Woke up in my own bed, for the first time in over a week, to falling snow this morning that made our road trip seem all but a dream. I find it hard to take the time to write when traveling on short trips. But I did better this trip and I'm thankful for the cryptic notes I took when time allowed. And the pictures taken to accompany the notes.
- On our way south we felt the sun blazing in the windshield all the way. By the time we reached Florida it was 78 degrees. Reports from home included tales of temperatures heading below zero for the week.
- The campground was full of unfamiliar plants and trees, a subtropical forest and our home for the week. California Fan Palms enveloped us like a jungle making the sites private. Carolina wrens and squirrels rustled the undergrowth. Southern Magnolia fruits littered the ground like pinecones. And the ground was coarse and sandy. On our first night we went to bed to a moon so bright we didn't need flashlights.
- Two young raccoons drifted into our campsite with a proprietary air making themselves very familiar with our belongings. One afternoon we came back to tracks of wet paw prints across our air mattresses. They were determined to find food no matter how carefully we hid it from them. The park attendant told us about their mother falling out of a tree a couple weeks ago and breaking her neck. He said he knew of another mother with babies, loaded her in a cage and transported her up this way where the orphans were. She took to them with no problem and treated them like her own. Went right over to a berry bush and started showing them how to look for berries.
- One night coming into camp we were greeted by "Teddy" the resident Florida black bear. Someone left a bag of garbage that he’d helped himself to. Gorgeous 500 pounds of mounded black fur hulked away from the dumpster as we stopped the car and shone the high beams on him. We were so spooked as he headed slowly into the woods toward our campsite we turned on the only radio station we’d been able to locate earlier in the day, country western, rolled down the windows and turned up the volume. Drove at 15 mph the rest of the way to the campsite blasting the music to let him know we were back. But we couldn't get up the nerve to get out of the car so kept driving until we saw the park attendant out on his cart making rounds. He assured us Teddy wouldn't bother us and went off to find him. Later he came to our campsite from trying to find Teddy. We had just heard raccoon chatter and scolding across the road to the north and figured Teddy had encountered the raccoon. The attendant said Teddy was more likely to be harmed by the raccoon rather than the other way around. He asked if we had wood and suggested we start a fire. Teddy would stay clear if he knew we were around. We bought a stack of wood off the back of his cart and started a great fire even with damp paper and intermittent showers going on.
- We also heard from our friendly park attendant that a photographer for National Geographic comes three times a week to take pictures. Arrives around 7:00 am loaded with camera and gear and makes his way around the campground. He took pictures of the mist rising off the spring first thing in the morning following a particularly cold night. But the raccoons are his favorite.
The house seems quiet after coyotes yipping and raccoons quarreling in the palms at night. Life on the road's been great but those flannel sheets sure felt good last night.