Monday, November 28, 2022

Two Islands and a Plantation

A little more than twelve years ago we visited Sanibel Island which I wrote about in this post. Twelve years!!  Having just looked it up, re-reading it confirmed my recollection of not having that great a time while there. Any place with biting bugs is not my fave. Anyway, reading that we were disappointed in the shelling is also how I remembered it. When last we met while you were reading this post, I was raving about our shell experience at Little Talbot Island following the recent tropical storm Nicole. 

There were a few others that day, combing the shoreline.

Chilly and windy, I approached her, asking if she knew anything about the shelling there. Grumpily, she replied no she did not. Well then. At least the photograph is kind of neat. (not me above) Sometimes when I am writing it occurs to me that I've not been as clear as I might and assumptions are made, thus my disclaimer!

With her being of no help, and Bruce chatting with a park worker, my eyes began scanning the accumulated shells that were at the very least 4" thick.

That's a bit of a hole I dug with my shoe and still I had not hit sand. 

Anyway, imagine how tickled I was when I scanned this nearby area.

It's not every day, well realistically, it is very rare to come across a perfectly intact sand dollar on the beach. Score! Later on that same park worker told us that people were picking them up like mad only a few days earlier! One was far more than I imagined I would come away with when we walked onto the beach in the gloomy weather.

Don't you just love it when a large shell fills with ocean water catching the tiny bubbles?

Apparently Little Talbot Island is a stopover for migrating birds according to a posted sign, however, we saw only a handful of birds including this large sandpiper called a Willet.

Handsome fellow isn't he? 

From there we continued about eight miles on A1A to Big Talbot Island State Park which could hardly have been more different. For one thing there is no camping, and nor is the beach all that accessible. What a beach it was though, once we walked the nearly one mile trail through the hardwood hammock.

I've known about Boneyard Beach for a long time, however we have been to this part of Florida so rarely we'd never before seen it in person.  Oh my goodness is it strange.

To walk amongst, basically petrified trees on a sandy beach, is really something, to say the least.  Never before having seen anything like it, words fail me.

Those roots to nowhere!! So many, many trees have fallen off the adjacent cliff onto the sand from erosion over the years. It is quite a sight. You can well imagine that I took far more photos than two, but we've more to discuss, so back to the car and going back the way we came, we decided to go to Kingsley Plantation as it was on the way. Well, sort of.

We drove along this sandy road for, I don't know how many miles,

passing massive oaks covered in moss.

Located on Ft. George Island, it is almost as old Florida as it gets. Reading this, I discovered that dirt road was only two miles long, but it sure seemed longer although it was in great condition. The provided link goes into far greater detail should you be interested. As you leave the parking area, this is the first building you see which had what seemed like pews inside. 

To the left of the building above, the main house comes into view and was certainly not what we were expecting. I took this photo on the front porch which details the age of the house as well as a little history.

It is set on the mighty St. John's River as is most everything in this part of the state, aside from what is set along the Atlantic Ocean.

Lightening up this part of the post just a bit, as we stood beside the house in a somber mood, I heard and saw some birdies in the tree above. Much to my surprise it was a flock of Cedar Waxwings, a bird that I am crazy for. In a bit of like playing "Where's Waldo", can you count ten yellow birds?

Around here we used to have several loquat trees that fed these beautiful birds on their migration South, however, rats like those same fruit and our residents aren't so partial to rats, thus the food source was removed. :(

One more photo of the house which had some descriptive plaques, but as it is not open every day, we did not learn quite as much as we might have liked.

In reality we learned more than we wanted to even think about.

Driving onto the property, there are the remnants of about 25 slave cabins and I don't have to tell you how horrible that feels.

No roofs remain aside from the one building. At first we thought the round holes were windows but as it turns out, they were part of building with what is called tabby, sort of a shell based concrete.

This page has an archived photograph of the cabins with roofs.   Thankfully we had to leave to catch the ferry for our return journey to the campground, both pretty shook up. We don't often think about slaves in Florida, rather other states because no one really thinks of Florida as the South, but now we know better.

Retracing our drive, we got to the ferry just in time to board and before long we were back at the campground where I had Bruce stop at beach entrance one where I popped out of the car for a look-see. Finally the sky was clearing! The grasses are flattened from the storm, and very few folks were out as the daylight was beginning to wane.

