FIHA Pow Wow, Fort Pierce, and Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Okeechobee, Florida, then more pow wow story, and thoughts about camping and life experiences

I am so grateful that I was able to go away for a few days to the FIHA Pow Wow in Fort Pierce, Florida, and also take a side trip to Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (AWRC) in Okeechobee, Florida. I decided to write about this weekend as it happened. So, you will read about some pow wow, then my trip to AWRC, then more pow wow story. My friend Cindy drove down from Jacksonville so we could have some time together. I was really happy she was able to take a few days off of work to so we could have time to have fun together.

I decided to drive to the FIHA Pow Wow this weekend. Many of my friends that are vendors and who I have seen at other Florida pow wows in the past several months will be here. After this pow wow they all head north and west to various pow wows, then in the late fall they come back to Florida. You can read about the other pow wows and flute festivals I attended in my November 2013  and December 2013 stories and my February 2014 story. Here is my album of FIHA pow wow pictures.

I arrived at the pow wow grounds on Thursday afternoon. I was able to drive here safely and only stopped a few times along the way to get some groceries, and treats for the animals at Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Cindy and I decided last week that we would make time over the weekend to go there for a visit since we both enjoy visiting with Sue and feeding the animals treats. About dinnertime on Thursday night all of the vendors and FIHA volunteers had a covered dish dinner… there is always great food when everyone brings different foods.

On Friday morning as the vendors set up their tents, I walked around visiting with my friends and talked with them as they worked. In several of my previous pow wow stories I introduced you to several of my vendor friends and described the types of items they sell in their booths. Further down in this post I will introduce you to a few more of my vendor friends and post more pictures, not only of these vendors booths, but photos from some of the previous ones too. Friday was Children’s Day so there were lots of people telling stories for the children and doing various craft demonstrations for them.

IMG_2970 IMG_2971 IMG_2982 IMG_2994The jingle dress in the picture below on the left has 365 cones, to represent a prayer for every day of the year.  If you want to learn more about jingle dresses and the tradition behind it, do a search for jingle dresses.

Also, on Friday, the Fort Pierce Police Department brought out two special tactics vehicles. They were very impressive in size. The tires were almost as high as I am tall. There were some officers on hand to explain about the vehicles and also to take pictures with the children. The black SWAT vehicle is an armored vehicle, it can plow through buildings. I had my picture taken next to it so you could see how large this vehicle is. The Special Weapons Tactic vehicle is equipped to be a mobile operations center with computer hookups, generators, etc. I noticed that the tires on the armored vehicle are Goodyear… Pretty cool… check out my two rides in the Goodyear Blimp in June 2013.

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Saturday morning Cindy and I decided to drive to Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (AWRC) in Okeechobee which is about a 30 to 40 minute drive from where we were. If you have been reading my posts you know that this is probably the 6th time I have written about my visits there in the past year or so and I always post an album with pictures taken each time. In my January 21st story and album there are lots of videos I took feeding the animals.  As always, I stocked up on treats for the animals, they love fruit loops cereal, mini frosted shredded wheat, lollypops, and orange pieces. Sue told me that all of the fruit loops pieces taste the same, regardless of their color. This time, I got smart… finally… instead of peeling the oranges there and getting really sticky and then trying to take pictures, we peeled and sectioned the oranges and put them in baggies and took some damp paper towels so we could wipe our fingers. It worked great. Here is the album with pictures from this trip.

Upon arriving at AWRC Sue Arnold greeted us, so did Henry the donkey. Cindy and I got to pet a month old baby otter and also a month old baby muntjac deer, this is the new sister to the muntjac deer you have been reading about for several months. Sadly, the baby muntjac deer you read about in previous posts who is now about 6 months old is not doing well. She was blind at birth and now she has developed neurological problems and she cannot stand or walk anymore. She can still eat but her health is deteriorating. Also, when we walked around I didn’t see one of the large iguanas and when I asked about it I was told that she got cancer in her mouth and died. The good news is that the female Indonesian Jade Peacock is sitting on a nest of eggs and hopefully there will be babies born. This is a rare and endangered animal so it would be nice if there were some new babies.

