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

Henry David Thoreau

Abrupt Exit from our Ocean Front Spot

Friday March 18-Saturday March 19, 2016                                  Most Recent Posts:
Silver Springs State Park Campground                                         Great Paddle from Bulow Creek Plantation Ruins
Silver Springs, Florida                                                                Golden Slippers Fishing and Golden Sunset






The best laid plans are always written in Jello.  Becasuse there are so many more people on the road now and so many snow birds all looking for a warm spot for winter, getting places to camp in Florida between December and March is becoming more and more difficult.

We try to stay two weeks in each park I can reserve to limit our moving and my having to make so many reservations so far ahead of time.  We have been to Salt Springs Federal Recreation Area several different winters and with 106 sites and only 51 reservable, we’ve always been able to walk in. 



Yesterday we call to see how many sites they expect to have on Saturday when our time here is over. None.  NONE?  Out of 55?  None?   Tomorrow there will be three.  THREE?  Out of 55?   We’re told if we are there by 8:30 we should be able to get one.

So this morning David heads out with Ruby to make sure we can get a spot and pay for it today before we take Winnona over tomorrow.

I head up to the Farmer’s Market to get fruit and produce for the move.  I’ve shown the market several times so I’ll only put a picture of the you can taste all the citrus before you buy table.   And the picture of my baskets overloaded when I head home.  Should have taken the picture from the back so both baskets would be visible.




For me it’s a 6 mile bike ride for David it’s a 60 mile drive from here.  But he makes it, everything is fine.  He gets the site.  Then they ask him where his rig is and he says he doesn’t want to bring it over until he is sure he had a site.  They tell him oh no, we can’t give it to you if your rig is not here now.  No, you can’t even bring it over this afternoon.   Three people in line behind David get the sites.

Now what?  The next closest campground is Alexander Springs but that campground really isn’t big rig friendly.  I call Silver Springs State Park about 26 miles further away.  They have  not been taking reservations for this year because of campground renovations but they are taking walk ins if they have a site.   They tell me they do.  

I call David.  He goes over.  They are happy to give him 3 days and the possibility of extending depending on where the workers need to be.  We must have a site tomorrow night.  This is Florida in the winter.  We take it hoping we won’t have to move too often in the 11 days we need to be there.  So we have to move the rig this afternoon, not tomorrow.

We say a hasty good bye to Nancy and Bill who have been following this saga all morning.  Sadly we will not see them again until next winter in Florida.  That’s a long time from now.

I take my last shot of the ocean for a long time as well. We forfeit our last night by the water, give up our last sunset and sunrise and move to a new campground a day earlier than planned.  Given Florida in the winter, I feel very lucky to have found it!

Seventy Seven miles later, we are in a nice big pull through with water, electric and a very different front yard.  It’s all good.  Thank you Silver Springs for renovating your campground this year.  I know for sure there would have been no spots here if they could have been reserved.  This campground is very popular, reserving a site in winter is very difficult. 






For now, we’re here until Monday with fingers crossed that we can keep renewing until we need to be on down the road for our next reservation.  I am really getting tired of the reservation game in Florida..  If you are thinking that full timing is a fancy free life, think again or hang out in the desert and forget most National parks unless you are reserved way in advance.  At least that’s been  my experience these last few years.





Today is the day we were supposed to move from Gamble Rogers to Salt Springs but instead we are settled in at Silver Springs.  David goes out for a walk while I do an hour of yoga this morning.  Then I go for a walk around the campground to see what renovations are going on.  One thing is very clear, they have done a prescribed burn on a large area including the campground. 

There are 4 loops here set up in pairs of two with one bath house between each pair.  We are in the first loop along with a few other folks.  The loop is not full.  Loop 2 has no one in it so I assume it is next in line for changes.  Our loop appears to have had all the electric replaced but none of the sewer lines have been added.   In other loops some sewer lines have been added but the electric is still the old metal boxes and wires.   In sum, I’m not able to figure out the plan here.  Perhaps it will become clear on Monday when I assume the workers will return. 


After scouting out the campground.  I go to check out the trail heads and find that the Silver River Museum is only open on the week-ends.  We don’t usually leave the park on week-ends so this seems the perfect time to check out the museum which is in the day use area along with the Cracker Village. 

This entire set up is very interesting.  The village and the museum are owned by the county schools and from Monday through Friday, one bus load of 4th and 5th graders is here using two classrooms, the village, the museum, a separate library and the river for studying local and natural history. 

What a great program.  These kids will hopefully know both the cultural and natural history of their home place.

