Whenever I awake in the morning and open my eyes to remember I am in our camper and not at home, a euphoric feeling fills my soul. I am eager to rise and excited to see what new adventure awaits. However, this morning I was reluctant to crawl from under the blankets. It was not because I dread the day — today is a moving day when we pack up and drive to another campsite. No…even a moving day can bring some sense of adventure. It was because my nose felt like an icicle and I could see my own breath in the dim light of the early morning. Next to me, Grammi was curled up like a burrito on a single heated mattress pad which I had never liked until this moment — its heat radiating to my side. Snuggled under the covers, I did not want to leave the warm cozy bed.
Eventually, I had to get up and investigate why we had no heat. Turns out the electric space heater timed out. It is a safety feature intended to prevent the thing from running indefinitely. It can, however, run for a maximum of twelve hours before shutting off. I guess I neglected to reset the timer last night before going to bed. It had been running all day. My goodness! I must have been tired to forget that. I also neglected to turn on the gas furnace. That was the bigger mistake. Usually I turn on the camper’s gas heater and set its thermostat a few degrees below the electric heater. Typically 68 degrees for the electric heater and 62 degrees for the gas heater. That way if the electric heater shuts down or we trip a breaker, we will still have the gas heater as a backup.
An advantage of a small twenty-six foot camper is it does not take long to heat up. Soon, Grammi was kicking off the blankets. We were in no rush to start packing up for the day’s move. We will wait until later. Maybe it will warm up outside a little bit first. We stayed comfy inside while sipping a hot cup of tea and perused our iPads. The iPads are the modern day newspaper. It is how we keep up with the news and current events.
It was after lunchtime when we pulled away from Falling Waters State Park where we spent the last three days camping with friends and co-workers. You can read all about that adventure in our previous post. The plan now is for the group to move to Three Rivers State Park. It is an opportunity to continue the fun times that comes from camping with a group of friends while experiencing another wonderful Florida state park.
Three Rivers State Park is located on the south shore of Lake Seminole where the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers converge to form Florida’s Apalachicola River. Across the lake lies the state of Georgia. Florida and Georgia have been in a battle over these waters for more than a decade. Florida claims that Georgia is taking too much water from the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers causing a reduced flow in the Apalachicola River resulting in the collapse of the oyster industry at Apalachicola Bay. The Supreme Court ruled last year in favor of Georgia stating Florida failed to prove its case. Subsequently, a five year ban has been placed on harvesting Apalachicola Bay oysters with the hope the industry can recover. During our time there, the water level on Lake Seminole seemed to be normal or maybe even a little high, but we did not visit the dam to see how much water was being released into the Apalachicola River by the Army Corps of Engineers.
When we arrived at Three Rivers State Park, it was immediately clear this was another Florida state park devastated by Hurricane Michael. The two miles of paved roads leading to the campground was broken and riddled with potholes — the effect of large trucks and heavy equipment used to clear the hundreds of downed trees that once provided a shady canopy. Before and after pictures at the campground office tell a story of destruction and devastation, but it also tells of the work that was done to get the park reopen. The campground, now void of most of its trees, is fully operational with electric and water. The sites are regraded. Picnic tables and fire rings provided. The trails have been cleared and are open to both bikers and hikers. The picnic area is clear of debris and the pavilions repaired. So after the repaving project scheduled for later this spring is completed, this park should be in good shape. It took nearly four years to get back to this point. Of course, it will take much longer for the trees to return to their pre-storm glory.
Three Rivers State Park is a place where one can get lost in time — literally. Located on the line between the Eastern and Central Time Zones, our phones could not make up its mind what time is was. It would jump back and forth from one time zone to the other and I never really was sure what time it was. Since I don’t wear a watch, I rely on my phone to keep track of the time. “What time is it”, someone asked? Pulling my phone from my pocket, I replied, “I am not sure, but I think it is 6:30”. Danny then said, “No, it is 7:30”. That prompted someone else to say, “Who cares what time it is. We are camping.” Of course that someone else was right. It was their way of reminding us to enjoy the moment. But I confess — the hands on my internal clock were spinning wildly.
We were on site 9. I think it is the best site in the campground, though there are a few other nice waterfront sites. It is a pull-thru site right on Lake Seminole near the fishing pier. The view out our window was fabulous. It was a peaceful place to relax and enjoy fishing, birdwatching, hiking, picnicking, and biking. Over the next three days, we did all of that and more.
Lake Seminole has a reputation as a very good fishing lake. There is a ramp at the campground where one could launch a boat. Canoes and Kayaks are available for rent from the campground host, but it was breezy and I wasn’t up for that. I wished I had a motorboat. I watched dozens of expensive bass boats with big motors race around the lake going from one spot to another trying to find a trophy lunker.
I couldn’t stand watching any longer. Under the back seat of the truck I stow my tackle box and fishing rod. It is a telescoping rod that collapses to fit there nicely. I selected what I thought to be the perfect lure and walked to the end of the dock. I cast in every direction using all my skill to entice a bite. My mind started to drift as I watched the coots playfully frolic among the lily pads. Then…I got something. The fight was on! It bent my rod in half as I reeled frantically. People took notice and watched as I pulled it closer to the dock. Then I saw it. Oh my, it was big! It was the biggest, most beautiful clump of weeds you ever saw. I grinned and hollered to Grammi that we were having salad for dinner tonight.
