Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Direct to you from Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Gosh It is good we like to travel:-)  With 5 days remaining in our Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge post, a decision was made to run down to Sunrise, Fl and visit Bill's sister Angie (81 YOA)

before we leave the East coast. 

 We have not seen Ang since she was still living independently several years ago. Her then diagnosis of Alzheimers quickly led to her having to move into assisted living, and she has further been admitted to "hospice" care for several months now.  This lovely lady still has a sparkle in her eyes, as seen in this recent picture.  We will visit her this morning praying she is having a good day.

(addendum):  Angie was having a good day, knew who Bill was, and was able to converse.  Even though it was difficult to understand everything she said, most of the meaning came across.    Despite it being a heart wrenching day, knowing it was probably the last time we would see Angie in this world, we were VERY glad we went.

Because we always try to make the best of each and every situation we find ourselves in, we were magnetically drawn to pause in Hilton Head for lunch.  And look who we found there:

Kevin is Bill's bestie, our old next door neighbor and fellow woodworker, currently at a convention in Hilton Head.  Note:  our relationship goes way beyond being old neighbors....even though Kevin was AWESOME at that:

Kevin earned the BEST NEIGHBOR award many times over in 20 years...this was no small driveway!

On the way back to Waccamaw today, we will take the opportunity to stop near Savannah, GA and pause to have dinner with our old friends Mark and Molly (and their 4 "kids").

These friends have hearts of gold, and we are grateful for this opportunity to see them, despite the reason that draws us past their door.
Mark and Molly shown with 2 of their 4 kids (Gretchen and Thad) (Erica and Kent had already retired for the night)
Returning to Waccamaw:  Saturday, April 25th was the culmination of our 2nd to last week.  And what a day it was with the Waccamaw Indian Tribe sponsoring an "event" and Chief "Clyde" in full regalia.  Out of respect for their culture, I did not take any pictures, but the Chief was resplendent while they carried out their ceremony.
Each month the tribe used our facility for their meeting, and we came to know and love Chief Clyde and his people.  A VERY warm and gentle of spirit group, who we were sad to be departing from.

Two months ago (well, we all know how fast the government works:-) Jason (our boss) asked me to make arrangements to "exchange our alligator for a smaller one".  I'll save you all the pain of phone calls and e-mails not returned (from Alligator Adventure and South Carolina DNR), information not imparted (Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge) and my instructions not followed (Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge), but the call finally came in Thursday night:  Lorraine, my new Ranger on the phone "hey, I'm taking the alligator in tomorrow, you want to go?"  Lorraine, being a very thoughtful person (and good at her job) was told to make the exchange and her first thought was for all the time I had invested in this task, and how much she knew I would like to see it through to it's completion.  A few examples of how we spent the next day:

Old Crabby ready to go to his new home.
The decision to "change out" our gator was made when he came after me while I was feeding him.  Not that he could do a LOT of damage, but he could sure shred a finger and likely cause an infection.

We exchange our gators with 

I had heard they "have a guy who collects alligator eggs".  I'm thinking "that 
has to be the worst job in the world"!  "That guy" turned out to be "Travis" our guide for the day.  
Travis had been to Alligator Adventure when he was a kid (about 12 years old) on a field trip.  Now, in 
his mid 30's, Travis is still living his dream of caring for these interesting

                                        Checking our gator out, and finding him "VERY healthy".

Yes, this is a two headed turtle

This is "Six Pack"  can you tell how she got this way?  PLEASE cut up those plastic rings that hold cans!
PS:  she is actually very healthy despite her rough start in life.

"Bob" short for "Bobette" a shining example of the most common birth defect in alligators-no tail.
In the wild, Bob would not have survived long.  She actually has "butt cheeks"- very human like:-)

Travis feeding the gators (rats)
Is someone, other than this chivalrous guy, going to help this poor girl?


When you scratch their necks, their entire body raises up like it's a hydraulic lift!  Kinda the tortoise equivalent of a cat purring.


Or the total lack of color

and affectionate

Tortoise coming over to Travis asking to be "petted"

Travis obliges

One of two, female Bobcats Travis has raised since they were about 5 days old

Returning to our human world:  As our adventures allow us to visit family and friends scattered about all over this great country of ours,
so it was two weeks ago when we were able to attend a play in Mount Pleasant, SC featuring 3 of my cousin Lynn's beautiful grandchildren.

Sade, Mya (do not try to tell them apart) and Eva (daughters of Kevin and Cassy Andrus) performed in "Charlottes Web".

 The play was wonderful!  Eva is a natural, but all three did great jobs!  Even so, these 3 are not my youngest cousins, that honor is held by              

                   Miss Ellis
(the children of Kelly and Charlie Neely )
 and Mr. Luke
 And if we thought the play was fun???  Wow, the picnic afterward with the entire family was awesome!This is a group we do not see enough of, and we cherish each moment with them:
The icing on the cake was a surprise guest:  Charlie's Mom, Ann, was in for the weekend
(left to right back row:Ann Ellis-Neely, Charlie Neely, Ellis, Kelly Andrus-Neely, Luke, Cassy Andrus.
left to right middle row: Mya (I think), Eva.
front: Kevin Andrus
front on floor:  Sade 
(I think)

And though the title of today's blog may lead you to believe we are still in Ft. Lauderdale, we actually went last weekend (Yes, I have been working on this edition for a full week) AND a ton of stuff has happened since then, so I tell the story as I think of it.  It may not (nay, will not) be in chronological order but the story will be told.

