We didn't wake up this morning until almost 8:00am. And when we looked outside, the gate was still shut. It turns out that the other guys who were camped here had the combination to the lock, and they had been told to
keep the gate shut. When we turned up last night, they hadn't shut it, so we just drove on in. And so when they opened the gate this morning, we just asked them to leave it open, and they did...so we drove on out. Not a bad spot, but if they want to make it easier for people to camp there, they should provide some sort of fee box or something.
We wanted to find some internet access so we drove about 5 miles to a little town and found their local library. Sure enough, they had wireless internet and we had some breakfast and figured out where we wanted to head next. There's a national forest close by with camping, so we headed in that direction.
Ocala National Forest takes up a large chunk of Florida north of Orlando. It's broken into several different camping sections, some developed, and some not. We ended up at Alexander Springs Park. At $17.00 a night, it's a little expensive considering there are no electrical hookups...previous experiences in this type of campground would have thought we'd have been paying about $12.00 a night. Anyhow, it's very peaceful, with very few neighbours, and it's a nice park. We arrive fairly early and so have the whole day to enjoy bike riding and hiking.
Sherman parked up at Alexander Springs Campground
Mid afternoon, Ruth and I go to the shore of the river in the day use area where they have canoes for rent. We decide to rent a canoe for a couple of hours (thanks Mom) in order to explore the river which is supposed to have a lot of wildlife. I rode back to tell Justin and Lindsey that if they meet us at the dock in an hour or so they can take the canoe from us so that we each get a ride. And so Ruth and I head out on what has to be the most interesting canoe ride I've ever been on. We see many turtles, of all sizes. Some sunning themselves on logs, and some hiding under the growth on the bottom of the crystal clear river. We've never been on a river that has such clear water. And the many birds here seem oblivious to humans....we are able to get the canoe to within a couple of metres of many birds that I don't think we've ever seen before.
Swimming hole and canoe launch at Alexander Springs Park
Turtles sunning themselves
And the highlight of this canoe trip was the alligators. Even though we have read that there are over 1 million alligators in the state of Florida, it's still fascinating when you actually spot one. We saw one small one laying in the sun by the shore about 10 metres away from us...he was only about 4 feet long, but then we saw one about 6 feet long. They really are amazing. Hard to believe they grow to about 12 feet here.
Lindse and Justin then took the canoe, and when they came back they reported seeing 3 different alligators, including one that looked "fat". That usually means he's just had something to eat!
We had a nice campfire this evening and are looking forward to getting back to the beach tomorrow. We're heading for Cocoa Beach area. Even though we missed the space shuttle launch the other day, we're hoping to see a missile launch and the tour of the Cape Canaveral Space Center. Also, a friend of Alex's is playing baseball in that area tomorrow night so we're going to see his game.
Total Nights Sleeping in the RV... 145
March Fuel $ 292.23
March Grocery $156.09
March Overnight Costs $ 89.00