Sunday, March 7, 2010

2010-05 Back in Orlando Florida

Orlando Fl, Moss Park

Moss Park.  A county campground.  $17 senior rate.  Elect and water.  35 over the air TV stations.  Campsites are large and can accommodate any size rig.  Restrooms are large and spotless (they cost one million dollars each).

My impressions driving across the country are much different than in the past.  With the faster pace of driving to Florida, I’m seeing everything with broad brush strokes.

The palm trees planted along businesses fronting I-10 through eastern Texas and Louisiana are all brown.  Frozen in this years heavy freezes.  Much of the south has finally recovered from past droughts.  The full rivers, bayous and land are well soaked.

When I hit the Florida boarder, things started to green up and the palm trees have survived beautifully.  Perhaps because I’m seeing many that are native to the area.

I rested a few days in the Panhandle and had planned on stopping in St Joe for a couple of days, but after being stopped by a detour (a bridge was torn down), I became a bit frustrated with the campground I had planned to stay at.  You see, when I had called a few days earlier to verify they had room for me, they didn’t bother to mention the detour or provide information regarding the detour.

I ended up driving down the road a bit further than planned and stayed in a state park, Ochlocknee State park.  I’ve stayed here before and it’s surrounded by the “Real Florida”.  Tall Pine trees and winding twisting oaks.  The water is black as can be from all the tannin in the water.  While at the park, a camper came in after dark, something I would never do as I hate to try and back into a site in the dark.  The camper was obviously a newbie,  as he was attempting to back a 40 ft 5th wheel into a site that could barely hold a 30 ft camper and it was directly across from my site.  Another clue was that the entire left side of his camper was torn up.   Yikkees, hope he doesn’t hit my truck.

He tried and tried, finally pulling out and coming in from the opposite direction.  That didn’t pan out either.  After driving around, he was finally able to get into a site further on around the loop.

As I headed down my favorite route into Florida, along hwy 19, it’s a rural county road with little traffic and the four lane road is divided by a grassy median, I enjoyed seeing the quite side of the state.  Before one hits all the big cities.
I stopped over in Chiefland Fla. A true old Florida cracker town.  Found two great places to eat.  Billy’s BBQ and The Black Diamond.  At the Black Diamond I had a wonderful Fla. Shrimp and baby scallops.  And Chiefland is close to a number of famous springs, like, Manatee and Fanning Springs.

As I drove south along hwy 19, I crossed the start of the original Florida barge canal.  One of those very bad ideas that fortunately got stopped before it went all the way across the state.  Could have destroyed many of the natural springs and aquifer in the state.

I hopped onto the Florida turnpike and was back in the world of heavy traffic.  As I got closer to Orlando, the highway construction added to the congestion.  They’re building huge concrete walls to block out all the road traffic, as Orlando continues to fill in every last space of green with cookie cutter houses in tight subdivisions.  

I arrived at my favorite campground in the area, Moss Park, and was instantly enveloped in a scene of southern country charm.  Moss park has two lakes, huge stately oak trees and tall pines.  Two squawking sand hill cranes greeted me on my arrival and were in no hurry to get off the dirt road leading to my campsite.

While setting up, I was greeted by more sand hill cranes along with their two baby cranes.  How cool.  Black masked squirrels, an armadillo, raccoon and three deer all came to visit throughout the day.

I have limited internet coverage and no phone service from my campsite, but I’m as happy as can be.  I’ll be visiting friends and family in the area over the next two weeks and will then head down into the keys.

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