Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Moving On

Saturday January 24 to Monday January 26
Big Flats Campground
Myakka River State Park
Sarasota, Florida


Friday Afternoon and Saturday



After my wonderful Friday morning  with the barred owl and others,  I return to find that the week-enders are rolling in. The wide open spaces around us, with the campsites on either side of us unoccupied for the entire week, disappear.  

To Winnona’s right a large gray closed trailer, the size of a small horse trailer but not, arrives in the late afternoon to reveal two Harley Davidson Motorcycles. 

Apparently the owners also sleep in the trailer.  It had an awning out over the door  until the strong afternoon winds rip it up and throw it over the top of the trailer.  

The site to our left remains open all day.  Then after dark three 20 something guys move in, set up their tent by car headlight and proceeded to get completely drenched over night.   It was great having such a roomy site for most of our stay here so we don’t mind the two day week-ends on either side of our week. 

It’s actually kind of fun to watch the week-enders.  The boys, we discover, have no clue how to build a fire.  We get a great deal of entertainment out of watching that and later on Saturday watching the “designated chef” try to grill hamburgers by constantly spraying his charcoal with fire starter while the burgers are on the grille above.  I guess this is the hurry up and cook method.  I’ll bet they were really yummy.





Friday  the high was 80 and it was so warm I wore only a t-shirt to sleep in – luxurious. That’s my kind of “winter”.  

But overnight Saturday things totally change.  We have a huge pounding rain storm with lightning and high winds. I feel really sorry for these people in their tents. The boys next door get completely drenched.  The storm dumps a lot of water on us. Thank goodness this is a sandy habitat which will swallow the water pretty quickly.  The cold front that brought us the rain also brings much cooler temperatures as they drop steadily all day long. 




Saturday morning,  water is everywhere.  We even have a lake in the middle of the circle.  Our property values have gone up overnight. 

I dress in flannel lined jeans and a sweatshirt to keep warm.  A perfect day for chocolate chip pancakes with fruit on top which I was too busy eating to photograph.  

It’s our last day here at Highland’s Hammock and because it is a Saturday the park is full of people. 

We bike around the loop one last time and manage to find a “not on the map” short hike on what is known as the dam road.  It does go over an old dam whose works are still visible.  Because of the rain, the swamps have ‘expanded’ and much of the water has gotten too deep for wading birds.  We’re not sure if there is always this much water on the sides of the trail or just because of the torrential rains last night.

It’s also too chilly for the gators to be out of the water so the only wildlife we see today is a couple of great egrets.  Amazingly for a Saturday, the only people we see here at the dam are a father and son fishing.  Beyond the dam we move into a slash pine scrub habitat and find the skies have turned blue with puffy clouds.


















We bike on to the Cypress Swamp Boardwalk and walk around one last time.  The resurrection ferns on the tree branches are thrilled by all the rain.









We stop at the Fern Garden Trail to see if Ms Gator is there knowing that it’s not sunny enough and too cold for her today.  We’re right but we do see the blooming pickerelweed. 

And then that’s it for this time at Highland’s Hammock State Park.





IMG_5240 pickerelweed


At the end of the afternoon we’ve only done 3.7 miles of biking and 3.3 miles of walking but some days are like that.

Tonight things will be much different from Friday night’s warmth.   The low is predicted to be 41. Back to flannel pajamas and electric heaters.




The low is indeed 41.  I know that’s considered warm winter weather in many places in the north.  I remember being thrilled when it got up to 41 after days in the 20’s but it sure feels cold here.  Made it hard to get up and get going to move on to Myakka River State Park.  So we get a rather lazy start.

Once I am outside packing up, I’m not surprised to see that nearly everyone else is doing the same.  After all it is a Sunday and Monday is a work day.  That means long lines at the single dump station for this 138 site campground.   I try very hard not to have us moving on the week-ends for this very reason.  Let the week-end warriors have it.  But sometimes, it can’t be helped especially in the winter in Florida when reservations are difficult to put together if, like us, you want to stay in state and national rather than private campgrounds.

And so we sit in a line running down the entry road  so we can drive up the little hill, stop at the top, dump our tanks and drive back down.  There are 4 rigs in front of us when we pull up and soon there are 4 more behind us.  By the time we are finished 45 minutes has gone by.  But that’s OK since we are only going 70 miles and have all day to get there.  AND the added bonus is that it is all on lightly trafficked back roads.  I don’t think we have even one stop light all the way.  This is definitely my kind of driving, my kind of move.


Monday (83)

It’s good bye to Highlands Hammock and hello to Myakka River.  We were here a few weeks ago for the week-end between our two two weeks stays at Oscar Scherer.  For that week-end we stayed in the newest of the three campgrounds.  This time we are staying in the oldest and interestingly our friends Bill and Nancy are in the site we had for the week-end.  They are here for two weeks.






We arrive about 2:30 and as though they had radar Bill and Nancy come riding up on their bikes.  The two campgrounds are about 3 miles apart so it isn’t as though they saw us come in. 

We get set up and go up to their site to sit and chat a while.  They have graciously invited us to stay for dinner.  Nancy’s potato soup is outstanding and we are more than happy to help her eat it.  Of course I forgot my camera so you don’t get to see how beautiful it is in addition to being delicious. 




Now dessert, pretty maybe but delicious, not so much.   On Saturday night David and I had experimented with a dessert recipe from the Engine 2 vegan repertoire.  Desserts are a tough thing to come by on a no oil no sugar diet.   This one is a banana strawberry cream pie but it is really a dud.  Looked good but the taste was just too boring. 


