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January 2014 / February 2014 Newsletter

A condensed events and activities list can be found on our Calendar page.
Membership information can be found on our Membership page.

General Participation Guidelines
Always sign up ("pre-register") for an event by using our Meetup.com site or by contacting the leader so you can be reached if there is a change or an event cancellation.  Trip leaders generally make all reservations and arrangements and may set group size limits on some trips and activities.  If you are not pre-registered you may be turned away at some events.

Additional information about these activities and events may be announced at monthly meetings, on our Meetup.com site, and by Meetup.com messaging.  If you did not sign up for an event or activity at the last club meeting and would like to do so, you may add your name to the list at our Meetup.com site.  If you have additional questions, please contact the trip or activity leader directly.


Wed 12/4, 6:30pm, Monthly Members Meeting and Planning Meeting: Regency Square Library, 9900 Regency Square Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32256

Fri 12/6, 5:00/6:00pm: St. Augustine Art Walk and Christmas Lights: This is the monthly first Friday event where you stroll from gallery to gallery viewing art - the art varies so that there is always some for everyone's taste. Good exercise and refreshments along the way. This amazing city was named by AAA to be one of the 12 top places to spend the holidays. It is the perfect way to officially start the Holiday Season.  The walk is from 5 to 9; however, most of you work -- so, we will meet at the entrance to  the Winery on Kings Street at 5:00 -- if you cannot be there at that time, we will meet you outside Rembrandt's at 6:00 (just let us know) which is just down the street from the Winery. Afterwards we will go to dinner.   Leader: Marta W.

Sat 12/7, 10:00am, Hike and Visit to a Live Farm, Gainesville:  Come join us for a fun filled day of hiking in beautiful Gainesville. We will meet at McDonalds on I-10 & Chafee Road at 9:00 a.m.  Carpooling is available and can be made in advance or at McDonalds.  We will visit the Morningside Nature Center to hike the trails (7 miles of available trails), see the wild flowers, picnic and visit the “live farm” where interpreters will show you what life was like on a rural Florida homestead farm in 1870.  We will watch as they make biscuits, fresh butter, and more.   We will also see a cabin, schoolhouse, smokehouse, wood shop and a forge.  There is no admission into the Nature Center.  3540 E. University Ave, Gainesville, FL.  www.natureoperations.org. Leader: Julie H.  904-424-1548

Sun  12/8, 9:00am, Swim, Snorkel and Scuba at Troy Springs or Hike San Felasco Hammock State Preserve: Come out for a day of swimming, snorkeling and if you’re a certified diver, SCUBA. We will meet at the McDonalds at 454 Cassat Ave, 32254, at 8:30 AM and leave by 9:00. Troy is a state park on the Suwannee River about an one hour and forty five minutes from Jax. Located about 30 miles southwest of Lake City. The spring is a large open hole about 60’ deep. At the mouth of the short and wide run to the river are the ribs of a civil war boat. If you get a little chilled in the spring water you can swim over to the warmer river water. It’s a comparatively small park and spring area compared to most. They have picnic tables and bathroom facilities. There is a 1/2 mile nature trail. We can eat at one of the restaurants in Lake City on the way back or plan a picnic lunch at the spring.

Follow this link (1) for more details, and also this link (2) for more details.

If weather prohibits a visit to the springs we will go hiking at San Felasco Hammock State Preserve located in the north east area of Gainesville. This preserve has one of the few remaining mature forests in Florida. The limestone outcrops and extreme changes in elevation provide ideal conditions for many species of hardwood trees, including several champion trees. Bobcats, white-tailed deer, gray foxes, turkeys, and many species of songbirds make their homes in the 18 natural communities found in the preserve. http://www.floridastateparks.org/sanfelascohammock/
674 Troy Springs Road, Branford, FL 32008.  You can also follow this link for more details.
Leader: Dan Wolf
(904) 412-4821, Email: dpwwoolf ’at’ gmail.com

Sat 12/14, Hiking adventure at Rice Creek in Palatka: We will meet at McDonalds at 9:00 am on US 17(Park Ave.), by 295 across from the Orange Park Kennel Club in Orange Park.  Rice Creek is a conservation area near Palatka and is part of the Florida Trail.  This was an area where the Colonials established fields of rice and indigo using dikes and canals. The trails are very lush with wild Azalea’s and Cypress trees.

