Finally, we are staying in a state park! In looking for a Class A motorhome, we’ve said we wanted one 35′ so we can stay in state and national parks. BUT with all the things we want in one, it looks like we’d need a 40′ one. Long story short, we’ve put that big purchase on hold and said why not see if we even like camping in State Parks. So we’ve made reservations at three in the Panhandle of Florida. Bill actually sets the itinerary and I just enjoy the ride. How and why he picked these campgrounds is beyond me, but I have loved everywhere he has taken us! He’s been reading travel magazines for years and traveling like this is really a long held dream of his. Click here for our official review of the park (and others).
What a great start to our experiences and what a great first park to learn the ropes. We’ve always said the only thing we really needed to camp as a full-hook up (water, electricity and sewer). We rarely use any of the amenities at the RV resorts. About the only thing we’ve done in the 47 locations for 378 nights was sleep and eat in our RV. We normally go and explore the county we are staying in. As full timers, we seem to be on the roll, seeing as many places as we can, learning as much history as possible, climb as many mountains as possible and take long walks on the beach when on the coast.
And now we have slowed our pace down and we like it! We arrived on Monday, February 23, 2015 at around 2 pm. The Ranger who checked us in said there were two Cavern Tours we could take, 2:30 or 3:30. Then there are no tours on Tuesday or Wednesday. We felt fortunate we could make the 3:30 tour. So we set up quickly and got acclimated. We couldn’t believe how great the site was, very level with not only water and electricity, but also sewer! WOW! But we soon learned this is rare. We were prepared to learn how to not use fill our tanks….that’s another subject. We had a little problem as we tried to use the sewer so we had to ask for the Camp Host to help us. As it turned out, the last user left their cap stuck in it! She was excited when she saw our for sale sign. Her daughter and husband were in the market for a used 5th wheel. So we gave her the grand tour and almost missed the 3:30 tour!
So off for the cavern tour, which was lead by a wonderful volunteer. He is a disabled vet with a great wit and tremendous knowledge of the caverns. There were nine of us, all adults. He said he was so glad as he had several 5th grade classes earlier in the day. TIP: If you are more into solitude and like a quieter environment, go on the later tours. They host about 20 elementary students at a time and as we learned, they all like to talk at the same time. We could hear each group echoing over the hills as they meandered around the trails waiting for their turns with a tour guide when we went back on Thursday around 1:00 pm. From one official website:
Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna is far removed from the white sand beaches that give Florida its fame, but is nevertheless a place of remarkable beauty.
Much of Florida has a karst topography. This is the term geologists use to mean the state rests over layers of limestone and dolomite. Over thousands of years, trickling water slowly erodes away these strata, creating caves and caverns.
Evidence of the state’s karst topography can be seen in its many springs and sinkholes, but few possess the stunning natural beauty of the massive tour cave at Florida Caverns State Park. Easy to access from Interstate 10 and U.S. Highways 231 and 90,the park is a remarkable place.” And we agree!
Here are a few pictures from inside these unique caverns:
We went home to eat as we skipped lunch to set up and hurry for the tour. We had left over home made beef vegetable soup and a fresh salad. The soup was great after an invigorating day outside and in a cool forest setting.
We couldn’t wait to get out and take a long hike, right from our site! We had no idea where it would lead or what we would see, but the Ranger said we should see some beautiful birds and deer. No bears here! So we ended up walking on the trail to the stables, primitive campground and picnic area. It was 4.7 miles and we did see a herd of deer! But no birds…I think we were too noisy! Here are a few pictures:
The next day, there was 100% chance of rain by 1:00, so we went out earlier and took the fence line trail, which ended up being 4.16 miles. We only saw squirrels and a few birds, but it was still a glorious walk in the woods! Here are a few pictures from this walk:
Our last day, we went back to hike on the few trails above the cavern. We read in Trip Advisor that these trails were a bit challenging. There were a lot of roots and rough terrain. But somehow we missed the trail and ended up climbing a challenging hill, which is something we do like!