November 1, 2019 marked the beginning of our Autumn RV adventure. Joan, Stu and Winnie, our travel trailer, traveled to see the Autumn change of seasons. Our hunt for fall foliage had begun.
11.1 to 11.2 Middleton Fish Camp and Blue Cypress Lake
Blue Cypress Lake is a photographer’s dream. The lake is about 6500 acres of tea colored waters surrounded by mostly Blue Cypress trees that were last logged during the building of the Atlantic East Coast Railway down the keys. More species of birds than we can count nested among the one-time giant cypress trees that fell victim to Flagler’s railroad and the seemingly endless need for railroad ties. Trees are coming back, birds are thriving, and the lake is well preserved. Cypress Lake is entirely surrounded by state park lands with almost the only access being Middleton’s Fish Camp with two launching ramps, lots of boat trailer parking, and a space for Winnie to spend the night.
Joan had booked a pontoon photographic tour with Steve, a veteran guide and fisherman who lived on the lake. We shared the lake with him for two hours starting at sunrise and continuing through the best morning light as we were guided among the Osprey, Herons, Turkey Vultures and beautiful cypress trees.
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11.2 Sebastian Inlet on our way North
Sebastian Inlet (really an outlet) carries water from the Intracoastal Waterway to the Atlantic Ocean. The bridge across the inlet (38 feet) and the shallow water (under 5 feet) stop larger boats from using the area. Fishing boats surround the jetty, and fisherman (and woman) are actively catching fish.
11.2 to 11.4 Outdoor Resorts in Melbourne Beach
Outdoor Resorts in Melbourne Beach is a high end mixed-use camp catering to both manufactured homes and RVs. It is clean, open, and has a secure feeling, with three swimming pools, lots of shuffleboard, several meeting rooms, hundreds of owner occupied sights, and its own pier on the Intracoastal Waterway.
Joan was fortunate to find a waterfront site right on the ICW. The site was large and had a large patio extending over the water for us to enjoy. Most important, the large fishing pier was close to our site and provided a backdrop for sunset photographs.
The property extended across the island to a small area on the ocean. There is a pool, sunbathing area and restrooms and access to the beach We went to the beach for a sunrise and were greeted with clouds. Nevertheless we enjoyed the ocean view, the birds feeding, and the many people walking by.
The best part of the day was an extended lunch with our friends, Jean and Gary Glenn.
11.4 Menard-May waterfront Park on the way to Tomoka State Park
We stopped for propane at Cecile Home and RV supplies just off Route 1. As they were filling our propane Cecile noticed a soon to be flat tire on the right side of Minnie (a broken leg?). He struggled to remove the wheel luck overtightened at the builders, patched the tire, and got us on our way with a full load of propane. Nice guy! Best part, his mother at the cash register referred to him as baby – he was about a foot taller than her.
We left the repair placed directed to a lovely park on a bend of the Intracoastal where we had roll-ups, sun tea, and peanuts for desert. While stopped we watched the parade of large cruising boats going South for the Winter, just lke the birds.
11.4 to 11.5 To Tomoka State Park
– Ormond Scenic Byway
Tomoka State Park, located just north of Ormond Beach on the Intracoastal Waterway, is a dense, wooded area containing the State Canoe Trail.
It was once home to the Tomoka Indians, a tribe approaching 10,000 that was wiped out by European diseases in the early settlement years.
In cooler weather the park has available canoeing, kayaking, and boat tours. In late summer there is a large variety of flying things that largely keep you inside.
11.5 Ravine Gardens Park State Park
The Ravine Gardens park developers put significant effort into creating a welcoming area with picnic groves, a meeting area, and a civic center. The area Joan is approaching is built as a formal garden with extensive trails and, unfortunately, some hurricane damage.
11.6 Lunch in Micanopy
We always look for interesting places along our route to stop for lunch, snacks, or scenery. The Micanopy name attracted us so Joan looked further to find it is “the town that time forgot.”
We found a parking place easily since the town festival had ended a week ago and most everyone had left. Turns out, the town had a Jewish root, founded by Moses Elias Levy in 1821. He, in turn, was sponsored by a New York group of Jewish people and became wealthy before the Second Seminole War destroyed the original town and everyone fled.
Now, Micanopy exists as a rebuilt antique city with several antique shops and a crafts co-op featuring pottery, always of interest to us, stained glass, original paintings and crafts. We also encountered a photographic shop that claimed to specialized in original view camera photographs – but the artist put them away in favor of oils since “people no long have interest in view photography.”
Finally, lunch heaven: Old Florida Cafe had shaded outdoor seating and was run by a nice family. They featured Cuban sandwiches, Blue Bell Ice Cream, and one I had never encountered before, Rebecca Sandwich.
Stu immediately had to have a Rebecca even though there was no hint of its contents on the menu. Turns out, it was in the family of Ruben, Rachael and Rebecca. The tasty sandwich was made with Corned Beef, melted Swiss cheese, and bacon all served with toasted rye bread and Russian dressing. Tasty! I suppose the sandwich was directed toward Reformed Jews.
Joan surprised my by ordering beans, rice and pulled pork. My sample was delicious as was the leftover beans we had with dinner.
11.6 to 11.8 Stephen Foster Folk Center State Park
The high point <so far> of Stephen Foster Park in the large Carillion, the largest in bell count of any in the states. Unfortunately, it was damaged in a storm and is only partially restored since the crafts people encountered asbestos and are working on coating or removal before they continue the restoration. Originally built in <???>, the finikey electronics skipped the partial performance scheduled for 4:00 pm. We are hoping for a better show later in the day.
