Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Without a Map-Rain on the Prairie

Monday April 9-Tuesday April 10, 2018                                                 Most Recent Posts:
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park                                                 
Finally, Back to Our Original Plan
Micanopy, Florida                                              Further Adventures??-Quail Run, CollisionRV and Candlewood Suites


Ever since we arrived at Paynes Prairie I’ve really been enjoying all this off treadmill, off sidewalk, off pavement hiking.  But my goal for today is the Chacala Trail and its trailhead is just off the park road so both the first and last parts of this hike will be down the pavement of the campground road.

Our site is the purple star and from there I follow the black road out of the campground and down the road until it intersects with the main park road.  There on the far side is the trailhead for the 3 section loop of Chacala Trail.  As you can see from my free form purple path, I follow the yellow trail until it meets up with white, then I make a right onto white and follow it around until it meets back up with yellow and takes me back to the trailhead.   It’s 4.83 miles including the walk to and from the campground.

I didn’t bring my camera with me.  I’ve gotten out of practice.  I have my phone but the pictures aren’t much.  Still it’s sort of what I saw.  The trails wind through shady forest and seasonally wet pine uplands.   This usually would mean wet in summer since that’s the traditional rainy season but recently all bets are off and this has been one of the coldest and wettest winters on record.


It seems these trails must have spots for backpackers to pitch tents because I haven’t gone very far when a sign points me off to my left for “nonpotable water”.  That’s a fancy way of saying you can’t drink it if you don’t steralize it by boiling or other means.  It’s a cute hand pump.



It’s a gray day.   They say it’s going to rain for the next couple of days and boy they are not kidding.  The trails narrow as I go.



I love looking up through the pines, gray skies or not.


Off to the sides of the trails it is swampy.  Wonder what the rains will do here?


At the right turn for the white trail I see a sign for Chacala Pond.  I don’t remember seeing any pond on the map.  That will be nice I think but I never see it because it is on the blue loop which runs off of this white loop.  I save blue for another day.


Like I said, it’s been a rainy winter.  The trail is dry in most places today but there are some exceptions.


Not sure how this tree is managing to survive when its center is hollowed out and you can see right through it but it’s inspiring and I take a selfie with it hoping some of its strength will rub off.


Back home Carrie calls and we do a little skypeing with her and Celia.  Wish I’d been able to set my life up to work at home 4 days a week like Carrie has.  This is one of her flex days.

It’s fun to chat and read books.


It’s wonderful to be part of their lives even when we are so far away.


The rain starts as predicted in the early afternoon.  It’s really coming down.  This picture is out the front window.


Rainy days are gloomy and always make me want some sort of comfort food so David suggests home made potato chips.  YOU BET!!

Here he’s making sweet potato chips.  They are fantastic.  There is nothing in a restaurant or a bag that can compete.  Just slice the potatoes thin, put them on the microwave tray with parchment paper and microwave on high for 2 minutes to start then for decreasing time as you check to see when they are done.  Takes us usually about 4 min per tray but it really depends on your microwave and how wet the potatoes are.

As you can see, we had eaten almost all the sweet potato chips before I thought to take this picture but I did get some of the white ones.  Doing them is a little bit different.  Slice the potatoes thinly just like with sweet but put them in a pan of salted water to rinse off the starch, then blot them as dry as you can before putting them on the parchment and in the microwave.  Same time frame but watch to make sure they don’t get too brown.  Takes whites about 5 minutes total for us and sometimes we have to wipe off the inside of the microwave if there is too much moisture.


Boy are they delicious.  So sad when they are all gone.


It rains all night long.  David thinks it’s the hardest rain since we’ve been on the road.  The thunder is so loud and powerful that it actually shakes the RV.  Hard to sleep through that and the really serious pounding on our fiberglass roof.  BUT – there is not one single drop of rain anywhere around our new windsheild or anywhere else inside.  WAY to go Winnona and thanks so much again to Dar Fortney of CollisionTec RV for fixing the frame and to Mike Howard of RV Glass for replacing the windshield glass.  Everything seems hunky dorey.  Boy are we glad!

Out the window we see a very interesting trailer back in and park across the road.



Still raining, time for more comfort food.  How about chocolate chip pancakes with fruit topping?


There’s a break in the rain in the afternoon.  Weather.com says it’s a two hour window so we head out to get some steps.  David gets a dry but slightly fuzzy picture of the Tiny House RV.  We hope they will stay long enough for us to get a look inside when we won’t be dragging muddy feet along with us.  But that’s not to be, they pull out in the morning.


We think we’ve checked out the trails enough in our past few days here to know which sections of the trail will be dry.  And we’re right, at first. 

The yellow star is our campsite and the light blue hand drawn line is the way we went. 

We go through the campground over to the picnic area and then across the bridge to the second picnic area.  All of this is paved.  From there we take the Lake Trail over to the Jackson Gap Trail.  So far so good  no water, pretty dry. 

