Thursday, January 31, 2008

Slight Change of Plans and the Unknown

Well when we went to bed last night the weatherman on the TV said there was a cold front moving into the northern portion of the state. No problem, we’ll have some wet stuff, it will move on down the road and that’ll be it, NOT! The front is supposed to stall for 4 or 5 days right over the part of the state we’re a goin’. There’s high winds and tornado watches in ‘Bama & the southern part of the peanut state. Now I don’t know about ya’ll but dry campin’ in the confines of a truck camper, for 4 or 5 days, in pourin’ rain is not our idea of fun. I even mentioned cancellin’, when in the back of my little brain I‘m thinkin’ “You spent all day packin’ and now your not goin”. But at my mention, Linda shot any idea of cancellin’ out the window, (she is usually thinking on the same wavelength as me, Thank Goodness!).

OK so we’re now goin’, but goin’ where? Well we decided that we’ll give the panhandle a shot, and if we have to we’ll go farther north to get away from the storms. My original idea was to go leisurely north on the small black roads to Osceola Natl. Forest to dry camp.

I didn’t mention that this was Linda’s “Birthday Trip” so she decided we should travel down some trails we’ve never seen. We headed over to the center part of the state and then went NW. We covered a lot of new ground and saw some new scenery. One stop was one of the strangest state parks I’ve visited. Yulee Sugar Mill State Park sits on six acres with the road goin’ through the middle of it. There’s no admission, no entrance station, no Visitors Center. Just the Mill ruins on one side and a picnic pavilion across the road. We saw a sign along the road, the mill site and drove by lookin’ for the rest of the park. Guess we drove right on by and had to turn around and come back.

Here’s the Old Mill.

The Mill operated on a steam boiler (right) that operated a piston (center), which turned a flywheel and gear that turned the roller mill (left). Cut sugar cane was fed by belt to the roller mill and the juice was pressed out, collected in settling vats, then sent to heated kettle to reach the “strike point” (sugar). From there it was cooled, hardened, sliced and placed in wooden barrels to cure. During the “cure” molasses would drain out of the sugar and was collected. The mill began operations in 1849 and supplied the confederacy with sugar, syrup and molasses. So much for the history lesson.

Tonite we are camped at “Village Pines” RV Park in Inglis, FL. Sweet little RV park, heavily wooded, full hookups, clean bathhouse and a Passport America participant. Our rate is not quite free but at $8 a day for a full hookup site it’s hard to beat for a nights rest when traveling down the road. We do like to boondock, but use the Passport America system lots when traveling, nothing like a real shower after doing ‘Navy showers’ for a while.

Maybe we’ll se ya down the road as we’re Dancin’ on the Wind!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Headin' Up the Road

This will be a short post tonite. We’re headed’ up to the panhandle of the “Sunshine State” in the mornin’. Off to check out some Natl. & State Forests campgrounds & maybe a State Park if we decide to. We don’t do state parks too often but this one claims to be in the “Florida Mountains”. We’ll see. I’ve been surprised before. When I saw a sign for “Florida Caverns State Park” years ago, I thought “Ya Right”! Flatlanders will do anything to pull in a tourist, probably got a Real Estate office across the street from it selling prime Swamp Land. Well I ate crow on that’un. They took us in a cavern that was quite impressive considerin’ this is a big sandbar we livin on.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

I think the cave tour is about 45 minutes and covers about a mile of cavern open to the public. An I didn’t see no Real Estate office anywhere in site.

Well the Lance is sittin’ on the Duramax and she’s all loaded for dry campin’. Don’t know if we’ll be doing any boondockin’ but we’ll be close. Livin’ in the East it’s a might tough to come by true boondockin’ spots, but if we find‘em we’ll tell you about it here. Boy how I yearn for the “High Lonesome” where finding a place to camp is just a matter of “Where do you want to pull off” most times. Ya’ll got Federal land of every description in every direction, ripe for explorin’ and we might just stay a while and camp so we get a good feel for the land.

Well I been jawin’ to long for a short post.

See ya down the road, as we’re Dancin’ on the Wind!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Whirlwind of Fun

Been a few days since I dun any postin’ on this blog. We’ve been camped at a close friend’s house for the last four days. Someone who has had more than her share of heartaches in the recent past and needed a boost of fun from a couple of certified crazies. It’s nice, this retirement thing that allows us to be flexible in our life. We can go to assist a friend or relative who maybe on the mend, or maybe just needs to get out, blow the cobwebs off and grab a hold of life as it’s wizzin’ us along.

The last couple a days been a whirlwind of Fun, Fun, Fun. That girl sure can get movin’ when she gets ‘er cranked up. Been to three Disney parks in as many days and we are pooped.

