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Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer Vacation 2013: The Year of the Canyon: Florida

Our adventure ... a 2 1/2 week trip from southwest Florida to Grand Canyon. The goal was to get there and back, I really didn't give a lot of thought to the magnitude of what we were doing beyond that.

We did it! One Mama, 5 kids (oldest stayed home to work), 1 old camper, 1 minivan, 5300 miles driven, 13 nights camping in 8 different campgrounds, 1 night in a hotel (we marveled at the size of the fridge in the room, it was three times the size of the camper fridge), 3 nights with family, and over 1300 pictures taken. And a gazillion memories to last forever. Best. Vacation. Ever.

Our first stop was Falling Waters State Park in the Florida panhandle, home of Florida's highest waterfall and some great, deep sinkholes.

Falling Waters State Park, Florida

Falling Waters State Park, Florida

Falling Waters State Park, Florida

As we pulled into the park I noticed a sign stating that the waterfall isn't always active, that it can be dry. Which it was. Not quite as exciting as a cascading waterfall, but still interesting.

Falling Waters State Park, Florida
Dry Waterfall

Falling Waters State Park, Florida
Very Dry Waterfall

The park had some nice trails, made of decking, concrete, and paths, which we enjoyed.

 Falling Waters State Park, Florida

Second stop, Florida Caverns State Park, located down the road from Falling Waters. This was a gorgeous park with huge, tall, lush pines and magnolias.

Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

From our campsite we could walk to their swimming lake and to a few other trails. Unfortunately, we discovered very quickly that the bugs in this park were HUGE and relentless - Ian said they reminded him of Jurassic Park. The giant bugs make hiking and hanging out a little less enticing.

Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

The park is named after the Caverns, a series of underground rooms filled with stalagmites and stalagtites. Free tours are offered every day but Tuesday and Wednesday and are well worth taking. Living at just above sea level, as we do, it was hard to imagine real caverns in Florida (dig here, hit water!), so it was really thrilling to tour the caverns and discover a new side of Florida.

Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Florida Caverns State Park, Florida



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