Highlands Hammocks State Park
February 14th 2012 Valentine’s Day Camping
It is not often that Rob and I have a few days to get way alone. This year Rob chose take me out camping! Not the type of campaign I do every day, there was almost no work this trip. Rob planned to cook steaks and baked potatoes on the grill. He helped me set up tent and we even brought Bo along.
I had wanted to visit this state park for quite some time. This is one of the 4 original state parks in Florida and home to the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum. This park opened in 1931 and when the Florida State Parks System was established in 1935 Highlands Hammock became one of the first parks in 1941. Palm trees and massive live oaks, many bromeliads, whitetail deer, raccoons, bobcats and more can be seen at this park. One oak measuring 36 feet around at the base is estimated to be around 1,000 years old.
After Rob and I set up camp we decided to do some hiking. There is a paved loop drive just past the campground that you can take your car, bicycle, or travel on foot to the walking trails. There are eight 25 to 30 minute hikes just off of this main road. The park ranger will provide you with the information on these trails. All are very easy to travel, and may take you through many different environments. The Cypress Swamp trail does have a tricky boardwalk around the swamp and I do not recommend it for those were not sure footed. Pets are not permitted on any boardwalk trails within the park (we realized that a bit too late).
Soon the three of us were wore out and ready for dinner. Rob started coals for the grill and seasoned two beautiful steaks. Bo was very interesting and a swamp rabbit that was busy nibbling on fresh green grass spreading nearby. It was fun to try and get photographs of this very tame rabbit but light was fading fast. Soon dinner was ready and we all ate our fill.
Rob and I spent some time around the campfire enjoying this precious time we had together. There were no phones ringing no computers needing attention, only Bo moving from Rob to I enjoy and the extra attention. Sleep came easy and all we heard was the faint sound of owls in the distance.
In the morning we enjoyed a breakfast of eggs and hash browns, and of course coffee. Soon we were off on the trails again. We started with Allen Altavater Trail that took this through the pine flatwoods area on the east edge of the main campground. After that we walked over to the wild Orange Trail and finish the other trails we had missed the day before. On finishing our hiking we noticed some other gator with two young in the water near the main road. It was the first time I had seen a family of alligators together in the wild.
While Rob got Bo drink of water I went in to visit the Civilian Conservation Corps. Museum. I had not known much about the CCC prior to this visit Franklin D. Roosevelt who had always been a champion in the conservation movement brought this attitude to the White House. One of his first measures was to form the CCC with the object to put young men back to work on conservation projects on public lands. Young men signed up in exchange for $30.00 a month with $25.00 being sent back home to their family’s to get money going back into the economy. These young men were provided with housing work clothing medical and dental care and plenty of food. They were given instruction on the job and in the classroom. They were taught labor skills such as carpentry, masonry, electrical work and more. In addition to job skills, over 40,000 illiterate boys were taught to read during classes offered in the evenings. This effort built a skilled labor force for the future; for FDR knew the depression would not last forever!
Many of these young men became the backbone of U.S. war effort. Most entered the military where their skills were highly valued. Others use their skills at home and war-related industries and help good paying jobs in the rebuilding after the war. Many state and national parks, refuges, forests, and public lands got their start with these young men of the CCC. The contributions of these young men (most between 16 and 20 years old) can be seen all over to this day. There were 2,650 camps locate in United States nearly three million young men served in this historic effort, all of this I learned by visiting one of the park’s that they built so many years ago. I hope you take a moment to enjoy some of the photographs that I will post with this article.
Was time for Rob and I to break camp and head home. Was a beautifully relaxing and past due two day vacation! I am grateful for the quiet time that we had alone. As we drove the 2 hours back home from Sebring we enjoyed the view of the many orange Groves that line both sides of the road. Here, Florida still looks like it did many years ago, before sprawling shopping centers and housing projects wiped out the natural beauty of many parts of the state. I hope you get a chance to visit Highlands Hammocks State Park. Take some time to relax and enjoy all the beauty around you.
For more information on the park please visit: http://www.floridastateparks.org/highlandshammock/default.cfm
For additional photos from our trip please visit: http://pix.kg/p/5640816580103%3A1202192004/scl
For more information on camping with Not a Clue Adventures visit our website at: http://www.notaclueadventures.com