So, the weather forecast was a bit worrying for the day I needed to move from Gamble Rogers State Park to Ochlockonee State Park. The weather forecasters were predicting lines of severe thunderstorms. I figured that the earlier I left the better it would be. I was looking at a five hour drive.
I got hitched up and ready to go by 9:00. It hadn’t started to rain yet. However, by the time I got to St. Augustine, about 20 miles away, it was raining so hard that I couldn’t see. It was almost as bad as a whiteout. I turned on my flashers and slowed down – way, way down. I think I was going about 30 miles an hour for a miles or so. That was exciting.
It rained off and on for an hour or so. Then it stopped raining and finally they clouds cleared and the sky was a bright blue.
Around 1:00, I stopped to use the bathroom at a rest stop. Then I went back to the trailer to make a sandwich. I sat down to eat it and wondered why the road noise was so loud. Then I noticed that one of the windows was missing!
I wish I could blame it on someone else, but the fact of the matter is that it is all my fault. It had been so cold and inclement that I couldn’t remember the last time I had opened the windows. I did give a cursory glance and when I saw that the window on the right was latched, I assumed that they were all latched.
You know what happens when you assume. This time I made an ass out of me. Would that be assime?
Well, I spent some time googling Airstream repair shops. It looked like my best bet was about an hour and a half back down the road. I called and left messages on a couple of numbers. I headed back but I didn’t talk to anyone until I was about half an hour away. At that point, I said that I’d prefer to come and have them look at what I needed and then make a plan. After all, I can always change and cancel campground reservations, if it take a while to get parts.
I pulled in to JD Sanders RV Center and they helped me immediately. A wonderful man measured the window and identified the part that was needed. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the part, but he found some RV Centers that would be able to help me. I called, and they had the window. They put my name on the “glass and sash” and they will put it on next week.
Then, the wonderful man at JD Sanders had some workers cover the window with plastic.
I asked them what I owed them for the job, and they just waved it off. The gave me a calendar from the company and wished me safe travels.
There are such good people in the world! Anytime I’ve had a problem, there have always been there to help me.
The next thing I had to do was get gas.
Boy, did I need gas! The gas tank light was on, but the gauge was still a hair above empty. I thought I had a 30 gallon tank. I must have been running on fumes!
By that time, it was too late to make it to Ochlockonee River State Park, so I called to let them know I wouldn’t be arriving until the next day. I told them that if anyone needed a spot for the night, let them have it.
But where to sleep tonight?
Yep! Cracker Barrel. A good place to sleep and a hot breakfast in the morning.
And then on to Ochlockonee River State Park.
Now, how would you pronounce Ochlockonee? I struggled with it, and I asked several people before I finally mastered it. It sounds like “oh CLOCK uh nee” to my ear.
The campsite was beautiful. This is the view from my trailer toward the river. The first night there, I saw a lovely sunset over the river.
The next day, I went on a little walk-about.
The first interesting thing I saw was this collection of shells off to the side of a path. I wondered what this might be. I figured an animal – or group of animals – must have left them there. I couldn’t imagine any reason for humans to have left them there. I couldn’t imagine where they could have come from, either.
I got down to the edge of the river and I saw some shells in the water. Riddle solved.
I pulled one of the shells out and took a photo. If you don’t have a photo, then it didn’t happen, right?
Once again, the brown water. This must be a Florida thing. Also, if you look carefully, you can see the tide line in the sand. It rained fiercely overnight. The rough looking sand is stippled by the rain. Tide must have been high when it was raining, so that the water protected the sand near the river from getting marked.
I decided to enjoy the day and take a stroll about the park. They map they gave me when I checked in showed several paths and roads.
I thought this was a novel way to have a shower to get the cleaned up after boating or maybe falling in the river. There isn’t any swimming right now, but at these temperatures, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to go swimming.
This road topped with pine straw was just calling my name, so I decided to see where it went.
I walked through trees and plants that shifted subtly. More saw palmetto.
Less saw palmetto.
It was so quiet. I stopped several times to listen. I heard birds. It took me a while to see them; they were so small and fast. I think they might have been some sort of nuthatch. They would light on the trunks of the trees and zip around quickly from tree to tree. I imagine they were looking under the bark for insects. As I stood there, flakes of bark floated down from where they were.
Here is a close up of a pine that I took back at my camp site. You can see how the bark is layered and able to flake off.
The next marvel I came across was a field of grass with the most amazing seed heads.
They looked different depending on how the light was hitting them.
And what is behind them.
And how close you got to them.
The seeds were amazing!
Doesn’t take much to entertain me, does it?
A little further down the road, I came across a body of water labeled as Reflection Pond. I thought it was an apt name. There was a lovely little bench on a dock and I sat and enjoyed the quite and calm.
The road continued and I kept my eyes peeled for deer. When I checked in at the campground, they told me that they had rare piebald deer in the park. The picture they gave me on the xerox copy brochure made me think they would look like this.
I did find a deer, but I think it was the ordinary brown kind.
Nevertheless, it was fun to find one and to actually be able to take a shot, even if it is a little grainy.
Fire is a part of the life of a forest. You can see charred snags sticking up here and there around the forest.
As one species dies, others take their places. The oak is small and will burn off the next time a fire passes through.
This tree was interesting. Right next to it was a display about the turpentine industry and how turpentine was harvested. Even though it was taking place years ago, I assume that this is one of the trees that was used. They would cut vee shaped grooves in the tree and gather the sap.
Here is a photo from 1937. The marks made on the trunk were called “cats faces.” They would collect the resin and distill it to create pitch. The pitch was used to caulk holes in wooden boats and to coat rigging to help it last longer. From what I have read, turpentine is a by-product of producing pitch.
I finally got back to my campsite two hours after I left. That was quite a stroll!
There were all sorts of rigs and campers in the park. Tents, A-line pop ups, vans, fifth-wheels with slides, but this was the first time I saw a hammock camper.
Florida’s parks have sites that are equipped with poles for hanging hammocks. This park has only one site – and it was right across from my site.
That night, I decided to head over to the Gulf of Mexico to catch the sunset. I found a place to pull off the road just in time!
The next day, it was time to move on. Panama City, here I come!