Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Disturbing the Peace and Other Tales From Ortona Locks

Dianne here -- We are down to our last day here at Ortona Locks.  Tomorrow we pack up and move this gypsy caravan to Collier-Seminole State Park for a short, three-day stay.  There is a chance we may not have internet access while at Collier-Seminole, depending upon the tree situation at our designated camp site.  So far, since the installation of our Datastorm Motosat in January, we've had clear views of the southern sky.  Here at Ortona there is a tree which comes really close to blocking us, but it doesn't.  If we are blocked at Collier-Seminole, you won't hear from us until after we get set up at the Groves in Fort Myers on Saturday.

Roger and I walked the dogs across the dam and locks to the other side of the river.   We had to carry the dogs across the catwalk because it was metal grate and their feet might have fallen through.  I'm including several shots of our camp site (#32) here at Ortona Locks taken from across the river.  It gives a better feel for how we are situated with the river, the foot bridge, and the fishing pier.  This is a very popular campground in the winter, and we made our reservations the minute they became available 180 days prior, last August.  It's lovely now, but would be even prettier if it weren't so dry.  Two things that surprise me about Florida weather in the winter:  1) how DRY it is, with low humidity, and   2) how WINDY it can be.  We've hardly been able to use our awning at all. 

  But I sure am not complaining about the sunshine, the temperature, and the beautiful skies!!  

  Charlie the cat and I have a new morning routine, now that it's nice and warm early in the morning.   He joins me outside for a little bird watching from our patio.  He has gotten used to his little harness to the point that now he stands still and purrs when I put it on him, because he knows it means he's about to go outside.   People sometimes ask me how our dogs get along with Charlie the cat.  

Just to prove that they get along just fine, here's a photo I snapped today while vacuuming the motor home.  Jasper and Charlie retreated to Charlie's favorite vantage point so that they could guard the motor home while I got my chores done!   Chaplin preferred to lay outside in the grass, his favorite pastime.

Roger will add his literary talents now to go along with the photos he took:

Roger here...  Now for the disturbing the peace part....  This may be the calmest and most peaceful place where I have ever spent an extended period of time.  Since it was my birthday, I wanted to take full advantage of the short remaining time that we had here.  In other words, I wanted to read and vegetate in the warm Florida sun while looking at the palm trees and the river.  It was not to be so until later in the evening due to three disturbances.

Dianne and I were reading and comfortably ensconced in our outdoor lounge chairs when there was a yelp (Ewwwww!) from Dianne followed by a lunge for the binoculars and a run around the motor home. 

 After I rubbed out the kink in my neck caused by my startled reaction, I inquired from Dianne, "What is going on?"  She claims that she responded, but from past experiences, I know that she did not.  I eventually followed her around the motor home to find her glued to her binoculars while exclaiming, "That was the orangest bird I have ever seen!" After calming down a bit and consulting her bird book she determined that it was a vermillion flycatcher.  (Our friend, Brad, would be so proud!)

After a few minutes of relative calm,

 Dianne retreated to the motor home while I returned to my chair.  Dianne has already told you about our cat, Charlie, and how he likes to be outside in his harness even though he cannot get to the birds that he wants to catch/eat.  The second disturbance took place when a toddler raced across the bridge squealing, "KITTY!"  Little Danny promptly picked up Charlie and squeezed the poop out of him before his mom came to the rescue.  When Danny put Charlie down, he burrowed under the patio mat for protection (see photo). 

 He now does that any time anyone walks by, unless it is a bird.  He doesn't like the outside quite so much, now.

The third disturbance was by far the most alarming - at least at the beginning.  Dianne and I had returned to our outdoor reading while the dogs rested on their mats.  The dogs are tethered when they are outside on fairly long cords that are attached to the picnic table.  Normally, they are extremely calm (almost looking dead) even when people and most dogs walk by.  BUT, at this moment, Jasper

 barked and lunged toward the motor home - practically breaking his neck by the time he ran out of cord.  In the process, the cord knocked down a chair and tipped over Dianne's precious Meyer Lemon Tree

 that we drag along with us.  (Dianne says that she knew it when it was a seed - just like the pets, the tree goes with us wherever we go.)  Back to the story...  Jasper had spotted an armadillo

 under the motor home.  Dianne was able to get a picture before it hopped away.  Jasper stayed on high alert for quite some time after the departure.  

The peace of Ortona eventually did return at dusk.  We were able to get several sunset (what else) shots at the end of the day, and one of a nearly full moon over a palmetto tree. 

 It was another spectacular sunset. 

 My favorite shot is of the sailboat that was tethered in the river for the night.   This third shot was actually shooting toward the reflection in the water; Dianne thought it was sky, and told me to be sure to note that it was just the sky reflection on the water of the Caloosahatchee River.

As Dianne said, tomorrow we leave this peaceful place and travel to Collier Seminole State Park - back in the everglades.  There should be lots to do there, but I doubt that it can match the serenity here. 

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