Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tate’s Hell and the Dwarf Cypress Forest

Today we finally had a bit of sun and decided on “now or never” for visiting the Dwarf Cypress Boardwalk as there is rain and more clouds predicted for the next 3 days.  Today was mostly sunny in the high 70’s but storm clouds threatened while we were on the boardwalk.Dwarf Cypress 079
The road to the Dwarf Cypress Boardwalk is just off Highway 98, between Eastpoint and Carrabelle FL.
The link below will give you a slide show of the boardwalk showing the trees in summer dress. Now, the cypress have dropped most of their needles and become bare branches.
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“Several stands of the distinctive "dwarf" cypress exist in the forest. Visit the Ralph G. Kendrick Dwarf Cypress Boardwalk to observe these unusual trees. To reach a viewing tower, from US Highway 98, go north on US Highway 65 for 5.5 miles, turn right onto North Road go 1.7 miles then turn right on Dry Bridge Road. The boardwalk will be on your right.”
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This is the beginning of the walk to the boardwalk overlooking the dwarf cypress trees. I came here several years ago with my friend Pat Barlow. On both sides of this walk through are swamp! Halfway down the path we saw a huge alligator halfway up the bank.  I can remember fear rushing in but we both calmly walked past the gator, pretty much ignoring him. I say “him” because this was most probably a male “bull” gator just because of his size.  We didn’t see him until we were almost totally opposite where he was laying. Too late to run, these 2 chubby old ladies were in no shape to run from a gator! Gators can run FAST! They just lift that tail and GO! I saw on a TV show once that if you wanted to outrun a gator, run in a zigzag pattern. They cannot keep up with their heavy tails running in that pattern. Well, I didn’t want to have to prove that. Pat and I spent some time up on the boardwalk, hoping he would get bored and go away. He did not! We had to walk past him a second time!  This path is only about 8 or 9 feet wide… not much room for a zigzag pattern run even if we did try it! Fortunately, this alligators taste didn’t run to chubby old ladies and for that we were grateful!
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Never has a visit to the dwarf cypress happened without the dread of meeting another big alligator near the path! But this day, all Chuck and I met were 3 turtles on a log!
Some of these dwarf cypress are over 300 years old! Most are over 100 years old, the true “dwarf” trees averages 15’ tall!  There are a few of the bald cypress mixed in with the dwarf cypress.  Easy to tell the difference just by the height of the trees.
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“Florida bought the 202,437-acre property in 1994. 40 years of private ownership prior to that had seen more than 800 miles of roadways and drainage ditches built on the land to accommodate the commercial interests of a major timber corporation. Where previously there had been floodplain forest and swamp, wet prairie and flatwoods, baygall, seepage slope, basin swamp, sandhill, upland hardwood forest, dense titi thickets, pine ridges and scrub, most of the area had been drained and the vegetation converted to a pine monoculture. This caused a huge loss of varied habitat and the wildlife that goes with that. It also caused major changes in the water flow from the Apalachicola River into Apalachicola Bay (Apalachicola Bay is a Florida State Aquatic Preserve with shellfish propagation and harvesting as its primary designated use - the Apalachicola River is a designated "Outstanding Florida Water," and is managed for the propagation and maintenance of a healthy and well-balanced mix of fish and wildlife, with a side helping of recreation).

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Here you can see some of the cones still hanging on this tree, along with bits of Spanish moss.
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Those are normal sized planted pine trees in the background. Autumn has turned the swamp grass a rust color and left only a few needles on the dwarf cypress.
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At the top of the boardwalk, Chuck and I are far above the dwarf cypress.

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Looking down at the treetops
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This was Chuck’s first visit to the Dwarf Cypress Boardwalk.  As you look down, realize that these trees are standing in water…  this IS a swamp after all!

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Some of the trees have a personality all their own with their whimsical shapes .Dwarf Cypress 060

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If you look close, you will see an opening into the brush here, above the lily pads.  Alligator Alley!  A pathway from the swamp to the walkway path!
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Maybe I will come back in the spring and get photos of the Dwarf Cypress with their new green needles! But  I think you get to see more of the whimsical personality of the trees in their “winter” mode!  Remember, these trees were here before Florida was even a state! Ancient Ones.
Hope you enjoyed visiting this part of Tate’s Hell Forest!  An interesting corner of our world for sure!
Happy Trails from the crew of the MotherShip, Chuck, Geri, Radar, and DoogieBowser!
Pledge of Allegiance

Monday, November 18, 2013


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The Legend of TATE'S HELL...

A tale that has been told for many years recounts how Tate's Hell Swamp got its name. Local legend has it that a farmer by the name of Cebe Tate, armed with only a shotgun and accompanied by his hunting dogs, journeyed into the swamp in search of a panther that was killing his livestock. Although there are several versions of this story, the most common describes Tate as being lost in the swamp for seven days and nights, bitten by a snake, and drinking from the murky waters to curb his thirst. Finally he came to a clearing near Carrabelle, living only long enough to murmur the words, "My name is Cebe Tate, and I just came from Hell!" Cebe Tate's adventure took place in 1875 and ever since, the area has been known as Tate's Hell, the legendary and forbidden swamp.

