Graton Beach State Park to Citrus Springs, FL
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Sunny to partly sunny later, high 80s

We departed Grayton Beach State Park just before 8:00, headed for the home of nephew, Nathaniel, and his family about 30 miles southeast of Ocala, FL. It wasn't a very exciting drive, about 350 miles of uninspiring, but mostly flat, interstate highway.

Sandy makes sure to keep in close contact with them, but it had been about seven years since we last saw Nat, his wife, Michele, and daughters, Elyssa and Ellie. Arriving at their home around 4:30, we were delighted to see how much the girls had grown. Elyssa and Ellie, now 12 and 10 years old, respectively, are bright and animated and lots of fun, even though both werw dealing with cold and allergy problems.

Welcome to Constant Chaos

There was a welcome sign on the dining area wall and, since it was Bill's birthday, he got a specially made hat to wear for the occasion.

Birthday Hatted Bill Takes a Shot at Too Many Candles

We spent the evening catching up while Nat and Michele prepared a delicious meal of grilled chicken kabobs and fixings! Dinner was topped off by a lovely chocolate birthday cake with lots of candles and plenty of thick, creamy frosting.

Citrus Springs and Edgewater, FL
Thursday, October 17, 2013
High 80s, foggy early but mostly sunny

We took the day to drive across the state to Edgewater to visit long-time sailing friend, Jack, who lost his wife, Edie, earlier this year. It was good to see that Jack is doing well and we had a good visit. We admired his growing collections of airline playing cards and portable, tube-type radios. (He's also got a camper that is similar to ours for sale, in case you're interested. It's a Chalet-brand camper. Contact us and I'll put you in touch with Jack.)

We all joined mutual friends, Joe & Barb, for lunch at Goodrich's Seafood & Oyster House in Oak Hill. Located right on the ICW a few miles south of Edgewater, the style is down-home simple. And it is delicious. It always pays to have local knowledge!

Jack, Barb, Bill, Sandy, and Joe Together at Goodrich's

Altogether, it was a great visit. Too bad we couldn't stay longer but Joe & Barb were delivering Jack to the airport early the next morning to fly to Pittsburgh for the wedding of a granddaughter!

Back to Nat & Michele's, we had a hearty salad with leftover chicken for dinner; Yummm!

Citrus Springs, FL
Friday, October 18, 2013
Mostly sunny, high 80s

Nat took the day off to spend more time with us. With Elyssa in school and Ellie still down with her allergies, we had an uneventful, lazy morning around the house.

In the afternoon, Nat took us to Crystal River Springs for a kayak tour in one of Florida's natural fresh-water springs. You access the springs from the kayak center via a quarter-mile paddle through a set of narrow canals. The springs are beautiful with super clear, warm, aqua-colored water. Happily, on this shoulder season weekday there weren't too many other paddlers. Unfortunately, we didn't see any of the many manatees that often frequent the fresh, warm waters.

Enjoying Kayaking Crystal Spring Waters

Small Flock of Ibis Working a Lawn near Crystal Spring

After school Sandy & Michele took the girls shopping while Nat and Bill cooled their heels elsewhere in the shopping mall. New pajamas were the big purchases. "How exciting is that?" you ask? Well, Nat & family are about to move to Pennsylvania after living all the girls' lives in warm climates. So, while not hot new fashions to show off at school, the PJs will serve the girls well during the cold Pennsylvania winter. We are looking forward to having them closer.

Since we were out and about, anyway, we treated for dinner at Chili's, just down the road from the shopping center. Fun and very good!