2016-02-26 Falling Water Waterfalls & Richland Creek

OK; This weekend, we only had a day, so we took off Saturday Night and got to Richland Campground by evening. Hot Dogs cooked (very well done by Aly) 🙂 on the fire  .  We got to show off our LED “porch” lights, and slept very comfortably in our cozy little Steel tent.. 00

We came armed with Tim Ernsts Waterfalls guide, and took off on a little mini tour of the falls on Falling Water Creek.  Drove up the road to the first wide spot, parked the Travato, and scrambled up a big deep canyon to Keefe Falls.01
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It’s hard to get the scale of these falls in my pictures; this one didn’t have tons of water, but was impressive none the less. Click on the pictures for bigger views

 

 

Just another mile or two up the road we found another spot wide enough to pull over, and checked out Six Finger Falls. This picture was taken out the door of the van parked on the side of the dirt road.

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We took off our shoes and “waded” through the ice cold water to the other side.11

And from there, just a short hike downstream to Fuzzy Butt Falls. This one was up in a shady box canyon.  It would be a great place to be in the hot summertime (if there was any water in the creeks).19

I thought Fuzzy Butt was the most picturesque of the waterfalls… Another one on my list to return to and paint..20 21 23  

 

 

 

 

 

From Fuzzy Butt, we went back up the same trail, and then further up river (past 6 fingers), to Horse Tail Falls.

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That one was so tall you couldn’t get back far enough to get the entire waterfall in one picture.32

Where the Horse Tail run off meets Falling Water Creek, there is another pretty spot.
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Another short hike up the trail and we met the road, crossed over Falling Water on the Old CC Bridge, and headed back downstream on the other side. With the help of Tims book, we took a short detour to “Intersection Falls”. This picture was taken from the top of the Falls, looking down into Falling Water Creek..
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The entire Hike only amounted to a few miles of pretty good trails.  Made for a great day of seeing some beautiful country.  Get the book, take the walk.  Life is Good.

2016-02-18 Amelia Island, Savannah, North Georgia

Jericha and Chaz had work and school and appointments (poor saps 😉 ), and we needed to go back and face the same.  So we were off again on Wednesday night. On the way out of town, we made a stop at the Sand Dollar at (another highly recommended seafood spot by people in the know) and listened to Joe Cocker’s younger brother… or, some guy who sounded like him anyway.

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We meant to stay at the Fort Clinch Amelia Island State Park, but when we got there, the gate was closed (how very rude), so we wandered down the road a couple blocks and found a nice city park with subdued lighting, and just parked and jumped in bed again… (I’m liking this sort of “camping”). When we awoke, we were VERY pleasantly surprised by the view in our “backyard”

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There is something special about hot coffee on the beach at 6:30 in the morning…

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Did some beach combing, found a few good shells, went for a stroll, and headed back to the van to continue on on our journey.  Found some fresh baked muffins in the sleepy little tourist town of Fernandina beach, and headed back to the now open fort and state park…

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The Live Oaks, canopy roads, and Spanish moss are something to see..

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And, who’d a thunk it?

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…More Beach…

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The Fort was a pretty humbling experience, it’s hard to imagine how rough they had it in 1863…  In the Florida Jungle, with no A/C, or fans, or “OFF”… Of course, we’re here in February so heat isn’t a problem… But the wind would get old in a hurry…

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Even if I took dozens of pictures, you probably couldn’t get a feel for the size and craftsmanship and astounding amount of labor this place must have took to build…

An Aerial View of Fort Clinch

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After some time touring the fort (and only seeing one other person), we found a good shade tree, and took a short hike down the “pond trail”..

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This ain’t like no “pond” I’ve ever seen..   Nor  have I ever seen  “Alligator Warning” signs in the Ozarks…

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Even the trees were creepy in this place..

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Back to the Van, and we headed up the coast to Savannah Georgia.  On the way we stopped at a touristy little Peach shack and got delicious Peach Slushes. If you ever have the opportunity, get one. (along with some peach cider, peach candy, peach butter, peach jerky, peach preserves, peach wine, and on and on and on.

