Photoblog!

I did a lot of picture-taking this past week, so I thought I’d focus on putting up some of my photos, from Tarpon Springs, Largo, and Clearwater.

My first stop was at Wall Springs, near Tarpon Springs. I had been there on my bike but didn’t have my camera with me at the time, so I wanted to get back there and see what I could capture. It’s a beautiful place — small, but interesting, and the spring has been through a lot of iterations in this century.

Wall Springs Containment
Wall Springs Containment

I took pictures of the plaques up around the spring so I would remember what the area used to look like, but here’s what it looks like now (not sure why it’s called ‘Springs,’ since I only see one. . .).

On Friday of last week, my friend in Largo took the day off from work, so we headed out to Central Park (in Largo, not NYC), where there’s also a nature preserve. Unfortunately, I think my diopter was outta whack on my camera, because many (if not most) of the pictures I took in the preserve were blurry. Here’s what I got that was worth saving from there:

On Saturday was the Sun N Fun Clearwater festival, at Coachmen Park, which was a lot of fun. The weather was beautiful (hot and sunny), and there was lots of fair food, free wine and cheese samples, and bands that were a blast from the past. . . Remember Orleans, Atlanta Rhythm Section, The Romantics — and Eddie Money? My friend had a press pass, so she ended up getting us in the festival for free, and then we ended up with passes to go up to the stage to take pictures (yeah, we were completely amazed at our luck, but she’s good!). Just some random shots:

Orleans onstage (Dance with Me)

Orleans Sound Check
Orleans sound check
Orleans guitarists
Orleans guitarists
Orleans singer
Seriously blue eyes!
Guitarists
Guitarists
Orleans guitarist
Orleans guitarist
Orleans drummer
Orleans drummer
Orleans
Orleans
John Hall
John Hall (who took OUR picture!)
On stage
On stage

Followed by Atlanta Rhythm Section (So Into You)

Laura at Work
Laura at work

Atlanta Rhythm Section

ARS Lead
Lead Guitarist
ARS
Atlanta Rhythm Section
ARS Guitarist
ARS guitarist
ARS Guitarist and Lead
Guitarist and lead singer
ARS Guitarist and Lead 2
Guitarist and lead singer
ARS Duo
Atlanta Rhythm Section Duo

And then the harder rockers, The Romantics (That’s What I Like About You)

Romantics Soundcheck The Romantics Romantics Bassist Romantics Drummer Romantics Lead Romantics Bassist 3 Romantics Guitarist Romantics Drummer 2

 

Finally, it was time for Eddie Money (I was more impressed with the cowboy, though. . .)

Eddie Money 3
A bit worse for the wear
EMs Band
Eddie Money on the sax

 

Eddie Money

Cowboy
Great guitar player

Cowboy 2

Cowboy 3
Yeehaw!
Eddie Money 2
Eddie ditched his jacket in the heat

 

So tomorrow is moving day, and it’s supposed to rain for the next three days. It’s not the first time I’ve set up in the rain, but it’s not my favorite thing to do. . .  Yeah, I need a little cheese with that whine — until next time!

Branching Out

This week has been a difficult time for me. I ride my bike around the park every day, and every day I notice a new empty space. The snowbirds are nearly gone, and the transients (like me) are moving in. It brings a totally different feel to the place — not nearly as homey — and I’m looking forward to moving to my next spot. I just made my reservation yesterday for a place in Pinellas Park (near St. Pete) for the month of May, and I’m already looking into local things to do there. It’s close to Sawgrass Lake Park and Weedon Island Preserve, the latter of which is on Tampa Bay.

In the midst of the (blog) week, Easter was very nice this year, spent with my friends in Largo. Great food, and great company, followed by What About Bob?, which I think I had seen but didn’t remember seeing. I love Bill Murray, so any movie he’s in is good in my book! We also celebrated a friend’s birthday, and had a fabulous cake called Strawberry Sensation – awesome treat! I came home with quite a bit of ham, so I’m trying to figure out now what to do with it    . . . Grilled ham and cheese, anyone?

