Saturday, March 15, 2008

Way Down Upon The Suwanee

Everybody, now: "Way down upon the Suwanee River, Far, far from Home...." Well, it finally fit our schedule to visit the lower Suwanee River and the town of the same name. Beautiful old Florida area. A brisk but meandering river of legend, Spanish moss more dense in most cases than the leaves in the trees- big trees. We did manage to get one kayak run up the river but weather in the form of rain and tornadic activity kept us off the river for the most part. Unless, of course, you count parking right up against the banks of the river as technically being ON the river. What a campsite!

Some business dealings not related to our travels required us to use up too much of our time there. While it is a beautiful spot, it is also a very remote spot and there was NO cell phone signal that worked for us at all. When we had to make a call, which we had to do almost every day that we were there, we had to drive at least 20 miles down the road to get even a faint signal. The campground had a wifi that was woefully inadequate and seldom if ever allowed me to connect, so we pretty much had to make a run whenever we needed computer hookup, paper document transmissions and so on as well. At the end of our stay, the management asked us if we would return. We told them we would love to but our need for communication might preclude that. However they assured us that the brand new wifi which would be fast and powerful and on a giant tower rather than on a small sat dish would be ready in a couple weeks. Who knew. Timing is everything. But at least now we know we will be able to get back there again some day. It's a beautiful part of Florida. And perhaps part of that is because it has not been over built, over populated, and over run by man and his technology at this point yet. Ain't no Walmart here, folks!We're pretty much in the center of the shot above and that's us below as well.

Whether you looked upstream or down, the Cypress trees and knees made for spectacular scenery.
Twenty eight (28) miles from camp, on Highway 19 near Chiefland, Florida, Bob and Nancy Ross own and operate one of the few remaining roadside Cypress stands left in this part of the state, where once there were many. We had passed it on the way to the campground and had fully intended to go back for a visit and a tour. Besides, they are located in a sweet spot for cell signal! And we sure needed that! Suwanee River Woods sells the cross cut sections of the giant Cypress tree trunks that have become the classic Florida table tops, clocks, carving materials from the days when cutting the trees was not strictly regulated and everyone had a piece of the action. Today, the Rosses sell the trunk sections and slabs from legal, commercial operations. They use only the portion of the tree that is not used for lumber....and NO LIVING TREE is ever cut just to produce their product line of woods- it's all byproduct.

Most, but not all, of their wood is "raw" meaning it has not been sanded and sealed prior to purchase. That's because they they want to know how you plan to use the wood before they treat it or do anything at all with it. Once sealed, the Cypress takes on the appearance of the aromatic wood, cedar, which they also have as part of their product line. The irregular shape of the trunk of each Cypress tree makes each cross section cut a thing a beauty and a one of a kind piece of wood. They are truly beautiful.

Bob carves fish out of "Pecky" Cypress. The holes in the wood are produced by a fungus which makes each piece a prized treasure. Nature is the best artist of all................. We tried for an hour or better to find a piece that could fit into our "limited wall space" traveling home, but just couldn't do it. Bummer!

Nancy arranges some tillandsias, air plants, into the holes in some Pecky Cypress. The large slabs are most generally made into bar tops, coffee tables, totems, mantels, benches and the like. When we visited, their web site was not operational, so I can't help you with that contact, but they certainly do have an enormous selection of quality pieces if you are ever in the market.
The Rosses came to this place and started their business some 30 years ago. Their swamp buggy, which Nancy told us was impossible to get stuck, has fallen into a state of disrepair while they tended to business, but it was still a fascinating addition to the "collection" of things to look over at their place of business. There is a quiet sadness about the things that, rightly or wrongly, get neglected while we go about running the business of our lives. Marilyn and and I are so happy to have this time now to go about rediscovering just that kind of thing along the trails of our travel.
Back at camp, Abby took advantage of a break in the bad weather of the week and did a little sunbathing............way down upon the Suwanee River, far, far from home.

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