Lake Eaton Sinkhole Trail

 

I have been wanting to check these out for a while. I say “these” because there are two trails: Lake Eaton Sinkhole Trail and across the road is the Lake Eaton Trail. We only did the sinkhole trail..it was crazy hot and we had plans to meet up with a friend at Silver Glen Springs, also my phone was dead and I don’t like being out there without a phone. And we were way out there, had to take 20 minutes of dirt roads to get to the trail head… who knew something like this would be further into Ocala National Forest ?

I like that they made three different paths to the sinkhole, all different lengths. I let my son choose and he would choose the longest lmao. We took the .5 mile one back though. The trail is fairly narrow but not rugged, it is also covered very well. But when the Florida sun is out nothing can stop it, felt like I was melting. When we got to the sinkhole I was so in awe, at the signage and how well the steps and everything looked. The sinkhole was big, it’s always hard to get a picture depicting that though. I would say it’s worth going to if you’re in the area already, it’s 9-12 miles from Salt Springs, Silver Springs, and Silver Glen Springs.

I really really wanted to go on a day it was raining but get this…. walmart isn’t selling raincoats :O

 

I loved that the signs in the parking lot give information on the trails and accessibility, letting people know that it is not wheelchair accessible. Also what kind of terrain it is, the widths of the trails, how long to expect to be out on the hike…ect.

 

Blue Springs State Park

School is out now and we have already hit a super beautiful high note !

But, before I share that adventure, we made it to Blue Springs State Park just in time before school let out for summer. We went on a perfect day, it was after school and all of maybe 30 people over the course of us being there were also visiting the park. I don’t know if it’s because we have been spring hoppin’ so often or if this one really is a bit warmer but it wasn’t anything to get in as far as having to brace myself for the cold. It felt AMAAAAAAZING !

The water here is definitely different in color, but it also feels so much more natural. Huge gar are swimming around. I mean, wow… they are big. I have seen only a few that were small caught at the inlet but these were 5x that size. I was chuckling a bit at this girl who didn’t want to get in because of the fish and 20 minutes after she finally did someone said something about them. I thought they were just joking because I was playing with my son obviously unaware of my surroundings but she was on the verge of tears so I start looking around….they are everywhere. There’s so many of them that there’s almost no point in letting your fears get the best of you – if they were going to attack like piranhas then you’d just be S.O.L haha.

The water is also very deep, we didn’t get in where people that tube down do but, where the main swimming is it’s pretty deep. Right at the bottom of the steps it was over my head, I thought that was really strange and also scary when getting in and out. A few feet past the steps you can stand on your toes…. this is all dependant upon height of course, I am 5’5 just to use mine as an example. There are logs on the bottom, they are kind of slippery but are nice to stand on. My son was in his life vest the whole time so I’d let him drift a bit then swim over to him before he got close to where they have it roped off.

OH !!! And a manatee came in the swim area, right as i made it up the stairs out of the spring… at least I got to see it 🙂 The same man that was trying to catch gar for like 30 minutes (which was kind of funny, watching him flip about…had a nice accent too heehee) went and swam to the manatee and I think that chased it away :/

Some things this park offers are:

  • Camping
  • picnic
  • playground
  • kayaking
  • kayak rentals
  • concessions
  • live manatee cam
  • gift shop
  • snorkeling
  • tubing
  • fishing
  • swimming
  • boat tours
  • historic site
  • nature trail

Unfortunately we did not get around to checking out the campsites so I can’t comment on that aspect, my son and my friend’s kids had fun on the playground. It’s small but it gets the job done 😛 there’s a big grassy area too which is great for running around.


Accessibility-

This park is by far one of the most accessible, all concrete walk areas and the nature trail is a boardwalk and that one leads to the opening of the spring. There is another long boardwalk going towards the playground and Thursby House areas as well with little viewing docks.  The entrance to the spring is a metal ramp with a rug/carpet type of thing going over it… the only concern after the ramp would be the steps and the immediate depth after the steps. The steps are super slippery from algae, water shoes would counteract that i’m sure. Just looking around I was very impressed with the accessibility. They did well 🙂

Camping at Juniper Springs

 

This past week I did the unthinkable and kept little man out of school to take him camping at Juniper Springs for his birthday. I don’t have anything weighing on my conscious so, I must have made a great decision 😀

I had everything we needed and I was so excited about that, I had such peace of mind going knowing that all 8 of my checklists had paid off.

