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

 

 

 

 

Camping at Coleman Lake

Our campsite at Coleman Lake.

Our campsite at Coleman Lake

Coleman Lake is a small campground in Alabama’s Talladega National Forest.  It’s down a long, winding two-lane road off Hwy. 78, and it feels like you are driving to the end of the world to get there.  There’s no cell reception, so being without phone and internet makes it feel even more remote.

This is one of the birds that was throwing giant beakfuls of leaves into the air. Here he is taking a break.

Sites are very large and private in both loops  — a little more private in Loop B, but we chose Loop A to be closer to the little lake.  It’s a lovely place to soak up nature, listen to the birds chatter, chip and sing while you enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee in the morning, explore plant life along the trails, and absorb the pervading peacefulness of escape from civilization.  A stress-free zone.

The low-key entertainment included watching black birds with iridescent teal heads vigorously pecking through leaf litter and throwing huge beakfuls of leaves high in the air.  Over and over and over.  I tried to get a photo of the action, but none of them turned out.

The most excitement was when Sheba was attacked by a goose.  Well, warned of an attack, anyway!  While Ron was walking her by the lake,  she kept lunging on the leash and excitedly trying to get to a lone goose near the water’s edge.  All of the sudden the goose marched out of the water, got right in Sheba’s face and hissed at her.  We were so stunned, we weren’t sure what to do, so simply walked off, dragging Sheba behind us.  That must have been the right answer because the goose headed back to the water.

Another bird

Another bird

The campground was almost full when we arrived Sunday afternoon, and never did empty out after the weekend.  Thursday was the only day there were more empty sites than full, and new campers began arriving early Friday morning for the weekend.  Most of the campers were fairly local.

The nice thing about such a small, remote campground is that it attracts mostly hardcore nature lovers, who are generally quiet, considerate campers.  We loved it there!

There were almost no bugs out yet, although we did see a few mosquitos Thursday.  But I did pick up a tick on the back of my knee while out on the trail.

Looking toward the swimming beach.  The grass is starting to green up nicely.

Looking toward the swimming beach. The grass is starting to green up nicely.

I very rarely get to explore by myself when we are out.  But Wednesday and Thursday Ron offered to keep the dogs so I could roam to my heart’s content.  I felt euphoric as I wandered along the sun-warmed trail and cut through the woods to get a better look at emerging shoots and fiddleheads and whatever other wonders spring had in store for me.

I didn’t find any mushrooms this trip except for several old polypores.  I kept hoping that I might stumble onto my first morel ever.  But either the mushrooms were waiting a little longer to fruit — or they were really good at hiding.

Down by the little dam

Down by the little dam

I do so enjoy reading other camping and RVing blogs where people get out and explore all the restaurants and attractions in an area.  I envy their travels and all the sights and experiences they cram into their trips.

My kind of camping is different.  It’s total immersion into the natural features of the campground and surrounding area.  Seeing the world from a worm’s-eye view instead of a bird’s eye view, I guess.

Hmmmmm..... I think I spot dinner!

Hmmmmm….. I think I spot dinner!

In any case, I do so appreciate the readers who enjoy my low-key pursuits.  Thanks so much for visiting and re-visiting!

Tomorrow I’ll post more of the spring wonders that I found in the woods.  At least wonders, as I perceive them.  🙂

Got it!

Got it!

This was a long zoom shot.

This was a long zoom shot.

Luna moth

Huge luna moth

This beautiful moth looked like she was dressed up in her bridal finery to me.

This beautiful moth looked like she was dressed up in her bridal finery to me.

Ron and Sheba on the trail headed toward the bridge.

Ron and Sheba on the trail headed toward the bridge.

 

 

Grandpa and Camping and Baby Birds

The essence of summer

The essence of summer

I have had a ball watching the kids next door enjoy their summer camping trip.

Cannonball!

Cannonball!

I spoke with their Grandma.  She and her husband are raising three grandsons, ages 7, 8 and 9.  She said they took them to Disney World, but they like this a lot better than Disney.   Another adult or two and some more kids are camping in a tent next door to them.   The grandma apologized profusely for the noise.  But all I have heard is happy kid sounds and it delights me.   I asked if I could take pictures of the kids and she said yes.