And the temperature was dropping! The forecast was for 40 degrees! Campfire weather!!

Yet another adventure the next day to recount in my next post although I can't belabor this trip much longer because all sorts of stuff is going on in the here and now! 

Christmas is coming you know.

your friend,

Gail

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Camping in November

While the folks up North are beginning to hunker down, here in Florida we are just beginning to emerge from our long, some might say, unbearable and interminable, heat season. Now is the time to go camping or so one would hope! Obviously predicting the weather is a tricky business, however, in general it is mostly pleasant this time of year. 

Except when it is not.  

On the first night in our tent the humidity was so high, after some light showers, that our pillows and bedding were terribly damp. Although Bruce brought a fan along, we still did a lot of tossing and turning. The tent was damp, the sheets, the whole shebang, however, while it may sound as if I am complaining, that is not my intent, purely documentation! 

But first we had to get there didn't we?

At first light we got going hoping to arrive in Neptune Beach, about six miles south of the campground, in order to...you guessed it...play pickleball!! Tell me you remain surprised. 😁

During the planning of this trip I did some sleuthing and found a phone number to call. As is usually the case with old folks, the woman called me back in a few hours, detailing the level of play, as well as the times that people play. Armed with that information, and knowing that it would be as simple as showing up, we found the park and said...let's go! Watching for a few minutes, Pat, pictured below with Bruce, came up and asked if we wanted to play. Heck yeah!

There was a time when I would have been too shy to try this but over time I've grown more confidant, not to mention I have Bruce with me to bolster said confidence, and so we played Pat and his wife Alice. By golly, we won the game 11-3! After playing a few more games with others, we made our way to the campground, Kathryn Abbey Hannah Park, which is quite the mouthful isn't it? A city of Jacksonville park, I learned of its' appeal from a tent camping group on Facebook. No doubt, it has a lot to offer beginning with tremendous  hardwood trees lining the roadway back to the campground.

It's a huge park with various areas. When we spotted the sign off the main road towards fishing we made a quick right-hand turn. A large meandering lake was there, along with a gazillion picnic tables everywhere. We seriously could not get over how many they had. Because of our recent storms, it probably wasn't quite as tidy as it normally is and from the looks of this pile, they had some tree loss.

Before going there, I read that alligators were prevalent even along the shoreline, however, with no sun to bask under, they seemed to have stayed in the water. After exploring the area we continued on the above pictured main road until the campground sign came into view.

There are close to 300 wooded sites, set up in loops amongst what I learned is a coastal hammock, otherwise known as a maritime forest. Although picking a camp site must be far easier these days, what with campsite photos posted online, I goofed a little and the original one I chose was not to our liking. In a stroke of good luck, there were plenty of others to choose from in the middle of the week. Our new space in row P was nice and roomy. 
Because it had been some time since last we camped, we always have to remember all of the details of setting things up, one of the reasons that I like to go camping because it forces us to use our brains in fresh ways. Once we began it took about an hour and a half before we were get-to-go with a cozy spot to spend the next few days.

I left Bruce reading and popped on my bicycle, which btw, this park was the very best for cycling that we have visited, and went to what some might call the main attraction. Adjacent to the road pictured, is another long road, a little over a mile long with 10 entries to the beach!!

Pretty awesome wouldn't you agree?? There was a tiny bit of blue sky peeking out through what had been a cloud cover all afternoon. I had a nice little chat with this young man who was waiting on a family to do a Christmas card photo shoot.

One of eight children!! He asked me why I never shot people and sheepishly I told him that posed and staged photos were just not my thing. When I go back and look at all of the photos of our children, the ones that I love most would be considered throw aways these days! We also talked about the increasing clouds and how long the rain would hold off. I left just as it was beginning to sprinkle, hoping it would be short-lived for my new photographer friend. 

What do you think this sign means?

While we were with the pickleball folks we asked about hurricane damage to which they replied that the dunes did their job. They are much larger in this part of Florida.

I was grateful for the numbered signs because with no development in either direction, it mostly looks the same! That said, once on the beach access road it is very well marked another plus for this park. A huge amount of parking is available too. 

