Osceola State Forest rest area/Fanny Bay Trail

Our second, maybe third rest stop leaving FL was one that was in Osceola State Forest. I thought that was awesome in itself, but when I saw there was a trail I got even more stoked ! Of course we walked it… it was very flat and lead to a long boardwalk that covers a swamp area. Which was the idea from the plaques that were there, it was showcasing FL swamps lol.

Wildlife sightings were as followed:

Alligators 0 | Yellow Flies 1,989,899|Turtles 1 |Butterflies 16+

 

At another rest area stop, this one being in georgia, a church group had a grill going with tons of snacks, drinks, and hotdogs along with a sign supporting Florida evacuees. They had one of his top favorite sweet snacks – oatmeal creme pies and he was not shy or slow about grabbing one 😛 It was super sweet to see people do something like that but also brought on a realization that I was getting away from serious danger or the possibility of serious danger. I knew i’d be coming back to the same things everyone else was in a few days but my optimism and sense for adventure kept me excited for the new experiences I had an excuse to pursue.

(Luckily, it was not so bad where I am. Power was lost for 5 days- same as with Matthew. nearby areas got some pretty bad damage due to wind, power lines, and some flooding. But overall it was definitely manageable, even if it wasn’t enjoyable.)

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.

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.

Shell Bluff Park/Shell Bluff boat launch

 

This was an amazing impromptu day paddling on the lake for the first time. I had initially planned to go to Welaka but he was freaking out because we took a different road than he was use to so I stopped here because I knew they had a playground and trail. We finished the trail and walked down to the boat launch and I knew immediately we had to walk back and drive over so we could go paddle boarding.

The benefits of having an inflatable board can be seen here for sure. Man, that day was so relaxing. The water was calm, the sun felt great. We paddled down this creek and I had to lay flat to go under the fallen tree. The first time I stepped over it (with care) while still on my board but that was a little too unsteady for my liking. Don’t wanna fall off in those waters lol. Just get some kind of gator vibe.


There was a missing man in the area that kept police in the park the 6 hours we were there. Not sure how that ended but I hope he was found safe.

A cop came up and told me if I see an older man to call 911, had me looking over my shoulder half the afternoon lmao.