Monday, April 4, 2016

Almost Back Home

As we headed north up Rt 19, we passed the area of the “prescribed burn” that I wrote about last time.  The charred black trunks of once green pine trees lined the roadway, their feet in a mangled mess of burned undergrowth.  On the east side of the road was another area of blackness where the intense fire jumped the highway but must have been quickly contained.  Thankfully, as in other areas of burn, the healthy trees are not killed and will return to being tall and stately – just with black trunks. In coming years the fern will return to the forest floor in welcoming shades of bright green!

Ocean Pond is a small campground in the middle of the Osceola National Forest and we were both looking forward to visiting a new campground, a new lake and a new forest.  That’s all we got – a drive thru visit.  The small, way back in the woods campground was full!  This campground has no phone other than the main National Forest phone number which was never answered so we had no way of knowing ahead of time.  All of the state parks in the area were full also.  It’s Spring break time in Florida!

 We had plenty of daytime left, so we headed for Georgia.  Northern Florida and southern Georgia look the same – especially in the spring when the azaleas and redbud are in full bloom!  Instead of the blackened roadways in the forests of Florida, these roads were dressed in light mauves with bright corals and pinks dotting yards and woods.  Sugar Mill RV Campground is located just north of the picturesque town of Thomasville and was our home for the night.  When I opened up the back blinds of the trailer, the view was of bright pink azalea blooms! 

F.D.R. Little White House
Our second stop on this trip north was Georgia’s biggest state park - FD Roosevelt State Park in the rugged hills and valleys of Pine Mountain. This 9000-acre park and surrounding area was a favorite spot for President FDR to visit and enjoy while being drawn to the health benefits of the nearby warm springs.  The large stone lodge at the park was built in 1938 by the CCC and sits atop the ridge with a commanding view of the world that lies at its feet.  Roosevelt was fond of Dowdells Knob on the other side of the ridge for his picnics and it rises 1400 ft above the valley below.

Roosevelt’s “Little White House” was built while he was still Governor of New York but was his retreat when he was the 33rd President and suffering from the effects of polio.  The Museum houses artifacts of his life, including his original wheel chair and leg braces that he helped design.  There are two cars on display.  One is a custom built 1940 pale yellow Willys Roadster convertible built by the Willys Overland Co of Toledo Ohio for then President Franklin D Roosevelt for his 59th birthday in 1940.  Its serial number is: 440-29021!  The other is his 1938 Ford convertible with hand controls!  Once thru the museum, the large round garden with its tall fountain, and walkways, shows the way to the cluster of small white buildings beyond.   On the right are the servant’s quarters, with the garage below and on the left side is the matching square guesthouse.  The small white cottage sits on the edge of the small wooded hill and inside we saw where FDR held his “fireside chats”.   On April 12, 1945, while sitting for his portrait, he suffered a massive stroke and passed away shortly thereafter.  That famous “Unfinished Portrait” is housed in a small building near the cottage.  Nearby the complex are the warm springs that drew him to the area. Georgia’s largest and most famous warm springs delivered 914 gallons of 88 degree water to a catch basin below the buildings.  Today the pools are empty and just one small cement incased area has the warm mineral water bubbling up out of it.

 Not too far from the town of Warm Springs we even found the Red Oak Creek Covered Bridge, built in 1840 by freed slave and noted bridge builder Horace King.  It is the oldest and longest wooden covered bridge in Georgia!
Cloudland State Park Ga.

Our last stop in Georgia was Cloudland Canyon State Park for 2 more nights on our voyage home.  This was our 2nd visit to this mountain top park with its awesome cliff-side views of the waterfalls and vistas beyond.   A return trip to Battle of Chattanooga National Park was required and the same queasy feeling of being too close to the edge returned to the pit of my stomach as we dared walk along and read the markers that described the battle that took place on that high point above the Tennessee River.  Down at the rivers edge we explored downtown Chattanooga for the first time and followed the river along its 13-mile long Riverwalk Park.
I 75 across Tennessee included an extensive delay on Jellico Mountain followed by lunch at Golden Girls in Clinton with my oldest son and a stay at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky filled our next day and night.  Our very last night on the road north was at Deer Creek State Park just SW of Columbus Ohio!  A visit with H’s daughter, husband and 2 of their 3 sons was the BEST part of that stop over!  Easter dinner at the lodge, overlooking the still partially empty lake, listening to the hopes and plans of our two almost grown grandsons was the highlight of the last leg of our long trip home!