Thursday, January 31, 2013

Paynes Prairie Revisited, Day #4

Everyday here at Paynes Prairie has been wonderful, but today was my personal favorite. I finally got to spend the entire day with my buddy Gary. Thanks to yesterday's extremely long trail hike, he was just too tired today to do much of anything. It was a beautiful day here at our beautiful campsite. After temperatures in the 80's during our first three days, it only got up to 61 today. Gary spent most of the day reading a book, as he relaxed in a chair in the sun. At some point, he actually fell asleep for awhile. That was nice to see since he's always so busy. For security reasons, Gary doesn't throw away any paperwork that has any personal information on it. He throws it in a big box, and burns it a couple of times a year when we go camping. Late today, he started a fire with the paperwork and a stack of wood, and we've been enjoying it for hours. It's still burning right now. I think I'll probably be by myself a lot tomorrow, since Gary has rested up and is ready to do more than just lounge around. But, today was SO much fun, and just what both Gary and I needed. Talk to ya later!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Paynes Prairie Revisited, Day #3

Does anybody know how I can get Gary to relax and just spend a quiet day with me, his favorite camping buddy? I thought that that was the plan for our revisit to Paynes Prairie, but he's been off and running ever since we've been here. As I've told you about in my previous posts this week, he went antique shopping for hours and hours during the first two days. Today, he said that he would be right back after walking for a short distance on the Cones Dike Trail. The trail is four miles in one direction, and I thought for sure that any walking for more than a mile would be out of the question. Once again, I was wrong. My first thought when he didn't come back in a couple of hours, was that he either ran into someone to shoot the bull with, or he somehow managed to get lost again. I know I said I was going to let that go, but since it happened once, it will always be on my mind. I ended up spending another afternoon by myself, and worrying that something had happened to my best buddy. It was almost five o'clock before I heard the familiar sound of the van approaching our campsite. Once here, Gary climbed out slowly, and looked tired and hot. He still had all of his limbs, so that was reassuring. After a few minutes of gathering some fresh clothes and towels, he headed straight to the bath house for a refreshing shower, but he still looked exhausted when he returned. He said very little to me, and layed down for a short nap. He seemed more like himself when he woke up, and told me about his day on the trail. His first stop was the visitor's center to get a copy of the trail map. The trail begins at the restroom that is very near the visitor's center. Once on the trail, he was so involved with taking pictures and looking for animals, that he was well over a mile into it before he realized. He saw wild horses in the distance, and came across a deer that was tame enough not to run off before having a few pictures taken. The next thing he came across, and definitely the scariest, was a BIG alligator. Gary got WAY too close to that thing, but he will do some crazy things to get a picture. It took him over two hours to get to the end of the trail, and he said he was VERY happy to see that 4 mile marker. His journey was only half over at that point, since he had to come all the way back over the same route. Overall, he walked all 8 miles in four hours, and that was stopping frequently to take pictures. No wonder he needed a nap! As I write this, rain showers have arrived for the first time since we've been here. A cold front will follow, and the 80+ degree days we have had, will cool down to the mid-60's. That will feel MUCH better, and Gary is always happiest when the weather is cooler. Since he is so tired from his long walk today, maybe he will spend tomorrow here with me. I can always dream, can't I?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Paynes Prairie Revisited, Day #2

As I anticipated, day two here at Paynes Prairie was very similar to day one. Gary hung out here at the campground with me until noon, then headed out for a few hours of antique shopping. His first stop today was downtown Micanopy (pronounced Mik-can-o-pee). I mistakenly pronounced it as My-can-o-pee ever since I first heard of it. It's a tiny little town only a couple of miles from Paynes Prairie. Not much of anything is going on there except for a few antique stores and a couple of places to eat. In the very first store that Gary went into, the one that the van is parked in front of in the first picture, he found something REALLY cool. There was a dealer there that had a LOT of antique soda bottles, and one of them said "Drink SCOTTY Beverages" on it. Since Gary loves Scotty travel trailers so much, there was no question that he was going to buy it. Now that I've seen it for myself, I totally agree that it is the coolest drink bottle EVER!!! After wandering through all of the other antique shops and finding nothing exciting, Gary headed south on I-75 to check out a couple of more antique stores just a few miles away. Again, he turned up nothing. It was getting late, so he headed back to Paynes Prairie. On the way in, he spotted some deer on the side of the road. Surprisingly, they stood still long enough to have their pictures taken. The last picture of the day was taken at the boat ramp at Lake Wauberg at sunset, as Gary aproached the campground. Gary finally got back to our campsite. He was gone for a LONG time, and I was beginning to think he got lost. It's happened before, you know. Poor Gary will never live that down. I had another lazy day here, listening to the radio and watching the squirrels. Tomorrow, Gary is planning to go hiking on a couple of the trails that he didn't see on our last visit. I'll make sure that the GPS on his phone is working. After all, we don't want him to get lost, do we? HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Paynes Prairie Revisited, Day #1

