Thursday, April 27, 2017



Stephen Foster Museum, (back side)

White Springs, Florida
Vidalia Georgia

Camper Doug and his
Indian friend
Campground: Stephen Foster Cultural park, White Springs Florida. Senior Fl discount: $14 includes reservation fees and taxes. 30 amp electrical/water. Electric service a bit iffy. Nice Stephen Foster museum showcasing many of his truly Americana songs. “Old Folks at Home” is the officialFlorida State song since 1935, written by Stephen Foster in 1851. Good 4G Verizon signal, no over the air TV.

The Stephen Foster St pk also has one of the largest carillon towers in the country and normally plays many of Stephen Foster's music. Unfortunately they are having electrical trouble in the tower and it's been silent the entire time I've been staying here. Only hearing the sounds of birds throughout the park.

Today, on my way into Lake City, I stopped at a small radio station called Lake City's Greatest Hits, 106.5 WCJX. It sits along US 41 near the I-10 exit. The owner was kind enough to give me a mini tour the the operation. Telling me that is was a great temporary job while going to college before starting a real career. Many years later, he continues to operate the small station and owns it. So many of these smaller stations have been purchased by large media companies and then are set to play the top twenty hits in country, pop or rock and roll. I even got a T-shirt and bumper sticker. The owner said I was the first person he'd seen in about a week. Even though he is the announcer and talks between song and commercials, it appears it can be a lonely job at times.

from an unassuming building,
Lake City's Greatest Hits, 106.5 WCJX
I was able to see how a small radio station works

It's pretty much a one man operation

I sure do appreciate seeing the equipment and learning a bit about how it all works. Much of it now relies on access to the internet and computers.

The little town of White Springs is continuing on a downward slope. Only one restaurant is open in town called Fat Belly's, serving up some fine barbecue and burgers. The only grand hotel and restaurant remaining, closed about a year ago and the third restaurant had a kitchen fire and is currently closed. I was talking to a local and he told me that Columbia County is the poorest county in the state. I've seen a few others that could probably take that title as well, but definitely, this town is one of the poorer towns I've visited. Still, with the Stephen Foster park the town has a rural lay-back atmosphere that many enjoy, including me.

many of the town bldgs. are currently closed

old Florida Cracker style homes

there's probably potential inside this square bldg

really neat store, open Thur/Fri/Sat

church on main street

nice row of well maintained homes

love this view of the gingerbread house

talked to the owner, sitting on the porch
purchased 3 yrs ago and renovated...

last of the grand hotels, currently closed
inside still in fair condition.  anyone want to buy it?

last shot of the street with all the well maintained homes

And now for a few shots inside Adams Country Store.  What a great piece of history, glad it's back open, even if only for a few days each week.

inside the large old country store

a highway painting, from itinerant artists in Florida, back about
50 years ago.... this painting is in poor condition, asking $900 

an idea for you crafty people

an idea for you crafty people
maybe a piece of garden art?

what a fun store to browse around

RV tip: 

Dealing with waste disposal can be a real mess. Especially when liquid backs up in the drain line. Removing the cover can often release a gush of waste water before one has a chance to connect the sewer hose. The “twist on waste valve” by Valterra is the solution to those surprises. It easily connects to the end of the sewer drain line, blocking any unwanted waster water. Connect your sewer hose, open the “twist on waste valve” and your line is now open and functioning without any mess. And it saves lots of money instead of installing one in the line permanently.

Distance traveled: 151 miles

Vidalia Georgia, to be continued

More Pictures:

Stephen Foster Cultural State Park

Adams Country Store, White Springs Fl

White Springs Florida

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.

Additional photos: