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Over Easy: Summer Vacation

Alexander Springs – Don Richards Flickr Creative Commons

The first year we spent in Naples Florida after moving there my family discovered two things. First that come June the whole town pretty much emptied out and  the reason was that it was just too bloody hot and humid to stick around. Even though the gulf was close by, it was no relief as by July it was like swimming in hot pea soup.

We then decided that the next year we had to vamoose as well. Our finances were meager but we still had our camping equipment from when we used to camp across Pennsylvania. So we decided to camp and after looking at the maps chose Ocala National Forest. It had a number of camping areas and chose Alexander Springs. So the following year off we went. Up US27/17 to Ocala National Forest.  Where we would camp for about two weeks or so.

Alexander Springs was so named as this the name of the springs that was pretty much the center of the park. At the time – 1965 or so – not very improved. It did have showers but all the roads were dirt and it was a bit of a hike to the restroom facilities. At least they were no out houses.  There were hiking trails and all plus swimming in the springs.

Now Florida springs are NOT warm even in the middle of August. The water temperature of the water coming out of the spring – or boil as it’s called – is around 68-72 degrees year round. This might seem a bit chilly but when the outside temperature is 90 some degrees and the humidity around 90%, it’s delightful. The biggest attraction though is scuba diving and a lot of people go there just for that.

As a family and even sometimes with friends we would go camping there up until sometime in the late 1970s.

One year in the late 1980s or so we decided to do something different and go up to the western mountain region of North Carolina. So I searched the library for a suitable place and cam across one that wasn’t horribly expensive and sounded quite nice. Called the Old Mill House or some such. A converted Mill where tht top and bottom floors were separate rental units and was able secure to bottom unit for my mother, brother and I.

Located just outside of Franklin NC and not too far from Smoky Mountain National Park. And it had this nice creek or stream out behind it that one could go tubing on or wade in. I like the wading part the best.

One thing about that part of NC is that where ever you want to go is either up or down a mountain side from where ever you happen to be. Even and maybe especially if you walk. Outside our humble retreat was a dirt road the was went up and down. When I first arrived – being a flat earth Floridian – I could barely get up part of the road. But after a week or so was able to get quite far up it.

Lots of tourist type things there like “Gem minds” where one could [for a price] search through the dirt for precious gems etc. The had a slush and everything to do it as well.  Not too far away was Highlands NC. Kind of an upscale artist hang out.

Driving around those narrow mountain roads though can be a bit scary. Fortunately that part of NC get very little winter snow etc. However in the summer the weather can be quite changeable. Where it will be bright and sunny than go around a mountain curve and it’s raining cats and dogs.

Wile my brother was camping, my mother and I went on a bit of a “Walk about”. Driving through the back roads to see the area. [mostly her idea]. My mother would like to stop sometimes and take snap shots of some old barn etc. I allowed as how this might not be a great idea, as this was “Mayberry” country with stills and people who like to take pot shots at you just for fun.

All in all it was quite nice.

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