Background Music #1: "Old Folks at Home (Swanee River)" performed by The Hit Crew
Written in 1851 by Stephen Collins Foster and adopted as Florida's state song in 1935
Florida's Suwannee river (about 20 miles from where we are camped), which Foster called "Swannee" and spelled "Swanee," has become a world symbol of love for home and family.
Background Music #2: "Florida – Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky" by Jan Hinton
In 2008, a new state song was adopted via a contest, see story here. There's also a pretty funny dance remix here.
The new one is (in most people's opinion, including ours) quite lame, but it does put an end to the racist lyric in the original "Swanee River".

It’s a long drive to Orlando, so we’ve stopped for a couple of days in Perry, Florida. There’s nothing particularly interesting to do here in Perry, just a place along the way. As usual, though, we try to find something a little different in every place we stay. What we found here was the Forest Capital Museum and Cracker Homestead.

Per our handy dandy little Cracker Homestead State Park pamphlet, “The term ‘cracker’ refers to the settlers who lived in the rural areas. They may have acquired this name from the early Floridians who cracked their whips to drive their cattle and oxen.” Yes, that’s very interesting and different.

So apparently some, uh, “crackers” built a house in 1864, and in 1972 the house was moved a few miles south to the State Park where it could be toured alongside the Forest Capital Museum. The museum covers the importance of the trees in Florida, and their everyday use (current and past). And there you have it in a nutshell- everything you wanted to know, and more, about what to do in Perry, Florida. Of course, we’re only here for a couple of days, so isn’t it possible that we’ve missed something? Not so, says the Park Ranger who we met at the Cracker Homestead. Here’s a snippet of the conversation that pursued after we asked the question, “What sites should we see while we’re here in Perry?”

Ranger: “Oh, let’s see, let’s see. Have you been to the WalMart? Ha ha ha- well, yep, there’s uh- well, no, hmm- well, yep, that’s about it. Go anywhere but here, and well, you might be able to see something. Let’s see- south of here, well maybe there might be a bluegrass festival or something- but you wouldn’t like bluegrass…”

Us: “Actually we…”

Ranger: “But a ways north of here, yep north, there’s a wildlife place- you like to count birds? Well, that there’s not nothing to do really, but…”

Us: “That’s okay, we just…”

Ranger: “Well, of course there’s this place- if you want to tour this place- but you see the main building is closed up cuz we got this here storm coming in. No, no the rains not good for business, not good at all. There’s no glass see, no glass in the windows. It’s a cracker house ya see, and the wind just blows on in, that’s right, it just blows right on in there, so we gotta close er up. We have rain here, yep we sure do, even here in the sunshine state, that’s right. But, you can go on in and see the museum, walk around the outside of the place, it’s not too bad, even with it shut like that, you can walk around if you like, but nope, there’s not much to do around here, not really.”

Us: “Are there any beaches near here, or…”

Ranger: “Oh lord, the beaches. Oh great beaches, the best beaches ever, sand dunes up to here and…”

Us: “Really?”

Ranger: “Nah, I’m just joking with ya about that. There aren’t any beaches to speak of on this side. Nope- the saw grass see, it just comes right up to the shore and there you go, it’s just no use, you end up walking in shin deep water in saw grass out to who knows where. Nope, there’s no beaches around here- but south whoo boy, you go south and the beaches, my lord the beaches, but then you’re standing in line down there wherever you go. Number 154- you’re in line at the Burger King for an hour just waiting on a hamburger. Nope, but there’s some beautiful beaches down south. Here though, no there’s nothin’- there’s a reef here, ya see, and no waves or deep water. Couldn’t even drown yourself if you wanted to. Well I suppose you could if you lay down sideways or something, but that’s just about it ya see.”

Us: “Okay, well, I guess we’ll just go in then and…”

Ranger: “Oh, you go on in and enjoy yourself, it’s a pretty good place, pretty good, we like it here, but you know it’s just too bad about the weather and it’s gonna be 86 tomorrow and boy I tell ya, the weather is just...”

Us: “Okay, well, thank you very much. We’ll just go on in and…”

Ranger: “Oh yep, and if you need a flashlight looking around in there, let me know and I’ll just- ha ha, ha, nah I’m just joking with ya about that. I’ll turn on the lights for ya, that’ll work- but go on ahead and I’ll get those lights turned on and you’ll see for yourself, you just walk around to the different displays and…”

Us: “Okay, I’m sure we’ll be fine, thanks.” We walk through the door.

Ranger: “Okay, and if you have any questions about anything, I’ll be around and it’s just too bad about the weather, but it’s gonna be 86 tomorrow and…” Door closes.

That’s the condensed version. The Ranger ended up following us out and opening the cracker house for us, despite the weather. He explained everything along the way. He was a really nice, funny guy- but, whew, did he talk a lot. That’s about all we did in Perry, and that’s fine. We’re just using this as a rest period, because the next couple of weeks are sure to be pretty packed.

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