Friday, October 22, 2021

10/21 Fort Clinch State Park, Atlantic Campground and Beach

As I said in the last post, this is one of my favorite campgrounds in northern Florida because it is so close to the beach.  What is also important is that the beach is large and never crowded.

   

It is just a matter of just a few feet to the boardwalk over the dunes to the beach. 

 

You can look back and see the RVs camped close by.  

This photo was taken just before Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.  Notice the pier in the distance.  The area by the pier is the day use are of the state park and was a very popular place for fishing.

 

And this photo was taken today.  No pier, because it got knocked down during the hurricane, and they are still considering whether to rebuild or not. 

And this is how the pier looked in 2016.  It was narrow but very, very long.  Its base also formed a breakwall for the entrance to the St. Mary's river.  


Now, it is just a sad pile of rocks and cement that used to hold up the metal fishing pier.


It still acts as a breakwall, but only a few adventurous souls can climb on the rocks and get out to use it for fishing. 

This is looking south along the beach to the commercial area in the distance that is outside of the state park boundaries.  Huge beach because it was low tide when I took these photos.

Because the tide was out, there were a lot of "toddler" pools of water along the base of the pier foundations.  The water was only about a foot deep, which made it a great place for babies and very young  kids. 

Looking north to the campground past some people shore fishing.

Shrimp boats fishing in the distance.  Had to use my telephoto lens because they were so far out.  When the arms are down, the nets are in the water.  When the nets are full, they pull up the arms and empty the shrimp into their holds.  Can't see them, but there are hoards of seagulls hanging around the boats.

 
This one is on the way back to port. 


The campground is only about 1,200 feet down the beach, but it was a substantial walk for me.

This is a very young seagull (laughing gull, I think, because of black legs and black beak on adult in the next photo).  Gulls do not fully mature until they are about four-five years old, and the darker the coloring, the younger the bird.  This one was probably hatched only a few months ago.

If you look around when you see a very young seagull, you will see parents nearby.  They let the youngster get his or her own food, but they keep an eye on it for a year or so. 






 

10/20 Fort Clinch SP Oak Canopy Drive

Fort Clinch State Park is one of only two Florida state parks that are directly on the Atlantic Ocean and offer very close beach access, so it is one of my favorite stops.  It is located as far north on the Atlantic as you can go in Florida without bumping into Georgia.  As a matter of fact, you can see Georgia directly across the St. Mary's River, as shown here.  The arrow shows the location of my campground.


I missed taking a photo of the campground entrance sign, but once I got past the entrance booth, I did take a photo of the two warnings signs about driving through the oak canopy.  Actually, I noticed that in the two years since I have been here, the park service has done a lot of tree trimming, so I did not see any low limbs marked with yellow and black tape. 

They still do, however, recommend you drive a big vehicle down the center of the road and watch out for low branches along the edge.

The specific oak trees that form this canopy are called "southern live oaks."  Obviously, all oaks that are growing are "alive," but these oaks got their name because they do not lose their leaves in the winter, looking as if they are "live" while other oaks look dead without leaves.  Live oaks can live several hundred years.

Live oaks also have another interesting characteristics--their branches tend to grow sideways, instead of more upright.  The result is that many live oaks are wider than they are tall.  The branches tend to form a tunnel or "canopy" by overhanging roads and paths.  Sometimes, in the south you will see live oaks that have been planted along a roadway or estate entrance, but these are part of the natural woodland that makes up most of Fort Clinch State Park.


Oak canopies are great to drive through, especially when they have lots of Spanish moss hanging from them.  They are prized wherever they are and are considered a precious natural resource.

Notice how low the branches of this oak are hanging over the road and how close the branch is to the edge of the road.  This is a two-way road, so if another car comes toward you, it is best to slow down so you can drive down the middle. 


The branch in the middle, but slightly to the right, is an entire tree.  The main trunk must have died off at some time, but it certainly looks like this could come down in a heavy wind.

