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Friday, March 15, 2019

Back Home from our Winter Trip on March 12th

The 450 mile drive our first day from Ocean Pond to Mooresville, NC via US-301, US-321 was great, virtually no traffic until we got to I-77 in Columbia, SC. Our second day from Mooresville it was 500 miles on all interstate I-77 driving, we were home by 4 PM.

We had a fun year in FL and all our camping plans and weather turned out well. We had lots of small problems with the RV along the way, but nothing we couldn’t handle.

We spent four days with our friends Greg & Sandy Lewis in November, our friends Judi & Larry Fordyce stayed with us on Jekyll Island before Thanksgiving. In mid December we stopped to visit our friends Paul & Helen Tempesta and Helen made us a great dinner.

We flew home for the Holidays to see our family and celebrate Christmas. We eventually made it as far south as Fort Myers, where we met up with three other friends that have the same kind of RV as we do. Barry & Sue from MI, Fred and Joan from VA and Bud & Pat from Highland Hts, OH.

We stopped to see Paul & Helen again when we got back to the Inverness, another great dinner and we stayed over night.

So as an engineer I always have to report trip statistics. So here are the numbers.

Our average campground cost was only about $16.50/night since we mostly stay in State & National Forests along with County parks. Many now require reservations which are not hard to do at the last minute, especially if you time your arrivals for Sunday. We actually spent 7 nights in local Walmart parking lots while we were traveling.

We drove 3300 miles and the Ford engine performed well.

We only canoed 95 miles on 9 different rivers, we had hoped to do more. Our light weight Mad River canoe really makes it easy to get up & down from the roof of the RV.

We did more biking on our Tandem, 525 miles with no flats or problems. Peggy loves it.

I posted 24 blogs this season. This is our last Blog until next fall.

If this is the first time that you are visiting our 2018-19 Florida Blog you may want to click this link to read about our Trip in Chronological Order rather than going backwards (As all Blogs do), from today to the start of the trip.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Florida Winter Trip Comes to a Close

We enjoyed our last 6 days camping at Ocean Pond Campground. We were lucky to get a site with electrical & water hookups. When we got the site we didn’t realize that it would be the last one to become available. What seems to happen here is a local camper gets a site and when he is ready to leave he waits for another local friend to arrive and he gives them his site. We saw only 2 other out-of-state campers in the 19 electrical sites and on Fri & Sat nights the whole campground was full.

The weather was perfect for biking so we did three long tandem rides, all about 14 miles long. We went around the lake, over to the civil war battlefield and on a dirt road north on the I-10. Three totally different loop trips. Very little traffic and the dirt roads were not sandy so we had no problems. One interesting thing that we saw was at the $2/night Hog Pen campground on the lake there was a drug bust. Seems like some guys must have been making Meth and go caught. The police must have destroyed their stuff and campsite, which was marked off with yellow police tape. I thought a bear had attacked some campers, but it was the smokie kind not the real kind of bears.

We watched  the weather reports and it looked like if we left Monday we would have good weather all the way from Florida to Cleveland assuming we made it in 2-1/2 days.

View of Ocean Pond from Hog Pen CampgroundWe left Monday 3/11 before sunrise at 7 AM EDT. We took US-301 all the way though Georgia and US321 in SC getting to Columbia, SC by 1:30 PM. We got gas and took the bypass around Charlotte to avoid slow traffic and got to Mooresville, NC by 4 PM. Plenty of time for shopping and some fast food. Another Walmart over night.

If we get out of here around 7:30 AM tomorrow we expect to be back home in Ohio by 4 PM assuming the day goes as smooth as today. We did get two brief light showers Monday but there is no rain in the forecast.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Back to Ocean Pond, Our Last Campground in Florida

Juniper Springs-2017 fallOn Sunday morning we left our Walmart overnight in Silver Springs and got to Juniper Springs by  8 am. It was full from Saturday night campers but the place would be pretty empty by noon checkout time. But I was then informed that we could not canoe Juniper Run because of a bad bear somewhere in the Nat'l Forest north of SR40. They also said that none of the through hikers on the Florida Trail could come into the forest and had to make a new trail to bypass it. This is a really stupid policy. If a bear got used to people having food in the back country and is bothering people the bad bear should be euthanized. They decided to eliminate the people who are hiking & canoeing. This is not a common policy in National Parks. If a bear goes bad, they are eliminated. I hope somebody reviews this policy. This park does some weird things like last year taking two full years to fix a boardwalk damaged in a hurricane. It could have been fixed in a month if they wanted people to enjoy the park.

