Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Old Town to Ocala

Suwannee River Hideaway is a Passport America campground. It was H’s 2nd choice of places to stay at first but it turned out to be a great place to call home for a few days! Originally it was going to be an overnight stop but ended up being a 5-day stay! It is located just 3 miles outside the small town of Old Town. When you first turn onto the long entrance drive it feels as tho it had been a state park in a previous life, but according to the great camp hosts Bettye and Jay, it was built from scratch about 6 years ago. Basic facilities but very clean and a wonderful clubhouse with wifi were added perks. The best perks were the owners and the hosts – including Patsy and Billy! We were invited to their potluck Christmas Party and were made to feel right at home. Off exploring we went - one day to find Fanning Springs State Park and from there we found 2 more small Florida Springs – Otter Springs and Hart Springs. Another day we followed yet another back road and ended up out on Cedar Key for lunch. (Ready? SPFB!) Some of the previously occupied stores were now empty and one restaurant had burned down but the gang of local pelicans and cormorants still called the storm damaged old docks home. H has been having trouble with pain in his heel so we’ve had to limit our walking. One highlight of the campground was a ¼ mile long boardwalk, which lead across the cypress filled swamp to the wide dark Suwannee River. All the posted signs clearly stated NO BIKES! It was not to be experienced IF we had to walk it. H dug out our fold up bikes and we were given permission to ride. I did ride it but only one way! It was a really nice boardwalk – long and as wide as any normal sidewalk, but only had retaining WIRES strung thru the tall pylons pounded down into the muck. Speeding along the long narrow pine needle strewn planks on that skinny little bike was torturous. My shoulder blades ached and my knuckles were clenched tightly around the handlebars. Hence – I walked my bike back across the “skyway bridge” to the safety of solid, albeit sandy ground.

Ross Prairie State Forest Campground, just south west of Ocala is always one of my favorite spots and not just because it’s within 3 miles of my sister Sharon’s home. The park is also set up for equestrian camping but this time there have been only 2 horses and they only stayed 2 days. H likes the park because it is close to a lot of things – our friends R&J in Dunnellon, several great flea markets, shopping (OK – that’s mine!) and the always-beautiful Rainbow River! The weather most of the time has been in the 50’s at night and up to the mid 60’s, low 70’s during the day – those are the days we’ve gone exploring or to the various flea markets with our list of “needed” items. Sharon and I went girl shopping one day and managed to find a few things on sale that we didn’t really need! Such great deals tho! Of course, spending time out with D&S is always fun – especially when it’s Dick’s birthday! The warmest and sunniest day (79 degrees) we headed for the Rainbow with our little orange bubbles! The bright sun felt so wonderfully warm on our bare shoulders as we paddled upstream in the amazingly clear deep blue water. H normally wants to call it quits within a half hour of uphill paddling but this time he didn’t complain and so we kept on going. After 2 hours, that warm sun still felt good but our upper arms and shoulders were in agony even after a brief time out at the state park dock. Going back downstream was a breeze! We still managed to see lots of different fish, turtles and birds but no otters and no gators this time!

As most of you have heard, seen on TV or experienced for yourselves, there has been a named winter storm that has just charged across the country. We haven’t had snow here but early Saturday morning and Sunday morning were both cold enough for snow. 29 and then 26 degrees! Our poor little heaters have been working overtime. A warm up is on the way! So is Christmas!