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

Henry David Thoreau

Here we go round the Pond

Ocean Pond Site #16
Osceola National Forest
Lake City, Florida

 Up this morning for a lazy breakfast and slow morning.  But it was such a beautiful day that we decided we wanted to explore more thoroughly some really lovely spots on the pond we had paddled through yesterday evening.  So we just walked down to the edge of the water, got in the kayaks and set off for a trip all around the 6.5 mile perimeter of the pond.   Ocean Pond is a 1760 acre natural lake, almost perfectly round bowl shaped with a 2 mile diameter.  Apparently it isn't known how it came to be.  Some scientists at The University of Florida suggest that because of its shape a meteor may have created it.  Others think it's one of Florida's famous sink holes created by the collapse of the limestone substrate underground. 
Whatever it is, it's beautiful! 
It was a blue sky puffy white cloud day as we headed out.

Paddling west, we soon found ourselves amidst the magnificient cyprus trees.  The more time you spend among and around them the more wonderful they become.  Look at the base of this one.  Talk about a firm foundation..... As always, if you click on the picture it will be more vivid.

The spanish moss is just perfect with these trees.  Notice the water marks that let you know how low the water is.  Such a drought here.

The lake has numerous coves that we paddled into as we went along.

Many of which had not only great trees but lovely fall flowers, yellow seemed the color of choice.

I got captivated by the lovely fields of water lilies and these yellow pond lilies also called spatterdock 

I spent quite a while just enjoying and taking pictures of these yellow lovelies.

Not exactly sure who eats them but someone has clearly had a bite.

We came upon several of these "see through" trees.  Amazingly still alive and thriving despite seemingly having no trunk.

As we paddled along we saw what appeared to be newly planted little trees with supports.  I don't know for sure who was planting them although I assume the forest service is doing it.  I'm not sure why they would be since there are many cyprus here already.  And I'm really curious how in the world they do it.   There were 8 or 10 planted in certain areas of the lake.

At one point David was working on his Halloween costume since the day is today and wanted to know what you thought?  It's been a long time since he's had hair and he though perhaps he'd dress up as Father Time.

Each side of the lake really was quite different from the others.  The town of Olustee has a park with a small beach on one side of the lake. Calling Olustee a town is being extremely generous since it has no stop light and a one room post office,  Other than that sign of civilization, most of the shore was native.   Some sides had more grasses and fewer lily fields.  But all had cyprus.

We did pass by two sections of the shore, one on the North side and one on the East, had a few private docks and houses back in the woods.  Not sure how those folks were able to have private property in a national forest but they did.  This one on the North side was our hands down favorite.  I think you'll have to enlarge the picture to see their dock's name printed on it at water line.

Notice that Zoey's lounge seems to be all about conversation.

And Dobson's is all about bar stools.  We got a good laugh out of the typical men/women difference.  I'd like to meet these folks.  But in our entire trip around the lake on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, only one person was out on their dock.   One family's children were swimming at the "beach".

We had come almost full circle when we met up with this temptation.

and took it!   Each of us going in and out and having fun being IN a cyprus tree.

It was a long day and a great paddle but we were too tired to linger long enough to catch some pictures of the sunset.  We made it all the way around Ocean Pond and had a great time doing it.

Happy Samhain to those who honor it and Happy Halloween to all you Trick or Treaters.  We had none at our door tonight so we just ate candy ourselves.  :-))

We'll be moving on to Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge tomorrow and will be sorry to leave this lovely site but who knows, perhaps we will be back again.  Hope so.

Florida Scenic Trail

Ocean Pond Campground Site #16
Osceola National Forest

We woke up this morning and saw that one of the water front sites with its own kayak put in had been left so we quick packed everything up and moved up from site #9, a nicely secluded site, to #16.  Not quite so secluded but great view and easy kayaking.

So here we are parked in Site 16.   How about that view!   

With our own personal kayak put in.  LOVE this.  So easy to jump in and go out for a paddle.
No taking the kayaks off the car and putting them back on.

Did you notice the lounge chair in the picture above?  Can't you see me sitting there with my mug?  I'm one Happy Camper for sure!

