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Our New Year Plans

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Tentative Planning for 2017-18 Winter Trip

We decided to head back to Florida again this fall & winter. We will bring our new lightweight Mad River canoe and our new Burley Tandem Bicycle. We hope to do some Rails-to-Trails in VA, NC and GA on our way south. All of our plans can change depending on the weather, but we hope to visit Greg & Sandy in SC and end up in Orlando to fly home to CLE to spend Christmas with our big family. Here are some maps showing our route planning up to Christmas.

Days1-6

1 Home, 2 Galax, VA, 3 Va Creeper Trl, 4 New River, NC, 5 Blue Ridge Pkwy, 6 Greg in SC, 7 Augusta, GA, 8 Laura Walker State Park, 9 Okefenokee, GA, 10 Ocean Pond -  Nat'l Forest, 11 Palatka Trail, FL, 12 Juniper Springs, 13 Silver Lake, 14 Wekiva Springs, 15 Store RV in Orlando

Days 6-10

Any friends that care to join us along the way, now is the time to let us know. On all of our campsites we can share a second vehicle, since we don't pull a car with us.


Friday, March 10, 2017

Back Home a Little Early–March 7th

Here are a few pictures from this year’s trip.

John at OttercampsiteWe got home a little earlier than planned. We both were getting a little homesick but the biggest factor was the weather. Near the end of our trip we like to head back to northern Florida and watch the weather forecasts closely. We look for at least two good weather days to drive and some warm weather to unpack. This usually occurs around mid-March.

John-SilverLakeCamp47Even though Cleveland’s weather was warm in February all the long term forecasts were pointing to a very cold March. When we were unpacking this Wednesday it was sunny and 60oF. The next 60o day is not forecast to occur until April and the weather will be below freezing until around the 19th of March.

Mangrove Arches - Collier SeminoleAnother great decision I made was to stay off the interstate highways until we got to Columbia, SC. See the map in our last blog. We basically took US-301 which passes through lots of little towns and has speed limits of about 60 mph. Comparing it to our drive last year was like night and day. The miles were the same but we actually made it 20 minutes faster and there was virtually no traffic. We had good scenery and the drive was very relaxing. I-95/I-26 has hundreds of trucks along with cars trying to pass everybody at 75 mph. It is bumper to bumper white knuckle driving for a motorhome that only wants to go 65 mph.

Bikingin FLIt was around 1 PM when we got to I-77 so we kept on going past Columbia, and Charlotte and stopped near Statesville for the night at 3 PM. It was a good time to go through these cities with all the road construction and traffic tie-ups.

It was still a dry drive until we reached the WV Turnpike. It was not heavy or windy and the rain stopped when we left the pike. We got home at 3:30 PM and decided to wait until Wednesday to unpack in the nice warm weather. I did have to winterize the RV after I saw that a real cold spell was coming.

Our Trip by the Numbers

The total trip duration was 116 days but we were home for the holidays for 20 days.
We drove 3200 miles, averaging about 9 mpg.
Our average camp cost was about $18/night.
We paid as high as $46/night at Fort Desoto County Park in St. Petersburg.

We paid as low as $6/night at Ocean Pond National Forest Campground with no electric hookup.
We canoed on 11 different rivers for a total of about 120 miles.
We biked a total of over 250 miles, mostly on bike trails.

Most of all we both stayed healthy and didn’t even get a cold this winter.

I posted 30 blogs this season. This is our last Blog until next fall.

If this is the first time that you are visiting our 2016-17 Florida Blog you may want to click this to read about our trip in Chronological Order rather than going backwards (As all Blogs do) from today to the start of the trip.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Last Campground - Ocean Pond

Ocean PondWe had a nice no traffic drive on back roads from Juniper Springs up to Ocean Pond campground in the Osceola National Forest. We had hoped to get a campsite with electricity but all were full.

CampsiteatOceanPondNFIt seems like la lot of campers like to take extended stays here since the cost is only $12/night for seniors. The only available sites had water hookups and were only $6/night.

We hoped with nice sunny skies my solar arrays could keep the batteries charged. However we had rain one morning and too much shade in our campsite to keep fully charged. We had to run the generator a few times to top off the batteries and to run our microwave, waffle iron & toaster. Our TV runs fine from the power inverter and doesn’t take that much battery power.

PeggyBikingGrassyRoads

The small lake doesn’t interest us enough to take the canoe down from the RV but there are a lot of forest roads in the area for us to bike on.

