It’s Labor Day weekend at Salt Springs (and a mini family reunion as well)

Friday, September 2, 2011

We’re heading to Salt Springs for the Labor Day weekend. We leave around 12:30 pm and arrive there about 2:30 pm on a sunny Friday afternoon. On the trip with us this time is CC (curb crusher-husband), LCC (lady curb crusher-me), TCC (teen curb crusher-13) and friend JB (also 13).

This will also be a mini family reunion for us as well with CC’s parents GD (granddaddy) and GM (grandmother) also known as the G’s, and CC’s Uncle T and Aunt D. We were originally going to camp with the NEFCC’s (North East FL Camping Club) but that didn’t seem to work out well this trip. I did hear they had about 45 people total in the group for this weekend though.

We arrive and start to get set up. The smartest thing I’ve done since the last long trip was to write down all the things we do to set up and break down the RV and post it next to the slide out buttons. Now instead of TCC asking me continuously if everything is done she can read it and work on the list. So I left TCC and JB to set up the inside of the RV while I helped CC set up the outside. Since we were staying 4 nights we set up the EZUP in our site.

The sites at Salt Springs are all asphalt where the RV sits and grass everywhere else. They are FHU in the RV section as well. The campground offers an old basketball court, horseshoe field and a small walking trail, but the best thing is the springs which are 68 degrees year round. This is where we were headed as soon as we finished with our setup.

CC’s aunt and uncle as well as parents weren’t at their sites so we went without them. We all grabbed our snorkels and jumped in the car for the short ride to the springs. JB had come last year so she knew what to expect. The water was very refreshing and it was not crowded at all on a Friday afternoon so we had the springs to ourselves. We saw a lot of fish and the water was very clear where the boils were. The boat people were already in place for the holiday weekend. Most of them stay on their boats in the mouth of the springs all weekend. After about an hour and a half we came back to the campsite to shower and start making dinner.

We were making our usual dinner for Friday arrival, which is hamburgers. It used to include hot dogs until TCC said she doesn’t like them anymore. About this time the G’s show up and tell us their adventures since they got here. They had the power go out on their site on Thursday and since every site was taken for the holiday, the campground couldn’t move them. So they called an electrician to fix the problem and after a couple of hours the power was working again. For their trouble they gave them 10 nights of camping. I wish it had been us… then we’d come more often.

Then they told us the trouble T and D had with their tires. They all went to Palatka to get it fixed as T and D have a class B RV and don’t tow a car. It was kind of funny as the G’s said they left T and D at the gas station to fill up- but 2 hours later they still hadn’t come back. Eventually they arrived and we all had a laugh about them getting lost at Walmart.

After we ate everyone had gathered at the G’s RV and were catching up on family events until late that night. The next day I had made plans to tour 3 wineries in the area and invited everyone to go. My dad (GP-grandpa) and his girlfriend (A) were coming up for the day to go with us as well.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

We have our usual breakfast of pancakes and get ready to go. We are just waiting on GP and A to arrive. They showed up and everyone sat down to drink coffee together until I reminded them we needed to leave. TCC really wanted her aunt D to go but every time we asked she had said no . But eventually TCC wore her down and she came with us. So we had a full car with 5 of us, and my dad and A followed in his truck. (I had warned him not to bring his car as we would be traveling on some dirt roads).

Our first stop was the Royal Manor Winery in Interlachen, or so we thought. I had programmed our GPS with the address but we ended up in a field instead. So we called the winery and the owner, Joe, gave us directions to get there. They are really off oft the beaten path. Signage would be a good thing for them to invest in.

The owner was actually away on a buying trip in GA but left his sister in charge. Unfortunately she didn’t really know too much about the wines. There was no wine menu to check off and she couldn’t tell me what the wines were made of. I found out later from Joe that he uses all types of fruit but no grapes yet. That is still to come. We started off tasting the first one and before I could swirl/smell/sip- D and A were asking for a taste of the second wine and so it went. There were 10 wines to sample but I felt hurried by them. Usually the wine steward takes control of the tasting but Joe’s sis didn’t seem to be able to. I finally chose the Royal Passion which is made from passion-fruit, hence the name. Royal Manor had a small gift store and sometimes they have ice cream but not today. Unfortunately for TCC, JB, and, dad there was no juice here though. They had a really nice place with lots of land for growing their strawberries , blueberries, and, blackberries. There were horses in the fields and lots of grapevines growing for the future wines.

After purchasing we moved on to our second stop of the day; Tangled Vines in Grandin. This one was more prominently near the road and the GPS got us there OK. They had 7 wines to try and I bought Carlos, which is a white wine, and D bought Holiday Cheer , also made with Carlos grapes. Both were very good I thought. This winery had more of an atmosphere to it as well. The steward was more knowledgeable and there were wine menus to read. There was a very nice store with lots of different crafts and wine items to purchase. D bought an egg peacock for great grandmother and some chocolates for the girls (which were very good-another reason to go back). I bought my cork globe here (remember I saw one up in the Grayton?) D was collecting wine glasses for her daughter but couldn’t find them. The clerk pointed up and if they had been snakes they would have bit us because they were hanging right over our heads! (Remember we’ve now tried 17 wines…) The clerk also invited us to try the grapes growing on the vines behind the store. I was surprised when I tried them because I tend to like white wines, which is the Carlos grape, but I really liked the Noble, which is the dark red grape. Didn’t I just buy a bottle of Carlos?! Still no juice here though.

