Updated: Feb 21
Visuals are important and so is a podcast recap:
On our first trip of 2023, we ventured a few hours from home and discovered whole new terrain. In just one day, we conquered an entire river and tried a local restaurant that offered up tacos, pizza, sushi and salads; we had to try it for ourselves!
Here's our full post:
With rolling hills and winding roads, Clermont, FL. was just about two hours of a drive from the Treasure Coast, yet it felt like being transported to the northern states. Home to the Palatlakaha River, the 54th river in our journey of going down all 103 rivers in the Sunshine State, the Lake Louisa State Park would be a great place to stay for a camping getaway.
Yet, you must plan. Even with trying to book our trip with eight months of advance notice, it was not possible to find an open spot there,so we found an open spot at a local mobile home park for the weekend. Not the same idyllic atmosphere, yet it did the trick, and we were just a ten-minute drive from the closest boat ramp.
As a helpful tidbit, always bring a portable fire pit when not staying at a state park. If you wish to have a campfire or want to cook over an open flame, the portable firepit is a must and very cost effective. With that in mind, we used ours on the first night to grill our favorite hotdogs, Koegels imported from Flint, MI.
Yet, our journey getting to the town by taking State Road 60 West to the Turnpike north, was not without incident. Taking two trucks to our destination, thereby allowing our campsite to stay intact when we head off property to river roam and explore, we try to stay close to each other during the drive. This trip, dad had a head start and called to tell us a tire blew out on the boat trailer. By the time we got to the turnpike and saw where he was, we ended up passing him and tried to do loop back to assist but ended up getting stuck in the mud! Since were ahead of him, he did not even realize it was us when he was done putting on the new tire and realigning the wires that got pulled out from the wheel well coming off. So, had I not been in the driver’s seat and able to vigorously honk the horn to get his attention, as our son worked to try and place wood under the back tires for more traction, we might have been stuck there for quite a while. With the help of two connecting tow straps, and dad dropping the boat trailer to back up to us, we were out in just moments with the newer Chevy pulling out the Ford (both with no 4x4); it must have been quite the sight for fellow drivers that afternoon.
Come Saturday morning, the chill was in the air and we set our alarms to wake up early to best capture the day’s sunshine. We packed our cooler, equipped with mini corned beef sliders, and grabbed our extra blankets as we set off to river roam. The boat ramp and park were well maintained, with functioning restrooms and fishing pier for folks without a boat; very nicely done. Once in the water, it was an instant immersion in old Florida. The winding waters, blanketed by rich greenery and thick moss was exactly what the doctor ordered to recharge. With freshwater jigs and the sun warming our cheeks, we saw an interesting mix of old estates equipped with the Florida cracker style of a bygone era as well as sprawling modern lakefront homes; super captivating to witness as we slowly roamed.
If you are wondering about the big whopper of a fish we caught, then you will need to keep wandering because there wasn’t a fish to be had that entire four-hour trip. But we did get ot hear all about what was happening in our son’s friend groups and had a chance to share super cheesy jokes and reminisce. All the good stuff that happens when you are contained to 50 sq ft, out on the water. The chain of lakes we meandered through were far bigger than we had expected and was full of bass fishing boats, you could tell plenty of the locals had their top spots secured early. From Lake Susan to Lake Louisa, the Palalakaha River was a real delight to journey through, including random fun signs and stuffed animals nestled in branches as we roamed; just a cool experience all the way around.
Perhaps one of the best aspects of these monthly journeys is the ability to support local businesses while we visit. What is interesting about this trip, is that last year when we wheredriving north for another trip, I saw a billboard for a restaurant that had claimed to have delicious: Beer, Sushi, Pizza, Salads and Tacos; my next act was to look up if there was a river in that town and there was!
So, our final night there we set off to the Clermont Brewing Company. It happened to be a downtown business stroll night, full of lights along with people walking and talking with such joy; always fun to witness. Once inside, we were given a high-top table in the main dining room with views of their many televisions and impressively run kitchen. As my husband watched the football game, we ordered one of each of their claim to fames and was shortly thereafter greeted by the chef who was impressed with our selections. His appreciation for our enthusiasm was so great that he brought out one of his favorite featured cocktails as a gift. It was called Whoopsie Daisy with cucumber and gin; it was delightful! In fact, all the food and service were on point with the pizzas being our favorite.
Heading home, we took HWY 27 and saw more mobile food trucks, mobile barbers, mobile coffee trucks than ever before.With having no rush to get home, it was educational to take the backroads and see such different means of commerce and attractions. One more river down, next trip…Miami. Keep exploring ya’ll.
The River Roamers