Ochlockonee River State Park

Aloha and Bonjour, Colette LaFleur once again reporting on an adventure led by Her Highness, The Hawaiian Princess. We packed our camper and headed to the woods of the Florida Panhandle for a three-month stint as camp hosts.

The camp is located south of Tallahassee, FL.
Cool black Volunteer hats and shirts, we’re official!

What is a camp host? Camp hosts are volunteers who help the rangers and professional staff of the state parks so the rangers have time for more important duties. The hosts clean and maintain the campgrounds, day use areas, clean fire rings, sell firewood, and dozen of other tasks.

We were given a gas-powered golf cart with a dump bed in the back to haul our tools. Our tour of duty was from November 1st to the end of February. The dead of winter. This picture shows the windshield covered with ice.

When Madame began this adventure, it was the first part of November and the weather was quite comfortable. We knew it wouldn’t last, but we were hopeful that it might last. We are sad to report, the pleasant weather did not last and it turned cold in the panhandle.

Most of the time we were wearing all the winter clothes and multiple layers we could. HRH wore two pairs of gloves, just to keep her hands warm.
On the cold winter days, we enjoyed being warmed by the fire.
It was also nice sitting under the stars with a roaring fire.
With all the campfires, we needed a good stack of dry wood and someone to chop the logs into kindling. Our Humble Servant was just what we needed.

We worked a four days on and three days off shift and traded off with the other camp host. On Mondays, we were the field volunteers. Field volunteers keep the day use areas, park grounds, boat harbor and scout camp areas cleaned and repaired.

Mondays we put up the American Flag at the entrance to the camp. One of our more enjoyable duties.
While working Field, we encountered many of the permanent residents of the camp. Here our Humble Servant is having a standoff with one of the white squirrels.
One very cold Monday morning, our dear Princess nearly stepped on this frozen little guy.
Our favorite, the white deer was around most mornings until the early afternoon. Then she went to her secret hiding place.
We chased this trash panda for ten minutes to get this picture.
This screech owl was found sitting in the grass after the rangers began burning a debris pile right beside his normal hangout at the equipment yard.
Many of the white squirrels were too busy eating, but this little guy just posed and posed.
This majestic fellow was protecting his territory.
The deer were always watching us.
This box turtle crossed our path one morning coming back from raising the flag.
One job camp hosts have is eliminating the spiders from the ladies’s toilet.
Our campsite was at the service yard and not the campground. We had this all to ourselves until the last month and then shared it with new friends, Walt and Donna.
In the past it has snowed here in the panhandle. No snow this year, but we did get the rain. We eventually built a dike around the front of the camper to keep out the water.
On sunny mornings, we were treated to gorgeous sunrises.
Mornings along the Ochlockonee River were breathtaking.

Off Duty

All work and no play make for unhappy camp hosts. We took advantage of a day off and attended the Apalachicola Seafood Festival.
Mounds of good Gulf of Mexico seafood abounded.
There were too many choices.
A BBQ festival a few weeks later gave us the opportunity to try the “World Famous Butt Fries”. I have to admit, it was pretty tasty.
How can you have a seafood festival without a blue crab race?
This speedster was our choice for winning first place. Alas, he wasn’t as fast as we’d hoped.
One benefit for the participants, you could escape back into the bay and avoid the boiling pot.
We celebrated two holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy from the crock pot was delicious.
Here’s our well-traveled Christmas tree.
This is our Princess and her humble servant on Christmas morning, ready to take care of the camp.

Volunteers

On our evenings off, we would sometimes join the other volunteers for dinner at our favorite place in Sopchoppy, The Sopchoppy Pizza. Thank you, Kathy and staff, for great food.

Rangers

Camp Manager Kristen
Campground Specialist Jonah, our boss
Ranger Stephen giving us the finer points of latrine duty
Ranger Marcia, Administration
Ranger Kim

Food

Heaven on the half shell, so says our humble servant
Our Princess was not pleased with the service at The Lodge
Steak on the grill. We used an aluminum pan and a purloined grill to cook our cow
Another fine meal cooked over the open fire, it’s chicken, I think
How many oysters and beer can one servant eat?
Fried shrimps
This is one of the best shrimp and grits our humble servant has ever eaten.

There were so many wonderful experiences as camp hosts. We met so many wonderful people from all over the country. We were intrigued so many single older women were camping and living full time in their campers, traveling around the country and seeing all of its beauty.

We still keep in touch with a number of the campers we met and camp hosts. So quickly you find new friends and can’t wait to cross paths with them somewhere else in the USA.

From here we take a month off so our Princess can return to the islands to be present at her grandson’s wedding and then on to Suwanee River State Park in Live Oak, Florida.

Au Revoir and Aloha

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