We took a short ride each day past some of the rustic campgrounds in the forest. The first day was in the 80’s but after the rain & cold front came in it barely hit 70o each day.

Ocean-ColumbiaWe were going to go up to the Okefenokee swamp and canoe when we left here on Sunday but we decided based on the weather in Cleveland and missing our families, maybe on Monday morning we should just start our drive heading home.

I think we will start on some back roads and stay off the interstate highways, at least until we reach I-77 in Columbia, SC.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Juniper Springs

Dinner at Paul-HelensWhen we left Silver Lake we drove about 25 miles to Inverness, the home of our friends Helen & Paul Tempesta. Helen insists she loves to cook and made us a wonderful roast beef dinner, my favorite. It was nice to see them again and we camped in their yard.Our RV at Paul-Helens

On Sunday we left for our favorite campground Juniper Springs. I looked up when we had been here before. We camped and canoed here with the kids. in 1969, 1973 & 1975. The spring does not look that different from 48 years ago.

                               1969 View                                        2017 View

Juniper Springs-1969

Juniper Springs-2017

 

 

A lot more people paddle the river now. The park rents canoes & kayaks and can provide a shuttle for private boaters. One way that works out well for us is they can do a reverse shuttle for only $10. You drop your boat off at the put-in and then drive to the small parking lot at the take-out, where they will bring your driver back to the launch. The parking lot is small and has only a few parking places that we could fit our RV into, so I did the early 8:30 AM shuttle and got a parking spot. Years ago, I used to do my own bike shuttle, but the narrow bike lane on the busy state highways is too scary for me now.

Juniper Launch SpotThe temperature was barely 50oF but warmed to the mid 80’s when we took out.

I thought Monday would not be that busy for this 7 mile beautiful paddle down the shallow winding river. A canoe & two kayaks launched before we did but there had to be at least two dozen boats getting ready to launch. We saw nobody all day until about 2 miles before the end when we caught up to the three boats scouting the big rapid on the run. There is a big rock in the middle of a narrow chute but we didn’t make our run look too good. We paddled a little too left of the rock and clipped a small tree branch which turned us around. Maybe next time we will go a little slower and try not to show off.

Juniper Run - 1

This by far was the prettiest run of all our paddling in FL this year. I guess this is why we keep coming back, even though there is no power, water, TV or cell reception in the park. Ocala National Forest is large and has many wilderness campsites in the back country. But we love Juniper Springs for the beautiful spring and river. They take reservations here but they are only needed on the weekend.

2017 FL Map5

Here is our planned route North to Ocean Pond and then to Stephen Foster Sate Park in the Okefenokee in Georgia.

After  we paddle there if the weather looks OK in Cleveland, we plan to head up through GA to Columbia, SC and follow I-77 home.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Silver Lake Again

Canoeing_Withlacoochee_w

2017 FL Map5 We just arrived at the Silver Lake campground complex and have again decided to stay in Cypress Glen Campground. We didn’t get the exact campsite that we wanted but we got the one next to it and it is only a few yards further from the canoe launch area.

As I told about this in older blogs there are several reasons to stop at the campground. It’s easy to get to, right off I-75. Not many people know about it, since it is a State Forest and not widely advertised and they don’t take reservations. It has 30/50 amp power & water at two of the 3 campgrounds. It is on a lake that is really a wide spot on the Withlacoochee South river. You can paddle up and down the river from here and if you want to just paddle downstream, you can arrange a shuttle at a canoe livery or just spot your vehicle at the take-out and bike, on the parallel bike trail, back to the camp to start your trip.

And for bicyclists, the camp is only 1 mile off the the 46 mile long Withlacoochee State Trail, one of the longest paved bike trails in FL.

We are starting to think about home and the route we may take North. Our plan is to stay here for five nights and then, on Saturday, go visit Helen & Paul who live just a few miles away in Inverness. We were going to visit them in December but it didn’t work out. We met them in Mexico where we all camped at Xpu-Ha in 2013-14.

We noticed that the campsites at Juniper Springs in Ocala National Forest are reserved on most weekends so we plan to arrive on Sunday morning when the weekenders leave.

We skipped the Okefenokee this year when heading south so we hope to paddle there as we head more north in early March. Our plan is to enjoy the back roads of Florida and Georgia and avoid the interstate highways as much as possible.