Sunday, April 23, 2017

2017-6 North Florida


High Springs, Florida
White Springs, Florida

October Bend (PPA park)

Before heading out midweek, I'm getting a chance to visit a dear friend in White Springs Florida. John is a premier artist concentrating on painting the many natural springs scenery. We shared stories about a recent friend who has passed on remember all the good times we had when I joined a Florida camping group. Setting me on a course that would eventually lead me to become a full-time Rv-er.

Needing to get my truck tires rotated under warranty work, I also spent the money to get new shocks for the truck. Something I should have done quite some time ago. What a difference good functioning set of shocks can do for a 13 year old truck. Feels like a new truck again. Well worth the $600.

Rv-ers tip: Along with common maintenance on your motor home or towing truck, replacing the air-filter can improve mileage considerably. It's a reminder to myself as well to have this maintenance done more frequently, as I'm now getting a couple more miles per gallon. Spend a little money to save a little money.

Heading out from October Bend Rv park

US-41 (from N Michigan to S Florida)

Distance traveled: 111 miles

long leaf pines and sawgrass

As it turned out, my next campground was even closer to John's house, so we took a day trip to a state park I'd never gone to before, called, Gold Head Branch state park. It's in a very rural area of Florida I'd never visited before. This is one of Florida's early state parks and consists of a deep ravine, a shallow lake that at the time is almost nonexistent and lots of long needle pine trees interspersed over grass and sandy terrain. Nice campsites and cabins, many built by the CCC's years ago.

Cabins built by the CCC's

It was a journey we took to remember a friend, David, since this was the last place he saw before passing on to the other side. Viewing the cabin he last stayed at, I'm sure his last days were filled with serenity and the quiet beauty of the area.

my good friend, John Sterpe, artist, songwriter

Gold Head Branch State Park 

I've mentioned this before in past blog reports but I'll mention it again, I am once again traveling along a section of US-41. It has special meaning to me as the road goes through my hometown of Houghton Mich and ends in southern Florida. Every time I travel on a section of the highway, I feel that much closer to my hometown in Michigan as well is my sister Ann who still lives up there. Tomorrow I will travel to my next destination, The Stephen Foster State Park, and I'll be traveling the entire length on US-41. So Ann, if your out and about tomorrow driving on US-41, know that I am on the same road as well.

Distance Traveled: 30 miles

Goodness, not very far after all, all along US-41. All set up by 1pm, but the a/c 30 amp service kept kicking out. Rangers replaced the breaker switch, but the a/c kept knocking the service out. Finally disconnected the inverter/charger and the power is staying on. I use the batteries/inverter to run the refrigerator while on the road, and I've noticed the charger goes into overdrive to recharge the batteries, even though I have solar panels. It apparently uses a lot of juice. So with that off line, all seems to be working fine. I'll gradually turn on the electric water heater and the fridge over to electric and see if all is working. Till then, I think I'll let the a/c do it's job at the temps are hoovering around 86 degrees today and a tad bit humid.

can you believe these fine folks parked in front of my
truck and camper, as I was told to park here to wait for
my campsite to open up. ps they parked in a handicap site
without having a sticker

painted on an upright piano

inside the carillon tower

a diorama depicting one of Steven Fosters songs,
and me in the reflection

I'm at the Steven Foster State park and will be here for the week, so I'll write a bit more about that in the next blog report.

Additional photos

Sunday, April 16, 2017

2017-5 Silver Springs, Florida


a true tourist gift to remember Florida by

Lithia to Ocala Florida

Silver Springs State Park

Silver Springs, Site 30 a back-in site
Campground: Silver Springs State Park. Senior rate, $14, 50 amp elec/water. Nice modern large camp sites. With camping fee there is free access to Silver Springs park w/glass bottom boats etc.

A Round-about we go

Before heading out this season, I was talking to some folks familiar with my summer destination, the New England states. One of the first things they mentioned were the numerous round-abouts in that part of the country. We only have one that I know of in my area of Florida and that's in Kissimmee. I even went through it heading out of town figuring that would be the only one I'd see until hitting the New England states.

Not so. As I entered Alafia River State Park, I encountered a couple of round-abouts getting to the campsite. An interesting concept especially when towing a fairly large camper. All went well and I'm getting a chance to practice my skills going around them before heading up north. I guess with this being one of Florida's newer state parks, they decided to give the round-abouts a try.

