Wednesday, March 25, 2020

3/23 Evicted!! Again.

The last time I was forced out of a campground was just before Hurricane Matthew, way back in October, 2016.  So, no hurricane this time, but the coronavirus has caused Florida to close all state parks.  This happened a week ago, but I thought I was OK in this federal Corps of Engineers campground for another week.  I had also been told my reservation at WP Franklin would be honored through March 30, but on Friday, we got the news that the Corps was closing all campgrounds in the southeast district of the U.S.

So this morning I got up early and said a last goodbye to one of my favorite spots in Florida.  The river was glossy calm this morning.  There was only one boat docked temporarily and one waiting for the lock to open for him. 

Hated to leave my beautiful spot on the river.  It will be at least two years before I return, unfortunately. 

The four tent sites by the fence were empty, and no walkers around, either. 

Three of the five empty sites this morning.  There are only nine sites in this campground, which is one of the reasons I like it. 

And the two sites behind me were empty. 

So off I go.  My first stop was for a truck wash at Blue Beacon.  Cost is $40 for my size rig. 

Long wait in line, as usual, because lots of trucks needing washed and washouts.   Nice that gas is very cheap, so I got a fill-up.

After a 300 mile drive, I ended up in this commercial campground.  I really dislike commercial campgrounds because RVs are too close together and a lot of people parked for the season or all year.  But, I am in the far north of Florida and in a rural area with no current cases on coronavirus, although there will no doubt be some as time goes by.  I will mostly stay inside for the next two weeks, doing work on my classes and relaxing.  It is hot outside with too many little gnats to drive me crazy.  

At least the main roads are paved with cuts down the dust, although there are a lot of families with kids here and lots of golf carts speeding around. 

The biggest problem with this place is that the office is way, way down at the end of this roadway through the older part of the campground.  I had to pick up a package today and have two more coming, so it is a real hike, especially in the heat and with the bugs.  The Suwanee River is on the other side of the office building, and there are kayaks and canoes for rent, but not my thing right now.

Heading back to my site. 

I am still a few hundred feet on the other side of that building. 

 Future plans?  In ten days, I will move to a newer and more open campground, then maybe up to a state park in Georgia if the campgrounds are still open up there.  I will probably try to find another place up in Georgia anyway because it gets HOT in Florida in late April. 

Monday, March 16, 2020

3/16 St. Lucie Lock & Dam

I'm here at one of my favorite Florida campgrounds for two weeks.  This is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers facility, with a small campground that is very, very hard to get into.  One reason is that COE campgrounds are always very well kept up, and the other is that the cost for seniors is only $15 per night.

It was not easy and took several days of trying, but six months ago, I managed to score one of the three sites out of the nine in this campground that are along the river.  I'll be posting more photos, but here are a sampling of my first four days here.

Note the paved parking site and the gravel patio area with a covered picnic table overlooking the river. 

Looking from the rear of my site, you can see boats "camping" in the dock area.  They come and go, but most have been staying a few days.  It's fun to watch how they live on boats. There is a covered patio area and a grill and picnic tables for them. 

Just past the dock area is the dam and the lock.  The lock is just to the left of the row of pilings on the right.

The lock closes operation every day at 4:30 pm, so any boats that arrive after that time need to anchor in the river or tie up to the pilings, as this little tugboat has done.  This is a working boat, by the way, not a pleasure boat, so two scruffy-looking guys were sitting out on deck during the evening. 

This is the neighborhood gopher tortoise.   He/she has a burrow next to the fenced-in utility area, which I will photo tomorrow.  I suspect he/she is very old because of his size of about 12" long. 

Gopher tortoises do not like their picture being taken, so he glared at me for a while and munched his way off.  I left him alone after I got this photo. 

And here is his/her burrow.  Pretty big and goes down at least 4', probably longer.

The lock area is open to the public when it is open for traffic. 

I had taken this photo of the tour boat as it came past my campsite and raced down to the lock to catch it going through. 

And I saw this character on the way.  He is an African Redhead Agama, which is an invasive species, but of course I did not know that when I took this picture. 

And here is the tour boat in the lock.  They are headed east toward the ocean and must have come from Lake Okeechobee. 

They look like they are enjoying themselves. 

This is the lock gate I had just walked over. 

And away they go!

At first I thought the little raft was a police boat arresting some smugglers, but it was actually towing the larger boat, very very slowly. 

3/14 John D. MacArthur State Park

No camping here, but there is a very nice boardwalk over an inland bay and a terrific beach at the end--perfect for a walk on a nice day.  And it was about 20 miles from my campground, so within driving distance in my rental car.  

Nice gift shop and nature center, but both were closed because of the corona virus.  Darn.  However, there was a table where you could rent a kayak and restrooms were open.

There is a long boardwalk from the parking lot to the beach area.  Most of the time, there is a shuttle available, but not today. 

This is definitely a very long boardwalk! 

Good view of all the high-rise buildings south of the state park in Palm Beach.  Very ritzy!

Found this great blue heron fishing in the shallows.

The beach was busy with families because it was Saturday. 

I enjoyed sitting on one of the benches on top of this ramp and watching the human and natural scenery.

It is a little hard to see, but these guys had an over-sized wagon they were using to bring their beach equipment.  The bottom layer included several coolers and a pile of chairs.  The next level was a full-sized standing board, with sails and life jackets.  Also, a couple more coolers.  Can never have enough coolers.  Fishing poles and some other diving stuff was on top.  They were having problems navigating the switchbacks on the ramp down to the beach.  Besides that, no one could come up while they were struggling to go down.

A tour boat of some sort.

And after leaving the park, I took some pictures of the condos and hotels in Palm Beach.  Personally, I prefer things a little less crowded.  And what I really want to know is why, in this hurricane-prone area, do they not bury or otherwise hide all the electrical wires???

Headed home after a very nice day.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

3/1 Myakka River State Park & Linger Lodge

Myakka River State Park is a place I really enjoy and have come back to again and again.  Also, this week, I visited a place near Sarasota that had been recommended to me, so I am including some photos of that place, as well.

Here is the view of the Myakka RIver from the bridge in the park.  Alligators and birds often hang around here. 

Here is one big guy hanging around.

And another one hiding in the grass.  

Some wood storks relaxing in a group. 

This is what they call the bird walk.  

 Linger Lodge is accessed from Linger Lodge Road, of course.

This place is known for all the animals displayed on the walls and ceiling.  This area has a lot of snakes.  

This is a closeup of the big alligator at the end of the room, shown above to the left.

And a display of gift items for purchase.  I decided to skip the gator claws.  

You can arrive by boat, if you choose to. 

These are the alligator bites appetizer.  The meat looks a lot like white meat chicken and is very mild tasting.

The menu tends to be fish, burgers, and ribs, with a little gator thrown in. Here is an image of the center of the menu.