Chuck and I decided to take a drive last week. Most of Franklin County is swamp or state forest. The majority of the population here, is along the beautiful coastline.  I have been putting this post  off because we wanted to visit the dwarf cypress forest in Tate’s Hell. It has rained 4 days now so I will just do a blog of the dwarf cypress later. But we did go to Cash Creek, one of my favorite places in Tate’s Hell, just off of Highway 65.
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Right on Cash Creek is this great pavilion with picnic tables and BBQ!
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The sky was an impossible blue, reflected in the creek. Who would have thought that night would bring rain and drizzle that last 4 days so far? We still have big, fat raindrops landing on the roof, falling from the extremely tall pine trees in this RV park!

I have always loved this little park, Cash Creek, I love the tall grasses in the creek, the tall pines all around us carpeting the grass with rusty colors.
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There is a boat launch here, seems like this area would be popular with canoes and kayaks.  I have never seen another car here, let alone a boat here, in all the times I have visited this park. Tire tracks in the dirt show there have been visitors, we are blessed to have it to ourselves!
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Because there are alligators in this creek, we keep the dogs leashed! Radar and DoogieBowser are used to the leashes so no problem.
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It is so peaceful here.
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My turn to hold the dogs while Chuck take a photo from the dock.  This is a little too close to the water for the doggies, they want to swim but I don’t want them to be gator bait. I pull them back!
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Wonderful reflections!

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We decided to leave Cash Creek and take another nearby road that I had never explored. 

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Heavily wooded. If you read the link at the top, it tells all about how this forest came to be!
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After about 3 miles of nothing but thick, piney forest we decided to turn around.
The next day, Friday, was drizzly rain all day. We had to go to Tallahassee for Chuck to apply for a new social security card. On the way, we stopped in Crawfordville so I could get my Florida Drivers license. 15 minutes and I was done and out the door.  Chuck had filled out all his paperwork online for the SS card, but we had to go to Tallahassee SS Office to personally drop it off. This became an opportunity to meet my longtime friend Paula Nichols at Olive Garden!
Geri and Paula        Chuck and Geri Tally
It was good to see her! These photos were taken with her cell phone! Heck she gets more pixels with her cell phone than I get with my Nikon!  LOL!
We got back Friday evening to the news that this RV Park had been sold! The owner is giving everyone 30 days to find a new spot.  For some of these folks, that is not going to be easy!  Chuck and I have been planning on leaving Dec 1st anyway to go south to Bradenton (south of Tampa) to help daughter Glorianne and her family paint rooms and move into their new home. We also have a boondocking rally to go to in mid-February in central Florida.

We have to be back here by the end of Feb. to get new car tags for my car. But we have been fortunate, thanks to good friends Gayle and Jack, we have secured a good camping spot when we return!

Today is Monday, November 18, 2013. We left Truth or Consequences NM a month ago yesterday! Seems like such a long time ago! Yet in so many ways, I feel like I have never left here, Franklin County Florida, it feels like home to me and Chuck likes it too! Feels good being back and seeing old friends and trying new restaurants! However, our favorite buffalo shrimp still comes from AJ’s in Apalachicola!  If you were at our wedding, AJ’s catered it and the buffalo shrimp was a hit with everybody!

Hope you enjoyed the visit to Tate’s Hell.
We will be signing off  from the MotherShip now! Geri, Chuck, Radar and DoogieBowser.

We want to leave you the words of Thomas Jefferson, consider them please.
2nd amendment

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Life IS good.  We just kind of kicked back today and between our kindles and Facebook, we stayed entertained.
Time for an early supper and Chuck fired up the grill!
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Ribeye steaks by Piggly Wiggly and Wine by WalMart,   PRICELESS!
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Entertainment from outside dining area watching the birds dive for their supper in the bay!!!
Life is good! 
Nothing real exciting happening, just wanted to make ya’ll a bit jealous! Smile

Then we had a Sunset!
Photo by Chuck!

That’s it from the Crew of the MotherShip! Chuck, Geri and our navigators DoogieBowser and Radar!

the world is a book

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Today started out like normal   
a beautiful sunrise on the bay003
The sunrise, the waves, the gentle breeze from the sea…
The sunrise even reflects it’s glory against the MotherShip this morning!
Then I wake up and the nightmare begins!  Today is the day Chuck gets his hair cut! YIKES!  Now you gotta understand, when I first met Chuck in 2008, he had a crew cut!  I kinda told him that I really liked longer hair and that I thought he would look great with long hair! Well, he aimed to please and he never cut it again….  in 4 years!
Today was THE day!  Chuck waited until we got back to Florida just so Stacy could cut his hair. We have known Stacy quite awhile and trusted her skill with scissors!
All brushed, shampooed and ready for the scissors!
EEEEEK!  It was much more traumatic for me than it was for Chuck!
Chuck now has 14” of hair to be donated to Locks of Love!
I have a new man!  He looks really good! Stacy did a wonderful job and I guess I will get used to the look because he looks really good! I just hope he doesn’t get a head cold now, with no hair to keep his head warm! Smile

Our new neighbor keeps an eye on us!
Well, thanks for meeting my new man and let us know what you think!
Coming to you from the MotherShip. Geri, her new man Chuck, DoogieBowser and Radar!