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Winter Wanderings Day #34-35, George L Smith State Park, Twin City, GA, Jacksonville, FL

We woke to cloudy skies, but no rain, so all were happy. At lunchtime, we hiked from the campground on the Squirrel Run Trail, along the swamp, towards the historic mill. The trail was aptly named, as a bounding, running, leaping, and climbing squirrel got the puppies all rilled up. The boardwalk through the swamp was cool. We did not see any gators, due to the chilly temps. I am sure they were hunkered down in the bottom of the swamp, trying to stay warm. We hiked through the Parrish Mill, reading all about it’s interesting history. It was a combination grist mill, saw mill, covered bridge, and dam built in 1880. It was an impressive, beautiful old building. Inside, you could hear the heavy, rushing water below your feet, beneath the wood planks. Pippa was sure there were mice or the like, tugging me into a corner, trying to get them. We hiked on through to the far side of the mill pond, impressed by the power of the water, swirling and foaming on the far side of the dam. We got on the Deer Run Trail. We hiked to a lush, little spring, happy to see our first fiddleheads of the season. Hallelujah! We turned around after the spring, to head back for lunch.

After work, we hiked to the picnic area in search of a trail. When we found none, we returned to the mill, getting on the Deer Run Trail again, going in the opposite direction. We hiked about a mile through several diverse ecosystems: swamp, pine forest, bamboo, and wetlands. We saw some armadillo and deer prints, but, sadly, no armadillos or deer. The sun was setting, so not wanting to be out in the swamp after dark, we headed back to the campground. We were so thankful for a day without rain, decent temps, and a good 4.5 miles on the trail. Great day!

We woke to heavy rain, the following day. It was another day spent in the van…Thankfully, we had already decided to skip our final night at George L Smith to go to Jacksonville, FL to see our cousins for a night en route to our next park. We could not drive through JAX and not see the littles and their parents. We got there in time for dinner and some playtime. Always fun with little Lilli, Isaac, and Micah. Not much time for us to hangout with mom and Dad, Joe and Kim, but someday. For now, we get our kid fix! Once again, we were grateful for the van, and the ability to spontaneously stop see family and friends along the way. Had a ball visiting our peeps!

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Winter Wanderings Day #33, Diamond Lakes Regional Park, S Augusta, Magnolia Springs State Park, Millen, George L Smith State Park, Twin City, GA

We left Diamond Lakes under heavy skies. We were hoping it would hold, because we were going to stop to visit Magnolia Spring State Park, to check it out for future camping and get in a hike before going to our next destination, not far from there. We went through some drizzle en route, but were optimistic that we’d be able to get in our hike. Well, of course, as soon as we pulled in and parked by the springs, the heavens opened up, dumping heavy rain. What we saw of the springs, looked pretty. With the nice campground, lake, and trails, it was definitely someplace we will return to camp when heading south again. Great little park!

In the afternoon, we arrived at George L Smith State Park in the rain. This was getting old…As we drove through the park in the van on the way to the camper registration, we saw gorgeous moss covered cypress and tupelo trees in the dark, eery “mill pond lake”, which I would call a swamp. We also, saw the Parrish Mill and Pond, which we looked forward to touring when the weather cleared. Our campsite, #15 was amazing! It was large, wooded, and semi-private, right on the swamp with a tent pad, fire ring, and picnic table at the water’s edge. There were gator warning and swimming prohibited signs everywhere. We certainly would not let the puppies get too close to the edge, because they would, certainly, be gator bait.

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