Sunday, August 28, 2016



Do you remember "The Creature From The Black Lagoon"(1954)?   Or the early Tarzan movies "Tarzan's Secret Treasure" (1941), starring Johnny Weissmuller,  or "Airport '77" or  "Joe Panther", (starring Brian Keith and Ricardo Montalban (O.K., maybe you saw reruns)?  All these movies were filmed on location at beautiful Wakulla Springs, FL from the 1940s through the 1970s!

Entrance to Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
1967 - Recognized by National Park Service as a National Natural Landmark
Wakulla Springs produces 150,000 - 600,000 gallons of water per minute
Ol' Us visited the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park and Lodge, opened in September, 1937,  and while walking through the old lodge we noticed many memorable and historical pictures.

The Wakulla Lodge - Wakulla Springs, FL
One photograph in particular was taken in the 1940's and it shows a 3 level diving platform in the ancient Spring (definitely before lawyers got involved).  Several weeks ago we posted the old picture on Facebook on an Old Florida page.   Many others also remembered the platform - people are still "SHARING" this photo - now over 800 SHARES!  So if you ever lived or visited this part of Florida - and drove 14 miles south of Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL, you swam in this crystal clear spring with manatees, alligators, turtles and wild birds VERY closeby and you probably jumped from diving platform #3 with your pals.

Wakulla Springs Diving Platform - 3 levels in the 1940's 
There have been changes since the Florida State Park System purchased the 2,860 acres park and river from industrialist Edward Gresham Ball in 1986 for $7.15 million, and it is still as beautiful as it was when RV and I visited  in the 60's, maybe more so (In 2000 another 3,000 acres was added to the original park acreage).  To get an up close glimpse of the area we enjoyed a narrated boat tour that lasted almost an hour and witnessed how natural habitats are being preserved for future generations to enjoy. 
Wakulla Springs State Park and Lodge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places
and is designated as a National Natural Landmark
Ibis and other wild birds make most of the sounds throughout the Park
Many alligators are seen enjoying a peaceful habitat.
We remembered there used to be glass bottom boats for many years, but now you can't see the bottom of the river/springs because of tannin and a mix of  the same toxic chemicals and pesticide issues seen in other areas of our State.  The Wakulla River is off limits to everyone now - no one is allowed past a certain point for any reason because it is a sensitive protected wildlife habitat.

This alligator didn't let us interrupt his plans for lunch!
After our tour we enjoyed lunch in the Edward Ball Dining Room of the Lodge which took us through the beautiful, almost unchanged lobby.  The Lodge's architecture is Mediterranean Revival and has been carefully maintained for many years.

 Wakulla Lodge Lobby
Our admission into the Park ($6.00) was credited toward the reasonable cost of our lunch in their full service dining room which overlooks the spring.  Sometime in the future we would like to return for the delicious menu offerings for lunch and dinner which usually includes local seafood, frog legs and local oyster dishes.  The Wakulla Lodge is used for meetings retreats, weddings and other special family and business occasions.  Guests can request lodging in one of the 27 guest rooms at most reasonable prices. 

We noticed many positive updates, such as improvements in comfort and safety,  but there are still many recognizable historical items which were left from the early days.

 The original exposed painted ceiling has been restored and repainted by master artisans and is stunning.   In 1966 "Old Joe", a huge American alligator (650 lbs, over 11 feet, and around 200 years old), the unofficial mascot of Wakulla Springs, was senselessly killed and is now stuffed, memorialized and encased in a glass casket in the lobby.

 The world's longest marble soda fountain and gift shop is on the opposite side of the lobby.  Oh yes, there is only one television in the hotel which is in the lobby.

The World's Longest Marble Soda Fountain and Gift Shop in The Lodge
Even though Wakulla Springs and Lodge takes you back to a bygone era, it is visited by about 200,000 people a year.  The Spring is always a chilly 70 degrees year round,  and provides relief from the heat, or it will take your breath away.  The Wakulla Lodge at Wakulla Springs offers visitors a timeless glimpse into Florida's pristine and elegant past.  I wonder if The Creature From The Black Lagoon or Tarzan would be surprised to see what the springs look like today?