However, I would say 1/2 way there it hit me like a brick in the face… I forgot his presents at home. For a whole two minutes I hated myself but really I was only sad that we wouldn’t be able to play a game I got him together while we were there. Other than that I knew we would really not NEED to do the whole presents thing on top of camping at the same time. 

He turned five, so wild that five years have gone by and in the same amount of time he will be ten… but i’m going to stop there haha. I am so glad we went with this campground and went when we did. It wasn’t busy at all and it was very quiet, other than the hour meltdown he had in the beginning: a friend swung by when we were just about to walk down to the spring, he got confused and i’m sure thought we were leaving when we got in her van instead to ride down. He just was not calming down after that. I understood though and felt bad, I should have stuck with our plan and with what he knows instead of switching up on him. He did calm down though eventually but, by then the spring/day use area was about to close. When we got back to our stuff I got him cleaned up and ready for bed. I made sure to charge everything so I whipped out my laptop and put on Moana for him while I put our stuff away and got ready myself…you know, being bear aware.

 

For breakfast I made sausage and potatoes. The Coleman single stove is awesome, I love it so much and highly recommend it. Really would have been nice when we lost power for a week after Hurricane Matthew. I also had ordered a lightweight camping cooking pan off of groupon, definitely is lightweight and non-stick although I brought olive oil in a little travel bottle lol.

After I put all the food away, we set out for the showers/bathroom which is next to the dish washing room. All the bathrooms there have showers…I didn’t know that. They also have benches, making them accessible. I like that their faucets are the annoying ones you have to keep pressing down every 30 seconds if you need more water, water conservation is wonderful !

Since we had to check out later we were already mostly packed up and We went to the spring after, the whole time he never got past the steps but he still had fun which is all that matters. I did get in though and there is no getting use to it even when you go to Springs frequently. After that first time though I was good to go. I kept his life jacket on in case he did want to get in and for obvious safety reasons.

My son is hilarious, I came up from the water one time to find his hand going into someone else’s bag of chips… Not the first time either smh. The man tried to tell him only crumbs were left haha. Hungry little guy. He will eat two PB&J sandwiches, minus the crust.

We saw an alligator and lots of turtles in the fern hammock springs (not for swimming), little gator is too cute !

– Highly recommend this site for camping, even with the few negative points i’m going to mention last just because some may not care or find it to be something that would affect them.

 

  1. There were two people working around the grounds that were very inconsiderate. I went to the bathroom at the entrance because I needed to wipe his nose (he is on the bathroom floor crying) and the woman says “just be careful okay because this bathroom is actually closed.” I got lost getting back to our site once and asked a man on his golf cart where I needed to go, he gave us directions and drove off. My son and I are barefoot and he is still screaming lol. So this man comes back to us a few minutes later saying “…just wanted to make sure you guys made the right turn.” I calmly said thank you. He isn’t required to offer a ride like the man at Alexander Springs did, but I did find it inconsiderate all the same.
  2. They have quiet time starting at 10PM. A lot of comments complaining about it on facebook, I didn’t have anything to do really and was exhausted anyway by then so I couldn’t tell you what they may say personally.
  3. None of the sites have electrical hook-ups. I brought my power bank with me, and of course you can use your car as well.
  4. The bridge is still not fixed, it’s been that way since October after the hurricane. You can see a white picket fence behind my son on the boardwalk that is blocking further entrance.

Linear Park

Linear park is a city park in Palm Coast, FL. Although it isn’t one of the parks I typically talk about I think it is worth sharing because of the several recreational options that are offered. The park is really pretty and well maintained, i’m surprised more people haven’t been there the few times we have been.