Zooming back to our site in a light rain I began preparing an early dinner of steak, baked potato and some leftover corn casserole. Sunset is pretty early right now which is not much of a problem for us as we have loads of lights to both cook and wash dishes. Oh yeah, and eat!

From playing pickleball at 7AM for so many months now, we wake up early whether we want to or not. Donning our clothes quickly, we rode our bikes through the quiet campground to the beach for sunrise. No dice, as the cloud cover dashed our hopes.

One thing to note is the boardwalk with lots of sand and sea grass which washed up in Hurricane Ian as it crossed the state from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. Could the sky be any duller?

That said, the above is more about the shell line which featured loads and loads of broken shells.

Again from the storm, however, a little later in the narrative, you will understand more fully why I have included the photo above. This was kind of helpful as we headed back to our bicycles.

We saw none of the above!!

On the lakeside of the park, where we went to before heading back to our site, fog was filling the air adding to the dampness.

It also adds a lot of drama to a photograph don't you think?

After cooking our hearty breakfast, we decided to explore something else that the pickleball folks told us about and that was a nearby ferry. Shoot, why not? 

Only about six or so miles away on A1A, we made our way to Mayport and saw this interesting sign about the area.

The last time we were on a car ferry was in Vancouver, traveling to Vancouver Island. I found this post and if you have time there are some really lovely photos and a considerably longer ferry ride! 

This ferry ride is super short but does save many miles of driving.

We saw some birds,

along with parking right next to a Rivian, a vehicle that has fascinated both of us since we watched Long Way Up earlier in the year. 

This provided Bruce the perfect opportunity to have a chat with an owner who expressed great appreciation for his new vehicle.

The cost? $7.00 for about a four minute ride. Still it was fun. Hooking back up with  A1A, our destination was Little Talbot Island State Park for a look-see. We have explored very little of NE Florida, aside from a trip to Amelia Island probably 25 years ago, so now was our chance. 

Hmmm....I'm trying to decide if I should stop right now or continue.......

Oh what the heck a tiny bit more, shall we?

A long boardwalk

leads you to a wide beach that has been ravaged a bit; certainly not to be unexpected because it is a barrier island after all. Between Hurricane Ian and Tropical Storm Nicole our beaches on both sides of the state have taken a beating.

More washed up sea grasses, as well as dune erosion.

What really puzzled me was the black parts which extended onto the beach. The boat top, we were told by the park ranger, washed up only the day before.

What also washed up were shells and I am talking good ones.  Someone left this for folks to enjoy as they strolled the beach.

I came across this beauty.

There were only a few of the cutie below I was sad to see because I was hoping for way more sea birds. That said, the weather wasn't much, so I can't blame them if they found some sun somewhere!

And now is when I will sign off. More fun to share in my next post which I will be sure to write before the week is out. 

I hate to leave you hanging, but until we meet again, I remain,

your friend,

Gail

Monday, November 14, 2022

The Last Leg of the Journey

Because we are off in the morning for our next camping trip I figured I ought to wrap up our fantastic Fall journey. 

About time, wouldn't you say?

Having us in Dillsboro in my last post, oh wait, that one was about Halloween and most folks did not seem to see it, so if that was the case, here's the link. Correcting myself, the last trip post included the Taco Bell tree, an unforgettable sight.  Packed up and ready we were once again on the road, traveling through some beautiful scenery. Mountains with changing leaves, what is not to like??

The first more major town we came to was Franklin where we were greeted by this colorful mural on the outskirts,

before we arrived in "downtown."

Passing through it looked like a perfect "Hallmark" town to me! Actually, according to this, "Franklin is also known for its Scottish Heritage and the Scots rapor with the Cherokee Indian Nation. North Carolina has more people with Celtic heritage than any place in the world, including Scotland." Who knew? 

Before we head back into Georgia, I realized that I may have given the impression that the lodge was second rate, something I did not mean to do. While looking for photos for this post, I came across this pretty one from our evening spent around the campfire. You know the one whenI left a library book there I have since paid for! Fortunately it was only $27 which, while not cheap, I can spend that at the grocery store in the blink of an eye these days!

You know what? When I added that bit about Franklin from another site, my font has gone berserk, so for a paragraph, let's really get crazy, shall we?