After the move  we talked with an interesting neighbor,  Tom the minimalist. His description of himself not mine.  He full times in this Ford van he customized.  He has traveled with Zoey his cat for nearly 7 years.

Now this is really simple living.

We had to cut our very interesting discussions with Tom short since we’d hoped to take a hike.  Not much of an early start  but we thought we had time to get to the Olustee Battlefield. More about why go there later

I mentioned in a previous blog that we wanted to hike part of the Florida National Scenic Trail since I  understood that the it went “through” the campground.   The Florida Trail is one of only eight National Scenic Trails designated by congress.  The AT is one, so is the Pacific Crest.  The Florida Trail, when totally complete, will run 1400 miles and connect Florida's wilderness areas.  It will traverse nearly all of the state's unique habitats from the sawgrass prairies of the Big Cypress National Preserve to historic Fort Pickens at Gulf Islands National Seashore at Pensacola Beach.   We've hiked pieces of the AT in our home state of Virginia and thought we'd do the same here in Florida.  State Trails are a great idea.  So off we went in search of it. 

Found it……..Blue blaze……State Trail sign……off we go……….then…..confusion
We followed the blue blazes and then there were no more and we were no where so we walked up the road looking for "where did it go"??

Found another Blue one.  We knew the section of the trail we wanted to take was South.  Got out the trusty compass.  Took the blue blaze going south and ended up right back in the campground.   Hmmmm, going round in circles it seems.

We hadn’t stopped at the Forest Service Info Center on our way in so we didn't have a map.  We were just going to walk a section of it and then backtrack IF we could find it.  So off I went to the computer and found out that the blue blaze is a SPUR leading to the trail.   At this point, and after our late start, we’ve lost an hour of the time we thought we had to hike to Olustee Battle Field, the only battle of the Civil War fought in Florida.  We’re not big Civil War or Battle fans but the battlefield has a viewing station for trees in which the Red Cockaded Woodpecker is said to hang out.   And that we did want to see.  

So back we went on the blue spur in a different direction and this time we did find the orange blazed trail and took it as far as time allowed.   Allowed meaning to get back for a short sunset paddle.   Say 6:00.   Here we are on the trail.  Orange Blaze GREAT!

This entire area has been under  a nearly 6 month severe drought as evidenced by the lack of water under this boardwalk.  Very very dry.   A much different experience than those hiking the trail under more usual conditions.

When we got to the end of this section there was a sign to turn left but we wondered how we would recognize this on our return so we set up a pine cone barrier.  Hansel and Gretel came to mind.

Picking up the large pine cones for our sign made us notice the beauty in nature's symmetry.

It is so nice to be living a life where we can notice these amazing patterns that in our previous hurry here hurry there existance we might well have missed.  The subtle myriad colors just do not show up in these pictures like they did to our eyes.  I'm so sorry. 

We weren't able to make it to the Battlefield but it was a lovely walk on a beautiful day.

On the return trip, we were  paying as much attention to the ground beneath us as to the our surroundings.  Here is some of the beauty in the lichens and fungus that we saw.

But we did make it back in time to get out for a short kayak before sunset.
So easy to just jump in the water when you don't have to drive or even walk more than a few yards.

We are traveling west on ocean pond this time.

We were out for about an hour

and got some nice pictures of the sun setting 

Here we are returning to our dock and Winona the Brave.  No need to put the boats back on the car to go out again tomorrow.  WOW!

Even if it is a bit muddy, it's great! 

Fun day!   New site, new friend, new trail, beautiful sunset!!  We are Happy Campers Indeed!!!
Glad we could share another great day with you.  Thanks for checking in on us.


Well it's been nearly a week since I've been able to put any posts on the blog.  Hope you all haven't given up on me.  Especially those who lurk.  I know followers are true blue.  So glad to have all of you!

This is being posted on Thursday Nov 4 but I've dated it the Friday we first started having all the trouble.

To explain what happened:
First we were shocked to find that our data usage was so high and we were nearing our 5GB Verizon air card limit with 3 or 4 days left in the month.  We've been looking into that carefully since we neither stream videos nor watch movies.  We just do the normal emails, web searching and this blog.  But Friday we had to cut out everything but email to keep the numbers in control until they roll over on November 3rd. 

