Friday, December 18, 2009

Central Florida

Central Florida

Time to do laundry and time to move! Both accomplished and we moved the “motel” to another one of our favorite spots in the forest – Juniper Springs! Look back at last December’s blogs to read all about the springs and the campground itself!

H treated us to a wonderful bacon and eggs with cheese breakfast on Thursday and off we went to find the sinkhole that he had been told about when we were parked in Salt Springs. By the forest maps, it was way closer to Juniper Springs so cross country we went. Now, I suppose that if you had never seen Hocking Hills or the Red River Gorge that this phenomenon would be something to see. The half-mile hike was interesting and H kept me amused by his incessant fussings about bears and how far it was! The actual “hole” was 120 some feet deep, which by Florida standards is pretty deep, however in the last 100 years it has become overgrown with trees and scrub. There was a wide, well spaced set of stairs going down to the bottom and we went part way down and had no trouble getting back to the top. Also on that exploration venture we parked and watched a gorgeous bald eagle soar overhead and then land in the top of a dead tree! Sweet! At one point of our wanderings, it looked as though the yellow sand road just disappeared into the dark green trees in front of us and then in the distance you could see it reappear and climb the far hill! As we got close the road made a sharp left turn and took us around an isolated little lake and surrounding prairie land. Then up the far hill we went! H even dared to turn onto a couple of two track roads but soon turned back when they got too “scratchy” for the sides of his “still almost new” Jeep.

Back in camp we walked the grounds and trails to see if we could see any changes from last year when the campground was closed due to forest fires. At the beginning of the camping circle we were parked in was an older couple in a motorhome from Holland Michigan. They had a flagpole made out of pvc pipe – sorta like the neat one that Bud had made for us several years ago. It drove me nuts because it was put together backwards! We HAD to stop and ask the man if it had come in a kit and he replied that his niece had made it for them. The next time we went by their site and they were not there - - we HAD to fix it! Was it a “random act of kindness” on our part or did it just plain drive us nuts to see it that way?

Friday morning started out with rain and it continued all the way as we drove to Ocala. We are now parked in Ross Prairie on Rt 200, just south of Ocala, for the next week. We’ve put 1500 miles on the Jeep since we left home and H has already had its oil changed since we’ve been in Florida. We’ve been eating from the stash of goods we brought in the freezer, refrigerator and cupboards so next we need to go find some groceries. And we’ll be meeting Dick and Sharon for burgers tonight! It seems like forever since I got to see my sister! It was last March when we bid them fond goodbye and started our trek home! Dick’s birthday is Monday and I MUST sing to him - again!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Central Florida

Central Florida

We’ve turned lazy since we’ve settled in at Salt Springs! We’ve gone out exploring forest back roads a few times. Lots of signs about bears! We’ve heard there is one in the camp but have not seen it. Last night we heard the call of an owl and this afternoon we watched a hawk soaring high over the trees. We’ve ridden the bikes out and around a few times.

We’ve met some great folks! We’re sad that they have moved on to their next location but after Christmas we’ll be in the same area again and are hoping to get the canoes in the same river at the same time! Jim and Nancy are from North Carolina so of course have that wonderful southern accent and all the cool “isms” that go with it! Nancy is a crafter like me and we spent an afternoon sharing “projects”. I now have a sweet crocheted angel and she has a Christmas potholder. We’ve shared a campfire and a bag of marshmallows. Jim and H found plenty to gab about – boats, guns, planes, cars and travel stories!

Across the way from us is an older fella, Joe who is a novice camper. I mean NOVICE! H had to help him finish setting up his tent because he didn’t know that the poles go into the little pockets at the bottom of the tent and he wondered why his tent wouldn’t stay standing up straight. He has a laptop but was having trouble getting the wifi that’s across the way. He didn’t realize you had to scroll down to see them when there are more than 3 on his screen.

Monday has come and gone. The temps were in the mid 80’s and again – mostly sunny! Our big adventure was to venture down the highway to go snorkeling at Silver Glen Springs. Thankfully they have not “improved” that beautiful spring! Silver Glen is rustic and still the way it was a long time ago. Even the split rail fence that encompasses the deep area is RUSTIC! A large oval spring with plenty of swimming and snorkeling areas!! And fish!!! We thought they were mullet but a gentleman there said they were “lady fish”. He was out there swimming and caught a catfish with his bare hands! He called out whenever he saw a different fish – catfish, gar, ladyfish, mullet, tilapia and even a ray! We started to follow a hiking trail thru the “jungle” and forest near the springs but once H saw the FRESH pile of bear scat – we didn’t walk much further. As we walked we played kindergarten kids and clapped our hands till we were back at the picnic area!

