Salt Springs, FL

Fishing buddies

Fishing buddies

I was surprised to see an egret calmly scouting for fish next to the fisherman.  They did look like they appreciated each others company.  The egret let Sheba and I approach fairly closely, but then started getting a little agitated.  So I moved around him in a wide arc, and when I looked back, he was searching for fish again.

This man and his wife are camping with a cat, dog, and 22 year old bird.

This man and his wife are camping with a cat, dog, and 22 year old bird.

We have camped at Salt Springs 3 or 4 times before, but when we drove into the park this time its beauty really struck me.  I had forgotten how pretty it is.

We have been unable to go to the day use area and springs this time.  When we were here before, we could leave the dogs in the truck in the shaded parking lot while we explored.  But now, in addition to rules against leaving pets unattended, and no pets in the day use area, there is a new one forbidding leaving them in vehicles.   Maybe Ron and I will take turns pet sitting  so we can enjoy it one at a time.

Our site

Our site

Nevertheless, we are loving being here.  We had a couple of chilly days, but now it’s up in the mid 60’s again.  Wonderful walking weather!

We are planning to have lunch with my cousin tomorrow, then friends from Silver Springs are coming to visit us Sunday.  I’m looking forward to both visits!

Bird prints in sand

Bird prints in sand

There are 6 camp hosts here.  The others have big rigs.  One has this little not-quite-restored vintage trailer.  :)

There are 6 camp hosts here. The others have big rigs. One has this little not-quite-restored vintage trailer. 🙂

This is as close as we can get to the spring area with our dogs.

This is as close as we can get to the spring area with our dogs.

One more picture of Sunny sleeping on his "binky."

One more picture of Sunny sleeping on his “binky.”

There are still things blooming -- even in January!

There are still things blooming — even in January! I’m not sure what the red things are.

 

Cell service is almost non-existent here.  Sometimes we can’t get on the net at all.  Sometimes we can send text emails.  And once in a while we get two bars and can upload photos.  Apparently there is wifi available at the office because I saw 4 campers working on laptops when we checked in.

 

Salt Springs

At the boat launch in the tent camping area

At the boat launch in the tent camping area

It’s summer here at Salt Springs — complete with sticky humidity and biting bugs.  We’ve already gone through a half bottle of Deep Woods Off.  But we are loving it here!

In the tent camping area

In the tent camping area

Although the campground is a Forest Service campground, it’s run by concessionaires.  So it’s actually a big RV park, complete with full hookups.  But we’re paying $16 a night with our senior pass.

During the winter, you can stay up to 180 days here.  There is an unbelievable assortment of big rigs, small rigs, popups, home built campers, a teardrop, and even several tents in the RV area because they want hookups.  The sites are all different sizes — from spacious to cramped.  It looks like they built the pads around the trees, so tree placement apparently determines the size of the individual sites.  We happened to get a really big one.

Down by the canal

Down by the canal

In addition to the main campground, there is a primitive RV area with no hookups, and a primitive tent camping area. The RV park gets pretty full on the weekends, but there are a lot of open sites during the week.

It rained yesterday, and threatened to rain all of this morning.  But it cleared up early this afternoon and is beautiful now.

Ron took Sheba with him when he did laundry this morning.  So Sunny and I had a leisurely walk through the tent camping area to the canal.  The management keeps that area beautifully manicured, so it’s a

Turtle in the canal

Turtle in the canal

pleasure to linger there.  We gave the water a wide berth, though, because there are alligators there, and I’d bet some of them are probably big.  Big enough to be a danger to a small dog, anyway.

We haven’t made it to the springs yet this trip.  Dogs aren’t allowed down there so it takes some planning for us.  🙂

Alligator warning sign

Alligator warning sign

Verizon data service is spotty and sporadic here.  Sometimes I can get a good enough signal to surf a bit.  Other times I can barely send text email.  And other times, all I get is “server not found.”  But there isn’t a good enough signal for a phone call.  You might connect if you are lucky, but you will certainly drop the call.

At first, we were disappointed when we arrived, with comparisons of Ocean Pond fresh in our minds.  However, Salt Springs is wonderful in a different way.  There are a

Our Casita at Salt Springs

Our Casita at Salt Springs

lot of snowbirds who spend the winter here.  The club house has lots of activities — we got asked if we were on our way to Bingo twice.

