Monday, March 4, 2019

Time to get out of Florida

I am writing this entry from the shores of Lake Ouachita in South Central Arkansas. We have spent most of this winter in temperatures above freezing. That changed last night. We awoke this morning to 22 degrees outside. We did follow our procedures and all is well and we have running water from our tank. Not much to do today, so I will continue to try to get caught up on the blog.

We left Jetty Park on February 5 and headed north with no reservations for the night. I thought I would try to stay at Ocean Pond Campground in the Osceola WMA. This is a small campground that does not take reservations.

We drove up I-95 along the east coast of Florida through Daytona. We saw the famous race track and then took highway 100 to the Northwest. The congestion of the coast went away quickly and we found the beautiful pine forests of inland Florida. When we arrived at Ocean Pond, all sites were taken. I talked to the camp host and she told me that she had been working here for years and this year has been a very different year. The campground has been full most nights and many people are staying for the full time the are allowed. I had a plan B. I called the Stephen Foster State Park to see if they had anything available. I know that Florida State Parks take local control over sites for the day of arrival and often have a few sites for one night. That proved to work, and we were told to come on over. It was about 25 miles in the direction we were going, so it was fine. When we arrived, they had a perfect site for us. It was a 100 foot pull through and perfectly level. We did not even have to unhook.

I had just enough time before it got dark to take a walk around and see the park. This park is named in the memory of Stephen Foster, who was a composer who wrote the song, "Way Down Upon the Swanee River" among others. This park is situated right along the famous Suwanee River. They normally offer paddling along the river, but it was flooded and not safe.

This tower is in the center of the park and has bells that play Foster songs at set times during the day. 
The Stephen Foster Museum

It was a very nice park and very quiet. We slept well and then got on the road the next around 10:30. This was the first time on this trip that we had stayed only one night at a park. We prefer to slow down and enjoy each stop.

We decided to move on because we were ready to get north where the campgrounds are less crowded this time of year. I chose a COE park about 200 miles away called Cotton Hill Park on the Walter F. George Reservoir, which is on the Georgia/Alabama line. As I expected, the campground was mostly empty. We pulled in to a great site with a great view of the lake.

Site #29 at Cotton Hill in Georgia
 We had just driven over 400 miles in two days. I was tired of driving, so we decided to stay for 4 days and enjoy this beautiful setting. When I walked back up to the office to pay for the site I met the camp host that was from Michigan. They are new full timers and she had a few questions. We ended up having a very pleasant 30+ minute conversation all about this wonderful lifestyle. I am sorry, I don't remember her name, but if you read this, best of luck in your travels.

I took daily walks while we were in the park. There is lots of wildlife including deer and lots of birds.

A group of Coots
Blue Heron
We could see a marina on the other side of the cove we were in, and it had some sailboat masts. We decided to take a paddle out on the lake to see the sailboats and whatever else we could find to look at.

Lots of cypress trees along the shoreline
Marina with sailboat masts. We talked to a couple of guys working on their sailboat that told us they could sail from here to the Gulf of Mexico.
We had a fun 3 hour paddle until the wind picked up, but we timed it right and did not have to paddle into the wind much.

While were were at Cotton Hill, I witnessed something I cannot explain. There was a huge gathering of birds. Mostly Anhinga and White Pelicans. They swirled around and around for about a half hour and then just flew away.

Huge swarm of birds

We had a very relaxing 4 days at Cotton Hill. We got plenty of exercise and loved the park. After that break I was ready to move on. I was very excited about our next stop. I made reservations because I wanted a particular camp site. In my next entry, I will tell you why this place was so important to me. Stay warm!


  1. Glad you Enjoyed that part of your stay and hopefully were not affected by those deadly Tornadoes.
    Be Safe!

    It's about time.

    1. Our hearts go out to the people of SE Alabama. The campsite in the post above was about 70 miles from that deadly tornado. Thankfully, we were long gone.

  2. Interesting bird activity, I wonder what was going on there!

  3. Yes, we are now making a slow crawl out of Florida as well...