March, 2018 marked the fifth anniversary of the WanderingDawgs blog. I started the blog in 2013 as a way to keep friends and family up to date on our journey from Georgia to Alaska and back. I never dreamed that five years later I would still be blogging.
Thank you to everyone who visits Wandering Dawgs. I really appreciate all the visits, likes, comments and shares over the years.
Every now and then I check on the traffic statistics for the blog. Here are the top five posts of 2017.
Why is this the most popular post? I can only guess that there are as many other Lonesome Dove fans out there that are frustrated because there isn’t more information available about the actual trail that the fictional Hat Creek Cattle Company followed when they took their cattle herd from the Rio Grande in south Texas to Montana.
I’ve had many people ask about my favorite place and the answer is always the same.
There is no place else on earth I love more than my little peace of paradise here in coastal Georgia. This is where our children grew up and where Henry and I are growing old together. I have the best friends and neighbors anyone could ask for and there is beauty every where I look.
Want to go to an uninhabited barrier island? A boat or kayak will get you there.
Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins are a common sight in the waters.
Let’s not forget the birds.
Whether you cook it at home or eat out at one of the many great restaurants nearby, there’s nothing better than eating fresh caught seafood.
I love to travel and always enjoy our wanderings. Every trip ends the same way. I know I am almost home when I start smelling the salt marsh and seeing the creeks and marsh as we drive the last few miles.
No matter where you may roam, the best part is coming home – anonymous
It’s been two years since our last visit to Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Springs. During that stay we did a lot of exploring around the park, the town of White Springs, and nearby Big Shoals State Park. I posted about those adventures at Way Down upon the Suwannee River.
We returned to the park this February. The carillon tower is a focal point in the park and one of my favorite things about being there is hearing the the bells from the carillon chime on the quarter hour and hearing Stephen Foster’s music throughout the day. Unfortunately, the carillon wasn’t working this year.
The carillon at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center
We didn’t visit the museum on this trip but there are interesting exhibits about Stephen Foster and his many songs.
Stephen Foster Museum
Even though it was only February there were some beautiful spring blooms. Gotta love Florida!
Dogwoods blooming at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center
Spring came early
Azaleas blooming in White Springs
A splash of color blooming in February
One day we took a drive to Suwanee River State Park near Live Oak to check it out. High on the banks above the Suwanee River, we enjoyed a walk on an easy trail to the confluence of the Suwanee and Withlacoochee Rivers. Beside the trail were relics from riverboats that once traveled up and down the river.
Relic from old steamboat
Relic from old steamboat
Relic from old steamboat
We enjoyed wonderful views from an overlook at the confluence of the two rivers.
After our walk we sat on a wooden swing overlooking the Suwanee River enjoying a picnic lunch. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Tourists have been traveling to Silver Springs to see the crystal clear water since the early 1800’s. One of Florida’s first tourist attractions, the first glass bottom boat tours began in the late 1870’s. During the 1900’s the attraction grew to include a jungle cruise and animal exhibits.
Silver Springs was a popular filming location for Hollywood during the 1900’s. Some of the films shot there include several Tarzan movies with Johnny Weissmuller, the 1954 version of Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Moonraker (a James Bond movie). It was also a location for the TV series Sea Hunt. Some of the sets still exist around the property.
In 1971, Silver Springs was named a National Natural Landmark. Today, Silver Springs State Park is owned and operated by the state of Florida. The state operates the famous glass bottom boats now but there are no more jungle cruises. Visitors can walk beside the springs or sit in one of the rocking chairs to enjoy the view. There are boardwalks and trails as well as a boat launch area with canoe and kayak rentals.
This is one of our favorite Florida state parks and we wanted to spend a few days there to unwind after the excitement of the Daytona 500. We were able to reserve our favorite campsite and I was glad to see it hadn’t change much. There was gopher tortoise hole right next to the campsite just like I remembered and the resident tortoise paid us a visit our first night.
One day we drove over to the main entrance of the park for a ride on one of the famous glass bottom boats. Captain Oscar has been working at Silver Springs since the early 1960’s and had lots of interesting stories about the park.
