Saturday, April 5, 2014

2014-4 Palatka Florida


Palatka Florida

male Anhinga, blue around the eyes during mating season,
apparently quite the turn on for the females

Campground:  Half Shell Resort.  Satsuma Fl.  $23 per night with the weekly rate ($160).  Full hookups 30/50amp, wi-fi,  90+ cable channels.  A small park on the St John’s River.  Boat slips available for rent.  Mostly seasonal campers.  Free washers, $1.75 dryers.

Half Shell Resort

I had planned on staying at a Passport America park and even called to make sure they had space available. When I got there no one was around and after calling the owner from my cell-phone, he offered the only site available, between a palm tree, telephone pole and a fire hydrant.  Very close quarters which I wouldn’t even consider attempting to get into.  Fortunately the guy recommended the Half Shell RV park and I ended up there.

Distance Traveled:  117 miles.

After effortlessly packing things up and connecting the camper to the truck I was ready to leave Moss Park.  With mixed emotions about leaving such a beautiful park, but at the same time knowing I wouldn’t miss being the “enforcer” of rules in the park any more, I said my goodbyes and headed out onto the 417 toll road.  Yikkes, after paying $10.75 at numerous toll booths I finally arrived at the infamous I-4.  It’s always with a bit of trepidation when starting my summer travels and having to get back onto very busy highways while towing a camper, even if it would only be for about 15 or 20 miles.  Fortunately the on ramp is very long and it was easy to merge into the traffic lanes.  Unfortunately, when looking down at my GPS, I noticed it was going to take me all the way to I-95, another really heavily congested corridor leading out of Florida.  I had forgotten to set the GPS to the alternate route which would bring me north along hwy 17.  Not being sure which exit would get me onto that back roads highway, I took a chance at the next exit and muddled through and finally arrived on the correct route.  What a relief to be on a little used, single lane country road.  Going through small towns like De Leon Springs, Pierson, Seville and Crescent City. Lots of plant nursery farms, fern farms (this is where all the ferns used by florists come from)  Even a few old orange groves.

Yes, I’m back on all those back roads I so enjoy driving.

San Mateo
boat docks at Half Shell Resort

old boats docked

A gentle breeze laden with the sweet smell of jasmine surrounds me as I relax on my weathered old concrete patio at the Half Shell “Resort”.  The patio faces east keeping it in the shade all afternoon.  The park, which they call a resort, is in actuality a small RV park around a single very narrow loop road.  An old boat dock reaches out into the broad St John’s river, one of the few rivers in North America that flows north. Old house boats, fishing boats and once grand cabin cruisers gently sway in their tired berths.  Each covered in old chalking paint, mold and weathering in the relentless sun.  Tall old oak trees covered in thick draping Spanish moss interspersed with palm trees in groupings of three and four surround the RV park.  A tired rec-hall sits on a rise overlooking the St John’s river.  Big dark windows look out onto the water.  From the other side, facing the park it looks more like an old abandoned ramshackle building with old forgotten broken chairs, tools and rotting wood under rusting corrugated metal roofing. This is old Florida, where the once new gradually is left to the elements to decay and go back to the earth in it’s own time.  Many of these older places, like their owners, have lost the energy to fix, repair or replace.



park in Palatka

Now Palatka, which is just up the street about 5 miles is one of those truly Old Florida Towns.  Once a thriving river town where as many as 35 steamers and paddle wheelers would stop daily collecting cotton, oranges and timber to be transported up to northern cities.  At one time it was a resort town as well.  Today, it is a up and coming old world town with new life being infused into a town with the usual Wal-Mart’s, Home-Depots, drugstores and popular grocery stores which meet the basic daily needs of today’s busy lifestyle.  Today it’s major industries are toilet paper, made in the Georgia-Pacific factories and potatoes.  Who would have thought that your soft tooshie paper or McDonald French fries might have come from this Florida community.  There are some great seafood restaurants in east Palatka right on the St John’s river.  Well worth the drive from Orlando and surrounding areas to explore this quaint river community and enjoy a great seafood dinner.  Or lunch in an old fashioned dining car right in downtown Palatka.  Maybe go for a mile and a half hike around the Ravine Gardens State Park or at the newly created Dunns Creek State Park where a hiking/biking trail leads to Blue pond .  Horse back riding is big in a number of the State forests nearby as well with trails and stables available for the horse community.

Ravine State Park

Doughboy from WWI

Bridge over the St John's River

murals throughout downtown Palatka

Billy Graham had his first ministry here

RV-ers Tip:

As we travel around the country, it’s not always easy to know what’s on TV, especially if you use your Rv’s over-the-air antenna or a cable connection at the campground.  There are two sources that work out pretty good.  One is by going online on your computer to the web site: .  The other source is an app for your smart phone, just do a search in the apps store for: TV Guide.  It’s a great listing of all the tv channels in your area.  You can of course change the settings for “over-the-air”, “cable listings” or “satellite”.

Not a bad way to start my first week back on the road.  The small community here at the Half Shell Resort are super friendly making for a nice transition from being a campground host back to being a civilian traveler.

Next stop, St Augustine which is celebrating their 450th anniversary this year.  The oldest city in the U.S. it’s always a great place to explore, have some good seafood and maybe go to the beaches on the Atlantic side.

More photos on Picasa.

1 comment:

walterterry said...

Great pictures as always. You seem to find the neatest places to stay. Be safe, Walt