Indian Springs State Park, GA

Our site at Indian Springs State Park

Our site at Indian Springs State Park

Our little Aliner is parked at Indian Springs State Park in Middle Georgia tonight.  It’s a gorgeous place.  There are very few campers here, so it is peaceful and very private.

Turning off I-75 onto Highway 42 felt like entering another world.   It’s a curving, two lane, very rural road still sporting autumn colored scenery, with several cattle operations along the way.

behind our site

Our back yard

We built a camp fire, and Ron grilled burgers.  As we were sitting around the fire after dark, Ron remarked, “This is real camping!”  It couldn’t have been a more relaxed and satisfying camping experience.

There is so much here to explore, but unfortunately we don’t have time to check out the Creek Indian museum, the springs, or any of the other beautiful sights.  We definitely plan on coming back when we can spend more time.

view from our deck

View from our deck

at the park entrance

At the park entrance

Ron gathering kindling

Ron gathering kindling with Sunny supervising

Ron preparing kindling

Ron preparing the kindling

me starting the fire

Me starting the fire. I was prepared with LOTS of paper towels!

got the fire going

I got the fire going!

Ron grilling burgers

Ron grilling burgers

We did discover that this is the oldest state park in the country.  Amazing that it is still so unspoiled.

Oh… I did want to mention the camp host.  He is probably the friendliest and most helpful camp host I’ve ever run into.  His name is Dick.  I’m curious to find out if he is here year round or not.  He seemed genuinely disappointed to hear that we were only staying one night.

 

Salt Springs Recreation Area, Ocala National Forest, FL

Salt Springs

Salt Springs. You can see the deeper source of the springs in the foreground.

We left Mom’s house and headed for Salt Springs.  There were no reservations available online, but they hold several sites for first-come, first-served.  Since we were arriving on Wednesday before the Labor Day weekend, we thought we stood a good chance of getting one.

There was a whole section available, so we were fortunate.  The campground has been redone, and all the sites are grassy with shade trees, with a huge common area in the center between

Walkway to the swimming area

Walkway to the swimming area

the streets.  And all sites have full hookups.

With our senior discount, we got 5 nights for $80.00.  I am so grateful for that discount.  It is the only reason we can enjoy camping so often.

Even after the campground filled up, it still seemed spacious due to the open common areas.  However, after all the weekend arrivals put up screen houses, tents for the kids, and filled their sites with bicycles, toys, firewood, etc., it started to feel pretty crowded.

Banana Island

Banana Island in the corner of the swimming area

We were fortunate to have wonderful neighbors.  A family — grandpa (Robert), his daughter (Vianna), her husband (Don), and their son (Joey) who will be going into the Air Force in November camped next to us.  They were so friendly and we had so much in common that we felt as though we were camping with family.

Vianna is a crafter and was working on an afghan for Joey’s girlfriend.

Another view of the springs

Another view of the springs

That inspired me to unpack my neglected afghan and work on it with her.  Among her crafts, she also tats.  I mentioned that I had my grandmother’s tatting shuttle, so she proceeded to try to teach me to tat.  I simply could not get “flipping the knot” even after trying late into the evening and the next morning.

Not to be discouraged, Vianna came over to our trailer right before we were leaving on Monday and showed me how to do needle tatting.  That’s a version that I can do!  I promised to send her a picture of the tatting supplies that I buy, and also a picture of my first tatting project.

Wild turkeys

Wild turkeys in spring area

Unfortunately, we did not pass a craft store that carried tatting supplies on our way back, so I will have to order them online when I get home!

Also while we were down there, my sister Ann’s friends, Linda and Marty came by and went swimming in the springs with us.  The water was COLD.  The daytime temperatures were running in the mid-nineties, so the 72 degree water felt icy at first.  But once we were in the water, it was heavenly!

interesting old tree

The inside and half of the exterior of this amazing old tree have rotted away, but it is still alive with healthy branches.

The water is so clear that you can stand in neck deep water and look down at the bottom and see the individual grains of sand.  Gorgeous!  And little bream swim around the edges, and schools of large mullet (vegetarian fish) frequent the seaweed patches.  Past the roped off swimming area, boats anchor and fish.  And we saw a man fishing for mullet with a bow and arrow.  Apparently they don’t bite on hooks well, so that’s a more efficient way to fish for them.

After we swam in the springs, Linda and Marty invited us over to their home for a wonderful vegetarian dinner.  They took us on a walk around their neighborhood pointing out the various mushrooms that grow in their area, and introduced us to a couple of their neighbors.

