Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Suwannee River State Park

Live Oak, Florida

Labor Day week-end 2009.


We got a last minute reservation at site #10. We didn’t get around to, or want to make reservations too early due to weather concerns. After all September is prime hurricane season in Florida, and we had been having days & days of stormy weather.

We had been by this park to check it out for possible camping sites and had noted site #10 was a good site. I pulled up Reserve America on Thursday night and was surprised to find this site available. I went to reserve it and noted a warning on the website stating this site was not for motorhome’s or 5th wheels as it was too small…Hummm…we had marked it as a nice site. Did we mess up??

We decided not to make the reservation at this time. Al called the park first thing Friday morning to check the site out with the ranger. He was told they had re-vamped the park but the website hadn’t reflected the change. Site 10 was fine so we made the reservation for Sunday and Monday night. No way would we have gotten reservations so late for a holiday week-end if this site hadn’t been marked incorrectly.

We left home about 9:30 for the 78 mile trip. It was an easy trip and the only traffic was through Thomasville. The rest of the way was a breeze. We arrived to a pretty full park but got right into our very nice, large, wide site #10.


We have had problems setting the satellite dish up. This is a pretty heavily wooded site and we can’t seem to get a signal. We are Fox News junkies and feel the need to stay informed! We had no luck with the satellite Sunday night.

Monday morning we got up early, opened the windows and had a nice cool breeze. No air conditioning!

We went for a “short hike” with no water or GPS. Our short hike ended up on the 12 mile Live Oak Trail. Al is the kind of person that just wants to go…his instinct tells him that the spring, road, river, whatever, is just around the next bend. My instinct tells me I want to look at a map and know exactly where I am, at least when I’m hiking. I like to just follow the road when I am in the car with a full tank of gas. On foot, knowing I’m not getting any younger, and you always have to get back…I want to know where I am. Needless to say our different hiking styles made for an interesting morning. Our short hike was 2 hours and several miles. With no GPS, I can’t say exactly how many.

We started by the Suwannee River which was important during the Civil War.

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There is an old Cemetery which as usual for those days, has a lot of young women and babies buried there. It’s always sad.



remnants from an old steamboat


We followed the trail along and ended up going past the remnants of an old vehicle bridge and a railroad bridge that is still used.

This wheel was from an old manufacturing plant in Madison, Florida that processed peanuts and cotton in 1874. It was the largest sea island cotton processing plant in the world and continued until 1919.


This is a lumbar car that was used in the sawmills.


It was a pretty trail with bridges, river’s, and boardwalks.


We kept running into this young woman that was running along the trail. At one point when we were nearing a scenic overlook on the river, we heard the faint sounds of a woman singing. As we got closer to the overlook it got louder. When we got there our runner was there doing some stretches and the singing had stopped. Al complemented her on her singing and she just ran off. We never heard the singing again but knew it had been her. She had the most beautiful voice and the deep limestone banks of the Suwannee River seemed to be a perfect place to carry that beautiful voice. When we got back to the campsite and were having breakfast, we noticed the same girl in the campsite next to us and was just leaving. We never got a chance to talk to her again. She had some voice. We wished she hadn’t stopped singing.

At this scenic overlook you could see the water merging from the Suwannee and the Withlacoochee River. The Suwannee was black and the Withlacoochee was brownish.



The old railroad bridge


Al just came back from Wal-Mart and said the singing runner was still here. They were tenters and had moved to another site with a concrete floor and near the bathrooms. Maybe we’ll be able to hear her sing again tomorrow.

The Suwannee River is a wide dark river with high banks with limestone and white sand. We dove this river in about 1985 looking for artifacts. It was November and extremely cold. We had to get our weight belts out of our boat and the boat was icy that morning. The day never warmed up. It was in the 50’s for the high and we were cold all day. Anyway, we just dove right off the bank, with no boat. The water was dark and cold with visibility around 3-4 feet. On the surface the river looks like is just meanders along, but when you get in, you find the current is ripping! We had on swim fins and still could not fight the current. We swam upriver, or I guess swim is the wrong word. The current was too strong for swimming even with fins. You had to sink to the bottom and claw your way along by holding on to rocks. The bottom was full of tree branches, rocks and big holes. On his first attempt at artifact diving, Al found a Mastodon tooth. It was very old but in excellent condition. Some of the others found broken arrowheads, sharks teeth, camel bones, (yes in Florida back in those days), and manatee bones. Al had the treasure find. He was very excited. We went back and dove it again another time but never hit the jackpot again. After that I retired at cold, dark water river diving.

Anyway, back to now and our river hike. These pictures are current and show the beautiful river that we saw today.

limestone rocks on river

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The hike led us onto an old vehicle bridge that is no longer used except by hikers.


We walked along this trail a while until we got to Desoto park. Al thought there was a spring there, but he didn’t know where..he just wanted to keep walking. That is where the trouble began. He led me down this trail.

P1010129It was very narrow, grown up, dark, damp and creepy. I could just feel the poison ivy, chiggers and ticks waiting for me. Plus it was getting later in the day and it still gets into the 90’s here. We had no water and I didn’t want to end up doing the 12 mile trail today. After we walked this part of the trail a while and had a few words we turned around and went back, never to have found the spring. As I said, Al doesn’t like to read the map, he just likes to go. After we got home, cooled down and rested a while we started speaking again :)

We rested up this afternoon. Al fooled around for over an hour trying to get our Directv dish set up. No go. We finally walked over to a camp host who had a dish satellite set up. He said nobody has had much luck with satellite here, direct or dish. We checked out a few sites and Al felt we might have a chance at site #20. It’s a pretty site, large, wide, private and easy to get into.


We decided to take a late afternoon walk along the Lime Sink Trail.


This turned out to be one of the most interesting trails we have done in a long time.


There were some trees that made you wonder how they stood upright.



There were a lot of large old and beautiful Cypress trees.



Limestone makes up the Florida Aquifer and there is a lot of it on this trail.


Persimmon Tree

We have many of these at home and they do produce fruit but the bark doesn’t look like this. Beautiful.


It was a beautiful hike. The pictures didn’t really do it justice. We did around 2 miles. Enough for the day.

Florida’s fall flowers




Monday’s weather was partly cloudy all day which kept the temperature down. We only had to use the a/c for a little while in the afternoon. We were able to sleep with no a/c and the windows open all night! When we woke up it was chilly. This is unusual for North Florida in early September.

We went for a morning hike on the Balanced Rock Trail. It was a very nice hike mostly along the river.


Balanced Rock


a spring


We hiked about 1 3/4 miles, came back to the RV, ate breakfast and started getting ready to go home.

We really liked this park and may come back next week. The trails are some of the best that we’ve been to in Florida. The river would be great for kayaking with lots of high banks, limestone rock and white sandy banks. We like rivers that give you a place to get out and stretch your legs. Most of them don’t. The one issue here is Sturgeon. They are large fish that migrate up the river to spawn. A few years ago there was a big problem with them because they leap out of the water and were landing in people’s. A few people were severely injured. They can get huge! We sure don’t want to be in a kayak and have one of them land on top of you.

Jumping Sturgeon

Our favorite campsites

Getting our satellite connection is going to be next to impossible here.

We may have some luck in site #20, but we will have to try it to know for sure.


20, 15,9.10.

30 directv possible?

others we like:

4 is on inside loop but pretty, nice view, easy and private

7,8, 21 (inside loop, but possible directv?)

ok and do-able

22,23,24, easy in, private, satellite


2,3 if necessary..handicapped, by bathroom

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