Savannah is a beautiful city.  Gardens all over the place, old quaint buildings, a huge art college (the biggest in America they tell me), restaurants, Art galleries, specialty shops, Bars, tea rooms, bed and breakfasts, cobblestone streets, etc.

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I’m sure one could spend a few days easy lolly gagging around this place.

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Oh.. and Bars, did I mention the seafood and bars?

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From Savannah, we headed up through South Carolina and found another great state park and camped by the Lake at Hickory Knob.

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Had another great night, coffee and breakfast, and headed into the North Georgia Mountains on Highway 76 (great drive). Stopped in the charming little town of Clayton and did some shopping and had a great lunch at the “Universal” restaurant.

Took a great ride west on Highway 74 through the Cherokee National Forest and the Nantahala National Forest, and the Chatahoochee National Forest, along side the Ocoee River.

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This is an area I plan to return to.

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Crazy whitewater rafting and tons of what would look to be beautiful hiking and biking trails

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Drove up a narrow steep forest road a few miles looking for tumbling creek campground only to find a sign that said it was 7 more miles. We turned around and camped on the Ocoee river for $12.00.

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Glamping: Hardwood grilled home raised organic steak with sauteed mushrooms and onions, fresh salad and anti pasta.. Thanks Kenya and Nathan!

Sleeping on a great bed, in a heated van, with a beautiful girl, in an empty campground, under a full moon, playing “cards”, and having a dos equis.. That’s what I’m talkin’ about 🙂

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SATURDAY: Woke up to realize why they called our campground “thunder rock”. Sometime around 6:30 in the morning, someone obviously opened the flood gates of the dam about a mile up river from where we were camping. The Ocoee river, turned from a fast and dangerous (and somewhat loud) 1′ deep river into a crazy powerful 4′ raging churning thundering river! The sound alone made is sit up in bed and take note.. Quickly. We got up and went outside to make sure we were not going to get washed away .

Jennifer made steak and egg burritos with cheese and onions 🙂 we took off and worked westward through the Ocoee river valley for another hour or so. This is a beautiful part of the world, and Jennifer’s “most scenic” part of the trip. The aqueduct 100’s of feet over our head running for MILES through the valley was worth the price of admission alone ($0). The cost in labor for that project had to be phenomenol! There seems to be countless waterfalls and trails in this area. WE WILL BE BACK

Made a quick detour to Chattanooga and drove up lookout mountain to see the famed tourist traps of “rock city” and “ruby falls” only to find each one of them wanted a $20.00 admission to get “in” to look at nice mountain views, rock formations, and an underground waterfall…. Don’t think so… Judging from the photos, we can do the same thing at home for free..

Instead we talked to a national forest employee at a civil war museum and gift shop and found a free trail to hike around the mountain. The painting below was about 25′ wide.. Tons of figures, many you can not see in the photo. The artist recreated the whole scene with guidance from the soldiers that were there fighting. Monumental work; very cool. Civil war history buffs must go nuts on this mountain; very well documented with books, monuments, markers and headstones.
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And once again, Jennifer finds a tree oddity.

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After our hike we headed west through the south of Tennessee on #64 . This used to be a picturesque drive dotted with small towns and tons of stuff to see.  The new 4 lane highways have bypassed all the towns, and now it is somewhat depressed looking. Progress is sad…

Camped at the Meeman Shelby Forest State Park, had a great burger and spent another peaceful night.

Had to stop in Memphis and see what the Humongous pyramid shaped Bass Pro shop was all about… It’s a Humongous pyramid shaped Bass Pro Shop…20160220_104200

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A quick drive by of Beale Street.

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And great Ribs at Central BarbeQue in downtown Memphis…

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From there it is a straight, rough, and rather boring ride home through central Arkansas.  It’s always sad when a trip comes to an end.. 