A look through the glass bottom boat
These statues were featured in a tv show and a movie
After the boat tour we wandered around the path next to the springs before taking a walk on the boardwalk trail.
Boardwalk trail at Silver Spriings
The trunk of this palm tree looks like a corkscrew
An unusual looking palm tree in the Silver River
Another day we rented a kayak for a beautiful paddle on the Silver River.
I felt like I was in one of the old Tarzan movies as I walked along the river trail near the campground.
Back in the 1930s during the day of the Jungle Cruise boat ride, the operator of the ride brought in a group of wild rhesus monkeys to use as part of the attraction. Not knowing they could swim, he left them on one of the islands beside the Silver River. When he later returned to the island he was surprised to see they were gone. The monkeys are still living in the area and are often seen by visitors.
Although we didn’t see any of the monkeys on this visit, we saw many of them when we kayaked down the Silver River in 2009.
The monkeys can be very aggressive at times. All around the park are signs warning about the danger of feeding the monkeys. Now where else in the United States would you see a sign like this?
Henry and I have only been following NASCAR for two years. Ever since the first time we watched the Daytona 500 on TV in 2016 I knew I wanted to go. So this year we went. And it was even more fun than I thought it would be.
NASCAR stands for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. The biggest race of the year is at the beginning of the NASCAR season. Every February, the Daytona Speedweeks is held at the Daytona International Speedway. The Daytona 500 – the Great American Race- ends a fun filled week of entertainment on the midway and qualifying races for the Daytona 500 as well as two other NASCAR races.
We arrived in Daytona on Thursday afternoon. During the next few days we went to three races, drove along A1A on the way to lunch at Racing’s North Turn restaurant in Ponce Inlet, had lunch at Caribbean Jack’s on the Intercoastal waterway, watched the Thunderbirds practice, and didn’t have time to catch our breath until Monday morning.
Old photo from when the race was held on the beach
Car on display at Racing’s North Turn Restaurant
Our first NASCAR race was the Can-Am Duel on Thursday night. Here’s a short video to give you an idea of how fast these cars are going and how loud they are.
Our second race was Camping World Truck Series race on Friday night. We arrived at the track early so we could wander around the midway to see some of the exhibits and do a little shopping. We entered the grandstands with plenty of time to walk around for different views of the track.
The trucks were fast and loud and the race was exciting. A great way to spend a Friday night!
After two night races in a row, we decided to take it easy and skip the Saturday Xfinity series race. Instead, we watched the United States Air Force Thunderbirds practice in the morning before enjoying lunch at Caribbean Jack’s on the Intercoastal Waterway.
The USAF Thunderbirds flew right over the campground during their Saturday practice
Beautiful day for lunch on the deck overlooking the Intercoastal waterway
Sunday was the day of the 60th Daytona 500 and a long day at the track for us. We had tickets for the Fanzone so we arrived in the morning to have plenty of time to go out in the middle of the track and get up close to the pit area, see the cars, and enjoy some of the pre-race festivities.
We had a great view of the whole track from our seats in the upper section. After a concert by Rascal Flatts and the driver introductions, each driver rode around the track in a pickup truck.
2017 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series champion #78 Martin Truex, Jr
Danica Patrick before her last NASCAR race
After the national anthem, the USAF Thunderbirds performed a flyover.
Drivers, start your engines!
The race was exciting with the lead changing several times. A huge wreck near the end of the race knocked out all of the leaders and #3 Austin Dillon was the winner.
Watching a race on tv is fun, but nothing compares to seeing it in person. I was fascinated seeing all the things that go on before the race, at how well organized and perfectly timed everything was. The sight and sound of the cars going by at almost 200 miles per hour is mind boggling. Most fans have a favorite driver and it was fun seeing them all decked out in their favorite driver’s gear.
In case you are wondering, our favorite driver is #78 Martin Truex, Jr. He was in second place until the last wreck but he did finish the race.
I’ve already made reservations at the RV park for next year!