3 sunA

Perhaps just the word dessert conjures up expectations of sweetness in one’s mouth.  But this one just didn’t make the grade, so it’s a one time pie.  We offered to leave some slices with Bill and Nancy but they declined our generosity.  LOL    SO my guess is this pie will be David’s to eat since he’ll eat pretty much anything.

We finish the night playing dominoes.  Everybody wins at least one round except poor David who had the largest total score for most of the rounds.   Better luck next time David.  I guess that’s why you get the pie as your prize. HA!  

Actually as we started to leave, I told David to make a run for it and leave the pie on the counter but Nancy quickly told Bill to lock the door.  LOL!   

So we took the pie and headed out into the night.  It’s supposed to rain again tonight and be very windy tomorrow.  The water is up in the river.  We’re hoping to go kayaking while we are here for a week but with the winds at 22 mph and more,  it probably isn’t going to be tomorrow.


  1. Bummer! Guess looks are deceiving because that pie does LOOK good.

  2. I think I would prefer a window-less cargo trailer as a neighbor :-) Nice of the rain to come after your crowd-less week and before your travel day! Love the trail pics, especially the one of David. Seems like you are getting the perfect balance of solitude and socializing this winter. Although if you show up with pie again you might be getting even more solitude :-)))))

  3. Still believe the pie would be a homerun if we drzzled some BOSCO on that baby!!!

  4. I always enjoy your hikes, even when you don't see any animals, and those are the kind of walking trails I like. Everything out here is very, very rocky. I've quickly discovered none of my shoes are designed for this stuff. . .so I must force myself to go find a pair of hiking something or others. . .ugh!

    Just my curiosity asking. . .how do the chocolate chip pancakes figure into the no sugar diet, unless of course, you just consider it your special treat, as we all do when we are "dieting." A Barq's Root Beer once in awhile is my special "treat" these days.

    and. . .it freaks me out a bit to think of those guys spritzing their fire with starter fluid WHILE their burgers are on the grill. . .that cannot possibly do a body good. . .yuck!

    1. Hey Janice, We're not rigid about our food. We eat vegan NEARLY all the time. But we eat out once a month, whatever we want. When we cleaned out the fridge a partial bag of chocolate chips was in the back and we both said yeah, 1/4 cup for all those pancakes, no problem. :-)

  5. I hope there's more beautiful walks like the Cypress Swamp at your new site, and better weather.

  6. A very different mood walking along that trail after that kind of weather, I think.

  7. I'm having chocolate chip pancakes myself today, although I'll be topping them with butter and Minnesota maple syrup. :)

  8. I love to see young people camping, especially in a tent. In the old days kids learned from watching their fathers, uncles, etc. set up the tent, light the fire, etc. Now most of them have to wing it, but I think it's wonderful that they try it.

    41 is cold here in CA, so I am sure it feels even colder in FL. Flannel lined jeans sound perfect. I haven't had a pair of them in years, but often wear capilene long underwear.

  9. How does honey figure into your diet? I came upon some whipped honey that has an icing like flavor and consistency. I like a nice, cold rainy day once in a while.

  10. I also think Florida cold is colder.

  11. I enjoyed your swamp walks for I can still vividly remember our short time there.
    All state parks are like that, we get the site to ourselves on weekdays and boom by weekend, the weekend warriors arrive.

  12. Camping in the wet - I think I'd rather have been in the RV myself! I think when you're used to Florida temperatures, 41 does feel a bit cold. You have such fun with Bill & Nancy - nice of them to have you for dinner. That pie did look good - quite pretty; such a disappointment that it did not taste at all exciting! I wonder...did Dad actually still eat it all? ;)

  13. It is always fun to watch the weekenders in tents, especially in bad weather:)

  14. I chuckled about the pie. It did look really good! Nancy's comment about the Bosco was priceless! Maybe David can try that as he finishes that baby off :)

  15. I always feel so bad for people getting set up in the rain, whether tenting OR RVing. Not fun! Even worse when their weekend plans are sitting in the rain.

  16. I remember tenting back in the old days when my family was young. This was when I lived in Salem, Oregon in the early 80s. We would go up to the Cascades hoping for sunshine, but many times we would break camp early because all it did was rain. Tent camping in the rain with six of us in a six man tent was not fun for long.

  17. Bet you could have given that pie to those three guys next door, young guys will eat anything. ;c)

    What a wonderful stay you had, so much to enjoy, so little time to do so. Thank goodness you can always return again and again.

  18. Whenever it rains I am oh so happy to be cozy in our trailer. :-) I remember all too well the misery of tent camping in a rain storm. Love your photo of the pine/palmetto hammock, and the pickerel weed bloom. I'm starting to fret about our Florida reservations next winter -- I really don't like having to plan so far in advance, but I might have to do it anyway.

  19. Great egret & swamp water pictures! The poor pie was doomed from the start having to live up to a cultural expectation for what we know is a pie. In America, pie means fats & sweets and this pie had none of either making it an unlikely candidate for anyone's favorite pie. It was really quite fine if you could accept it for what it was, which I knew only too well as I made it. All healthy and nutritious. Was great with morning coffee too.

  20. Enjoy your stay at Myakka!! I sure hope the weather improves and you are able to do some kayaking. It is such a nice area for that.

  21. It has been my experience (long ago) that enough beer will drown out the taste of lighter fluid :)

  22. I like your idea of a back roads journey. I love those.


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