Friday, May 16, 2014

Falling Waters

On my final evening and then day in Florida I camped at Falling Waters State Park, which is north of Panama City, off Interstate 10, almost to the border of Alabama.  It is the highest state park in elevation, 324 feet above sea level, and has the tallest waterfall, 73 feet.  Although, the water falls down into a sink hole!  There are several sink holes in Falling Waters State Park, not far from this water fall.  I took pictures, but not sure they will relate the feeling of dread you can experience looking into these things.  We have all heard recently of sink holes that open up and swallow houses, people, and expensive cars.  The reasons they form are various, but at this location in Florida, it is from rainwater eroding away the underground limestone, resulting in pockets or caves, which eventually collapse.

Here are still pictures of some of the dry sinkholes.

And here I am, standing on the viewing platform at the waterfall.  Two fellow travelers were kind enough to take my picture.

The previous evening I camped, leaving my rain guard off, as the night was clear and comfortable.  This park gave me the quintessential camping experience that I'd like to share with all the people who caution me, or express worry when I tell them I will be camping alone, in a tent, at a state park.  Within 30 seconds of having arrived at my spot, surrounded by older folks in their travel trailers, I received a couple of offers to help me set up my tent, which I declined because my tent sets up so very quickly, and then an invite to come over and have something to drink.  Friendly people!  That is what I have always found in state parks, from Minnesota, to Texas, to Wisconsin, to Florida!  It is one of the safest places to spend the night.

In the morning a thrush of some kind welcomed the morning.  Cardinals searched all around mine and the surrounding campsites for any crumbs left on the ground.  I got a hot, private shower in the facilities, packed up my things, found and explored the waterfall above, then had breakfast at the picnic facilities, by myself, and watched a family of mockingbirds attend to their nest.  Probably 'mom' was the more protective of the pair, coming in with insects, and waiting, and giving me a hairy eyeball, before slipping off and around the tree to disguise her approach to the nest.  'Dad' took no such caution, and just flew direct.  The nest was rather high in the branches, so I couldn't harm their young even if I had wanted to.  As I left the park, the two rangers helped me solve a small problem I had . . . what to do with the remaining 2 bagels I had and cream cheese.

I enjoy roadtrips, especially along paths I have never been.  I am always open to explore anything interesting along the way, if there is time to stop.  On my way to Falling Waters I stopped at a roadside attraction where I could have purchased citrus, any kind of souvenir related to citrus, Florida souvenirs, and got to photograph the only gators I saw my entire time in the state.  They were just babies!
The following morning, I backtracked about 10 miles to go check out the very well advertised location where I could see (and purchase) Bonsai trees.  It was free to come look.  I did only get to see one side of the garden/shop as the other side was closed off, and was being patrolled by a rather driven German Shepard.  He was rather adamant on his side of the fence that I had better be on guard, and that he would entertain no funny business from me if I showed even the slightest inclination to come into that half of the garden/shop.  I was more interested in seeing the trees on the other side, and more worried about the fire ant hills all around where I was walking.

Again, rather than post picture after picture, I'll wrap up my vacation with a slideshow of Bonsai trees.  Most of these trees are older than me, even with my birthday coming up in a couple days.  I only got to see one corner of Florida during my visit, and tried to focus more on the less commercial side of the state.  It was an enjoyable Spring Vacation, and a nice chance to see and visit with my sisters.


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