And best of all, one of the Palatka churches is doing a Christmas cantata here Saturday night.  We’re to bring finger foods and they’ll supply the beverages.

I am REALLY looking forward to the cantata!

Campers built from cargo trailers

Campers built from cargo trailers

Long term popup camper

Long term popup camper

Van in the primitive RV camping area

Van in the primitive RV camping area

Primitive tent camping area

Primitive tent camping area

Salt Springs RV camping area

Salt Springs RV camping area

The canal area

The canal area

Teardrop camper

Teardrop camper

A woman is solo camping in this little trailer

A woman is solo camping in this little trailer

This little Scamp stayed just one night

This little Scamp stayed just one night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nature Shots at Walter F. George COE

Deer across canal

This evening I took my chair down to the edge of the canal to see if I could get some wildlife pictures.  I got both deer and egret photos.

I was thrilled to capture pictures of the egret catching a fish and then taking flight.  Unfortunately, the quality of the zoom photos is poor.  But it was rewarding to catch the action anyway.

Deer grazing

Earlier in the day, we walked the nature trail by the Old Mill Road campground.  I was hoping to get some really nice flower photos — or maybe find some good mushrooms.  I didn’t find anything terribly interesting there…. or maybe I wasn’t feeling very creative due to coping with Sheba’s hyper energetic puppy antics.

Our next door camping neighbor is a delightfully cheery person.  Ron said yesterday morning he boomed, “Good morning, world!”  as he headed toward his pontoon boat.  We’ve heard him singing several times.

Egret catching a fish

They caught 22 channel catfish yesterday.  Then this morning they caught 14 more before he and his wife decided that they had all the fish they cared to clean.  They offered us some, but catfish isn’t our favorite, so he had to clean all 14 of them.  🙂

Egret taking flight

The little nature trail has several interesting features, including a wildlife viewing blind and a bridge over a swampy area that also offers wildlife viewing opportunities.  We startled a deer who bolted before I could get my camera focused while crossing the bridge.

The only fungi I noticed were turkey tail, stinkhorn and another unidentified large orange mushroom.  I didn’t examine the underside, but it’s probably a polypore.  It had a side stalk similar to a beefsteak mushroom, but the orange color was wrong.

I’m sitting outside under the awning this evening listening to the night sounds and savoring the cool breeze.   Time seems to have no meaning here.  It’s peaceful and very special.

Ron and Sunny on the trail

Bench on the trail

Bridge over swampy area

There were a lot of blowdowns and downed trees on the trail. This one is well on the way of returning its nutrients to the earth.

Stinkhorns

Turkey tail fungi

Unidentified mushroom

Wildlife viewing blind on trail

My best little buddy

Just Camping

View of our campground from the fishing pier

Another laid-back day soaking in the tranquility of Lake Blackshear.

We had wanted to go fishing today, but it was extremely breezy all day until late afternoon.  And by then, we were out of the mood, so I settled for just taking photos.

When I got to the fishing pier, a huge blue heron (I think) was sitting on the railing.  He let me get closer and closer without moving.  But finally he had enough, and with a loud, raucous RAAAACCCCKKKKKKK!!!!! he flapped his wings heavily and took off.

I think this is a blue heron. I am terrible with bird identification.

I took several photos of him, and one after he took to the air, but I was facing into the sun and he was almost the same color as the gray wood of the pier, so the photos didn’t turn out.

But later, as I was walking back to the campground, I saw him perched near the edge of the lake.  This time he didn’t wait nearly as long to take off, but I did manage to get a shot of him.

Geese

We have also seen ducks, egrets and geese here.  And many squirrels.  But no other wildlife — except for the fish that jump and tease us with their presence in the lake.

I am really enjoying our second autumn here.  At home most of the leaves have fallen, and the ones that remain are all brown.  Here there are still patches of brilliant color.

More autumn in December. 🙂

I thought I’d share a couple of small mods I’ve done to the Casita.  One is a fold-out towel rack in the kitchen that holds 5 dish cloths and towels.  It keeps them out of my way in the tiny kitchen, and also allows them to dry.  I had it in the Aliner, and it’s one thing I made sure I kept, since I’m not sure I could find another one.

The other mod was copied from Andy Baird’s Travels with Gertie website.  I put clear epoxy around the outside holes of the

Fold out towel rack

Modified shower head

shower head, leaving only the center holes open.  Now instead of a broad, soft wash of water, we get a nice, high pressure stream with no additional water usage.

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