Pictures (cont’d)

After a week of wonderful visits with friends, tours around the area of very interesting historical and literary sites, hikes in Paynes Prairie and more, tomorrow I leave Melrose/Gainesville/Hawthorne area and friends for Ocala National Forest for 5-6 days.  Will be at Salt Springs a couple of days and Juniper Springs a few more.  Will be without elec and water hookups, doing a little “boondocking”.

Don’t know what the internet situation will be so I’m posting more pictures tonight.  A bunch all together . . .!  Let’s see how that goes.

From the top:  The campfire, tents, lit pavilion, Little Manatee River, and campers at the Campazon.

The rest are various scenes at Highland Hammocks S.P.   My campsite including the shade/screen tent, first time I put it up (needed both), palms, palmettos, giant live oak and cypress trees, trails, swamp, including the boardwalk swamp trail closed due to damage from Irma.

And a little camper art/craft.  I always like these, know I’ll never buy any, so just take pictures and share the thoughts.

Maybe I’ll get some more a little later.  Hope you enjoy.

Lynn and Xena

Pictures

Here I’m gonna post some pictures from our trip so far, in order.  Sorry I didn’t figure it out in the beginning and put them with each post.  Enjoy.

FDR State Park, Warms Springs, GA

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Sun setting over the Lake Delanor

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View of the SW GA mountains.  I never imagined so much elevation at Pine Mountain.

Camp store, build by Civilian Conservation Corps.  Fairy home in a tree hole on one of the trails.  The door opens, jars with paper and pens inside.  Write/read notes from and to woods fairies.  Creative touch by park rangers or volunteers.

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Full moon shining on our little Aliner.  Kinda like the fairy home.   🙂

Earlier someone asked for pictures of the inside of the Aliner.  These were taken as I was packing up to leave so you see everything on the floor.  The only problem I see with these little A frame campers is the lack of easily accessible storage, only a couple little cabinets, no drawers, so it’s a challenge to figure out how to live in it.  The big bin is non perishable food, the drawers various things organized.  Often changed clothes (underwear, Tshirts, socks) in duffle under the bed along with Xena’s stuff, others in a bin in the Highlander.  Got to have a tow vehicle with cargo space, you can see the hatch open through the bubble window.  Plenty of storage under the benches and couch/bed, not easily accessible, and in the tow vehicle.  Everything has to be “below the fold” to pop it down to travel.  2 burner propane stove top is stowed under the bench next to the fridge, placed on top of that counter for cooking inside.  Can also be hooked up to the front of the camper and to propane for outdoor cooking, the only way I’ve used it.  I put outdoor stuff (chairs, little table, rug) in the middle of the floor to help scotch everything in so it won’t slide around.  Have to make sure to leave footholes to be able to get in to fold the walls down.

Since this is pretty time consuming, I’ll stop here and post more later.  Want to go for a hike in Paynes Prairie today.  It’s in the mid 80s so early better than afternoon.

Thanks for joining us in our travels, hope you enjoy the visuals.

Lynn and Xena

 

Gainesville/Melrose area

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Yay!!!!!   I think I’ve got the adding pictures thing now.  Thank you Rose!  I’ll catch up with travels a bit then maybe do a whole post of pictures.  This one just shows the whole rig, camper and tow vehicle, at the farm before leaving.  First things first.  The camper is hitched up in it’s popped up position for camping, but you don’t travel with it up, it folds down to the middle line you can see under the windows.  I didn’t get a picture of it in travel position.

So to catch up with traveling, we’re now in the Gainsville area, actually camped at my friend Karen’s little house in Hawthorne.  Karen lived in Durham years ago, then more recently was in Goldston, Chatham Co., where she beautifully restored a fantastic Victorian house. A few years ago she bought this little cabin on a lake in Hawthorne to join a thriving women’s/lesbian/artist/music community.   I have many friends in this area, especially Melrose, so lots of time being spent here visiting and catching up.

When I first got here and plugged the camper in, had a bit of camper drama.  Something went wrong with the electrical system.  Luckily I found a little local trailer/camper repair place just down the road (so lucky not to have to go to a big camper store in or near a big city!!).  They were able to figure it out and fix it.  They also found the house battery was about dead so got a new one (expensive deep cell battery, but it was the original 5 y.o. one in there), they fixed the wiring harness so it would lock in which I’d already known was a problem, and fixed whatever to make all lights on trailer come on, the running lights and back up lights hadn’t been working.  So there were some good benefits, the silver lining, to having the other problem in the first place.  Especially since we’re planning to be in Ocala National Forest without hookups, really need that battery.

Thursday after taking the camper in and leaving it Karen and I went into Melrose to what’s called “coffee talk”.  Thursdays from 11 – 1 there are local musicians who play.  Melrose is full of musicians and artists and galleries, this is just such a nice little touch.  I’d been to it before when I was here and heard a great environmental/naturalist type of singer/songwriter who I liked so much I bought his CD.  This time was a very good woman singer/songwriter singing mostly bluesy style.  Some other friends, Wini and Barb, joined us there and then we went to lunch with Shan who met us there.  In the afternoon I went to pick up my camper, drove it to where I could get the propane filled then out to the “North 40”, a 40 yr. old women’s community/land trust, to visit another old friend.  We had a wonderful walk around the land and simple salad supper and good catching up talk.  Drove back in the dark, first time towing the camper.  Very busy, and tiring, day.

Friday was also busy running around.  After a nice leisurely morning catching up more with Karen over coffee, and taking a walk down the road and visiting with other friends, Jenna and Quay who is visiting there, I went back into Melrose to meet some more friends for an early lunch.  Including Rose, who does a blog and who showed me how to post pictures here.  Thank you again, Rose.  Also met her friend Rena, a long time resident of The Pagoda in St. Augustine, another old women’s community.  Rose is writing a book about the Pagoda and it’s history.  After a delicious lunch of salmon artichoke dip with crusty bread, an appetizer we shared, (so good!!) and a great salad, we drove out to a friend of theirs Chestnut farm in Alachua, on the NW side of Gainsville.  What fun, a Chestnut farm!!  A beautiful piece of land and a really nice woman named Mary, a new friend.  I left and rushed back because we had a pot luck to go to, but was so tired by that time decided I just couldn’t go.  Hope to get up with those women on another day.

Yesterday Karen and I went to an organic farm,  conservation preserve and retreat space called Crones Cradle Conserve in the community around Citra.  Started by 2 “conservation addicted” women in 1986 with 80 acres, now 756 acres!  The name:  Crones – honoring elder folks who are often ignored, neglected, and forgotten; Cradle – commitment to nurture the earth, it’s wildlife, and the people in physical, emotional and spiritual need and recovery;  Conserve – because the land is conserved, as are the foods and values.   We went for their Saturday morning “coffee and toast” gather and sit on the porch.  There is a sweet little store where they sell their veggies, their canned goods (pickles, jams, honey, etc.) as well as local crafts and products, and have these and other gatherings.  Very nice chat with one of the long time workers there about the history and the farm.  “Sustainability, conservation, prudence and frugality is practiced and preached.  The ultimate priority of the Conserve is protecting and respecting the earth.  We work to enable people to become aware and committed to their earth through our farming, conservation, restoration, activities and philosophy.”   Well, if you know me, you know how I feel about a place such as this.

 

From there we went to nearby Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park where we walked around the grounds and did a guided tour of the house.  Fascinating history of the woman, the house and orchard, the area, the people and the times.  If you can’t call up who she is, she’s an author from the 30s-40s who wrote most famously “The Yearling”, and “Cross Creek” about the life of the people in this community of Cross Creek.  I’ve only read the Yearling as far as I can remember, and I can’t really remember it.  🙂  Now I have to read them all and watch the movies made of The Yearling and Cross Creek.  I am so glad we did this, so interesting and informative.  Most of the furnishings, books, pictures and what-nots are Rawlings, including first editions of her books.  We also picked and ate kumquats right off the tree.  Yum, soooo good.  Don’t think I’ve had any since childhood.  Then we went for a late afternoon lunch at a restaurant just down the road called, yep you got it, “The Yearling”.  Had fried catfish and cheese grits!!!  Another really really going day and came home really tired.

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Her sleeping porch!!  The other side is a writing table and chairs.

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Karen picking kumquats.

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So, today . . . A beautiful quiet morning, sitting outside in Karen’s yard, near the lake, Xena by my side, catching up on writing, finances and other computer stuff.  Shan for lunch, then more of the same.

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Florida Sandhill Cranes in Karen’s yard by the lake, right where I was sitting.  They are huge and have a red crown.

Thanks for traveling and sitting by the lake with us.

Lynn and Xena

Tampa

2/13/18 – Xena and I got into Tampa Sunday afternoon and set up shop here at friends Madge and Susan’s, tho they aren’t here.  They’re up in NC!!  Sorry to miss them.  Doreen is cat sitting and I’ll finish with the cats today and tomorrow after D left for a real job earlier today.

