"It is in the wild places, where the edge of the earth meets the corners of the sky, the human spirit is fed." Art Wolf

Monday, March 11, 2013

More Paddling and on to Georgia

Before we left our great "campground" in Alachua, FL, Sandy, Liz and I headed back out to try our kayaks on the nearby Santa Fe River.  We coughed up the fee to have a canoe/kayak vendor help us.  This way we got a good map of the river and learned the mileage and the landmarks to look for.  Apparently we really didn't listen carefully enough to the mileage to think about how much paddling it would take.  The guy at the canoe place didn't mind once he helped transport the van down to the get out point.  We should have been suspicious. He kept reminding us we were on our own.  Translated that means, if we wanted to make it off the river in daylight we better keep moving.

So we headed off down the river, paddling.....

The turtle subdivision.


More river and more paddling.

More paddling.

Quiet fisherman enjoying the river. (Watching wild kayaking women paddle past....)

More river, more paddling but we made it back to Nan's by 6 pm and they saved some dinner and more importantly the pies for us. What are good friends for?

After our Alachua visit, Carol headed over to visit her sister and Sandy headed off to meet up with her sister and more kayaking around the Rainbow River.   Liz, Sarah and I headed north to south Georgia. There is clear evidence of spring in Georgia. In the songs of the birds and the trees and bushes around us. 

From Georgia, Liz and I headed over to visit the site of the Andersonville prison.  There were volunteers at the site re-enacting scenes from the era.

The prison was cleared grass-less land surrounded by a stockade. The prisoners were left to themselves within the stockade. To find their own protection from the elements. To find their own water. To manage their own waste.  It was said that you could smell the prison from ten miles away.  Most prisoners did not have any tenting or coverage from the sun or rain.

The stockade was manned 24 hours a day and each shift was 8 hours.  The guards only job was to shot anyone that tries to cross the dead zone.  What happened on the rest of the grounds were never responded to..... 

A section of stockade has been rebuilt and demonstrated the "dead" zone and the watch towers.

Other sites on the grounds.

These grounds held over 30,000 prisoners.

The stream was the source of water.  It quickly became unhealthy to drink as the hospital and other support buildings outside the prison were upstream and their waste washed down and through.  The small section of stockade that shows in the picture is a section that that has been rebuilt to show the main gate. 

There were many monuments on the prison grounds and/or in the cemetery in memory of the soldiers from those states.  The headstones are close together because that is how the soldiers were buried in the trenches, lined up close together, all without caskets.

We drove through the small town. It was small but the reason that the prison was built out in the middle of nowhere is because there was a train that passed through and allowed the confederate the ability to ship the prisoners from all over.   Two trains a day came through and let off the prisoners, who then were marched the 1/4 mile over to those stockade gates and turned loose on the grounds.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Down the Lazy River

Several friends and I went in search of water today.  We found ourselves floating down the beautiful the river fed by the Ichetuckie Springs.  Sandy grew up and lived many years in the area and said that in the summer the river is filled shore to shore with people floating down in floats and tubes. She told us that the river is often closed by 9 or so in the morning as it is already filled to capacity.  Since it is spring fed the temperatures are in that 72 degree range year around.  Come summer that chill is a great relief from the heat and humidity.  No kayaks are allowed on the river in the summer because there isn't any room.   

We were all glad that it was not summer.  There were very few other folks out today and the river was ours.

Liz was chief helper at the dock.

Helping Sandy launch her new kayak.

 Liz was voted most able to get safety into her own kayak from the dock without help without landing in the water.

And down the river we went.

The water wasn't quite as clear as the water in the springs around the Crystal River but clear enough to look down and see the fish and the white sand......

Near the end of our paddle two paddlers that had passed us a couple of times came past one more time as they were following a manatee that was steadily swimming up river. The manatee was swimming just right of her bow.

That was our surprise for the day.  Tomorrow we will recheck the weather report for this week and see what other opportunities present themselves.  There are many rivers to choose from in the is area of Florida.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Wander Around North Central Florida

We are sitting in this fine "campground"/yard/driveway near Alachua with friends Nan and Sarah. Nan took us on several exploring adventures around Gainesville so that we could get a sense of the history of the area and the early settlers.

The first stop was the Dudley farm which over time had supported over three generations of Dudley until the last grand daughter  honored her mother's wishes by deeding it over for a park. 

They had me at the fences.

Nan pointed out that to her this is the real Florida - no fancy green grass to mow but the garden with a yard to sweep.

Where they made the cane syrup.

One of the volunteers. There were few out yesterday. It was a bit chilly out.

The second generation opened a small store and even had a post office to help the other settlers in the area.  This was before "Snowbirds" had been recognized as a tribe.   Nan commented though on how many of the early settlers had move from South Carolina.   I think that may be similar to early settlers from Ohio moving west to settle Illinois in order to find the frontier.

The kitchen and dinning room was separate. Besides keeping the house from burning down from kitchen fires, there was a need to find room for all those children to sleep in the house. Picture to come.

I reallt wanted that dining room table. Honda Fit's have large hauling spaces but we couldn't figure out how to get it in without being noticed.

"I'm so pretty!" or is it....

 I'm too sexy for my....feathers....

See, See.....I can strut around all day...

Pissss....over here lady.  Don't believe a thing he "gobbles." We know the real story and he isn't as great as he thinks he is, really!"   (Who could doubt I thing this beautiful face tells you?)

This, face is an entirely different story however.   You might think she is reminising about house chores in her youth back in the time of dinasaurs....

But you would be wrong.  She never got that super flying broom like Harry Potter, but she appeared to be quite familiar with this lower tech kind.

 The laundry is empty this morning. No wait for a machine.

Beds, beds, everywhere...

The family room....

The family....  Apparently the family needed all those wash tubs.

Two tourists outstanding in the front garden.

The dogwoods are blooming north central Florida. Spring colors are slowly moving north.

We did go on and visit the Hailey Plantation but apparently besides the dogwoods growing in the front yard, my camera was taking a break.  The Plantation house was much larger with 12 foot ceilings but it was much harder to envision actually family life.  More interesting was listening to Nan's stories of growing up in the area. She even talked about getting permission to access the property back in the early 70's while it was still boarded up and had not been refurbished in any way.

Waiting for other campers to arrive today and tomorrow.....