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Full Retreat!   4 comments



Full Retreat!



Full Retreat!


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Okay, I can take a joke, but…

Susan and I had devoted the month of January for a road trip to Florida, camping and kayaking the clear springs across the state. We worked for weeks to get everything ready, eager with anticipation. Finally, a couple of days before the new year, we strapped the boats on top of the truck, loaded all the gear, but then had to hold back for a weekend, as it was raining heavily. (It’s not fun to start a tent camping trip in a puddle.)

Once we made our first stop in Charleston for New Year’s festivities, we checked the weather. More heavy rain was on the way, so we cancelled our next beach camping plan in lieu of a cabin in the Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia. While comfortable there, we couldn’t paddle due to high winds and constant rain. I suppose that’s okay, because as it turns out, almost 3/4 of the acreage in the swamp burned badly in 2011. We used to escape to the Okefenokee, as it was the quietest, most primordial-looking place we had ever known. Now it looks like a war zone, with charred sticks that used to be beautiful cypress trees, and it will take many years for it to grow back to its former glory. (That said, fire is a good thing. The Okefenokee is not so much a swamp as it is a peat bog. If the peat doesn’t burn from time to time, the entire area would fill in, with no waterways available.)

We had anticipated staying in the tent in the Okefenokee for a few more days, but weather forecasts indicated that we should move further south for warmth and dryness, so we re-routed to Silver Springs, Florida. More on that wonderful place later.

A full week after leaving the house, we managed to get a paddle in on the Silver River, although it was cool and overcast. When we landed back at the camp and checked the weather, we saw the massive, record-breaking cold front coming down on us. Poring over the forecasts, we decided that rather than enduring 20F cold, we would move down to Jupiter, Florida. Yes, it was much warmer down there, but being at the edge of the cold front, we were inundated with Gulf moisture and high winds. Three days, no paddling.

We had planned to go to the southernmost point of Florida, Flamingo, then to the west coast, but every place we had planned was subject to some of the most rotten camping weather imaginable.

We called a Full Retreat. Enough was enough. Two weeks out on the road living out of the truck; changing plans at every stop; only had one paddle trip; one day of sunshine. Home starts to look pretty good after a while.

On the way back north, we managed to snag this beautiful cabin back in Silver Springs. Surrounded by Live Oak trees draped in Spanish Moss, these “cabins” are more like full-sized houses, with a huge wraparound porch that we enjoyed to the fullest extent. (Yes, it rained that night.)

There were several good moments and highlights along the way; it wasn’t all bad. But as I sat on the porch and contemplated our fortunes, I couldn’t help but think that someone was up there, looking down at me with their thumb on the weather button, and saying, “You know, Rob: You… just… tick… me… off.”

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