Let me tell you about my home town/Part or should I say Park 2-John Chestnut Sr.

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This is another great Pinellas County Park that should be on everyone’s bucket list. There is a lot of wildlife to be seen. Deer, alligators, racoons and many birds call this beautiful park home. This 255 acre park is situated on Lake Tarpon, it has a boat ramp and canoe launch and landlocked canoe trails. It has miles of nature rails, including many boardwalks. This park was built with cooperation of the US Army Corp of Engineers and it is located near Palm Harbor and Tarpon Springs. There is plenty to do in this park. Between the softball fields, the 13 picnic shelters, dog park, horseshoe pits, boatramp, canoe launches with a canoe trail and and two playgrounds, nature trails and of course the chance to see deer, alligators and birds, and many more wildlife and foliage you will not be bored.

The location of your next adventure is 2200 East Lake Rd., Palm Harbor, Florida, bring a picnic lunch and plan on spending the day being surrounded by beauty and if you are lucky you may spot a deer. So be sure that if you are in the Tampa Bay area to add this location to your bucket list.

Until next week,

One of the beauties

Hope

Let’s Me Tell You About My Home Town/County Parks…Part 1-Florida Botanical Gardens

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Pinellas County is the location of my home town, St. Petersburg, Florida. I’ve been calling St. Pete my home town for 44 years now. St. Pete was put in the top 10 of large cities ( even though I would consider it medium). Pinellas County consists of many towns/cities and 20,000 acres of parks and preserves, 4 preserves, 2 botanical and historic parks, and 15 county parks.

Shortly we will be on the road and have really cool locations and experiences to talk about, but while I’m still here I should talk about the beauty of what exists in the place I currently call home. While I can’t wait to leave I realize that we have some of the bests all within miles of our home. We have some of the best breweries, the best bicycle friendly city, a great rail trail, the best city and county parks and the best beaches, of course I’m a little biased. However, hopefully this will spark you to check out the places I talk about or maybe add them to your bucket list.

I’m gonna start with Florida Botanical Gardens. This place is so beautiful and I can’t believe I haven’t been there before. I may have been there before but this was the first time going with friends to just take photos.

Florida Botanical Gardens is 182 acre garden. The address is 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo. The hours are M-F 7-5. They have annual events of course this is 2020 so some may be cancelled. There is a gift shop and visitor’s center, however they are closed on the weekends. Dogs are welcome. While we were there there was quite a few.

Where we entered the garden we started out on the boardwalk and the first thing we said was how we couldn’t believe that we were still in the city. We continued on to a bridge going over the water with little overlooks. There are sculptures that are pretty cool.

One of the many boardwalks
One of the sculptures
The priceless moment when you get to hang with your besties:)

The weather on the day we were there was one of those perfect days, the ones that sells real estate in Florida. There was a yoga class happening in one of the gardens. What a zen place for that. There are benches all over to relax and take in the views and to ponder life. While we don’t have geysers there were a few fountains in the most beautiful setting.

Nancy chilling in one of the beautiful areas.

There are some fun areas as well. Trees decorated with faces.

Fun trees

Gardens wouldn’t be gardens without flowers. So enjoy seeing what I saw through my lens.

I hope you enjoy my view of the gardens and add the Florida Botanical Gardens to your bucket list. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, it is totally free.

One more thing if you like the article it would be appreciated to like it and subscribe to my email list and you will be notified of my blogs as they come out.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for next week where I will show another local park.

Until next week,

Hope

The Freeing Feeling and Not Having an Achy Breaky Back

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Let me tell you it is so freeing to get rid of stuff. While downsizing is difficult we are getting closer. That’s exactly what we did when we had our garage sale we downsized and it was so freeing. While it was a lot of work and I personally don’t even like garage sales we had a successful one and then donated the leftover stuff to Goodwill.

Garage sale- a success

Not too much else happened except while we (Joyce, Vince and I) were selling our belongings in the front, Mike, Jes, Chris, Nick, Mark and and Nya were in the backyard breaking up the floor of the shed and cutting some more overgrown brush. I sold the couch so now the living room is empty. We only have a few larger items left to sell and if we don’t we will take to the property. Our poor pup is confused and nervous about what is going on. We haven’t been staying in the house since the beginning of August but she would stay in there while we were at work. Now poor thing has to sleep in our old bed. Now the room is completely empty except for the tv which will go to the property maybe this weekend.

