Friday, December 30, 2011

O'Leno State Park

Like Florida Caverns State Park where we camped at earlier, O'Leno is one of the oldest State Parks in Florida. It was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps back in the 1930's. How do I know all this? Gary told me. How does he know? He reads all about the places we camp at. As for me, I think all that information is interesting, but I really don't care about the details as long as I'm camping. This was a nice enough place, but far from being one of our favorites. If you're into hiking, this is the place for you. There are trails EVERYWHERE. Other than that, it's not all that pretty, and the campsites are just average. One couple came over to look at me, and they were nice. Gary said "Hi" to a few others, and they wouldn't even respond. I've heard of happy campers, but there were more un-happy campers here than anyplace else we've been. It was a decent stopover point on our way home, but we wouldn't think about going back again. Since we were only staying for one night, and strong chances of rain were in the forecast, Gary didn't bother getting the bike out of the van. He walked the full length of the River Trail, and took some of the pictures you see above. It was almost dark by the time he returned. He warmed up some leftovers in my microwave, took a shower, and watched TV for awhile. The rain held off until 6AM the next morning. It didn't rain all that hard, but it made it difficult for Gary to get me ready to go. I had stayed pretty clean during this trip, but mud splashed up on me during the rain. In addition, the large potholes in the campground road on the way out were full of muddy standing water. I was DIRTY by the time we got to the paved road leading out of the park. Gary decided to stop at a very large antique store not far from the park. It was still raining when he went in, but it was sunny and dry by the time he came out. We had some nice roads to travel on the way home. A really cool thing happened on a four-lane section of one of the highways. A young couple in an older Toyota Camry was following close behind us for several miles. It took awhile, but they finally pulled up next to Gary's door, and gave him the thumbs up. Then they fell back behind me again for a short time, and when they pulled up to Gary's door for a second time, the young woman had my blog displayed on her smart phone. One more thumbs up from the couple, and they pulled away and out of sight. That was GREAT!!! It made my day, and I know Gary was pretty thrilled about it too. We're heading out in the morning for three nights of camping at Lake Griffin State Park. This will be another new place that we haven't been to before. We will welcome in the New Year there. I'll let you know how things went when we get back. Happy New Year, everyone.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ochlockonee River State Park, Part 2

My Christmas morning wake-up call was a from a squirrel running around on my roof. He apparently jumped down from a nearby branch, then couldn't figure out how to get back up there. After several minutes of running laps, he disappeared. Gary had a pile of presents for me, as I mentioned in a previous posting. After giving me my gifts, and opening up a few of his own that he got from family and friends, he made breakfast and then headed out on his bike for a long ride. He revisited the area he had been to the previous day, then rode back along the river trail. After an hour or so back at the campsite, he ditched the bike and walked the trail for about two miles in the opposite direction. Along the way, he came across something that neither of us had ever seen before...WHITE squirrels! They were all over the park, and a bunch of them finally found their way to our campsite so I could see them too. SO cool!!! Between all the bike riding and hiking, I think Gary was a bit tired. He hung out at the campsite the rest of the evening, read State Park literature, and listened to his iPod. After dinner and a nice warm shower, it was movie time for the remainder of the evening. The night flew by, and it was time to pack up and go. I always hate to leave a campground, and leaving this one was especially sad. For a final bit of fun, Gary towed me through one of the long hiking/driving trails that he had previously walked. It was the first time I had ever done any off-roading. It was a bit scary at times, but kind of fun too. We will definitely come back to Ochlockonee State Park again, as long as we can stay in our beloved campsite #19. It was AWESOME!!!

Ochlockonee River State Park, Part 1

This was another "new" place to visit, and a GREAT one it was. Gary and I would be spending Christmas here, and it was almost as if we had been sent to the best possible place for the holiday. The campground is a small one. There are only 30 campsites. We were camping in #19, and it was definitely the best one in the place. The campsite was big and secluded, the most secluded in fact of any in the park. Just behind our campsite was the pretty Ochlockonee River, and a walkway which went right down into it. Once Gary had me settled in, he was off to explore the place. The first place he went was a large area where the Dead River meets the Ochlockonee. After that, he came back and hung out at the campsite for awhile, took lots of pictures of me (what else is new?), and eventually got around to building a fire and making dinner. Later in the evening, there was time to watch a couple of DVD's before bed. It was SO quiet there, and sleeping was easy.

