Sunday, March 8, 2009

So many firsts.. it was fun!

We've returned home from our weekend of camping at O'Leno State Park, and it was so much fun! I enjoy the camping time we spend with additional family the most! John and I both said on the way home, we wish we had friends that like to camp and would go with us! My Aunt Virginia and her husband, Bud went with us to O'Leno, and we're excited about the prospects of them becoming campground hosts. They currently host when their schedules permit at a state park in Tallahasse. It's not a camping park, "just" one of those parks that boasts beautiful gardens, but as hosts, they get to camp while they stay there at the host sites. They were so impressed with O'Leno that they inquired about the contact information for becoming a host there. It would be very beneficial since Bud often has doctor appointments at the VA hospital over in Gainesville, and the campground it only 24 miles from there, as opposed to the 70 miles from their house in Callahan. Typically, they said, Bud's appointments are at 8:00 in the morning, and they may start using this campground as an "overnight" spot when he has appointments. For senior citizens to stay at this particular park it is only $8 per night. They certainly could not get a hotel for anything close to those prices! As it is, he has an appointment tomorrow morning, so they decided to stay another night. Lucky them!

Our weekend was filled with firsts! The biggest being, Daniel's first fish! It was small for sure, but we were so proud of him. Our Saturday morning started out with Aunt Ginny and Uncle Bud heading back home to Callahan, as Bud's medicines were left at home on the kitchen counter. Bud is a severe diabetic, so the trip back was very necessary! We went off on our own, down to the swinging bridge in the morning, with fishing rods in hand. Daniel has been fishing before, but he's never caught anything until today. We went down to the shore, and started fishing down just under the bridge, and then moved on down the bank. It didn't take long for Daniel to hook up with a bream! His very first fish! Yay Daniel!
The picture shows it, but unfortunately, it was a small one, and it had turned sideways, so I got the skinny profile of the fish, which makes it look even smaller! A few minutes later, just as John dropped in the line for Daniel, a fish took that bite, and they reeled in another one. Daniel openly admits, Daddy caught that one! Hanna was very disappointed that she and I did not catch anything! Better luck next time! John explained to her that many times when the two of us go fishing, one of us gets "skunked" while the other does very well. She wasn't feeling very sympathetic. The kids quickly got bored sitting, waiting for a phantom bite that may never come, so they started playing around with stuff on the bank, and tossing sticks into the water. I saw it coming.. just as Daniel was trying to pick up a stick, he was at such an incline, he stumbled, tripped, and splash! He screamed "the water's shivery!" As chilly as the nights have been, even the days, the water was not very warm, and I would not have wanted to fallen in either up to my waist! That ended our morning session at the river, as we now had to walk back to our campsite to get Daniel into dry clothes and shoes! He commented with every other step about the water squishing out of his shoes!

We went back, changed clothes, and went to rent our canoes. We rented two canoes, one for the boys, and one for the girls, including Callie! This was Hanna and Daniel's first time in a canoe and their first time seeing an alligator in the wild! We passed him once, and missed him, but then a lady on the bank, sitting watching, pointed him out. A man and a woman, who passed by in a kayak commented that they thought maybe he was dead because he was in the exact same place yesterday, and didn't seem to be moving. Well, we found out to Hanna's disliking, he was not dead! As we passed by a second time, he decided to check things out, and swam around in the river around our canoes, finally going underwater for awhile. He surfaced again later, and we saw him then too. My guess was that he was probably an 8-foot alligator. Hanna was upset that we didn't fish while in the canoes, but John and I both agreed we didn't want to each try dodging loose fishing hooks attached to lines, waving past our ears and such, while in a canoe. Not this trip, anyway! The kids need to learn a little more about safety with fish hooks before we trust them in such close proximity! I found it very interesting that the couple in the kayak were at Gold Head when we were there over New Year's weekend. It's a small world!

When we returned to camp, we saw Aunt Ginny and Uncle Bud returning to camp, and the kids convinced them they needed to go see the swinging bridge. Daniel was right at home, keeping up with their pace, as we walked back down to the park to see the bridge yet again! Callie and Angus (their dog) both tried out the river, although this trip, Callie would not go deep into the river again, obviously remember her last trip to this bank, when she went underwater! She had a good time, none the less! When we returned to camp again, we came across a campsite where they were playing two guitars and a violin near a campfire. I commented that I should have brought my viola, they thought I said, I have a viola.. and said, "Go get it, and come play with us!" I wish I did have it with me at the time, although, I do not know how to "fiddle". Twice a month, on Sunday afternoons they have "old time dances" at the campground, in which they have square dancing and such, so it is possible that I could go again on such a weekend, and have the opportunity to learn how to fiddle and play with these groups. Wouldn't that be fun? When we left this morning, Aunt Ginny and Uncle Bud said they would be going back to listen to the music and enjoy watching the dancing. I really wish we had the time to have been able to stay today, but I'm sure we'll do so at some other time!

We've returned home with the laundry in full routine, the dog is exhausted, the kids are exhausted and cranky, and so are we! I think being out in the wild has stirred some "animal instincts" in Callie, as she also had a first this afternoon, when she finally caught a squirrel, and killed it. Daniel watched the whole thing, and commented he wished he could keep it as a pet. I explained we had to leave it alone while she had it, because it might bite us, but later, we picked it up with the shovel and put it in a garbage bag for the garbage man to take away on Tuesday!


Jenny said...

Sounds like a good time. Tell Daniel congrats on his 1st fish.

Suzanne Chappell said...

Hi Jenny! I'll tell him for sure! You guys need to come with us some time! The kids would have a blast!

Kim Lahaie Day said...

Hi Suzanne!

What a fantastic adventure you had but you nearly lost me when Daniel fell into the water...Glad he only got halfway wet and squishy shoes! Hope you brought extra shoes for him, I don't know that I would have thought about that!

The wounded squirrel reminds me of a "Seinfeld" episode.......

Would have loved to heard and seen the 'round the campfire picture you described, must have been fantastic!



Suzanne Chappell said...

Hi Kim!
We had such a great time, and yes.. with Daniel I always pack extra shoes and lots of pants! Daniel especially makes me very nervous around the water, but not far from him. I hesitated to see if he'd be able to recover and stand up, but knew I'd be getting wet if he couldn't remember how to swim. I too had extra shoes, just in case.

I really hope I get the opportunity to go back and play with such a group again. Interestingly, John has told me I should take my viola along and play when we camp. Who knows.. maybe I'll become a fiddler! I do have a violin, but I'm not great at playing it, and it's really old! It belonged to my great grandmother when she was in elementary school.

Squishy DRY hugs, unlike Daniel's shoes!

Kim Lahaie Day said...

Hi Suzanne,

For a non-musician, I do not see the difference between the instruments, forgive me for that. It would be great if you could be a fiddler, too, but what a wonderful treasure you have there with your antique fiddle! Is it out on display somewhere? Cool beans!

Dry but squishy hugs,