The playground is on the smaller side, two swings ( 1 for older kids and 1 for smaller ones), a rope tower, and the regular play area with slides and ladders. Small, but again… very well maintained. We went on the hiking trail a previous visit, easy walk and mostly shaded which is nice in this florida heat. This last time we walked the bike trail and of course those are always so much more fun, very hilly and he loved running up and down them. Probably did that trail 2-3 times 😛

They have:

  • bike maintenance stations, a lot of the parks in Palm Coast have those.
  • Kayak launch
  • hiking trails
  • biking trails
  • playground
  • pavilions with picnic tables
  • shuffleboard court
  • bocce court
  • The park is a designated Great Florida Birding Trail

There’s still an area in the park that we haven’t explored yet… it’s a decent size and I have seen people all ages there. Saw someone rollerblading as well 🙂


Accessibility-

Depending on what you might be going for this park is definitely one I would consider accessible, there are sidewalks throughout most of it. Another great park not far from this one has several miles of paved walking trail-  Waterfront Park. We use to go there all the time, haven’t been since since a few days after Hurricane Matthew hit but I am sure it has been cleaned up and back to how it was before the hurricane. Very serene park, small playground but mostly people (older) go to walk or ride their bike.

Princess Place Preserve

 

We went to Princess Place Preserve last week and I knew we wouldn’t have a whole lot of time there because they close at 6PM year around, which left us with two hours give or take. If you decide to plan a visit here you definitely want to go early because of the early gate close and the sheer size of the place ! There are so many trails, I don’t own a horse personally but it’s hard not to notice how well they have catered to those that do with all the equestrian trails and the campsites. From the looks of it I’m sure it would be a great place for someone that does have one (:

We drove over the small bridge where I have seen people fishing off of in the past and took a road that lead to eagle nests viewing, we didn’t get out just because of the shortness of time and I didn’t think my son would be too interested in looking through tubes out in the middle of a field. It’s nice that they have that whole area cut off from people and keep it just for the eagles. When we came out the other end of that road we came to the equestrian campsite, did a bit more of confused driving and drove through the moody campsites as well. Those looked awesome, they are right on Smith Creek and looked a bit shaded. If we decided to camp there I would absolutely pick one of those. I saw grills at the campsites as well – currently there is a fire ban but of course when there isn’t, having a grill already there is a plus.

As we passed those camp sites and continued I kept seeing green trail markers which peaked my interest but also confused the hell out of me…even more than I was driving around there already lol. The trail markers were lining the road, so I started to wonder if I was driving on a trail. I will get back to this later though haha.

We finally came to the parking area I was looking for, the one right next to the kayaks and near the Legacy and Artisan trailheads. This is also where you can launch a kayak or canoe. We took the Legacy trail first (.6 miles), it’s nice little loop around with plenty of butterflies and views of the creek almost the entire way. We then crossed the dirt road and started the Artisan trail (1.1 miles), I have more negative than positive things to say about this one. This is the green trail, which explained the green trail markers…however I had never seen or hiked anything like that before lol. The first half was fine, we came to a pond-ish area with a huge wooden stand on the other side and I believe we could have gone around that pond for a short loop back but of course we followed the trail markers. After some time we did end up at the road, where the moody camp sites are….where I had just driven us from an hour ago. So, we are walking along the road and there is a green plaque with an arrow so I turn to follow it, even though there is no clear trail and it’s basically directing me to the field (i’m thinking “okay great, we won’t have to walk along the dirt road like hitchhikers !”)…so we are walking….and i’m looking left to right…. no trail markers. So I then walk back to the road and accept that this is the trail, we follow it back to our car with unfortunately no time left to go look at the rest of the grounds.

 

There are plenty of things to do here and entrance is free:

  • Kayak rentals
  • Kayak/canoe launch points
  • camping – group
  • camping- equestrian
  • Camping- primitive
  • fishing
  • trails for hiking
  • trails for horseback riding
  • Historic site and exhibit
  • Picnicking
  • plenty of parking areas scattered around

Accessibility-

Most of the preserve is dirt road. There is handicapped parking and as we were leaving I did see a sidewalk that lead to somewhere mysterious, I think the main visitors part of the preserve is accessible whereas the more recreational areas are not.

Thinkin’ the ocean feels betrayed

Because we spend more time in forests lately so it’s giving me its best haha.

