Last week two of my girlfriends and I made a road trip to a resort in Orlando near Disney World. Our goal was to hang around by the pool, do some shopping, go out to eat, and have a few umbrella drinks.
One night we arrived at The Whiskey during happy hour. We were the only tourists at this hip locals hangout and also the oldest people there! The wait staff was great, the food was good, and we enjoyed watching the young crowd.
There is no Trader Joe’s near where I live so I am always happy to find one when I am on the road.
To celebrate my birthday on Friday we spent the afternoon at Disney Springs. This used to be called Downtown Disney and since my last visit seven years ago it has totally changed. Parking lots have been replaced with new upscale shops and parking garages have been added.
There is no fee to go to Disney Springs and parking is free. Be prepared to do a lot of walking. Although we didn’t give ourselves enough time to really enjoy it all I was able to find gifts for my grand children that can only be purchased in the shops there or in one of the theme parks.
On the way back home we stopped at Skipper’s Fish Camp in Darien, Georgia for some delicious fried shrimp and a great view of the shrimp boats.
Shrimp boats in Darien, Georgia
Shrimp boat Grave Digger
Shrimp boat Miss Jackie
After three days of laughter and fun, I returned home exhausted but with happy memories of a great adventure with my friends.
Five years ago I had just gotten over a very serious illness and did not know what the future would be for me. One of my best friends gave me this plaque in the above photo that now hangs in my kitchen to remind me that every day is a gift.
Every time I see a sunrise I know that I have been given the precious gift of another day on planet earth.
Way down upon de Swanee Ribber, Far, far away, Dere’s wha my heart is turning ebber, Dere’s wha de old folks stay
Florida State Song, “Old Folks at Home” by Stephen Foster, 1851
One our favorite Florida State Parks, we have camped here numerous times through the years. Located on the banks of the Suwanee River, the park is named for American compser Stephen Foster and features a museum with exhibits about some of his most famous songs, a 97-bell carillon, a craft square with demonstrations and a gift shop, and a historic Spring House which once brought many tourists into the town of White Springs.
The Stephen Foster Museum houses many exhibits including several dioramas representing some of his most famous songs. Two of his songs have been adapted as state songs – “Old Folks at Home” is the state song of Florida, and “My Old Kentucky Home” is the state song of Kentucky. You may recognize some of his other songs such as “Oh! Susanna”, “Beautiful Dreamer” and “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair.”
According to The Center for American Music at the University of Pittsburgh, “Old Folks at Home” was written for a minstrel show and became the most popular song ever published at that time. Stephen Foster was never in Florida and never saw the Suwanee River. In his original draft of the song he used the name Pedee River but later changed it to Suwanee.
The road through the state park winds around the museum and carillon with ancient Live Oak trees covered with Spanish Moss all through the park. The campground is surrounded by pine forest with miles of hiking and biking trails. We love hearing the bells of the Carillon as it chimes on the quarter hour and plays Stephen Foster’s music throughout the day.
On the banks of the Suwanee River sits a Spring House which brought many tourists into the town of White Springs in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. An interpretive sign at the spring house calls it “Florida’s Original Tourist Destination”. The waters from the sulphur springs were thought to have healing powers and people flocked to the town of White Springs for the cure.
Spring flowers were blooming all around the park and in the town of White Springs.
We drove to nearby Big Shoals State Park do a little geocaching and to hike along the Suwanee River. Our destination was an overlook on a bluff high above the Suwanee River to see Florida’s only Class III White Water Rapids.
Henry found the geocache and when he opened the container he found this little critter inside.
Several years ago during one of our stays at the park we had a delightful lunch at the historic Telford Hotel in White Springs. In one room of the hotel were old hotel registers with signatures of some of the famous visitors to the hotel including Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft in 1913. I dug out this photo of the register I took that day and you can see their signatures are the last ones on the page.
Sadly, the hotel is now closed and the building for sale.
When I first read about Florida’s tallest waterfall at Falling Waters State Park my first thought was “I didn’t know there were ANY waterfalls in Florida!” I had to see it with my own eyes.
So off we went to Falling Waters State Park to check it out. The campground sits at 324 feet above sea level on top of one of the highest hills in Florida.
An easy trail down the hill leads to a small pond and boardwalk trails to the waterfall and around several sinkholes. We observed the 73 foot tall waterfall from a platform above the falls but construction on the platform near the bottom of the falls prevented us from seeing the water dropping into the sinkhole at the bottom.
The trails meander through a long leaf pine forest with southern magnolias scattered among the pines. A few wildflowers blooming along the trail let us know that spring was almost here.
While exploring the trails we did some more geocaching and found two in the park. We’re getting better at this!
A Zebra Swallowtail became fascinated with my shoes when we stopped to take a break along one of the trails.
We continued our quest for good local food and stopped at the Main Street Market in downtown Chipley for some Plant City strawberries. These wonderful, sweet strawberries are only available for a short while and although we had been getting them at grocery stores I had to have some more. While we were there I was thrilled to see some Florida Honeybells. These strange looking orange citrus fruits are sweet and juicy. The also have a very short season so of course I grabbed some of those, too.
Falling Waters State Park is located south of Chipley, Florida just a couple of miles from I-10.