South East Spring Swing, Tallahassee, Part One


March 31 – April 3

With rain forecast for the morning we again awoke early, broke camp quickly, and stopped for breakfast after getting on the road. The nearest option was a place we stop at infrequently but enjoy each time we do which is the Cracker Barrel chain. We’ve eaten with these folks from time to time, relying on the quality product they deliver at reasonable prices. We’d visit more often but they don’t do omelets and that is my eating out breakfast of choice.

Mobile to Tallahassee

Mobile to Tallahassee

We rolled into Tallahassee and turned south onto Hwy 319 connecting to Hwy 98 arriving at our destination, Holiday Campground in the small community of Panacea, right on Ochlockonee Bay. While researching campsites in the area we settled on this one as few were available overall and the others were generally primitive sites in state or local parks. We were the only tent campers there, in fact when we arrived a fifth wheel long term resident had spread their stuff into the site we were supposed to occupy, so we just set up in the one next to it.

Holiday Camping

Holiday Camping – A View of the Bay

We’d have a busy couple of days on Friday and Saturday and so opted to stay in camp and cook, finishing off the balance of our stored camp food, this time making good use of some quick cooking Indian fare we’ve used before by the brand Tasty Bite. Each two serving bag cooks in the pouch in hot water in just a few minutes. They are all vegetarian, but it is pretty easy to add some form of protein if you are so inclined. And they are quite good, not having had any that we would have rejected.

Camp Food

Camp Food – Tasty Bite Assortment

We arose Friday and drove the forty minutes or so it took to get back into Tallahassee for our rendezvous with Tom, a former colleague from my Pac-10 and UC Auxiliary days, he having been the Associated Students Executive Director at UC Berkeley. He and his wife, a tenure track professor at Florida State University (FSU) had relocated there a number of years back and hired on to be the Director of Business Administration at the National High Magnet Field Lab located not far from the campus.


Magnet Design

Tom met us in the lobby of this sprawling complex and we’d spend close to two hours touring the facility, learning more than we could ever imagine about high powered magnets and their role in science and research. Here they use 3-4 different types, all measured in Tesla’s, which provide the magnetic fields in unique ways with some requiring specific building construction to manage their power, or the conditions (i.e.: extreme cold) necessary for them to function.

A Big Old Magnet

A Big Old Magnet

We finished up with Tom and agreed to meet later in the day for some dinner, then drove the short distance to FSU. We parked, walked to the Oglesby Union to grab a quick bite to eat at a salad and wrap shop before meeting up with a colleague who I knew from the west coast, Matt, now the Union’s Director. He and his Associate Director then proceeded to take us on a comprehensive two plus hour tour of the campus (via golf cart) and the Union.

Camera 360

Campus Quad

FSU is one of the largest and oldest of the eleven institutions of higher learning in the State University System of Florida and has been in operation, under one name or another since the mid 1800’s. This history shows in its buildings and the size of the campus. The Union itself is an older building and Matt’s challenge will be to generate support for the extensive remodel is needs, one to bring it up to contemporary standards for this type of facility on a college campus.

FSU Campus Fountain

We drove over to a nearby Starbucks to wait for Tom, and when he arrived climbed into his totally cool ride, a Porsche Panamera Electric Hybrid to drive over to a favorite pizza joint of his, Isabella’s. His roots lie in southern Italy, below Rome, and he says that the food here reminds him of home. Joanna and I split a Salsiccia e Riccota, an Italian sausage pizza on a thin crust that was every bit as good as he had claimed it would be.

Tom Cordi and Jerry

Tom and Jerry at Isabella’s

We bade farewell to Tom and returned to FSU for our evening’s entertainment, the FSU Flying High Circus. Matt had provided two tickets for us to view this unique performance, one of only two such enterprises in the United States. The FSU Circus is primarily an aerial and stage presentation and has no animal acts. Student performers rig all of their own equipment, sew their own costumes, produce lights and sound for performances, and set up the Big Top tent on campus.


A one-semester, one credit hour “Introduction to Circus” course is offered to students which includes the basics of juggling, walking the high wire, aerial ballet, and rigging to introduce the Circus through the School of Sports Management, Physical Education and Recreation Departmen. The majority of the student performers continue to pursue a career in the discipline from which they graduate, with only a small percentage of them seeking a professional circus career

Under the Big Top

Under the Big Top

As someone who spent the bulk of their adult life in higher education firmly believing in the power of student employment and student activities as development tools that complement the knowledge being gained in the classroom, this was a big treat for me. And although there were some mistakes here and there during the performance, when one sat back and thought about these just being students, it made it even more impressive.



We left the circus in a torrential downpour, glad we’d not had much to drink as the long drive back to camp, in the darkness, roads so wet it was hard to make out the center line, windshield wipers going ninety beats to the minute. Upon our safe return we tucked into the sleeping bag and listened to the rain beat on the tent, warm and dry as anyone could want.

Bike Troupe

Bike Troupe

There is something about lying at night in a good tent in the driving rain, knowing you are separated from the elements by a thin layer of rip stop nylon. It’s great when it works, not so good if the tent leaks. We’ve been there both ways and I can attest its better being dry.

Holiday Camp Site

Holiday Camp Site – A Good Tent is Worth its Weight in Happiness


Cracker Barrel:

Holiday Campground:

Tasty Bite:

Magnet Lab:


Oglesby Union:




FSU Circus:


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