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

Henry David Thoreau

The good and the bad at Ochlockonee

Thursday April 11-Friday April 12, 2013
Site 9 Ochlockonee River State Park
Sopchoppy, Florida


Pictures of the park were taken during the first two days of our stay here as I was quickly learning the good and BAD.


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One of the good things about Ochlockonee is that Carrie got to come visit.  Of course one of the bad things was that she had to leave and return to Baltimore.

Today is the day she has to go so we don’t have anything planned.  We eat a leisurely delicious breakfast after which  David helps her with some computer issues.  She gets her boarding pass and prints it out so she doesn’t have to wait in that line at least.   And before we know it, it is time to take her to the Tallahassee airport.





Pops and I


We drop her off at the departing door of this very nice small regional airport.  Hugs and kisses and ‘I miss you when you go’ and she is gone.





headed into airport boo hoo


We’ve had a great time while she was here as we always do.  We haven’t spent much time at Oclockonee, and I’ll talk about why in a minute.  But we have seen some great things in the vicinity as I’ve shown in my most recent posts on Wakulla State Park, St Marks National Wildlife Refuge and St. George Island Beach.  If you are interested in any of those places and have not read the post click on the link to go to that post.





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We spend the day cleaning up the mess that accrues when 3 people live in about 250 square feet.  We take care of some the business that we let go for the time she was here.  I work on getting caught up on reading and writing blogs, taking care of our finances and paying bills.

In the evening we watch a 2011 movie entitled ‘The Way’ staring Martin Sheen, written and directed by his son Emilio Esteves.   It’s about a pilgrimage on the El Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) in Spain.  My friend Linda and her daughter Kathryn are going to walk this ‘way’ (800km) over the course of the month of May.  It sounds like a wonderful thing to do together so I was anxious to know more about it.




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Today it was supposed to rain and rain and rain.   I put all the unused outdoor furniture and mat away in yesterday’s clean up anticipating that I wouldn’t want to put things away wet on Saturday when we leave Ochlockonee for St. George Island State park on the Gulf.  But all that happens today is a couple of heavy downpours during the night and a day of very high humidity.

As I am writing this now before we leave in the morning,  I’m musing about the Good and the Bad of Ochlockonee.  It’s a bit of a sad feeling. 



The pros and cons

Ochlockonee is a sweet park.


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If the weather cooperates, you can see the sun rise over the river.  Ochlockonee River State Park is all about the river.  People come here to fish and to boat.  They don’t really come to hike.  There are only two relatively short trails in the park and one of those is a river trail.  There is a picnic ground and a swimming area but in sum it’s all about the river.  Boating fishing, swimming.


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My first day here I was out around dawn and following the river trail over to where it appears the sun is going to be coming up.  Fog is coming off of the river.  It’s beautiful.  I’m excited about possible sunsets in the opposite direction and what a beautiful park this is.


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The walk back along the river with the fog still moving is ethereal.


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The wildlife is a plus at Ochlockonee. The park is home to the white squirrel.  These squirrels are not albinos, but instead are a genetic mutation of the gray squirrel, and their coats are snow white. Another squirrel that you can see in the park is the Sherman’s Fox Squirrel. Fox squirrels are rare and depend upon the open Flatwoods ecosystem to survive.   The park also has a resident population of the Red Cockaded Woodpecker, an endangered species.


I’m not usually a big fan of squirrels although sometimes they are cute when they are robbing your bird feeders and eating all the nuts off of your pecan trees but these guys have won me over.  They are too much fun.   And I no longer have pecan trees or bird feeders.


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Who me?Morning squirrels 008 



This pair is racing around and playing together nearly every day.

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I’ve heard the Red Cockaded woodpecker but despite hearing them and diligent searches with binoculars in the upper pine trees in the direction I hear the calls, I have not been able to spot a one.  They are small woodpeckers and apparently don’t draw attention to themselves.   I’m sorry I didn’t see one in our time here but I am happy to know that this park is managed in a way that specifically protects their habitat.   I have also not seen the Fox squirrel so I am only one for 3 in wildlife spottings.  But then I haven’t been able to be outside all that much either.


 Morning Walk (2)

This park is just a lovely place and I can imagine myself whiling away wonderful hours sitting along the water with my book or on my patio reading or Paddling the river or going back to see all of Bear Creek or walking the trails in search of woodpeckers and fox squirrels or watching the sunsets.




But Ochlockonee River State Park has one very serious DOWNER.


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The major con beside all these pros of Ochlockonee is a big one at least for me.  It has incessant no-see-ums.  After the first day or so, I have looked like I have the chicken pox.  I am covered in red bites.  I am constantly itching. They even bite my scalp through my very thick hair.  No bug spray or skin so soft or dryer sheets has kept them away.  No itch reliever has kept me from incessant scratching.  I have given up leaving any windows or doors open even though we have screens because I am constantly being bitten.  Forget the screened room.  Not a chance. 


Therefore despite the beautiful weather, mild breezes and lovely temperatures, we are running the AC to keep the coach from being stuffy and the bugs from getting in through the screens.  And yet they are still in here.  They come in any time anyone goes in or out.