Tuesday had a VERY froggy start. The fog was so wet it was dripping off the awning. Five miles on the bikes with a run to the grocery store and then another run to the post office and thru the resort across the road. After a light lunch we finally donned our snorkel stuff and counted fish in the springs here in this park. Since the springs have been closed to the public for the last 2 years, it is now clogged with all kinds of grasses and weeds making it difficult to get around. Luckily there were a couple of folks down there who were pulling up weeds by the handfuls, thus creating “paths” to paddle from one rock clustered deep spring to the other. One of the new “improvements” to the swimming area was to remove the picnic tables so there was no place to sit and soak up some sun so we climbed back on our trusty 2 wheels and came back home so we could soak up the sun in our own easy chairs. But a pleasant surprise greeted us!. While at Silver Glen we chatted with a delightful couple from Ontario who are circling the states in their compact size motorhome. We ran into them while on our bike ride and they came over to investigate the park and visit with us!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Northern Florida

Northern Florida

It’s pouring down rain and 52 degrees! This morning, Friday the 11th, we joined the rest of the campers in Salt Springs National Forest Campground for a pancake breakfast in the “barn”. Pretty good fixin’s! This afternoon we went out exploring more backwoods when a young VERY black bear loped across the roadway! We were looking for a large sinkhole that someone told H about but we never found any. The “lakes” we saw on the maps were actually just overgrown water spots in vast wild swamps. By the time we returned to the trailer it was pouring down rain, which was a perfect time to get out the sewing machine and work on some Christmas potholders. 4 are done so now I can get you caught up on what’s been going on since our last visit.

From Blythe Island Georgia, we moved on down to Amelia Island, Florida and got a nice spot in Little Talbot State Park for the night. Of course, before we parked at the State Park, we had to make a stop and do some shopping in the touristy town of Ferdindina at the north end of the island. Nothing has changed there!! Even the shark is still hanging high on the dock in the harbor. (H had his picture taken with it several years ago!) On our way early Monday morning, the schedule for the day included (finally) a stop at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. Our Toledo Zoo membership didn’t get us in free but even half price was well worth the experience. African elephants, a small herd of giraffes, Bongo’s, a pretty neat reptile building with ACTIVE inhabitants, a pair of cougars and several domed aviaries were among our favorites there. NO polar bears and only one nervously pacing cheetah! In one of the jungle aviaries there was a pair of extremely colorful ducks who took turns preening themselves whenever I attempted to take their pictures. Snap – one duck was swiveling his neck. Snap- the other one was! Oh well! Our feet and legs were soon wore out and after a sandwich in the trailer we were back on the road south to St Augustine and 2 nights at Anastasia State Park. This time we parked in the loop that was nearest to the beach but STILL never made it out to walk on it. Way too windy! Tuesday morning we headed to the beach - to drive on it! It was a bit foggy and still windy. The waves were rolling in hard and the beach was fairly empty of vehicles or foot traffic but there were plenty of bobbing little shorebirds. And plenty of gulls and “bad hair” terns! After going slow for nearly 10 miles we turned inland and found ourselves across from the Fort Matanzas National Historic Site. We HAD to visit! Our free boat ride took us out onto an island down river from St Augustine. The island originally was only an acre and the size of the tiny restored fort matched that island in size! The 8 soldiers who once manned the fort never saw any battles but spent 30 days at a time serving as lookouts – protecting the city of St Augustine from the mouth of the river to the south. The Jeep was parked next at the “Castillo De San Marcos “ near historic downtown St Augustine and we spent an hour going in and out of the shops that lined the pedestrian mall. Since we STILL had time on the meter we entered the fort and took our own private tour there. Up on the walls of the fort, the view of the harbor below offered moored pleasure sailboats instead of Spanish war ships. The roads buzzed with vehicle traffic instead of marching soldiers or civilians going about their business in the nearby town.

Wednesday morning the road before us led us inland to the Ocala National Forest and here in Salt Springs we parked in the same site as last year. This will be our home for the next week. The awning is out and Christmas lights are hung on it. Our American flag is flying on our pole that Bud made for us! The Christmas tree is on the dining room table and our two little blue velvet stockings are hung. The radio station is called “The River” and Christmas Carols play all day. The wifi is still across the road in the small strip mall there! The temperature on Thursday was 84 degrees and today it only made it up to 52. Then there is the rain – it’s now gone and the temps are to be back up in the 70’s and 80’s for the weekend.