Monday, April 7, 2014

Birthdays! We celebrate outdoorsy-style!

State Parks visited: 76

In the time since I last posted last year, we've all gotten just a bit older.  Birthdays are special events, and worthy of a celebration!  Olivia turned 9 last summer, and true to form, she asked to visit a state park on her big day.  Her choice?  Gasparilla Island State Park. But first, a quick stop in Englewood for some geocaching:
Yep, this boat grave is a geocache!
The state park is home to a lighthouse, beaches, and a range light.  We were fortunate enough to make it there while the lighthouse was open since it closes for the month of August.  So, we looked around the lighthouse, enjoyed the beach, and took in the scenery
Beautiful birthday girl!

Railroad vine

The range light at the other end of the island

Birthday girl playing under the watchful eye of a crab.
Next came my birthday in August.  I chose two parks, and we made a whole weekend out of it.  I've always wanted to see Florida Caverns State Park, and we also decided to visit Falling Waters State Park as well since it's nearby. 

Falling Waters is absolutely has the highest waterfall in Florida at 73'....not bad for my flat state!  They also have hiking trails, camping, and a neat (and very active!) butterfly garden.  I am so glad we made the additional stop to see it!
Olivia with a statue of the CCC Worker.  Florida Caverns was one of our first 9 state parks, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

She stayed like that for a looooooooonngggg time.

Florida Caverns is near the Chipola River, and the river was quite high when we were up there last summer.  Our cavern tour was abbreviated, then, since several rooms were flooded.  Despite the shorter tour, we really enjoyed ourselves!  Our tour guide was funny and kept goodheartedly teasing Olivia. 
After the cavern tour we hiked around on some of the trails in the park.  They were amazing!  So green and luscious.  Every once in awhile we would come across another cavern opening.  It was so neat to stand there and feel cool air emanating from the openings! 

My heart+my soul

My birthday was great!  Just a week later is Rob's birthday, and to celebrate we returned to a favorite spot: Sanibel Island.
This year we decided to go kind of luxurious, and we stayed at the Tween Waters Inn on Captiva Island.  We've never stayed at a resort like this!  It was a ton of fun.  We spent our time in a cabana on the beach, tossing a beach ball around in the pool, shelling, eating awesome food, and really just letting go and relaxing.

Three different birthday celebrations.  One awesome summer for my happy little family.  We are indeed blessed.
Paula :)


  1. You guys definitely know how to celebrate. Great pictures! I'm really impressed if they came from your phone. Love the one of you guys peeking in on the sides of Robert and the crab watching Olivia. Talk about flooded caves. I'll bet the whole place is under water this year. The Suwannee was 5' over flood stage when we left. Whew!!

    1. This has definitely been a crazy year for river flooding here. Two deaths on the Suwannee so far! The caverns still hadn't recovered from the flooding this year by the time water started rising again. I'd hate to see the Chipola River now.

  2. I am so glad to see this article on Google. I am writing a book about my childhood weekends spent in the "Chessawhiskey" Swamp and could not find the correct spelling of Chassahowitzka until I read you travelogue.
    It is indeed a beautiful and magical part of Florida.