Last of the Spooky Photos

Ron walking Sheba

Ron walking Sheba

I like this campground and love the campers we’ve met.  But I have had all the swamp I want to see for a while.  For that reason, I’ll be glad when we leave Thursday and head back to Gail’s  house for a few days.

Sinkhole

Sinkhole

I don’t know how I missed that the little Scotty trailer belongs to a camp host.  I talked with her today.  I asked what year model the trailer is.  She said 1962 is stamped on the tongue of the trailer, but her title says 1965.  It has always been in her family.  She bought it from her mother “15 or 20 years ago” for $800.  She said everything in it is original — even the cushions.  They were apparently made of extremely good foam because she says they are still springy and are not deteriorating.  I’m guessing it’s latex, based on that — although I would not expect even latex to last 50 years.

Another picture of the little Scotty -- with the clearly visible Camp Host sign that I missed before.  :)

Another picture of the little Scotty — with the clearly visible Camp Host sign that I missed before. 🙂

As for the surroundings here — swamps, sinkholes, and more swamps.  The nearby town, Marianna, is beautifully clean and well maintained, though.

I did feel a little spooked when we went to Walmart and saw several Middle Eastern men — and they were not smiling.  One had his wife (I guess) in a hijab with him.  (Or is it burqua?  It was all black, full body covering.)

Since I had never seen anyone actually wearing one, I took a long look at all I could see of her — her beautiful, expressive eyes.  Later I wished I had smiled into her eyes instead of curiously gawking.

Swamp 1

Swamp 1

 

Swamp 2

Swamp 2

Swamp 3

Swamp 3

The Star Party that Wasn’t, a Park Liner & Long Gray Hair!

Looks primeval, doesn't it?

Looks primeval, doesn’t it?

We heard about a star party at the visitor’s center around 6:30 this evening and were really looking forward to going.  But, due to overcast skies, it was canceled.  I hope they schedule another one while we are here.

Letting my hair grow.  I usually wear it up.

This is for Kim and Judie who know I am letting my gray hair grow long. I’m really loving it after decades of ultra short cuts.

Today was a leisurely day of chatting with other campers and meandering walks.  While we were out, we met a nice couple from Pennsylvania, Tina and Sam, camping in a 15′ Park Liner.  Park Liner is the latest manufacturer that I am aware of to build molded fiberglass trailers.

I was so excited when I saw the Park Liner that I asked Tina if I could take photos.  She graciously consented.  I apologize that my camera didn’t do it justice.  It doesn’t do well in low light conditions and gave the pictures an odd color cast.  But you can still see the layout.

The Park Liner exterior.  I love the wood, residential style screen door.

The Park Liner exterior. I love the wood, residential style screen door.

I have found (and sampled) all kinds of good edible plants and trail nibbles here.  But since I haven’t stayed intensively committed to it, I have forgotten many of the plants’ names.

I’ve decided to start brushing on on both the edible plants and mushroom skills.  Especially while we are essentially living in the Casita  (temporarily, of course), it helps to have an absorbing hobby to focus on.  It keeps life new and exciting.

Large comfortable bed in the Park Liner, which can become another dinette.  I apologize for the color cast my camera gave it.

Large comfortable bed in the Park Liner, which can become another dinette. I apologize for the color cast my camera gave it.

I am surprised at the number of families with young children that are camping here in tents and popups, considering the cold nights we are having.  I love to see them enjoying campfires and outdoor pursuits.  Those are memories that will last!

Another view of the Park Liner interior.

Another view of the Park Liner interior.

A tiny 13' Scamp is camped next to the Park Liner.

A tiny 13′ Scamp is camped next to the Park Liner.

Nightfall in the campground.

Nightfall in the campground.

These little flowers are blooming all over the place, unfazed by the below freezing weather the  night before last.

These little flowers are blooming all over the place, unfazed by the below freezing weather the night before last.

Swamp Swimming?

This was the free daily jigsaw puzzle in my puzzle app last night.  It describes the weather here perfectly!

This was the free daily jigsaw puzzle in my puzzle app last night. It describes the weather here perfectly!

 

Our Casita at Florida Caverns State Park

Our casita at Florida Caverns State Park

Last night was the first night in Florida that we seriously worried about our water freezing.  I ran the propane furnace instead of the AC’s heat strip.  I pulled out all of our underbed storage and opened all the lower cupboard doors so the heat could reach the water pipes.  I also left the bathroom door open so heat could keep the pipes behind the shower pan from freezing.  It worked!  Thank heavens that no more temperatures that cold are predicted!