Marty built a houseboat that doubles as a camper when it’s on the boat trailer.  So they can camp in the national forest campgrounds, then pull their “camper” into the water and it is a houseboat.  He also showed us photos of the sailboat he built several years ago.  What an amazing couple!

Ron and Robert

Ron and Robert

Viana, Joey and Don

Vianna, Joey and Don

Viana and her dad

Vianna and her dad

Sunny

Sunny

Unfortunately, I did not think to bring my camera with me when we visited with Linda and Marty, so I don’t have any photos of them and their lovely home.   Maybe after enough such disappointments, I will get better at remembering to keep the camera with me at all times when we are out.

Juniper Springs, Florida

Juniper Springs Pool

Juniper Springs Pool

Juniper Springs seaweed

Juniper Springs seaweed

We arrived at beautiful Juniper Springs in the Ocala National Forest on March 18th.

When I first saw the spring’s swimming pool, I thought that it needed to be cleaned because there was a lot of “seaweed” on the bottom.  Then, as Ron and I walked toward the concession area we passed a sign that explained the “weeds.” (See below.)  And after I took these photos, several whooping teenagers cannonballed into the water.  (By the way, the “stuff” on the surface that looks like flotsam is actually rippled reflections.  The water is pristine.)

Juniper Springs Information

Juniper Springs Information

Old mill by spring

Old mill by spring

When we arrived at the campground, I had expected to have electric and water hookups — but I hadn’t read the description closely enough.  There were no hookups, and we were booked for 4 days.

It wasn’t a big deal.  We needed some practice camping without hookups since I dream of doing extensive boondocking someday. We had replaced the lights with superbright LED’s, so they used only a miniscule amount of power.  There was plenty of battery power for lights, the water pump, fan, and most of the essentials.  We could charge the laptop and cell phones from the house batteries. If I had thought there was a chance we would be without hookups, I would have brought the solar panel along, though.

The only things we couldn’t use were the air conditioner, microwave and electric heater.  The air conditioner was no problem.  The weather was chilly!  No microwave was a minor inconvenience.  But no electric heat was a problem, because Ron had forgotten to bring our catalytic heater!  So we made a run into Silver Springs to look for another one.

Juniper Springs concession area

Juniper Springs concession area

Since winter was past we doubted that we would be able to find one anywhere in stock.  But Walmart had one lone Coleman Blackcat heater left.  It had obviously been returned and was missing some of the packing.  But when we took it back to the camper and fired it up, the gentle heat it produced was heavenly!

We were originally assigned a campsite in the oldest section of the campground.  Our site was spacious and I was happy with it.  But there were a couple of big rigs in that loop that ran their generators nonstop.  It really detracted from the ambiance of quiet camping in the woods!

On our second day a ranger came by and said we would have to move.  A tree in front of our site was leaning and was subject to fall at any moment.

I wasn’t thrilled about having to move.  But it worked out well, because the second site was much larger, more private, and there were no generators back there!

My blog header photo of Ron was taken in the second site.

New catalytic heater

New catalytic heater

We spent our days walking the trails, picnicking at the concession area, and visiting with other campers.  One of the guys had a 1969 Corvair motor home and gave us a tour.  He said their national rallies draw around 15 units.  We also met another Aliner owner–a very nice couple from New Jersey.  And we met a former Aliner owner at the dump station!  They had moved up to a motor home.

We also chatted with another couple in a tent that we thought might have been homeless.  But we didn’t want to pry.

And we endured a couple more days of cold and rain that made us feel like we were back home again!

We saw several canoers.  We were tempted to rent a canoe, but were on a fairly tight budget.  With Ron’s Senior Pass, we were only paying $10.00 a night to camp.  It cost $33 to rent a canoe.  So we stuck to walking and taking photos!

One of the most interesting features in the little creeks around the spring are numerous “boils.”  The sand roils, scouring out white circular clearings on the bottom.  It’s caused by water erupting through cracks in the underlying limestone.  Somewhere we read a sign saying that acid rain is causing the limestone to break down at an increased rate.  I imagine that would mean that the number of sinkholes in Florida will increase, too.

Juniper Springs canoers

Juniper Springs canoers

Juniper Springs boil

Juniper Springs boil

This old stone bridge was built by the CCC back in the 30’s.  A nearby sign states that the bridge itself is still structurally sound.

Since this post is getting way too long, I’ll post the rest of my photos without comment.

I apologize for the photo layout.  I’m just learning how to use the software and the photos don’t appear where I think they will.

Trail entrance

Trail entrance

Blue skies!

Blue skies!

Juniper Springs Trail

Much of the trail around the camp is boardwalk

Intriguing old stump

Intriguing old stump

Pantry overflow

Pantry overflow!

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