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…


Blue Springs State Park

Not only do snowbirds return to Florida in the winter but so do the Manatees. One of their favorite spots when the weather cools down is in Blue Springs where the water remains a constant 72 degrees from the millions of gallons of fresh water that continually flow up into the spring.

That first evening of our last visit, the kids saw over 40 manatees! Here’s an underwater view…


We had hoped to go tubing, but the spring run was closed to protect the many manatees.



We also observed tarpon and other fish in the crystal clear water.


There are 6 cabins at Blue Springs which need to be reserved many months in advance through Reserve America. They have plenty of tent sites too.



The cabins are clean and fully equipped and we had a great night sleep in their beds. Plenty of picnic tables and a handy grill and campfire ring with enough room for 7 lawn chairs. All appliances worked in the kitchen – oven, microwave, dishwasher and all were clean. I will probably bring a few of my own pots and pans next time though and a pack of 9×13 foil pans from SAMs club were indispensable as well as pre-purchased firewood because collecting firewood on-site is prohibited at all state parks.

Beautiful scenery, relaxing weekend, great kids, multitudes of manatees… November days well spent at Blue Springs State Park










Camping the Florida Keys


The kids have great memories of our camping trip at Long Key State Park where we spent the weekend on an oceanfront site in the Florida Keys.


We took two cars, and a lot more stuff than we actually needed. Like this screen room. The bugs thankfully weren’t as bad as we thought they might be. We have been in the keys before when the night air was thick with swarming Mosquitos. Better safe than sorry I guess. We gladly chose to sit fireside.


20130403-193253.jpgWe decided to camp on a weekend when the moon was full so we would have better visibility at night. The full moon reflecting off the water cast a magical glow across the shoreline offering up an enchanting evening view.We stayed up late then crawled into our big blue tent. You can tell the girls were just exhausted. ; ) Then it rained! Jeff and I looked at each other simultaneously as the cloud unloaded on us. I considered a mad dash to the van, but fortunately, our tent stayed dry. Phew.


Good morning sunshine!


When morning came, Jeff cooked breakfast on the grill and then we ventured out for a day on the ocean.


Tara found some sea creatures while Val, our bookworm, enjoyed some time reading Lord of the Rings.



A horseshoe crab washed ashore.


Mikey flung his cast net in the shallows looking for some bait fish.


Mikey didn’t get much sleep in his tent either. So, he grabbed some shut eye while waiting for dinner to cook.


I love this marshmallow picture.


We stayed two nights. I dreamt I was trapped in a large crinkly WalMart bag. Sleepless night #2 for me, didn’t phase the kids one bit.


Our final day was spent hiking the camp trails and exploring beyond the beach. I would have liked to kayak, but we didn’t get the chance on this trip.



That afternoon, the time had arrived to pack up our gear.

The kids grabbed the walkie-talkies and got settled in the cars for the long ride home.