No, Not That Atlanta, The Other Atlanta

We arrived at Atlanta State Park the Saturday before Easter Sunday. The park was alive with families enjoying the special weekend. The Easter Bunny had just presided over an Easter egg hunt and the excitement level was unparalleled. We saw the Easter Bunny zip by in the ranger’s golf cart. It was also quite warm, nay hot, and sunny.

The site we were assigned was very short. Short and uneven. In order to get the Airstream intothe site, we had to hang out in the campground road blocking traffic. This is precisely the kind of situation which Jim finds intolerable. He hates to be in the way or inconveniencing anyone. Of course, this meant we were trying to rush and that only prolonged the process. We needed to deploy the Andersons to level the trailer side to side. We got our signals crossed and had to rework the process. I thought Jim’s head might explode. He was quite literally a very unhappy camper. Finally, we were able to unhitch and get out of everyone’s way.

We were dead tired and hot and unhappy. To re-spark the magic, we got out all of Jim’s Airstream toys. We deployed the awnings and got out the palm tree. From the awnings we hung the strings of lights shaped like flamingos and flip flops. This was their maiden appearance as I had brought them back from my visit east. Of course, the flamingo from the Quilt Museum was on display. Smokey took a bow as did Jim’s replacement balloon from Ruidoso. We were the most festive and happening trailer in the park!

We sat in our chairs under the awning to enjoy the late afternoon and dusk. Jim sipped his beer. I drank my wine. A large red wasp began buzzing around us. Soon swarms of gnats were flying in our faces. We got out the citronella candles and remained steadfast. Just as darkness fell an enormous black beetle crashed into my head with his hard shell. My shriek rang out though the campground. I bounded inside the trailer. That was just one bug too many for me. I hate, hate, hate insects. I hate bugs. I really hate big red wasps and black, hard-shelled beetles that fly. I began to pine for west Texas and its bug-free environment in earnest.

Atlanta State Park has two campground loops. We were on the lake loop. The other loop was deeper into the woods. Rather than place the campsites right next to the lake as is most common, the sites were lined along both sides of the road leading through the campground to the picnic area. This picnic area was a peninsula which jutted out into the lake. The loop was ringed with tables. It was quite lovely. We pondered the democratic choice which had been made to leave the campsites in the woods and the public access picnic area on the prime spot.

 

The next morning we walked the picnic loop and admired Lake Wright Patman. It was a little rainy and the sky was cloudy, but all in all a pretty day. We spent some time cleaning the trailer. Living in a small space, there isn’t much to clean, but it does need fairly frequent attention. Cleaning is also a good way to exert control over one’s environment. It serves dual purposes.

Atlanta park was unusual in its lack of hiking trails. There was one trail which connected the two campgrounds, but it was uninspiring. We were still a little tick-shocked from Mission Tejas. Rather than explore the trail, we decided to see if the ranger had wood for a fire and head in to town.

The ranger actually gifted us with some firewood someone had left behind. We headed to WalMart for some firestarter sticks. When we got out of WalMart, Jim suggested we go to Sonic for burgers. It was already 3 pm and it seemed a little late for a heavy fast food meal. As Jim likes to say, I crushed his soul once again. We returned to the park. All was not harmony and happiness. We hunkered down for another evening dodging bugs.

The next day was humid and somewhat cloudy. At this point we were both ready to leave Atlanta. We were trying hard to be happy and content, but it wasn’t happening. It was time for some serious intervention. In the pantheon of tools to engender happiness on the road, doing laundry ranks at the top—even ahead of trailer cleaning. It was time to do the laundry. We were seriously intent on getting happy.

5217 342Jim had researched and there seemed to be just one laundromat in Atlanta. If it didn’t really exist (not an unusual occurrence) or was awful, we would have to go to Texarkana which was quite a ways away. We drove the twenty minutes back to town. With 34 years of happy matrimony under my belt, I suggested we try Sonic before the laundromat. This girl didn’t survive this long without knowing when to uncrush a soul. We don’t eat fast food very often at all. But Jim had this bee in his bonnet and it seemed the best course of action. It was okay. I don’t think I ever need to eat at Sonic again.

After Sonic, we found the Washateria. It wasn’t the cleanest place, but it had the necessary appliances. Jim and Dakota stayed in the truck and I headed in to get the job done. Doing laundry, even in a less than spotless environment, is good for the soul.