One of the Cypress trees is the 7th largest in Florida. This hike is moderate and the distance is 5.2 miles.  For those who want a longer hike, the Hoffman Crossing would add 3 miles round trip.  With the cooler weather, this would be a good warm-up for longer hikes later in the year, such as The Big Oak Trail, also part of the Florida Trail.  Please dress accordingly for weather.  Bring bug spray, water, camera and snacks.  Leader: Victor C. 904-517-2321.  Directions and maps will be distributed at McDonalds and carpooling is available.  http://www.floridahikes.com/ftricecreek

Sun 12/15, 4:30pm, Avondale/Riverside Luminaria Walk- Members Only Event: Enjoy the Christmas Season in Jacksonville’s historic Avondale and Riverside neighborhoods for the annual Luminaria display. More than 36,000 luminaria line the streets. It’s a really festive atmosphere. We will have dinner at Lola’s Burrito Joint on King Street across from the Riverside Baptist Church, then visit Riverside Baptist Church for caroling and a tour of this historic landmark. We will then walk through Riverside and enjoy the lights, music and live manger scenes. If you don't wish to eat with us, you may tour the church on your own and join us in front of the church at 6:30pm.

We will meet at Boone Park on Van Wert Ave adjacent to the tennis courts at 4:30pm. Parking is available on Van Wert Ave just off Park St. We will then carpool to the restaurant and end our night back at Boone Park. Leader for the walk is Paula S. 904-588-2707

Sat 12/21, 1:00pm, Members Only Holiday Party and Campout at Dutton Island Preserve Park: We will gather to eat for a lunchtime picnic and celebration of Sidetrackers friends with hiking, lawn games and a campfire. The Club with provide meats, side dishes, drinks and eating utensils/supplies and members can bring a side dish or dessert if they wish.  We have reserved a primitive campsite with campfire ring for use during the day so we can have a campfire later in the afternoon.  The first 20 people to show interest can also camp out overnight at the primitive campsite. There is room for 5-8 tents. There is no running water or electric at campsite but a bathroom is located at the pavilion.

Dutton Island Park and Preserve is a pristine salt marsh ecosystem that offers visitors exceptional wildlife viewing and awesome outdoor water opportunities. Enjoy the marsh observation viewing deck and the scenic nature trail where sites may include wading birds and a variety of native reptiles, along with palmettos and marshland habitat. 

The park is located off Atlantic Blvd. Take Mayport Road north to Dutton Island Rd, turn west to Dutton Drive on right. This is the entrance to the park. Drive onto the island where there is limited parking available or park at the trail parking lot just before the island entrance and carpool or walk onto the island. We will meet and eat at the Pavilion located less than 50 feet from the parking lot right along the main trail.

This is a SIDETRACKERS MEMBERS ONLY trip. Please RSVP by phone or email by Dec 15 if you can make the picnic. We will need to have an accurate headcount for ordering the food. If you wish to campout, it will be first come, first served so RSVP as soon as possible to reserve your spot. Coordinator is Paula S. at 904-400-6699 or sawyerhouse”at”bellsouth.net.

Sat 12/28, OPEN

Wed 1/1 –   6:30 PM, Monthly Members Meeting: Regency Square Library, 9900 Regency Square Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32256 (CANCELLED/HOLIDAY)

Wed 1/8, 6:15pm, Downtown Jacksonville Bridge Walk:  Come join us for an energetic and challenging walk to get us in shape for the spring hikes. The hike will be approximately 3-4 miles.  Please wear good walking shoes, bright colors and bring plenty of water.   If it’s not too late, we will grab a bite at the Landing or a nearby restaurant. We will meet in the MOSH (east side) parking lot and walk the Main Street Bridge and the Acosta Bridge.  MOSH Museum 1025 Museum Circle Jacksonville, Fl 32207. See http://www.themosh.org/visit.html for additional information and a map. Group leader: Julie H at 904 4241548.

Sat 1/11, 9:00am, Big Oak Trail Hike: Come join us for a fun filled day hiking in the woods. We will meet at McDonalds on I-10 off Chaffee road, and leave at 9:00 am sharp.  Arrive early if you plan on having breakfast.   Please have your car pooling arranged ahead of time and make sure your schedule is the same as the driver. The hike is close to the Suwannee River State Park. Maps and directions will be given out at McDonalds. This is a long hike (9.5 miles) that will take us on a journey to find the remains of Drew Mansion, who was the Governor of Florida in the 1800’s.  We will also hike by the ghost town of Ellanville, and of course, the Big Oak in the Suwannee River State Park.  This great Oak is one of the largest in the State.  This is a very scenic trail with bluffs, a great forest with the remains of confederate guns, as well as parts of the Florida Trail. The hike will take about 3.5 hours and calls for proper attire and gear:  water, bug spray, comfortable shoes, sunglasses, and a hat. It might be wise to bring a small backpack containing a rain poncho and few snacks for energy. Wool socks are highly suggested.