Left for home this morning after a few stops for shoppin. Not much buyin’ thank goodness, but lots a lookin’. After runnin’ down one of the little black roads a ways we stopped for lunch along another lake we fished years ago. Joe Overstreet boat ramp on Lake Kissimmee used to be a small place where you were lucky if you could find a place to park your boat trailer after launching. It’s now grown up to have two ramps, two long floating docks, restrooms and a campground with water & electric sites. We stopped along the lake shore and had our lunch. Then it was off for a stroll to explore the area.

We came to find out that the campground is run by Debbie Middleton and her husband and they also give airboat tours on the lake. Debbie is the daughter of Joe Middleton who has operated Blue Cypress Lake Fish Camp for years. So after some chit-chat we were on our way again towards home.

After talking to Debbie, and seein’ as it was on our route home, we decided to stop at Blue Cypress Lake to see her Dad. We found him on the porch of the tackle shop lookin’ over the lake just like I would have found him twenty years ago. It was nice visitin’ and reminiscing and catchin’ up, but all things must come to an end so we left for home.

Now we’ve emptied the camper, turned off the fridge and all that’s left to do is dump and flush the tanks tomorrow. We stopped at Flyin’ J, like we normally do, before we got to the house, but their dump station was closed, go figure.

Maybe we’ll see ya down the road as we’re “Dancin’ on the Wind”.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Lake Marion and Beyond

Well the weather broke yesterday and the rain held of most of the afternoon, so we got loaded and started on our trip. We travel the red roads, the little black ones and even some ones that aren’t on the map, cause we’re not in a hurry and we get to experience more along our way. The interstates are fine if you have to get somewhere in a hurry, I guess. I personally don’t want to travel just under the speed of sound, dodgin’ 18 wheelers to get to where I’m goin’.

We traveled to the little town of Keanansville, FL to find a small county park along Lake Marion. We hadn’t been there since we quit fishin’ bass tournaments. They had a half dozen campsites with W&E, boat ramps and a small store. Well there’s still boat ramps but everything else gone, hookups, and the fish camp/store building. The site is designed with the boat ramps in between two peninsulas of land strechin’ into the lake. There are lots of signs regarding the fish management regulations and one sign on the far side of the boat ramps that read “No Camping on this Side”. That side was originally intended for boat trailer parking I reckon, nothing on our side so we backed down to the lake and parked. They still had restrooms and several picnic tables.

Nice spot and the price can't be beat!

We took a quick stroll before dark and saw mostly aquatic birds, several Buzzards and then we spotted a Bald Eagle perched in the trees with the buzzards. What an unexpected surprise to see an eagle in all its majesty. Dinner was next and relaxin’ for the evening then off to bed.

Wood Stork I believe
Rosetta Spoonbill

Today’s breakfast came with that eagle flying by our campsite with his breakfast in his talons. Pulled ourselves together and headed for our destination. Along the way we stopped at one of our favorite places, Apps of St Cloud for a sub sandwich. After lunch we stopped at a flea market and saw a little circus that was performing for this weekend. Most of the performers were children ages 12, 10 & 8, they were terrific. Then it was off to our final destination with a brief stop at Wally World. Tomorrow we go play at one of the Disney parks.

Maybe we’ll see ya down the road as we’re “Dancin’ on the Wind”.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Kids on the Block

Morning all. Since this is my first post, I’d like to tell ya’ll a little bit about us. I am Barry, 57, and I will be doing most of the posting while my wonderful wife Linda, 58, will be a contributing editor (with a lot of ‘over shoulder watchin’). I retired from workaday life in 2004 as the ‘Facilities Manager’ for our local municipality (sounds fancy fer’ an old wood butcher at heart). Linda (‘The har’ twister’) retired in 2005, has owned and operated a Hair Salon for many years, and worked in others before that. We had set 55 as an early retirement goal so we could “See the Country” while we were still physically able to motivate. Since retirin’, we did hurricane relief in LA., traveled the southwest (TX, NM, AZ, NV., CO.), took a leisurely drive to Alaska (17,500 miles)and back, made several trips to the northeast and midwest, where we both have family and friends. So far it’s been one heck of a ride.

We were going to load up the Lance this morning to travel to Kissimmee with an overnight stop at Lake Marion. Sure is tough when you have to make an overnight stop on a 90 mile trip. Such is the life of these retires. When we’re traveling sometimes we make 4-500 miles, some days only 50. After all we retired to “see” America, not pass it as a blur, wizzin’ by at 65mph.

We woke to find a warm front come sneakin’ in accompanied with lots of wet stuff, so we may delay our departure till tomorrow. Maybe we can sneak out if we get a break, get our duds an’ such loaded and hit the trail.

I’ll try to post tomorrow.