Saturday, March 2, 2024

Driving Home from Florida

After waking around 4 am, we loaded our last-minute items into the car and said our goodbyes to the Whittingtons. They are coming to Kentucky in early April to view the total solar eclipse with us then we will be going back to Florida in mid-April to fish.

We pulled out of the driveway a little after 5 am and made our way to Gainesville where we would pick up I-75 which would take us home. Other than stretch breaks and fueling the 2018 Camry, we were planning no stops. As always, dreaded the area around Atlanta from McDonough to Smyrna, but the drive was not as bad as we expected. We suspect that because it was Saturday and not during a busy travel season, our drive wasn’t as unpleasant as we had experienced in the past. We stopped at an Arby’s along I-75 in Kennesaw, Georgia, and had a good meal before continuing.

We arrived at home a little after 6 pm and brought the cooler filled with wild boar meat to the basement. The cooler was quite heavy with all the frozen meat, but Mary managed to get everything positioned in the basement’s chest freezer. I brought all the bags of clothes and gear in. The rifles went back to the gun safe, and dirty clothes were laid out for laundry.

We made all our calls to let people know that we had arrived home then had frozen chicken cordon bleu meals from Sam’s for dinner. We stayed up until 10 pm so we wouldn’t wake too early but slept well once we got to bed. After our 1200 mile trip back home, we were ready for bed.

Friday, March 1, 2024

Silver Springs State Park

We slept well last night waking around 5 am. We did our morning language lessons on Duolingo while we had our morning beverages. The walk with the dogs was over the usual roads making up what we called “the square” then out to the wildlife viewing tower. We saw the usual kingfisher, a few wading birds and some smaller fish.

Back at the house we had oatmeal with raisins and nuts then prepared for a trip to the Ocala area. Circle S Ranch, near the West Shore Outfitters hunting area, processed the boar we killed. Since we would be picking up the meat around 2 pm, we decided to spend some time at Silver Springs State Park. We learned that this park, once famous for its glass bottomed boats, was Florida’s first tourist attraction dating back to the 1870s.

Glass Bottomed Boats at Silver Springs

Mark used their Florida annual state park pass to get us into the park at no charge. We walked through the botanical areas then watched the glass bottomed boats floating over the springs and along the stream. Some of the nature trails were still closed following damage from last August’s hurricane Idalia and the tornados after that. A large population of rhesus macaques and other primates live in the area, but we didn’t see any on our walk. We had considered bringing kayaks to the park, but when we saw the number of people paddling in the area, we were happy that we didn’t. We supposed that several factors played into the attendance at the park: it was a beautiful day, it was Friday, and the park’s spring celebration starts the next day. We decided to return next year midweek.

Cindy, Mary & Mark at Silver Springs

We learned that a lot of movies and television were shot at Silver Springs including the 1950s television show, Sea Hunt, as well as two Tarzan movies with Johnny Weissmuller, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Rebel Without a Cause, The Yearling and scenes from James Bond movies, Thunderball, Moonraker, Never Say Never Again. While at the park we chatted with several locals who come regularly and reaffirmed that we would put this on our last of places to return.

We went back to the truck around 1 pm and ate a lunch of snacks that we had packed. Mark called Circle S Ranch to confirm the pickup of our meat. He also called Cody, the guide from West Shore Outfitters, to let him know that we brought the fishing reel that we picked up for him. We made the short drive to Circle S Ranch and used the code for the gate that they provided. We saw that the ranch stocks several species of exotic game for hunting trips as well as operating a butcher shop.

We were pleased with the amount of meat that we had from the two large boars that we shot. When Cody arrived, he told us that one of the dogs was badly gored by a boar this morning. He has been giving the dog medications but didn’t know how the dog would be. He also gave us three packages of ground bear meat and two packages of spicy fallow deer sausages.

We left Circle S Ranch and drove back to Homosassa, stopping for a bag of ice at a gas station along the way. Once at the house, Mary and Cindy divided up the meat. They had to move a lot of things out of the freezer in their refrigerator but managed to get all the meat stowed. Our half went into a larger cooler that belongs to Mark. The cooler is a Yeti knock-off and should keep the meat frozen until we get home almost 24 hours later.

Since we were returning to Florida less than six weeks from now, we decided to leave things like T-shirts, shorts and water shoes here. We loaded the remaining items in the car with the rifles and cooler of meat taking up most of the room.

Mark made stir fried chicken with broccoli and noodles that was very good. After double checking that everything was loaded, we streamed an episode of Astrid on PBS and an episode of Evening Shade on Amazon Prime Video. Knowing that we wanted to get an early start, we turned in early hoping to get a good sleep before our long drive home.