Sept. 2, 2017 Stephen Foster State Park, Day 2

It rained lightly overnight and was still overcast this morning. We enjoyed a leisurely morning just happy to be starting our vacation after all that happened over the last week. We watched the rerun of the Wisconsin Badger football game against Utah which was played last night. It was a great win over Utah–final score 59-10. Our plan today is to do some sightseeing by car because of the rain that is forecast. We packed a lunch and took off. Our first stop was to check out the 200 ft. tall Carillon Tower where the 97-bell carillon plays bell concerts daily. Unfortunately, the sign at the entrance told us that the bells were out of order due to electricity issues. Bummer!

The tower was built in 1957 housing the world’s largest set of tubular bells which play the Stephen Foster melodies. Inside the tower, we found a beautiful marble room full of things dedicated to Stephen Foster.

From there, we drove the short distance in the park to the Stephen Foster Museum. 

We were greeted by a park ranger who was so knowledgeable about all things Stephen Foster. Being a local resident, she was anxious to share her knowledge with us, the only visitors in the museum. The museum depicts 8 automated dioramas of Stephen Foster songs and features historic pianos and Stephen Foster’s desk where he wrote some of his famous songs. (Way Down Upon the Suwannee River, Old Black Joe, Jeannie With the Light Brown Hair, My Old Kentucky Home, and others.)

From there, we drove into the town of White Springs. Only 2 businesses were open on this Saturday so we had to check them out. Our first stop was Big Bellies–an eating establishment. Since we had already eaten our packed lunch, we opened the door to see what it looked like inside. Of course in a small town like this, everyone inside turned around to look who was entering–to see if they knew us. We just waved and closed the door leaving everyone to wonder who we were.

Our second stop was just down the road at the main intersection in town (and the only stoplight), Adams Country Store built in 1865.

It was filled with antiques of all kinds and there was a lot to look at. In the back of the store, they created a beautiful backyard sitting area where you could rest and enjoy the solitude or watch the tourists go by.

We inquired of the storekeeper if there was actually a springs in town. She directed us across the street to the actual White Springs that the town is named for. White Sulfur Springs was the first mineral springs to be commercialized. Discovered by Seminole Indians, the springs gave rise to the town. Unfortunately, the mining that was done for potash years later, broke into the aquifer and that was the demise of the springs. All that was left was part of the original White Sulfur Spring House and observation area where people came to the waters for healing and pain relief.

From the balcony, you could look down at the dead spring and out onto the Suwannee River.

Our next stop was a short 6-mile drive out to Big Shoals State Park in the hopes of getting a better view of the Suwannee River. None was to be had, so we left. Big Shoals State Park lies adjacent to Stephen Foster State Park and has Florida’s only Class 3 whitewater rapids in the state. Too bad we couldn’t see it with an easy walk. We had a few sprinkles throughout the day, but nothing to stop us from completing our plans. We were back at the campsite around 3:00 to enjoy the rest of the day with Auggie. The sun finally came out and made things a little steamy outside. The park had filled up with campers since we arrived yesterday and it’s always fun to see what people camp in. We spent some time outside, but once the mosquitoes came out, we went in. We had dinner and walked Auggie. With our satellite system, we can pick up all sorts of TV and were lucky to get the Florida State vs Bama game. Unfortunately, the game didn’t go our way, but so it goes with football. Tomorrow we’ll do a little more exploring in the park and checking out more of the historic buildings in town.

 

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