My big adventure in this area was a trip to Plant City for lunch and a visit to Dinosaur World. It's a kitschy park mainly for kids, though we adults can enjoy it as well. Lots of large life size replicas of dinosaurs that lived between 65 and 125 million years ago. Of course no dinosaurs have ever been found in Florida, as it was most likely under water during the Dinosaur era. A small museum has some interesting displays of small bits and pieces of dinosaurs and the read-outs that go along with the displays are quite educational. But it's the outdoor life size displays that help one feel the size and power these creatures once had roaming the earth millions of years ago. A fun morning, exploring the past.

Dinosaur World, Plant City Florida

Plant City is the location of much farming in the area. Lots of strawberry, blueberry, orange groves and of course vegetable farms as well. I had to go to Fred's Market Restaurant the Johnson family started the restaurant in 1954 at a gas station. It now resides next to all of the produce warehouses here in Plant City. Great home town cooking with of course only the freshest of ingredients.

Distance Traveled: 111 miles

Silver Springs Florida (Ocala area)

I was again able to take many of the back-roads to my destination of Silver Springs in Ocala. One section passed through the green swamp and the Withlacoochee forest, one of the straightest sections of highway in the state.

Silver Springs State park has combined with the campground and now permits access to the Silver Springs park which was once a private attraction. Silver Springs is also noted as having been the 1st tourist attraction in Florida, started around 1852. With the first glass bottom boats giving tours in the 1870's. Many of the Tarzan movies were filmed there and one can occasionally see the wild monkeys that had gotten loose during filming and still live in the area. Today, I attempted to go to the museum and historic old timers village but was turned back. Seems the Hillsborough School system actually owns/runs the museum and it is only open to school children Monday thru Friday. Somehow, even though the facilities are on State park grounds, the school system controls the museum and historic buildings, yet the park personnel take it over on weekends.

Although I enjoy camping at Silver Springs st pk, I'm finding that there are aspects about it that I don't particularly like. I've never been able to get to my reserved campsite when arriving. Seems the “camp hosts” have control of when a site is available for occupancy. If they don't get around to cleaning a campsite, the camper must wait up front until they get around to it. It's the only campground I've ever had a problem getting to the campsite. The other being the a fore mentioned closure of the museum and historic village complex to the public.

Now the good part about the park is that it's a fairly new and modern campground with large campsites and many are pull-thru sites. On Saturday I was finally able to tour the on-sight museum and it was awesome. The displays were topnotch with excellent display signage. There were a number of large animal bones from the about the one million years ago to the last ice age around one hundred thousand years ago.

Silver Springs Museum, next to the campgrounds

tourists first arrived at Silver Springs via river boats

Seminole Indians

when Silver Springs permitted swimming

one of many movies filmed here

Tarzan movies were filmed at Silver Springs
and many monkeys now reside in the area after getting free

history of the Spanish arriving

when turpentine was big business in the area 

Spanish first meeting the Timicuan Indians

large mammals from around the last ice age

Displays chronicling the Spanish landing and impact on the native Indian tribes, through to the Civil War and the age of tourism beginning with boat rides from St Augustine and Palatka to Silver Springs and the eventual development of the park and it's famous glass bottom boats.

Besides the wonderful tour of the museum, I'm enjoying a few morning walks along the trails in the park and furthering my education with the online Harvard University course on Architecture. This is the second course I've taken and the first through H.U. It's a top notch course, though I'm realizing my vocabulary skills are being challenged by the professors awesome use of the English language.

nice walking trails, many along old dirt roads

I entered Silver Springs in hopes of listening to a music jam session today, but I guess it was cancelled with it being Easter. Silver Springs attraction is only a shadow of it's hayday, having eliminated the zoo, miniature train rides through the park and recently they've eradicated all of what they consider invasive plants. Meaning they've pretty much destroyed the many flowering plants that once filled the park. The other main attraction used to be musical groups on the big stage during the spring/early summer. That has apparently been abandoned as well. Sad, it was a great attraction for the music lover. Now all they have is a drumming session once a month.. woopie.

I think I'm stuck, Help!

the Sabal palm, or cabbage palm,
Florida's state tree

magnolia blossom 

Silver Springs and the famous Glass Bottom boats


I've updated my Shelter Cove Blog to include information on my two RV lots available for renting. Both sites have large concrete pads and have updated electrical, water and sewer hookups. If you have plans to be in the Central Florida area, please check out my Shelter Cove Blog for more information.

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