Cleansing The Soul

There's been something on my mind for awhile that I've been meaning to tell you all about, and the time has come. If you've been a reader of my blog in the past, you know that I fell head over heals in love with "Serena" from Ohio. Looking back, I was blinded by her beauty, and didn't stop long enough to realize that the feelings between us weren't entirely mutual. I won't go into a lot of detail about what happened with our relationship, as it really isn't important. I'll just say that it obviously wasn't going to work out. I try to focus on the happy and positive things, so that's why I haven't brought this up before. Gary knew that having pictures of Serena in the photo montage hanging over my bunk beds was not a good thing. So recently, he replaced the pictures of Serena and her owners with pictures of our Florida camping friends and their trailers. To further "cleanse the soul" and to start the fast-approaching New Year in a fresh and exciting way, Gary and I decided to burn all traces of Serena in the campfire while we were at Florida Caverns State Park. I can't even begin to explain how good that felt. I was such a fool for falling so hard so fast, and I know I'll never make that mistake again. When we left Florida Caverns on Christmas Eve morning, it seemed like a major weight had been lifted off of me. That's probably a good reason why I felt SO good when we reached the next stop in our travels. I had the best Christmas ever, and I'm looking forward to whatever comes my way in 2012. Watch out girls...I'm available!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Florida Caverns State Park

As usual, the excitement of leaving for a trip meant no sleep for Gary and I. We left home at 3AM, instead of the original planned time of 5AM. The new plan was to get some miles behind us, then pull into a rest stop and get some shut-eye there. That's exactly what we did. It was noisy there with the 18-wheelers coming and going, but we were so tired that it didn't take long to doze off. After a couple of hours sleep, Gary called ahead to the park to see if we could get in before the actual check-in time. That was no problem, so we made our way there. All of the state parks are a little different from each other, and this is the only one in Florida with caverns. It is also one of the oldest parks in the state, developed by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the late '30's. It was scenic and pretty, with blue spring waters and a variety of tall trees and forests of cypress knees. Our campsite was average, with very little foilage between each spot. I was dwarfed in size by the 10-wheeled Phaeton Motor Coach to my left, but there were people camping in tents and pop-ups also, so at least I wasn't the smallest camper in the place. I was still the oldest though. I settled in to my life of leisure, and Gary hiked the trails and rode his bike all through the park. Rain was expected on our first day there, but it held off until the middle of the night, and was over with by the start of our second day. After breakfast, Gary headed to the caverns to enjoy a tour of them conducted by one of the park rangers. He said it was VERY pretty, and well worth the eight bucks it cost to get in. He took loads of pictures inside the caverns, and I've included one of my favorites above. In the afternoon, I hung out and enjoyed the scenery. Gary went hiking for hours. He was gone for so long I thought a bear had eaten him, but he finally made it back before dark. TV reception was not good, so the evening was spent watching a couple of movies. The next morning, Gary packed up and prepared me for our next stop, which was a little over 100 miles southeast of the caverns. It's so much fun to go to new places, and I couldn't wait to see what was next.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Christmas Haul, Y'all