We're back at Paynes Prairie State Park again, and I am one happy camper! We had such a great time when we were here in December, that Gary booked us for another visit before we left. He originally booked us for three days, but decided to change it to five. I can tell already that our time here is going to FLY by. We're in the same campsite that we had in December. It's one of our favorites in any park that we've ever been to. It's cozy and peaceful here, and I guarantee that we will be coming back from time to time. We arrived around 10AM, and was greeted by familiar faces as we pulled in. Gary is pretty good at recognizing people he has seen before, but he's terrible at remembering names. As it turned out, we had met our camping neighbors Ilona and Joe, at Blue Spring State Park this past Christmas. They recognized us (well they actually recognized ME) and knew our names because Gary had given them one of my business cards. I was pleased to see that they still had my card. Gary set me up and made lunch, and then finished up some additional things here at the campsite before heading out. He had designed a portable outdoor camping clothesline before our last trip, that ended up working okay but not as well as Gary wanted. Back to the drawing board as they say. He used electrical conduit for the poles as he did last time, but designed new brackets to hold the poles to the seat of the picnic table. Made from a piece of scrap deck board and a 4x4, he cut the brackets at a 30 degree angle. The brackets are held to the picnic table seat with a c-clamp, and the poles are held to the brackets with plastic conduit clamps. Simple but effective. Three lines allow space for up to six towels. He seems pretty pleased with this new design, and the only change he will make is to add a support pole at the top between the two upright poles. I think it looks fine just like it is, but you know how picky Gary can be if you've read my blog before. Once everything was settled here, I took my afternoon nap while Gary headed to a large antique mall by the interstate. He was gone for a LONG time, and came back with some postcards for his collection, and a couple of items for a new collection that I didn't know he was starting. You probably can't tell what they are in the picture, but they are two salt and pepper shakers that look like toasters! I've got to say that those are the most handsome things he has ever collected. I'm pretty sure that the next addition to my interior will be a shelf to display my salt and pepper likeneses. I just can't wait to find out what happens tomorrow. I LOVE this place!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Visitors From The North

It's not often that Gary and I have visitors, but it's always good when we do. It's fun to meet new people and see our camping buddies. This past week, we had not one, not two, but THREE visitors, all of them from Jacksonville, Florida, the biggest town north of St. Augustine. The first to stop by was Caryn and her boyfriend Pete. Gary had met Caryn through Facebook on one of the vintage trailer forums. She has a Scotty, so she is familiar with trailers like myself. I think she found me interesting, and had lots of questions for Gary about how he had gone about fixing me up. Pete and Gary had a lot in common, with their love of trailers and cars. Our guests and Gary talked away the whole afternoon. Both Gary and I had a great time meeting them, and I hope we can get together again very soon. Maybe next time I will get to hang out with Caryn's Scotty for awhile, and we can talk about our humans. That would be FUN!!! A couple of days after Caryn and Pete were here, another one of our Scotty friends stopped by. Richard has camped with us before, but had never been here to see us at the Green Acres Garage. When Richard was rebuilding his 1971 15ft Scotty, my interior layout was the inspiration for how he designed his trailer. How cool is THAT? Gary and Richard hung out in the garage for awhile with me, and then spent the rest of the afternoon sorting through Scotty parts in the utility shed. Richard recently purchased another Scotty that needs work, and Gary had some of the parts and pieces that will help to complete the new project. If you're ever in the St. Augustine area, give us call for directions, and come on by for a visit. We'll leave a light on for ya!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Okefenokee To Home Sweet Home

Before heading home from this round of camping, Gary had one more thing he wanted to do. Remember that group of vintage trailers that we saw in the woods on our way down to the campground that I mentioned in a previous post? Curiosity took over, and Gary drove all the way back to see them. With camera in hand, he expected to get some great shots of some cool old trailers. Who knows, maybe some of them were for sale or some parts could be bought at a great price. Things didn't work out like he planned. Upon arrival, he was met at the entrance of this un-marked place by a very un-friendly guy. Gary was told in no uncertain terms that he was on the private property of a hunting club, and needed to leave IMMEDIATELY. So, instead of taking the risk of getting shot, he drove all the way back to get me without so much as a single picture for his troubles. There was a Shasta and a couple of old Airstreams there for sure. I guess we'll never know what other treasures were lurking in the woods. Thanks for nothing, Mr. Attitude. Gary hitched me up for the ride home, and we drove one more time through the park to see if anybody new had come in. There wasn't. We took some odd little roads in Georgia and on into Florida above Jacksonville on the way south. As you know, Gary had already gotten lost once on this trip when he was by himself. I was hoping that he wasn't going to get me lost as well on our way home. We finally made our way to the highly recognizable I-10. Not one of my favorite roads, but at least familiar territory. From there, we merged onto I-295 around west Jacksonville. We stopped at Harbor Freight tools for awhile, then Wendy's for a late lunch. Back on the road, we finally made it to I-95 and headed towards the Nation's Oldest City and our hometown, the beautiful St.Augustine. Knowing we were so close, I was getting excited to get back into my garage and take a nap. I don't know why I'm so tired all the time, but Gary is going to start bathing me in Red Bull if I don't snap out of it. Through the gate and into the garage, we were home sweet home again. Three more weeks until we go camping again. How will I fill my time?