Birthday Cake
Beautiful cake!
Sponge Bob
Guest at the party
Party Kids
Celebratory group

My friend loaned me her keyboard, so I’ve been trying to get back my piano skills. I haven’t played in quite some time, and I left my keyboard at home, so I’m happy to have something to play again. I also got out my guitar lesson books/DVDs and started learning to play the guitar again. My living room is now filled with instruments and music – scattered everywhere! On a side note, it occurred to me that my favorite pieces for the piano have to do with the moon: Debussy’s Clair de Lune, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, and Mancini’s Moon River. Coincidence? I think not. . . I have determined I must have been a moon goddess in another incarnation (could explain the spaciness, huh?)

Keyboard
A better use of my sofa

I also drove to Hammock Park, a local park in Dunedin (without a single hammock in it!). I had previously ridden my bike there and I wanted to get pictures. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as inspired as I was the first time I visited the park (ain’t it always the way!), and the pictures show it. Still, I found quite a few orange trees again, and after shaking down a few (literally), I got my prize:

Orange
The freshest orange ever!

It looks so pretty sitting on my table that I can’t bring myself to eat it. Here are the rest of the pics from that visit, along with an explanation of what the park actually is, for those of you who like to be educated. It’s quite a diverse park, and I highly recommend it!

Gathering Place
Gathering place in the park
Swamp
Wetlands area
Walkway at Hammock Park
Walkway through the park
Water Feature
Another wetlands area amidst the trees

From Wikipedia: “Hammock is a term used in the southeastern United States for stands of trees, usually hardwood, that form an ecological island in a contrasting ecosystem. Hammocks grow on elevated areas, often just a few inches high, surrounded by wetlands that are too wet to support them.”

That’s it for now. . . I have a project I’m working on in the RV, but more on that later!

 

New Blog Site!

My website is now complete, although it’s still not working right. So. . . to check it out, enter sherrylevasseurphotography.com and you’ll get there. The most recent blog will be the first thing on the page (top left). I’d really like feedback, so feel free to comment on the layout, etc. I’m still in the process of moving my pictures up there; the gallery is a work in progress!

This week included a visit to the beach on Honeymoon Island, a fabulous meal (serious indulgence), more bike rides, and a visit from a friend from Ohio. But first, I want to say goodbye to my friends (snowbirds) who’ve gone back home. I attended the last ‘burger night’ with them, and nearly all of them are gone, or are leaving within the next few days. . . I’ll miss you all!

Burger Night
Burger Night Friends

The beach on Honeymoon Island, a state park, is accessible via the Dunedin Causeway, and it costs $8 per carload, or $4 if you’re the only one in the car. In addition to a beach (with 2 cafes and nice restrooms), there is a nature center and hiking trails, where you can see osprey in their nests and an eagle’s nest (which is blocked off from visitors – dang it!). I also saw my first armadillo there! Here’s a short video of my beach visit:

It was a beautiful day, and I got a little burnt after several hours in the sun despite my 30 SPF (missed a bit of virgin skin while applying!). I also had a seagull attack me while I was eating my lunch. I’m sitting there looking out at the gulf, and suddenly there’s a flapping of wings and I feel my sandwich being tugged on. Apparently, I was holding on pretty tightly because after the seagull had flown over my head, I still had my sandwich. After an initial hesitation to eat after a bird, I decided he might have gotten a piece but otherwise the sandwich was relatively unscathed. And to think I used to like seagulls! They’re actually the rats of the shorebird world, and while I enjoy watching them attack others’ food, I hate it when they try to take mine. . .

I went to eat with friends at a place called Ozona Blue, which is apparently where the rich and famous in the area go to eat (so I’m told). I thought I’d indulge myself since I’ve not been treating myself since I’ve been here (unless you count copious amounts of vodka), so I had surf and turf and it was fabulous! The restaurant atmosphere itself left a bit to be desired (very loud inside – horrible acoustics), and our server was not particularly attentive, but the food made up for it. I’d recommend it just for the food and location (right on the gulf). Here are a couple of pictures from that experience:

Ozona Blue
Me in front of the restaurant
SAMSUNG
View from the patio
Iced Fish
Iced fish — yum!