We ate lunch that we had prepared earlier and brought since it was about 12:30 and then continued to the last stop at Log Cabin winery which was in Satsuma. This time we had to pay $2 pp to try the 5 wines that they had. There is an old log cabin on the premises which is how they named their winery. We couldn’t go into it though. The owner was really proud of her harvester which we saw a picture of on the wall in the store. When D asked her how much it cost she wouldn’t tell us, which we thought weird since she was the one who mentioned how expensive it was.

My dad, TCC, and JB had their own tasting because finally there was juice. The winery sold both Scuppernong and Muscadine juices. I bought TCC some Scuppernong since she had tried Muscadine in the panhandle last month. Here I purchased the Log Cabin white made with Carlos grapes again.

Now comes the fun part of the trip at least as far as CC was concerned. We had planned our trip so we would travel in a circle so we could ride the Fort Gates ferry back. It costs $10 per car and it takes 2 cars at a time across the St Johns River. The ferry is actually something that looks like an old pontoon boat pushed by a jon boat. (I think it’s more than that but that was my impression). It saves 50 miles of driving back the other way.

When we got to the ferry there were 2 cars ahead of us so we were able to see how it worked. The cars rolled onboard and seemed liked they barely fit. The trip across took about 10 minutes and then it came back for us. We were lucky that no one got on from the other side because we would have to back up to let them off and there was really no room to move the car.

When it was our turn to load I walked on instead of riding in the car because I thought that if it went down I would at least be able to swim back to shore. The rails were really rusty and the boat looked OLD. CC had sent me an article saying that this is a 3rd generation business. I hope they’re not using the original boat. The breeze was nice as we were crossing so that much was worth it. As we neared the dock on the other side CC showed me that my dad’s truck tailgate was hanging over the edge of the boat. I wished that he had shown me sooner so maybe TCC and JB could have ridden right over the water on the tailgate . NOT!

After we were finished docking, we drove about 3 miles (it seemed) on a dirt road that runs next to the campground to get back. We all shared what we had done all day when we got back while getting dinner ready. The G’s and Uncle T had spent their day at the flea market across the street and then had lunch at the diner there. We had decided to do a shared meal with tacos. My dad and A needed to get back by 7 so we ate a little early so they could leave. There was more than enough food and plenty of desserts and D provided us with homemade ice cream too. YUM.

It was too late to go swimming but after GP and A left, CC and I walked down to the springs to see the elusive otters. On the way we saw 3 deer: a mom and 2 fawns. We didn’t get to see any otters that night but we will try again.

The girls watched movies while the adults opened the wines we had bought and enjoyed good conversation and music.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

CC and his dad GD ran this morning keeping to their workout schedules so they will be on track to run their ½ marathon at Disney in Jan. I got a picture of CC and one of Uncle T as he was walking but none of GD. He must have been up early because I didn’t see him. CC decided to wait until it was light outside because he heard there were bears around and he didn’t want to meet another one, especially since he had to share his milk with one in GA.

We then went in and had breakfast and sat around and chatted again until it was too hot, then we headed to the springs again. We stayed a couple of hours and T and D joined us toward the end. I think they were shocked at how cold the water was. It took Uncle T awhile to finally get all in and Aunt D’s toes turned black from the cold water. It was kind of scary to look at them.

We then went back and had showers so we could head out for a late lunch at Sparky’s in Astor. It’s home of the cheese skirted hamburger. All the meals we ordered were really good. Then we were going to Barberville which has the kitchiest stuff I’ve ever seen. We even got a behind the scenes tour of them prepping and painting some of the statues.

We were so full that CC and I took a walk around the campground and ran into Omar from NEFCC. Last year he had bought a 1941 Greyhound bus and started fixing it up. CC really wanted pictures of the unusual inside so he asked if he could take some. T and D were riding their bikes and we called them over and introduced then to Omar. The bathroom inside is really amazing. It has tiny mirror tiles on every surface inside. They even have a dishwasher.(Wish I had one sometimes!). Omar said he hadn’t used the bus since last year’s event.

After leaving Omar we walked back around to our site where the girls were watching a movie and braiding each other’s hair. We sat outside and chatted until time to go to bed.

Monday, September 5, 2011

CC and I got up early to see if we could spot the otters again. This time we were lucky as we were taking pictures of the sunrise CC saw one otter pop his head up near the stairs. We followed them to the grass island area near the boats and were able to get a couple of shots of them. When walking back we saw another deer feeding near the office area.

The girls still weren’t up so we went ahead and had breakfast without them and then walked around the campground. Lots of people are up and packing their stuff. We were able to see the person who runs the NEFCC site and talk to him about why I wasn’t able to log in. Hopefully he will be able to set it right soon.

Uncle T and Aunt D are going home today but the G’s and us are staying until Tuesday. We sat and had coffee and talked until they were ready to go and then hugged goodbye. It was getting quite hot so we took off for the springs again and just enjoyed floating in the water for a couple of hours.

Didn’t do too much today except watch the campers leave. Earlier the G’s and us decided we would have leftovers from taco night and we ate them around 2 pm. Just as soon as we got everything ready to eat the skies opened up and it poured for at least an hour. We didn’t care though because we were dry and inside enjoying each other’s company.

Later after the rain had stopped we cleaned up the site to get ready to go tomorrow. After we were hot again GM brought out root beer and we added Blue Bell ice cream and had root beer floats. As it got dark the girls watched another show and the adults sat around chatting until bedtime. We leave early tomorrow to get back to our ordinary lives.

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