Moving into the camper fulltime brings me to my next point- my achy breaky back. The mattress that came with our camper mmm how should I put this… was pure crap. Every morning I’d wake up with a sore back. So we ordered and received a mattress from Mattress Insider. It is so nice to be able to sleep through the night and to wake up and not be in any pain. One of the best upgrades. Thank you Mattress Insider.

Beautiful new mattress
Old garbage mattress in the living room, on it’s way out the door.

Thank you everyone who helped with the garage sale and the backyard and thank you Mattress Insider for a good night’s sleep.

Check out next weeks where I will be talking about some of the Pinellas County Parks.

Until then take care,

Hope

Just a quick update…..

This past weekend was a rainy, crappy day, what we wanted to was sit in the camper and just watch the day go by. But what ended up happening was we decided to get ready for this weekend’s garage sale. we spent hours in sorting stuff between garage sale, giveaway, and trash and pricing everything. How does one accumulate so much stuff?!?It was a very satisfactory day and we felt accomplished and productive. So hopefully, everything goes this weekend and what doesn’t will mostly get donated.

That’s all I got for this week. Have a great week and I’ll see y’all next week!

Hope

The way we wanted to spend our day!
The way Eris wanted to spend the day!
The way we spent our day… getting ready!
The end of the day, Eris a little stressed and needy!!
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FINALLY SOMETHING FUN FOR THE WEEKEND TO REMEMBER PROJECT-WEEKEND 36-QUICK TRIP TO ATLANTA

Quick trip to Atlanta

We had a camping trip planned for Labor Day weekend. However, we are so very close to getting the shop completed we did the adult thing and cancelled it. Weekend’s are dwindling down and we are running out of time.

While I was sad to doing the adulting thing we made plans to make a trip to Atlanta to surprise our youngest, who had just celebrated her 26 birthday.

Atlanta is only 4 hours from the cabin so we figured we would just deliver her and Christian’s (her boyfriend, whose birthday is a couple days before Shannon’s) birthday presents.

We left the cabin at 7:30 and got up to Atlanta by 12:15. (of course we stopped few times). The first thing we noticed when getting out of the car it wasn’t disgustingly hot and that Georgia isn’t taking Covid as joke as opposed to feeling in North Florida, where they apparently must think it’s a “hoax”. Reader boards on the highway read to keep your distance, keep groups small on the holiday weekend. Restaurant’s won’t serve you unless you are wearing a mask and most don’t have dine in, outside service. We also went to REI who are keeping the crowds down to 25% and are counting how many people are inside. It was impressive and it is apparently working.

When we got to Shan’s house we had to sneak in behind another car. We were coming up with ideas on how to surprise her. We were standing outside the truck and as I walked around to the other side of the truck, at that exact moment Shan decided to check her mail, when she saw us she had a confused look on her face. Then she was happy to realize it was really us. We took her to lunch where we saw Christian and then to REI.

We had a great quick trip and seeing them was the highlight of the weekend. We got back to the cabin at around 9. It was a perfect day and perfect way to spend weekend number 36.

The rest of the weekend consisted on working on the shop. We have one more weekend scheduled for the end of September to finish the shop. Meanwhile, next weekend we are finishing the yard. Then we will be working on remodeling the inside of the house. Garage sale coming up soon… everything must go.

See you next week!!! Maybe there will be some fun to be had…

Hope

A TON TO TALK ABOUT—-NO JOB IN JULY, GOT JOB TO START IN AUGUST, MAKING PROGRESS FOR OUR FUTURE PLANS, OPENING SHOP WITH ETSY AND BECOMING AN AMAZON AFFILIATE AND WAS ASKED “WHAT WOULD MY DAY LOOK LIKE IF I COULD DO ANYTHING”? AND MY ANSWER…

I lost my job over a month ago, applied for unemployment and have the head hunters looking for me, but while I have this time off I figured that I might as well do things that aren’t easy to accomplish when working 40 hours per week, Indeed works and I got a job and start in a couple of weeks. I have emptied out one of the bedrooms, sold some stuff on market place and have been adding to the get rid of pile almost on a daily basis. While not working it is easier for us to leave to head to the property to continue doing the needed work up there. We have now completed the addition of the bathroom and have started the shop, which at the time of this writing is almost done. On the home front besides downsizing, we have started cleaning out the backyard and have found the shed and the chicken coop, which we have decided to leave up and one of the bedrooms is ready to be painted and the wallpaper in the living room is gone and also awaits painting.