Unfortunately, I still don’t have any pictures from my bike rides, but I’m thinking about getting a GoPro just for that purpose. It’s just a matter of deciding which one will work for my purposes for the least amount of money. . . I’d welcome any feedback on that matter. I just want to be able to strap it to my helmet (once I get one) to record my bike rides so I don’t have to worry about retracing my steps later with my camera to get pictures.

And then I had a visit from my friend from Ohio – woo-hoo! She came down with her family to take a break, get some sun, and to take her granddaughter to Disney World. I had dinner with them one night (I had a splitting headache that night, so I wasn’t much company at all), and the next afternoon I picked up my friend to go to dinner and spend the night in my RV. We went to Molly Goodhead’s in Ozona for their burger night (I get these tips from the snowbirds, who know all the specials in the area), then came back and had a drink before turning in for the night. I had bought an inflatable mattress just for guests, and I got that out and then tried to find the pump to blow it up. . . It was dark outside by this time, so I plugged in the battery for my flashlight – dead. I remembered I had a flashlight in my emergency kit, so I got that out of the basement (what the outside storage is called), pulled out that flashlight – no batteries.

After looking around in the dark, and in most compartments in the RV, I couldn’t locate that damned pump! So my friend said she didn’t really mind sleeping with me in my bed (I wouldn’t subject anyone again to my jackknife sofa after another friend declined to stay over a second night after her experience with it). Needless to say, the next morning I was still looking for the pump, and found it the first place I looked. Hopefully I’ll remember where it is the next time I have a guest (actually, those who are coming down soon, please remind me that the pump is under the TV!). And if anyone knows how to put a space between paragraphs on WordPress, please let me know. I’ve tried at least 5 times now and can’t get it to work. . .

Coming Up On 3 Months. . .

I’m in the middle of building a new website and it’s turning out to be a difficult endeavor. I signed up with a new hosting service, and I’m switching from Blogger to WordPress, so I’m starting from scratch! My photography website will now be integrated with my blogging site, and I’m trying to design something really different. And I’m going with a much shorter URL: www.sherrysworld.us, which should make some people very happy. This building process is taking up a lot of my time, which is why this blog is late. . .
There hasn’t been much going on this week, but I’m coming up on 3 months in my RV, which makes me somewhat experienced at this (at least more so than when I first came to Florida). The main thing I’ve learned in that time is that I can do this! I came down here with just the possessions that would fit in the back of my CRV and some ideas about this lifestyle gleaned from reading blogs and RV sites on the internet. But I had never been so completely on my own, nor had I driven such a large vehicle. It’s funny how many women come up to me to say “I could never do what you’re doing – although I wish I could!” And I tell them “Yes, you could.” People are so much more capable than they give themselves credit for! I am not without fear; I just don’t let it hold me back from doing what I want to do.
So far, my moving mishaps have included driving with my step out (twice), pulling away from my site without disconnecting my electric cord, and driving without securing my vent covers (losing one in the process). In the grand scheme of things, those are not huge mistakes. The main things to keep in mind are to start early getting things ready to go and try to follow a checklist (I have one on my phone, although I forget to check it). I now use more stabilizers in my cabinets to keep things from falling out if I happen to hit a curb (happens periodically), and I ensure all loose items are more secure throughout the RV. I have broken one Corelle plate during a move, and that’s it – not bad!
I have added a couple of things to my RV as a result of issues, such as my coffee pot getting fried by unstable electric (I now have a surge protector at the box), and I have a water filter on my line due to the bad water here, to protect my plumbing. My current issue is with my shower, which isn’t draining properly. I got online to find a solution, but the baking soda with vinegar suggestion isn’t working, so I’ll have to try something more caustic, I think. It’s all trial and error, and I’m learning to roll with the punches as a result. In fact, I found a little plaque at the local ‘Florida’ store, Bealls, that pretty much sums up my philosophy these days:
Yes!

