November and December 1996
So, what'sup - Hope this issue of the "Wanderings" finds you in the middle of a
happy Holiday season. We would like to extend our good wishes for a Happy Holiday and prosperous New Year to all.
November was spent slowly working our way to the assumed warmer winter weather of Florida. After sightseeing a day in Charleston, South Carolina, we headed for Edisto Island, South Carolina to visit friends, Curt and Ellie Walters, from Luray, Virginia. They are building a new house on the island. Edisto is probably the last of the Outer Bank islands to be commercially developed and still has a sense of the "old ways". Our stay was extended when we discovered at some point in our travels,
Kermit's cap had slipped and rainwater managed to soak the bottom of our cedar storage chest. In this chest were all our heavy winter clothes and blankets. Soon our ski jackets, sweaters, thermal undies and other assorted items were hanging out to dry all over the Walter's property. Unfortunately, even after drying, that awful mildew smell remains. Oh well:-(
After getting everything dried and the cap reseated, we headed for a brief visit to Savannah, GA. While Charleston is a charming city with many beautiful homes along the waterfront, Savannah has a more commercial focus. We decided to hoof it and walked through the town. We passed one statue-studded park after another. Around each park were businesses, restaurants, and government buildings. Behind the beautiful, tranquil city squares were amazing homes, some as old as our nation. The
ultra-civilized feeling of Savannah contrasted our next stop - the Okefonokee Swamp in Georgia.
In the Okefonokee Swamp (its campground located 40 miles from a grocery store) we saw our first alligators, on a boat-ride to Billie Bowleg's Island (named for a local Seminole folk hero who avoided being arrested by hiding in the Swamp), just after the Naturalist stated it was too cold for alligators to be out. Billie's Island had been the sight of a small logging town at the
start of the 20th century but little is left except a few foundations and discarded train parts. All-in-all we found Okefonokee Swamp to be a very good place to visit, although Tory didn't share our opinion. You see - 'gators love dogs - or so we were told. Now this may be like some of the other tales we have been told but we didn't take any chances. Tory was kept on a short leash, and will be until we leave 'gator country. This,
plus the number of ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes have made for a rather unhappy puppy.
After our excursion into Okefonokee Swamp (never did see Pogo) we headed for two of Florida's National Forests, Osceola and Ocala. Osceola, with only one campground, took only a few days and we were off to Ocala, located about ninety-miles north of Orlando. In the town of Salt Springs, we found a rarity in the National Forest system - a campground with full hook-ups! We spent the Thanksgiving holidays there, surveyed other campgrounds and did some hiking.
While visiting one of the District Ranger Offices we ran into the former host of the Seneca Shadows campground in West Virginia. It is a small world! We had a good time visiting with Jim and Mary and catching up. But perhaps the most exciting adventure at Ocala was Thanksgiving Day. Although we did have the luxury of full-hook-ups, everything in the trailer is compact size. Unfortunately, turkey breasts do not come in compact size so we had to start it in the microwave. The results were a very pale
but thoroughly cooked breast. A few minutes in the oven did crisp up the bird but this required cooking on one side than the other. During this process nothing, not a roll, or sweet potato, or anything, would fit in the oven. After everything was cooked, mashed, buttered, and sliced, in true Thanksgiving Day tradition the table was too small and groaned under the weight of all the good food. Another challenge met :-).
The week after Thanksgiving we went to Disney World! We both enjoyed four day of "the Magic" and ready to move on. The call of the wild could be heard and the Everglades National Park was our destination.
As we stood on the observation tower in Shark Valley, located in the northern boundary of the Everglades, we had panoramic 360 degree view. It is hard to comprehend that the Park now contains only one-fifth of the original "Forever Glades". From the tower one could scan across mile after mile of sawgrass prairie dotted by keys, hammocks, bayheads, and willowheads. These are terms used to describe the "islands" by their vegetation and probable elevation. There are very few natural formed places within the
Park higher than five feet. And the Everglades is probably only four to five-thousand years old, possibly the youngest terra firma in the continental United States. That means there are some pyramids in Egypt are older than the ground under our feet!
The number and variety of birds, plants, and other wildlife was unbelievable. There were ibis, herons, egrets, skimmers, ospreys, pelicans, wood stock, and many more. Trees range from mangrove, cypress, and royal palm to gumbo limbo and strangle fig. Each morning, evening, walk, drive, or boat ride was an adventure - in many ways better than Disney.
For the next month we will be stationary at a private campground in Frostproof, Florida. We have s-o-o-o much work to do for the web - some articles to write, and general maintenance/repair on the trailer and Kermit, our truck. Then, there's some personal stuff like haircuts, eye check-ups, and teeth cleaning. By mid-January we will be ready to depart for Appalachacola National Forest (in the Florida panhandle) and restart our work but for now we are enjoying not having to move for a little while. Once
again we hope your Holidays are the happiest and the coming year is peaceful and prosperous.
Suzi and Fred