Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Time in Tampa

First Days in Tampa
I must say that sleeping in any place other than the van left me uneasy for a few nights.  Vanessa had become like a safe cocoon.  Just after I arrived, she had lost the use of the interior lights and electrical outlets so the boys went to work.  Bryan, Shon and Will checked everywhere until they found a battery underneath the couch and suspended below the level of the floor.  It took some time but they persisted.  They found the battery dry and filled it with water.  After a short time Vanessa was as good as new.  My thanks, guys, for the help.   Some lazy days watching Brian catch fish in the lake, walks, shopping, even a work-out at the club and I was feeling great.
Birthday and Christmas
Since my birthday is so close to Christmas (9 days before), I’ve usually gotten and “happy birthday and Merry Christmas” present.  However, this one was unique.  On the 16th the “gang” took us all out for a wonderful dinner and movie.  The next evening was an early but traditional Christmas .  After a great dinner, we gathered around the tree and opened gifts.
Heading West on Sunday Morning
Sunday, Dec. 19th, I said goodbye to everyone and headed out.  Teri and Bryan were catching a flight at noon and we’d all had a wonderful  time reminiscing and sharing stories.  I caught highway #19 again…this time going north.  I made a side trip to a small fishing village named  Aripeka …named after a Seminole Indian leader.  The original one-room Post Office said the town was settled in 1886.  I stopped at “Suzie’s Shack”  a second hand store that was a small and modest home completely filled with used clothing and household items. I don’t know how, but the family including children, lived there too.  Suzie says she does a good business with summer tourists.  Nothing there for me but we did have a nice chat.
I passed over the Suwanee River.  I didn’t know it came so far south.  I’ll have to look that up.
Back on the highway, I saw several produce stands and flea markets.  At one I purchased beautiful strawberries.  He said they were from Plant City, an area two hours away that has huge strawberry fields.  We’d all seen the news of the freeze a few days ago but these were large and delicious.  So nice they saved some for me.
I continued north to the town of Perry, and then followed state highway #98 which is also called the Sopchoppy.  The road is good and lined with trees and short palms.  It skirts the edge of the Apalachicola National Forest.  It continues through scarcely inhabited areas which are also protected wildlife areas.  As in many parts of Florida, the roads are built up with swamps on either side.  I slowed down for something moving on my right and a black bear ran across the road…the another followed!  I was stopped on the road…I’ve never been that close to a wild bear. 
 The sun was going down rapidly and I began to get worried.  The nearest Passport America RV park was two hours away.  I needed a safe place to park before dark.  Just in time I saw the entrance to Ochlockonee River State Park.  The Ranger was welcoming and said to take any place I wanted…there were only a few other RV’s here.    Electrical and water hook up, fire pits and picnic tables.  Very nice and clean.  After hooking up I took a short walk and found the rest rooms and showers.  For electrical and water hook-up, picnic table and firepit at a wooded location was $19 per night.   The weather quickly cools down when the sun sets.   Tonight is a hot dinner and DVD. 


BJ said...

Mary Beth, I am enjoying your posts!! Sounds like a trip of a lifetime. enjoy!!

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