I have had two near death experiences at River To Sea Preserve beach the last two times I have gone. Okay, neither were near death but one did leave me a bloody mess and looks like I have been attacked by Freddy Krueger 😦

The first incident happened probably a month ago now, which is why we have been spring hopping and I can’t complain about the exchange too much. There was a blue blown-up object floating in the water (describing it this way because I had no idea what it was at the time so if you do, shhh…don’t ruin it for the others), the waves were pushing it closer and closer while my son and a few other kids down the way were in the water. Although I didn’t know what it was I wanted to get it out of the water. It got close enough that I thought it looked like a jellyfish but I had never seen one look like that, so the naive side of me (which can be the more dominant one at times) thought it might be one of those rubber toys that just inflated due to the heat…even the tentacles were rubbery looking. Still, cautiously, I got my son’s boogie board and pushed it out of the water. All the while thinking to myself “No way, that can’t be a real jellyfish…no…what…”

*gets closer to push it further away from shore*

Still thinking to myself, “I need to take a picture of this and google it when I get home.”

Next thing I know, I’m wiping jelly off my toe and it’s stinging. Then burning. Then a spot on my finger is stinging. A detached tentacle of a Portuguese Man-O-War stung me. Didn’t leave any crazy marks which I should be thankful for because I have read that these sea creatures can be deadly but it definitely would make the pain and story a bit more exciting.

18010550_10209703538165318_5178125817511969711_n

The next incident happened over a week ago, the one leaving me slashed and bloody. I had to do a quick son saving mission and was pushed against the coquina rocks that lined the shore under water. I didn’t even notice anything until we were both out of the water and I looked down and said “…wow”. Adrenaline does its job 🙂

 

Little man was fine, tiny cuts on a couple of toes…. he was back in the water before I got back to our things if that says anything.

This beach is gorgeous, I would have to say it’s our favorite. Coquina rocks line the shore in rows into the ocean which blocks off sections of the beach. During the summer you can find starfish or hermit crabs in the rocks. Lots of people go there to take photographs especially at sunset. I have also seen at least two wedding set ups there (:

Across the road from here is the Preserve that I spoke about camping at in a previous blog post. So, if you go to one then you can most definitely go to the other. Marineland Dolphin Adventure is right next door to the beach parking lot as well !

Hontoon Island State Park (FREE ENTRANCE PARK)

 

We went to Hontoon Island State Park this past weekend for the second time, the first time was soon after hurricane matthew so I am glad I went back for another visit 😀

We had a rough start, the ferry over to the island takes six passengers and even though they had room for one more they wouldn’t let us both go on so for the following 15 or so minutes waiting for it to return he was highly upset. When we did get on he threw up on both of us and on the floor of the ferry >.<  Rough might be an understatement, eh. We got to the bathroom (he’s still upset mind you) i’m trying to clean off his shorts, my pants,  and there’s no hope for his shirt. After leaving the bathroom we stopped by the museum.

I had no idea there was a museum the first time and was glad to have stopped by and given it a look around. It’s small but has good information and nice stuff to look at, as well as one of those penny souvenir machines. Then we went into the store – specifically to see if they had a t-shirt I could grab him. The woman there took off $5, I thought that was really sweet… I really didn’t want to have to put him in a quarter sleeve shirt in this heat. He now has a Hontoon Island State Park t-shirt, he looked adorable lol like he was at summer camp or somethin’.

 

He played at the playground for a while and snacked then we went for the trail. It is listed as also a ‘wet trail’ and that’s exactly how it was last time not even 1/2 a mile in so we turned back. We got all the way to the Indian shell mound and back, I started my fitness tracker a bit late but in total we did 3.89 miles. I’m terrible with time, it is beyond me. Anyone that is around me will hear me say “time is a manmade concept”……. needless to say, the last ferry to leave the island was at 7:00. I called the office from the trail at 6:30 to let them know we were on the trail and there was no way we’d make it back by 7:00. I think we got back there at 7:20 or so.

The trail is really nice ! After about a mile in the landscape totally changes, the trail is a little grassy…has a meadow feel to it. AND, there are pine trees ! Tons and tons of roots but other than that nothing too physical I don’t think. I felt bad that we were late (she didn’t give any sign of being upset about it) but i’m really glad we went on it. I saw a cute baby snake, alligator head, and an absurd amount of mosquitoes.