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The two Asian fishing cats which are also rare and endangered are now in the same cage and when the female gets older they may breed too. After we were there a while we noticed that the baby otter that was being bottle fed when we got there was now in the swimming pond with the large male otter. I think he was happy to have company even though they were in different areas of the pond. His mate died a few years ago and he evidently missed her. The baby was playing in a corner of the edge of the water pond ledge. She was rubbing against some rocks scratching her body and it looked like she was enjoying it. The male otter was rubbing his back on some brushes nailed to a log… it looks like also was enjoying it.


Baby Otter


Adult Otter







IMG_3041Zeke the Capuchin monkey, who is 34 years of age, has a new cagemate, her name is Cricket. Her owner died a while ago and she was brought to ARWC so she could have a great new home. She and Zeke seem to get along fine. When we gave treats to them she would want to take the first one and take it away from him so we had to be sure to give him the treat first and then let her have one. Cricket loved the oranges too, but she didn’t seem to devour the flesh of the orange sections as thoroughly as Zeke did, sometimes he went and took the ones she discarded and finished eating them. I imagine she is having a big adjustment. She went from living with a lady and sleeping in bed with her and being a constant companion to being in an outdoor cage with Zeke. She seems to be adapting. She likes to be in the cloth hammock hung in the cage, that’s where she took many of the treats when she eat them. It was interesting to watch her eat the lollypop. Zeke takes his lollypops and sucks them slowly and really savors them. Cricket however, seems to bite pieces of hers and she holds the lollypop in both hands horizontally and she gets her hands all sticky and looks at them and then pulls at the candy part again and puts it in her mouth, then looks at her sticky fingers again. When she finished eating the candy, she looked at the stick trying to figure out where the candy went, then she bent the stick in half and bent it again until it broke in half. There are several video’s of them eating the oranges and lollypops. Here is one of the videos, this is Cricket eating a lollypop. MVI_3098 , most of the videos are too long and won’t upload here. You have to watch them from the album, I promise if you love animals the videos in this album and the one from January 21, 2014 are worth watching.

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We fed the raccoons, foxes, prairie dogs, marmosets, llamas, deer, lemurs, and other animals that are allowed to eat cereal the fruit loops and frosted mini shredded wheat. After we were finished we got lollypops and fed them to the lemurs. I found it interesting to see that like us, the animals have a preference for treats. Each time I visit I carry different cereal boxes as I walk around the cages. I start to feed each animal what I fed them last time and it seems now they want something different. This time it seemed the fruit loops type cereal was everyone’s favorite, except the llamas, deer, and prairie dogs, they liked the mini shredded wheat better. One of the lemurs wanted a treat that fell outside of their cage and it took it’s tail and tried to reach it. I had no idea that it would use it’s tail to get an object, I thought it would only be their paws. I also got to see the kangaroo this visit since it was near the fence. The past few times it was out in the pasture somewhere and it was not in a spot where I could see it.

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After spending several hours feeding the animals and visiting with Sue, we went to say goodbye. Jimmy the calf was loaded onto a trailer and going back home to the farm where he was born. When he was born in December 2013, his mother was not able to take care of him and he was brought to AWRC to be cared for. He is now grown and healthy and going home to his mom.

If you are looking for a worthwhile organization to donate to AWRC is one of the ones to consider. All of the money donated goes to the care and feeding of the animals. Sue, Freddy, Angela, and the volunteers really take excellent care of the animals and you can tell by watching them how much they love every animal. If you live in the area and want to volunteer, I’m sure they would be glad to have your help. If you visit or make a donation, please let Sue know that you heard about her from me. If you make time to visit and tell her you know me… she might let you feed treats to the animals and give you a special tour.

Cindy and I left and headed back to the pow wow, we detoured through the town of Okeechobee and had bar-b-que for lunch. It started raining as we drove back and after we got to the pow wow it started raining really hard. I felt bad for all of the vendors, dancers, and FIHA staff who worked so hard for this event. It finally cleared up about 6:45 p.m. There were not very many spectators or dancers, but those who were there had a great time. The sunset was spectacular… the colors were amazing.

