Monday, 18 March:
Awoke 0715 and it was still raining; had been raining steadily since 2300
the night before - sometimes raining quite hard. Something got wet in most
of the tents. Dr. J and Dr. Cunningham had the wettest tent; their tent
was something like a waterbed. Tough to heat coffee/cocoa water in the rain;
tougher to do without, or to break camp. We move supplies to a shelter house
to fix breakfast, and the rain slacked off around 0900. This allowed us
to dash back to the campsite from breakfast and pack up camp. We loosely
rolled the tents and put them in the bus and kept that gear needing drying
on the top of the gear piled into the van. We were able to leave Suwannee
River State Park 0940, in rather threatening weather.
Day Four - Southward to sunshine!
Stopped for fuel in Lake City, having temporarily outrun the rainy weather
front. We decided to find a laundromat and dry out our gear; we were also
able to dry the tents out in the very windy
conditions ahead of the front. While we laundered and dried and lunched,
the front caught up, and we left in heavy rain for south Florida.
Most of the day was spent on the road. We took I-75 southward, through Gainesville,
where it was raining so hard that the traffic on the Interstate was slowed
down to 40 mph. Passed near Tampa, Sarasota and Naples, and saw the change
of ecosystems as we progressed south: cypress domes and orange groves became
common. Orange trees were in flower in places and the perfume of the flowers
was a pleasing novelty. Weather reports were not particularly positive,
so we decided to head all the way to Collier-Seminole State Park (CSSP),
below the front.
Arrived CSSP 1930, and immediately set up camp so we could find dinner.
This was our only crowded campsite of the trip! An hour later we headed
for Naples in search of dinner, hungry enough to eat almost anything. We
got lucky and found a very good Mexican meal at Amigo's, on the Tamiami
Upon returning to CSSP, most of us set out on a night hike. We were able
to see the edge of a hammock, some open park areas and a mangrove bay site.
Lots of neat critters out and about. We saw some preying mantids which were
an ashy grey that almost exactly matched the trunks of the royal palms that
they were hunting on. Carpenter bees were burrowed into the timbers of some
of the park constructions, and anoles and
a carolina wren were hiding asleep; southern leopard frogs, Cuban treefrogs
and blue crabs were out and about - the latter mating.
Several of us stayed up until after midnight talking, and then a raccoon
-TPo and EJ