Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Stephen Foster State Folk Cultural Center, White Springs, FL

After an overnight stay at Jolly Acres RV Park in St George, SC (Passport America for $16 a night for full hook-ups), we continued our journey south and ended up at Stephen Foster State Folk Cultural Center in White Springs, FL.  We paid for 4 nights and then headed to site 10.

We quickly set up and then headed out to explore the park and all that it had to offer.  There is an 8 mile bike trail that we were really looking forward to trying out.  Unfortunately, this is what we saw at the trail head....

Bummer!  After talking to a park ranger, we found out that it was doubtful that the trail would open back up before we left.  Oh well - we would have to find somewhere else to pedal.  Although the park has access to boating, kayaking was also not an option as the Suwannee River was low....very low! 

We were able to ride our bikes around the park on the paved roads and stopped to explore the museum, artisan cottages, and carillon.
The carillon

Close up of the carillon tower.
The carillon rang on each quarter hour.  In addition, on the hour at 10, noon, 2 and 4, it plays for about 15 minutes. I could recognize some of the Stephen Foster songs it played and was hoping to hear Camptown Races or Oh Suzannah!  Didn't ever hear either of these two songs but really enjoyed hearing the bells throughout the day

Legend has it that Stephen Foster's song "Old Folks at Home" made the Suwannee River famous.   The museum and carillon had several dioramas representing the various songs he wrote.
Stephen Foster museum - looks like a Southern plantation! 

Inside the carillon

Diorama of "Old Folks at Home"

Diorama of "Camptown Races"

One very interesting tidbit we learned was that Stephen Foster went to school in Athens, PA.  This is Dan's hometown!  He remembered learning about Stephen Foster when he was in grade school and now he knows why!!  While at the school (Athens Academy), Stephen Foster wrote "Tioga Waltz".

What a neat coincidence!!

When we went to the artisan's square, one of the volunteers was doing Pysanky.  Pysanky is an old eastern European art of painting eggs.  I was fascinated by the intricate work that it took to paint the eggs.  The volunteer had painted a goose egg with a wonderful, very detailed Christmas scene.  Unfortunately, her husband was showing it off one day and accidentally dropped it.  Oops!  I didn't take a picture of the volunteer doing Pysanky but here's a picture that I found online of a Pysanky egg. 
This may have to become one of my new hobbies!

Since we couldn't bike on any of the trails at the campground, we packed up the bikes and headed over to Big Shoals State Park.  This part was just a few miles away from us and we actually could have pedaled over there.

Lots of live oaks with moss!  Beautiful!
We got parked at the Little Shoals entrance and headed out on the Woodpecker trail.  This is a 3.4 mile paved trail that takes you to the Big Shoals entrance.  Once on this side of the park, we parked the bikes and headed out to hike the Big Shoals trail.  This trail runs right along the Suwannee River and takes you to Florida's only Class III rapids.  Remember  me saying that the river was low.......

Hmmm....not sure how we could paddle this!

Would be quite difficult to navigate in a kayak!!
The trail was about 2 miles round trip and absolutely gorgeous!
I love the palms!

Palms on the left; river on the right (but hidden by the brush!)

First you hear the woodpeckers; then you see them!

Turtle sunning himself
On the way back from the trail and close to the parking lot, we saw this giant bat house!

Hundreds of Mexican free tailed bats live there!  Too bad we weren't there at dusk to see them take flight. 

There was one other creature that we saw at Big Shoals....not sure exactly what you call it other than "cool"!!!!

Bigfoot was big!!
Good thing that we had been "warned" about this creature in the woods.  Someone had apparently created him out of the moss from the trees. 

The last day before our departure from Stephen Foster was spent doing household cleaning and maintenance.  Dan patched the holes in the awning and I tended to the inside.  Hitch itch set in early this time and we were both anxious to get on the road. 

We left Tuesday to our next destination which was only about 45 minutes away.  We're going to "moochdock" for a bit (not really as I'm sure we'll do some chores!) at the home of some friends we had met originally in NC. 

Make it a great day!


Steve and Joan said...

Sounds like you guys had fun. I have to say I've never been to that park. We are doing our trial run with the trailer and motorhome this weekend. We're going to the Tampa RV show on Saturday. We are having Howard and Linda weight the motorhome. Hope we can get together for a ride. Our clock is counting down! Yeah!

Gail and Rick (Gypsy Turtles) said...

Sounds like you had a lot of fun in spite of the low river and closed bike path.
Love the picture of Dan and Big Foot :)
Looks like just about everybody is in Florida this month.

Barbara said...

Dan does a great Sasquatch impersonation! Looks like you found plenty to do despite the trail being closed...what adventurers you two are. Cool connection to Dan's hometown with Stephen Foster. Where are you now? Miss my sissy girl! xoxo

Sherry said...

Great come back from closed bike trail and closed river! That's full timing. You just say "maybe next time"!!

Gin and Syl said...

It seems that several of the rivers in Florida are too dry to paddle. Bummer but still a nice adventure.

Nancy and Bill said...

We loved Stephen Foster Cultural Center. However, it was too cold to kayak when we were there. Still looks like you made the most of it and found a great bike and hike!!!

Elaine said...

Other than the trail being closed, it looks like you twp were in your prettiest destination yet with beautiful weather and scenery. That's so neat about the ties between Stephen Foster & Dan's hometown. By the way Tricia, zodon't know if you remember the cheapie organ that Mom & Dad got us kids one Christmas? Well, I specifically remember learning how to play "Way Down upon the Swanee River (at least that's how I used to pronounce Suwanee (LOL).

Cathy said...

If you want to see more moss draped trees, head back to SC and visit us. Looks like you two make the best of things as your adventure continues. Thanks for the calls, prayers and concern this past week.

Michael and Dee said...

Love the Sasquatch! Great photos.

Mike and Dee

Ceal said...

How fortunate the 2 of you are to see such unusal & beautiful sights in our own country. It's cold here, hope you are enjoying better weather. Happy Trails!
Love you,

Anonymous said...

So glad you guys are in Florida enjoying the great weather. You left just in time! Have fun!

Bruce and Laura