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

Henry David Thoreau

Paynes Prairie Preserve

Sunday March 29, Monday March 30, Tuesday Morning March 31, 2015
Paynes Prairie Preserve
Micanopy, Florida




Since it was 38 degrees here last night, this morning I make some soup for dinner.  It’s another one of those ‘can’t repeat it’ vegetable things with whatever is around in the refrigerator.  This time I use barley rather than beans or lentils.  Turns out delicious.  I do put some cinnamon in it which gives it an interesting twist which we both like.  But of course I forget to take pictures of it until I am writing this post.

Today is sadly our last day at O’Leno and we spend the early afternoon cleaning up outside from all the sand and dirt spread everywhere by the gusher rains we’ve had here.  Every single thing had to be brushed off - the long patio mats, the sun shade, the chairs, the tables, the tire covers.  Takes what seems like forever.

After soup for lunch and the clean up and soup for dinner we watch the Michigan State Spartans beat Louisville and Duke beat Gonzaga to finish off the Final 4 for the NCAA Basketball Tournament.  Thank you CBS. 

Sure hope we can watch the Final 4 next Saturday.  We’ll be in Chipley Florida at Falling Waters State Park.  Chipley is in a dry county.  Why does that matter?  Well the final 4 is only carried by TBS which is cable and we have none.  Ok then we’ll go to a sports bar and watch it.  I start researching sports bars and can’t find any.  So I google Chipley, no website, but the county has one.  So I bring it up and send a message to their “Contact Us” address asking about sports bars.   I get a nice email back from Heather Lopez director of the Washington County Tourist Development Council informing me that the county is dry, no sports bars, but there is an Oyster Bar in the nearby county that has a TV.  Too funny!  Our chances of watching the Final 4 are decreasing.

Following the late afternoon and early evening games, we watch a 60 Minutes report on what may be a wonderful new break through in cancer treatment.  They are using a genetically modified polio virus to treat brain cancer tumors with amazing success.  Work is now going on to test it on breast, pancreatic, colon, liver and other cancers with tumors.  The virus is injected directly into the tumor and apparently activates the immune system so it will now recognize the tumor and attack it.

Unfortunately for David, his cancer does not have a tumor.  It’s in the plasma cells.  But this is very good news for a lot of people.


MONDAY March 30




Today we move 40 miles south in order to stay for 4 nights at Paynes Prairie Preserve.  It’s a great state park which we visited previously in 2013 for a week.   We’ll enjoy being there but our real motivation is to stay near the Gainesville Florida Cancer Center.   David has had 2 of the 3 weekly Velcade shots but we can’t stay at O’Leno for 3 weeks or we would have. So we move to Paynes Prairie which is even closer to Gainesville.

After an easy 40 mile drive we get set up in site 13.  We don’t do a full set up since we’ll only be here for 4 nights.  We like our site and this lovely ‘Old Florida’ quiet campground with beautiful trees..




With such a short drive we have time to go into Gainesville to run some errands including the grocery.  

Just before we leave, I am walking in the bedroom barefoot, as usual, and step on what is clearly a damp spot.  Water at the foot of the bed by the closet?   There’s no water close to here.  No leak in the ceiling.  I lift up the bed and look under in the storage bin and discover that one of Damp Rid tubs with crystals we are using to try to deal with all the humidity has somehow fallen over and the oily feeling water has leaked out.  

Not a lot of water but enough to require taking EVERYTHING out from under the bed and wiping it off and putting a fun under the bed to dry it out.   What a mess.  I didn’t think to take a picture of the mess and empty storage bin with all its contents all over everywhere.  Those of you with similar storage know how much stuff that can be.   But here’s one of it all put back to give you an idea of the size.  This is a queen bed and the bin is 9” deep.



TUESDAY March 31


After breakfast we set out for the Visitor Center.  Paynes Prairie is one of the only Florida State Parks we’ve been in which has a visitor center.  Usually those are in National Parks.  I’m trying to think of another state park that has one and am coming up blank.  I’ll bet you know.

We also want to walk down to the viewing platform which looks out on the prairie.  We are hoping to see any of the big 3.  The bison herd, the wild horses or the Florida cracker cattle – seriously that’s what they call them.

The paths to the visitor center are just wonderful.  They yell ‘old Florida’ at you as you walk along.  The visitor center is set right on the edge of the Prairie.  It’s a great structure.







And true to form there is wonderful information inside about the use of this land over the years.  From the Native Americans who hunted big game mostly now extinct, to the cattlemen of the 1800’s and on.  They have a 20 minute film which is excellent.






They also have a small but really excellent collection of books on the history, biking, hiking, walking, driving, flora and fauna of Florida.  Whoever put this collection together did a great job.  If I didn’t already have too many pictures for this post I’d show you some of the titles.





We don’t spend as much time in the VC as I’d like because it is just a beautiful day outside.  Surely it will rain while we are here so we can return.   But I did find this bust and especially the death mask of Osceola, a famous Native American Leader, very interesting.  When Osceola died in 1838, a plaster cast was made of his face by an Army doctor named Weedon.  This cast on the right is one of many that was made from the original.  I’d love to tell his whole story but this post will be much too long if I do.  You can find an Indian Country Today Media Network article on it here.


From there we walk on down the walkway to the Observation Tower.











There are three levels here from which you can look out as far as the eye can see on the prairie.



When David looks out with his binoculars, here is what he sees.  It’s part of the 53 head herd of Bison which were native to the prairie but extinct before being returned  when the park was formed.



From here we walk on along the Wacahoota Trail which is a nice circular trail taking you from the visitor’s center through the forest to the Observation Tower and back.   There are some very big trees on this trail.





