Day: April 3, 2017

The Everglades

March 22, 23, 2017

Driving back up the Keys to Homestead, we stopped at Robert’s, a great fruit and vegetable place and were lucky enough to be waited on by Robert who told us about his brother and how they had a rift about the election, politics and marches on Washington. Now they don’t speak. This is a very cool place with a great story I will tell you later. Must go now and pick up the Airstream that has had a complete solar make-over by Lew Farber. I can’t wait!!

We drove into the park to Long Pine Key Campground. This is a first come, first serve campground with no hookups. It was very nice, but pretty empty. A raft of mosquitoes greeted us as we unhooked, and we quickly realized why it was empty. We sprayed down and I sent Martha into the trailer. We were amazed at people walking down the road with no apparent problem. People were bike riding, but across from us a young group quickly broke camp, packing up their tents and cars while swatting themselves. After talking with a few people, we found out you were safe in the road, or riding a bike, or on the water in a boat, but step on the grass or in the shade and you will be swarmed. We drove around a bit, but didn’t discover anything much.

Florida Keys

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We stayed at the very nice Grassy Key RV Resort. The site was really tight, but this is a great place – like a club really, where people return for 2-5 months every year. Everyone was very nice, and the place is very clean. I’m not a pool lover, but this is a great one because they keep it so clean.

Curry Hammock State Park

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Visiting Curry Hammock State Park for the day, we separately kayaked a cool loop through the mangroves and out across the beach. We only have Martha’s kayak, but this is only a one hour trip, so that was no big deal. This is a great park with a super campground with only 25 sites, so they are booked 11 months in advance. The sites are big and clean. The beach is beautiful and not crowded. It is on Grassy Key which is about half way down the Keys, a good central location.

Key West

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March 19, 2017

We went to Key West, took a nice bus tour of city, toured Hemingway house which was very cool and pretty, ate an original Sloppy Joe where Hemingway drank and Key Lime Pie at the Key Lime Shoppe. The Hemingway House was the best part of the day. First, it’s a beautiful house, well-designed and built. Then all the stories about Hemingway were great. He felt six-toed cats were lucky, so they were everywhere. Then there were his many loves and marriages, the people he met and wrote about, and of course, his drinking. 

The bus tour was good, giving us the big picture of Key West. I don’t know how they drive those narrow streets. With a huge cruise ship in port, the streets were packed. People rented bicycles and scooters, riding all over, not knowing where they were going, gawking at all the sights. Too many people in one place for me, but I’ve been there. It was interesting to hear how Flagler built an impossible train track to Key West, cool train station and incredible hotel. It was all destroyed by a hurricane but rebuilt only to have another big hurricane come through and destroy it again. Tourism died until the 80’s. It would have been very cool to see all of the keys in the 60’s and 70’s.

Highland Hammock State Park

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March 13, 2017

Driving south on Rt 27 wasn’t great with lots of traffic and frequent stop lights. The time of travel wasn’t bad, and we arrived at Highland Hammock about 1:00. After lunch and getting settled, we drove through the park to get a feel for the place. It is very cool with very old trees overhanging the road. There are huge live oaks with horizontal limbs begging to cradle a panther. We took one short hike along a boardwalk through the marsh and a creek finding an Egret  hunting for fish and an alligator resting right beside the walkway. 

We enjoyed visiting with a couple, Bob and Jane(?) who just bought an Airstream Bambi. Bob also just bought a Nissan HD which I have been reading about, so I was very interested. I’ll be looking for one when I get back home. Then right behind us were Judy and ? in a brand new Interstate. His TV wouldn’t come on, so I tried to help him, but we couldn’t sort out the problem. Probably a fuse.

Watching TV after dinner, a tornado warning was out for the west cost just to our west. That’s a little scary, so we kept our eye on that, put the awning up and closed everything up. I was in too much of a hurry in the heavy rains putting the awning up. One of the tension rods wasn’t completely released, and broke as the heavy spring slammed it home. We got some heavy rains in the night, but no big winds. Duck Tape held the tension rod in place, but I went on the internet and ordered a part from Iowa, hoping it would arrive at our campground in the Keys.

We biked and hiked this beautiful park for three days. It’s funny how things work out. The only reason we came was because there was no other vacancy in ANY other state park in Florida. Well, this park is quite a prize. The campground is quite nice with lots of space and shade. The “Hammock” is a very special place, like a tropical garden. I am always looking for animals, but this place is all about trees you just don’t see any more. Orange trees grow throughout the forrest, but something in the soil makes them very bitter. Some animal likes them though. There are little game trails around each tree, and no fruit remains on the ground. Armadillos come out about 2:00 in the afternoon. There was one right behind our campsite. We met some very nice campers here. The rangers were very nice. The bathrooms are a little old, but they plan to renew them. There is a new shower house at the top of the hill. This is a great and unique park with a nice little visitor’s center. Don’t miss it!

Drive to Wildwood, Florida

March 11, 2017

Along the way we went to the Farmer’s Market in Ocala, which was nice. We found lost of muffins, bread, farm eggs, fruits and vegetables.Then we drove the back road to Wildwood, passing beautiful horse farms. 

Arriving at a typical KOA crowded campground in Wildwood, we settled in, took a nap and went for a drive, ending up to The Villages. What an amazing development. It is huge, and all similar houses, but very well landscaped and many golf courses. There are shopping centers with everything you need right in the development.

