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Saturday, December 8, 2018

Ichetucknee Springs & Paynes Prairie

We left Ocean pond early and did a lot of grocery shopping in Lake City and decided to paddle first before checking into camp at O'Leno State Park.

IchetuckneeLaunch

We headed to the Ichetucknee River which one of the prettiest river in the state. The 72oF water is crystal clear and originates 3 miles upstream.

IbisTurtlesWSo This up & back trip is slow fighting the 3 mph current while going upstream and then an easy float back downstream. In the summer weekends this place is crowded with hundreds of tubers floating down the river and would not be a pleasant place to paddle.

IchetuckneePeggyIbisThere is abundant wildlife here, Deer, Ibis, Egrets, Great Blue Herons and hundreds of Turtles but we did not see one gator. I guess that’s good for the tubers. The river is so clear you can watch all the fish swimming by, no fishing here.

It took us 2 hours to paddle upstream and less than an hour to paddle back. There is a nice parking lot right off of US27 with a paved path to the launch area, which made it easy to roll our canoe on our light weight cart.

TurtlesIchetuckneeWe were off the river by 3 PM and had a short drive over to O’Leno State Park where we were just staying overnight.

Our next destination is Paynes Prairie State Park where check in time is 1 PM so we decided to take a bike ride that is on the Hawthorne Trail south of Gainesville, FL and on the north side of of the 22,00 acre wilderness. PaynesPrarie-LaChuaOverlook

It is interesting that they have reintroduced Bison and wild horses along all the normal FL wildlife. The place sometimes looks like a large grassy prairie and during rainy season like a series of connected lakes. This year is the wettest we have ever seen it.

Th2 12 mile ride has a few hills & hammocks that got us down to our lowest gear to speeds of over 20 mph. Lucky it was cool because I worked up a sweat on the little hills.

We enjoyed all the scenery of the trail and saw about 4 other bikers. We almost ran over an Armadillo slowly crossing the trail.

It’s an easy 5 mile roundtrip bike ride from camp to the visitor center & tower.  We did it a second time since I forgot my camera and wanted to show.



Where the Buffalo Roam.

Bison-PaynesPrairiePaynes Prarie View2

The picture above is from the park tower overlook in dry season.

The one below is this year which was very wet.

WetPrairie2018

Wild Horses grazing close by.WildHorses-PaynesPrairie

Tomorrow morning we will head to Inverness to see our friends Paul & Helen. It is supposed to be another rainy day, then we will head to Silver Lake.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Eleven Days at Ocean Pond in Osceola NF

The weather has not been the best this year. This week started very cool but sunny. When it finally warmed up on Thursday we took a 14 miles ride around the lake.OP_BikeRides_18

The map above above shows the various bike routes that we have taken. Most are on sandy forest roads and a few are on paved park roads without much traffic.

OP Ride Olustee Train Station_18We stopped by the Train Station Museum in Olustee but it was closed. The sandy roads were not too bad this year and we visited the rustic Hog Pen camp, which keeps getting bigger each year but it only has a pit toilet and no water for $2/night. It was full.

On Friday we took a ride over  to Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park. Each year they say a bigger visitor center is coming but nothing yet. This year they had an excellent new movie that described the one day battle where the Confederate troops drove back the Union army back to Jacksonville. Each February the have the largest reenactment in the Southeast. We stopped by another rustic but popular campground called Cobb to complete our 12 mile bike ride. It was also full. After a very rainy weekend we decided to go around the lake again on Tuesday for a 13 mile ride. We stayed on the main highway to avoid some of the sandy roads but because of the rain the road north was very hard to pedal through the sand so our speed on that road was cut in half.

TripMapweek3_2018The map on the left shows our routes from 1.Okefenokee (Stephen Foster SP) to 2.Ocean Pond NF Campground near Lake City, then on Thursday to paddle the Ichetucknee Springs River and then over to camp at 3.O'Leno State Park and then to 4.Payne's Prairie State Park just outside of Gainesville for next weekend.

The distance as the crow flies is only 80 miles but by our routes it is about 175 miles.

This part of Florida is very scenic but on the cool side in November. It could go down to freezing and as high as the low 80’s. But for biking and canoeing, temperatures in low 60’s are great.

It’s been cooler and wetter then normal so far this year, if it were not for the camping reservations we made we should of headed south sooner. It’s better to be reservation free to remain flexible but the further south you travel the harder it is to find a campsite.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Saga of all our Equipment Failures

On the first night of our trip this year I noticed that batteries discharged very quickly overnight while we were just running our furnace. When I thought about it I realized they had lasted 6-1/2 years and should be replaced. So after a finding out the battery distributer was along the way we went to Charlotte and bought new batteries.