Hi Everyone. I'm sorry I neglected to wish you all a Merry Christmas before I took off on my camping adventures last week. Better late than never, I guess. I hope that all my friends out there had a wonderful holiday with family and friends. I got to spend my Christmas doing what I love the best....CAMPING!!! There is LOTS to tell you about, but I'm going to save the stories until Gary can download all the pictures he took. I'll just tell you this. We spent 5 nights in 3 different State Parks. It was a Christmas I will never forget, that's for sure. And if taking me camping wasn't enough of a gift, I got a bunch of new appliances for Christmas as well. What a surprise to wake up Christmas morning, and see all these cool gifts piled up on my kitchen counter. WOW!!! As you can see, I got a GE 2-burner stove, a GE 5-cup coffee maker, a GE 2-slice toaster (doesn't look anything like ME!), and a Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner/inflator. It was a major haul, y'all. I can say that and get away with it since I'm a Southern boy. I hope all of you had as much fun as Gary and I did. I'll be posting more tomorrow, but for tonight, I get to do some "yamping" (yard camping) here at home. It rained on me today, and I've got some major road grime on me that needs to get gone before I go back into my house. So, "yamping" tonight, a bath tomorrow, and tales from the campground will be coming your way soon. Goodnight, y'all.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fort Clinch State Park, Part 2

Even under partly cloudy skies, it was a pretty day here in the campground. Gary made breakfast, then headed out for a walk on the trails. I knew he wouldn't be gone long. He had to move me from the big campsite where we had spent our first two nights, to a smaller campsite just a short trip down the street. Sure enough, he was back within an hour. Just a short time later, we were at our new campsite. Now that I was set up for our next night, I knew I'd be alone for most of the afternoon. Gary took off on his bike for a couple of hours, returned back to our campsite for a sandwich, then headed to the beach. He left the iPod on for me, and I listened to 60's pop tunes to pass the time away. They sure don't make great music like that anymore. Funny how I know most of the words to songs that were made before I was born. I had a good view of incoming and outgoing campers, and I was the smallest and oldest trailer in the whole place. Meanwhile, Gary was exploring the beach and the long fishing pier, picking up some souvenir shells, and catching a glimpse of the sun as it would occasionally peak through the clouds. He was gone until after dark. The quiet night passed quickly, and unfortunately, we would be heading for home soon. As we made our way down that long road out of the park, I felt sad we were leaving. But, I was excited to know that our next round of campouts were just ahead. Where to next, you ask? Well I'm not sure, but I know we're going somewhere we've never been, and that's ALWAYS exciting!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fort Clinch State Park, Part 1

We left Skidaway Island State Park around 1PM, and headed south to Fort Clinch State Park in Fernandina Beach, FL. The further south we went, the darker it got. When we arrived at 4PM, it looked like it was much later. The winds were gusting, and it was obvious that bad weather was heading our way in a hurry. We checked into the park, and headed back to our campsite. I thought for sure that Gary was lost at first. He drove and drove. It was over 3 miles from the park office to the campgrounds. We eventually got to our campsite, and it was HUGE!!! Gary could have easily parked 9 trailers there. I'm not that big, and this enormous space made me look even smaller than usual. Gary quickly set me up, then began making dinner. With the wind blowing as hard as it was, I was a little afraid that the big tree branches that formed a canopy over me would break off and kill me. I was nervous, but Gary wasn't fazed, and that made me feel at least a little better. After dinner, Gary showered, then made some calls to his friends. By 11PM, the rains came, and they were strong. It rained all night, and all the way until 2PM the next afternoon. Gary went into town that morning since it was obvious he wouldn't be seeing much of the park in bad weather. I wasn't as nervous in the daylight, what little of that there was. At least the winds had died down. When Gary got back from town, he went out for a few hours and explored the park. Since a good portion of the day had passed, and it still wasn't light enough out to take pictures, Gary reserved an additional day and night of camping for us. The weather was supposed to get better as the week progressed, so an extra day would allow him to take plenty of pictures, and to see everything he had missed up to that point. The next day was cloudy, but at least it wasn't raining. Just 4 campsites down the road was a beach, and just across the street (in the brick building) were the nicest bathrooms of any place we had camped at. Gary raved about them. He said the showers were MUCH nicer than the one in our house, and he spent LOTS of time in them. Six showers in two and a half days is a bit extreme, don't you think? Anyway, the weather improved, and we ended up having a good time. Our big campsite was booked by someone else after our second night there, so we had to move to a smaller one just down the street for our third night. It was just as nice, and it was much more my size. You'll get to see it when I post more pictures in my next blog. I'm tired of typing for now, so I'm outta here. Have a good one!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Skidaway Island State Park

