Escape from Tallahassee

I love to travel, and while you’ll never catch me backpacking through Europe on $20 a day, I don’t mind having to vacation on the cheap. To that end, we’ve been utilizing Florida’s excellent state park system to take a few mini-breaks that involve (gasp!) camping. We’ve managed three weekend trips in the last six months.

In September, we went with a group to Fort Clinch, north of Jacksonville. It was our first time camping in the non-primitive areas, and it made a huge difference in our comfort level. We had a string of Christmas lights and our own spigot! What riches!

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We also had unseasonable heat, rain, and an unfortunate episode in which raccoons got into the van and ate a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, so we cut only stayed two days instead of three.

It was Hazel’s first camping trip, and she LOVED getting filthy.

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In December, we were invited to St. Joe Peninsula State Park to camp with friends in a camper. In other words, we leveled up.

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The park is right on the beach, and this time the unseasonable warmth worked in our favor.

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Camping in someone else’s camper is delightful, in the same way that riding around in someone else’s boat is delightful. Don’t worry – we gave them lots of beer for their troubles.

This past weekend, Jason, Hazel and I stayed in a cabin at Gold Head Branch State Park in Keystone Heights, Florida. When I was a kid, a bunch of our neighbors used to come here over MLK weekend every year. I was interested to experience the park as an adult.

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The older cabins at this park were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, and are just adorable. Ours had a bedroom/living area with a fireplace, a kitchen, and a bathroom. It was furnished and had basic kitchen equipment, but was by no means fancy.

The lake’s a little low this year, but the view is still relaxing.

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Saturday morning we hiked every trail in the park, totaling over 3 miles. Hazel was content to ride in the backpack most of the time, but insisted on getting out for the last half mile or so.

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After lunch at a local barbeque restaurant, we settled in at the cabin for Hazel’s nap. Temperatures started to fall, and we lit a fire in the fireplace. Then it started raining. Guess who didn’t care? Us! We had a roof, and food, and plenty of firewood. We spent the evening reading books, cooking dinner, and playing with Hazel.

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Sunday morning we made a stop in Jacksonville to have lunch with my mom, then headed home.

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One thing I have learned about myself is that I don’t “staycation” well. If I’m at home, I’m looking for projects, worrying about things that need to be fixed, and planning for the next day/week/month. When we went away, there was no laundry to run, no fridge to clean out, no animals to feed. I was able to devote my entire attention to finishing my book and working on a pair of socks I’m knitting. It was perfect.

It was also inexpensive. Major bonus.

I used to say flatly that I did not like camping. I must amend my previous statement, having experienced more than one type of camping in the last six months. I enjoy camper camping and cabin camping. Tent camping is fine with the right equipment. And all camping is made better with an electric skillet for pancakes and breakfast meats.

 

 

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2 Comments

Filed under Travel

2 responses to “Escape from Tallahassee

  1. Lisa

    I’m not a camper either, though that cabin looks like fun. As long as I have a flushing toilet and running indoor water, I could be a cabin camper, too. 🙂 (Hazel is sooo cute! You must be having a lot of fun with her these days.)

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