Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Oscar Scherer State Park

P4121092

This park is located on the Gulf coast (west) of Florida in Sarasota. It's a beautiful area with a lot of beautiful beaches nearby. The campground is located right in the middle of civilization so there are plenty of restaurants, and grocery stores very close. It’s a very popular campground primarily due to the location and close proximity to the beaches. We liked the park but we had a very bad experience with the rangers at the park. They made us wait to enter a vacant spot because they had to “clean” it. We weren’t able to check in until 3:30pm. A few of them had bad attitudes and it affected our view of the park.

birds,kids at beach
al & kayak on river

AL KAYAK
We stayed there in April of 2003. We had a great time but had a few bad experiences with the campground staff and never went back. Hopefully things have changed. It's an older park and the sites can be a bit small. The sites we liked best are: 51, 54, 48, 47, 49, 45,56,62, 58. The sites cost $24.42 per night.

There are 15 miles of trails through Florida "Scrub" and you WILL see the beautiful Florida Scrub Jay, especially if you put a peanut on top of your hat!

karen bird on headP4070124

scrubjay

P4071055 P4111061

Hawk

oscar scherer vac0000002

This was our pet squirrel, Stumpy. Notice no tail! STUMPY2

P4190309

One night after dark we kept hearing a very loud bird making an unusual noise..and lots of it. We finally were able to spot him with the help of a flash light. He was on the ground right in front of our campsite. He sang for a long time before he finally went to bed. It was a Screech Owl. We found him, or another like him the next morning and were able to get a photo from a good distance as he was high up in a tree by the bath house.

SCREECHOWL

My tradition is to buy some cut flowers to bring while we are camping. I can’t have flowers at home because the cats can’t seem to stay out of them. These are some that I found for this trip. They lasted over 2 weeks and were the prettiest I ever had.

coneflower 2 P4070156

P4190294

towhee

P4110253

General Coffee State Park

This is another State Park that we checked out but have yet to get a chance to camp there. It is located in the south central part of Georgia. There are 50 campsites at $21-$23, and 6 cabins costing $90 - $110. It consistes of over 1500 acres and there is a 4 acre lake, and a 4 mile nature trail with a boardwalk. Our favorite campsites are: #6, 38, 41, & 47. As always with Georgia State Parks, they are not individually reservable. You make your reservation and then it's first come first serve. I prefer to be able to reserve a particular site like you do at Florida State Parks, but this does have it's advantages if you have never been at the park, or if you come during the week.

Jacksonville, Florida

Kathryn Abby Hanna Park is a campground we visited on a day trip but never stayed there. Al had to go to Jacksonville for a class and of course we decided to spend some time exploring and checking out campsites. There are almost 300 camping and RV and tent sites and several cabins. The RV sites and cabins are $33.90 plus tax and the tent sites are $20.34. They are full hook-up to include water, electric and sewer. They are good sized wooded sites. We chose a few of our favorite sites, 268, 274 and 280 were the favorites. We like large sites, with privacy and easy in and out. These met the criteria.

The park is located on 1 1/2 miles of Atlantic Ocean, but there are no waterfront sites. There is also a 60 acre lake for fishing, swimming, or kayaking. It also has a water park with fountains and water squirting!

There are 15 miles of bike trails, a campground store, laundry and playground. It is right in the city, so there are a lot of stores, restaurants, shopping within a short distance.

We had to check this CG off of our list though as we found several feral cats roaming the park. This may not be a problem to most people, but to us it is a problem as we tend to pick up stray kittens. We CANNOT camp there!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Seminole State Park, Georgia

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Seminole River SP is on the southwest corner of Georgia near the Florida and Alabama border. It is on a 37,500 acre lake which is known for good fishing and boating. There are 14 lake front cabins and 50 camping sites. Many campsites are also on the lake and most are large pull through sites. It is mostly pine trees so there is not much of a barrier between campsites but they are large enough to give you plenty of privacy. We love the campground. It meets all of our criteria, except hiking is limited. It’s getting pretty hot now though, so hiking is not too appealing anyway.

