Sunday, October 26, 2008

Myakka River State Park

Myakka River State Park is one of the largest state parks in Florida, and our guidebook claimed that it had “primo” camping. Sadly, it seemed that the guidebook author was quite mistaken. The campsites were tiny and had virtually no space between them. On top of that, the majority of them were packed with people and multiple tents per site. By the time we arrived, it was dark and there were swarms of mosquitoes (not surprising, since we were effectively in a swamp), so we threw up our tent and had a quick dinner before retiring for the night.

Unfortunately, our neighbors in one side didn’t want us to get a sound night’s sleep. They had a soft-sided pop-up camper and a small TV running the entire night! We thought they’d turn it off and go to bed, but apparently they slept with it on. Who takes a TV camping anyway? In fairness, we’ve seen stranger things recently, like the group at Fort De Soto that had a microwave. Still, unless you are in a hard-sided RV, running a TV in a campground is pretty rude. It’s especially rude when your neighbors are all of ten feet away due to poorly spaced campsites.

After a poor night’s sleep, we got a slow start in the morning. Sarah went for a jog down one of the nearby bike paths. It was a pleasant run through forests and dry prairie and there was virtually nobody else out. Sarah even saw a small deer along the way. Meanwhile, Brian drank coffee to try to clear the cobwebs from his head.

We packed up the tent since the campground was already full for Saturday when we made our reservations. After the previous night, we were happy that we didn’t have to stay another night.

Later in the morning, we checked out the bird boardwalk and some of the viewpoints along the way. The boardwalk wasn’t especially exciting though we did get a distant alligator view and there was a single blue heron hanging out.

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On the way back to the car, we saw this butterfly.

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The water was ringed with palm trees.

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In the parking lot was a huge tree that was decorated with Spanish moss.

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Our next stop was the boat ramp. The park has quite an array of boating options as well as bike rentals and a packed little concession shop at the boat ramp. More interesting though was the walk out to the fishing pier. There were more birds there than along the bird walk. We aren’t sure what this bird was but we took lots of photos anyway.

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We also had our first gator sighting in the wild. There were two alligators hanging out at the base of the pier.

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There were also several different types of birds hanging out on the old earthen dam. The closest one is a tricolor heron and the next one back is a snowy egret.

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Our last stop in the park was the canopy walk. A large tower and suspension bridge were built in the tree tops for research purposes and are now open as a nature walk.

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From the bridge, we got good views of the air plants living in the tree canopies.

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The tower provided a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding landscape.

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Having exhausted the nature walks in Myakka State Park, we left for Oscar Scherer State Park.

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