The next morning we were ready to hitch up and get underway. Our next door neighbor wandered by on his way from the bathhouse to his trailer. He was friendly and very interested in our hitch. We have a Pro Pride hitch which has tremendous stabilizing strength. It resists the gusts from wind and passing semi trucks and makes hauling a trailer much safer and easier. Lots of people haul with a simple ball hitch as did our neighbor.

Over time Jim and I have worked out a good process for hitching and un-hitching. By now we had done it many times. We barely need to speak as we work through each step. We each have our own self-assigned tasks. Despite this familiarity, having an audience threw us each into silent performance anxiety. As our neighbor peppered Jim with hitch questions, we performed each task, but without our usual level of concentration.

Once early on in our journey, we had had a near disaster in hitching. We could have totally crashed the Airstream and, even all these months later, we remained battle scarred. After that near disaster, I developed the oft-recommended hitching up checklist. Ever since we were religious in running through the checklist each time we hooked up no matter how confident we felt. Like a pilot preparing to take off down the runway, the checklist was our salvation.

The hitching in front of our kindly observer went well. Jim nailed putting the stinger in the hitch. He hooked his over center, I took the tool and hooked mine. My favorite job is to cross and hook the tow chains, hook the emergency brake release cable and seat the seven pin plug which makes the brake lights work on the trailer. All of that took place. Our satisfied guest wandered off pondering the joys of our Pro-pride Trailer hitch. Jim and I both breathed sighs of deep relief. We went through the hitching up checklist with the fervor of were newly ordained priests performing our first Eucharist.

Angling Towards San Angelo

Our drive would take us east to Odessa and Midland and then south to San Angelo. My Blue Beacon app told us a truck wash was to be had in Odessa. We stopped, got cleaned up and headed through the arid west Texas plains.

Right outside Sterling City we saw our first big wind farm. We couldn’t count the number of turbines standing at the top of the ridge silhouetted against the bright blue sky. It was quite striking and in this easterner’s opinion, much more beautiful than the oil derricks dotting the west Texas landscape. But I know that would be a minority opinion among most in these parts.

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San Angelo lies south east of Midland and north east of Fort Stockton. We had almost closed a giant loop of travel through west Texas and up into southeast New Mexico. The San Angelo State Park is just west of the city of San Angelo. The park sits just outside the city which is slowly encircling the park. The park is shaped somewhat like a bent hourglass with two distinct sections joined by a narrow middle.

We were camping in the Red Arroyo section of the park which abuts the O.C. Fisher Lake. The O.C. Fisher Reservoir Dam was visible to the right of our campground and beyond the dam was San Angelo. The other section of the park contained the North Concho and Bald Eagle campgrounds.

Our campground sat on a plateau above the lake and was sparsely populated. The sites were spaced well apart.

Our site overlooked the lake but the water’s edge was still quite far away. When we got to our site, we were pretty excited to see our next door neighbor was another Airstream. The wide spacing between sites was not conducive to campsite chatting and we never did speak to them.

It was very hot and sunny when we un-hitched. The picnic table and shelter were a cooler oasis and caught the breezes. We sat there as dusk deepened to night sipping our wine and enjoying the vast sky. It was a sweet magical evening. The ever-present west Texas wind was soft and gentle.

The next morning we got ourselves up and headed out to find one of the park’s trails. Darn if we could find it. We ended up following the park road back to the ranger headquarters to ask where to pick up the trail. Of course, it had been just inside the bushes and brush the whole time. We followed a big loop trail through our end of the park. It was very hot and the sun was strong. There was no shade and I had an eye out for snakes and other dangers. The thermostat read 92 degrees and I worried about Dakota in his heavy coat.

Once we had the trail, it was no problem to follow and we wound through our end of the park ending up quite close to our campsite. We were hot and sweaty and surprisingly tired since it wasn’t that long a hike. We got cleaned up and decided to head into town. We needed to re-supply groceries.

The parking lot at the H.E.B. was packed and hotter than hades. We had grown to love these Texas supermarkets named for Howard Edward Butt. They had great produce and pretty much everything else was first-rate. Traveling through small towns you are at the mercy of the local supermarket and some of them had been pretty dismal affairs. Of course in this kind of heat, we couldn’t leave Dakota in the truck alone so poor Jim was relegated to the firey-hot parking lot while I shopped. I felt vindicated to hear the checkout people complaining to each other about the excessive heat.

We succumbed this second night to the high winds and heat, closed the trailer and put on the air conditioning. The news broadcast predicted more heat for the next day and the arrival of a major storm front which would ultimately break the heat wave. It was a quiet night in the campground and we were grateful for the creature comforts of our Airstream.