Stephen C. Foster State Park, Day #2

Gary already knew that there wasn't a lot to see at this park, so he slept in after our first night. It's very unusual that I am up before him, but I was this time. On this round of camping, we had stayed at Three Rivers State Park that had clotheslines in each campsite. General Coffee State Park had concrete picnic tables that were too thick to clamp the home-made clothesline poles to that Gary had made before we left home. Finally, he was able to test out his creation here at Stephen C. Foster. The idea worked, but not real well. He is going to re-design the clothesline poles, and will be ready to test them on our next round of camping. After breakfast and an hour or so of watching re-runs of "Friends" on TBS, Gary was off for some more exploring and picture taking. He walked a trail that contained a series of boardwalks leading into the swamp. Kind of ugly if you ask me. The campground check-in building, camp store, and marina was probably the most exciting and pretty area in the park, and even that wasn't very thrilling. Although I didn't see these places myself, I just wasn't that excited when I saw Gary's photos. There were rental boats and a scenic cruise boat that awaited to take the curious into the swamp, but Gary passed and so did everyone else that was there. Very little activity was going on anywhere in the park. I didn't even see any squirrels! A walk through the picnic pavillion towards the interactive center (that was closed), and Gary was done with his sightseeing. Football playoff games filled our afternoon and evening on our second and final day at Stephen C. Foster State Park. Thank God for that cable TV! After the great experiences we had at Three Rivers and General Coffee, this park was a big disappointment. Sometimes you get the diamond, and sometimes you get the rough.

Stephen C. Foster State Park, Day #1

This park was a major change from General Coffee and most other places we have camped at. I really can't say it was a good change either. But, it was still a chance to camp in the great outdoors, and you know I'll never complain about that. The further we headed south after leaving General Coffee, the more overcast the day became. There wasn't too much of interest to see as we traveled south on US441. We spotted a group of vintage trailers in the woods just south of Homerville, but there was no place to turn around with me in tow. We just kept on cruising along until we reached the little town of Fargo, Georgia. On the south side of town, we came across state road 177, which would take us into Stephen C. Foster State Park. I thought the park would be just a short jaunt down the road, but I was wrong. We drove for 17 miles with hardly anything to see but a flat road with pine trees lining each side. We came across a big sign that said Okefenokee on it. I didn't have much schooling, but I knew that Okefenokee is a swamp. I was thinking to myself, "where is Gary taking me?" I occasionally question his sanity, and this was one of those times. We finally made it to the park, found the office to check in, and made our way to the campground. There weren't many people there, only a few in fact, and this was a Saturday. Most parks are PACKED on the weekends. We picked out campsite #48. It was BIG, and the surface was grass and leaves. We were right next door to the camp host, and only a few feet away from the all-important (for Gary anyway) restroom. We were out in the middle of nowhere, so luckily there was a cable TV hookup or TV reception would have been out of the question. There was no cellphone reception once we passed through Fargo, and when there's no cellphone reception, there's no internet connection. Gary barely had time enough to get me set up, and the rains came. It didn't last for very long, so Gary was still able to go out and take some pictures before dark. He wasn't gone for long, because there really wasn't much more to see in the park than there was on the way into the park. I know Gary was disappointed in the place, but we were there for two nights, and we were going to make the best of it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Our Last Morning At General Coffee State Park

Gary had slept soundly after getting lost in the woods on our last night at General Coffee. He woke up refreshed, and headed out early to go feed the animals at Heritage Farm within the park. I was a little afraid to let him out of my sight, but I didn't figure he could possibly get lost on a sunny morning. Once at the farm, he met a young couple with a cute little girl, and shared some of the carrots he had to feed the animals with. Jenny and Poncho the donkeys got most of the carrots. Gary and I LOVE donkeys, having been around Jack and Diane, the two donkeys at Gary's sister's farm. Once he returned to our campsite, I was hitched up for the ride to our next stop. With a photo opportunity around every corner (literally), Gary took many of me and the van on our way out of General Coffee. It was cute to hear Jenny and Poncho sounding off to us as we were leaving, almost like they were saying goodbye. Leaving was sad since we liked the park so well, but I know we will be back soon and hopefully often if I get my way. It was a pretty day and a relatively short ride to our next destination at Stephen C. Foster State Park near the Georgia/Florida border. But liking any place as much as we did General Coffee was going to be a difficult task.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

