Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Winter Storm

Tuesday night view from our upstairs window.

The new neighbors.

Poor ole bus.  Thank god I winterized last week!

So we stay remain bundled up here waiting it out.  The University has been closed since yesterday and will remain so tomorrow as well.  Upside: John gets some time off.  Other upside: I get to work on my (addictive) digital art.  And plan my trip to SC-GA-FL in 3 weeks!

Here's hoping you and your pets are staying warm ....

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Homeward Bound

We’ve had a couple of nice lazy days here at Stephen Foster park.  Monday was once again all blue skies with temperatures in the 60s.  Just what we like!  

In the morning, I hiked one of the many trails through the palmetto-laced pine forest.  Then into town for a grilled burger.  Spent the rest of the day doing classwork and wrestling with a NY Times crossword – all under the trees. 

Love my new office!  Lemons to lemonade, y’all

Yesterday I stopped in to the Stephen Foster Museum, located inside the park and dedicated to this great American songwriter.  

Foster was a real rock star in his brief 37 years of life.  He composed Camptown Races, Beautiful Dreamer, My Old Kentucky Home, O Susanna, and Way Down Upon the Swanee.  A 19th century hit-making machine!

Now, who would argue that the best part of camping is the campfire?  How much fun is it to sit out under the stars and talk about everything under them?   

Sweet little Mitzi

It's raining here this morning but all I have to do is unplug and start heading toward home later today.  It's a 4.5 hour drive but I’ll no doubt break it up with a stay at some Camp Wal-Mart along the route.  That way, I can have a leisurely drive tomorrow with enough energy left over to unpack.  And catch up with Doris.  Oh yeah, and John too!

Next up: I'm considering a February road trip to the Everglades.  Also we are hoping to get at least one more camping trip in before Peggy moves to North Carolina.  

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Stephen Foster State Park Day 2 & 3

Carillon that belts out Stephen Foster tunes on the hour.

Just hanging around the campground today, enjoying good temperatures and good company.



It was lovely to have full sun all day.  I think the high for the day was in the low 60’s.  Ideal camping weather!

And perfect conditions for a campfire.  Carla hosted at her site tonight.  She also brought the wood from home and kept us nicely supplied.  We'll repeat the process tomorrow evening but get started earlier and go later.  

I rented a bike for part of the afternoon and explored the park a bit. 

The unique tea-color of the Suwannee River really reflects the trees.

Craft Village where folk art demonstrations are held

I can't recommend this park highly enough.  If you are ever in the area, stop for a few days.  

Friday, January 10, 2014

Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, FL

I left St. George Island this morning heading for Stephen Foster State Park to meet up with Peggy. I was really looking forward to the first part of the drive – the Florida Scenic Highway.

Here it is.

I just had to laugh.  The weather has not given an inch this entire trip so far.  

The fog finally dissipated but the drizzle continued almost the entire 4-hour drive.  Peggy was already set up when I arrived.  Carla showed up about 2 hours later.   We hadn’t expected Carla and her adorable pooch Mitzi to join us and were delighted she could make it!

This is a beautiful park and campground and has much to offer in the way of activities.  More rain is expected tomorrow but it still promises to be a fun 4 days. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

St. George Day 2

The thermometer went in the right direction ... but ...

This is my 6th day of truly crappy weather on this trip.  I’m beginning to mind!

Later, after 2 cups of coffee and a crossword puzzle, I unplugged and drove into St. George to do what any sane person would do …

These were absolutely the briniest oysters I’ve ever had.  Honestly, it’s as if they just were plucked from the water.  Oh wait … they were!!!  

A handful of locals showed up and we had fun chatting.  I only left because I don’t have a designated driver.  

I'd definitely return here.  A nice mix of grunge and good conversation.

Thing were looking less dreary when the constant drizzle stopped on the way back to the park.  I was so happy to be able to finally take a long beach stroll!  But about 15 minutes in, the rain returned.  You know the horizontal kind of rain that stings your face?  Oh well.  Still beats a day at work! 

I returned to the campground and, when a brief break in the rain appeared, plugged back in. 

On the bright side, staying in gave me plenty of time to continue my Photoshop Elements lessons. 

This photo I took of the sea oats in the rain layered over a texture exactly captures today’s mood.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

St. George State Park

The sun made an appearance this morning but went back into hiding before I left St. Joe State Park.  It was heavenly while it lasted.  

This is a lovely campground.  I’m amazed at the abundance of dense tropical foliage between sites.

GDB peeking through the vegetation.

I drove about an hour to get to Apalachicola.  I wasn’t hungry for lunch yet so I strolled around town browsing and window-shopping.  

Before long, I was ready for my arepa, purchased here at Cafe con Leche.  Sit on those chairs and watch the shrimp boats prepare for a day's work on the sea.  

I picked up one of these tasty treats when Peggy and I were here last month and it’s not been far from my mind since.  If you’ve never had an arepa, do so immediately!

I opted for bacon and a fried egg topped with a schmear of spicy avocado aioli.  

Sorta like a South American egg mcmuffin only …. mucho better!  It’s the cornmeal patties that make it.  

Web Photo

The gentleman below entertained all of us by really trilling the r when he called out my order.  Arrrrrrrepa! 