Thursday, August 25, 2016


Leaving Lake Okeechobee, FL we spent a few days in our winter domicile, the Florida Grande Motor Coach Resort, Webster, FL, running errands and acquiring what we will need for our next adventure.

Our Welcoming Committee - Sandhill Cranes - Webster, FL

                 Florida Grande Motorcoach Resort - Webster, FL

The Orange Shop - Highway 301 - Citra, FL 
Old Florida Produce Stands - Along Highway 301 - Florida
 After a few days with our family we depart and our plans are to visit another area of Florida on the Gulf of Mexico for a couple of days.  One of our lessons we have learned in the time that "Ol' Us" have explored "Ol' Florida" is that there is no way to see everything in a couple of months.  We will continue to write about our Old Florida experiences, even after this season of travel because these quaint areas of Florida are rapidly disappearing!

Seafood Food Trucks in Sopchoppy, FL
Scenic Highway U.S. 98 - St. Joe Sound, FL
Our travels throughout the State of Florida have made us aware of the sensitivity of our natural resources.  We commend our Florida State Park System and and our National Park Service and what they do to preserve the delicate balance of nature and continue to enforce the laws throughout our state.  We hope sometimes it isn't too little too late.

US Highway 98 - A Drive along the Coast
Ho Hum RV Park - Carrabelle, FL
Ho Hum RV Park - Carrabelle, FL
We enjoy staying on the St. George Sound, off scenic U.S. Highway 98 and close to Carrabelle, at an unpretentious and popular campground called Ho Hum RV Park.  We said "Good Morning" to our neighbor and he replies "Ho Hum",  and we knew we were in the right place.   Each day, from each unique and regal sunrise, until the last light of day, it is hard to keep your eyes off the activity in the water and the air.

Egret In Flight - Ho Hum RV Park, Carrabelle, FL
Shore birds, passing fishermen in boats, leaping mullet, giant schools of fish, passing dolphin, and fishermen at the end of the dock take up a good part of the day while one attempts to read a few pages of a book.

What's Up Dock!? at Ho Hum RV Park - Must Be Low Tide!
Another glorious day is behind us, and if the tides are right we may join the other fishermen at the end of the 400' dock and attempt to catch a fish, all the while thinking that if one is lucky enough to catch a fish it will have to be cleaned....and that is messy.  So just enjoy the camaraderie and mostly "fake" fishing, and breathe the healthy and clean ocean air.  This scenic area of Ol' Florida never gets Ol' to us.  We have been overwhelmingly blessed... again.

Beautiful Sunrise at Ho Hum - Carrabelle, FL

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Before reading....please note the following:  The Florida Hurricane Season for 2016 begins June 1 and ends November 30. 

Ol' US  - As you may or may not know, both of us are original Floridians.  Every year about this time we get that uneasy feeling if someone brings up hurricanes.  Ask someone who has been through a hurricane and they all have quite a story to tell.  The reason for this blog is to provide a true story that happened in September, 1928, known as the Okeechobee Hurricane (also known as San Felipe Segundo Hurricane), a storm that killed over 2,500 people - most likely many more.

The storm system developed as a tropical depression off the shore of the west coast of Africa.  When the storm intensified and hit Guadalupe on September 12 the storm brought great destruction and 1,200 deaths.  The storm continued to build intensity and on September 13, now a Category 5, peaked with sustained winds of 160 mph, hitting Puerto Rico and was now recorded as a tropical cyclone, the first ever in this part of the world.

Lake Okeechobee, FL
Early on September 17 the less intense storm hit West Palm Beach with 145 mph winds.  The severest damage was around Lake Okeechobee.  The storm surge caused water to pour out of the southern edge of the lake, flooding hundreds of miles as high as 20 feet above ground, somewhat causing a tsunami effect.