Afterwards we will get a bite to eat in the area.  Leader Vic, 904.517.2321. As a courtesy, please call Vic if your plans change and you are unable to attend.

Sat 1/25, 9:00am, 29th Annual Manatee Festival at Valentine Park in Orange City, FL:  Come join us for a fun filled day in Volusia County. We will depart from the McDonald's on Old St. Augustine Road (near Kohl's) and I-95 at 9:00am sharp. It is a approximately 95 miles to our destination and will take us 1:45 to drive to Valentine Park, 1511 W French Ave, Orange City, FL 32763. If you plan on eating breakfast, please arrive at 8:30am. We expect this to be a full day. If you need to be back in Jacksonville by a certain time, please drive your own car or carpool with someone with the same time restraints.  The gates will open at 10:00am. Please bring cash for there is an $8.00 admission fee. All proceeds will fund scholarships and Blue Springs State Park. There will be food vendors plus a free shuttle to see the manatees at Blue Springs. This is a large art and crafts festival with music, dancing, sand sculpting, shows and rides. To read more about the festival or the manatees: http://www.themanateefestival.com/event  or http://www.savethemanatee.com. Any questions please call Sue M. at 215.939.8523

Sat 2/1, 8:15am, The 28th Annual Hoggetowne Medieval Faire, Gainesville, FL  Come join us for a full day of fun and entertainment at the Alachua County Fairgrounds for the 28th annual Hoggetowne Medieval Faire. We will meet at 8:15 am at McDonald's located on I-10 and Chaffee Rd. We are leaving for the 70 minute drive at 8:45 a.m. sharp.  Please try to arrange carpooling prior to the event.  Come be swept away by medieval magic as troupes of actors, street performers and musicians journey back to the days of yore. Revel in the sights and sounds of one of North Central Florida’s premier events. Faire hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and the admission fee is $15 for adults. Tickets can be purchased  online for a slight processing fee or at the event. Yes, they do honor most major credit cards. Event Leader: Sue M. 215.939.8534. For more information about tickets, entertainment or food options, click http://Gvlculturalaffairs.org.

Wed 2/5, 6:30 PM, Monthly Members Meeting: Regency Square Library, 9900 Regency Square Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32256

Sat-Sun 2/8-9, Rainbow River Cruise and Crystal River Manatee Snorkel: Come join us for a fun filled weekend swimming with the manatee in Crystal River,FL. We will leave Saturday morning and eat lunch in Dunnellon just prior to taking a pontoon boat cruise on the Withlacoochee River. We’ll have a group dinner and breakfast in one of the cabins the next morning. It’s a short drive up to Crystal River where we’ll jump on a pontoon boat to explore the river and snorkel with the manatees. We have two cabins at the Rainbow Rivers Club, a beautiful 55-acre property surrounded on three sides by the Rainbow and Withlacoochee Rivers. There is a beautiful clubhouse, an outdoor swimming pool, paddle boats and jon boats- all available for your use at no extra cost when a guest at the facility. Each cabin sleeps five with one double, two single beds and a futon. The combined cost for the cabin and pontoon boat for the first day is $40 per person.   Payment is due when your reservations are made. There is no cancellation but you may find a replacement for your spot. The Rainbow River Cabins can be found at: http://www.flipkey.com/dunnellon-cabin-rentals/p289048/ or call (352) 489-9983. Note: be sure to catch all three pages of pictures.

The Marina side is located at 20510 the Granada, Dunnellon, Fl 34432 off CR484 where the pontoon boats are located. The Preserve side is located 2 miles from the Marina side at 12450 San Jose Blvd., Dunnellon, FL 34432 off CR484 where the Cabins are located. We will drive up to Crystal River on Sunday and rent a pontoon boat – the shared cost is only $15.00 if all ten people participate. Snorkel gear is separate and can be rented at the facility. The Port Hotel & Marina 1610 SE Paradise Cir, Crystal River, FL (352) 795-3111 http://www.porthotelandmarina.com. We will meet at the McDonalds on I-10 and Chaffee Rd. at 8:00 on Feb. 8th for the 2:15 drive, and leave no later than 8:30 Saturday morning. Please do not be late. Leader and Contact: Dan Woolf (904) 412-4821, Email:  dpwwoolf@gmail.com  Recap on cost: $40 per person for the cabin and Saturday’s pontoon boat and $15 for Sunday’s pontoon boat if ten people chose to participate.

