After leaving Pensacola, our schedule worked out in such a way that we had a few days before we could arrive in Orlando, so we found a spot in Northern Florida where we could hang out and get some work done on the site. Paul found Ocean Pond Campground in Osceola National Forest, which is just west of Jacksonville.
With our National Parks pass (which we highly recommend if you visit more than one National Park per year, or go camping a lot in state parks.) it was $6 a night for a huge grassy spot with water, and $12 a night for one with water and power. We did 2 nights on our solar panels, but our spot didn't get enough light to go another day, but luckily a spot opened up with power, just in time. The camp host across from us had Ducky's fatso (harness wearing) Florida cousin, a giant 25 pound or so cat that showed up each night at about 5 to prowl around our spot and walk over to the lake to glower into the distance. Oh, and also to use our part of the woods as a catbox. I avoided that part of our spot after that. Gretchen was extremely irritated that I kept leaving to go pet this interloper.
The campground was totally full, which is rare for a Thursday, but I think we were still in the midst of various spring breaks, and the campground quickly filled with yahoo's with boats and jetski's. There was even a fat guy with a mullet riding a jetski, a full on Kenny Powers moment. Another gruy had some sort of speedboat that was doing laps of the lake at clearly unsafe speeds, probably fueled by many cans of Bud Light.
I'm not a fan of the weather in the South, the heat is ok, but the humidity doesn't work for either of us. However, I would gladly move some of it's trees to the West Coast. The park was full of pine trees with spanish moss (which is apparently a relative of the pineapple?!) and since it was the beginning of spring the grass was insanely green. Quite a pretty combination. The weather the whole time we were there was a sunny 75-90, which was the exact opposite of the West Coast, judging by all the complaining on Facebook. The park is pretty giant, about 200,000 acres, with a 1,760 acre lake with lakeside campsites. It’s mostly that sort of weird Florida forest of pine trees, some sort of short palm trees, and swamp, which is actually very pretty. It’s prime alligator country, but we didn’t see any, just mosquitos, lots of squirrels and a pair Cardinals that kept attacking our wheels.
The park also contains the Olustee Battlefield Site, which was the largest battle in the Civil War in Florida, and the third bloodiest battle for the Union, with over 40% either wounded, killed or missing. It sounds like a pretty horrible battle, even for the Civil War, the letters about it don’t paint a very nice picture of the Confederate troops, from the Confederates themselves. Afterwards on their retreat the Union troops had to manually pull a train of wounded soldiers for miles because their horses got captured by the Confederates. I’m pretty sure they don’t re-enact that part of the battle every February for Civil War days.