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  1. #1
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    3/31/'13: Quick Overnighter at Paynes Prairie State Park

    Due to changing plans associated with the Easter holiday, I decided at the last minute to go down to Paynes Prairie state park, about twelve miles south of Gainesville. Here in Florida, we've had a pilot program running for about a year in the state parks for a study on the feasibility of using hammocks in their campgrounds. Until this past year, it was (and is, with the exception of the pilot program) illegal to tie anything to any plant in a state park. This was mostly due to the high impact that these areas see from tourism and the fact that the phrase "LNT" has, unfortunately, not entered the common public's lexicon as of yet.

    This is an area I've biked to multiple times; the tiny municipality of Micanopy (pronounced "mick-ah-no-pee") has a wonderful bike lane between it and Gainesville proper, one that runs through the beautiful Paynes Prairie.

    Paynes Prairie is an interesting geological formation; it's a drainage for the local area and a "wet" prairie. The Alachua Sink is located at the lowest point in the prairie and almost always has standing water located there. At several points in the prairie's history, the drainage for it has become blocked, leading to several feet of standing water over the entire prairie. The most recent time that happened, in the late 19th century, paddlewheel steamboats were run from Gainesville to Micanopy for the transfer of goods and people from the railroad that ran into town to points south.

    The prairie proper is surrounded by rolling hills, some of which comprise the majority of the accessible state park (most of the prairie is fenced off as a wildlife preserve; there are horses, bison, cattle, and gators there, along with about a zillion birds). I biked down US 441 through the hills of south Gainesville, into the flat portion across the prairie, and up into the hills of Micanopy. It took me about an hour's ride from my door to the ranger station at the entrance to the state park.

    The rangers seemed amused and interested in my form of transportation and were helpful with information regarding hammock camping. I'd already done my research and made a reservation for a site appropriate to hammock camping (#33; it's a nice one, by the way) and was checked in without any trouble whatsoever.

    I biked the mile or so to the campground and began setting camp.

    Florida state parks require a set of straps for the tarp as well as the hammock (understandable, considering the amount of folks these trees are likely to see if this becomes permanently approved), and I think I need to sew up some longer straps for my tarp for next time. I had to use my bike strap (the one that holds my pack to my seat supports) for one end of the tarp and two of the straps, tied together, that normally hold things to my pack frame. I think that a pair of straps, ~6' long, with a loop at either end (so that it's easy to tie the tarp to them) will be a good solution for this. As it was, I used the 'biner on one end of my tarp line and an hex wrench (part of my bike tools) on the other as a pair of toggles for marlinspike hitches to connect the tarp line to the straps. They held nicely, but it would've been nicer with loops on the ends of my straps.

    Otherwise, set up of camp went smoothly and easily. The folks in the next campsite over, who were down from Ohio to visit Disney, were interested in my set up. I did the "hammock ambassador" thing for twenty minutes or so and then set off in search of dinner.

    I biked the rest of the way down into Micanopy proper (maybe two or three miles), looking to see if any of the restaurants down there were open. None were: Micanopy's a small town, and it was Easter, so... I wound up at the Pearl Country Store, purchasing some RTE foods and then heading back to camp. I spent the evening hanging in the hammock and enjoying a good paperback. I nodded off sometime between seven and eight...

    ...Only to be woken at nine-thirty by someone backing their RV into one of the sites, maybe twenty yards away, and being yelled at by the person trying to spot for them. Meh. What you pay for when you get a front-country camp, I guess. After fifteen or twenty minutes of shouting and a rumbling diesel engine, they were done and into the spot. I nodded back off fairly quickly and slept heavily until shortly after dawn.

    I woke somewhere around seven-thirty and spent an hour or so just enjoying the relaxing feel of lying in the hammock. I lazed for a bit and then rose to make "coffee" on my alcohol set-up (my first time using it without my hobo stove--it worked just fine, but I think I'm going to stick with the wood burner as a pot stand/windscreen for the mornings).

    After my second cup, I wandered over and took a shower at the bathhouse there. By this time, I checked the weather and decided to skip my planned hike of the Chacala Trail in the park there; thunderstorms were forecast for the afternoon. I didn't want to be trapped out on the (flat) prairie in a thunderstorm as the tallest object around, so I packed up and headed back to Gainesville. Mrs. FLRider texted me to say that she was at a local coffee house, and I went thataway instead of home.

    Here, my tale ends, meeting the most wonderful woman in the world for an afternoon of conversation over a cuppa joe and a water. It was a relaxing trip, one that I might just have to repeat some time soon.

