During this trip, our son, Charlie turned 14! Not sure where the time has gone, but it is nice to celebrate while glampin' and river roamin' where it seems like time slows a bit. Another cool part about this trip is that we brought one of his best buds, Daniel to partake in the fun and be an extra set of hands. With school being virtual for many kids these days, we were able to leave town around 12pm and with this park being just 2.5 hours away; we had plenty of time to setup and explore on our first day.
The weather was a noticeable difference in early October here in Deland, FL. So much so, we all took our sweet time setting up and didn't even barely break a sweat. If you are wondering about the frozen drink tradition, fear not...we still enjoyed ours and it was timed perfect for the full sun of the day. Shortly thereafter, we let the boys hop on their bikes and ride around the park and take the trails to check out the spring while we finished setting up camp. Halloween vinyl tablecloth and all; it looked great!
That night, the boys and adults did a little night fishing and exploring. Witnessing one of the most gorgeous sunsets ever! It is important to mention, the boat ramp was not on property. Rather it was directly up the road from the park entrance and is a favorite of locals for hanging out. It is important to plan accordingly to beat the mid morning rush. So, we kept the night easy and created a terrific fire to help keep us warm. In fact, this mama glamper was pretty happy to have had a light jacket available; it got down to 65 degrees! The Koegels hot dogs over the open fire were a hit and the s'mores were a fun thing for the boys to do before showering and hitting the bed for a big day of boating the following morning.
*Side note, these bath houses were a bit of a walk from our site #28 but meticulously maintained!
The next morning, we were up by 7am per the ranger's advice. After a quick breakfast of English muffins and cereal, we hitched the boat up and headed to the French Avenue boat ramp. The line for people to get into the park went down nearly a full mile as we cruised past the long line of folks looking to enjoy the springs that day. Luckily, the boat ramp we wanted to use was open and a spot was wide open for us to pull the truck up into for the day. While getting the boat off into the shallow water, Michael managed to pull the center thong right out of his new new flip flops and Charlie slipped into the mud; but, we made it work and the weather was gorgeous. Sunny with a bit of a chilled breeze, I snuggled with my light blanket and we started to head south down the St. John's River.
The thing we couldn't get over was the changing of the leaves as we explored different cuts of the river. As Floridians, we know pines and palm trees simply stay the same all year long so seeing these stunning variations was pretty exciting! As with nearly every river thus far, we found a super cool rope swing. Good luck convincing the boys to skip it, they were committed to trying to make it work and ended up being successful. So much so, another family on a pontoon came by for a visit and their small son swam up to join our teens. Granted, when the young man got to the high branch to jump, it was simply too much and our son Charlie ended up having to help him down, still it was commendable the boy got as far as he did. As we explored, we made it far south enough to hit the Wekiva River; bonus! Fished as we did all day long, there was barely a bite to be had until we took one last offshoot and dad managed to snag a giant catfish.
Some rain headed our way so we headed back and managed to see a pirate setup firsthand. Quite interesting and unexpected, guess you never know what you will find while river roaming. Still, we kept our spirits high and made it back with plenty of the time for the boys to enjoy the spring as we started the coals for a birthday dinner of country style ribs, baked beans and cupcakes. There was tuna pasta salad but sadly the vent in the Tupperware was open and the bag of ice sat on top of it throughout the day; watery pasta salad is NOT good. For the final tally of the day, Charlie and Daniel each caught some good size fish in their night round and learned just how cold the water in the spring is when the temperature outside is actually below the water's temperature of 72. Daniel seemed pretty happy he brought his wet suit...just saying.
The next morning was dedicated to camp breakdown. Even with the sprinkles that hit us while we worked, it felt refreshing and the teamwork was flawless. All the guys were excited for the chance at some new found pizza as their reward and we all felt rested since we took our time waking up. It was a great trip. While headed home, we drove for about an hour and found a pizzeria in Titusville to try that offered up a nice big parking lot for us and the boat. Never have we ever seen a pizza this big! Though it wasn't our favorite the garlic rolls with alfredo and special bam seasoning was on point. Not that we'd go back, it served it purpose and hit the spot.
In conclusion, if you like parks with lots of activities including natural springs; this is a must try! Located not too far from Orlando, it is often busy so be sure to plan and book in advance because renting a cabin is even an option here. Of course, the proof as to the amount of activity you can choose to do is evident here in the final picture of the trip with the boys in the back of the truck. Happy glampin' everyone!