Usually the Cardwell family can be found pursing the mountains, going out west, or exploring locally in Minnesota. After our stop in the Great Smokey Mountains, we traveled on to Florida to see family and enjoy the warmer temperatures. I was especially grateful since we had nearly frozen during the night in Tennessee, where we camped at a higher altitude than we had planned. I don’t think I thawed until we were almost to the summit.
So after being more accustomed to northern campsites with pine trees and rocky ground, we were pleasantly surprised by our stay at Paynes Prairie Park Reserve in Florida. Seeing palm trees, tropical plans, and sand at our campsite was certainly a new experience for us!
During our typical camping experiences, we hear loons and owls or maybe a coyote or two. At night in Florida, we heard foreign bird calls and strange unidentifiable sounds which were a bit disarming at first. Finding large spiders on the picnic table also was a new experience, one that I can do without! Thankfully none of them made their way into our tent.
As we were camping over the Thanksgiving holiday, we enjoyed Pumpkin Spice Marshmallow Smores. Due to a burn ban earlier in the year in Minnesota and Wisconsin, we hadn’t yet had time in 2012 to really enjoy a good camp fire. Therefore, to commemorate we took to science experiments (mostly initiated by Jayson) to see how quickly different items burn. I think we probably should have had additional adult supervision.
We rented a Ford Fusion for this trip, and therefore we had minimized our gear to the best of our ability. This included taking our smallest tent. The last night of the trip, our son seemed to think we were still in our 10 foot by 12 foot Coleman tent, and not a small 4 person tent. By the morning, he had effectively taken up nearly 50% of our usable space by laying diagonal this of course had a chain effect on the rest of us. My step-daughter was pushed over towards my husband and knocked him off his pad. Given my state of pregnancy I wasn’t going anywhere and he got smashed in between me and her left him longing for better accommodations.
On Thanksgiving day, we went for a short hike. It was a nice change of pace as traditionally I’m holed up in the kitchen for half the day on Thanksgiving. Enjoying the great outdoors was a nice change and I hope to carry on to future Thanksgiving holidays. The kids had fun creating different shadow art on the hike.
We also took the opportunity to drive to the beach, even though it was a bit too chilly to get in the water. Drawing in the wide expanses of sand created great entertainment and picture opportunities.
Remember how I said it was too chilly to swim? About 10 minutes after the beautiful picture above, the wave jumping turned disastrous and Benjamin ended up sitting in the waves soaked to his chest. And his mother didn’t even bring a change of clothes from the campsite 2 hours away. Oops. After two emergency stops for new clothes and dragging my wet son through the local Walmart, everyone was (mostly) dry and ready to go again.
While we always feel the call of the mountains, we did enjoy being able to explore a new state and experience the natural features that Florida has to offer. Now if only there were climbing areas there . . .