Volume 1 | January 2021
January's Piece Of Paradise:
I hoped to arrive at Myakka River State Park in time to snag one of the 30 "Deep Hole" permits. Deep Hole is a notorious location for sighting alligators - lots of them - within the park, but does require about a four-and-a-half-mile round-trip hike. I drove past the park entrance without realizing it, adding a couple minutes to my trip. Did those two minutes cost me the permit? Possibly. I arrived at 8:22am (the permits become available at 8am) to find they were already allocated to other park visitors.
The bottom left image on this sign is one of Florida's protected species, the Gopher Tortoise.
I was disappointed, but paid the $6 entry fee anyway. I knew there were still plenty of other exciting parts of the park to explore and share with you! The park promotes itself as the "Real Florida" and is optimal for a variety of users - those who want to drive through, bicycle through, walk through, paddle through, or maybe even stay a couple nights.
Within my first minutes I slowly drove off the shoulder to make my way around a red van that had stopped in the middle of the road. The driver and passenger had their binoculars up to their eyes - birders, of course! Shortly after that I passed two gentlemen who appeared to be training their hounds to sniff out a scent.
You may be wondering what makes this park different from those you've visited in your home state. Two obvious answers are the animals and plants. The alligator sightings were the reason I chose to highlight this attraction, but do your parks ask you to share the road with tortoises? Do they display large metal cages for trapping wild hogs? Do they warn you about the vultures? Oh, yes, the vultures... signs advise visitors that vultures can damage vehicles.
Six vultures formed a small welcoming party near the Concession and Tours outpost. I've heard they consider soft-top convertibles a particular treat.
Spanish Moss gives ice and snow a run for its money in this beautiful winter tree scene.
You can't make your way through the park without taking in the majesty of a Southern Live Oak (or two, or two thousand). At ground level your eyes will be met by adolescent Sabal Palmettos, also known as Cabbage Palms. And although it's not native to Florida, I'm always struck by the dreamy visual impact of the Spanish Moss.
Tram and boat tours, and canoe rentals are available from the concession/gift shop area. There are plenty of picnic tables and fishing spots (don't forget your license) available throughout the 37,000 park acres. I opted for one of the park's other main attractions, the Canopy Walk and Tower... with a slight detour to the Meadow Sweet Pastures because I misunderstood the directions I received. (Navigating is not one of my strengths.)
Meadow Sweet Pastures belonged to Bertha Honore Palmer, a businesswoman whose legacy continues to influence Sarasota County today. The park is rich with historic trivia.
This geocache is close by...
The Geocaching app is one fun way to work on my navigation skills while also searching for hidden treasure. Myakka River State Park is filled with geocaches. Some geocaches are revealed on the free version of the app, and a nominal fee gets you access to the rest.
Found it!
The "hike" (level, packed dirt path with clearly labeled wayfinding markers) to the Canopy Walk takes an easy 10 minutes from the trail entrance. I'm estimating there are about 40 stairsteps to get to the canopy bridge. Once you cross the bridge, you have the option to continue climbing another 60-ish stairsteps to reach the observation tower.
One-way traffic of up to four people is allowed on the bridge.
The top of the tower offers expansive views of the park.
The stairs to the observation tower do look intimidating from the top!
The last item on my to-do list was to check out the bridge by the south entrance for signs of gators. I saw two in the distance right away, but a family leaving the bridge told me to go to the other end and look straight down. Ah ha! It may not be a shot of dozens of gators at Deep Hole, but I'm satisfied with this up-close encounter.
Scientists suggest we can estimate the length of an alligator by the distance between its eyes and nostrils. I'd guess the distance here was about 12 inches, which would make his body length roughly twelve feet.
And that's a wrap! Consider Myakka River State Park for a taste of "Real Florida" the next time you're in town.
Turn your trip to Myakka River State Park into a complete experience by adding a meal at Stottlemyer's Smokehouse. They advertise "Classic Barbecue Meets Old Florida," and have an open-air venue, often featuring live music.
Myakka River State Park has a north entrance accessible via a Fruitville Road to Myakka Road route, and a south entrance via Clark Road. While there are certainly points of interest along Clark Road (like the Sarasota National Cemetary), here are a few I noted while driving along Fruitville and Myakka Roads:
Homeowner Tip
Thermostat Check
With a higher humidity rate than many areas up north, mold can be a concern in Florida homes. When you depart Sarasota, set your thermostat to 78 degrees or lower. This will help to decrease humidity and the likelihood of mold.
Coastal Haven Home Watch of Sarasota delivers peace of mind when you're away, and a piece of paradise when you're here. Share your Sarasota pieces of paradise with us! We'll include them in an upcoming newsletter for other Home Watch clients to consider during their next stay in Sarasota.