Jun 11, 2022 – Art and Nature Florida Style

Our travels began on June 11, five weeks past our original day of departure.
Our route through Florida included six campgrounds in 17 days. Campgrounds included COE Ortona South (B), Colt Creek State Park (C), Magnolia Park (D), Lake Louisa State Park (E), Silver Lake State Forest Campground (F) and Ho Hum RV Park (G).

According to our original plans, this day, June 11 would have ended week-5 of our 2022 travels and the final day at Cheyenne Mountain State Park in Colorado. Instead, we found ourselves on Chokoloskee Island preparing to hitch up on a steamy morning hungover from a hard rain. Drenched in sweat, I performed the regimen of disconnecting water, sewer and electric for the first time in seven months. Instead of the sparsely oxygenated dry air of the mountains, air heavy with water vapor filled my lungs. Just a tad nervous with being a bit travel rusty, I gave Vivian the AOK to back the truck into the exact spot where the open jaw of the hitch receives the king pin. And if we both did our jobs correctly, the powerful thick metal claws will lock the kingpin in place so that the 8000-lb truck may pull our 12,000-lb home.

A couple hours later, we began setting up at our first campground minutes before, and like clockwork a midafternoon storm over the interior of Florida engulfed us. Only 78 miles north of Chokoloskee, the Army Corp of Engineers Ortona South campground would serve as home for the next two nights. It felt like we had gone no further than the end of our block, but it was a decent start to a pared down travel itinerary.

Over the next couple weeks, we lingered – like the high price of diesel, like the heat and humidity. Lack of wifi and spotty cell signals kept the news of the world at arm’s length, which was fine because it seems lately the news is coming off like those dark clouds that form every afternoon and threaten us with storms. And more now than ever, current events feel like one gut punch after another.

Don’t abandon me yet because I am going to put all negativity aside and show you what it is that motivates us to travel. Not one moment goes by without Vivian and I feeling grateful to be doing what we are doing, more so now with the high cost of living. So with that, let me share with you the two things that bring us great joy on our travels – art and nature, Florida style.

Beginning with Colt Creek State Park and ending with Silver Lake Campground, 132 towing miles, 4 campgrounds and 11 days while experiencing day time temps above 90 degrees.

Following Ortona, we drove 159 miles north to Colt Creek State Park near Lakeland, one of our favorite campgrounds in Florida. With three nights, we dedicated one full day to simply staying within the park to do a little hiking in the early morning before the oppression of heat and humidity chased us back to our AC’ed home.

After a few nights near Apopka, we headed to another Florida State Park, Lake Louisa. Nestled between two small lakes, the campgrounds was quiet and moderately in use. Within a heavily populated area of Florida, this state park is a refuge among out-of-control development. A 3-mile road from the entrance gate to the campground winds through rolling wilderness of open pastures and pine forests. Similar to Colt Creek, the park’s land was once privately owned. Orange groves and a cattle ranch dominated the scenery back then.

Ten days since leaving Chokoloskee and less than 50 miles away from Lake Louisa State Park, we pulled into the Silver Lake Campground in the Withlacootchee State Forest. Since the beginning, the heat has been relentless and challenging to no end. It forced us into a rhythm of activity; that is to enjoy the beautiful wilderness areas we visited, hiking needed to begin by 7 am and finish well before lunch. Consequently, afternoons were spent mostly inside reading and writing. Having scored well shaded campsites, evenings invited us back outside to our ‘front patio’. And while at Silver Lake, diesel was conserved as the truck would not move until we hitched up again to head north 3 days later.

Between Lake Louisa State Park and Silver Lake Campground, we spent a few days in Apopka, at an Orange County Park by the name of Magnolia. Which meant we were going urban for awhile. But, we wanted to see Mt Dora, a charming little town known for its art festivals and antiques. Why is it called Mount Dora? At an elevation of 184′, it is Florida’s mountain town.

Although Mt Dora’s small town charm attracted us, what we really came to see was Bowie.

And last but not least, while staying at Colt Creek State Park, we spent the morning at the Florida Southern College campus taking a walking tour of its Frank Lloyd Wright designed campus.

When people think of Florida, what often comes to mind are sunshine, palm trees, beaches and Disney. But Florida is full of surprises and lots of art and nature. You just have to linger long enough to discover them.

I’ll leave you with this morning shot from our campsite on the Gulf of Mexico.

4 thoughts on “Jun 11, 2022 – Art and Nature Florida Style

  1. Wow. Your picture of the floating alligator next to the underwater grasses, along with the reflection of the clouds was jaw dropping. What an amazing shot! I’m so glad you’re back on the road. I’m jealous. I will be traveling vicariously through your blog posts! Hope to see you down the road.

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  2. Hooray! You made it out of ORA. Now only Theresa and Gary Tholen left to go. In our 15 years in Chokoloskee Gabe and I have only driven up/ down twice. The last was to bring down the 2002 Toyota truck as transportation when our 2000 Ford and fifth wheel drowned in 2017. We fly as I am a HORRIBLE passenger. Thus, your tour of Florida camp grounds was so interesting. Even if we ever did come by vehicle his mind is fixated on the ‘from A to B course’. So stopping/ overnighting would be out of the question. How lovely to travel with you two. Pat

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