Class of 1958
  East Rockaway, NY
   East Rockaway
    High School
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Carol & John Berggren - From The Road - 1/31/09
       Hello from Sebastian in the area known as the Treasure Coast, location of Mel Fischer’s and many other dive sites off this East Coast of Florida where Spanish treasure ships floundered and sank in stormy rough seas.  Happily, we have had smooth sailing since our last letter with beautiful weather and lots of opportunities to take advantage of the outdoor activities we enjoy.
       Our six weeks in Lake Placid, FL, flew by.  A cool, cloudy day was just right for our first upstream canoe trip on Arbuckle Creek.  The first half of the paddle is open cattle range where a raccoon followed us along the bank, two big gators watched as we slid by and a deer, startled by our presence, leaped up and away, swimming across the creek in front of us and scrambled up the opposite bank!! The second half of the trip is winding and overhung with Spanish moss-draped live oak trees and many different species of birds.  Among  those we saw were wood storks, ibis, sand hill cranes, limpkin and tri-color herons.  Another day, we paddled downstream to Lake Istakpoga with Diane and Jim Lucey, upstate NY friends. This part of Florida is on the Lake Wales Ridge, a sandy spine of land that runs from Lake Wales to south  of Lake Placid.  Hiking many of the white sand trails in the area, we saw plants and animals that only exist in this environment, like the Florida scrub jay.  The deep sand trails are a workout, but each time walking them, we notice and appreciate new and interesting plants, animal and bird tracks, as well as the unique beauty of the scrub.
       An Escapees gathering in Sebring found us enjoying the company of over 80 club members including Carole Ann Humphrey from Bloomington, Indiana (for those of you who knew me when, my maiden name was Carol Ann Humphrey!!!)   Once again, we returned this year to hike and bike at Highlands Hammock State Park.  It’s a short drive from Lake Placid and offers a variety of hiking trails accessible along the one-way loop road.  Our favorites include the Big Oak Trail (a thousand year old live oak), the Swamp Trail (board walked over cypress swamp) and the Young Hammock Trail where we saw our first snake on a Florida trail, a good-sized black racer.  John got a good photo of it!!  And what did we do when we were not “out in nature?”  During holiday time, Sunshine RV Park has a wonderful tradition of setting out luminaries along the park roads.  This year we helped fill some of the 1700 plastic gallon containers with sand and candles and John helped set them out for Christmas Eve.  Dottie and Gene Jennings joined us for an evening of carol singing and coffee and cookies in the clubhouse.  Four groaning boards of delicious dishes prepared by the162 folks who shared in the fellowship of Christmas dinner, made that day a special one.  On New Year’s Eve, Canadians, Don and Joan Hamilton, invited us to join their table for a fun evening of eat, drink, be merry and dance!  We had met them last year and they were instrumental in helping us with camping arrangements in Canada when we attended the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association Assembly last July.  A new venue for us was the Southeastern U.S. Championship Rodeo at the Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation.  Skilled and gutsy cowboys rode bucking broncos, bulls, calf-roping from quarter horses and cowgirls galloped in the barrel racing contest.
       Traveling North to Lake Wales, we returned for another walk through beautiful Bok Tower Sanctuary, acres of gardens and a carillon tower from which pealed a live concert which visitors could watch in a grove on a big TV
       We later met Mickey and Marilyn Donovan, friends from Michigan, for lunch before heading back to Lake Placid.  A definite highlight of this trip was a successful Florida “mini-reunion” of some of Carol’s East Rockaway High School classmates.  Nineteen folks gathered from all over Florida in Lakeland at the Smokey Bones Restaurant for hours of hugs, conversation and reminiscing!  One couple flew down from Long Island and another classmate flew in from PA!!  It was hard to say good-bye!  One of the best parts of our time spent traveling is meeting new travelers and re-connecting with others.  Imagine our surprise when we arrived back at our campsite at Lake Placid and found dear friends from Latham, Christine and John Straight , parked on the site next to us!!  They had escaped the awful cold gripping most of the Northern half of the nation with their “puppies”, Kola and Wiley, and flattered us by spending their Florida time hiking trails and sharing Happy Hours and other food delights with us.  Strolling by the beautiful murals on the walls of buildings in the village, picking strawberries at Henscratch Farm, winning at Bingo, losing at the casino (gals), riding the tram at Highlands Hammock, playing horseshoes ( guys) and card games as well as sharing meals together made the three day visit from Fred and Phyllis Lyngard fly by.
       After Joan and Frank Casey (from Troy, NY) returned from their cruise, we spent time together, especially  enjoying Frank’s video of the Christmas Parade ( decorated bikes and golf carts) in the park which we had missed while canoeing!
       We arrived here on our “usual” site at Whispering Palms RV park in Sebastian on the 22nd .  By 1:00 on the 23rd, John was already joining in the Friday jam session with about ten others, mostly guitars, a washtub bass and a fellow playing the spoons!  A good sized crowd of listeners/singers made for a jolly time.  There are many French Canadians here, so the music book includes some of their folk-type songs as well.  We had received six weeks’ worth of mail upon arrival, so after the jam session, we came back to the trailer and opened the very large box full.  It contained most of the Christmas cards many of you had sent, and we thank you for your messages and for remembering us.  The Fine Art and Music Festival here at the Riverside Park was filled with dozens of artists displaying and selling art of every media:  glass, metal, wood, oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings, photographs and more.  Carol found a copper sculpture of a dragon fly that matched the heron purchased years ago near Cocoa Beach.  They are now keeping each other company on the bathroom wall of the trailer!  Marilyn and Neal Ortman (NY) joined us for a beautiful day and more recently, we met them at a bluegrass gathering at the Heritage Center in Vero Beach.  With some really warm weather, we spent two days at the beach.  The water temperature was in the low 60’s, but our favorite pastime there is walking along the surf and then settling in under the umbrella to read and watch the shore birds, especially the gliding formations of pelicans.  Our absolute BEST find so far was Blue Cypress Lake.  One of the photographers at the Festival had pictures of that area and told us where it was.  We drove out one very clear day with no wind.  What a treat!  We paddled for about three hours along one edge of the lake among bald cypress trees containing the nests of hundreds of ospreys.  Large alligators swam across our bow, enjoying the warm sun.  We’ll definitely go back for another paddle before we leave.  George and Pat Henkel (PA) have their kayaks ready as soon as we get a calm day.  Our Malta next-door neighbors, Skip and Lisa Seymour, drove up from Vero Beach where they are visiting her mother, and met us for a seafood lunch at a restaurant on the water.  We joke that we have to meet in Florida to spend time together because we’re all so busy at home!!
       Lest you think ALL our time is spent PLAYING, there are rather mundane activities to somehow fit in!  We have to chuckle when folks ask us, “But what do you DO all day?”  Meals (we rarely go out), laundry (miss the washer and dryer), doing dishes, cleaning the trailer and truck (inside and out), grocery shopping (every store is a new experience!!), feeding, combing, playing with and litter box (John) for Cutie, trying to keep up with welcome e-mails and phone calls (please keep in touch!), but NO SNOW SHOVELING!!!!!!!
       We will be here until the end of February.  Our Verizon Broadband is working great so let us hear from you!
We hope this finds you warm, well and happy.
Carol and John