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Yet Another Florida Winter - '07-'08

For pictures and comments of all the parks we visited, click on "Campground Reviews" above.

11 November 2007 was the magic date this year - we closed the door of our condo in Massachusetts, hopped into our trusty Lazy Daze RV and headed south. It was another leisurely jaunt southwards, for we purposely keep our daily mileage on the low side. Everyone has their own travel-style preferences; for us it's the slow approach to life. A number of days we'll reach our stopping point in time for lunch, leaving the afternoon free for a little exploring of our campground and park, or just plain relaxing with one of our books or crossword puzzles.

As usual, our first stop was at Mahlon-Dickerson Reservation in Lake Hopatcong NJ. We arrived to find about an inch of snow on the ground (the park is up at about 1000' elevation). Shortly after our arrival, we were visited by a Lazy Daze Wannabee, Ken Fears, who wanted to look over our rig.

The next morning we back on the highway, headed for the Navy Rec Center at Solomons Island MD. Camping there is like being back home, for we had lived just a few miles from there for ten years. We stayed at Solomons two nights, so we could pay a visit to the old neighborhood. When we moved away from there in 2003, we knew some changes were in store for the neighborhood, thanks to a drastic loosening of the lot-size requirements. Suddenly lots that had been previously unbuildable were now able to have houses on them. One of those lots was directly across the street from our house, which looked across the street out over Chesapeake Bay. Sure enough, that lot now has a huge house jammed onto it, as do another of other small lots. We're quite happy that we left when we did.

 Sunset acorss the Patuxent River at Solomons.  FL0708-01
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Then it was on to Virginia, to Pocahontas State Park just south of Richmond. We had stopped there about 10 years ago while on a tour of the Civil War battlefields in the area and had forgotten what a pleasant campground it is. And we were lucky to still find some brilliant fall colors as we went through Virginia.

At right is a small dam about a mile hike from the campground at Pocahontas SP.

After our night at Pocahontas, we headed down into North Carolina, where we stopped for a few nights at Jordan Lake State Park's Crosswind Campground. We had originally planned to stop in Greensboro, but then at the last minute decided it would be fun to surprise our friend Susan, who was then at Crosswinds. Needless to say, she was rather surprised to look out her window and see us stopped outside.

After three nights at Crosswinds, we resumed our southwestward trek toward the Georgia mountains. We stopped for the night at Kings Mountain SP just over the border in South Carolina. The next day we found a great spot: Twin Lake Corps of Engineers CG near Clemson. Got ourselves a nice waterfront site, although the water level was down considerably, thanks to drought conditions in the SE US.

Some long-time friends, now full-timers, had invited us to spend Thanksgiving with them at their home-base near Cleveland Georgia, in the northeast corner of the state. we spent the long holiday weekend there, enjoyed a great Thanksgiving dinner at the CG pavilion and many hours of reminiscing with Linda and Dwayne.

Right: Their lot with their large 5'ver and the new little cabin they just put up.

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 FL0708-03  Our friends' location in the GA mountains provided some great opportunities for hiking and touring. One day we packed a picnic lunch and visited Desoto Falls. At the end of a 3/4 mile trail we found this multi-level falls. Another day we drove to Brasstown Bald, the highest point in GA at 4784'. The pictures below were taken there.

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The Sunday following Thanksgiving we resumed our travels - gotta get to Florida one of these days! But not right away. We found another delightful COE campground, Petersburg, at the south end of Clarks Hill Lake, just NW of Augusta. The CG was close to empty, and there were so many great waterfront sites that it was hard to pick one. A very pleasant 4-day stay.

When we left, we made a brief stop in Augusta and took a nice walk along the Savannah River (right). Next came overnight stops at George L. Smith SP and Laura S. Walker SP, both very nice GA parks.

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petersburg26   Sunset at Petersburg.
 This was a most interesting old building we found at Georgia's George Smitth SP. Talk about a multi-use facility: it was a dam, a covered bridge, a grist mill and a sawmill. It dates from the 1880's.  geosmith05

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 Then at last on the first of December we arrived for a 2-week stay at Pelican Roost, the Naval Station Mayport FAMCAMP. This is a great spot - the CG is right on the bank of the St Johns River, and there is a constant parade of naval and commerical shipping. Our friends Dave & Jane Rogers paid us a visit one afternoon.

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 Frigates, huge container barges, cruise ships...  FL0708-14
FL0708-12 Right beside our campsite was the base Fire Training Center. Fires on ships are most definitely not good things and all seamen receive fire-fighting training.

Two weeks at Mayport zipped by and soon it was time to report for duty at Gamble Rogers SRA in Flagler Beach FL. This will mark our 8th Christmas here, and our 4th year as Volunteer Campground Hosts for two months.

We celebrated Christmas with two other Lazy Daze family members: Susan Fain and Marian and Jerry Stern. It was a pleasant day to be out and those steaks on the grill were delightful.

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Every year at Gamble Rogers we see several blimps pass by, thanks to all the sporting venues nearby - stadiums in Jacksonville and Orlando and of course Daytona International Speedway. Here we see Snoopy in the MetLife airship heading south.

And here's a political one!

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This is a sad chapter of our travels this winter. We adopted this beautiful little orange kitty from the Humane Society in Orlando. (Nope - we didn't name him Tony) We had him for 4 days, but he turned out to be rather sick and we very reluctantly took him back. We were both crushed and disappointed, for he was a real sweetie pie.

Now this was quite a sight - twice during our stay at Gamble Rogers, right whales came northward along the shore. On 3 Feb, we saw this mother and calf. Right whales are very rare - there are only several hundred in existence.

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A major highlight of this stay at Flagler Beach was a visit to the Kennedy Space Center. We were there the day before the launch of the Shuttle Atlantis, shown here on the launch pad.

The next day, 7 Feb, we were along the Indian River in Titusville with a great view of Atlantis blasting off for a rendzvous with the International Space Station.

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15 Feb 08: Our two months as Campground Hosts at Gamble Rogers SRA in Flagler Beach, FL, have zipped by. Now it's back to life on the road. The staff at the Park threw us a little farewell party yesterday afternoon to send us on our way. This was our fourth year of hosting here, and we've decided to take next year off to go do something different.

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On Feb 20, while at Silver Springs State Park, FL, we were treated to a total lunar eclipse. Without a tripod, these were the best shots I was able to get.

We made a rather momentous decision - one morning a couple of days ago Liz pipes up and says, "Let's go to California and drive up the Pacific Coast." To which I replied, "Who are you and what have you done with my wife?" It turns out she was quite serious, knowing that was a trip I've wanted to do and she felt it made more sense to head west from Florida rather than from back home in New England. We also agreed that there would be no time limit - we'd go where we wanted when we wanted and we'd get home when we got home. So off we went!

whitesprings12 From Silver River SP, we headed north a bit. After a brief two-night stop at O'Leno SP, we arrived at one of our favorite parks, Stephen Foster SP, in White Springs, FL. White Springs is a pretty small town, but it's interesting to walk through.

Our five days at Stephen Foster were soon over and we were back on the road. Our next stop was at Eastbank COE CG on Lake Seminole, where we enjoyed spending the weekend with Susan. On our way to Eastgate, we spent the afternoon at Maclay Gardens SP in Tallahassee,

4 Mar 08: Our trek westward continues with stops at Open Pond CG in Alabama's Conecuh National Forest, and then Paul B. Johnson SP in Hattiesburg MS. We survived a tornado watch area last night

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Follow along on our great adventure westward.