Lake Okeechobee, FL
Lake Okeechobee, FL
At least 2,500 people drowned in the cities of Belle Glade, Canal Point, Chosen, Pahokee and South Bay.  Some said several generations of families were gone within hours.  Damage in these areas was estimated to be over $25 million (In today's dollars, the amount would be in excess of $341 million).  In addition, records show 1,278 livestock and 47,389 poultry were killed.  The storm also destroyed what may have been the largest "citrus crop in the history of the industry".  Note this storm happened one year before the stock market crash which even put this area in more economic turmoil.
Port Mayaca Lock - Lake Okeechobee, FL
Most survivors and bodies were washed out into the Everglades and many were never found.  About 75% of the fatalities were migrant workers.  The official death count was revised in the 90's to reflect at least 2,500 deaths.  
Canal Point Lock, Lake Okeechobee, FL
A mass grave and memorial is at Port Mayaca Cemetery east of Port Mayaca and contains the bodies of 1600 victims of the hurricane.  The storm killed half the population of Palm Beach County at that time.  As in most catastrophes of this magnitude there were many changes made afterwards.  There were many victims as a result of this event, not just the storm victims.

Historical Marker commemorating the Hurricane of 1928 - Mass Burial Site -
Port Mayaca Cemetery
Port Mayaca Cemetery Memorial - Port Mayaca, FL
Overall, from the time this storm formed on September 6 and dissipated on September 20, over $100 million in damages and at least 4,079 deaths, probably more.  Today, fishermen still report finding skeletons in Lake Okeechobee.

Just remember, it only takes one storm to change your entire life.  The point is take the warnings seriously and be vigilant about your preparations.

Monday, August 8, 2016


 Okeechobee means "Big Water" in the Seminole language.  Lake Okeechobee, 730 square miles of water, is the world's most popular freshwater gamefish lake, the largest lake in Florida, and is most famous as a big bass lake.  The lake is 37 miles long and 30 miles wide with an average depth of 10 feet.

The old Okeechobee County area of Old Florida is full of character and natural scenic beauty.  As we've eluded to in the past, the future of this ecologically sensitive area of Old Florida is balancing precariously between the care and respect all of us show for this and other parts of Florida. Despite ecological advantages provided by aquatic plants to fishes and wildlife on Lake Okeechobee, controversy over management of vegetation continues among federal and state agencies that have regulatory authority.

Okeechobee, FL - Established 1915
Welcome To God's Country!
NO BAD DAZE - for your bait, tackle an outdoors
It was best we arrived at a time Lake O, also known as "Florida's inland sea",  is sparsely populated because (1) we probably couldn't afford the in-season prices, and (2) the fishermen take over the place - fishermen, equipment, boats, big fish stories, rental lots, boy toys and campgrounds.  But you get the idea when you ride down 441/98 toward Parrot Road, the main road that leads into the town of Okeechobee.   Our campground, Water's Edge Motorcoach and RV Resort, a very clean and secure resort,  is completely booked for the next season.

Water's Edge Motorcoach and RV Resort
on the Rim Canal with boat launch
Water's Edge RV and Motorcoach Resort - Okeechobee, FL
The Chickee Hut is where everyone congregates at sunset.
Water's Edge RV and Motorcoach Resort - Okeechobee
Some of the campgrounds and cottages leave a lot to your imagination and I wanted to post some of my impressions with the pictures that definitely catch your eye upon entering one of the biggest freshwater fishing villages in Florida.  Within about 20 miles of driving down the highway around the canal in Okeechobee you see about 100 or more fish camps, rv campgrounds, cottages, etc.
Journey's End - Annual Senior Rentals Only
Taylor Creek Resort RV Park - On The Water
Butch's RV Park - seem to cater to party goers and AMVETS
PJ's RV Park - Okeechobee
Summer Breeze RV Park - Okeechobee, FL
Some of the names had to do with the school or university you may favor:

Gator RV Park - Okeechobee, FL
Seminole Village - Mobile Home and RV Sites
Okeechobee, FL
Or just plain old anything to do with Okeechobee:

Okeechobee Lake RV Park - Okeechobee, FL
BIG O Waterfront RV Resort
Okeechobee, FL
Big Lake Lodge and RV - Okeechobee, FL
The Flying Cow is a grass airstrip designed for small aircraft, conveniently located near your fishing destination.

FLYING COW Grass Airstrip - Okeechobee, FL
We were welcomed to this area as if we were world class champion fishermen.  All the people we met were friendly,  hospitable and warm.  We left as friends and look forward to our next visit to this part of Old Florida.
The Beautiful Rim Canal that circles Lake O 
Another awesome day in Lake Okeechobee, FL