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Car Camping

Car camping used to be more popular than it is today, but that did not stop us from doing it. We were, as to be expected, the only folks sleeping in their car at the campground, but I did not mind it at all. In fact, it was super fun, albeit chilly. Actually, the temperature was more than chilly, but we were snug as a bug in our Pilot.

Alas, where to begin? How about the journey? You've probably already guessed that we took back roads rather than the interstate. On this kind of trip, with no set schedule, I can't bear to just zoom there, I want to see what there is to see. And see, we did. Google Maps told me the destination, Keystone Heights was 136 miles from home. I made it there in a little more than that, with the only part of their map we used was the actual road the campground was on. Let's just say that if a road had a 4, or a 2 in the designation, we took it. 41, 46, 441, 42 all were traveled, along with 17 and 21. Some of it was familiar to Bruce because he comes from a camping family. I do not. Taking a detour, we made our way to Clearwater Lake, a place where he camped as a youngster. Although he claims not to have much of a memory, don't believe him for one minute. He remembered the place as if it were yesterday. Shady and lovely, the spaces were mostly occupied by Northerners who spend the winter months in our Florida campgrounds, snug as a bug in big RV's. The lake is lovely, surrounded by big pine trees, with a white sandy beach.
An apt name, Clearwater Lake:
very unusual to say the least. Using the journey as a bit of a recognizance mission, he wrote down the numbers of the most appealing campsites. Continuing on, we made our way through Crescent City where we stopped at a cute little antique shop:
Retro indeed. Unlike some shops of this type, everything was beautifully organized with the merchandise easy to see. There were lots of goodies to choose from, but in the end, I chose only one thing:
Isn't it cute? I paid the full price, $12.99, despite my timidly asking if it was the best price. Once home I discovered the price was more than fair for this covered dish from Universal Cambridge, an Ohio company formed in 1934. I need another bowl like I need a hole in the head, but what the heck?

I may not have gone too many miles out of the way, however, as far as time is concerned, instead of arriving at the campground by around 11, it was nearly 2 when we arrived.  The park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the depression.
In a radio speech from April, 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had this message for the CCC:

"Idle through no fault of your own, you were enrolled from city and rural homes and offered an opportunity to engage in healthful, outdoor work on forest, park, and soil conservation projects of definite practical value to all the people of the nation. The promptness with which yu seized the opportunity to engage in honest work, the willingness with which you have performed your daily tasks and the fine spirit you have shown in winning the respect of the communities in which your camps have been located, merits the admiration of the entire country."

And here we were, 75 years later, engaging in a healthful outdoor activity, thanks to those hard working men. Throughout our countries most recent financial struggles, there have been many who thought reviving this type of work would be beneficial, however, to date, nothing has come of that idea. I wonder if there was such a thing as unemployment checks back then?

A late lunch was quickly consumed. While I was getting that together Bruce went about making the bare spot as cozy as possible. He finds this part very relaxing. The sun was high in the sky, with nary a cloud, making the middle 50's temperature very comfortable. Following lunch we went for firewood at the ranger station. Strict rules, and I mean strict, disallow campers from so much as picking up a twig for kindling! We found some outside the park along the road, filling the bag which previously housed the quilt. Finally we went bicycling to see more of the park. Because of our recent dry summers, we had been told beforehand the main lake was dry with no fish. The kayak stayed home for that very reason, however, there is water there now.
On the other side of the lake, reached by struggling uphill, followed by flying downhill, the cabins built by the CCC are lakeside.
Cute! Not so cute were the other dried up lakes:
Yup, this whole area was once covered by water:
I hate to say it, but we need a hurricane to replenish our lakes and rivers--natures way of achieving balance. Bruce, unlike myself, has not had the time to get his legs in shape for bicycling, so after viewing the area, we headed back to the site. Here's how much room we had in the Pilot:
The two layers of quilt felt very good indeed once the sun went down! Reading and relaxing until dinnertime filled the remainder of the day. Bruce fired up the cookstove and we let the beef stew simmer. Our closest neighbors told us that for the last few nights a family of deers walked through the forest behind our site, however, on our night there, they did not make an appearance. Because we've had so many warm days, it is easy to forget that it is still winter with the trees only just beginning to get their new leaves. I wonder what this will look like in a month?
 Although we didn't need it, Bruce put the shade shelter over the back for practice:
Adjacent to the left side of the picnic table is our bag of kindling which by the time we left was all used up. Dinner on the picnic table--dessert by the fire:
He's charring mine, just how I like it! How about you--charred, or lightly browned?

This all sounds like fun doesn't it? Well it was, but perhaps the most wonderful part of the trip was the sky that night. Earlier I mentioned the cloudless sky. Combine the little crescent moon, add to that  nearly freezing temperatures, along with a remote location---what you have is the perfect recipe for stars.
Never, in my entire 59 years of living, have I seen so many stars. It is no exaggeration to say that the entire sky was filled with points of light! Then too, because there were so many, the sky still looked blue. Bruce used the lantern to read a bit while I gazed at the stars through the car window. I was completely STAR STRUCK! Although we slept comfortably, every now and again when I woke up, I used the opportunity to look at the stars. Guess what? You'll have to take my word on this because I have no photographic evidence, not even a poor shot. Why not? I wussed out--too cold to try to figure it out!

This post has gone on forever hasn't it? Sorry about that, however, there's one final funny story I must relate before I leave you....

As we prepared to go to sleep, Bruce locked the car, for no other reason than that's what city folk do. Turns out, this was not the way to go. Soon after we were snuggled under our covers, the car alarm started blaring! Yikes, where are the keys to shut if off?? Hitting the red button did not one thing to stop the blaring--finally, after hitting all the buttons it stopped. Whew! Wondering what the neighbors in their big RVs were thinking about those crazy car campers we once again snuggled up. Not so fast Gail and Bruce. A few minutes later it happened again!! After shutting it off, it happened AGAIN! A lesson for future car-campers out there--do not lock your vehicle when you are in it! By the way, I was giggling like a school girl--Bruce was not.

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