This past weekend, we decided it was time to take the teardrop camper out for a little fun. Actually, we decided this about 2 months ago, and even then, we were a little late to the game. We first looked (as we always do) at the state parks. We have stayed in a few Florida state parks in the past, and have always had a great time.
This time we were just a tad bit late… no state park camping within the area that we were looking to drive to. SO… I jumped on over to my local chapter of Tearjerkers and asked for suggestions. One name that came up was Otter Springs campground. So, I went and checked them out.
If you are looking to make a late night reservation for Otter Springs, that won’t cut it. They are a small campground, and don’t have a website linked to the large reservation site like many of the other parks are, but that’s ok. I called them up the next morning and made a reservation, very quick, very friendly, and easy to work with.
Jump forward to this past Friday. We got a late start and after a couple small hiccups, we were off. This park is about 3 hours of driving for us, so in about 5 hours with the kids in tow, and 5 stops later, we made it. It was dark, so our check in package was waiting for us in the mailbox by the front door. No worries, a park map and a site tag and we should find it.
It was almost that easy. One (small) complaint was that the site aren’t (as of yet, I asked) very well marked. We drove around, and around, and finally stopped to ask some campers (who were having a VERY good time by the fire) what their site # was, and were helped out and directed to our site. Good thing we can were the ones driving and not them 🙂 . I was told by the campground staff (new owners) that they are making improvements, and will be adding reflective numbers soon.
We setup camp in true teardrop fashion in about 10 minutes, and it was lights out in about 20 minute as the kids were tired, and so were we.
Saturday, we were awake bright and early. We had looked earlier while planning the camping trip, and noticed that there were some other springs nearby. So, we took off to Manatee Springs State park. It was just about 30 minutes or so up the road from us.
At Manatee Springs there was (of course) a spring, and a long board walk that weaved from the spring down to the Suwanee River. This was a great place for the kids to get out and run and explore for a bit.
A few cypress knees along the way
At the end of the boardwalk was where the spring opened up to the Suwanee river. Very scenic and one heck of a view. The water here is VERY clear (even out in the river it’s nearly crystal clear)
We stayed at Manatee Springs for a while, had some lunch at Anderson’s Outdoors. They are the local outfitter there that you can rent kayaks and canoes from. They also have a snack bar with some outstanding BBQ.
After lunch we headed out and decided to move on down the road a bit . We needed to get a little AC going in the car as we weren’t sure that it was still working. So, we decided to head on down to Cedar Key. I had been to Cedar Key when I was a kid with my parents, and didn’t remember much about it.
Cedar Key is a very small, mostly quiet key on the coast of west Florida. It was about 45 min. or so from Manatee Springs.
As soon as we were able to find a place to park, we made a beeline for the ice cream shop. This place was located on the water right in the middle of the downtown area. They had very good (although a little pricey) ice cream. Needless to say the kids had a great time there.
Main Street Cedar Key
The kids had asked “What’s a manatee?”, while we were at Manatee Springs. Although we hadn’t seen a real one up until this point, we did get a glimpse, and of course a photo in front of a concrete one in Cedar Key.
We hung out in Cedar Key for a couple hours before we decided to head back to camp. It was about an hour drive back and we wanted to get back to cook dinner over the fire.
That’s where I will start part 2 of our Memorial Day weekend adventure. More later, on our adventures, and a couple of recipes that we tried out in the Dutch oven.