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They aren’t so bad for Carrie and David.   Carrie has fewer bites than she thought for how annoying they have been for her.  David says he can feel them biting him but there isn’t any evidence and he isn’t itching.  Absolutely NO pictures of those suckers in this post not  even from off the web.  I’ve seen and felt them enough both inside and outside.  They zoom in the minute anyone opens the door to go outside. 

The weather has been beautiful and unless I’m running, I can’t be out in it.  And that means I cannot possibly go to the Worm Grunting Festival no matter how interesting it sounds.  Thus there will be no report.  But you can read all about it here and if you watch the video on their home page, you’ll know everything you want to know and maybe even more about the business of worm grunting.  But I suspect that is no substitute for seeing it in person.   Wish I could.  Not a chance.


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I highly recommend this park to anyone who, like David, is not bothered by these little pests. But as much as I’d love to return to this sweet quiet little campground with only 30 sites beside the Ochlockonee River, there is no doubt that I will not.  I am hoping that being nearer the gulf for the next couple of weeks will keep the bugs at bay and the bites I am covered in will disappear without scars. 

Perhaps mid winter would be the time to come when it is cold here.  If you come, let me know.  it’s not a chance I’m going to take even though this would be one of my favorite parks without those little buggers.

I’m beginning to wonder if it’s the bugs that have given this area the nickname “the forgotten coast”.   I know I’m going to forget about it as soon as I quit scratching.  This place needs a LOT more bats!!



The End

Carrie goes back to B'more


  1. So sorry Carrie had to leave. You three are peas in a pod, it seems to me. I don't camp in the summer because of bugs and heat. Skidaway Island was a bug nightmare in the summer so was Hunting Island if you aren't on the ocean. James Island is not bad, but I think they probably spray--I can't figure out why they would be so different, otherwise. I'll take my chances with the bugs over the spray--though I've never witnessed them doing it. The thermacell works while sitting outside, but can't take it with me. I really believe that bugs like some people better than others and I KNOW I'm one of them, and maybe you are, too.

    Beautiful pictures, Sherry.

  2. Sherry your sweet Carrie sure looks like you! As much as you like this park, it is so sad those little buggy creatures won't leave you alone. I don't blame you for not wanting to come back!

  3. Those squirrels are almost huggably cute.

    I'm glad you had a good visit, but very sorry to hear about all the nasty bites. Maybe enough breeze on the coast to keep them away.

  4. HATE loathe AND despise no see ums... hate 'em. don't know what the hell Noah had in mind... jeez

    LOVE the mist on the water.... that is just my favorite thing. just mystical ... AND I don't believe I've ever seen a white squirrel! squirrel on a leash ... HAHaaa yes but not a white one...

    aw... bye Carrie... great family, Sherry...

  5. I'm glad you got to see the white squirrels.

    We've stayed at Ochlocknee a few times and never had problems with bugs. You might not run into them again. Sorry they ruined your stay there.

  6. Loved the albino squirrel! Lovely fog shots but I'm with you..... bugs seem to like me best and the misery is just not worth it.

  7. Those no see ums love me. They eat me up and hardly bother Catherine just the opposite of mosquitoes.

  8. I had a feeling the "bad" part might be no-see-ums. They love me too and their presence ruins a place for me. Too bad becaise the park looks lovely. Glad you were able to memorialize it in photos as it doesn't sound like you will be returning.

  9. Hope we don't 'see' those bugs in Florida next winter. Never. Love the squirrel! Have not seen a white one.

  10. Oh, we feel your pain. Not sure if there is a season for no see ums but when we lived in Pensacola they were worse at different times of the year. Those and mosquitoes are keeping us from going back to FL.

  11. The fog on the river pictures were great! Something you don't see every day.

    Sorry those no-see-ums are causing you so much pain. Maybe they're attracted to the scent of J-M-C? I guess they aren't vegans, are they?

    Cute "The End" picture. :cD

  12. Well that stinks that the no-see-ums ruined what could have been a lovely stay. It looks like a nice park, and you got some great shots of those white squirrels. So cute!

    I always get choked up for you when Carrie has to leave. Hope you'll be reunited again soon!

  13. Great pictures in this blog - I'm always sad to leave and look forward to the next time. Your white squirrel pictures are better than mine - I like the ones on the tree trunks. The fog pictures are nice too. Can't wait for next time! I'm lucky that the bugs don't get to me like they do you - have to thank Dad for that :)

  14. Oh Sherry, I am so sorry about the no see ums! I feel your pain. Just about anything that bites loves me so that is one place I will cross off my list.
    The white squirrels look just like rats with a bushy tail!

  15. I guess this park will be out for us, too ... unless we happen to be in the area. A shame ... looks like such a nice place. Nice "The End" except for it means for you guys.

  16. Sorry the bugs were a real pain!! They sure put a damper on you time in that beautiful place. Still it was so great to see the three of you enjoying yourself. Hope the next park has a good breeze and NO bugs!!!


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