Monday, November 17, 2008

Mini-Series Part 1: South

This is the time of year when Bill and I get itchy feet, and start thinking about Hitting The Road. Which, in our case, since it’s November, means heading South.

Smart people and birds head south in the winter. Since this year it looks like we may be slogging through our first winter in Connecticut (gasp!) in 7 years, I can only dream about South . . .

Which leads me, naturally, to dream about West and North and East, too. Which leads me to say to myself, “Hey! You like mini-series! And you like the points of the compass! Why not a mini-series blog?!”

In January 2001, when we first started our travels, Connecticut was covered in snow.

In fact, I fell on the ice-covered driveway, right before we left.

(I'm waving at Mistah; no one else was around to see us off.)
We left on January 11, 2001 . . .

. . . and got to the Florida Keys 5 days later. Key West is a really good place to let bruises heal. We arrived in 5 days, and stayed for almost 3 months.

We have spent a lot of time in the Florida Keys over the last 7-1/2 years, and have lots of great photos. But I am not prepared to fully dive in to the Keys world at this moment in time. That is a blog for another day . . .

In more recent years, we don’t head straight to the Keys when we get to the Sunshine State. Instead we stop in north central Florida, and stay a while in one our of favorite state parks in America: Gold Head Branch State Park, in Keystone Heights.

We get to camp there for a couple of months at a time, because we’re “volunteers”, which really means we use the state vehicles to get free firewood for ourselves from the big wood pile, and drink beers around our campfire with Ranger Steve all night. But don’t tell the Park Manager that.

Gold Head is full of live oaks (which I find absolutely charming. In Connecticut they’re just oaks: the “live” part is assumed) covered in Spanish Moss.

There are some seriously majestic trees there . . .

. . . and Mistah really likes photographing trees from this angle.

The Spanish moss is wild.

It covers everything.

And it’s just so mysterious and beautiful. We always take some with us and hang it in our Westy when we leave, and it lasts and lasts.

We have a great campsite there . . .

But the Central Ridge of Florida is made of sand, which covers every surface and gets into every crevice of the Westy.

Part of the Florida Trail goes through Gold Head, and that packed sand is great for hiking and running.

And sitting. Trails are great for sitting and yakking with Ranger Steve.

Gold Head’s got Deer Lake and Sheelar Lake . . .

. . . and lots of these big fern fronds (that’s what I call them) that seem to actively, purposefully play with the sunlight.

But one of the best things about this great park is there is practically no ambient light.

So you – well, Mistah – can have loads of fun taking photos at night.

That’s Full Moon Behind Long Leaf Pine . . .

. . . and this is Moon Pine. We seem to get more than our fair share of full moons when we’re there.

But when there's *no* moon, the stars are pretty great.

Besides the trees and the lakes and the birds and the moon and the stars, the best thing about Gold Head is our eternal campfire.

There’s nothing like gazing into a fire, listening to music, talking, and thinking Deep Thoughts . . .

. . . usually from the bottom of an empty wine glass.


Pickles and Dimes said...

Sigh. This looks wonderful. Great shots! And I'm totally with you on the campfire; I could sit around one all night.

NucMEd is Hot said...

I may not be able to rad the mini series because everytime you post one of these it makes me want to run away and live in parks, which is what I will do when my kids leave, but until then, these make me incredibly jealous!

The Blue Ridge Gal said...

Hubby and I were just talking about going down the the Keys yesterday... such a marvelous lazy place to be.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Wow to the star photo! Incredible.

Here's to finding a way to head South this winter -- even if it's just for a short while.


peaceableimperatrix said...

Didn't we commenters talk about you making postcards from your photos?

If you ever do (like of the moon tree one, or any of the other gorgeous ones you've been sharing), I would totally be up for a barter-y trade.

Just throwin' it out there.

Because -- wow!

Nancy said...

I need to inventory my life.
Clearly I am doing most everything wrong.

Beautiful photos ... great times =)

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Awwww, you and Mistah were such bright eyed, bushy tailed little babes! You still ARE those things of course... you were just so, well, you know. Young.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

I know, Jacquie. We were such tiny tots, weren't we?

Peaceful, every card Bill and I send out -- bday, sympathy, thank you, etc. -- is a Mistah shot on cream-colored card stock. We've been thinking for years we should actually make them available to the world at large -- why should *we* get all the fun? Your comment may be the kick in the butt we need...


Michele said...

OMG! I love me some live oaks. The first time we saw them was in South Carolina and I was instantly smitten.

Great pics.

KathyR said...

Gee. You make camping sound almost tolerable! ;)

And ditto to the "Wow" on the star photo.

Aunt Becky said...

Wow. I'm so envious of this right now. It's snowing and freezing today for the first of what will be many nasty cold days.

And to think that I choose to live here.

Deb on the Rocks said...



Oh. Oh. Oh.


Me, You, or Ellie said...

I just said to Mistah that I regret omitting that 1. the Central Ridge of Florida has hills. In Florida.

And that 2. That park smells great -- the air and the trees and the world just really smells good there.

His reply?

"You have to do a scratch and sniff blog."


beth said...

How can you make living in a car/camper, sitting around all day and night look so romantic and wonderful?

Captain Dumbass said...

I want to go on vacations with you.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Hey, if we didn't have it down, after 7-1/2 years on the road in our little VW Westy, well, that would be tragic. We do, in fact, have it down.