Resident Volunteers at Gamble Rogers

Trip Start Nov 19, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Gamble Rogers State Park

Flag of United States  , Florida
Thursday, April 1, 2010

Our first two weeks of volunteering to help the Rangers with their work maintaining Gamble Rogers Park have been fun, educational and fulfilling.  We arrived to a warm and thorough greeting from Tony Greaves who gave us our T-Shirts, hats, name tags, keys and full explanation of how things will go. 

Tony then with pride gave us a walk through of how great the amenities are for us.  We have a fabulous site with full hookups and a deck to help keep the sand outside.  Also we have a fire pit, clothes line and a shed with a refrigerator and washing machine and dryer for our use.  Josee and Raymond from Quebec are our neighbors.  The privacy and natural jungle feel is perfect for a 5 week stay.  We feel like we are at a great retreat!!!  We are located in between the Intra Coastal part of the Park and the Ocean side.  You really can't get better than that!! 

Tony tells us to be dressed for painting (not in our nice new T-shirts) and at the break room by 7:30 am.  I'm OK with being an early bird but poor Andy needs a good belt of caffeine to be awake at that hour.  He rallies and is up and ready for what the day will offer. 

At  the break room we meet Mark who is the assistant Park Manager to Barbara Roberts the head manager.  We get introduced around and Tony takes us for a tour of the entire park which has three main areas they maintain.  Smith Creek, North Peninsula, and Gamble Rogers.  Very impressive that a handful of Rangers keep so much area so beautifully kept and healthy and running smoothly with campers and day users by the thousands every year.  Tony drops us off and lets Josee and Raymond, our neighbor volunteers get us set up for painting.  Josee takes the forewoman role helping us get paint materials, brushes and ladders. 

Andy and I get right into being painters once again.  Andy and I met as painters some thirty odd years ago.  Here we are painting together again as retirees!!  My how life does go in circles and cycles!!   I would not have guessed we would be doing this at this time in our lives and loving it!! 

Michael Vickey, a fellow RVer and friend came on over from Stephen Foster State Park at White Springs where he was playing his dulcimers at their Coffee House.  Check back in our entries for more information and great pix of Stephen Foster Park and its famous music.  It turns out that the Manager here, Barbara Roberts, was the manager at Stephen Foster for a few years too.  She has a mountain dulcimer that her Dad made for her so she and Michael were talking like old friends right away.  Michael tuned her dulcimer up and played a few songs for us.  Barbara has been practicing ever since.  Josee, Raymond, Laura, Tony and Mark all showed up to listen while Michael gave us a concert on his Hammered and Mountain Dulcimers.  Michael went on from here to defend his 1st place title for Hammered Dulcimer player in Florida and won!  He also brought his 3rd place status on the Mountain Dulcimer to  2nd place!!  He is such a treat!!!  As is Hudson, his dog.  One must never forget to mention Hudson when writing about Michael as they are such a team!!

Laura is here at Gamble Rogers through Ameri Corps.  She is responsible to help in the restoration projects and the maintenance of the trails and much more that I am not aware of.  She told me about how when the Intra Coastal Water Way was dug it used as many existing rivers and creeks they could dredging them deeper to allow for sailing and deep draft vessels.  The spoils that were dredged were simply piled onto the shore without consideration for the natural habitats it was disturbing.   The tides come into the Intra Coastal at inlets every so many miles between the barrier islands along the Florida coast.  The Intra Coastal is mostly brackish with high salt content from the interaction with the tides.  The flora and fauna and birdlife depend upon this natural ebb and flow of this salty river water.  When the spoils were piled on the shoreline all this was disrupted and destroyed.  Organizations have gotten together pooling finances and resources to undertake the task of restoring the shoreline to its natural level.  Once leveled, then planted with Bull Rush plugs that will take root quickly and will stand the salty tidal flows.  Seeds and cuttings and uprooted plants will be brought in by the birds, fish and tides to get caught in the grasses and grow.  In about 5 years from planting the grasses, the original and natural habitat will have gotten established and will supporting all sorts of water life as well as birdlife.  I was thrilled to be so lucky to be here on the planting day.  I wore my volunteer outfit and jumped on board.  The pix tell the tale best. 

Campground hosts live in the campground and keep the sites clean like we did at Fort DeSoto.  Here there are 34 sites and one set of hosts.  The hosts come back year after year to be at such a wonderful park and I think, because the Rangers are so good at what they do and show such appreciation for the volunteer help.  Herb and his wife,.......are such a couple.  They have been returning for a hosting stint for many years.  Barbara and her staff all got a "good bye for this year" party arranged at the Golden Lion roof top.  We all met up before sunset and got to know each other as we took in the coast line from high above the crowds.  It was charming.  Andy and I are feeling that family feel as we connect with the Rangers and their spouses.

After three days of painting we are ready for our days off. Josee and  I bicycled down to the Farmer's Market in town and looked every bit the shopper with veggies sticking out of every pocket and strapped to every inch of our bikes.  I am crazy about Florida sweet green onions.   I wish I could send you all a bag of them to try!  Organic new lettuces, carrots, cabbages, etc.  A pleasure to shop on the town green while the steel drum plays and the smell of kettle corn drifts along the same sea breezes as the Osprey and Swallow Tail kites fly.  Mighty fine life.

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Barbara Larson on

Hi Jodie and Andy,,, we love your posts and vicariously living your Florida beach living.. Thanks for taking the time to so faithfully keep us seeing the world through your eyes,,it's lovely! And,,,celebrating our special bond of sharing our first grand daughter,..we bet you'll be up here in late August!! Sending love and hugs from Vashon Island..still a bit chilly... Barbara & Doug

Laura G.O. on

Ah, You guys are part of the "Gamble Rogers Family" and we look forward to your return!! And hey!! When you visit the salt marsh restoration project at North Peninsula, you'll look over the restored marsh and know that you were a part of it all!!

Rick and Sherry on

Great to hear that you guys are enjoying yourselves! Things are fast here. We made it to Vegas, then to Talladega, now I'm off to Virginia for a couple of days, and therapy as usual. Miss you guys lots.
Rick and Sherry

Johnnie and Carolyn on

Thanks for the Blog update. Looks like you are having a great time, and doing a good deal of work too. And it looks very interesting. We've been dodging bullets here the last two weeks. Last week we had one tornado go just North of us, and another really bad one just to the South of us that stayed on the ground for 18 miles. We had about 4 inches of rain last night as another wave of severe weather went through, but had no tornadoes near us. And the grass is really growing fast!!! Take care of each other. jpb.

Wendy S. on

Hi Jodie and Andy:
You look great and are, indeed, conserving our magnificent shoreline.
Thank you!
Miss you, though..

crossroadcanada on

Good to hear from you as always. How I envy your warm temperatures. It's sunny but cool here in Whistler BC. I swear I saw snowflakes this morning. I hope the snow stays up on the slopes where it belongs.

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