Sun  2/16, 10:00am, Battle of Olustee Re-enactment, Olustee, FL:: We will meet at McDonalds at 705 Chaffee Rd. S (off I-10) at 10:00am. The battlefield is just hour away on I-10. The re-enactment takes place at 1:30pm but there is a lot to see at the festival which is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the battle. Food and beverage vendors should be at the scene for lunch. A brief history of the battle: The Battle of Olustee, February 20, 1864. In February 1864, the commander of the Department of the South, Maj. Gen. Quincy A. Gillmore, launched an expedition into Florida to secure Union enclaves, sever Rebel supply routes, and recruit black soldiers. Brig. t. Truman Seymour moved deep into the state, occupying, destroying, and liberating, meeting little resistance. On February 20, he approached Brig. Gen. Joseph Finnegan’s 5,000 Confederates entrenched near Olustee.  One infantry brigade pushed out to meet Seymour’s advance units.  The Union forces attacked but were repulsed. The battle raged, and as Finnegan committed the last of his reserves, the Union line broke and began to retreat. Finnegan did not exploit the retreat, allowing most of the fleeing Union forces to reach Jacksonville. Additional information at:  http://ww.battleofolustee.org/battle.html.  We can decide if we want to have dinner back in town after the re-enactment. Leader: Tim Scott, cell: 904-705-3335. As a courtesy, please call Tim if your plans should change and you are unable to attend.

Sat 3/1/14, 10:00am, Photo Scavenger Hunt at Jacksonville Arboretum: We will meet 10:00 am at the Jacksonville Arboretum parking lot, 1445 Millcoe Road, Jacksonville, (just off Monument Rd.) There is a limit of 31 (one leader, 30 team members) participants at this event. This event is a competition among teams. The group will be divided into 5 teams of 6. The event leader has taken photos of objects (natural and man-made) along the lovely, winding trails of the arboretum. Each team should assign a leader who has walked the arboretum before (a route map will be issued) and one photographer (cell phones are fine) to match each of the photos the event leader has taken. Each team will be provided sheets of these photos. All the members of the team will be the spotters. The team which collects/matches the most photos correctly and arrives back at the parking lot first will win the team prize which is being donated by the event leader. (In the case of a tie at the finish, the team with the most correct matches wins.) We can decide where we might like to go to lunch after the hunt. Because of the use of cameras, this event will not be held in the rain – Rain date will be Sun., 3/2/14 at 10:00am. NOTE: This is likely to be a popular event which is limited to 31 people, and we want to have the same number of people on each team. As a result, if you sign up and it looks like you can’t attend, please give several days’ notice on Meetup.com so that people who are on the wait list can join. Leader: Tim Scott, cell # 904-705-3335.

Wed 3/5 –   6:30 PM, Monthly Members Meeting: Regency Square Library, 9900 Regency Square Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32256

Additional information about these activities and events may be announced at monthly meetings and on our Meetup.com/Sidetrackers trip reservation pages.

2014 Monthly Meeting Schedule.  Locations Will Be Announced.
MONTHLY MEETINGS are always on the first non-holiday Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m.
and the location may vary.  Subscribers to our Meetup.com group receive an automatic reminder message in their email two days before the meeting.

WEDNESDAY, February 5, 2014 – 6:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, March 5, 2014 – 6:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, April 2, 2014 – 6:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, May 7, 2014 – 6:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, June 4, 2014 – 6:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, July 2, 2014 – 6:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, August 6, 2014 – 6:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, September 3, 2014 – 6:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, October 1, 2014 – 6:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, November 5, 2014 – 6:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, December 3, 2014 – 6:30 PM

The Sidetrackers Newsletter
Our newsletter is maintained by Chris who can be reached by email at newsletter 'at' sidetrackers.com.
If you have any comments about the newsletter, or if you have material to submit for inclusion in the
next monthly newsletter, please send email to newsletter 'at' sidetrackers.com.

To Become a Sidetrackers Member
Members pay a small annual fee to help share the annual cost of maintaining this web site and the small costs of running the club.  Members are not required to submit a Guest Waiver Form at each Sidetrackers trip, activity or event.  Membership applications are accepted throughout the year.  Please visit our Membership page, or send questions and comments to membership 'at' sidetrackers.com.

The Sidetrackers Web Site

Our web site is maintained by Frank who can be reached by email at webmaster 'at' sidetrackers.com.  Please contact Frank if you have any corrections, photos, or other items of interest from any current activities. We will be pleased to consider your suggestions concerning the web site content.

In Case You Were Wondering...
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