Saturday, December 7, 2013

Mike Roess Gold Head State Park

T 12-6-13 Finally we are "over the hump" and back to life, after being chased down the coast by frosty temps., swamp speed Internet, and this week, residence and insurance chores, so it's play time and finally get writing on "da blog". We're at Mike Roess Gold Head State Park. Today we took a walk around it, and it sports a ravine with a classic Florida, sand bottom, crystal clear stream running down through it. Here's a few pics of the trail and Gus grabbing a drink: 

The weather has been great-@ 80 during the day, low 60's at night & windows open (which helps with the dead mouse in the A/C box under the dashboard :>), and no bugs! Tomorrow we're thinking we may go find a place to put the boats in. There are a lot of lakes in this area, but due to years of drought, most are close to dried up. We remembered being here in 2009, but on the gulf side, and seeing where people who had waterfront houses with docks in their back yards, are surrounded by grass and not a drop of water in sight! Not so great for property values. We'll probably head over to the St. John river, east of here.

Monday, we go to Payne's Prairie, south of Gainesville and west of here, another place we discovered while driving around in 2009. It looks just like Kansas, with wild horse and buffalo herds. There's a lot of hiking trails there, and we've always wanted to go back and stay a few days and check it out. As a piece of dead tree fell through the awning in the middle of the night at Okefenokee, we will stay there until we get the awning replacement scheduled at a camper shop in Tallahassee, then move to Sopchoppy (home of the world's only "worm gruntin" festival), when that's done. K discovered they are holding a Christmas festival there a week from today, which should be fun-it's a funky little town! 

Okefenokee Swamp

K-Mon Dec.2, 2013-Okefenokee
Sunday was fairly nice and sort of warm. We got kayaking around 10:30. The canal you take to get to the main water was loaded with robins. I have never seen such flock of them as I saw today. Must be the the hot spot for the winter! I also heard a lot of peewees. In the area and through our our paddle.
The water was like glass. I don’t think we had ever paddled on such beautiful water. Not a ripple except from fish jumping, and bubbles here and there from turtles. I am really working at not looking “at” the scenery, but into the scenery. A dear friend of ours, Joe, says he doesn’t look at the woods but into the woods. I started doing that and you really start noticing so much more. Even when I am in the car I practice doing that. It is what I have been trying to do when we kayak, not look at the water, but study it and you can see the nose of a turtle coming up for air.  Okay, enough of my droning along!
We headed up to Minnie Lake which is a really nice paddle through the cypress trees. It is a small canal, but unfortunately, the motor boats (small Jon boats) can make there way up to it also. Some are very respectful and slow down, while others just sort of motor through, not looking at anything but to see how fast and how far they can go. This one older couple in motor boat was so sheepish about being in one that every time we saw them going up and coming back, they would cut the motor and paddle! Not a whole lot of wildlife in this area. Not enough sun for the gators to warm up in, a few egrets and we did see a Wood Stork just hanging out in a branch over the water.
Partway up this part of the swamp was a “rest area” with a picnic table, pit toilet and good place to get out stretch. There was another couple there who were from Western Mass., Amherst area.  If I got the story correct, he is a writer and had written a play based on the book “Project Not Spoken”. The book is by Merton, and it is about the cover ups of the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X. And how they were all connected. We never introduced ourselves to this couple so I have no idea what his name was. I was poking around the internet this morning to see if I could find anything, but the connections is so slow I will try later.
The gentleman we were talking to wrote a documentary play(?) based on this book, is having readings all around the country to create an awareness about the cover ups. We had a fascinating time talking to him and his wife or girlfriend. They were really nice and we shared numerous stories. I will try and research it some more and try a figure out who he is. He said he had just done an interview on NPR for the show “All Things Considered”, so I will check that out.
Today we had to hang out and wait to for the insurance adjuster to call about the awning. We will meet up with them tomorrow in the town of Fargo and then head out to Florida and work on our residency stuff.

