Updated: Oct 25, 2020
Without a doubt, our tribe of three plus Nemo, our chocolate lab mix dog, was super excited for the launch of our first glamping and river roamin' experience. From our home in the Treasure Coast, at the bottom of the "Central Region" of Florida State Parks, the Tomoka State Park was basically a straight shot two hours north. In fact, the Tomoka State Park is at the northern ridge of the same region on the maps encouraging us all to experience The Real Florida. No chance of getting lost and despite our temporary boat cover ripping in the back while trailering, it was a pretty uneventful drive.
Great news everyone, Tomoka with it's 100 campsite and endless fishing spots did NOT disappoint. It was everything we hoped for and more even with a huge tropical storm outter bands circling above us the second night. I mean, talk about testing out a tent's durability in bad weather! Folks, we succeeded in handling every challenge really well as a cohesive unit. So here's my breakdown as we experienced it.
Brown signs on the highway and roads are your friend for real. Be sure to pay attention because this park is really close to downtown Daytona yet once there, it feels like you are hours away. Once there, you will notice the campgrounds are a good distance from the boat dock and other recreation areas for day use and campers. It's a great park for bicycles, though we didn't have our bike rack yet, so it's a good thing you're allowed to stick a pooch and his boy in the back of the truck bed. While on property of course, going 5 miles an hour.
Honestly, look at these faces! After setting up a sweet campsite, this was as fun way to tour the grounds. Just enjoying the breeze and sense of adventure our first night glampin;' it was just what we needed!
Since this area was once a Timucuan Native Americans village, a huge monument donated to the park is worth checking out just beyond the Tomoka Outpost and boat dock. It is definitely worth seeing firsthand. Look over and there's a path to the river that'll make your heart skip a beat. Really, because you can get a sense of why the Timucuans loved this area, perfect for shellfish, travel and sustaining their way of life.
Then, we cruised to the boat ramp which was next door to the Tomoka Outpost. My husband's air fist pump signified it was a good one. "There's even a hose right at the top of the ramp, it's perfect!," he practically squealed he was so giddy. Plus, there was plenty of parking for cars or trucks with trailers; it really is a well thought out setup. It is important to mention, our site was too small to fit our glampin' setup, truck and boat. However, there was a spot right across from one of the campground cut through sand filled lanes where we could store our pontoon close to us. It was also right next to an awesome fishing spot where Charlie finally caught a fish that trip, prior to settling in the second night. Goal next time we go, get a bigger spot where we can keep our boat and truck side by side as we do in others. Yes, we know what campsite it is but can't share that info; once you go you can find your favorite too. I suggest taking long dog walks to do your best searching.
By the time we got back, it was pretty late with darkness closing in. That's why, I am loving our new tradition of grilling some wieners on the first night. Use your marshmallow sticks, once the fire is going and serve up a couple scoops of your side dishes; it's a complete glamping experience with a focus on the "core" camping criteria. After some cookies during a late evening sudden rain storm, we retreated to our rooms and rested up for an early morning. Thanks to the rain, the frogs were extra loud and falling asleep even with the hum of the air conditioner took a few, though once we did sleep; we did it well. So well, in fact, we missed our goal of getting on the water at 8am and made it at 9am instead. Gotta love glampin' and boatin'; the schedule and your under footing is all pretty fluid.
That morning a persistent drizzle greeted us and remained for the duration of the day. Though, in many ways, it felt kind of cleansing and with the Bimini top in use, it was nice.
Without our new trolling motor installed, this mama glamper was captain. In total, two lures were snagged by the lush greenery that lined the river. Each time we got right up to the short, once even got into the water; no gators in sight. Ahhh, what the male species will do for the love of a lure.
During our two hour cruise north west, each house looked different from the next. There was an impressive, chill yet kinda fancy restaurant we look forward to checking out and several patches of delightful green space along the land. It was all quiet and conversational, chips passed and new bait tried until...
More of our Tomoka River experiences will be on a separate post (yet to come). Getting back to the boat ramp after a full day of boatin' and explorin', it was refreshing that the fellow campers were beyond nice. Many wanted to meet our dog, gave us shrimp for fishing a bit more as we flushed our motor and others just wanted to chat. Not sure if it was covid confinement or just the mutual love of nature and the camping we all had in common; whatever is was, it was delightful. Before getting ice for the campsite, Charlie grabbed his cast net and fishing pole for a few more stabs at his own big catch for the day. Update, sadly it didn't happen.
The Tomoka Outpost had folks coming in and out, some wearing masks yet all practicing social distancing. I must admit, the anxiety of covid is effecting superb customer service across many industries. This evening, I could sense the tension by all as the new closing time was fast approaching for this A+ concession and store. Our representative, also the owner based on my observations of newspaper clippings in the window from that morning, couldn't help smiling when we ordered the Tomoka IPA, its crafted beer that was the only one available on tap. Side note, it was pretty good. With each place we go, by land or boat that is an actual trip, a sticker of some sort is a must. This well stocked store had lots to choose from and it is now displayed on our outdoor dartboard.
Back at the site, we had a terrific time playing Left Right Center for spare change, Rummy and building a fire. The chicken, dark meat for us, was cooked perfectly and the sides made it even better. The rain continued to come down, stronger yet with enough lighter fluid added to the flames, our fire still made it cozy and kept the bugs away. By the time we finally shut it down for the night, it was clear a big storm was a brewing with updates pinging our phones every 15 minutes. Somehow the howling wind served as as lullaby and by the time this mama glamper rose, waking before the boys as usual, plenty of broken branches and miscellaneous debris lay before me. Thankfully, our tent did remarkably well. Sure, there were a few pockets of rain water in the corners where the extension cords are designed to run through and where the air conditioning ports allowed for some sideways rain to come in. Yet overall, a total success. If you are wondering if we were discouraged after that, the answer is no. We enjoyed a light breakfast using our glampin' kitchen gear and then started cleaning and packing up.
With each trip we take, another new tradition has emerged. This one, is pizza. Yes, just like in school where a pizza party is a motivator to get a task accomplished the same concept applies. For each town, after a sweaty breakdown which takes about a leisurely two hours there is a reward of a quick shower and pizza. Since we come up with the idea of the blog after this trip, there is no actual picture of the deep dish Chicago pizza that meets south California from BJ's, though take my word for it...this thing hit the spot.
Plus, we were able to eat outside while our dog enjoyed a breezy few minutes with the windows down in the truck. Timed it just right, thanks to GPS, to have it made and ready for pick up to enjoy with a few Dr. Peppers on the rocks once we arrived. Planning makes a difference and this was a complete success. One hundred percent we will be back, hope to see you there. Happy Glampin'!