Then we make a mistake.  Neither of us brought a map.  We thought we knew the trails and  instead of turning left on the red Jackson Gap Trail which would shortly take us back to the Visitor Center and the road; we don’t do that, we turn right.

We thought we remembered that the Jackson Gap Trail would take us to the Chacala Trail Head and we’d walk up the road back to the campground like I did yesterday.  I did see a sign for the jackson Gap Trail from there yesterday but it must have meant take yellow and white to get to it.  We were counting on Jackson Gap to the Trailhead since we knew it was dry and from there we could take the road back to the campground. 

But as you can see from the map, the red Jackson Trail leads right into the white section of Chacala where the mud was yesterday and today.   Well, let’s just say it was an adventure.  My blue line stops there because frankly I’m not at all sure which way I went.  Not sure at all it was the shortest way rather than around.  It seemed to take forever.  I did finally end up at the trailhead which is the red star.

I didn’t bring either my phone or my camera since I didn’t want to get them wet if the weather folks were wrong about the window as they often are.  I don’t mind a walk in the rain.  But not so much a walk in the water.   David did bring his camera but only took this one picture of one of the least flooded trails we “hiked”.  More like a stream than a trail.  Still, here you could walk along the edges and in some places not brush up against soaked bushes and plants.  But for the most part all the trails here were totally flooded into the surrounding bushes, vines, trees and there was no where to walk that wasn’t water over ankle deep. 

At that point, too much attention had to be paid to what you were doing to take what would have been much more fun pictures.   Oh and it’s raining again by now.

I do hike it all the way through the water to the Chacala Trail Head, down the road and back to the campground.   This is what I looked like when I got back.  Soaked shoes, socks, pants and wet raincoat.


David took a  “service road” he hoped would bring him out to the road and when I got back I took the car and picked him up.  By then it was really raining and  he was mighty glad I’d gotten back before him since he would have been even more soaked having to walk at least another mile and a half.

If you visit Paynes Prairie remember that it is often a WET prairie.  HA!   Still it was a grand adventure and we are none the worse for it.


  1. So much fun to see Paynes Prairie in the rain, and thank you so much for all the good information. Hopefully it will be at least dry if not warm in late February next year. Skype is fun, I just never seem to do it. My grandkids are all so very old. LOL It is nice you can watch Celia grow up even though you are miles away.

  2. Great to have our windshield fixed an able to take even the hardest rains. The flooded trails were a surprise, but the challenge was there and we both made it through. Just so happy to be back in a natural setting with beauty all around. ;)

  3. Wish we had some of that rain. We had a lot of gray last week, but not enough rain to go with it. It's summertime here today though. Beautiful! Love that you get out and give it a try anyway. Thanks for sharing.

  4. It looks like a beautiful place to be. I remember backpacking on the Appalachian Trail for weeks at a time in constant rain. I didn't think my boots would ever dry, but eventually they did. Fun memories.

  5. Rain - send some to us in Texas! Reminds me a little of some of the hikes we took in the rain forest off the coast near Seattle the summer that Amy interned there. The chips look great. Glad you are enjoying your new park.

  6. That was quite the storm! So glad to see that Winnona (and you two) weathered it well. I think every time we've been to Payne's Prairie the Chacala Trail has been muddy, even though we weren't there in a rainstorm.
    Your potato chips look so delicious. I really am going to try to make them. Thanks for providing the recipe!

  7. I must try those potato chips. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Sea level flat land hiking...I could use some of that right now, if not for alligators :(

  9. Best news, no leaky windshield. Glad it was a real trail instead of treadmill even in the rain. Sure could use some of that in AZ.

  10. It looks like the area got quite a drenching.

  11. I'm glad to hear the windshield passed the test. We're getting the rain here today.

  12. Yippee for the Windshield!!! Fun hike in the rain...just hope it was warm:o)) Those are the VERY BEST chips...they actually taste like potatoes;-))

  13. Good eats! Chips and chocolate fruit pancakes. Yes, siree! Getting turned around in the woods can be an adventure. I remember Niels and I used to do that on purpose...or we did at least once. Ha! Ended up way down Rt. 635 as I recall. Wet is not so fun, but rain does have its perks. Glad the windshield held up!!

  14. Glad you had a test right away for the new windshield and it passed! That is always good news! Sure looks wet, but love the cooking going on!

  15. Those trails looked so wet I bet instead of getting 10,000 steps you got 10,000 strokes! :cD

  16. Good job getting all your steps in even on a wet rainy day. Glad to hear Wionna is staying nice and dry.

  17. As much as I love our desert, it's wonderful to spend some time with you in the wet forest. Great pic of the water on the window - and quite the test for all the big fixes! I must try the chips, I just have to remember the parchment paper when I'm at the store :-)

  18. It was the perfect test for the new windshield! I will make a note of the Dar, just in case we need to replace our windshield which has a crack right now.
    I forgot to mention you must have been excited to hear that your cute Celia will have a sibling soon, yet another thing to look forward to this fall.


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