White Squirrels, Pie Bald Deer and the Forgotten Coast

From Chiefland we headed further up the coast of Florida to our next stop at the Ocklockonee River State Park in Sopchoppy, FL. Despite its frolicsome name, there isn’t a IMG_5079whole lot to the town of Sopchoppy. It sports the requisite number of defunct businesses, an historic and defunct railroad depot, a pizza parlor which looked a little dubious and a supermarket which was, beyond a doubt, odorous and completely dubious.


This section of the Florida coast has been dubbed the Forgotten Coast. I don’t think we’ll ever forget it. We really fell in love with Ochlockonee—especially once we figured out how to say it.

The park lies south of Sopchoppy at the intersection of two rivers, the Ochlockonee and the Dead, both brackish rivers flowing out to the Gulf.

The campground at Ochlockonee is not large. There are only 30 sites. They aren’t terribly far apart, but there is quite a bit of vegetation including live oaks festooned with Spanish moss and saw palmetto so it is all very pretty. Our hookups were on the wrong side of the trailer, but this was easily overcome.

Just walking around the park is a delight. The tall, thin pines grow in plentifully rows straight to the sky in the pine flatwoods. There are nice hiking trails both through the forested fields and along the waters. We loved hiking the trails.

The park is home to two exotic inhabitants. White squirrels scamper around the campground and trails. They are not albinos, but a relative of the grey squirrel. Each time we saw one, we shouted with excitement—not a normal occurrence with a squirrel sighting. Much to our disappointment, we never did see the other park exotic. The Pie Bald Deer did not come out to play with us. The ranger at the station said she hadn’t seen one since the previous week so perhaps they were on vacation.

Our campsite next door neighbors were two guys, avid fishermen. We dubbed them affectionately “the hobos.” They eschewed creature comforts, sleeping out in the elements in blankets and sleeping bags. It was pretty chilly at night, but they seemed comfortable enough. One of them had a snore which rattled the aluminum walls of our Airstream. It made me giggle every time he started up. They headed out early each day to fish and were back after dark. On Sunday they retrieved their adolescent daughters. A tent was erected and a higher degree of civility reigned at their camp. The girls were having a super time with their dads. It was really cute.

We took a looping drive around the area just to see what we could see and to find a supermarket with a little less daunting aspect than the  Sopchoppy Grocery. Again, we saw towns where life was tough. Small houses sat next to what could only be termed shacks and abandoned, cratering cabins. Rusted out mobile homes sat derelict in overgrown yards. We did laundry in Crawfordville with some pretty desperate looking folks.

But the natural beauty of the land was spectacular. We fantasized about a small plot of land on the river where the breeze would keep the air fresh and we could hike through the pine flatwoods and maybe even get a dinghy to go fishing. We would have a wide screened in porch encircling the house and spend hours watching the sun rise and fall and the light bounce on the river water.

Our four nights passed quickly. We were really sad when it was time to leave. It is a place I think we would both be happy to go back to.

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