From there we walk over to the picnic area which is on the edge of Lake Wauberg.  On the way, we find the campground amphitheater.  What a setting.








There is a very convenient boat ramp for launching into the lake.  Only paddle boats or electric motors are allowed to launch from the park although residents of the lake on other sides are permitted to have their boats and the University of Florida water ski team practices here on the lake.  But today it is quiet and lovely.  A bit too choppy for me to want to paddle.  Normally I’m not much of a lake paddler preferring rivers, estuaries and swamps but there are some nice wetlands on the park side of the lake which might tempt me.



The lake trail is of course along the lake but then it continues through a beautiful section of Live Oak Forest with more wonderful trees.




After that the trail becomes more sandy and out in the open as it leads to the park road and connections to other trails.

We turn around at this point and return to get some lunch and head over to the crown jewel of trails at Paynes Prairie, the Alchua Trail.  But that deserves a post of its own.


  1. I get to be the first to comment, that's a first! I'm intrigued by the bison being introduced there, wouldn't think that was part of their original range so now you've given me something to research. I can't tolerate the smell of Damp Rid, been wondering what rv'ers do in the damp areas of the country. Anyone with other solutions shout 'em out!

    1. #1, good for you! There were quite a few big game animals in Florida apparently but like the Native Americans when the English came around they all got pushed out. Funny, I have a very sensitive nose and damp rid has never bothered me but I do hope folks with other solutions will suggest them. Thanks for mentioning it.

  2. Okay, what are Florida cracker cattle?

    1. Good question Judy. I talked about them in our previous stay here in 2013 but didn't want to make this post longer. They are one of the oldest and rarest breeds in the country, brought by the Spanish and later named for the Florida Cracker culture in which they developed. They are a rare and endangered breed, small horned cattle well adapted to Florida. They are docile and have many hardy traits like resistance to parasites which is a big deal here apparently. Florida was and is big cattle country

    2. I always " herd" that they were brought over by Juan Ponce De Leon in the 1500's- Andalusian Cattle. There are very few pure herds left. Most were bread with other cattle as they traveled north.

  3. Thank you for sharing the wonderful pictures. Paynes Prairie is now on our map!!

  4. A nice post as usual...we went to Paynes Creek Historic State Park it had a very nice visitor center it was a little small but very informative...I was to another one but can't remember....lol

  5. We think Observation Towers are fabulous, and the views from the amphitheatre are just spectacular!

  6. Interesting how mobile living with limited storage is very well thought out and packed tight. I just did my basements, OMW. But did get rid of and consolidate some stuff.
    All these marvelous FL parks to explore could take a lifetime. Guess I'm going to have to try a FL winter sometime.
    Thanks for filling us/Judy in on the Florida cracker cattle.

  7. Never used Damp Rid, but then again... we do not have any storage under our bed...just a big old engine;o))

    I think that probably heats things up enough to get rid of the moisture!!!

  8. Payne's Prairie is one of our favorite Florida Parks. The Florida Cracker culture is quite interesting -- I hope you'll visit nearby Dudley Farm. I think you would really enjoy it. If you have time when you're in Gainesville, check out the Museum of Natural History. It's fabulous!

  9. The exciting part of moving is seeing something for the first time. I do enjoy returning to favorite spots. It's a little like greeting an old familiar friend. Returning to the comfort of anticipated pleasures. I admire you both for your steadfast resolve in living your lives on your terms, within the confines of the medical battle you wage.

  10. Love the 'old Florida' feel. Nice observation stand and big trees. Glad you spotted some buffalo. Lovely prairie indeed.

  11. What a beautiful park! We drove right by it last month and didn't even stop. Shame on us! There are so many Florida state parks we want to experience, but it will have to wait a few years. We are heading west this Fall.

    Good luck on your search for a Final Four viewing venue tonight! We broke down and got Direct TV last summer so we'll finally be able to watch it "at home".

  12. Hope you don't get a hangover from eating too many oysters... :cD

    I loved the pix of the buffalo, I am glad they have been reintroduced into the habitat. They are such magnificent animals, even if they smell pretty bad.

  13. It looks like a pleasant area for hiking. The bison are an interesting touch.

    Happy Easter to you.

  14. How in the world do bison survive the extreme heat and humidity of Florida?

  15. There's something about a prairie in FL that doesn't seem normal - same with the bison. But that's the joy of being in an area long enough to learn all it's "real" environments. I love the ginormous tree that David is hugging - a most powerful energy just course through those roots :-). Now I find myself hoping you get more rain so I can see more of the VC! But not so much you have to spend another day cleaning up camp!

    We crossed into CA this afternoon and will be back to the apt tomorrow :-)

  16. That is something new to me, Bison in Florida, are they protected from the heat and humidity?

  17. Another nice place to explore. So many trails to hike and trees to hug! Amazing that there are bison there.

  18. Sorry we did not see any cracker cattle. Maybe next time. Even the horses were very far off, but I did at least see them. Can't believe both I-75 and US 441 run right through the prairie.

  19. I'm glad you got to see the bison up close. We saw them right there by the observation tower one time, but after that we were never that lucky.

    We have a underbed storage area that is jam packed full as well. We don't really have moisture problems in our motorhome and have never used the Damp Rid. I guess a wet floor could have been worse. At least it was easy to fix.

    I'm sure other state parks have visitor centers, but can't think of any right now.

  20. I forgot to mention that I saw a news report about them using some sort of virus to kill melanoma cancer. They have had great results and I think they said it might be available in about a year. It appears using viruses is the newest thing. Hopefully, they will find something to help David.


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