Wandering Dawgs is five years old

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.

Number 1: For three years in a row, the most viewed post is Starting the Lonesome Dove Cattle Trail. So far, it is the also the number one post for 2018.

Lonesome Dove Trail Map
Lonesome Dove Trail Map courtesy https://www.etsy.com/shop/AntiqueMapsofTexas

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.

Number 2: The second most viewed post of 2017 is Wandering Around America One State at a Time – New Mexico.

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View from Sandia Crest

Number 3:  Palo Duro Canyon – the Grand Canyon of Texas.

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Palo Duro Canyon

Number 4:  Wandering Around America one State at a Time – Tennessee.

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Fall in the Great Smoky Mountains at Cades Cove

Number 5:  Wandering Around America one State at a Time – Utah.

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Henry standing under Delicate Arch

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you will come back soon to see what we are up to.

My favorite place on Earth

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.

Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean
Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean
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Full moon rising over the Atlantic Ocean
Sunset in Coastal Georgia
Sunset over the Salt Marsh
Salt Marsh of Coastal Georgia
Salt Marsh of Coastal Georgia

Want to go to an uninhabited barrier island? A boat or kayak will get you there.

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Boat ride on one of the many creeks
Uninhabited Georgia Barrier Island
Uninhabited Georgia Barrier Island
We had the island all to ourselves
We often are the only people on one of the uninhabited barrier islands

Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins are a common sight in the waters.

Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin near Tybee Island, Georgia
Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin near Tybee Island, Georgia

Let’s not forget the birds.

Roseate Spoonbill fishing in Georgia tidal creek
Roseate Spoonbill fishing in Georgia tidal creek
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Osprey
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Great Egret
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Juvenile Ibis
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Wood Stork and Egret
Male Painted Bunting
Male Painted Bunting

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.

Fresh Georgia Blue Crabs Caught, Cooked, Cleaned and eaten on Halloween, 2015
Fresh Georgia Blue Crabs straight from the creek to the pot.

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

 

Spring Flowers and the Suwannee River

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.

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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.

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Stephen Foster Museum

Even though it was only February there were some beautiful spring blooms. Gotta love Florida!

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.

We enjoyed wonderful views from an overlook at the confluence of the two rivers.

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Confluence of Suwanee and Withlacoochee Rivers
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Bridges over the Suwanee River
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Withlacoochee River

After our walk we sat on a wooden swing overlooking the Suwanee River enjoying a picnic lunch. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Historic Silver Springs

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.

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Gopher Tortoise by our campsite at Silver Springs State Park

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.

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Entering Florida’s Silver Springs park
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Glass bottom boat at Silver Springs
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Captain Oscar has been working at Silver Springs since the early 1960’s

After the boat tour we wandered around the path next to the springs before taking a walk on the boardwalk trail.

Another day we rented a kayak for a beautiful paddle on the Silver River.

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Kayaking the Silver River at Silver Springs
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Although there are no more jungle cruises, this fort built for the attraction is still standing
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Quiet and peaceful along 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.

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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.

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Wild Rhesus Monkey along the Silver River in 2009
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We spotted this baby Rhesus Monkey beside the river in 2009. He must be all grown up now.

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?

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Monkeys in Florida?

 

Daytona Speedweeks and the Great American Race

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.

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!

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Panoramic view of Daytona Speedway from near start-finish line
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Daytona Speedway
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Trucks lined up before the race

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.

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.

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A look at the stands from track level
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Cars lined up before the race

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.

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The stages are set for the pre-race entertainment and driver introductions
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The cars lined up before the race

After the national anthem, the USAF Thunderbirds performed a flyover.

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U. S. Air Force Thunderbirds flyover before the race

Drivers, start your engines!

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Start/Finish line at Daytona 500
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Daytona 500
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Pit stop for Kyle Bush #18 and Joey Lagano #22
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RV’s filled the infield

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!