Grandpa taking the kids fishing after dinner

Grandpa taking the kids fishing after dinner

Ron and I have especially loved watching the grandpa with the kids.  He is so gentle and loving toward them.  It is so wonderful to see good kids and family who obviously adore them.

I was awakened this morning by bluebirds.  I didn’t realize what a piercing call they have.  A pleasant alarm clock!

Feed me NOW

Feed me NOW

While I was sitting outside, I looked under our trailer and saw five little birds.  Obviously some (or all) of them were babies.  I couldn’t tell if there were 3 babies and two adults, or if they were all babies who had fallen out of their nest.  It’s unusual to see the wide open mouths of baby birds demanding Feed Me other than in a nest.  At least, it was odd to me.

Of course, Sheba had an opportunity today for her mandatory “Sheba in the water” camping shot.

Over here, Ma!

Over here, Ma!

She is maturing so fast.  I am very impressed by how good she has been while we have to keep her tied up in camp.  She contented herself all day, between walks, by watching the kids, watching the boats, people swimming, rafts and canoes on the water. She appeared endlessly fascinated by the kids next door.

Ron bought bait and we planned to go fishing today.  In fact, I already had my hook baited and had attempted my first cast when we realized that my new reel was defective.  I thought we’d have to exchange it.  But Ron took his apart to see how it worked, then he took mine apart and fixed it.

Ah!  I found the water!

Ah! I found the water!

By then it was time to cook dinner, though.  Then, as soon as we were finished eating and I had just gotten the awning down, a terrific thunderstorm hit us.  What a deluge!  After it was passed, the air was so clean and fresh smelling.  People came back outside.  All was beautiful again, except that the sky had an odd yellow cast.

So our worms are on hold for tomorrow.  I hope my reel works like it’s supposed to!

Cooling it

Cooling it

Japanese honeysuckle

Japanese honeysuckle

Ron and Sunny checking out a pull-thru site

Ron and Sunny checking out a pull-thru site

Trumpet vines

Trumpet vine flowers in trees. They are a visual delight.

Closeup of trumpet flowers

Closeup of orange flowers. On edit – reader Karen identified these flowers as trumpet vines and said that hummingbirds love them. Thanks, Karen!

Under the camper

Under the camper

Our storm this evening

Our storm this evening

The Springs at Salt Springs & a Bearded Tooth

The swimming area at Salt Springs.  You can see where the water springs up from the vents in the rocks.

The swimming area at Salt Springs. You can see where the water springs up from the vents in the rocks.

It’s another chilly, damp, grey day at Salt Springs.  Our high today was 55.  At home it got up to 59.  That’s not how central Florida is supposed to be!

One of the spring vents in the rock

One of the spring vents in the rock

Nevertheless, the area is still beautiful, even though we are spending most of the day inside the Casita.  Fortunately, today is one of the days we are getting a decent Verizon signal, so at least we can entertain ourselves surfing.

When we were at the springs we saw a huge school of mullet.  Mullet like to jump, and I missed several shots of them leaping out above the surface.  I did capture one slightly murky shot of the school, though.

School of mullet

School of mullet

The trees surrounding the swimming area are ancient.  And bordering the picnic area is a virtual jungle.  It has a very exotic feel to it.

When we were here before, in September 2010, the weather was hot and sunny.  We went swimming, and at the time the 72 degree water felt icy to us.  Today I bet 72 would feel warm!

My brother-in-law told me that many years (decades) ago, he and a few buddies would come down to Salt Springs and dive into the vents to catch blue crabs that clung to the rocks down there.  Now, of course, you can’t do that.  But at least the springs are still there!

Another view of the swimming area

Another view of the swimming area

If you would like to see what the springs look like when the sun is shining, you can see photos of our previous trip to Salt Springs here.

One more totally off-topic thing I’d like to add.  I have been fruitlessly searching for a bearded tooth mushroom back home.  A couple of days ago my sister Hope sent me a photo of a big “thing” that she found in a tree behind her house.  At first she thought it was a small cat curled up in the tree.  Then she was afraid it was some kind of weird egg sac and who-knows-what would jump out at her!

Incredibly, it turned out to be a bearded tooth mushroom!  And since I hadn’t expected to find one when I visited her, I hadn’t even checked out the trees on her place.  So I missed out on that incredibly choice mushroom!

