Florida Friends…Moving through the State!

Lucien, Jeanette, Henry & Helen

From where I left off on the previous blog… Leaving Big CypressNational Preserve in early morning, we were close to Fort Meyers Beach just after lunch. We just had to stop and say hello to Jeanette and Henry Turgeon. Henry was Helen’s first boss. She was only sixteen working at the “City Diner” back in Berlin, NH. Jeanette is recovering from health issues and is doing just fine. She always amazes me with her digital know how. I guess being a former Librarian must have something to do with it. Henry is also a gentleman and gifted musician. He is keen on remembering people from our home town.

From Fort Meyers Beach, we headed towards MacDill Air Force Base for an overnighter, at the Famcamp. We stopped there to look around for any possible “good deals” on a used 5th wheel camper. Yes, we are looking for a 5th wheel camper to stay a longer period in Key West.

Mind you, we still really enjoy the truck camper, but for an extended stay in one spot, we simply need more square footage. There is no way that we could have explored all of the places we’ve been to on the North American continent without a truck camper. We didn’t find anything that met our needs.

   St Petersburg Sunset from MacDill AFB Famcamp

The sunset at Mac Dill is comparable to Key West, but instead of sunseting into the Gulf of Mexico, the sun sets with St. Petersburg skyline as a backdrop. We attended mass at the base chapel that evening and finished the evening reading in the TC (truck camper). Sunday morning our checklist was to drive to Lazydays Super RV Store. It’s only a short distance to Lazydays, nearly at the intersection of I-4 and I-75. Wow! Lazydays is massive! They have every make, model and what not in the RV world. We did find a couple of used 5th wheels, but I wasn’t ready to commit. I just don’t impulse buy and I wasn’t ready to trade-in our trusty truck camper. It was still a good experience to see 1,400 RVs for sale. They are so large that they have their own Flying J truckstop and a Cracker Barrel restaurant on their property.

After lunch at Bob Evans, just across the street from Lazydays, we decided to head a little further north to Zephyrhills and visit Bob and Cathy Lettre.

Bob, Cathy, Helen & Me

They recently made the commitment and bought a winter home in the sunshine state. The visit was short, but Helen got to chat with her high school classmate and I had a good time talking to Bob about his new home. It was time to move on again and visit with a former Berlin neighbor, Henry and his new bride Marge. Henry & Marge are always fun to visit. We overnighted in their driveway before leaving in the morning.

The next stop was also just a short ride up the road to Inverness to visit still another former

Fr. Sergious Gerken

NH neighbor. Father Sergious Gerken of the St. Raphael Orthodox Church. Fr. Sergious was having a meeting when we called him ahead of time, but he insisted that we come right over. He was meeting with a couple who were in the process of joining his congregation. Well wouldn’t you know that we were all in deep conversations with the three of them. Christy and Charles were native Southern people and they were sort of surprised that us Northern people are very similar to them including hunting and fishing.

This chance encounter was a blessing for us! Christy and Charles told us of this secret Florida jem that is overlooked by

Christy, Charles, Fr. Sergiuos, Helen

99% of tourist that come into Florida. They were talking about “The Stephen Foster State Folk Culture Center” Ok, most of you, including me probably would have said, “Who in the heck is Stephen Foster”? If I would have asked, “Did you ever here of the following song”?

  • Beautiful Dreamer
  • My Old Kentucky Home
  • Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair
  • Oh, Susanna

Stephen Foster State Folk Cultural Center

Stephen Foster wrote hundreds and hundreds of songs. Four of Stephen Foster’s songs may be found in the movie “Gone With the Wind”…”Beautiful Dreamer” can be found in the first of the latest release of the “Batman” movie.

Stephen Foster’s Diorama of a Southern Song

Stephen Foster’s death was in 1864, which tells us how celebrated this song composer was and still is. And now for the “Jem” in a little place called White Springs, Florida.

Located just north of I-10 and off I-75 is the Stephen Foster Folk & Culture Center State Park. Beautiful grounds, an old southern mansion coverted into a museum, a very tall Carrillon tower, campgrounds, forests, flowers and best of all the Suwannee River. I could write several chapters on all that we experienced in this charming southern plantation setting.

We spent a day exploring this area before leaving on our journey

to the West, that is before heading North on the westerly side of Georgia.

Sawannee River…A few feet above normal

The day was coming to a close and Tallahassee was our turning point to start heading up route 27 into Georgia. We stopped at a Walmart in Bainbridge, GA for the night. From this point North, we would be in a more rural environment. I had no real clue as what to expect to see or do from here. The only reason for exploring this part of the state of Georgia was a stop, on our way down to Florida,

Georgia Little Grand Canyon

at the Georgia Visitor Center. Here I had seen a spectacular picture of Providence Canyon. It reminded me so much of Bryce Canyon in Utah.

That is what we saw and did!

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