General Coffee State Park, Day #2

With the rain behind us, and a bright and sunny day in front of us, Gary set me up for our stay. Following breakfast, he headed out with camera in hand. I knew I wouldn't see him for a few hours. Just as well, because I was still sleepy. The rain was pounding on me for most of the night, and I didn't get much sleep. When his tummy got hungry and his camera battery had died, Gary came back to the campsite for awhile. He downloaded the pictures to the laptop, and I was so surprised to see that this park has an area called Heritage Farms that has animals. How cool! There are chickens, goats, sheep, pigs, horses, and the favorite of Gary and I....DONKEYS!!! AWESOME!!! General Coffee was such a cool park that even the Aflac duck lives there. That picture of the duck on the lake is him, well at least that's what Gary told me. Do you think he was joking? Anyway, besides the animals being there, General Coffee is a BEAUTIFUL park. It is on the short list of our favorite parks, and Gary already booked a future stay for us there. After the camera battery recharged and lunch was eaten, Gary headed back out for more exploring and picture taking. He came back around 3PM, and headed out again around 4:00. There is lots to see and do there, and one thing you shouldn't do that somehow Gary managed to do. Does that make sense? He left to take some pictures of the cabins, some of which are only accessible from the main part of the park via a short trail. He drove the van to get to the entrance of the trail. It is a long way from the campground. A couple of hours later, darkness had fallen and he still wasn't back. Needless to say, I was REALLY worried. 7PM came and went, then 8PM, and then 9PM, and he still wasn't back. Between 9:30 and 10:00 he finally came back, looking somewhat frazzled and VERY tired. Somehow, he had taken the wrong trail coming back from the cabins. He walked for miles, and as darkness fell, he finally saw some lights from houses through the trees. Rather than getting eaten by a bear in the woods, he decided to cut through the trees and to see if he could find an opening in the barbed wire fence. As luck would have it, he found one. Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of the story. Gary had no idea where he was at. He walked through a neighborhood until he came upon a busier road. A couple of more miles of walking, and he came across a convenience store. He went in and asked a customer where the entrance of the park was, and was told that he was about SEVEN miles from there! The man he asked was very helpful, and ended up driving Gary back to the entrance of the park. It was another mile or so of walking through the darkness until Gary found the spot he had parked the van many hours earlier. It's unusual that Gary gets lost, but he did a GREAT job of that this time. I guess I'll be getting him a compass and a flashlight before we go camping again. Gary was extremely tired and had blisters on his feet. I don't think he moved all night after his head hit that pillow. Another half day to go at General Coffee before we would have to move on. Would Gary get lost again? You'll find out soon.

General Coffee State Park, Day #1

The weather guys were actually correct for a change, and the predicted rain began during the night while we were at Three Rivers. It wasn't raining hard, just enough to be nasty. Luckily, Gary had very little to do to get me ready to roll. I'm glad that he didn't get drenched taking care of the last minute things. As we pulled out of the park, I thought for sure that we were heading in the wrong direction to get to our next destination. Sure enough, I was right, but Gary went the wrong way on purpose. He wanted to take me through a tiny town called Two Egg that was just a little bit west of Three Rivers. There wasn't anything to see there, but he knew that I would be amused at the name of the town, and wanted to get a picture of the city limits sign. The town is SO small, that it doesn't even have a traffic light. We were in and out of it in a flash. From there, we traveled for several hours on small roads until we finally reached General Coffee State Park near Douglas, Georgia. It had rained the entire way, and was still raining when we arrived at the park. After checking in at the office, we picked out campsite #32 as our hangout for the next two nights. All of the campsites at General Coffee are pull-thru sites with concrete picnic tables, fire rings, power, and water. In Georgia, you get to pick your campsite when you arrive. In Florida, you reserve a specific campsite when you make your reservation. With the rain still coming down, Gary decided to do very little to get me set up. He left me hitched up to the van, hooked up my power cord, and raised my antenna. That was about it. There was no luck with receiving any TV stations except the PBS channel, so it's a good thing we had the DVD player with us for entertainment. Part of the attraction to our campsite was that it was the closest one to the restrooms. All of the campsites were pretty much the same, so it really didn't matter much. There were only four other campers in the park besides us, so it was REALLY quiet. We arrived pretty late in the day, so after some dinner and a shower and a movie, we hit the hay for the night. Our next day at General Coffee was supposed to be very nice according to the weather guys. I'll let you know next time if their predictions were right.