Despite the weatherman’s prognostication, the next morning seemed cooler. A hike in the other section of the park was on the docket.

It was actually quite a long way to the other park entrance, a matter of six or seven miles. The ranger at the north entrance was very excited that the Wiener Dog races were taking place in the park. Indeed, the parking lot was packed with vehicles and wiener dogs were everywhere. Given Dakota’s predilection to lose his mind barking at small dogs, we hustled him off to the trailhead.

It felt good to hike the trails in the north end of the park. It was much greener with trees, a creek and more bushes and vegetation. The trail signage was inscrutable and had nothing to do with the trail map the ranger had given us. Not only were the trails not where we expected them to be, there were trails which never appeared on the map. Despite those frustrations, we wandered up and down and all around. We had a picnic lunch sitting on a bench and left the north end of the park tired and satisfied.

Tired and dusty, we got back to the trailer and cleaned up. That afternoon we drove into San Angelo and poked around the downtown. San Angelo grew up next to Fort Concho in the 1870’s. San Angelo regards itself as the Wool Capital of the World which should have been enough to endear it to me forever, but I didn’t see any sheep. We had just missed the Rodeo in February which was probably quite an event. I am sure there are amazing things to be seen in San Angelo, but either we just weren’t into a cosmopolitan experience or it was lacking there. After a brief reconnaissance, we headed back to the park.

The evening skies were spectacular. Huge white clouds stretched thousands of feet up into the atmosphere. The wind was blowing fiercely. The storm was blowing in from the south and east. The wind was so strong it was almost impossible to stand outside. It would wrench the door to the trailer from our hands every time we tried to go in or out.

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We watched the weather with rapt attention. The storms were severe. To the east of us hail and tornadoes were threatening and entire counties were on alert.

The storm actually hit after we were in bed and we lay listening to the thunder, rain and wind as it rocked the trailer. The lightning lit up the sky. Dakota hopped up on the bed for comfort. The storm lasted for hours. All I could think of was how much I wished we had a surge protector and vowed we would get one first chance.

We were spent and tired the next morning from a night of worry and suspense. All was well, however,  and we hitched up to head out with a sense of relief along with our fatigue.

 

 

A Rain as Big as Texas

Sunday brought an end to our stay in Village Creek. It was a bit grey and rainy as we hitched up and pulled out of the park.

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Deluge doesn’t even begin to describe the rain which assailed us on our drive south from Lumberton to the Brazos Bend State Park just south of Houston in Needville, Texas. The rain fell so heavily that we barely had visibility out the windscreen of our big blue truck. It fell in sheets and torrents. Thank heavens for Jim’s steady nerves and careful driving. He piloted our 48 foot craft skillfully through the darkened land and kept us from disaster. I shudder to think what would have happened if I were driving. At moments like this my strongest impulse is to shriek with horror and throw my hands in the air. Not exactly a prescription for safe driving.

Our progress was slowed by the weather and even more so by a terrible traffic accident on Interstate 10 in Houston. Traffic slowed to a complete standstill and we spent well over an hour inching our way forward. When we reached the accident, we saw some poor eighteen wheeler had hit the cement divider on the outer shoulder. The cab was completely separated from the trailer which still stood nose to the divider. The cab was crumpled like an aluminum can and had clearly burned as well. Cleaning this up in this weather was going to be a considerable challenge.

The rain followed us further south down Route 288 past Pearland and along Farm to Market 1462 to the park. We set up camp in the rain and were just able to sit out under the awning. Despite the fact that the ranger said the park was fully booked, we were almost completely alone. Was it the unrelenting rain? Just the fact that for people down here, this is winter? Who knows. It was a little strange coming on the heels of Palmetto Island. We felt lucky to have the park to ourselves, but where was everyone?

Our site was just lovely. We were nestled next to a large live oak who was our guardian. We were feet from the banks of the Brazos River and the park teemed with deer, all kinds of birds and big Texas armadillos. All were much in evidence during our stay.

Jim’s oldest brother, Jack, his wife, Phyllis and their friend, Dan, arrived in late afternoon. The rain was still falling but we could shelter under the awning and stay mostly dry and enjoy looking out at the verdant and sodden landscape. We spent several hours chatting and enjoyed brats and burgers for dinner. It was really great to see them. We don’t get to spend that much time with them and certainly had never had the chance to see them in their natural environment of Texas. Plans were made to head up to Pearland on Tuesday to see their home and get some necessary shopping done in the shopping centers there.

