Little House Big Backyard

Thankful for the days well spent at Gold Head Branch State Park. We hiked and biked and explored our big backyard all weekend. 

Can’t remember the last time I explored a ravine. Beautiful little brook carving its way out of the Florida sand and scrub pine.Fitbit says I climbed 14 floors! Who knew there were hills in Florida!You never know what you’ll find out there 🤣  Happy trails…

Fort Clinch State Park

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We were lucky enough to snag a cancellation for the MLK long weekend at Fort Clinch State Park at the beach on Amelia Island. The January temperature was perfect though a bit chilly at times for our beagle.

Fort Clinch State Park has two campgrounds –  one on the oceanside and the other on the riverside. Our site was on the beach with a walkway a few sites down that led directly to the ocean and these hammocks. We were close enough to be lulled to sleep each night by ocean spray and rumbling tides.

Each morning we went for a walk on the private beach (no dogs allowed).

We walked down to the pier that is currently closed from hurricane Matthew. 

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and on Sunday I even got up early enough to see the sunrise over the ocean. Heavenly!

Here’s the view coming back from the beach. There are a few sites (#7 – 10 shown here) that have a slight view of the ocean. The rest are closely nestled in the dunes or sand scrub. Warning, there are sand spurs in the grassy area around the sites. We had to pull a few out of Penny’s paws and chose to keep her on the pavement when out walking.

Each day we rode our bikes around the park.

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img_4833-1On the road to the riverside campground, I spotted mushrooms as big as dinner plates. Upon further investigation I learned these are known as Jack O’Lantern mushrooms. Fun fact – they are bioluminescent! They contain the same enzyme as fireflies! Who knew? Had I known, I would have gone back to see them in the dark. They are also poisonous, so don’t eat them.

The riverside sites are are few steps away from more spectacular views. Though, none of the sites are on the water or have actual water views, they are shaded which the beach sites are not. 

And then there’s the fort!

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There are also mountain bike trails and gorgeous hiking paths between hidden waterways to explore as well as the towns of Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach.

Reservations for the park can be made at Reserve America, and you will probably see that most days are full. But, if you check back in regularly you will see cancellations, especially the week before you are looking to camp. It’s worth the trip, Fort Clinch is our favorite Florida campground so far!

 

Summerlin Dock and Park, Fort Pierce

           

Summerlin Dock sits behind the Saint Lucie History Museum on the South Beach Causeway- same causeway as the small Smithsonian Aquarium.

This park with shaded pavillion and bathrooms nearby offers beautiful views of the Indian River Lagoon.

Fishermen frequent the dock and we were lucky enough to happen by a baby shark splashing around in one of their buckets. Fascinating fish, fun, and family…day well spent.

Into the Woods! Exploring Florida’s National and State Forests


savannas preserveNot many residents know that Florida has 37 State Forests. Visitors to north, west, and central Florida will find many diverse woodlands waiting to be discovered.

Start with a map of The Florida Natural Scenic Trail which spans 1000 miles of our often under explored outdoors. The trail offers hikers quiet paths from roadside trails to remote wilderness.

In addition, Florida has four National Forests!

It’s recommended that children spend 30 minutes outside, 3 days a week. I would certainly say that’s good advice for adults as well. Take some time this weekend wandering into the woods. It’s sure to be a day well spent.

Read Me a Story

My Dad read to me a lot while I was growing up. First, he read me children’s books and then as I grew, we would take turns reading chapter books aloud in our living room. I remember many nights spent reading Roald Dahl books –  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and The Fantastic Mr. Fox.  We read Tolkien together too in addition to the armfuls of chapter books I devoured on my own each month.

Then, when I was nine years old, I wrote on my Christmas list that I would like a baby brother. As luck would have it, Santa obliged! Soon my baby brother Eric arrived and in turn, a second round of children’s stories were read aloud in our home. I can’t tell you how comforting it was to return to the sound of those stories while in the mire of my middle school days. I didn’t realize how much I had missed them.

When it came time for me to read Canterbury Tales in my high school English class, my Dad and I read some of that aloud at home together too. I can still remember my Dad’s deep voice wrapping around Chaucer’s famous prologue…”Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote the droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote.”

I soon went on to college and, to no one’s surprise, I declared myself an English major. I’ve paged through an enormous amount of literature in my life and layering my life with stories was the best thing my Dad ever did for me. I am now grown, married to a wonderful husband, and we have raised two sweet daughters of our own who my Dad spent many hours reading to as well.

Today, I find the calendar will soon arrive upon the first anniversary of my father’s death. He spent the last years of his life struggling from severe illness. He spent the last few days of his life in ICU and then finally Hospice. His last conscious night was spent in ICU with me sitting beside him, quietly praying, trying to be strong but not really knowing what to do. Our ICU nurse asked my Dad if he would like to listen to music, and yes, he thought that would be nice. So she graciously let her phone play by request through the night as my Dad drifted away.

I just now realized he might have liked to hear a story.

It’s good to enter life with a story, it’s good to go through life with a story, and it’s good to leave life with a story too. – Holly Hinckle Flint

In memory of Craig D. Hinckle, born into this world in Rutherford, New Jersey, November of 1940, departed this world in Kennesaw, Georgia, March of 2014.

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My Dad and I outside our home on Prospect Place, Rutherford, NJ in 1968

New Year’s Day Kayak Trip Down the Loxahatchee

Our first day of 2015 was spent on a group kayak adventure down the Loxahatchee River, one of the most scenic of south Florida waterways.

IMG_1554South Florida has such great winters! I think these creatures would agree.

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IMG_0010IMG_0012 IMG_0003Jonathan Dickinson State Park, located in Hobe Sound, Fl, offers a variety of outdoor activities. Our group rented kayaks and canoes, while other park visitors filled the seats of a sunset river cruise. 
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The general store handles all rentals and boat tickets as well as hosts a concession stand and umbrella tables to eat riverside. A pavilion with picnic tables stands nearby with extra seating and also convenient restrooms. IMG_1690 IMG_1652

Can’t think of a better way to spend a day with family and friends

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than floating along the Loxahatchee, on a sunny south Florida new year’s day.IMG_1610 IMG_1608 IMG_1601 IMG_1585 IMG_1580 IMG_1509 IMG_1501

Hello, 2015! Day 1 – A Day Well Spent.IMG_1498