get this silly urge to sing Willy Nelson's "On The Road Again" every
time we head out with our travel trailer in tow. Just part of the
routine, I suppose, but it happens every time. I don't even give it
any conscious thought. Ilse just starts laughing and I know I've
stepped into the realm of RVing once again. This time we are headed
up to Athens, Georgia, to see Monica and Troy, our daughter and her
husband, and their daughter, Claire. We'll be there the week of
Easter vacation so we get the grand duties of baby-sitting Claire
during the school break.
|End of Day One: Stephen Foster State Park, Georgia|
decided to leave late Good Friday morning and make it a two-day trip.
It's easier that way, even though we did the 580 mile trip in one day
the last several times we traveled. We have a favorite campground right
at the half-way point of the trip, so we thought we would stay there
Friday night and start again early Saturday morning. I checked the
Internet and logged on to Reserve America at
http://www.reserveamerica.com/, the account I use for on-line State
Park reservations, to check Stephen Foster Cultural Center State Park
at White Springs, Florida for openings. No openings, not a single one. The
pretty, easy access Florida park was booked solid. Its location near
the intersection of I-75 and I-10 makes it a great one-nighter for
the flood of RVers headed north at the end of another winter season. A quick check of the other Stephen Foster State Park, the one
near Fargo, Georgia, showed plenty of sites available.
is 65 miles northwest of the Florida park, and unless you're
traveling on U.S. 441, it is rather inconvenient. Camping
reservations made on-line for a single day over a weekend result in a
two-day minimum charge, so we decided simply to drive up and check in
at the park. They only charge for one night's stay if you show up and
do it in person. We were taking a slight chance, however, as this is
the peak season for the popular Okefenokee park. They do 80% of their
business during March and April. Luckily, the camp ground was less
than half full when we got there. They had both loops open this time,
something we hadn't seen before.
were lucky to get there. We were almost taken out when a tandem, 18
wheeler strayed into our lane just out side of Gainesville on I-75. I
don't mean just up against the white line, I mean half way across our
lane. Luckily, I had a break in the heavy, bumper to bumper traffic
and swerved our trailer into the vacant outside left lane to avoid
being torn up by the thoughtless behemoth. If I hadn't had the lane
to serve into, we would have been hit hard at 65 miles an hour. We
wouldn't have made it to Fargo.
|The Slash Pine Forest surrounding the campground|
hate the Interstates when I'm towing the trailer and will gladly
accept any reasonable alternative. U.S. 441 from Lake City, Florida,
up through central southern Georgia is the perfect answer. The only
problem is getting to Lake City from Port Charlotte. I just bite the
bullet, take a couple of aspirin, and stay in the right-hand lane of
I-75, except when I'm dodging morons who shoot down the entrance
ramps and pull into heavy, fast moving traffic without once looking anywhere but straight ahead. Amazing there aren't more horrific crashes than there are. The
Interstate portion is only four hours or so, but it is enough for one
pull through the main gate of the Okefenokee Refuge right at 4:00 in
the afternoon, and notice two things different from our last visit:
The horrific forest fire that closed the park for months two years
ago changed the slash pine forest dramatically, and they have had
more rain than expected. Water is high for the first time in years.
There is a six foot alligator lying by the side of the road as we
pull into the trading post/park office.The campground area was spared
from the devastation of the fire, but a Ranger told us the once heavy
tree canopy surrounding the lake is completely gone.
|Here a gator, there a gator, everywhere an alligator...|
young lady working the computerized register system has all sorts of
troubles and the registration process takes about twenty minutes.
While we wait on computer responses that must eventually be
corrected, a young man standing impatiently at the counter rather
arrogantly asks if they have any alligators here. A woman behind the
counter doesn't say anything, she simply looks out the window. I can
see three of them lying on the bank by the boat ramp and two more
swimming across the small lagoon. The tourist, with a New York
Sweatshirt, doesn't catch the hint and assumes he is being ignored.
He mumbles something under his breath and walks off around the gift
shop. All he had to do was look up.
|Gators were everywhere|
the toilet/shower facilities are spotless, and except for the first
swarming wave of new born mosquitoes, are a pleasure to use. The park uses the
Georgia system of assigning a camping pads according to the length of
your camper and allowing the individual camper to pick any empty pad with the appropriate color designator. We drive through both loops until we find an orange
colored site that is convenient to back into, and twenty minutes later
we have a glass of wine to celebrate a safe first day on the
road. Later, we walk the dogs, staying close to the camper, no reason
to look for trouble, and hook up to the community TV antenna. Oddly,
it is warmer here than back in Florida.
|Sunset in the land of the Trembling Earth|
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