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