I’m not much into visiting cities, but when I have the chance to visit with someone familiar with that city to show me around I like it, and D did a great job planning outings for us.  Sunday we drove around North Tampa Bay and went to Dunedin, a quaint small town on the Gulf Coast west of Tampa proper.  We walked around the little town, and around the marina looking at a bunch of big fancy yachts and some not so big and fancy, some old vintage, watched the sunset over the Gulf from a pier with pelicans (insert photo with sun setting behind pelican here :), I know bad tease!), and had seafood dinner.  Quite the contrast with where I’d come from, DuPuis Campground, but very pleasant in itself, as little seaside towns tend to be.

Yesterday we went into Tampa (I’m so glad she was driving!) to Ybor City.  I’d never heard of it but perhaps you have.  It’s historically a Cuban settled area where Cuban cigar makers set up rolling factories in the 1880s.  Apparently it was illegal to import cigars but not the tobacco from Cuba, so they brought in the tobacco then brought in the workers experienced in rolling the cigars.  Other immigrants followed and established a multinational community with “clubs” for each – Spanish Club, Cuban Club, etc – which contributed to the social success of the community.  The area’s architecture and social structure resembles New Orleans, and apparently the wining and dining did (and does) also.  It’s been through several downtrodden times and revivals.  The most famous building is the Columbia Restaurant which is a most amazing piece of architecture and lavish decor.  In addition to the cigars came tile makers, famous for hand painted tiles, and the Columbia has these amazing tiles everywhere – floors, walls, stairs.  Many rooms of them.  It can seat more than 1,700 in it’s 15 dining rooms.  They’ve also won culinary and restaurant awards for their outstanding food as well as decor.  Fascinating.  (Insert another photo here).  (I’m sure you can google it and see pictures far better than mine anyway, but I know it would be nice to have one right here with the story.  You can also find more of the history.)  Another fascinating thing about it is that it’s been owned by the same family – 4th and 5th generations now – since the beginning in 1905, a corner cafe now morphed to fill an entire block.                                                                                    We didn’t eat there – surprise!! – but at another restaurant that served the area’s famous Cuban sandwich and black beans and rice.

Then we took the trolley ride through Ybor, past the Port Authority and Cruise Terminal, the Aquarium, Tampa Bay History Center, ending up walking to and along the Riverwalk.  Fun trolley ride and lots of interesting walking, but no time to hang out at the Aquarium or History Museum, and I love history.

From there we went to some friends of Doreen’s who live on a canal of Tampa Bay and have a boat who’d offered to take us on a boat ride around the Bay.  Now that was special!!  Seeing the Bay from the water as well as land.  Plenty good reason not to spend time at the museum!!  We must have been a couple hours or more on the water, at sunset again, but it was cloudy so not much to see.  Lots of birds, but they said not as many as usual.   Then back to their lovely house on the Bay for dinner and great conversation.  Unfortunately Doreen wasn’t feeling well, so she didn’t join us.  I had a wonderful time and met some new friends.

So, back to the beginning of today’s earlier post, here I am doing laundry, cleaning camper, paying bills, increasing my data plan (and finding out what all uses data) and catching up on a lot of communication.  Now I need to go inventory my food supplies and do a little shopping before hitching up and leaving tomorrow morning.  After I feed and love on the cats of course.  I’ll be off to the Gainesville area where I have a number of friends, looking forward to a week or more of visiting and adventuring in the area.  After that, Doreen and I will meet up again and go to Ocala National Forest for a few days.

Til next time, Happy Trails and Happy Tails,

Lynn and Xena

Highlands Hammock & Dupuis Campground

2/13/18 – Catching up on my journal after a week of little time and little or no wifi to do so.  Having to skip using the hotspot til my billing cycle starts over, but did get more data added.  Right now we are parked in friends driveway in Tampa, along with Doreen in her camper.  Taking an “administrative day”, as one friend called it.  Doing laundry, cleaning camper, fridge, probably taking everything out of cargo area of vehicle and reorganizing.  Chores.  And catching up with email, journal and other computer stuff.

Last post was at Highlands Hammock.  The next I went to the CCC museum there which was really interesting.  There was an old man giving a tour, very knowledgeable and looked old enough to have been part of the CCC, not really but he did say there were a few still alive, in their 90s.  After tour I went around some more, reading and listening to the exhibits and watching a great video which had been on American Adventures (I think) on PBS.  Very informative, lots of great footage. Blacks were included in the CCC, but segregated completely.  According to this info, treated equally, but we know separate and equal was always separate and never equal.  The men got some education (most had little, some none) and training in various job skills, including gourmet cooking and formal wait service serving the corps, in addition to planting and stonework, so they could get jobs later.  It was run mostly by the army, with army discipline, so when WWII started, the CCC participants were well trained and among the first to go.  And that was the end of CCC, not because they’d met all the goals or it was intended to, but because the money and men went to war.

