Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Winter - Home Base

Zephyrhills, Florida

Map picture

We left Blue Springs State Park on Monday and drove back to the Tampa area.  You can see we’re just a little north of Tampa.  We’re back on the gulf Coast of the state.  Zephyrhills is a snowbird area with lots of rv parks and lots of snowbirds.  We’re staying at Sweetwater Rv park.  We spent a few months here last winter and were happy once we moved from crummy site to another site.  We have a nice little “yard” on our patio side.   Jeanette, the manager of the park is a nice lady who is very laid back and doesn’t drive you crazy with tons of rules.   We are making this our home base for the winter, so we got a good deal on the price.

In Florida, during the winter months, you need some sort of a plan.  We have booked our site until April, but we still plan little “vacations”.    It’s cheaper to pay for the month than to buy a week or two here and there and take a chance on losing our site.    So, at times, we will be paying for two different campgrounds, but since our Thousand Trails campgrounds only cost $42 for two weeks, we figured we could handle it.  After Thanksgiving, we are heading to another Thousand Trails park in Fort Myers.  It’s about 140 miles straight south. 

Before we left Blue Springs, I got an email from a long time blog follower, Paula.  She was one of the first followers on my blog, so I was anxious to actually meet her.  Paula and I made plans to meet and  Paula, husband Robert, and daughter Olivia took the time to come visit us at our campsite. They are tent campers. Remember that  really cold night where we were bundled up under our electric blanket?  Well they were braving the elements in a tent!  They’re a lot younger than us, so maybe that’s how they managed that!  Robert was in the army, so spending a cold night in a tent would be nothing for him!

They decided to spend a year trying to visit as many state parks in Florida  as they could.  They are up to 47 (I think)  Florida State Parks so far!  They figure since they live in such an amazing state, they should start in Florida and really see the state before they go anywhere else.  People come to Florida from all around the world and we have this right in our own back yard.  They have had some amazing tent camping adventures, and they are also  kayakers, so they have combined some kayaking and tent camping. 

The  most amazing adventure in my opinion was their bioluminescent kayaking adventure.  You really have to read about it!  Paula did an excellent job describing their adventure.  It’s something we have been wanting to do, but never seem to be in the right place at the right time.  The best time of the year is May through September.  You have to paddle  out on a dark  night on a dark night with no full moon.  If you go to the right place at the right time you will be rewarded with the sight of millions of tiny organisms that light up when they feel threatened.  Moving you hand, paddle, or kayak through the water threatens them and you are will see an amazing light show.  Unfortunately, there is no way to photograph this phenomenon,  but Paula did an amazing job describing it.  You really  have  to read her blog post! 

Robert works at the Daytona Speedway as an audio visual coordinator.  He told some great stories about the races he’s been a part of.  He also offered to take us on a tour of the speedway the next time we’re in town.  I think we’ll take him up on his kind offer because it sounds like a very interesting tour.

We had a very nice evening with these nice people and feel sure we’ll meet up with them again sometime.  After all, they are all over this state and have been to just about everywhere we’ve been!  I meant to get a picture, but never did quite get around to it!  Thanks for coming by Paula, Robert and Olivia!

I’ll close with a few pictures I took of our kayak trip on the St. Johns river and up the Blue Springs run.  The ranger was so worried that we’d offend a manatee that we didn’t really get to enjoy the springs….but that’s another story!


Manatee average about 1000 pounds, but can get up to 3000 pounds.  It’s sometimes difficult to realize the size of things when you are looking at pictures.


Manatee are coming into the springs every day.  They’re looking for warmer water. The last day we were there they had counted over 70.  They have closed the springs to kayaking and swimming now since the manatee had started to arrive.  There will be several hundred by winter.   If you want to swim, kayak or dive with manatee, you need to head to the gulf coast, over to Crystal River.  They don’t allow any interaction with them in this area. 






And a few pictures taken around the park and on the boardwalk.

wild turkey




We enjoyed our visit to Blue Springs State Park and will go back some day.


  1. I liked that first picture of the turtles on the log. :)

  2. We went out to the bioluminescent bay off Parguera, when we lived in Puerto Rico. It's amazing. And taking pictures doesn't work.

  3. great post described your 'new friends' very well!!.nice work and nice photos too! the turtle one..
    now I am going to have to go back and read Paula's post!

  4. I, too, loved that first turtle pic. I think it's great that your blogging friends are taking the time to really explore their own back yard. You're right - we don't do that often enough.

  5. Great picture of the turtles sunning themselves.

  6. What a great post and awesome pictures. The wife and I are hoping to go to some interesting places next year, we hope!


  7. I am sure it was a wonderful experience meeting up with a follower. Your pictures are beautiful. What a lovely place.

  8. When you go back there, can you take us with you? Nice pictures.

  9. Love todays's photos. I love seeing the Mnatees.

  10. Karen, thank you! Robert and I were both of the opinion that we could have stayed and talked to you and Al forever! Thank you so much for your hospitality (and Olivia said thanks for the cookies!), and I truly hope we get to meet up again soon. I am so glad you enjoyed your visit to our home area, and I can't wait to read your further adventures down the road!!


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