Thursday, November 28, 2013

Westward Ho!

After leaving Oleno State Park, I started moving westward with Baja, MX as the ultimate goal. Nan was still traveling with me and we headed along the Gulf coast with a 2-day stop at St. Andrews State Park in Panama City.
We attended church on Sunday with Nan's daughter, Sybil.
Molly the therapy dog attends services too. She takes her job very seriously, walking up and down all the pews greeting each worshiper.
This church does a wonderful Christian work, providing housing for several otherwise homeless women in the community.
From there we continued west along the panhandle to Topsail Hill Resort State Park. There is a shuttle or hike to the beach here. Thistle and I walked.
Thistle was not allowed on the beach, but I took him on the boardwalk far enough to get pictures of it.
We hiked another trail to an unnamed lake.
No name lake.
While there we toured a nearby state park.
There is a mansion here built in 1895 by a lumber baron. The beautiful gardens on the grounds were added by a later owner.

The house...
Nan looks right at home on the porch.
They were just closing after having completed Christmas decorations, so although we didn't get to tour inside, we did peek in the windows.

Camelias blooming in the garden.
Camelia blossom.
Low clearance....I couldn't take my RV down this road. The big branch has rooted on the other side of the road, with new trees growing from it.
The gardens have some whimsical statues.

Nice little lake. I see a kayaker out there.
There is a nursery, where on the way out you are invited to take a plant of your choice and leave a donation to help support the park.
Our next stop westward was an overnight stay in Biloxi, Mississippi in a casino parking lot on the water. 
Camping is free, and so was the buffet dinner, but we paid for it in "entertainment," lol.
Lots of birds to watch on our walks. Brown pelicans...
Great Blue Heron,
And Hooded Mergansers.
Next stop was Frenchmen's Wilderness Campground in Henderson, LA.
Where Thistle and I found the "wilderness" leading to the swamp.
We had a chance to meet up with some of my Louisiana women rv forum sisters. Carolyn picked us up and we went out to eat at a local favorite restaurant. Left to right: Carolyn, Martha, Gloria, Nan, me, Chris.
I borrowed Carolyn's pics since I forgot my camera. Nan, Chris, me, Gloria, Martha.
When in Louisiana....the Crawfish Etouffe was very good.
Next an overnight stay in the driveway of another forum sister, Vickie, and her husband, Ronnie. Vickie is a great hostess, and fed us very well. This is where I left Nan, awaiting the arrival of two more Baja-bound travelers. After that gtg, Nan has to head back to Florida.
My journey continued to Texas.
I made it to Livingston before the big storm, but have no pictures there, as it rained the whole time and was very cold. It was a harrowing drive from there to Canyon Lake, with cold rain and high winds. I had to stop along the highway and resecure the kayoo atop my car, or I fear I would have lost it.
The Lord looked after me however, and I finally arrived safely at Canyon Lake where I am camped next to friend, "Birdie". We have some adventures planned as she will travel across Texas and into New Mexico and Arizona with me.
Cranes Mill campground on Canyon Lake, north of San Antonio.
Thistle had to watch out for his prickly namesake as we walked around the park.
But he loves it here. There are deer that wander through the campground.
And he can watch them right outside the window.
I am so fortunate to have met many rving friends all across the country through my women's rv forum, and get to meet up with them as I travel. Here are some of my San Antonio friends, old and new: Back row: Birdie, Georgia, Darlene, Marguerite, Front: Me, Colleen, Nikki.
And eating is always fun with friends.
Today is Thanksgiving Day, and I am thankful to the Lord for allowing me this opportunity to travel and keeping me safe along the way. But mostly I am thankful for my family and their support of my traveling lifestyle, and for all the wonderful friends I have met along the journey.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Oleno State Park and River Rise

Oleno State Park in High Springs, Florida was the first stop on my winter adventure...bound for Baja, Mexico. RVing friend Nan, just starting out as a full-time RVer having sold her house, was looking for adventure too, so is going to travel with me as far as Livingston, Texas. 
The Sante Fe River runs through the park, located on the site of the old town of Leno, 
which is how the park got its name. Interesting history...I didn't know lotto gambling existed back in the 1860s.
 This park and many others were developed by the CCC. This statue of a "CCC boy" honors those Civilian workers. 
 Along with this museum and interpretive center.
 Picnic pavilian built by the CCC.
 The town of Leno built up around a grist mill, the remains of which are on display here.
 The grist stones seen here would have ground corn into a medium meal for breading or grits and a finer meal for cooking flour.
What happened to Leno? This town like others that no longer exist vanished as railroads, highways, and shipping lanes passed them by. Leno was bypassed by the railroad and suffered a devastating freeze which led to its demise.
 Remnants of a rock dam that regulated the flow of the river which powered the mill downstream.
 Thistle and I hiked the river trail which follows the Sante Fe River to the point where it sinks underground.
 Sign explaining the River Sink.
 Place where the river sinks underground. On the left the pool is covered with duckweed.
Gators and turtles covered with duckweed...

I noticed as I continued my hike, that the river is not totally underground, but appears here and there in pools on the surface.
Nan and I went exploring to locate the place where the river rises again. We ventured down the Old Bellamy Road. 
Which hasn't changed much since the 1800s.

We had to see the ranger to locate and gain access to the River Rise.
Nan works the combination on the locked gate. Horse camping and trails are located in this portion of the park.
 The road in is rustic.

 Parking area and a short trail to the place where the river rises.
 Interpretive sign.
Interesting to learn what the river does while underground.
 Approaching the river.
 This small dark area is very deep and is probably where the water comes up from the aquifer.
The water forms a large pool before beginning its flow toward the Suwannee River. It would be neat to put a kayak in and paddle down the river from here. Raining today though....I'm a fair-weather kayaker, haha.
Nan is a lot of fun to travel with, so stay tuned for the next adventure on the road west.