Fishing for mullet

Fishing for mullet

Vegetation-covered tree around spring area

Vegetation-covered tree around spring area

Old trees around spring area

Old trees around spring area

Jungle bordering spring area

Jungle bordering spring area

Bearded tooth mushroom

Bearded tooth mushroom

 

Cold, windy day at Indian Springs State Park

Ron and Sunny near the spring house

Today was chilly with cold wind, so we didn’t spend a lot of time outside.

We did get out and look around the park.  There is much history here, but I’m not energetic enough to type it all out this evening.  The stone buildings, as is common in state parks in the region, were built by the CCC under Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The swimming and boating areas are beautiful.  Picnic shelters and areas are very

The spring house

The spring itself with a whopping 1 gallon per minute output 🙂

Swimming/boating area

Picnic tables near the spring

One of the picnic pavilions

Playground near the swimming beach

More of the stone buildings built by the CCC

attractive, and there is a nice playground for children, as well as miniature golf and a museum in season.  Unfortunately, it’s not in season now.  🙂

The spring, touted (and marketed) in the past as having medicinal powers, puts out an underwhelming one gallon per minute year round.  Even so, in the early 1820’s, the area grew into a resort community.

An illegal treaty that dispossessed the Creek Indians of their Georgia lands was signed here, as was a later legal treaty.

According to park literature, the mineral spring has been open to the public since 1825, making it the oldest state park in the nation.  But there is also a warning in the brochure that the water is not potable!

 

 

Talladega National Forest

our Aliner campsite

Our campsite

We just got back from a week at Coleman Lake Campground in the Talladega National Forest in the Alabama hills.

The sites are spaced pretty far apart in a heavily wooded setting, so we felt like we had our own little hideaway in the woods.  A short trail led to the lake’s fishing, swimming, and trail areas.

The plant diversity is astounding.  I took

primeval looking forest

Primeval looking forest carpeted with bracken fern

hundreds of photos of plants suited to many different environments… from low,  almost primeval looking fern swamps to steep, hilly hardwood and pine forests.

A small swimming beach was usually host to children and young people early in the day.  Later, when the people left, Canada geese brought their families out for leisurely paddling around the lake.

A few people rowed out on the lake to fish while we were there.   And one couple went

hilly trail

Trail through the hills

frog gigging and came back with seventeen bullfrogs.  Ron chatted with them as they were skinning and cleaning the frog legs.

Can’t say that’s my cup of tea, but it is nice that there is an area where those who enjoy such things can pursue their interests.

Past the swimming beach on the lakeside trail, we took a side trail and stumbled upon a beautiful little hidden grotto complete with small waterfall.  Screened by rock walls and a profusion of tall flowering shrubs and trees, we felt as though we had stumbled upon a secret hideaway.

hidden grotto with small waterfall

Hidden grotto with small waterfall

Coleman Lake swimming beach

Coleman Lake swimming beach

For the first time ever, we had camping equipment stolen this trip.  Saturday night (with the campground full of weekend campers) our Weber Baby Q gas grill disappeared.  We went into town Sunday to replace it, but couldn’t afford another Baby Q, and I didn’t like the cheap, flimsy model that Walmart had available.  So we returned to the campground without one.

Then Sunday evening the camp host stopped by our site carrying our grill!

“Bet you’re glad to see this!” they announced.

They had found it abandoned against a tree in the overflow parking area.  Another camper told them ours had been stolen, so they knew who it belonged to.

I had been pretty sick the first few days we were out, and the frequent rain was starting to wear on my nerves.  But I bounced back and felt a lot better so I could enjoy hiking.

And…. we found a huge amount of chanterelles!  And they wouldn’t have sprouted without all that rain.

I’ll save the chanterelle pictures for the next post.

pipsissewa

Sweet little pipsissewa (medicinal) was blooming all over the forest.

tiny islands

Little micro islands are forming on a submerged log in the lake

unknown showy white flowers

These strikingly beautiful shrubs with large, showy flowerheads were all over in the lower areas. I later identified them as Alabama's state wildflower, the oak leaf hydrangea. They are gorgeous!

common milkweed

Common milkweed were in full bloom. We only found one unopened flowerhead with the mild, broccoli flavored buds.

water arum

Water arum - wild calla

white bell flowers

Another small tree that I was not familiar with. The flowers are like small white bells. I later identified it as a sourwood tree.

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