After dinner (thankful, Grammi fixed something other than salad), our group of friends and co-workers gathered around a fire. The circle of chairs has grown since our last campground as more people joined the group. We roasted marshmallows and made s’mores — a fitting campground dessert. Danny threw something on the fire and soon we saw intriguing color variations. Beautiful shades of blues, purples, greens, yellows and reds danced in the flames to the delight of all. Grammi stopped the conversation when she blurted out, “Listen! Do you hear that?” I shook my head no. “I hear an eagle”, she said. Everyone seemed to tilt their head and listen, but conversation soon resumed without verifying her claim. I knew not to doubt her though.
Very early the next morning I was awakened by the loud distinctive sound of mud boats motoring across the water. It was duck hunting season and they needed to get to their spot and set the decoys before the sun came up. At first light, while still laying in bed, I was aroused once again. This time by a flurry of gun shots. “I hope they missed”, I remember thinking as I rolled over and covered my head with the pillow.
Later that morning, the campground host stopped by for a chat and we asked about hiking. He recommended we hike the Lakeview Trail. He told us the trail closely follows the shoreline of Lake Seminole. “It’s all been cleared of the fallen trees”, he said. “You will see some panoramic views of the lake from atop the bluff. It is an easy out-and-back hike just over two miles long starting from the campground. At about a half mile you can look to your right and see an eagle’s nest”. Grammi spoke up, “I knew I heard an eagle around here”. “Yep”, he said, “there is a hatchling on the nest and if you are lucky you might see it”.
Grammi made lunch and put it in a backpack. Then we headed out. The eagle’s nest was not hard to find among the sparse taller trees. Bald eagle’s make the largest nest of any bird in North America. Soaring high above the nest we saw a bald eagle circling. Its size and tell-tale white head and black body made it easy to spot. We didn’t see the eaglet, so we continued along the trail. We stopped to talk with a couple of park rangers who were scouring the woods off trail. They said they were looking for an evasive tree species, I don’t remember what it was, but they said it showed up after the hurricane and if not eradicated it would take over the landscape.
The trail went as far as the picnic area. It was a lovely spot on the bluff overlooking the lake. We found a table to sit and enjoy the view while eating our lunch. The quiet calm was peaceful and relaxing.
On the return trip, we saw two heads pop up from the eagle’s nest. How exciting! I only had my phone to take a picture. It was a little too far for a good shot, but the photo below is what I got. We stood and watched for awhile. I cannot say for sure, but from my old eyes it looked like the eaglet was on the right and an adult was on the left.
In the afternoon, we drove into the nearby small town of Sneads with Danny and Dee. We went to the Everything Country Antique Store. It is an interesting shop with an array of individual booths displaying antiques and collectable. We walked around the booths being sure not to miss anything. Dee found a coffee mug she liked and I bought a roll of Dale Earnhardt toilet paper with a funny epigram printed on it that made me laugh. I am going to send it to an Earnhardt fan I know. Afterward we stopped at Piggy Wiggly for a few provisions. I don’t know about you, but I just love seeing Mr. Pig’s iconic smiling face. There was nothing else in town spurring our interest so we headed back.
At camp we joined the others for a game of bocce ball. It was the first time I ever played. After a quick explanation of the rules, I was soundly defeated. But I had enough fun to want a game set to keep in our camper. The game can be played nearly anywhere and it is small and easily stored. I think I will add it to my Wish List.
We were not so early to rise the next morning which is not a bad thing. Anytime I can sleep past 7 a.m. is a win in my book. However, if I need an excuse for sleeping in — it’s because we stayed late at the campfire last night. It was a good time.
It was a gorgeous morning highlighted by the Sun’s sparkle across the lake. The air was still. The mood serene. A blue heron stood motionless in the shallows waiting for breakfast to swim by. I, on the other hand, was not so patient for my breakfast. I lit the Blackstone griddle and cooked a stack of pancakes.
Later that morning, Grammi and I went for a bike ride. We decided to take an off-road trail. This was a first for us as we have never taken our e-bikes trail riding before. It was a blast riding up and down the hills, sliding in the sand, and staying alert to avoid all the obstacles. There were some dangerous stumps and washouts to avoid. We saw the eagle once again. Perched on a branch above the nest, it was guarding its young like a good parent should. We made it back to camp safely. We definitely have to do that again.
In the afternoon, we methodically packed everything away. We have to leave super early in the morning. Grammi has a baby shower to attend, so we need to be home before noon. We pulled in the slide, cranked in the awning, disconnected the hose, folded up the chairs, packed up the griddle, rolled up the rug, and finally we hitched up the truck. Check, check, and double check, we were ready. All that is left to do is disconnect and stow the electric cord before driving away.
We enjoyed our time at Three Rivers State Park where Lake Seminole is the main attraction and fishing the most popular activity. If you don’t fish, then you may have to make your own fun. That was not a problem for us. We found plenty to do for three days. We loved spending the time with a group of people we know. We certainly look forward to camping with them again. We had one final evening around the campfire. We did not stay so late this time and said our farewells before calling it a night.
We were awake early the next morning. The campground was dark and we tried to be as quiet as possible. The clock in the truck read 4:56 a.m. when we pulled away. We were not the only ones stirring though. I could hear the motors and see the running lights from duck hunter’s boat.
Until next time — Happy days and safe travels.