The sign welcoming visitors to Brazos Bend makes it clear who the primary tenants of the park are. The morning of our first full day in the park was devoted to laundry. The rain continued off and on, but it data=RfCSdfNZ0LFPrHSm0ublXdzhdrDFhtmHhN1u-gM,LdScLvlLmt6Al7fEQzBywPOD4L0u_I0VQZvmQ-oN8D6UpJzZfW0_mwEsdYo34OZSwpskzwjW0hNr-15GtXjt-jifUch5bkkzWmS3h3hI_nbe1cIW25_eEiE4_LVD33vMs1Dkf936Udf4swas quite relaxing to sit near the laundry and read. By mid-afternoon we were restless. The rain cleared off and the long absent sun appeared. We walked a trail around 40 Acre Lake. There was a nice breeze and it was warm, but pleasant. We saw several gators enjoying the sun. But once we hit the woods at the end of the walk, the mosquitos were unrelenting.

Tuesday dawned dry and we headed to Pearland—named for the former pear orchards which abounded until man discovered big box retailers—and some shopping as well as a visit to Jack and Phyllis’ house. One major goal was to get Jim’s electronic equipment up to current standards. After several hours and success at the Verizon store, we headed to Jack and Phyllis’ house in a very attractive, older development. Dinner that night was completely delicious barbecue and then we headed back to Brazos Bend.

Wednesday was alternately wet and dry, but we got in a nice hike around the Old and New Horseshoe Lakes and Elm Lakes. The two horseshoe lakes were formed by a river’s switchbacks slowly being cut off from the primary river. Over time the lakes fill in completely with vegetation and it was easy to compare the relative ages of the two lakes just by looking at the disparate landscapes around them. Old Horseshoe was well on its way to becoming marshy land while New Horseshoe was still very much a body of water.

We added to our walk with a loop around Elm Lake. Elm Lake was alive with bird life and alligators. This was their turf and they lined the banks of the lake. I got so nervous about them chomping down on Dakota that each time we spotted one, I carried him past. Nothing spoils a trip faster than a beloved dog becoming gator lunch. Jim tried repeatedly to get a good shot of one of them with his phone, but it was nerve-wracking to try to get too close. Nothing spoils a trip faster than losing part of a spouse.

We were just at the end of our loop when we heard a loud, sudden crack like a tree falling. Just across an inlet in the lake, a big gator had clamped his jaws down on an unfortunate egret and we watched with sickened fascination as the bird disappeared into the great creature’s gullet.

The sky was dark and overcast as we headed south to our next destination. Moving from park to park is a little like falling in and out of love successively. There is a mixture of sadness to be leaving and an itchy desire to be moving on to the next adventure. Our next adventure would be Goose Island State Park in Rockport, Texas.

Navarre and the Emerald Coast

Next up we had three days of civilization planned with a stay at Emerald Beach RV Resort in Navarre, Florida. This section of the Florida Panhandle is called the Emerald CoastEmerald_Coast_Florida. In our westward push, we have traveled from the Nature Coast to the Forgotten Coast and now we have reached the Emerald Coast.

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This was a nifty rv park. The sites were pretty close together, but the people were really friendly and nice. The rv park butted up to the shore of the Gulf and some sites actually had the Gulf at their back door. That would be pretty cool. The dog park also shared some of the beach and we enjoyed watching the sun set over the water and looking across the Gulf to the barrier island.

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Navarre is sort of a bedroom community for Pensacola and the Naval Air Station. In fact the area is packed with military personnel from Eglin Air Force Base, Whiting Field Naval Air Station, Hurlbut Field and the NAS. At night we could hear the report of ordinance going off from training exercises. For the three days we spent in Navarre, our son Alex was constantly in my thoughts. Twice he was stationed at Corey Naval Air Station in Pensacola for training and being so proximate to a place he had lived, kept him front of mind. As we traveled around, I had to wonder if he had been in the same places.

Sometimes Dakota is a very funny traveling companion. Certain things just set him off and Emerald Beach hosted two of them. Next to our trailer was a Fifth Wheel with a statue of an owl out front. Dakota would go crazy when he saw that owl. He actually attacked it one day and was shocked when it turned out to have a bobble head. He was equally upset by a cement statue of a dolphin. Something like that can really tire a guy out.

