O'Leno State Park
|The 1934 suspension bridge over the Santa Fe River at O'Leno State Park|
|The Dogwood Camping Loop|
We checked the next two sites and picked site 34, a shady site at the top of the small hill. A quick cell phone call to the office and we were all set. Our next revelation was there is no vehicle access to the shower/restroom facilities to the Dogwood loop. The only road is an access road for service vehicles only, adjacent to the camp host's site. The toilets are land-locked, so to speak, with only barren, narrow, and very rocky foot paths that lead from the back of each site to a main path that precariously meanders to the bathhouse. Stumbling along the rocky, and sometimes mossy, path to get to the toilet is the hard part: the facilities are fairly new and spotlessly clean. There is a covered trash can station at facility as the main dumpster, as is the dump station, is a mile and a half away at the Magnolia campground. The shower and toilet facilities at the Magnolia loop are not only drive up accessible, there is room for several vehicles at once.
|Campsite 34 on the Dogwood Loop|
|The rocky, moss covered path to the restroom/showers|
We didn't do our traditional spaghetti dinner. Instead, we broke out the shrimp and the cocktail sauce along with a couple of glasses of wine, and relaxed after an almost 5 hour drive up from Port Charlotte. We broke our usual travel rule and traveled up I-75 almost the entire trip. My nerves were frazzled, as they always are when I have to share the road with a two-ton missiles operating at speeds above 90 feet a second by operators who can't see my big, white, 20 foot trailer! I'm firmly convinced many of them can't see each other, as well. I'll take my back roads any day!
[For more information on Chiggers, see my link at :
The park is one of the oldest in Florida, and is actually built on the old Florida town of O'Leno, which we were told is pronounced “O'Leeno” Why, you ask? Because the original name of the town was Keno, named after the card game. Church and Civic pressures were applied in the middle 1860's and the name was changed. But, apparently, not the pronunciation.
The Sante Fe river was very, very low due to the lack of rain, and not at its prettiest. The swimming area was temporarily closed due to lack of water. The river is fed off of the upper Suwanee River, and when that river is low, so is the Sante Fe. Still, the old suspension foot bridge, built in 1934 by the CCC, the Civilian Conservation Corps, is unique, as is the history of a town that time has long since vanished and been forgotten.
On Sunday, we drove out of the park and headed south along U.S. 441, looking for the Santa Fe River rise, and eventually found a county canoe ramp near the spot the river crosses under the highway. We took photos of the pretty stretch of river and watched the many wading birds that were taking advantage of the low water level. A woman soon walked up with an older Black Labrador on a leash, and we began chatting about the area. As we talked, the Lab, named Sheba, pulled toward the shallow river, so her owner, Ann, unleashed her. Sheba slowly waded out into the river and laid down.
|The Sante Fe River rises some 3.5 miles away and continues its journey south|
Next: A new tow vehicle and my grandmother's wrenches, at:
More information about the park can be found at: