Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Blue Spring State Park, Day #2

Christmas Day here at Blue Spring was a lazy day for not only me, but Gary as well. Having seen the park on our first visit here in March, and once again yesterday, Gary decided to sleep in. Needless to say, I took the opportunity to sleep in too. You know what a sleepyhead I am. Following breakfast, Gary headed out to see the manatees again, and to take a few more pics. He strolled along the boardwalk from end to end, visited the gift shop, and watched a short film about the manatees at the amphitheatre. Luckily, he didn't come across any black bears as he walked the trail on the way back to the campground. We were warned about bear sightings on our way into the park. I don't know what I would do if I saw a bear. YIKES!!! The weather is supposed to be bad tomorrow, so I guess it's a good thing that we are heading home. I hope I'm back in my cozy garage before the storms arrive. Normally, I would be more bummed out about the end of our camping, but I know that I only have a week to wait until we head back out again. We have had a blast on this round of camping, and we REALLY enjoyed each of the three parks we camped at. Gary went ahead and hitched me up to the van so we can hit the road early in the morning. If I can keep him from stopping at every Wal-Mart we pass by, we should be home within a couple of hours. I'll write again soon. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Blue Spring State Park, Day #1

Back in late March of this year, we camped here at Blue Spring for the first time. We had a GREAT time, but due to the warmer than normal temperatures, Gary missed out on seeing the manatees that frequent the spring in the winter. When plans were being made for our winter series of camping, a return trip to Blue Spring was one of the first places that Gary booked. Last time we camped in site number 10, but this time we're in number 12. It's a nice secluded site, and once again, Gary picked us a winner. It's the perfect place for my daily naps while Gary is out exploring. In-between sites 18 and 19 is a paved walking path that leads to the spring. Gary walked that path twice today, once very early this morning, and once in the afternoon. He took LOTS of pictures of the manatees that were swimming and playing together. I didn't know what a manatee looked like until he showed me the pictures. They are SO cool!!! How sweet and peaceful they are. There was a reporter and a camera guy at the spring from a local TV station. They were interviewing visitors to the park that had come to see the manatees. The camera guy also had a small underwater video camera on a stick that he was putting down in the water to capture the manatees up close. They thought the camera was food, and would swim right up to it. I'll bet he got some TERRIFIC video. I've included a couple of my favorite manatee photos that Gary took. I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I did. Today is Christmas Eve, and the photos are our little gift to you. Merry Christmas to you all, from your camping buddies, Toaster and Gary.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Rainbow Springs State Park, Day #2

First of all, I have to tell you how much I enjoy being able to blog from wherever we go. I used to have to wait until we got home to tell you about my adventures. This is FUN to talk with you LIVE. YAY for modern technology! Our second day here at Rainbow Springs, and Gary was off running around taking pictures for me. I have him trained very well, don't you think? Usually while he is out, I get to take a nap and enjoy the campground. Unfortunately, there are some people about three campsites down with little kids that do nothing but scream all the time. So, as nice as this campground is, a few people have to spoil the peace and tranquility that was so plentiful at our last stop at Paynes Prairie. Anyway, it was a nice, sunny, nearly sixty degree day here. It started off around thirty degrees, but warmed up quickly. It's 72 degrees in the springs all year, so it was actually warmer in them. I wouldn't have minded dipping my tires in the spring, but they wouldn't allow that. Oddly, there isn't access to the main part of the park from the campground unless you paddle or drive. So, Gary drove around to the headsprings (main) entrance to the park which is about seven miles from the campground. Once there, he was greeted with many visual delights. He REALLY enjoyed the beauty of the springs, and all of the waterfalls and paved walking trails. This park was once a privately-owned attraction until the State took it over in the early seventies. There was obviously plenty for him to see and do, because he was gone for HOURS! He was happy and tired when he came back. Our time here is nearly over, and our next stop will be Blue Spring State Park. We will be there for three nights including Christmas. I'll chat with you when we get there. LIVE from Rainbow Springs, this is Toaster. Happy Camping, Y'all.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Rainbow Springs State Park, Day #1

Rainbow Springs is supposedly less than an hour away from Paynes Prairie where we came from, but it took us MUCH longer than that to get here. Gary had Mapquested the directions, but they were wrong. So, by trial and error, we finally got here. The campground appears to be new, and is very much like the one at Lake Louisa where we camped a couple of weeks ago. The campsite surface is hard packed white gravel, and the entry roads are paved and very smooth. This is only the second state park we have stayed at that has clotheslines. Usually, the little clothesline reel over my rear bed comes in handy since the parks don't allow you to tie anything to trees. There is also a grill on each site. Most of the parks just have a fire ring with a grill grate. It's MUCH different here from the peaceful surroundings of Paynes Prairie, but it's a nice place and one I think that Gary would come back to. At least next time he will know how to get here. There are lots of BIG motorhomes and trailers here, but for once, I am not the littlest trailer in the campground. We spotted the little white teardrop in the bottom picture on the way in. We took our time leaving Paynes Prairie, and got here late. Gary didn't have time to explore the place today, but I'm sure he will see as much as he can tomorrow. It's supposed to be thirty degrees tonight. That's pretty nippy for Florida. The camp host came around and asked Gary to leave the water spigot on just a little to keep it from freezing. You know me, and I don't care if it's cold or hot as long as I'm camping. Gary is THRILLED when it's cold, so he will be in a GREAT mood. After the Mapquest fiasco, he wasn't very happy at all. It will be interesting to see what Gary has to say when he comes back from checking this place out tomorrow. Will it be yay or nay? I'll share his findings with you as soon as I can. Have fun and stay warm!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Day #2