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But we are still two very happy thankful campers 🙂

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2016-02-12 Trip to Florida to meet Ansleigh

This might get long…

We took off from the Ozarks Friday afternoon at 5:01 in search of a new grand daughter…

Made it just passed Memphis before getting tired, so we thought we’d take a stab at “metropolitan boondocking”, and we pulled over in a Cracker Barrel parking lot, pulled the shades, turned on the furnace and hit the sack (it actually was pretty peaceful, and we had a good nights sleep). The Van curtains and shades seal off the outside world very well.

In the morning we were up bright and early, drove through Mississippi and Alabama with a road side stop to make a hot lunch in the Van. By dusk we made it to an old friend of Jennifer’s, who has a beautiful home on the Flint river near Bainbridge Georgia. Had dinner and drinks with Ted, he cooked us breakfast in the morning and gave us a tour of his nearly complete handcrafted stone and wood Barn (now Jennifer wants one).
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We shot down in to Florida and stopped at Wakulla Springs where we toured the old 1930s lodge and hiked a few miles in a foreign land.

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Jennifer was quick to find an abnormally large tree.

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We made lunch in the Van at the park, and were anxious to see some beach, so we continued straight south to St. Marks.

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Tony the Travato got to see his first Palm Tree..

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AND the first of his kind in “the wild”..

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From St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, we headed east towards Jacksonville. We were expected on Monday, so we tried out an old KOA in Perry Fl… about what I expected, but it was cheap, quiet, and had clean hot showers.. Jennifer made us breakfast in the morning and we were back on the road.

Arrived in Jacksonville right on time,

and got to wrap our arms around THIS!  🙂

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Meet my grand daughter: Ansleigh Ella Starr. Born 2/5/2016, 2 days before Moms 21st birthday… The first born of my first born. 🙂

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Got to do a “Day in the Life” on Day two with Jericha and crew and spent some time with and Ashlynn and Chaz Jr.

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Picked oranges and grapefruit in the back yard 🙂

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And did a little more of this…

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Went to Dinner at Singletons Fish Shack with the whole bunch including GREAT grandma and grandpa, but didn’t get the “whole family at the table chowin down shot” ..oops, sorry Great Grams and Pops, but we’ll be back soon … (with our little people too).

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Sleep, Eat, Poop, Repeat…

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“But I kaint do it”… Sure you can… “I kaint do it” …sure you can… ”

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Jericha and Chaz got ’em a great little family going, They have a great adventure ahead… Makes a Daddy proud.

 

 

2016-02-08 Haw Creek, Hurricane Wilderness

01 IMG_4474Another great weekend with our new adventure rig.. When getting ready to leave, I couldn’t help notice the difference in size between “the Van” and the new VAN.. 🙂

Jennifer and I set out to “camp” and hike several waterfalls in the Richland Creek Wilderness Area.  Started descending into the valley to find the Forest Service was doing controlled burns, the entire valley was filled with smoke, and you could hardly breathe down there..  So… Change of Plans.

We figured we’d drive over and camp at Haw Creek.02 772

When we got over there, the campground was closed… So we found a parking spot and took off hiking. Through the campground,

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and beyond…

Up a draw,

 

 

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Past a Hobbit Tree…

 

 

 

 

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To

Pack Rat Falls

 

 

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After I asked my muse to

“strike the pose”  🙂

 

 

 

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We “scampered” up the side of the hill and continued on

 

 

 

 

To an even “cooler” place.06 8 w

This waterfall would not be accessible in higher water.

 

 

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A Really Beautiful little waterfall               at the end of a miniature slot canyon.

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Back to the Van for a little lunch.

 

 

Then we crossed the road 10 5 wand took off up the hill for “Pams Grotto”

 

 

11 1 wWhich is a very impressive place and worth the steep hike up the hill.  We discussed going back for my painting gear.. (next time I won’t leave it behind)

 

 

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Another day in life where all that was planned, did not happen.

All that happened, turned out to be the perfect plan.

 

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We climbed back down the Hill (meeting some nice folks along the way), and back to the Van. We took the dirt road down a mile or two to where the Hurricane meets the Piney, and found an awesome little parking spot..

