Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Alafia River State Park

We were there in April, 2004.  I am trying to document the different parks we stayed at.

Lithia, Florida – 10 miles southeast of Tampa
Alafia River State Park offers some of the most challenging off-road biking trails in Florida. It used to be the site of a phosphate mine, which gives it the hills and topography for extreme biking. The kind of biking where you are on narrow trails riding up and down steep hills.  This is not my kind of biking. There are also 20 miles of hiking,  regular biking trails, and Equestrian Trails. It’s a great place to bring a horse with some nice trails and the campsites have places to keep the horses. It’s a great place for Bird-watching and Star-Gazing. There are several lakes along the Alafia River and a lot of area for kayaking, canoeing or fishing.

There are 30 RV sites with electric and water.  There 12 Equestrian Sites with electric and water and a place for your horse. Lots of nice trails to ride.

The park sits on over 6000 acres of land on the Alafia River.  It’s a very rural area, but close to Tampa.  Many mountain bikers come there for some extreme biking…at least it’s extreme in my opinion! 

One time we were there there was a star gazing club all set up with huge telescopes.  It would be a great place for star gazing as it is very dark at night!  P4090008
You’re out in the country!
Can you see the Gator?
This is a nice park if you’re looking to get away from the crowds.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Homosassa Springs State Park

I am posting old photos of trips we had made in the past. These were taken in August of 2003.

Homosassa Springs State Park  is just north of Tampa on the West coast of Florida.  It’s a great area and near Crystal River, which is famous for being a great place to swim/dive with the Manatees..

Homosassa River SP is more like a zoo with a lot of beautiful animals and birds. There is adequate parking for a few RV’s, but there are no camping facilities.  There is also a free self service pet boarding kennel.

White Pelicans

2 white pelicans


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Pelican feeding it’s young





Florida Panther







The park is supposed to have only animals native to Florida but this old Hippo named Lucifer was a movie star in his day and has been at the park since it was exotic animal park.  When the state of Florida took over the park, he was allowed to stay although he is not exactly native to Florida.  He is  50 years old. From what I read their life span is 40-50 years.  He leads a sheltered life, so hopefully he will be around a lot longer.



gator walking (2)

Sandhill Crane


The park is located on the Homosassa River, which is fed by an underground spring.  Water continually flows from the springs to feed the river.  The water is crystal clear and the year round temperature is 72 degrees.  This temperature is warmer than the Gulf of Mexico so the Manatees flock to the “warm” water during the winter months.  You can see wild Manatee out on the river, or captive ones in the park that have been rescued and are rehabilitating here. They are slow moving mammals and prone to being struck by a propeller from a boat.  I don’t think I ever saw a wild Manatee (except for a baby) that didn’t have scars from boat propellers.  It’s very sad.

homosassa spring (2)

manatee 2 (2)

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It’s a beautiful park to spend the day walking around and seeing the sites. The current rates are $13 for adults and $5.00 for children.  It’s worth the money in my opinion.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Boca Grande, Florida

These are pictures from a day trip we made in March of 2004.  We headed south to  Boca Grande, which is just south of Tampa.

Boca Grande Pass is on the Gulf coast of Florida at the mouth of the Charlotte Harbor.    It is  the deepest natural ocean pass in Florida, and is famous for Tarpon Fishing.  The beautiful Tarpon fish congregate there  in masse in the spring and early summer. When we lived in Tampa, we had a large boat and used to go out diving in the gulf regularly but never made it to Boca during Tarpon Season. There are hundreds of boats in the pass,  the current is ripping, Tarpon are jumping, Sharks are getting the Tarpon before they can release them, and everyone there is trying to catch the Tarpon.  It’s a madhouse!.  It just looked way too congested for us, but it does look like fun. I guess the best thing is to go on a charter boat, if you could afford it!  We have been lucky enough to see Tarpon while diving and they very beautiful fish.  They are shiny silver in color and very large.  They are an incredible site to see underwater. I think the first ones we ever saw was while snorkeling off the beach in Jupiter, Florida. I probably have some photos of them somewhere.  One day I intend to scan my 35mm underwater photos and I will post some of them.

   Boca Grande Tarpon Fishing

These are some pictures we took that day.  It was a beautiful warm sunny day with an incredible blue sky.  I remember it well.

There was a house that had this huge tree that was covered in large thick waxy looking red flowers.  I never saw another tree like it and couldn’t find out what kind of tree it was.  The flowers were larger than my hand and a lot of petals had fallen down on the ground.  It was a beautiful tree.

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Don Pedro Island State Park

Accessible only by boat-there is a ferry you can take to the island.
Don Pedro Island SP, Florida
I believe this is Gasparilla Island State Park .

beach and sea grass

beach framed






The water was sure pretty that day.

The Gulf coast of Florida has some beautiful beaches.  The  water is calmer, with less wave action.  The East (Atlantic) coast is pretty but there is more wave action and the water gets deep much faster.  For leisurely swimming, the Gulf side is better.

That day we visited  Don Pedro Island SP, Gasparilla Island SP,  & Stump Pass Beach SP.  The water was beautiful and clear but we couldn’t find a causeway or anyplace we could easily launch the kayaks.  We didn’t want to have to cart them a mile to get into the water and this area appears to cater more to residents and people staying in the resorts than the locals or day tourists!  In the Tampa/St Pete/Clearwater area there are any number of places you can park your car, and put in a kayak or just drop a fishing line in the water.  There are also numerous trails for hiking and biking, but in this area we couldn’t find anything like that.  We never were able to get back with the kayaks to try to find a good launch spot. It’s still on our to-do list.  The best place we found to kayak was at Stump Pass Beach State Park.

It was a beautiful day.  We miss Florida, even with all its traffic and hurricanes!

Sea World, Orlando Florida

May 2004
I was going through my PC photos and trying to sort and organize them better.  I thought I would post some photos I have taken in some beautiful areas of Florida. 
These were taken at Sea World in Orlando back in 2004.  I worked at USAA Insurance then and they would give us an “Employee Day” at a different theme park each spring.  This was one of my favorites.  It’s a beautiful place.
Dolphin Encounters
Love feeding those Dolphins!
Killer Whales
Aquarium fish
Sea Lion
It was a great day!  In our opinion Sea World is a do not miss place to see in Orlando.