When I graduated from High School I could not have identified one flower or tree from my area.  I had no idea where my water came from or went to.  I had no idea who were the original Native Tribes of my area or the first English settlers.  Maybe I forgot all of this or maybe it was taught in such a brief and cursory way that I didn’t have the continual reinforcement needed for long term memory.  How about you?   Did your schools teach you about your native place?

The Silver River Museum is absolutely loaded with information about all of the above.  It isn’t a large museum but it is well designed and the information displayed very very effectively.





Pretty impressive when you first walk in.  Mammoths like this were the game animals for the paleoindians who lived in this area about 12,000 years ago.  It took a tribe to bring one of these down.  A mammoth kill site was found at the bottom of the Silver River in 1970.  I guess archaeologists are scuba divers too.  I can’t imagine living in the same time and place as these huge creatures.





After being awed by the size of the Columbia mammoth, we go back to check out the exhibits in order.  This sinkhole cutaway is modeled after an actual sinkhole located in nearby Ocala.  So I assume that means they found mammoth teeth and other paleo animal tusks in the sinkhole.  It really gives a good picture of what is a sinkhole.

Given the propensity of Florida to have sinkholes, it seems an important thing to know if you live here.  I was shocked to find that no one I talked to at the park had any idea whether Florida has outlawed fracking in the state.  I sure hope so or their drinking water is clearly toast.




From there the exhibits go on around the first room and for the most point in chronological order.  I’m standing by a short faced bear who was also in this area.  I don’t think even grizzlies or polar bears stand this tall.  There are lots of very scary huge skulls like the saber tooth cat,  the giant jaguar, the dire wolf and the giant lion.  This would definitely have been a scary place to have lived.  Not sure how paleo man made it through in evolution.   Look at this guy towering over me.




There are exhibits of ancient Native American pottery, pipes and effigys like this carved wooden turtle.  The bottom half was found when Half Moon Prairie in Ocala National Forest was low.  Eighteen months later the bottom piece was found by a different person 100 yards away from the top.  Also wonderful is that this beautiful piece of pottery was found in one piece.  Thank goodness for honorable people who turn in artifacts they find rather than keeping them.




There are displays of numerous points found that are examples of those used from the oldest points known up to those used at the time of European arrival.  There are displays on invasive species, Florida’s 4 venomous snakes,  what must be all the butterflies in the state.  More natural history in one small museum than you can imagine. 







I’ve never seen a Dusky Pigmy Rattlesnake, the smallest venomous snake in Florida.



Things really were bigger way back when.  This is a cast of a head found in a phosphate pit mine in 1994.  It is a prehistoric super-crock.  Well that’s not its formal name but it was a wide ranging north american species and this one is estimated to have been over 31 feet long and weighed more than 4 tons.  Whoa!!   Super indeed.  Gavialosuchus americanus became extinct at least 5 million years ago.




Just in front of super crock is a Ross Allen exhibit.  Ross Allen had a reptile farm type thing at Silver Springs beginning in 1929 and lasting for 46 years. 

Although I came to Silver Springs many times as a child, I never visited it and have actually never been to any reptile exhibits since I find them like zoos.

In this exhibit,  we have Zulu the American Crocodile on the left and Big George the American Alligator on the right.  They were both alive and on “display” at Ross Allen’s “Reptile Institute”.  Their pens were separated by a wooden fence in the water and eventually the wood rotted.  One night Zulu broke into Big George’s pen and when the keepers returned in the morning, Zulu was dead.  In typical Barnham and Bailey style Allen had Zulu stuffed and kept him on display.  Big George died years later and here they are both stuffed and in a permanent face off.  Hmmmmmmmmmmm


It has taken us over an hour to come around the exhibits in this one room to the final ones. The cast of the mouth of a prehistoric giant white shark who lived in the seas which covered most of Florida.  He was up to 65 feet long.  That’s nearly twice the length of Winnona.  Oh my goodness!  And then there is the saber tooth cat.  Nice kitty!




I mean really how did we manage to make it to the 21st century.  Those paleo Indians were something. They didn’t even have guns.




From there we move into the Tumucuan Native American exhibit area.  The Timucuan indians ,whose villages were in this area thrived for 2000 years until the arrival of Europeans in 1513.  By the late 1700 their society had collapsed and native populations were devastated by warfare and disease introduced by the Europeans.

The terra cotta sculpture and paintings are based on archaeological finds and written European records which described the men as wearing top knot hair style.  Both men and women were said to be heavily tattooed and often adorned with shell jewelry, bone ornaments and feathers.








