S2E3. Myakka River State Park

20140201-182719.jpg After the unseasonable cold weather at Fort Desoto we enjoyed four days of mostly fair warm weather at Sue’s parents’ house in Port Charlotte. We spent an afternoon at the Fort Myers RV show lusting after a new $50k Airstream but rejecting all the more reasonable priced other brands as less desirable than the Snoozy we already have.

We got in a couple of good beach days too, one at Boca Grande with a nice lunch at the South Beach Grille and another at Englewood Beach and lunch at the Mango Bistro in “downtown” Englewood.

We reserved three nights at Myakka River State park beginning Wednesday 1/29. It was warm but overcast when we left Port Charoltte and a steady light rain when we arrived an hour later.

This was the leading edge of the freak winter storm that dumped snow and ice all over the south east. By Thursday morning we had a stiff N wind, steady rain and 45 degrees. Aside from a couple of hours late Thursday afternoon it rained until Friday noon.

Wednesday afternoon we lazed around and read for awhile then drove across the park to the snack bar to use their wifi. They closed at five so we returned to the trailer, read a bit more and then Sue made a great Niçoise salad for dinner. We chatted for a long time and generally enjoyed being back by ourselves camping, even in spite of the rain.

We generally try to choose parks close to the coast as we enjoy walking on the beach so much. This is our first experience at a more inland site. Even though we are only about ten miles east of Sarasota there are vast expanses of woods and scrubby grassland.

Myakka River SP is the largest in Florida – 45 square miles including two good sized inland lakes, a lot of swampy, periodically flooded land and a large amount of restored prairie. This diverse habitat makes Myakka home to many different birds and a seasonal stopover for many more. There’s a pond near the campsite with many wood storks and roseate spoonbills flying to and fro and we fell asleep last night to the the sound of an owl hooting. There are reputed to be lots of alligators here too but they must have the good sense to stay out of the cold rain. We didn’t see any today.

Thursday morning we went back to the snack bar for breakfast (lousy) and wifi (OK but not great speed). After that got too boring we drove around the park, spotted some wild boars and had to stop the car for a flock of turkeys blocking the road. Chatted with the ranger (from Windsor, ON) for a while at the visitor’s center and watched some videos about the park, then went back to the trailer for a late lunch. Around 3:00 the rain stopped so we went for a short hike to a suspension bridge through the treetops and climbed up to the top of an observation tower.

20140201-194736.jpg The walkway was 25′ high and connected to a 74′ observation tower at one end.

20140201-194919.jpg View from the top of the tower. 74′ doesn’t sound that high but it felt like we were high above the trees.

After our walk we took showers and drove into Venice for dinner. Todd and Amanda gave me a gift certificate for dinner at ristorante San Marco, choosing it because it is the number one rated restaurant in Venice by Trip Advisor. It deserved the top billing, it’s on a very nice shopping street, great service, excellent food and a very authentic Venetian menu.

20140201-195440.jpg

After dinner we got cappuccino and gelato (and wifi) a few doors down the block.

This park is very scenic with lots of wildlife but has two shortcomings, at least compared with the other FL state parks we have visited. In spite of it being the largest in Florida it has the least private campsites. They are big enough but there is very little foliage screening one camper from another. The other thing is the cell service (Verizon) sucks. I couldn’t even send a text message with a picture and forget about using the phone as a hotspot. Sitting around for hours in the rain it would have been nice to get connected without having to drive down to the snack bar.

Rain until about noon on Friday so we hung out at the snack bar again using their wifi for the price of a cup of coffee. When it finally stopped raining we went back to the trailer for a quick lunch, then took Sue’s good camera and went for a long walk along the river. This is a beautiful place to hike, very wild feeling, with lots of big birds almost always in view. Some of today’s snaps:

20140201-211657.jpgWild scenery with eleven big birds in view.

20140201-211937.jpgWood Stork feeding…

20140201-212010.jpg…and flying…

20140201-212109.jpg…and on short final.

20140201-212302.jpgA female night Heron overseeing her own island.

20140201-213503.jpgA pair of Coopers Hawks.

20140201-213805.jpgRavens are common but I’d never noticed the black-on-black details on their shoulders.

20140201-215015.jpgThere were lots of alligators in the river. I was standing about four feet from this guy to get the portrait. (Full disclosure, I was on a bridge while he swam under it)

20140201-215348.jpgA pretty picture of a Heron and his reflection.

20140201-215625.jpg and another Heron catching lunch.

Saturday morning was warm but heavily overcast and oppressively humid so we packed up a couple of hours sooner than we really had to and made it to Sue’s parents’ house just in time for lunch.

Both trailer and car were very dirty after three days of rain and wet sand plus one of the windows developed a slight leak so Saturday afternoon was devoted to chores.

Tomorrow we are going back to Fort Desoto for five nights.

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11 thoughts on “S2E3. Myakka River State Park

  1. Dennis, loved this post. The photographs are so outstanding! I was especially drawn to the Raven shot. Just beautiful. And I am happy you gave full disclosure on the gator shot…as at first, I thought you were nuts to be that close. Keep having fun with Sue. Thanks for sharing so much beautiful nature. Peace, Di PS Geo was smacking his lips over the seafood dinner photo.

    • Hi Di. Thanks. Sue took most of the bird pictures. We hardly ever bother to hike with her Nikon with the 300mm lens but this time we were glad we did. Tell George the “assorted things from the sea” was excellent. I had exactly the same thing in Venice Italy.

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