Gary and I slept out in the yard last night, and I got my bath today and am now resting comfortably in the garage. I asked Gary to please upload the pictures from our Georgia camping trip, and he did. So, now that he's away from the computer, it's my turn to get on here and show you a few pics of where we were. Other than camping at Gary's sister's farm, we had never camped in Georgia before. We made our way to Skidaway Island State Park, south of the heart of Savannah. It was very pretty, and very quiet. Of the 87 available campsites, less than 20 were rented. After checking in at the office, we drove through the campground and picked site #11 as our home away from home. It was close to the restrooms, and that's important when you're old like Gary is. Whoops, did I actually type that? I'm SO bad!!! All of the campsites are drive throughs, and all of them have dual water supplies, cable TV hook-ups, and pads for tent camping. Gary got me all set up, then took off for some hiking and bike riding. There were MILES of trails, winding through wooded areas and through the salt marsh areas that surround the park. As always, I was content with hanging out alone while Gary made the rounds. He was gone for hours, but I knew he would be back when he got hungry. It's not like him to cook much of anything, but this time he was a cooking fool. He skipped making sandwiches like he usually does, and actually made REAL meals. I was impressed! Unlike me, he hasn't had a lot of camping experiences in his life, but I think he's finally getting the hang of it. The weather was absolutely perfect. Highs were around 60, and lows near 40. We stayed for two days and nights, and then headed to northern Florida for some more camping. I'll get Gary to upload some pictures of our stay in Florida, and will tell you all about what happened in my next post. Bye for now.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

So Much To Tell, So Little Time

Gary and I just got back from five nights of camping in Georgia and northern Florida. I have lots to tell you, but Gary hasn't uploaded the 342 pictures he took on our trip yet. As soon as he does, I will include a few of the pics here on my blog, and I'll tell you all about where we stayed and what we did. Needless to say, we had TONS of fun!!! When we got home this afternoon, Gary opened the garage door to put me inside. Then he decided he wants to wash me first, so I get to stay outside for another night. He can't stand it when I have all the fun, so now he's going to camp in me tonight right here in our yard. SWEET!!! Gary calls yard camping "yamping". I can never get enough camping (or "yamping") time in to please me, and obviously neither can Gary. So, I will push him to get those pictures into the computer, and then I'll be blogging shortly after. I'm outta here for some "yamping". I'll talk with you soon.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Never Satisfied

That Gary. He's just never satisfied. He's always tinkering with me, making things that I'm perfectly happy with, even better. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about what he does, he just always surprises me with changes. I'll have to admit that the changes he makes really do make me look better. He's been cleaning me thoroughly this week, and touching up a few nicks and scratches on my interior walls. Just when I thought he was done with painting, he cleans my tongue and masks up the surrounding areas, and puts on a fresh coat of paint. I heard him telling someone on the phone that the shade of red on my tongue didn't match the rest of my red trim. It looked fine to me, but "Mr. Perfectionist" wanted to make the change. As usual, he was right. He had originally purchased the wrong shade of Rustoleum to paint my tongue with, but now it matches everything else. Then, while I was half way out of the garage with my tongue drying in the sun, he removed the promotional blog decal he had put on my rear bumper a couple of weeks ago. He wasn't satisfied with that either. He said it was too big, and besides that, he hadn't gotten it centered exactly right, and it wasn't perfectly straight. So, off with the almost old, and on with the new. He had a new blog decal made last week when we were in Daytona. This one is MUCH smaller, and not so IN YOUR FACE like the other one was. Once again, he was right. This one is better. And now that he's had some practice with the installation of vinyl lettering, he got this one centered and straight. Gary is a bit (a BIG bit) obsessive about certain things, but he's a keeper. I like my buddy, even though he's a bit odd. Who am I to talk? I'm a little "different" myself. At this moment, I'm still nowhere near ready to go camping, and we're supposed to be in Savannah on Friday. I hope that Gary doesn't decide to make some other modification to me before then, or I may be doing my camping in the Green Acres Garage. Oh Noooo!!