Spring!

Spring is following us north.

Spring is following us north.

I was seriously tempted to take some of the redbud flowers to make pancakes with, but decided I didn’t want to have to explain to a ranger why I was eating his trees!

Field garlic

Field garlic

So I settled for using a little field garlic in our dinner omelets this evening.

It’s fun watching spring start all over again after experiencing it in Florida.

Dandelions.  My favorite spring flowers.  Seriously!

Dandelions. My favorite spring flowers. Seriously!

We have had to take turns walking since Sunny can’t be left alone now. We went shopping in Valley yesterday, but had to take turns shopping, too. It was too hot to leave Sunny in the truck without air conditioning.

Lush clover.

Lush clover.

I thought I would always have a dog. But after being so constrained by Sunny and Sheba this trip, I think that when Sunny passes on, I may wait a while and see how I do without one.

Nature's lace.

Nature’s lace.

Another beauty.  Can anyone tell me what it is?

Another beauty.

Another cute COE safety sign.

Another cute COE safety sign.

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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

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Gnarly Old Trees

palmetto growing in tree fork

This is the first time I have seen a palmetto growing in a tree fork.

 

The trees here at Magnolia Park fascinate me.  Such noble old great-grandfather trees with fantastic stories to tell if only we could understand tree language.  These trees are so individualistic.  It’s almost like they ought to have names — like Joseph, Methusela, Luther and Eugene.  Oh, and Harold!  😀

This tree is a gigantic flower pot for ferns.

This tree is a gigantic flower pot for ferns.

The day use park and campground were full of little children today.  They are so cute and so much fun to watch.  It is especially sweet to see a shy little girl trying to scrunch up her courage to pet Sheba.  Sheba bounces, but rarely actually jumps up on them now.  The kids are always amazed at her soft, silky fur.

I have almost floated through the day… so happy for the gift of being here!  Other than being happy and grilling yummy pork chops tonight, it’s a slow news day!

This tree needs to have a tire swing hung from it.

This tree needs to have a tire swing hung from it.

A see-through tree

A see-through tree

Sextuplets.  5 still living.  :)

Sextuplets. 5 still living. 🙂

A long, skinny split

A long, skinny split

Quintuplets

Quintuplets

This tree has had extensive surgery.

This tree has had extensive surgery.

Only the palms are straight.

Only the palms are straight.

 

 

Flowers and Peacocks

Flowers in January!

Flowers in January!

Our site

Our site

We drove over 3 hours yesterday through heavy fog and driving rain on what was supposed to be a 2 hour trip.  Today is mostly cloudy, but sunshine is on the way.

More flowers blooming!

More flowers blooming!

Today’s high is 74 and the low tonight 58.  But it’s going to get down into the 60’s for a few days.  With the humidity today it felt steamy to me, but Ron was comfortable.  The mosquitos seem to be targeting only me!

But I’ll take muggy and buggy in return for all the beauty around us!

We are at Magnolia Park in Apopka, Florida.  I hesitated about booking a site here because Apopka is not a town you

But wait!  There's more!  :)

But wait! There’s more! 🙂

want to be out in after dark.  But the park has locked gates and video surveillance, and it had reservations available.  It feels safe to me now.  When we need to go out after dark, we’ll go to nearby Ocoee.  It’s beautiful and (relatively) safe.

The park has several peacocks wandering around the day use area.  Sheba would love to play with one!  Only her leash keeps her out of trouble.  🙂

A camp road

A camp road

We went ahead and booked two weeks here.  After we leave, we have reservations at Salt Springs until February 4.  Then we’ll driveway camp with family… and see where else we can score reservations.

I am steadfastly refusing to think about going home.  But our bank debit and credit cards expire in March, so that will present its own deadline.

Lake Apopka, the boat launch and more picnic areas are across the street from us.

Lake Apopka, the boat launch and more picnic areas are across the street from us.

Rear entrance to camp bathrooms on common area side.

Rear entrance to camp bathrooms on common area side.

Playground

Playground

One of the peacocks

One of the peacocks

Leaning tree and Ron

Leaning tree and Ron

Walking from campground to day use area

Walking from campground to day use area

 

A Dump — or Just Rustic?

Suspension bridge.  The original one was built by the CCC in the 30's.

Suspension bridge. The original one was built by the CCC in the 30’s.

campground road

Campground road

After I saw the dirt campground road with the sandy dirt sites, and the 90 degree back-in between two trees, I understood why O’Leno State Park had reservations available.  🙂

rustic

It’s rustic. Hope it doesn’t rain.

To be fair, when I chose this site online I didn’t know that it was the hardest one to get into in the park.  There were others that would have been a breeze to back into.

But, by the time I got the Casita situated, I would have left immediately and gone somewhere else — if there had been somewhere else to go.

I had read that there are some really interesting history and features of nature here, though.  So Ron, Sheba and I took off to find some.

no jumping

The sign says “No jumping off bridge.” Just in case you were tempted to. 😀

The nature center and little museum closed at 3:00, so we missed them.  But the little we did see whetted our appetite for more.

I’m especially curious about where the river disappears into a sinkhole and resurfaces again 3 miles farther on.  I read that the places where the river disappears and reemerges are not accessible to vehicles — and I doubt very seriously my arthritic hips could stand a 6 mile round trip hike, but hopefully I can at least see where it disappears.

The town that was on this site, settled in the 1860’s, was originally named Keno.  However “due to ecclesiastical and commercial pressures” the name was changed to Leno in 1876.  O’Leno is from Old Leno.  The town was a bustling commercial success until it was bypassed by the railroad and deteriorated into a ghost town.

