We decided to escape the cold for a few weeks in January. The plan was to leave a few days after Christmas but, wouldn’t you know it, a big winter storm was forecasted for Christmas night. So, at the last minute we frantically packed up the camper on Christmas day and left about 6:00 PM. We drove south until the weather forecast was for rain, not snow and spent our first night in a Wal-Mart parking lot. A first for us.
We spent the next few days relaxing at Chris’ brother and sister-in-law’s cabin in North Carolina.
We visited Asheville and Waynesville and went out for dinner a couple of times. Chris and his brother spent a couple of days digging up the backyard in a drainage project. We enjoyed being inside with a warm fire while it was cold and blustery outside.
As the New Year began, we left winter behind and headed down to Florida.
First stop was in the Ocala National Forest. We camped at Juniper Springs where it was like camping in a tropical rainforest.
There were lots of outdoor activities to be done, but iffy weather had a way of altering those plans. So, we went into DeLand, home of Stetson University, and Mt. Dora, a small artsy town. We hiked a little, but weather kept us inside all three nights. Regrettably, that meant no campfires.
Next up was Tomoka State Park on the Tomoka River.
The park is just outside of Daytona Beach where Melinda’s sister lives. Melinda got to visit with her sister and Chris got to try out some of the local bike trails. We had planned to kayak the river, but the weather didn’t cooperate.
After three nights at Tomoka SP, we headed further south to Jonathan Dickinson SP on the Loxahatchee River. We had reserved a campsite in the old primitive part of the campground, but we got lucky and were able to transfer to the best campsite in the new loop (meaning full hookups and concrete pads).
One day we drove into Jupiter which was only a few miles away and visited some of the local sites, including an animal rescue center. They had about one of every indigenous species including the rare Florida Panther. Another day we took a boat tour on the Loxahatchee River to a remote outpost.
A man, Trapper Nelson, came to live there in the 30s, trapping and living off the land. Eventually people started showing up and he built a sort of zoo and cabins for them to stay in the “jungle.” On the way up the river, the captain pointed out all of the wildlife. A few gators and lots of osprey. It gave us a feel for how it must have been here 50-60 years ago. In 1968 Trapper was found dead at his compound of mysterious circumstances, never to be solved.
After lunch we rented a kayak, a first for us, and paddled around the river for awhile. Around sunset we headed to a lookout built on the highest part of the park. All around us were the remains of Camp Murphy, a huge army facility built during WWII to train solders in the use of RADAR. At one time there were about 1,000 buildings and over 5,000 solders. Now it is all gone except for one barracks building and some concrete foundations.
Traveling on to the Florida Keys . . .
From sunny and warm Florida,
Chris and Melinda