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Sunday, the weather was beautiful. There were lots of people walking around, enjoying the crafters and dancers. What a great surprise and treat for all of us… Kevin Locke who is an extremely talented performer, and his wife and daughter came to the pow wow. Kevin plays the Native American flute and he often plays the old traditional songs of his Lakota tribe, with the tribes’ permission to share these songs. He also plays many other types of songs as well. I have several of his albums and I consider them among my favorites.

k15 k17Kevin is also known for being a Lakota Hoop Dancer, he dances using at least 28 hoops, which is absolutely amazing. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone other than Kevin using that many. I talked with him about two hours before the pow wow was over and asked if he was going to be doing the hoop dance and he said probably not. So, I didn’t get my camera out of the camper, I had already taken pictures earlier in the day and also on Friday. Just before the pow wow ended, the emcee announced that Kevin would be performing the hoop dance. I didn’t have time to go get my camera or if I did I would have missed his performance, which I didn’t want to do. It would have been great to take some video of his dancing, but it didn’t happen. I did however, take lots of pictures with my phone and I uploaded them into my photo album. If you go to the album and click on the pictures quickly it might look like a video of him dancing… sort of.

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If you ever get the opportunity to see Kevin Locke perform in person, please do not miss this experience. I promise you will be thoroughly entertained and mesmerized. If you do see him, please go up and tell him hello and that you know him through reading my stories. In fact, if you see any of the performers or vendors I write about, say hi to them and tell them you read about them in my stories and give them a hug from me. Kevin performs all over the world. He told me that he just returned from performing in China. How cool is that. His wife and daughter live in Florida and he also lives part of the year in South Dakota. If you know of an event that would be interested in having Kevin perform, please contact him. I know he would love to have more performances in Florida because his family lives here. On his website, there is a page about his hoop dancing. When you click on Next Page there are several topics. I clicked on the hoop dancing and it gave a link to a Utube video of Kevin doing the hoop dance. If you want a treat, watch this almost 6 minute video.

I thought this would be a good place to introduce you to some more of my vendor/crafter friends. There are more pictures of them and the items they sell in the FIHA album.

IMG_2974 IMG_2975 IMG_2978 IMG_2979I wrote about Jeff and Cindy from Spotted Pony Traders in my January 2014 Vero Beach Pow Wow Story, but I didn’t have pictures from inside their booth. They sell lots of types of leather hides and beads and moccasins they make.



Dean and Tanya Morrison own Trailwalker Crafts, they sell buckskin purses, pouches, moccasins, and many other items including some for children. They can be reached at trailwalkercrafts at They don’t have a website. I love the rock faces they create.


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Randal Estrada sells jewelry, mostly with insets of turquoise and other stones. Randal always sets up his 14′ Cheyenne Plains Indian tepee behind his booth. He sleeps in it during the pow wows. He was telling me that he bought a new one and will be using it shortly, this one is about 25 years old and getting where the canvas is too worn to patch anymore. The interesting thing about this tepee is that it has several places where it’s handpainted. The design on the frong of a thunderbird and buffalo were pained by a lady from Philadelphia. The two designs on the sides are eagles painted by a Russian test pilot on loan to NASA, the 4 stars in Russia means good luck. He does not have a website and I do not want to post his phone number here. If you are interested in contacting him you can contact one of the other vendors I write about and I’m sure they can locate him.

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My friend Sandie who owns Inner Mountain Stones and Woods was here too. I am always amazed with the new items she creates. I am convinced that she can take anything, any shell, bone, stick, seed pod, and turn it into a work or art.

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wild sageAlso, Natalie and Paul from Wild Sage Jewelry were here too and we are always glad to see each other. Natalie makes wonderful smelling lye soaps and lotions adding various essential oils.



IMG_2859Of course, my friend Ron Huntingbear aka Bear was here too. Bear sells Pendleton blankets, Native American music, videos, and books. Bear is on his way west to Albuquerque, then north to Montana. He is stopping in Oklahoma City to see our mutual friend Albert Gray Eagle. I sent a hug with Bear for Albert.


The pow wow ended late Sunday evening. Almost everyone left either Sunday night or Monday morning. I decided to stay here and camp for a few extra days. I moved to a campsite on the waterway and I sat outside and read, and when I wanted to be inside I read on my sofa with my back door open so I could look at the water and marsh. There was lots of water in the waterways. I didn’t see any alligators this year, but I did see numerous Sandhill Cranes.

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If you want a great place to camp, canoe or kayak through the marsh and waterways, check out the Savannas Recreation Area in Fort Pierce, Florida. It’s a quiet, peaceful, and relaxing place to be.