By the late 1700’s the remnants of the Timucuans had blended with the Creeks and escaped African-American slaves who had moved into Florida from other areas.  These three ethnic groups eventually gave rise to the Seminoles and Miccosukee people who still live in Florida today.

From the 1920’s to the 1960’s Seminole Indian families traveled from south Florida to Silver Springs to live and make crafts for sale to visitors.  I remember clearly seeing their “village” at Silver Springs as shown in this old picture.  I find the clothing they made and wore beautiful. Their patchwork with such small pieces of material is amazing.  I am glad they are able to make a living now on their own land at their own museum.


This is what I remember. 
Pretty sure there were some old photographs just like this somewhere in my parents’ family albums



I would so wear this skirt if I owned it.


Such artistic patchwork with such small pieces.




Charlie Cypress and his family were the main stay of the Seminole exhibit at Silver Springs.  He made dugout canoes and the women made baskets, clothing and dolls examples of which are in this exhibit titled Seminole Indians at Silver Springs




Charlie Cypress at work on a dugout at Silver Springs in the 1950’sIMG_1363


Members of his family who also worked at Silver Springs.




There are display cases on the early Spanish Missions, on each era in local Marion County history including Frontier Florida and the Seminole Wars where Andrew Jackson was determined to force the Native Americans onto reservations in the west. The Seminoles were more determined to stay in their place and are the only Native Americans never to have signed a treaty with the United States Government.

There are cases on the early homesteaders, the Cow Hunters, the steamboat era on the Silver River, the Civil War, the Reconstruction, on Logging and Turpentine before the state park, on  the beginnings of the Silver River Park which was one of the first of the “amusement parks” in the country. 




There are more exhibits than I have the time or inclination to post about.  We spent nearly 3 hours here.  

It is clear that the children who use this museum during the week when it is closed to the public have an excellent opportunity to learn way more about their history both cultural and natural than I ever did at their age.  I hope they take advantage of this opportunity.

I wonder though if it wouldn’t be wise to bring these 4th and 5th graders back as 10th and 11th graders and do it again in more depth than kids at ages 10 and 11 can manage.   I suspect they might have a much better chance of remembering what they have seen and learned at an older age.


If you come to the park, either the Glassbottom boat side or the campground side be sure to save some time for the Silver River Museum.  It is more than worth the $2 entry price.  Remember, only open on week-ends to the public.  They also have a wonderful Cracker Village which is also part of the school children’s learning experience.  They give tours for the public the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of each month.   We’ll do that next week-end hopefully.


  1. That museum looks amazing! I've never seen anything like that turtle carving. We'll make a point of going next year when we're at Salt Spring (or Silver River SP, if they manage to get it open). You guys had quite the saga trying to get a site. Glad you managed to find a place to land.

  2. Yes, I'm really tired of the planning, and we rarely make reservations. It's very time-consuming and has become a chore. Guess I shouldn't complain since we could still be working full-time and miserable :-)

  3. I love the Silver River. I love the Silver River Museum. I love Silver Springs. So many things I love about Ocala. I will never forget the dark night in February of 2000 when I drove from the airport in Orlando to my friend Bel's house in Ocala. As a born and bred Westerner, I had no clue. I thought Florida was some version of Disney World and old people and condos. She showed me Florida, its heart. For me, the Cracker Village, the funky stuff at Silver Springs, all that is the heart of my Florida. So glad to read about it, although it brings tears to my eyes to remember those first days and the thrill of discovering Florida for the first time.

  4. Seems they could have told you about having your rig there when you called. I am so impressed with your ability to make and get reservations so far ahead. But I guess that's winter in FL. Your new site looks Huge. How wonderful for the school kids to learn about more about their neighborhood than where the McDs is. I learned that kind of stuff in Girl Scouts, not school. Dang, everything seems to grow big in FL. Must be all that rain. ;) I remember going to Allens as a child and holding a baby alligator. That would have been when they were still sold as pets. But we didn't bring one home. I'd wear that skirt too. What a marvelous museum.

  5. Another place for us to visit on a day trip. Thank You.

  6. That looks like a really neat museum. We prefer having reservations so that we know we have a place to stay when we get where we are going.

  7. That is some museum, lots to absorb in a couple of hours. I would wear that skirt, hmm maybe 20 years ago when my waistline was trimmer :)
    We make reservations at least two months in advance, but I know Florida is a crazy place in winter. We rarely go into First Come First Serve, and the only time we did was at Valley of Fire SP. That is why we unhooked by the gate so I can be the site spotter.

