[Expand your browser window to maximum size. Advance slides with the right arrow in the bar at the top. Or click on the triangle to start auto-advance (but read… We escaped cold Minnesota by spending a few days in Umatilla, a small town near the Ocala National Forest with hikes near the Saint John's River. We then… Our rental in Umatilla was proudly described by the owner as a "cracker cabin." I thought that was a pejorative but, actually, the term honors the early… The live oak with generous Spanish moss across the street made me think of the old South. Spanish moss is not a moss, nor does it have much to do with Spain. It… We found evident poverty close by relative affluence in Umatilla, with palatial horse farms just out of town. The banner on the right says, "Let's Go, Brandon!"… We hiked out to an area of early "cracker" settlement amidst palmettos (with spines on the trunks) and turkey oaks. These are characteristic of the so-called… There are islands of tall longleaf pines in the scrub and this is where white settlers built ranches in the 1870's. The most famous such family was that of Reuben and Sarah Long, whose graves are in the upper right of the family cemetery. Their grandson, Milton, played an… Reuben's grave memorializes his role in the Confederate army and he is now honored with money and rounds of ammunition. Reuben was wounded in action at… In the mid-1930's, writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings made multiple visits to the cabin of Calvin and Mary Long to learn of their lifestyle, then disappearing… After checking out the setting of The Yearling, we hiked to an abandoned townsite on the Saint John's river, Saint Francis, Florida. Wooden structures rapidly disappear in this climate and we could find no sign of a settlement. It didn't really matter because we enjoyed the beauty of the… Little Saint Francis lasted from 1888 - 1909 as a steamboat landing on the Saint John's, a river that meanders north to Jacksonville, parallel to the east… This section of river is now cut off from the main channel and is a peaceful backwater. The trees of the cypress swamp send out roots that bend upward to a point just above the high water line. These are called "knees." We saw numerous 'gaters sunning themselves. This mud-caked wild boar has a fierce appearance but my chief concern was scaring him off. We moved on to the Tampa area on the Gulf coast to visit my sister and brother in law. They were accommodating of our habit of hiking up and down the coast for… We were glad to see this outdoor exhibit in a corner of the appropriately named Indian Shore park. After de Narvaez's visit and that of Hernando de Soto in… With sister Judy on the porch of their place, with a beautiful view of the Gulf. The wind was still up.