March 2016 – Crystal River, FL – Finger Lakes region, NY

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March 1, 2016 Crystal River and Three Sisters Spring
The weather finally cleared up and a planned fishing trip turned into a kayak trip instead. I entered the water at the boat ramp to the Crystal Isles RV Park and 700 yards out I entered the Crystal River. Like many of the Florida Rivers there are homes on banks.
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The Floridians really appreciate and protect their Manatees. Signs like this are posted everywhere.
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As I was leaving the river proper and entering an area where the springs exist among several Islands I viewed this beautiful little beach.
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At the Three Sisters springs there were many snorkeling groups checking out the Manatees.
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There were not that many present but the ones that were gawked at and admired. These two swam directly under my kayak on their way out to enjoy the red tide lunch.
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After a very tasty Korean style spaghetti dinner with my neighbor campers we saw the alligator on our own little Island in the Crystal Isle RV park.
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March 2, 2016
The Crystal Isle RV Resort activity director asked if I could give a talk about life in Afghanistan. Of course I couldn’t say no as this is one of the passions I have. I developed a 30-45 minute talk from my published ‘Afghan Journals’ on how I was selected to be in Afghanistan and what I did there. I talked about the culture, how the Afghan government utilized the money we gave them to operate their National Police force, how our military leadership managed the money designated for the Afghans and what my daily routine consisted of. I received some very interesting questions and the talk was very well received. It was fun to talk about how the team and I trained/mentored/advised the Afghan Colonels, Generals and civilians of the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Finance. I look forward to doing it again and getting better at the presentation.

Nate and I were able to take a nice bicycle ride along one of the canals that lead to the Gulf. This nice 12.5 mile ride included some nice hills. I found out later that Nate was using his electric bike to assist him up the hills. I guess that is ok as he has to pedal the extra weight the rest of the time.
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I left the Crystal Isle resort a day early on the 7th because the noseeums were killing me. I couldn’t go out and use my grill past 4 in the afternoon without getting bitten. I’ve not been so miserable in a long long time! When these monsters bite it hurts and then the itching begins. Quite honestly it never dawned on me to take a Benadryl to relieve the itching. Thank you Emily for the Benadryl and the advice!
My first stop after leaving the Crystal River swamp was Atlanta. I was treated to dinner by Beverly and Deb at the original site of the first ‘Chick-Fil-A’. We had an enjoyable evening discussing Atlanta, Southern Comfort, the Navy and whatever else came up. I curtailed the visit as it was getting dark and I wanted to find a home for the RV and me for the night. It did get dark and I don’t like to drive in the dark but I kept on until I could find a nice rest area or Pilot/Flying J truck stop. I passed through a truck stop but there were no RV’s there and the trucks occupied every available space. So onward I drove until I had passed into Alabama and 2 miles in was a very nice welcome center and rest stop. I remained here until I could sleep no more -0400!
I drove to Elizabethtown, KY where I tried to hook up with Mark, my battle buddy from Afghanistan. As I was driving I coordinated the visit with Mark via fb text. I was driving and only glanced at the screen and saw that he had set a time and agreed to meet. I arrived an hour early and found the old downtown area. I then stayed near the downtown area waiting for further communication from him on specifics of where to meet. I finally looked closely at the text and see that he wants to meet at BN. It took me a moment to realize that BN was Barnes and Nobles. My GPS didn’t have one for Elizabethtown so I opened the app on my iPhone. It was quite a distance from me and I didn’t arrive until 1511 for a 1430 meet-up. I’m so sorry I didn’t get to meet with Mark and his wife. Another time!
I was to meet a friend in Louisville but being a day early she wasn’t able to meet so I continued on into Indianapolis and my home.
Emily was planning a road trip to Syracuse, NY to visit her boyfriend Devin. She was up late each night studying for exams before spring break so when I asked if she would want me to drive the RV to Syracuse she agreed. I used this time to visit the Finger Lakes region where there are literally hundreds of wineries. I stopped going into them and taking photos because there are so many here with some very odd and enticing names: Ravines Wine Cellars, Hickory Hollow Wine Cellars, Leidenfrost Vineyards, Standing Stone Vineyards and many, many more.
I’ll feature only one of the wineries; Fulkerson Winery, www.fulkersonwinery.com, contact@fulkersonwinery.com. Fulkerson Winery is located on Seneca Lake and offers wine tastings as well as a fully stocked ‘brew it yourself’ center within its vast shopping area. I did purchase a case of wine from here which included a few white wines for Emily. There are multiple breweries and wineries all around Seneca and Cayuga Lakes that I would like to stop in but alas there are laws about driving drunk and even a tasting size drink in each establishment would cause me to be totally inebriated.
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The following shows the wine growing region immediately surrounding the Fulkerson Winery. Just to the right out of the picture is the Seneca Lake.
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Display at the edge of the Fulkerson Winery parking lot.
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The sales center for the winery.
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All varieties of Fulkerson Wine is available in the store. At the end you’ll find everything you need to home brew your own Beer. Fulkerson does not sell beer though there are many craft breweries in the region.
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Wine tasting. I was able to enjoy 5 different wines before choosing mine to purchase. The folks were very knowledgeable and gracious.
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A list of available wines
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These beautiful falls are located on private property in Glenora, NY. As we were walking along taking pictures I mentioned to Jane that I could crop out the vehicles when we hear a voice telling us that it is ok to go into the yard and take pictures. How nice, the owner was working in an upstairs gallery and overheard us talking.
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While in Seattle I had noticed the Free libraries. Here one is in Glenora Point
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A crocus is proof that spring is here!
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The vineyards are everywhere! From the top of this hill you can see Seneca Lake in the distance.

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Of course there are many Amish in the area too.
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I found this house at a turn in the road leading between Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake. The architecture is very prominent in the area.

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This is a view from my campsite of the Cayuga Lake.
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Here is one of the Blue Birds that are nesting on her 9 acre piece of Paradise!
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There is a two acre lake on the property and while there I was lucky enough to be able to help her haul some rock to shore up the lake edges, burn some old wood piles that had been there for years and we were able to clean some of the old discarded iron out of the woods. She had this really cute stone boy that sits on the dock and holds a cane fishing pole. From the road it appears as if the statue is real and one lady once chastised her mother for allowing that boy to be on the dock by himself without a life vest on. When it started snowing I thought it might be a good time to head south again. Cedar Point is close but it will have to be visited some other time.

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