While I have had this down time, I took advantage of it by reopening my Esty shop, where I am selling prints of my photos and cards. Check it out at the link below, I will be adding new items often.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/hopeforfreedom/

I have also decided to become an Amazon Affiliate. If you buy from Amazon, please consider using the link below. It will not cost you any money but we will get a small amount of money from each purchase.

https://amzn.to/2F5Ci3G

Look for some future posts with some links of some of our favorite gear.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked the question of “What would my day look like if I could do anything”? I think my response was I’d go for a morning hike, I would come back do a little yoga and have breakfast and site see if we were someplace to site see, work maybe a couple hours on my virtual job and take Eris the Low Rider Camping Hound on another hike or two, then head back to the camper, which will not be in St. Pete, and edit my photos from my beautiful morning hikes.

This weekend while up at the cabin we had some visitors. They were a bunch of turkey’s. It was fun and funny to watch them. They obviously belong to someone because they were very friendly. Didn’t freak at all at the noise of the compressor, nail gun, us or even the dog. Eris wouldn’t hurt them, I was afraid of what the males would do to her. She did after all have a pet chicken or two that she played with.

Since the 52 Weekends project is on hold because life has been well repetitive and boring (like I am sure most of you) we are making some forward progress. To recap, lost job, reopened Etsy shop, opened an affiliate account with Amazon, making progress on the house, shop and downsizing and dreaming of my “perfect day” and finally, I got a job at a large law office, that starts on August 17th. Until next time….and be on the look out for a review or two…..

Hope

A sample from my Etsy Shop

A turkey visitor

Lots of turkeys

A CAMPGROUND REVIEW-LAKE MANATEE STATE PARK

When the reservation system for the Florida State Parks finally reopened we made reservations, just to go anywhere, someplace close, but not our backyard. We don’t like to check in at dark and since I got off at 5:00 Lake Manatee it was, close to our house and there is a lake to swim in. A swimming hole was a necessity as it is Florida in June. We invited Steve and Rosie to get a site as well. They are always fun to camp with.

I got home from work and we headed south. It literally took us maybe 50 minutes. As we entered the park we just went directly to the campsite, as there was no ranger at the ranger station. We drove to our site and got set up. Saw Steve and Rosie and headed over there to do dinner.

I got up in the morning and headed to check out the park. It is beautiful. Honestly, I put this park in my top 5 Florida State Parks. We are not sure how we missed this park and were thrilled we found it. The lake is about .5 miles away from the campground. Closer if you are on the other loop. It was a steamy, yet dry weekend. It didn’t stop us in having fun though. We brought our bikes and if it would have been cooler would have used them more. However, I rode mine to the ranger station and I must say that was much easier then getting in the car and driving down. We also rode down to the beach and went for a swim. The water was very refreshing.

The picnic/beach area is in a forest of pine trees. A good portion of the park has saw palmettos as well. It seemed to me most of the campsites are shady.

This state park is 556 acre park and has 3 miles of shoreline. The park has camping, canoeing, (they weren’t renting yet because of Covid 19), swimming (nice little beach area), fishing, boating, hiking, a playground and picnic area. There is a boat ramp, launching dock if you bring your own boat and a ton of parking.

It was the most pleasant weekend, we didn’t head out of the park at all, but next time we might check out the winery and brewery down the road. Also, we will plan our next trip when it is cooler and we are looking forward into hiking/biking the trails and maybe the canoe rentals will be reopened.

The address for this great park is 20007 State Road 64, Bradenton, Florida.

I highly recommend checking this park out if you are in the area.

Until next time, stay safe and travel on…

Hope

Our campsite
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WEEKEND’S TO REMEMBER #25-SOME MORE PACKING/ORGANIZING AND FATHER’S DAY FUN

This will more than likely be short and sweet as not much is happening.

Saturday we did some camper organization and some weight distribution and some more boxing stuff up.

Covid cases are up and we aren’t really interested in hanging out, or should I say in. For Father’s Day, Mike, my best friend and the best Dad to our children, wanted to go to the beach, so the beach we went, the beach is not my fav place, hard to believe a Floridian who doesn’t like the beach except for a nice sunrise or sunset, but it was Father’s Day so I couldn’t say no. We met Nancy, Mark and Nya there as well. The beach of choice was Ft. Desoto. We got out there early enough but there was still a line to get in. Nancy said it was an hour for them to get in and they were only 15 minutes behind us. I am guessing head count is what the jam is all about. We went to the side of the beach that is usually less crowded and as expected it was, after all we are trying to do our part. After we started feeling a little crispy we left and it was time for lunch. We brought lunch with us, so Mike and I went to the shaded picnic area found a table and ate lunch. We attempted to walk the little nature trail but this is mid June in Florida the bugs chased us off. I got some great pics and played around with some different lenses.

