Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring Florida, Hiking, Sightseeing

Orlando: Lake Louisa State Park

We hadn’t really explored the area too much, so when the boys were off of school, we went to Lake Louisa State Park. This State Park is off of I-27 and was a neat park. Entrance was $5/car. There were a few primitive campsites, cabins for rent, and a campground.

The main lake, Lake Louisa, was a strange reddish color, which was attributed to high tannins in the water. There was a playground, bathrooms, and a beach at Lake Louisa. The sand was a nice soft sand, although there was an alligator warning sign there as well.

We didn’t do any swimming, but we did take a hike through the park. Although it was beautiful, the trailheads were not well marked. Some of them had names based on the map, but they were not labeled at the trailhead. I am really glad we chose a trail that was in our trail app (AllTrails), because there were several crossovers along the way. I would definitely recommend wearing sunscreen, maybe bug spray, and bringing water.

We didn’t see many animals along our hike, even though we were close to the water many times. We did see one bird, several animal prints, a couple of burrows, and several fire ant mounds. I had to teach the boys about fire ants, as we normally don’t have them in Ohio. Their mounds look like piles of sand, often in open places and without the telltale hole us Northerners are used to seeing in ant mounds.

It was a nice hike and had some pretty scenery. It wasn’t bad for a $5 admission!

Posted in: Exploring Florida, Food, Hiking, Newbie Tips

Enjoying The Campground

When we first started our journey, we were determined to fit everything in that we could while we were in an area. We saw so many new things. It was amazing…and exhausting.

Along the way we have slowly learned to enjoy the campground. After all, we are paying for any amenities offered in the cost of the site.

We’ve had a wide range of campground offerings from nothing to one with a pool/hot tub, putt putt, shuffleboard, horseshoes, pickleball, basketball courts, fishing, and outdoor checkers. Some of the campgrounds offered basketballs for use in the office, others you had to supply your own.

We’ve also had campgrounds that have had planned activities. We have gone to some of events that have allowed for social distancing. For example, in Chula Vista (San Diego) they had donuts for sale on Saturday mornings and had a Halloween event for the kids. At KOA Tucson, they had a breakfast event and a make a friendship bracelet event (make there or take-and-go kit). KOA San Antonio/Alamo had a Christmas Dinner (also eat there or take-and-go) and a bike/walking trail right next door.

I would definitely encourage you to use the campground as much as you can, both to enjoy activities that are there, but also to make the most of what you are paying for.

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring Florida, Sightseeing

Our First Day In Florida

Our first day at the new campground was pretty successful. It was a larger campground and the sites seem nicely spaced. We managed to luck into a nice spot.

During our first exploration of the campground, we saw new (to us) animals. The Sandhill Cranes seemed to be everywhere in the campground. They are larger sized birds, with long legs, grey bodies, and a splash of red on their heads. They didn’t seem to be scared of people, but they were not aggressive either.

Nick was ecstatic that he got to see a turtle (which turned out to be a tortoise). We looked up what kind he was, and we think he (or she) was a Gopher Tortoise. Gopher Tortoises have claws for digging, as they create burrows to live in. They are listed on Florida’s Threatened List. We also read that you are not allowed to touch them, but can call a wildlife ranger to see how you can help if they are in distress. Apparently, some people have assumed the gopher tortoise is a sea turtle and put them in the water to help, but the gopher tortoises are not great swimmers and can easily drown. They recommend not putting any turtles in the water until you know their species.

It’s been fun learning about the types of animals we see along our journey.

Posted in: Campground Review, Exploring Florida, Rest Stop/Welcome Center/Visitor Center, Sightseeing

Florida’s Welcome Center and A Stone’s Throw RV Park

The drive from New Orleans to Florida was pretty long. The panhandle always seems small on the map; I think because it is so thin compared to the rest of Florida, my brain tells me it’s smaller, but it took a long time to drive!

We average stopping every 3-4 hours for diesel and/or bathroom breaks. Some of the truck stop bathrooms lately have been rough, so we stopped at the Florida Welcome Center on I-10 near Pensacola, Florida. It was huge! The boys got a kick out of the plane by the parking lot. Nick loves turtles and was happy to find the turtle sculpture by the doors.

There were vending machines that sold both drinks and candy and the Sun Pass for the toll roads. You could activate your pass at another machine. It did take several minutes to go through all the screens and to get the pass activated.

We then went into the main room. They had an astronaut suit behind the desk, along with free grapefruit and orange juice. We all tried the orange juice. The side wall was covered in tourist information and was broken up into the sections of Florida for ease of use. There was a kid’s corner with a cartoon playing on the TV. The front desk had welcome bags already made up with maps, some of the information pamphlets, and a set of masks!

We decided to stop near Tallahassee for the night. We were tired and had been on the road for almost 10 hours. We stayed at A Stone’s Throw RV Park. It was very conveniently located with quick access on and off the highway. They did have bathrooms and an entertainment room (looked like a pool table). The park offered pull-throughs with full hook-ups and WiFi, but we were tired and planned on leaving early, so we only hooked up the electric. The spaces were tight together and so were some of the turns on the interior road. I was glad it wasn’t completely full as it would have made some of it challenging to move in a large rig.

We didn’t get a lot of pictures, as we arrived when it was dark and left when the sun was just coming up.

When we booked online, you could pick your spot and it would show how long the site was. We managed to get one that fit both the RV and the truck. The site wasn’t level, so we did have to disconnect to raise the front. However, the site was long enough that if it had been level, we could have stayed connected up. It wasn’t bad for around $30/night for full hook-ups, but I think it is more of a stay a night or two kind of place. There was some noise from the highways and some frogs.

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