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STOP #247

We were up early and out of the Cracker Barrel parking lot by 8:00AM, right after enjoying a Cracker Barrel Breakfast, that's just part of the proper etiquette for spending the night for free. Plan to arrive late and leave early, so you don't take up valuable parking spaces during the restaurant's busy periods and if possible spend a little money.

Since we were on the road so early in the morning and the "official" check-in time at our next location, just an hour away, isn't until 3:00PM we had some time to kill.

What better way to spend our time than checking out another campground we have interest in camping at in the future. Just 35-miles north of here is the Open Pond Recreation Area in the Conecuh National Forest of Alabama. We tried to camp here in 2018 but Hurricane Michael came through the area and the park was closed for a long time due to wind damage. This year we intended to camp here, but our broken axle kept us stationary for so long we had to once again cancel our plans.

Today we at least got the chance to "drive through" the campground and just as we suspected, it's a place we definitely have to make time to visit in the future.

As we were driving through the town of Crestview, FL Tricia suddenly yelled and pointed out the window, "LOOK"! I thought maybe there was a pink elephant on the side of the road or something just as exciting. No, it was just a Publix Store, the first she'd seen since we left Florida back in March. Just one of the little pleasures you enjoy when living on the road.

We always stock up on several items we don't see in any other grocery stores around the country. Mainly the Publix Branded Hot Italian Turkey Sausage we both enjoy, plus 4Rivers BBQ Sauce and Badia Mojo Marinade, just to name a few. The last two we could order from Amazon but they cost two or three times as much when you do so.

Even spending our time taking the long detour up through southern Alabama we were still estimated to arrive at Florida Caverns State Park before noon. We called ahead and found that our site was unoccupied the night before and therefore was available for an earlier check-in.

The reason for choosing this park is twofold. First, it's the only cave in Florida that is open for public tours and you know how much we like cave tours. Secondly, neither one of us has ever been to this park and we are striving to camp in all 55 Florida State Parks where they have RV camping. So far, either one or both of us, have camped in 49 of the 55 parks.

Notice most of the tree tops are missing thanks to 2018's Hurricane Michael's 160+MPH winds?

A nightime photo of our campsite.

WEDNEDAY - Tricia was awake early to take her morning walk and snapped a few photos with her cell phone from around the park.

The first shows the lingering damage done to the canoe trail by Hurricane Michael back in 2018. The second shows what their entire beautiful canoe trail probably looked like before the hurricane.

THURSDAY - Since the cave tours don't operate on Tuesday and Wednesday we had to wait until today to explore the cave. It was worth the wait!

This was our 52nd cave tour so we have a lot of tours to compare this to, so when we say it's worth the wait, we know what we're talking about.


Our well seasoned guide for today, Ranger Lou.
The modest entrance to Florida Caverns.
Just inside the door we saw our first of two bats for the day.
This formation is commonly called Cave Bacon.
These formations are known as Stalactites.
This formation is called Flowstone.
One of several narrow passageways you'll need to negotiate.
Another low passageway along the tour.
This cave remains a constant 68 degrees year round.
This formation is known as Rimstone. These wuld normally be filled with water.
A closeup view of the Rimstone formation.
These formations are called Columns.
More Stalactites.
More Flowstone
Portions of the cave are lit with colorful LED lighting.
We usually don't like "colored" lighting, but this seemed to work for us.
Leaving the cave exit.
One last look back down at the cave exit.

SATURDAY - Today Florida Caverns State Park is holding a special event they call the Caverns Cultural Celebration.

According to their flyer there will be demonstrations of a cow camp, blacksmithing, woodworking, beekeeping, flintknapping, candlemaking, a Civil War Camp and rural crafts. The flyer also promises Great Food, Entertainment and Much More! We'll see what this is all about between 9AM and 4PM today.

Also our good friend Heather will be driving over from Jacksonville to spent the day with us and then leave tomorrow morning. I hope she enjoys the fair! Maybe Tricia will even revisit the cave tour with her.

Heather arrived shortly after 10:00AM and after relaxing and enjoying an Instant Pot lesson on how to make hard boiled eggs for our luch of fresh egg salad we were off to visit the Cultural Fair in the park. It was about what we were expecting for the free admission.

I purchased some locally made Wildflower Honey and Tricia picked out a jar of Fig Jam. Heather mentioned that on her way into the park this morning she saw there was another Crafts Fair going on just a few miles outside the park entrance. When she mentioned there were signs for Brunswick Stew I was ready to go.

Turns out it was also free and there must have been 30 or more booths set up with local Arts and Crafts for sale. There was also a live band on stage playing classic rock music and a Muscle Car Show featuring a few dozen cars from the 60s to the present.

After walking around for a short while and enjoying some of that Brunswick Stew (I still like my recipe better) we were off in search of some firewood for tonight's campfire. Heather said she couldn't go home happy without enjoying a campfire with us so we were happy to oblige.

MONDAY - There was a little excitemnet in the campground this afternoon, unfortuately it came at the expense of someone elses misfortune.

As what usually happens the campground was pretty full over the weekend and then by Monday morning it was only half full. Around noon time the parade of new arrivals starting coming in to fill up the 32 site campground.

Across the street and one campsite over a senior citizen couple showed up with a trailer in tow and struggled to get the trailer into their site. After a few back and forth readjustments the wife who was directing her husband said, "It's still crooked". His reply was, "It's good enough". I know that feeling!

They quickly unhooked the trailer from the truck and leveled it, walked their dog to go do his business, hooked up the water and electric, then jumped back into the truck and they were off to go do something.

I was laying down in bed with the windows open enjoying a new book I just downloaded and started hearing an odd sound coming from somewhere across the street. I thought maybe it was the new arrivals air conditioner making the noise.

About fifteen minutes later I heard several women's voices coming from the same general area. Something wasn't right as they were circling the unattended camper and calling for help.

Turns out the noise I heard was a waterfall coming out of the neighbors camper door. The dog inside was barking due to all the activity going on around the outside of the trailer. The first thing the ladies did was turn off the water spigot supplying the trailer with fresh water. The next thing they did was disconnect the hose from the trailer, what that was supposed to accomplish I don't know.

Neither remedy slowed down the waterfall at the doorway. I suspected there was a faucet left on inside the trailer and the water wouldn't stop until the fresh water tank emptied. I mentioned without being able to get inside there wasn't much else we could do. That's when they informed me the trailer door was unlocked. Only problem was there was a barking and growling dog inside.

I cracked open the door and tried to calm the dog, who after 10-minutes of me reassuring everything was alright, finally calmed down. Then I looked but didn't see any water coming from the kitchen sink and fortunately the water pump switch was just inside of the door and was turned off. That meant that no more water was flowing onto the floor and all we could do was wait for the owners to return.

Several hours later they returned and saw what had happened. They thanked everyone who helped minimize the damage and began the cleanup process. We loaned them a squeegy we purchased for cleaning ROVER's windshield, our two bedroom fans and one of our space heaters that oscillates back and forth.

The next morning they returned our items, packed up and went home. Turns out this was a "new to them" used trailer they just purchased several weeks ago. They said it was their fifth trailer purchase, I hope all the rest were less troublesome.

BTW - The culprit was the flush pedal on the toilet bowl became stuck in the open position. So had the ladies not turned off the water spigot things could have been a lot worse.

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