1930's CCC work

1930’s CCC work

Tonight my floor feels like a beach.  We leashed Sheba to the trailer steps so she could lie on the mat and not get too dirty.  She promptly decided she preferred to  lie in the sand underneath the trailer.  So much for trying to keep the trailer clean while we are here.  Sheba is a giant sand powder puff.

But after I came to terms with all the dirt, I am glad we came.  The area is beautiful and there is lots to see.

Even though the site is dirt and sand, we do have a nice private front yard.

Even though the site is dirt and sand, we do have a nice private front yard.

I took this picture simply because it is the biggest ugliest tree gall I have ever seen!

I took this picture simply because it is the biggest ugliest tree gall I have ever seen!

 

 

Suwannee & an Extinct Town Named Columbus

Suwannee River State Park is situated where the Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers merge on their way to the Gulf.

Suwannee River State Park is situated where the Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers merge on their way to the Gulf.

We are really enjoying our stay here.  There is so much to see, and the walking is doing me a world of good.

Old sawmill site and remains of a small steamboat paddle wheel from the town of Columbus that was situated here in the park.

Old sawmill site and remains of a small steamboat paddle wheel from the town of Columbus that was situated here in the park.

Gail and Mike moved to a hotel when she was so sick.  She is bouncing back, and is already missing camping here in the van.  That’s hardcore!  😀

They close on the house Thursday, and we’ll head to another campground until the 24th to give them time to settle in and for Gail to recuperate.  Then we’ll driveway camp at their place for a few days before heading somewhere else after the 1st of the year.

I'm not sure what this is.  It looks like tracks from a very narrow gauge railroad with train wheels on it.

I’m not sure what this is. It looks like tracks from a very narrow gauge railroad with train wheels on it.

I bought some miniature Christmas decorations for the Casita today.  Will plan to put them up tomorrow after we visit with Mom.

Oh, I got reported for being a bad dog mom today.  We had gone out for a late lunch, shopping, then stopping in to see Gail and Mike.  We got back right after sunset around 5:30 or 6:00.  The new neighbor next door told me that Sunny was clawing at the door and making distressed sounds, so he reported us.

Confederate defensive earthworks situated across from where the two rivers merge.

Confederate defensive earthworks situated across from where the two rivers merge.

I know that as Sunny’s health declines, he sometimes has panic attacks.  I thought he would be okay inside the trailer with Sheba for company.  Apparently no more, though. So I will have to take him everywhere with us from now on.

He is not using the puppy pads that I place strategically on the floor.  So I think I am going to have to set the alarm to get up in the middle of the night and take him outside for a walk around the campsite so he doesn’t wet on the floor.

The town of Columbus had around 500 residents.  Their old cemetery had 4 separate enclosed areas.

The town of Columbus had around 500 residents. Their old cemetery had 4 separate enclosed areas.

I have thought about when it might be time to have the vet put him to sleep.  But he still loves his walks, loves being around us, and loves eating, so he still is enjoying his little doggie life.  So it’s not nearly time yet.

BTW, no one stopped by to check on the dogs, so I imagine the Ranger saw our truck parked out front and no dog noise coming from the trailer, so he probably just drove on.  I’m guessing that’s what happened anyway.

There were a lot of children's graves and a couple of babies' graves.  This tiny headstone has a symbolic cut off tree monument.

There were a lot of children’s graves and a couple of babies’ graves. This tiny headstone has a symbolic cut off tree monument.

Another area

Another area

Another enclosure

Another enclosure

Cemetery

Cemetery

This person must have been much loved and must have loved the beach. The grave has its own enclosure, and it is lined with conch shells.

These two graves were the only ones that weren't in a fenced in enclosure.

These two graves were the only ones that weren’t in a fenced in enclosure.

Sheba patiently waiting while Mom takes photos.  It was a bad time for photos--midday--but that's how imy day worked out.  :)

Sheba patiently waiting while Mom takes photos. It was a bad time for photos–midday–but that’s how my day worked out. 🙂

Surprises at Ocean Pond

Back at Ocean Pond

Back at Ocean Pond

We snagged the last available water and electric site on our return to Ocean Pond.

The home built RV from Eastbank

The home built RV from Eastbank

Gail is too sick to visit this evening, so I’ll see her tomorrow.  Ron and Mike have gone grocery shopping and are picking up take out food, so we are off the hook for cooking this evening.

The last time we were here, most of the RVs were big rigs.  This time I discovered it is the week for small rigs.

Cute teardrop

Cute teardrop

And remember the home built rig I posted a photo of a couple of days ago at Eastbank?  They are here now.   I stopped and  chatted with them.  I reminded them that I had met them a couple of years ago and they had told me the story of why and how they built their rig then.

They asked me if I knew their rig was on the internet.  I said yes, I put it there!  After a good laugh, they told me they remembered my Casita and Sheba from Eastbank, and that someone else had told them to look out for me.  I didn’t stay too long because they had visitors and I didn’t want to intrude.

More small rigs.  There was also an R-Pod, but I didn't get a good shot of it.

More small rigs. There was also an R-Pod, but I didn’t get a good shot of it.

 

Small world!

So here’s hoping Gail feels better tomorrow.  I am thinking of making a pot of homemade chicken soup for her.

Ron is picking up puppy pads for Sunny, so hopefully our problem with his not being able to make it through the night anymore will be solved.

We are in for cooler days and cold nights for a while.  I checked the weather in Central Florida and it’s about the same as here, so it looks like we can’t escape the cold for now.

It sure is a friendly bunch here in the campground.  🙂

From a lake view to a deep woods view.  I'm loving it!

From a lake view to a deep woods view. I’m loving it!