Entrance to swimming area

Entrance to swimming area

Ron and I have decided not to do the cave tour.  Many years ago I toured some huge caves (maybe Luray — can’t remember.  It was the one with the rock formation in it that looks like two poached eggs), but they were huge and felt more like cathedrals than caves.

These caves are a lot smaller.  I was told there is some crouching down required in some places.  Just the thought of it triggers claustrophobia.  So we’ll just enjoy the above-ground sights — which is mainly a lot of eerily beautiful swampland.  So glad it’s not mosquito weather!

Another shot of the swimming area

Another shot of the swimming area

A nice thing about this park is that it is near stores and fast food places.

Also, important to me, they do allow clotheslines.  In fact they have clothesline poles at each site — to keep people from using trees.  So if I decided to use my laundry drying rack behind the trailer, it shouldn’t cause problems.  I probably won’t, though, because they have laundry facilities here.

Swimming area.  You can tell I was boggled at the swampy swimming!

Swimming area. You can tell I was boggled at the swampy swimming!

Sheba is embarrassing me!  There are several other people here with large dogs.  They are all so sweet and friendly.  And they don’t bark at other dogs.  Sheba still has to sound the alarm and try to intimidate any other dog she sees.  It makes me feel inadequate as a doggie mom!

This place is not big rig friendly, so there are lots of tiny campers, along with several medium sized rigs.  Next to us and across the street are two matching teardrops.  Ron said they are two single women, each with their own teardrop, traveling together.  I said hi to one of them and she didn’t answer, so I’ll have to take Ron’s word for that.

Final swimming area photo

Final swimming area photo

About the swimming area….  I don’t think I’d want to swim in a cypress swamp.  Even if the weather permitted!  But it’s gorgeous viewing.

And, as at Newport Park, the ground is covered with little violets.

A little Scotty trailer

A little Scotty trailer

One of the twin teardrops

One of the twin teardrops

This photo is the last one I took at Newport Park.  I liked it enough to insert it here.  :)

This photo is the last one I took at Newport Park. I liked it enough to insert it here. 🙂

I found a place to store my drying rack.  :)

I found a place to store my drying rack. 🙂

Little violets

Little violets

Bridge built around trees

Bridge built around trees

 

 

 

 

Knobby Knees

Giant cypress knees and tree bases

Giant cypress knees and tree bases

Today was one of those days when plans just don’t work out.  Ron woke up coughing, sneezing — and grumpy!  🙂

More giant cypress knees

More giant cypress knees

Instead of hitting the museum, we took it easy most of the morning.  Read a bit.  Walked the dogs.  Cleaned the trailer.  I discovered some real surprises when I cleaned the refrigerator.

If you have a small camper refrigerator, you know how it is.  There’s not enough room to put away the groceries, so stuff gets piled on top of stuff, and the things in the back disappear from memory.

More cypress knees.

More cypress knees. It occurred to me that if the limestone underneath did cave in, the ground would probably still be supported (for a while) by all the cypress roots.

I discovered an almost liquid yellow squash in the abyss along with a brown-spotted cabbage.  And several styrofoam take out containers.  When I finished, the refrigerator had been scrubbed and sanitized.  Half of the stuff was thrown out, and I can find the things that are left.

This was the last of our perfect outdoor days for a while.  It got up to 67 with sunny skies.  Sheba and I walked down to the day use area and just meandered around admiring the cypress swamps, the river, the sunshine, and the incredible aura of peace that pervaded the area.

Flood level marker (I accidentally cut off the top mark),  A sign said that it generally floods like that about 4 times a decade.

Flood level marker (I accidentally cut off the top mark). A sign said that it generally floods like that about 4 times a decade.

Then I came back and grilled ribs.  Ron was recovered enough to enjoy the ribs, so he’ll be fine tomorrow.

It’s going down to 24 tonight, and tomorrow’s high will be in the mid 40’s.  So it remains to be seen what we will feel like doing outdoors.  It looks to me like it would be a great novel-reading day.

We will eventually get to the museum.  Manana!  (Which I have been told does not mean “tomorrow,” but “not today.”)   🙂

Classic CCC construction

Classic CCC construction

Limestone outcroppings

Limestone outcroppings

Rock remainders of one of the mill dams

Rock remainders of one of the mill dams

Nature doesn't miss an opportunity to fill a vacuum.  Here a new little shrub or tree grows out of a knothole on a fallen tree.

Nature doesn’t miss an opportunity to fill a vacuum. Here a new little shrub or tree grows out of a knothole on a fallen tree.

 

I have often seen old trees down by rivers covered with resurrection ferns.  But this was the first time I had seen the ferns just beginning to colonize a tree trunk.