AlexanderRunSo we went over to nearby Alexander Springs for two nights. It’s been at least 10 years since we stayed here. It is not that good for biking or canoeing. Most people just paddle near the spring and take out where they put-in. We used to canoe the river from the bridge on 445 down to 52 Landing. You need to run your own shuttle and the sandy roads didn’t look that good after the rain. The park volunteers had no information about road conditions. After the weekend crowd left the campground was pretty empty. It is near the Paisley mountain bike trails but we don’t do single track with our tandem on the deep sandy trails.

OceanPond-Site19So We left early Tuesday for Ocean Pond National Forest campground near Lake City. We drove through some light rain on our way and found out that they got flooding rain for the past two days, we only had a nighttime rain at Alexander Springs. It’s only a 3 hour drive north to the Osceola National Forest. We got here on March 5th, about the same time as last year but last year we were never able to get a campsite with power hookups. There are only 19 power sites and 30 without power but have water hookups and 18 rustic sites.. All the campsites with power were full but an hour after we arrived an RV pulled out of a power site 3 days early which we quickly snagged making Peggy very happy. We will be here until we have a good driving window for Cleveland, Probably not until 3/12 at best.

WeatherWeek

A cold spell hit on Tuesday. Red temps are above normal.

SUN 3/03

Actual Temp

86° /61°

Hist. Avg.

74°/48°


MON 3/04

Actual Temp

81° /63°

Hist. Avg.

74°/48°

Night Rain

TUE 3/05

Actual Temp

54° /36°

Hist. Avg.

72°/48°

Light Rain

WED 3/06

Actual Temp

57° /35°

Hist. Avg.

72°/48°

Sunny

THU 3/07

Actual Temp

67° /43°

Hist. Avg.

73°/48°

Bike 14 Mi

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Three Days at Silver Lake (Cypress Glen) and Silver Springs

We left Lithia Springs on Tuesday morning. On Sunday & Monday we has two nice bike rides on the Fish Hawk Ranch trails. Bud & Pat were camped at Silver Lake in their Phoenix Cruiser wondering if we were coming. They thought we were coming on Monday. They were forecasting rain for Tuesday but it did not rain at Silver Lake, but we just hung around camp for the day.

HogIslandScout CampOn Wednesday we decided to paddle down the Withlacoochee River to Hog Island. We took a rest break at one of the three group tent spots and then paddle around the island and back to our campground. The river was high because of last week’s rain, it was running 600 cfs, so it took a little longer getting back. The total trip was 9 miles, and it took 3 hours. If we could have arranged for a shuttle down to Nobleton, I think it would have been the same distance but faster because it would all be downstream paddling. You can actually do a 7 mile bike shuttle since the bike trail goes right past the take-out in Nobleton.

TurtlesSilvSprgOn Thursday, Bud & Pat suggested we do a bike ride on the new 10’ wide Good Neighbor asphalt bike trail. We could take it all the way to the center of Brooksville and have lunch at the Main Street Café. It was a good choice, great sandwich and black beans with  rice. It was a nice long rest stop, so Peggy didn’t get tired at all on the 27 mile ride on our tandem.

On Friday Bud & Pat headed to Holder Mine campsite in the same State  Forest, we headed to our our friends Paul & Helen’s house  in Inverness. We hoped to provide them with a little support since Paul is scheduled for major heart surgery on Monday.

Before we got there we did another 18 mile bike trip on the Withlacoochee State Trail from Floral City to north of Inverness. This part is very pretty next to the city parks lakes. There are several road crossings but no major roads and the traffic usually yields to bikers,

PegJohn_at_Paul-Helen'sHelen cooked us a great dinner and we really enjoyed their hospitality. It’s now spring in FL, take a look at Helen’s flowers. We left their home at 9 AM on Friday and by 10:30 AM we were at Silver Springs State Park boat launch.

