Suwannee River State Park
Camping at Suwannee River State Park
Suwannee River State Park near the pretty little town of Live Oak. Live Oaks, Red Cedar, and pines dominate the park. Bathrooms and showers are modern and well kept. There weren’t many campers when we were here, so we had plenty of privacy. Also, we were one of the only tents! Wood and ice are available at the Ranger Station, as are canoe rentals. The ranger told us that the nearest place to replenish supplies is the Wal-Mart in Live Oak, about 9 miles away.
At nightfall, after a pretty sunset, we had our campfire blazing and enjoyed our hearty sandwiches. The air got much cooler. http://floridastateparks.org/suwanneeriver/default.cfm
The 40-something temperatures had us hightailin’ it into town for breakfast! Just too cold for us to be standing around cooking if we don’t have to. Fortunately, we found Dixie Diner, a good southern cuisine eatery that offers pork chops and eggs, grits, biscuits and sawmill gravy, hot cakes, and good hot coffee. MaryJo had the chops and eggs, while Greg chose the manly Paul Bunyan Breakfast, sawmill gravy and biscuits, bacon, home fries, and eggs. Total for us both before tip was $17 – a good deal for a good meal with good service.
An after meal stroll around Live Oak was entertaining and informative. http://cityofliveoak.org/ The Suwannee County Historical Museum, though small, is attractive, fun, and enlightening. Exhibits include a 192-s country kitchen, moonshine still, 195-0s phone switchboard, and a pony cart belonging to Florida’s first governor, Charles Drew. Admission is free. Randy Torrance, the curator, gave us some history of the town, and chatted about the current activities the museum sponsors. Allow at least a quarter of an hour. While in town, check out the courthouse, old court house, Methodist Church, and McHale’s Gifts, a fairy, dragon, and wizard store, and more. http://suwanneemuseum.org/
Not more than a short drive away in White Springs is the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park. Activities there include camping, hiking, shopping, fishing, and horseback riding. The center is dedicated to the memory of Stephen Foster, writer of approximately 200 songs mostly in the 1850s and 1860s. Titles include”I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair”, “Camptown Races,” and of course, “Swanee River.” Oddly, Stephen Foster was not a Southerner, but was born in Pittsburgh, PA. He never visited Florida, and was only in the South once. He died in 1864 at the age of 37. He has become something of a legend since. In the auditorium, exquisite handmade dioramas of some of his songs are shown. Pianos and organs of the time are on exhibit, including the von J’anko Keyboard. This is an extremely unusual keyboard, featuring 6 different rows of keys, invented in 1882. It is an impressive looking piece! On the grounds is the Stephen Foster Memorial Carillon, holding 97 bells, one of the largest in the world. Music is played on a regular basis. In addition there is a craft shopping area and a restaurant. Special events, such as the Florida Folk Life Festival are held on the grounds. Snapping turtle, alligators, Gulf sturgeon, and other wildlife call the park home. In the spring, a Florida Folk life Festival is held on the grounds. Admission to the park is only $5. Allow an hour, minimum. http://www.floridamemory.com/Collections/folklife/foster.cfm
White Springs itself was once a tourist town; know for the healing properties of the mineral waters. Before that, Native Americans held the area as sacred, because of the supposedly curing springs.
A warm afternoon called for a canoe ride on the Suwannee River. We paddled upstream, basking in the sun, and the rock formations, trees, and sandy banks of the river. At one point, a sturgeon stirred the waters! The surroundings are enchanting, the water cool, and the ride back easy! Going upstream first allowed us to drift back. Don’t forget to bring water to drink, and put on sunscreen ahead of time. For 2 hrs, the fee was $10.
A supper of chicken with peppers, scallions, and baked yams on the fire was delicious! Sitting close to the campfire kept us cozy! A glass of wine added to the ambience!