Day 6 – Fort George Inlet, FL -> Jacksonville Zoo, FL -> Ocala National Forest, FL

Camping on the beach in Florida sounded like such a good idea. I was worried that there would not be any spots left. But there were, and in fact a lot of spots, so we had a place to ourselves, with some people in campers here and there, but not too close. I thought that was great!

But then I learned that there might be a flip side to an empty field near the beach. Wind! Cold wind! Though it was warm and we were nice and toasty inside our tent, when you try to cook or eat outside, it is not so much fun with such a wind. But we managed to make some spaghetti with clams and pesto. I wanted to go out to have dinner, but the boys were having so much fun playing on the beach with sand that it would have been useless to drag them out. Also, it was Easter Sunday and most of the good places were closed. While we were driving through Georgia, it was impossible to find a BBQ place in that was open.

Next morning we woke up in the middle of the movie “Birds”. Seagulls were everywhere screaming from all directions. Also, we were across the river from a Navy port where the cranes were working all night. That sounded not very unlike Myrtle Ave traffic, so it did not bother me very much. Besides, the birds in the morning were actually nice. Even the wind stopped for a second. We had our breakfast of oatmeal and coffee and packed as usual for three hours, but this time I was actually enjoying it and so was Renzo.

I thought that we really want to be hiking and backpacking. It is only because of the children that we are doing it by car. Renzo had another theory – that we are looking for a perfect spot and we might find it at the very next national park, so we have to keep driving.

But either way we both agree that our boys are happier than usual and they don’t have tantrums at all, or even minor melt downs. They eat everything in front of them, go sit in the car when they know it’s time to get moving, and are generally quite easy – unlike some days at home in Brooklyn…

Next destination: Ocala National Park, Florida. But first we finally made it to the zoo. Jacksonville, FL has one – it was a very nice and well done zoo! The boys loved the train, they fed giraffes, and they were running all over the place. Another nice day yet again!

Day 5 – Sumter National Forest, SC -> Fort George Inlet, FL

We thought we found a paradise where we could stay for couple of days but at 9:00 pm last night, we were harassed by a very large local man with a trailer and his tiny, wordless, smoking wife. They had apparently reserved the spot by putting a broken chair and a broken cooler on a picnic table. We thought this garbage was left there by previous campers, and we were not going to move at this hour. They naturally called the police…

We thought ‘Oh no, as long as I manage not to curse at the sheriff, we are probably going to be ok.’ (Four years ago I got a ticket while camping at Harriman State Park in NJ, for saying ‘fucking fire’ and had to go to court to fight it…) And then we met the nicest sheriff ever – and he told us it’s ok to stay. And so the large man and his tiny wife with their big trailer moved on to a different area of the campground.

It was a beautiful spot. The kids took a swim in the lake earlier in the day. And you did not hear anything but birds chirping and kids laughing. We had a gourmet dinner of vegetable soup, grilled steak and asparagus and green salad with a bottle of red wine (which the sheriff luckily did not see). Then, after that minor war with the locals, we enjoyed the camp fire and a most beautiful full moon that was casting shadows of giant pines and was lighting the shimmering low fog above the perfectly still lake.

We were finally not cold at night, and I did not need a down jacket in the morning either. Now that we have warm breakfast I realized that Yelisei likes granola and we did not have it. It was very tragic. But he got over it. The morning was so beautiful that I was loving the packing as well as driving. I almost felt like apologizing to the large man, but I stopped myself.

Today we were going to go to the Okefenokee swamp in Georgia, but there was no campground around that looked promising. So we changed our plans and we are going to Jacksonville. FL instead. I don’t have high hopes for a tranquil campsite, but at least the boys will swim play in the sand.