Saturday, 16 March:
The rain wasn't the only thing that interfered with sleep; it was very windy,
especially around 0100, and the tents made a lot of noise. Still, we were
all anxious to be in Florida, and were up and out 0700. Chilly, so the new
propane stove got its field trial - success, there was coffee and cocoa!
Very early spring, here, at the edge of the Blue Ridge. Numerous birds were
persistent with their spring song, including a phoebe and some Carolina
Day Two - On the road again...
We leave camp before 0900, but drive to summit to register and see the sights.
Also check transmission fluid, and discover that it is a quart low. After
leaving Black Rock Mountain State Park, we lose at least an hour tracking
down ATF and fuel in Clayton.
Driving south on US 441, we get to Madison, shortly after noon, and stop
to eat lunch in the town park. A neat southern town that escaped destruction
in the war. Definitely spring here, as things were greening up nicely. Peach
trees blooming, as are various spring flowers. Black vultures have already
gotten as far north as Madison.
We pick up I-75 southbound again at Forsythe. Between here and Tifton, there
has been a lot of recent rainfall, as streams are very muddy and overflowing.
Overcast, but quite warm for us yankees. Turtles were seen sunning in swamps
a hundred miles north of Florida.
As we arrive at the Florida state line 1730, there is an immediate and dramatic
change in our surroundings, or is it just our attitude. Something's different,
and it is certainly warmer. We get the compulsory group picture in front
of the "Welcome to Florida" sign.
Due to the earlier vehicle-caused delays, we are behind schedule and opt
to go to Suwannee River State Park, near Live Oak, to camp for the night.
We get to set up camp in the youth group area, so we are off by ourselves.
It is a beautiful area, a small clearing surrounded by a pine-live oak forest
on the sandy uplands, with a drying waterway among huge
cypress trees at the foot of a small slope. As we set up camp in the
gathering dusk, there is a sizeable chorus of spring peepers calling. Taking
note of this for later, we hurry with camp, in order that we can go out
Dinner was barbecued chicken, boiled potatoes and baked beans at the Falmouth
Grill, about a mile from the park. Delicious, and it was free, as they were
celebrating their third anniversary! Met a former buckeye, and arranged
for a canoe trip the next morning.
At 2100 we set out on a couple of night explorations. The first was just
down the hill to the stream pools where the peepers were calling. There
were also leopard frogs, a barred owl, numerous diving beetles and other
aquatic arthropods, and some fish. From there most of us set out on a short
trek through the pine-oak forest. There were many ant lion pits in the sand
under the roof overhangs at camp. Another major find was a large betsy beetle,
complete with parasitic mites, under a rotten log. We saw other insects
and spiders, and several different fungi, though many of these were rather
By 2300, some were more than ready for sleep; others stayed up to watch
the campfire. The owl called sporadically.