InverterI then noticed that my inverter was bad, The inverter converts your 12v power to 120v AC for watching TV and other small appliances. This inverter is big, expensive and wired in under my bed. It has a remote panel to control it. No local dealers had a matching unit. I found for $320 on-line, I could have one shipped in about a week. So I had it shipped to Jekyll Island Campground and it actually was very easy to install.

ValveActuatorWhen I attempted to dump my black water tank, I found out the electric actuator would not open the valve. The gray water valve worked fine. You can’t open the valve manually with the actuator installed, so I removed the actuator and found I could open the black water valve but it worked very hard and probably led to the actuator failure. A plastic gear and broken in half, so I superglued it together and the actuator works but I figured if I reinstalled it, it would break again unless I got the valve freely moving, so that’s the way it will be for while.

GasStrutWhen we opened our awning this Sunday the right side sagged way down. I noticed that the gas strut that holds the awning fully up was getting weaker and weaker but now it had totally failed and would not hold the awning up, but you can push it up and lock it in place with a little knob.

I checked the internet again and called Carol, the parts expert, at Phoenix RV for a price. Well for $40 she will ship me a new one to our friend’s, Paul & Helen, who live in Inverness.

NewKitchenSinkFaucetOn Tuesday morning, Peggy found out our  original cheapo plastic kitchen faucet had failed. The little diverter ball had broken in half.

I started to try to remove the faucet but found it was really hard to get at it. I finally gave up. It was in a cabinet that could only be accessed by feel and I had no idea how the water lines were even connected.

I knew there was a Camping World in Lake City, so off we go to see what were my options. We found a very nice replacement for $75 and I asked if and when they could install it., figuring they would say in a few days. They said, no problem, we can do it right now in about an hour and it would cost about $125 for the labor. So I figured maybe they could do it instead of me as I wasn’t sure I was flexible enough to get under there. Well they did it in exactly an hour and we now have a beautiful new kitchen faucet.

I hope the strut replacement next week will go well and things quit failing. Our RV has been very reliable but this has been quite a trip start.

Monday, November 26, 2018

At Ocean Pond in Osceola National Forest

We left the Okefenokee at 7 AM and went grocery shopping in Lake City. We were able to get to the Ocean Pond campground before 10AM on Sunday morning. We did this to be sure to get a good campsite when the weekenders leave. Wow, one of our favorite sites #8 was empty so we pulled in but did not setup as I wanted to see if site #12 might be leaving. We had stayed here two years ago. I found out they would be leaving at check out time so we signed up for that site and waited until they left at noon.OceanPondSite#12

The weather was nice but heavy rains and a cold front were forecast for later in the day, so we stayed in and enjoyed some NFL football games. The morning lows are in the low 30’soF but the rain is gone and it is sunny. Peggy turns on the kitchen sink, no water. See next story for our equipment failure sage since our trip began.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Three Nights in The Okefenokee

Peggy-LaunchOkefenokee

We got an early start from Jekyll Island and after a pleasant drive on all secondary roads got to our reserved campsite at Stephen Foster Georgia State Park in the Okefenokee before noon. We picked the same site 16 that we stayed in in the past since it is the shortest walk to the boat launch. We dropped off the canoe first and just locked it to a post. The weather was sunny in mid 60’s and a little breezy.

Peggy-Pointingout Alligator

We paddled toward the Suwannee River source since that is where we saw a lot of gators last year. We saw about 10 small ones and one really big one. Peggy pointed them out to me. It was a short 1-1/2 hr., 5 mile paddle, our first canoeing of our trip.

Alligator-SunningOke

We hoped to paddle again Friday but it was very overcast and windy and threatened to rain. So we didn’t do much and hope to paddle again on Saturday.


There is on-off cell phone service and no internet service in this park which is 17 miles off the highway. But they do have cable TV hookup to get a few stations and the weather report. At this time of year there are no mosquitos which is why we prefer this park to the Everglades, which is always buggy. Beside the gators & turtles, there are lots of birds, deer and they say bear.

Great Egret

On Saturday it finally warmed up to the low 70’s, We paddled 8 miles to Minnie Lake Landing and back. This is  where we caught up to a big group of friendly kayakers.

MinnieLandingGroupLike last year the slow current allowed us to paddle back in 20% less time then we paddled up to the Landing. When we got to the main channel we were thinking of going to Billy’s Island but the clouds rolled in and the wind picked up so we just headed back. We saw lots of small alligators and turtles.

Our next planned camp is Ocean Pond campground in the Osceola National Forest about 60 miles South of here near Lake City, FL. They do not take reservations and it is very popular. So our plan is to shop for groceries in Lake City, FL and then drive to the campground and hope to get there about 10 AM Sunday morning. This is when the weekend campers start to leave. There have three types of sites here; Electric/Water, Water and Primitive. They have nice bathrooms and showers and are right on a small round Lake about two miles in diameter. We hope to get an Electric site and stay here for about 10 days.