It was really nice to get away, do some camping, and see my friends before they head north. During the weekend I took my medicine so I would be pain free and I took naps and rested in the afternoons. Cindy drove to AWRC so I was able to take my medicine to enjoy our time there. It felt so good to get away and have a change of scenery and see my friends. On the drive home Tuesday morning I got really tired and my insides hurt, so I stopped in a rest area and took a short nap. I have to tell you… it’s a lot more work to pack the camper for a short trip and unload it when I return than it is to live in it full time. Every time I go away I have to load my pillows, linens, towels, clothes, food, cooking utensils, etc. into the camper.

Because I am not living in Molly my camper van anymore, I don’t have the things I need for a trip in it any longer. It’s so much easier to live in it and travel and have everything I need with me all the time. I realized when I lived in my camper van full time how little I need to live. I was able to get by with a pair of jeans and three t-shirts for a week most of the time. My preference would be to still travel around the country and live in Molly full time. But, at the present time it’s not the best option for me. If I knew I would still be alive now, I would have stayed out longer last year. But, like I wrote previously, in April 2013 when my health symptoms got worse, my doctor and I didn’t think I had that much time left… Jointly, we made the decision for me to return home. Neither of us thought I would live until the end of 2013. Boy have we been surprised. Another huge blessing is that I look healthy, even though my insides aren’t. People can’t tell just by looking at me what’s happening, which is a good thing most of the time.

I can honestly say that my life since 2010 has been the most incredible of my entire life. Like I wrote in previous stories, if I didn’t have the four more operations in 2010, I would not have retired early at age 60 1/2 in June 2011, and I would not have traveled around the country. As a result of living my dream of traveling around the country in a camper van, I have almost eliminated everything on my bucket list, and I had many experiences beyond my imagination. I visited many National Parks, went to canoe journeys in Washington state, and much more. Since being back in Florida, I got to take two rides in the Goodyear Blimp, I have lots of new friends, I’ve been given the honor of becoming an honorary member of volunteer fire departments in several states, and so much more. I’ve enjoyed writing my stories and sharing my life and experiences on this website. I am so grateful to my friend Pam for her friendship and for setting up this website for me in 2011.

Also, if I had not come back when I did in May 2013, than none of last years experiences would have happened. It was definitely Divine Intervention how my life has unfolded the past year. As my friend Jean continually tells me… It couldn’t have happened any other way. I feel so humble, honored, and truly blessed in so many ways. How fortunate am I to know that my life has made a positive difference and inspired so many people. My story has made national news and people I don’t even know have contacted me and let me know that I’ve inspired them, given them things to think about, and that my attitude of gratitude is contagious. I know deep in my heart that I am truly loved. If you are a new reader to my website, feel free to read the stories I have written. You can go to July 2013 and read some of the stories that have been written about me and see the change of direction my life has taken in the past nine months or so. In the end of the Georgia Firefighter story there are several links to stories written, and there are others scattered through other stories written later on.

I just remembered another surprise I had at the pow wow was to see Barbara. Her husband Rex Begaye who is a Navajo artist died unexpectedly from a heart attack on Christmas Eve. We were all in shock, we saw him at a flute festival in mid-November and a pow wow at Thanksgiving and we had no idea we wouldn’t see him again.

I keep writing posts and telling people… enjoy life every day, tell people what they mean to you every day. Get your legal and medical documents prepared. We never know when they will unexpectedly be needed. It makes it easier for everyone when the proper documents are prepared, and that those handling your affairs know your wishes. Read my post Seriously, Really, You Would Rather Be An Ostrich.

Live each day as if it’s your last… one of these days you are going to be right. Have fun!!! Experience new things!!! Step out of your comfort zone and you will be amazed at the results!!! Dream as if you will live forever, live as if you will die tomorrow. I had a license plate made for the front of my camper van. It says… Live Your Dreams.

Saturday, April 5th is our local American Cancer Society Relay For Life event, it’s at Quiet Waters Park in Deerfield Beach. Opening ceremony is at 4 p.m. Join us if you can. I was asked to be the survivor speaker, what an honor.

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1 Response to FIHA Pow Wow, Fort Pierce, and Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Okeechobee, Florida, then more pow wow story, and thoughts about camping and life experiences

  1. Jim Cole says:

    Enjoyed you’re story. Love the “dream forever, live as though” advice/thought. May God be with you always. Jim

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