It was unbelievably hot, it was incredibly humid, and it rained a lot. We really enjoyed it.
Diligent readers will know that we made the decision the remain in the Florida panhandle for the remainder of 2020, giving up on the dream of spending the summer at the Great Lakes in order to minimize our travel and stay safe during the pandemic. The problem is that when we made our stay-put decision in May our private RV park was already booked solid for the Fourth of July weekend. So while we were able to spend all of May and June in one spot, and most of July, August, and September in another spot, we had a four-day gap between July 1 and July 5.
We snagged a reservation for those four nights at Three Rivers State Park, a low-key state park located along the Florida-Georgia state line. The titular rivers include the Chattahoochee (which forms much of the western border of Georgia) and the Flint (which drains southwestern Georgia), and these two rivers join together in the park to create the Apalachicola River. A dam built by the the Army Corps of Engineers at the confluence opened in 1952, and the dammed waters created Lake Seminole. Thanks to the flatness of the landscape, the relatively low dam creates a very large body of water with a shoreline stretching 376 miles yet a maximum depth of just 30 feet.
The state park is on land leased from the ACOE and the small (30 site) campground sits right along the lake shore. The camping area even includes its own boat ramp and a small viewing pier, making fishing and water access a breeze. The park has many signs of the destruction caused by Hurricane Michael, which came ashore as a powerful Category 5 storm in 2018 and managed to wreak havoc almost 100 miles inland. The tree damage hasn’t put off the birds, and there is a very healthy population of mockingbirds (our state bird), brown thrashers, mourning doves, woodpeckers (who must love the downed trees making homes for insect populations), and many other species we didn’t identify.
The park has a few hiking trails, which were cleared with tremendous volunteer effort and reopened a year after the hurricane hit. The Lakeview Trail links to the Eagle Trail to create a lollipop shaped route that totals about 4.8 miles, which we of course chose to hike despite the swamp-like humidity. On the trail we observed downed trees trying valiantly to make a comeback from their recumbent position, plenty of birds, and even a tiny turtle. The trail surprisingly offered a bit of hilliness, a rarity in flat, flat Florida.
One day we ventured out for a paddle on Lake Seminole, where we meandered up the mostly undeveloped lake shore. In between gawking at the freakishly large water lilies we spied plenty of water birds, including anhingas, snowy egrets, moorhens, and nesting ospreys. Walking along the lake shore trail and kayaking in the lake provided ample opportunity to play one of our favorite games: Gator or Log? Here, it was mostly gators slipping smoothly through the water.
Although we are grateful to have a safe place to ride out the pandemic summer, as we have noted before we really don’t love the experience of being in a private RV park. Our park is clean, well-maintained, and nicely situated along Apalachicola Bay, but being stationary for months at a time and taking in the scenery of other camping rigs is really not what we had in mind when we purchased the Airstream. Our little state park trip helped restore our mental equilibrium and reduced our grumpiness, despite the fact that every single activity we tackled left us literally dripping with sweat. Last year we spent the Fourth of July at Rocky Mountain National Park, and in 2018 our holiday was spent at Glacier National Park. This quiet little fishing destination clearly doesn’t compare to the grandeur of those spectacular parks, but it was still a big improvement over the private RV park.
Not only did our visit provide much-needed time to commune with nature, it was also easy to maintain social distancing. We drove the 90 miles from Eastpoint to the park in one shot and returned without needing to refuel. We never left the park, and our only interactions with other humans involved occasionally waving at other campers or passing a few people on the trails. Overall I can appreciate why so many Americans have decided that an RV trip is a safe way to travel while minimizing interactions. Which is unfortunate, because it was already pretty difficult to get reservations at the public campgrounds we so adore.
Next we return to the Forgotten Coast for a three month span in the RV park that promises to feature relentless heat and humidity. We hope the enjoyment of our small field trip helps sustain us through the next several months.