View of campsite from the water

We arrived around noon on Thursday. We have a 3 night reservation but sites are first come, first serve. According to the online reservations there were a lot of sites open, but what they don’t tell you is that they have roped off 2 sections of the campground, leaving a limited amount of good sites. We are picky. We want privacy, wildlife and a large easy to get into site. The open loop has some narrow roads with some pine trees that could be further from the road. The last time we were here we came home with a tear in the rubber roof and didn’t know where it came from. We were hesitant to go around the curvy narrow loop but had no choice since part of the sites were closed off. We were going to be extra careful this time. We got maneuvered around the loop and into our site easily, but I am not sure a 45 footer or a large 5th wheel would have an easy time. We were looking to NOT be on the lake because the last time a few boats drove around in circles all day and evening and we got tired of hearing boat traffic. Unfortunately with the other loops closed we had to get a site on the lake but a little way down from the main boat traffic, we hoped. We ended up in site 19 which is a pull through site on the water. Were are a lot of nice sites directly on or overlooking the lake. Most sites are pull through and are quite large and easy access. Anysite on the outside or water would be fine. The lake front sites have a pretty view. Ours is lakefront but there is a lot of vegetation growing up with only a small cut for lake access. Hopefully it won’t be so noisy as we are in a “no wake zone” area.

Another campsite view from the water

We hadn’t been at the site 2 minutes when we saw a couple Fox Squirrels, 2 Pilated Woodpeckers, 2 Red Headed Woodpeckers, and a nesting box that turned out to be an active Blue Bird box! This definitely looks like our kind of sight. Al put out the bird feeder and spread some birdseed around, we had Cardinals, Blue Jay’s, Red Winged Blackbirds and unfortunately some Crows come right away. We enjoyed watching mama and papa Blue Birds coming and going feeding their babies in the nest box. Maybe they will fledge while we were here? We questioned the wisdom of them placing nesting boxes in campsites. Some children might be tempted to open them to see what is inside causing the babies to fledge early.

We settled in, had lunch and got sleepy and took a nap! Getting ready to go camping is tiring and I had just worked 6 of the last 8 days. We got up and started our new books. Al picked up another Danielle Steele novel for me, named Wings. It was one of those books I got interested in right away.

Male bluebird getting ready to feed his babies

Fox Squirrel

We had an enjoyable day but the weather turned and we ended up with lightning and a good amount of rain. With no internet we didn’t know if there was severe weather coming or not so decided to set up the satellite for the TV. We had trouble getting our satellite aimed correctly and didn’t have the local TV channels. We had planned on watching Survivor and Gray’s Anatomy but we never did get it working right. Hopefully I still had both of them TIVO’d at home. We were able to pick up the Weather Channel and were relieved to know no severe weather or tornadoes were heading our direction.

Friday

We got up Friday morning and had a short hike on the 2.2 mile Tortoise trail. Part of it was rerouted around a flooded boardwalk. As usual on trails we didn't see much wildlife. We always seem to see more wildlife on the campground roads! We came back, had breakfast then put the kayaks in the water right from our site. It was sure nice and easy. We headed upriver towards the bridge and found an Osprey sitting on top of a large nest. She had just dive bombed into the water and came up with a fish I got a few pictures from down below in my kayak but she was giving me the evil eye. I wondered if the would attack me, but she never did.

Osprey on her nest

We continued upstream, and under the bridge and found a bunch of nesting Swallows. The nests appear to be made from mud. There were a quite a few birds and they were busy, flying in and out often. It was pretty interesting. They were moving so fast it was hard to get a good picture but I was able to get a couple fuzzy shots.

Swallow in her nest under the bridge

We then headed towards a part of the river where there is a fence like barrier all the way across the river. There are signs that indicate it is some sort of electronic fish barrier and to keep your hands in the boat as you go through. You have to go through a small opening to get past it and further up river. There is a green/red light and a camera. You are to wait for the green light. I was kind of afraid of putting my paddles in the water for fear of being shocked, but that didn’t happen. A siren went off when I went through. We don’t know what that was all about. We didn’t break any rules we knew of. We found out later that this was basically a fence to keep the carp in the lake. Carp were brought in to eat the hydrilla in the lake, which are invasive and taking over the waterway.