As I walked to work one day last week, I was overtaken buy a truck pulling a trailer LOADED with Kayaks.  Keep in mind the refuge has a dock which we allow the public to use, but it is way out back.  I observed the truck leave pavement and go off road toward the rear of the VC.  Having not seen any vehicles go off-road prior to this event, and having NOT been informed there would be, the cop in me kicked in (like Bill says "you can take the cop out of the station, but you can't take the station out of the cop".  As I make a beeline for this truck, I see him back up to the path heading down to the dock.  I approached with a friendly "hey, how you doin?" followed by a "so, what're you doing?"  Turns out Paul (guides name)
 leads a group of eco-explorers on ventures each month, this one involving kayaks leaving and returning from our pier.  Excited about the potential, I mention that Bill and I have always wanted to try kayaking (as died in the wool canoeists we have been kind of hard line on sticking to canoes).  Paul informs me that he was "too lazy" to remove the tandem (2 person Kayak) from the trailer today, and would we like to join the group?  OH, I jumped right on that, called Bill away from his birdhouse project (wasn't too difficult) and he joined us, completing the tandem team.  Off we went into the Cypress swamp:

It was a day to add to the "Lifetime Memory" Bucket List book.

Then it gets even better:  after 2 years of living in a 5th wheel, we had established our "wish list" of features we would like to have in our "dream" home.  Well, on April 7, 2015 (coincidentally, James's birthday) we found that unit at Camping World, Mrytle Beach, SC and we made the move:
 Of course, just like with any new home, everything gets thrown into it, until you can make it your own.  You cannot believe the stuff we can lose in a 40 foot long space.  By the time Bill finishes customizing the cabinets and closets, we will have more space than we know what to do with"
Tessa is our official Greeter, come on by:
                                                                                The back stairway was a "must have"...

Looking out from the foyer




The only feature missing from this unit was a desk....but that's not a deal breaker.

                                                                                  I'm married to a woodworker after all:-)

          And did you know I am now an official "Alligator Adventure "princess"??
They gave me a crown and everything!

Sorry, I digress... the whole purpose of going to Alligator Adventure was to change out our alligator...Here's our new baby:

Isn't he cute???

On our final day at Waccamaw, several neat things happened.  They all remind me why we are doing this:

I was going to the visitor center with Millie (our replacement volunteer) to do a bit of last minute training, and while there (as I had headed back to the RV's for a moment), Millie spotted one of the Red Fox kits.  Now, no, I did not see it, but it was good just to know they had not abandoned the nest.  She described it as about the size of a kitten.

#2:  I was taking pix of this interesting creature, and caught on film what I believe to be an unusual exhibition.  I still have to study up on this...more next month:

Yes, all the same creature, and is that a baby there??  More to follow....

And then there's the: God sighting of the month:  As Millie and I were both bustling around our respective RV's (me packing to leave, she unpacking to stay) she said, out of the blue "hey, do you want to run over to the VC now and pay for those shirts you wanted to pay for?"  I stopped what I was doing and said "yea, sure, why not, now is as good a time as any".  So we leashed the dogs and began our walk over.  The first thing I noticed was the main gate was open.  Being Sunday, it was supposed to be closed.  As we continued up the drive I noticed a vehicle I did not recognize.   I watched as a man I did not recognize as one of our Rangers approached a Honda Gold Wing trike and climbed aboard. 

 By now, I knew the gate had probably malfunctioned and this passerby had found it open.  We approached as the older man tried unsuccessfully to start his bike.  When I inquired as to how we could help him, the man stated his bike wouldn't start.  He was visibly upset and stated his wife would be worried.  His trike was a Gold Wing (and I knew right then, we were kindred sprits). I told "Dave" I would be right back.  I grabbed a set of keys to a work truck and headed to the RV to collect Bill.  After hearing about Dave's dilemma, Bill grabbed a few tools and we headed back.
Now you are aware that Bill and I had been trying to get on the road all morning..... give Millie some training and get going?  Dave was the last thing we needed to distract us.  But, helping people is what we do, even setting aside our own needs.  We both saw this as a moment God had delivered into our hands to help someone out.

While I gave Millie a short, fast dose of training, Bill had a nice conversation with Dave and got his machine up and running.  He was VERY appreciative!!

So, you see, if Millie hadn't said "let's go" at that moment, poor Dave would have been stuck there at a closed VC, in the middle of nowhere!  God in action!!!

We are arriving at Fish Lake Campground in Volo, IL for a visit until May 21st, and I have already been too verbose!  Vaya Con Dios friends!


P.S.  not to boast, but I am very proud of this next series of pix taken at my cousin Lynn's home in Cornelius, NC....
He's made his decision...

begins his lift...

puts some muscle into it...

Adds height...

keeps his eye on the prize.... 

is moving in....
Busts a move.....

He's almost there.....



and he's off with his prize...

one more element to an amazing nest underway.
I hope you have been able to enjoy God's creativity thru my words and pictures!!!
What an incredible gift!!!

1 comment:

  1. So many adventures and so much beauty and wonderful wildlife! Thanks so much for sharing them all!