The park offers:

  • Camping
  • Cabin rentals
  • kayaking
  • kayak rentals
  • grills
  • picnicking
  • playground
  • museum
  • gift shop
  • trails
  • boat camping (never heard of this before)
  • fishing
  • Wheelbarrows for hauling items to campground

Accessibility-

Surprisingly, given all the activities I found that getting around would not be too difficult. The path leading the the trail and camping area was solid hard packed dirt. There’s sidewalk leading to the bathrooms and playground. The parking lot is gravel or from what I remember large rocks. We haven’t made it past where the trail branches off so I can’t give any details about the park past that point.


This park is also near Blue Springs State Park, both are located in Deland, FL.

Kelly Park Rock Springs

Kelly Park Rock Springs or Kelly Park – not to be confused for Rock Springs Run State Reserve. We love this place, it was only our second time going because it is farther than the others (located in Apopka) but during the week both times we have gone it wasn’t crowded. The park is very big, lots of picnic space and grass to run around or lay out and read. There is a shallow area and that has been the most crowded because that’s where all the kids typically are. And if they have good parents… just saying haha…then that’s where the parents are as well. There is also a sandbox area before stepping into the shallow part of the spring and lots of kids will have their beach/sand toys with them.

Things that the park offers are:

  • Tubing
  • hiking, several trails to choose from
  • really nice playground
  • camping for RVs and tents
  • picnicking
  • they have picnic pavilions as well

There is also a convenience or concession area but it hasn’t been open either time we have gone. It only costs $3 for a vehicle of 1-2 people then $5 for 3-8.

If you’re in the area or have a weekday free i’d check it out, definitely (in my opinion of course) a place that you could spend all day at. Unfortunately they don’t allow tents or popups outside of the designated camping area, that would be nice.


There are several parks or state forests you might pass on the way: Wekiwa Springs State Park and Seminole State Forest, and Rock Springs Run State Preserve. We have only been to Seminole and I did like that one a lot. Wish we had the time to have gone further down the florida trail when we went but it’s on my list of places to consider camping.


Accessibility-

Getting into the spring itself, not at all from what I was seeing…I would suggest someone needing assistance getting in to do so at the end of the tubing run. The trail leading there is all sidewalk as well 🙂 a lot of the park has sidewalk and concrete, steps are the issue. There are either steps or ladders to get into the spring.

Little shoutout to the woman working the pay booth that gave me a tampon my first time going to the park ❤

Camping at Freak Creek !

 

I would definitely say this was 80% impromptu and 20% “just in case”. I found Freak Creek while looking up places to camp, this one is near 52/Bluff Landing – all of them are off of Alexander Springs. I wanted to check out both places on the way to Alexander Springs but brought what we had for camping just in case I felt good about staying at one of the spots. When we fiiiiinally got here… dirt roads make five bumpy miles seem like a thousand…I had both good and bad feelings about it. It is pretty trashed, i mean ridiculously so. But, I thought it was awesome that they put up a slide and had all the rope swings. My son was on that slide the whole time ! Even when we woke up the next morning he wanted his swim trunks on asap and was back going down it 😀

What I did not bring was my paddle board, we got there late-ish and I knew we wouldn’t have time to paddle at Alexander Springs. I kind of regret not bringing it because exploring further down the spring creek would have been really nice but it was our first time camping and that was a enough to take on for the night. We had hot turkey dogs and sandwiches for dinner, and after a tantrum because he couldn’t watch youtube videos about surprise toy unwrappings he fell asleep with the Moana soundtrack playing. I took  a moment to enjoy a beer from a man that had stopped to fish earlier. And it was still cold too, the little things in life…

I am going to be honest since I am an honest person. I was scared. It’s whatever…not a big deal. I didn’t get a lot of sleep lmao. And when I did, I had a lucid dream about people walking near our tent saying how they can tell it was recently put out and still felt hot. I could feel pressure on the bottom of my feet but couldn’t yell or sit up. When I could finally sit up no one was there *insert eye rolling emoji* People drove through but didn’t stop they were probably looking for a place to drink on a friday night, that would explain all the beer cans and boxes laying around.

You pass the Alexander Wilderness sign going back there, and there are all kinds of trails. I would love to check out the trails one day.

All in all – I would go back for trails and to spend the day paddling or him playing but I don’t think I want to go back to camp.