We never know what these state parks will be like until we actually arrive and look around. All are different, some are better than others, and this one is EXCEPTIONAL. I'm SO glad that Gary brought me here, and I'll bet it won't be long until we come back here again. We slept extremly well on our first night, and Gary was off and running after breakfast. There are lots of trails here, and great roads for bike riding. There have definitely been some miles racked up on Gary's sneakers and his bike. I haven't seen him much during daylight hours, and I know he's been busy by the amount of photos he has taken. I wish I could share more of them than this blog allows for me to post. The name of the campground here in the park is Puc Puggy. I don't know if that's a real name or something made up, but it sure is a funny name. There's a lot of oddly named places in Florida, and just saying some of them cracks me up. I'm easily amused, I guess. Gary tells me there is a BIG lake near the campground. There's a paved sidewalk leading from the campground to the lake, various picnic areas, a playground, a boat ramp, and even an amphitheatre that looks out over the lake. I'm seeing all of this through Gary's eyes and pictures, but it sure looks pretty. On the opposite end of the park is the visitor's center. It has a small theatre where Gary watched a twenty minute movie about the park, and there's lots of pictures and artifacts to see. Next to the visitor's center is a fifty foot tall tower that overlooks Paynes Prairie. Right next to the tower there's a short trail called the Wacahoota. See what I mean about wierd and funny sounding names? And leading from the visitor's center parking lot are two other trails that are MILES long. Gary is saving hiking those two for a future trip. We've been fortunate to have perfect weather during the days and last night, but tonight it has rained steadily for several hours. If the weather guys are right, it is supposed to be MUCH colder here beginning tomorrow. Unfortunately, we will be leaving tomorrow, and heading about an hour south to Rainbow Springs State Park. We've never been there before, so it will be fun to see what it's like. Paynes Prairie is going to be hard to beat. I'll check in tomorrow night if we have a good internet connection. May all your camping adventures be as fun as ours. This is Toaster, over and out.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Day #1

Gary and I are here at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park in Micanopy, FL. Micanopy is right in-between Gainesville and Ocala, so it's only a couple of hours away from our house. We were immediately smitten with the place, impressed with how pretty it looked as we headed in towards the campground. Our campsite is REALLY nice. I gave Gary a hard time for picking that campsite right next to the dumpster when we were at Myakka River a couple of weeks ago, but he fully redeemed himself here. This is one of the prettiest campsites we've ever had. There is plenty of privacy between the campsites, and it's so quiet, that I fell asleep this afternoon while Gary was out taking photos and checking out the rest of the park. It finally felt more like December in Florida today, with highs around 70. Tonight is supposed to be in the high 40's. Good sleeping weather, and I know all about sleeping. I haven't seen his photos yet. He actually had to wake me up to post this message. I'm SO lazy sometimes, but you already knew that. Anyway, I will post another message and more photos tomorrow. For now, I'll include some of the ones that Gary took before I fell asleep. I think it's time for a nap!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hi There, Bill And Denise

Apparently, Gary knew that his friends Bill and Denise were going to stop by for a visit, but he didn't tell me. I would have insisted on being cleaned first before greeting company. I always like to look my best, especially when meeting someone for the first time, and I was still dirty from our last round of camping. Thanks, Gary! Anyway, Gary has known Bill and Denise for many years. They live on the other coast of Florida where Gary used to live, and very close to where Gary found me. As with most of our guests, they were VERY nice to me, and had lots of nice things to say. They looked me over inside and out, and Bill took pictures of me with his phone. I sure hope I don't look as dirty in the pictures as I do in person. I was quite embarrassed, but they didn't mind how I looked. It's always nice to meet new people, and Bill and Denise were no exception. I hope they come back to visit again soon, and I hope that next time I can have a bath first. Is that too much to ask?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lake Louisa State Park, Day #2

The cute little cardinal in the first picture, came by both days we were at Lake Louisa. I think he was attracted to my red trim. He sat there for the longest time and just stared at me. Wierd! Gary made the rounds of the park, but this time he took the van. The hills in the park, and the long distances between each place he wanted to see, was just too far to pedal a bike. There were a lot of people in the park for an Orienteering meet. As we found out, Orienteering is a race involving hiking and navigation with a compass. Gary said it looks interesting. Personally, I'd rather just hang out at the campsite and do nothing. After all, that's what I do best. There is an actual white sand beach (imported, no doubt) at Lake Louisa. On the wall of the bath house at the "beach", was a sign explaining the chain of lakes in the Clermont area. There are a LOT of them! For $133 per night, there are twenty cabins on one of the lakes in the park that you can rent. The one pictured is typical of how they look. I sure hope that Gary never decides that I'm too much trouble, and starts renting cabins instead of taking me camping. I guess I'd better be on my best behavior. If you're a professional cyclist, an avid fisherman, or a seasoned hiker, then Lake Louisa State Park is your kind of place. For Gary and I, who prefer more things to see and a more wooded campground, Lake Louisa wasn't our bag. We never even saw a squirrel there! It was a different kind of park, but not one that we're likely to go back to. I'm usually sad to be leaving a campground, but in this case, I was ready to go. We're home now, and I've happily settled into my usual spot in the Green Acres Garage. More camping is just around the corner. See you soon!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Lake Louisa State Park, Day #1

