Friday, November 11, 2011

2011-35 Ocala Florida

Ocala Florida

M.K. Rowlings House State Park

Micanopy Florida

Campground:  Ocala North Rv Park.  $16 Passport America rate.  Full hookup/cable tv.  Country setting.  Each campsite has concrete pad and patio w picnic table, large old stand of trees dripping with Spanish moss.  Swimming pool/rec hall.

Ocala was the closest place for my next stop, about an hour from Inglis.  Which was determined by the fact that they have an RV dealer for, yes, once again, repairs on the Montana camper.  I have 20 days remaining on the warranty and I needed the shower faucet replaced and a sliding closet door latched fixed.  They sure don’t build things the way they used too.

Ocala is of course the center for all the wonderful large horse ranches.  My campsite at Ocala North backs up to one of these ranches.  A straight row of black 4 board fencing lines the side of the campground.  Creating a genteel country atmosphere with the green pastures beyond.

The campground is filled with horse trailers with “bunkhouse” compartments for living quarters up front.  I gather many of the horse trainers and workers live in them during the winter season here in Florida, then move north following their horses and owners.

A note about the equipment installed (at Best Buy) on the truck for a direct connection to my MP3 player and smart phone (cell phone) to the stereo unit has worked out exceedingly well.  I can now play my MP3 music and Pandora, Slacker radio and all the other internet radio stations through my trucks stereo.  The sound is awesome and I don’t have to listen to 15 commercials before the radio station plays the next song.

Yikees!  I had a a sidewall blowout on one of my truck tires.  Fortunately it occurred while touring the area and not while towing the camper.  I had purchased the tire while in Canada and have no way of seeing about getting reimbursed as the tire companies don’t recognize the manufacturer.  Darn.

After getting the tire replaced with the spare, I continued my journey to Marjorie Kinan Rowlings Cross Creek home.  I’ve been here before but it is just such an awesome home in a true cracker style.  The historical site is managed by the State Park system, but the house itself is only open 4 days a week Thur. - Sunday.  Rowlings was a Pulitzer prize winner for The Yearling.  She often entertained famous authors, poets and actors like Gregory Peck. If you’ve ever wondered what life was like in the 30’s and 40’s in Florida, this is the ideal place to experience it.

“I do not know how any one can live without some small place of enchantment to turn to” Cross Creek 1942.

“enchantment lies in different things for each of us, for me it is this: to step out of the bright sunlight into the shade of the orange trees; to walk under the arched canopy of their jade like leaves;  to see the long aisles of lichened trunks stretch ahead in a geometric rhythm; to feel the mystery of the seclusion that yet has shafts of light striking through it.  This is the essence of an ancient and secret magic.” MK Rawling.

Those words help to describe my feelings about Florida and what keeps bringing me back to this land of enchantment.  It’s found along the country lanes with the dripping moss hanging from the majestic oak trees.  The hundreds of natural springs with their blue green waters bubbling up from the aquifer.  Seeing gators and deer and red fox or a dragon fly flying from the tip of one tall grass to the next.  

In Ocala, while getting the tire replaced, I was talking to the front desk manager who was working by himself.  He mentioned that they used to have 4 people working the front desk and even though he had a stack of applications, he couldn’t hire any of them.  Many came in dirty, not even dressing for an interview or preparing in any way.  So there’s work out there, the applicants apparently don’t know how to prepare even when going in to apply for a job.  1st impressions really do make a difference.

My next stop was to the small town of Micanopy.  It’s between Gainesville and Ocala.  This small town has tons of history, having had a village on the site as early as 1539 when explorer Hernando De Soto came on through the area.  Observing the Timucuan Indians living in the area. But it’s current configuration started around 1821.  What’s fascinating is that the town has remained in this historically preserved state.  No gas stations, fast food shops or convenience stores.  It’s as if the 21 century bypassed the area.  With it’s oak tree lined streets dripping with Spanish moss and stately palm trees, it’s like stepping back in time.  The shops containing bits of history in their antiques and collectibles as well.  A few restaurants to nourish the tummy while drinking in all the cool atmosphere.  An art co-op in a small log cabin tucked under an old corrugated metal building.  Specialty shops with vintage and rare books, thousands of old postcards from all over the States and world.  A large collection of iron skillets that have been seasoned with age and use.  Just a great place to wander around and of course take a ton of pictures as well.

One of my last tours was to the Appleton Museum of Art in Ocala.  An impressive newer museum with a good collections of Asian art, Iranian and Eastern pottery, European paintings and exhibits from local landscape artists.  No pictures were permitted inside, but I’ll include a link to their website for you.  Nice to have the time to explore art through a true collectors eye, Mr. Appleton.  He owned a large electrical supply business in Chicago, came to Ocala and bought the Bridlewood farm  in 1977 (960 acres) and produced a number of the best horse breeds in the country.  His collection of over 6,000 pieces of art are the center piece of this 10 million dollar museum which of course he and his sister donated the money for.

Ocala has become quite cosmopolitan and even has a BMW (top end, $109,000) and Porsche (high end $99,990) dealer in town.  But I’ve also found homeless along the highways with signs saying “please help, Hungry”  and even have had the poor walk up to my open truck window and ask for a handout.

I'll be heading to St Augustine for a week before settling down for the winter at 1,000 Palms in Inverness Fla.  

More photos on Picasa 

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