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(Campground not needed after all) The view of the Hurricane out our sliding door:

 

12 5 wSunday Morning we took off hiking up the Hurricane. Every bend was more beautiful than the last. One long deserted old homeplace sat in the bend of this horseshoe in the river, surrounded by aqua blue waters and flat rock bottomed creek. I would love to hear the stories from the people who lived there.

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Beside an old pioneer road, we “found” this Natural Rock Bridge.  …OK OK, the little wooden sign with the arrow that read “Natural Rock Bridge” helped a little. 🙂

 

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Stopped on a nice big flat warm rock along the river and had lunch.

 

 

Just an awesome place.  13 2 w

Very hard to capture on film. Click on any of these pics to zoom in.

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Figure this one out:

 

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So after several hours of hiking, Jennifer sees these trail markers for the Ozark Highlands trail, and decides it “should be” a shortcut.  We take off and hike for a mile or so in the wrong direction… Luckily, I convinced her of her err, and we left the trail.

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Of course, -I- have to get her back on course 😉  , so we blaze our own trail through the woods…

 

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But, as the ever patient and understanding gentlemen that I am, guess who has to get their feet wet  -AGAIN-?

Is this becoming a routine?

 

15We did finally make it back.. (with the aid of my uncanny sense of direction). Had a brief rest back at the Van, and started home. On the way out we saw the “shortcut” where the Ozark Trail that we were on crossed the road. Jennifer got out and checked the sign: It was FIVE MILES to the Hurricane River from that point (VS. the two mile hike we took).

 

Another great weekend with 20 happy campersa couple Happy Campers:

 

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Next Week: ROAD TRIP!

2016-02-01 First Trip in the Travato: Petite Jean State Park

1 Travato at Jens So, after a Year plus of looking, researching, comparing, pricing, shopping, reading blogs, reviews, visiting RV Dealers and RV Shows, and generally obsessing, I finally made the leap to buy a new “RV”. I was intrigued when I first saw the new front wheel drive RAM Promaster. I knew immediately it would make a great Van to “convert” into a camper due to its interior stand up height, relatively low exterior height, and straight up walls. I was completely in love after driving it. The Promaster drives as much like a car as a box this big can be expected to drive. So to make a long story short, I finally convinced Jennifer how badly we “needed” this Van as an upgrade to our Old Dodge…  2 walmart dining

Here we are Dining on our first meal in the Walmart parking lot.

 

 

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We then headed up the mountain to Petit Jean State Park (which was ridiculously crowded because we weren’t the ONLY ones that figured out that 68 degrees and sunny was a beautiful way to end January!

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But even with the crowds, it was a awesome place, and it’s a great State Park.

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Cedar Falls. Click on the picture to zoom in and see the size of the people.

 

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There’s Jennifer and Aly. Jennifer tried to convince Aly to climb the “trail” up and behind the waterfall, but she couldn’t work up the courage…

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When she finally did, she ended up on the wrong side of the creek. Somehow -I- ended up getting wet, trying to help her back across.     🙂

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She ended up walking downstream till she found this tree to use as a bridge. She’s a pretty resourceful, independent kid… but -I- ended up with the wet foot…

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We successfully got back up the mountain to the Van, and Jennifer made some beef stroganoff for Dinner.  We made a fire, played Uno, and showered at the campground with NO hot water…

 

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Sunday, we had great french press coffee in the morning while Jennifer braided Aly’s hair..

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We took another great Hike; on Seven Hollows Trail and saw some more great sites..

 

19 scott and aliIts a 4.5 mile trail through some beautiful hollows with strange rock formations and beautiful countryside.

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It was a great time with a great new fun machine; great trails, beautiful park, and beautiful people.  21 all three

 

 

 

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On the way out we stopped at Petit Jeans Grave and learned about her legend and some other history of this beautiful place.

 

(Click to read)

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Pictured is a view of the Arkansas River from her gravesite.

 

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This is what it’s all about.

Life is good. very good.  🙂