Florida is a big state! We started this morning with the odometer reading 2106 (the trip started at 1790), and ended at 2307, and we still have another 100+ miles until we get out of the Florida panhandle. Much to our surprise, we also crossed over into the Central time zone. I couldn’t understand why both my GPS devices were telling me at 3:45 that we were going to arrive at 3:25. I assumed it was some error due to stopping for lunch or something, until the time jumped back to 2:45 just west of Tallahassee (I think the changeover must be due south of the Georgia – Alabama border). It’s the first time either of us has been in the panhandle part of the state, and once we got out of the peninsula we even discovered a few rolling hills.
We discovered another way to screw up this morning. I put my computer bag on the floor next to the bed, next to a small suitcase with wheels, with the idea of preventing the wheeled suitcase from rolling around. Unfortunately, when I put in the slides, I didn’t notice that there was insufficient clearance, and the slide crushed the bag a little bit. One of the hinges for the laptop screen took a beating, but it works fine. Another important safety tip!
We fueled up for the first time today. With 545 miles on the tank, it took 68.7 gallons for a calculated 7.2, a bit less than the 7.4 that the trip computer reported. We ran the generator a little, which could account for some of the difference, but not all of it.
We have a much nicer campsite at Florida Caverns. Quite spacious, large magnolia, oak, cedar and cypress trees, and nobody next to or across from us yet. This was our first “back in” campsite, but it was easy to get into. We used the walkie-talkies that my daughter Katie gave us for Christmas (and today is her 27th birthday!) The picnic table is on the correct (passenger) side of the coach at this site, unlike the Manatee Springs campsite.
After setting up camp, we went for a 2 mile “hike” that went next to the Chipola River for a stretch. The sign said that it averages 93 million gallons of water a day flowage, but this is the dry season here, and it looked pretty sluggish.
We are sticking around for tomorrow, hoping to take the tour of the eponymous caverns at the park.
Despite the aforementioned dry season, It started raining pretty hard Wednesday night, and continued until about 10:00 Thursday morning. We got going early enough to get to the park visitor center for the 9:30 Cavern Tour. Maybe because of the rain, we were the only ones for that tour (they limit it to 25, and the brochure says they frequently fill up, so only two is pretty unusual). So we got a private tour with a knowledgeable young man named Saylor. We saw all kinds of interesting formations during the hour-long tour, and heard a little of the history of the caverns. The one which we were touring was discovered in 1937. Clearing a path through it was accomplished by the Civilian Conservation Corps until 1942, then taken over by a group of veterans of World War I.
After the tour, we went on a short hike around the forest near the cave, and then went through the small museum at the visitor center.
After lunch and some lazing about, we went on an easy and very pleasant 4.5 mile hike before dinner, starting from our campsite and going through a different part of the park.
In the evenings, we have been watching a PBS series called “The Tunnel”, which I downloaded from Amazon before we left. It’s violent, which Therese doesn’t like, but it holds your interest. And despite the fact that the cell coverage is pretty spotty at this campsite also, we are not exactly roughing it. The Dutch Star is still problem free. Probably shouldn’t say that, tomorrow it will fall apart.
Tomorrow we are heading out to Gulf Islands National Seashore near the Florida-Alabama border.