For our next adventure we will drive 2653 miles over the course of eight days through the states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee.
Among the many things we’ll explore are springs, waterfalls, old inns, Indian mounds and sunken roadways. We’ll taste some local BBQ and eat the best darn tamales on the planet. We’ll camp at a few free campgrounds, a few paid and even stay in a cabin. We’ll also learn what it’s like to be flexible as we change plans when traveling during tornado season and how this can lead to exciting new discoveries. We’ll travel to the highest point in one state, hit another national monument (or two) and finally meet a most interesting female solo hiker. We also have our first real health scare on the road. In all it was a busy eight days. So let’s get started.
The first day was a big disappointment so I’ll just bring you up to speed quickly and pull this post off like a bandage.
We decided to exit Florida via a west coast route instead of traveling up Interstate 95 as usual. Mr. McGee’s family comes from a little town located near Cedar Key and he wanted to swing through the area on the way out to see how it had changed over the years. We discovered that the old cracker-style family homes were still intact and that brought a smile to his face. He has a pretty interesting family background. His great-grandmother was kind of a thing in her time making her way into several news articles and archives, as she lived to be 117 years old. We are proud to have in our possession her last (unfinished) hand-sewn quilt and we’ll share her story in the future.
We hit bad weather most of the way across the state and when we arrived at Cedar Key there was more of the same.
Cedar key is a group of islands located on the west coast of Florida. What was once a old-fashioned fishing village, is now a more eclectic/artistic center that draws thousands of visitors a year to it’s seafood and art festivals. It is also home to a multi-million dollar clamming industry.
We made the best we could of a miserably wet day, but decided to move on in hopes that we might be able to salvage part it.
After leaving the area we visited the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge. They had recently performed a prescribed burn so there wasn’t much to look at. The rain had slowed but remained at a drizzle. Since we live within a few hours drive we decided we’d revisit this place under more ideal conditions when we could enjoy the nature trails and spend time at the visitor center.
Now three is a charm, right? Nope, wrong! Our third stop was Manatee Springs State Park where we had hoped to secure a camping spot for the night. By the time we arrived there were only two sites left and both were muddy, very exposed, and completely unacceptable. Although we were worried that we might not find a place to sleep, we decided to take a risk and chose another state campground that was within reach knowing we’d arrive just before they closed the gates. If this didn’t work out it would leave us no other alternative but to get a hotel, which we had previously vowed to never do again!
With the combination of bad weather, a slightly disappointing nature drive, and an unacceptable choice of campsites we were beginning to question our decision to take a road trip instead of a more traditional vacation. Fortunately our next stop uplifted our spirits and reminded us why we’d rather be outdoors.
More on that next week. Until then…
Discover what to do at the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge.
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