Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Salt Springs Area

 I should just start out each new blog post with “SPFB” and get it over with!   Yah, know – Anastasia, thru Palatka and down to Salt Springs Campground in the Ocala National Forest.  We are in a new campsite this time tho!  The powers that be have rearranged the reservable vs. non-reservable sites plus they have condemned the “barn” where all the crafters met and potlucks were held.  The office lady said it was not up to code.  Because of that, lots of the regulars are not here. The first full row only had 3 units parked there when we pulled in.  Our favorite spots are either 18 or 19 but they are now only to be had if you call ahead and reserve.  We’ve been on site 65 with its drippy pine tree but this time we are site 67.  Our Tennessee neighbors and our Montana neighbors have moved on but 3 mammoth motorhomes from Palatka have moved in!  Across from us is a family of 3 adults from Traverse City Michigan who said they sold their home and have given all their furniture away.  They have been tent camping for 6 months with 2 dogs - a full sized slobbering St Bernard and an overgrown Border collie mix.  They are driving an old faded minivan and an almost as old convertible.   Our other neighbors are Pleated woodpeckers, chickadees and last evening we heard an owl!  Of course there are squirrels – in the trees, on the picnic tables, sliding on the awning and running up and down on the top of the condo at 7am!  There have been LOTS of reports of bears, too!  On the TV news reports and via hunters in the campground talking about how many they saw in the forest when out hunting for deer.

We’ve not been “in the forest” yet.  We’ve ridden our bikes around the park, up the long hill to the little shopping center next to the RV Resort and down the long hill to the mobile home park and to the grocery store even farther down hill.   YES!  Their deli’s chicken livers are still really good!   We’ll be riding up the hill again because I have an Anniversary card to mail to my sister Becky and her husband Larry!   Happy Anniversary, Kids!!

It was too cool to unfold the portaboat and way too cool to don wet suits and snorkel in the fresh water spring this park is known for so we set the GPS for Ormand Beach and went off exploring for the day.  RT 40 all the way to the ocean.    The parking lot at the pretty beach we found was just about empty.  WAY to cold and WAY to windy to be walking in the surf or sand.  The red warning flags were holding ever so tightly to their sturdy poles!  The park had lovely paved picnic spots and even a dancing fountain area for the kids to run thru.  Obviously, it wasn’t operating or the icy water spray would have ended up in the parking lot across the 4-lane highway!   On down A1A to Daytona Beach, we found a great parking spot that did not have a parking meter next to it and was only 4 spots from the boardwalk and the Daytona Fishing Pier!   The strong winds felt almost hurricane force to someone who has never had to endure such power!   My poor hat was not going to make it so off it came and stayed secure in my hand as we strolled down the boardwalk and back via the brightly decorated street.  On the way we passed over the historic arch that allowed the Daytona bike racers to enter the beach where the original Daytona races were held in days past.

On day we finally took a chance and unfolded the boat and slid it into the clear water at the mouth of the spring.  The little 2 horsepower motor chugged along and pushed us steadily on as we headed out the Salt Springs Run.  As we finally turned back and were heading to the launch, the boat shuttered and rolled as tho we had hit a large boulder hidden under the water.  Startled, I grabbed for the gunnels on each side of the little wobbly craft and turned to H to see what he had hit.  He was as astonished as I!   We determined that we had been hit by a manatee as we watched its large flat tail disappear under the water out past the back of the boat! 

Now it’s time to move on.  We’ve had rain, wind, sun and now cold.  Frost is in the forecast!  We’ve seen deer, finally explored more forest trails, done 2 flea markets and met lots of nice folks.  Wilderness RV Park in Silver Springs is our next step, as we get closer to Christmas in Ocala.