The AC was very cold so I wanted to go walk some of the trails and warm up and come back for more.  Did the trails, wonderful walks but sorry the Swamp boardwalk trail was closed.  By the time I got through it was too late for museum.

Dupuis Equestrian Campground 

While I was on line doing my trip planning, I discovered Dupuis Campground, a free campground near Lake Okeechobee.  Since I want to explore areas of FL I’ve never been to, this fit the bill.  It’s run by the South FL Water Management District, so sort of like BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land where gov. owns land allows free camping without hookups.  They’ve bought up old sugar cane farm land since sugarcane ruins the land, so they have thousands of acres, lots open to the public.  I want to learn more about what they do.  The Great FL Birding Trial is there, The Everglades Trail, and others.  This campsite is actually an Equestrian Campground but open to all campers.  It was perfect for me – dispersed campsites (not well defined, lined up), basically camp anywhere.  There are some sites with picnic tables and campfire rings.  No hookups (elec & water) but water wells and faucets nearby and a very nice bathhouse.  Since my camper (and most) can run the fridge with propane as well as elec, the stovetop is propane, and the battery will run lights and a few other things, no problem.  My stovetop also hooks up outside so I did that for the first time.  If I have elec. I use it instead, also from outside outlets.  Campers (the rigs) included everything from a couple of folks just in their cars, regular vans rigged up with beds, etc. and conversion vans, up to big RVs, tho not the biggest and not many, and everything in between.  I found the campers (the people) the most interesting I’ve met while camping all these years.  Very friendly.  I think especially when folks are in big rigs with AC and TV, that’s where they stay.  Little campers have both, mine has AC, not TV, but can’t use AC without elec. hookups.  These folks are a bit more alternative, adventurous, and more outside the camper life.  Lots of great dogs for Xena to meet too, plus horses!!  Big fenced in horse riding area where we could watch the horses and let the dogs run free when there were no horses there.  Since it’s only a 4′ fence, which Xena regularly jumps at the farm, I couldn’t let her do it.  I hate that she can’t run free, so does she.

While there we drove and walked some around Lake Okeechobee, on the levee and on the lake side of it, where there were picnic tables and walking trails.  Also did some of the trails within the water management area, trailheads accessed by driving also.  All this and it was free!!  Campsite rentals really add up so gotta find the free ones.  🙂  And I’m so glad I have a vehicle separate from the camper now.  Stayed a few days, could have stayed longer, many more trails, but Doreen had exciting plans in Tampa for us so left on Sunday.  I’ll post Tampa later, after I finish some chores.

 

 

Hillsborough River and Highlands Hammock SP

2/7/18 – I’m sitting at a picnic table on the porch of the Hammock Inn at Highlands Hammock SP, with WiFi.  I really ran through a lot of data fast, that’s one of the reasons I haven’t written for a few days, had to wait til I had WiFi.  I did have a bit at the cafe at Hillsborough River but after spending time mapping the next leg of my trip, making reservations, they  closed and kicked me out before I could write.  You’d think there’d be lots of time to write doing this lifestyle thing, but amazingly, it keeps you quite busy.  Often I won’t have WiFi so if you don’t hear from me don’t worry.   I have unlimited calls and texts, so contact me that way, love to hear from you and hear what’s happening with you.

After a lot of rain, the weather cleared at Hillsborough River SP and we had nice quiet morning and breakfast and a very nice walk along the River trail.  Saw an alligator sunning herself on the bank.  Another old CCC camp, with great local stone structures and retaining walls, tables and benches.  There’s a little building with a sign on the roof showing the highest mark the river has reached when flooded.  The ROOF!!  Quite a bit of Irma damage, a canoe/kayak rental and launch area, a bridge across the river, trees down, but the recovery looks good.  There were volunteers working away at rebuilding.

