One of the first things we do when we get to a new campsite is to check and see if there is any free WiFi to be had. We’re reliant on cellular data from AT&T (we turn our smart phone into a hotspot for our computer and iPad), but if we’re not careful we blow through our data plan pretty darn quickly. We’re on the $60 monthly GoPhone plan which includes 2.5 GB data. After that it costs $10 for each additional GB - and let me tell you, that can add up mighty fast what with all of our blogging activity and other internet stuff. There are days when we put ourselves on restricted internet usage so that we don’t have to top up with more data. So, whenever we can, we try to find free WiFi so that we can upload posts to our blog, catch up on other people’s blogs, do some serious internet surfing, download stuff etc.
When we got to Myakka River State Park in southwest Florida, we checked out the concession by the river and jumped up and down for joy when we discovered they had WiFi and that the signal was strong enough to tap into from your car parked outside. So early the next morning, armed with a thermos of coffee, we headed down to the concession and connected away. Turns out we weren’t the only ones with the same idea. I’m glad we got there relatively early and snagged one of the car park spots close to the WiFi signal, because sure enough along came some other folks later with their computers, iPads and other devices. The WiFi crowd – you’ll find them wherever there’s a strong enough signal!
Although we were only at Myakka State Park for one night (and we were lucky to get that one night with all of the snowbirds who reserved sites ages ago), we managed to see some of the highlights – other than the free WiFi of course.
Let’s start off with the usual shot of Scamper at the campsite. I imagine you get tired of seeing these, but she’s our baby so we take lots of pictures of her. It can be kind of a pain to set up camp just for just a day, but we’re getting pretty slick with our routine and can usually get it all done within 15 minutes.
We started off walking from the campground to the Nature Trail, but making our way along the side of the road lost its appeal quickly with all of the cars whizzing past. So we decided to be lazy slugs for the day and hopped in the car for the park’s 14 mile driving tour. One of the highlights was the log pavilion which was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. The CCC was an amazing thing – they built so many of the great things you see in our National and State Parks. We had never seen a log structure built out of palm trees. Good reminder that we aren’t in the North anymore!
Our next stop was the River Walk. We only got part way through before we were thwarted by all of the giant puddles and general swampiness from the previous day’s rain. I really don’t like to have my feet wet unless I’m at a beach or in a swimming pool. So we headed off to the Canopy Walk & Nature Trail. As we made our way to the Canopy Walk, we had to dodge a lot of puddles, but we made it and I’m so glad we did. You make your way across a bridge among the trees and then climb up to the top of a 74-foot observation tower and take in the views.
After that, we drove out to the end of the road and the North Entrance. We found out the hard way that the North Entrance is only open on weekends and public holidays. One of my jobs in our travels is to be our navigator. I had this great route picked out which took us on the back roads from where we were staying in Bradenton and to the North Entrance of Myakka River State Park. Oops. The navigator clearly didn’t do enough research and find out ahead of time you couldn’t get in that way. That’s the problem when you have limited internet data – not enough data to do adequate research. At least, that's what I told Scott by way of explanation. So we ended up going all the way around the park to the main entrance. Added quite a bit of time to our journey, which was a shame as we only had one night booked at the park.
After seeing the North Entrance from inside the park, we headed out to the Birdwalk and spotted a few birds from the boardwalk. We really don’t know anything about birds so we’re never sure what we’re seeing. I admire all of those birders out there who know so much about these feathered critters.
We ended our driving tour at the Boat Bain and concession where we discovered the free WiFi. You can find lots of cute things to buy at the gift shop there, but to my mind, free WiFi beats stuffed alligators, coasters, t-shirts and other trinkets any day.
We relished the free WiFi at Myakka State Park on 5-6 February 2015.
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