K-Friday, Nov. 29, 2013-Okefenoke
Sorry for the lack of writing. Our Internet here is really slow, so I am writing on a word document and then will copy/paste into the blog when things speed up. I can’t even open our blog page. Things got a little squirrelley after we got here. Tuesday rained pretty hard for most of the day so we took the opportunity to do some repacking after the bad, midnight packing we had done. When the rain did stop it was so nice and warm out that we were able to play cards outside and took the dogs for a walk. After dinner we sat outside and enjoyed the warm.
After we went to bed, around 3a.m. the wind started to pick up. No rain, it just got windy. All the trees around here are real skinny (not red pin but something similar), just real tall and the skinny things started whipping around. All of sudden there was a huge crash and a branch had fallen and smashed through the camper awning. Stuff was coming down everywhere. Thank goodness we were able to get the awning put away and the car and camper to parking lot in the visitor center, and parked in the middle where there weren’t any trees. We left a bunch of stuff in the campsite and spent the rest of the night in the visitor center parking lot. While we were scrambling around in the dark, a ranger came by and asked if we were okay and said a tree was down right near where he lives in the CG.
In the morning we got moved to a different site and the ranger who talked to us in the middle of the night thought we were having a tornado and ran for a closet! Where the tree fell down near his place, was right in line with our campsite, about 150' away.
Wednesday we had to shop for Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday) so we did a 130 mile round trip to Valdosta for shopping, the most boring drive of our lives! Just through pine woods that are continually getting logged and replanted.
However, the grocery store we found, Harvey’s, was wonderful. The place was hopping. Not your big chain store. All the staff was happy and helpful and really funny. I was able to find game hens (which being in smaller store, not sure if they would have them). The young man at the checkout was really funny. I asked him how late he was working till and he was only there until 4 pm, but he was excited about lunch because the store made Thanksgiving dinner for the staff! Everyone had to bring a side dish to share. How many places do that anymore? Every grocery store (once you leave the NE) has their “store card” and he asked me if I had one and told him “no”, he was so upset. I told him we were just passing through, and he said “I had to get one and it would just take 2 seconds to fill out!” So needless to say this makes about 20 cards! AND do I remember to bring them into the store with me? I know all of you can answer that question!
Thanksgiving was beautiful and sunny and cool. We took the dogs for a long walk down the park road, probably about 4 miles. Very flat but felt good to get moving after sitting for so long.
I talked to a couple who were just getting out of their kayaks and they had seen a bear in a tree, a buck, some gators, and a bald eagle. We can’t wait to get out the boats.
It is a bit strange not being home at TG. I am so used to cooking for 2 days with our wood cook stove going and just being snuggled in that this year, we shop the day before and don’t start cooking until 3 in the afternoon! I called an “old” friend and got nostalgic after hanging up. (Not sure if that is the right term or not)
Lot’s of people with deep fryers going. One site was doing a deep fried ham! Another site had a croquet game going through 3 different sites. They were having a blast. Our neighbors next to us have enough firewood to last for the next week!
Our TG dinner was quite yummy. I stuffed game hens with homemade rice pilaf, spinach, mushrooms and pine nuts and Tom grilled them. We also had mashed squash, mashed potatoes and rolls I had made a couple days ago. We had a New Zealand “unoaked” chardonnay. Now we have lots of leftovers that will hopefully last until we leave here.

We finally did get out in the boats for a couple hours. Tons of ibis and egrets, alligators trying to get some sun, turtles and a lot of boat traffic. The park rents motor boats, canoes and kayaks. We forgot about the fact that it was a holiday, so it was fairly busy and a tad noisy. But it was really nice and the weather was warm. There are still quite a few leaves on the more shrubby vegetation.

K-Monday,11/26/13 Okefenoke State Park near Edith and Fargo,GA.
We decided to book it out of S. Carolina in search of warmer weather. We spent Sunday night at Huntington State Park just south of Myrtle Beach. Ugh. Too much noise, traffic and people. But it is a hot spot for tourism. Just not our kind of tourism!
We haven’t done much camping in the east and especially this time of year. We are so used to lots of Forest Service Camping that there isn’t that much here for that and because of the cold, we need hook-ups for running the heater. So that adds a different dimension to how we camp.
We really wanted to spend some time in Charleston and Savannah, but that will have to wait for another time.

We are now in Okefenokee. We had been here several years ago and really liked it and the best part is it is 70 and we have all the windows open. We plan on kayaking here if the gators don’t get us while we are on the water.

Huntington Beach State Park-South Carolina

K- Nov. 24, 2013.  Huntington Beach State Park,site #114.  How appropriate, the road we lived on!(Rte.114)

Quite the chilly morning we woke up to at Merchant Mill Pond SP, near Sunbury, NC.  No ice on the camper, but there should have been.  Beautiful sun and very windy.

We love taking the slower roads if we can and decided to do Rte. 17 all the way to Charleston, SC.  That was the plan if it worked.  For the most part it was great.  We had to do 340 miles which never sounds like a lot, but factoring in stop lights, slower speeds, it takes a long time.  But all of that is fine which was why, we quit at 4:30 and found a campground otherwise we would have have another hour plus to find the cheap way out in a forest service cg.  near Charleston.

The interesting thing about the state roads is seeing the little towns or larger towns you go through. The architecture is incredible and quaint and just like what we see at home.  The disturbing thing is for example, go through a small town like Newport, NH and there is a closed up Walmart and your head does a bit of a swivel (like why did that happen), and then you drive another mile down the road and there is a brand new SUPER CENTER. What happens to the big old building that they just built probably 2 years ago. This is not the first time we have seen this happen.

Tom and I were talking about it and we love the small hardware stores.  We love going to Edmunds in Henniker.  They have everything and great people to help.  We use the big stores a lot especially when we travel because they are easy to find, and we can park the camper easily, however, we both made a pact to try and find the smaller places to shop. We will keep you posted on that one!  The way we travel in out of the way places that is typically what we do.

Here is question?  Collard greens are a big deal here.  People sell them out of their yards. Does anyone know how to cook them? And, Tom K.,  they are not meat!!!

We are hearing about bad and windy weather at home with lots of power outages, hope everyone is ok.

Not the most newsy, but more just thinking about what America is all about.  Also, they are still harvesting cotton.