The good news is I’m still enjoying myself! I’m not as excited on a daily basis as I was when I first started out, but I still get up each day thinking about everything I could do — if I want — and I’m so busy I can’t squeeze it all into one day. The weather here is, for the most part, amazing! Today, the sun is shining, and it’s supposed to be in the mid-70s, which is perfect weather. In fact, I think I’ll go for a bike ride around the park just to celebrate! Next week, I’ll have pictures from Stump Pass and the Nokomis drum circle — stay tuned . . .

Moving Day — and Race Day!

My new site (and a clean RV)
Yesterday was moving day, and it went very well – no curbs hit, no cabinets flying open, no cars trying to keep me from switching lanes – and I absolutely love my new spot. I’m now in Dunedin, and I’m very happy about that. I pulled in yesterday, and not only did someone immediately offer to help me back in, but I then had a welcoming committee come down the street to introduce themselves and welcome me to the street. I quickly got settled in (hook-ups hooked up, awning out, coffee pot plugged in). The only mishap on this trip was I lost one of my fan covers. It apparently flew off when I was driving down US 19, and I didn’t notice until I went to turn my fan on and saw blue sky – argh! I had washed the RV yesterday (vast improvement after 5 hours!), and forgot to latch the covers back . . . I have no idea how much that’ll cost me to replace, but I had already determined, as I was washing them, that I would replace them all rather than wash them again. My major concern was for the person who saw my fan cover flying at them on the highway. . .
After getting settled in, I went to take a bike ride to the Dunedin Causeway. I’m still fairly new at this cycling thing, so I often look like a 2nd grader just learning to ride a bike, particularly when I have to pass people on the trail. I ended up playing chicken with a 225-pound muscle-bound guy on a bike going the opposite direction when I forgot the protocol (pass on the right!). He definitely could have flattened me like a pancake, and I’m sure he had a few choice words for me after he passed. Other than that, the ride was beautiful: lots of sightings of herons, egrets and osprey, and a fabulous view of the gulf on both sides. Here’s a picture of my new bike (I can’t take my camera with me on my rides because I don’t trust myself not to fall over and damage it):
Yay!
What I really wanted to talk about was my first auto race – the St. Petersburg Grand Prix! Actually, I only went to see the practice runs, but it was such a vibrant atmosphere there – the energy was amazing! On the practice day of the race, visitors can actually go back to the bays where they’re working on the cars, so I got a lot of photos of the cars close-up – Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Audis, oh my!
That it does. . .
Taking an Indy for a spin
Audi
Red Ferrari!
Teamwork
Hard at work, or maybe taking a break
Not much to the Indy cars. . .
Caddy!
One of several Mustangs
Mercedes
Lamborghini!
Just so there’s no question. . .
The practice runs were just that, as the drivers pushed the limits of their vehicles to see how far they could go before breaking for the turn and how fast they could go around the curves. I was paying close attention, since I’d like nothing better than to drive a race car! I’m thinking about paying a visit to the local go kart facility in the near future. . . 
Indy Cars
I want one!
Overshot the mark
This one has it
Not bad. . .
The object is to get as close to the curve as possible
Better. . .
This one had flames coming out of the tailpipe as he braked

The Indy cars sounded like a huge bunch of mosquitoes, with their Mazda engines. But then the big boys came out. . . The roar was thrilling!

Pirelli Race lineup, with Tampa Bay in the background

Cadillac’s newest entry

Caddy again
Caddy taking the curve well

Loved to watch them attempt to pass each other
Mustang on the move

The day was overcast, but it didn’t rain, so I just enjoyed watching the runs, had a great Bloody Mary, and then we went to dinner on the waterfront in St. Pete — lobster mac and cheese! Great day, but just another great day in a long string of ’em!