Day 7 and 8 – Ocala National Forest, FL -> Okefenokee Swamp, GA

We found the paradise. Here is the address: 14753–15021 Salt Springs Hwy, Silver Springs, Florida 34488, United States.

After a minor detour to nothing, we arrived at Fore Lake. Out of 30 sites only five were occupied. We picked the one furthest from the bathroom and the beach. With so much driving, we have not walked much, so a few little strolls in this fairytale forest was much appreciated. Even at night, it was beautiful to see all the fire flys twinkling in the low palm trees and up in the sky the bright stars. So walking to the shower and bathroom was like a mini wonderland trip. The beach had alligator signs posted, but apparently it was safe to swim there. Timofei and Yelisei had a blast, running in and out of the water with me and Renzo. While sitting by the camp fire, we saw an armadillo walking through our site. He looked at us briefly and went on sniffing the ground. The beach was full of animal footprints. But we have not seen anyone else.

It was such a nice place, we stayed for two nights. But the next day the boys were not interested in the beach, but kept asking if we can go take shower, which was clean and warm. I am wondering if we ever go back to backpacking. I am starting to get used to this luxurious way of camping. Eating and sitting on the ground and not takin a shower for a week seems crazy now.

Is there a law written somewhere that says that as soon as you mention any good behavior of your children they turn into monsters? Yesterday, they did not stop screaming! This reason or that, one stops, the other one starts. It was just crazy. They would stop briefly to see the fire flys or for swimming but otherwise it was the worst children day in the best camping spot. Why? Oh why!?

I really liked that area of Ocala National Forest though. It is truly in the sticks. The guy who sold me some kerosine looked like ‘Crocodile Dundee’ – my favorite movie from when I was 12 years old. Everybody has a pickup truck and at the local gas station we were parked in between the two fanciest wheeled pick up trucks I have ever seen. The drivers were some hot studs as well. Very young and very tan. Our closest grocery / gas station had a wall of killed dear with hunters displaying the kill in various ways, including one holding the dead dear by the antlers and holding his eyes open.

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!