AnhingaSilvSprgAlligatorSilverSprgSince the State Park took over from the old owners they now allow you to put-in right at the head of the spring. They also rent canoes and kayaks. We did a 4 mile paddle up and back to the campground’s boardwalk which would be a one mile walk if you wanted to launch there. If you say you are a camper from state park there is no charge for boat or persons to launch right  at the spring. There is plenty of parking but weekends are busy.

The river is back to its crystal clear state of years ago. The park service is now doing a really great job maintaining the river and the grounds. We saw lots of birds, gators and turtles. They introduced a canoe trail that you can paddle up or down the river or a narrow water trail. We paddled about 4 miles which took us only two hours even with the picture taking.

We were on our way by 1 PM but we decided to stay at the local Walmart only a mile away and do some shopping at Aldi’s & Walmart and then stay overnight. On Sunday morning we expect to drive over to Juniper Springs in the Ocala National Forest. On Sunday it is usually easy to get a walk-up site without making reservations. So we will see how we do. There is no power or water hookups but they have nice showers and easy access and shuttle to run the 7 mile Juniper Run, we have been paddling this river since 1969.

WeatherWeek

The weather bureau kept forecasting rain but none happened other than a 1/10” drizzle. The red temps are above normal.

SUN 2/24

Actual Temp

84° /63°

Hist. Avg.

74°/56°

Bike 13 Mi

MON 2/25

Actual Temp

79° /59°

Hist. Avg.

74°/56°

Bike 12 Mi

TUE 2/26

Actual Temp

74° /56°

Hist. Avg.

75°/48°


WED 2/27

Actual Temp

79° /57°

Hist. Avg.

75°/48°

Canoe 9 Mi

THU 2/28

Actual Temp

79° /56°

Hist. Avg.

75°/48°

Bike 27 Mi

FRI 3/01

Actual Temp

82° /56°

Hist. Avg.

75°/48°

Bike 18 Mi

SAT 3/02

Actual Temp

82° /58°

Hist. Avg.

74°/56°

Canoe 4 Mi

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Back to Lithia Springs for 5 days

We hoped we could find a site at Fort Desoto in St Petersburg but there were no reservations available starting on a Thursday so we decided to go back to one of our favorite campgrounds, Lithia Springs. We got there at 9 AM on Thursday morning and they said that 5 people hadn’t renewed and maybe somebody would be leaving, check-out time is 11 AM. We lucked out, a camper left Site 37 which was the same river campsite we stayed at last month. It was the only site that became available that day.LithiaSpringsSite37-3

We found out that they never cleaned out the log  jam on the Alafia River so if we paddled we would still need to do a portage. We decided to stick to biking around the Fish Hawk Ranch bike trails.

AlligatorFHRanchPondIt was really hot so we did two early morning 13 mile tandem bike trips on Friday and Sunday It finally cooled down on Monday and on our last day we did another 12 mi trip. Other than a short in and out all three trips were on totally different trails. Peggy loves the nice curvy paths in the natural areas. Trail underPowerLinesFor our first time we saw an alligator next to one of the ponds.

One of the trails goes right down the middle of the high tension power lines but most of the trails are in very scenic areas.

We will head back to Cypress Glen campground in the Withlacoochee National Forest on Tuesday, we have reservation for the same site we stayed at in December. They will close this campground after 3 days as they are finally getting around to re-leveling all the campsites. Bud & Pat , who we camped with at WP Franklin, with the Phoenix Cruiser from Highland Hts, OH are supposed to be there when we get there.

Our plans are to visit our friends Paul & Helen in Inverness when we leave the campground, we will then head over to Silver Springs to do a scenic paddle.

The weather turned really warm like last year, the red temps are above normal.

SUN  2/17

Actual Temp

83° /64°

Hist. Avg.

78°/56°


MON  2/18

Actual Temp

85° /71°

Hist. Avg.

78°/56°


TUE  2/19

Actual Temp

89° /68°

Hist. Avg.

78°/56°


WED  2/29

Actual Temp

83° /70°

Hist. Avg.

77°/56°


THU  2/21

Actual Temp

82° /70°

Hist. Avg.

73°/55°


FRI  2/22

Actual Temp

86° /72°

Hist. Avg.

73°/55°


SAT  2/23

Actual Temp

86° /72°

Hist. Avg.

74°/56°

Bike 13 Mi