WIFI in campgrounds where we like to go is sparse or non-existent. This KOA had pretty good WIFI, but I am also writing a book on Elliewood Keith, a great lady who taught me to ride horses. I am so into researching her genealogy right now that any time I get WIFI, I work on that site. 

Sante Fe River Hike and Ichetucknee Springs

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March 10, 2017

We hiked a very pretty trail in O’Lena State Park along the Santa Fe River. A very unique aspect of this river is that it goes under ground for about five miles, then pops back up. This provided a land bridge for travel for thousands of years. After lunch we drove to the Ichetucknee River in Ichetucknee Springs State Park. This river is fed by lots of springs and has a good flow of crystal clear water and joins the Santa Fe. This is a smaller stream and absolutely gorgeous. We hope to float it on our way back north. It can be a two-hour trip or a six hour trip if you float into the Santa Fe. Kayak rental is $20 and a $10 pick-up fee. This is a popular spot for tubing in warmer months.

We enjoyed the sandy campground in O’Lena State Park. They are large sites, and we enjoyed our neighbors. We would certainly love to return.

Heading South

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March 8, 2017

The first trip of the year started with a few glitches, mostly because I didn’t winterize adequately. There was first a crack in the plastic toilet valve, which quickly leaked all over the floor. Trying to fix it, I removed the toilet and all the fittings before finding the crack. My great neighbor, Danis, after a hard day at work, got down on the floor under the toilet with his flashlight and found it. This is not a part you could find locally, so Martha looked up Airstream dealers along our route.

Trying to remove the TireTracker sensors to check air pressure, I broke a valve stem. I couldn’t believe how easily it broke! I had to take the tire off, put it in Martha’s car and took it to Settle Tire for a valve stem. $110! Are you kidding me? They have pressure sensors in them that relay to your car’s computer. The service man said 80% or automobile accidents are due to improperly inflated tires. (I thought it was texting.) TireTracker tells you to put anti-seize on the connection so they won’t corrode and get stuck. The service man said be careful when you take it to the car wash where the tire scrubbers frequently break these valve stems. Obviously it is a very weak metal. 

Finally, we set off to North Carolina, stopping in Greensboro at a very nice Airstream place, Out of Doors Mart. Might get awnings put on when we come back through. They very efficiently replaced the toilet valve. We also got some brackets to replace the broken plastic ones that hold a base speaker on the floor, got a shower door seal and he repositioned the refrigerator sensor. 

Arriving at Morrow Mountain State Park, we were ready for a drink. This was just a nice stoping place for us, but it looks like a very nice park and a nice campground, one of the few places where the campground host came to greet us. Now we discovered another glitch since we didn’t have water hookups. The water pump was working, but there was obviously a hole in the line somewhere as we were getting more air than water. Finally I discovered a broken filter laying on the floor in front of the pump – likely having been filled with water and frozen in the winter. Strike two for my winterizing technique. I hate putting that antifreeze through all the lines, preferring to blow the lines out with air, but obviously I found two places that don’t blow out.

Now on to Charlotte and the next Airstream dealer, Tom Johnson Camping Center for our broken filter. They didn’t have one, but directed us to the competition down the road, even calling ahead to make sure they had it. Once I screwed it on, the pump worked fine:} That night we discovered another problem. The refrigerator wasn’t working when on gas. I examined everything, but could not find a problem. The igniter wasn’t igniting and there wasn’t any gas flow to the igniter. I started to take it apart, but the nice thing about being on the road most traveled is there will be another dealer down the road. 

Meanwhile we enjoyed four days at Amicalola Falls State Park, home of the tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi. We hiked up to Hike Inn, a five-mile hike to a nice inn on top of a mountain where you can stay the night, or more. They serve breakfast and dinner. We didn’t stay, but ate our lunch in Adirondack chairs overlooking the mountains and then hiked back down. Martha got a taste of what it is like to hike the Appalachian Trail, only we didn’t have 35 pound packs on. This is a great concept. My favorite is still the Hike to the Tea House at Lake Louise, but this was cool too. 

The lodge and campground were totally booked up, which was a surprise for early March. It turns out this is the beginning of the Appalachian Trail season, so there were all sorts of events and lectures on the topic. We listened to a couple of lectures in the morning, including one gentleman who had hiked the whole trail in 1977 with his wife and 10-year old daughter! 

We drove close to the beginning of the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain and walked the mile to the start. There is an access trail from Amicalola Lodge that is 8 miles long with some difficulty. We had a nice talk with a young man, Lawrence, from England who had just hiked up from the lodge. He plans to walk the entire trail and blog it in connection with schools along the way. Another 8 people came up as we talked. All were nice, so they would enjoy the first night on the trail together. 

Back on the road, we drove to the north of Atlanta to Southland RV to see about our refrigerator issue. Again, very nice people at Southland, right off I75. They were very busy, but took the time to check our problem. First checking the outside where the back of the refrigerator can be accessed through a door, he confirmed there was no gas or ignition. Then we went inside and turned the refrigerator off and then back on. Going back outside, he stuck his head in the door saying, “Now she’s lit”. Are you kidding me? All I had to do was turn it off and back on? Yep, just reboot. “Everything’s a computer now days”. No charge. The hardest thing was now to turn the trailer around in a very tight place, but they helped us and sent us on our way. Three Airstream places and all very nice. Surely now everything would be working fine.

It was late in the day when we arrived at Reed Bingham State Park for the night. It was just a stopping place for us, just the right distance off I75 to be peaceful. It is a very nice park with a 375 acre lake. We took the time to do laundry in the morning, put the new anchors on the base speaker and took a nice hike.

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