Yesterday I packed up to head out to Highlands Hammock SP.  Unfortunately I created a little drama.  After folding down the camper and locking it closed, couldn’t find the keys.  I have 2 sets of camper keys, one whole set was missing.  Since I had another set I didn’t panic too much til I tried to open the camper back up to look.  Apparently the only key to that lock (a padlock, not part of the camper) is on the lost set.  I figured it’s somewhere in the car or camper, but I still needed to deal with getting that lock off or I couldn’t get it up and get in.  Hit the road, went to a Lowes, they had a big bolt cutter (and a strong armed man) and cut it off with a lot of effort.  I bought a new one.  Also while on the road I finally got the oil change reminder reset, and did a little shopping.  Gotta do the little chores while on the road too.  But . . . when I got to camp there was round 2 of the key drama!  Apparently the key to the lock that holds the hitch is also only on the lost set!!!  So the set I have only has 2 copies of the original camper keys, not the pad lock keys added by previous owner, the lost set has 1 each of camper keys and pad lock keys.  But she didn’t tell me that, I thought they were both the same.  Sooo, managed to get one of the park maintenance guys who just happens to be equipped with lock picking device.  Done!  The camp rangers and volunteers are super nice, the ones I originally told my woes to, who then contacted the maintenance folks, came by twice to make sure it was taken care of, and 3 guys came by to fix it, I guess not knowing someone did it.  All of them are very friendly, some full time RVer workcamper volunteers.  And they were very understanding, all said it had happened to many people, including one of them.  Just another part of the experience.

So that was this morning.  FL State Parks, all campgrounds in fact, of course are very busy in the winter, and mostly impossible to get campsites without making reservations sometimes a year in advance.  I lucked out and got a site here Highlands Hammock (hammock is an Indian word for shade) that’s on the outside of a loop that’s on the outside of another loop.  It’s a very crowded Campground, but this site has space and backs up a wild space.  However, it looks like the wild area must have lost all it’s tall trees, probably to Irma ’cause there’s a lot of other evidence around, so it’s low and wild which doesn’t help with the sun and heat.  There’s only one lonely pine tree in the campsite, and it’s in the 80s.  No wonder it was available!  I put up my new screen tent, it provides shade as well as protection from insects.  Nice.  (Insert picture 🙂

This is a super nice campground, tho really crowded, in the middle of the state at the northern edge of the Everglades.  Irma damage here includes the boardwalk trail that goes through the swamps, which is damaged and closed.  The park ranger said the flood level was higher than it’s ever been, in addition to damage from downed trees.  There is a huge tree stump next to the “Inn” here that fell on the building.  No evidence now except the neatly cut stump and newly built end of building.  I guess there’s a lot of firewood available for campers now.  I’ve been here before, 4 or 5 yrs ago caravanning down to the keys with my friend Jeanne.  Doreen came over from Tampa to join us then and what a treat that was.  She’s a Wetlands Biologist so “guided” us on the boardwalk trails, identifying everything for us.  Our own personal guided nature hike.  Very special, and I’ll miss not being able to take that trail this time.

This is another of the CCC build Parks, I just love them, so much character with all the local stone work buildings, walkways, walls, even dams at some parks where there’s a lake.  The volunteer working here just told me this building was the Mess Hall for the CCC workers in the 30s, it’s never been an Inn, not even a cabin.  It was a restaurant at some point, now it’s more like a visitor center, with stuff to buy, snacks (think I’ll go get my first ice cream of the season!), and WiFi.  Across a grassy area, a picnic area, is a CCC museum, which is where I’m going after the ice cream.  The building was the Rec Hall for the CCC.  This is a great place to sit and write, lots of fun distractions.  Lots of people coming and going (getting ice cream), greeting and admiring and petting Xena, who’s always hopeful somebody will give her their ice cream.  One woman gave her some pork rinds!!  Yum!!

I’m here for several days since I could get the spot, then moving on again.  May spend some time up at friends in Tampa, doing a bit of free yard surfing, yard art as some women who had a camper on my property called it.

Glad to catch up some.  Hope all of you are doing well, wish you were here.  Off to get that ice cream and see a museum.

Lynn and Xena

 

Hillsborough River State Park

2/4/18 – Packed up and left Little Manatee River and the fun Campazon women.  Wishing everyone happy trails to their various destinations.  I have some wonderful pictures, hope I soon figure it out, but even today looking around the wordpress page in front of me, I don’t see how to add my photos.

Doreen and I drove to Hillsborough River State Park, not too far away, me for a couple of days, Doreen for just one night.  It it beautiful here!  So FLORIDA!!  So Tropical.  Inland, not coastal.  All sand and palm trees, some feral orange trees with oranges on them looking ready right around the campsites. We’ll try to get some tomorrow, see if they’re any good.  That would be so cool.  Yum, really fresh oranges.  Adding to the tropical feel, it’s raining a very sweet gentle rain and feels a bit chilly tho it’s mid 60s.  Unfortunately a little camper in the rain with a big wet dog is a little cramped.  🙂  I actually took a nap listening to the rain hitting gently on the camper and seeing it falling above me through the bubble window.  Very nice.

So today was about breaking camp, saying goodbye, driving to a new camp, setting up and napping in the rain.  Nice and relaxing but not very exciting.  There are hiking trails here for tomorrow, and picking oranges.  Til then . . .

Lynn and Xena