Taking all backroads, around lunch time I squealed, and I mean squealed, with delight when we pulled into Commerce, GA and I saw this:

I don't know about you, well except that you probably dislike the above font as much as I do, but every now and again I read a book that is just so good I never forget it. That's how I feel about Cold Sassy Tree, although it has been decades since last my last reading! Based on life in this small town, it ended up being made into a television movie starring Faye Dunaway and Richard Widmark. If you too read it, loving it as much as I and want to know a wee bit about Ms. Burns, click on this link. As was the case with the mural in Franklin, this one leads you into the downtown area which is quite small, to say the least. That said, this was a Sunday afternoon so why would there be more people out and about in a small Georgia town? BTW, the name of the town was changed some years back from Harmony Grove to Commerce. I prefer the former, don't you? 

Where you see the pink awning, or so I think, is the Mexican restaurant that, thankfully, was open and full of folks eating out after church. We took our familiar spots at the bar where we learned how authentic it is from the Mexican folks that own it. I believe they took over a bank building, but that is purely conjecture. The ceiling, clearly, was meant for something a little higher class.

On the same side of the street, the Charles Chip can first caught my eye, but then when I read the sign about being a girl watching college football, I knew it was right up my alley.
Dawgs fans have clearly had a lot to cheer about lately, remaining at #1 in the college football polls for most of this season, along with winning the national championship last year. For the last six or seven years, being a Florida State fan has not been easy but, by golly, it sure seems as if Mike Norvell has finally righted the ship. With just two regular season games to go, we have the best record in years and hopefully will add to that soon. Hip, hip, hooray!

As to the above photo, what were they thinking having Pepsi instead of homegrown Coca Cola? Secondly, has anyone else checked the price of Charles Chips lately? Unreal! Sort of like the $5.35 I spent for a dozen eggs earlier today. 

Finally, while we are still in Commerce, otherwise known as Harmony Grove, how about the longevity of this furniture store? Amazing community support, right?

Looking at a map just now, it must have been here that we left 441 and took SR 22 South, eventually arriving in a town far less prosperous, although I suspect at one time it was more so as it is the county seat and has been for more than 150 years. The courthouse below was built in 1886.

I am unclear as to the publishing date of this description of downtown Lexington, but either it was far too rosy when written, or it has recently fallen on very hard times. 

I took this one, thinking of Bill:

And who knows why I took this?

Although this pretty much seems to sum up the town of around 200 souls there has to be more to life there than this. Where, for example, do they go to buy groceries? Perhaps Athens? (p.s. I am adding this while re-reading the post before hitting publish. After having spent some time reading the informational brochure included regarding Lexington, interestingly enough, in the early days, it was a shopping destination drawing folks from the struggling nearby Athens, GA. My how times change!)

This part of Georgia has towns, but nothing much in the way of cities where we might find lodging for the night, so veering over towards Dublin, GA, arriving in town, we first made our way to this place to have a look-see. 

In a testament to the high standards Bruce set, we were pleased to see that the restaurant still looked great.. Georgia is a state where Bruce spent plenty of time that's for sure! Being the construction project manager of building various Longhorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and more, kept him traveling the state nearly every week of the year, which is why he is oftentimes just as happy to stay home. He built in around 42 states and when with Earls, two different Canadian provinces. Quite a footprint he's left behind.

The remainder of the trip was mostly in Florida, so nothing we have not seen before. When we got home, our birdies had been very busy dropping seed like it was going out of style.

Seeing the newspaper in the photo above reminds me I need to stop it for a few days. This trip will not be full of charm and character, but if all goes well, it will be full of nature. Only time will tell. Bonus points for a place nearby to play pickleball should we care to! 

Speaking of which, I have been amusing myself of late at the courts, documenting the diverse crowd at Dover Shores. Here I am with two new ladies, one of whom is from China, the other Japan. Then too, our coordinating outfits caught my attention.  (my knee is much improved so the brace is back in the drawer)

Diverse? It is hard to be more so in size than this!

Don't be fooled at Cindy's diminutive size, she hits the ball as hard as anyone! 

Today, however, was a day of preparation so no pb for us. Let's just hope I don't forget to pack anything!

your friend,

Gail

Two Islands and a Plantation