Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

Happy New Year 2011


Our first night in Florida was Otter Springs Campground, which we discovered after checking out Suwannee River State Park up near Live Oak Florida. Suwannee River was a nice woodsy campground with nice facilities but - - - no heat. Temps were to be in the low 20’s again and H wanted a HOT shower!

On a previous winter in Florida we met and enjoyed the company of Barbee from British Columbia. If you remember, a year ago September when we drove the minivan out to Vancouver, we visited with Barbee and Terry. This year, Barbee and her new gentleman friend, Bruce were on a 3-month venture from BC all the way down to Florida. Yep! You guessed it – we were going to get to meet up with them. They were going to be in the Manatee Springs State Park on the 29th. We had one night to spend somewhere before then. Out in the saw grass swamp before you get to Cedar Key is the peninsula of Shell Mound, named that because the ancient folks ate so many shelled fish then dumped all their shells in huge mounds! There are probably pictures in a past blog when Bud and Carol and H and I walked thru it and “borrowed” a shell or two. We had driven thru the small, quiet county park campground several times and had always wanted to camp there. The price was right - $10. The open field camping area was polka dotted with small piles of animal droppings and according to the fella’s that ran the park, they were pig droppings! Just a week ago, they had captured 2 large mother hogs and had shipped them to another part of the Suwannee forest. Their 16 offspring were given to the neighbors near the park to raise and then eat. Imagine – 18 hogs running thru a campground- no wonder there were “piles” all over! And - - - Cedar Key is the same as always – a miniature Key West.

H picked out 2 camp spots next to each other in Manatee Springs and it was great visiting with Barbee and getting to know Bruce! Barbee was having a great time trying to get pictures of the multitude of deer and armadillos that wandered thru each evening. Most of her pictures of those nine-banded little fat creatures were of their backsides! While H and I were waiting for B&B to arrive, one cute fella wandered right next to H while he was sitting at the picnic table. Of course, H had to give Bruce all the great pointers on where to camp and how to get there in Florida. We all shared a long walk down to the Suwannee River to see the 2 manatee that were trying to keep warm at the mouth of the spring and sat down to a few good meals before sharing hugs and promises of meeting again. They were heading down to Homosassa Springs to see the manatee up close before heading to the Everglades and the Keys and we were heading east to Dunellen to see Jerry and Ruth and then on to Ocala

The Jeep has been on the road for one week. In the last week we’ve gone thru snow and freezing rain, potholed expressways and gravel back roads; bumper to bumper metro roads and long black ribbons of blacktop weaving thru dense pine and oak forests void of all traffic. Down here in Florida we’ve had temps down in the low 20’s and finally, yesterday it was a balmy 50 degrees. Today the Jeep and the “mobile motel” got a good bath and got a good cleaning inside! The windows were opened and a warm sunny breeze blew thru!! 78 degrees!

Now it’s New Year’s Eve. Last year and the year ago at this same time we were parked in this exact spot!

Merry Christmas 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

Merry Christmas 2010, One and All! While each of you were nestled all snug in your beds with visions of sugar plums dancing in your heads, H and I were tossing and turning and wondering if it was time to get on the road again!! Alas! It took 2 (count them – 2!) false starts before the “Mobile Motel” reached that long ribbon of road that reaches all the way from Michigan to Florida. First there was the almost dead, too dead to start, battery in the Jeep. Then, once that problem was recharged and we pulled out of the driveway, we were half way to the expressway when H remembered that he forgot to attach the stabilizer bar that was still at home in the garage!! We were finally out of Michigan about 8am.

Now, here are some interesting data on some great reasons to travel on Christmas Day - - Between the Ohio/Michigan border and the Ohio River there were a TOTAL of 47 semi trucks. 15 of those were north of Dayton! Only 3 of the 47 were going south and passed us. Only 1 other camper was seen north of Cincinnati. One boat and one motorcycle (dirt bike!) on a trailer!

Snow was on the ground all the way down to Atlanta Georgia but we did not drive thru any until southern Kentucky and it changed to rain as we climbed Jellico Mountain and on down the other side to Clinton Tennessee. During the night it changed back to snow and Sunday morning was as pretty as a Christmas card picture taken in Northern Michigan! The main roads were treated and clear, so Steve and Melissa had no trouble meeting us for breakfast at my favorite breakfast spot- Golden Girls. We were the first, and for a while, the only customers so we were seated in the perfect spot – right next to the beautifully decorated ORANGE Christmas tree!! After all, we were in Tennessee Volunteer Football territory! Since the side roads were slicker than snot on a doorknob, neither Kayla nor Jessie was able to join us I missed them but gave Melissa plenty of hugs to share with them!!

The shiny, wet road that stretched out in front of us was clear of snow but, unlike the day before, was now full of cars, trucks and semis all in a BIG hurry to get someplace It was not surprising that a big number of vehicles had Ohio and Michigan license plates - all heading to Florida, along with all those Floridians that passed us also! There was snow down into Georgia but by Atlanta it was dry. Getting to the center of busy Atlanta on I75 was no problem but getting out the other end was! It was not even a weekday! There should not have been 7 lanes of 5 mph traffic but it was the Sunday after Christmas!

We parked overnight just west of Macon Georgia at Tobesofkee Recreation Area Since it was getting dark and getting colder and even more windy – we really didn’t know what the campground looked like but what we saw of the lake as we arrived looked very pretty. And a side note here – the “facilities” looked new and clean but are the MOST wasted use of space and heat energy that I have ever seen.