Each fall and winter, Florida stops becoming the land of the Mouse and becomes ripe for the adventurous and wiley weekend inhabitants of the state park system. Once the mercury falls below 80 degrees and the humidity levels fall below the saturation point, it’s far more palatable to sleep in a tent, make s’mores around a campfire, and take hikes through the woods.
And a couple of weekends ago, that’s exactly what I did.
I’m part of a “renegade” Indian Princesses group. Basically Indian Princesses is a YMCA outfit where dads and their daughters spend some high quality bonding time doing pretty cool things, including camping, canoeing, hiking, etc. Why are we renegade? Simple.
Most of the dads All of the dads in our group like beer. Beer + true Indian Princesses = bad mix. So….there are about eight of us dads (and an equal number of daughters in age ranges from 10-12) who go camping. Our camping season runs from October through February – and even then the months on the margins can be a little uncomfortable. December and January are PERFECT camping months in the Sunshine State.
Our first camping trip of the season took us to Ocala, FL….the home of the Silver River, Silver Springs and a pretty impressive variety of wildlife (including alligator, turtles, osprey, cormorant, fish, and wild monkeys).
Yes…you read that correctly. Wild monkeys. Rhesus monkeys, specifically. In the wild.
The urban legend is that back in the 1930’s the movie industry came to Silver Springs to make a bunch of Tarzan movies. They brought the monkeys, and decided to just leave them when the movies were over. Another legend (and likely the real cause), was that the owner of Silver Springs Nature theme park established a colony of monkeys on an island as an attempt to draw more tourists. Apparently, he didn’t realize that monkeys knew how to swim.
In any case, we saw the monkeys. They were cute. And funny. And spastic. But, they were also a little scary. After all, they have big ‘ole teeth. One male monkey didn’t appear to like the fact that we were near his family (we were on the river in canoes); he let us know by screaming at us and shaking the tree pretty agressively. He didn’t throw anything at us (thankfully).
See below for a few pictures I took on the camping trip. Enjoy.
Iron War Giveaway:
OK. OK. OK. I’m a slacker. I promised that I’d announce the winner of the contest on Halloween. I didn’t do that. In all honesty, I was traveling all week last week, and just didn’t get around to it. So…today, I sorted the entries and consulted Random.org to help me find my winner.
And the winner is……….(drum roll, please)………..Mark Burghart from Kansas! Mark entered both on my blog and he tweeted it too. (Be sure to check out his Twitter feed, @YoungEnough2Tri. Congrats, Mark – your copy of Iron War will be forthcoming (it could have been hand-delivered if I’d acted faster….I was in Kansas City last week).