And more overhanging branches in the river campground.  That campground is very heavily wooded and campsites are nicely shaded.  However, I prefer the Atlantic Campground because it is closer to the beach and ocean. 

And this is an armadillo.  Or at least part of an armadillo.  The front end is toward the right.

Armadillos do not pose for photos, and this guy was very busy snuffing the ground to find bugs and worms.  But at least you can see the rear end of this one. 



Tuesday, October 19, 2021

10/15 Reed Bingham State Park, Valdosta, GA

 This is a convenient place to stay on my way south along I-75 because it is about 240 miles south of Atlanta or Old Federal at Lake Lanier and because it is not too far off of the freeway.  Also, sites are large and have water and electric hookups.  Some sites also have sewer hookups, but I prefer the sites which are more in the open so I can get satellite TV.  Anyway, I have stayed here before, and I am here for four days, this time, but I think next time, I will stay only one or two days because there is not much here for people like me who are not interested in swimming or boating on the lake. 

 First, you can tell you are in the deep South by the cotton fields on the way into the state park

Entrance to the state park:

This is an interesting dam.  It is not very tall, and the water just spills over the top of the dam when there has been a lot of rain. 

 
You can also tell you are in the south by the moss hanging from the trees. 

 

And the long-leaf yellow pine trees. Needles are 6" to 8" long.  This tree also produces an incredible amount of pollen in the spring, so beware if you are allergic to it because it will cover cars and anything else with a thick coating.


The dam produces a nice lake for boating.

Most of the campground is shaded from the pines and oak trees.

 My campsite.  Clean gravel and nice patio area. Overall, a large and comfortable site.


 

Monday, October 11, 2021

10/10 Old Federal Campground, Lake Lanier, Georgia

 This is one of my all-time favorite campgrounds because every spot is directly on the lake and has a view.  If you are not familiar with Lake Lanier, it is a Corps of Engineers constructed lake about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta.  The lake is at least 40 miles long, with lots of peninsulas jutting into it, resulting in quiet coves for swimming and boating.  There are several campgrounds on the lake, but I like this one because it mostly consists of the three "fingers" shown on the left on the map below. 

 
Frankly, because all the campsites have views and are directly on the lake, you really cannot get a bad one.  In addition, all of the RV sites have both water and electric hookups and paved sites.  A lot of people will launch their boats and pull them up on the shore near their campsites.  Here are some examples of the views and campsites. 


This photo is taken from the middle finger, looking across at other finger across a small cove.

Another good reason for coming here, other than the $13 per night senior cost, is the laundry in the restroom.  There is only one washer and one dryer, but that is a lot more than is many places!!  I did three loads of laundry when I arrived and three more just before I leave tomorrow.  Machines cost only 75 cents per load, also.


This is a walk I took down the farthest west "finger."

I am going to try to find one of these birdbaths that just stick into the ground.  It was attracting a lot of birds and would be easy to travel with.  Could also fill it up with birdseed, I suppose.


This old tree had a nest in this branch-hole.  Had lots of activity but I don't know what kind of birds these were.  Anyone know what this bird is??


And what in the heck this tree is???  The fruits are about 1.5" in diameter.  Could not see any on the ground that I could inspect.  Tree had long, oval leaves.


I have been in three sites in this campground.  While this one is not my favorite, I still had views of both sides of the major peninsula. 


 
What was really interesting is that one day when I was coming back from visiting my aunt here, I found one of my neighbors training his young red-tail hawk.   In the first two photos, he is enjoying a raw chicken leg. 

Isn't he gorgeous???  Look at those leg feathers! 

And here he is sitting on his owner's hand after flying in from his perch on command.

At his point, he turned and looked directly at me. 

The bird's owner said that the hawk was just two years old and was obtained at a few months old.  He will be released into the wild again in a few months.  Apparently, most red-tail hawks do not survive their first year, and released birds become wild again very quickly upon being released and do very well on their own.