In progress

Then it was on to St. George State Park.  After checking in, I walked for ½ hour on the windy beach.  It was brisk but at least the temps were out of the freezing range.  Just me and the sandpipers (and not many of them).  

I settled in to site 54 - a short trot to the beach with a view of the dunes from my living room.  Tomorrow may be warm enough that I can open the windows and hear the music of the surf. 

The dunes right behind me, trust me.

And I'm happy to report that all seems well with the plumbing!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

St. Joseph Peninsula State Park

A common sight at the campground this AM.  

Water faucet frozen solid in mid-drip.  Welcome to sunny Florida!

After last night's freeze, I haven’t tested the plumbing since there is one more night of below-freezing temps to endure, but I’m hoping for the best.  I should be OK. Roadtreks are built with a 2-tank system.  One 11-gallon tank resides inside the camper and allows for running water while winter camping.  Roadtreks are made in Canada, after all.  I've never appreciated that fact more than now!   

After leaving Topsail, I stopped for a propane re-fill, a few groceries, and a very chilly picnic lunch here.

I also detoured to check out Grayton Beach State Park.  Again, it seems a very nice facility but you have to drive to the beach.  I guess most people don’t mind that as much as I do.

So it was on to St. Joe State Park for the night where I got hooked-up about 3 PM.  

I’ve wanted to check out this campground for a long time.  And, dedicated blogger that I am, I braved the 26-degree wind chill on the deserted beach just to get a few snapshots for you.  

I know many of you are in much colder climes right now and can probably use some beach photos.   Even though I had to wear a ski mask to get them.   

The low-lying clouds on the horizon look for all the world like mountain peaks.

From the toasty interior of the GDB I can see the luminous sky, even through the thick foliage surrounding my site.  

My neighbor (who is tent-camping!) informs me that the raccoons show up right after sunset.  Maybe the activity will provide some interesting distraction from the classwork I must do tonight.

I’ll probably head to another campground tomorrow.  I think I'll treat myself to lunch too.  For the past 72 hours I’ve been thinking about those delectable gulf oysters.  More than usual even! 

The Big Game

Of course we aren’t happy about the outcome last night but ….. awfully proud of the team for getting there and playing so well.  John says we were just one bad defensive play away from a national title.  But what a show! 

BTW, thanks to all you Tiger fans who commented!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

As the day started, it occurred to me that having cable would be a good idea for tonight’s game.   Streaming works OK but is not always reliable.  So $47 later, I’m set to watch the game on my little big screen. 

On the first scan, I only got 7 digital channels (none of which was ESPN).  I went to the office and one of park employees was asked to hook me up with a cable box.  I drove back to my site and, just like at home, waited for the cable guy.  

The whole issue confused me because my TV is digital and I shouldn’t need a supplemental receiver.  Turns out, I didn’t need the box after all.  The problem was that one of the cables to my ridiculously complex "home entertainment system" was incorrectly placed.  

Thanks Austin for figuring that out!

Austin tells me there will be a sizable crowd watching the game in the club house tonight.  No doubt I will run (and, with these temps, I do mean RUN) over there at some point.  He says most of the viewers will be Gator fans so they will be pulling for Auburn to beat their arch-rival, Florida State. 

Back to this morning

My first stop after leaving Niceville was Henderson Beach State Park.  The campground was full.  (I never make reservations but this is the first time I’ve been turned away.  Guess I was due).  But allowed me to tour the campground as a possible future camping spot. 

Henderson Beach is a beautiful facility – the sites are sheltered and very private but …. the beach area is quite small and surrounded by development.  I’m glad I did a reconnaissance tour so I can check it off my list. 

Web Photo

So I traveled the 12 miles to Topsail.  The sites here are very narrow with no privacy.  I was also hoping for more shelter from the wind.  

The beach must be spectacular for them to call it a resort and get away with charging so much.  I’ll check out the beach tomorrow before leaving.  But I have to say, at the moment, I would not come back here to camp.

The overnight low will be low but not as low as it will be 200 miles north back home.  And it won’t be below freezing for long.  I’m happy to have hook-ups so my furnace can run all night without the risk of the blower running the battery down.  I’ll also open the cabinets to keep the pipes warm(er). 

Tomorrow I’ll move east along the coast - either to Grayton Beach or St. Joe State Park. 


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Back to Florida

And much sooner than expected! 

I wasn't scheduled to leave until Thursday in order to meet Peggy for a 4-day camping trip.  But the freakishly arctic temps had me on the road 5 days sooner than planned.  I suddenly decided last night over dinner to leave today.  

As the turtle who was mugged by the snail said: it all happened so fast!

So I find myself overnighting at the WMT in Niceville, FL.  Sorry, no time for photos what with the last minute packing.  And getting here just as darkness was falling. 

The only downside is watching the BCS game alone tomorrow night rather than with friends and family. 

The advantage, other than much warmer weather and protecting the GDB, is that I can explore some of the Florida panhandle state parks.  This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while so …. why not now?

I’ll probably head to Henderson Beach State Park tomorrow.  It’s only about 12 miles from here and there are sites available.  I just hope I get a good wi-fi signal.  Gotta see the Tigers win the National Title!

No matter what happens, it's been an unforgettable season!

                                                          War Eagle!