, along with wild pigs, deer, snakes and lots of birds.

    Good luck! Don’t get too close:)

  12. Nick,

    Sure do enjoy your blog. Please keep posting.

    Re: Alligators

    As a life long resident of Florida, go to Myakka State Park. It is located 9 miles due west of Sarasota, onthe west coast of Florida. . You can camp or day trip through the park. You will see more alligators in the wild there than in the Everglades. I lived just north of the Everglades for 30 years.

    You won’t even need to get out of your car if you don’t want to. About halfway through the park is a small bridge. You can go there ANY time of day and see at least 6 or more gators. We have been camprgound hosts there for a few years, and NEVER failed to see alligators.

  13. Nick, if you want to see an alligator right there in TGO, go to site #132. If it’s empty go sit at the edge of the pad overlooking the water. Look to your left across the water. A BIG alligator suns himself there on a regular basis. You don’t need your binocs, but take them if you have them. He’s awesome!

  14. Also, at TGO, take the wildlife path around the park (we use a golfcart). There’s a bunch of places where the alligators hang out. And it’s a real nice ride into and out of some very interesting habitat.


  15. Hi
    We were at Ft Christmas in March 08 while there we also went to the Orlando Wetlands Park
    we saw lots of alligators, from tiny ones to huge ones well worth the visit, be sure to allow a long time for the visit.

  16. I’m not sure how long you will be in the Titusville area but our good friend Rick Thrift operates Grasshopper Airboat Tours on the St. John’s River. He’s a licensed Coast Guard captain and does a fabulous eco-tour. He knows where all the good gator hideouts are, does a great job of identifying the many birds you’ll see in the area. He and Eileen have been friends of ours for years – were our next door neighbors in AL when we still had a stick and brick house.
    Say hi for us to Captain Rick if you see him.

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