Jon and I got a rare opportunity to take about 4 days off work last week (thanks J&A!) and we took advantage of the time to get a change of scenery. We drove up to Myakka River State Park for a weekend of camping and a new habitat to explore. We loved the stately live oaks (might have even hugged a few) which were coated in air plants, and the open prairie and marshland. The highlight of our stay in the park, to me, was the canopy walk. This awesome tower and bridge was built to give you a rare perspective in this flat state, one from above the tree line. It was a 76ft tall tower, with a canopy level suspension bridge connecting to another tower. Birding at eye-level with the tree tops was quite enjoyable, and the few from the top of the taller tower was breathtaking. The weather was drizzly cold and overcast, but like the change in scenery, the break from the unusually warm winter temps was also welcomed. We were cozy in our puffy jackets, and it made walking through the pine lands a refreshing, and bug-free experience.
One of the wilder things we stumbled upon was the hike to the Deep Hole. We didn’t really know what to expect, but the permits were free and we were feeling up for a walk so we went for it. It was only about 3 miles round trip, so an easy flat hike, and the scenery was nice. We arrived at Lower Myakka Lake and found the “deep hole” which we were totally astounded to see full of alligators. I mean hundreds of massive alligators. When tour guides, who spend every day paddling clients around alligators are astonished, you can be sure it was quite the spectacle. We stood in awe and just quietly observed them for a while, and when some other folks found their way over, we left them to have their time alone and began our hike back. It was a really interesting spot, and I’m almost glad we hadn’t done any research on the hike, because it made the discovery that much more spectacular.
We spent the second part of our little vacay in a decidedly different way. We rode roller-coasters at Busch Gardens. The first one was exhilarating, and we giggled and screamed, and whooped our way through 7 coasters in about 5 hours. The trouble for me with theme parks is the crowds. It wasn’t a particularly busy day, as we gathered based on what the staff at the ticket booth mentioned, yet we were pretty overwhelmed. Our lifestyle often keeps us blessedly far from civilization and crowds. We were flabbergasted when it took us nearly an hour from the moment we walked away from our vehicle to the moment we sat in the seats of our first ride. We lined up to ride in the trolley, then lined up to buy our ticket, then lined up to have our bags checked… tickets checked… enter the park… you get the idea. The crush of humanity was both fascinating, and admittedly tough to handle for us. I think we can safely say it’ll be another 5-6 years before we feel the need to do that again, but it was just what the doctor ordered.
It was lovely to get out of our usual routine, and to take a breather after the holiday crush. It helped us to feel refreshed as the new year rolls in. So far 2015 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for us, can’t wait to see what else it will bring our way. We have been doing some honey-do work around the trailer, so pretty soon you can expect to see an update post on the changes we’ve been making to Wild Thing, stay tuned!