There weren’t a lot of hiking opportunities in the area, but we did manage to find one the first day. We headed about a half hour north to the Blackwater Heritage State Trail in Milton, FL. This is a 9 mile long rails-to-trails trail which follows the former Florida and Alabama Railroad. The railroad hauled lumber from nearby Bagdad, Fl up to Whirley, AL and later was used to haul airplane fuel to the nearby Whiting Field.

The ranger station for the trail used to be a railroad depot. At first it looked closed and deserted, but Jim peered through the window and the ranger opened the door apologizing that it seemed closed. He was a very friendly fellow and gave us background on the trail and the area. The portion of the trail we walked starts out in Milton and is lined with a few homes and then becomes mostly woods and fields. The day was a little overcast and cool and this made our walk pleasant. The Florida sun is so strong, sometimes a little cloud cover is a relief. We met very few people on the trail.

After our walk, we headed back down Route 87 to Navarre. This highway is lined on both sides with thick pine woods. The highway used to be a two lane road, but is currently under construction to become four lanes. I guess another quiet corner of Florida is about to be subsumed with gas stations and strip malls. There sure are a heck of a lot of gas stations.

We stopped for lunch at a spot we had noticed driving up 87 earlier. Scooters looked like a good local spot boasting fresh seafood. It was a no frills affair. You placed your order as you entered, took a table and they called your number when the order was ready for pickup. It seemed quiet when we entered and ordered, but no sooner had we sat down then a flood of people arrived. The food was outstanding. Jim had a fish sandwich he said was the best he ever had and my fish tacos were delicious. I also tried fried okra for the first time which was pretty tasty as well. Somehow we made our way back there the next day and ate exactly the same thing all over again.

Day two in Navarre was reserved for a little sightseeing. We drove a big loop west through the town of Gulf Breeze which was pretty much an extension of Navarre. Strip malls lined each side of the Highway 98 offering shopping, fast food, more gas stations and an occasional apartment complex. We banked left just before the bridge to Pensacola and drove through Pensacola Beach. What a desecration! This place was so overbuilt and PB-logohideously tacky, it could be hell on earth. The houses were on top of each other and the only thing more unattractive were the monstrous high-rise condos. Garishly-signed bars and plastic-looking restaurants beckoned sunburned tourists to waddle in to over eat and over-imbibe. We had most definitely found the Redneck Riviera!

Two giant towers punctuated the end of this stretch of desolation. The contrast could not have been greater as we entered the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Pristine white sand beaches with small dunes dotted with brush stretched forward as far as the eye could see. We found a dog-friendly beach and wandered out to feel the sand in our toes and watch the waves roll in. The unparalleled beauty and quiet made Pensacola Beach that much more awful by contrast. Someone made a ton of money taking glorious natural beauty and turning it into a human cesspool. The unspoiled beaches were punctuated periodically with small parking lots. Joggers and bikers shared the road with the procession of cars and rvs. We drove for miles through this paradise.  At the far end, the national park ended and human habitation signaled a return to Navarre. The tall buildings we had seen across the gulf from the rv park signaled tomorrow’s equivalent of Pensacola Beach. It is a shame Mammon will lead yet another part of a beautiful state into ruin.

The Highest Waterfall in Florida Wasn’t Really

Falling Waters State Park boasts the highest waterIMG_5173fall in all of Florida. Sign me up! I gotta see this. When we pulled into the park and up to the ranger station at the gate, the ranger on duty surprised us. Rather than the normal enthusiasm most rangers express for their parks, this fellow said, “yep, not much to do here. About a day is all most people can take and then they head out to find something better to do. You might want to check out the town.” Really? This is how you feel about the park you represent? Were you exiled from some plum park assignment elsewhere and now you spread discontent to all your guests? The park web site says, “this park has something for everyone…” The ranger didn’t seem to feel the same way.

Falling Waters is actually one of the highest hills in Florida. Rising 324 feet above sea level, Native Americans inhabited the area until British and Spanish settlers slowly pushed them out. Tall pine forests cover the hillsides augmented by magnolia trees with deep green leaves and dense clumps of saw palmetto and grasses. The area around the eponymous waterfall is punctuated by sink holes nestled in the underbrush and covered with moss. Peering through the foliage which is dense even in winter, it is difficult to see the sink holes clearly and the overall effect is one of decay, danger and mystery. Several streams wind their way through the brush keeping the air moist and humid. It was hard to imagine the earlier settlers making their way through this terrain.

IMG_5169The waterfall is not quite what you might expect. Rather than looking up to view a tall cascade of water, this waterfall is actually underground! The waterfall is formed by a confluence of streams. The water from these streams thunders 100 feet down into one of the sinkholes. To view the waterfall, one stands on a platform and peers through the gloom to watch the roiling water disappear into a deep moss and vine-lined tunnel.