    Sorry, no photos or video.
    "Just prepare what you can and enjoy the rest."
    --Floridahanger

  2. #2
    MAD777's Avatar
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    3/31/'13: Quick Overnighter at Paynes Prairie State Park

    I love that area of our state.
    It's nice to have the option of hanging in State Parks, but you'll never catch me in one because of your experience with the diesel RV and similar situations. That's just not nature for me. Micanopy is a picturesque village that has always attracted me.
    Mike
    "Life is a Project!"

  3. #3
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAD777 View Post
    I love that area of our state.
    It's nice to have the option of hanging in State Parks, but you'll never catch me in one because of your experience with the diesel RV and similar situations. That's just not nature for me. Micanopy is a picturesque village that has always attracted me.
    Fair 'nough. I enjoy the ride down that way, though, and I wanted to get in at least one stay at a state park before the end of the pilot program next month. So...

    I enjoy front-country campgrounds in the summer months; the ability to go take a cold shower at the end of the day is particularly attractive to me. Especially since I spend long days on the bike during the summer, and it's hotter once I stop (no breeze caused by my movement). I hope that the state parks decide to continue to allow hammocks, since that'll open up quite a few options that weren't available in the past. That, and fewer folks use 'em during the summer months; the heat is too much for most people.

    I do love Micanopy; it is certainly a beautiful town. They've definitely gone to some lengths to preserve the "old Florida community" feel, and it hasn't segued into "Epcot" the way some places do down here. It's a refreshing getaway from Gainesville that I try to do once or twice a year, usually with Mrs. FLRider.
    "Just prepare what you can and enjoy the rest."
    --Floridahanger

  4. #4
    I Learn So Others Can Too FireInMyBones's Avatar
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    Sounds like fun adventure. My parents RV camp and hate pulling in anywhere late and hate being woken up by those who do.

    Biking an hanging... I'll have to do that sometime this summer. I have some local ideas...
    -Jeremy

    "If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:11

    Quote Originally Posted by FLRider View Post
    FireInMyBones; he's a mountain goat crossed with a marathoner.
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  5. #5
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireInMyBones View Post
    Sounds like fun adventure. My parents RV camp and hate pulling in anywhere late and hate being woken up by those who do.

    Biking an hanging... I'll have to do that sometime this summer. I have some local ideas...
    It most definitely was.

    Their thoughtfulness is definitely appreciated by the rest of us! I wasn't too disturbed by it; I knew what I was getting into down there. But...I still wanted to go back to sleep...

    I look forward to your trip reports for bike camping. If you need any ideas on how to mount stuff to the bike, don't hesitate to ask! Also, I know it's a ways out, but I'm in the pre-planning stage of a north Florida tour for next Spring. The thread's in my signature.
    "Just prepare what you can and enjoy the rest."
    --Floridahanger

  6. #6
    I Learn So Others Can Too FireInMyBones's Avatar
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    I'll keep all of that in mind. Thanks.
    -Jeremy

    "If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:11

    Quote Originally Posted by FLRider View Post
    FireInMyBones; he's a mountain goat crossed with a marathoner.
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  7. #7
    Duffy's Avatar
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    Thanks for the trip report, buddy. Hiking that area is on my list....
    Something hidden. Go and find it. Go, and look behind the Ranges. Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you . . . Go! - Rudyard Kipling

  8. #8
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duffy View Post
    Thanks for the trip report, buddy. Hiking that area is on my list....
    No probelm! Let me know when you intend on coming down; I'd be glad to show you around.
    "Just prepare what you can and enjoy the rest."
    --Floridahanger

  9. #9
    New Member teddyb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FLRider View Post
    It most definitely was.

    Their thoughtfulness is definitely appreciated by the rest of us! I wasn't too disturbed by it; I knew what I was getting into down there. But...I still wanted to go back to sleep...

    I look forward to your trip reports for bike camping. If you need any ideas on how to mount stuff to the bike, don't hesitate to ask! Also, I know it's a ways out, but I'm in the pre-planning stage of a north Florida tour for next Spring. The thread's in my signature.
    FLRIDER, If you don't mind I would be interested in learning how you transport your gear on your bike. Thanks in advance.
    Ted

  10. #10
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teddyb View Post
    FLRIDER, If you don't mind I would be interested in learning how you transport your gear on your bike. Thanks in advance.
    Ted
    Sure. Let's move that to another forum, in order to keep this thread on track...I'll PM you with the thread address when I've got the initial post done.
    "Just prepare what you can and enjoy the rest."
    --Floridahanger

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