S3E4 – Collier -Seminole S.P. Naples, FL

2015/01/img_0730.pngCollier-Seminole is the southernmost state park on the west coast of Florida. It’s on US41, the Tamiami Trail about ten miles into the vast wilderness of Big Cypress Preserve and the Everglades National Park. It’s striking to drive through Naples, a glitzy Starbucks-on-every-corner high rent city and see a sign saying “check gas gage – no fuel for next fifty miles”.

This park usually has campsites available when all the other southern coastal parks are sold out. It’s a nice place with hiking, biking and unlimited opportunity for paddling through the mangrove swamp. It’s a long drive to the beach though and has a bad reputation for mosquitoes. Trip Advisor has lots of reviews complaining about awful mosquitos and the park entrance even has a mosquito meter.

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The sign said “moderate mosquitos” when we arrived Wednesday afternoon. There were a few but nothing to worry about. We erected our little screen room anyway thinking they would probably get a lot worse at dusk. We ate all our lunches and dinners outside in the screen room but really the bugs have not been a big deal.

Jean and Craig Coverdill joined us Wednesday afternoon after a four day, 28 hour drive in their motorhome from Marine City. Our sites were right across the street from each other so coordinating combined meals and visiting was very convenient. We hadn’t seen them for about six weeks so Wednesday evening went by fast, catching up over dinner and wine.

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As you can see from the picture of our campsites, Collier-Seminole does not have the heavily foliaged private sites like most other Florida parks. It’s nice though in a different way as there is more of a public community feel, more chances for interaction with other campers.

Thursday afternoon we went hiking on what the park describes as an “adventure hike”, warning of some places on the trail having waist deep water or knee deep mud in the wet season. We figured we were good as this is the dry season and it hasn’t rained for at least a couple of weeks. There is a dry two-track road going through the center of the area and the trail crosses it in several places. We started out on a nice dry very scenic trail

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but came to a bog a half mile or so in, retraced our steps to the road and tried another spur. This time we came to an even deeper mud hole. There was no question we would turn around but we heard voices from the woods on the other side of the bog. We waited to see what those people would do when they saw the mud. This group of four young people didn’t even slow down. Check out the mud!

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By a combination of short trails, the two track and good luck we managed about four miles without getting our shoes wet.

Another nice veg dinner in the screen room that night.

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It was chilly but Sue had the genius idea of putting the electric heater under the picnic table. Even though the temp dropped to the high fifties there was zero wind and it was comfortable sitting out into the late evening.

Friday morning we rode our bikes for a couple of hours.

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Jean got this great shot of a Wood Stork family along the bike trail.

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We rented a canoe and Jean and Craig tried out their new inflatable kayak Friday afternoon.

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The river through the mangrove swamp is scenic but very one-dimensional. The mangroves are virtually the only plant life so it looks the same no matter where you are. We paddled for an hour away from the park dock against the incoming tide and made it home in forty minutes paddling with the current.

Friday evening we were joined by Jim and Loree Widmann, fellow Lil Snoozy owners who live nearby in Naples. We are both frequent posters on the FGRV forum and it was fun to meet them and compare trailers in analogue life.

The six of us had dinner together then walked to the camp community building for an ice cream social. Jim brought firewood so we had a great time sitting around the campfire afterward.

Saturday morning was spent straightening up and wandering around with coffee chatting with other campers. Jean fixed lunch and it was time to leave for two nights at Sue’s parents. We will rejoin the Coverdills Monday afternoon for five nights at Fort Desoto County Park in St. Petersburg.

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