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Car Camping, Part Two

Oh wait a minute, the camping part is nearly over--no mind, there's still the morning...

And a very chilly morning it was. Waking just after daylight, I needed to go to the restroom. Putting  my windbreaker over my pajamas, followed by my purple robe, and fluffy blue slippers, I opened the car door to make my way across the little street. With all that on, 34 degrees did not feel bad at all. It felt even more tolerable once Bruce made our morning fire.
Then too, as you can see the sun is beginning to bring its own special warmth. After a nice camp breakfast of eggs, sausage and biscuits, and of course orange juice, we began making preparations to leave. One final spin for me on my bicycle, and we were ready to hit the road, but not before stopping at one of the main features of the park---a very deep ravine, the bottom of which may be reached by a staircase. Maybe staircase isn't the word for concrete steps--don't know. Onward, or downward as this case here:
The photo above this one shows you just how remarkable the plant life in the ravine is--lush, lush, lush, filled with a variety of ferns found nowhere else in the park. That's a little creek you see in the middle, running the length of the ravine. Even more remarkable are the springs literally sprouting from the sides of the ravine flowing into the creek. Yet another picture of yours truly:
Above ground you have pines and some oak trees, below ground, ferns and palms. Super neat.

Rainbow Springs, Bruce's first choice for this little excursion was full. Mind you, he wasn't sure he'd ever seen it before, but there's where he really wanted to go. Well, what was stopping us from at least checking it out? Altering our route, we went West, and then South, following some lovely winding country roads. Not too far from the town of Keystone Heights, we came across the town of Melrose. Should I turn right to discover the Historic District? Of course I should! Stopping at an art gallery along the main road to watch a clay artist at work, we chatted a bit about the town. Although small, she said, there are four art galleries; they were in the midst of preparing for a big art weekend. This cool sign/clock is from there:
Inside the gallery a woman working told me she lives in Gainesville. "Really? I'll be there in two weeks time to do the art show," I said. Enthusiastically, she gushed about what a good show it is....yipee!

Back on the road again, winding, dipping, and climbing, we circled the outside of Ocala affording us a view of the city we'd never seen. Horse capital of the world indeed. Gorgeous horse farms lined the road, neatly encircled by split rail fencing. Terrific!

Finally we saw the sign for Rainbow Springs. Did I mention I was driving this trip? Anyway, RS is a lovely park, despite this funny, what appears to be, homemade sign as you enter.
Attempting to make this as succinct as possible, I left out Thursday's stop at DeLeon Springs, another former  private tourist attraction. Both Rainbow Springs, and DeLeon Springs  brought people from near and far for the submarine tours at the former, and an elephant water skiing at the later. One look at the springs, and you can see why people flocked to Florida:
Above is the swimming area, leading to the Rainbow River on the left. Gardens, with man-made waterfalls, are lovely this time of year with blooming trees and azaleas.
See all that sunshine? Remember the morning temp of 34 degrees? It was almost as if it never happened by the afternoon! So that is just a tiny glimpse of the park, the camp ground turns out to be six miles away! Plus, we had to back track to get there. I have no idea why the campground is so popular because it's practically a parking lot. You guessed it--big RV's with retirees inside! The river is reached by foot, or in our case, bicycles. This was a funny sight until I got closer to see what was going on:
The water, unlike the Suwannee River water, is clear, and I suspect cold this time of the year. On the other hand, perhaps it doesn't change much because of the spring water? Strike this campground off our list!

Onward, this time headed to Lake Louisa State Park outside of Clermont. Some of you know this, some do not--Clermont is where you will find the Florida Citrus Tower, built when we were two years old. Once the tower afforded visitors views of mile after mile of mostly orange trees, now, what with citrus canker, and a couple of freezes, the orange trees are mostly gone. The view these days is of highways and houses. Why the history lesson Gail? To give you a bit of an idea what we saw. Sure, there were big trees and four large lakes, but there were plenty of gnarly old citrus trees as well. Stopping first at this lake, what a funny sight it was to be greeted by the tiny, and I mean tiny dog on the dock,
Where's a dog??? See the tiny speck? The man and his grandson spent all day fishing; of all things, Grandad caught one just as we arrived before 6PM.
The roads are hilly, which is nice, but the campground, to me, not so much. Campers have to park themselves on gravel! Although it was getting late, Bruce asked if I minded if he had a few casts in the lake adjacent to the campground. Of course not! Too bad I didn't say something along the lines of, "honey, I have to get up in the morning, maybe we should just head home," but I didn't. Well, poor Bruce--I'd gone back to the car to get a bottle of water, and what should happen while I was gone, but--and this is a first in all his years of fishing--his pole had the nerve to fly out of his hand, sinking to the bottom of the lake in front of the dock!!!!!!
Pictured above are aquatic plants, which is what Bruce saw when his pole went down. Ever resourceful, he attached two large hooks to his other pole, somehow bringing it back up! Me, I couldn't even see it down there. Whew! Time to head home ASAP!

Unpacked, showered, fed, we slept well in our bed at home. Before I knew it, I was packing again for the Winter Garden market, followed by Sunday at the market, and you are nearly caught up with the comings and goings of Mrs. Camera Crazy. Great weather=great sales.

Monday I drove Bruce to Lake City for his final inspection of the Olive Garden. I can't wait to tell you all about that tomorrow.
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