Yeah, yeah....I know I look like an ant compared to an elephant being parked next to that big rig at a rest stop on the way here to Lake Louisa. Unfortunately, there is rarely anybody my size at rest stops. I always feel intimidated, but we're never there for long. When we made this stop, we were only about fifteen miles away from the campground, and as always, I was excited knowing we were so close. A new day and a new place. What's not to be excited about? All the state parks are different, and that's what makes them so much fun to go to. You never know what they will be like until you finally get there. If there's such a thing as hilly terrain in Florida, Lake Louisa and the whole Clermont, Florida area is where you'll find it. When you're up on a hill here, you can see for miles. That's really wierd for the normally flat Florida. There are three to four miles between the entry gate and the campground. There were hills and valleys and even an old orange grove that we went through to finally reach our destination. Once into the campground, Gary located campsite #15 quickly, and got me set-up for our stay. Most state parks have dirt, sand, or shell campsites, but Lake Louisa has hard-packed white gravel. I kind of like it. I stay a LOT cleaner this way. There isn't a lot of privacy foliage here between the campsites, but Gary put me as far over as he could under a tree so I could have some shade. For what is available here, I think Gary picked out a pretty good campsite. We're nestled between Dixie Lake and Hammond Lake, two of the many lakes here in the park. The restroom is right across the street, which is very important when you're as old as Gary is (ha-ha!!!). As always, Gary will leave me behind tomorrow, and will go explore the park. There is some kind of event going on that we don't know about yet, because there are LOTS of high-school aged kids here. I'll tell you more when Gary tells me. Have a FUN day!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Myakka River State Park, Day #2

Gary was off to an early start as he had planned. After making breakfast and washing up the dishes, he disappeared down the road on his bicycle. This time he headed toward the north entrance of the park, a road that was MUCH longer than he anticipated. When we arrived at the park on Wednesday, we came in through the south entrance, so this was new territory for him to explore. Gary is far from being in shape, not that I'm one to talk, so riding a bicycle for long distances is a bit of a challenge. I know he made frequent stops to take pictures and see things, so I guess it wasn't too hard on him. He wasn't complaining when he came back to the campsite at the end of the day, so that was good. He saw all the types of wildlife we had seen on our first day, shopped at a couple of the park stores and gift shops, and found a place on the second floor of a restauarant where an internet connection could be occasionally found. Mid-day, he came back for some lunch with some new found friends in tow that wanted to see me. That was pretty cool to have visitors. By the end of the day, Gary had seen much of the park. Due to our short stay, I know he didn't see it all, but he sure tried. He always makes a major effort when we camp to take a lot of pictures, and I think he accomplished his goal. He has checked out the campsites in another loop that are brand new and absolutely gorgeous, so I don't think it will take much encouragement from me to get him to come back to Myakka River again soon. Time flies when you're having fun, and these two days went by in record speed. Our next stop will be Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont, FL. near Orlando. This will be another new place for us to visit, and if we have half as much fun as we've had at Myakka, we are guaranteed to have a BLAST!!! Lator, gators!

Myakka River State Park, Day #1

I've gotta say that Myakka River is one of the top five State Parks that we've been to. Two days there just isn't enough to fully enjoy all the things the park has to offer. While I held down the fort, so to speak, Gary was constantly busy trying to make the rounds and take in as much as he could. Except for coming back to the campsite to eat and sleep, I didn't see him much at all. Gary took LOTS of pictures that he will share on his Facebook page, but he let me have a few to post here on my blog for your enjoyment. Let's see....where do I begin? Well, first off, we arrived at the park on Wednesday afternoon. There was LOTS of wildlife to be seen, and I got to see some deer, wild boar, and alligators, all before we even made it to our campsite. It was AMAZING!!! As soon as I got set up for our stay, Gary was off on his bicycle exploring the place. There is one area called the canopy walk, and it has a really cool suspension bridge supported by towers that Gary walked across. Better him than me, since I like to keep both wheels on the ground. He said it was REALLY cool, and you could see for miles in all directions from seventy-six feet up. Gary was gone until dark, and I was getting a bit worried that one of those gators had gotten him, but he finally came back. At night, there were raccoons and armadillos in abundance, right there in our camping loop. They're a little creepy, but fun to watch....from a distance. We watched "Survivor" and "Nashville" on TV before going to bed for the night. Gary was eager to get an early start on Thursday and see more of the place. I'll post a few more pics next time, and hopefully you will get a feel for how cool Myakka really is. What a FUN place!