Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Campground Review: Alafia River State Park Litha, FL.

After picking up Becky the Camping Buddy at Tampa International we proceeded to Alafia River State Park about 40 miles to the southeast of Tampa forming a rough triangle between Tampa, the park and Lakeland, FL, where the Detroit Tigers do their Spring Training.  Readers of the blog might remember Becky from this previous blog post: Becky the Camping Buddy .   I'll post the campground data and then turn over the rest of the blog to Becky.


Hookups:                                20, 30, 50 amp, water
Fire ring:                                 yes
Water Access:                        yes
Dump station:                         yes
WiFi:                                       no
Level sites:                              yes
Laundry:                                 no
Store:                                      no
Pool:                                       no
Shade:                                    yes
Verizon reception:                   4g, 3 out of 4 bars
Millenicom reception:             2 out of 4 bars
Cost:                                       $22 / night

Hi, this is Becky. I have been invited (coerced into??) to write a guest entry on John's blog. I will be providing some of my impressions of the camp ground. It was a former phosphate mining location that was reclaimed and given to the state of Florida in 1998. The park consists of hardwood and pine forests, meadows and numerous lakes. Despite the name of the park, we have not seen the Alafia River, which is on the map, but not next to the camping area.

The camp site we chose is about 100 yards from one of the ponds, and we have enjoyed viewing many birds from our site including--most spectacularly: ospreys, cardinals, red winged black birds, and a great blue heron. Some research told us that ospreys, who have made large nests atop several of the power line poles at park front entrance, primarily eat fish. We have been hoping to watch one of these eagle-like birds swoop down to grab a fish from the pond, but have not been treated to that spectacle yet!


The are are three types of trails featured in the park: hiking, biking and equestrian.  Based on information on the website, a banner at the front entrance advertising a mountain bike rally coming up in April, the number of mountain bikers camping here, and the miles of trails designated for biking, it appears this state park is a mecca for those who enjoy this sport. 

Upon our arrival, we took a short hike along one of the "nature" trails that leads away from the campground. We surprised a large doe who darted away from us in the underbrush--she also surprised us!! As the trail continued along one of the many lake-ettes in the park, we suddenly heard a loud splash at the shoreline, and very shortly thereafter, this guy popped up to give us the evil eye for disturbing him:


Alligator!!

Needless to say, I felt the need to carry a stick after this encounter--although John thought it ridiculous.

The first full day of our time here we constantly were checking our weather radar apps to see if it would make sense to go into Lakeland, FL to watch a Detroit Tigers Spring Training game. There was a HUGE storm brewing in Florida, and we were right on the edge of it. We did drive to Lakeland, but the rain started while we were there, so we just stocked up on groceries, movies, and headed back to the safety and security of THE TANK. The weather got progressively worse, and proceeded to pour rain, thunder, lightening, with heavy wind all night. The water drained off fast the next day, and we did make it to a Tigers game.

The Alafia River State park features  five Geocaches. Neither John or I had ever tried this activity, which involves entering GPS coordinates provided by the park into a map app, and following the resulting map to a hidden cache. Here is a photo of me with the first cache we found, after thrashing around in the brush, completely in the wrong place for quite awhile. 



We learned to trust the intersection of our current location arrow and the coordinate point on the app. In the caches are log books for us to sign, and small trinkets that other Geocachers have left behind. Here is a picture of John, locating another one of the caches. 




The "rule" is to take one of the trinkets, and leave behind something of equal value. We found four caches, leaving behind glow-in-the-dark bouncy balls, which believe me, were upgrades to some of the junk others had left behind. Here is a photo of our loot:



This park has been very quiet, and very clean. Surprisingly, even after all the rain and nice warm weather, there have not been many insects to "bug" us.  John has been a wonderful "host," grilling some wonderful meals, being patient with my every need and whim, and helped me to have a relaxing Spring Break! Thank you, John. I have enjoyed my visit here.

View of the lake from our Camp Site