Our camp site at Falling Waters was nestled on a curve of the campground loop. It was a pretty intimate campground with only 24 sites. After so many weeks on the flat Florida terrain, it was a pleasant change of pace to be perched on the top of the hill. There wasn’t a huge amount of space between sites and tall pines circled our trailer. There were only a few hiking trails at the park. Many of them were actually painstakingly built board walks which wound a path between the shaded sink holes. A good portion of the trails had succumbed to the ever encroaching sink holes and were blocked off from passage.

Taking the ranger’s advice, we did check out the local town, Chipley. Chipley made Chiefland look like a metropolis. Chipley did have a historic district. We followed the signs and did see a couple of old houses in fairly good repair, but other than that it was the usual mix of modest houses, some buildings which were downright shacks and the ubiquitous mobile homes. There wasn’t much else to speak of in Chipley. I hate to sound like a northern snob, but I am not sure I could live in a place like this. Of course, a big part of the lifestyle is hunting and fishing, but if you weren’t looking for outdoor recreation, you were looking in the wrong place.

Whether it was the ranger’s initial ambivalence to the park’s attractions or our disappointment at the tallest waterfall in Florida, this was not our favorite park. Some of our estimation might also have been influenced by the tremendous affection we felt for Ochlockonee. But, hey, every park can’t be a home run hit, there have to be some walks to keep the game moving forward.

White Squirrels, Pie Bald Deer and the Forgotten Coast

From Chiefland we headed further up the coast of Florida to our next stop at the Ocklockonee River State Park in Sopchoppy, FL. Despite its frolicsome name, there isn’t a IMG_5079whole lot to the town of Sopchoppy. It sports the requisite number of defunct businesses, an historic and defunct railroad depot, a pizza parlor which looked a little dubious and a supermarket which was, beyond a doubt, odorous and completely dubious.

 

This section of the Florida coast has been dubbed the Forgotten Coast. I don’t think we’ll ever forget it. We really fell in love with Ochlockonee—especially once we figured out how to say it.

The park lies south of Sopchoppy at the intersection of two rivers, the Ochlockonee and the Dead, both brackish rivers flowing out to the Gulf.

The campground at Ochlockonee is not large. There are only 30 sites. They aren’t terribly far apart, but there is quite a bit of vegetation including live oaks festooned with Spanish moss and saw palmetto so it is all very pretty. Our hookups were on the wrong side of the trailer, but this was easily overcome.

Just walking around the park is a delight. The tall, thin pines grow in plentifully rows straight to the sky in the pine flatwoods. There are nice hiking trails both through the forested fields and along the waters. We loved hiking the trails.

The park is home to two exotic inhabitants. White squirrels scamper around the campground and trails. They are not albinos, but a relative of the grey squirrel. Each time we saw one, we shouted with excitement—not a normal occurrence with a squirrel sighting. Much to our disappointment, we never did see the other park exotic. The Pie Bald Deer did not come out to play with us. The ranger at the station said she hadn’t seen one since the previous week so perhaps they were on vacation.

Our campsite next door neighbors were two guys, avid fishermen. We dubbed them affectionately “the hobos.” They eschewed creature comforts, sleeping out in the elements in blankets and sleeping bags. It was pretty chilly at night, but they seemed comfortable enough. One of them had a snore which rattled the aluminum walls of our Airstream. It made me giggle every time he started up. They headed out early each day to fish and were back after dark. On Sunday they retrieved their adolescent daughters. A tent was erected and a higher degree of civility reigned at their camp. The girls were having a super time with their dads. It was really cute.

We took a looping drive around the area just to see what we could see and to find a supermarket with a little less daunting aspect than the  Sopchoppy Grocery. Again, we saw towns where life was tough. Small houses sat next to what could only be termed shacks and abandoned, cratering cabins. Rusted out mobile homes sat derelict in overgrown yards. We did laundry in Crawfordville with some pretty desperate looking folks.

But the natural beauty of the land was spectacular. We fantasized about a small plot of land on the river where the breeze would keep the air fresh and we could hike through the pine flatwoods and maybe even get a dinghy to go fishing. We would have a wide screened in porch encircling the house and spend hours watching the sun rise and fall and the light bounce on the river water.

Our four nights passed quickly. We were really sad when it was time to leave. It is a place I think we would both be happy to go back to.