  8. Looks like you found a great place - hope you can stay as long as you want!

  9. Great tour Sherry!! In all the times we have stayed at Silver Springs, we have never been able to tour the museum. Have to be sure we are there over a weekend next time:o))

  10. We've been to that museum but I sure don't remember it being like that. They must have really added to it. We discovered Silver River SP when they first opened and no one knew about it. We could always find a site, but that was many years ago. I'm surprised they are upgrading it since there are a lot of other parks that are far older. So are they putting in sewer hookups on all the sites? Would like to see more pics of the park in your future posts... Love the carved turtle.

    Florida is getting impossible to get a reservation even in the off season, at least if you need a week-end reservation and I always want to stay longer than 5 days. It does make it difficult to be spontaneous. Glad you found a site but it's a shame you had to leave your beautiful ocean front site early.

  11. I don't envy having to jump through hoops to get a camp site. I guess I always managed to be in non-touristy places during the "season". I really don't miss the drama of traveling in an RV, although I miss the rig itself and its efficiency.

    It's always a downer to hear how indiginous peoples all over the world have been treated.

  12. What a great museum. We loved being in that area but we never got around to going there. Such great history!

  13. Florida is crazy in the winter. That's why we end up making a reservation a year in advance and stay in one place. Glad you were able to find a replacement place to stay. Looks like a lovely site:)

  14. I've lamented often that they don't teach enough local or state history in public schools even to this day, focusing instead on battles and dates instead of things that are actually interesting. When the kids went to public school here in Wisconsin they did go to the state Capitol and there was a field trip to Old World Wisconsin and another to Kettle Moraine for a VERY brief talk about glaciers and their effect on the land. Basically someone pointed to a hill and said "that's a moraine" and then we went for a half mile walk through the woods. It was nice to get out of the classroom though! Old World Wisconsin was very different though, each of the farm areas are set up to represent different ethnic settlers and farming techniques. I still remember the lady harvesting flax and telling the kids what she was going to do with it. Of course as a homeschooler I brought that kind of attention to detail into my curriculum and we had a lot of field trips to a variety of places incorporating books into what we were going to learn about. I did notice a lack of instruction about indigenous peoples in both my schooling and in my kids' public school experience. Through 4H we learned a lot about animals, the importance of community service and committee work/small government. Our experience with two different 4H clubs varied widely, one club was all about having even the youngest members given real responsibility and the other club had all the parents doing all the work while the kids got the "credit" in their end of the year record keeping.

  15. Now that's quite a museum for a state park. Certainly seemed well done.

    Did you drive the rig to meet David there so he wouldn't have to backtrack?

  16. What a headache! The museum is impressive.

  17. Great museum:) We had a difficult time last month in south FL when we needed a spot for just two nights, ended up having to pay $60 dollars a night for a not so nice place.

  18. It's not just FL, we're just finishing a month in TX, NM, AZ, and we've never seen such crowds. Departing Big Bend we encountered a 50+ car line-up to get into the park, that's over an hour wait to get into one of the less popular parks because it's so far out of the way. The Grand Canyon was packed. It's the price of gas - this week NPR did a story of the hot, hot, hot RV market. Looks like campsite headaches are in our future, 10K baby-boomers turn 65 every day and the fastest growing group of RV owners are in their 30s.

  19. Sure happy you found a spot now lets hope you can stay the full 11 days. I can't understand why the other park wouldn't let David go get the MH he paid for the site.

  20. Life just keeps getting more and more complex. As I get older it just seems I have little tolerance for all the 'customer service' folks that have lost the ability to provide decent service. There is a RULE for everything and it rarely works out to the benefit of the customer....I makes hiding out in the woods or the desert sound pretty good about now. What a great museum. I love all the history of the local areas. Can't wait to see what you find next!!

  21. What a great resource for school children - I agree they should return before graduating high school. Also agree about the skirt. It's beautiful. So is your campsite - even with all the hassle I'm sure it's where you're supposed to be. The turtle is definitely my favorite.

  22. Interesting exhibits! Sorry you had to rush out of your oceanfront site to get to this one. Booking everything and figuring out where to go has got to be a challenge. xxxooo

  23. What a neat museum and wonderful that they're sharing it with children during the week. What a struggle it can be to find a place to stay in Florida. The full timing life certainly seems to have ballooned since you started out!! Glad you found Silver Spring!!

  24. It is all too sad to see how quickly everything is changing, and how helpless we are to stop the juggernaut of "progress" leaving a trail of interesting and informative details in our path that is so dense that we really cannot expect our young people to sustain interest in it long enough to learn what is important from it. Even I was exhausted after 3 hours in the museum, and there was still so much more to see & explore. Wonderful is the word for that museum for sure!


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