There are three different ways of playing the bells. Each bell is struck by a large hammer that is, in turn, swung or pushed by an electromagnet about the size of a beer bottle. The magnet, hammer and eventually the bell are controlled by an electrical current that is switched on and off by by either a piano-like keyboard, a scroll similar to a player piano, or clockwork mechanism of relays and motors that automatically actuate the necessary magnets to sound the appropriate bells on the hour, quarter, and half hours. The photo on the right is of the clockwork mechanism. The clock on top operates a motor below it that turns a cam that sends power to the appropriate magnet that strikes the appropriate bell with just the right force at just the right time.
Most of the mechanism was destroyed by a lightning strike and is still under repair. Since the Carillon is missing most of its notes and the remaining notes are not tuned, we experienced several songs and were unable to identify any of them,
11.7 Kayaking on the Suwannee River
Stu carries his baby kayak on the roof wherever we go. The opportunity to kayak the Suwannee River was on his mind when the ranger said she and a friend were kayaking that river and he was welcome to join the adventure.
11.8 Travel to Newport Park Campground
We arrived at Newport Park before 1:00 with an expected check-in of 2:00 so we just relaxed and enjoyed the lunch and the woods. Once we set up, we were off for a provisioning trip to Winn Dixie and a laundry.
11.9 Boat Tour of Wakulla Springs
We traveled a short distance from our campsite in Newport to a state park developed around Wakulla Springs. The springs produces millions of gallons of fresh, almost clear, water each day to feed a the Short Wakulla River. The river is completely undeveloped with no boats, no people and no wildlife or landscape intervention.
We took an early morning boat tour in a small purpose-built boat captained by Ranger Charlie. He described every bird, alligator, and the manatees we saw during the hour plus trip. The boat was equipped with two electric outboards powered by batteries charged by 20 solar cells on the roof. Since it was overcast yesterday, Charlie started the third engine, an inboard, part way thru the tour.
He also explained to us the formally crystal clear water was not greenish because of the phosphates that had leached into the underground aquifer as development encroached on the park. This colored water stopped the famous glass bottom boats from seeing much.
A church group of about 25 people shared the boat with us.
After the first tour, we went to the lovely Wakulla Lodge to warm up and enjoy some lunch. Joan had a nice salad topped with shrimp and I enjoyed a large bowl of tasty seafood gumbo – then I had several plates of Joan’s salad. Nice lunch, beautiful surroundings, and a room built to be lively while still permitting conversation.
We did a 2-mile circuit hike in the woods surrounding the Wakulla Lake. It was partially graded and partially boardwalk. Easy to walk but unfortunately most of the explanatory signs had been vandalized. The boardwalk went over a spring fed stream that led into Wakulla Lake.
The boat tour was so good we did it again after the hike. Yes, we took a second tour and found, exactly as they explained, the river was completely different. WE had different light, more alligators, more manatees, and a few less birds. The afternoon tour was every bit as nice as the morning tour with Ken having a different perspective of the route.
Finally, we ended a nice but cold, day with a Classico Thin Crust Margarita pizza. We added a heavy dose of extra vegetables, two cans of anchovies, and some cheese making it a Classico Joan pizza.
11.10 North to Georgia in search of Fall Foliage
This trip started out as a hunt for Fall Colors in Florida. Turns out, there are none except green. Warm weather and sufficient water kept the trees in leaf and the colors hidden. So, if the colors won’t come to us, we are going to F. D. Roosevelt state park in Georgia where there should be some color.
We enjoyed the colorful ride north to F. D. Roosevelt State Park, the largest in Georgia. We were originally surprised to find that wherever Roosevelt traveled, he founded what became a beautiful park. There is a another park, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in New York State. Don’t get confused if you drive there.
The ride to the campsite was about four hours so we planned to stop about two hours into the trip for a brunch. Our initial stop was a seedy looking park so we went about a block to a lovely Dairy Queen park on Camilla, Ga. We stopped for about an hour and Stu paid for the parking place by enjoying a chocolate dipped vanilla cone.
From Camilla we continued North to our campsite at F. D. Roosevelt park and began enjoying the construction of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) formed by Roosevelt during the depression. We registered and purchased some remembrances in the old stone building used as a welcoming center. Roosevelt was said to have designed some of the internal arch structure. A man of many skills.
11.11 Touring F. C. Roosevelt State Park and Little White House near Warm Springs, GA
We woke to a very bright, sunny day in the state park Roosevelt visited, loved and adopted. Our morning started with a brisk walk to the lake near our campsite. The still water and fall color trees made for some very satisfying photographs.
After a quick bite to eat, we went to several sunrise overlooks on the country road between the campground and F. D. Roosevelt’s home. It has been maintained very much as it appeared when he was Governor and then President. Roosevelt originally selected the area to be near Warm Springs in the belief that the warm mineral water would cure the symptoms of Polio he contracted a few years before he began coming Warm Springs. The waters partially restored some use of one leg and ultimately led o the creation of a rehabilitation hospital occupying a large campus near his home.
Our day of hiking and photography ended with a sunset photo shoot looking over Lake Delano with another view of the vibrant trees reflected in the still waters of the lake.
11.12 Warm Springs to Three Rivers State Park
11.13 Three Rivers State Park
We camped where Florida meets the southwest corner of Georgia, the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers converge to form Lake Seminole and the Apalachicola River. The park was severely damaged when In October 2018, Hurricane Michael changed the state park and its forest forever. Trees were turned into kindling, large areas were cleared completely and much of the cover growth was destroyed.
Recovery is well underway. Logging has removed the dead trees, chipping is ongoing to remove the damaged smaller wood while nature is regrowing the land with patience and care.
The campground is functioning completely, including power and water sufficient to keep Winnie from freezing in the cold Northern winds that drove the temperature to near freezing. It is so cold Joan missed her usual sunrise pictures, deciding, instead to remain under several blankets for a while longer before facing the sunshine and beauty with her camera.
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