As you know, we like to hit the great outdoors for a weekend away from the world (but not too far away, thank you iPhones)- After all, NHIE Tampa was created on a camping weekend.. so when a friend expressed wanting to get away… we were definitely game! With the weather cooling off, we decided it was the perfect time to pick a new spot and see what they had to offer- with one stipulation, we stay in a cabin. We’ve done the tent thing before and wanted to try something different, so we searched around on the good ol’ interwebs and landed on Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont, FL. We booked our cabin ($130/night) about 2 months in advance (you are able to make reservations up to 11 months prior to your trip) and waited….
…Until last Friday night when the time had finally come. We headed up Friday night after work, punched in the gate code as the park was closed upon arrival and headed towards Cabin 17. We suggest renting any of the cabins 5-12 for a great view of Lake Dixie but believe us, any cabin is perfect. Complete with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a full kitchen, a living room and a screened in porch; we unloaded all our gear and set up shop. When the bags were in our rooms, the food was in the fridge and the drinks were in our hands, we finally were able to relax and enjoy our temporary home. We took a look at some information on all the park had to offer, such as hiking, swimming (only in Lake Louisa), horseback riding, canoeing and kayaking and made a game plan for the next day before we went to bed.
The next morning we awoke to amazing weather. This was the first time we were really able to see our view from the cabin and I honestly think I could wake up there everyday. With a gorgeous day upon us, we were ready to explore but not before Rob whipped us up a delicious breakfast of omeletes, fruit and of course mimosas (camping is much classier with a full kitchen btw). We made our to-go drinks for our hike and headed out the door. (*Caution: On a hot day we recommend bringing water for your hike, not tequila and vodka like us*). We found an opening through the brush behind our cabin and set off on our way. The map was a little tricky to read and the trails were poorly marked in some areas but we made due. We cruised over to the campsite area and were glad we opted for a cabin. Although the campsites are definitely a more affordable option, it was a relief knowing we were going to be entering an air-conditioned cabin at the end of the hike. Next stop was Lake Hammond; this lake is a no swimming lake on account of the alligators (ahh!)- but it was beautiful with all the lily pads and lillies floating in the water. We took a minute to take in the beauty of our surroundings before crossing the campsite area to Lake Dixie. On the walk down to the pier, we encountered a few spider webs, and their makers- the Banana Spider. These spiders look terrifying but after some research, we learned they are harmless and are literally just hanging out. (Just be careful not to run smack into one, gross). We got to the end of the pier “un-webbed” and found some other campers who were fishing. We chatted with them about the park and showed them where our cabin was located across the lake. After some small talk it was time to move on.
Our hike probably took about 45 minutes and we barely made a dent in the size of the park. It was a great way to see the different lakes, search for some wildlife, avoid other wildlife, get some cardio, and then totally ruin it by consuming alcohol during the activity (when in Rome we say…). When we got back to the cabin it was lunch time and Ryan played Grillmaster as we downed some burgers and dogs at the picnic table on the porch. After lunch was over, we headed to the “beach” at Lake Louisa and quickly decided it was notttt something we were trying to swim in. We did however put our feet in, check out the fish swimming around and saw some canoers on the water. Rob and Cathy decided to take a break from all the fun while Nick, Ryan & myself channeled our inner nerds and decided to try out Geocaching (our new favorite thing). We downloaded the geocaching app for $9.99 (holy app price) but we had such a blast doing it… it was definitely worth it. This is a GPS based app that allows you to track “caches”. You search for a cache location on the map and the app will tell you how close you are and give you clues to find it. The caches can come in all shapes and sizes and contain different things. You are encouraged to take a trinket if they are available and leave a trinket of your own. (You’re welcome all those other geocachers that are now in possession of one of our NHIE Tampa business cards)
After some time, the sun literally went down on our geocaching adventure and we headed back to the cabin for some dinner. Dinner consisted of steak, baked potatoes, green beans, and champagne. This was definitely one area in which the cabin came in handy; plus no bugs. We finished up our last night with some drinks around the fire pit that was located behind our cabin. Another amazing thing we noticed were how bright the stars were. Living in South Tampa, we don’t usually get to see the stars so clear so if you’re into searching the constellations for the big and little dipper, Orion’s belt (my personal favorite) and Leo the lion this is a great place to do so.
The next morning we took the short drive back to South Tampa and back to our hectic lives. As much as we love being busy with work, events, dinner and friends, it’s nice every once in a while to get away. Here in Florida we are known for our beautiful beaches and amazing amusement parks, but if you take the time to look around, you’ll see there is so much more to our Sunshine State.