Our destination today was Highlands Hammock State Park near Sebring, Florida. We got here very early (about 11am) but since there was nobody on the site they let us get set up right away. It is hard to get a campground reservation in Florida for the weekend so it is best to reserve ahead. For Florida state parks, this means using a website called ReserveAmerica. It is quite a user friendly site; there are campground maps and pictures of the campsites along with descriptions and notes (like this one is 50 feet from the restroom). Armed with that information, you can pick from the available sites and hope for the best. Since there was only 1 site free that would fit the whale and could be reserved, that's the one that we got. The ranger seduced us with the words "pull through" and off we went to find it. We were heartened when we turned down the row and saw concrete pads. Interestingly, every other site seems to have a pad. That "133" at the bottom of the picture is for the site to our right (where the pavement is). Between every two paved sites is a rough site. Notice that the tires on the door side are sitting on top of three 2x10's. That is a whole lot of leveling that needed doing. But we got it level and all is well. The campground was fairly empty when we arrived but it filled up quickly during the afternoon. There are a lot of young families here with lots of kids busy having fun.
I thought that Hammock was an odd name for a park. A hammock is a term used in the southeastern United States for a stand of trees, usually hardwood, that form an ecological island in a contrasting ecosystem. Hammocks grow on elevated areas, often just a few inches high, surrounded by lands that are too wet to support them. Local citizens were concerned about plans to turn the hammock into farmland so a group of them purchased the property in 1931 and promoted it as a candidate for national park status. It never reached national park status but became one of the four original Florida State Parks when the system was created in 1935.
There is a tree here said to be the largest oak in Florida; over a thousand years old with a girth of 36 feet. I think we will be doing some nature walks this weekend.