After we were done at the beach we headed home, got cleaned up and headed to Mom and Dad’s for dinner. We brought Sonny’s with us and had a nice evening. We were able to Zoom with Annette which thrilled the parental’s.

So all in all it was a nice sort of productive and fun weekend.

Until next time,

Hope

My bestie
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Weekend to Remember (24) Cabin and the start of moving on up and out….

We loaded up the box trailer with the first load of stuff we are keeping and headed to the cabin. Our goal was to get the bathroom completed, storage shelves in place and then possibly build some of the shop and continue on working on clearing some of Nick’s property. Mike continued on the bathroom while Nick and I worked on the property. By the time we were done working on the property (because we were hot, tired and sore but mostly hot) Mike was done with the bathroom so they unloaded the trailer and while they continued working on some outside stuff I started going through the boxes I packed months ago. Mostly pictures that are stored on the shelves and albums, which are stored in the main cabin and a lot of stamping supplies. So much stuff, that I am not sure if I will ever use the stamping stuff to justify keeping it. Maybe after a year if I don’t use it I will get rid of it.

Downsizing is somewhat problematic, after all I have lived in my house nearly 33 years and have accumulated that much crap as well. And really do we need, totally guessing here, 50+ pint glasses that we have collected from the different breweries? I think not, so while we don’t want to get rid of them all, we also have regular glasses at the cabin. So the plan is to bring up the pint glasses, after all they remind us of fun places, and change them out with the boring regular glasses. But we are only replacing and not taking them all up, the rest maybe we will give away as parting gifts. I also have this owl cookie jar, it is an antique for sure, while I want to keep the cookie jar, I am 100% sure I don’t need to keep the contents of it. We have begun calling it the DNA cookie jar. The owl sits on this shelf above the refrigerator and when the kids were little and would lose their teeth we (or should I say the tooth fairy) would put the teeth in there. Also what could be found in there is undeveloped film. I have no idea from what era they are from but they are gone. So needless to say downsizing is difficult. This is just one example. But I am taking the approach does this particular item bring me joy, if the answer is no, it’s just taking up space.

Another huge, super huge, downsizing issue for me is, besides making cards (stamping, etc.), my biggest hobby is photography. I love, love, love taking photos, always have (true story one week in Yellowstone =~1459 pictures-ones I had to have all of them developed because there wasn’t digital), that hasn’t changed, except for the fact I can now choose what I want to print, which is somewhat a difficult situation for me. Not to mention, printing and sharing is what I like to do. Not sure what I am going to do with all the photos but yet I still print. I am now giving some away as gifts (sorry for all my family who is running out of wall space but…) and will be reopening my Etsy store to hopefully sell some as well and figured this is something I can do while on the road. Be on the look out for my Etsy Store announcement.

This is just my issues with stuff, I am getting rid of a ton and besides the pictures and homemade things (like quilts and needlecraft, paintings and things) I don’t really have much of an attachment to anything else. Mike on the other hand doesn’t have the same attachment issues (except with his tools of course and we are building him a shop for them). But yet he still has a lot of stuff. So do we plan on a garage sale (uggggg) or Facebook Market Place or just dump the stuff? This is the questions we continue asking ourselves.

Now while we are working on the cabin and getting it ready we need to work on our current home to get it ready to sell. We have inside work and outside work. While we just repainted the outside last year we don’t need to do that however, the inside needs work. Mike says he can knock it out in a short time and we will plan on moving into the camper by the middle of September so that we can get it done. I have started doing somethings so far, like starting taking the wallpaper off the wall, emptied out one bedroom and organized the bike room.

Anyway, while up at the cabin this past weekend we accomplished a lot and are moving right along, including Mike and Nick doing the framing of the floor for the shop. Plus we even took sometime and headed down and walked the US 90 Bridge, took a ride on a country road, saw some great boondocking spots, not sure if I would bring my camper down there but if I had a van or wanted to tent camp I would be so on it.

It seems like we always start building in the summer, like always. I might mention that summers are not the funnest time to be in Florida. Since the property is in the middle of north Florida (Florga as we like to call it) there are no sea breezes and we found that if it is hot in St. Pete it is hotter at the property. So needless to say it was hot and omg buggy up there. We will have to go up often like at least every other weekend so that we can accomplish what we want to get done by September and in the meantime continue to work on our house in St. Pete and any other modification to the camper that still may need to be done (not much now).

After this past weekend we feel accomplished.

Until next time,

Hope

Some boxes. It’s a beginning.
Our bathroom with storage and composting toilet.
Clearing the property
Highlight of the weekend.