Secondly during this time we moved from Ocean Pond Campground in the Osceola National Forest to Stephen Foster State Park inside the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.  There is very little signal at all in the refuge.  We were able to get the minimal flag, not even one bar, on the air card with the Wilson trucker antenna.  So we could still do email but even when the data usage rolled back to 5GB on Wednesday, there was not enough of a signal to post anything to the blog.   We also haven't been able to use the cell phone with our Virgin Mobile Service using the Sprint network.  I'll be be switching my phone to Verizon next month since their coverage is clearly much better.  Although I LOVE the no contract with Virgin Mobile opposed to a 2 year sentence with Verizon.

Hope our experiences with all of this will be helpful to you.

Today we moved to Crooked River State Park on the coast and have 4 bars again and 5GB of usage so we're good to go and I hope to have the days we missed posted a couple a day and caught up by the week-end.

Hope you've missed us!!   On to tell you about what we did while we were incognito  :-)   Beginning with Saturday October 30.

An evening for Great Clouds

Ocean Pond Campground Site #9
Osceola National Forest
Lake City, Florida

Out for my morning run as usual.  Temperature was only 72 but the humidity was the worst I’ve experienced and I was covered with sweat by the time I was finished and oh so glad to be done.

The rest of the morning was taken up with checking into what turned out to be a hydraulic leak on the back slide, making sure the kayak tire would hold air, working on yesterday’s blog, paying bills, returning emails and those sorts of real life things.   Great to be doing them all outside

In a lounge chair

In the late afternoon we thought we’d go out for a paddle on Ocean Pond to see just how Ocean-like it was.   Now why do they call it a pond?  It is neither an Ocean nor a Pond  It is a bowl shaped lake 2 miles in diameter.  Cyprus trees border Ocean Pond with tall pines towering overhead.  Spanish moss hangs from the hardwoods under which is a dense understory of palmetto and young oak.

 We took one of the kayaks down to the launch and when we came back the wind picked up, leaves and pine needles started blowing everywhere and we thought, “oh well, it was a good idea”.    But it stopped just as quickly as it started.  While we were waiting to see if it was over or just fooling us we were joking about how soon the camp host would be out with the leaf blower to get those pesky pine needles off the road.   We both have serious aversions to leaf blowers and were just amazed to see that this was apparently one of the jobs for the camp host.   Perhaps there is some reason of which we are unaware that it is bad for pine needles to be on the blacktopped drive but I decided I would be Joan Henry and see if I couldn’t clear as much space with my broom as the leaf man could with his noisy polluting get no exercise blower.   So David timed me and in 5 minutes I could clear 65 feet.

But the blower never materialized for us to go head to head so we decided to do that paddle anyway.   The launch was just at the top of the campground circle so we took the kayaks by cart which worked very well.  We got launched

But the clouds still looked a bit ominous

And then we went around a bend and there was one of the biggest full rainbows I’ve ever seen.  My camera could not get the expanse of it because it was so close.  But here are a couple of partial shots.   It was more vivid and clear than these pictures show and it stayed forever.  I have probably 30 shots of it from which I took these two.   Wish we’d had David’s camera for this.

It turned out to be a great cloud day on the lake

Even at sunset, the clouds stole the show.

It was a wonderful display....

from every direction.

Including this final shot from what looked like a hole in the sky through which Penguins should march down onto the Antarctic looking mounds of snow.   Or it least that’s what it looked like to me.   What do you see?  Click this one before you decide.  :-)

This post was brought to you by the Main Street McDonald's in Lake City Florida because we have reached the end of our 5GB air card limit in spite of being told by everyone we talked to that if you didn't stream videos or watch movies (neither of which we do) that we'd never get close to using 5GB.  BUT something we are doing......email??  uploading pictures onto the blog????  paying bills????   using Google Maps???? is definitely using more than 5GB a month.   So if you are just starting out, consider our experience in deciding what to get for internet use.  Not sure when I'll post again but check back, you never know.  We'll be back in town again when we move on so I'll stop by my friendly McDonalds and update you on our past couple of days!   See you then.