I have often seen old trees down by rivers covered with resurrection ferns. But this was the first time I had seen the ferns just beginning to colonize a tree trunk.

Little Sunny.  Almost blind, almost deaf, and with severe arthritis.  He walks until he bumps into something then heads the other way undaunted.  He still love sniffing trails, eating, and getting under his chin scratched.  :)

Little Sunny. Almost blind, almost deaf, and with severe arthritis. He walks until he bumps into something then heads the other way undaunted. He still loves sniffing trails, eating, and getting under his chin scratched. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Feels Like Home

Palmettos and ferns

Palmettos and ferns

Primitive tent site

Primitive tent site

Cypress swamp

Cypress swamp

One of the water-only sites

One of the water-only sites

WordPress is redoing the way they handle photos so I have no control over the placement tonight.  Sorry.

Rarely do I feel like I am back “home” when I come to Florida.  But being out in rural north Florida with the palmettos, ferns, Spanish moss… and the old-Florida peace and quiet… stirred long-dormant memories today, and I finally experienced a strong sense of being home again.

Playground and swimming beach

Playground and swimming beach

This campground is just beautiful.  This morning a few of the rigs on the lakeside moved out and we could have grabbed one of them.  But I just love the way our site is situated, so was very content to stay here.

Ron drove to Live Oak to pick up our mail from Mom’s today and then he did some shopping.  So I got to pretend I was solo camping for a few hours!  What a lovely, peaceful interlude it was!

Since Gail converted her cargo van to a camper van, I have been fascinated by van dwellers.  We have one in the water only section of the campground.  I would love to strike up a conversation with him or her. 
I took a photo of his or her rig, but won’t post it since I didn’t get permission.
This evening I heard a loud rustling in the brush out in front of our site.  I got a flashlight, then spotted the small possum who was making all the fuss.  He took off before I could grab my camera!

Where the Wild Things Grow

The neighbor down the road with the vicious dogs got rid of them, so now I am free to wander our country roads again.  The freedom is indescribable!

So come along with me on my walk and share my life in the slow lane.  🙂

My road

A tree with a tangle of last year’s kudzu vines wrapped around it. Unfortunately, the kudzu is beginning to come out. I took a picture of a new shoot, but won’t dignify that scourge of the South by posting it!

The swamp down the road, complete with abandoned tire!

Where the swamp drains

Old and new cattails

Fishing hole

Tree roots visible where bank has eroded

Country intersection

Birdsfoot violet. Larger than the ones closer to home.

Deer crossing trail

Manatee Springs, Buzzards & Bites

Incredibly blue Manatee Spring

When we first arrived at Manatee Springs State Park, I was a bit taken aback at how rustic the campground was.  Sand roads, sand campsites, no laundromat.  Then when I got my first look at Catfish Hole, a green scum covered entrance to underwater caves, I told Ron I wanted to leave tomorrow.

But we kept walking…. and then we saw the spring.

Pristine.  Blue. Primeval. Otherworldly.

Cypress knees

We followed the spring run on a boardwalk above a swamp where an alien looking world of cypress trees and cypress knees created a weird jurassic park type landscape.

Eventually we came to the end of the boardwalk overlooking a wide expanse of water where we hope to spot manatees in the coming days.  When I was a kid, we called them sea cows.  In the winter, these gentle vegetarian giants congregate around Florida’s springs which are a constant, year round 72 degrees.

Primeval looking swamp

But this evening, we didn’t see manatees.  What we did see were thousands of buzzards heading for roosts in the trees at the edge of the water.  The sound of thousands of buzzard wings is pretty impressive…. and they just kept on coming!

Very fortunately they are not roosting in the trees in the camping areas as they are a bit away from the water.

Where we hope to spot manatees

Buzzards roosting in trees by the water

Looks like something from Alfred Hitchcock, doesn't it?

Spanish moss

Manitee basics for boaters

Our Casita at Manatee Springs State Park

When we pulled into the campground, we saw another Casita at the beginning of our loop.  Later the friendly owner from Washington State told us that there were three other Casitas at this small campground this past weekend.

We had a couple of notable mishaps today.  First, we had our initiation into the world of dumping disasters when our sewer hose came apart.  We learned the hard way how they are supposed to be secured to the clamps.

And when I put on a clean shirt after my shower this evening, I got two fiery bites on my underarm.  I was really worried imagining what kind of venomous, deadly creature might have bitten me.  Then I saw the wasp on the window blinds.

The Casita got a generous spray of Black Flag insect killer!

 

 

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