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Winter Wanderings Day #39-40, Gold Head Branch State Park, Keystone Heights, Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area, Flagler Beach, FL

We drove through Gold Head Branch State Park before leaving, to check out the Lakeview Campground for future visits. We did not like it, as well as, the Sandhill and Turkey Oak Campground loops, mainly, because it was at the end of the park, further from all the trails and ravine. We preferred the central location of the other two. After touring the campground, we parked at the end of the road at Big Lake Johnson to hike around. The wind was whipping and the temps, so low, we decided against hiking and set off on our way to Gamble Rogers. We really enjoyed Gold Head and look forward to returning.

We pulled into Flagler Beach at lunchtime. Yelp told us, Flagler Fish Company was tops, so that is where, we went. WOW! It was incredibly good! Can’t recommend it enough. You can pick your fresh seafood from the case and they will cook it up for you, any way you choose. We chose from the menu. Do not think you can go wrong, either way. We enjoyed the gazpacho, house chips, oysters on the half shell, fried seafood sampler, and a hot peanut butter and chocolate brownie, topped with ice cream and hot fudge. Hungry yet?!! Needless to say, we had half of this left over, including the brownie, so got our money’s worth, enjoying it again the following night. So yummy!

We had great camping karma, due to a last minute cancellation, landing a beachfront campsite for our first visit to Gamble Rogers. The ranger told us at check in, that the Gamble Jam was going on in the picnic area, so we went there before going to our campsite. We were so glad we did. There were a bunch of really cool folks, jamming and singing, despite the strong, gusty, cold wind. We sang lots of old classic rock favorites. What a wonderful welcome to the park. We talked to two super, northeastern couples afterward, giving them a bunch of Florida campground recommendations. One couple, Carl and Kathy, own the Xtreme Mobile Adventures Sportsmobile van. They travel with their dog, Hobo Joe to overland and outdoors expos and events. Their van was covered with sponsors, they do mobile advertising and live demos for at shows. Cool idea for funding travel.

Continue reading Winter Wanderings Day #39-40, Gold Head Branch State Park, Keystone Heights, Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area, Flagler Beach, FL
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Winter Wanderings Day #36-38, Jacksonville, Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park, Keystone Heights, FL

We arrived at Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park, early morning, so were unable to get into our campsite. We stopped on our way to the picnic area, when we saw signs that said, “Ravine Overlook” and “Ravine Parking”. Just the mention of a ravine in Florida, stopped us in our tracks. We had to see what that was all about. Wow! What an unexpected surprise. We hiked on the stairs, way down into the gorgeous ravine, to the crystal clear, spring creek, Gold Head Branch that cut through the land, over the centuries, to create the ravine. There were live oaks with Spanish moss, mixed in with saw palms, and the first vines of yellow jasmine of the season. At the bottom of the stairs by the creek, were trailhead markers in all directions for several trails. We’d have to come back to hike them over the next couple of days, while we were camping in the park.

We worked in the van in the parking lot, in the picnic area, that first day. At lunchtime, we hiked on a trail from the picnic area through a forest, a meadow, then coming out at the Little Lake Johnson lakefront, which was dotted with cabins. We hiked past the cabins over to Big Lake Johnson, but could not find a trail to continue around or across the land between, so circled back, coming out at the swimming area and canoes. The lakes and wetlands were full of shore birds and lily pads. It was so lovely. This park was beyond any expectations, I had. A friend from college, from Jacksonville had recommended it. I was so glad I listened.

Continue reading Winter Wanderings Day #36-38, Jacksonville, Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park, Keystone Heights, FL