We turned around after the fence and went back downriver to our campsite. It was an enjoyable kayak trip.

Fish containment gate

We came back to the RV and read a while, cleaned house and showered. We then went and explored the town. We found there are a lot of “ponds” and other lakes that all lead into Lake Seminole. We found a new launch point for Spring Creek, which is a nice clear river to kayak in. We went to lunch at “Pop’s”. Al had a burger and I had a chicken sandwich. Both were good. There is a campground there that they are just starting and are in the process of clearing out new sites. It may be pretty nice when they finish, but we decided we preferred the State Park.

We went back to the campsite, read some more then watched a movie in the evening. It rained again during the afternoon. It almost seems like Florida’s summer afternoon showers. We got some thunder and lightning but no where near as severe as Tampa.

Saturday

We put the kayaks in right from out campsite and headed towards the right, or down river. We normally prefer to start going upriver so that we always know we have enough energy to make it back. Since we had already gone that direction we tried downstream, but unfortunately there wasn’t much to see, just some houses. We decided to quit and go kayak on Spring Creek which is fairly close. We made sandwiches and headed out. The water wasn’t as clear as the last time, probably due to all the flooding we have had in the past few months. The river also wasn’t as I had remembered. It was either my bad memory or it had flooded and was still flooded. Al enjoyed it. He saw a lot of large bass and many turtles. We saw a few 4 foot alligators but not many birds. Al liked it better than I did. We had some problems with inconsiderate boaters trying to tip us over. I had my camera and GPS, so I didn’t appreciate it. It was Saturday afternoon though, and next time we’ll do it during the weekday.

We came back to the campsite, read a while, cleaned windows, showered and birdwatched. The normal afternoon thundershowers came again. It cooled it off some, so it was not a bad thing. We’re having enchiladas tonight.

Our Blue Birds have been busy feeding the babies. Al looked inside and saw one baby and 3 eggs. He didn’t open the top for fear of causing them to fledge early.

Tomorrow we head home and Al goes back to Tampa Monday. On Wednesday, State Farm calls again so it’s back to work.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Oscar Scherer State Park

P4121092
This park is located on the Gulf coast (west) of Florida in Sarasota. It's a beautiful area with a lot of beautiful beaches nearby. The campground is located right in the middle of civilization so there are plenty of restaurants, and grocery stores very close. It’s a very popular campground primarily due to the location and close proximity to the beaches. We liked the park but we had a very bad experience with the rangers at the park. They made us wait to enter a vacant spot because they had to “clean” it. We weren’t able to check in until 3:30pm. A few of them had bad attitudes and it affected our view of the park.
birds,kids at beach
al & kayak on river
AL KAYAK
We stayed there in April of 2003. We had a great time but had a few bad experiences with the campground staff and never went back. Hopefully things have changed. It's an older park and the sites can be a bit small. The sites we liked best are: 51, 54, 48, 47, 49, 45,56,62, 58. The sites cost $24.42 per night.

There are 15 miles of trails through Florida "Scrub" and you WILL see the beautiful Florida Scrub Jay, especially if you put a peanut on top of your hat!
karen bird on headP4070124
scrubjay
P4071055 P4111061
Hawk
oscar scherer vac0000002
This was our pet squirrel, Stumpy. Notice no tail! STUMPY2
P4190309
One night after dark we kept hearing a very loud bird making an unusual noise..and lots of it. We finally were able to spot him with the help of a flash light. He was on the ground right in front of our campsite. He sang for a long time before he finally went to bed. It was a Screech Owl. We found him, or another like him the next morning and were able to get a photo from a good distance as he was high up in a tree by the bath house.
SCREECHOWL
My tradition is to buy some cut flowers to bring while we are camping. I can’t have flowers at home because the cats can’t seem to stay out of them. These are some that I found for this trip. They lasted over 2 weeks and were the prettiest I ever had.
coneflower 2 P4070156
P4190294
towhee
P4110253